Tino interviewed Stuart Blyth the owner of "From Pitch To Boardroom"


Tino: Welcome Business First TV. My name is Tino. At many points during your business life, you'll sit back and question either how well you're doing or how well you could be doing. And it's always good to have somebody on board who can basically look at your business from a different angle and tell you or give you different options to help you move forward. I have with me today, Stuart Blyth, who is absolutely amazing. Welcome aboard, Stuart. How are you?

Stuart Blyth: I'm very well. How are you Tino?

Tino: Yeah, terrific. So tell me exactly what is it that you do?

Stuart Blyth: Well, we have a very unique take on how businesses need to move forward. And we work exclusively with businesses, and especially the leaders and the directors and the owners of businesses who love sport. Because we want to show them how they can take their businesses forward by tapping into their passion for sports.

Tino: How does that work in terms of planning and getting the right people on board and so on?

Stuart Blyth: If they understand the sport's analogy, which is all about teamwork and how you build a great team, we make them if you're like the head coach of that team. And we give them the tools that we develop, by talking to a lot of the top coaches, on how to build a team because they have a very specific methodology for moving forward.

Tino: Now you and I both have the same backgrounds, we understand people. But I'm not so strong on sport, I just don't see what everyone else sees. So why don't we talk a bit more about that, in terms of possibly having the right strikers on board, having the right defence on board, and so on.

Stuart Blyth: Exactly. So it doesn't matter which team sport you're talking about, there's always a formation that the coach tries to put onto the pitch. And we translate that into business speak by saying, "Who is the team this is currently running your projects?" Have you got the right people in the right positions to deliver the end result for you? And it doesn't matter whether it's a marketing project or a sales project, it's all project based. And when you think about it, a game or a match is a project that you win or lose. So where do these people fit into the team and what is the purpose for them being there? If you take a sport's analogy, you will always see where the gaps are.

If you like a team sheet and a team formation and it shows have you got enough defenders, have you got enough strikers, have you got the right balance to pull the project off?

Tino: And how do you associate to strikers, for example, to a company. What is a striker in a company? What does he do or what does she do?

Stuart Blyth: In our view the striker, in most instances, will be that killer salesperson who you want to score a winning contract every time they walk into a room with a client. That's really all you want to do. In the same way that if you pay £200 million for striker, you don't want them to be the goalie this week, you want them to be in the other company's penalty area shooting the goals.

Tino: Okay, okay. Do you find, then, that a lot of companies have people multi-tasking, doing different things?

Stuart Blyth: I think at the lower end of the corporate structure or company size people have to multi-task. And you always hear people saying, "I like people with transferable skills." As you go up the corporate size, you're really looking for specialists because that's where they can be most effective. And so when you're looking at a sports team, you are looking for a team of specialists or a team of individuals who are specialists that you can mould into a team. And that's what you really need to do in your business because it's no good you having a top striker and then asking them to be the secretary or the PA.

Tino: Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's fair to say, if you look at many successful companies today, they do well because they have the right people in right places.

Stuart Blyth: They do, they do. But they don't have all the right people in all the right places and that's why they struggle. Because they take it so far and then they kind of get a lot of generalists on board. But when you look at, and this is what's fascinating, when you look at job descriptions for many organisations they are very specific about the type of person they're looking for, but then they don't go and hire that person, they go out with a generalist.

Tino: And this is where you help people out?

Stuart Blyth: Absolutely. We really sit down with them and say, "Who are you looking for? Who is the best person in your industry that you need to bring into that position? Because you need the best. If you're not hiring the best then, in our view, they're working for your competition." And we know what happens when the best people work for competition ...

Tino: They do better than we do.

Stuart Blyth: They do better than we do. And so you really need to have that mentality because sports coaches are always looking for better people.

Tino: At what stage or at what point did you decide to put this model in place, take it from pitch to boardroom?

