Posts

Think Tank

The Interactive Team’s 4 key components to a Think Tank

In the reconfiguration of our office space to accommodate our Head of Media’s move up from Glasgow we moved desks around in the newly crowned Media Team room and now with extra space we’ve installed whiteboards and a spare chair – aptly named the Gilles Chair.

Our CEO, Gilles Baudet, despite having a corner office, with an enormous desk (which I’ve been not so subtly coveting) spends the majority of his time when he’s in the Glasgow HQ and not visiting our other branches in the Media Team room – so much in fact that we have a designated chair for him.

But there’s a good reason for it, while overseeing the media accounts of every branch, organising our nationwide conferences, and master classes, training material and – well everything in between, we need direct access to the CEO Gilles Baudet to make decisions.

It’s become a really fun atmosphere, and one I suspect few offices would be able to replicate. Due to the importance CEO Gilles Baudet places on the work we do there is a ripple effect of respect across The Interactive Team. When people need to solve a problem they now come into our office, they bounce ideas off us, and its seen as a space to get things “sorted”

Now, while not every business out there needs a dedicated Media Team, The Interactive Team is quite lucky in the sense that through CEO Gilles Baudet’s vision we’ve inadvertently created a Think Tank – which we can safely say from experience – every business should have.

Baudet says “I love it, every single day I’m excited because of the energy that’s generated from this room” – and from a CEO of a company with over 150 team members nationwide that’s a pretty glowing endorsement!

 

Contrary to what you might think, a Think Tank truly doesn’t require a great deal of resources, so from our research and from our own experience we’ve compiled a list of the 4 key components of setting up your own Think Tank!

 

 

1/ Key members

In order to achieve results from your Think Tank it is crucial that you gather key members to be a part of your team. You need a manager: someone in a position to make financial decisions, someone that has a definitive say over what happens going forward. At The Interactive Team we’re fortunate in that the CEO of the business, Gilles Baudet, is in our Think Tank. If we’ve got a deadline, you can guarantee Gilles Baudet will give us what we need to get things done.

It’s also essential to have someone deeply practical on your Think Tank. Who is it in your office that keeps track of everyone’s birthdays? Usually the person who keeps track of all the important dates and figures is a good person to have sitting in on your Think Tank sessions. They’ll be level headed enough not to run away with an idea before you’ve looked at the logistics. Sometimes they’ll end up being ‘the bad guy’ because it will be their job to say if something is feasible or not, but if you want your Think Tank to make cost efficient decisions you simply can’t skip this member.

And of course you need the creative types, the ones that will come up with whacky ideas, the bright sparks to solve problems you hadn’t even seen coming (not that I’m tooting my own horn here!). The other people are there to rein them in and the creative types are there to drag the others along to the overall vision. Luckily in The Interactive Team we’ve achieved a balance in our Think Tank members, everybody has a good balance of practicality and creativity – but we make room for each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which is why we’ve really come into our own with the business.

 

 

2/ Equipment

You don’t need a smart board (although if you have the budget for them they’re a dream for sharing your progress later on and saving your ideas!) to have a Think Tank but what you do need is some way to put your ideas up in front of the group.

Psychologists will tell you that visuals are a crucial aid to helping humans organise and analyse. So the bigger the board the better. In The Interactive Team we have whiteboards lining our training room. There’s only one office that doesn’t contain a whiteboard and that’s Gilles Baudet’s own office. In the Media Team we’re considering taking down a beautiful black and white 4 by 3 foot image to make way for another whiteboard. But if your budget doesn’t stretch to wall-to-wall whiteboards, a mounted flip chart can work just as well, or even an overheard projector if your office is old school.

Obviously a good supply of whiteboard markers is crucial. The Interactive Team has a standing order with our stationers because we use them so frequently. Something we’ve now instituted that I can personally recommend is a perpetual calendar, laminated and placed in a prominent position. This way when we’re planning a master class, a road trip to another branch, or coaching sessions we can pop it on our visual calendar as well as on our phones so everyone can see what we need to keep in mind before making more plans.

