Navigating the new normal

Gateley Legal

In this episode, Gearalt Fahy, a partner in our employment team, is joined by globally recognised speaker and best selling author Andy Bounds. They discuss strategies for remaining effective at work, as businesses navigate the 'new normal'.

In this episode:

  • How to be as effective and productive as possible,
  • How to stay positive and engaged in these challenging times, 
  • When using tech to host meetings or write emails, what is best practice; and
  • How to create and deliver a brilliant webinar.

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This episode is part of our straight talking business success podcast series. Learn more about the series and what we cover. This podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Read the transcript:

Welcome to Straight Talking Business Success, your guide to growing and developing your business.

In today's episode, we are sharing content we recorded in July, hosted by Gearalt Fahy an employment expert here at Gateley. He is joined by world bestselling author and globally recognized speaker, Andy Bounds. He provides practical advice on adapting to the new normal.

Gearalt Fahy: Hello, my name is Gearalt Fahy and it's my pleasure to introduce this webinar to you. I hope it's going to provide some fine insights, inspiration, and practical perspectives for you to consider during these trying times. As we adapt to our new way of working, we need those things more than ever, but they will be just as useful as we move forward in the coming weeks and months. The current situation has certainly been a time that few, if any of us, have ever experienced. Whilst we do not wish to minimize the human cost, we cannot ignore the impact that COVID-19 has had on each of our lives and businesses. Each one of us has experienced a seismic change. The most significant of those must be working from home. I'm delighted to welcome bestselling author Andy Bounds, who will give us the benefit of his experience and insights on communication and positivity.

Gearalt Fahy: Andy will help us to navigate the new normal. Before I introduce Andy, I'd like to say a few words about him. He is a globally recognized speaker. He has been Britain's sales trainer of the year, his insights stem from the fact his mum is blind. This has given him a lifetime's experience of communicating from someone else's point of view. So critical when seeking to persuade others. Andy has published three books, which are all best sellers. In fact, one was only capped off Amazon's number one spot by Harry Potter, and he was quite popular. So, Andy, enough of me and more of you. Hello and welcome.

Andy Bounds: Hi there. Nice to be here.

Gearalt Fahy: Nice to have you here. You've had your own consultancy and work from home now for, what is it, 17, 18 years? What are the main things you've learned you need to do to be as effective and productive as possible?

Andy Bounds: So the main thing to realize is, it sounds an obvious thing to say, but it isn't the same. So you have to do things differently. I remember on my first morning with my new business, waking up all excited and running into my office, thinking it will be amazing. And then half an hour later thinking, "I'm not really sure what to do now." And I quickly realized that when you're in a face-to-face office, there are lots of things that happen that can give you variety and energy and noise. There'll be someone across the way who says something that even if you're not listening, it's just background buzz. Someone will interrupt you and that breaks up your day. But when you're on your own, that doesn't happen. So if you're not careful, there's no variety at all. You can sit on the same chair, looking at the same computer screen, and all of a sudden eight hours have gone past.

Andy Bounds: So the thing I found more important than anything is to get your focus right in that you have, although you're at home all the time, you have a work-life, then you have a home life at home and to make sure focus is key. So when I'm doing work, for example, I'm very lucky, I've got an office in my house. So the door's shut, which mean the kids know dad is at work. They don't come in. And when I come out of the office, there are no go areas for work. So I can't bring work downstairs where the kids are playing. For example, we have a no go area. We can't do work upstairs. We're not able to talk about work in the bedroom or something. So you're very clear when you're doing work, it's work. And when you're not doing work, it's definitely not work.

Andy Bounds: So the smartphone never goes anywhere near the bedroom because that's not the right place for it. So it's always getting that focus right and making sure you give yourself variety. So little things like it's important to keep in contact with people, but that means you don't need to have a one hour boring, weekly update meeting that you would have in the office, but you might decide you're going to increase the frequency but reduce the duration. So instead of having one, one-hour tedious update, every week, you have 10 minutes every couple of days to check in with everyone. And you don't have butts about meetings anymore. You hated them in the office so don't start doing them now, it's even worse. Sometimes people tell me they wake up in the morning and they're just not quite sure what to do that day. So that's really hard.

Andy Bounds: If you wake up and think, "Ah, don't know what to do here," it's really how to stimulate creativity if you're not quite up for it. So I always advise the night before you go to bed, just write a to-do list of two or three things that you do tomorrow morning. So if you wake up and you happen to wake up that day with, "Oh, here we go again. Same room, same computer, same chair," at least you got your two or three things to get you going in the day. Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, this is a good one as well. This sounds a little bit childish, but I find this extremely helpful. Because I don't get variety thrust on me by the face-to-face nature of an office, I have to artificially stimulate variety. So every hour without fail, I always have at least five minutes where I do something to put a bit of variety in my day.

