Tag Archives: Mark Smith

Thoughts on Mental Health

Thoughts on Mental Health

Further to our previous blog “Spotlight on Mental Health” we have two more individuals discussing their reactions to the brilliant Mental Health seminars as hosted by Mark Smith. Mark Smith is aiming to raise a staggering £25,000 for Mental Health UK for his forthcoming Cambodian trek. As part of his fundraising he is hosting a series of seminars tackling mental health in the workplace.

At Aardvark Marketing we are proud to be supporting Mark Smith in his efforts, alongside some truly inspirational business leaders. Speakers at the mental health seminars include Harrison Clark Rickerbys discussing the legal aspect, and a speaker from Bishop Fleming who gives an incredible and honest insight into managing mental health both personally and professionally.

Here are two attendees from the recent seminars sharing what they learnt. The first is Richard Nicol from Nicol & Co Estate Agents.

The second is Gill Wooldridge from Bradley Haines Law, discussing how she found the seminar helpful given her role in HR.

There are three more Mental Health Seminars planned for later in the year.

All these events follow the same format:

  • Light refreshments.
  • Opening remarks and introduction.
  • Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
  • Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
  • Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
  • Close and light refreshments.

These are free events, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity.

Date: Wednesday, 25th September
Time: 8am – 11am
Venue: Malvern College, College Rd, Malvern WR14 3DF
To book your place on the Malvern seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Malvern 25th September in the email.

Date: Wednesday, 2nd October
Time: 2pm – 5pm
Venue: Ross Labels, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7US
To book your place on the Ross on Wye seminar email Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com and put Ross 2nd October in the email.

Monmouthshire – November
Date: TBC
Time: TBC
Venue: Monmouth, details TBC

We look forward to seeing you all there!

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Meet our co-sponsor Martyn Rees

Meet our co-sponsor Martyn Rees

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Martyn isn’t one for titles or formality. He’s the MD at County Building Supplies which has grown from a “two bloke, one van and a passion to get things done” start-up with his mate David Lloyd in 1987 to a highly successful business group of 6 companies serving 10 locations throughout the Midlands. Starting out as a building merchant the business now has specialist services for Kitchens & Bathrooms, Heating & Plumbing, Renewable Energy and, their latest business, an online car detailing supplier. Customers get free delivery if they are within 20 miles of any location (Cheltenham, Coventry, Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Monmouth, Nuneaton, Tetbury).

The secret to his success is, according to Martyn, running the happiest builders’ merchant in the world. He’s a firm believer that work should be fun as well as business, calls all his staff on first name terms and directs operations in an informal manner. Staff are all treated with the same respect whether they are the newest member or the longest serving area director. He’s not averse to playing the odd practical joke on fellow directors and identified with being the naughty boy at the back of the classroom in his youth. Today he still enjoys working and has absolutely no plans to retire. Fridays are his work from home days but he’s still very ‘hands on’, making good use of his tablet to stay in touch with email and calls. He won’t thank you for a formal introduction either, no MD title is required, he’s just introduced as “Martyn from Malvern” whenever he’s visiting one of their many sites.

Martyn has a knack for getting on with people and immediately makes you feel welcome when you meet him. He loves being a company rep on the road so much that he still goes out every Tuesday and Thursday meeting new customers and catching up with his ‘friends in business’. This week he’s exchanged garden plants with a customer during his visit. Martyn readily acknowledges that his world is price competitive and the business is a member of a larger buying group to ensure their prices are kept as competitive as possible. It’s not all about a direct cost comparison and County Building Supplies will make every effort to get a part out to a customer quickly because they understand that a contractor doesn’t want to be kept waiting several days. This means, unlike some of their competitors, his trade customer won’t have to pick up a hotel accommodation bill because the item isn’t available the exact day he needs it. In his immaculate showrooms, customers are welcomed, given specialist advice and help with their project, and shown the best products for them to achieve what they want whilst getting good value out of their budget.

