John Spence is a world renowned business consultant who has spent the past 23 years working with Fortune 500 organisations and consulting to the SME community. In the lead up to our information intensive one day workshops with John, we asked John some questions to learn more about the man himself and understand his inspiration, challenges and success strategies.
LU: Since 1989 you’ve read 100 -120 business books every year. What inspired you to start and what keeps you devouring more?
JS: The first thing that started my habit of reading was failing out of the university on the first attempt. When I went back to school one of my professors mentioned, nearly all the answers for the tests were in the books and I would likely do better if I would simply read the assignments. I graduated in the top three in the United States on the second go around. I figured out then that reading = success and it has helped me just as much in my business career.
LU: For over 22 years, you’ve owned or been the CEO of seven companies, three of them multinational, what has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a business leader?
JS: Without question the biggest challenge has always been leading people. The nuts and bolts of running a business are not complex, but building a culture of highly engaged, satisfied and loyal employees is a never-ending struggle with no finish line.
LU: At 26, you were named CEO of an international Rockefeller foundation, overseeing projects in over 20 countries. What allowed you to progress so quickly?
JS: I think it was two major things. First, I had an incredible mentor who was demanding but fair and pushed me consistently to improve, grow and mature as a business person. Second, I volunteered for everything. I volunteered for projects, to go to other countries to negotiate deals, to take on more responsibility, which led me to get more and more responsibility. Frankly, I just hit the ground running as hard as I could, asked a ton of questions, read and studied all the time… and got lucky.
LU: Who has had the most impact on your life professionally? What did they teach you?
JS: It was one of my college professors, who taught me the three most important things I’ve ever learned. Number one: read the books, I mentioned this one above. Number two: ask for help. Asking for help does not show weakness, the smartest people in the world are eager to ask for help, feedback, insights and suggestions. Number three: you become what you focus on and like the people you spend time with. Whatever you fill your mind with and whoever you choose to spend your time with will directly determine what your life looks like a decade from now. This applies to your business too.
LU: What is the key learning from your business experience and or research that has had the greatest impact in driving business growth?
JS: Hiring top talent and building a culture where they can flourish. For many businesses, today, the only sustainable competitive advantages left is the quality of the people you can hire, grow and keep on your team – and the relationships those people create with your customers.
LU: And finally, what can delegates expect to gain from your Awesomely Simple workshops in Sydney and Brisbane?
Information and ideas that work in the real world. I don’t tell a lot of stories or give trivial examples. I’m passionate for helping people learn things that will truly improve their business and teaching those ideas in a simple and straightforward way so they can go back and implement them immediately.
Don’t miss out on John’s fast paced, results driven one day workshops. Click here to book your place for Sydney and here for Brisbane. And get ready to leave the workshop with strategies to apply immediately to have a significant positive benefit to your organisation.