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Freddie Achom on why effective listening is a key leadership skill

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Freddie Achom - effective listening

Frederick Achom is an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Rosemont Group Capital Partners, a private investment group with a portfolio including renewables, financial services, and digital tech.

What’s the most important skill for company founders, start-up owners, dynamic entrepreneurs? Passion? Communication? Business acumen? All of these are important, of course, but listening is the game-changer.

Research shows that just 10% of us listen properly. That is, a whopping 90% of us fail to listen effectively. Of course, we usually technically ‘listen’ but we find our minds wandering to other subjects.

Effective listening is vital for business leaders


In my career, across my businesses, investments and partnerships, I have always found listening to be the main driver of growth. Staying open, tuning in to other people and, above all, listening to our customers, helps drive business success. Most people assume they’re good listeners but taking the time to really master this deceptively difficult skill can pay dividends.

Bain&Company carried out a survey in 2016 on leadership traits. They asked 2,000 employees to rate 33 separate leadership skills and traits. Respondents selected ‘centredness’ as the number one characteristic they appreciate in a business leader. In this context, ‘centredness’ means the person demonstrating the ability to truly be present and give their full attention to the other person. It’s about making employees feel heard and valued.

Business leaders must make sure that every team member is listened to equally. That means the quiet ones who can be tentative about coming forward. It also means those who demonstrate different communication styles.

Don’t overestimate your listening ability


It’s all too easy to pay more attention to speaking our voice rather than listening to others. This is particularly the case with business founders, entrepreneurs and start-up owners. We tend to be extroverted personalities, with ‘Type A’ communication styles.

I admire anyone who can clearly communicate their thoughts to a room full of people, as and when they crop up. But I admire business leaders more when they really listen to other people. Listening allows an insight into new perspectives. It helps to understand what’s not being said and to find out what’s missing from the puzzle.

According to development advisor Melissa Daimler, there’s more than one listening style. In fact, she says there are three different listening levels: internal listening, focused listening and 360-degree listening. Internal listening is where we concentrate on our own thoughts rather than the person speaking. Focused listening is where we listen but don’t fully connect and so miss the subtext. The final level, 360-degree listening is where we listen to what the other person says and how they’re saying it.

How well do you listen to your employees?


And while we may assume that we’re always at the highest level of listening, cognitive bias says we probably aren’t. This is why it’s good to check in every now and again and see where you measure up to the four listening qualities, as defined by leadership consultants Joseph Folkman and Jack Zenger:

  1. Positivity – good leaders are able to give constructive, thoughtful feedback. If the other person thinks you’re listening properly, they are far more likely to take your feedback on board.
  2. Cooperation – bad listeners use the time when others are speaking to construct a combative correction or statement. This leads to a defensive, unproductive conversation. Feedback should flow in both directions more or less equally.
  3. Support – effective listeners boost the other person’s confidence during the conversation.
  4. Participation – great listeners ask questions and delve deeper into the subject.

How to become a better listener


If we’re busy, distracted or stressed, it’s all too easy to pay less attention than we should. During those times you realise you haven’t truly heard your colleague, team member or employee, use the following techniques to boost your listening effectiveness. Some sound obvious, but they’re simple to miss.

  • Make direct eye contact – this shows confidence and respect for the person speaking. Don’t let your gaze stray to your computer screen or phone and switch off notifications. The other person should have your total, undivided attention.
  • Ask open questions – if you ask questions that can only have a closed answer, you’re effectively stifling the conversation. This is likely to leave the other person frustrated and feeling unvalued.
  • Allow them to finish – don’t be tempted to speak over them and try not to even frame your response until they’ve stopped talking. Pauses are OK, don’t feel you have to immediately fill any thoughtful silence.
  • Try to hear what isn’t being said – around 80% of all human communication is nonverbal. If you pick something up from a facial expression, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Watch your speaking/listening ratio – if you’re not leading the conversation, watch how much you speak. As the business leader, you’re likely to automatically take control of the conversation. This isn’t ideal, when you need to listen to the other person.