Andy Bounds: It doesn't matter what it is. I might go down to see the kids. I might just stand up and sit down a couple of times. I might open the window and stick my head out of it. I think I did this morning, actually, it was great, I went on YouTube and typed in the name of a comedian I think is really funny, and I just had him make me laugh for five minutes, and then I felt good and I went back to work. So you have to do all these things. Focus on work when you're at work, focus on home when you're not at work, and make you do anything you can to give yourself bits of energy to keep yourself going.

Gearalt Fahy: Having had some insight into how you work and having worked with you in the past, one quality which shines through is your positivity. I'd say your glass is close to full, but for those who tend to sip from one which is half full, I would expect the shift to home working has been more difficult. I might be overstating it, but I'm sure some dare I say, hated it. What can you share with us in terms of how we can stay positive and engaged in these challenging times?

Andy Bounds: Yeah, that is a really good question. So all the stuff I've said in answering my previous question will still help. Having a five-minute break every hour is good. Getting some fresh air is good. All these things that people think. But a lot of it comes down to, if you think of assessing the old apothecary scales and your life is probably not quite what you would have chosen it to be compared to two months ago now. And even if you're okay, your clients probably aren't happy. So there are people around us, whether it's also someone else who isn't happy. So if you think of the apothecary scales on one side, it's, it's way down with negativity. So what we have to do to balance out is we have to do more than nothing on the other side to try and get more positivity into it.

Andy Bounds: Because otherwise the only thing that's happened, the net effect is negative. So what we then do is we think, "Well, what can we do to stimulate positivity?" The greatest advice I've ever- well, I read it actually, I didn't hear about this, was in a book about Walt Disney, as in, the man, Walt Disney. And his approach to life was, he said, "Always focus on the words 'yes, if'." And just expanding that a bit, what happens is normally, if you say to people, "How are you finding home working? Is it working for you?" People usually reply with one of two, two-word phrases. They either say "no, because," so, "is it working for you?"

Andy Bounds: "No, because it's rubbish. No, because I miss my friends. No, because I like face-to-face. No, because I miss the nuance. No, because we're social creatures." So there's "no, because" or they say the two words, "it depends."

Andy Bounds: "Well, it depends on what happens in the day. It depends if so-and-so rings me back. It depends if I get time in my tea." And what Walt Disney said is "Don't use those two words 'no, because' or 'yes, if' because if you say 'no, because' you're on a downer, and if you say 'it depends', well, it depends. You have no control over that. But if you think in terms of 'yes if', 'Are you going to have a good day today?'.

Andy Bounds: 'Well, yes, if I do this. Yes, if I give myself that break. Yes, if I invest a bit more time in myself. Yes, if when it's a lunch break, I actually turned my computer off and turn my phone off and go and see the kids for half an hour. Yes. If I walk to work in the morning'."

Andy Bounds: So although it sounds tough, like I always walk to work, so I know work is here. So I'll walk out of the house for five minutes, turn around and walk home. So that's called walking to work and it just gives me fresh air. And the kids have got a trampoline. I'm 51 years old so my knees don't work, but I'll sometimes get on the trampoline with them for two or three minutes cause it just gives me energy. So all the way you thinking of these magical apothecary scales, you've got to balance the negativity with positivity. So think "yes, if" and shoehorn positivity in your day. And if you can't do it yourself because you're someone who may be as if the glass is half empty kind of person, and there are so many of us around, that's fine. What you then do is think, who can I speak to, which will help me feel positive, who isn't going to irritate me because they're too positive?

Andy Bounds: So I've got a wonderful PA call Emma, and I love her to bits and she's fabulous and she's always positive. And even if she's having a bit of a narky day, she knows one of her jobs is to be positive if I'm having a bit of a bad hour, because I have bad hours too like the rest of us. So I'll just ring that one up and I'll say, "Oh, I've had a bit of a bad hour." And she'll go "All right. Tell me about it. How can I help?" We'll have a bit of a laugh on the phone, I put the phone down, and then I carry on.

Andy Bounds: And that, in many ways, is one of the most important roles she plays. So she's not irritatingly over the top positive. She's just nice, and she cares about me. So what I would urge people to do is, if you can get the "yes, if" mentality yourself, great, crack on, use it. But if you know what you're like and you know you need help, then of all your contact lists, think of someone you can speak to. Even if it's just once a week or once every two or three days. Even if it's just for five minutes just to shift those apothecary scales back into better balance.

