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A place for CEOs to talk about issues and best practice

Academy Chairman Phil Jesson was recently interviewed by The Business Hub Radio Show podcast (which was broadcast on Star Radio 107 at 9:00 on Sunday 6th June 2010).  Sponsored by

The show’s theme was a “MasterMind” Special Show and also featured Ann Hawkins of The Inspired Group; Social Media Mentor – Evelyne Spanner of Internet Horizons and David Hyner of Stretch Development.

The podcast can be heard in full by visiting

And we also have a short transcript of Phil’s interview:

The show’s hosts, Mark and Ian welcomed Phil Jesson, published author and Chairman for the Cambridgeshire group of The Academy for Chief Executives (ACE).

Phil was awarded the Business Hub Round of Applause for ‘The best business book title’ of Piranhas in the Bidet!

Phil further explained,

“It’s basically a business book but written as a novel. It features the journey of a newly-appointed chief executive (who knows nothing), and his chauffeur (who knows a lot). There’s a very edgy dialogue between the two of them and one of the lines in the book is that line, piranhas in the bidet. My publisher said ‘you need a snappy title’ and I replied ‘Well, you’ve nailed it I know exactly what it’s going to be called!’”

Phil went on to talk about The Academy for Chief Executives,

“It’s a national organisation but it works in regional groups of 12-15 chief executives in any one group – chaired by someone like me. The 12-15 members come along for a monthly one day meeting. Typically, an expert speaker turns up in the morning and talks about his/her speciality – that might be mergers/acquisitions; a new coaching technique; something to do with a change in business law etc. In the afternoon members roll sleeves up and talk about problems and issues and sometimes best practice going on their business. They share and discuss it and the interesting way in which they work together is that there’s a fantastic bond – a lot of trust, support and caring. They give each other feedback on what they would do in each other’s shoes. It’s fantastic for the members to hear from 12 other people how they would be running their business if they were in the hot seat. No surprises – a lot of the advice and tips that are shared are very simple and very straight forward, it’s just that the member has been so close to the problem that they may not have been able to see the wood for the trees.”

Phil explained that there are a number of selection criterion for new members wanting to join an Academy group.

“Members are from non-competing industries – so once we’ve got somebody from the IT world for example, then we don’t have another member in that group from the same sector. Members talk very openly about their businesses without fear – it’s a very safe, confidential environment. So we look for people who want to give back – members who want to co-drive the group, not just sit back and listen every month – people who are prepared to add to it and steer it.”

“The time commitment is one day a month which sounds a lot – arguably 5% of a CEO’s time – but as one of our members said ‘it might take 5% of my time but now I know what I should be doing with the other 95% of my time’. That’s a very interesting way of looking at it, I think.”

Phil was then asked to share 3 pearls of business wisdom:

  • “One of the things that a speaker worked with us on recently was that he asked us to write down on a piece of paper 10 words that really captured the uniqueness and magic in our own businesses. He then asked ‘are those 10 magic words on your website home page, in your last presentation, what your sales people say when making a sales pitch’. This was met by stony silence in the room because although we found it quite easy to think of those words, the communication of them wasn’t necessarily happening on the ground.”
  • “The value of getting customer feedback in to the business. Most businesses are appalling at asking customers for their feedback on where they are meeting, exceeding or failing short of expectations. If customers were asked these 3 questions more frequently you’d be working with really rich feedback on what you need to do to improve your business.”
  • “It’s up to the CEO to create an environment where things that often go unsaid are getting said. Putting your cards on table and discussing things that are holding up the team members from achieving top performance. It’s the job of the leader to ensure that things that go unsaid get said.”

Find out more about membership of The Academy for Chief Executives by visiting or email Phil Jesson direct at

© 2010 This transcript is reproduced by kind persmission of “The Business Hub with Mark and Ian”. Visit to find out more.

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