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5 EDITOR’S NOTE STAY CONNECTED! Follow us on: EDITOR’S NOTE UN I V E R S A L ME D I A www.ceotodaymagazine.com Katin Hristo Editor All of this and so much more - I hope you enjoy the content in CEO Today’s February 2022 issue! Make sure you check out the full list of features and exclusive interviews over the next pages. If you want to stay connected with us until our next edition, visit our website for more, join the conversation on our Twitter (@ CEOTodayMag) and follow our LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram pages. Best wishes, KATINA HRISTOVA Editor CEO TODAY Copyright 2022 Circulation details can be found at www.ceotodaymagazine.com The views expressed in the articles within CEO Today are the contributors own, nothing within the announcements or articles should be construed as a profit forecast. All rights reserved. Material contained within this publication is not to be reproduced in whole or part without the prior permission of CEO Today. Disclaimer: Images used in this edition have been done so under the creative commons licenses. For details, see links below. creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/3.0/legalcode creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/2.0/legalcode creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-sa/4.0/legalcode Hello and welcome to the February 2022 edition of CEO Today Magazine! Now that we’ve all settled into the new year and have started working on our goals for 2022, here at CEO Today we’re delighted to present our February collection of articles and interviews with some of the world’s leading CEOs and entrepreneurs, as well as our monthly dose of travel and lifestyle inspiration! Here are some of our favourite stories from CEO Today’s February 2022 edition: The 10 Most Inspiring Business Books for 2022 EmpoweringWomen in Business: An Interview with Virgin’s Danni Rush 52 22 16 78 Top 10 Luxury Caribbean Resorts for 2022 Creating The NewWorld of HybridWork: An Interview with Zoom
6 CONTENTS www.ceotodaymagazine.com Omiros D. Sarikas & Lucia Labuzikova Brookstreet Equity Partners 10 THE CEO INTERVIEW 12. Omiros D. Sarikas & Lucia Labuzikova Brookstreet Equity Partners 16. Danni Rush COO at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives 18. Jacobi Anstruther Founder & CEO of IRIS 22. Phil Perry Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom 26. Alexandra Kobler CEO of Die Bodenschmiede 30. Edward Hancock Founder of cheesegeek 34 THE DISRUPTORS 36. How Princess Diana Turned her Shortcomings into Strengths CONTENTS 8 Monthly-Round-Up 12 36 How Princess Diana Turned her Shortcomings into Strengths
7 30 Pandemic Success Stories The Big Cheese 62 46 EXECUTIVE COACHING VISION & STRATEGY 48. Friction is Good for Business Lessons from Louis Vuitton and Friends 52. The 10 Most Inspiring Business Books for 2022 58. A Changing World Needs Changing Leadership 64. This is Why You Need a Performance Coach 68. How to Avoid Burnout 72. How to Solve the Challenges of Today 40 PRO PLANET 42. What Businesses Can Do to Help the Fight Against Climate Change in 2022 52 The 10 Most Inspiring Business Books for 2022 www.ceotodaymagazine.com 78 Top 10 Luxury Caribbean Resorts for 2022 How to Avoid Burnout 68
www.ceotodaymagazine.com 8 MONTHLY ROUND - UP N EWS The Stories Everyoneʼs been Talking about Japan To Assist Bill Gates with Next-Gen Nuclear Power Project Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced plans to work with Japan’s atomic energy agency to provide technical assistance to American startup TerraPower, run by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The start-up aims tobuild anext-generation nuclear reactor in Wyoming. TerraPower plans to build its plant in the US state by 2028, using a new technology called Natrium, acknowledged to be a “carbon-free, reliable energy solution.” The Japanese industrial conglomerate has agreed to work with TerraPower on the sodium-cooled fast reactor project alongside Japan’s atomic energy agency. “As part of this cutting-edge nuclear project, MHI will join discussions to explore the opportunities to provide technical support and participate in the development of the next-generation sodium fast reactor in the US,” it said. Japan currently aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Meanwhile, in the US, President Biden aims to halve the nation’s 2005 greenhouse gas emission levels by the end of this decade. It is hoped that TerraPower’s $4 billion Natrium project will help the two countries meet their climate-related ambitions. Photo: Wikicommons - Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
LVMH Growth Booms as Customers Spend Big on Luxury Items The world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate LVMH has seen rocketing demand for its luxury items continue into 2022. LVMH, which owns brands from Fendi to Hennessy Cognac and Sephora, said on Thursday that its fourth-quarter sales growth accelerated, hitting €20.02 billion overall. The growth was primarily led by the group’s largest earners, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Louis Vuitton and Dior propelled a 28% increase in sales of fashion and leather goods — LVMH’s largest division — on a like-forlike basis. The group said revenues for the business in 9 www.ceotodaymagazine.com MONTHLY ROUND - UP Meta is Building the World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer, Says Zuckerberg Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced his company is building what he claims will be the world’s fastest artificial intelligence supercomputer amid plans to build the metaverse. In a blog post, Zuckerberg said that the metaverse, a concept that combines the physical world with the digital world via virtual and augmented reality, requires “enormous” computing power. Meta’s AI supercomputer, nicknamed the “AI Research SuperCluster” (RSC), is already the fifth fastest in the world, according to the company. Meta researchers have said they expect the RSC to become the fastest computer of its kind when it is completed in the summer. While the metaverse is still years away from becoming a reality, it is a key part of Meta’s plans for the RSC. “Designing and building something like RSC isn’t a matter of performance alone but performance at the largest scale possible, with the most advanced technology available today. When RSC is complete, the InfiniBand network fabric will connect 16,000 GPUs as endpoints, making it one of the largest such networks deployed to date,” wrote Zuckerberg in the blog post. “Our long-term investments in selfsupervised learning and in building next-generation AI infrastructure with RSC are helping us create the foundational technologies that will power the metaverse and advance the broader AI community as well.” the last three months of 2021 came in 51% above their 2019, pre-pandemic level. All LVMH divisions posted double-digit growth percentage-wise. The fastest pace was marked by the specialised distribution division which hit a 30% rise in revenue over the quarter as consumers flocked to stores amid the holiday period. LVMH pointed to the United States as its best-performing single country for sales, with the nation accounting for 26% of the total seen in 2021. LVMH’s billionaire CEO Bernard Arnault said strong momentum continued for the group at the start of 2022.
