REPLAY – Awards International and Leadership with Neil Skehel – E21

Episode released on: May 10, 2021

CX Goalkeeper with Neil Skehel – S1E21 is about Awards International and true Leadership Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Neil Skehel

LinkedIn Headline: 

MBA, CEO and founder of Awards International in the UK, Serbia and UAE. Owner of CXM, (Customer Experience Magazine). NED The Future Shaper Media Company.


By winning an award and by sitting next to Don Hales, Neil started together with Don “Awards International”

Awards International offers outstanding awards in several countries (UK, UAE, Turkey, …)

One of the key success factors of Awards International is the DREAM TEAM

In future there will be several options how to run them. The digitalization (e.g., blockchain, digital platforms) is giving a new dimension to businesses

There is no “new normal” there will be a “new future” with new opportunities, new business models, as the financial flows changed. It is a matter of fact that Moore’s law is forever dead.

The following leadership traits make Neil successful: taking risk, ensuring short decision paths, backing people, always learning if something goes wrong

… and much more

Neil’s Contact Details:

His book suggestion:

  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

Neil‘s Golden Nuggets:

  • “What you recognize is what you get, in other words, you see what you look for. If you look for positivity, you will have a positive life. It is key that you look for the positive side of life to live a better life.”

“What you recognize is what you get, in other words, you see what you look for. If you look for positivity, you will have a positive life. It is key that you look for the positive side of life to live a better life.” @neilskehel, CEO -@awardinter on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast

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Gregorio Uglioni 0:02
Ladies and gentleman, Welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast. It is a big pleasure to have Neil with me, Hi Neil, how are you?

Neil Skehel 0:11
Hi, Gregorio, thanks for inviting me to do this with you.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:15
Thank you very much Neil to be here with us. As usual. I don’t begin with a long introduction, because the best way to introduce yourself, it’s that you explain what you’re doing. And you are you who you are. I’m sure everybody knows you. But the short introduction for your side would for sure help the audience. Sure.

Unknown Speaker 0:34
Sure. Sure. That’s great. Gregorio. So, my name is Neil Skehel, and I am the CEO of Awards International. I’m sure some people will know me, I’m not sure many people will know me, awards international specializes in business awards. And we are the one of the only organizations in the world that specializes in Business Awards alone. And because of because of the independence, because we want we are an independent organization. Giving, organizing awards, award ceremonies and other activities related to that.

Gregorio Uglioni 1:16
Thank you Neil, and I can say that I we get get the first time in contact roughly three or four years ago, with the first international customer experience award, I was participate participating as a participant, and now in the mean time, twice with really good results. And last year, I was Judge at the international customer experience award. And really, you are providing an outstanding quality of these awards. And therefore I am really, really happy to have you on on this show. But perhaps let’s really start with a discussion, we can explain a bit to the audience and understand how did you came to this idea to create such a company?