 

 

3/ Time

Putting something truly great together doesn’t happen overnight. There’s nothing worse than realising that you need to prepare booklets for a conference happening the following day. Thankfully we’ve never had this experience at The Interactive Team, because with so much going on everyday it is paramount that you schedule your days to stay on top of your tasks with enough room leftover for anything unexpected.

Now that you have your perpetual calendar prominently displayed, if you can see something coming up that you need to be prepared for it is essential to give yourself the time to prepare for the day. Set up a Think Tank session well ahead of the day, some people will need to make room in their dairy for sessions with the Think Tank, so if you can all get an app to share calendar dates that would be useful too.

But not only do you have to schedule a session, you also have to manage the time you have effectively.
At The Interactive Team HQ, especially on days CEO Gilles Baudet joins our sessions, its easy to get carried away with having a laugh – and while you don’t want to stifle that fun, creative energy, you also don’t want to leave yourself running late for another appointment. With Gilles Baudet’s busy schedule in mind we always leave an extra 15-minute cushion time to make sure we never run over time.

Finally another piece of advice on this matter is to schedule a deadline. If you’ve created an exciting new project there’s nothing worse than not setting a realistic time scale on it. If you don’t learn to schedule a deadline, you may find that your ideas never get off the ground – which leads us to our last key component of setting up your own Think Tank.

 

 

4/ Follow-ups

There’s no point coming up with an amazing idea if you don’t follow it up with progress and completion of the task – which is why incorporating follow-ups into your Think Tank game plan is crucial. Just a five-minute follow-up is all it takes to make sure everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction.

If you all agree at the session to the dates and times, then space out your follow ups between then and the deadline you have a clear set of expectations for progress. Using follow ups as a means of reporting your progress can also be a means of demonstrating your return on investment to management should you need it in future. You will have a ready-made list of when key components of your project were completed.

 

Well, I hope you can use the experience of The Interactive Team Think Tank under the direction of CEO Gilles Baudet as a guide to setting up your own company Think Tank. Genuinely I can’t recommend the process more highly. Through formally recognising and placing an importance on the meetings that take place in the Media Team we’ve created a powerfully positive group within the business that has the tools and motivation to drive significant change for the company overall – if that’s not something you want for your own business then I don’t know what is!

If you want to share your own Think Tank experiences or see what The Interactive Team and CEO Gilles Baudet has been up to why don’t you visit our Facebook page here.

The Interactive Team

The Interactive Team reviews the benefits of visualisation

While I was interviewing one of the Team for an upcoming article we got to talking about mood boards. He was planning of making one to hang on his wall for daily inspiration – I refrained from telling him that I had a million online versions on my Pinterest account – but it did get me thinking.

When we have goals in mind, whether it be a promotion and the lifestyle that comes with it, or the way that you want you wedding to look (the reason for my Pinterest obsession) humans naturally seek out visuals to help motivate us towards that goal.

The fact is, that very few of us are capable of processing information without a visual element to it. Think about it, when you read a book you imagine the characters, you form a mental image of how you imagine the characters would look. Or say your pal calls to tell you they’ve dyed their hair from blonde to black – you immediately demand a photo because in your head that person has blonde hair and your brain needs visual help changing that information.

The human brain is wondrous, but the way we think can actually be quite limited. When we learn new information our brains immediately seek to categorize it and file it away with similar information. When we go to remember that new information we retrieve it via synaptic relays, the strength of that neural pathway determines how capable we are in using that information. So now you know that scientific explanation behind why practice makes perfect – how can this help you visualize and achieve your goals?

Well visualization might seem similar to daydreaming or fantasizing but there are crucial differences that makes visualization a powerful tool for goal setting. When you fantasize you only experience the euphoria of the end of the goal, the reward or accomplishment phase, you’re on the stage performing for thousands, you’re on a yacht in the Seychelles, you’re looking trim and fabulous in your wedding dress – but what makes visualization different and powerful is that you imagine the processes you require to get you to that reward.

