What are you searching for?

There have been many articles and blogs highlighting the benefits of being in a Mastermind group. Accountability, support and growth being amongst the top three.

What I found interesting when launching my recent Mastermind programme, was the personal reasons behind professional business owners looking for a Mastermind group.

It should not have been a surprise to me, as I hear this daily in my coaching practice. Business leaders are looking for what is often referred to as a silver bullet.

Typically, we all reach a point in our business where we hit a ceiling and cannot push beyond. It is at this point where we reach for that silver bullet – why?

On day 1 of my 12 month Mastermind programme it became obvious.

We feel like we have grown our business as far as we can, we have made mistakes and enjoyed successes, but are out of ideas of how to take our cherished products or services to the next level. Or are we?

It was humbling to witness business owners from multi-million-pound organisations sharing in their experiences of self-doubt and lack of confidence. Could this be the real reason why our business has stagnated?

The imposter phenomenon is rife amongst business owners who unconsciously fake it until they make it. (who hasn’t?) I am really pleased that it is becoming more acceptable for us to share our vulnerabilities, and accept our own feelings of self-doubt, at the end of the day we are all human and need support.

I feel incredibly lucky to belong and run Mastermind groups which allow me to share in others journeys of realisation that we are not alone and with a little support, encouragement, motivation and an objective viewpoint, we can raise the bar and achieve our goals, however big.

We must all accept that we will not find the silver bullet because it doesn’t exist, like anything in life, there is no easy fix, but we can address our confidence and fear levels and find the support we need.

A professional peer group who challenge each other by holding up the mirror and asking the questions which we wouldn’t ask ourselves, encourages us to think bigger, find the belief in ourselves to smash through the ceiling and reach limits we knew were possible but didn’t dare to believe.

Mastermind has enabled me to believe in myself and action my plans with confidence and clarity.

It is not surprising that Mastermind groups are becoming a common entry on any budget report.

It is an inexpensive investment in both your business and you!

When I asked myself “What am I searching for?” I found the answer from my Mastermind peer group.

Where will you find yours?

Creating a Culture of Accountability

As promised, I’m back with a low-down on what happened on Day 2 of my own personal journey with a Mastermind Group. As you will know from my previous blog http://www.cloud9businesscoaching.co.uk/practice-what-you-preach/ I have joined an executive Mastermind Group run by Penny Power OBE. For a year I am committed to meet once a month to share my dreams and challenges with Penny and 11 collaborative partners.


The focus of Day 2 was accountability.  At the end of our first meet, we had all shared our goals and set ourselves objectives to complete within the 4 weeks between sessions. So, on Day 2 it was time to report back!


The glue that ties commitment to the result


Let me tell you, there is nothing more powerful to whip you into action and do what you said you do, than having to openly update Penny Power and 11 other dedicated and impressive new colleagues. I mean who wants to be the person who pathetically laments, “oh I wasn’t able to do this, or that; because of this, or that”. Not me!!!


Of course, we weren’t expected to be Grade A students and have completed everything on our list, but if we had failed, we were encouraged to consider what had held us back and why. And this was a worthwhile lesson in terms of understanding and recognising our barriers and limitations. Plus, it allowed us to openly admit struggle or failure; and brainstorm as a group how to address and overcome it.


“Accountability breeds response-ability” Stephen Covey


Accountability is a funny word. On the one hand it conjures a somewhat negative connotation in terms of having responsibility and being held to blame if things go wrong. But on the other hand, holding yourself and others accountable brings incredibly positive results. Faster and more accurate response, improved teamwork and higher output are some of the benefits of greater accountability in the workplace. It really can be the driving force for excellence.


An essential leadership competency


Not every leader is willing to hold people accountable for their actions or lack of. Fear of conflict, fear of becoming unpopular, or simply not knowing how; are common causes for a lack of accountability. It is hard work that requires time, focus and consistency but encouraging a culture of accountability will ensure that everyone has the best opportunity to excel in their role.