Neil Skehel 1:59
Okay, well, I won an award. In 2006, I won an award from the British Computer Society for innovation, actually. And I was nominated by our head of it at corporations was Donald’s, because I was a sponsor of a program called Online quality service and cleanliness. And we basically rolled out a lot of measurement tools, a lot of stuff to stores, and for consultants, our field services consultants anyway. So I wonder what not the award, I was sitting next to a guy called Don Hales. And Don, our former chairman. He organized this amazing event at the Hilton Park Lane. And I took my wife and I it was in November 2006 year and I won an award. So I sat next to dawn. And I found that he lived about 10 miles away from where I lived. And over the next year or so we played golf, four times, and but I also judge them for the UK Customer Service Awards and the National Sales awards. And they were great. I really enjoyed the judging. And I really, I really enjoyed meeting the other business people. So yeah, Don, and I played a bit more golf got to know each other better. And then he said to me, Look, I think the Chartered Institute of marketing should run an awards event. Do you want to work with me to put it together, Neil? And I’m like, Yeah, sure. So we put together a proposal. And we, you know, uninvited, we pitched to the Chartered Institute of marketing to run their marketing excellence awards. And they wanted to do it. And so we found that awards International, off the back of it. Incidentally, dollar night, I remember the day we met to discuss setting up the business and we both came up with the same name at the same time. So we both had the same idea. So we were kind of really gelled from from the, from the outset. And yeah, so then we set up the company, and we said, well, you know, the marketing, the charges do marketing paid us to do. And we use that to set up the company. That was actually 2009. And I was an independent consultant at the time. And and actually, I went full time in the company in 2013. So it was a few years before we were able to go full time as we built it up. Basically it was a bootstrap. So bootstrap startup, you know, and yeah, me and Don set it up. So the reason why I am done, I mean Don loves awards. Don loves the fun. Don loved the fun that you have on the award ceremonies. He loved working with people and teams and Did it was very nostalgic for him of when he was quest media’s deputy manager, director of quest media. And he ran lots of awards. And I got the bug from Don, actually, from judging. And then when we started running our own events, it was fantastic. But really, it’s the hidden, it’s the hidden content. In awards, actually, people just say a ceremony, sort of glamorous ceremony. And they, you know, they think, oh, it’s all glitz and everything, but the content, the entries, the subject matter, you know, those are the things what you got to watch you learn about business. Those are what’s going on beneath the surface. And of course, you know, we just put together this book thing called CX inspired which is best of 600 case studies, there’s about 70 different case studies analyzed, which are actual evidence, actual practice, actual, actual CX practice, you know, back to actual, not fictional, not theoretical, not. Yeah, not mythological. You know, like, Virgin is a myth. A great big myth. Although Virgin Money is a great company, I have to say, but not mythological. It’s actual real case studies, real life, business examples. And of course, you know, that’s fantastic stuff. Powerful stuff, inspiring stuff off. And yeah. So that’s how we went about how I went about setting up awards international course. You will know, Gregorio, we were supposed to do this session about or five, six weeks ago, and I didn’t feel in great spirits, because unfortunately, we lost Don and Don died recently, which is very sad.

And of course, we’re going to want to Don at the UK business was the UK business awards is called the Don’s. So we’re going to have a eulogy at the UK business awards for Don. And, yeah, there’s a few other things which might happen in the summer to remember Dom, when we can get back together again. But yeah, so sad passing of time, my business partner, our former chairman. Yeah. And our cut my co founder, co founder of always International,

Gregorio Uglioni 7:17
all the due respect to him and his family for sure.. However, going back to with more our discussion, who was better at golf playing you are Don?

Unknown Speaker 7:33
Me, of course. I mean, Don, was 79 when he died, and we, you know, we were playing golf since he was, I’ve known Don since 2006. So 15 years, so. So he would have been 61-62. Goodness gracious. 63. Which, yeah, but I’m still better than him anyway. Now. I mean, even even even overnight, the same he was then. Yeah. Don loves golf, though.

Gregorio Uglioni 8:07
Thank you Neil. And perhaps, to make that understandable, you said you started and then you you run the first award, and I can fully agree with you. This is an experience in the experience itself participating to an award, but then being at a ceremony being the judge. It’s really it’s really great. To to make that under understandable. Which awards are you offering where in which countries are working?

Neil Skehel 8:32
Sure. I mean, we want I think our biggest claim to fame is the customer experience awards, we launched the UK customer experience was in 2010. Or we held the first one in 2010, probably launched in 2009. And we won the Gulf Customer Service Awards. Now we run the international customers views towards the Gulf customers, Spencer was in Dubai, the international customer experience was historically has been in Amsterdam, we now run a turkey customer experience awards that is in theory in in Istanbul. And I think we’ve got another one in there somewhere. So the customer experience awards is a cluster of events that we do around customer experience. The our UK Customer Service Awards is the biggest celebration of customer experience in the world. Every year. We have about 1000 people meeting Wembley, fingers crossed, we’ll be able to do that this year. So we also have another cluster of awards called the UK Awards, which is a UK business awards, employee experience awards, digital experience awards, and we’re going to be launching a new awards in that group soon. And we have the UAE we do the real estate awards. We do the sustainability awards, and we do the International Business Excellence Awards in Dubai. And we’re going to be launching more soon. More awards and in more countries, as well.

