Well this past weekend, snow notwithstanding, we had our second ITS 25th anniversary Celebration Day and I was really struck with how celebration is also about moving forward in time and celebrating possibilities for the future. One of the themes of the day was very much about confidence and how important it is to understand what kind is needed, where and when, and how there are different kinds. I’m particularly struck by this because later next month I’m going to be talking to about 400 independent financial advisors who have a one day conference put on by MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) which is an organisation specifically for financial advisors. 

The theme of the day is ‘A Confident Future’ and in the present economic circumstances it is a particularly interesting theme because it is of course rather important to know how to boost confidence, whether it is your own, or indeed clients’ confidence in you. Arguably it is one of the most important business skills you will ever develop and the interesting thing is that by using some of the more recent discoveries in the neurosciences, harnessing those with some of the techniques developed with NLP it is perfectly possible to say that whether you want to boost your own confidence or clients’ confidence in you this is now a learnable skill there is no two ways about it. But actually that wouldn’t be enough because if you want to enjoy a confident future you will also need to know what to do when things don’t quite go the way you’d imagined and this is a time when people experience a loss of confidence or even a crisis of confidence. So I think in a funny sort of way the real test of confidence is when it is in some way challenged.

Nobody is just confident all the time. Part of the art of being able to have that resilience, that capacity to bounce back is recognising how important innovation is to being able to be confident about the future; your own and others. This shows up in a mind-set, it is not just about trying very hard but it is a way of thinking. Again, it is learnable. 

Here is an example, there are so many I use when I am talking but here is one: Pretty much everyone I know uses a microwave and you take it for granted but a microwave has a very curious history. It actually came out of the Second World War not by design at all, it was the direct result of one man having an understanding of possibilities. Specifically what happened was there was a man called Percy LeBaron Spencer and he was involved in designing combat radar equipment. At the time, the heart of radar equipment was a magnetron which was a huge piece of equipment, very precision made and consequently very few were made in any given working day which was a bit of a problem for the allies. For instance, in 1941 the production line was about 17 a day and by the end of that year the US had entered the war and a different way of doing it had developed so it went up to 100 a day but that is still very little. By 1945 they had figured out a way of generating 2800 of these a day. While all of that is going on at the same time in 1945, Spencer just happens to be standing in front of one of these operating magnetrons and he has got a bar of chocolate in his pocket and blow me down he finds that it has melted. For a lot of people that would just be a source of aggravation, but of course what happened for him was he became curious and begin to think about possibilities. He went to get a bag of popcorn, puts is close to magnetron and low and behold a few moments later it begins popping. He then goes to get a pale of water, an egg and starts boiling this egg which dually explodes and splats itself all over one of his colleagues. So then he realises this huge potential here and he focuses on how this could be used for cooking. No one had thought of this. The first microwave ovens based on this principle were six feet tall weighing 350 kilograms, so huge they had to be cooled with water and it was not until 1955 that the first domestic microwaves pop up.

But you see there is a mind-set, a way of thinking. It is innovative, it is confident and it creates new  possibilities and that is so much of what we need. That is partly what I’ll be doing with these independent financial advisors but it is also what we’re going to be doing with ITS throughout this coming year. New possibilities, I’ll tell you more soon.