Birmingham Growth Mindset Conference

Women in Banking and Finance held The Growth Mindset Conference on Saturday 8th February 2020 at the fantastic Aston Conference Centre. We were taken back by the amazing energy of attendees and speakers. From the get-go, everyone arrived with big smiles on their faces ready to learn and grow because they wanted to be there, they wanted to be part of something different and new which was in line with the underpinned theme of inclusion and diversity for the day.

The wonderful Cindy Ferrara opened, with a tutorial about the 10 steps to a perfect handshake and she was followed by Lord Stephen Green, former Minister of State for Trade and Investment, former group chairman of HSBC Holdings, who delivered a thought-provoking session on session on Geopolitics - what is the future of the UK?

Lord Green discussed the soft power of the UK among the top brands in the World yet with only 1% of total world population still able to wield significant power in global markets. He shared his thoughts on Britain’s core values and how these had changed over time including Brexit. He finished his speech with a quote from Confucius ‘judge others by their best not by their worst, just as we would want others to do to us’.

The next keynote speaker was Quintin Price, Strategic, Governance & Investment Expert, who discussed ‘Your Future Success’. Worth googling is the story of Reggie Nelson, it will give you a feel for the kind of person Quintin is.

Quintin said, “don’t be a victim (in your own career journey) and really think about what it is you stand for”. He walked us through an interesting exercise of choosing words how you would like to be described and likened a career journey to a snakes and ladders board, which, when you look at the good old game, makes sense!

Quintin gave some sound practical and applicable advice, here are my top three:
• There will be bad days
• You don’t have to be perfect
• There are no substitutes for hard work

He finished off with a great question; Decide if you want to be proud of what you are or who you are …

Quintin’s session was followed by Nick Fry and for a kid who spent endless Sunday’s watching F1 growing up, I was geared up for this session (pardon the pun!)
Nick started his session explaining that you need three things to ‘make it’;

• Intellect
• Hard work
• A little bit of luck
He also gave a different perspective on success; it needs to be the outcome not a goal…
Nick shared a famous Mike Tyson quote to emphasis the importance of action plans:

Have an action plan for every eventuality.

Nick followed by sharing his top tips to help you win, globally!

1. Attract the best people and do your best
2. Diversity is a BIG advantage
3. Give tools to do the job
4. Set out clear objectives and allocate accountability then let your team get on with it!
5. Be visibly accessible and supportive (just do it and ask for forgiveness later)
6. Teamwork (self-explanatory)
7. Practice makes perfect. Remember mistakes happen but your reaction to failure guides future behaviour so don’t try and play a blame game, learn from the mistakes and move on.

The session was concluded with a reminder to always celebrate success.
We broke up to fuel our bellies and broke off into groups to attend workshops in the afternoon, see below for snippets of various sessions held and fascinating topics covered.

Professor Gina Rippon - “Mind the Gap, why plastic brains aren’t breaking through glass ceilings. But the gendered brain would do” – Write up provided by Tara Zutshi

In this thought-provoking workshop Professor Gina Ripon shared the history of how we have come to believe that the brains of men and women are very different. This has created stereotypes of how the two different brains have driven types of behaviour in men and women, women are empathetic, and men are good at reading maps. This has created a lot of the ‘neurotrash’ literature of this century. However, we need to stop asking about the different Brains as actually the male and female brain have more similarities than differences. Our brains are plastic and capable of learning all through our lives.

The difference in behaviour between men and women is driven much more by our upbringing and context rather than our brain differences. From an early age most girls are dressed in pink and given dolls to play with, whereas most boys are encouraged to build Lego, climb trees and be courageous. This is bound to effect how they interact with the world. We need diversity of thinking in corporate life, but we need to recognise this is not necessarily driven by us having different brains. For those who are parents they need to be aware of what influence they have over their child’s development.

Anne Siew - “Changing careers switching gears” - Write up provided by Nix Bhachu

We’ve all thought about changing careers at some point and after a bit of googling and researching to find many hurdles, we quit the fantasy and continue to settle into our comfort zones.

Anne approached the topic with an honest account of her personal experience in her session encouraging us all to know our passion and purpose and invest time in learning all the good things we need to learn to get there.

Some top tips from Anne’s session to pursue that dream career:

• Refine that elevator pitch, know what you want to say about yourself
• Cultivate your relationships, know your network, your next opportunity could come from anywhere. At the same time, don’t use people. Always be kind, be human, trust and be trustworthy
• Be curious, what have you got to lose?
• Take off those rose-tinted glasses and put in the graft
• Put aside your excuses
• Always keep your eye on the prize and dig deep to reach that goal
• Do your homework

There was a lot of discussion in the workshop, the attendees shared a lot of experiences and inhibitions, it was good to learn that other people live through similar situations.