What’s so impressive about County Building Supplies is staff loyalty. The average length of service in the business is an incredible 18 years! Because he’s created this happy and productive working environment, Martyn has never had a problem with either staff recruitment or retention. He’s proud that one member of staff who joined the business as a ‘Saturday boy’ remembers their progression from their first pay cheque to being promoted through the ranks up to Director level. Taking the initiative is encouraged, with the newest service, car detailing supplies, being run very successfully online by one of the newest and youngest on the team.

Within the industry Martyn is obviously well liked and respected, and he’s on the Board of Directors for his Commercial Buying group, as position he owes to the votes of his fellow members. Martyn admits this is useful for the business as he always has the ear of another MD or Sales Director whenever necessary. It’s his belief that he works in a friendly industry, he recalls a conversation with an economist attending one of the annual trade events and contrasting the friendly welcome with another trade body where hardly anyone spoke to him.

Martyn is very happy to sponsor Mark Smith with his Mental Health Marathon. Martyn’s comments about Mark are that he’s almost too nice to be a bank manager and is always available for a chat, even if this is in the evening. He says Mark always reacts promptly to what he wants, really understands what he wants and will sort it out, fighting his corner if necessary. Martyn continues to expand the business, which he has managed to do consistently through good economic times and recessions, so he appreciates having a good banker on his side. In the pipeline are plans for new sites in Hereford and in Tewkesbury, which I’m sure will be staffed by more of the friendliest people in the business!

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

Meet our co-sponsor, Ian Smith, Chair at Bishop Fleming

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Today I met a remarkable man. Ian Smith is chair of Bishop Fleming, the accountancy firm that has made The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 companies to work for‘  list for the last 4 years, as well as a string of regional awards for excellence in professional services and Investors in People.  For Ian, the success of the firm is down to developing the right people; experts in their field who are interested in developing their clients’ businesses. Ian’s ‘little black book ‘is legendary and he prides himself in making introductions from his personal network.

Ian’s responsibilities on the Board include diversity and inclusion. As a carer himself, he understands that people often have responsibilities outside the workplace, and they may take steps to keep them hidden from colleagues. He calls this their ‘invisible baggage’ and he knows that these people are under unrelenting pressure. He is someone who definitely leads by example.  Ian takes active steps to look after his mental and physical health so that he can balance his demanding role at the company he loves with the caring role in his personal life. He talked to me about the challenges people face when they first encounter something they cannot simply ‘fix’.  Ian has found his own methods that really work in practice so that this isn’t a barrier in his professional life.

Despite his busy schedule, he’s generous with his time too, and he’ll be one of the guest speakers at the “Mark’s Mental Health Marathon” seminars.  Bishop Fleming staff are actively involved in charities – this year they are aiming to raise £100K to mark their centenary year and recently 120 of their staff took part in the Bath half marathon. Others are undertaking the 3 Peaks Challenge or taking part in a 4-day walking challenge to walk 100 miles.

So what are the secrets to his success?

  1. Self-discipline and sticking to a routine

Ian is firm believer that in order to look after your team, you first need to look after yourself. For the last 13 years Ian has had a weekly session with his fitness trainer. Recently he has seen a Shiatsu practitioner twice as month as well. Shiatsu is a holistic approach to fitness and isn’t just physical fitness but includes monitoring and managing diet, sleep patterns, massage and manipulation. The aim is to release endorphins which promote an overall feeling of well-being. Ian is a very focussed, driven person himself and he’s learned that the value of sitting under a tree doing nothing or walking the dog can be as beneficial as going on a weekend away to play golf (which often gets competitive).

 

  1. Understand both your own and your team members resilience to stress.

Ian explained the ‘Stress Bucket’ concept to me. Everybody has a different ability to deal with stress, so whilst some people seem to thrive on it and perform very well under constant pressure (they have a skip sized ‘bucket’), others find that they need to keep stress at a much lower level to function well ( imagine these people with a thimble). At any time, life is adding stress into the top of the bucket, so the level is always increasing, whilst we can empty it through our own personal tap at the base. Everyone has a different relieving ‘tap’ which could be getting better sleep, quiet reading, socialising with friends, stroking a pet etc.

