20 thoughts for business from Sir Mark Elder

mark elder

Described as one of “Britains greatest cultural assets”, Sir Mark Elder is music director of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester and one our nations leading conductors working with the English National Opera, the BBC Symphony Orchesta aswell as assignments all over the world.  I recently held a dinner in Manchester for some customers where Sir Mark attended and spoke for over two hours about some of his experiences.

He is one of those individuals that you can just sit and listen to all night.  I fiercely scribbled notes down, let me share some of his quotes which came out in conversation (in bold) with my additional interpretation about what that would mean for a business.  Here’s 20 things you can learn from one of the countries leading conductors (in no particular order): -

  1. “An Englishmans greatest enemy is his routine” - What elements of you or your organisations routine needs changing, renewing or deleting?  Routine stifles creativity, it’s easy to slip into routine – fight it, stop people going through the motions.
  2. “Fresh champagne, not old champagne” – Sometimes a new player coming in, lifts the whole orchestras performance.  Important to consider if people need to be moved around your organisation, to get their ‘fizz’ back and to provide fresh challenge or whether to bring in new people.
  3. “A performance can misfire but still stay on the page” – This is about resilience and the show going on, despite setbacks.  Learning must be done ‘on the fly’ – in the performance, and you need a team around you that will ‘self-correct.’
  4. “How do you ignite a performance?” It’s a conductors job to inject the passion and your job to ‘ignite’ your team.  Great leaders are a combination of ‘Pyromaniac’ and ‘Fireman’.
  5. “Being a conductor is a combination of head, heart and determination” – Important to understand that as leaders we need to enable the heart, have courage and make balanced decisions.
  6. “If a conductor keels over, the first violinist conducts” – Whose ready to take the stage on your team if you fall over?  Importance of succession planning.
  7. “The oboe always tunes the orchestra” – Which one person or thing is setting the tone for your organisation?   Is yours a perfect note or is someone else nominated to drive the culture to your standard?
  8. “Tell your truth quietly.” – Understanding the impact of big conversations with individuals and how these are best handled sensitively and in private.
  9. “The orchestra must exist separate from me” – In the same way our businesses must be able to function and run without us being constantly present.
  10. “A poor orchestra is a ‘safe’ orchestra who play with no emotion.” Each player must express themselves through their music.  How are you alowing individuals to express themselves and their inividuality?
  11. “The business of conducting is a psychological game” - not unlike the workplace!  People are complex, the chemistry of human performance is complex.  Think through your culture, your assets and ask yourself how you can ‘cook up’ a better outcome by changing or modifying elements of your own behaviour?
  12.  “Champagne without bubbles is a great Chardonnay’ – not everyone can fizz with enthusiasm, particularly introverts.  Seek out the Chardonnay and keep your eye on any extroverts that might be ’going flat.’
  13. “Unless it’s perfect, there’s no beauty” -  What does that beauty translate into in your own team or organisation?  Do people know?
  14. “Rolling a drum takes 12 years practice” – Looks simple, surely everyone can do it? Don’t underestimate tasks that may look operationally simply, they make be complex than you imagine.  Always take time to “understand how the work works.”
  15. “Leave ideas to marinate” – Warren Buffet said “You can’t make a baby in a month by making nine women pregnant” – some things just take time to mature.  Mark said “My chilli is really spicy when its marinated.”  Pressure is for us as leaders to decide everything quickly.  
  16. “A concert hall has to have the right combination of acoustics and size” – Important point about creating the right environment for people to work within to get the best outcomes.
  17. “The Sydney Opera House is a great building, but an awful concert hall” – Who’d have thought it?  It’s an iconic building and loved by Australians all over the world as a symbol of their national pride.  So, sometimes first impressions can be deceiving and some things may not be fit for purpose?  
  18. “You must seek feedback, but keep it to limited people who know you well” – Mark maintains a trusted circle of people who he can trust to give him the critical feedback he needs after a performance.  It is something he seeks a couple of days afterwards, when the dust has died down.  Feedback is key, particularly in understanding your organisational shadow as a leader which is often unintended.
  19. The importance of thinking time.  Mark spends long periods alone to think through his future performances.  He takes time out to access the ‘Alpha’ part of his thinking frequency, essential for a creative person but also equally important for every leader.  Look after yourself, give yourself time to think, away from screens, something I’m always banging on about.
  20. An orchestra has a clear chain of command.  The conductor will always communicate with a section leader but approach a player individually if a performance is not up to scratch.  Like all organisations, chains of commands exit, empowered leaders move across, up and down in order to get the best organisational performance.

