How Tom opened the January 2021 LifeSearch Chiefs Board Meeting

Tom's Opening Words

1 Feb 2021

Welcome all. 
We meet as if on a sunny little island in the middle of a vast sea of trouble and sadness.  We are doing the good that we do very well, but we cannot speed the vaccine or reopen schools, we can but do our job and count ourselves lucky. And look after each other and all those we care for. And by not becoming infected look after others too. 
We’ll discuss record months and great plans for digital transformation and growth, we’ll talk about our well defined strategies already being delivered and even spend time on our own inner psyches looking at how we each think and work so we can collaborate better and strengthen the team wisely.  All these things are good and we should be proud of ourselves and the loyalty we have shown to our people and they have returned in spades. But as we do all that we should also please have the humility to know that it would all be dust if we had not, almost all of us by fluke, chosen financial services as our world of work. We would have say made a great hotel management team and LifeSearch hotels might have spanned the land, with motivated happy Searchers looking after happy customers and each other and our quality and scale wouldn’t have made any difference at all. We’d be shut and fighting endless financial fires. So we are here feeling positive about all things work, not just because we are good at what we do and have been doing it right for up to 22 years, but also because we are just very lucky. We should have the humility to acknowledge that. And having done that let’s move on to make the most of that luck and use it to do the most good we can. For I don’t know how many dependents of the 100,000 who have lost their lives are financially better able to cope because there was a life insurance policy in place, or how many long-Covid sufferers are receiving IP payments each month, but for each one who is, our market has done something good, something that provides enormous succour and relief to those enduring the worst days of their lives.  So let’s go and do more of it.
We need, I think, to state explicitly that caring for our people is our most important task right now. Of course it long has been, but this slow, long trudge of a year makes it a clear financial priority.  We are all struggling with our individual lockdown reality and increasingly the depressing lack of ability to plan for some much-needed fun in the months ahead. Who knows when kids will go to school, when singles will again be able to get it together, or spouses and partners just get a f’ing break from each other! So we need to keep up the focus on those struggling most and be innovative and clever in how we help them help themselves. There are lots of efforts going on, but often I fear it’s those that need them most that don’t turn up to them. We need to make sure that we are reaching the ones who really need help and to be there. That’s often how initiatives like our prompting thoughtfulness about diversity, fail.  The converted turn up for more, the hard-core anti’s stay away.  We need to make sure we are reaching our hard to reach, whether that’s in promoting diversity or mental well-being or just teamwork and great behaviours. It’s a Chiefs job, it’s one of the reasons we coined that name – a chief looks after their tribe.  Spend more time seeking out and looking after the weakest of yours please.
Now let’s talk business, we’ve got a serious promotion to record: David Thomas CFO welcome to the board!  I’ll post the news on Yammer tomorrow if you all approve of the promotion? Following my sharing of diary extracts from 2007/8 David noted that he was glad he didn’t have his role then.  We are a different business just now and have real financial strength, which is just as well given the economic risks inherent in a rising unemployment rate – it’s up to 5% and will surely rise past 10, and it gives me the confidence to do what I’ve always read that great businesspeople do – they accelerate their growth through hard times, investing  and innovating more, so that come the good times they emerge in a different league.  That fits with all of our ambitions and plans, so let’s do more and more of the good that we do.
You start us off please Paula. 

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