 

Sports psychologists have long been encouraging athletes to use the power of visualization to enhance their performance, athletes from Wayne Rooney to Muhammed Ali – and you can bet Floyd Mayweather is visualizing winning his fight tomorrow night every punch, every duck and every weave.

It’s undoubtedly a multi million dollar business, with books like The Secret and How Winners Win topping best seller lists the tricks of visualization have gone from psychologist strategy to mainstream media.

 

So I asked around The Interactive Team HQ to see what people visualized throughout the day and how it helped them.

Suzanne, a colleague in another office, had been working towards a target all week, and when she hit it the office erupted into cheers “you can only do your best,” she said modestly. What did she visualize when working towards her target this week? “I have a Mulbery handbag that I really want to get, that’s my long term goal at the minute, every time I hit a target I think of that.”

Our Head of Recruitment, Stacey Smith, has this tip “when I’m having a bit of a dip in my day and things are just getting a bit nuts, I shut my eyes for a moment and I picture my house. I walk through the halls of my five bedroom dream home, I put my Chanel clutch down on the granite workbench in my kitchen and I make a coffee from my shiny coffee machine”

 

Managing Director, Gilles Baudet, shared a more business focused visualization that he focuses on frequently “I see the people that I brought on Top Gun as Directors, I think about what steps going forward I need to take each day with each person to get them to that stage. It absolutely motivates me, and I hope it motivates them too to know I take their careers so seriously.”

 

My visualizations are nowhere near as progressed as my colleagues, and not even close to that of Managing Director, Gilles Baudet’s, but I’m getting there. Instead of fantasising of fitting perfectly into that wedding dress I’ve begun acknowledging the process of getting there. To whit I now have a graph beside my desk where I can check off every glass of water I drink, so I can say to reach my fantasy, I need to do x, y and z and it will become a reality.

With visual reminders, both mental and physical I’m that much closer to making it a reality, and you could be too. Good luck!

11204892_629346980499062_1193094996672116634_n

The Interactive Team April Top Gun Weekend

11204892_629346980499062_1193094996672116634_n

Long before The Interactive Team was founded, Gilles Baudet had a vision. Now that might sound a little twee but hear me out. The formation of a business can happen in many ways, sometimes you have an idea of a terrific product or service, sometimes you have a vision of the sort of company you want to build, one of principles and innovation, or sometimes you start with a great name and you go from there. Now Gilles Baudet had two out of three, but he didn’t have a set name that encompassed everything he wanted his new business to be. So he went back to the fundamentals, what did he want the business to be about? Well Gilles Baudet wanted it to be dynamic, adaptable and cutting edge and so he chose Interactive. And then he wanted his new company to reflect what was at the heart of his business – people – and so he chose Team. If a business name is to truly reflect who you are as a company it should hit on the things most important to you – and to Gilles Baudet the Team is one of the most important things in his life.

 

10422553_629348150498945_6319728089282066312_nAs the company grew Gilles Baudet made the conscious decision to continue investing in the Team – recognizing it as a central aspect of the business. It’s now become customary to place importance on team building and networking exercises, everyday we take time to learn from each other – in fact new Team members are often surprised that a company our size would sacrifice so much of the day to it – but the truth is our Team is pivotal to our success. To CEO, Gilles Baudet, this investment is a no-brainer – which is why every quarter we select the top (and the up and coming) Team members across the whole company to go away for a Top Gun long weekend. Its always massive amounts of fun – but every activity, though seemingly innocuous, is specially picked and designed to maximize team building and trust.

Last weekend, from the 24th to the 26th the best performers from all the offices, from all the cities we operate in across the UK came together in Deneholme Country House in Nothumberland for three unforgettable days.

