Mark Cooper, Owner, Cooper & Lansbury

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When I first met Mark, I knew he was a professional presenter of some sort. His cadence, eloquence, and vocal variety were exceptional. He weaves stories into his presentation effortlessly and with wonderful skill.

Mark further proved his generosity by presenting to my Toastmasters club and contributing to this project. If you are interested in being a sole proprietor, being a sales consultant, or understanding personality types and culture better, read on.

You can read Mark’s full biography here


Jamie: Mark, what have you found most fulfilling about your career thus far?

Mark: I suppose several things. I set up my own business about six years ago, sort of on a whim, not knowing what to expect, and the most fulfilling part is being employed by myself and discovering what I’m good at, where my strengths lie and building a bit of resilience around facing the “slings and arrows”  that the business world can throw at you. The fulfilling aspect in its purest essence to me has been that I am my own boss, and I get to make my own decisions. I’ve made a couple of big mistakes along the way and done things I’ve really not enjoyed doing, and when I’m doing them, I’m thinking I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m the one who can call the shots now. That element of control is the most useful aspect of being self-employed, and actually, it’s helped me grow.

I would say those are kind of the key things. The other fulfilling aspect of running your own business is it enables you to dive into all the different aspects of it. I’m the finance director. I am in charge of marketing. I’m in charge of sales. I have to motivate myself. I am the team leader, and because of having to do all those different things, I’ve gained a whole load of different skills, and, of course, it makes you totally unemployable. If anyone tries to offer me a job, I couldn’t do it. They’d be telling me what to do. That doesn’t sit right anymore. I suspect for people in my shoes, they’ve been out of full-time employment and self-employed for some time, and suddenly, it makes them impossible to actually take on board and back in-house. That is a true hazard.


Jamie: In terms of the business you started, what is the best thing about working in corporate training?

Mark: I started my career as a teacher many years ago, and there was an element of drudgery about it because I had to stick to teaching people the same things over and over again. It was a set syllabus, and it wasn’t hugely motivating from my perspective. I hope it was, obviously, to the kids I was teaching. The best thing about being in corporate training is in some respects that light bulb moment and I get to work with people who reached a certain point in their careers and feel hard. What’s next?

Occasionally, I will spend two or three hours with someone, and it’s not very often, but they will turn around say, “Oh my, God. That was enlightening. I wish I’d known that 5, 10, or 15 years ago.” That is the absolute zenith of what I could want out of this; helping people be better at what they do. I have a great mantra. I can’t make you smarter, but I can make you better. You can’t make people more intelligent or approach things with a higher IQ than they already have, but you can make people better at what they do.

And for me, it’s helping people really understand what their gift is, what their core skill is and that I think has been the absolute joy of being in what I do. Sadly, that doesn’t happen every week. But occasionally, you will get someone who goes, “Ah, that was fantastic.” That’s a huge boost to me. If they walk out of the room thinking that I can do something different, then brilliant.


Jamie: Conversely, what’s the worst bit at being in corporate training?

Mark: There are two things here, some drawbacks to running your own business and working on your own, and some drawbacks to being in corporate training. For me, in corporate training, the big drawbacks are when you have people who come along to a program that the company has invested a lot of money in and they’ll turn around you at the beginning of it, and they’ll say, “I don’t know why I’m here. I was sent. My managers told me to be here.”

That is just a crushing sense of defeat before you’ve even started. Actually, there’s a bit of joy when you manage to turn it around and if after day one, they’ve left thinking, “That was much better than I thought it was going to be” or “I’ve learned something, that is a massive tick in the box, I’ve actually got through to them.” I think you know when companies just feel they ought to be training people, and they send people on the program without really thinking about, “What is the end game?” or “What will the return on investment be?” and they’ve not engaged the learners before they kick-off; they just sent them forth.

You’ve got some people who say, “Here we go, train all of our senior team,” and of course, a good percentage will never have been in a classroom environment since leaving university or school, and for them, it’s something that perhaps they didn’t enjoy, so there’s resistance to it. Turning them around, I think you know that moment of happiness we’re you think, “I’ve achieved something that has actually helped them envisage and visualise their forward path.”