THE CEO INTERVIEW Omiros D. Sarikas & Lucia Labuzikova Brookstreet Equity Partners Danni Rush COO at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives Jacobi Anstruther Founder & CEO of IRIS Phil Perry Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom Alexandra Kobler CEO of Die Bodenschmiede Edward Hancock Founder of cheesegeek 12 16 18 22 26 30
THE CEO INTERVIEW 13 In 2019 we interviewed Omiros D. Sarikas, the visionary CEO of Brookstreet Equity Partners - a London-based fund innovating the Private Equity and Venture Capital asset class - about the concept of investing in ‘asymmetric’ markets to generate alpha returns. In 2022, we ask Omiros what has changed in the aftermath of COVID-19. He talks to CEO Today about the development of Brookstreet 2.0, the era of ESG, and brings to the table Lucia Labuzikova to highlight the importance of Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management in unlocking value for private equity investments. Omiros D. Sarikas & Lucia Labuzikova Brookstreet Equity Partners LLP Private Equity Post COVID-19 The Era of ESG, Diversity, Inclusion & Talent Management
14 Omiros, good to have you back. Please reintroduce our readers to Brookstreet Equity Partners. Brookstreet Equity Partners (Brookstreet) is an award-winning, Mayfair-based investment platform that seeks out global asymmetric opportunities in undercapitalised markets. We set up the firm with the intention to be a beacon in the industry and developed a solid infrastructure. By means of example, our legal counsel also advised on Softbank’s $100bn+ Vision fund, our administrators handle $1.3+ trillion, our senior professionals have worked at McKinsey, Bulge Bracket Investment Banks and top tier CrossBorder Funds, our teams were educated at Harvard, Oxford and London and train at the British Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVCA) and the CFA Institute. In the meantime, we have over 20 Experts as Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) including top CEOs and Chairmen in Shipping, Banking, Big 4, Corporates as well as Multi-Generational Legacy Families and Celebrities. What makes Brookstreet different? We differentiate and disrupt the market in many ways, including positioning and DNA. With regards to positioning, we invest in Growth which blends the excitement of Venture Capital (scalable and innovative firms with intellectual property potential) with the sophistication of Private Equity (detailed due diligence, commercial support, board/management enhancements, downside protections). We have commercial DNA and affiliate links with Candesic, a leading Management Consultancy owned by my partner Dr Leonid Shapiro, that supports us in Commercial Due Diligence and Corporate Strategy. Last year, we brought Lucia Labuzikova in-house, to leverage the talents of our teams across the firm and our investments. She has been a gamechanger in managing our people and our relationships with Portfolio CEOs and Founders. It is of note that our valueadding services are offered at no cost to investors or assets. What changed since COVID-19? Everything… The pandemic has influenced the investment management industry in many ways and transitioned everyone to their next stage of evolution. In business, the disruption to the supply chain, labour workforce and capital flows tested every organisation on the planet. In addition, many of us lost families, friends and colleagues. For me, that was a triple shock and more - a divorce at home, a pandemic at work, and the loss of George V. Bolos who was instrumental in my life – both personally and professionally, all while managing a physical disc injury. However, in such times you stresstest your mind, character, stamina and processes. Our business continuity plans kicked in as soon as the pandemic emerged and I recall we had an investment committee, with heavy heart, the same week that George passed away. During this period, we remained fully investment active, initiated weekly portfolio reviews, broadcasted motivational Brookstreet TV seminars with our leading EIRs and we partnered with Austrian Hedge Fund manager Gottfried Springer of QINO GS to exponentially expand our firm and offer our assets the security of strength and global reach. Meanwhile, the lockdowns accelerated our relationship with technology and remote teams. We invited fellow HBS alum Tom Sperry, CEO of Rogue Ventures USA, to enhance and advance our assets in the post-COVID Tech era and at the same time, we strengthened the European-coverage team with Spyros Papaspyrou, a C-level banking executive who used to manage $32bn, to steer all portfolio ships to safety. Unlike VCs who cover dozens, sometimes hundreds of firms, our thesis was to focus on a few assets with maximum attention. Then, diametrically opposite from Buyout funds, we do not use leverage in our deals, so our assets do not have to pay hefty debt burdens during periods of working capital constraints. Instead, we supported our assets operationally, provided liquidity and extended our investment programme with proprietary origination in targeted markets led by Kostas Maramenos and Vasilis Bolis. In the meantime, Kostas Tsitsis automated fund operations and, supported by Kostas Mitropoulos, developed the Brookstreet 2.0 Management systems. Natalia Bolou from Paris, George’s daughter and successful investment banker in her own right, shared with us ideas on ESG initiatives from the public capital markets. You will notice a few Greek surnames in our team as we heavily invested in tech opportunities in SE Europe, which is on track to produce a few Unicorns this year, with the recent Viva Wallet and JP Morgan deal being one example. To this day, we are particularly proud we never furloughed a single Brookstreet employee and we pulled together as one family - stronger than ever before. