This week has been a bit different for me as I’ve been at the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) spring conference for two days. It has been great to have an in-person event, something we haven’t been able to do for two years. The IPG has over 600 members (publishers and suppliers) and the conference is always a wonderful opportunity to learn what other publishers are doing and to have time to think about some of the wider issues that we are all facing.
Here are a few of the things I picked up:
The importance of lifelong learning
Today’s keynote speaker was Lord Bilimoria, who is founder and chair of Cobra Beer, chair of the CBI and also a cross-bench peer. It was fascinating to hear about how he had lobbied government during the pandemic and his advice for entrepreneurs. He said, and I agree, that to succeed as an entrepreneur you must believe passionately in your business and you must have the ‘guts’ to persevere both when things are going well and in times of adversity.
Lord Bilimoria is a big advocate of non-stop learning. I particularly like the following quote from Mahatma Gandhi which he cited, “Live as if you are going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you are going to live forever.” As I go to the IPG conference to learn, I thought this was very appropriate.
How best to give feedback
Some of the sessions have been very practical. I went to one yesterday entitled ‘How to give bad news well’.
Interestingly from a teaching point of view, the speaker recommended against using a ‘sandwich’ approach to giving feedback, where you start by telling people what went right, then give the areas for improvement, then end on a positive note. This made me think as I’d always thought that it was good to focus on the positives as well as the negatives when giving feedback. The danger with this approach, the speaker said, is that sometimes the key message that you want to get across gets lost, and therefore isn’t acted upon.
On the other hand, a study in the Harvard Business Review showed that focusing people’s attention on their shortcomings will often impair learning, rather than enable it. The key point was that good feedback should be a conversation and have clear outcomes.
Do you suffer from ‘tsundoku’?
‘Tsundoku’ is a Japanese word which means leaving a book unread after buying it, usually piled up with other unread books.
I must confess that, although I am a prolific reader, I do have quite a large pile of unread books! This new addition to my vocabulary came up in a session on the benefits of book clubs. If you like reading and don’t belong to a book club, I would recommend joining one. I really enjoy having the opportunity to discuss the books I’ve read with others. As a result of my book club I’ve been introduced to several books and authors I probably wouldn’t have otherwise have tried and – yes – having a meeting deadline does encourage you to finish a book!
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With best wishes for next week!