 

Our Head of Recruitment Stacey Smith said, “everyone arrived excited, but understandably nervous for the days ahead, but by the end of it we all left the best of pals”

 

Some of the most fun was had on the second day when the group was split into two teams for an adventure competition day. For every person that participated in the activities the team would gain a point – so to win the trophy at the end of the day it really required everyone to muck in and have a go. By having such directed activities with clear goals, it really gave everyone the chance to open up and get into the spirit of the trip. With every encouragement and every pat on the back the bonds of team-work and trust grew, it was a terrific trip and many Team members are already planning their next quarterly goals to ensure their place on the next Top Gun weekend.

Below are some snaps of the Team enjoying some of the activities, to view the whole album, please visit our Facebook page here

 

11203116_629346910499069_4216928038419810716_n11203112_629347747165652_23448825850582038_n

 

11188486_629347903832303_3275854730078402363_n11183462_629347387165688_5271824033688435643_n

11174761_629347113832382_7301236015028107654_n11036755_629346960499064_3724219893290484006_n

SUCCESSSS

Gilles’ 6 Daily Habits for Success

So I read Izzy’s article yesterday and it got me thinking, while those points are good for when you’re starting a business it doesn’t give you an idea of what its like actually running the business and I thought that would be a valuable lesson to share. These are things that I do every single day – that I feel have helped shape the growth of the business – that keep me motivated and pumped up for the day.

 

So this is a list of what I do daily to help me run The Interactive Team:

 

 

1 I verbalize my goals

Every day I get up, sometimes I’m not in the best mood, there are more than a few sleepless nights with two children under 5 but to make sure I leave the house in the right mood I take the time every morning to verbalize my goals. I get out of bed and I stand at my window and look over the view and I say out loud what my goals are for the day and for my life. I tell it the universe. It’s an amazing way to set a positive attitude for the day.

 

 

2 I take a gratitude shower

Not everyone showers in the morning and I get that, but to me it works because it fits into my morning motivational routine plus it helps wake me up. So to help me get into the right frame of mind for the rest of the day I use the time in the shower to say things I’m grateful for, my beautiful family, how many great people are in the Team, my own personality traits that I’m able to motivate the people around me to help this business grow – I’m genuinely thankful everyday for the people around me and taking the time each day to remember that really amps me up for the day

 

 

3 I listen to motivational music on the drive in

There are some songs that I just love. They really set the tone for the day. I know that Huw used to listen to the Rocky theme every day, its a technique you’ll find a lot of top business people use because music has a way of effecting your mood instantly. I listen to Jack Savoretti every day, but whatever you love and whatever takes your attitude to the next level, make a playlist and hammer it. It’d actually make a great addition to your smart breaks to reset your attitude.

 

 

4 I share my attitude

Once I reach the office I like to take the time to talk to everyone I can and help them gear up for the day, share my passion and get everyone into the same mind-frame. I don’t see my time as my own in the morning, I’m with whoever needs me, whoever wants to learn from me or jam with me. Then I run the morning meeting and we spend time every time learning about how and why the business works and what each person need to do to take it to the next level.

 

 

5 I keep my energy up

Because my day is so packed, if I don’t take the time to eat I wouldn’t get through it all. We hold so many meetings in the kitchen that we bought a board table to accommodate us all. I love sushi, and I try to eat fruit too – I think its really easy to slip into bad habits with food so I’m always conscious to buy fresh ingredients when I’m out and then I’ll make myself sandwiches throughout the day. Of course, I do have the occasional espresso – but it’s without sugar – so I don’t feel too guilty about it.

 

 

6 I prepare for the next day

Every night I spend about 1 to 2 hours preparing for the next day. Its essential when running your own business, especially one with multiple offices across two countries, that you stay organized. I prepare the brief for the next morning, I review all the emails I’ve been sent during the day, I check our numbers and make sure the business is on track and hitting its goals. You’ve got to take the time each day to take stock of what you’ve achieved and what you’ve still got to do to reach your goals.

 

 

I’m not saying that if you do these things your own business will be successful, I just now that over the last three years of running The Interactive Team I’ve done these 6 things every single day because they suit me and they’ve helped my business grow. If they can help you change your own habits and improve your own start-up then I am more than happy to have shared them with you – and I hope they bring you as much focus and success as they’ve brought me.