Sometimes I love my job.
On Friday, I spent the day up at Oxford with the Emerge Venture Lab mentoring programme. It was an amazing day.
These were a high-calibre bunch, we’re talking Rhodes Scholars and other similarly impressive people. Emerge is a spin-off from the Said Business School at the university here, and is able to attract the very best-of-the-best from around the world.
The ventures all have a social impact and included micro-insurance funds for India, crowd-funding student fees, removing arsenic from contaminated drinking water in Bangladesh and one who wanted nothing less than to democratise the energy industry. Actually, I’d love to list them all but its easier to send you to the programme’s website; take a look, you will be inspired.
In the past, I have done a lot of coaching and mentoring to entrepreneurs, I’ve taken one pretty much all the way through from graduation to million-pound turnover, and a few not far behind. I have to say I really enjoy it.
This time was slightly different. Previously, I would coach in general terms, dealing with any issue they were facing. Sales, strategy, operations, team-building, personal issues – whatever problem was their biggest concern at the time.
At Emerge, I am acting more as a negotiations specialist – floating around, called on an ad-hoc basis and only when negotiation is the key challenge.
But that, it turns out, is quite frequent! After all, we are negotiating all the time.
It might surprise you that entrepreneurs are not great negotiators but they are just the same as the rest of the world. Whether they are an operations manager, an I.T. contractor or a business owner, people are often really good at their field, experts even, but are on shakier ground when it comes to some of the peripheral skills like negotiation, skills which may be critical to the success or failure of their business.
So I had a busy day! In fact, I was still coaching at 10pm.
But I loved it, this wasn’t like work in the least. These were great programmes and I was inspired by each and every one. It is nice knowing that you are helping good causes so any intervention will leverage so much more. And it is nice knowing you are helping the next generation.
As I said, sometimes I love my job.