Red Sofa Interviews

Mark Miller on The Red Sofa

Watch the full interview here

Interviewer: Today we have the absolute pleasure of welcoming Mark Miller, founder of Goodfoot Development, onto the virtual red sofa.

Hi, Mark. How’re you doing?

Mark: Yes, thank you very much for your time, Terry, and everybody watching. Appreciate it.

Do you like my new glasses? I got these especially for the interview… not quite.

I got them to make me look intelligent compared to my normal ones.

So I hope that works for you, Terry.

Interviewer: Now, we’ve obviously known each other for a few years and you lead a very interesting life.

Are you able to give us a bit of insight into your background and Goodfoot and why you started it up.

Mark: Yeah, sure. I’m very lucky to be not that good at very many things. So I tend to do a lot of different things in an attempt to find something I’m good at. So, yes, you’re right.

I started off as a maths teacher for a couple of years in a comprehensive school, which really sorted me out and then moved into IT and then decided I wanted to become a pilot.

I was an instructor for a while and flew some aerobatics, which I was very privileged to do. Again, not that good at it, but I didn’t crash. And then I was freelance consulting in projects, so I thought with the people that I knew could kick that off on our own, which we did – that’s about 22 years back.

So Goodfoot started, actually, I’ll tell you the heart of why it started.

It started out of a personal situation where somebody I was working with had cancer and we decided to start a business together in order to build a new future.

So it very much started with a purpose, if you like, a meaning to deal with something that was a bit tough or very tough at the time.

Interviewer: Amazing. It’s strange how you fall into different walks life, isn’t it?

Mark: Yeah. You can never predict what’s going to happen to you.

I think I crossed the threshold when I realised I think it was about 38, bit later than most. I realised I was prone to make mistakes and a lot of them and I kind of faced the fact that I wasn’t perfect and I was going to make more and more and more mistakes. And when I actually realised that and accepted that and accepted it in other people as well, I became a better person at that point.

Interviewer: I understand that Goodfoot are about building, developing and educating individuals, team leaders and organisations. Can you give us a typical scenario of why people may turn to you?

Mark: Yeah, sure. So I was in projects which were mainly construction projects before I started Goodfoot.

So we link with construction companies. I love working with construction engineering.
A) I was a builder. I was an IT guy, so I was a builder anyway. But B) in construction, you got to get it right. Quality standards, safety standards. So you got to do stuff. You can’t just talk about it.

So we started to get engaged with teams that weren’t performing very well and could perform better. And largely it was to do with communication and it was to do with clarity, motivation, using the right talent and developing the right talent. And construction people, as you know, Terry, are really good at the job but don’t have time to think about how do I build my team as much as how do I build my building?

Increasingly we’re finding out that the ability for the manager to know psychology and to know how to build the army are brilliant at this.

The army know exactly how to build incredibly good teams that get stuff done and it requires effort and attention. So what where we typically get asked to get involved is in getting people to be more productive, getting businesses to be more successful because there is an art and there is a science to getting people to be productive.

Interviewer: So on that note, there were people being productive and part of teams and organisations, as you know, obviously recently because of what’s happened etc, people are working from home more.

Is that a benefit? How is that affecting organisations, individuals, both from a wellness point of view, from a productivity point of view, how do you see that will pan out in sort of the next twelve months? Are we still in the early stage of it and enjoying it? And will we go back?

Mark: Yes, it’s a great question. It’s fascinating. And the answer again, life being is not what you think.

We thought in the early days of COVID and locked down working at home that people were going to go nuts and that they were getting isolated and there was that element to start with.

I was talking to somebody last week, though, and they said, look, I love working from home and I’ve proved to my boss that our productivity as a team has nearly doubled.

We proved that with the stats. Nice, But the bosses are insisting now that we come back into work. And he says, I’m just going to just say, fine, I’ll come into work, but that’s 4 hours a week travel time. I’m not going to work for you anymore. I’ll just be traveling and it’s stupid. And the bosses are finding the problem.

Now the bosses got this shock of are you going to listen to people and the way they work? are you just going to carry on the way that you think as bosses you should be working? So some bosses say you should be working at home. Others are saying you should be working in the office. What we’re finding is that people generally want to do a good job and generally know the best way to work.

So what’s going to happen in the next twelve months? I think there’s a shock. It’s not through well being so much as management listening to people and asking them to work out together the best way to work. And that’s the shock to the system because actually the managers don’t know the answers to this. The people that are doing it know the answers. And the big, big thing I’ve noticed again, is people really want to do it. You’ve seen the stats, Terry, about people, the productivity and the amount of hours people are doing because they’re at home. People want to do a good job. And if we assume they do, there’s a great discussion to be had.

Interviewer: I’m looking forward to how that develops and pans out then. So within your website and through conversation, we’ve had you talk about facilitating personal growth and enabling individuals to better their own development, which then can in turn help organisations.

So that’s just coming on from what you just said, basically. So can you give some more detail on that?

Mark: Yeah, I’m very fortunate. I work in a small business with less than 20 people. And because of the start, which was personal and shocking with the cancer situation, it’s always been about what life do you want to live?

And if you live that life in your work and if you fulfil what you could do by default, we’ll make loads of money together. And I think a lot of business owners got it the wrong way around.

The thing of making money instead of fulfilling the individuals, when you fulfil the individuals, they make money for you. And if you read Carnegie all the way back to how to Win Friends and Influence People and all this old stuff, which is actually spot on stuff, and if you can, as a business owner, decide, I’m going to enable my people to have fulfilled lives.