Stuart Blyth: Very interesting you ask me that. I spent more than 25 years working in the corporate sector and I was asked to manage teams of various shapes and sizes within the confines of a corporate culture. And the issue that I came across was that I was not allowed to develop the team that I was asked to manage in an appropriate fashion that allowed me to get to the end result because there were too many constraints. And as a result I thought, "There must be a better way of doing this." And then I defaulted back to my passion, which is sports, to look at, how do the top coaches start to put these teams together? And working with some of the top coaches it became very evident that there is a framework that they use to put these teams together. Obviously personality plays a part, but it's not the personality that we're interested in, we're interested in the framework. So if you do steps one to five, what do I end up with? If I do steps one to seven, I get a different result. But you need to understand how it fits together.

Tino: And can this apply to any business?

Stuart Blyth: Any business at all and it applies at any level. So it can apply at project level, at a division level, or a corporate level because at the end of the day, we all work in teams. So what is the best team for this instance that you're trying to put together? And you may not have all the right people.

Tino: Tell me about your business and your packages and the services that you offer.

Stuart Blyth: Our businesses, I said, we work with companies in excess of £5 million turnover because they have to have a critical mass to move forward and enough people that we can start to work with. And the idea is that we work with the senior team who will have a passion in sport, they either advertise or they sponsor sport; they sell fashion, they may be a fan, the may actually coach junior teams. So they get the analogy. And what they are passionate about, in terms of helping these people play, we bring into their business life, which makes it very relevant to them and something that they can revisit all the time.

Tino: In terms of the services that you offer, then, what can you tell about that?

Stuart Blyth: We offer a range of services that we provide our clients with from coaching and mentoring of the senior team to understand the methodology, we run a series of training workshops, we run a series of seminars. And one of the things that we do that everybody loves in our programmes is we built a board game to help people understand the whole process. And when we play with groups of people, even though they have the same problem that they're grappling with, the divergence of ideas about who needs to be in that team is a fundamental learning point. Because I can look and say, "Tino, you're a great salesperson, I want you as my sales director." Somebody else coming from a different angle might say, "No Tino's not sales, he's actually business development," which is a totally different function. And the learning is in, why is there this difference and how do we come to a compromise that ends up with the right result?

Tino: And tell me about your seminars. What happens there?

Stuart Blyth: In the seminars we get people to really start to think about the makeup of a team. We hear a lot about team building and we all work together, but our research shows if you ask team leaders, directors of teams, and senior leaders, "Can you tell me what is the best skill of each individual on that team?" They don't know. They really have no idea. They have a vague notion this person's quite good at this or that. If you ask any sports coach, "What does that player do for your team?" They will be able to tell you in intricate detail why they're there.

Tino: Why do you think that is? Is it because the coaches spend more time engaging with their players? And then managers don't spend so much time engaging with their employees?

Stuart Blyth: That's absolutely the case. When we talk to our clients we often find that the managers are not managers, they're actually players. They spend too much time doing the job than coaching other people to do the right job. And when we point this out to them we say, "You never see a top sports coach run onto the field of play if the game's not going well." But that is the first thing that happens in a business. And so you really need to get them to take a step back because they need to have, if you got the helicopter view of what's going on so they can influence and see what needs to be done. Because as soon as you get into being a player you lose that objectivity.

Tino: Do you find that smaller companies are the ones that are properly struggling the most in this area?

Stuart Blyth: I think smaller companies are struggling the most because they don't have the resource necessary to get everybody on board. And that's not necessarily a big problem in today's economy because I think the term has now come out, gig economy, where people go from one gig to another on a temporary or contracted basis. So they could also use the methodology, if they understood when they needed that contractor to come into the business, because the chances are you may only need them for three months or six months. You don't need them as a permanent employee but you need to know who they are. And with social media, they're advertising their specialties everywhere.

Tino: What's your view on social media?

Stuart Blyth: Social media is a great place to learn and to meet people. We get a lot of feedback from our clients that say, "It's easy for the sports coaches to identify the key players that they need because they are in the media all the time. Either on the television, in the newspaper, they're being interviewed, so it's much easier for them to say, 'I need that player, I need that person to come into my team.'" What they've not recognised is that with the advent of social media, the people that you want are on social media. And if you know who you're looking for or the type of skills you're looking for, you can find them. They advertise in the same way.

Tino: Tell me about one key hire.

