Episode 158 – Always Time for Coffee with Kate Minchin

Kate Minchin

Kate Minchin claims her entire career has been built on a mountain of coffee beans. Which sounds a bit precarious, but you get the idea: getting the best out of people is based on getting to know them, and that means getting out of the office and into conversation.

While there are stacks of business books written for leaders and entrepreneurs, relatively few are aimed at frontline managers (same goes for training, interestingly), and Kate wanted to right this wrong. The result is Always Time for Coffee: A Down-To-Earth Guide for Frontline Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors, full of real-life wisdom and tactical, practical tips for happier and more productive teams.

She had an interesting personal reason for writing the book too. And I can think I can safely say this is probably the only podcast episode that ever has and ever will include the phrase ‘non-zombie-specific stuff’.



LINKS:

Kate’s site: https://kateminchin.com/

Kate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/minchinwrites

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Creative Penn: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/

Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula: https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

Sign up for my business podcasting masterclass: https://alisonjones.lpages.co/podcasting-masterclass/

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge starts 29 April: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/

20 questions you need to ask any potential publishing partner

Alison Jones:                        Hello, and welcome to the Extraordinary Business Book Club, and it’s brilliant being here today with Kate Minchin, who’s had one of those careers that, quite frankly, make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. She began by producing and directing fringe theatre before moving into operations management in theatres and art centres. Then she did a master’s degree in cultural policy and management, as you do, and moved to the Natural History Museum, working in the education and operations departments. She’s also worked at Hampton Court Palace, where she had the chance to work on events like the Olympic cycling in
2012. She spent some time as head of operations at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and today she lives in New York with her wife Sue, riding motor bikes all over the world and drinking far too much coffee. That leads us nicely into talking about her book, which is called Always Time for Coffee: A down-to-earth guide for frontline managers, team leaders, and supervisors. Welcome to the show, Kate.

Kate Minchin:                      Thank
you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Alison Jones:                        It’s
good too, and – I know you’re a listener – it’s always nice to have somebody
who listens to the show on the other side of the mic. It’s brilliant.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes.
Oh, it’s really nice to be here for that reason as well. I’ve been binge
listening to your podcast for the last year or so now, and it helped me create
my book. So it’s wonderful to be talking to you.

Alison Jones:                        Oh,
ace. Well, let’s start with the book. What made you want to write it? And then
just tell us a little bit about the journey of getting there.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes,
sure. Well, there’s a couple of reasons why I created it, but it started a
couple of years ago when I was at Hampton Court Palace, actually. I have always
been very keen to support the training and development of my teams. I was
trying to find management books to recommend to the frontline managers that
reported in to me, and what I was finding was that the majority of management
books were mainly aimed at middle managers or above. There was nothing that was
specifically speaking to frontline managers. But I also found that a lot of
them were written by either academics or consultants with little or no
management experience in their careers, or retired CEOs who hadn’t managed a
frontline team for decades. These were people that it was really difficult to
relate to, and it was quite frustrating.

                                                      But
also, the books that I did find, they weren’t really taking into account the day-to-day
realities of frontline managers. We all talk about how our email inboxes are
overflowing, and the phone’s ringing off the hook, but for a lot of frontline
managers, depending on the industry they’re in, they also have a radio with
them all the time. They can’t escape. They have quite demanding teams that are
constantly knocking on their doors. They don’t have any privacy, they don’t
have offices. You know, some of them are lucky if they have a desk in the
corner of a storeroom, let alone an office they can close the door on, and have
a little bit of reading time. Also, the books are often full of jargon and
stacks of figures, or the case studies of people who set up Silicon Valley
startup companies and are now millionaires, and aren’t they wonderful, which
isn’t really a lot of use if you’re got a radio in your hand, and team members
trying to grab your attention, and all that kind of stuff. So it just, they
weren’t very practical…

Alison Jones:                        It’s
so interesting isn’t it? Yes. I can see that that there’s lots of stuff on
leadership, and there’s lots of stuff on entrepreneurship, but that there’s a
real gap in the middle there. I’m interested in why you think that is: is it
that people who are in that situation just don’t have the time to write? Or is
it that we think people in that situation don’t have time to read, or both? Or
what?

