Why Peer to Peer is the preferred style of learning | Cloud9 Business Coaching

Why Peer To Peer is the preferred style of Learning.

Recently I was privileged to be awarded a government contract to deliver peer to peer learning amongst 250 SME owners in Suffolk and Norfolk.

For 16 weeks we met for 2.5hrs every week/fortnight and chewed the fat over current affairs.

My vision for the programme was to create intimate groups of talented business owners, who would build trusted relationships and share their real vulnerabilities.

For some this was their first experience of self-development and lots admitted that if it wasn’t for the pandemic, they would not of allowed themselves the luxury of taking the time out for their own personal growth.

One guy shared with me that it had made him feel both stupid and angry that this support had been offered to him in the past, but he always turned it down due to the day to day demands we all face, but now he realises that he would be so much further forward if he had taken that step back and allowed himself the time to take a good look around and worked on the skills gaps of himself and others within his business.

I believe that Networking can be fake!

This is not a view shared by many, but think about the purpose and predators found at such events.

The business card grabbing opportunists who spam your inbox pushing their products or services with emails suggesting how lovely it was to have met you, when in reality they asked you for a card, they didn’t get to know you, they are not interested in your challenges, and care even less, their motive is to win new business, end of.

We all know that we like to do business with people we like, and people who are similar to us.

We feel uncomfortable referring someone who we don’t really know or trust, yet the traditional style of networking encourages us to pass leads and refer because you are targeted and judged on the number of leads you bring to the party. A personal pet hate of mine.

Peer to Peer learning is so much more than networking, although it is a great example of how people who build a trusted relationship will naturally work together but through choice, not obligation.

Smaller and more intimate groups of likeminded business individuals breed trust, honesty and support much faster due to what is shared, which is commonly someone’s most inner emotions and struggles.

I refer to the peer group as your trusted board of advisors, you non execs, we are there to challenge your status quo, to nudge you out of your comfort zone, to help find answers and solutions to every day challenges, and to calm the fear in owning a business in today’s uncertain world.

With this in mind, I am particular about the individuals that form the peer groups, as I want to ensure that we have a mix of personalities and experience, with a diverse collection of skills, this will give us the best foundation to challenge, question and enrich each other’s lives and business.

My golden rule is no ego’s, we all have an ego for sure, but it’s how we use it that matters to me, a good peer group facilitator will ensure that everyone has equal air time, that the support and guidance offered comes from a non-judgemental place, that everyone feels equal and the imposter within us is tamed.

5 Reasons Peer to Peer Learning is the preferred style.

  1. It provides a platform which feels safe enough to share real challenges, which non business owners would simply not understand.
  2. It allows regular time to step back and reflect on your own performance as well as the results you are achieving in your business.
  3. It reassures you that others experience the same challenges in business.
  4. We realise that we don’t know what we don’t know, but by surrounding yourself with clever people increases your knowledge and skills.
  5. Business loneliness is real, even amongst the brave, it’s always good to talk.

Peer to Peer offers long term sustainable business friends who are able to offer an objective view because they are not emotionally attached to your business, but because of the relationship you have formed have an invested interest in your success.

Life In Lock Down – Week 18

Entering into week 18 of lock down seems unbelievable.

I feel that lock down means so many different things to us all now.

What does it mean to you?

It feels as though the emphasis is now on us the employers, to get our workforce back to the office, which depending on the size of your team is easier for some than others.

How do you feel about this?

Many have already returned to work and it is business as usual, some of us plough on working remotely because maybe we have child care commitments, we feel safer at home, sales do not meet the demands of a full team, or we simply don’t have the safety equipment or resources to prepare our office for return.

For me, it is a mixed bag, I am generally coaching from home, but am also attending meetings and visiting clients upon their request.

So what’s next?

There is so much talk about change, adaptability, flexibility and the new norm, so do we need to change what we do?


I believe that we should constantly look for change, the pandemic has forced us all to change our habits and the way we work and live.