Here’s my 5 tips for creating a culture of accountability:

  1. Set expectations. Be clear about what you want done, how you want it done and by when. Put it into context and explain how individual objectives feed into the overall business objectives.
  2. Ensure capability. It is vital that your people have the right experience, tools and support to achieve their objectives. If there are gaps, how will you resolve them?
  3. Agree weekly/monthly milestones with clear, measurable targets. If any of these slip, jump on it immediately.
  4. Provide feedback. If you have set clear expectations with agreed measurables, then feedback can be fact-based and easy to deliver on an on-going basis.
  5. Act on results. Reward good results and take action when expectations aren’t met.


When expectations are clear and individuals have the proper skills, knowledge and resources to perform, they are more likely to show a greater level of accountability.


Great companies have high cultures of accountability


But it is no good just to mandate accountability. Leaders who don’t model accountability can’t expect their employees to behave any differently. Accountability is necessary at all levels within a business and should cascade downwards.


If you struggle with accountability, you are not alone. It can be lonely at the top and with no-one to hold you accountable, it’s easy to let things slip. This is where the help of a good business coach can be invaluable.


“Sam will hold up a mirror to the one person who is ultimately responsible and accountable for my business and while sometimes uncomfortable it makes a huge difference.”


How you choose to work on your own accountability is down to you. I have chosen to join a Mastermind Group and it became very clear to me on Day 2 that accountability is one of the key benefits. My group colleagues will keep me on track and hold me accountable in moving my projects and goals forward. Just knowing that I have a regular, scheduled meetings will drive me to make progress.


Watch the space for the next instalment in my mastermind journey and if you are interested to explore how my coaching services or Mastermind Groups can help you create a culture of accountability, please don’t hesitate to get in contact!





Practice what you preach.


Every coach needs a coach. I have 9 years of experience coaching other people, but I regularly see a coach. We’ve all heard the story about the mechanic who drives around in a rust bucket, or the painter and decorator whose house is in need of much tlc. I am not a fan of walking contradictions. Contradictions do not make progress. Which is why I recently joined a Mastermind Group.

The time has come for me to further shape and improve my business. After much research and deliberation, I decided to join a group run by Penny Power OBE. For a year I am committed to meet once a month to share my dreams and challenges with Penny and 11 collaborative partners; people I’ve only just met.

It’s a big step and a huge commitment both timewise and financial. But it’s time – I am ready to invest in the future of Cloud9 and progress to the next level – and once I had met and connected with Penny; I knew this was not only the right move, but the right group.

Winners make a habit of manufacturing their own positive expectations in advance of the event” Brian Tracy

In the next series of blog posts, I will be sharing my experience of what it’s like to attend a Mastermind Group and documenting my journey. This is an exciting time for me and naturally I have big expectations – of course I know first-hand the impact a Mastermind Group can have!!!

I expect to be inspired to rethink my strategies by opening-up to new ideas and perspectives; I expect to reconsider my own capabilities; unlearn behaviours that may be preventing my business from moving forward; learn new innovations that will help me achieve the results I desire.

This may sound like a tall order and you may think that I am setting my expectations to high, but I am acutely aware of the power of Mastermind. http://www.cloud9businesscoaching.co.uk/power-mastermind-mighty/

I know I can have the business life I want and I know that I am more likely to achieve it with the help and support of a Mastermind Group.

So here’s what happened on day 1 of my own mastermind journey… #BiPMM1

My story is… I don’t have a story!

On the train to London my biggest preoccupation was about the other 11 members of the group and my own personal worth. Who will they be? What is their business background? Will they be more ‘high flying’ than me? Will I connect with them? Will I be able to add value to the group? What if I regret signing up to this? And why do I keep getting emotional? (more about that later!)


The main objective of day 1 was getting to know the other group members. Openness and honesty are absolutely key to developing meaningful relationships and securing trust within the group, so we were invited to stand and tell ‘our story’. As I listened to the others relay tales of adversity and life-changing experiences, I was struck with the sudden realisation ‘I don’t have a story!!!’ My life to this point has been happy, full of love and relative success with, thankfully, no tragedy.

Surrounded by brave people who had achieved so much (and equally lost so much), I felt humbled, in-awe and inspired. Despite my feelings of inadequacy, I knew I would learn a great deal from these individuals. And going back to my story, or lack thereof, I was reassured that everyone has a story – some less turbulent than others. My story is the story of who I am and how I am on the way to becoming me. Cue the emotions.

