Month: May 2018

Finding a professional development coach that’s the right fit can be a challenge. But a chance meeting with Kiikstart Founder Ali Uren at a function in Adelaide proved fruitful for Christian Van Niekerk.

The financial services professional had recently been promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and wanted tactical support in his new role.

The Grant Thornton Director describes how working with Kiikstart led to professional and personal growth – and a fantastic ongoing relationship with his coach.

When did you start working with Ali?
I met Ali at a Brand SA function and I was talking to her about my career. I’d been recently promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and I was moving into a more client-facing role with a focus on business development. We started working together mid-last year.

Why did you decide to work with Ali?
Ali has a unique approach. She was able to tailor a program that suited my needs and goals. She pushed me outside my comfort zone to explore areas that needed attention. Through our initial meeting and discussions, I felt that Ali took a genuine interest in me and my needs. Her ability to build a deep, trusting connection helped me to make the decision to work with Ali.

How long did you work together?
The program consisted of six sessions that were spread over a few months. They were one hour sessions with activities for me to complete in between. Ali was also available for ad hoc queries and discussions.

What was the focus of your work together?
Ali was able to talk to me and come up with a plan to address some of the areas I wanted to improve from a business development perspective. Part of this work was about articulating what I bring to the table. I knew it in my mind, but Ali was able to flesh that out with me.

How has working with Ali helped you?
It’s increased my confidence to go out to the market and talk about what I do. Normally I’d go out there and say that I’m an accountant, but now I frame it in more exciting terms. It’s also made me change the way I approach my work – and it’s helped to inform a new service delivery model at work. The model that I’ve built with Ali now is part of our national approach. It’s also reignited my passion for what I do. I’m excited about who I am, what I can achieve, and my approach to client services.

What sets her apart from other business coaches?
Ali provided an environment that was safe and encouraging; there was no negativity. She still calls or emails me at least once a month to touch base, so we’ve kept in touch ever since.

How would you describe Ali’s approach?
Being coached by Ali was different to other courses I’ve done in the past. This was tailored specifically to my needs, and the one-on-one delivery allowed me to be more open, which led to a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience.

 

Head to any successful mainstreet throughout the state and you’ll find it bustling with people. There’s the rich aroma of coffee in the air, people walking laden with bags filled with produce and other local goodies, and possibly even a few art galleries or cultural centres in the mix.

Mainstreet SA describes our mainstreets as “the beating heart of our communities”. They’re where locals and visitors alike come together at the pub or bakery, and where local products are showcased and sold.

But how can we ensure that our mainstreets are sustainable into the future? And, in a regional context, how do we innovate visitor experience and servicing to capitalise on infrastructure growth and other local advancements?

Next week I’ll be speaking at the Mainstreet SA conference in Port Pirie from May 10-11, addressing these key questions.

Co-presenting with Port Pirie Regional Council, I’ll be speaking about innovation in visitor servicing – and its role in future-proofing regional mainstreets.

My experience within the mainstreet space was largely shaped by my 13 years of leading retailing practice in Australia, Canada and Ireland. I’m  driven by smart, cost effective but visionary approaches to the places, people and product underpinning modern mainstreets.

Ahead of next week’s talk, I wanted to share a few little nuggets of wisdom to get you thinking about the future of regional mainstreets.

 

1. Infrastructure is only part of the equation

New infrastructure really is only part of the equation when it comes to creating a successful and sustainable mainstreet. Visitor servicing is equally, if not more, important. When the two work together, you’ll get the best result. A study by Walker – a customer intelligence consulting firm in the US – noted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator.

2. Generic product and service delivery won’t cut it

So we know that generic product and service delivery simply won’t cut it with discerning shoppers in 2018. But how can we avoid the generic? My presentation will highlight many ways to do so, but these include authenticity and storytelling. Increasingly, customers are favouring quality, but they’re also seeking products and experiences that are authentic and unique to the region they’re visiting. Therefore, interaction with the product or service and its maker will be key. Deliver a high-quality product or service in an interesting and authentic way, and you’re on to a winner. Mainstreets need to be curating the opportunities that showcase the new and emerging artists and talent of a region.

3. Think big

On the day, I’ll be encouraging businesses and communities to think big. It’ll be about overcoming a scarcity mindset, or a mindset where, if I’m paying my bills, I’m doing okay. Thinking bigger and executing a plan that celebrates unique, artisan product, and experiences that are intimate and local, presents both a challenge and an opportunity for our mainstreets and local businesses.

 

We’ll be considering how to best capitalise on your region’s infrastructure, and delivering a modern, innovative service experience that will position your business and mainstreet for great success both now and into the future.

You can find out more about the Mainstreet SA State Conference and view the full program here. I hope to see you there!