Gregorio Uglioni 9:55
Yeah, I think this is also something extremely important to celebrate success. story and to make some publicity advertising about this discouraged, sorry. And these awards really out to get support in the company outside of the company, in order to continue. You mentioned something that you did quite a lot of awards in the last years. And now due to COVID, you were required to change or to the organization you went to from the in person awards, that it’s one thing to the digital one. And it was possible for me to be judged at the digital version, it means I was part of the international customer experience award of last of last year, and you run that digitally, it was outstanding, from the beginning to the end, it was really a great experience, even if we were remote. How did you came to this idea? And how can you ensure you have this extremely high quality of what you’re offering?

Neil Skehel 10:58
Well, you’re very kind to say those things. I’m sure. Lots of other people have done a good job of running their awards online as well. Somebody did actually say to me that they’ve done that the other day that they thought that the international customers museum was the best award ceremony they had ever attended the online one, which was really, really nice of them to say, which was I was proud to hear people say nice things about them. I mean, Gregorio, I am astounded that we actually managed to pull off some of these events, because I am notoriously chaotic. And, but what what makes the difference, and I think what made the difference for the international customer experience awards was the dream team, which is the guys who worked for awards, international girls and boys work for all was International. A lot of people said that the way that the guys and girls supported the judges supported the panels, the finalists at the event. I mean, we had 25 People working that day, all day, supporting the judges, and that was outstanding, and they were all so helpful and also friendly. And of course, our partners as well. I mean, we got Fred Reichheld to do the keynote. And, you know, it was Greg Melia, who’s the CEO that cxpa Who, who suggested that we go for Fred, and Fred was just outstanding, you know, as a guest, the guy who created the Net Promoter system, absolutely perfectly fitting to be a keynote at the international customers rewards. And our host Ian Golding, you know, partner for with awards international for a long time. In the UK, we promote exclusively promote the Golding six framework with which is a training that he delivers. So, our partners, our dream team, and you know, this, the software’s not that fancy, to be honest, the software’s I mean, Zoom is fancy ish, but we integrated it with our own app for security. I suppose our software’s got fancy, actually. But it seems quite simple now, but they enable the judges to judge in real time and as to collect scores in real time as well. So we were able to have the results, soon as the panel is finished on the day, and you know, so does that answer your question?

Gregorio Uglioni 13:28
You answered my question. And you’re really saying that you’re surrounded of great people. And I think the people you mentioned also outside of your organization, these are the best of the best on the market at the moment. And therefore, it’s quite clear. But at the end, I think you have also a vision in your company and values in your company or something that really push to the to get the best result. And to ensure that error, the details is perfect. And

