Nick Gold, MD at Speakers Corner tells Business Matters that saying ‘I don’t understand, please explain’ demonstrates confidence and not weakness in business.
What do you currently do at Speakers Corner?
I am the Managing Director here at Speakers Corner and I’m lucky to say I have the most fantastic team who make sure we deliver exceptional service and value to our customers. My role within Speakers Corner has definitely evolved and developed over the years. I have two main focus areas currently, well three if you include spending time with the team and making sure they are happy (and being told off by everyone for distracting them).
Firstly I now spend most of my time either meeting new speakers or touching base with our existing speakers to ensure our roster of amazing speakers is both expanding with new content and ideas, but also ensure we have a personal and mutual relationship with our speakers. This helps us enormously when we work with our clients we’ve also got a strong relationship with the speaker to create a real team effort.
The marketplace is so fascinating right now as it evolves and matures, and so the second part of my role is to act as an ambassador for the Speakers Corner brand as well as for the industry as a whole. I was the Inaugural President of the European Association of Speaker Bureau, am currently a Governor of the International Association of Speaker Bureau and in 2020, am privileged to become the first President of the Association. This puts both Speakers Corner and myself at the forefront of leading the industry and understanding and helping drive the industry forward.
What is the inspiration behind your career in business?
Inspiration is a big word but I suppose I am a naturally inquisitive person who probably was a pain in the neck for any manager I worked for in the early days of my career. I like the excitement of juggling many different plates in one go and learnt and appreciated early that business is something to enjoy as we spend too much time at work for it to be anything less than fun (however stressful it is at time). My father who was a scrap metal merchant in the East End Is and was a major influence in my business life and if I was to pick one pearl of business wisdom that I have taken as a mantra to my working life, it is that ‘there is no such thing as a bad decision as anything can be worked through and resolved, the worst situation is when you don’t make a decision’.
Since the beginning of Speakers Corner, I am privileged that I have got to meet and listen to some of the smartest and most wonderful speakers, they have provided me with oodles of amazing inspiration and learnings that have helped me in my business life – as such, I freely admit I have had some of the best teachers anyone could have for their business life (without them even realising)!
What defines your way of doing business?
Firstly to enjoy every day, to treat people with respect and understand that business is not in isolation to the rest of your life and you should have the same values in your business practices as you seek to have in your life as a whole. I am passionate that any business is about people and the relationships we build with our clients, with our artists and with each other.
Who do you admire?
Wow, what a question. I admire many people, especially our speakers who have achieved some of the greatest things or have the ability to inspire, to challenge, to drive the people listening to them to new heights. I am honoured that every week I get to meet someone new who has achieved amazing things and I have a new person to admire.
Somehow I find myself looking to imitate and aspire to be like the incredible people I meet, who articulately reflect candidly on their journey which had both peaks and troughs. This always seems to be, in my experience, the bedrock of learning, where the reality of life and celebrating perceived failure as the bedrock of learning to create the successes that came after, seems a truly admirable trait
What would you tell your younger self?
I have two main messages I would want to share with my younger self which absolutely are intertwined.
The most powerful person in a room is the person who has the confidence to say ‘I don’t understand, please explain’. It shows a vulnerability around a subject that does not demonstrate weakness, but rather an inner confidence that the person wants to learn, strives to improve and wants to take an active and involved part of the conversation. Those in the room who judge the person who states they don’t understand, generally they are the blockers in driving a business forward.
Secondly, the more you know, the less you understand. In my opinion, experience gives you an understanding that trying to rationalise and explain everything can become a negative spiral. That leap of faith or gut instinct sometimes (not always!) is as good as anyway to act.
I suppose this comes back to my father’s advice that the worst decision is not the wrong decision but rather to make no decision, you will never know if you made the right or wrong choice but it is about the decisions and actions you take once you have made that decision.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?
I always find it hard to specify a single bit of advice for the sector I work in, as one of the joys of the industry is that it is still evolving and any individual has the opportunity to shape and lead the market forward and help it grow.
I suppose one of the critical comments I would say is that be clear who your customer is, make sure you are always focussed on them and understand the main drivers to success are the strength of your relationships with the customer, the trust bonds you form and the continual striving to demonstrate the value you are delivering to them
How do you continue to grow professionally?
I love being challenged by my team around me, I don’t claim to have the answers, it is more that I claim to be able to ask the questions. I believe I am continually learning from everyone around me and my growth professionally comes from the success of the business as it grows and the continual challenges this brings. Coupling this with my evolving role in the company, as someone who likes to be involved to someone who needs to inspire and deliver the vision and strategy, letting other people lead and also run the day to day has meant every day is a challenge which makes me grow
What are you working on now?
I have a few things which are exciting me right now, firstly my forth coming presidency of the IASB is something which both excites and daunts, I am formulating my main aims for my year in position and what I hope to achieve during this time.
From a Speakers Corner perspective, watching and guiding my relatively new management team to reach their potential is giving me joy (and sometimes growing pains!) and guiding Speakers Corner to its next evolution in a time of increased uncertainty in the world creates new and different challenges to those we have seen before.
Lastly, we are working on a new exciting opportunity in the Speaking World which we are looking to launch beginning of next year, I know being slight cagey at the moment but we see this as a complementary offering in the every maturing speaking industry.