The other thing is running your own business.  It can be quite lonely, and the biggest challenge I found getting out and setting up on my own and being a freelance consultant is that you have no-one to bounce ideas off. Customers and clients come to you, expecting you to know the answer. When it comes to coming up with a program, they’re looking to me for the answer and for that answer to be a well-reasoned one that I’m comfortable with. It can be quite lonely. I’m becoming hugely self-reliant, and it took some time to build up the confidence that I know what I’m doing, but now people are buying into this so I can go out and sell them on the concept.


Jamie: How much does your role currently involve sales?

Mark: Everything I do with clients I have had to sell into them. I suppose I’m effectively heading up business development. I would say I spend with every client project, 20% of that project is selling the idea into them.

I’ve been immensely lucky. I have gained all my clients through word of mouth, so I’ve never had to go and market myself by using advertising or social media; instead, I’ve always been referred.

When I set up the business, I thought sales really isn’t for me, but I think the best salesman is sort of people who actually go and do something naturally.


Jamie: How did you find that transition from teaching to being a salesperson?

Mark: I have a natural reticence about going out and saying what I’m good at, and if I’m really honest, what I sell is me. I could say, “Yes, I sell leadership training,” but, you know what, anyone can do that because the content is fairly well-known. What I do is not rocket science. What people buy into is the way I do it; my style and the hardest hurdle to overcome was to go out and blow my own trumpet, which still sticks in my throat. If people say, “What do you sell?” Well, “Me.” I suppose when I go into those sorts of transactions, I don’t think I’m selling, and for me, it’s just about talking about the product, it’s talking about what your teams will get out of the interventions with me rather than it being, “This is what I sell,” and going in all guns blazing. I suppose it’s overcoming the natural modesty and, believe it or not, reticence about talking to people.

It’s taken a while to get there, but I feel much more comfortable now. For me, a sale would be going through and having a conversation with someone, and if I’m going to have a coffee or meet someone for a drink with the view to developing a nice working relationship, and I never look at it as more than that. If I go in thinking, I’ve really got to clinch the deal, it would just be a disaster. It doesn’t play to my strengths. I think it comes across as unnatural as well. People think, “Oh. What’s he after?”


Jamie: What advice would you have for other people making that transition from a role that doesn’t involve any selling at first to a role that does?

Mark: In my head, I’ve got two really clear pieces of advice. The first one is that authenticity is everything. You’ve got to be you. If you try and be someone else, then I don’t think it really works. Years ago, I was given some advice, in one of my very first roles coming out of university, in corporate media sales. I was selling space on a European television channel, and someone gave me the advice, “If you don’t feel comfortable calling, pretend you’re someone else. Give yourself a pseudonym or moniker.” That didn’t work for me at all. For me, the first piece of advice is to be yourself. Be really authentic.

The second piece of advice is, be clear about what you’re selling, what your product is, and what sets you apart. I always look at the people who come to the front door and say are you interested in having your roof cleaned? Well, no. I’ve never given any thought to having my roof cleaned, and you’ve come in, and you just told me something that I could probably do myself. So be really clear in your mind about what your product or offering is, particularly if it’s a service. If it’s actually a product one can buy, then why would I buy it from you and not from Amazon, for instance, or online? It’s having clarity about what you bring to the table, and it took me a while to understand that.

There’s a third piece that’s just come to my mind. I had a wonderful piece of advice about two years ago. What is your end game? If you are selling something or you’re setting up your own business, what is the long-term view? If I’ve set up a business and someone asked me, “So what is the long-term?” what, you know, “What is the end game with this? What are you planning to do with the business in four or five years?” I didn’t have an answer. The answer was, “Well, I wanted to do corporate training, so that’s what I’m doing.”

I never looked beyond, “Okay, if I can get through the next six months, that’s great. I’ll do another six months.” Have a clear idea of where you want to be. Do you want to sell the business, or do you want to have a legacy of the end of the process? Is there an end of the process?


Jamie: From your experience in the area, do you believe there are certain personality types which are better suited to work in sales?

Mark: I think on the surface, yes. I think some people have a natural ability to go out, work a room and find opportunities. I worked with several different personality profiles such as Myers-Briggs, Belbin Team Roles, and Cattell 16 Personality Factors. I think extraversion helps if you were to look at these on any sort of personality scale. Those people who get their energy from being with others and from networking can go into a sale and feel confident about it.

