How Recruitment Agencies Can Build a Business Development Culture

How Recruitment Agencies Can Build a Business Development Culture

Can Recruitment Agencies create a culture where everyone wants to contribute to Business Development?   

The answer is YES they can. 

However it for many agencies it will require a significant change in how they approach helping their customers needs and also how they treat their staff.

The video below is a shortened version of the presentation I gave to Recruitment Agency Leaders at the Recruitment Agency Expo recently.


How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

How to create a Pecha Kucha presentation that rocks.

Public speaking fills so many people with dread. Sometimes, even standing up to present to your own team is an uncomfortable experience, let alone a Ted Talk or a stand-up routine. However, despite the fear, people still sign up, again and again, to share ideas, encourage others and speak on topics they’re passionate about in front of a crowd of strangers.

On the 20th June 2018, The Inspire Recruitment series kicks off, a collaboration between myself and Louise Triance of UK Recruiter, giving individuals the chance to speak and share their inspirational ideas to improve the recruitment industry. Since confirming the speaker line-up, I’ve had numerous conversations helping the speakers prepare their ideas and talks and knowing that so many others have asked me these questions, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

Of course, there are loads of different presentation formats and ways to communicate your ideas, but the most common is the Pecha Kucha format. A simple layout that asks the speaker to present against a backdrop of twenty slides, each changing every twenty seconds. You’ll have experienced this heaps of times, for example, the popular Ignite series have a similar format, as well as Disrupt HR. Our goal is to use this presentation style to build a community of recruiters who want to improve themselves, and the industry, encouraging less experienced speakers to stand up and share their ideas. The stage isn’t just for experienced speakers.

1: Start at the End

When you only have a limited time frame to entertain and inform, you need to think about the talk from the audience’s perspective. Before I plan any talk, I ask myself these three questions: 

  • what do I want the audience to think/feel/know?
  • how will this benefit the audience in life?
  • what stories can I tell that bring my idea to life?

The clearer you are about what benefit you’re bringing, i.e. make them feel less alone, discover new ways of doing things or hacks to get things done quicker, than the easier it will be to create a compelling presentation. In short, you have to know what you’re giving.

2: Have a Structure

Traditional presentations spend up to four minutes setting the scene, but with Pecha Kucha you need to shake a leg and get to it. A clear structure will keep you on track, and guide your audience, helping them engage with you more effectively. Below is a template that I use when planning my talks. I tend to have 3 main points of 5 slides or 4 Points of 4 slides in my talks (even 5 points of 3 slides if you have a lot to say quickly!!!). A sample outline for when you have 4 talking points would be.


  • Slides 1-2     – Introduction –
  • Slide 3-6      – Key Point 1
  • Slide 7-10    – Key Point 2
  • Slide 11-14 – Key Point 3
  • Slide 15-18  – Key Point 4
  • Slide 19-20  – Summary & Takeaway

3: Plan the Talking Points

So many speakers make the mistake of planning the slides before they know what they want to say. Your slides should support your words, not the other way around. A. good way to plan your talk is grab a wad of sticky notes, then follow these steps:

  1. Write all your ideas of things you want to say on individual sticky notes.  Don’t worry about the 20-slide limit right now, just get all your ideas out on the table.
  2. Rearrange the sticky notes into the sections you outlined in the previous section.
  3. Consolidate and refine the points so you have the right number of talking points per section. Remember every talking point has to earn its place.   A common mistake is to try and include too many points.
  4. Using a piece of paper (A4 size), create a grid with 20 boxes on them.  Write your final points in each box

4: Write and Design

This sounds daunting and scary because people often wonder if they’ll have enough to say, however, trust me, the challenge is always cutting out words. The BBC works on the basis that a news presenter talks at a speed of three words per minute, which means, you only have 45 words per slide, which is 900 words for the whole presentation, and that’s practically nothing.

 If you do feel like you have more to say than can be covered on one slide, you can always talk for longer and use two of your slides. I have sometimes cheated and used the same slide twice, but that is slightly against the spirit of this presentation style.

