I had a strange week last week. Through no fault of nobody’s I had a session cancelled on Tuesday and somehow I felt I should have been working harder to make up for the lost revenue from that. I felt pure guilty ‘taking another day off’ to attend the All Ireland Business Summit in Croke Park yesterday.

And that’s the thing about life. Sometimes you have to do what Michael Gerber preached, and work ‘on’ your business as opposed to always being always working ‘in’ it. The event blew me away. 16 excellent speakers shared their wisdom, their strategies but most of all their energy. That’s the thing about successful people. They radiate positive and uplifting energy.

Here are my key takeaways from the day. I hope you enjoy them and thrive on them.

Chanelle, Lady McCoy. MD Chanelle. Dragons Den.

What I loved about Chanelle is her ability to hustle. She conceded that Chanelle (the business her Dad started and that she now runs employing 500 people) was another ‘Me Too’ business selling generic drugs. Nobody wanted to give her an appointment. And yet, she would go to France and Germany and arrive unannounced into her clients office and sit for hours waiting to get an appointment. And when she did succeed in getting in front of them she spelled out her USP as being Irish, a family business and being flexible. Simple as. And this theme of family and Irish and flexibility would recur right throughout the day. QED. Get out there and get in front of people. And persist with it. As Chanelle said ‘we’re not born resilient. We become resilient.’

She shared a wonderful learning from Nelson Mandela that effected a radical change in her management style. Mandela was greatly influenced by his father, a tribal leader. At tribal meetings his father always did two things. One, he assembled the tribe in a circle. And secondly, he always spoke last. Chanelle now does the same and has watched her team grow and take responsibility and get better results.

She maintained that acquiring and retaining people is the key issue in business now. And it is challenging. She shared that she now has 30 open positions in Chanelle and is having difficulty filling them. She is being forced to look overseas because 18 wouldn’t move from Dublin to Galway to live. (I found this a tad scary).

And she had salutary lessons on retaining younger people. ‘Younger people are no longer motivated by money but rather by career progress.’

Finally, she had sage advice on hiring and retaining great people – the key metrics in business. Interview the person again after six months and ask the question ‘given what I now know about this person would I rehire them?

Pat McDonagh. MD Supermacs.

I’m biased when it comes to giving an appraisal on Pat because I’ve known him for 25 years in business and he’s quite simply been sensational. The question is however, how has he become so successful, and continued to remain such a nice and affable person at the same time?Maybe one clue is that Pat is a teacher and a consummate believer in the power of learning. Even though Pat was a speaker at the conference, he and his wife Una and daughter Maria, sat throughout the entire day listening to each speaker and learning from them. In fact, he ended up again on stage nearly being spiked by Keith Barry later in the day. I was quite interested watching so many aspiring wannabes in the auditorium texting on their phones and going out early for coffee. There’s a big lesson for us all from Pat. Invest time learning and working and developing yourself. His key takeaways were.

Interest rates are going to go up. Pat was the first person I heard forewarn about the bubble bursting in the last recession. Reflect deeply now on the impact of a hike in interest rates for your business.

Automation and systemization are a given. Robots now can make pizzas as good as a human. The thing is that automation presents massive opportunities in terms of being better at customer service. This is a real area where businesses can differentiate themselves.

Have a few great stories about yourself and your business. Ask anyone at the event yesterday about Pat McDonagh’s presentation and they’ll all regale you about the time he blew the electricity in the town of Ballinasloe on Fair Day – the busiest night of the year – by wrapping a fuse in cigarette paper. It says so much about the man. He’s humble and capable of making a mistake yet he’s resourceful, focused and a bit lucky.

Owen Fitzpatrick. Author of ‘The Charismatic Edge’

This is a wonderful book and well worth studying. Here are a handful of vignettes I’m taking from the book and Owens speech.

Learn the three sources of persuasion – Logos. Pathos. Ethos. Owen began by telling a great story about being introduced by a Russian at a conference. The Russian said to him ‘I know you Irish like to tell lots of stories but the Russians like lots of facts and strategies.’ The reality is that logos, or logic, is very important to people but logic by itself is insufficient to get people to make decisions. You need pathos – a quality that evokes emotion – to really connect. Most off all however, you need ethos which is character. Aristotle said that ‘Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.’ Maya Angelou put it beautifully when she said ‘People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.’ Ultimately, stories combine logos, pathos and ethos.

Learn the meaning of the words Identity, Reputation and Character. Identity is the way you think about yourself. It’s made up of the way you see yourself (self-image), think about yourself (self-concept) and feel about yourself (self-esteem). Character is who you are deep down. It’s the seat of your values and your best self. (Taken from the book)

One other game changer I include from Owen is almost a paradox, and damm difficult to do. ‘IF YOU WANT TO GET WHAT YOU WANT, YOU NEED TO LET GO OF NEEDING IT.’ If ever I needed confirmation of this it was last night. I really wanted to get to sleep early because I had to get up really early this morning but perversely, the harder I tried the more awake I became.

The Quadrant of Communication. Remember in every communication there are four elements at play. One, the source of the message. Two, the audience. Three, the message. Four, the medium. Simply by thinking about each will exponentially improve your communications.

Confirmation Bias. I have to fess that I hadn’t heard of this term before last week and I’ve stumbled across it a half dozen times since. (It’s obviously my subconscious mind talking to me.) It’s where we look for evidence that supports our ideas but may have blind spots to other truths and realities that we may ignore. The solution to this is to be more open minded to all sides of the decision.