Effective listeners work better in teams, learn and absorb information faster and contribute to a workable culture. They also tend to interact with clients, customers and colleagues better. Leading by example as an effective, meaningful listener will encourage your workforce to do the same. Cultivate this skill within your organisation for more effective business growth.

Freddie Achom is the Founder and Chairman of Rosemont Group, an international private investment group of companies focused on financial services, luxury goods and services, hospitality, renewable energy and digital technology. Residing in the UK and France, Freddie Achom is a notable entrepreneur and investor.

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How the Capsule Hackathon Bridges Sustainability and Corporate Innovation to Produce a Record-Breaking Event

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Hackathons are a special breed of events for their role in innovation. Originating in the tech industry, hackathons have been adopted across almost every segment and come in all shapes and sizes. The collaborative nature and mind share allows for rapid creation of ideas. Companies and industries continue to use hackathons to extract innovative ideas with individuals who can build them. If there is something that needs this innovative approach more than anything, its the climate crisis. 

Hackathons have become a crucial channel for generating new ideas and connecting with the people who can bring them to life. We’ve all heard how challenging it is for large companies to keep innovating, which is why Fortune 1000 companies are adopting hackathons as an integral component of their innovation pipelines. As large companies enhance their corporate social responsibility efforts, their interest in certain technologies overlaps with climate-focused solutions.

Seeing opportunity in the alignment of the need for corporate innovation, Experimental Civics is hosting Capsule 2020 with the participation of key partners. Capsule is a civic hackathon hosting over 4,000 hackers on June 20-21, 2020 in Austin, Texas to hack forward 500+ projects that all intersect with the environment.

Through various strategic partnerships with universities, corporate innovation labs, and non-governmental bodies, the innovation pipeline extends beyond the two-day hackathon event.

Early partner support

Nothing happens without the involvement of strategic and passionate partners. In the roster of community partners is Oxford AI Society, where VP of Partnerships, Ruben Drayton states, “Partnerships are very important for us in reaching more people and inching closer to our mission. Hackathons are where brilliant people come together to create novel solutions, and the spirit of Capsule reflects our goal of connecting AI talent with multidisciplinary problems for drastically improved answers to the most complex issues of our time. We are therefore excited to be able to see what comes out of the event, and hope to bridge Oxford’s AI knowledge with other communities around the world.”

An early partner of Capsule is The Earth Hacks Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building grassroots environmental hackathons at universities. Also confirmed, is Tech Together, a student-run nonprofit that equips individuals with the tools and resources necessary to host an all-female and non-binary hackathon with the mission to end the gender hack gap in technology. Zero Waste Strategies, an Austin-based waste diversion, and consultancy group is a sustainability partner helping to reduce waste created at the event. Additional community partners include Welti, Youth Climate Leaders, and Key Conservation.

“Partnerships are at the heart of innovation. For Key Conservation, we are working to help conservation efforts on a global scale and to be able to do that we need to have our eyes and ears to the pulse of these efforts happening around the world. Our partnerships are crucial in allowing us to have these insights so we are not only building something that can be useful globally but they allow us access to local knowledge, personal in-field experiences, areas of expertise and to see the world from a different perspective, which is priceless. One of the more exciting features of the Key Conservation app is the ability for skilled professionals to use their skills to help conservation organizations. When we heard about how Capsule was bringing people from all over the world, from different skill sets to help tackle climate change we knew we had to be involved. We truly believe that no matter what you do for a living you can use those skills to make a difference which is exactly what Capsule is working to do.”

Megan Cromp, Director at Key Conservation

Innovation Pipeline

Capsule’s founder, Sarah Sharif, has successfully helped clients like Redbull, Google Fiber, and Mozilla to extract 6-figure ideas while also impacting their social bottom line. Sharif’s relevant, high-level unique experiences serve as a cornerstone in her efforts to execute on Capsule. Sharif is a former Director of ATX Hack for Change, winner of a Mozilla Science Grant in 2019 for her work with Life Sci Hack, and Judge for both the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund and City of Austin’s Gigabit Fund awarding over $310K to spur the generation of local social enterprises.

