Why Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

Sean with Professor Steven Peters at Aspire Leeds

Sean with Professor Steven Peters at Aspire Leeds

We have just hosted a fantastic event at Aspire in Leeds with Professor Stephen Peters the bestselling author of “The Chimp Paradox” book.

The brain has three main component parts. The chimp, the computer and the human. In real life it takes five human beings to pin down a chimp. Similarly, the chimp part of the brain is hard to control. Clearly, children with underdeveloped brains find it harder to control the chimp but this can be learned over time.

If emotional intelligence and calm centred leadership are important for success then it’s easy to understand why Professor Steven Peters has helped a number of famous sports celebrities and international sports teams.

Professor Steven Peters Key Note on Why Children's Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

Professor Steven Peters Key Note on Why Children’s Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

Professor Steven is himself a humble man that served as the Dean at the School Of Medicine at Sheffield University for 30 years. His moving into working with sports teams was by accident when he was approached by a cyclist who had a friend with mental health issues.

Professor Peters isn’t actually interested in sport and doesn’t watch TV. But he is interested in people and this has been his lifelong vocation.

Profoundly during Professor Steven Peters talk about why mental health is more important than academic achievement he made a salient point. When you are on your deathbed and you’re talking to people they never mention what they have achieved they only ever mention memories of loved ones and have sometimes regrets of why they haven’t been happier or had more fun.

Webanywhere staff at Aspire Leeds

Webanywhere staff at Aspire Leeds

All human beings are unique and we are born with genes. These genes determine whether we have a calm nature or let’s say we are a little bit hot-headed. This was exemplified by the playing of the video showing two dogs eating ice cream from the cone. Initially, you feel sorry for one of the dogs because they seem to be left out. After one dog licks the ice cream gently and the other dog is left out all of a sudden the cone is gone and no more ice cream is left. One of the dogs quite simply could not control their chimp!

Mental health, especially with young people, has far reaching consequences. The root causes of mental health are complex but topics such as exam stress, social media and financial hardship at home can impact the lives of young people.

The important time for brain development is through the years 0 to 5. During a child’s early development, parents need to show love and stability. The brain actually doesn’t stop fully developing until the age of 32 which probably explains some of the irrational decisions made by teenagers and young people in their 20s.

Aspire Leeds - Why Children's Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

Aspire Leeds – Why Children’s Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

By understanding the mind and how it works, both teachers and children can be better supported. A good example of how you can control your chimp is when you’re at the traffic lights in your car and the light is on amber. Do you amber gamble? When you drive ahead your chimp is winning the battle and this can have far reaching consequences.

Professor Steven Peters was faced with a patient who has done just that. His patient had driven through the traffic lights only to kill a young person. Steven goes on to make the point that we are risking far too much by not controlling our brain.

Again, when adults are dieting the human part of the brain is agreeing to the good reasons why we should do it, quite often the chimp will win out by forcing us into a restaurant to eat a burger. It’s mind over matter. We need to remove the emotions and commit the time to what we want to achieve.

A good tactic for ensuring that we beat the chimp, for example, is to agree to do a sporting activity with a friend. If we don’t like letting our friends down then we will turn up for that run and beat the chimp.

Following the worldwide success of “The Chimp Paradox”, further books have been released by Professor Steve Peters. These books include “The Silent Guides” and “My Hidden Chimp”. My Hidden Chimp is particularly aimed at children.

You can learn more about Professor Steven Peters work here:

https://chimpmanagement.com

You can also listen to this short podcast

Why Mental Health is more important than Academic Achievement

Alexa can you fill in this form?

Turning web forms into Alexa skills

Turning web forms into Alexa skills

We all have websites and within those websites alongside educating customers, informing them of new products and services, explaining our company ethos and other matters there are web forms.

These web forms are full of utility and often drive a transaction or business process. Quite often the success of your website is to get people to fill in a particular form. UX and UI designers think about the different personas visiting your website and provide different user journeys to fulfil website goals. Indeed, Google analytics allows you to set up goals for the submittal of a form. Following this, based on your average order values and conversion rates you can tell what a goal is worth.