The reason it came as  such a big change is because we can get caught up in our own comfort zones


We do the same things because it works, so why change it!

If we don’t change we will not grow, we need to ask ourselves can this work better?

This is my role, I ask the questions you wouldn’t ask yourself!

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you change things for the sake of it, but if we are not asking the right questions we will not evolve.

How often do you review your products and services?

So many of us jumped on the online band wagon recently because it was the only way to deliver our services.

What if we had offered this before, think of the time we could of saved in travel alone.

When asking yourself the questions, make sure you are answering in the eyes of your audience and not you the business owner. Good luck

Life In Lock Down – Week 15

I think that most of us back in the middle of March did not imagine that 15 weeks later and heading into July we would still be in lock down.

There is light at the end of the tunnel however, with major restrictions due to be lifted this weekend, I wonder how many sore heads we will witness on Sunday as a result of the bars and restaurant’s reopening on Saturday.

I was delighted to hear that the Milsoms group are reopening this week, as this is my chosen venue for my Mastermind programmes, and I cannot wait to see everyone in the flesh again after months of Zoom.

However here is a question for you:

How willing are you to attend a full day event with more than 6 other business owners inside a venue??

My fear is that although for many of us, it is pretty much business as usual, our customers may not be as eager to do business with us as we think.

For over three months, we have proved that we can be adaptable, innovative, and create different ways to encourage our customer to buy from us.

I am so proud to be working with SME’s and witnessing such talent and skills to achieve business growth during recent months.

I do feel that we are not out of the woods just yet..

I am never a negative Nellie, and I am really sorry if it comes across this way.

I just want to encourage you to stay focused and continue to do what you are good at –

adapting to the next phase, your customers maybe fearful still and we need to give them confidence and options.

That doesn’t mean that we need to give up on growth in 2020.

I mean the opposite, please do not be happy with just surviving this year – this is your time to thrive!!

Your recent actions and your mind set over the next 6 months will determine your growth.

Lots will reopen their business with caution, however, I believe this is no time for a tentative approach, we need to show confidence, clarity and strength.

In every recession there are opportunities, they are everywhere, are you taking the actions needed to maximise them?

Surround yourself with clever and positive people, don’t enter into a pity party.

Continue to innovate and be creative, continue to adapt and serve.

My business, Cloud9 was due to launch another cohort of Masterminds in April, this was obviously not possible.

I am now scheduled to launch in September but if the confidence is not there, I will adapt.

I will launch an online group Masterclass and look at getting together again in January.

My point is, I will not sit back and wait until September, I will take the action needed now to protect my growth.

What decisions do you need to make to ensure your business will grow for the remainder of 2020.

My role as a coach is to help my clients businesses grow, working together we focus on the right action to increase profits and achieve the results they deserve.

What action will you take this week?

Life In Lockdown – Week 14

Life In Lock Down continues into week 14.

With social distancing rules expected to be relaxed to 1 metre today, how will this affect your business?

Hospitality, beauty, and education are waiting anxiously to learn their feat this week, with one third of their annual turnover wiped out from this pandemic it will take strength and tenacity to find the energy to push on.

However too many business owners are still sitting with their heads firmly stuck in the sand, or hanging on every thread of worries about tomorrow and the future.

The only guarantee we all have is that tomorrow will come regardless if we are ready or not, and many will not be.

I believe that right now we need to demonstrate strong leadership.

Now couldn’t be a better time to invest in your leadership skills, I believe it is this that will set you apart from your competitors.

I think many of us are expecting a huge spike in the number of redundancies in the next few months, as the furlough scheme changes and demands employers to contribute to their employees pay.

This will result in our organisations being leaner than before.

We will need to achieve more with less.

With a leaner team and maybe less resources we may be asking for more from our team, here is where the leadership comes in.

We need to retain and develop our talent, we will need our top performers to support us and our customers.