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the era of ESG, Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management emerged. Tell us more about the era of ESG. In the last few years, we experience a tectonic shift by investors from focusing not only on risk and returns but also impact. The CFA Institute documented that 76% of institutional investors and 69% of retail investors declared an interest in ESG, because the pandemic and its harsh economic impact has underscored the need to reset longterm priorities and for the investment industry to restate its stewardship function, particularly within the context of Environmental, Social andGovernance (ESG) factors. The pace and momentum of change was dramatically influenced by COVID-19. Whereas for the Tech-VC markets the pandemic was a catalyst for hope, hype, and sky-high valuations, in the brick-and-mortar world, it was a time that urgently called for leaders to review, reflect and pivot. ESG investing has changed finance forever. ESG ratings make proprietary assessments of stocks and bonds. Banks are using ESG factors in their credit assessments. Investment consultants THE CEO INTERVIEW
15 utilise ESG rankings to judge investment managers. Index providers use ESG factors in establishing indices. Investors use ESG ratings to enhance their investment valuation and decision processes. For Brookstreet, we reflected not only on the ESG ratings of existing business models but also on the technologies that can enhance the ESG thematic. How do you blend ESG with technology? In the middle of an imperfect societal structural reform, the role and impact on technology is growing. The very evolution of humankind is dominated by technological leaps which have changed the face of the modern world - from wheels to cars, from steam to trains, from boats to planes, from electricity to the internet. Every business and every citizen is disrupted by technologies of automation, interactive communication and digitisation. The next industrial revolution and human evolution is dawning upon the world in unforeseeable ways as we increasingly rely on NanoTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, the Internet of Things and Digitisation of our world - from monetary transactions to human interactions. The impact of Technology on Environment, Society and Governing of our institutions is changing our world. For example, nano-coating can make a ship go faster by reducing drift but also, more importantly, save fuel and pollution. Similarly, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for smart buildings or smart cities, can make a difference in the environment, as well as the quality of life for employees and citizens. Brookstreet coined the term “ESG Technologies” at the BVCA events of 2021 to describe this niche. We spearhead investments in the niche ESG Tech thematic including so far, NanoTech materials, IOT/AI software and hardware, robotics and cybersecurity. To separate the wheat from the chaff, we do not invest in concepts, and we do not take MVP risk. We come in at the growth stage when there is a product that sells, a business model that works (even with tweaks) and clear market demand. We then help the founders and managers to build a sustainable business and scale it up for the next investor or buyer. We avoid large companies as they are typically already in a fixed mindset. We also avoid markets with overhyped valuations. In the days of remote working, talent is global. We screen hundreds of transactions to find the right mix of product, price and people and help them to integrate Diversity, Inclusion, and Talent management in their processes. How do you integrate Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management in your processes? At the time of riding the first wave of the pandemic, every owner and manager faced the challenge to make extremely difficult business decisions amidst a global panic. How do you lead during a crisis? One of my professors at Harvard Business School used to run a leadership exercise by a simulation of a journey to the North Pole. He used to ask: “Who are the people you can trust? Who do you need to take in this adventure to the unknown with limited space onboard? What are the complementary skills required to survive the journey?” These are exactly, the same questions we faced as a fund manager with a range of investments across countries, industries and cultures. During a meeting of minds with Lucia Labuzikova, founder of Labuzik Institute, we discussed the well-known controversial statistic that 70% of international M&A deals fail. They fail not because of technical or managerial competence, but cultural integration. How do you make sure that the private equity industry can learn from intercultural and inter-personal “soft skills”? Here, I will pass the torch to Lucia. Lucia, please expand on how you utilise Human Due Diligence Assessments at Brookstreet? Brookstreet used the pandemic to understand how to strengthen the talents of their team and complementary skillsets. In doing so, we worked for months looking into enhancing every aspect of their transactional lifecycle. We utilised human capital due diligence assessments early in their Origination process, where they first meet founders and managers of prospect investments. We then looked for the right Portfolio Managers to cover the asset and build a rapport with the founders and managers while interacting as Board Members. Internally, we review everyone in the firm, from Analysts to Partners, to understand how they can work together and explore their collective strengths; for example, matching people with Ideation talent with those of high execution strength or supporting Sales Managers with follow up processes. It is of note that some of the tools we work with are used by 90% of the Fortune 500 and over 28 million people report that are 6x as engaged in their work as a result. However, we do not stick with one provider or method. We utilise an eclectic blend of tools and techniques to offer Brookstreet assets and employees tailored services that smooth their relationships and boost their productivity. They learn to work efficiently, effectively, calmly and make “alpha returns”. What are your plans for Brookstreet in 2022 and beyond? Brookstreet seeks out global asymmetric opportunities in undercapitalised markets and we currently benefit from a wave of investments in the European early-stage venture ecosystem (feeding us next stage, growth capital deals). We currently focus on investing in postCOVID ESG Technologies and planning exits with phenomenal returns. We will grow our platform 5x this year and expanded our team appropriately. On a personal level, working hand-in-hand with Lucia brought not only success to the firm but to my life too. We are pleased to announce that we plan to get married soon. THE CEO INTERVIEW