By getting to know your team better, and what causes and relieves stress levels, you can direct them at work to make the most of their talents and interests and avoid situations or job roles that are unsuitable for them. At Bishop Fleming, managers and staff are encouraged to have these conversations so that the root causes of stress are identified and can be dealt with, for example by finding the right person to talk to. Without this support network at work, people will often take a medical approach, when sleeping tablets or anti-depressants may be offered, which doesn’t address the issues causing stress in the first place. Both approaches have their place, but a good support network can mean medicines may not be needed.

 

  1. Adopt the Radical Candour methodology

This is a concept developed by Kim Scott, who has worked with Google, Apple, Twitter and is a New York Times bestselling author. Her new approach, which has been adopted at Bishop Fleming, helps managers have honest feedback discussions with their team, and, as a result, achieve a happier and more productive workplace.

 

Mark Smith is very grateful for the support offered by Ian Smith, both as a corporate sponsor and speaker at the seminars. You can find out more details about the seminars here .

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Meet our co-sponsor, Gary Jones, MD of Glevum

Meet our co-sponsor, Gary Jones, MD of Glevum

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people. The first of which is Gary Jones…

Gary Jones has a simple business philosophy: whenever he bumps into a customer before or during his beloved Gloucester Rugby – he wants to be assured that they are happy. After 35 very successful years at the helm, customers remain the most important people to him and repeat business or personal recommendation account for 75% of their retail sales. Today Glevum also supplies the top UK housebuilders including Taylor Wimpey, Barratts/David Wilson and Persimmon with hundreds of windows every week, on building sites from Cornwall to Kent, yet high quality products and exceptional service standards are not compromised. From day one of their employment, his teams understand that they should treat customers’ property with the care they would take if it were their own.

Gary has a personal experience of dealing with mental health as Mike Nicholls, his uncle and childhood sporting hero suffered from dementia later in his life. Mike was the first team captain to hold aloft the John Player Charity Shield and Gary has fond memories of being taken by Mike to see Gloucester play as a child. He still has this passion for Gloucester rugby club today. When Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank requested financial support for Mental Health UK, Gary was the first one to reach into his pocket.

Recommended to Gary when their previous banking advisor changed role, Mark has been working alongside Glevum for many years, always supporting their expansion plans by fighting their corner and enabling finance to be made available as the business has grown. Supporting Mark with this project will mean that Mental Health issues are treated as more of a priority here in the Midlands.

Gary started Glevum from his dads’ garage after serving an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering as a field service engineer, which is where he developed his eye for measurement. His first workshop was funded by selling his Ford Cortina and cashflow was a challenge. “Approaching the bank manager and being asked for a cashflow forecast seemed to me like so much mumbo jumbo back then” recalls Gary “but fear of failure was always a great motivator”. As the business grew, Gary came to rely on recruiting and keeping great people in his team, and the business has always been industry leaders in the use of new technology and innovative processes. Gary has a ‘touch of the geek’ about him, and has always enjoyed new IT.  High points in his career was winning the Gloucestershire Business of the Year in 2018 and the UK’s top conservatory builder in 2000, although he also fondly remembers the teasing he received from his mates when, at 39, he won Gloucestershire ‘Young Businessperson of the Year’.

Mark's Mental Health Marathon | Gary Jones of Glevum with HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Glevum Conservatory Village

He’s definitely not a typical MD of a multi-million turnover business! Every customer is invited to complete a 30-question survey about their experience of Glevum and on the odd occasion that any question scores less than half marks, Gary will personally pick up the phone to them so that there is ‘no muddying the water’ with middle managers involved. At the same time the business is developing innovative new apps that are used by building site managers to order their products in the most efficient and traceable manner. Orders are made at the right time in their house build process, scheduled in for manufacture, tracked through production, delivery vehicle location and, finally, invoicing. The new system saves his customers time, hassle and money.

For Gary, business is not all about money making, it’s also about giving back. Glevum are currently supporting a new community interest company (CIC) which will provide charities with affordable and state of the art office facilities in Morroway House in central Gloucester. This new hub has meeting rooms, hot desk spaces and a series of fortnightly seminars specifically for the third sector is already being planned.

Whatever the future holds, here is a leader who loves to embrace new challenges!

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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