With anxiety and fear being at an all-time high, your employees need to see confidence and clarity.

Your team expect and deserve for you their leader to have control, to communicate clearly and with a consistent message and help them to serve your market.

Take control, get the support you need, find a coach or a Mastermind group to be your sounding board, so you can lead your team with courage and certainty. The last thing your team need right now is to be led by someone who is dithering in their directions and decisions.

Go back to basics, fix the leaks in your business;

  • Develop your strategy for the next three months
  • Define everyone’s roles and responsibilities
  • Measure what is important
  • Know your numbers
  • Serve your customers, add value
  • Lead with confidence and clarity
  • Find your support network

Now is not the time for being missing in action, your team and your customers need you.

Be bold, be courageous be back in business.

Have a great week.

PS, If you need some help in identifying where and what you need to improve, complete this FREE survey I wrote which will highlight what to work on first, it will take around 10 minutes to complete, you will receive a written report giving you some direction.


Life In Lockdown – Week 13

Week 13 – Lock down is it over?

Today we can visit a shop, enjoy a day at the zoo and even take a flight to Europe, is lock down over?

It feels very much like it is business as usual?

But is it, for me it feels confusing, I am still working from home, I can’t visit my family in their homes and my children are not at school.

What is life like for you and your business right now?

  • Have you returned to your normal workplace?
  • Are you operating with a full team?
  • Have your customers buying habits changed?
  • Are you making a profit?

As I write this, there are long queues forming outside big retail brands, I can see on the news that many people are wearing masks but I cannot see that they are adhering to the social distancing rules.

I am pleased that retailers will finally enjoy the sound of their tills ringing, like many other businesses, it has been a long road for them.

It  will be interesting to learn at the end of the week how successful their first week of trading has been, and how high consumer confidence is.

Amongst my business community I am finding that mind-sets are very different, I spoke about this at the very beginning of lock down. Some of us are displaying the grit we are known for, others are not up for the fight.

It is not too late………

There are still 28 weeks left of 2020, that’s 140 trading days at an average 5 day week to bounce back.

Think we the end in mind, set yourself a realistic target for the rest of this year and work backwards.

Will it be a staggered target to ease your customers back, if your customers have never left, how can you increase their spend and no of times they transact with you.

What are you lead generation strategies, now is the time to invest in your growth.

Your job is to lead, direct and strategise, ensure your team are in the right seats and you are maximising their skills.

There couldn’t be a better time to invest in your leadership skills and ensure that motivation and morale is at its highest.

My biggest tip is to talk, keep communicating with your team and your customers, learn of their feelings and fears.

Remember that no one is going to care about your business as much as you do don’t expect them too.

So it is now up to you, 140 days to change the results for 2020, make it the year you remember, not only because of the Covid pandemic but because you acted like a real entrepreneur, with confidence and clarity and achieved the results you deserve.

Surround yourself with positive and clever people, invest in yourself, keep talking and good luck.

Life In Lockdown – Week 12

Welcome to week 12 of lock down.

How are you feeling this week?

A common topic which many of my clients have spoken about in recent weeks is burn out.

12 weeks of mixed emotions, continuous grit, determination, adaptability, flexibility can be exhausting mentally.

It comes as no surprise that many of us have felt burn out and a need for a break.

We have also seen a trend in sickness amongst our teams in the last week, has this been caused by burn out?

Many business owners have reported their teams have demonstrated tremendous support, encouraging them to continue using the furlough scheme to keep costs down and protect everyone’s jobs.

This supportive culture whilst commendable could be the cause of mental and physical exhaustion and needs to be monitored.

The new rules for the furlough scheme will help as we can bring staff back on a part time basis to help with peaks and troughs in your workload.

What are you doing to protect and monitor the workloads of your teams who have supported you throughout lock down?

I have seen some great innovation in true leadership and support from the top, it is not enough to think that just because our teams are in work, they should feel grateful, these are tough times for everyone.