16 Danni Rush Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives CEOToday speaks to Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives, about the obstacles women in business face, female mentorship, and what businesses can do to support women in leadership roles. THE CEO INTERVIEW Empowering Women in Business: An Interview with Virgin’s Danni Rush
17 vision & strategy What would you say are the biggest obstacles preventing women from reaching higher positions in business? Firstly, being really clear on what you want and when you want it. There is still an expectation, in a lot of partnerships, that women have lots to balance between work, home, family etc. and they don’t always spend time getting really clear on what they actually want for themselves. Once women are clear on their personal goals, they need to build self-belief and confidence, and push themselves forward and find inspiring mentors! When you don’t see ‘people like you’ in senior positions, it becomes a challenge to visualise yourself there and that can really hold people back. Many women struggle to find a mentor to support them in their career journey. Have you ever received any form of mentoring? Is it something that you believe is important? Yes, I have and I think it was career-changing for me. I have worked with and for several inspiring leaders that I have learnt so much from, and I have participated in more formal mentoring schemes with a focus on areas of development/ coaching. Reverse mentoring has been great for me too, it’s helped me grow in ways that I may never have thought about before. I believe that mentoring can take on many forms. Watching people around you have successes or navigate challenges well, and then asking them to help you think about how you can apply their behaviours or ways of working to your situations is very powerful. I’m always really keen to offer up my time to mentor or coach team members and more often than not we get a mutual benefit. In your opinion, what more can businesses do to support women in leadership roles? Support on confidence and credibility building, and transparent communication. If you are an expert in your field and you are confident, you start to feel very empowered. I also think it’s important to highlight the skills and behaviours that good women leaders bring and communicate why it makes good business sense to have them as part of their leadership team. THE CEO INTERVIEW
THE CEO INTERVIEW 19 Jacobi Anstruther Founder & CEO of IRIS Revolutionising the Way We Absorb Sound This month we had the privilege to sit down with Jacobi Anstruther – a true disruptor and leading innovator in the audio industry. His curiosity and desire to instigate change in the music space through making ‘ live’ experiences easily accessible led him to develop an interest in tackling music compression and audio quality issues alongside neurological behaviour and human performance. This interest eventually developed into starting innovative audio technology brand IRIS, whose latest AI technology, IRIS Clarity, eliminates all background noise from digital calls and meetings, bringing the focus back to the conversation. We hear more about the concept over the next pages.
20 Can you tell us about the process of founding IRIS? We founded IRIS in February 2018 with the aim to address the key issues with audio today and bring new, powerful tools to the world to enable people to listen well. We’d seen such a huge amount of innovation in the visual space in the face of phones, tablets, laptops, and TV screens, whilst audio was being clearly left behind. I was very interested to explore how the way we listen has evolved due to our busy day-to-day lives and the multitasking we find ourselves doing – listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts whilst driving, working out, going for a walk etc. Our brain processes audio between 20 - 100 times faster than all other senses. Sound really does shape every experience - whether you’re biting into a crisp or looking at the waves on the beach. The sound element is the first your brain fully understands and therefore, it shapes that experience which then leads to a deep emotional response. This is precisely why music is at the centre of every culture and every tribe. When we record music, we’re recording from a single-point microphone or an instrument into a mixing desk. We record the imaginary information which our brain will piece back together in the real world. Engineers then try to mimic the process and recreate this recording as a live, immersive experience - or something that we call an artificial soundscape. That audio is then further manipulated until it reaches your speaker or headphone system. Each level of the engineering process is designed to make the sound experience better for you but what we’ve noticed from our research is that with each level of that engineering and by the time this audio gets to you, your brain is becoming more and more passive. We notice lower neurological activation, lower emotional response, less engagement and you are no longer listening to this in the same way you would in a live scenario. This was our starting point. Our goal for IRIS from the beginning was to help the listener to become far more active in the listening process and enter the ‘flow’ state – a state where you’re living in the moment, fully absorbed and immersed in the present. Through our technology, you can completely