Always cross bridges before you come to them.
So said Siegmund Warburg, the 20th century banker who did more than most to establish the City of London as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre.
It’s a maxim that Andrew Strauss seems to have taken to heart as well.
He was the star turn at last week’s Yorkshire International Business Convention.
The England cricket captain told delegates: “Prepare well and be prepared for anything therefore when it does happen under real pressure you can react sensibly to that.”
He said that the team went through lots of “what-if scenarios” in advance of the tour.
The approach clearly worked – his side won the 2010-11 series in Australia and he became one of only three England captains to have won the Ashes both home and away.
It was a triumphant return Down Under after the humiliation of the 2006-07 tour when the national side were thumped 5-0 by the Aussie hosts.
“So many valuable lessons were learned,” said Mr Strauss. “We got a lot of things wrong. We did some things right.
“It really sowed the seeds in my mind for how we could go out there in the future and win.”
In an interview beforehand, the captain told me there are very strong correlations between business and sport. It’s certainly true that thorough preparation is vitally important to success in business. You’ve got to know your markets inside out, who you are selling to and who your competitors are.
Mr Strauss also spoke about the art of leadership. He told me: “There’s no one style of leadership.
“As long as you are true to yourself and you are committed then that’s a pretty good starting point.
“There’s no doubt you have to be honest with people.
“Things I try to do are be myself, be honest and try to sell my vision of where I see us going as a side. If you do that you have a reasonable chance of people following you.
“Sometimes you can over-think things a bit. All players want is a sense of direction and a sense of all being part of something together and that they are being communicated to in an honest way.”
Good advice to business leaders in Yorkshire, I’d say. It emphasises the importance of teamwork, something that can’t be said enough.
Mr Strauss also impressed with his manners.
It’s a fact of life as England captain that you live in the media glare, with every decision on and off the pitch subject to intense scrutiny.
In spite of this, he was unstintingly polite to me during the interview, even rising to shake my hand as I walked into the green room. A class act and a great role model for countrymen young and old.
THE Yorkshire International Business Convention is supposed to be about inspirational speakers inspiring an audience of Yorkshire business leaders.
But it was difficult to feel inspired about the local enterprise partnerships, whose chairmen took part in a debate at the conference.
This is not a swipe at Barry Dodd, James Newman and Neil McLean, who are all accomplished and capable men.
Rather it is about the distinct lack of regional coherency in the whole set-up.
Mike Firth, the YIBC organiser, summed up the problem in his opening remarks.
“We have a real issue in Yorkshire with the demise of the regional development agency. I think we have lost our voice.
“Whatever you thought of Yorkshire Forward, it was connected to London. I’m really concerned that control is being moved back to London.”
Mr Firth added: “We need business to stand up and shout for Yorkshire.”
He’s right. Someone or something has to step into the void and promote the many interests of this unique region.
FINALLY this week, I would like to invite those running the region’s most successful businesses to enter the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards.
The awards are now in their sixth year and represent the very best that Yorkshire has to offer.
There are lots of categories to enter, including awards for export, innovation, corporate social responsibility and entrepreneurialism.
Full details can be found on our website, www.yorkshirepost.co.uk
Companies and individuals have until Friday to get their entries in. Good luck to everyone.
The shortlist will be announced in September, with a glittering awards ceremony taking place on October 13. We will announce details soon of this year’s keynote speaker.
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