Neil Skehel 13:58
well, that’s very contrary to say that is it’s, it’s again, I can only say that during the pandemic, you know, you know, it was a shock at the beginning for everyone, you know, it’s no, that’s a sort of understatement, isn’t it? But Boris Leupold and Ivana who’s there, they were managing the company. Most of us in the UK were furloughed and Alexander as well. He, they were running the company. So they, you know, what, when did we go into lockdown? I don’t know. 23rd of March or something. We had our first live event on the 29th of May. That was our first by the time we got to the international customer experience. That was that was our eighth our eighth online event. Yeah. And then of course as soon as we could. We then held the Gulf customers awards in February live, actually in Dubai. And I think I went to that No, I didn’t. I wasn’t allowed. I wasn’t allowed to go. That’s why we’re still not allowed to go. But yeah, I mean, they’re good. They’re good. They got the momentum. They planned it, they practiced it, they, you know, they come to me for some ideas. I have a few crazy ideas. And I just sort of go, Yeah, let’s do it. You know, and I’m quite happy to take risks. I don’t have to think about stuff too long before I decide whether to do or not. I mean, the customer has moved towards literally, that when I had the idea of doing the customer service awards. It was a it’s a word that I had heard, and I and I actually developed a customer speech program in 2005, with McDonald’s Corporation. So it was something that had been brewing in the background, I just thought, I don’t want to launch it as a customer service, or was I don’t think it’ll have competitive competitive advantage. I see. I think we call the customers principles. And that’s it. We just watched it. But that was in Yeah. But so I’m quite happy to take risks. And I back and I will back people. I mean, I’ve backed quite a lot of people. And sometimes it goes wrong, you know, sometimes it goes wrong back some people can goes wrong, but, you know, you live and learn, and I love and actually one of the things that I really enjoy, and I thought about this only recently that I sort of reflected and thought about what am I what am I like, you know, I don’t actually think about myself like that very much. But what am I like I like to, I like to nurture people. You know, it sounds a bit, sort of, I hope it doesn’t sound pompous anyway, but I love I love employing people. I love giving people a chance to have a career. And we have got some great people working for us. And I’m thinking today, I’m just thinking today and thinking a lot at the moment. Because I’m not getting any younger, I’m thinking a lot at the moment, how can I? How can I get that more out of them? How can I get them to be more free? How can they think and innovate and and get rid of me? How can they take over and not have to ask me for anything. And in fact, my guy in Dubai, Alexandra Ilitch he’s doing that he moved to Dubai, for us, we moved him to Dubai for like, and he’s now living in Dubai with his wife. And so I mean, what an opportunity we’ve given him, hey, but he’s also helping me, you know, he’s kept the company going into by he’s kept the events going in Dubai, through the pandemic. And he’s, he’s, he’s on fire, he’s on fire. So, you know, it’s, and I haven’t had to train him. You know, I don’t have to train him. He’s a, he’s a, he’s a natural leader. So we’ve got someone good there. But he gets it, he gets it. He kind of loves He loves the events, you know, he gets it. So promote the guy and give him an opportunity. And we’ve got other people like that. So I’m looking forward to seeing those guys, you know, doing this, not me next time, something like that.

Gregorio Uglioni 18:16
Perhaps this is the true leadership, meaning that you really understood what what leadership means. And it’s your role, that not everybody needs to come to you and to ask you questions, because then you would be the bottleneck, but you empower people in order to provide this quality.

Neil Skehel 18:33
Some people would tell you that I’m a control freak. But they’re the ones who needed to be controlled.

Gregorio Uglioni 18:44
At the end, I think, unit, it’s also the role of a leader in to understand outwell people, and were to ever look or ever look into the details or give giving the freedom the freedom

Neil Skehel 18:55
to Yeah, but if you think about some of the people that I’ve given opportunities to Yeah, I mean, I’ve given them I’ve given them empowered them and trusted them. Yeah. And yeah, definitely.

Gregorio Uglioni 19:10
Perfect, and and perhaps also going through the leadership to your digital skills, because you went from remote to digital. And what’s the future of word International, it’s completely digital. It’s hybrid. What’s your view on that?