Stuart Blyth: Interesting. One key hire has come out with piece of research that we conducted where we looked at a number of different professional sports over the last 10 years. So we looked at some UK based sports and American based sports and we asked the question, "Who won the championship in the current year and where were they the prior year? And what was the difference in the playing personnel that made them go from third or fourth to first?" And the research shows overwhelmingly, it was one key transfer.

Tino: Okay, just explain that.

Stuart Blyth: A team that comes third or fourth has desires to win the championship the following year. The coach says, "I don't have the right team in place." So they go into the market and they say, "I need a number of players to come in." And when we looked at who they bought and we looked at the outcome, one key player stood out amongst all the others that made the difference. And so when we talk to our clients and our prospective clients about this whole idea, they often think that they need wholesale change to go to the next level. And we say, "It's actually not wholesale change. You'll probably find it's one key hire." Let's us help you identify where in your organisation that person needs to fit and then it's your job to go and find the best person that you can.

And as a result of this we are going to publish a new book around this whole idea. And we're going to interview the top sports coaches who've made this happen, which will be a fantastic read because we want to know how do they identify the gap, who do they seek out, and did it meet their ultimate objective? Which I think will be a great learning for everybody.

Tino: And does it come out of your ... On the interviews?

Stuart Blyth: Correct.

Tino: So you've written a book.

Stuart Blyth: Yeah.

Tino: The book is right here. It's called From Pitch to Boardroom. And tell me about the book.

Stuart Blyth: Well the book is an outline to the whole methodology. And it took about nine months to write and I worked with some great coaches who gave me some idea about how they go about finding the right players. And it starts off on the concept of building a dream team. We hear about dream teams all the time. If you don't know what a dream team looks like or what your dream team looks like, you can never get there. If you have a vision for what it needs to be, the book then lays out in a framework the nuances you need to look at depending on how you want your business to move forward.

Tino: Could somebody buy this book and could they use a model in here?

Stuart Blyth: Yes, they can use it. It's been designed to allow people to pick it out, they can read a chapter or two. It's a how-to-guide. It's supposed to be a quick and simple, let me see if I can understand this particular aspect. And that goes into all parts of team play.

Tino: People who are watching today or are listening today who want to know more, what should they do?

Stuart Blyth: They can contact me by the website, frompitchtoboardroom.com. Or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tino: It sounds like we can put this Pitch to Boardroom into any business. But like anybody else who gets given manuals, we like to meet people and find out what happens. So tell me more about if I read the book and I like what I'm reading and I want to contact you and I do that, what happens then? What can I expect to happen?

Stuart Blyth: If you contact us we'll obviously have a conversation over the phone and we'll try and understand whether you believe that you have a problem that you need to resolve, because we're not here to force our solutions on to you. If you say, "I really have a problem with a team," or, "I'm really not sure which way to go," then the best thing for us to do is to meet. And we can show you in the course of an hour or 90 minutes some of the things that we do with our clients, and you'll know whether it's right or not for you. Because you might have misunderstood how we do it. But when we show you some of the idea you might think, "That's exactly what I need."

Tino: Stuart, thanks for coming on. If you were to leave us with one final thought, what would that be?

Stuart Blyth: A great final thought that we always leave out prospective clients and our clients with is, you have a favourite sport that you like. The best thing that you can do to understand what we're about is, next time you're watching your favourite team or you're coaching a team, think about the positions and the team structure that are in front of you. Then see if you can map that team structure into your business because you should be able to match it. If you can't, then you know that the business team is wrong.

Tino: Okay, thank you. So Stuart, tell me how your business differs to other businesses that are out there today?

Stuart Blyth: Great question, Tino. We are unique from the point of view that nobody else that we can find is attacking these fundamental team issues from the sports coaching angle. There are lots of companies out there that will help you try and develop a leadership team, but it's difficult because it's not based in any emotional connection. And our clients get great results because of the emotional connection with a personal passion of theirs. And it makes total sense to them at all stages. That's why we are unique.

Tino: So who are your competition today?

Stuart Blyth: I don't believe we have any competition because we're unique in our take on to how to build team.

Tino: If you're looking to grow your business, if you think that your team can perform better, if you're not too sure how to make your team perform better, then give Stuart a call. You've got his details from earlier in the show. Or visit frompitchtoboardroom.com

Thanks for watching. My name is Tino from Business First TV.

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