If the output your driving is for a user a customer to fill in a form either to enquire for customer support, get a quote or perhaps even to purchase order the less friction you can create on the journey the better.

In instances where using the voice is quicker, simpler and easier than using a traditional website or mobile interface then a voice first approach should be considered. Conversational interfaces for interacting with technology are not to substitute existing legacy systems but to complement them.

With the rise of smart speakers, voice assistance enabled on mobile phones and people’s behaviours moving towards sending voice notes over text messages there are big opportunities for you and your customers interacting via Alexa and Google assistant. If you haven’t already tried it and you’re an iPhone user setting up a calendar appointment or reminder using Siri is far quicker than manually touching your screen on your mobile phone to make this happen. This is because we can talk 4 times faster than we can type.

A use case of this in action is Virgin Trains. To book a train ticket on the traditional website took an average user seven minutes. When Virgin Trains launch the Alexa skill for customers train ticket booking times reduced to 2 minutes. Clearly, for the customer journey this is for faster quicker and simpler. Furthermore once Virgin Trains let the history of what the customer wanted for example the typical commute the user could simply asked for the last train ticket which would speed up the purchasing cycle yet again.

Recently, we launched a home valuation Alexa skill for Hunters. Whilst want we did may seem rather innovative and was a UK first in essence we ran a number of workshops with our customer to establish which Alexa skill would offer the greatest ROI and solve the biggest problem.

The consensus was to convert the popular web form for home valuation on the Hunters.com website to an Alexa Skill. Since launching the Skill the Hunters franchise network have given positive feedback and new sources of leads are generated for agents.

Your website will have web forms embedded within it. These will range from customer service and support, to general enquires and product reviews. You can take your existing proven web form interfaces to the smart speaker and voice assistants ecosystem.

Finally, because we live in the now economy and everyone is wanting to save time, money and increase convience voice interfaces will win out on the long term. Voice only interfaces might be low for e-commerce transactions but the addition of screens for multimodal experiences is changing this. Soon people will be browsing the web on their Smart TV with their voice and making purchases. Google Home Hubs and Amazon Echo Shows have screens allowing you to see and hear responses when interacting with smartspeakers.

To learn more visit:

https://www.webanywhere.co.uk/alexa-skills-development

Leeds Digital Summit, ODI Leeds

Alongside almost 100 digital leaders within the City Region Leeds City Council held their Leeds digital summit at ODI Leeds.

Go digital or be digitised

Following on from the opening speech by Tom Riordan the CEO of Leeds City Council Rashid Palmer a distinguished engineer at IBM talked about digitisation. The essence of Rashid’s speech was to learn digital skills for the future economy and future jobs or have the threat of being digitised and losing your job.

A journey towards Leeds becoming world-class at digital

As part of workshops and brainstorming during the day facilitated by Overlap Associates Digital Leaders came up with many ideas around how Leeds could be world class at digital. We have to remember that 75% of the UK economy is the services industry. This industry is most susceptible to digital transformation.

Let’s go digital and not be digitised

If data is the new oil then one thing all delegates did agree upon was the need to skill up our future workforce for new era digital jobs.

Dylan Roberts thought the Digital Summit was good and he went on to say “The key questions is what we going to do next and will the people in the room really join up and collaborate?”. On the note we will have to wait and see what happens next. You can listen to full podcast below.

Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, St. James’s Palace, London, November 2018

Now in its 12th year Silicon Valley comes to the UK is an annual event organised by Sherry Coutu CBE and Janet Coyle. Traditionally, during the autumn a group of well-known, well respected venture capitalists and technologists from the Valley descend upon Cambridge, Oxford and London.

James Poulter and Will Harvey at VCCP Voice2 Meet Up

James Poulter and Will Harvey at VCCP Voice2 Meet Up

Whilst attending Tech Nation on tour in Leeds at the ODI I met Sherry Coutu and she kindly invited me down to London to the CEO Scale Up event at St James’s Palace the residence of the Duke of York.