Anne’s session was inspiring and certainly injected some courage to stop making excuses and make that next career move.

Molly Harvey - “Make changes not excuses” - Write up provided by Stephanie Ogunjimi

I’d chosen to attend a session by Molly Harvey, author of Outstanding Leadership, on making changes not excuses. Molly had great energy and talked about change being an attitude of mind that takes place inside ourselves. She gave her three steps to successful change as:

1. Being accountable
2. Developing Habits and
3. Taking small steps to create remarkable results (especially when no one is watching).

Before she explained these, she asked us to do a short exercise ‘from contrast to charity’. Molly uses this exercise herself whenever she wants to ground herself and bring herself back to a position of clarity. Firstly - draw a line down the centre of the page then on the left-hand side note down everything in your life that you no longer want and on the right-hand side note down everything that you do want. Take a few minutes to have a think - is your life giving you what you want? If not think about what you need to do to address this and then commit to make changes.

Following on from this exercise Molly asked people how many of them put thinking time into their diaries on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly most in the room admitted we didn’t do this. Molly challenged us to give this a go by starting small and just putting 30 minutes a week to see how this changed our perspective. Her next area of questioning had a similar response - how many people have a to do list (all of us), what about a stop doing list or a let go list (no-one)? She recommended this as a way of making space in our lives for what’s dragging us down. To give us a tool to help take actions Molly shared her weekly action system with us. On a Sunday night she spends 15 minutes writing down her top three goals and most important events for the week ahead. On the same page she also documents a weekly habit register to track the small changes she is making on a daily basis. Finally, she notes down her top three goals for the month. She revisits this each day, week, month and quarter and always focuses on the top three things.

Dr Andy Bass, Founder and principal of BassClusker Consulting - “Should you be the wizard, or should you be Dorothy? discovering hidden value” – Write up provided by Joann Williams

Andy’s presentation was aimed at getting you to really think about your next level, where do you want to go and how can you get there.

Andy started by telling the story of the Wizard of Oz, the lion being a coward and wanting to be brave, the scarecrow not having a brain so being stupid and the tin man not being able to care without a heart.

But what did the Wizard actually do?
He didn’t give the tin man a heart, in the original book he gave him a heart of silk that was filled with sawdust but because the tin man received this, he believed he had a heart and could now care. The Wizard didn’t give the lion courage, he gave him a medal of honour for helping Dorothy but because the lion had that medal, he now believed he was brave. Finally, the Wizard didn’t give the scarecrow a brain, he gave him a diploma, but the scarecrow now believed he was clever.

What Andy was trying to highlight is that sometimes we believe we can’t do things but actually we can, it is simply that recognition. Nothing changed for the lion, the scarecrow or the tin man other than the Wizard recognising that they COULD do the things they thought they couldn’t.

People have the resources they need, you can be more than you think, and that’s where your differentiation is going to come from.

People can discount their successes as exceptions. Andy once knew a lecturer that was scared of public speaking. That lecturer already had the skills for public speaking as could hold a room of teenagers/young adults’ attention for a whole lecture. The lecturer simply needed to recognise it and change their beliefs to release those capabilities and move forward.

Andy then got the room to work through a few quick fire questions providing 2 minutes to think about the next step we were looking to make, what kind of qualities someone in that role would need to be successful and what we would need to do to be that person. Andy also got us to think about what additional resources we could look to secure to help us to get there.

Overall, it was a great session and by getting the room involved at the end I believe everyone came away with some specific actions that they could take forward to help them with their next step – I certainly did!

Phillipa Grocott, founding Partner of FSTP - “Managing the risk of culture” – Write up provided by Alina Jegorova

Philippa talked about culture in the workplace and how important it is for business sustainability in the long run, and ‘culture’ is not just a buzz word but there is a strong focus on it from the Regulator (FCA) perspective in the form of SMCR and FCA 5 Conduct Questions initiative to name a few.

Philippa emphasized that culture should not be looked at as a box-ticking exercise but rather it should be thought about widely, and the following questions should be considered by companies in doing so:

1. Are there right people in the organisation?
2. Should certain individuals be there at all?
3. What can we all do differently as individuals?

Culture is intangible, this is the way people behave and this is what we see. And if culture is not explained and embedded properly then it may bring the following results:

1. Wrong behaviours could be mimicked by others and in the long run it would be harder and harder to influence them.
2. Mismatched expectations may result in conflicts.
3. Stronger individuals may impose a completely different culture.

To stabilise the culture for the future the right tone must be set at the top and company’s successes as a result of this culture should be visible to everyone. For example, high staff turnover will not help persuade everyone that everything is ok here.

