Two ears, two eyes and one mouth!

imageWhen learning the skills of selling, the hard way I might add being a finance man, my colleague and mentor at the time, took me aside and said,

“You have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. To be effective in sales you need to use them in the same proportions.”

I never forgot that lesson and when I fall behind, be-it in following, leading, presenting, selling or just trying to motivate myself or others on a mission, I check if I have that in balance.

This lesson resonated with me again this week in a discussion with the Mike Plaxton CEO at Krungthai AXA Life Insurance in Thailand. He carries the burden of Executive Leadership as part of this multinational Financial Services Industry Group.

To stay in touch with his sales force of nearly 10,000 direct selling agents and financial advisors in the well-organized Krungthai Bank, he has a luminous team who help them all deliver outstanding results. Last year for example, in the mist of all the gloom and dome Krungthai-AXA Life delivered a massive 30%+ growth and is maintaining that momentum again in 2010.

In the context of deploying a new performance based business intelligence system, we were talking about practical ways to generate more quality business and lift the momentum. My interest was in exploiting the business change value my organization Shernox Group had delivered with the implementation a data warehouse based system using INFOR PM as its centerpiece.

I asked him how he planned to use his new BI capability to drive sales and business development campaigns. In his response he gave some great best practice insight.

I spend my time in conversations asking questions as I try answering none. My job is to listen so I can help people focus their efforts in discovering the answers they need to do their job from the data they collect on their job. And to engage their hearts and minds to focus so they know they are well supported.

When I talk more and listen less, I only engage their minds and my ego.

Having our up-to-date performance information on tap and in sync that we can trust and all share, means we can have very good conversations. And I can listen more to help them increase their momentum. My job is to get them to use the information they have by questions that help them understand our business.

Information is knowledge and knowledge is power – their power not mine.”

 Michael George Plaxton  CEO Krungthai AXA Life Insurance Co Ltd


About: Krungthai AXA Life Insurance Co Ltd

AXA; the leading European insurance company is a shareholder and partner with Krung Thai Bank PCL of  KrungthaiAXA Life Insurance. In Financial Markets AXA is positioned as a Global Leader in Financial protection.

Krung Thai Bank PCL symbolized by the “Wayupak bird”, is one of the leading Thailand banks. It proudly boasts one of the most established and enviable branch networks and brings to the partnership a truly dynamic value with its Bank Assurance Channel, a key contributor to the business success.

With impressive growth under Mr. Plaxton’s leadership, in terms of New Business, Krungthai AXA is ranked 5th on the leader board in a field of 24 major players in the market.

Checking world clock numbers is sobering!

This earth clock shows incredible depletion rates that are actually frightening. When you see them presented in this interactive update page, Yearly, monthly, weekly figures are one thing but what really makes you think is the daily depletion rate changing before your eyes.

I bookmark this page and check it later. If you want to follow the updates too you can RSS link or subscribe to the post.

For the record here is an image at as at 23 April, 2010 @ 1:32, being the time I composed this post.

How can we stop this?image

What first job lessons do you still use today and is there anything new?

When I stared my first job, my Dad told me that a first impression cannot be repeated.  “No matter how big you get in life,” he said, “remember to always polish your shoes before you go to a meet someone new.”

As I progressed I remembered more of his golden rules that worked against me when I forget them.

Some evergreens include:

  • Smile, whether in person, on the phone or in writing, customers can feel positive energy.
  • Remember who is paying and treat them well, especially if you want them to come back.
  • By giving good service repeat business is easier than trying to impress to get new customers.
  • Don’t fight with the customer; you will only lose.
  • Make you mark while you can. No-one is ever redundant, but the job can be.

As I look back on some of the global giants where I have worked I reconcile the jobs I did became redundant when they were gobbled up to bigger fish.  I recall a friend who moved to the Giant CRA group in late 1970’s to headed up one of its jewels  called Australian Minimal and Smelting, listed as AM&S.

When I joined CRA 15 years later he had retired and so had the mine he ran. I asked if anyone knew him and the answer was no. Even ,more telling was  no one had even heard of AM&S. I eventually found it as a record in a box in the archives.

The dual listing merger of CRA to that formed RTZ not long after also meant even CRA was also then gone.

The lesson for me lesson was to make my mark while I could, and carry that forward. Like the hand in the bucket of water, once out the hole it made is gone, but not the hand that had learned how to make the hole in the first place.

You now understand why I love the quizzical quotes like

“What ever happened to Randolph Scott?” and

“Did anyone notice Pan AM was missing?”

Saying it all is in song lyrics is Living Next Door to Alice”  co-written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman and originally released by the Australian vocal harmony trio New World in 1972.

We do live in turbulent times for sure where the only constant is change. The advice I get now is still not to forget all those good life lessons but also be adaptive to change  as a way of life.



Doing supply change on the run.

In my CFO Network Group recently there was a great discussion that gave so many useful ideas and insights about cutting costs.

image There a question was posed by Riyaz Lalani, Business Development Manager, BC at Canadian Traffic Services Group Ltd

Reducing costs? Why is there hesitation to make a change when it impacts the bottom line?

Here is my two bob’s worth:

Reducing costs is one thing which may just mean tightening the belt or asking a supplier to reduce. That is called “running the business, which should always include knowing the potential value of low hanging fruit”.

Change is another thing that is more difficult to make even though change itself is a constant in the day-to-day world of business that must be handled. So combining the two in a continuous improvement culture with transparent feedback support and operational measures in place can let everyone work out how to keep up as a way of life. A great business axiom too is “Plan=Success No Plan=failure”. So making cost cuts does need some thought.