Personality Diversity

diversityDiversity remains a hot topic in the workplace, sex, background, culture, size, accent, language – you name it and you’ll find it a debate being had around it.

As organisations become more intelligent, awareness is also growing around the diversity of ‘personality types’ you need in your culture to deliver outstanding results.  Excellent organisations use the differences that exist explicitly to engineer great outcomes, like actors being used in a stage show, cast for different parts or outcomes.

Attending a conference in London last week, Leadership expert Steve Radcliffe spoke of the importance of understanding your ‘shadow’ as a leader, which really resonated with me.  It reminded me of a big lesson learned in my own career when I gained an insight of what my ‘extrovert’ shadow had on ‘introverts’.

If you are an ‘extrovert’ with an ability to ‘think and talk’ at the same time with little planning or briefing, it’s easy to brainstorm.  Take that capability to a room full of introverted sensors expecting them to kick the door in and brainstorm with you, leads to double frustration.  You are frustrated as no-one is taking you on, they are frustrated because they haven’t had time to plan, research or reflect.  A double #fail.

Recognising this, then realising that our brains do not all think in the same way is a powerful tool for any leader.  It can unlock the questions of why some people are quiet in meetings? Why some people need reflection time?  Why some people need to plan? Why some people need time alone? Also to ensure that extroverted personalities don’t dominate your cultural landscape and put introverts in the shadows.  Some of your best ideas will come outside of the room, either through thorough meticulous planning when people are given notice or quiet reflection, where the big ideas can be processed and rationalised.

The lesson here is not to treat everyone the same but appreciate their differences, then use those differences to your advantage.  An organisation needs a healthy blend of all personality types or you risk becoming a ‘one trick pony.’  Sales organisations need to be particularly aware as they tend to be ‘extrovert dominated’ which means everyone likes big ideas, gets running with them and gets excited with bags of energy, whilst others may look on in horror, realising the true practicalities of what needs to be done beyond the hype.

You can get around this with good planning and good questioning, just be a bit more patient and you will get better results.  The qualities of Introverts and Extroverts need to be appreciated in equal measure, their strengths and weaknesses will contribute to better decision making, synthesising of ideas and execution of your plans in your business. Win Win.

Breaking Bad – Chemicals in the Workplace

breaking bad
Occasionally a piece of insight hits you in a big way, something that really gets you thinking.  Attending the Benchmark for Business Visionaries Conference in London this week, an insight from speaker Simon Sinek on chemicals in the brain and how these have an impact on people and ultimately the workplace, was my ‘Breaking Bad’ moment.


The deeper you dive into human performance and the link to neuroscience, psychology and biology, the clearer things seem to get in terms of better understanding of why human beings do what they do, act like they act and why cultures develop as they do.  It’s complex though, unpacking it all, but fascinating.

I’ve long been a fan of developing Emotional Intelligence in self and others.  People with an ability to ‘self-manage- develop better coping mechanisms, emotional armour and adaption to change.  Adding the perspective of ‘chemical reactions’ in the workplace added an interesting dimension for me on top of insights already identified from reading books ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr. Steve Peters.  When you become conscious of something, you can be more aware of behaviour and reactions which have a common theme.

Neuroscience and the role of Dopamine, Seratonin, Oxytocin and Cortisol are things to pay more attention to in the future for better understanding of the human beings you work with and management of self.  ‘Cooking’ the right culture is something that may well be of high value if the results are increased performance and equipping yourself with the necessary skills to be a scientist of human workplace performance.

Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness

As someone that rides around 4,000 miles a year on my bike, I’m well aware of the need for ‘Situational Awareness’ or SA.  As I cycle along, there is a constant scan going on in my mind: -

  • What’s ahead? – Potholes, puddles hiding potholes, pedestrians doing something unexpected, a hill, a turn, a junction, a set of lights, a car getting ready to exit a junction.
  • What’s behind? – Is the car behind getting impatient?  Is the engine revving?  Is there space ahead if someone was to recklessly pass me?  Can I safely move across the lane?
  • How am I feeling? – Am I fatigued? Have I made any assumptions? Am I on auto-pilot?  Am I rushing?