Gearalt Fahy: Yeah, I completely understand what you're saying. And having picked up on some of your tips in the past, that's one that I've stolen, which is the "yes, if". And it's something that I try to begin the day with, but positive reinforcement is very important.

Andy Bounds: Oh, it's so important. And I mean, I have got other friends other than my PA I'm a bit with. We had one of these the other day, we had a customer who wanted us to do something on a certain day or certain week and we couldn't really do it cause the diary was wrong. So I said to Anne, "Can you have a look at the diary and tell me what the 'yes, ifs' are?" And now she knows that shorthand for "Well, you can speak to this client this week. Yes, if we moved this. Yes, if you work later than you meant to that day. Yes, if you do this. Yes, if you do that."

Andy Bounds: So when I say to her, "Can you give me some 'yes, ifs'?" She doesn't come back and say, "Sorry, the diary is full." She says, "You can absolutely meet this person if you do A, or B or C or D, which do you want to do?" And that positivity, not just for me, but for her and all our colleagues means that you always are on the front foot with stuff and you're never stuck there thinking, "Well, life isn't as good as it was two months ago," because that doesn't really help anyone.

Gearalt Fahy: I think they all need that. The lesson I've learned from that Andy is we all need an Emma. I have a Kirsty and Kirsty does an equally good job for in our team.

Andy Bounds: Yeah. Everyone ring Kirsty or Emma.

Gearalt Fahy: There's certainly a lot that we can all learn from your experiences, Andy, as we continue to adapt to working from home. We've all seen what seems to be an overnight move to virtual platforms, such as Teams, Zoom and Google Meet, which seem to have overtaken Skype, which itself seems to have been around forever, but not used widespread. Assuming these are here to stay and for those platforms, or Indeed in more traditional means such as emails and dare I say, face to face meetings. What are the best practices to make sure all of these things work? What can you tell us?

Andy Bounds: Okay, well, with communication, it doesn't matter how you do it, whatever you do, whether you're talking, emailing, Zooming, Skyping, Teamsing, sending a proposal, doing a sales presentation, doing a webinar, whatever you're doing, the thing that matters more than anything, well, there's two things. The start and the end, the keyword with the word start is "engage". So the only aim of a start is you have to engage the other person. And if you don't like those words, your start is your first impression. So if you send me something with a boring title, or if your opening sentence is boring, your first impression is boring. So, therefore, I'm probably not going to engage. And the keyboard with the end is the word "do". You always have to ask someone to do something at the end, or they won't do anything at the end.

Andy Bounds: Now I know that sounds really obvious, but think of a typical email, you'll have the title, which is boring, like FYI or something like that. And then at the end, it doesn't ask you to do anything. It'll say something like, "And should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call." And so it doesn't do anything. And this matters normally, but it really matters when you've only got virtual communication because you can't even rely on happening to bump into someone and having a lovely face-to-face with them, you've got to get this right. So with communication, a simple way to think about, say, emails, is if I wanted to email you about this recording, I could call the email, "This Recording," and that's accurate, and it's correct, but my word it's not very engaging. So instead, what I do, is I use the phrase, "This Recording," but then I add a few interesting words afterwards to engage you.

Andy Bounds: So an email about this might be "This Recording, dash, a Quick Question, dot dot dot," so that actually goes in the subject line, "This Recording, dash, a Quick Question, dot dot dot," and that engages. It sort of almost forces you to open it because it's quick because I said the word quick, but also with respect, you're a little bit nosy, and you'd like to know what the question is. Or I could say "This Recording, dash, Some Advice, question mark," or "a Favor, question mark." Now, this is not what normally happens, but it can't do any harm doing it. If anyone ever sends me an email like this, I never think, "Oh, how un-corporate," I just open it cause I want to see what the favour is. In fact, I got an email for one of my customers the other day, and it was headed up "Quick Favor". So, you cheeky monkey.

Andy Bounds: I know exactly what you're doing there. I taught you this, but actually, I had to open it because it was quick and he wanted a favour and I knew I could help him. So you always have to make sure your start is engaging. If you're doing a meeting, how'd you make your starts engaging? Well, you make your start engaging with a meeting, by talking about what the outcomes are. And the outcome of the meeting will be one of two things beginning with A, so the reason you meet with other people is that either you want action because you want to identify some actions to take or because you want an agreement. So you're looking to make decisions. So anytime you have a meeting, you should be having a meeting to either trigger action or trigger agreement, that's it. So if you invite me to a meeting and it's called meeting, well, that's not very engaging.

