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Pete Cornwell: “The final 10%”
The restaurateur
Pete Cornwell’s first step into his career path as a successful restaurateur, although he didn’t know at the time what was to follow, was a season at a ski resort in Switzerland, working in the kitchen of a busy bar.
 
With three further seasons under his belt, Pete decided that a 2-year Catering Management course was the best way to move his career forward, after which he learned even more from a management role with My Kinda Town, an international restaurant group.
 
With this experience, and at the ripe old age of 23, Pete bought the pub in his village, helped by a £30k loan from his Dad.  Two years later, the turnover had tripled to £750k and his Dad had been paid back with interest!
 
Having run that venue for 9 years, Pete and a business partner then bought the Swan at West Malling and proceeded to invest £1m in a refit, having sold his home to finance the work.
 
Was it worth it?  Well, 12 years later it’s still going strong and is one of three sites under the banner of The Swan Collection.
 
The one site in central London is at Shakespeare’s Globe.  This site houses a bar and a restaurant as well as rooms for events and private dining.  Under Pete’s leadership for the past 5 years, the turnover has grown from £1.5m to £7m – he must be getting something right!
 
So why would someone with such a prolonged upward trajectory decide he needs some coaching?
 
Pete commented “I’ve always been inquisitive about how people’s minds work, what makes them tick.  I believe in self improvement and have read loads of books on people management.  What I needed though was an impartial view, someone to use as a sounding board, someone without necessarily having specific expertise in my sector but with a different skill set which would challenge me and help me to improve.”.
 
Pete did consider a mentor instead of a coach, but at that time felt he knew what he wanted to do with the business, and how.  It was the psychological aspect of using a good coach from which Pete wanted to benefit.
 
The goals Pete set were a mix of professional goals and personal ones, including addressing his work/life balance.  He knew it was important to capture what happened in his coaching sessions and the way he chose to do this was intriguing!  He made notes on a whiteboard and at the end of the session took a photo of the whiteboard enabling him to revisit the work at will, which he does often. 
 
Running a bar & restaurant meant a venue for the coaching sessions could have been easy to organise, but Pete appreciated that the environment has to be right to get the most out of a session.  He therefore made sure that he found somewhere quiet, somewhere private, and all communication devices were switched off.  Visualisation was a tool which worked well for Pete, but a phone ringing or a raucous group at the other end of the room would simply destroy a carefully constructed scenario.
 
Pete has always had a lot of self-discipline, and he made sure he used this self-discipline to put into effect what he was learning and discovering about himself – as he said “There’s no point working through a session and then just leaving it there – implementation is key.”.
 
One of the key benefits for Pete was an increased ability to come out of the business, to work on it instead of in it.  Pete set himself a number of goals through the various sessions and is delighted that they have all been achieved – he believes the process to have been a complete success.
 
Modesty aside, Pete feels he was 90% effective before the coaching sessions, but the coaching facilitated his achieving that elusive 10% to make him fully effective.  The analogy he drew was with climbing a mountain & getting 90% of the way to the top.  Coaching was the oxygen which helped him complete the last 10%.
 

Coaching for Success
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At a time when there is almost as much competition for 'internships' as there is for fully paid long term positions, this has to be good news. That Voluntary Service Oversees (VSO) work may just swing it after all!

This research from the International Journal of Selection & Assessment reports a series of experiments to test whether voluntary work is looked on favourably or disregarded in favour of paid experience.

It seems that recruiters had no significant preference for paid experience over voluntary, what mattered was whether the experience was relevant.

Also a mix of both voluntary and paid experience was rated more highly than paid experience alone. The suggestion is that voluntary work 'rounds out' a career by demonstrating traits that are not brought out in paid work - altruism, cooperation and work ethic.

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This research in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology tested whether we prefer to see a proven track record or statements about future potential.

They matched fictitious CVs of candidates for leadership roles for age and qualifications. The participants rated the CVs expressing high potential to achieve better than those describing track records of achievements.

Whilst the authors doubt that potential would compensate for a bad track record, the suggestion is that 'potential' statements lead readers to 'deeper' thought processing. (Not that I'm sure how that leads to recruitment preference!)

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What Does Your Taste In Food Say About You? Sweet Tooth - Sweet Nature?
Metaphors are being recognised as very important for affecting our 'reality'. So we know that giving someone a warm drink to hold before going into a meeting tends to encourage them to behave 'warmly' during the meeting.

Here's a piece of research looking at the metaphor we use to describe agreeable / nice people. "My sweetheart", "honey", "My sugar" e.g. It seems that the metaphor of sweetness translates directly into personality reality!

People rated as more agreeable seem to prefer sweet foods. People who have a sweet tooth also seem to be more likely to give their time to volunteer help.

It even seems that giving people chocolate can lead them to behave more agreeably and volunteer help more!

So why not try offering your opposite number some chocolate biscuits before you start negotiating with them?

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