Neil Skehel 19:27
Well, I think we’re not going back. We won’t be going back to normal. You know, I love it when people say can we get back to normal? I think I think I think there’s gonna be boats I mean the international events, you can get much greater participation if you can bring people into the event from around the world from their from their timezone. So we’re looking obviously at the international customers who’s always in Amsterdam, which will be in November and So it’s a good chance it’ll be in Amsterdam, there’s a good chance we’ll actually do a live event in Amsterdam. But we will do it hybrid, we’ll do it online as well. We’ll do it we’ll we’ll do it like a Toyota hybrid. And we will do so the judging can all be done, live, but are up from around the world. We did it before we did it in 2019, actually, in a Anita S., in Australia, judged at the international customers mentors in 2019, from Melbourne, Australia, and we had two finalists from Melbourne, Australia, from Australia, in the 2019 international customers municipal. So that was that was a that was a headstock so that that that there will be people who will want to go as well. So people from the Middle East love to come to Europe. So they love the fact that the event is in Amsterdam, so they’ll still come people from Europe and Northern Europe, love the Amsterdam thing. But you know, maybe people from Australia, San Francisco, you know, South America, maybe they will will do it online, instead. So I think the viability of the the hybrid brings a great new dimension. I think also we’ll do some events online only. Right. So for example, the small businesses, small business we’re doing the UK business was at the moment, and it was free to enter for SMEs and startups, for micro businesses and startups it was free to enter. The process is the same, the judging process is the same. There is an award ceremony. It’s online only. But because we want to help UK building back better, we want to recognize identify a great initiatives and how people have survived and how they’re going to thrive. And that’s what we want to do. So we’re not going to so that there’s there’s only an award ceremony. So it’ll it’ll only be online. And and it’s also, you know, giving opportunities to business to show that they’re award winning, without all the expense and glamour of a great big venue. So we’ll we’ll do it like that. In future, because, obviously, startups, micro businesses can’t afford three or 4000 pounds per table, you know, and so on, so forth. So it’s given us new opportunities. And it’s interesting, actually, the world of business has changed, the world of business has changed. We are seeing different revenue patterns, different way of purchasing, and people buying different things. So a lot of businesses have been, depending on sponsorship, sponsorships kind of gone out the window, but customers are asking for different things. I’m not going to reveal exactly what but we’re seeing revenue patterns, and what people what businesses have got budgets to spend the money on has changed. So you asked me the vision for the future. It’s going to be about hybrid events. But I think there are new financial opportunities, there are new commercial opportunities. And so I think we’re going through a process at the moment of, you know, re planning, we did so much re planning last year, you know, like we were seeing so many business plans based on this scenario, that scenario. But now we’re actually sort of looking forward to the future and thinking things are changed the old business model, there’s no going back to that. So we need to think about the new business model and a business model going forward. So this is a chance for me, I was thinking about this, I was thinking, you know, let’s make this division of my management team. Let’s make this the vision of the Dream Team, not Neil’s vision. So it’d be interesting to hear what they say. And I mean, and they are, you know, certainly, you know, interested in investing in these commercial opportunities. So, it gives you a flavor of what I’m talking about. You know, business is evolving fast business has changed at the speed of light in the last year. We have progressed, Moore’s law is out the window, you know, Moore’s law is so that every 18 months or something, chips or chips, size doubles, and computers, double their speed or something or half their price that was half the price twice the speed. So, Moore’s law, and it’s done is gone. The Moore’s law is too slow.

Now, Moore’s law is just it’s, it’s in the last year, I don’t think we’ve gone 10 years, I think we’ve moved forward 1520 years, and a lot of people haven’t quite maybe worked that out. And but in certainly in terms of technology, the way the world works, the way money moves has just changed accelerated. And there is this thing called blockchain. You know, and I don’t hear too many CX is talking about blockchain, but I think block chain, the speed of change of technology, I think digital platforms, I think the the world is a different place, I think. And I think business is different business is going to be different. And some people are still sitting there saying, you know, so you know, it’s not not that much different to when I was a kid, you know, or, or three years ago or, you know, Mike, you know, independent consultants have left their careers, and they’re not no longer steeped in businesses anymore. And if you’re in business, and you’re operating a business, you’re seeing that, but if you’re outside looking in, it’s not so easy to see it. So I’ll be I’ll be interested to see where we go, where we go.

Gregorio Uglioni 25:43
And we’re excited to get some news in future looking forward.