Andy Bounds: If you call it, "Update Meeting," it's got even less engaging, but if you call it something like, "Meeting to Agree on Next Steps with Project X. Meeting to Identify our Three Next Actions with Client Y." Well, that tells me before I even come to the meeting, what the outcome is and what we're looking to achieve. So I'm now more engaged. And I think of another example if you're doing a proposal to someone. How do you engage your customer or client with a proposal? Well, what you do is you put that main priority in the title. So if you're talking to somebody and they want to export into Belgium, you call it "Proposal, colon, how we'll help you export into Belgium." So I won a piece of work with a pharmaceutical company recently. And they said it was because of my proposal cycle. My competitor had put in a proposal called "Our Proposal" and mine was called, "How You'll Generate 50 Million Pounds in Three Months."

Andy Bounds: I mean, who's do you look up first? So it doesn't matter whether you're doing email or you're doing a proposal or you're doing a meeting, your start has got to be engaging. Now I said there were see things, that was one. The other is the end. The end has to ask someone to do something. So none of us, "Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call," people won't do anything. And I saw a salesperson leave a proposal with someone recently and they said, "And I'll leave that with you. Just give me a tinkle when you're ready." And so there's no real call to action, it's only an option so I was like, "Oh no." And people think, "Well, I don't want to be aggressive." And you think it's not being aggressive to say, "Please, can you sign page three and give it back?" It's still polite, it's still saying the word, please.

Andy Bounds: I mean, aggressive is "Send me the proposal back or I'll punch your lights out." That's aggressive, but "Please, could you send me the proposal? Please, could you sign page three?" That's what nice people do. So when you do an email, the bottom line of an email should begin the word "please". "Please, can you send me the figures for the month? Please, can you sign page three of the attached? Please, can you review the attached and tell me if there's anything we need to worry about?" Already that's better than FYI. If you're doing a meeting, never end a meeting with "Any other business?" That's not asking anyone to do anything, so they won't. So instead we end it with "Any other business?" No, we end it with actions arising. In other words, what actions are we going to take? What are we going to do? A final one, proposal. If you send a proposal to someone, what you want them to do when they read it?

Andy Bounds: Well, what you want them to do is accept the proposal. So there needs to be something in your proposal called, I don't know, communication of acceptance. And then it says, "To accept this proposal, please sign the bottom of page three." So now the client knows what to do. So imagine if your proposal first page says " This is how you generate 50 million pounds." Last day says, "To accept this signed page three." Well now it's engaging, and the do is clear. If you have an email with a clear title and a clear do, people are going to do stuff. If the meeting has got a good title and you went with actions arising, it all works.

Andy Bounds: I mean, those of us at home, homeschooling kids like I am, the other day, I wanted child four to go to bed and we really ought to give him a name now, but child four, he's seven years old. I want him to go to bed. So what I need to do is my opening sentence can't include the word bed because I want him to go to bed, but he doesn't want to go to bed so it's not engaging.

Andy Bounds: So what I say is this, "Hey, child four, it's time for a race." So straight away, he's engaged because he's a seven-year-old competitive little thing, he hears the word race so he's up for it. And then I say, " the last one to stand on your bed stinks. Go." And I just think that was perfect communicating because my opening sentence said, "Time for a race," so he's engaged.

Andy Bounds: The last sentence says, "Go," which is what I want him to do. And then the stuff in the middle is just the stuff that bridges from the beginning to the end. So the golden rule with any communication or whether you're doing virtual stuff or face-to-face if ever we got those days back, or Zoom or webinars or chatting or anything, for heaven’s sake, think about your start and make it engaging, it's your first impression. And make sure you ask them to do something at the end, or they won't do anything at the end, which means the whole communication was a waste of time. So that's my long answer to your question. My short answer is this. Get you to start and end right. Start engaging end with a do.

Gearalt Fahy: I think as somebody who has been through one of your sessions, Andy, it's very hard to send an email without changing the subject heading whether that be somebody else's heading or my own. And the second thing is my approach to meetings. And I can say that they've been positively influenced by doing those simple things. I was in particular, I can remember when you've sent in one of your recent updates, "What's World's Best Next End Help.

Andy Bounds: Yeah, that's right. So instead of having an update meeting, cause they can be a bit boring, even though they're useful, everyone has 20 seconds to say "the best thing I've achieved since last week is this, next thing I'm planning to do is, and the one thing I need help with is this." So imagine you have a team meeting, so it's 20 seconds, but you know everything that's going on in other people's lives,

Gearalt Fahy: I mean, it's fun and it's particularly important in these times because after week one, the novelty of having a daily meeting very quickly wore off and you can see people's faces dropping. Whereas when you introduce this, it starts with that positive reinforcement, which I love. What are the steps of creating and delivering a brilliant webinar?