The opportunity to be so transparent, to take a good look at yourself and share your hopes, dreams, failures and frustrations stirs up emotion. It’s not every day that we get to be so real and honest; with ourselves and others. This is the power of Mastermind. On day 1 we established a bond. We were 12 strangers from different walks of life, with a common purpose, committed to supporting one another and our business goals.

I felt energised, empowered, safe and supported and immensely excited about the next 11 months and what I will achieve.

I already know that this is going to be a transformative journey that is as much about cultivating and harnessing my own power as it is about growing my business.

Watch the space for the next instalment in my mastermind journey and if you are interested to hear about the Mastermind Groups I run, please don’t hesitate to get in contact!

You can register your interest via the link below.



The power of Mastermind is mighty

5 reasons why you need to join a Mastermind Group

Mastermind Groups are becoming more and more popular as business leaders recognise the value of peer-to-peer mentoring, but they are not new.

The concept was first presented in the early 1900s by Napolean Hill is his books ‘The Law of Success’ and ‘Think and Grow Rich’. Hill described the Mastermind principle as, “coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people who work towards a definite purpose in a spirit of harmony… No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind”, also known as, the Mastermind.

It was Hill’s many conversations with Andrew Carnegie that inspired the concept of Mastermind. Carnegie attributed much of his phenomenal success to a peer group of trusted advisors.

The power of Mastermind is mighty

Have you ever been part of a Mastermind Group?

If no, then you will not have experienced the mighty benefit of being connected with other motivated people, who bring insight from different backgrounds and experience, who inspire you to achieve success and are dedicated to holding you accountable. It really is quite powerful.

If you need further convincing, here’s 5 key reasons why you need to join a mastermind group:


As Hill recognised, a Mastermind Group is all about synergy. As a participant, you will learn from the collective intelligence of the group. Their perspective, knowledge and experience will help you overcome challenges and advance your own projects and goals more quickly.


Growth Ultimately participants of a Mastermind Group raise the bar by challenging each other. As facilitator, I help the group dive deeply into business discussions. The participants act as devil’s advocates and empower you to make wise decisions. You will not only think bigger, but your confidence will grow.

Support A Mastermind Group provides a trusted, non-judgemental environment where you can seek objective advice and feedback. Participants are motivated not only by accelerating their own growth, but by the reward of helping others solve problems and overcome challenges.


Accountability Your fellow participants will keep you on track and hold you accountable in moving your projects and goals forward. Just knowing that you have a regular, scheduled meeting will drive you to make progress.



The very essence of a Mastermind Group is a collective of like-minded professionals. It is likely that you will develop strong and lasting relationships with the participants in your group. This will result in extending your network by sharing connections, resources and even doing business together.


You already know that two heads are better than one when it comes to solving a problem or creating a result, so imagine if you met on a monthly basis with a permanent group of like-minded professionals who act as your board of objective and trusted advisors. Imagine the impact could this have on your effectiveness and growth?

My question now is; why are you not part of a Mastermind Group?


“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher” Oprah Winfrey

How to not to lose or alienate your Gen Y talent

We embark upon 2019 still frustratingly uncertain as to how the year will unfold and what impact it will have on our businesses. In these unstable times, the last thing you need as a leader is to lose your key players – whether they be established or rising stars.

2.8 million employees quit their jobs each month and it costs approx. £30,614k to find and train a replacement. Investment in your team is therefore crucial, and a people strategy must be an essential component of your business strategy.

Success comes from having a productive, motivated team but numerous studies show that turnover is higher than ever. As soon as next year, 40% of the workforce will be Gen Y. So what make this largest of talent pools choose one company over another and what makes them stay?

What Gen Y need

I touched on what Gen Y expect from their employer in my previous post.  The defining factor is that this generation want a job that will accommodate their values.

Here are 5 key areas, I believe you should focus on to ensure you provide the right environment for your Gen Y talent to flourish:


  • Growth & Development A company offering opportunity and transparent development opportunities will retain Gen Y who will look elsewhere if they feel they are not developing in their role. This does not necessarily mean the hierarchical ‘step-up’, but more fluid, stepping-stone opportunities that involve added responsibility, experience, exposure and challenge. Gen Y are more than willing to participate in activities – traditional training or otherwise – that increase their skills and cement their value to the business.