Neil Skehel 25:48
Well, you know, we’ve got the judge club, right. So the judge club is an example of, you know, we did it, there’s been a bit slow, we were going to do it before the pandemic, but it’s a different way. It’s a different way of, of building loyalty. And lots of, you know, LinkedIn is a wonderful business tool. But my God, there’s some junk on that thing, you know, and there’s some, and I’m just sick of being spammed, you know, I love LinkedIn, I sort of, you know, the last 10 years, I think I’ve stopped, we’ve been there since the beginning. I think it’s a great tool. But God, you get some spam. And it’s also increasingly nasty, isn’t it? You get some, get some nasty people on there. You know, and business is not about that sort of stuff. You know, you get people complaining about blokes harassing women on LinkedIn. I mean, my goodness, it’s a business environment. So I think I think some I think that the judge club, and I think things like, you know, Claire, musket launched women in CX, which is this network, I think that there’s some, there’s some interesting stuff going on there too. So those kinds of things, but also the technology is technology’s just moving on swiftly. And like I say, Blockchain is going to be interesting. I think there’s a lot of, it’d be interesting to see, you know, the the, I think it’s called article 13, the European Union copyright laws, it’ll be interesting to see what happens because of that. There’s a lot of plagiarism on the internet, I get, I read it people, I mean, I write the content for some of our websites straight out of the top of here, right straight out of the top of here. And I can tell you now that none of that content is come from anybody else’s website. And I go to somebody else’s website, and I read it there. And I think you’re not very original Are you? But stuff like that has to has to has to it has to stop. And it’s not only in it’s not only in like awards, but I think I think CX I think there’s quite a lot of quite a lot of it’s very exciting time in CX To be honest, there’s quite a lot of people having the same ideas at the same time. So we put it like that.

Gregorio Uglioni 28:01
Yeah, I fully understand what what you’re saying. And I also see quite a lot of these new clubs groups popping up. And I joined the Judge Club.

Neil Skehel 28:12
Yes, yes, you posted this morning.

Gregorio Uglioni 28:15
Because I like it very much. And basically, this is the feeling of the community being a judge embracing the opportunity to have exchange with other judges. And I know that there is something like an instance, that’s you that it’s award International, selecting the people because on LinkedIn, everybody can join. Everybody is a CEO, if I look at the connection that I have, every third person is CEO, more than happy to have so many connections to CEOs, but I’m not sure that they are really all the CEOs of what they are doing or of the of their business.

Neil Skehel 28:48
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’d like to post the other day is some woman in Asia took a baby to work. And she never commented on it. They got 100,000 views. I’m absolutely convinced it’s fake. I’m absolutely convinced it’s fake. You know, and I’ve had lots of job job applications from Pakistan since it’s been a while why people have messaged me, jobs anyway,

Gregorio Uglioni 29:17
that my best example is 25th of December. It’s Christmas. I got a DM if I wanted to buy something. One day later, 26th of December, I already got a reminder. Did you checked my message to you wants to let’s have a call this week and say sorry, but I am on vacation. It’s Christmas time. Why should I reply if you didn’t reply me, delete. Sure. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you very much. Now, I think we had the discussion about our words International. It’s the audience got an idea and for sure, I will share in the in the notes also the link to the website. Now it’s time to learn a bit better About You. And therefore I will ask some some question now we know that you like to play golf, and you’re really good at playing golf.

Neil Skehel 30:07
I didn’t say I’m really good you asked if I was better than dumb

Gregorio Uglioni 30:13
That’s correct. And I’m I’m okay. How can you ensure to have a proper work life balance or life work balance because you’re doing quite a lot of stuffs. You have quite a lot of ideas. You are you are involved in a lot of projects.