A few things to remember:

  • don’t forget to include stories or real-life anecdotes and this makes your presentation relevant and engaging to your audience
  • the slides are only there to support you, not list everything you’re already saying
  • images are more important on slides than words. Sites like Unsplash and Picsabay offer free high-quality photographs
  • if you do need to add words, use big fonts and restrict the number of words to no more than a handful

5. Never Stop Practicing

You might have the best slides in the world, but if your words don’t come out right, the effort is for all for nothing. The better you know the words, the more comfortable you will be with them and it will allow you to speed up or slow down if you’re running ahead or behind.

Start by creating a set of flashcards that have the picture of the slide and the matching words. Memories the order of the slides and the key points. Lastly, practice the presentation again and again. Each time you practice, challenge yourself to say as much as you can without looking at the slides. It won’t be long before you have it nailed and ready to handle any nerves you might experience on the big night.

Remember This Though……

You should now be ready to present your talk to the masses.  However, remember that presenting should be fun, so try and enjoy it. If your intent is focused on inspiring the audience, then 99% of them will want you to succeed. Just by standing on the stage you will immediately have gained their respect for having the guts to stand up in front of a crowd and share something you care about.


If you are interested in attending the Inspire Recruitment event on the 20th June in London you can get a ticket here

My Pecha Kucha Style Talks

If you want to want more Pecha Kucha style presentations check-out Ignite Cardiff who has a fantastic selection of videos to watch

Balancing Learning With Performance

Balancing Learning With Performance

When it comes to developing your people, finding a formula for success that delivers on the learning needs of the individual, as well as the performance needs of the company can be tricky.

After recently attending the 20 year reunion from my summer job selling books in the US, I feel that I am a little closer to understanding what that formula is.

In my second year of university I signed up to travel to America and sell educational books door to door. The promise was a simple one, get yourself out to Nashville, Tennessee. We will train you, give you a sales territory, then it’s up to you to knock on doors and sell some books.

The financials worked out like this; pay out £800 up front to get there, buy your samples, order books and pay for all your own travel and living costs. You earn 35% of everything you sell. You might be forgiven for thinking this deal sounds a bit one sided, and truth be told I probably felt the same for most of my three summers selling books. However, the company made a promise that they claimed balanced the books. They claimed they would help me learn how to sell, build relationships, run a business, set goals, motivate myself, motivate others and take responsibility for my own success.

I still remember one of the senior leaders, Dan Moore, in sales school saying

“you are unlikely to learn more about selling, relationships and being successful over the next 20 years of your career.” 

Bold claims indeed. However, at our 20 year reunion I concluded he was probably right and that they had made good on their promise. I still use what I learned selling books 20 years ago every day; setting goals, building relationships, serving your customers needs equally to your own and much more. 

If you’d been a fly on the wall at the reunion, you would have heard many stories like mine from a lot of very successful people. Founders of companies like OVO Energy, SBR consulting, Nine Dots; successful executives including a Director at Uefa, several Finance Directors, half a dozen Directors of P&G and Unilever and too many Sales Directors to count and these are just the ones I keep in touch with. 

Why is this relevant to you?

If you promise training or personal development as part of your hiring strategy, or as a part of your total reward, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much of your training is focussed on specific job tasks vs transferable long term skills?
  • How much time do you spend teaching people how to manage their own performance by helping them learn how to set goals, manage their attitude and build relationships vs telling them what to do?
  • How do you help them link personal / life goals to what they can get out of work? 
  • How do you help them learn life skills that will significantly contribute to long term success & well being i.e Management of finances & savings?
  • How would your last 10 hires rate you on your delivery of the development promises you made?

This may sound hard, but other firms manage it and many more aspire to it. This means the most talented employees in the market expect more. If you want to hire the best you have to offer more and deliver on your promises.

Is People, Planet & Profit An Achievable Goal?

Is People, Planet & Profit An Achievable Goal?

SUMMARY Is it possible to make the planet and your people the main focus if you want to have a profitable business? Paul Hargreaves CEO of Cotswold Fayre and author of The Fourth Bottom line believes it is possible.SHOW NOTES Many founders set out to make the world a...

How Do I Change Someone’s Behaviour

How Do I Change Someone’s Behaviour

SUMMARY Business Leaders are always taught that asking great questions is the key to unlocking behavioural change. Yet Brian Glibkowski believes it is a Leaders answers that really make the difference. Tune in and find out why.SHOW NOTES Being a Leader in the past was...

Can I Run Another Zoom Team Meeting?