Having a “360 degree view’ in the moment is key to make good decisions.  Situational Expert Dr. Mida Endsley determines it as “…..the perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future.”  SA is used extensively by pilots who need to synthesise significant amounts of information, whilst retaining the ‘landscape’ view at all times.  If you’ve ever watched Aircrash Investigation on Discovery, you’ll know why as many accidents have been caused by a pilot ‘over-focusing’ on one set of data under pressure.

Your own SA can be determined by many factors including stress, poor sleep, confusion, uncertainty, distraction, fixation on one outcome or failing to recognise contradictory statements or situations.  It happened to me only last week, when paying for my lunch.  I was focused on a till LCD which told me one thing, yet I was failing to listen to the operator who was telling me something else.   I didn’t see the contradiction as someone was talking to me in the queue, I was focused on the screen and handed over the exact amount on the LCD, which was incorrect (it was the last transaction, not the total).  Looking back, I was distracted, maintaining two conversations.

SA in Business

Losing ‘Situational Awareness’ in business is easy.  Being over-focused on something, wanting a specific outcome, being under pressure be that time or other, failing to step-back and seeing each issue in isolation, looking at one set of data or not listening are just some of the things that can lead to poor decision making.  Developing your SA, is all about thinking about things in a bigger picture: -

  • What is the context for what am I being asked?
  • What data do I have to help me?
  • Am I ‘in the right place’ to call this?
  • How does this decision impact others?
  • Is there any conflicting information about this situation?
  • Is there a personal agenda at play?
  • Who or what is pressurising this decision or situation and why?
  • How does this impact the future?
  • Does this add risk or de-risk us?
  • What assumptions are being made and are they evidenced?
  • Are we fixated on one outcome?

Making quality decisions is all about ensuring you are thinking wide and expansively, you have to ‘Look, then Think, then Act.”  As business speeds up, decisions can get made quickly, sometimes too quickly.  Maintaining ‘Situational Awareness’ is a key attribute of any leader being faced with multiple decisions.  It leads to better decisions in the long term, so speed isn’t necessarily always a good thing if you want the ‘best’ decision to be made.  SA is also a very good technique to use in your personal life if you’re faced with big decisions, see if you might be able to use it next time something big or ‘out of the blue’ crops up.


hbrI saw this article on Harvard Business Review earlier today, which argues that a CEO should step out of the saddle before losing relevancy.  There are some really well made points about tenure length, growing ‘stale’ and it  leading to a cessation in ‘adaptive changes,’ much of which I agree with. The balancing piece that the article didn’t address was - How do you continue to stay relevant if a leader in a large business?


Speaking at the Telegraph Festival of Business in November, I outlined a philosophy I simply call Out/On/In (OOI) for how I broadly manage my diary.  I use this to dictate how I invest (not spend) my time as head of a large organisation.  It’s pretty simple and looks something like: -

OUT – 1/3 rd of time.  Experiencing, seeing customers, visiting conferences, establishing new relationships, media relations activity, networking, connecting and creating.  What’s changing in the external environment?

ON – 1/3rd of time.  Processing what I’ve seen and the impact it has on our strategy, direction, course, decisions, organsisation.  Reviewing the high level impacts of the things that I’ve seen and experienced for the longer term 3-10 years, so you can always keep  rolling perspective of the future.  What should we change about our direction now from what we’ve seen and heard?

IN – 1/3rd of time.  Being in the business, reviewing process, people, performance and culture.  Dealing with the practical implications of it all aswell as the other things that you need to service a large business as a leader.  What should we change about our practice, process or culture to deal with the changes we need to make?

Staying Relevant

It’s a very simple system and it serves me really well, I don’t run it strictly to 1/3rd all the time, it’s a broad brush.  Some months I’m more in that out.  ‘ON can mean being in the office or thinking ‘OUT’ of the office depending on what’s going on and where I am relating to optimising my travel and diary optimisation.  The key point is this, unless you spend time ‘Out’ you can quickly become one of those CEO’s who do become stale, losing perspective, relying on past data for decisions not the current day climate.  You become the person in the HBR article.