Some of your team, who at first felt relieved that they held their positions in the workplace, may now be feeling envious of those who are still on furlough, especially as we have had some lovely weather, and the time span has stretched to 12 weeks.

It will be a constant competition of who has had the toughest ride, the ones working or the ones furloughed but only receiving 80% pay!

Personally, I am so grateful to have worked continually as I am not very good at doing nothing, but this is my business and I get that it is different for employees.

There is also a sense that this is over, with the return of most businesses with the exception of hospitality and some other trades which require very close client contact such as hairdressers,  are back or will be next week.

I have to say that the few businesses I have been into, have adapted so well and I couldn’t of felt safer on their premises.

I get a sense of right business as usual now.

Let’s get cracking, make up for lost time and make some money.

I get that feeling from many of my clients and it is great to see such a positive attitude and display of resilience.

I know that 2020 will be a year we all remember, let’s make it one we remember for the year that our business achieved so much more with less.

Less time, less staff and possibly less available money, but with the right tools and leadership we can improve your profits. It can be done.

Look after your team, look after yourself and lets do this together.

Life In Lock Down Week 11

Happy Monday, and welcome to week 11 of lock down.

For me, this is day 76 and something has changed!

I have been very comfortable serving and supporting, after all that is my role as a coach, and where I am at my happiest.

I felt the shift happen on Friday.

I attended my regular monthly Mastermind group where we share our challenges, successes and receive a healthy amount of accountability.

We call it a nudge!

Upon reflection, I realised that I have been holding back in a big way.

I have been so aware of everyone’s challenges whilst we have adapted and changed our businesses to allow for remote working and possible reductions in team numbers.

What I had ignored is my duty and need to sell.

I completely appreciate that those who panicked from the offset of lock down and adopted the sell, sell, sell mantra may of appeared unsympathetic and desperate to those who were not ready to be sold to, and I haven’t heard of anyone who used that tactic who had great results.

I remember writing at the time, that we needed time to adjust and find our grove before we were ready to look up and buy.

What I have failed to do, is recognise that that time has long gone, 11 weeks is enough time to adjust, make changes and be ready for growth.

Have you held back and been too polite?

Did you go in for the sale immediately?

Did you choose the right time?

Mastermind made me see that it is time to be bold, brave and build my business for those who need my support and have been ready to buy for a long time.

This is not a matter of making money from peoples misery, which is how some business owners describe it, this is about being confident in your product and meeting the needs of your audience.

Let them make the decision, when they are ready to buy not you.

I have a Mastermind programme starting in September, and 8 places available. My current members tell me that it has been this that has helped them survive lock down, giving them the confidence and clarity to grow and excel during the pandemic. So why would I not offer this support to others who have realised that they need to extend their support network and communicate with others who are at their level and understand the challenges they face.

I have suffered from a closed mind set, something I coach around all of the time.

I was closed to the concept that my audience is ready to buy, and want/need my support.

Have you suffered from a closed mind set?

Are your customers ready to buy and are you ready for them?

So, I am ready to turn on the tap and accelerate growth, are you ready too?

To find out more about my Mastermind programme, visit the link below.


Have the best week ever, see you on week 12!

Life In Lock Down Week 10

How are you?

So………………..week 10!

Are you still calling it lock down?

For many of us nothing has changed, the children remain away from school and we remain working from home.

There does however, seem to be light at the end of the tunnel, with the announcement that non-essential shops will reopen on 15th June and some year groups returning to school next week.

Whatever we feel about the decisions being made, it has to be  good news for business.

With Perspex being the most sort after material and the fight for loo roll over, it shows the shift in our needs as we fight to regain life as we know it.

I have to confess that I have mixed feelings about lock down now, I have adhered to all of the rules when many have flouted.

I am eager for the schools to open but have some concerns over the safety of my children.

I want to enjoy quality time with my family and friends, whilst ensuring that everyone is safe.

