Staff

  • By Grant Stain
  • 09 Apr, 2017

5 tips to help manage staff more effectively

One of the hardest parts of growing a small business is managing staff. Dealing with the day to day issues that come up preventing you getting on with growing your business is one of the most frustrating parts of running your own company.

I've listed five tips here that have helped me manage my staff over the years that you may find useful.

1. Build systems: If your internal business systems are designed around the roles of your staff it can save a lot of problems along the way. If each time you have a staff issue you amend your system to accommodate the situation, your systems should evolve and avoid similar problems in the future. An example of this would be a member of staff consistently forgetting to undertake a particular task. By applying a flagging system, a reminder, alert or trigger, you will then either solve the problem or have the evidence to discipline accordingly. My motto is, always be improving the systems, always keep learning from mistakes.

2. Communication: One of my personal weaknesses this one! Quite often I have found that I have neglected to communicate new initiatives in my businesses appropriately to all of the organisation. This sometimes causes me to verge on paranoia and end up repeating myself a lot to my team! By keeping all of the staff informed on the business goals, objectives and general on-going issues, you can build a fantastic team atmosphere. Regular team meetings, social events and a communication system that fits appropriately with your business are key. In my various businesses I have used a variety of different tools for doing this and they change depending on the level of staff I'm communicating with. For example, I often use a What's App group for management teams and then email communication, triggered from our CRM for more general staff matters.

3. Set goals with rewards: I use a staff review system that includes goals and targets set on a quarterly and annual basis. Each quarter the previous goals are reviewed and marked by achievement. My managers also use this system with their staff and it works consistently down the managerial line. When goals are achieved rewards are based on the achievement. There are several rewards systems available to employers now such as Perk Box  but I've used a variety, from a good old fashioned bonus through to a holiday.

4. Work with strengths: I few years ago an extremely successful entrepreneur showed me how he managed his staff from the very beginning of their employment by assessing their strengths. I found this to be completely in line with my core values and love the positive approach of focussing on strengths rather than weaknesses. There are various strength finder tests that are available along with books that help you best understand the way to utilise the strengths and manage accordingly. Each member of staff takes the test and then you can see what their strengths are and what job roles will suit them best. I have now taken this to the next level by employing team members based primarily on their core values fitting with the business and then fitting their strengths with the appropriate role there after.

5. Know the law: On more than one occasion I have found myself in need of an employment solicitor when dealing with a tricky staffing situation. Employment law can be a minefield and when faced with a situation you need to know you’re getting the right advice. For many years I have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce who offer a free employment support line. They gave me invaluable advice and support and I highly recommend their membership for that service on its own. There are other organisations that provide similar services and for the business owner with only a small team this is a great first step in resolving issues or making sure you are operating correctly and in accordance with employment law. Of course, for more serious instances, a employment law solicitor may not be avoided!

Despite this article having elements relating to staffing problems, I would like to end it by saying that despite having my fair share of issues over the years, my team have been awesome. When you find the right people, they are the greatest asset your business has and are the foundation of the organisation.

BLAM Blog

By Grant Stain 24 Apr, 2017
Having been in the app development business since the start, I try my best to practice what I preach by using a variety of apps for my business. The technology is ever evolving as we rely more and more on these amazing devices called smart phones to improve our work and home lives. I’ve listed below the top five apps that I use daily and find to be the most useful, inspiring and helpful when managing a full on entrepreneurial lifestyle!

1. Reminders. The reminders app is included on the iPhone as standard and there are several similar apps available on Android. It sincs seamlessly with iCal as you would expect. The great feature that I love on this app is the ability to set reminders that are triggered by location. This means you can organise your to-do list and trigger a notification when you arrive or leave a specified destination. I therefore get a notification for my tasks for the day as I pull to up to the office which I find invaluable.

2. Think Up. Daily affirmations have been used by pretty much every top entrepreneur I’ve ever read about. Programming your subconscious for success has never been easier now the smart phone is in our lives. Think Up is available on Android and iPhone allows you to record your own voice and then set reminders to play your affirmations back to you twice a day, accompanied by music.

