RiverTribe Business Columnist Norman Jackson discovers that in business no one is 100% perfect.

The nickname of John Eales, former Australian Rugby Union Captain, is ‘Nobody’. He caught the ball in the lineout, scored all the goals and through his leadership, Australia won the World Cup in 1999. Hence, ‘Nobody is Perfect’.

But in the world of business no one is truly 100% perfect. Doing business is often about knowing when to make allowances. Yet, there are some breaches in the protocol of trade that are designed get up my nose.

  •  ‘Meetingitis’: meetings that have no agenda, should not have taken place, start late, last too long and fail to get to the heart of the matter. Followed by Minutes that take forever to be distributed.
  •  People who promise… but do not deliver. Better to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Speeches that go on for too long. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches in American history, contained only 272 words and lasted less than two minutes. A good public speaker will leave the audience wanting more.       
  • Companies, whatever their size, that do not have, even broadly, financial forecasts. One of Stephen R Covey’s guiding principle in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.
  • People who do not respond to invitations or say they will turn up but don’t. The same goes for people who turn up unannounced and don’t thank you afterwards.
  • People who carry on loud, indiscreet mobile conversations on trains.
  • People who talk continuously, leaving the listener trying to get a word in. I remember Chris Evans congratulating someone he was interviewing on the radio for leaving gaps for the listener – in this case himself – so that he could contribute to the dialogue.
  • Companies that do not plan. Benjamin Franklin, one of the USA’s Founding Fathers said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. In the last year, 521,000 companies in the UK were struck off Companies House. That’s 1,400 per day. I wonder how many of those companies would have survived had they taken Franklin’s advice of 250 years ago.
  • Business people who never take advice. When Eric Schmidt, former Executive Chairman of Google was asked what single piece of advice he could give to a budding businessperson, he replied, “Get a coach”.   
  • People who act too quickly. The carpenter’s mantra of measure twice, cut once has considerable merit.
  • Companies that do not focus. Apart from being a rather good singer, Frank Sinatra was an astute businessman. He realised that to do everything himself was impractical and that he should focus on a few things and delegate to others. Hence the saying “Sinatra Does Not Move Pianos”.
  • People who regard business ethics as an optional extra. The great US investor, Charlie Munger, believes the only truly successful businesses are those run with a strong ethical outlook.

Onwards & Upwards – normandjackson@btinternet.com