Learning is the key

Last week I attended Verne Harnish’s Growth Summit here in Sydney. It was great to get a shot in the arm – that is, inspirational learnings. We have implemented so much of Verne’s Rockefeller habits over time. In fact Verne shot some video of how we have applied this to our business, which I will share in future blogs

I went specifically to have two questions answered.

  1. How do I continue to play a bigger game – without fear of the economic climate?
  2. What if…? How do we ask the right questions to ensure that we stay nimble and responsive as we grow.

I share with you a few clear takeaways.

  • Our job [as CEO] is to keep delivering ideas to the business – so we must keep learning. We must spend time learning especially in tough times.
  • What is the right question to be asking? Less statements and more questions will reveal the way forward.
  • Talk less. Listen more.
  • If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.
  • Whoever has the best intelligence quickest wins – that is, spotting trends quickly.
  • What is the No. 1 thing we are focusing on for the trimester/quarter.
  • It must stay absolutely true and in alignment with the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) – is everyone playing for the same BHAG?
  • What will block the competition from entering our market place – the X factor (What do we hate about this industry or the way business is done – what are we prepared to take on that no one else in the industry will?)
  • How can we reduce the cost of acquisition of a customer 10-fold?
  • How can we reduce the cost to serve, but increase the customer experience?
  • Marketing is the key to continued growth – marketing is about acquiring relationship.
  • You can’t have great customer relationships without highly engaged people.
  • Who is accountable in the business for customer advocacy?
  • Whoever taps into the most brains wins.
  • Do we listen for our black swan moment? Where will the “big idea” come from?
  • How do we capture ideas from customers consistently – “I’m not smart enough alone!” – Michael Dell on Ideastorm.com
  • How many outbound customer calls do senior leaders make spontaneously each week?

An insight into growth opportunities in a downturn:

“I will not accept the explanation of a recession negatively affecting the [new] business. There are still people travelling. We just have to get them to stay in our hotels.” Horst Schulze – Ritz Carlton.

The room was full of very positive people who are all seeing opportunity for their businesses. It was great to feel the energy in the room and experience the optimism of entreprenuers.


Naomi is the 2008 National Telstra Women’s Business Award winner for Innovation. Naomi was also a finalist for the Australian HR Awards and a finalist for the BRW Most Admired Business Owner Award in 2008. Also in 2008 RedBalloon achieved a 97% Hewitt employee engagement score.

One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a professional speaker inspiring middle to high-level leaders on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and has written a book sharing the lessons from her first five years.

To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .


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