Unless you are feeling, experiencing and seeing what is going on at a ‘meta’ level with the world, it’s so easy to fall asleep at the wheel oblivous to the landscape whizzing by at 125mph like landscape from a train window.  By investing time ‘OUT’ in this way, you can make highly relevant decisions relating to your ‘ON’ and your ‘IN’ that are meaningful for the climate of today. 

As a leader it energises you, pushes you to constantly ask yourself – “What does this mean for us?”   Meeting lots of people, studying organisations, people, cultures and management styles gives you a shot in the arm to ensure you are always keeping up, learning, absorbing and keeping your skin in the game for mood music of today and tomorrow.  If you do that, in my view, you won’t hit a sell by date because you are always remaining relevant my drawing on the now.

Boosted by reading books, being open to everything, staying approachable and always seeking feedback is a framework for staying in the saddle and galloping towards the future – saddle up!

Opposite Attracts!

credit cardToday, I experienced a first.  

On checking out of a hotel, a surcharge of £3.00 was added to the bill for paying by credit card.  As a frequent user of hotels all over Europe, I was puzzled why this charge had occurred and the answer was due to the group wanting go give more ‘transparency’ to their customers – fair enough (Macdonald hotels).  

 As my hotel was booked through an agent, I don’t recall seeing the condition of this charge in advance, nor was it raised at check-in.  No signage was in the reception area, detailing the charge or rationale, leaving quite an awkward conversation with the receptionist who – give her the due – was on message but shared the immense customer disattisfaction she was experiencing on the front line.  
This is about trust and left my sponsoring thought about the hotel group as one of disappointment, despite a lovely stay, nice dinner and good staff.  Customers remember small things and particularly if it’s the very last thing they do at the end of their stay!  That should be the moment of installing the positive attributes of the stay, to ‘bake in’ in the experience.

In today’s expectation and sharing economy, this is a total own goal for me and it reminded me of an innovation process called “do the opposite” – which is when you come at the problem from the other way.  Clearly, the group want to recover to make the cost of credit card transactions visible by making a token fixed standard charge.  Here’s the example above using ’do the opposite’ which turns the charge into a credit: -
Doing the opposite
Instead of adding a surcharge, include it upfront in the cost of the room like everyone else does, rationale being:-
  • Customer isn’t surprised.
  • Customer establishes trust.
  • Receptionists aren’t left feeling trepidation about every ‘check out’ interaction.
Instead, when it’s time to check-out, the conversation goes something like: -
“Here’s your bill Mr. Jones, would you like to take advantage of a further £3.00 discount by paying with a debit card?”
By doing this, you empower the customer to take the choice.  Those that want it, will take it having a little moment of customer delight as they reduce their bill by three pounds, receptionists turn this into a positive and leave the lasting impression as good as the first impression.  People who use company expenses don’t then have to process an additional line on their claim, assuming they can claim service charges back.
Decisions like the one above (let’s charge a £3 surcharge) are often quickly implemented without thinking of the longer term impacts. I was a high yield customer, taking one room but also paying for a dinner for x4 people plus drinks, tripling the size of my bill on its own.  £3 is not an issue, it’s a principle and in a social world, word quickly spreads when a customer feels their trust has been breached.
In a service business, with plenty of choice, in my experience consumers want the cost to be clear avoiding the ‘Ryanair’ moment with a brand.  Small moments like the one above leave a lasting footprint with a customer and what do they do?  They either abandon or avoid future use, unless convenience in some other form over rides the moment.

So what are you going to do next?

 pool table

“Nice shot Dad, but what are you going to do next”. Those words hit me and this blog title came straight into my head. Picture the scene, a bar in Faliraki, Rhodes.  My son and I playing pool whilst my wife and daughter did some holiday shopping.