As an 18-month innovation program, Capsule uses the 2-day hackathon to bring together everyone that is involved throughout the process. Before the event, organizations and individuals are welcome to submit project ideas to lead and spread the word.

It takes a village

Hackathon projects are just projects at first, but the real goal is to see promising projects evolve into actual businesses. Diversity is key when it comes to organizing hacking teams with complementary skills. Participating hackers come from all sorts of backgrounds including students, developers, designers, scientists, entrepreneurs and more. 

A common misconception is that you need to have technical skills to participate in hackathons, but that is not the case with Capsule since the aim is to build a business that needs many diverse minds. Anyone looking to participate in Capsule to be a part of breaking a world record is welcome to share their project ideas during open call Jan. 27, 2020 – Apr. 15, 2020. Finalists will be announced on May 4, 2020.

“We need all the builders, doers, makers, creators, thinkers, and leaders to get involved now. The complexities of the climate crisis present certain challenges that I believe our hackathon formula is well equipped to overcome.”

Sarah Sharif, Founder of Experimental Civics and Founder of Capsule

Those who submit their project ideas will have their proposed idea go through the project selection process and finalists will have to be present at the event in order to run the project as a project lead. 

On-site support from a small army of volunteers will help the event run smoothly. Volunteers support all event functions from traffic control, runner duties, event setup, event takedown, greeter, information, etc. Volunteer training will be provided before the event and all volunteer-related affairs will be tracked using the volunteer management system, GivePulse. 

An ambitious goal of solving the climate crisis needs to be met with an equally ambitious approach. That’s exactly what Capsule offers with a civic hackathon, focus on open science, diverse participants, and a support network for the continued development of promising projects. 

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For Ryan Morris, Financial Security Just Wasn’t Fulfilling Enough

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The idea of financial uncertainty is an extremely unnerving thing in the entrepreneurship space. The concept that if your performance is lacking for an extended period of time, you will quite literally have no money to even put food on the table for yourself. While this draws many people away from entrepreneurship, Ryan Morris wound up quitting multiple high paying jobs in favor of chasing his dream of being an entrepreneur. Many outside observers would frown upon his decision, as he abandoned his financial security just to go work for himself. Morris knew that regardless of how much money he was pulling in working for someone else, he would never be quite fulfilled. So, chasing his dreams was a no brainer for him.

Ryan was no overnight success either. He spent the better part of 3 years experimenting with different ventures, with his fair share of failures along the way. Ryan admits that the journey is tough, with most of it feeling like a constant uphill battle coming from the bottom. He feels lonely at times, but ultimately is in love with the game, especially the process of finding success. He hasn’t ever been involved with entrepreneurship for the money, even though he is immensely successful today. He’s the owner of iFortune Marketing, a digital marketing agency, the owner of J&R Vacations, a real estate management company, a forex trader, and a professional network marketer. 

With all of the success he’s recently found and the incredible connections he’s made, Morris has came into a position of helping others. He has been all about passing the wisdom he’s gained onto others, with his main piece of advice being straightforward: you don’t have to be perfect to get started. Imperfect action is the best course of action, as waiting for the right time to get started will have you stuck at square one for far too long. Take it from Ryan, trying and failing is completely fine. Failure is the greatest learning tool any entrepreneur can have, and the best knowledge will never come from any book or course but from firsthand experience. 

If Ryan was able to become successful from his lowest point, then anyone reading this will surely be able to as well. While having his back against the wall did give him the extra drive to work as hard as he could to find success, it was surely a trying time on him to the point where this is the first time he’s been able to share the ordeal with anybody. By accepting his extremely negative situation and emotions and being able to acknowledge that he was not in a good place, he gave himself no choice but to change his situation. No matter how unfortunate of a situation you may currently be in, there is absolutely a way out of it if you’re willing to put the work in. Ryan’s life has completely turned around, and he urges anyone going through tough times to dig deep and find the inner strength to overcome their struggles and make it happen for them.