immerse yourself in a song, podcast or audiobook and enter a state similar to meditation. In September 2020, we launched our headphone product ‘IRIS FLOW’ to showcase our technology and what we’ve discovered. It has received unbelievable reviews - including from the FT tech team who said it was the best audio product on the market in 10 years. Tell us a little bit more about your mission with IRIS? A lot of what is at the core of our business is neuroscience - listening to your favourite song for a few minutes a day through our software is neurologically good for you. Wellness and quality of experience is what we firmly believe in, in all of our technologies. We put the human at the centre of the listening experience. Can you tell us about the launch of IRIS Clarity? IRIS Clarity was born out of genuine necessity, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everyone was forced to work from home. We realised that IRIS audio technology could solve the problems everyone was facing: broken communication, reduced productivity, declining wellbeing. The IRIS Clarity model uses advanced AI and machine learning to recognise common disruptions like traffic, children, dogs, music, coffee machines, etc. It then removes these noises and isolates the speaker’s voice using the original IRIS algorithm. The multidirectional software can be used on Zoom, Teams, GoogleMeet or any other digital platform where two or more individuals are trying to communicate with one another. Launching this February, IRIS Clarity is available as a simple desktop download and offers an immediate solution to individuals working from home, but also has huge benefits for SMEs and enterprises. What are your plans for 2022 and beyond? Our vision is to build an ecosystem that enables people everywhere to listen well, through licensing our technology to partners in the audio space. Our focus will be on voice isolation technology and we are so excited to be able to solve a real problem everyone is trying to manage right now. In the future, we do have the ambition to continue developing more solutions for more problems. Where do you want to see the company in the future? Our goal is to become the gold standard in the digital audio solutions field. We sell the majority of our technology to companies but the brand and what we stand for means a lot to us. Our goal is to become the best product in our market and this is where we plan to get to. THE CEO INTERVIEW
For more information on IRIS, visit their website: https://irislistenwell.com/
Creating The NewWorld of HybridWork: Phil Perry, Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom, speaks to CEO Today about how the platform is continuing to help create the new world of hybrid work. An Interview with Zoom’s Phil Perry Phil Perry Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom
are committed to innovating further and have recently acquired certain assets from Liminal in order to do so. Liminal is a startup company that offers event production solutions built largely on Zoom’s software development kit. It will help bridge Zoom with traditional and emerging event control applications and hardware to help theatres, broadcast studios, and other creative organisations address complex technical production needs and collaborate online effectively. How does Zoom hope to further boost the opportunity for connection and collaboration between work teams in the future? When thinking about improving connection and collaboration within professional environments, flexibility is one of our guiding principles. Our own internal poll found that only 1% of our staff want to return to the office full time, whilst over half would prefer a hybrid approach, and a quarter would like to work from home permanently. We understand that diversity in expectation requires a range of solutions. To empower workforces and expand meaningful collaborative experiences, we will continue to develop and enhance products such as Zoom Phone, Zoom Apps, and Zoom Rooms, and features like Smart Gallery. We’re also developing our range of AI tools and solutions such as our real-time machine translation capabilities, which can help bridge language barriers and create an immersive and collaborative experience. Longer-term, we fully expect to see a continuation and expansion of the hybrid approach, which many organisations have experienced over the course of the past two years. As we deepen our hybrid connections and build upon emerging technologies, we will see an increased inter-functionality between in-person and virtual participants, where those joining a meeting virtually will be able to see and experience the meeting as if they were in the room. workspaces with Zoom software and hardware features for hybrid teams to interact with one another, allowing rich interaction whether employees are collaborating from the office or remotely. As employees return to the office, businesses can ensure workspaces help them feel connected with their remote counterparts, whilst ensuring these remote employees enjoy an equitable communications experience with Zoom Rooms. Zoom Events Conference is a new event type that “gives event planners the ability to host multi-day, multi-session conferences on an all-in-one event platform”. In your opinion, what are the most useful features of this new event type? One of the most useful features Zoom Events provides is its solution to ticketing and registration. Users can host their events and secure them with customisable registration and built-in ticketing options. Organisations can set the number of free and paid tickets available per event with ease, which is a major logistic obstacle, even in a virtual world. Additionally, Zoom Events brings in effective data analysis tools. Users can track registration, attendance, ticket sales, revenue flows and much more. Zoom Events helps organisations understand the granular details of how an event has performed, which can then be used to improve future conferences. Beyond supplementing strong events on an organisational and