Shaper: Paul Jacobs


Transcript of the show
Elliot Moss

That was Gregory Porter and Be Good here on Jazz Shapers with me, Elliott Moss on Jazz FM.  Thank you very much for joining me for another edition of Jazz Shapers.  If you don’t know Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, soul and blues alongside their equivalents in the world of business.  My business shaper today is Paul Jacobs.  He is the managing director and founder of LoveWorkLife.  That is a management consultant come business brokerage business which basically helps businesses create their own strategies for dealing with people and making sure that you are happy in the process.  You will be hearing lots from Paul very shortly.  In addition to hearing from Paul, you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that of course, a sumptuous mix of music from the shapers of jazz, soul and blues, including Sam Cook, Albert King and this from the gypsy jazz master himself, Django Reindhart.

That was Django Reindhart and Django’s Tiger.  Thank you for joining me, it is Jazz Shapers and Paul Jacobs is my business shaper as I mentioned earlier.  Managing director of a lovely named business called LoveWorkLife.  Paul you are going to tell me exactly what LoveWorkLife does because I think it is really interesting.  Thank you for joining me.

 

Paul Jacobs

Thank you, it’s great to be here.  Well LoveWorkLife is a contemporary management consultancy business.  We work with a whole range of organisations right around the country, small and large, across all industry sectors and we really focus on developing leadership skills as I think everybody knows, everything comes from the top so if you are have inspiring leaders, people that have a real vision and understanding where the business is going and they are inspiring people, they are passionate about what they are doing, then that permeates throughout the organisation and tends to express itself in the level of client base and indeed, very importantly, staff retention.  So we work very hard with our leaders that’s mostly what we do but we also get involved very clearly with mentoring and coaching future leaders and right across the board in terms of business development, building client base, margins, all those lovely things, PR marketing and essentially really working extremely hard to help organisations develop their turnovers and profits.

Elliot Moss

Now you have worked for some, in your past before you became an entrepreneur as it were or I imagine you were pretty entrepreneurial before.  You’ve had some very senior jobs in very very big recruitment businesses.  When did you, I mean, and you’ve been working a while Mr Jacobs, you have some level of experience…

 

Paul Jacobs
I am an old geezer.

Elliot Moss

…you are an old geezer.  When did you kind of realise you had to do your own thing because you’ve obviously been one of those people that can work fantastically well in big organisations and you’ve got on with it and you’ve held board level titles, COOs, COEs you’ve done everything really for some big companies, Office Angels and Adecco and all sorts of big companies.

Paul Jacobs

Yes.

Elliot Moss

When did you go, enough I’m going to do something for myself and why?

Paul Jacobs

Well it is an interesting question.  I think when you reach the ripe old age of your mid-fifties and of course advancing years, you reach a point where you start to think well isn’t it about time I took a bit more control of my own destiny and I guess over the years, I mean I have held some fantastic jobs and worked with some incredibly great people and in the past people have often said, well why don’t you do your own thing but you know, I think when you are, as I was, leading a very successful business like Office Angels and having a great deal of fun doing it and hitting tremendous heights at its peak, it was for example receiving twelve times more media coverage than the entire recruitment industry combined so we were having a lot of fun doing it.  I was having, I was at a point where I really felt it was fine, I was at a perfectly happy at a point in my life where it was giving me the fulfilment I was looking for but when you get to a certain point in your life and I am certainly at that stage there is a kind of tipping point where you think, well you know I’ve worked with some huge corporations and had a lot of fun doing it, lots of travel, I manage six hundred and fifty staff, one hundred and fifty million turnover business.  All the ticks in all the boxes but the thing I had never done was actually  owned or managed my own business so you know, life is pretty short and it was an unfulfilled ambition and it kind of happened accidentally really.  I was looking for my next career move, talking to lots of different people and I suddenly found without really trying which I hope doesn’t sound arrogant but I suddenly had a client base.  I had people saying to me, “Look somebody of your knowledge and experience would be fantastic for us why don’t you come and help us.”  So before I looked round I had a whole bunch of clients and I started to think about the possibility of setting up a management consultancy business and I met a lot of people who had reached a sort of cross roads, a variety of people.  People who were brand new, setting up businesses, had reached a point in their experience and knowledge where they are kind of hitting the ceiling and others that had been in business a long time but had kind of reached a point where there was a level of inertia, perhaps a bit of fear of change and often met people that were a little bit unhappy actually and I kept thinking, scratching my head thinking, well you know you went in to business presumably because you wanted to be in charge of where you were going, maybe because you felt that you were tired of working for other people and now it seems to me you are a little bit unhappy, possibly even pretty miserable and so the name LoveWorkLife came about because I was thinking about my role with them and considering the fact that you know, it wasn’t just about helping them build their business, grow tremendous organisations but it was mostly I think in a large sense, helping them to enjoy what they were doing and love their work life,  Work life was the sort of key phrase at the time but very importantly, getting a business that had an enviable culture, an organisation that people were attracted to not only colleagues, people working in the organisation but clients.  So that is how the name came about.