3. My Gratitude Journal (Mojo). This is an app I’ve been using for years and it really is a great tool for keeping your positivity focussed on the important things. It also builds up a nice diary of events as when I look back the images and notes really are windows back to how I was feeling at that time. In essence each day you can use a picture and as many gratitude “moments” as you like, the theory being that being grateful is a key ingredient to keeping your mindset positive.

4. Gekoboard. This app links up with Google sheets spreadsheet to build beautifully designed graphs to track all of the KPI’s in your business. At a glance you can keep an eye on all of the important stats and quickly see that things are going on the right direction (or not).

5. Audible. A firm favourite with many people I know, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. I listen to books daily on this app and it is the source of much entertainment, inspiration and relaxation. My library is filled with all manner of business books and entrepreneurial autobiographies as well as the odd novel for when I need to switch off (not often, lol).

This list was tough to compile as there are so many great apps out there, I’d genuinely love to hear from you with your favourite apps that have made you live a more successful and productive life.

Have a great week!
By Grant Stain 19 Apr, 2017

Running   BLAM  Partners gives me the privilege of meeting lots of people starting a business for the first time. This can be a daunting prospect for them and, let's face it, it's not for the faint hearted!

We provide plenty of resources to help these first timers, but with this article I wanted to reveal some of the less conventional tips that I've seen used to great effect for start ups. They may not be for you, but that's what makes life interesting, it takes all sorts!

1. Develop morning routines   - This may seem a fairly ordinary tip, but that does very much depend on the routine! Having a sequence of practices that are geared around your businesses performance from the moment you wake up, puts you in the right mindset as the day begins. I know of some entrepreneurs that get up at 4am to get their work done whilst there are no distractions at all, so after their first stint of work they can fit in a gym session at 6.30am then a family fix around 8am, then they finally go into work.

2. Affirmations   - Writing down a statement of intent and then repeating it out loud several times a day may sound a bit crazy, but thousands of successful millionaires do this, as described by Napoleon Hill in "Think and Grow Rich". There are numerous variations on this practice and it’s not for those that feel self conscious when caught doing it. I’ve had many a weird stare from other drivers when they catch me talking to myself on my morning commute in the car!

3. Meditation   - Meditation can help you focus on your goals, define your purpose and relax your mind when the stress of running a business gets to you. It is becoming a more conventional tool these days and there are plenty of apps that will help you begin your journey to reaching mindfulness nirvana. How much meditation you undertake though is down to you, but it's all too easy to say "I'm too busy to meditate”. I’ve even gone as far as getting a meditation teacher in to the office to educate the my team on how to get the most out of their meditation.

4. Talk to your pet   - I recently read an interesting article from a fantastically wealthy entrepreneur who gauged his motivational talks by how long he could keep his pet Great Dane sat paying attention to him. If the dog lay down whilst he was practising he would assume it wasn’t good enough and adjust it until he held his attention for the full speech. So, I am now suggesting that we all practice our pitches on our pets, if we can’t hold their attention, what chance do we have with prospects?

5. Dress to impress   - Think about what you wear and the way you look every single day because like it or not you are judged by the way you look. Unless you are a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg (who are on another level entirely) looking as good as you can, appropriate to the business you are in, can give you the edge. If you are the best dressed person in the business meeting you are already making a good impression and for the right reasons.

If you find these tips interesting and want to find out more about how we help our BLAM Partners achieve success check out one of our webinars that we run every week, available to all   here .

Have a great week!

By Grant Stain 09 Apr, 2017

One of the hardest parts of growing a small business is managing staff. Dealing with the day to day issues that come up preventing you getting on with growing your business is one of the most frustrating parts of running your own company.

I've listed five tips here that have helped me manage my staff over the years that you may find useful.

1. Build systems: If your internal business systems are designed around the roles of your staff it can save a lot of problems along the way. If each time you have a staff issue you amend your system to accommodate the situation, your systems should evolve and avoid similar problems in the future. An example of this would be a member of staff consistently forgetting to undertake a particular task. By applying a flagging system, a reminder, alert or trigger, you will then either solve the problem or have the evidence to discipline accordingly. My motto is, always be improving the systems, always keep learning from mistakes.