Kate Minchin:                      I
think it’s a combination of all of that, really. I mean, in my role, even as
sort of … I mean I was kind of middle management, looking after the frontline
managers, the time to write was hugely limited. I think, generally speaking
actually in business, frontline managers are forgotten, and it’s not just in
terms of books and audience, but they’re often the last that are thought about
when people are thinking about projects and changes within an organisation.
They’re the ones often delivering what the upper echelon’s talking about, but
they’re the ones for whom, you know, they’re often not consulted, or they’re
having to make these changes. I actually think partly it’s symptomatic of the
way they’re treated anyway within business.

Alison Jones:                        And
the training, of course, as well. I mean there’s so much training, so many
millions of dollars go into executive training and executive coaching of the
top, the high performers, the stars, the future CEOs. Very, very little at the
middle manager level.

Kate Minchin:                      Absolutely,
and once you get below that with front line, and in many cases, it’s almost non-existent.
I mean, I’m fortunate in that I’ve worked for some great organisations. When I
was at Hampton Court Palace, I worked for Historic Royal Palaces, and they do a
fantastic job at providing training for management all the way through the
organisation. But that’s incredibly rare, and I speak to so many frontline
managers who have not only never received training, but they don’t even realise
that they should get it. Yes, the big bucks gets spent on training courses, and
senior management will go off and they’ll go to conferences all over the world.

                                                      But
in the meantime, the people who are looking after the company and the business
back on the front line, they’re not being invested in. All the conversations
around that and how they’re supported and looked after just isn’t happening
enough. So then, they don’t realise quite often what they should be getting,
and what might be happening out there for them, which then also means, I think,
sometimes they’re then not crying out for these books, because they haven’t had
the time to think about it. They don’t realise that there might be some stuff
out there that’s useful for them. Also, they’re being put off by some of the
books that are out there already, so yes, there’s lots of reasons why they’re
getting missed out I think.

Alison Jones:                        But
it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because as a publisher, you know, I look at that
and think, “Well, actually that’s an interesting opportunity,”
because if you’re not spending the big bucks on the training, then you could
spend the small bucks on the books, and… bucks on the books? That’s when my
accent doesn’t help with clarity, that sentence, sorry. You should probably say
it better than that when you’re in New York style, but you see what I’m saying:
actually it’s a really cost-effective way of skilling people up, isn’t it?

Kate Minchin:                      It
is, hugely. That was one of the various reasons behind doing the book, was for
those who don’t have access to training programmes, or in organisations who
don’t invest, yes, the organisation could invest, 9.99, 8.99 and buy a copy of
the book, but also it becomes accessible for the frontline manager that isn’t
receiving any training, doesn’t have a training department, doesn’t have a
manager who’s paying attention and investing in their skills. They can go out
and spend less than a tenner on a book, and hopefully that will really help
them.

Alison Jones:                        Yes,
it’s a great point, and I think one that’s not well enough appreciated in most
workplaces. What I love about the way that you’ve positioned it as well that,
you know, Always Time for Coffee, which is you, obviously, I know you’re a
coffee fiend, but you’ve basically, you’ve taken coffee and made it into a
metaphor for this kind of low-cost, light-touch collaboration, communication,
and even creativity, getting out of the office and just thinking about stuff,
talking about stuff for a minute. It’s really clever.

Kate Minchin:                      Thank
you. I mean it’s … I say in the book that my career has been built on a
mountain of coffee beans. It’s no joke. It really has.

Alison Jones:                        Or
all the people who’ve shared the coffee with you, I think you qualified it a
bit.

Kate Minchin:                      Absolutely.
Yes, so like I do put-

Alison Jones:                        It
sounds very unstable as a foundation for a career. I’ve got a horrible image in
my head now.

Kate Minchin:                      Absolutely.
Where’s Kate’s office? It’s in the corner on top of those coffee beans. Yes. I
always make sure that I’m having coffee with people that I’m meeting for the
first time, if I’m in a new organisation. It’s all about the relationships, and
that’s what it’s really about. The coffee, whether you’re a coffee drinker, tea
drinker, whatever, it’s taking the time to build the relationships, which I
think is the most important part of any sort of business life, management life.
I actually found, I’d been reading over the last year or two, there’d been all
this work and conversation around networking and spending time with people, and
then I sensed there was a little bit of a backlash, and a number of people
talking about how they no longer go for coffee with people, because it takes an
hour of their time and they’re incredibly busy, and so they find other ways of
engaging with people.