That is their potential, their skills, their timing, their wellbeing, you get so much more work out of them and the company will do better.

So many examples of reading on this Week about a company totally enoughly turned around because the CEO realised that people hated him because he wasn’t listening to them. He’s tripled his turnover in a year because he just listened.

So the reason for developing people isn’t just because of some nice training thing, it’s to make money. And if we listen to people and grow their skill set, the business gets better. But a lot of bosses are insecure about that. They don’t want to let go of control. They want to be the ones with all of the answers.And the answer is none of us have got all the answers. So it’s down to the people.Once we can get people wanting to do it, wanting to work for us, Sky’s the limit. That’s where it really grows.

Interviewer: So do you try and help change the mindset of the business owners, the leaders, to think differently?

Mark: Yeah. It’s a really fascinating point, Terry, because the whole purpose, of course, we all know this by theory, don’t we, that if we can get all the team around us to perform to their best, the organisation by default makes loads of money.

That’s the purpose. And I think so many business owners have got it the wrong way around. They’re focusing on I got to make money. How do I do that? Which I agree. Short term cash flow. I’ve been there and there sometimes you’ve got to do that. But medium to long term, it’s got to be, how do I make each individual as productive as possible? Because then if you add it all up, then the organisation by default makes a load of money.

So the emphasis of the training is always on enabling participants on events and training courses to reach their potential and the potential of being able to make decisions, work quickly, liaison with customers, properly, negotiate deals, whatever it is, run teams.

Why? Because if they fulfil their potential, the organisation is so much more productive. And we’ll find that leaders that want that to happen, their companies grow quicker.

So many examples. There was one I was reading last week of a guy who tripled the turnover of his company, CEO, who found out that his staff didn’t like him and they didn’t like him because he wasn’t listening and he just swallowed humble by, okay, what do I do then?

So he embarked on a listening exercise. Turnovers tripled in a year. There are some very simple things to get right. And the biggest dilemma is the ego of those of us who run businesses think we’ve got to have all of the answers.

And when you uncover the potential of individuals, you find they contribute. And sometimes we don’t know the answers, but they do. That’s the trick. Very fascinating.

Interviewer: I see on your website that you offer a wide range of training solutions and talk about how you give a clear return on investment. Can you discuss this in more detail?

Mark: Because I think people are unsure about that investment against investment. And we’ve done it in a number of ways.

I just say to people quite often, if we don’t get you the money that you’re paying for this training, you can have it straight back.

I don’t want paying unless we’re making you money. Big organisations and small ones, we’ve got a lot of tools.

I’ll give you a quick stat that on average, with management training, we return about seven times the cost of the training. That’s in time and money and measurement of sales, training is about 22 times the cost of the training comes back and the business owners have got to be reassured by any investment they make that is worth the money, it’s coming back. And training and development is part of that investment. Thinking.

So you measure and one of the things you measure, you can measure sales quite clearly. You can measure money saved by reduction of mistakes or reduction of repeating the wheel. Risks avoided.

There are major surveys we’ve done with clients where we ask people from what the training shows you, what mistakes do you think you avoided?

And then we get an estimate and we take a 10th of that estimate. We take a 10th of it, and it comes out on average, about seven times the cost of the training is saved from not making mistakes because they’ve been trained in management techniques, customer handling techniques, bidding, selling, delivery skills, project management, etc.

So measurement is really important for me. In the end, it becomes a no brainer and a company gets it.

They go, if I quit my people, they’ll return so much more back. I don’t really need to measure it anymore. But in the early days, measurements are kind of a reassurance, I think cool.

Interviewer: Yeah, thanks for that. Are there any new developments happening within Goodfoot that you feel that we should know about in 2022 and beyond?

Mark: Yeah. Thanks, Terry. And I really appreciate the opportunity to share a bit about what we’re doing.

We were caught by COVID and we thought we’ve got to get smarter here and deliver digitally much better. We did a little bit of digital delivery. We’re now doing loads of digital delivery, as you can imagine. I’m coaching people in Hong Kong, for example, digitally, obviously, because Hong Kong, sadly, but they’re quite happy with it. And France and Europe, we’re running team sessions digitally with up to 80 people, and they’re working.

We’re now back to Face to Face in London and again in Europe. I’ll tell you what we’re missing and we’re learning that we’re missing. So to answer your question about next year, is that middle bit where people go away, they learn on their own and they prepare themselves. They go through some e-learning, if you like. They give some real basics, they get some feedback, and then they go into some tutor environment, some digital or Face to Face.

So what’s missing in our offering, which we’re building next year, is self study. Remote learning.

If you like e-learning, but we know I’m not going to tell you what we’re actually going to do, but we believe we know how to make it really good and really interesting. Not just that I will sign on, click, answer the question, or you scored three out of ten. Well done. But something dynamic, personality driven, fun, light. But it really tests your knowledge, gives you a good set of foundations. You can stop there, or you could go on to further training if you wanted.

So remote learning, is our call for 2022.

Interviewer: Well, that was Mark Miller. Mark, thank you so much.

Founder of Goodfoot developments and you can find out more about Mark and his team and the solutions that they provide at

Thank you, Mark.

Mark: Thank you. I’d love to talk to anybody and don’t worry, we’re not solicitors. We don’t start clocking the bill when we start talking. I just love to talk to people and offer ideas and thoughts. If we can help at all, just call.

Watch the full interview here

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