This weeks interviewee is Will Stone, brand strategy & communications consultant at Stone & Co Consulting. Based in Manchester, Will offers brand and strategy, corporate communications, crisis management, employee communications and change management, event management and production, social media and more.
1. Biggest mistake of your career & how you fixed it?
Fuck me. Biggest? Where do I start? Far too many to mention… Probably the time when I thought I was taking the initiative and upset a major customer of a company I worked for. To be honest he was a handful but I’ve got to admit I had a very squeaky bum as I headed down to London to see the sales director of my company following a summons overnight.
I knew I hadn’t royally screwed up but when you’re dealing with a hairdryer of a human, you never know. In the end, the sales director understood I’d not been malicious or negligent. Strangely, I was made redundant six months later though (on a very handsome package I may add).
I interviewed a CEO of an entrepreneurial business recently. His tip was to make mistakes, not doing may show you’re not trying hard enough. Another senior director told me, ‘do and beg for forgiveness afterward. For if you wait for permission it won’t necessarily be granted.’
That could all be bullshit but I do think you have to take risks, run with your gut instinct and challenge even the most senior person. Be true to yourself as well. Do you want to look back and silently swear under your breath that you wished you’d done it differently?
I probably have a few more but they’re bound by legal agreements.
2. A lightbulb moment
More like a flickering candle. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be. Is that wrong at nearly 45? I guess the key thing is to reduce stress and be happy.
Business-wise, I realised that I needed to be more targeted in my approach and focus on my strengths. The other aspect is to say no more often. Bloody hell, I’m realising this is sounding like some cliché from a Richard Branson book.
It’s simple really. Cut the bullshit, focus on your strengths and don’t get distracted by players.
3. Tip for tomorrow
I’m actually working on a plan to declutter my life. Before you jump up and down and say poppycock and it’s all mumbo-jumbo, there’s a lot of sense to this. I’ve been following The Minimalists and I’ve become fascinated by the fact we’ve fucked up our lives with social media, phones and this urge to peacock everywhere. For the first couple of years of business, I thought it was essential to do all the networking and social media shit. Reality is that it doesn’t matter.
What matters is focusing on what you want to do. There’s no surprise that there’s a massive increase in mental health issues along with the rise of social media and instant gratification from social media is there?
Don’t get me wrong, social media has enabled a lot of conversations for me but I’m not sure that enough people do it with purpose. It’s like a virtual world of Chat and Take-a-Break, a bloody nightmare at times.
So, I’ve set a 12-month target to change my reliance on my phone and social media. It’s a bit bigger than that as you also reduce your offline crap as well. I’ve culled 1,000 people I was following and am doing the same with LinkedIn and Facebook.
So my tips are:
1. Deflect the distractors – stop twitching the curtains of social media
2. Focus on your own shit, not others
3. Get some perspective – get out of town and breathe
4. Be bloody realistic – stop the brag (if you do)
5. Do something with purpose. Mentor/be mentored/volunteer – you’ll be humbled.
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