                                                      I
just think that’s a real shame, because it’s an hour, which, yes, our time is
valuable, but equally in the grand scheme of things, if you are then building a
fantastic foundation for a working relationship, then that hour is absolutely
priceless. For those who are seeing it as not a good use of time, I think
that’s a real shame. There’s been so many moments in my career where projects
have succeeded because of the relationship I built over coffee 12 months
earlier. It’s one of the unfortunate things for frontline managers, is that
they are so rushed off their feet because everybody is demanding something of
them, and like I say, they can’t close the office door, that they to a large
extent don’t think about taking the time to do it. But they also don’t realise
the benefits or that they should be allowed to, and it’s incredibly important.

Alison Jones:                        Yes,
and I imagine most or many people will look at that title and go, “Well,
frankly, no, there’s never time for coffee,” and that’s the point, isn’t
it? Well, let’s think actually, what’s the use of your time that you’re making?
I like the humour as well and the way that you … The thing that made me laugh
the most, I have to share the story because it just made me laugh so much, was
it your guy Dave at Hampton Court Palace?

Kate Minchin:                      Yes.

Alison Jones:                        Can
we tell the story? Is this allowed? Must be, because it’s in the book, but just
tell us how you got Dave to overcome his sort of fear of … The point that,
I’m not going randomly into this, the point is, it’s about the relationship,
it’s about understanding someone, and about building up the trust that you do
over a coffee, so that you can do things like this. Tell us about Dave and the
zombie apocalypse plan.

Kate Minchin:                      Well,
when I was at Hampton Court, the team of frontline managers that reported into
me, we had an absolutely fantastic relationship. They’re just, they’re a
wonderful team. Many of them have gone off and work elsewhere now, but they’re absolutely
superb. There was a lot of banter in the office and we had a lot of fun. One of
the things that we used to talk about, was the fact that somewhere like Hampton
Court Palace must have so many amazing places to hide from zombies in, and
where would we go with if the palace was attacked by the zombies? I need to say
we were very busy and we got our work done, but we did make sure we enjoyed
ourselves as well.

                                                      Running
alongside this, one of the team leaders, Dave, who is a fantastic guy and I
absolutely love him to bits, he will quite openly admit that his paperwork was
kind of his weak spot, and meeting his deadlines for me, and that kind of
thing. I knew I needed to find a way to get him to throw himself into a
paper-based job, something that he had struggled with before. Part of the joke
about the zombie apocalypse was, we need an official document on this. We have
official documents on all sorts of things, how we open close the palace, how we
deal with emergencies, this is another emergency. We need a piece of paper that
tells us what to do in the case of a zombie apocalypse.

Alison Jones:                        Every
business needs this, frankly.

Kate Minchin:                      Every
business does. I found a couple that do, actually. We’re not alone.

Alison Jones:                        Really?

Kate Minchin:                      They
do exist elsewhere. And I thought, okay, let’s combine this. I said to Dave,
“Okay, you need to create this document. We need a standard operating
procedure on how to deal with zombies at the palace.” Dave went off and
created the most magnificent operating procedure I’ve ever seen in my life. It
was beautifully produced with illustrations and maps, history, everything that
you need in a document like that was there. It was fantastic, and not only was
it brilliantly done, but it was produced a couple of weeks before his deadline.
It was wonderfully presented to me, and it was fantastic. He’d done an amazing
job. You know, he really did himself proud. It was a fantastic piece of work.

                                                      It
was submitted as part of his yearly plan, so it was an official document. It
was there on his one-to-one notes. I just realised that it was a great way of
using personality and the fun we’d been having to actually produce something
that did have value. Some people listening to this may be thinking, “Well,
that’s a slightly pointless exercise, you know, what are you going to do with
that now? You’ve used company time to do it.” But actually, the skills he
got to use and practise, all of those skills, he now uses in documents that
he’s done since.

Alison Jones:                        I
can imagine quite a lot the content was useful as well. The non-zombie-specific
stuff.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes,
absolutely. I mean, the guy has incredible knowledge of the palace and the area
anyway, which all went in there, but further knowledge of the palace and how
things operate, they’re all in there. It continues to be used as a sort of fun
team-building document. When new people come into the department, they’re sort
of sworn to secrecy and locked in a room and given this to read. It’s a great
way of making people feel part of the humour of the team as well. It was great
fun. I have a copy. I was given a beautifully bound copy as a leaving gift when
I left the organisation, and it’s here with me in America, holds pride of place
in my office. Yes, it was a fantastic exercise to do.