Niall Breslin. Singer. Heartthrob. Former Leinster Rugby Player. Sound Man. Co-Founder of ‘A Lust for Life.’ Author of ‘Me and My Mate Jeffrey.’

It would have been worth the trip to Crocker alone to be in the presence of this man. Buy the book. Here are the snippets.

99% of people on Planet Earth are sound. 1% are arseholes.

General Anxiety Disorder is real and can destroy lives. People with GAD have ‘an unbelievable inability to have empathy for themselves.’

Self-compassion is the secret to GAD. Be kind to yourself. Take compliments. We’re not good as a nation at taking compliments.

As a nation however we’re world class at compassion. He referenced the Irish soccer supporters on tour. They started singing ABBA to the Swedish fans; singing lullabies to babies; and basically coming across as the best fans in the world. This is character.

Pádraig Ó Céidigh. EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2002.

Once again I concede my bias. I think Pádraig is singularly the most inspiring speaker, presenter and communicator in Ireland. You should do anything to get to experience one of his ‘PowerPoint’ presentations. In these presentations he shares a number of slides with his audience – except they’re not in Microsoft PowerPoint format. He gets his listeners to imagine the slides in their minds. And they do. I’ve known clients who can recall twenty of his slides ten years later. It’s the ultimate in presentation excellence. His five slides from yesterday were.

Slide 1. Adversity happens.

Never feel sorry for yourself. Ask how quickly you can bounce back from it. He recited the words of a poem allegedly found above Mother Teresa’s bed.

‘People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.’

Slide 2. Croke Park is unique. It’s world class. It’s supremely special.

What is unique, world class and supremely special about your business?

Take the spirit of Croke Park home to your business and your life.


Pádraig explained that success has nothing to do with happiness. He knows some of the richest people on the planet and yet many of them are deeply unhappy. ‘Who you are and who you are becoming’ is all about character building.

Slide 4. Companies don’t grow. People grow.

I’ve listened to many POC PowerPoints and this one appears in most. So many of the speakers spoke about people now being the most important asset of a business. Growing them is a core skill of the modern leader.

Slide 5. Irish and Irishness punches way above its weight worldwide.

He made the point that Irish is worth moore than double what the Galway Races and the Arts Festival contribute to the Galway economy annually. The point is to embrace it and see the opportunity that is in being Irish.

Gerry Hussey. High Performance Psychologist.

I’ve heard Pádraig rave about Gerry for years and I wasn’t disappointed. His content was outstanding and his delivery was so humble and respectful and powerful. Here are some of the key points.

Success can be measured by how much joy and kindness you generate. (Please read and reread this.)

The future is created in the moment. How present are you in the moment? WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS IS FOR MORE PEOPLE TO BE MORE PRESENT AND ENGAGED.

Being present is the ultimate high performance zone.

The greatest gift you can give another human is to be present.

Be present in your message and you’ll move peoples hearts.

Time distortion. Gerry shared a wonderful technique that he’s used with sportspeople the world over which is basically slowing time down so you can live more fully in the moment. He described a hurler describing the scoring of a goal in an All Ireland hurling final. ‘I knew it was a goal when I heard the hurley hit the sliotar.’ That’s being present.

We’re much more energy than matter. In most team that win energy and spirit are the reasons.

In conclusion on Gerry, the question he left us with was ‘how present are you in your life?

Keith Barry. Worlds Leading Hypnotist, Mentalist & Magician.

Whilst Gerry spoke to us on the awesome power of our subconscious minds Keith illustrated powerfully just how miraculous it truly is. Using brilliant tests on members of the audience he demonstrated that.

Our minds are pattern followers and we often assume the wrong end result.

Body language is a massive component of impactful communications and communications is so important in business. He revealed that the only certificate on Warren Buffets wall is a cert he got for attending a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking. One of the ways to do that is to become a more likable person.

He counseled to find silence in the noise. He predicted that very soon there’ll be a move against technology as its becoming such a distraction.

Finally he did a guided meditation on picturing your goal. It was extremely powerful.

Gavin Duffy. Dragons Den Investor.

What an experienced and wise and lovely person! Here are three takeaways from him.

If you’re business isn’t thriving now consider another one. Many people are working at businesses that are just ticking over. If it isn’t thriving now get out of it. There’s a lot of talk about persistence and resilience at sessions like these but sometimes you just got to accept that the business model isn’t right or has become obsolete. (Ouch but real.)

Look for a PEG business. One with Potential, Explosiveness and Growth.

You will learn a lot more by asking more.

In conclusion I must take my hat of to the organisers of the event, Kapil Khanna and Elaine Carroll. They promised two deliverables and they delivered in spades. One was expanding your insights. The other was growing your network.

As for me. I recall the great Charles Handy once concluding a speech in Galway by saying ‘I have learned infinitely more preparing and delivering this speech than you will ever learn from listening to it.’


When I got sick one of the books that really inspired me was a book called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Dr. Susan Jeffers. It struck me at the time that not only was this book a cracker of a read from a personal leadership perspective but it would also make a dynamic business development workshop. I resolved that if I ever regained my health I’d make it my business to bring it to the business community.

The great news is that I’ve succeeded in becoming one of the only corporate trainers in the world at the moment to license this workshop and I look forward to introducing it to my existing clients on May 22nd in Galway, May 29th in Sligo and May 31st in Limerick. It only costs €97 and includes receiving the book and a wonderful 78 page workbook. Please email me at or calling me at 087-2647817 if you’re interested in learning more about it.