Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Interview with George Swift of Bigger Brighter Bolder on the importance of mindset to entrepreneurs
Fresh from persuading dozens of Thames Valley’s business owners and entrepreneurs to walk across coals reaching 1,200 degrees celsius, George Swift from mindset mentoring firm Bigger Brighter Bolder reflects on why he believes its so important to develop the mindset for success.
George has run BBB with his partner Tracey Miller since 2009. Initially set up as a coaching firm shortly after the pair met, the motivational duo started out together by providing coaching sessions to corporate sales teams and entrepreneurs.
Since then, the business has grown and diversified substantially into distinct services; coaching for sporting professionals and teams; coaching for corporates, and BBB Success Groups, a local club for entrepreneurs to ensure they have the right mindset to be successful.
In the sporting arena, BBB notably assisted Newbury Rugby Club to avoid relegation last season. The team was on course to be relegated for the fifth time, and managed to turn around its losing streak by taking part in BBB’s weekly empowerment sessions, motivational workshops and its own bespoke fire walk.
BBB runs bespoke empowerment events for corporates and also runs its own annual empowerment fire walk and workshop at the Regency Park Hotel in October, open to anyone. Having completed his first fire walk in his twenties, George completed specialist training to become a certified instructor and uses the fire walks as a catalyst to implement and encourage fast and immediate change.
“They’re a great tribal experience and are life-changing for most people. After walking over the hot coals of up to 1200 degrees Celsius myself, I realised that they were a great tool for experiential learning. They’re not a gimmick, but a very powerful metaphor for change.
“However, change is not about a quick fix and my take on personal development is that it should be honest and real. Every success story you will ever read tells you it’s a long haul.”
That led George and Tracey to launch the crowning glory of BBB - their unique BBB Success Groups which started in Thatcham in April 2012. Comprising local business people who meet twice-monthly, BBB Success Groups allow like-minded people to meet at mindset mentoring workshops, to set goals, develop the mindset for success and spur each other on.
Now with 32 members and numbers increasing all the time, George and Tracey are rightly proud of the groups’ achievements. One of the earliest members, Carolyne Wahlen from Gap HR, has been inspired by the group to get her first book, an employment guide called “Keeping you out of the rough” published this month. Other recent successes or “wins” as they are called within the groups, are Liisa Henriksson who has developed a music group and product for children called “Moosicology” and Rob Goddard whose business Evolution has tripled in staff numbers while doubling both turnover and profit in the last year while he’s been a member. He attributes his success to setting regular achievable and measurable goals and because he is held accountable to the group at each meeting.
George explained that the Success Groups were developed when he identified a lack of clarity over people’s priorities and that success was dependent on a formula of positive, structured thinking, self-awareness and learning from other likeminded people.
“We decided to develop the groups as we’d not come across anything similar and we wanted to build a team that would support each other. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and we wanted a place that was supportive and positively focussed. Much like a weight loss club, it’s very powerful to be accountable to the group.”
George himself is well-placed to guide others on the path to success. He’s well-known for his no-nonsense workshops which combine his interest in evolutionary psychology and his love of personal development.
However, his own journey has not been straightforward and it’s the adversity he’s met along the way that have helped shape his interactive workshops. With a successful career in sales, followed by a lucrative foray into IT recruitment spanning a decade, disaster struck two years into running his own consultancy. The terrorist attacks of September 2001 saw his niche destroyed and bankruptcy beckoned.
Culminating in the breakdown of his relationship with his partner, the mother of his twin daughters, he realised that only he could change his future life. George decided the time was right to follow his dream of studying animation at university.
However, events had provided a blow to his self-confidence and he found that panic attacks and lack of self-esteem prevented him from attending the first month’s lectures, prompting him to ask soul-searching questions on what he wanted from life. This proved to be a turning point, and from his first lecture onwards, he excelled with a First class honours degree, leading to a Masters degree and ultimately, the opportunity to lecture on the subject he loved. Rather than being competitive and pitting students against each other, his lectures were collaborative and supportive and sowed the very first seeds for Success Groups.
George said: “I realised when I’d been coaching for a while that people had that same chemical response in non-physical situations as in life-threatening scenarios. Based on our evolutionary beginnings this chemical reaction has a huge impact on the way that we think, or feel or do.
“I never just teach for the sake of teaching; everything must help lead to behaviours that lead to a positive outcome.
“The knocks help” he added. “Like in martial arts where we are conditioned to succeed, it’s important to have resilience and the ability to ride the rough times. “I know from personal experience that fear and self-doubt can be hugely limiting to people’s lives.”
Bringing this philosophy to BBB, his interactive seminars are based on a desire to know more about the way the brain works and are based on his realisation while coaching others in kick-boxing and self-defence, that the body’s fight or flight mechanism still responds to threatening situations, be they running from a wild animal or having to give a sales presentation to the Board.
“For me, coaching combines evolutionary principles with a proven success formula. The rules of success are simple; keep showing up and bringing your best.
“People’s biggest limitation is their self-belief,” he adds. “Our job at Bigger Brighter Bolder is to spend time looking at their mindset and empowering them with simple, functional skills they can believe in. My philosophy with Success Groups, like with martial arts, is to arm people with tools that are simple, accessible, functional and effective.”
The plan is now to extend the Success Groups to more locations within the Thames Valley.
George added: “We really want to open the Success Groups up so that more people can benefit. They are amazing and everyone shares the same values, meaning that they’re open with each other and where they’re going. We’ve had lots of new businesses created and alliances made.
“We’re genuinely privileged to be trusted in people’s lives and businesses. Seeing the members enjoy success is incredibly rewarding.”
BBB holds regular briefing sessions for people to find out more about Success Groups. Interested participants are invited to try out a “foundation programme” lasting two months before committing to Success Groups.
For more information, click onto www.biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk
First appeared in B4 Business magazine.