2. Communication: One of my personal weaknesses this one! Quite often I have found that I have neglected to communicate new initiatives in my businesses appropriately to all of the organisation. This sometimes causes me to verge on paranoia and end up repeating myself a lot to my team! By keeping all of the staff informed on the business goals, objectives and general on-going issues, you can build a fantastic team atmosphere. Regular team meetings, social events and a communication system that fits appropriately with your business are key. In my various businesses I have used a variety of different tools for doing this and they change depending on the level of staff I'm communicating with. For example, I often use a What's App group for management teams and then email communication, triggered from our CRM for more general staff matters.

3. Set goals with rewards: I use a staff review system that includes goals and targets set on a quarterly and annual basis. Each quarter the previous goals are reviewed and marked by achievement. My managers also use this system with their staff and it works consistently down the managerial line. When goals are achieved rewards are based on the achievement. There are several rewards systems available to employers now such as Perk Box  but I've used a variety, from a good old fashioned bonus through to a holiday.

4. Work with strengths: I few years ago an extremely successful entrepreneur showed me how he managed his staff from the very beginning of their employment by assessing their strengths. I found this to be completely in line with my core values and love the positive approach of focussing on strengths rather than weaknesses. There are various strength finder tests that are available along with books that help you best understand the way to utilise the strengths and manage accordingly. Each member of staff takes the test and then you can see what their strengths are and what job roles will suit them best. I have now taken this to the next level by employing team members based primarily on their core values fitting with the business and then fitting their strengths with the appropriate role there after.

5. Know the law: On more than one occasion I have found myself in need of an employment solicitor when dealing with a tricky staffing situation. Employment law can be a minefield and when faced with a situation you need to know you’re getting the right advice. For many years I have been a member of the Chamber of Commerce who offer a free employment support line. They gave me invaluable advice and support and I highly recommend their membership for that service on its own. There are other organisations that provide similar services and for the business owner with only a small team this is a great first step in resolving issues or making sure you are operating correctly and in accordance with employment law. Of course, for more serious instances, a employment law solicitor may not be avoided!

Despite this article having elements relating to staffing problems, I would like to end it by saying that despite having my fair share of issues over the years, my team have been awesome. When you find the right people, they are the greatest asset your business has and are the foundation of the organisation.

By Grant Stain 02 Apr, 2017

From a young age my parents drummed into me that honesty is the best policy. When I was at junior school I recall accidentally throwing a hardball through a high window, showering the entire assembly hall with glass. To my mates amazement I went and told the teacher immediately and was sent to the head master. He actually praised me for my honesty and then when in the next assembly (after the glass had been cleared) he made me stand up and used me as an example for my honesty, pointing out that it was because of my confession that I wasn’t punished.

What a great head he was, as this had a lasting effect on my attitude, which I've carried through to my business career too.

When it comes to selling in business there is a temptation to tell lies to further enhance your product or service. You may prefer to use the term exaggeration or stretching the truth but the principle is the same, it's lying.

Historically this is one of the main reasons why sales people have got a bad reputation. Whether it's the stereotypical slimy car sales person or the boiler room commission based telesales executive, we often have a perception that their morals are less than saintly and sometimes for good reason.


"But where do we draw the line, and how do we know 

when we're stretching the truth too far?"


Lying is a fact of life, we all do it to a certain extent. Whether it's making an excuse for why we're running late or telling our partner that their bum doesn't look big in that outfit, it's a fact of life that we are all aware of. But where do we draw the line, and how do we know when we're stretching the truth too far?

I often find with business owners I coach who are new to selling or are less experienced in their product range (e.g. some of our BLAM Partners), they are tempted to appear more expert or experienced in their subject than they truly are. In this instance my advice is always honesty is the best policy. If you are found out to be less experienced than you have said, your credibility is completely blown and the chances of a sale are less than zero!

"Disarming honesty" is contrary to how traditional sales people are used to acting. Admitting that you don’t know the answer to a question can be a pleasant surprise to your prospect and can build trust and rapport. As long as the question is answered at some point (usually after the appointment) in an efficient and professional manner, it can actually help your pitch rather than damage it.