Travelling south from Leeds I journey down to a few business meetings in Birmingham before arriving at London Euston. When I eventually checked into my hotel not too far away from St. James’s Park I suddenly realise that there was a Voice2 meet up being held by James Poulter at the brand agency VCCP in London’s Victoria. With 20 minutes to spare I walked across to the meet up which was thoroughly enjoyable including Gianfranco Chicco of the Webby awards the equivalent of the Oscars but for the Internet. The agency VCCP also showcased their recently launched NSPCC Alexa skill featuring Geri Halliwell and her daughter talking about e-safety issues. The Alexa skill is called “Parents versus Kids” and through gamification helps educate young people on the risks of the internet.

St. James's Palace, London SVC2UK 2018

St. James’s Palace, London SVC2UK 2018

The morning after the walk from the hotel to the palace was only 10 minutes so I navigated through the beautiful Saint James’s Park with the autumnal leaves. SVC2UK kicked off with a fireside chat between Cal Henderson the CTO of Slack and Sherry Coutu. Cal explained how their failed gaming business was shutting it’s door and making staff redundant. Whilst developing their Game Neverending they create an internal communication tool called Tiny Spec later to be know as Slack. Slack has gone on to be the fastest growing enterprise software of it’s type creating a whole new business software category.

Sean Gilligan St. James's Park London

Sean Gilligan St. James’s Park London

Cal spends a lot of his time hiring and Slack’s values are important in the hiring process. Slack like people who are smart, hard-working, humble and collaborative. Now with 8 million users and 3 million paying users clearly Slack have got something right.

75 scale up companies with an average growth rate of 418% were represented in the workshops at the palace. The first workshop was on internationalisation and was chaired on our table by Kate Dutton of GBX a British consultant who now lives in the Bay Area. GBX is the c-suite community for British entrepreneurs, investors and senior tech executives based in Silicon Valley. One entrepreneur suggested having a presence in a market by paying a representative on demand by the hour. This would ensure you kept costs to a minimum whilst portraying a local presence on the ground. Many tech startups these days start global because software on the internet is not constrained by international borders unless it’s the great wall of China!

In the second workshop mentor Mark Blair discussed issues around business funding and talent management. Mark had spend the last 20 years scaling up businesses in Asia Pacific and had just returned to the UK from Australia. Currently, Mark is an international Vice President at Brightcove a leading Video platform. Quite a lot of time was spent discussing the idea of advisory boards. In order to have an advisory board shadow shares can be paid for equity and a stake in a business. In return it’s important that entrepreneurs front load the expectations when appointing senior executives. Clarity for the accountabilities and cadence of advisory input needs to be agreed. Some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs simply don’t have the time to advise so it was suggested entrepreneurs might get coaching from tier two mentors.

On the issue of talent management Saul Klein Partner at VC LocalGlobe discussed that we should watch out for the small things. When interviewing a candidate do they open the door for people, do they say please and thank you. Keep an eye out for the small things that make all the difference. Susan Alzner of shift7 had a more brutal way of ensuring the company values are lived. Susan spent eight years at the United Nations building out teams and she had a rule for when staff crossed each other’s path‘s and didn’t play as a team. Susan would simply fire people at the first instance of this happening and would therefore set a very high standard on her expectations. A little extreme perhaps but I guess this is how important teamwork is if you’re going to build world-class organisations. Not everyone will agree with a zero tolerance policy like this but what all people were agreed on was the need for the living of company values to maintain a winning business culture.

All attendees where given a copy of Reid Hoffman’s scaling up booked called Blitzscaling which I have just finished reading and would recommend people listen to. Finally, I met author Jeetendr Sehdev who wrote the “The Kim Kardashian Principle” and is based in Los Angeles. Jeetendr is originally from the UK and was a student of both Oxford and Harvard. The Kim Kardashian Principle talks about the need to be authentic, when promoting yourself, a product or brand. Consumers prefer people who are imperfect and people who show themselves to be themselves connect better with their social media audiences. Kim Kardashian must be doing something right with 60 million followers on Twitter and a global following.