Alison Jones:                        And
it’s such a nice example of those… all throughout the book you’ve got this sort
of chats over coffee, and case studies and things where you’re really showing
lightweight… I mean, that’s not an expensive, that’s not a massive intervention
is it? But the way that you can engage people just by taking the time to get to
know them and being a little bit creative and building on the trust that you’ve
got with them, I thought it was a terrific example.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes,
it’s really important. I think particularly for frontline managers who usually
don’t have control of a training budget, they often don’t have a training
budget. They’re not in control of any budgets, quite often, you don’t need a
lot of money to do this. It’s most of the stuff that I talk about in the book
might require some time, so might require some sort of juggling rotors and
pulling on favours, and building on those relationships you’ve built in other departments
over coffee in order to help you out, but generally speaking the stuff I talk
about doesn’t actually involve hard cash other than handing over for the
coffee.

Alison Jones:                        I
can imagine that it’s deeply satisfying for you just to get this down because,
obviously, ideologically you think it’s really important and so on, but tell me
a little bit more about what you’re doing now and how this fits with your
business now. You know, what’s the point of this book for you now in the world?

Kate Minchin:                      Well,
when I started work on the book, I mean, I’d been writing the notes over about
a 12-month period. Every time I heard an interesting story or had an idea, I
was jotting down the notes over a long period of time, and then I moved to
America. I was starting to prepare to move to America. I met my wife, now wife,
a couple of years prior. Sue is American. And we decided that I would be the
one to make the move and come over here to the States.

Alison Jones:                        It
made sense with your coffee thing, didn’t it, really?

Kate Minchin:                      Oh,
I fitted right in. There’s no problem. That was the first question at the
American embassy in London: ‘Do you drink coffee?’

Alison Jones:                        ‘Funny
you should say that…’

Kate Minchin:                      Absolutely.
I knew that I was coming over to a new country for me, and that I’m not known
here. I don’t have a reputation, and I needed a glorified business card of
sorts, that was the other motivation for the book. So something I could hand
out to people when I’m networking, or send to potential employers or anything
like that. Because I set out early on, and I know you’ve talked about this in
the past as well, the importance of defining what success is for you when
you’re doing a project like this. For me, part of that was having effectively a
business card that would help me when I came over here. It will, all being
well, fulfil that. I’m due to get my green card in a couple of weeks, and it
will really kick into action at that point…

Alison Jones:                        You
can’t go touting for business yet, can you? But it’s all ready to go when you
can. That’s so interesting. I’ve never thought of a book as a way of doing
that, almost like a passport for establishing yourself in a new place where you
don’t have the connections and the background and the reputation. That’s
fascinating.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes,
absolutely. I can get it out there in the world. I can, you know, I use sites
like LinkedIn and all that sort of thing, and museum contacts, and I’m already
doing bits of work with people here on a voluntary basis and talking to groups.
I’m applying to present at conferences and all that sort of thing, and the book
just helps give you that credibility. The other really important thing, there
were two other important aspects to it for me. One is that I’m really not very
good at doing nothing. I get bored quite easily and that’s dangerous with me.
So when I couldn’t work, it gave me something to do, it gave me a sense of
purpose, and that’s really important.

                                                      If
you’re doing something like a move to a new country and you can’t work, you
start to realise, oh, you know this anyway, but you really start to feel the
importance of your work in terms of your self definition, how you define
yourself and your place in the world. When you’re then in a position where you
can’t work, and nobody knows you, there’s a real danger of that knocking your
confidence. So it meant that, because I was also reading around the subject and
doing research, and of course I was interviewing people and interviewing people
here as well as in the UK, it meant that I was kind of keeping my finger on the
pulse, really. It helped me feel engaged, remain up to date with what was
happening, and gave me that sense of purpose. And that’s been hugely, hugely
valuable.

Alison Jones:                        And
you started establishing the network that, of course, now will become the one
that fuels your business. That’s brilliant.

Kate Minchin:                      Yes.
Yes. Absolutely.

Alison Jones:                        Really
smart. I love that. Maybe I’ll just to start a sort of expat schism of the
Extraordinary Business Book Club, I can see the business case for that, that’s
brilliant.

Kate Minchin:                      That’s
not a bad idea, actually, yes. Absolutely.

Alison Jones:                        And
that, you said you started writing bits and pieces, obviously you had your
little notebook, you knew you were going to do this. Tell me a little bit more
about the process of writing. Did you find it hard? Did it just flow out of
you? Where did you get stuck? How did the podcasts help? You know, just tell
us, lift the lid on that book writing process for us, for you.

