Tim Smedley

Frequent journalist, occasional ghostwriter, book author in progress.

BBC Capital

Public speaking fear is limiting your career

Glen Savage is about to go on stage wearing wings and a halo. He’s terrified. The year is 1961 and the five-year old Savage is playing the Archangel Gabriel in the nativity play at St James School in Brisbane, Australia. He has just one line: “Come here baby angels”. Little did he know then, but the fear and anxiety of that moment would go on to shape his entire career. “I just remember thinking that I can’t do it. I can’t speak in front of all those people”, Savage recalls. “I was absolutely
Work.

The clan is weakened, the predator attacks

Before John Kotter’s seminal business book Leading Change in 1996, ‘change management’ could be described as a niche business term. In the years that followed, it became an entire industry and, in 2011, TIME magazine listed Leading Change as one of the ‘Top 25 Most Influential Business Management Books’ of all time. His latest title, however, is not a business book in the traditional sense. That’s Not How We Do It Here! is a short, illustrated story about meerkats. Faced with a changing habitat and the arrival of new predators, the community is confronted with the need to adapt and change, but is crippled by ingrained procedures and processes that stifle innovation. Sound familiar? It’s supposed to.
BBC

Careers you thought paid megabucks

We all know the type. The architects, property moguls and professors, who drive flashy cars and shower themselves with bank notes. Except the truth is, we only think we know their type. Our image of how much others are earning often doesn’t match the reality. While many professionals bring home above the national average wage, are they really as wealthy as we think given the years of student loans they rack up? BBC Capital set out to investigate...
The Guardian

Why leaders ignore new technology at their peril

Business leaders used to get by without knowing much about technology – they had an IT department to deal with that sort of thing. However, technology products and services now pervade every industry, and businesses that don’t understand them are in danger of being usurped. Uber’s impact on the taxi and automotive industries is a case in point. While established manufacturers and car hire firms continued to focus on hardware – the cars and the user experience – Uber’s simple software app linked...
Financial Times

Diversity at the top pays dividends

Does the gender of executives make a difference to business performance? The evidence is mounting that it does. McKinsey, the management consultancy, has published research showing that mixed-gender boards outperform all-male boards. Separate studies found a positive relationship between the diversity of executive boards and returns on assets and investments among Fortune-listed US companies. Sodexo, the outsourcing company, even has data that suggest global companies in which women make up at
Financial Times

Happy workplaces help companies perform better

Companies with a reputation for strong employee engagement and creating a happy workplace generate good publicity and cachet for their chief executives. But these companies are finding that what makes a great employer can also lead to business success. In fact, the link between employee attitudes and business performance has been known for decades. A series of influential experiments from the 1930s, known as the Hawthorne studies, showed the impact of improved workplace environments on overall factory outputs. One finding was that reducing the working day by half an hour saw productivity improve.
The Guardian

Domestic violence: the hidden workplace issue

"If it were not for my employer, I would not be alive today," says Melissa Morbeck, calmly. She is living proof that educating employers about domestic violence works. When she fled her husband, who had been beating her for years, she was a high-flying young executive in New York. Hospital admissions, miscarriages, and never breathing a word to anyone, had all become normal. Taking an overnight train to California with only $50 in her pocket and an assumed name, she began a new life as a secreta
First Voice

Small Business: accessing alternative finance

Despite constant pressure from the Chancellor, George Osborne, high street banks remain stubbornly reluctant to lend to small businesses. For the first time, the rejection rate for small and mediumsized firms now stands at around 50 per cent, according to research by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). However, there are two areas of small business finance that actually grew between 2012 and 2014, by 401 per cent and 250 per cent respectively: equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. Not only are these sectors set to continue to grow at astonishing rates, but they form only a small part of the alternative finance options available.
Work.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

AS ONE OF the world’s pre-eminent leadership experts, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter surprised many – herself included – when she tackled transport infrastructure in her latest book, Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead. A constant business traveller, both nationally and internationally, she found herself delayed time after time by traffi c jams and airport hold-ups. “To move is to thrive,” she writes. “To be stuck is to lack opportunity.” Unsurprisingly, having written leadership books for some four decades, Kanter also has something to say on the subject in Move, notably what happens in the absence of leadership and a lack of coherent direction
First Voice

Small Business: the Northern Powerhouse

It was only just over a year ago that the Chancellor, George Osborne, first announced his plan for “a Northern Powerhouse”, designed to forge closer links between Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, the North East, Hull and the Humber, so that “combined, they can take on the world”. The pace of the Northern Powerhouse scheme has been hectic. But what exactly is it, and what could it mean for small businesses? With a population of 11 million contributing to a quarter of UK’s economic output, Northern England’s gross value added (GVA) is larger than that of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. If it were an independent EU state, it would rank ahead of Sweden.
Work.

Arianna Huffington

 When the stress and long hours of launching and running her media empire caused her to collapse at home, breaking her cheekbone, Huffington was forced to radically reconsider the relationship between work and wellbeing. Now a leading advocate for workplace wellbeing, Huffington had recently attended the funeral of a friend when she spoke to Work. “After the ceremony all of us were asking ourselves the question – why are our résumés so different to our eulogies? Why is the time we spend during the day prioritising the things that we consider important, so different to the values that people remember us by when we die?”
The Guardian

Lack of women at the top is damaging the energy sector

The global energy and utilities sector has been underperforming for the past five years because of a surprising factor, according to a recent report by EY (Ernst & Young). The lack of gender diversity in senior leadership teams is holding back innovation. No wonder, as the numbers are shocking: just 4% of executive board members at the top 100 utilities companies are women. The author of the report, Alison Kay, global power and utilities leader at EY, believes this has left the energy sector wi
Financial Times

Forget the CV, data decide careers

“I no longer look at somebody’s CV to determine if we will interview them or not,” declares Teri Morse, who oversees the recruitment of 30,000 people each year at Xerox Services. Instead, her team analyses personal data to determine the fate of job candidates. She is not alone. “Big data” and complex algorithms are increasingly taking decisions out of the hands of individual interviewers – a trend that has far-reaching consequences for job seekers and recruiters alike.
Financial Times

Working abroad can prove addictive

Grace Oh’s first day in Paris was verging on surreal. She had just moved from L’Oréal UK to the company headquarters to become senior marketing manager for Asia-Pacific. She now had 14 national teams to deal with and markets to learn — 15 if you include France. And her first task was to decide on the desired “click sound” for a range of lipstick tubes. Presented with an assortment of clicks: “I then had to brief the factories as to the specific sound I wanted . . . I thought this may be part of some initiation ritual!” (It was not).
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