However, what I’ve learned along the way is that those who really don’t want to be a salesperson actually tend to be quite good at it because they aren’t ‘salesy’ in inverted commas. They don’t set out to drive a deal or drive a hard bargain, and as a result, people can probably relate to them in a way where they don’t feel they’re being sold to. While there might on the surface be set roles that actually probably are natural ‘salesy’ types. I think that nearly everyone can sell something and it’s just harnessing that skill and being true to yourself that will make the sale much more profitable and a win-win situation.


Jamie: For someone who’s already in sales, could you talk a little bit about the advantages and the benefits of understanding personality profiles and profiling people well?

Mark: I think for those who are in sales, that is absolutely key. The Golden Rule in life is to treat other people as you would wish to be treated. The trouble is the way that how I want to be treated isn’t the same as how other people want to be treated.

The Golden Rule should be: treat other people the way they want to be treated – but you don’t know that. You don’t exactly know how they want to be treated. Understanding other people’s personalities will give you a real insight into adapting and modifying your behaviour to get the best out of any situation.

Someone who is naturally very analytical or detail-orientated, possibly a bit shy and retiring will not respond well to someone who just gets right in their face and talks for 30 minutes and says, “Yeah. It will be fine.”

They do not operate like that. The person who is in your face and very outgoing needs to temper their behaviours, and temper their communication style, to get the best out of that situation. Understanding other people’s personality profiles and understanding what makes other people tick, will help you adjust your behaviours to get the best out of that situation and it feels a bit unnatural when you’re doing it. But wow, does it work!


Jamie: What skills are needed to succeed in corporate training?

Mark: Three key skills. There has been a lot of flexibility. While I can talk about the same thing for five years, every time I talk about it, it’s totally different. I can go into any room and have a preconceived idea of how a session will go and then be totally surprised when it goes in an entirely different way. The flexibility and ability to be prepared for the totally unexpected, I think is absolutely key and for me, I think one of the skills has got to be being relaxed about how you come across. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in overanalysing people’s responses. The beauty of personality profiling is that everyone responds to a situation differently, and it’s taken me a while to learn that. I’m qualified as a psychometric practitioner, but I’m still learning every day.

Another key skill, I think, is patience. Having patience with your clients because sometimes some of them will take a very long time for the penny to drop. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t necessarily hugely obvious to the person you’re speaking to. I also think it’s being confident with yourself in your own ability. Your authenticity, that’s absolutely key.


Jamie: What are the biggest challenges you face in terms of winning business?

Mark: I deal directly with CEOs and MDs a lot of the time, and their view is “Yeah, training. Absolutely. We need to do it, but that’s not on top of my list. Sales, sales, and sales, and I need people to go and sell the product so we won’t be able to train them.” The focus tends not to be on investment in people. Training is always the first thing to go when the going gets tough in times of recession, and in terms of furloughing your staff because of a national pandemic, training is the first thing to be cut.

I suppose the biggest challenge is helping people understand the return on investment, particularly taking their team members out of their day to day role to spend five, six, or seven days over months of being trained. That’s the hardest sell, in the purest sense of the word. The other big challenges are that most businesses operate on the body politic where you know, the CEO or the MDs see themselves as immune to needing to be trained.

“We need to train our people. Go and train our people.”

Then, they don’t commit to it themselves, and if we invite them to get involved which

I would always advocate because they should be emulating the best behaviours on top. They often say, “But I’m the CEO. Why would I be involved? Honestly, I don’t have the time for this.” If they did it from day one, their teams would buy into it tenfold, and they would dedicate their time to it, and they would see the value. It’s getting them to champion it, not just pay for it.

Jamie: What arguments do you use to prove that ROI and that the CEO should get trained?

Mark: The ROI, it depends on what sort of business it is. I cover a variety of different business, everything from the public sector, in local government, through to airports, through to construction companies, through to working with corporates and furniture and fitting company at the moment as well as graduate schemes.

For me, you’ve got to set out what the end game is in the beginning with them. What are you hoping to achieve? What does good look like? Then you can tangibly demonstrate the journey. It is quite difficult to prove ROI when it comes to – I hesitate to use the word because it puts people off – “soft skills training.”

Often, what I end up doing is selling a bigger package than perhaps they visualised that they needed at the beginning. If businesses don’t survey their staff and don’t survey their customers, it’s really difficult to prove any change in either the bottom line or customer satisfaction or staff retention rates. Once you’ve got that measure in place, it makes it much easier to measure what I’ve done.