Kate Minchin:                      Well,
I think that, I mean with the note writing, it wasn’t difficult, because I
wasn’t trying to achieve 20, 30,000 words over a certain period of time. I was
just writing stuff down as it came to me. What happened is, I ended up with a
notebook full of stuff. A lot of the work, certainly in terms of my thoughts
and ideas, was dumped quite organically over time. It didn’t feel pressured,
and that was quite important to me. I didn’t want to feel really under the gun
with this, so that was gradually flowing out.

                                                      Then,
the interviewing started almost in the same way. I’d been writing these notes
for quite a while and I was travelling at the time, I was driving across
America, and staying in a lot of hotels. So I thought, “Okay, I need to
start interviewing people now, I need to get other people’s ideas and thoughts
on this.” I was in a hotel, a large business hotel in Arizona, and I went
up to the reception desk and I said, “Is the manager of the hotel
around?” And he came out and I said, “Have you got time for coffee at
any point? Do you fancy being interviewed for a book?” And that was my
first interview.

Alison Jones:                        Oh,
I love that. He must have been absolutely over the moon.

Kate Minchin:                      He
was, he was completely… he was absolutely surprised. It wasn’t the sort of
normal conversation.

Alison Jones:                        ‘What
kind of book?’

Kate Minchin:                      Yes.
‘What are you writing up in that hotel room that I should know about?’ He was
great, and it started off that process. Everywhere I went, and I do that now
because I still travel quite a lot over the country, and I will use various,
whether it’s Linkedin, or friends of friends, or just out of the blue
contacting people and set up interviews. So the interviews started to happen
organically as well. I returned to England and interviewed people that I knew,
and contacts I met through them, so that had started to happen.

                                                      The
whole thing about podcasts occurred because I was doing a bit of interim work
before I moved over here, and I had a job at Manchester Airport with crazy
hours, crazy shift pattern. I’d be getting the bus at three o’clock in the
morning, that kind of thing. I was on the bus for about two hours of every day,
and I came across a couple of podcasts, one of which was yours, and started
binge listening, really. One of the things I learnt, particularly through the
work of Joanna Penn, who does the Creative Penn podcast, she introduced to me,
over the airwaves really, the idea of publishing the book independently, and
that was when it really kind of came alive for me, because I hadn’t even
thought about the next steps.

                                                      I
hadn’t thought about how I was going to get it published. I hadn’t thought
about sending it to agents or publishing companies. It had never crossed my
mind. For some reason, I hadn’t even thought that far ahead. I just thought,
I’m going to write this book. But when I started listening to Joanna’s
podcasts, I suddenly realised how doable this was and that was it. I decided
that was what I was going to do. I never for a moment considered traditional
publishers, and set the wheels in motion to do it myself.

Alison Jones:                        That’s
brilliant. Joanna Penn’s fabulous. I think hers was the first podcast I ever
listened to as well. She’s been doing it since before it was podcasting, you
know. She just gives you that sense that anything is possible, that you can do
this and you don’t need anybody’s permission. You don’t.. yes. Fantastic.

Kate Minchin:                      Yep.
Absolutely. That was, yes, the other important thing, I mean, you mentioned
that you don’t need anybody’s permission. I didn’t. I could just do it, and I
knew, based on what she was saying, that I had the skills to do it. I had the
drive. It was entirely doable. That’s one of the wonderful things with, if
you’ve got any gap in the market that people are identifying, you can fill it.
It’s entirely possible to go out there and make this happen. If you’ve got the
ideas and you’re keen to do it, it’s so achievable. It’s incredible.

Alison Jones:                        I
love that. And everybody’s fired up now, so I’m going to ask you to, I mean,
you’ve given us a lot already, but if you were going to give one tip to a
would-be author, maybe somebody was thinking about it, hasn’t done a book
before, what would your one best tip for them be?

Kate Minchin:                      It’s
actually related to what we’ve just been talking about with the podcasts. One
of the things I found when I started researching, particularly being an
independent author, but just writing in general, there are so many podcasts and
websites and books, and people claiming to be experts, and they can help you
and sign up to their course, and all this kind of stuff, it can get really
overwhelming. So what happened when I started, there were three podcasts, three
people that I discovered. One was Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn. The other
was Mark Dawson and the Self Publishing Formula. Now he actually does fiction,
but what he talks about, and the people they interview, everything is, almost
everything is entirely relevant to nonfiction as well. It’s completely
transferrable. And yourself. You were the three people whose podcasts I pretty
much binge listened to. Go on. You’re going to say something.

