The Authors

Michael Hayman and Nick Giles are the co-founders of Seven Hills, the highly acclaimed campaigns firm founded to generate momentum for Britain’s fast growing companies and most exciting entrepreneurs. Seven Hills was named the Best Corporate Consultancy in the world by the Holmes Report and is also a Santander Breakthrough 50 winner.

Michael is a co-founder of StartUp Britain, the national initiative for early-stage enterprise launched by the Prime Minister. He is Chairman of Entrepreneurs at the private bank Coutts and an Honorary Fellow at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. He was awarded an MBE for services to enterprise promotion in 2014.

Nick works closely with high growth firms in the UK, US and Asia. He is an ambassador for the Hong Kong government’s venture programme. He is also an advisory board member of Tech London Advocates and is an advisor to the global youth movement One Young World.

Michael Hayman and Nick Giles

07 Oct I’m not lovin’ this

BBC Breakfast BBC Breakfast

Michael Hayman writes on new trouble at FIFA and the growing pressure on its sponsors to do the right thing. This follows a BBC Breakfast interview on Saturday.

“I’m lovin’ it”, a strapline that millions see on McDonald’s hoardings around the world. It’s been at the heart of a major attempt by the global burger business to move its reputation on.

CEO Steve Easterbrook has made much of the move of the business from global health risk to a positioning that emphasises a much more wholesome focus on better business and nutrition.

He said, “Our existing organisation is inefficient and lacks clear accountability”. McDonald’s restaurants need to deliver “great-tasting, high-quality food with better service each and every time.”

So, it will have come as a point of some distress that the latest threat to the reputation of McDonald’s comes not from something to do with itself but from an external party, FIFA.

The ongoing Sepp Blatter saga has become a running sore for the global corporates sponsoring FIFA. Always behind the curve of popular sentiment these firms who thought they were parting with huge amounts of cash to look good, in fact look bad.

The numbers are mind boggling. FIFA earns some $1.62 Billion from sponsors every four years. It’s big business and there are big stakes here.

Easterbrook and his Board colleagues have at last called publically for Blatter to go ahead of his retirement in February. But it comes across as empty sabre rattling. No sanction, no action attached here, just words.

It has become a frontline issue in the purpose debate surrounding big business. Not just saying the right thing but doing the right thing. And every day FIFA reminds us of what doing the wrong thing looks like.

The Swiss criminal proceedings will now provide a diet of bad news that risks making the beautiful game look very ugly indeed. Allegations of ‘disloyal payments’ and ‘corruption’ that would have made 1920’s Chicago look like the cleanest of cities.

Of course it was Elliot Ness who cleaned up Chicago with his gang of self-styled law enforcers, The Untouchables.

And as the world looks for a new chapter of justice it falls on the global corporates propping up FIFA to show just how touchable this once all powerful organisation has become. Because money matters to FIFA.

But will they have the strength? Some of these ties go back a generation. Blatter’s connection with Coca Cola, for example go back as far as 1975, when he first joined FIFA. Since then they have unremittingly stood by their man.

And while the US based sponsors of FIFA – McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Budweiser – have spoken out it’s the ones that haven’t that must be the greatest source of concern.

Hyundai, Gazprom and Adidas all remain resolutely silent. You have to ask just what charge of indecency will bring them to the table to stand up for the game, for the fans, for decency.

There is a salutary lesson here. All of these sponsors have parted with their cash to look great. Backer of the sport. But there is good reason for the saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intention.”

And that is why McDonald’s and their sponsor friends won’t be lovin’ this.

Michael Hayman MBE is co-founder of Seven Hills and co-author of “Mission: How The Best In Business Break Through”.

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14 Sep The Business Friend: Rise of the Firms of Endearment

LSE Market Open with Paul Lindley and Kerry Kennedy LSE Market Open Michael Hayman LSE Market Open

“All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.” Thoughts from Mark McCormack, founder of IMG and the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire.

Words spoken years ago but words that today might have finally found the potency of expression that they deserve. Welcome to the era of the business friend, the firms of endearment.

Businesses that are characterised by the goal of doing well by doing good. Firms where the relationship between profit and purpose is to complement not divide. Where good business is as much about what you stand for as what you sell.

It might well be that from this growing band of companies the lifeline to modern capitalism is being thrown. And it is one that it must catch if it is to have the future that we need.

Consumers couldn’t care less if 74% of the worlds brands dropped dead tomorrow*. That’s a damning indictment of business as usual and provides an urgent message that companies need to think about their futures with a good deal urgency.

Plenty of that on display at the London Stock Exchange this morning. I chaired a great session led by the President of Robert Kennedy Human Rights, Kerry Kennedy and the Founder of Ella’s Kitchen and Paddy’s Bathroom, Paul Lindley.

Both are believers that the best days for capitalism could be the years ahead. Both are keen advocates that business can be a force for good in society. Theirs is a case that becomes ever more compelling as more commercial leaders make the link between successful firms and making a positive impact.

Of course, that case is far from won. In 1970 Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman said, “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” And that people who thought otherwise ‘revealed a suicidal impulse.’