I’ve just done an entire three-year program with an airport. What I did was to also set up a staff engagement survey that we read at the beginning of the three-year process to understand how people felt about working at that particular airport and then did it twice during the program and again at the very end. It’s really easier to plot people’s perceptions, to plot unsatisfactory, but also to get a better understanding of the attrition rate.

While they had a massive turnover of staff at the very beginning, I mean shockingly high numbers, now, after three years – and it’s a long journey, three years is a long time – now, we’ve got that down to less than 20% turnover, which I know still sounds huge, but in a very transient seasonal workforce, that’s quite something. It’s having the metrics in place and having the measures, and of course, the only way of selling it upfront is to show what you’ve been able to do with other clients. Otherwise, it’s just throwing around figures.

“I can keep your staff on board.” “Really? Whatever.”

You’ve got to have that matrix, and of course, it’s taken five or six years for me to have those sorts of figures in place to actually demonstrate.


Jamie: Apart from the retention engagement, what other benefits do you see for organisations that invest in staff training?

Mark: Being an L&D professional through and through; it is just foolish not to invest in training your staff. One of the set mantras I’ve had in my head from the very beginning was – and this came out of my very first sales – there’s a massive risk to not spending a lot of money on training.

People ask, “What happens if you spend all this money on training, and then they leave?” and my response to that is always, “What happens if you don’t spend any money on training and they stay?”

There is more danger to that.

I think it has a real knock-on effect. I think, and this is a real intangible. The more you invest in your staff, the more they will recognise that actually you care about them. The more they recognise you care about them, the more they’re willing to give back. It’s a virtuous circle. I think once you’ve started to train your staff to be better at their job, they become more productive at their job, if they’re more productive then actually feel better satisfied, which means they have far more pleasure in doing the job. Suddenly, they are nicer to the people around them. They are better to their customers, and they give much more of themselves. Your attrition rate goes down, and your general well-being in the office goes up. What you get out of people in terms of productivity and hours work is up, and ultimately, they become far better brand ambassadors and brand champions for you.

It’s like that old intangible measure, “What is your brand?” It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. If you can get the same response out of your team members, your employees, and what people say about their employer when they’re down the pub, then brilliant. I think it is a wonderful thing that people go and promote a company.

“You know, I really enjoy working for XY & Z company.” Suddenly, you become not only a business that people want to work with, but also become a business that people want to work for—the employer of choice.

Richard Branson always says, “Actually, your customers aren’t your most important stakeholder. Your people are your most important stakeholder. If you look after your people, they will look after your customer.” And he is absolutely right, you know. We expect people to go look after customers, but if you don’t look after them, why would they care?


Jamie: From the outside looking in whether an organisation has employee training at all, and then deciding if it is worthwhile training?

Mark: Yeah, it’s something I do a lot of even if I’m not looking to be employed by someone, it’s something I look at when I go to approach someone’s client or if they’ve been referred to someone, the big for me is just understanding the culture, and I know this is a very unscientific but I really cannot vouch for it enough. It’s a gut feeling.

You get a sense when you go into an office about what it’s like to work there. For me, I talked to absolutely everyone who’s involved. If I go and meet a potential new client or referral, I will have a conversation with the receptionist, and I will get an instant feeling, a gut feeling about what the business is like.

Culture is huge, and I will stand in any open plan office and have a look around, and you just know within five minutes whether this is a good place to work or whether it’s not. I would love to be able to say there is something scientific around that. I could talk about the “percentage of smile,” but it’s just little things, you get a feel for it.

I think business teaches us a lot, particularly leadership training, to look for some evidence or some scientific metric where you can measure this stuff, tells us to ignore our gut reaction. But our gut reaction, 9 times out of 10, is spot on because we’ve developed a set of internal measures throughout our lives that actually probably service very well. If I was to go back and work for a company, I want to go and visit where they work. I want to go and talk to all the people there. You get a feel for it instantly. I’m a great believer in this. If I’m interviewing someone, I ask the receptionist what that person was like when they came in the front door; were they nice to you or not? Because I want good people to work with me.


Jamie: Is there anything else that you look for in good culture?

Mark:  Leadership is absolutely key. It’s easy to talk about culture in a business, but where, who sets that culture? Where does it come from? Where is it championed from?