I’d just potted a difficult ball and was busy self-congratulating myself (helped by a few beers) when I saw the white rolling behind another ball which effectively left me snookered to pot the black and win the game.  There was the business lesson right there, it’s all about thinking one shot ahead.
Reality is, I normally do, however I’d taken my eye off the ball. This was the last shot before the black, competitiveness had kicked in, my need to win had distracted me from the normal process of potting one ball at a time and thinking ahead to the next shot.  There are a few thoughts which came to mind: -
1.  Competition in business can lead you to chase for short term wins with the potential to lose the big picture goal. Adrenalin, excitement and the environment you are in can contribute to this.
2.  Always be aware of pressure and how it can impact your thinking and ability to drill your pre-defined processes.  Elite athletes are taught this way, to simply execute what they do in training day after day, regardless of the occasion.
3. The metaphor for thinking one shot ahead is a great way to think about business planning. If we do this, what would the shot after be and are we well positioned for it? 
4. Every situation is a potential moment for learning, look for the insights.
5. Be quick to reflect on the level of your success before calling in the massed marching bands.
6. There is another obvious one related to alcohol intake, but hey I was on my holidays :-)
Seeing how my son had improved both his pool and table tennis playing skills over our holiday was another important insight about the brains ability to quickly learn and adapt.  Both of us rapidly increased our skill by playing every day, committing to memory (both mental and muscle) the strokes, weight and movements needed to improve our respective games.
Ecoutez et Repetez
Like anything in life, if you systematically repeat something, the brain quickly creates new synapses to accommodate the new information.  A reminder to commit to those things that are important to you through regular review, so that they become committed to your sub-conscious.
During our holiday, I invested time in re-reviewing my personal vision, mission and values aswell as writing a 50 point plan of all the things that I feel are contributory to living a life of happiness, success and unlimited potential. 
This information, processed, documented and validated remains stored in the parietal area of my brain like an auto-pilot or wiki, for constant referral to.  By this regular review, like the table tennis or pool, it can only serve you and improve you by participating and repeating the practice regularly.  
As your brain then runs your systems like breathing, heart regulation and digestion, it can also run your positive direction of travel, improve your circumstances and potential to achieve your goals and make the whole process second nature.  An easy win for anyone wanting to improve their personal success in life.

Grow UP!

 Earlier this week, I spoke at Hull Business Week about a topic I’m passionate about – Unlimited Potential or UP!

I define UP! as being “In a state of mind which allows opportunity + success to flow to you, whilst remaining happy, aligned and committed to those things that matter in your life.”

The deeper I’ve delved into what makes me tick, in modern terms my Emotional Quotient (EQ), the more success and opportunity has seemed to come my way.  I spoke to the audience about a number of different things that work for me personally.  Here are 15 bullet points covering some of the content I covered in no particular order: -

  1.  Create your personal vision, Mission and Values to set your pathway, main effort and moral compass up.
  2. Always be in the right ‘state.’  That is, giving your brain the opportunity to think expansively and at higher frequencies.  You achieve this by ditching devices and partaking in things like cycling, swimming, walking, which moves your frequency utilisation up from the low teen’s to the mid-sixties. 
  3. Focus on being brilliant at being you.  The best possible, highest level of your personal potential, whatever that looks like.
  4. Read the book ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr. Steve Peters to better understand how your brain works and practice positive self-management.
  5. Live Every Day.  Like it was the first day and the last day.
  6. Stop being offended (accept everyone has an opinion, even though it might not be yours).
  7. Let go of your need to win (says more about you).
  8. Let go of your need to be superior (says more about you).
  9. Let go of your need to have more (says more about you).
  10. Be open to everyone, everything (don’t judge, there’s opportunity in everything).
  11. See every opportunity as an opportunity to learn (Every interaction and experience).
  12.  Have the mindset of an opportunity engineer (Always seek to think what the thing in front of you right now could bring to you).
  13. Forgive, Forgive, Forgive (holding onto anger simply weakens you).
  14.  Be “MAD” for it (seek to make a difference to something or someone every day).
  15. Work on your Mind, Body and Soul.  Don’t ignore any one of these.  Read a book a month, stay fit and do things that touch your heart more frequently.

Lead Yourself into the Light – 10 Tips

Over the years, I’ve read a huge quantity of books around leadership from biographies to methodologies.  It’s easy to copy a successful formula if you are trying to develop your leadership capabilities however you may end up not being the true and authentic version of you.

As I rose up within my own business, it started to dawn on me that I got far more done when I spent more time just being me, not trying to be a Jack Welch clone.  People responded to me far more when I stopped trying to be something/someone I wasn’t.  From that point my career rocketed, on to lead the UK organisation from humble beginnings as a fax salesman.

