Interviewing business people, as I do, gives you a very interesting insight into personality types.
Occasionally, the arrogance is quite incredible. Usually, the humility is quite inspiring.
I attended the Association of Scottish Businesswomen Awards recently and was struck by the lack of confidence. Here was a room full of women, from 19 right up to those who could rightfully retire and chose not to. Everyone was working away on their own business or as part of a team and yet not one seemed to think she was anything special.
The acceptance speeches were unprepared. The recipients were mostly shocked, frequently emotional and generally overjoyed at the recognition.
One winner, Jane Banks from LaserFlair, had the line of the night:
“The biggest thanks goes to myself.”
The cheer that met this remark just showed that we do actually like to see people celebrate their own success. Clearly everyone there could relate to the feeling that self-reliance is such a key part of entrepreneurialism. Jane had just won Most Enterprising Business for her laser cutting and engraving service and speaking to her earlier in the night, she had said she works mostly on her own and relies on her online network for support.
It just made me think about the attitude building a business requires.
Most people I’ve interviewed admit it is lonely. There is a single-mindedness required to overcome all the challenges to create a successful company. One well-known Scottish entrepreneur said the stress was quite incredible, “but it isn’t really done to burst into tears in the office” he said.
There’s also the business attitude you want to portray to the world. I’ve lost count of the number of times people have patronised me or been rude or dismissive. More fool them. Sadly it’s a common topic of conversation, mostly among female colleagues and fellow business owners. I also remember clearly those people who have been charm personified, humble and helpful.
The best experience was sitting next to John at the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards last year. He was great fun, self-deprecating and intelligent, and we got on very well. I asked what he did.
“Oh I sell pallets,” he said.
Turned out he was John Scott of Scott Group – you know, the multimillion pound international company?
The old adage “be nice to people on the way up because you’ll meet them on your way down” is very true. It’s also good business sense.
What’s been your experience? You can now comment in the section below.