Can I Run Another Zoom Team Meeting?

SUMMARY Team meetings on Zoom can sap the life out of even the most motivated leader. Chris Grimes a motivational comedian, and communications coach will help you put some Zing back into your meetings. SHOW NOTES It is 8.57 am, you are about to launch another daily...

Five Ways I Try To Improve My Time Management Skills

I need to improve my time management skills. Who doesn’t? My life as a business owner revolves around three things:

  1. Selling more.
  2. Leading a team to sell more and..
  3. Delivering training to consultants and leaders to help them sell more.

Every day there are two things that get in the way:

Time and Energy

The time I have available for different tasks and the energy I have to complete them effectively. I often think at the end of a day “is that all I have achieved today?” and “how has my to do list not got any smaller?”.

During these dark moments there are a few things that help lift my spirits..

1. I am not alone

Type “time management” into the Amazon bookstore and you get 27,973 results, type it into Google and you get 167 million! More specifically, ask any billing manager what’s your number one challenge? Four out of five will tell you there aren’t enough hours in the day.

2. I accept that I will never master time management, but I can always improve.

It’s an ongoing path that never ends. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say “I have become a zen master at time management”. But I hope that one day I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far you’ve come”.

3. I let others help me get stuff done.

As a natural born control freak, I’ve had to work on delegating more to the team. The little voice that keeps telling me, “you can do it all”, never goes away, but I am learning to ignore it more.

4. Teaching others helps remind me what I should be doing.

It’s easier to spot other people’s faults than your own. When I do spot things people could do better I always ask myself, “am I doing that as well?”

5. Always be learning.

Every day I take five (or more) to read up on new ways of tackling age old time management problems. My current favourite article is this post from Kevin Kruse on Forbes: 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently.

If you’re a recruitment leader, you’ve probably thought at some point “I need to improve my time management skills”. If you’re finding it tough to balance the demands of billing, managing and running a business you should make time to catch our last webinar. We covered my top tips and tactics from 18 years in recruitment and some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

What are your favourite tips for fitting more into your day?

Feel free to share any ideas or links in the comments below.

Have You Suffered A Sales Lobotomy?

Why do successful sales people suffer a “sales lobotomy” when they become leaders? If you’ve been promoted to a leadership role, it’s probably because you’ve got a consistent record of delivering sales results in your business. To succeed you had to master core techniques and approaches:

  • to build rapport with your client, to earn trust and influence
  • to understand client business priorities so you could propose appropriate solutions
  • to uncover the motivations behind objections so you could overcome them
  • to tailor the right information at the right time to each client

You probably excel at all of these things and more, but what many people in your position don’t realise, is that all of the things that make you a great sales person, can also make you a great leader. The reality is that successful managers see leadership as a sales job. They see their role every day as “Selling” their team on doing their jobs to hit both their own and the company’s goals.

Dale Carnegie famously said:

“there is only one way….to get anybody to do anything, and that is by making the other person want to do it.” 

This applies to sales as much as leadership, so lets re-cap on some of the sales basics that effective leaders apply to managing their teams.


Strong relationships help deliver the right solution and get repeat business. They also enable you to have influence throughout the sales process. As a sales person you have to work at building this relationship, even when clients are being reasonable. The state of your relationships with each individual in your team will affect their openness to new ideas, feelings of loyalty towards you and the likelihood of them changing their behaviour.


The power of the sale ultimately rests in the client’s hands. Too many leaders fall in to the trap of thinking that they hold the power because they are further up the ladder. Successful leaders recognise that the salary only gets people to their desk, the power of whether or not someone works hard and performs, rests with that individual. You need to sell your team on performing rather than just sitting at their desk and to do that you need to understand what drives them.

Sales Cycle

The first thing you learn in a sales career is the “Cycle of a Sale”.  First you build rapport, then you question to find the need, then you present a solution and lastly you close. Successful sales people have this inbuilt, but many forget to apply it to their leadership approach when they get promoted.  You would never sit with a client and say “ let me tell you what you are going to do today” so why would you do that to your team? Start thinking of every interaction like a sales call or sales meeting. Plan in advance what you want them to be doing differently, think about your need finding questions and then execute the sales call/meeting. Leaders who remember and remaster this “cycle” will find their ability to influence, coach, motivate and develop their team transformed.