Silicon Valley comes to the UK again didn’t fail to disappoint. 8 years after my first visit to SVC2UK at Queens College Cambridge, St. James’s Palace London provided an opportunity for ambitious entrepreneurs to meet people who have made it. After all, Sherry and Janet want entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses and then become philamprothists hence giving back to society by mentoring the start ups of the future. We hope the connections gained and insights given will help Sound Branch on it’s journey to scale up.

 

Voice Summit 2018, Home House, London

Sean with Chris Jenkins and Darren Paskell of Thomas Pocklington Trust

Sean with Chris Jenkins and Darren Paskell of Thomas Pocklington Trust

Our first Voice Summit was held at Home House London. The history of Home House is fitting because Anthony Blunt a former Russian spy lived there between 1947 to 1974. Blunt was given immunity from prosecution in return for a full confession. After extensive restoration work Home House became a private members club in 1996.

Home House was a fitting venue for Voice Summit. Just as Anthony Blunt listened into conversations Amazon Alexa and Google Home are listening and waiting for their wake word. The issue of privacy was mentioned at Voice Summit but the majority of the speakers stated that this would become less of an issue when the massive gains in conveniences are realised. After all it’s a lot quicker to ask Alexa to pour you a coffee, play the news and heat the car than it is to do this manually.

Charles Cadbury Founder of Say it Now

Charles Cadbury Founder of Say it Now

Charles Cadbury the CEO of Say It Now demonstrated how he and his team had created a chat bot for SEAT for booking a test drive. Instead of the traditional web form or telephone booking appointment Charles took the audience through a series of questions with an Alexa Skill resulting in a SEAT car being delivered to a person’s home for a test drive.

In the telecoms panel including Dean Elwood, Dean Bubley and Chris Lewis, virtual assistants for managing unwanted calls was discussed. Perhaps for unknown numbers a virtual assistant could ask an inbound caller qualifying questions to determine whether the line should be connected. Another idea was when you are on a call with another person the ability in the call to talk to a voice assistant for help. For example on a call asking Siri in the call what is 1 dollar in pounds and getting the answer. The consensus from the telecom experts was that large telecoms providers have been slow to market with VoiceFirst products and services and need to catch up.

Home House London Voice Summit 2018

Home House London Voice Summit 2018

John Campbell, Head of SEO at We are Roast demonstrated there are still plenty of opportunities for Alexa Skills and Google Actions to drive leads and enquiries to your business or brand. The reality is voice technology is still in its infancy and every time you ask Alexa or OK Google a question it doesn’t know there is an opportunity to create a skill or action to service that need. Indeed voice search is predicted to be 50% of all internet searches by 2020. A traditional web search brings back many results whereas with voice there is only one result and this is position zero. Adopting a voice search SEO strategy can therefore get you to the top of Google and Amazon search results leading to lower customer acquisition costs.

James Poulter rounded off the day explaining there has never been a more interesting time to be in the workplace. You now have four generations at work all with different social norms and ways of working. This is a real challenge for managers and leaders to get it right as they think about culture in their organisations. Ironically a voice first approach to internal communications can be good for both the silver surfers and the millennials!

In a week where Google launched it’s Google Home Hub and Amazon it’s Echo Show 2 plus a range of devices such as the Echo Auto for enabling Alexa in your car, microphones are going to be everywhere. What remains to be seen is who will control the mic? Will it be Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant or perhaps even Samsung’s Bixby. Will we make our car purchasing decisions for example on the type of voice assistants built in? And finally will voice assistants talk to each other so we have fridges talking to toasters?

When a task is more natural, quicker and simpler with the voice, then a VoiceFirst approach should be adopted. This doesn’t mean a voice only approach as screens starts to become more prevalent in smart speakers and multi modal experiences become more commonplace. What is clear is that voice is here to stay and removing the friction of the keyboard or indeed the touch screen can lead to a more delightful experience for your customers. All of this leads to competitive advantage which will help you on your digital transformation journey.