This has often worked for me and my sales people over the years. In the cases where the prospect has reacted badly to not being given the answer immediately, then they would never have been a good fit for our business anyway, if that’s the way they choose to behave.

So, I say to people who are new to selling, be truthful with your prospects and be disarmingly honest, after all it’s much more difficult to remember a lie than it is to recall the truth!

By Grant Stain 26 Mar, 2017

There seems to be an unlimited number of business gurus out there at the moment vying for the role of coaching entrepreneurs in all aspects of the business world.

“Coaching" seems to be the new buzz word that we keep hearing, and as ever there are a variety of different interpretations of what essentially is what we used to call consulting. Don’t get me wrong, I am of course a big fan of coaching, and have two that I use myself, I just tend to be wary when a new spin on an old idea starts taking hold!

Recently I attended an invigorating all day seminar where the familiar mantra of "be coachable" was pronounced at every opportunity (check out Les Brown for more being coachable inspiration). If you are being syndical, the reason for this seemed pretty transparent, as coaching is effectively what was being sold, at what on first appearance, seemed like extremely high prices.

The value of the coaching, we were told, was in the potential of what could be achieved once given the knowledge and then applying it. However, I found myself asking the question, "how valuable is this coaching and what is it really worth?"

During the seminar the speaker explained how he was charged hundreds of thousands of dollars by his own coach, based on how much he was likely to earn as a result of the learning. This seemed like a totally unreasonable amount of money on the surface, however the speaker was happy to pay it due to the high return on the investment he received. To him, it was actually amazingly good value.

So, the speaker took a decision to pay an extremely large amount of cash in exchange for the coaching sessions. He then went on to adjust his business in accordance with his coach's advice and went on to earn millions as a result.


“people don’t value what they don’t pay for”


The whole thing would have been a huge waste of money however, if the speaker had not applied what he had learnt and followed through with huge commitment and effort. It's a fascinating piece of phycology that having paid thousands for being coached, the incentive to make it work was enormous, and therefore more likely to work.

We often value that which we pay more for and in the world of coaching if we only pay a small amount of money, we're much less likely to take action with the learning.

An example of this principle in reverse occurs within our BLAM partnership programme. As part of the programme, all partners receive a full resource centre of all the knowledge that we have built up over years from selling hundreds of websites and apps. The value of this knowledge when added up, based on what it has earned all of our partners past and present is millions of pounds. Yet, what we find is that the resource centre is generally not exploited to the full despite it being freely available to all members. We have a record of how it is accessed and by whom and it's fascinating to see it's usage. A great saying from Oren Klaff springs to mind, “people don’t value what they don’t pay for”.

It's interesting to speculate what the usage would have been in our resource centre if we had made it an optional extra that partners had to pay for. How much more I wonder would it be used (we're not doing this btw!), and how much more successful would our network of partners be?

My point being that what ever product or service you are selling, be mindful of selling the value not the price. Often I see small business owners underselling themselves as they have an idea about their price being too expensive. We have some BLAM Partners that will sell a product for three times as much as another without any difficulty, and it’s essentially the same product. These are the partners that are selling the value not the price.

If you equate your product or service to its value rather than its price, it's an excellent opportunity to help the buyer take action and improve your businesses perception whilst doing so. So I urge you to take a long look at your business and think, what are my products and services really worth to my customers? And even if you don’t charge your prices, you need to let your customers know your real value.

By Grant Stain 18 Mar, 2017
One of the hardest parts of running a small business is staying motivated. This is particularly true if you work on your own or spend a lot of time locked in your office away from the other staff.

You may not like to admit it but how often do you find yourself feeling distracted, lack lustre or just plain lazy, despite there being a "to do" list as long as your arm?

Generating the motivational energy to get the job done when you have these unproductive days is tough. When you don't have a boss to be accountable to, who holds the threat of dismissal over you if you don't perform as expected, means that it's easy to become unproductive.


"Often, good people, who have had successful careers in employment,
struggle to find motivation when they go it alone"



Over the years I've seen this symptom many, many times, particularly with people who start their own business for the first time. Often, good people, who have had successful careers in employment, struggle to find motivation when they go it alone. Without the routine and the structure of employment, and the threat of not being paid if tasks aren't completed, performance can be well below what they are capable of achieving.