It then comes to basics such as recruitment and an evolving and more significant role of people working in HR nowadays, because recruitment is no longer about hiring individuals with experience, it’s about hiring individuals with experience as well as the right values and behaviours to ensure business is sustainable for the days to come. People are the biggest asset and risk at the same time.

Current statistics that Philippa has quoted tell that only 4% of issues are known by the top, 9% by middle management, 74% by supervisors, and 100% by employees. A call to action – what can we all do differently as individuals to make it a 100% on all fronts?

Philip Sykes, Founder and Principal of The British School of Etiquette - “The art of conversation”- Write up by Nix Bhachu

As soon as Philip welcomed us into the room, he had my attention. Impeccably dressed, he makes a bold statement ‘if you don’t have a personality, go and get one!’.

The art of conversation is aided with an understanding of etiquette, which is different all over the world however there is a universal language that we all understand, manners.

Philip explained that it is important to learn how to hold yourself (posture) and how you work the room. Its important if you want to be taken seriously and get acknowledgement. He gave some tips on meeting and greeting and engaging in dreaded small talk!

• A good handshake (cross reference Cindy Ferrara for this!) A proper introduction, according to Philip, is *while shaking hands and maintaining strong eye contact* is saying, ‘Hello, Nix, how do you do?’
• Strong eye contact. It makes people feel like they are being acknowledged and you’re interested in listening to them
• Smile. Philip even said if you don’t smile because you’re conscious about your teeth, get your teeth done! Invest in yourself!

• Tone of voice is important so there are 5 p’s to remember:
- Pitch
- Pace
- Power
- Pause
- Project

There are some bonus P’s and an E too.

- Practice
- Preparation
- Passion
- Enthusiasm

Nobody is going to attack you for saying hello (well we hope not!), so go out there and practice just saying hello to people and don’t let your mood get in the way of your manners.

Still hate small talk? Read the book ‘how to win friends and influence people’. Try not to think of networking as a tick box exercise, think of it as an opportunity to connect with likeminded people after all, one person, one conversation can change your life. Go into it thinking how you can help others not just how others can help you. It’s about learning to be present, not missing out on opportunities and being mindful about how you come across.

Listening actively is key to holding a good conversation it builds trust so stop, listen and engage. Don’t start giving your opinion while someone is mid flow talking to you.

Conversation killers to avoid at all costs are politics, religion, money, relationships age and (body)weight. Words are powerful so be careful how you use them, be kind. If you are stuck in an awkward conversation or face an uncomfortable question, deflect it, don’t get aggressive or upset about it. Just ask everyone if they’ve been to Disneyland lately! Put your phone away too, it helps you stay focussed and present.

We ended this excellent session with Philip saying ‘Savoire vivre’, it means add some ‘va va voom’, and I just loved that! Maybe va va voom is the secret ingredient we all need to add to life.

Dr Jonathan Ashlong-Lampety, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Expert - “Why an inclusive workplace is necessary for a growth mindset” – Write up provided by Anne-Marie Griffiths

Jonathan started by describing a number of terms used when discussing Inclusion:

Diversity: Recognises individuals have differences but they are VALUABLE and lead to better business outcomes.

Inclusion: Systematic strategy which ensures that everyone in an organisation shares the same advantages and benefits. Our goal should be Inclusion.

Belonging – Often used in companies in I&D space, but should we be focussing on creating belonging? If we are applying inclusion policies correctly, shouldn’t people naturally feel belonging?

Equality/Equity – what is this really? Are we talking about equality of opportunity? Equality of outcome? Do we really want everyone to be the same or have the same when we are all individuals?

We need to take care that we don’t decide a benchmark for what equality looks like, when not everyone might want that.
He then discussed the three biggest problems affecting workplace inclusivity.

PEOPLE Engagement of people
Underrepresented and majority all need to feel included.
POTENTIAL Creating a culture where inclusion is a focus
PERFORMANCE What is the business case for inclusion and diversity?

One challenge that can cross all three of these problems is a FIXED MINDSET. This often manifests as the expectation that this is a zero-sum game.

If you provide support to one demographic, it isn’t necessarily a detriment to another. It doesn’t have to be a FIXED PIE. We should be considering how we expand the pie.

To do this we should be looking at issues in the whole, not separately as expanding one thing can decrease another seemingly unrelated issue.
Dr Jonathan then described the ‘Elements of inclusion’ (coincidently the name of his weekly podcast):

Explaining ideas and initiatives. This should be an ongoing activity
Developmental network. These can be personal or professional.
Incentivise inclusive behaviours to change norms Solutions
Describe how diversity creates benefits.

