5 minutes with...

John Drysdale, Managing Director at No Guru ltd

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Wed 31st, Jul

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

John Drysdale, Managing Director at No Guru ltd.  We are a learning and development provider based in the wonderful Cotton Exchange in the heart of Liverpool’s Business District.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

A couple of things, one would be to stop viewing training as something that is always funded externally.  While I think that some of the funding initiatives have very much helped businesses in our region, it has also led to some poor quality training provision and to short term rather than sustainable benefits for the business.

Secondly, that leadership and skills such as coaching and mentoring are seen as having the undoubted value they have. I know from experience how developing leadership has transformed SMEs in our region, creating business growth.

What does a typical working day look like?

I am still actively involved in delivery so mid week I generally deliver workshops, seminars and courses.  I am back in the saddle with my running again, so ideally start with a run and space to think about the day ahead.  Then getting to the venue I usually run through my approach – I sometimes rehearse in the car what I am going to say and get the voice warmed up.  I like getting there early - my top tip is get there very early, get the tech working and run through any visuals you are using and set the room up to be a brilliant working environment.  I love feeding off the audience, stimulating discussion and using humour appropriately.  I work a lot in Universities with some really clever people so you have to be on your game. I like to think I give it my all which means after this, I generally catch up emails before recharging the batteries  for the next day.  I like to be in Liverpool at the start and end of the week and I’m heavily involved with networking and helping others generate referrals as well as hopefully picking up new clients for ourselves.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

To find out what you love doing much earlier.  I grew up thinking I was bang average at most things and settled for a lot of average jobs in which I excelled at being average. Landing on my feet one day, I was given the role as ‘trainer’ and immediately realised I was good at getting information across to people. I never looked back in my career and now my mission is to help people to ‘not settle for average’ in their working lives and beyond.

Where would we find you on your day off?

I enjoy running and the outdoors when I get the chance. My big passion is music, I am a musician (playing sax and guitar) and I enjoy all aspects of music and going to concerts with my wife Fiona – we are lucky as have similar tastes (mostly).

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

A few years ago I felt a bit stuck in my own business and enrolled on the Asentiv programme in Liverpool.  One of the key things I learned was in being really specific about the target market you want to work in.  I work mainly with higher education people and I can describe precisely the sort of client I enjoy working with and who like what I do. It has changed my whole approach and the work with universities increased dramatically. I became a coach for Asentiv too as a result of the learning I received.

Who is your role model in business?

I suppose someone like Julian Richer of Richer Sounds. ‘Hi-Fi’ is such an old fashioned term these days but those of us who appreciated proper sound systems spent many happy hours in his stores buying kit to make lovely sounds. He has a reputation for his motivational style of management and recently transferred 60% of his shares into a trust giving employees control of the company (as well as cash).  Now that’s motivational!

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I think it is an easy to place to make connections or rather, the right sort of connections to help your business.  It does have a vibrancy about it and working in the business district especially gives you a sense of that.  I find people really receptive to having a coffee and a chat and its great having local support networks, such as the Chamber, on hand to help your business.

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