Andy Bounds: Okay, what a good question. Let's have a talk about this and let's hope people are listening to this and going, "Oh yes. I think Andy knows what he's on about." If they've switched off already then nevermind that. Right, there are four steps to creating a webinar. Firstly, you need the right mindset. And what I mean by mindset is it's all about this "do" thing that I said before. So the mindset of a webinar is not, "What am I going to talk about on the webinar?" The mindsets of the webinar is "What do I want my audience to do when I shut up?" So therefore the first slide that you create when you do a webinar is the final one. So it should say, "This is what I want you to do now." So that's always the way to do these things. So if you're doing a webinar with your team, you think, "What do I want them to do?"

Andy Bounds: I want them to go and ask for more referrals. So, therefore, you're right, that final slide, "Team, go and ask some more referrals." Now, once you've done that, your mindset is right, but also your preparation's right then because you now know everything's geared to making sure they ask for referrals. So step number one mindset, focus on the "do". Step number two, then you write your content and you work back from this "do". So once you've done the final slide, "Go and ask for more referrals," you then think, "Well, what do I need to tell them about this? I probably need to tell them why referrals will help them and how to do it. Oh, well it's only two slides. One, this is why it will help you. Number two, this is how you do it. And then find three, "Go and ask for them then." So number one, get the mindset, focus on the "do".

Andy Bounds: Secondly, you then do your content. And based on the "do", don't do four hour runs on referrals. The only thing I want you to do is go and ask for referrals. So as long as you know why it's important and how to do it, I don't need to teach you anything else. So that keeps it nice and short. So number one, mindset, "do" number two, write your content. Number three, get your visuals right. And we've all been to plenty of presentations in our life where we've watched the speaker read out the slides and we look at the speaker and think I am losing the will for you to live. But not me, I want to live, you, I'm getting less sure about your tedious reading. I don't want a speaker to just have speaker notes on the slide. I don't mind speaker having speaker notes, I've got some speaker notes here and I'm reading them.

Andy Bounds: But they're not on the big shiny thing our audience is looking at. So give me those speaker notes in your hand, but the big shiny thing the audience is looking at, just put a few keywords or put a visual or something. So number one, mindset, focus on the "do", number two, write your content to give the "do", number three, visuals that are interesting. And finally, number four, just a little bit of delivery skills. Now with webinars, we're not looking to do- I mean, by all means, if you want to do a conference, run and wave your arms around, you can, but you just want a bit of energy, you want a bit of life, you want a bit of humour in it. People like stuff like this. So people like interactivity. So include some questions in there because they'll interrupt you. So all I do is, I want my delivery to be interesting.

Andy Bounds: So can I include questions? They don't have to interrupt with me. I can say, "I'm going to give you a question. I just want you to type the answer in the chatbox." I don't care. I just want them to interact. What else do people find interesting? They like energy. Certainly, you could probably tell I'm standing up. I don't need to. There's no video on me, but I just feel I have more energy than if I sit down. And so when you're doing a webinar, maybe stand up, maybe get them to type in some answers into the chatbox. Maybe don't have rubbish speaker prompt slides cause people to find those boring. So the four things. Number one, mindset, focus on the "do". number two, write short content to get the "do" happening. Number three, nice little beautiful visuals. And number four include a bit of interactivity, a bit of energy, and then you've got good delivery skills.

Andy Bounds: If you do all those, your webinar will be brilliant. If you miss just one of those out, well, the webinar will be pretty good, but it could have been a bit better. And if you missed all four of those, so there's no "do" there's tons of content, the slides of rubbish and you're deliberately dreadful. Well, it couldn't have been any worse. So the thing I always think of with these things is to decide how good you want to be and then work on one, two, three, or all four of those fours to get you to that level.

Gearalt Fahy: Well, that's certainly straight talk and Andy I can't help but think that that was maybe a critique of our webinars this afternoon, but everything is constructed, which is fantastic. Thank you very much for that. And nice to go out on such a high point. For more information on how Andy can support you, please use the link which will take you to Andy's bio, which will allow you to watch more of Andy's communication, positivity and influencing techniques.

Gearalt Fahy: So that's on his website, which is You can also contact Andy direct by his email, which is or on his LinkedIn. To receive free weekly tips, which I can highly recommend because it feels like they are aimed at you personally, please feel free to sign up to those using his website. They really are a good read every Tuesday morning to get the latest Gateley guidance on the implications of COVID for people, money and trade, go to the website, which will signpost you to our dedicated resource area. And if it's people, do contact me directly by email or follow me on LinkedIn and all that leaves me to do is to once again, thank Andy very much for coming along and thanks for your very interesting insights.

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