Bridge Talks: Liggy Webb on Resilience

Liggy Webb, behavioural skills expert, author and founder of The Learning Architect, an international consortium of behavioural skills specialists, joined BridgeTalks on January 26, 2016 to talk on “Service Excellence: The Human Driver”.

The talk was opened by Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events. Dale introduced the topic with some of his own experience with resilience.

Focusing on Resilience, Liggy shared findings from research for her latest book, “Resilience – How to cope when everything around you keeps changing”.

Liggy first introduced the idea of living in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) and turning this around to be full of Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility.

The audience came to an agreed definition of resilience (including ‘staying calm’, ‘stickability’ and ‘confidence’) before Liggy moved on to the idea of a “Boomerang” vs a “Doom-erang” and how being resilient is about letting go.

Through her research, Liggy found that the three constant characteristics of a resilient person are:

– Accountability – the ability to take responsibility for a situation
– Agility – the ability to learn and relearn
– Attitude – keeping a positive mindset

Liggy went on to share the top 10 key strategies for building resilience.

Delegates enjoyed drinks and canapés at the networking reception following the talk in the Courthouse Hotel bar.

Bridge Talks: Robert Pratten & Alison Esse on Storytelling

December 8 was the final BridgeTalks evening for 2015, and delegates were joined by not one, but two speakers on the topic of Storytelling at the Courthouse Hotel. Robert Pratten, Founder and CEO of Transmedia Storyteller joined BridgeTalks, as well as Alison Esse, Co-Founder and Director of the Storytellers.

‘Storytelling’ is a methodology and tool that allows businesses to implement organisation-wide change; it engages and aligns employees to drive culture and performance whilst drawing consumers into the brand identity and promise.

The talk was opened by Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events. Dale introduced the topic with some of his own experience with storytelling, working with clients and in his own life.

Robert Pratten is CEO and Founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd, creators of Conducttr. Robert took delegates through just some of the successful projects and uses of the audience engagement software. Transmedia Storyteller uses multiple platforms to immerse users in a storytelling experience that parallels their real life through interactive storytelling to engage users and convey messages.

With a background in PR and Marketing, Alison Esse co-founded The Storytellers in 2003, bringing together a collective of expertise in change, strategic communications, graphic and event design, film and project management to form a pioneering approach to culture change and strategy engagement in large organisations. During the talk, Alison brought to life case studies through stories as well as giving delegates insight into The Storytellers’ methodology.

Delegates enjoyed drinks and canapés at the networking reception following the talk in the Courthouse Hotel bar.

Bridge Talks: Michael Chaskalson on Mindfulness

On September 15, BridgeTalks was joined by Mindfulness expert, Michael Chaskalson as he presented “Mindful Leadership” at the Courthouse Hotel.

Michael is one of the UK’s leading mindfulness trainers, author of The Mindful Workplace, and the founder and director of Mindfulness Works Ltd., a major European provider of mindfulness-based interventions.

Delegates enjoyed complimentary seated massages from Therapy Solutions during registration and were ‘blissed out’ and ready to be mindful when the talk began at 7pm.

The talk was opened by Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events. Dale introduced Michael by speaking to the delegates on his experience of mindfulness by using a conscious mind; being aware of the task at hand, finding calm in any environment and setting a daily alarm to remind himself to be mindful.

Michael opened his talk by introducing the concept of mindfulness and what it actually means. He then took delegates back to his beginnings in the subject – as a practising Buddhist, Michael went on to study mindfulness as a formalised subject at University of Bangor. He was the first graduate of his course – at a time where were just 44 peer-reviewed articles on the subject (there are now 50 publications per month). While doing so, Michael realised his future career was to be found in increasing people’s mindfulness, leading to a better work environment for themselves as well as for others.

Michael then continued with examples of the successful results of mindfulness training, particularly in US Marines. Michael explained the necessity of mindfulness and clear thinking, as an act by a marine can lead to great personal and political effects. Therefore, decisions have to be made consciously.

Delegates then experienced mindfulness first-hand with a guided meditation. Each guest was handed a raisin, and Michael guided delegates consider the raisin mindfully, by consciously touching, feeling, looking, smelling and tasting the raisin.

Delegates gave their feedback as Michael asked how they experienced the raisin and how mindful they were when the raisin was consumed so consciously. Some delegates considered the raisin’s journey, some realised they actually liked raisins and others were sad when the experience was over.

Michael illustrated that by training the mind in mindfulness for just 12 minutes a day, decision-making becomes better.

Delegates enjoyed drinks and canapés at the networking reception following the talk, in the Courthouse Hotel bar.

Bridge Talks: Scott Northcutt on Employee Engagement

On 2nd June, Scott Northcutt, Senior VP of HR at Bacardi Limited joined BridgeTalks to present “Inside the Brand DNA of Employee Engagement”. Scott has over 20 years’ experience in HR, with previous positions held at Walmart and DHL. He joined BridgeTalks to give insight into Bacardi’s successful people strategy.