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5 Event Trends That Will Shake up Meetings & Group Business in 2020

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The New Year is just coming in a couple of days and it is very much important for you to get to know about the real-time modifications in it. It is the best ever solution that will keep you aware of those changes that will be brought up with the help and support of modern technology. No doubt, modern technology is very much efficient and effective that is changing the whole scenario of things according to the demand and needs of the people respectively. if you are interested to join in an up-coming business event anywhere in the world, you should have to get this update that will entirely helpful for you by all means.

As we all know the importance of the business event in which every type and size of business can better utilize the real-time benefits from the market. it is a perfect solution for B2B dealing and there are a lot more chances to get enhance direct sales of the business respectively. Most of the businesses can better create contacts with the market giants in these events which is actually the real need of this time. Just you have to follow the instructions of modern requirements in which you can better get selected the standard of your appearance respectively.

The Role of Modern Technology in Future Business Events

No doubt, modern technology is performing its best to make everything perfectly like a pro and it is also providing the best and efficient services to deal with all types of intelligence respectively. Business events are totally meaningless without having these IT gadgets and you can better utilize iPad hire solutions to make everything perfect right on the track accordingly. There are several IT devices that can better help you out professionally to make everything right for the use in the business event respectively. Moreover, you can better utilize iPad hire solution compulsory because it is the most intelligent devices in these days. It will individually handle all types of tasks that will be completed in a better way. you have a complete choice to make everything perfect to attract people towards you by all means.

You also have another option to utilize for the business event in which you can better perform everything according to the standard of business. Here we will describe to you some of the best and intelligent changes in the field of business that will definitely provide you the best and impressive solution to get everything perfectly according to your targeted goals.

In future events, you will see these types of changes that we are going to discuss with you here.

IPad solution

As we have already discussed that iPad hire is one of the best and intelligent solutions that will provide you a long battery life solution that you can better utilize in the business event. Moreover, you have a complete choice in which you can better deal with great intelligence factor that it can easily perform all those tasks individually for which you need multiple devices. The perfect way is to get hire multiple quantities of iPad from trusted rental solution providers to get enjoy the real-time benefits in the professional event. You can better create your business presentation and charts by using different apps on the iPad respectively. we can just say in the simple world that the iPad is the perfect choice to manage any type of task intelligently. It will improve the efficiency of the business and its members. Prefer to provide every individual in the event to utilize it to grab the attention of the audience towards you.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Solution

No doubt, VR and AR have also developed the best factors in the field of business through which any type of business can present its ideas and future innovations in a better way. Moreover, you have a complete choice to utilize 3D effects in your presentations that can better engage the audience towards you without any hassle. VR and AR is the perfect solution that will lead viewers closer to the reality and the use of these two technologies have become common in these types of events respectively. well, we should have to appreciate modern technology that has provided the best and impressive solution to the business industry that is brilliantly boosting up high in the sky.

Chatbots in the event

Artificial Intelligence factor is also an amazing solution that you will also see in future events. Robots will act as per your instructions and you will get the right solution through it. Siri is the best example of voice recognition that has brilliantly provided the best ever solution to the whole world through which every type of task you can manage from robots as well.

Facial Recognition Solution

Gone are those days when you have to register your name for the business event manually. In the future, you will see the voice recognition solution that will entirely change the whole situation respectively. Future events will have the technology that will detect the invited attendees through facial recognition solution that will never make any type of mistake. It is the perfect solution that will enhance the security solution for the business events in which we can better get sure that only relevant community is present in the arena respectively. this type of technology really appreciated all over the world and it is the perfect solution that has provided by modern technology by all means.

Virtual Events

As we all know very well that it is really a time taking the solution to travel far away to attend the event. Now, the hurdle has removed efficiently and everyone can better be the part of the event through virtual event solutions through Facebook live streaming and other social media platforms respectively. this is an incredible solution that will be covered by the drones in the business event and it will also provide the live streaming solution. These types of modifications will really boost the business industry effectively all over the world by all means.

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