administrative level, the platform allows businesses to create engaging virtual experiences for attendees, providing the opportunity to network effectively and develop meaningful connections. All of these features come together to replicate the inperson conference experience online. Events continue to take place virtually and in-person, which means users require a holistic, flexible solution. We Thanks to video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, the need for in-person meetings has been timely reduced amid the pandemic. However, do you think there are some occasions where in-person meetings are still necessary? And, if so, does Zoom have plans to further fill this gap in the future? Hybrid working is now considered a necessity for many employees. At Zoom, we believe that a strong balance between office and remote working is the best way forward for organisations and individuals. It is completely right that we acknowledge the benefits that in-person meetings can have for professional development, networking, personal collaboration and maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. In-person meetings allow for direct human connections, and are important for employees at all levels, especially for young professionals who are in the process of building their careers and the skills they need going forward. Zoom is fully on board with offices reopening in 2022 if it is safe to do so. In fact, we’re encouraging our own employees to return to the office by preparing for a hybrid approach that strategically mixes remote and in-office work so that employees have flexibility. Innovations around hybrid working are important for businesses, making this a key priority for Zoom. We are driven to solve clients’ problems and have delivered more than 400 features within the previous year alone, including many industry firsts such as Virtual Backgrounds and Gallery View. A full 20% of these new features and innovations were in response to immediate customer needs and feedback. Increased focus on remote and hybrid working has driven us to introduce Zoom Rooms, Zoom Apps, Zoom Events and Zoom Phone, in addition to a number of other key updates. Specifically, Zoom Rooms are modern, purpose-built the ceo interview www.ceotodaymagazine.com
THE CEO INTERVIEW 27 Among Make it Hereʼs How To Germanyʼs Top 3% Businesses We speak with Alexandra Kobler who currently serves as the CEO of Die Bodenschmiede - a flooring company in the building industry. After more than 20 years in management positions and most recently as a manager for KPMG, Alexanda founded Bodenschmiede in 2017. With a turnover of 5 million within 2 years and now 40 employees and freelancers working for the company, the firm is among the top 3% in Germany. In addition to that, Alexandra’s passion is helping individuals and businesses optimise themselves to achieve their goals. She’s been a coach since 1999 – back when very few people were thinking about personal development. She tells us more about it. Alexandra Kobler CEO of Die Bodenschmiede VIP Coach for Leaders
28 Tell us about Bodenschmiede and the services you offer? Our job is wonderful because we work creatively and sustainably. We work in both upscale private and contract businesses. We accompany wonderful projects – for example, we were allowed to shape the ‘Elbphilharmonie’ nicely. Or we laid a beautiful Versailles panel parquet floor for a customer’s villa where the old wood structure gave the room a special charm. Our focus is on parquet flooring and the main thing that makes us unique is our proximity to the customer and the services we provide them with. We work with selected manufacturers who are unique in their field. In this way, they fit perfectly with our orientation. In what ways has the pandemic affected your work so far? The tight supply chains demand a lot of discussion with our clients and manufacturers. Most of our construction contracts were signed before COVID-19 hit, so rising production and transportation costs led to higher prices, which we, unfortunately, have to pass on to our customers. What excites you about the future of the company? High-quality consulting is always in demand. Especially in residential construction, the demand is enormous. Due to digitalisation, we are well-positioned and scaled for the future. In addition to your work with Bodenschmiede, you work as a VIP coach for leaders. What’s your advice on how to achieve a turnover among the top 3% in Germany? First, you have to know who you are really and what you are really burning for. Once you’ve figured that out, you must set your goals and remember that it’s never too late to start. Then it’s time to focus on the path. And giving up is not an option – no matter how tough or exhausting things get. What are the most important qualities of a good leader? If you want to lead, you have to focus on, above all, yourself. Many of my clients run on their hamster wheel and don´t have time to pause and question themselves and whether they are on the right track. On the one hand, you work as a CEO, where your role is based on data. On the other hand, you are a coach, focusing on your soft skills. How do you juggle these two roles? I still see things through market conditions. And there is no right or wrong - you need both to run a successful business. Values such as communication, respect, active listening and empathy are unfortunately often neglected in companies. THE CEO INTERVIEW “First, you have to know who you are really and what you are really burning for. Once you’ve figured that out, you must set your goals and remember that it’s never too late to start.” “If you want to lead, you have to focus on, above all, yourself.”
MARCH 9TH & 10TH 2022 WWW.BUSINESSREVIVALSERIES.CO.UK FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES CALL RYAN TRELOAR ON 02045 178 888 / EMAIL RYANTRELOAR@INSPIREDMOTIVE.CO.UK