Of course the risk of suicide falls firmly in the camp of unfettered capitalism if it sees the pursuit of profit at all costs as the only goal it has. And while I would certainly make the case that a primary characteristic of a business is to make money, I would also say that its ability to do so is immensely enhanced if it focuses on doing the right thing.

A good example came to light this morning. The oft forgot but salutary tale of Benetton. I am a child of the 1980s and anyone who grew up then could not fail to be awe inspired by the rise of an Italian family business into a global commercial rock star.

Who could forget the appeal of the ‘United Colours of Benetton’ – the promise of a better and more united world. But who could also forget that promise undone by the tragic revelation of its working practices with suppliers in Bangladesh. The race to the bottom on price turned out to be a very high price to pay for a business that has lost so much of its earlier lustre.

In the U.S. today a new band of businesses are becoming increasingly known as the ‘firms of endearment.’ The likes of Whole Foods and Salesforce are its leading lights and of course they have a message that is active, optimistic and uncompromising. Businesses where creating friendships with stakeholders, from shareholders to teams, are a guiding goal.

B Lab UK’s James Perry and FTSE’s Mark Makepeace joined Kerry and Paul today at the London Stock Exchange. Later this month B Corp launches in the UK to spotlight and accredit the growing power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

On Saturday night I gave the leadership lecture at the Alumni dinner at the London School of Economics. Fortuitously I sat next to one of the founding team of the clothes brand, Patagonia.

It’s a business that Nick and I covered in our book MISSION: How The Best in Business Break Through. And Patagonia has a message that I shared at the event today.

That everything we do pollutes.

And because of that we need to think differently because our actions can make a difference both positively and negatively.

Kerry’s father was, of course, Robert F Kennedy who once said “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

That is why friendship in business matters. It is a first step to take. A first step in making a difference.

* Havas Meaningful Brands Index 2015

 

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11 Aug Michael’s View – In Pursuit of the Remarkable

The pursuit of the remarkable is one of the most interesting ideas of the marketing guru Seth Godin. Remarkable, Godin says, is not just about being brilliant. It is, in the more literal sense, about being remarked upon. Getting noticed. Sparking conversation.

For a taste of why this matters, think of a single ad you read in a newspaper today? Scrap that. Did you even read a newspaper today?

The fact is, we are tuning out in our droves from organised forms of conversation and communication. In a world where many things are available in unprecedented abundance, the one thing in absolute shortage is our attention. We just don’t have enough to go around.

This drought brings a central problem for those who seek your approval, who want your attention, who want you to remark upon them. Wonder who these people are that seek to metaphorically knock on your door? Brands, leaders, charities, politicians. In fact, anyone with a product to sell or a message to communicate.

And it’s getting a lot more difficult in a world where less is fast becoming a lot more. We are being asked to believe more, but in fact we trust less. We are being asked to absorb more information, but retain less and less. One American study found that the average human attention span has declined by a third since the year 2000 and is now less than that of a goldfish.

In a world where anyone can in theory speak to anyone, more and more are learning a bitter truth. They are reaching no one – a one-way conversation with no one listening. A catastrophic build up of communication clutter that has clogged up our minds. The 21st century equivalent of Munch’s The Scream.

Quantity of communication is no replacement for quality. Language should be a thing of beauty to be lovingly crafted and used to put forward a strongly held point of view. Addressing the needs of those you want to reach. What will make me want to remember? Make me want to act? Make me want to feel?

It is why the pursuit of the remarkable matters. Why those who seek a different way are onto something.

In our book, MISSION: How The Best In Business Break Through, we chart why a big part of the answer to this conundrum rests in purpose. If you believe that you have something to say, your conviction might well be a crucial step in creating an audience that wants to listen.

For the entrepreneurs and business campaigners that we met while writing the book, this was often be found in a driving goal to change the world. And it’s a point we will make in a talk we are giving at the London School of Economics this week. Mission matters.

Who isn’t listening to Travis Kalanick at Uber or Elon Musk at Tesla? The audacity of the goal, the scale and scope of the ambition. It provides the big bazooka. Come in mission control, we are listening.

But of course, some of us might have somewhat humbler goals than world revolution. Yet, hold that thought, for you might be a lot closer to Kalanick and Musk than you think. For we are all, in one way or another, involved in the pursuit of the remarkable.

Take a humble Facebook page. We all have one. We all build a story through it. We all curate a certain type of image through it. Think you are merely communicating information? Think again. You are more likely than not creating that sense of your better self through what you write and what you post.

Same applies to your Twitter account, surely the frontline of the remarkable. The goal, the follower, the retweet. Information worth sharing, tribes worth building.

One of the people I work with is Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones. Consider this. He is just about to reach one million followers on Twitter. The Times, has a mere 491,000. Think of that. A single person with a greater following than one of the country’s most powerful media outlets.

It’s part of the reason why traditional logic is being turned on its head. People more powerful than brands. Populations losing trust but seeking belief. A world where what you feel can be as important as what you know.

A world where getting noticed is both harder and more important than ever. A world made for the remarkable.

Michael Hayman MBE is co-author of MISSION: How The Best In Business Break Through and co-founder of Seven Hills.

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