So how can we find the motivation that will help us achieve success, even when our mojo is low? I've put together this list which has helped me stay motivated over the years, and has helped many business owners who I've mentored.

1. Goals. Defining financial goals for the business year, then three years in advance that are achievable and within reach is a great way of staying motivated (if your goals are too ambitious they can have a demotivating effect).

2. Vision board. Keep a vision board close to your work space and other prominent places (I keep mine as a screen saver on my phone). Seeing your dreams help remind you why you need to work so hard.

3. Weekly targets. Diarise and record weekly targets for all of your work behaviour that you know will get results-we call this a cook-book. All BLAM Partners have access to a cook-book in our resource centre.

4. Reward yourself. Give yourself a reward when you achieve certain targeted tasks. This could be as simple as a night out, family time or or maybe a short break if it's an important achievement.

5. Accountability partner. Find a person who will check that you are undertaking your weekly tasks. The fact that somebody is going to check that you are doing what you committed to is a big motivation. Sending your cook-book to them at the end of each week motivates us to make sure our tasks are completed.

6. Join a mastermind group. A group of like minded business people who meet at least once a month to discuss their business issues. They motivate, inspire and help each other stick to their goals. You can organise this yourself or join an existing group.

7. Get a mentor. Finding another business person who you respect and has a history of business experience can help you navigate the road to success by learning from their experience. Be bold and ask, you'll find that other business owners are keen to share their experience.

Most importantly, remember that we all have moments of self doubt when we struggle to find motivation. In these moments I always remind myself that being in business is the road less travelled and if it was easy, everyone would do it.
By Grant Stain 12 Mar, 2017
Ever since I was a boy I have been fascinated with cars. When driving along in the back of the family car I would challenge myself to call out every single make and model of car that drove past, and paid particular attention to the fast ones!

My main goal in life as a teenager was to buy my first car, pass my test and the world would then be my oyster. And so my first car, a customised VW Beetle, was my pride and joy and went through a series of incarnations as every penny I had went into customising it from top to bottom.

The real dream however was to have another rear engined, German engineered, piece of art, a Porsche 911. So in my early career as a graphic designer my main motivation to earn money was to fund my obsession with cars, in particular, Porsches.

I’ve now been lucky enough to own many fast cars over the years, and the number of Porsches has got into double figures such has been my obsession. I’ve joined the Porsche clubs, attended loads of Porsche rallies and sponsored a Porsche in a race series for a couple of seasons. And so when a friend and client of mine asked me to join him and his business partner in a venture founding a supercar experience business, it seemed like the perfect fit.

My role would be marketing and strategy, whilst the other two partners would run the day to day business and manage the cars. We all chipped in, donated cars and set about raising the funds to put together a fantastic fleet of vehicles and all of the infrastructure that goes with it.



"The first year was an exciting one,
but as new ventures always are, very, very hard work."



The first year was an exciting one, but as new ventures always are, very, very hard work. As I had other businesses to run as my “day” jobs, I would end up spending my weekends at race tracks all over the UK, presenting safety briefings and managing customer service issues. My family life suffered, and the amount of time that I actually spent driving the cars was minimal. It soon became clear that living the supercar dream wasn’t as flash as it seemed!

The biggest learning curve from founding and running that business for me was the effect that it had on my love for fast cars. Once you’ve driven a McLaren and a Ferrari back to back on a racetrack before you start work for the day, driving any sports car on the road feels mundane. By the time that I exited the business my love of fast cars had pretty much gone, something I would never have imagined possible only a couple of years previous.



"I found that turning my hobby into my
work actually took away some of the joy"



So, in my experience, I found that turning my hobby into my work actually took away some of the joy I found from having fun in my cars at the weekend. Driving a car that you’ve saved hard for, spent a long time searching for and then fastidiously maintained and cherished, is a far cry from running a fleet of supercars that need to earn their keep.

What I take away from this is not to confuse my hobbies with my work, as it can take the fun out of your weekend escapes, something that is vital when you push yourself hard during the week. I love my day job but I wouldn’t want it as a hobby, I now appreciate my hobbies more, but I don’t want them to be my job!