I feel office envy when zooming with clients who are already back in their offices.

I am keen to launch my next Mastermind group which has already moved from April to September.

I too want to re-join my own mastermind group and enjoy the nudge and accountability I receive on a monthly basis.

In others words, I want business as usual!

Friends, family and Mastermind are the pillars which hold me up in my both my personal and business life, they make me what I believe is the best version I can be – is it wrong to want that back?

I often talk about your support network and the positives of being around clever people, the one thing I have heard the most during lock down amongst the business community, is that having a platform to talk to others in business has been their back bone in having the confidence to adapt and remodel if needed, whilst being their sounding board who will encourage and “nudge” you forward.

For me as I said it has to be my Mastermind group, I know that this will offer the support that so many business owners need to regain confidence and clarity this year within their business.

What has been your back bone in business during lock down?

What has given you the confidence and clarity we have all needed to continue in business?

How have you had to adapt or remodel?

Will you continue to trade in a the new way or revert back to life as you know it?

What support do you feel that business owners will need to aid growth in 2020?

There are not many things which are certain right now, but we all know that the world (we keep getting told) has changed forever, whether you feel that way or not, we cannot argue that for the medium term it will be a bit different.

How well we prepare for this ‘difference’ will be the margin between the businesses who rapidly breakout and breakthrough their growth targets and the rest of the businesses who are left licking their wounds.

I would love to hear your plans for achieving growth this year.


Have the best week ever, see you on week 12!

Life In Lock Down Week 9

Astonishingly, we are now beginning week 9 of Lock Down, for me it feels like forever since I have enjoyed face to face coaching with my clients, but it also feels unbelievable that I have been working remotely and coaching via Zoom for almost 9 weeks.

It surprised me, like many others how quickly I fell into the new norm.

Many people have asked me if I will return to my office and to delivering face to face coaching, or remain offering a remote service, as lots of businesses are weighing up the pros and cons of returning to their work place and assessing the need for office space and balancing costs and wellbeing.

My answer is clear, I will return to my office and face to face coaching when the time is right, but I will definitely return.

Remote coaching works, it is just as effective and some clients prefer it because of the convenience, I have offered this service for a while for clients outside Essex and Suffolk so it is not new for me.

Personally though, I thrive on the energy from face to face contact, and personalities I feel from my clients in my coaching practice.

I love the buzz and hustle of the office environment, my mind set prep on my commute to the office and my de compression on my way home, even though it shocks me, I think I even enjoy the structure of the working day.

I am a big people person and therefore it suits me to share my space with clients and colleagues, I am an outgoing extrovert.

I can see however, that others who are more reserved and introverted are enjoying the comfort of not having to socialise and are indulging in their own company right now.

What camp do you sit in?

When planning your return and bringing your teams back, it is important to remember which type of individuals are in your team, some will be as keen as mustard to return and can’t wait to socialise and enjoy the hustle of the office, others will be more reluctant to come out of their comfort bubbles and their inner shells and might need more time to adjust.

So the return……………………………….

Has it happened?

Did you actually close at all?

Are you now open?

Are you still planning for your return?

Or sitting back and waiting to see when the right time is for you?

I said earlier, that I will return to the office when the time is right.

Right now my clients are telling me that they are happy to continue zoom coaching as they are getting what they need from me, and to travel to my office right now would be taking unnecessary risks. I don’t think that this will change for some weeks yet.

I have to, and have accepted that my new norm is set to continue for some time yet.

This is where I pull upon the inspiration and energy of my clients to get me through.

What are you having to accept?

We are all having to make many sacrifices at the moment, some as I say are easier to bear than others, I have to admit that for the first time since lock down was initiated, I hit my wall at the weekend.

I crave time with my family and friends and miss the spontaneity that my weekends normally offer, I nice coffee overlooking the water, a cheeky glass of wine and a laugh with the people I love.