Neil Skehel 30:30
Yeah, I am. It’s a great question. And good Korea, but I would be lying if I said, I have got a great work life happens. So I am not. I think my kids would say, I’m always working seven days a week, even Christmas Day, but because our company is in Serbia and Dubai and UK, you know, we don’t even have the same Christmas as people in Serbia. And there’s not as important by so you know, sometimes you do end up thinking Western. What I would say though, is I like my job. So I don’t think about it like that. And when I do, I just turned it off. But I have also got um, so there’s a tip work for yourself, sadly, our own company and then you can you can turn it off when you when you’ve had enough, but that it’s been really difficult this year. Last year though Gregorian, isn’t it, I mean, you know, I literally Sunday’s a roll out of bed, have my breakfast straight to the computer, you know, and then working in the evening, fall off the computer and roll back into bed, you know, if you have to consciously decide to not to do that. I have got quite a lot of other interests. So I mean, I met my wife aren’t college. So um, I was actually an artist, a student, and she is an artist as well. So we both you know, we like art. We like stuff like that. And I like to watch quite a nice series on telly on amazon prime at the moment actually got a lot of I’ve got the BFI British Film Institute channel. And I love all the art movies and I watched a movie about Egon Shula the other night, so you know, and I really enjoyed seeing his landscape paintings in which he was famous for his finger painting, but it was really nice to use landscape painters. But I’m also I like to watch films as well. I really crazy about films. Favorite film is snatch. Actually, funnily enough, I don’t even know it. He knows next about diamond robbery. It’s really funny, funny film. I like I like classic movies as well like Fellini and people like that Italian black and white movies. But I also play golf pay guitar, I’ve got a lovely garden, spend a lot of time in the garden. I’ve planted probably 1000 Trees since we moved here. I’ve got 2000 plant bulbs arrived this morning, which I got to plant out this weekend. So I spent a bit of time in the garden. But also, we have we my wife and I are encouraging a lot of wildlife into our garden. So it’s really nice to see all the different wildlife in the garden makes you feel great hearing the bird song of hundreds of different types of birds or birds in the garden anytime. So it’s just lovely to open the windows or in the morning. Just hear the bird song. And and you know, we’re relatively far from the town here. So it’s very peaceful place where I live. So I’m very lucky in that respect. So that that all helps. I mean, last year I spent from March through to October, I worked outside nearly every single day, which is just a nice thing to do, sitting in my garden sitting outside with a Wi Fi and so on. So I’m very lucky. I’m very lucky that I do those things. It makes you good. But also I’m you know, got my wife and I got two kids and during my kids are, you know, not not so young. My son is 29 My daughter’s 27 My daughter’s going to Australia for four years to a PhD in August. But we managed to spend she spent three months at home. So that was great. And that was wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for working from home, you know, and she she didn’t have she didn’t there’s no sense renting a place in Norfolk. So she came home for a few months. And my son as well. He got caught here in December. He came for Christmas and then couldn’t go back. He went from December 23 to march 8, he started teaching again, in maths teacher in London, he went back to London. So I mean, really, I was more than I could dream about to have my son and my daughter come home for a number of months, you know, and it was great and it really enabled us to engage in a way we hadn’t really engaged before and catch up and got to know each other. Certainly thing to say but Yeah. So you know, you know, having your families and being in touch with your family and stuff is also good for your work life balance or your mental and your well being, you know, and so I hope that helps answer your question to some extent.

Gregorio Uglioni 35:16
Sure. Thank you. And I think you mentioned two really important things. One is the mental health. Because without that you cannot work. And the second one, it’s the family, we have to say we are sharing the same values. My son is four years old, therefore is always at home. But I really enjoy working from home because if I open the door is here, and then I can join us enjoy

Neil Skehel 35:38
four years old. That’s lovely. That’s so lovely. What’s his name? Gregorio. Edoardo. Edoardo. Lovely. Cool.

Gregorio Uglioni 35:46
It’s not always perfect.

Neil Skehel 35:50
Four years old. Yeah.

Gregorio Uglioni 35:52
This is part of life.

Neil Skehel 35:54
Yeah, no. Are you guys getting locked down in Switzerland?