However, I didn’t learn my lesson, I sold my shares in the supercar business and bought a pub and brewery, but that’s another story!
By Grant Stain 05 Mar, 2017
It was World Book Day this week, and it was great to see so much fun being had, particularly from the kids, dressing up as their favourite literary characters. It prompted me to think about the collection of books in my library and the authors that have influenced me along the journey.

However, I don’t “read” much! I am an avid “listener” of books, preferring to consume my literature using my Audible app on my phone. This works for me as it means that the time spent every day in the car or on the train, is maximised by listening to a combination of my go-to business books, entrepreneur autobiographies and new business titles that take my fancy.



I don’t “read” much! I am an avid “listener”



I approach this time as my personal development time, and I really look forward to it. I commit to at least 4 hrs a week (usually quite a bit more) and at the moment I make sure that at least an hour of that is “Think and Grow Rich”, my number one, all time favourite personal development book.

I have over 80 titles in my Audible account that I add to each month and another large batch in my iTunes account. So if you fancy giving it a go, to help you save a bit of trial and error I have listed below my top ten favourite books that inspire me on my way to and from work.

1. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill. This extraordinary book was written over a period of 25 years and then published in 1937, and it still stands out as the best template to leading a successful life. It defines the “mastermind group” model and effectively describes the law of attraction in a very grounded and accessible way.

2. Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh. This powerful book has influenced me in almost everything I do in business. Tony Hsieh's unique approach to customer service is awe inspiring, a must read for anyone with a business that has customers!

3. Start with Why, Simon Sinek. This relatively short book speaks directly to me in particular as it so closely describes the way I like to approach branding within business. It’s all about the “Why" not necessarily the “What" and full of lots of other really useful marketing theory.

4. Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff. Oren Klaff is now starting to get the recognition he deserves as one of the worlds leading authorities on how to present to an audience that isn’t that bothered about what you have to say. Using his techniques gives you the power to raise your authority in the room, helping you close the deal.

5. The Greatness is Within You, Les Brown. Another regular player on my phone, you cannot fail to feel uplifted after listening to presentations from this super-inspiring motivational speaker. 10 minutes a day is like medicine for the mind!

6. 28 Business Thinkers Who Changed the World, Rhymer Rigby. I love this book because it condenses 28 examples of amazing business stories, allowing me to draw from them in my day to day life without having had to read/listened a full book on each (although I have on a few of them!).

7. The E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber. This is the “go-to" book for any aspiring entrepreneur, it eloquently explains why most new businesses fail and how to build a business that won’t send you to an early grave!

8. The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss. Trust me, with only a few exceptions, any work week that is hugely profitable after only four hours will have been developed after years of tirelessly working 12hrs+ a day. However,the lessons described in this book are famous for short cutting some common business processes, particularly in the on-line arena.

9. How to Get Rich, Felix Dennis. This story is told with a twinkle in the eye, from a man who had lived life to the absolute full and had the scars to prove it. He sadly died in 2014 which make this read all the more poignant.

10. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. I listened to this after seeing it recommended by Will Smith. It is an endearing tale that is full of metaphors about life, I’ve made both of my children listen to this one too, highly recommended listening or reading but you need to read it more than once for full effect.

This list could have gone on a while, and it was tough choosing just 10!

It would be great to hear feedback from you if there are books that have helped you in life, I’m always looking for another good listen!

Have a great reading week!
By Grant Stain 25 Feb, 2017
Working with a mentoring client recently, I was delighted to find that one of their personal goals was to smile more. It may sound like the simplest of things but just the thought of having "smile more" as a personal goal made me feel very happy, I smiled a lot!



"smile it does make you feel happier, even if it's a fake smile"



Smiling is what you do when you are happy, but does it work the other way around, can we smile and then feel happier as a result? I believe we can. And I’m not the only one who thinks this, there's been plenty of research that shows that when you smile it does make you feel happier, even if it's a fake smile.