To give some background, Bacardi is the largest privately-held spirits company in the world. It began as a family-run business in 1862 and to this day has survived fire, earthquake, prohibition, civil war and exile from Cuba. Throughout all this, people have been the key to Bacardi’s success, with family values close to its heart. With 8,000 employees in 160 markets; Bacardi now incorporates brands such as Martini, Grey Goose, and St Germain to name a few.

Guests were welcomed with Mojitos, Martinis and St Germain cocktails at registration and finished off their drinks to be ushered into the Courthouse Hotel’s private cinema. Dale Smith, Director of Creation at Bridge Training & Events began the BridgeTalk with his introduction. He spoke on brand and storytelling, and how for employees to really engage with an organisation, they need to be part of the story. Reflecting on Bacardi’s history, he explained to delegates that stories stretch out from the past into the future, and that success needs to be celebrated.

“A really great brand story in the now is like being a great futurologist and a great historian,” said Dale.

Scott then kicked off his talk by setting the questions for the evening: What is engagement, how do you know if you’ve got it, what can you do to get it and how do you keep it?

After introducing himself and the company, Scott introduced the “Virtuous Cycle of Sustainable Success” whereby enablement and engagement are self-sustaining. Scott went on to talk about Values-Based Performance. Here he drew some formulaic conclusions:

P + V = Y

If a person performs and has our Values, that is who we want and should build around.

P – V = N

The person performs but does not have the Values or fit for the Company. Then they need to leave the organisation.

V – P = ?

The person has the Values but is not currently performing. It is the responsibility of the organisation to check for job fit, see if the person is aware of the issue, offer coaching and training. These options should be explored before deciding what to do, but the person ultimately needs to perform.

Scott then gave delegates a taste of Bacardi’s recipe for success; how they achieve engagement.

He explained, “There are no silver bullets, it’s more a cocktail of different ingredients that satisfy the “taste profile” of your employees.”

Making Bacardi the place to be is one Scott’s directives as VP of HR. There have been many programmes implemented to support this, and Scott touched on a few; such as Living Legends, Talent Exchange, Step Up, Rising Stars and Winning at Bacardi.

In summary, Scott’s top 10 tips for engaged employees are:

  1. 1. Communication : Consistent, transparent and authentic
  2. 2. Values Based Performance
  3. 3. Ability to Make a Difference
  4. 4. Visible & Approachable leadership
  5. 5. Development Including Career & Succession Planning
  6. 6. Recognition – as an Accelerator
  7. 7. Make Tough Calls
  8. 8. Social Responsibility
  9. 9. Break down Barriers – Speed Decision Making
  10. 10. Have Fun

Finally, after a Q & A session, St Germain Brand Ambassador Camille gave delegates the opportunity to learn how to make one of the three cocktails they tasted at registration. This was a big hit at the networking reception with guests enjoying candid chat with Scott while sipping on martinis, mojitos and St Germain cocktails.

Bridge Talks: Hamish Pringle on Brand & Culture

On Tuesday, 14 April Hamish Pringle joined the BridgeTalk community at the Courthouse Hotel in Soho to present ‘Engaging Employees with Brand and Culture’.

To begin his talk, Hamish tackled the question: Why engage employees? He explained that with more points of contact available through social media and contact centres, these days more employees are at the front line of an organisation, and therefore employees are directly related to a leading factor in retaining loyal customers.

Exploring the relationship between brand and culture, Hamish defined brands as not being rigid; each person builds his or her own experience and perception around a brand. As such, a brand exists uniquely differently to each person and so is owned by people as an intangible promise in the customer’s mind.

“Very often employees are absolutely crucial in achieving that. They are crucial in conveying that promise and then in keeping it,” said Hamish.

Hamish used the example of Tesco’s ‘Every Little Helps’ campaign as a best practice brand promise. In the early days, all business decisions in Tesco were taken with the frame; ‘does this help the customer?’ However, as time went by, this promise was broken and 53% of its market cap was lost in a short period of time. Now, Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Dave Lewis (formerly of Unilever) is in search of Tesco’s DNA, to find what made it successful.
“We know what it is, it’s ‘Every Little Helps’. And unfortunately I suspect that they are going to come up with something else, which won’t be as good, and they will lose that enormous brand heritage they’ve invested millions and millions of pounds in, which all their employees, all their staff all understand deeply,” said Hamish.

Next, Hamish talked about culture; ‘the way we do things around here’. He said, at the heart of culture is brand story, and culture depends upon brands having a coherent, well-articulated story. A great story can orient all employees together, unifying them to one direction.

“The single most important thing [a leader] have to do, is they have to have a great story, and they have to tell it brilliantly, and they have to never tire of telling it. And if they are a walking, talking brand ambassador, and culture generator, that’s the most powerful thing that a company can have,” said Hamish.

