A Q&A with Nigel Risner

Earlier this month we had the opportunity to talk to Nigel Risner, motivational and inspirational speaker, ahead of his event here in June.

In our interview Nigel talked to us about business, communication and what he enjoys most about his work.

In a nutshell, can you please summarise what you will be speaking to us about at the next Knowledge Network event in June in Torbay?

How to communicate like a zoo keeper, IMPACT and taking action rather than procrastinating.

You’ve worked with some really high profile clients. Can SMEs benefit from your talks too?

I’ve worked with business from 2 – 1,000,000 employees in size, from a mum and dad business to the NHS, a young offenders institute to students completing their MBAs. They’re all very diverse. For SMEs it’s about what we can do differently to get different results. Big businesses have the same process and the same principles, for example Amazon want low prices and fast delivery. SMEs can benefit from the event more as they can take immediate action and not have to jump through hoops to make changes.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Watching a business who thought it wasn’t possible and seeing them make it possible. Turning customers into raving fans that come back for more. This is possible by understanding the customer and educating them to become raving fans. SMEs are closer to their customers, so there’s more opportunity to interact with the end user. Do a good job and get people to re-book. Go the extra mile and be willing to do so.

What is the most common challenge you see organisations facing?

Often businesses don’t think they’re good enough or big enough. Small independent toy businesses are thriving while Toys R Us have failed. Why? Because being small they have a personalised offer and can adapt to change. SMEs are the dinghy in the water compared to the tanker, and can make quick changes and move.

What difference does self-belief make to the success of a business?

Belief is the most important factor. Believe in what you do and your product. Not everyone will support you or buy from you – if they did you probably would not be able to cope or your prices are too cheap. Believe that what you are selling is good enough and the price is right. Don’t be scared to increase your fees. Without sales and growth in sales you’re doomed. If you aren’t getting the sales, the buyer isn’t out there so you need to look into a different market.

How important is effective communication in the workplace? Does it really make a difference, and if so how can we measure this difference?

Effective communication is the one thing that allows us to stay different to your competitors. Zoo keepers can communicate differently to all their animals. Make your language specific to your customers. If you’re selling a motorcycle, you need to be knowledgeable as motorcycle buyers know their stuff. Know your market and what you’re selling. One size does not fit all.

Learn what it takes to become a zoo keeper and communicate this with your team and beyond. If you share a message and it’s clear it will work. If it’s not clear, people will come back to you with questions. Communicating well is important, and how the message is perceived is the most important. If the customer doesn’t understand your message that’s not their fault, it’s yours. If it’s not portrayed properly you need to revisit it.

What balance of animals makes the perfect team? Which combination do you see naturally drawn to each other?

All animals would be great but often we employ like-minded people. The perfect combination would be all four, but the most likely is two out of four in any given team. The lions tend to think the monkeys are silly and the elephants ask too many questions, while the dolphins are just sitting on the fence. The monkey doesn’t like the elephant’s methods as it’s too much work. The lion just wants to get the job done while the dolphin wants to consider the team and what’s best.

Which animal are you?

A monkey climbing on skinny branches. If I want my website to be creative with video I will get an elephant from my team to look over the detail. Monkeys and lions will look at the top of the page for exciting things they can make a quick decision on. Elephants and dolphins will work their way to the finer detail to make a calculated and considerate decision. As a monkey, I’m also quick and impulsive with my decision making.

If people take one thing away with them from your event, what would you want that to be?

The need to make impact. To take the concept that each interaction is an impact – consider why you are doing it and how you can make the most of it.

Who should come to this Knowledge Network event? Why should they come?

Anyone who wants to increase or enhance their business. Anyone who wants to gain an advantage over their competitors.


If you’d like to hear more from Nigel he’ll be hosting our next Knowledge Network event on 15th June – find out more.

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