Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Politeness gets you nowhere, especially around women with balls

This morning I escaped the usual routine of working from home and attended an event called Clicking with Customers hosted by Yell.com. In amongst the talks aimed at helping small businesses find customers online (or is that the other way round?) we had some talks by inspirational entrepreneurs. In this case they both happened to be women.

First up was Lara Morgan who made £20 million out of providing miniatures soaps and shampoos to hotels. She was strictly no nonsense, giving us tips, lessons learnt and stories about brave decisions - like paying a general manager £120k a year when she was only drawing around £25k. She made mistakes but went for the top brands, worked seven days a week and never took no for an answer.

She has also written a book about her exploits including tips for success called More balls than most. Considering that my upcoming book Working from Home has been described by some as ‘chick lit with balls’ I thought she would be a good person to ask to review it.

I bought a copy of her book (some of the proceeds go towards research into testicular cancer) had a very quick chat and asked her for a book review. She kindly said yes, but warned me that it might take some time.

Next up was Michelle Mone the creator of Ultimo and owner of MJM International. Michelle came from humble beginnings but revolutionised the lingerie market with products that look great and feel comfortable. She started by announcing that she‘d just been sick and that she is always sick before big events and gave us some very funny examples.

She then told us the story of her brand and how she had never taken no for an answer at key times in her business life. Her story is inspiring, honest, very sad at times and also funny. She also declared that she was renowned for having balls when it came to business. She is writing a book at the moment and I’ll certainly be buying a copy.

At the end of her talk I quietly join the queue of people who want to have a quick word as I want to ask her to review my book. However, after a while I am informed that Michelle has to leave now to catch a plane. I walk away resigned to emailing her instead, but when I look over 20 minutes later she is still talking to people. In fact these people were behind me in the queue.

So which part of not taking no for an answer did I not hear during BOTH speeches?

NB. This is not a criticism about Michelle. She was staying longer than she should have so she could talk to as many people as possible.

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