Posted tagged ‘mentoring’

Recent postings on mentoring

April 21, 2013

Sales techniques:

Communicating with the ‘enemy’:


New articles on business in Jerusalem and mentoring

March 1, 2013

Please refer to  and

The blog has moved to:


Michael Horesh

Be honest – do you really give the best service you can to your customer?

December 20, 2012

We all know the expression: “Yes, I give the best service possible”. Now recall that frustrated client or the potential sales that slivered away or that person who criticised you (seemingly unfairly). Was it all their fault? What could and should you have done instead?

I was drawn to these comments by a blog I read this week from Shmuel Hoffman, a wonderful video and film maker in New York. Writing about a failed package for a Jewish youth group, he recalled how the client’s criticism had hurt him. After some honest self-reflection, Shmuel realised that all roads for the blame led back to him and that he had to change his ways, quickly. A few months down the road, the same client gave him another order.

Whenever I learn about stories like Shmuel’s, I recall the eulogy of a close family friend, George, from South Africa. At the funeral, his son spoke about how he had succeeded in business by always giving his best. George had made it his mission to always provide a client with the best opportunity that he could.

I listened to these words, as I was starting up my mentoring business. Simple and obvious enough I thought to myself. And how wrong I was. You see it is not just that you have to do your best, you have to present the package in a manner that the other side feels and understands is the best. In other words, they will realise that they need to work with you.

This week, I made two pitches. Both were top rate. In one situation, as the phone call ended I realised I had not made the “target” appreciate the benefits of what he was receiving. I am still waiting to hear back. In contrast, I started the second call by empowering the person with new knowledge. In turn, this engendered deeper trust in me. The rest of the conversation was far more positive.

Creating a good honest service takes time and understanding and a wider appreciation of different customers. It is a necessary skill that all of us need to possess. The truth is that few of us strive for it on a daily basis. The result is lost sales. Ouch!

An expert lesson in what not do to with US$185 million

October 25, 2012

The average voter around the world is often caught up with the seemingly large government budgets of a million dollars or euros for a local community project. Will there be enough? And yet, globally, the real big sums are often found in international cooperation schemes.

One of the largest “gravy chains” is the budget of the European Union, which spends billions every year simply trying to encourage the pooling of knowledge in technology, industry and education to name just a few areas of interest. For example, Horizon 2020, which commences in 2013 and is geared to ramping up r&d, is valued at €80 billion ($105 billion).

Horizon will replace the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme. This has specifically sought to bring in and exploit the brain power of non EU members such as Israel.

According to Marcel Shaton, general manager of ISERD – the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate, since 2007 some 1,530 Israeli scientists and companies have been given the option to participate in projects valued at €2 billion ($2.6 billion), and the research grants given to Israeli recipients amounted to €570 million ($743 million).

Cool, no? Now to join Horizon 2020 and reap new wealth – fund research, create jobs, and develop exports – the Israeli government has to commit around the equivalent of US$185. To put it crudely: invest 185 million and create billions down stream.

However, according to reports, it seems that Israel, a country that loves to be called the ‘start up nation’, is having a problem taking on this decision, which many would see as a no-brainer. I suppose that Israeli politicians and civil servants are too caught up with the pressing issues of a general election campaign to make the leap.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time in recent months that financial planners in Jerusalem have frozen the hopes of small businesses. Just recently, the funding for mentoring SMEs was simply withdrawn overnight. Advisors were faced with no choice but to abandon their clients. It was stunning and demeaning, but none of that could be felt or understood in the long corridors of the unknown officials.

To show the importance of the abandoned scheme, one mentor wrote to me saying how he had received the following quote from a recent client. “I have to thank you a lot for your help. I have now my 2’nd container from China…..” Real revenues, less people depending on government support, custom duties and taxes for the Finance Ministry, employment. Not bad for sponsoring a mentor a few hundred dollars…………………which are no longer available.

Mentoring, ministers, muck-ups – Israeli conundrum

June 23, 2012

Item One: As a business mentor, I try to encourage my clients to take responsibility for their decisions. My aim is that they should realise how any strategy has consequences, which need to be explored thoroughly in advance.

Item Two: The popular television programme of the 1980s, “Yes, Prime Minister”, wonderfully satirised the notions of citizens around the world. If a government minister makes a mistake, he will never own up to it.

Item Three: The ombudsman in Israel has released two reports in June. The first slams the Prime Minister for his conduct of a sensitive military operation. The second effectively censures the Finance Minister (Steinitz) and the Interior Minister (Yisha’i) for their management of the fire brigade service, following the deaths of 44 people in an inferno 18 months ago.

Let me concentrate on the latter incident, where the ombudsman feels that the two members of cabinet had a “special responsibility” for ensuring that the fire service had sufficient equipment and training.