To this day, I could kick myself for the “work mask” that I had developed in my early years.  Only when I began to work with business psychologists in 2000, did I realise the error of my ways.  Over the following years, my leadership style has simply been focused on being the best possible version of me – that’s it.  Let me share with you 10 simple things that I have learned about leadership as a framework which may work for you: -

  1. Being truthful with yourself.
  2. Being truthful with others.
  3. Respecting everyone regardless of where they sit.
  4. Pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL on your past and living in the now.
  5. Letting your true personality come through not what you think other people want to see.
  6. Being compassionate when making tough decisions.
  7. Always giving space for others to give a view.
  8. Being fair.
  9. Admitting your shortcomings and mistakes.
  10. Seeing everyone and everything as a potential for learning.

Back to my opening paragraph, this is not about creating an army of “me’s”.  These are just some of the things that allowed myself to be the best possible version of me, when heading up a large organisation.  I’ve found that the topic of leadership is more about respect.  Respect for self, others and your wider environment, however you define it. When you practice that, it drifts you more towards the familiar descriptions of what “leadership looks like” in a book but with your personality stamped all over it.


The M.E.A.T. of the Matter

More scandal this week as it has been established that Findus Lasagne has been discovered containing 100% horse meat, not beef as advertised.  It’s the latest in the on-going headlines about horse meat being discovered in processed food products, sold by supermarkets and brands.  I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this issue, as no doubt all parties in the supply chain are now busily drilling down to the root cause.

Whilst out riding my bike this weekend, I got to thinking about this issue and what thoughts it triggers within consumers when scandal hits.  Believe it or not, the words that came up happened to make an acronym called MEAT!  Scandals tend to boil down to four major things, whether you are Lance Armstrong, a merchant banker, an MP or Findus.  Generally speaking they tend to fall into one of the categories below.  I’ve made some comment against each of them relative to the horsemeat scandal.

M = Morality.  In the UK, we have an issue with eating horses.  To us, they are primarily pets, not a food source unlike other cultures across the world.  It’s funny how no-one has picked up the taste difference, when smothered in sauces, sugar and colouring!  So, it’s not about the taste, it’s about the ingredients.

E = Ethics.  No household name brand on earth would risk their reputation by substituting constituent ingredients in their products.  The risks are simply too large, starting at shareholder value.  Nestle previously owned the brand up to 2000, but sold rights to Findus Group.  Ethically, major issues like this can set a brand back years and many other food processing businesses will be working overtime to see if they too are affected.  Major brands spend significant sums of money protecting their Corporate reputation and suppliers will have been audited, so there is likely to be foul play.

A = Accountability.  Consumers will want the root cause to be quickly established.  The brand involved – Findus – has already launched its own investigation which points the finger at a Romanian supplier.  They’ve been quick, as with all PR crisis management, to get a statement up on their website.  The major supermarkets will be applying the pressure big time, exerting their full weight on the supplier to come up with some answers.  No doubt they are all busy checking their own brand and private label products, likely sourced from the same suppliers.  Consumers expect you to stand up, man up, and be honest if you are in the frame.

T = Trust.   Consumers put huge trust in big brands, supermarkets particularly.  They take the position that if a supermarket is selling something, then it must be OK.  I bet your bottom dollar that the category manager in charge of the ready-meal/frozen foods category is looking at a chart that shows negative sales for value products in their range.  We (consumers) can be a funny bunch when it comes to establishing who we want to take the hit. Is it the supermarkets or the supplier who will feel the pain of our brand switch?  Worst thing possible for a consumer to lose trust in your brand.

Leadership M.E.A.T.

The acronym works for leaders of businesses too.  Stakeholders expect morality, ethics, accountability and trust as characteristics of the people charged to lead them.  It’s critical that you have these things in order, for example: -

Morality.  Doing the right thing, having a strong organisational and moral compass.

Ethics.  Never compromising your personal or organisational credibility for a quick short term financial win, always play the long game.

Accountability.  Being the buck stops here person.  Calling the big shots and standing behind them.  Saying sorry when you get it wrong.

Trust.  Keeping confidences, doing the things you say, being honest even when the news is difficult, having personal integrity.

In a social media driven world, leaders and brands are instantly accountable for their actions.  News spreads like wildfire, opinion spreads, blame spreads and your reputation can be gone in an instant.  Take the lessons from Findus and apply them to your own business in terms of your business and personal reputations.