An evening with Sophie Cornish – in aid of Maggie Centres

What an amazing night!

We were thrilled with how our event went last week. In total (including raffle tickets sales and donations for our Culture crawl walk in September) we raised nearly £5,000 which is fabulous news but we also had a wonderful evening.

BBC journalist, Steve Knibbs interviewed Sophie and me. Although we have worked with each other and had just spent the weekend together (our husbands are brothers) we have never done an event like that before so we didn’t know what to expect.

Steve began by interviewing Sophie who delighted the audience by sharing some of the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial career so far.

As you know, notonthehighstreet.com has just been an incredible success story. The brand has experienced exceptional growth with TTV (total transactional value) in 2014 reaching £127 million, with year on year sales growth continuing to thrive in 2015. But it didn’t happen overnight.

Fake it ‘til you make it

Sophie told us how it all began with her business partner Holly Tucker. They took a simple online shopping idea and added a lot of energy and determination to bring it to life. They always knew it was a good idea, she said, but needed the money to get it off the ground. Taking from their own savings, maxing their credit cards and borrowing from friends and family. As many business start-ups know, you need the finance to keep it going.

There were many times they thought the adventure was over, but it was still important to present a positive united front.

Like the day she spent the morning going through the figures with Holly and realised they might have to lose some staff, then receiving a call from a national magazine and having to put on a brave face. You have to fake it ‘til you make she told the audience, something that really struck a chord with the small business owners in the crowd!

Behind the scenes

But the night wasn’t just about business start-ups, Sophie and I had really wanted to focus on people and brand values too, such huge parts of business growth and success. What did you find when you first went to NOTHS? Steve asked me. I was honest, it was amazing, it looks and feels on the inside just as it does on the outside.

Years ago I did an assignment at a famous department store and behind the scenes it was such a contrast. Cramped cluttered working conditions with broken desks and poor lighting. Walking into NOTHS was the complete opposite – like walking into Alice in Wonderland with Holly and Sophie just oozing their brand and loving what they were doing. It really showed and everything they did reinforced what they cared about – from how they advertised for new staff to their reception desk and the refreshments that they served their board members.

Beautifully branded advert for the CMO role at notonthehighstreet.com
Beautifully branded advert for the CMO role at notonthehighstreet.com

 

People and personalities

Something I shared on the night which has been huge with all our clients and was with Holly and Sophie is the importance of profiling personality. You will see in the book “Shape up your Business”, how complimentary Holly and Sophie were to each other. But also knowing their profiles we were able to hire a strong C-suite and support them managing each senior individual in a unique and effective way.

Whether I work with CEO’s directly or am coaching individuals it is the first thing we focus on as it gives you so much helpful information about how people work best, how to communicate with them, what type of work they thrive and flourish in and what their stressors are.

Feedback is valuable

Steve asked me about 360 feedback and whether it worked. I agreed that it had a place but was most effective if done via an independent 3rd party. Thing is that when we get the call to go in and remove a difficult senior individual they will almost always have great 360 feedback. No-one feels truly comfortable to give negative feedback and often it can be career limiting. That’s the truth of it.

Appraisals in general are something that we have been looking at closely as they cost lots of time and money and we aren’t convinced they really drive performance. Plenty of other things do including active career management. But not performance management in the traditional sense.

So here are a few top tips from us both – click on the link below:

Top tips from Sophie Cornish and Ruth Cornish

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