Alison Jones:                        I
was just laughing. I’ve got visions of you up at Manchester Airport, just
tapping between three podcasts frantically. I love it.

Kate Minchin:                      Well,
that was pretty much what it was like. Two hours a day on the bus system with
those podcasts, and then also writing in the cafe at the airport. It’s
important to make sure that the people that you’re following are, that they are
actually successful, and they are well respected in their businesses, and they
are experts in their field, because there is some stuff out there that’s not so
great. That was the thing about that the three of you, with Joanne and Mark and
yourself, you are the experts in your field. You are saying fantastic,
relevant, useful stuff, and you are all very well respected. So I would say to
people, find the two or three people who you know are talking sense and who
have those reputations and you’ve done your research on, and stick with them
because otherwise it can get quite overwhelming. The three of you became,
unknowingly, my mentors really. Mentors are hugely useful, but you don’t want
to overdo it. So my advice would be, find a couple of people if you’re going to
follow this kind of route, and stick with them.

Alison Jones:                        That’s
really interesting, and it’s funny actually because we’re recording this
shortly after the London Book Fair, and I came home from the London Book Fair
kind of fired up with a bit of just, anger’s quite a strong word, but I don’t
think it’s too strong, because although there are lots of really, really good
publishing services providers and book coaches, and so on, out in the world,
there’s also some right charlatans. I came back and wrote up The 20 Questions
You Must Ask, because you’re right, there’s some… And if you don’t know, and
you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know the questions to ask, how
would you know? I’m going to put those up on the … I’ll put Joanna’s and
Mark’s podcasts upon the show notes as well, so people can discover those, and
I’ll put up the 20 questions to ask because sadly, it’s such an important
point. There are people out there who just want your money and don’t have the
goods, which is really annoying.

Kate Minchin:                      Absolutely,
yes. The things that we can do today with internet and podcasts and all that
kind of stuff, it opens the doors in a way that is absolutely wonderful and
gives us access to so much, but it also means that, as you say, there are quite
a few charlatans out there, or people who are very well-intentioned but just
don’t really have the experience, and you need to kind of weed those out and
find the ones that you trust and rely on, and like I say, stick with them and
don’t get overwhelmed by the other stuff.

Alison Jones:                        Yes.
Great tip. Thank you. You know what? Nobody’s ever said that tip before. You
know, quite often the tips sound familiar or they’re just … but that is a
complete new one, so thank you. That’s really interesting. I always ask people
as well to recommend a book. I mean, obviously, Always Time for Coffee, but if
you were going to recommend a business book that everybody listening should
read, what would you say?

Kate Minchin:                      I’m
going to recommend a book called Permission to Screw Up…

Alison Jones:                        That’s
a great title.

Kate Minchin:                      …How
I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong. It’s written by Kristen
Hadeed, who is the founder and CEO of an American company called Student Maid.
It’s a fantastic book. It’s another one that’s, you know, it’s quite down to
earth. Clearly, I like that kind of style. But what really impresses me is that
we’re always talking about how honesty is important, and you need to hold your
hand up when you get it wrong. Especially when you’re managing teams, you need
to let them know and demonstrate that it is okay to make mistakes, and that’s
how we learn and how we get better. Well, Kristen has written an entire book
full of her mistakes, which is an incredibly brave thing to do, and to put
yourself out there like that. It’s a great book, some fantastic learnings in
it, a wonderful story. I just think it’s so fascinating and very brave, to go
to that extent and I thoroughly enjoyed it, would highly recommend it.

Alison Jones:                        I’ve
never heard of that. It sounds brilliant and you’re right, so often people only
talk about what worked for them, which is lovely for them. Obviously a nice bit
of marketing. But actually we all learn from the stuff that didn’t work really.
And that’s, it’s also… I remember from my old days in academic, scholarly
publishing, the negative data that never got published, but you need to know
that as well, because otherwise you’re trying to replicate it, and you don’t
know that it’s already failed or the one positive result is massively
outweighed by a load of negative results that never see the light of day. This
is important. Yes, we should have a new trend in business book publishing,
screw-up lit, I don’t know what we’d call it. It’s definitely got legs, doesn’t
it?

Kate Minchin:                      It
does indeed. That’s great.

Alison Jones:                        Brilliant.
All right, well, thank you. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you, Kate.
Thank you, and good luck when the green card comes through, good luck with the
new career in the new place, and I hope the book does everything you want it
to.

Kate Minchin:                      Thank
you very much. It’s been an absolute delight talking to you, Alison.

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