The Business case for diversity:
Access & Legitimacy Access to Markets – business want/need to look like their client base
Integration & Learning Competitive Advantage – avoiding ‘groupthink’
Discrimination & Fairness Social Justice – doing the right thing for colleagues/clients

The ideal policy and culture should address all three.

When engaging with people who don’t understand or disagree with Inclusion & Diversity policies or practices, the best way to counter their concerns is to identify which of the above three issues they are concerned by and respond with the SAME business case.

Joe Trodden, CEO of Mindset Experts - “The power of true cognitive diversity and how to harness this in your team” – Write up provided by Joann Williams

Joe got everyone to start with a quick Ice Breaker where we had to ask the person next to us:

- What you wanted to be when you were growing up
- Your favourite place in the World
- Your favourite thing to do

Everyone immediately started sharing and it encouraged great conversation within the room. After the session Joe also highlighted that by talking about something outside of work people immediately start to build trust between each other so it is a good ice breaker to use with new teams or groups of people that don’t know each other particularly well.
Joe then started to talk about diversity and that there are two types:

Demographic Diversity
Sexual Orientation Values






In addition to having a good mix of demographic diversity it is equally as important to have a good mix of cognitive diversity so that we can see things from a range of perspectives to get to the right outcome. If everyone in the team has the same experiences and values, it will significantly narrow down the outcomes and solutions identified.

Joe then talked through the “Talent Dynamics” model by “Roger Hamilton”. This model works on there being 4 key types of individual – Dynamo, Steel, Tempo and Blaze. Each has their own skills, but you really need a mix within the team so all of the strengths from each type can play out and you create a high performing team achieving the best results and outcomes.

Joe said it is important to understand your team and for your team to understand each other so they appreciate where individuals are coming from and interact with each other in the most appropriate way.

Joe also talked about the model Walt Disney used to generate ideas that harnessed the cognitive diversity from all the team and recognised people’s strengths giving everyone a chance to flourish.

Walt set up three different rooms:
- Dreamer – This was at the start where blue sky thinking, limitless resources, dumbest idea first, magic wand time.
- Realist – Lets take the top idea from the Dreamer room and bring it into the real world, how can we make this happen? What/who would we need?
- Critic – Examine the idea, question it, test it, refine.

Throughout each of the rooms, each type of individual gets their moment to shine but by still being included throughout the end to end process everyone feels bought in, included and appreciated.

Joe also mentioned that in order to encourage cognitive diversity within a team feedback is important but giving it in the correct way is also important. Teams need to move from “I am right” to “This is why I think I am right but I’m probably missing something”.

I really enjoyed the session and my key take away was to complete the Insights profiling questionnaire. I recently joined a new team who had already done this so I have now completed mine and by reading through my own and those of my team it has certainly given me a greater understanding of how to interact with my team members and appreciate their personal styles.

Cindy Ferrara - “Speak, pitch, close”

There was a special afternoon session hosted by Cindy Ferrara at the Growth Mindset Conference. Cindy shared her insights on successfully closing a pitch. Cindy is a leading business coach who is recognised on an international level for her speaking and entrepreneurial skills. The group that was in with Cindy didn’t even want to leave the session for a refreshment break! The presentation was so good that the audience put their pens down, allowing them to be fully present and engaged in Cindy’s company and take in all the magic!

Following these incredible workshops our closing keynote speaker was Sue Liburd MBE teaching us exactly why you can’t trust a woman. Sue addressed and emphasised the need to fix the gender imbalance within organisations, its getting better but we certainly aren’t ‘there’ yet. There is a lot more to do and we can all play our part. Sue challenged us all to unlearn and got us all involved in a game of noughts and crosses (or was it?). The game was a test to show us that we can’t really trust the way we think and we need to unlearn to learn more.

Sue finished off the day with a powerful statement of ‘don’t get stuck by people who are scared to move’ and she finished off the day by saying ‘I dare you to change’ it gave me goose bumps, what an incredible day, I don’t think I’ve ever attended such an insightful, inspiring day.

Following these incredible workshops our closing keynote speaker was Sue Liburd MBE teaching us exactly why you can’t trust a woman. Sue addressed and emphasised the need to fix the gender imbalance within organisations, its getting better but we certainly aren’t ‘there’ yet. There is a lot more to do and we can all play our part. Sue challenged us all to unlearn and got us all involved in a game of noughts and crosses (or was it?). The game was a test to show us that we can’t really trust the way we think and we need to unlearn to learn more.

Sue finished off the day with a powerful statement of ‘don’t get stuck by people who are scared to move’ and she finished off the day by saying ‘I dare you to change’ it gave me goose bumps, what an incredible day, I don’t think I’ve ever attended such an insightful, inspiring day.

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