Gregorio Uglioni 35:58
Yes, we are seeing a lot. Yeah. All right. So

Neil Skehel 36:01
yes, yes, today is the day when hospitality begins to open again in UK. And they can serve pubs and restaurants can serve outside. But it’s a bit cold at the moment. But I think I think in a couple of weeks, they can start serving indoors if the numbers are right. And we’re hoping I think the government believes that by June the 21st. There’ll be no social distancing. That was the aim. So I think we’re all a bit skeptical about that now. You know, I think the government started saying, Well, you know, we’re not so sure about these other variants. And we may still have mask wearing, we may still have to do some social distancing. But Goodness gracious, do I need to get out? We all need to get I want to go, I want an office, I want my office back. Office is something you know, it was it’s been great to work from home so much. And we’ve recruited new employees who have said to them, Well, you know, we’re going to be working from home for the foreseeable future. And that’s been fine. But you know, what, they’ve all worked too many hours, we’ve all worked too many hours. And we need to stop that. And we need to, you know, get back to the office, or we need to get back to some more regular as, and that’s what the office brings. In. So many people have sort of talked, they talked last year about, oh, it’s good, that we’re all working from home, you know, the benefits for all employees are, are wonderful. But you know, it’s like everything, there are unforeseen consequences. And it may be working from home isn’t all it’s, you know, we thought it was going to be there’s, there’s some real issues with working from home, whether it is about your perception of the company, you know, your perception of the profits that the company makes, you know, if a company used to have a massive building in the city of London, you know, and it sells it, and you now work from home? Who’s gonna get a bit? What’s the what’s that about? What how’s that? How’s that work? You know, there’s all sorts of things that identity, you know, health and well being communication, loneliness, empathy, there’s so many things that happen in a workplace, that building that are not happening on in a remote environment. I mean, I’m sure sure. So, you know, maybe people go to the office less often. Yeah, that’s fine. That’s a good thing. Less travel less cars on the road, that will be lovely. But you know, you told me that one of the unforeseen consequences is that nobody’s using public transport in Switzerland, so the roads are even worse than they were before. Right.

Gregorio Uglioni 38:48
Exactly. Yes. That’s, I think, what what you’re saying is correct. And we have enough content for our next podcast, together with you. But let’s finish the first one. First, perhaps is there a book or that you say that you’re saying, I’m reading or you would suggest to the audience? A book?

Neil Skehel 39:11
Yeah, ha, CX 3. I wrote the foreword. You wrote a chapter. Correct, Thomas F., Tom F., our business writer wrote a chapter 24 years old his and loving his job into CX into employee experience. Yeah, I’d recommend that book to start with.

Gregorio Uglioni 39:33
Thank you for the advertising. Yes, I think so!

Neil Skehel 39:38
my favorite book is called War and Peace by Tolstoy. Is that right?

Gregorio Uglioni 39:45
Yes. Tolstoy says it’s correct.

Neil Skehel 39:52
I will. Oh, that’s right. Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings. See, I’m getting old. I read I read I first read it in 2003. And then I read it again. And I just love the story of Napoleon’s march on Moscow. And, and what Kutuzov did, and how could dissolve was treated by the Russian leaders. And it is such a wonderful book about about people about the world. Obviously, Russia, I mean, I read the translation. I didn’t read Russian. But there you go. It’s my book recommendation. It’s a bit of a long one. But it’s a good read.

Gregorio Uglioni 40:39
Thank you Neil. And the very last question is, the golden nuggets, Neil’s golded nugget is something that we discussed or something new that you would leave to the audience.

Neil Skehel 40:50
My golden nugget?

Gregorio Uglioni 40:52
yes. Okay.

Neil Skehel 40:55
So I think it’s something that I find very hard to live up to myself. But I believe in it, I believe it. Yeah. And you have, there’s many different ways of saying it. But I think if what you recognize is what you get, what you recognize is what you get. Another way of saying that might be to say, you see what you look for. If you look for the positive in everything, you will have a more positive life. If you see the glass is half empty, you will have a half empty glass. It’s like people who complain, I read lots of people on LinkedIn complaining, they love to slag off or you know, berate a company delivering bad service. You know, it’s easy. It’s so easy. It’s so easy and sad. Say something positive, you know, do something positive, see something positive? recognize someone for what they did look for the positive, catch people doing something, right. So yeah, that’s my gold nugget for a better life. And for my for me, I want to do that more and more and more and more.

Gregorio Uglioni 42:29
Thank you very much. It was great discussion with you.

Neil Skehel 42:35
Thank you, Gregorio. Lovely to chat. And I look forward to next one.

Gregorio Uglioni 42:39
Sure. More than happy to have that and to have you on the show. And also to the audience. Thank you very much, Have Nice day bye bye

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