Cool friend – Phil Hawthorn – The Business Cook

It may not be Rock’n’Roll to be a cook, or is it?  Well, I must say how much I admire the leadership coach and trainer Phil Hawthorn, who synthesises his ideas about business with cooking, actually preparing food while he speaks at corporate conferences and events.  He is also the author of Can Men Cook, a saucy look at gender stereotypes and cooking which rocks!  I interviewed Phil about his views on cooking, music and life.

So, what is your unique difference Phil?

I have built a fun little business linking cooking to order, leadership and teamwork.  A lot of the time I will work helping teams and their leaders to work more effectively together.  This is where the theory and practice of organisational life come together.  I’m especially good at just getting people to talk – which is a god start for fixing problems.  At the other extreme, I have run cookery demonstrations at The Ideal Home show and other places, and appeared on ITV’s competition “Britain’s Best Dish”.  I mix the two in presentations on management teams and cooking!  Here’s a clip from Britain’s Best Dish:

If music be the food of love.  What’s the link?

Shakespeare. Next question?  Seriously, both food and music feed the soul. They are ultimately involved in being creative, making something new, making the thought processes a bit different, a bit of relaxation and making people happy.  This isn’t a bad set of aims for organisations too, I feel.  Much recent research has shown that the happier an organisation is, the more successful it is.  Simple but true.  Perhaps Lord Sugar should read more of this stuff! (I loved your blog on The Apprentice, btw).

Have you got an example of a company you worked with using this approach?

A team from The Environment Agency, would you believe?  The team worked on day one learning about Rhododendron clearance, and then met up to cook a communal dinner.  They had to create the menu, do the shopping and work to a budget.  I was tasked with making a gallon (literally) of custard.  What a lot of stirring!  Food of love?  Yes, calm, content and smiling.  What better way to team build?

Another event was at a Business School for their MBA Alumni a while back.  Their leader said of it:   “If you think you have seen everything then think again. The principles of management are presented in a very entertaining, professional and unique way”.

What about music?  What music do you love?

I’m of an age where I grew up in Glam Rock – T.Rex, Bolan, David Bowie, Squeeze.  I love female singers (Kate Bush, Madonna, and Lady Gaga).  Really enjoyed Florence and the Machine, but still hark back to rock – Led Zeppelin and anything with a blues feel really.  Bach and Mozart haven’t passed me by either…

This, of course gives me the perfect excuse to play some T.REX

And The Beatles.  I am from Liverpool so have an affection.  I love the creative juice that flowed from Lennon and McCartney being friends and enemies.  Love, hate, Yin, Yang.  And that created some of the most beautiful harmonies and dichotomies in the world of music.  And I love some classical masterpieces that have created love and hate.  Elgar’s cello concerto, for example.  No-one dared do it after ‘brave’ (yes, she was) Jacqueline Dupree defined it in the repertoire.  Until Natalie Klien became BBC Young Musician of The Year (XXX?) when no-one dared to perform it.  How sad!  Natalie won by a unanimous heartfelt and emotional mile.  But she didn’t record it until 2009.  We saw her performing it in the Albert Hall in 2010.  And it was better than both the Dupree renditions.

Where can we find out more?

We have a new website called The Two Cooks, delivering exceptional corporate events and keynote speeches that blend business, music and cooking.  Check my personal website out at Can Men Cook.

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We will brand you – Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Unilever and Prince on branding

What can we learn from the crazy world of Rock’n’Roll about branding? One way to think about a brand is a kind of ‘shorthand’ designed to stop consumers from thinking about anything else other than your brand / product. Get branding right and you have customers for life. Get it wrong and you may never take off in business.

Take a look at this ‘basement video’ I made with my colleague Phil Hawthorn to understand the power of brands. We look at Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nike, Madonna, Pepsi and Prince in this short video.

Unilever is a particularly interesting example of a brand which has managed to preserve the diversity of its many different operating companies, which, in their own words:

“We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life”

This is exemplified down to the last detail in the logo for Unilever, which sells products from Dove, to Lipton Tea, to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the logo carries meanings which include freshness, love, beauty, science, farming, freedom and so on – a pretty tall order for any corporation to live up to, but a mighty ambition nonetheless.

The ultimate test of a brand is the extent to which it enables your company to have longevity as Unilever have demonstrated over 120 years. To see what I mean through the power of music, take a look at the 45 year old brand that is Pink Floyd:

And finally, purely for fun, the word branding began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. In a moment of musical madness, my Country and Western Glam Rock band (The Cowpokers) took this lesson literally, in a satirical pastiche of the classic Queen song ‘We Will Brand You’. The audience is initially deluded into thinking that the drum track will be exactly as the original, but later on find out that it is not and the audience develop a form of ‘arrhythmic distress’ ….

We are speaking / performing about brands and customer service at the Customer Service Training Awards on Friday 08 July at Heathrow. Check out our starter menu of corporate event offerings for your next conference at R U EXPERIENCED