cheesegeek is the UK’s first specialist online cheesemonger that delivers British artisan cheeses directly to customers’ doors via amonthly subscription or to order. Almost all the cheese it sells is sourced from independent UK cheesemakers, delivered in chilled packaging to keep it fresh. The company’s founder — Edward Hancock — recently appeared on BBC Dragons’ Den, where he successfully bagged a sixfigure investment from Steve Bartlett, wowing the new Dragon with his vision to combine cutting edge tech with a passion for all things fromage. CEO Today sat down with Edward Hancock to hear more. Edward Hancock, Founder of cheesegeek Pandemic Success Stories The Big Cheese
THE CEO INTERVIEW www.ceotodaymagazine.com 32 thanks to our cutting edge, proprietary technology stack, built in-house, meaning cheesegeek has a massive advantage within the industry. Last year, sales were £1.5m — from £280,000 in 2020 — and the company is now able to send out up to 5,000 orders in a single day. You recently appeared on Dragons’ Den. What was that like and what advice would you have for fellow entrepreneurs thinking of applying? Growing a business is expensive, especially as we’re also trying to revolutionise our industry at the same time. I’ve invested £700,000 of my own savings and we’ve raised the same amount again in seed funding. However, we thought that by applying to get on Dragons’ Den, we could kill two birds with one stone — secure some more investment and also get some excellent publicity on behalf of the British artisan cheese industry. It was a nerve-wracking process but we’re really pleased we did it, as we secured £150,000 from the new Dragon, Steven Bartlett. In the months before we appeared, I watched every episode of Dragons’ Den available on the internet. I wanted to ensure I had thought of every possible line of questioning and knew what the most common mistakes were. I also practised our pitch a lot. I probably rewrote it 20 to 30 times and read it over 100 times. You have only three minutes, so every word counts. We even practised it in front of cardboard cutouts of every Dragon! Finally, I researched the Dragons endlessly - what had they previously invested in, what was their set of skills, what were their likes/ dislikes/sense of humour? They have no idea who you are, but you have the chance to research them in fine detail. Knowledge is power. I would definitely recommend Dragons’ Den to other entrepreneurs — as with any investor, they are investing as much in you as your business. You need to What inspired you to start the business? I founded the company in 2017, after spotting a gap in the £3.2bn British cheese market for a brand-new company that harnessed the power of digital technology to connect artisan cheesemakers across Britain directly with consumers. There are now over 750 varieties of cheese made in the UK — almost 50% more than France — produced by hundreds of small cheesemakers across Britain. It’s a thriving industry. However, for a number of reasons, that’s not really cutting through to the general public — supermarkets are still dominated by big brands. We wanted to change that. As food miles and food provenance becomes increasingly important for consumers, we wanted to create a brand that is both effective and ethical that supports local produce. Nearly all the cheeses sold by cheesegeek are produced by small, family-run producers using milk from grass-fed animals in average herds of around 100. How have you grown the business? It was originally intended as a ‘side hustle’ alongside my day job in finance. I’ve been something of a cheese obsessive since the age of 11, but I knew nothing about starting a business and had no contacts in the cheese industry, so I Googled for hours on end to find out more. After buying a huge industrial fridge which I squeezed into my mum’s house in Kingston, I used the utility room in her house as a cutting and wrapping room, and the dining room as a makeshift packing room. I paid £500 for a website, taking the first order in September 2017. From taking three or four orders a week, the company has now dispatched over 50,000 orders and has grown to a staff of sixteen based in a 7,500sq ft. headquarters in southwest London. Much of this growth was thanks to the pandemic — which saw sales explode ten-fold overnight — and show yourself in the best light, and that you are someone who has attention to detail. What do the next 18 months look like for cheesegeek? We will be looking to really capitalise on our momentum and opportunity over the next 18 months, both in terms of driving revenue growth, but also our tech development. Our ultimate goal is to get the world eatingmore artisan, traditional cheese, so everything we do is geared towards that end goal. This is about democratising traditional, artisan cheese, and anyone — wherever they are, and whatever their base cheese knowledge — should be able to effortlessly begin their cheese journey with us. So to that end, we will be investing in the user experience, adding more layers of personalisation and customisation to subscriptions, for example. We will also be working towards building out a community of cheese lovers, much like Vivino has achieved for wine. A huge resource in terms of cheese ratings, descriptions, cheesemaker content and even just a place for cheese lovers to share their thoughts on all things cheese (regardless of whether the cheese is sold by us or not). What we have to our advantage is that we are also a retailer, so we are working towards is a scenario where someone tastes a cheese they love in a restaurant (in the UK for now), they can get all the information on that cheese via the app, and then even purchase it from us for delivery within 48 hours. Taking that a step further, you can travel to another country, and get that same cheese experience there, simply with your cheesegeek app. Finally, by building a database of customer-submitted cheese ratings and data, it will give us an invaluable resource to provide market insight as well as quantitative feedback to cheesemakers regarding how their cheeses — and even batches of cheeses — are received by the end consumer. Something that has never been attempted before.