  • Work/Life Balance According to a recent survey by Forbes, 74% of Gen Y employees want flexible work schedules which allow them to attend to their commitments outside work. This is increasingly disrupting the traditional 9 to 5 schedule as many employees and employers alike, recognise that productivity is not necessarily tied to a specific 7hr window. Requests for flexible working are at an all-time high, and business owners should understand, respect and accommodate work-life integration. Note: balance does not equate to less work, but working differently and flexibly.


  • Passion It is entirely wrong to assume that Gen Y are lazy. When provided with the proper motivation they are widely known to work above and beyond their contractual hours, including evenings and weekends. What motivates them is passion. They need to understand the WHY. Therefore, making the business mission at the centre of everything and open lines of communication at every step of the way is key to keeping their passion alive. Involve your Gen Y in key business decisions, make them privy to challenges and ask their opinion – it will generate trust and engage them even further.


  • Nurture Gen Y are the first cohort born of so-called ‘helicopter parents’. The patience, fairness, time and understanding they received from their mothers and fathers is an expectation in the workplace too. In fact, the relationship between leader and employee often works best when the dynamic is parent-child like! Gen Y require open communication, regular feedback and praise. They are ok with being vulnerable and will readily confess to fear or weakness. A nurturing approach, which may be quite alien to Gen X bosses, will bring out the best in them and help them soar.

We’ll be relying on Gen Y talent for decades to come. Only businesses that understand how this talent pool want to be treated and actively attend to their needs and expectations will avoid the turnover trap.

Are you one of them?


Leaders develop Leaders

As a leader of your organisation, however large or small, have you considered that up to 30% of your time should be spent developing others; specifically, your future leaders? This isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds…

A broader, more holistic view of leadership development which incorporates cross-functional experiences and empowering stretch-assignments coupled with guidance and coaching (on your part) is both manageable and ultimately more meaningful and effective.

Not only will your future leaders will gain valuable knowledge from experiential learning opportunities; they will relish the empowerment and platform to demonstrate their skills as their generation’s mindset dictates.

I’ll take a guess that your future leaders are Gen Y (born between the early 1980s to 1995) and you, as leader are Gen X (born between 1965 to 1980). This presents startling and challenging differences in how each generation view leadership…

Gen Xers believe in a command and control approach, value working individually, view managers as experts and look to their employers for career planning. They like clear boundaries and have a generally inward-looking perspective compared to Gen Y.

Gen Y are tech-savvy, multi-tasking collaborators. They have an outward-looking perspective and interact with an extensive network of communities beyond their employer. Less motivated by traditional leadership methods, Gen Y expect their boss to act more like a coach or mentor.

It’s now well surveyed and documented that generally what Gen Y want from their employer is:

  • The chance to learn and develop
  • The opportunity to do work that excites them
  • Having a job aligned to their values & talents
  • Collaboration, support and empowerment

Understanding what drives Gen Y and incorporating this into your leadership development strategy is essential to retain and engage the talent that will drive your business forward.

Adopting a culture of learning is pivotal

Deloitte’s 2017 report on Global Human Capital Trends, cites a new breed of leader who “must understand how to build and lead teams; keep people connected and engaged; and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement.”


Leaders of today (Gen Xers) need to experiment, adapt and learn new ways to bridge the gap between their own experience of leadership compared to the expectations of emerging leaders.

Given the ongoing learning required at the top and the thirst for learning in in-coming the ranks below; a company-wide developmental mindset is essential. Leaders should not only incorporate L&D as an essential part of the business strategy, but continuously attend to their own self-development also.

Walk the walk, not just talk the talk

Just as Gen Y value authenticity, transparency and collaboration; these are essential skills required of leaders today. The modern-day concept of authentic leadership is in its infancy, but surveys already reveal that authentic leaders create a high-trust and high-performance culture. One of the core characteristics of authentic leaders, is that they are constantly growing. For once, aligned to their Gen Y colleagues – they continuously learn and evolve from their experiences.

“Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership.” — Harvard Business Review, January 2015


What steps are you taking to ensure your that your leadership skills are meeting the needs of your business and your emerging leaders?

Come and talk to me about Authentic Leadership and how you can identify and harness your authentic leadership style.

Invest in future leaders, because your future depends on it.

Regardless of your business type or sector your competitiveness and ongoing success will depend on one thing: your future leaders. Leadership development is therefore one of the most valuable investments your business will ever make.

I don’t need to tell you… the business landscape has never been so uncertain and challenging; but it is also a place of immense opportunity and prosperity.

The people who will lead your business of tomorrow will need to possess an unprecedented range of skills combined with a deep understanding of your business and vision for its future.

A business with emerging leaders who are not only adept at navigating adversity whilst maintaining strategic and innovative mindsets but who are also technically and digitally savvy; will gain competitive advantage.

So who and where are your next generation of leaders? And how are you preparing them to lead?

Nature or nurture?

Many people possess the qualities and motivation for leadership success, but they require nurture and development. Even born leaders need grooming so that their skills are polished and honed.

By implementing well-designed, structured leadership development, you will not only ensure that your future leaders are equipped with the necessary skills; you will also have the benefit of developing exactly the type of leaders your business requires.

Investing time to work and develop your future leadership team will allow you to embed culture and values, align business strategy, and encourage a high level of teamwork and trust within this group.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. – Jack Welch

Case study

I am currently working with the UK branch of a global organisation who has suffered poor leadership for many years resulting in a negative culture, resistant to change and where fun and rewards are non-existent. The emerging leaders struggled to make their mark, facing historic uncooperative attitudes and a wall of “we’ve always done it this way, why change?”.



With the help of government funding we were able to work together and implement a 12-month leadership and management programme embarking the entire management team on a continuous journey to lead a successful business and implement change.


They are now on a path where there is evidence of a shared vision, aligned values, concise goals, clear reporting lines, support, reward and a real sense of a team success.


There have been casualties during the process, but this is both inevitable and positive as their values were not aligned to those of the organisation and they were ultimately not part of the future.


As a result of this particular leadership journey, the business has experienced an increase in productivity, a higher level of customer service and improved staff retention reducing their ongoing recruitment costs.


What happens if you don’t invest in future leaders?

At some point you, or your current leadership team will be ready to move on. But to ensure your business continues to thrive, you need to keep your best talent onboard and engaged.

If you don’t invest in your future leaders, they will leave.

A lack of high-potential, invested employees will contribute to poor productivity and engagement and will ultimately affect your bottom line. Study after study shows that businesses who invest in leadership development perform better than those that don’t.

No longer a ‘nice to have’

A Leadership Development Programme is critical to the ongoing success of your business.

As a leader, you will have created and articulated a vision for your future… now who is going to drive and implement that vision, and how?

It’s never too early to identify and develop future leaders. Many organisations don’t think about leadership development until there is a pressing need, but by that point it is often too late.

Come and talk to me about developing your future leaders – there’s no time like the present!

Nana Vision

Many of us, whether we own a business or are employed, lose sight of our Nana Vision!

The demands of our everyday are all consuming and most of us work with a to-do list long enough to keep us busy throughout the whole week allowing very little time to think longer term.

My “Nana Vision” was first realised whilst planning with a client. It has provided me with clarity, direction, focus and comfort knowing there is an end goal and longer-term focus and a clear picture of what life looks like in my later years.

So, what is a Nana Vision?

A Nana Vision – a phrase I’ve personally coined – is the life you imagine living once you have become a Nana (or not, as the case may be). What will those days look like? What will you be doing? Who will you spend them with? What is important to you? What makes you feel happy?

My Nana Vision fills me with emotion… It’s like when enjoying your best day out; happy, fulfilled and surrounded by people you love. And this is what makes every day leading up to this time worthwhile and exciting.

I currently work as a business coach helping many business owners. The days when I am not coaching, I am planning, reading, or facilitating workshops and Mastermind groups all of which I love doing.

My Nana Vision is not too far away from my everyday now, except I will work with fewer clients, have less coaching days and I will be rewarded with much higher fees. I will enjoy time to research and write and help younger generations who are planning to start their own enterprises by speaking at schools, universities and entrepreneur clubs. My free time will be in abundance I will enjoy (I hope) days out with my grandchildren, husband and lots of lunches with the girls!