I’ve seen it so many times in my career, a study of the past 20 years of training across construction facilities, leaders who don’t talk the talk and walk the walk, or don’t demonstrate the values of the business, let everyone down.

You get an instant feel for a leader as to whether they truly believe what they are out championing across the business, and you can see it from a distance. My inbox is full of emails from CEOs and Chief Execs talking to me as a customer, where they’ve signed off their name, and you get a feel for them as a person. Now, of course, it’s rather artificial in that their marketing department has actually written it for them. But if that carries through into behaviours in the office, it gives me a real clear understanding; is this a business I want to work for?

Any leader who sits in an open plan office with his or her teams, I think, is well set up already compared to someone who sits in the Ivory Tower and is distanced. Someone who goes out and actually says “hi” and asks people how they are. The small things that instantly make them human are necessary. Authenticity is absolutely key. If you let yourself be yourself with your teams, you instantly become much more human, much more approachable, rather than removed and distant.


Jamie: What advice would you have for aspiring salespeople?

Mark: There’s a couple of things here. One is, ask yourself why you want to get into sales. For those that are commission-based salespeople, I think it’s really important to be competitive, and it’s really important to make sure that you’re doing this because you’re winning and you’re going to make your commission. But if the commission is the only end game; if it is the be-all and end-all, then your customer will see through it. You can become too dog-eared and have that bone in your mouth, where really you are doing it for your own benefit. My best advice to anyone who is in sales is: you’ve got to believe in the product.

If you have a real passion for your product or service, then you don’t need to go and sell it because it will happen naturally. I think those people who don’t do well in sales are the ones who go out with a clear target in their mind. The only thing that matters to them is clinching the deals they get their commission, and it comes across, and they can’t understand why it takes them so long to get sales over the line because they become so dogged doing it. Particularly nowadays – people tend not to sell like this anymore – no one wants salesperson who picks up the phone every day to see whether you made a decision on something you discussed two weeks ago.

One of the things I promised myself when I set up my own business, having been a director of an international L&D company, was that I was never going to be that supplier who hounds you to sign on the dotted line. When I have a conversation, I’ve put forward a proposal, if I don’t hear back from them, I don’t chase. I find it really annoying, as do they, and I used to not work with people who chase me constantly for a decision on something. That’s the wrong reason to buy the product. Whereas the people who naturally have an affinity with me, from a buying perspective, are those who genuinely want to sell you the product because it’s a good product, and because they believe in it, and they don’t feel they’re doing it because they want to get the commission. Believe in what you’re selling, and don’t fixate over, “I’ve got to do this because this is what’s going to pay my salary for this month,” even though it probably is.


Jamie: If you had your career again, what would you do differently?


I would plan more. I would do a lot more planning in terms of understanding why I was doing something and where I wanted to go. I tend to do a lot of short-term planning. It results in short-term behaviour. If I were to do things differently, I would have set up the business with a better business plan.

The business has grown, and it’s going well, but that’s been frankly through quite a lot of luck rather it being a planned approach. However, I think if I had planned it, I wouldn’t be where I was now, and it might have put me off. I’ve taken some business that I wouldn’t have done because an opportunity has arisen.

If I were to do things differently, I would carefully choose who I work with. When I set up my business – and I’m sure most people find this when they set up their own enterprise – whatever comes your way you say “yes” to because it’s business. At the very beginning, I should have chosen some clients a bit more carefully because I ended up doing things that I wasn’t enjoying, so I would probably be a little bit more specific about what I do. It used to be, “Right! Got a mortgage to pay. I need to pay the mortgage. I’m going to have to take this because this is money.”

There’s always going to be an element of that, and the luxury comes later when you do some push back and say no; it’s only over the past two years that I’ve started saying, “No. Do you know that’s not really my field of expertise,” rather than saying, “Yes, of course, I can do that,” and then having sleepless nights wondering if I can do it. That is such hard work.

The other thing I would do differently is I would value myself more from the outset. I undervalued myself and underpriced myself, initially, because I want to get the work in. I got work. It was great. But I was doing a lot of really hard work for not a lot of money, and I used to be amazed at my competitors who were doing, frankly, the exactly the same as me but charging three times as much. I thought, “I can’t possibly ask for that. I’m not long enough in the tooth, having set up my own business.” In hindsight, there are people who buy it, if it’s good and they passionately believe in it. I would not hold back on asking top dollar.


