Last night, I’m on this train home from the office in London. Whilst squashed into my seat in typical commuter fashion, I started to reflect on some inspirational people I’ve met over my career, and the lessons I’ve learned from them. That’s an interesting idea for a post, I thought, so I’ve created a list of the top 5 who are most influencing my work at the moment.
It is firstly impossible to go past Janet Parker, founder of a startup I worked in as CTO some years ago. The most inspirational person I’ve ever seen in front of an audience, then or since. She could get up in front of a crowd and make you believe things. I recall being in a room and hearing her speak about a potential opportunity in the cards (as in credit cards) business, and having a tear in my eye, she was so good. Janet taught me something I’ve never forgotten: the ability to motivate and inspire is the key skill you must have when you lead. I’ve struggled ever since to be even half as good at it as she was.
Next up, my first career coach, who is the ex-MD of P&O in Australia. He told me that if you want to get anywhere, you first need to be part of the money. In other words, connect to the business you’re in, then make a difference. This will automatically get you moved up. Hovering around the edges in support functions doesn’t do that. Its why most CEOs are from sales or marketing.
Annalie Killian, who is Catalyst for Magic at AMP, and the producer of their bi-annual innovation conference AMPlify is on the list. Annalie showed me the powerful effect you can have when you add design to things. Oh, I get the fact that the iPhone, for example, was interesting because it was beautiful. But I didn’t feel the power of design until Annalie showed me at her conference what you could do. She was using a butterfly logo, for example, and on the last day had chrysalises at entrance to her event, timed to hatch as people arrived. It was beautiful. And it was remarkable, enough so that you’d never forget it. Because of Annalie, I now insist that everything we do has that kind of design about it. You really can’t believe what a difference it makes.
Miss Pamela Hinde, my 2nd grade teacher at Lane Cove Public, in Sydney Australia, and now retired. She taught me to read and write, after I’d repeated 2nd grade for not being able to do so. Obviously, the fact that I get to write blogs and books now, is all because of her. I can’t imagine how my life would be different now without her.
And finally, my fast entry graduates, now, and in all roles previously. They make you think differently about the way you’ve been brought up to do work. They also, if they’re any good at all, tell you you’re crap from time to time. I’ve had lots that have changed my thinking about things, and I rely on them not knowing what can’t be done to know which impossible things we should do next. They are also very useful for translating next generation thinking into stuff oldies can understand. I still can’t believe I’m now one of the oldies...
Who are your top 5? Shall we start a meme?