With suppliers and customers included that can take care of a lot of issues and your business will grow organically and often at pace. Efficiency cost reductions too fall into in balance so risk issues and relationships don’t burn you later on.

Making step change for all the same reasons as many people have stated, is actually much more difficult without taking a step. And that takes commitment, resources and often a catalyst to bring it about.

When integrating businesses cultures and/or changing software platforms to re-focus business processes, you will most often see strategic growth as the aim.  Then culling redundant processes will also deliver cost reductions as one of the benefits.

BI Landscape is still open

I got this feed from Nigel Pendse’s Bi Verdict site.

Microsoft’s announcement last year saw  the PerformancePoint Server discontinued after July 2009 . This was a major shift in the company’s BI strategy. But PerformancePoint Server which is no longer being developed is still be supported for the few customers that still use it. And they are growing.

PerformancePoint Server had four components: planning, analysis, monitoring and reporting.

  • Monitoring was covered by the Dashboard Designer, which now makes up the PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.
  • Analysis was covered by ProClarity Analytics. ProClarity’s dashboard functions are still available as Shared Services, much like Excel Services or Forms Services in SharePoint. A few ProClarity analysis functions are available via the Dashboard Designer, but the functionality of ProClarity Analytics is being ported step by step to Office, and the product itself is in maintenance mode. This makes it clear that existing customers of ProClarity will face the need to port their applications in a few years. At the time of writing, it is still unclear whether the functionality will be delivered as desktop components or as Web components in the SharePoint Server.
  • The planning component was a new development which used Analysis Services to store data. It survived for about two years before being withdrawn with  SQL Server, Analysis Services, SharePoint Server and Excel are being positioned as providers of generic planning functionality.
  • Management Reporter was the reporting tool but it was never clearly developed and has been largely discontinued.

Future releases of business intelligence functionality by Microsoft are tied to the Office release cycle. Office 14, including the next release of SharePoint Server, is expected this year around June 2010. Integration of PerformancePoint, ProClarity and Excel with the SharePoint Server that goes deeper than the current Shared Services model will have to wait until 2013 or 2014.

But surpise suprise .whatI am seeing in this market space that claims to be specialists to meet the sophisticated needs of business intelligence

Recommending a Friend Of A Friend

Dan Headshot1 How many people, when looking for some help, or staff  have called up a friend  to see if they know someone?

With network media now tracking all our electronic activity this means our contacts everywhere always stay connected in the Social Media Networks.

For many businesses too with a low advertising  budget, the Social Media Networking is their sole means of Marketing.”And Studies reveals that, while 14% People Trust Ads, 76% of People trust consumer recommendations for purchase decisions.

For as long as I have had a computer social media in one way or other via Yahoo, MSN, Skye, AOL, was always there. And now we have more with  Twitter Facebook Linked-in and so on. These also have online presence or alerts that lets us see real-time if someone is there or is active.  They can see me too so once connected it means now we are never alone.

I have read that the key difference between social networks and traditional online communities (windows messenger, chat rooms). is the friend-of-a-friend model.  This sets social networks apart. Linked-In is probably one of the obvious professional networks that works like this, but there are many more.

Here is a pictorial example I found on a web site that segments how various social networking channels can be applied. imageI am not so sure I agree with their catchy tag that says “stop finding your prospects let your prospects find you” It is a good post with some good research if you click thru on the picture.

According to informationweek some time back it works this way. As participants keep up direct connections to friends, they also get access to connections their friends have with other people.


This enables them to interact in ways that they could not do otherwise. The closer the connection is the more trusted that they are.

Rules of engagement are managed so privacy settings are set as more stringent for a FOAF than privacy compared to the directly connected friend.

That is the theory anyway.

As I learn more about how this is evolving I reflected a little on what my father used to do. He was in the building industry in Australia when  I was growing up. Then we were a developing nation. so in the time when you needed to spend wisely he rarely needed to advertise for trades people for his projects.

Then it was mostly done by knowing someone who knew someone. And it worked because maintaining trusted relationships was the only means of survival and the trust model was therefore implicit. Word got around quickly too if  you did the wrong thing. Then, not only favours would not be returned but all the friends of friends would know too.

The concept of a FOAF was how it worked then. So what has changed? Curiously like my father, my son now 35, (pictured), is in the construction industry too. I am proud to say that he has a great job that he loves, managing construction projects for “Walton Construction” a significant national firm headquartered in Melbourne Australia.

In the down turn he tells me he survived well because the trust model and maintaining relationships works just the same.  So is it “Nothing new here” except to reinforce that relationships are what counts not the technology.

My Dad also said,

“You have to work at relationships in business and in life.

He was right.  But it is just as much work if not more, on the net to keep in touch.  But having the power to find and maintain contacts easily to count on is now a totally new ball game. I know Social Media is not a fad, but more a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Knowledge is free. Just bring your own container.



Its what’s said that inspires,


but what’s written transpires.


Sometimes we get it mixed up. This post was accidently published under Performance Controller but was intended for a “Humour for all Occasions.

So to keep faith with our theme, we have moved it. But now you see we do have a life after all.

imageTake a look at it any way. It could be fun, And there may also be some good jokes there that you can use.


But just be careful. There are over 300 jokes there sent in by all our mates and they can be a real time waster.  So don’t send this link to your staff or your kids doing homework.  Bookmarks work better anyway or you can always subscribe or use RSS feed.

If you have some good ones to share you can send them to me and I will post them.