Lucy's Books

Lucy Shilcock, Independent Usborne Organiser

A look back at our Leadership Academy event

5th March 2020

On Wednesday 26th February and Thursday 27th February, we were joined by our Gold, Silver and Bronze Level Leaders for a wonderful two days of skills development and celebration at Oulton Hall in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

But before the event began, we were delighted to be joined by some of the Achievers of our 2019 Travel Incentive to Cuba! With their shared adventure just around the corner, this season's Leadership Academy presented the perfect opportunity for our Achievers to get to know each other before embarking on their Cuban carnival in April.

After a lovely lunch and strategy meeting with Managing Director, Mark Franklin, and Business & Leadership Development Manager, Sue Pittman, where our Achievers celebrated their shared successes, we then regrouped in the evening for a drinks reception followed by a wonderful evening meal. A perfect appetiser for next month's trip of a lifetime – and a fantastic way to kick-start this season's Leadership Academy!

The focus of our event was 'Creating an irresistible environment for Organisers, customers and staff, always' and our Leaders wasted no time in getting behind this! Oulton Hall was buzzing from the get-go as the day's events got underway with an icebreaker based around our main shared passion... books!

From That's not my kangaroo... to Write Your Own Story Book, our Leaders were asked to choose a book that best resonates with their division's values – with some very creative results! What really shone though was the same strong values (friendship, passion and self-development, to name but a few) underpinning each team's ethos.

Our priority is ensuring that our Leaders get as much out of their Leadership Academy experience as possible. To help us ascertain what that might look like to each individual, our attendees were each asked three important questions:

  1. What do you REALLY want from Usborne?
  2. What are you genuinely prepared to stop, start and continue in order to get it?
  3. Do you honestly believe that you deserve it?

To help our Leaders on their way to answering these, our New Leaders launched into a coaching session with a focus on time management, while our Established Leaders' coaching conversations were all about strength-checking their 2020 goals for their respective businesses.

These quality, open conversations are a fantastic way of encouraging people to realise their potential, and we were as inspired as ever by our Leaders' ability to help their colleagues tune out any disruptive internal voices to reach that all-important "light bulb" moment.

Our theme of creating an irresistible environment continued into the afternoon when we were joined by our very special guest. There was palpable excitement when Usborne author, Jenny Pearson, author of the heart-warming and super funny The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, took to the stage.

Did you know that hippos burp when they're happy? Or that crocodiles can't stick their tongues out? Discussing everything from her fact-loving protagonist, Freddie Yates, to her experiences as a teacher and the superhero children who inspired her, Jenny had the audience in stitches as they were treated to a first-glimpse of one of the most hotly-anticipated books of the year.

Although undoubtedly a tough act to follow, our final session of the afternoon saw our Marking Editor, Lucy Raby, treat our Leaders to a fantastic session on all things schools. While Leaders worked together to put some great plans in place for their businesses, the day ended with a challenge: if you could come up with an initiative to encourage schools to book an event with an Usborne Organiser for the academic year 2020-21, what would it be?

The day closed with a reminder of an important message: "you have 100% earned this, and you've 100% owned this" – which provided the perfect introduction to the evening's celebrations! After some well-deserved fizz, our Leaders' incredible achievements were recognised over a delicious three-course dinner.

One of our Leaders' most-loved tangible outcomes of Leadership Academy is the chance to see (and get excited about!) exclusive previews of upcoming new titles. With this in mind, day two kicked off with another book-based icebreaker before our Company Accountant, Jon Twiss, took to the floor with his calculator for an invaluable "how to" session on commissions. From knowing your compression from your override commission, to understanding promotion criteria, our Leaders had the opportunity to gain a unique insight into the 'nuts and bolts' element of the business.

One of the most powerful parts of any Leadership Academy is the opportunity to be inspired by the successes of other Leaders. A huge 'thank you' is due to Keely Horn, Jody Berry, Sarah Higgs and Francesca Laidlaw, who participated in a wonderfully insightful Q&A. In sharing their own Usborne journeys and discussing their own individual "whys", their thoughtful responses provided the room with lots of powerful takeaways: "Imagine where you want to be and how you'll feel when you get there - and don't stop until you're proud!"

Brimming with fresh ideas, our Leaders set to work crafting an action plan ready to implement within their businesses on their return home. With all of the passion, enthusiasm and creativity that shone through each and every discussion over the two days, we couldn't be more excited to see how your Usborne journeys progress over the rest of the season and beyond.

But before we all parted ways, it was time for two final challenges:

  1. What are you going to do to keep reminding yourself that you deserve this, and how can you use this community to help keep each other on track?
  2. Who else do you know who 'deserves this'? Who else deserves to feel this positive, determined and inspired? As a brilliant Leader, what can you do to help your team find their answers to those initial three questions?

We can't wait to find out...

What did our Leaders think?

"Leadership Academy has strengthened my business and has given me my fight and determination back." - Marianne Ryan

"It was an amazing two days. The agenda was great and really addressed the areas of the business lots of Organisers find more challenging. The support available and idea sharing with other Leaders was invaluable." - Gemma Roberts

"I've left feeling inspired, motivated and feel that I can achieve my dreams if I start believing in myself." - Fiona Sivewright

"It's given me my sparkle back. I feel so passionate about Usborne again!" - Emma Devine

"Can I come next time?"

Every Organiser could attend for FREE if they achieve Gold Level membership of the Business Development Programme.

We would love to welcome you to our next Leadership Academy event in June. Take a look at our Business Development Programme blog or speak to your Mentor to find out how to book your place!

Tags:meetings and events