Having a Nana Vision has enabled me to look ahead, envisage the dream and plan my journey. I know how long I have and what I need to do – everything needs to lead to that vision.

Take some time to work out your Nana Vision – you deserve it.

Stop Longing For More Time.

It is rare that something is so precious and so cherished, Time is longed for and wanted, we all dream of either pressing the pause button or re-inventing the 24hr day to make it longer some of us want to go back in time to alter the events or to relive them if only………………….

Time is so precious that we need to treat it with the respect it deserves.

With that in mind can I be bold enough to ask you to be honest with how you feel about the way you have spent your last 36 hours?

Are you happy with what you have achieved?

Who you spent it with?

The mind-set you lived with?

The results you achieved?

Most of us if we answered honesty would admit to falling short in one of those areas we are only human and we live at such a fast pace that we react and make decisions based on what we are faced with at that time, however if we knew we would be reviewing it every 36 hours we may make different decisions.

Now is the time to live like you will be reviewing every 36 hours, in fact go one better and actually review your week it makes a tremendous difference to what you will achieve.

Reviewing allows you to deal with the negative and only move forward with positive emotions, by processing the negative things we find fixes, implement change and solutions giving us confidence that this challenge will not reappear we then focus on the positive things giving us better results, the same can be said for the company you keep, I would encourage a cull!!!

Review your current relationships and make changes, I want to be around positive people,  I thrive from others success and drive and that’s why coaching works for me I have surrounded myself with successful driven individuals whose personalities are bold and believable they drive me to be at my best. What emotions do you feel in the company you keep?

Review your productivity and think about the mind-set you had and what results you achieved think about your chunks of time, were they rushed or relaxed, were you under pressure, stressed or frustrated, what were your stress levels and why? Who caused you the stress and frustrations? What can you do about those relationships? Is it time for change? What do you need to change?

Time management is most effective if you view it like a man, do one thing at a time!!!!!!!!!

Wearing only one hat will make us more focused and productive, organise your week with chunks of time and focus on just one thing. Give yourself a goal and a time deadline in which to achieve it.

Stop the neg ferrets, these are people who simply want to offload their negativity onto you, you don’t need them, these people offer you nothing.

Don’t allow the time thief’s to distract you, Identify who are your key people and give them the time they need and deserve, do not get drawn into the “can I just have a minute” (equals 96 hours over a year!)


Stop wishing for more time and focus on making the time you have the most effective and nourished. Spend it with positive people, focus on one thing at a time, prioritise and live only with a positive mindset.

Network Like A Ninja!

Network Like A Ninja

Walking into a room full of people you don’t know without the comfort of food and wine is a daunting experience for some, for others it is a welcome opportunity to grow a network of professional contacts.

Networking is an essential tool to your grow business. So, by reviewing your approach to networking and changing your opinion; from seeing it as an uncomfortable chore; to a fantastic low investment tool to source new business, will help you confront the fear and network like a ninja!


5 Tips For Successful Networking

  1. Do your homework. Who will be there? Who will you know? Who will they be able to introduce you to? Arrange to go with a colleague who can introduce you to a someone you would like to build a relationship with.
  2. Remember that everyone is in the same position. Nobody is there to be vindictive or embarrass you. Most people are prepared to help and support others. Be yourself. Be genuine. Join in.
  3. Set yourself realistic goals. Who would you like to do business with? Aim to start between 1-3 new relationships. Also think about how many business cards you want to give out. Don’t work the room, don’t hustle!
  4. Practice your icebreaker questions. Refer to your research and ask questions about a recent work project or award, or a paper/blog/book they recently published. Everyone loves talking about themselves!
  5. Remember the most important, but commonly the most missed stage of networking, is the follow up. Make it personal. Refer to a common ground and something interesting you both discussed. Don’t be pushy. Work on building the relationship. Build rapport before closing the sale.


Networking doesn’t have to be daunting or hard work. The more events you attend, the more people you will recognise, the more relationships will develop and you will be surprised at how comfortable you feel.

Now, go network like a Ninja!