It is by creating a self-confident organisation, which is confident in itself and in which its employees are self-confident, that an organisation can find success. Hamish stated that a brand promise needs to be crystalized in its mission, vision and values; and this needs to be embedded and lived within the organisation. Leadership needs to communicate the brand story to employees and internal and external values need to be aligned; which means recruiting on attitudes and values as well as skills in order for employees to fit into the culture of the organisation. Staff should be fluent in the brand story; good advertising can create a language helps engage employees. It is also important that defined powers of decision-making are given to brand ambassadors in order to make discretionary decisions in the customer’s favour. Doing all this creates a self-confident organisation, where brand and culture are brought together most successfully.

“If employees are given the information as to what counts as good service in their particular market, for their particular business, their particular brand; and if they understand why the expectations are less than 100% and where the areas of weakness are; and if they’re empowered to address those areas of weakness, and if they just simply know about them, I think there’s a much greater chance that they will then deliver and manage people’s expectations and over-deliver against good service. So that’s how you get a great customer experience. That’s how you get the customer delight that we keep hearing about,” Hamish said.

In summary, Hamish put it simply:
Why engage employees?
It makes for a better, more successful and profitable business.
What is a brand?
A promise that has to be created, conveyed and kept. What is a culture? A natural fit between the staff and the brand story, living in a narrative that is completely engrossing.
What is a self-confident organisation?
One where staff are aligned, and able to ad-lib, express themselves around the narrative that has been delivered by the leadership.

Bridge Talks: Nic Marks on Happiness

Nic Marks joined the BridgeTalks community on Tuesday evening, 24th February, to talk about Happiness in the workplace and why it should be taken more seriously by businesses and business leaders.

Nic began his BridgeTalk by explaining how his background as a statistician led him to pursue happiness in his company, Happiness Works. Nic is a numbers guy, and as such, he has made it his life’s mission to be able to provide business leaders with the numbers and statistics that prove that the happiness of their employees is of utmost importance to their businesses financially.

Emotions are a natural and evolutionary part of the human experience, Nic explained. Happiness is an emotion that we not only seek but that drives us forward as well.

When people are happy in their roles, happy with their colleagues and managers, happy with the work they do and the services and support that they provide, they are far more productive, effective and efficient in their roles than when they are simply happy with their earnings. Happiness impacts productivity far more than productivity impacts happiness, Nic explained, and he had the numbers to prove it!

Nic also offered five key ways that people can take control of their own Happiness, particularly in the workplace. “Connect with others, be fair to yourself and to others, be empowered by what you can and have achieved, challenge yourself and allow yourself to be inspired.”

“Turn the music on and dance,” Nic said, as Happiness is important – both to the individual and to the business – and it must be taken seriously! Unhappiness costs businesses millions of pounds every year and should therefore be monitored on a regular basis.

How can you measure happiness in your workplace? Happiness Works, “can provide the measurements necessary to kick start positive change.” This is how Nic described his latest work, an online system that asks one question every day – How happy were you at work today? Using this tool, business leaders can begin and maintain an active dialogue with their employees so that they may ensure they are getting the most out of their workforce. (To learn more about this programme, visit

Bridge Talks: David Marshall on Service Excellence

The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth was founded in 1856. Even today, it strives to provide the highest quality health care for all who seek it.

Thus, in 2013, the hospital launched its culture and employee engagement initiative, “Excellence – Making the Difference,” and with a renewed clarity of their mission and values, succeeded in bringing Service Excellence forward as a key market differentiator.

Taking BridgeTalks attendees into his confidence, David Marshall spoke about the history, the significance and the impact of this programme, about the strategic drivers and the cultural benefits that have seen this initiative succeed.

Bridge Talks: Duncan Slater on Motivation

Following the amputation of his legs five years ago, Duncan Slater continues to amaze and inspire those he meets. Finding his own motivation and utilising the leadership skills he gained in the military, with drive and insurmountable determination, Duncan set out to encourage others in similar situations to follow his example.

Whether running a marathon, cycling across the UK or completing a 200-mile journey on foot to the South Pole, Duncan Slater’s story has been an empowering reminder to us all.

Never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot achieve. Never accept a fate you know you are capable of overcoming. At the end of the day, it is all about the attitude you keep. These are just a few of the lessons learned from Duncan Slater’s BridgeTalk.

Bridge Talks: Simon Lewis on Creativity

Successful business management – where customer experience and employee engagement are perfectly aligned – requires the creative leadership and skilful orchestration only a few can manage.

Has your organisation lost focus? Do you recognise your business’ tone of voice? Have you lost touch with your clients? Do you know why? When confusion and indecision abound, your customers and employees will be swept up by the competition before you have a chance to react.

What if you could find ways to constantly innovate and continually improve customer engagement? What would happen to your business if your staff became the dedicated, loyal personnel you always knew they could be? Simon Lewis explained it all… at BridgeTalks.

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