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THE DISRUPTORS 36 How Princess Diana Turned her Shortcomings into Strengths
Some people can turn major disadvantages into major advantages. This is something we can learn from Princess Diana - don’t try to do well in a field where you can never win. Dr Rainer Zitelmann believes that she was a genius in the art of self-marketing - she knew how important it was to be authentic, acknowledge her weaknesses and turn them into her biggest strengths. We hear his thoughts on the lessons we can learn from her below. Dr Rainer Zitelmann Photo: Wikicommons - Rajasekharan Parameswaran How Princess Diana Turned her Shortcomings into Strengths
Photo: Wikicommons - John MacIntyre
By traditional standards, Diana was neither well-educated nor intelligent, but she possessed an extraordinarily high level of “emotional” intelligence. The term was coined by the psychologist Howard Gardner, who suggested expanding the traditional concept of intelligence to include not only linguistic and mathematical skills but also a range of other “intelligences.” Emotional intelligence can play a far greater role in building oneself as a brand than the kinds of skills that are measured in traditional IQ tests. And a lack of academic education need not be a disadvantage. It can even be an advantage. Diana was admitted to Riddlesworth Hall Boarding School at the age of nine and while her siblings flourished at school, she was an average student at best. She didn’t leave school completely empty-handed - she did win the ‘Most Popular Girl’ trophy and the prize for best kept guinea pig. From 1973, she attended West Heath boarding school. The modest aims of the school were no secret and the only condition for admission was neat handwriting. But even at this boarding school, Diana’s lack of intellectual curiosity was striking. “The groundwork wasn’t there,” said Ruth Rudge, the headmistress. “As with anyone with other things on their mind, she would go off in daydreams.” Diana left her exclusive girls’ boarding school, West Heath, at the tender age of 16, having failed every one of her exams not once but twice. Diana’s schoolmates remembered her fondly, describing her as a helpful person and “awfully sweet” to her two hamsters, Little Black Muff and Little Black Puff. As her biographer Tina Brown wrote: “Turning over examination papers turned her over inside ... She did, in fact, have a talent that West Heath had already noticed. She had a keen emotional intelligence.” Diana’s favourite books were romance novels by Barbara Cartland, an extremely successful writer who wrote no less than 724 tear-jerking stories. By the end of Cartland’s novels, the shy, inconspicuous heroine has usually won the heart and affections of a dashing prince or gallant gentleman. “In those stories,” confessed Diana, “was everyone I dreamed of, everything I hoped for.” Early on she dreamt of marrying a real prince, Prince Charles. And she was quite capable of systematic analysis when it counted most. For example, she painstakingly analysed the mistakes her sister had made during an earlier (failed) relationship with Prince Charles. Diana proved that big dreams can become reality if you focus entirely on a single goal – no matter how “unrealistic” it may seem. But this is just one side of the story. It is also true that her later disappointment was perhaps, at least in part, because in her youth, the saccharine novels she devoured had created an expectation of a fantasy world that reality could simply never live up to. As Barbara Cartland put it: “The only books she ever read were mine and they weren’t awfully good for her.” Reading quality newspapers was also not her thing. At breakfast she read the emotionally charged Daily Mail, she was a “complete press addict” and devoured tabloid gossip about celebrities and royal families. From her point of view, this was entirely rational. Her precise knowledge of these media helped her a lot in what she was to become a master of self-marketing, which included a thorough knowledge of the press that was most relevant to her. She was not only an avid consumer of tabloid news. To her, the journalists and paparazzi that had been stalking her everywhere since the beginning of her liaison with Prince Charles were not faceless snappers or hacks. Typically, journalists and photographers are interested in celebrities, but celebrities are far less interested in journalists and photographers. It was different with Diana. She knew precisely how to win over journalists and photographers. And she knew exactly which stories newspaper THE DISRUPTORS
readers most wanted to read and which photos they most wanted to see. Diana had made it her business to get to know the editors and chairmen of every important media outlet – just as, back when she was a young, unmarried woman, she had gotten to know the journalists who stalked her. She invited key newspaper editors to private lunches at Kensington Palace. “An encounter with the Princess on her own turf became a full-on multimedia experience combining all she had learned and wanted to project,” explained her biographer Brown. The chief editor of a society magazine reported: “Everything went into the performance of BeingDiana.” Expressing her desire to become a “Queen of People’s Hearts,” Diana had concisely and memorably formulated her key brand message – and had done so just as well as Steve Jobs did when he first marketed his iPhone. So, how did Diana position herself? Of course, she could not just rely on her good looks. Diana – very astutely in this respect – recognised early on that it would have been completely impossible for her to try to shine in intellectual or political arenas. Why try to compete in domains where she could only lose and embarrass herself? Her positioning, her USP, was the “Queen of People’s Hearts.” Psychologically, Diana was an extremely unstable woman with serious problems: she suffered from bulimia; after a fight with her husband, she cut her chest and thighs with a pocket knife; she was not able to develop a normal, harmonious or loving relationship with any of her partners, but was completely unable to have a functioning relationship; and normal friendships were also very difficult for her. The number of her outcast friends grew almost daily. But this was only one side of Diana. Like many people with psychological problems, she was extremely empathetic to the needs of others, especially those she did not know. She probably suffered from what the psychoanalyst Wolfgang Schmidbauer described as the “helper syndrome” in his book Helpless Helpers. The term refers to a pattern of mental problems that are often found among helping professions. As a consequence of their special personality, “helpers” try to compensate for their own feelings of inferiority by becoming fixated on their roles as helpers. In itsmost extreme form, their willingness to help can even lead to self-harm and neglect of family and other relationships, which can result in burnout or depression. She had difficulties in dealing with intellectuals. But she knew how to turn her deficit, namely her lack of education and conventional intelligence, into an advantage. Diana, more than perhaps any other woman before her, was a master of selfpromotion. Pretty much everyone can remember her impressive TV interview and the way she shone and formulated her messages, capturing the hearts of people all around the world in the process. She engineered ingenious public relations coups, such as a book about her relationship with her husband, which she claimed she had nothing to do with. In truth, the book was her idea and she read every word of it prior to publication and even added notes and corrections to the margins of the manuscript. Everyone can learn from Diana: a lack of education and even conventional intelligence need not be a disadvantage if you have mastered the art of turning weaknesses into strengths and disadvantages into advantages. THE DISRUPTORS THE DISRUPTORS Photo: Wikicommons - TechCrunch About the author: Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. He is also a worldrenowned author who has written 25 books, a successful businessman and real estate investor. His latest book: How People Become Famous: Geniuses of Self-Marketing from Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian – (https://how-people-become-famous. com) was published in November 2021.