Jamie: Can you tell me about a specific time, either in selling training or in the delivery of training, where things didn’t go as well as you hoped, but it taught you a valuable lesson?

Mark: I have made an error more recently where I’ve just gone down the route I’ve just described, where I was referred to a client, a large museum actually. They’re lovely people, and I was referred to them as someone who can come and help with customer service. Specifically, I’ve been referred to them to help them with dealing with difficult customers; conflict resolution basically.  I was like, “Yeah, of course, I can do that.” But when I went in talked to them, I realised what they wanted was something really specific, and it wasn’t my bag. I thought, “I’ll go and do what I do, and they will love it, and they’ll bring me back for some more” – and they didn’t. They enjoyed what I did as a session, but it wasn’t what they wanted because I stuck too firmly to what I do. I think I walked away with egg on my face; I don’t feel I really filled their brief well enough and of course, I’ve now realised “I thought they’re going to have me back and I’ve now potentially lost an opportunity with a really good client that could have been long-term relationship.” That’s something that stuck more recently with me.

I think I was resolutely stuck with what I thought was a really good product that actually with a bit of tweaking would fit for them and it didn’t.  I should have taken a bigger step back and actually looked at what they wanted and start it again rather than trying to squeeze something into a mould or into the format. I think I was too wedded to do my tried and tested formula and didn’t want to bury it enough. There was a big learning there. I should have – and this comes back to what I said where you get a feel for the culture- I should have sat and really absorb the culture when I sat down the first, “You know what? I’m not sure I’m right for your organisation, and I should have said no.” Why would I sell someone double glazing if they’ve already got triple glazing?

I’ve made endless mistakes along the road. The biggest thing for me is possibly not being hungry enough for it to the beginning. I don’t think I looked enough at where I should be and I ended up doing lots of the work which I really enjoyed for virtually nothing, because, “I’m enjoying it. Oh, don’t worry about charging.” The biggest mistake was actually not asking for the right amount of money and not being hard-nosed enough to drive a bargain. I’ve come away from some of these situations thinking, “God, you know, I could have done so better out of that.” I wouldn’t be working all these days per month. I’ll be working half of the days for the same amount of money.

Another big thing: don’t compare yourself to other people. I think I’ve compared myself to many other businesses and businesses are really incomparable in some respect because you’re always dealing with personalities; particularly in what I do. The more you compare yourself to other people, the more you make yourself like them, as similar to them, and then you lose your USP, and I think I got a little bit caught up with at the beginning, doing a lot of that, and over-analysing it.

I’d like to think, touch wood so far. I haven’t made any huge massive errors. Everyone has paid to date, which is good. Someone said to me about sales three years ago.

“I really feel for you because it’s going to get hard.”

“What do you mean? It’s going to get hard?”

“You’ve never had to sell.

You never had to go and make a cold sale. At some point, all of your leads at all of the good referrals and all of that word of mouth stuff will dry up, and then you’ve got to go and do cold hard-selling, and you’re going to hate it.”

That was three years ago. I’ve managed not to reach that point, and at this point,

it was a sanitary moment where I thought actually, “Yeah, I need to gain a decent technique cold selling and see where I can take this.” In my industry, my particular service, people buy me when they’ve seen what I do, so it’s a virtuous circle.


Jamie: Can you tell me about winning a piece of business that someone else might not have won, which shows off the sort of the skills and the knowledge which you have gained throughout your career?

Mark: There is a client that I’ve worked with for some time. I’ve been running their graduate program and their leadership program, but they’ve approached me to go and do something entirely different, and this is out of the Middle East – they want to send me out there to basically run their entire L&D programme as an external consultant, and to set up and start an entire learning facility for them. That’s not something I necessarily thought I wanted to do, but when the opportunity arose, I thought, “Yeah, not only is this something that I can do, but I also want the experience of doing it. It would be a great opportunity.” They have believed in me, and they’ve gone out and actually pitched me to people. People have applied internally. I didn’t do any of those things – they’ve approached me – and I think it comes down to really being authentic and building up a long-term relationship. My style is different from what they are used to in the Middle East, and there is some real value to having someone they know they can put on the ground. What I bring is fun, lively, and it helps them to understand something totally different that I bring to the table.




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