David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

I WANNA tell you a story.

Readers of a certain vintage will recognise this catchphrase of crooner and TV game show host Max Bygraves.

Although apparently Singalongamax claimed it was apocryphal and was made up by impressionist Mike Yarwood.

Whether it was true for Max Bygraves, it is certainly right for both businesses and individuals today.

If you can articulate your story in a way that is engaging, interesting and memorable, then that gives you an advantage.

We all grew up listening to stories and even today, you tend to remember information if it is delivered in the form of a story.

Storytelling was the one of the themes of the annual conference we organised for fast-growing wealth management and legal group Progeny last week.

The phrase ‘fast-growing’ is often used but not always correct.

Given Progeny completed one acquisition the evening before their conference and another on the morning of the event, I think it applies in this case.

With its main offices in Leeds and London, the group is creating a national footprint.

The conference was held at the head office of Dimensional Fund Advisors in London.

The presentation space resembled the United Nations or European Parliament, but I’m sure Progeny achieved more in a day than those two organisations.

Given the subject was storytelling, I got author Scott Allen to come and speak.

He has written two children’s books called Llamas United and Llamas Go Large about a team of footballing camelids who enter the cup and then head to the World Cup.

Straight from a two-day tour of London primary schools, Scott brought his llamas into the lion’s den to face 70 wealth managers and lawyers.

And, a bit like the llamas, his quirky, hilarious approach to life didn’t take long to have the audience eating out of his hand – and telling their own stories with gusto.

Also telling their fascinating stories at the event were David Clarke, the former Yorkshire Bank executive who is Britain’s most successful blind footballer and Kevin Sinfield, one of the finest and most successful rugby league players of modern times.

At the end of an inspiring and entertaining presentation I thanked not just David, but his huge three-year-old German Shepherd guide dog called Dennis.

Progeny’s managing director Neil Moles has grown the business rapidly, particularly since LSG Holdings, the family office, invested in the group.

LSG’s chairman, the Italian-born, Swiss-educated businessman Elio Leoni Sceti, spoke at the event.

It is fair to say that Elio’s CV isn’t too shabby.

After starting out at Proctor & Gamble, he moved to Reckitt Benckiser where he worked in six different countries over 16 years before joining EMI Music as global CEO.

He went on to become chief executive of Iglo Group – the owner of Birdseye and Findus – and left in 2015 when it was sold to Nomad Group.

In May this year as co-founder, he launched The Craftory, an investment house for consumer product challenger brands with $300m in investment capital.

He is a non-executive director of the world’s largest brewing business, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, and also wears a knitted waistcoat with aplomb.

Kevin Sinfield’s approach to public speaking is a unique combination of self effacing self confidence, which sounds contradictory, but isn’t and really works.

Many of the questions were rugby related, about his toughest opponents or best team-mates, so I decided to ask him about his experience as a guest at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in May.

Kevin met Harry through his work with the Leeds Rhinos and Rugby Football League and said it was a surprise to receive the invitation.

Mind you, he said his wife was more surprised – the invitation was just for him.

He said he spent the service needing the toilet and found the lengthy sermon by the American Bishop Michael Curry quite a challenge.

As he left St George’s Chapel he had the surreal experience of finding Serena Williams in front, Oprah Winfrey to his side and the Beckhams behind him.

Progeny are a great group of people but growing very quickly, so the challenge is finding a venue that will cope with the whole team next year.

But that’s another story.

:::

BY the time this blog appears, the four men that make up Team Row4Victory will have set off on their quest to row 3,000 nautical miles across the ocean in aid of the British Legion, in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018.

I have written about the team before – former Royal Engineer Duncan Roy, former Royal Marine Glyn Sadler, serving RAF Chief Technician Frazer Mowlem and landscape designer Will Quarmby who also runs a deli with his wife in the North Yorkshire village of Sheriff Hutton.

I asked the boys if they would come along to a two-day event we ran for Sky this week at Bowcliffe Hall near Wetherby to tell their story to a group of the broadcasting giant’s regional managers.

Their message of team work, belief, camaraderie and a wonderfully positive approach to life whatever challenges it throws at you, was warmly received by the audience.

Row4Victory were inspired by Yorkshire Rows, the four mums who completed the race a few years ago.

But the boys’ mission is not just to row across the Atlantic, but to win the world’s toughest endurance race.

To put that in to perspective more people reach the summit of Mount Everest every year than have ever rowed across an ocean.

Given the vagaries of the weather in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, their voyage could take between 35 and 70 days with the team rowing two hour shifts in pairs around the clock.

They are focused on “marginal gains”, pioneered by Sir Dave Brailsford of Team Sky and now embraced by coaches everywhere, and have already worked out how they can each find extra time to row, forsaking sleep.

They set off from La Gomera in the Canaries on December 10 and will row 3000 miles to English Harbour in Antigua, aiming to arrive sometime in January.

Duncan made the point that the hardest part of the Atlantic Challenge is not the rowing but getting to the start line.

Given the costs involved, many teams don’t even make it.

However Row4Victory have combined their military experience with their warmth and humanity to raise the money needed from sponsors and supporters and are now focused on raising as much money as they can for two great military charities – the British Legion and Soldier On! which provides career transition workshops and individual counselling to former service personnel.

Given the contacts they have made and the key influencers that they know, I asked the team what their approach to networking is and what philosophy they embraced in terms of developing business.

Duncan fixed me with a serious, thoughtful look.

“Well, given we are all from Yorkshire, we all believe in the same saying: ‘Shy ducks get no bread’.”

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I PICKED up a glossy magazine in a hotel lounge recently.

It soon became clear that the publication, called Prime, was aimed at comfortably off retirees.

I’m neither.

But I flicked through it anyway, to find out what are the issues du jour for wealthy seniors.

Apparently cosmetic surgery is something more older people are looking to invest in.

And the cover of the magazine had a large photo of Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton du Beke with the headline: ‘The Greatest Showman’.

I don’t know whether even Anne Widdecombe would agree with that.

Have a great weekend.

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