I once interviewed a potential developer for one of my companies who had on her CV an award that she had won whilst working in Tesco’s on the checkouts (whilst at Uni). To Tesco's great credit they recognised their staff by awarding an accolade for being the smiliest person in the store and Jini (who worked for me for some years after this) had won it. She had a great CV and turned out to be a great developer, but the thing that stands out in my memory about my decision making process for taking her on was the smiling award. It says so much about someone’s personality to have won an award like that and it proved to be absolutely true, I just new she’d fit in.



"I always ask my sales staff to smile when they are on the phone"



I am therefore a huge advocate of smiling at work, it has many so benefits. I always ask my sales staff to smile when they are on the phone. I’ve had some odd looks over the years and conversations along the lines of “but it’s the phone, they can’t see me!” but they can hear your smile. Just think about it next time you get a cold call from the ambulance chasers or the PPI call centre. If they were smiling (they usually aren’t) you could tell, it uplifts their whole demeanour, and I guarantee the ones that are smiling are the sales people that have the most success.

So give some thought to your smiling when working on your business. Practice smiling on the phone, in the car, on the train and watch the positive results, I guarantee it will make a difference :-)

Here is a list of some other benefits to smiling more:

• It’s contagious - you’ll get lots of smiles back, guaranteed
• Smiling boosts your immune system - it reduces cortisol
• Smiling is our 1st facial expression
• Forcing a smile will elevate your mood - try it, it really works
• Smiling makes you more attractive - 70% of people prefer a smiling face
• Smiling reduces blood pressure - yes, smiling saves lives
• Smiling is exercise for the face - 26 muscles are used in a smile
• Employers tend to promote people who smile often - unless you work at a funeral directors!
• There are 19 different types of smiles - can you name them?
• It’s easier to smile than frown - smile muscles are stronger
• Smiles can be detected from 300ft away - the friend or foe reflex
By Grant Stain 19 Feb, 2017

This weekend my wife and I have left the kids with nana and grandpa and we've travelled to Buxton in the Peak District, apparently England's leading Spa Town, nice. The weekend escape in February is an annual event that we commit to every year, visiting a different destination each time, we love it.

I do all of the planning. The research usually starts in November, and the challenge for me is to find an interesting town or city where Abby and I can spend a whole weekend not tied to the usual demands of a busy family and work life.


"I'm thinking about my businesses all of the time, it’s in my blood."


The break away from it all, is a very important event in our calendar and one that plays a significant role in my business life too. Don't worry, I don't spend the whole weekend working, quite the opposite in fact (except for this blog). But, as a certified, got the t-shirt entrepreneur, I'm thinking about my businesses all of the time, it’s in my blood.

When I'm away from the businesses (my staff and business partners know this) the constant contact that we get so used to is intentionally policed. That combined with the removal of family commitments (my weekend role is usually taxi driver, tutor and punchbag) my brain unwinds very quickly and I often have some inspired ideas that are implemented on my return with much enthusiasm.

The idea of taking a break away from it all to unwind is nothing new, but these days how much of a break do we really take when we have our phones in our pocket? Part of the ethos of our annual break is being disconnected from texts, LinkedIn, Facebook, What's app, phone calls and all the other distractions in our connected world. Here in Buxton for example, I have no data reception, no wifi, just, me, my wife and my thoughts. It was following one of my “thoughts", I felt compelled to write this blog as testimony to the power of the disconnected weekend break in Feb!


'I have no data reception, no wifi, just, me, my wife and my thoughts."


However, "embrace the beauty of technology" is one of BLAM's, and therefore my, core values and detaching myself from that technology in order to think creatively is something of an irony. The key thing for me is having the discipline to connect and disconnect to get the best results, something that doesn't always come easy to me.

I am writing this blog on my disconnected mobile, with relaxing music playing, in a clothes shop that has given me free coffee whilst Abby tries on several outfits. There's no signal so no interruptions, heaven :)

It's a well documented subject, the idea of intentionally unplugging and getting away from it all. My advice to our BLAM Partners is to make sure you diarise the breaks the same way you do with the work behaviours and consider the amount of connected time you allow yourself whilst you are there. Like me, I'm sure you will find hidden inspiration in your unconnected escape.

Next week, I will be refreshed and technology will be fully embraced once more and I'll be loving it! Now, where's that awesome little bar with craft beer on tap I spotted earlier, that looked really inspiring...

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