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September's Leadership Academy Reviewed

6th October 2017

On Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th September, 63 Leaders joined the Usborne Books at Home team for a busy two days at the fabulous Heythrop Park Hotel in Oxfordshire.

We started the celebrations with a hilarious game of 'Human Bingo' where Leaders were challenged to complete their bingo grid of fun facts about other Leaders. Whilst one Leader had been in a BBC documentary, and another had completed a four month expedition to the Arctic, the biggest mystery that everyone wanted to solve, was finding the person who could fit 36 grapes into their mouth...

We then moved onto F.A.B selling, with Leaders choosing from a huge array of books from our Autumn and Christmas Leaflets, our Starter Kit and our October New Titles. Our randomly selected Leaders talked about their chosen titles brilliantly, and we loved all the anecdotes that came with their recommendations. It was amazing to see all the different strategies that are used to sell their books, and fantastic to hear such passion about the different titles.

Coaching is an important skill in an Leader's business, and we kicked off our training of this with an entertaining role play from Clare Johnson and Francesca Nixon highlighting the difference between coaching and mentoring. Our Leaders were then coached by their peers on a real life challenge in their own business and you could see many 'lightbulb moments' and excited conversations around the room on potential solutions to their challenges. It was great to see the enthusiasm that this was met with, and the confidence increasing in our Leaders about how they could use coaching to really make a difference to their recruits' businesses.

After refuelling with lunch, we started the afternoon with a session on the new 'Virtual Parties' function on Online Services. Keely Horn talked us through her incredibly successful first event, and it was great to see her positivity about the new opportunity it had brought her business. Helen McIntyre, part of our digital focus group, explained the advantages of the new function, and how she felt it would impact positively on her business. Fired up by the enthusiasm of Keely and Helen, Organisers then discussed the opportunities that Virtual Parties could present for their businesses and how it could support their recruiting activities. It was great to see such positive and forward thinking from everyone, and it's exciting to see what the future will hold for our Organisers.

The day ended with more brilliant F.A.B selling and some enthusiastic planning for the January 2018 Session.

Our evening started with a well-deserved champagne reception, and an inspiring speech from Nicola Usborne. It was amazing to hear about all the exciting developments in the future of Usborne Publishing, and about how our Organisers are at the forefront of this. It was also great to have a reminder of what lies at the heart of what we do - the wonderful books that Usborne produces.

The evening continued with a delicious three course meal and wine, and lots of lively discussions amongst our Leaders. Head Office had the privilege of table swapping between courses, and we all thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of our BDP members. Particular highlights included hearing the creative ways that Organisers sell our books, and the real sense of fun that they bring to their businesses.

After a big breakfast, we started back again with some more 'Human Bingo'. The topic of the day moved on from grapes to who was born on a travelling circus, and the Organisers seemed much more frantic to find out their answers on day two!

The Commissions Table is something that can fill Organisers' minds with horror, but Maria Scrivens and her Executive made calculating commissions seem simple - with the help of a lot of marshmallows! We hope that this showed our Organisers that by expanding your team, you can significantly expand your earnings, and we loved how keen they were to share this with their recruits.

More inspiring F.A.B selling and coaching followed, before we broke for lunch.

The afternoon commenced with a final F.A.B selling session, before we started our 'Brilliant Leadership' workshop with Peter Anderton from 'The Art of Brilliance'. Leaders were asked to consider their best and worst managers, and to think of the qualities that they possessed - this definitely prompted a lot of discussion! They were asked to think about the difference between a manager and a leader, and how they can work to inspire their teams. We know how incredibly valuable our Organisers' first-hand experience of their own business is to their recruits, and it's great to consider how they can channel this. Perhaps the most significant part of the afternoon was when Leaders were asked to list 20 things that they were grateful for. It's surprising how many things we take for granted, and many of our Leaders said that they would take this activity with them into other parts of their lives.

A final reflection finished the day, and our Leaders set off home, hopefully filled with a renewed confidence in their business, and new ways to develop their team and their overall business.

We had an incredible few days full of laughs, inspiration and business building, and hope that our Organisers left full of enthusiasm and confidence.

Here are some of our favourite quotes from our Leaders about the event:

"It's given me the experience, knowledge and support to take my business to the next level. You can learn so much from each other." - Paula Dew (BDP Gold Member and first time at Leadership Academy)

"There's always something new to learn and it's an amazing networking opportunity. Finding other people that have the same experiences as you is great for swapping ideas and inspiring each other." - Katie Slingerland (BDP Gold Member and third time at Leadership Academy)

"The reason I like coming to LA is it's like hitting the reset button on your business, and refreshing your Usborne knowledge." - Heidi Thomas (BDP Bronze Member and fifth time at Leadership Academy)