In response, everyone accepts that this failing can be laid at the hands of several governments, going back possibly twenty or more years. Specifically, Steinitz argues that he was in favour of granting significantly higher allocations, but had demanded a programme of reform, which was never offered. Yisha’i contends that he had complained repeatedly about the lack or resources, but nobody listened.

I am sure that they are both correct. And I agree with Steinitz, when he also says that he cannot be held responsible for a second minister’s problems, everytime he has not been able to allocate better budgets. After all, next people will blame him for deaths in hospitals.

However, when I don my hat as a mentor, both men come up very short, although for different reasons.

Steinitz wanted to hear of detailed reforms before signing a large cheque. Good for him. Nothing is free in life. However, he has a duty to understand that if a situation is so dire, especially when dealing with a subject that can involve life-and-death, then greater flexibility is demanded.

This is a classic case of trying to turn a situation in to “black or white”, when we know that life is full of compromises. Could Steinitz not have released some initial funds?  Steinitz and his team failed to take that wider and more responsible approach.

As for Yisha’i, that he failed to convince the money men to hand out the cash does not mean that he should be censured. However, he is known as one who understands how to secure finance for his political party’s favourite projects. And on the weekend on the fire itself, he is reported to have spent the Sabbath safe with his family in Jerusalem, while his teams were operating flat out in the north of the country. Where was his leadership, and with that comes responsibility?

Bottom line? The ombudsman is correct when he says that government ministers should take a more professional approach. May he and his successor continue to broadcast that message. However, it is a message that he has failed to apply to his own office, which criticised two experienced politicians for the wrong reasons.

As in “Yes Prime Minister”, Steinitz and Yisha’i will shift the blame and life will carry on as normal….except for the families of 44 people.

How business mentoring can make a difference – 6 case studies

June 17, 2012

In May 2012, the BBC announced a series of events to engage young adults in the London borough of Hackney, not normally known in recent years as an area of economic enterprise. Last week, I was invited to attend a radio recording, featuring 6 commercial initiatives by members of the local community, all in their 20s and who had received at least 10 hours of expert mentoring.

The event saw the competitors pitch their hopes and aspiration to a panel of three successful businessmen, who were known in the borough. Although there was a financial prize going begging, it was soon evident that the more important catch were the connections offered by the judges.

Mega kudos to everyone involved – it was a fascinating success. The six projects included: –

  • An aggregation service to compare university courses for school leavers
  • A media studio
  • An aggregation service for start ups seeking legal advice
  • A sports academy for distressed areas
  • Products for sufferers of dementia
  • Fun headwear and accessories

They were all given four minutes to present and a further four minutes to answer questions. With some irony, either they concentrated excessively on their business model but excluded the vision, or the other way around. Of the six, five already had some level of initial sales.

All clearly benefited from the mentors, who had come from different sectors of the business world and had given their time gratis. And one of the consultants told me how they had benefitted from the experience.

It was hard to choose a winner. However, judging from the reaction of the audience, the preferred pitches came from those who valued the “SUCCES” acronym from the authors of “Made To Stick“. Whatever you are selling, it should be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and have a story line”.

That is what mentors will be telling their clients – it is a safe methodolgy to help ensure that your product or service will be around for sometime to come.

Health, choices and mentoring

May 27, 2012

Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

Thus quotes Dr Robert Books on nurse Bronnie Ware. Although, it was only last week when I mentioned Brooks’s discussion on “regrets” and business, I feel that this sentence is extremely powerful and needs further comment.

In mentoring, I frequently come up against people, who seem to have been plodding along quite nicely. Then, almost suddenly, they come to a realisation that they are in a rut. However, on analysis, the truth is often very different. Matters have not been good for ages, but they have been able to deceive themselves until now.

And that is often the fact. We allow ourselves – out of convenience or even from fear – to delude ourselves that all is OK. After all, if we have our health, things cannot be that bad.

How many times have we seen people review their situations, only after suffering by an illness? And it may not be chronic. Some years back, I ripped a muscle in my lower leg following a freak accident. I could no longer charge off to meetings at will. I thought my life was at end end…………until I realised just how many of these appointments were not so important. It proved to be a painful but valuable learning experience.

Similarly, when I sit down with clients and work on their time management skills, I am often surprised by what I hear. I have to encourage and mentor people to utilise basic common sense, when planning a regular day.

For example, so many skip first appointments of the day, because they do not feel so good in the morning. What frequently happens is that they have worked late the previous day and / or not eaten properly. The body is effectively saying “no can do”.

Net result? Having tried to fit in extra work hours, the client loses out on “production time” the following day. Worse, potential revenue may be sacrificed.

So before you have any further regrets, make sure that your schedule is not so heavy that you are mistreating your body. When you understand that limitation, you will realise the scope of your freedom to act.