When a client objects to your proposal the sales professional thinks “Why don’t they understand that this product is perfect for them? I need to continue the education process”. When you get an objection from someone in your team about doing something you suggest, do you think this or do you think “get on with it, just do what I ask?


Whether in good times or bad, a great sales professional takes ownership for the status and profitability of a client relationship. This means they are the first to apologise if it helps get a sale and they will take the blame even when none is due. Ultimately this is the key to being a successful sales leader, whilst you cannot pick up the phone or close the sale for your team, their problems are your problems, you are responsible for how motivated they feel, how capable they are at handling client situations and helping them to achieve their goals.
Wondering whether this is relevant for you? Take the test below and find out:

Choose one person in your team and rate your relationship with them in the following areas:
Rate yourself from 0 (very low) to 10 (very high)

a) Relationship: when in a meeting with this person, how open are they to doing things the way you suggest?

b) Power: How hard do you rate their work ethic when you are not in the office?

c) Sales Cycle: How aware are you of working through a “sales cycle” when trying to influence this person’s behaviour?

d) Objections: How would you rate your attitude when you get objections from this person about doing aspects of their job?

e) Ownership:  How would you rate your level of ownership towards the level of performance of this person?

How did you score?

My Leadership Frustrations

“Congratulations you are now a manager”

..said my boss. Words that I’d worked long and hard to hear as a billing consultant.

Like many before me I instantly emerged from my chrysalis as a fully fledged leader, ready to inspire and lead my team to victory……apparently.

It did not take long before reality set in – my success was now defined by the actions of others. I was expected to enforce things that I did not always believe in and frustratingly, my team would not do what I told them!

No one is born as a complete leader. Leadership is often more art than science and it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that never really ends.

When I compare many leadership books or biographies of successful business leaders to reality, I want to return the book to the shop and suggest they place it in the “fiction” section.

So what are the things I wish I had been told would be hard, frustrating or just unenjoyable about leadership?

1. You Need to Lose Control

To be a manager you normally have to be great at what you do as a technician first whether you are a recruiter, lawyer, accountant or sales person. Typically a large part of this success is is down to your ability to personally control the variables in your role, market and organisation to achieve your desired level of personal performance.

Trying to maintain the same level of personal control through your team will lead to extremely high levels of frustration on your part. It will also make good people want to leave as they feel like they have no capability to act on their own, instead you need to focus on influencing behaviour.

Lesson: You can’t control everything – you can only influence.

2. You Are a Tool of the Executive Team

We often think that becoming a manager means you have the ability to do things your way. The reality is that as a manager, you are the messenger of the executive team and are there to execute their plan. This means that you will spend time and energy doing things that you do not think are right, or things that you know will be unpopular with the team.

The transition from thinking from a biller’s perspective to a director’s perspective is one of the hardest mental leaps to make, but critical if you are to be authentic in how you promote change and performance in your team (and yes, this may mean your former peers will call you out on your change of direction).

Lesson: Learn why the Executive Team do things, instead of tring to fight them

3. Emotional Conflict, Tension and Frustration

You quickly realise as a leader that your role is not to be everyone’s friend, it’s to say what needs to be said. I think that Karen Brady said it best when she says being a leader is about

“Saying what needs to be said, when it needs to be said , whether you like it or not”

For some this comes naturally, personally I struggled with having the courage to say what needed to be said, fearing people may not like me, or their jobs. They key is to avoid procrastination – say it as clearly and quickly as possible.

Lesson: Learn how to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said

4. The Challenges & Frustrations Never End

We kid ourselves that leadership is a destination we can reach. In truth it’s a never ending journey. Even the most experienced and successful leaders still struggle with the emotional challenges leadership. There will always be a stretch target to reach, a top performer with too much attitude, people to hire and things to be rolled out that you disagree with. As Steve Jobs said:

“The journey is the reward”

Your goal is to fall in love with the process of overcoming challenges and solving them, more than hitting your targets.

Lesson: Learn to love the journey as there is no destination

Getting your head around being a leader and the challenges that come with being in a leadership role are key to any managers success.

Do you manage managers? Do you know what challenges they are having with their roles? How often do you have coaching rather than performance conversations to help them overcome these challenges?”

What are your leadership frustrations?