After a little word with myself I had a lovely Saturday and Sunday, pottering around in the garden, a long walk with the dog, a bike ride with my boys, a BBQ in the glorious sunshine coupled with a few bottles of something deliciously cold and full of bubbles, which was a lovely gift from clients, a welcomed surprise delivery on Saturday. (they didn’t realise how well timed this was)

I have witnessed some great innovations and solutions over the last 8 weeks, I speak a lot about the grit, tenacity and determination of business owners, and it never ceases to surprise me.

We have all adapted to continue to do business the best way we can, finding new models which enable us to trade.

I have seen great examples, of introverted business owners thrive in this period and make huge steps in working on their strategy and long term vision.

My mastermind members acknowledged that even in this time, their goals for 2020 were not pushing them hard enough and have revisited them, is this down to having the time to step off of the hamster wheel and have a good look at the future and reaching their true potential.

Most of us are now using technologies which we were not familiar with 9 weeks ago, which will enhance our efficiencies in the long term.

We have all seen good and bad in people, both at work, in our teams and around the world, acts of true kindness and heroism.

I believe that we all have a new level of respect for the NHS and key workers, the Thursday night clap has helped my children understand the great work people are doing in our country to look after us.

We are all making tough decisions, in our work and personal lives and we are all getting through this the best we can, with good and bad days.

I will continue to encourage my clients to work on the one thing that they can do which will make a difference to their business, to focus on things they can control, and to take each week as it comes.

What will you focus on this week?

Thank you for listening, I would love to hear from you.

Life In Lock Down week 8

So, you are in week 8 of lock down – or are you?

I’m not sure about you, but I felt that last night’s message from Boris Johnson was very confusing and a big anti-climax, due to the lack of clarity.

The message now is, if you cannot work at home you can return to work, so does that include everyone such as hairdressers and dentists?

Boris also said that from Wednesday we are allowed to play sports with our own family members, so does this mean that sports centres will open.

The message is that we must stay alert and control a virus which we cannot see, taste, hear or feel.

Surely this virus is controlling us?

I feel for business leaders, this morning, to receive a briefing which carries such a lack of direction makes it a tough decision to know whether to reopen your business and bring back your team.

There was certainly a sense last week amongst my business community that they were planning for some sort of return even prior to last night’s new briefing. I completely understand this craving to get our businesses back to normal, it feels disjointed to own a business and not have your team and surroundings with you.

We have all been pushed outside of our comfort zones for 6-8 weeks, evidence proves that as soon as we are given an opportunity to revert back to normal we will.

The chief exec of London Chamber Of Commerce said last night on Twitter, that his strong and unequivocal advice to London businesses is not to change your plans for today, as we do not have enough information to get your employees back to work safely, and keep them safe once they return.

He goes on to say that “it would be foolish for any business leader to encourage staff not already undertaking essential work to do anything but to continue to work from home.”

I feel that like with everything, we have to do what is right and feels right for us, our business, and our team’s wellbeing.

There is a fine balance between doing the right thing commercially and morally but it can be achieved, and you will find it.

Lots of my clients are staggering their return, and have introduced shifts patterns to ensure that they reduce contact to the same individuals at any one time during their working hours, and administrators and other personnel who can work from home remain to do so.

Others have purchased additional screens to protect desk based teams, and PPE to protect engineers who are working on site or in people’s homes.

We will see enhanced cleaning in our work space, and various other initiatives to keep our teams safe.

Personally, I am lucky to be able to continue to offer my services digitally from home and despite a tingle of excitement last week with hope that I might return to my office, I have no plans to do so prior to June, there is no benefit to me or my clients to do so.

We adapted to lock down with professionalism and innovation and I know that we will find our own path out of lock down with the same skills, the path that is right for you and your team.

My advice would be, to take this week to plan your return, communicate with your team, implement the necessary precautions you need to keep both yourself, your teams, and your customers safe.

I would love to know your thoughts and plans.

Good Luck