Two weeks ago I was heading to Denver, for the annual TAB conference.
The plane was circling Denver International, I could see the Mile High Stadium in the distance and I was feeling reflective.
It was 9 years since I’d first flown to Denver. I’d come as someone who’d just bought the TAB franchise for York. I’d pushed my breakfast round my plate in the service station, told myself there had to be a better way, looked at a hundred different businesses and opted for TAB.
“Are you sure?” my wife had said, looking at our newly increased mortgage and feeling the serious pressure to keep working.
“Yes,” I said. “Absolutely.”
But let me be honest. During that initial training in Denver I had some doubts. Would sceptical businessmen in the UK really pay for peer to peer coaching? And I’d bought the York franchise – surrounded myself with hard-bitten Tykes, people with a reputation for being careful wi’ t’ brass…
To use a well-worn cliché, the rest is history. Building TAB York was hard work, but it was simply the most rewarding experience of my business life. And I am now privileged to be in the same position with TAB UK.
This was my second conference as the MD of TAB UK. Looking back to last year, here’s what I wrote about the 2017 Conference:
The long flight took me to Denver, for TAB’s annual conference – as many of you know, one of my favourite weeks of the year. It was great to meet so many old friends and (as always with TAB) make plenty of new ones. The best part of it for me? It was simply going back to basics. After the whirlwind of becoming the MD of TAB UK – after spending so many hours with solicitors, bankers and accountants – it was wonderful to be reminded of the simple truth of why we do what we do.
And later in the post…
TAB is now in 16 countries and is becoming a truly international organisation. The latest country to launch is India.
Well, that needs updating for a start. TAB is now active in 19 countries and we duly had our ‘national CEOs’ meeting – which prompted an obvious question at the start of our two days together. ‘Is 19 too many for a meaningful meeting, especially as an increasing number of people don’t have English as a first language?’
The answer – which was obvious in the first few minutes – was an emphatic ‘no.’ The reason was simple – and in many ways that reason was the main message I took away from Denver this year.
Summed up in one word it was ‘trust.’
Trust is simply at the heart of what TAB is, what it stands for and the benefits it delivers to everyone in the ‘family.’ (Yes, another cliché but with TAB it just happens to be true.)
The annual conference means a lot of old friends for me – of course trust exists with them. It’s like the very best relationship with someone you’ve known all your life. You may only see them for three days out of 365 but instantly you pick up the conversation where you left it a year ago.
But this year there were a lot of new friends as well, especially those who’d made the significant decision to buy the franchise for a whole country. And what struck me was how immediate the trust was with them.
The atmosphere for our two days CEO meeting was unbelievably positive. We shared, we co-operated, we exchanged ideas and we trusted each other implicitly. Language barriers? They simply melted away.
So when I talked about ‘back to basics’ last year, what I was really talking about was trust – just about the most basic, and essential, human currency.
It’s the willingness to sit round a table with half a dozen other people and tell them the most detailed information about your business and – in many cases – to open up to them in a way you haven’t opened up to your professional advisers, your bank manager or even your partner.
I’ll confess it now: that was another worry of mine all those years ago. Would one Board meeting be much like the last one? Were there a finite number of business problems to solve? Would a Board – would I – eventually go stale?
I know now that nothing could be further from the truth. I’m renewed on a weekly basis as I meet with the TAB franchisees in the UK and continue my work with individual TAB members. And once a year I get a double-espresso shot of renewal in Denver – this year from the most important business commodity there will ever be.