Elliot Moss

Very good and stay with me to hear much more from Paul Jacobs, my business shaper today.  Time for some music, this is Albert King and Born Under a Bad Sign.

That was Albert King and Born Under a Bad Sign.  Paul Jacobs is my business shaper and he is the founder and managing director of LoveWorkLife and if you were listening earlier you would have heard where the name came from or where the inspiration came from.  Paul when you had gone out into the new world of your own business, do you recall, and it was about five years ago I think.  Do you recall a sense of loneliness or any other strange emotions in the sense of where is all the furniture?  What have I left?  What have I changed?  And how did you deal with that sense of change?

Paul Jacobs

That is a really good question.  When you worked as I had for many many years for global organisations, corporations, everything is on tap.  You know your resources are there, you need something done you’ve got great people around you.  Lots of opportunity to use people internally and indeed get people externally to help you then suddenly there you are all on your own as you say, in virtually an empty room and there is a sense of enormous excitement but also a sense of trepidation and perhaps a sense of being way outside your comfort zone.  You know, the fear of the unknown.  You don’t have a salary coming in, you know, at the end of every month it was a given that your salary went in, occasionally please God a few bonuses appeared.

Elliot Moss

Had you saved some money, I mean to enable you to jump over.  I mean how did it, you know had you put a pot aside?

Paul Jacobs

Yeah I had a little bit of funding, it wasn’t going to last forever and I think that is kind of important really because you need that, you need to know that this is something you have got to get, you’ve got to get some speed into and so that urgency is extremely important and I think the combination of that urgent sense and the excitement that goes with it and I guess fear, fear breeds a level of action and there is no question that you feel that level of nervousness, a sense of vulnerability and it is a step into the unknown you know, you don’t know what you don’t know.  I mean I had led very large organisations, I’d like to think very successfully but never done it for myself so there was this sense of isolation.  Interestingly a lot of the people I worked with today they feel that as well?  Nobody to talk to, nobody to express their concerns to which is where we come in and the mentoring we do with people so I know how that feels.  But it was also incredibly liberating to have that opportunity finally to do what I wanted to do, to build something that I really felt was mine, express my values and behaviours in that business and find like-minded people to work with and when we started the business I was asked a question, “What do you want from your own business?” and I thought deeply about it and sort of scratched my rather bald head and said to myself “Well there is probably two things I really want from my business apart from obviously hopefully making it very successful and the first was to work with people I really enjoyed working with.  You have to do that if you called yourself LoveWorkLife, you couldn’t go out and work with people you didn’t like.

Elliot Moss

I was going to say you couldn’t walk around being miserable, it doesn’t look like you are miserable now.

Paul Jacobs

It’s not really the culture and the second thing I think was to work with ambitious people and that is because of the way I felt about my own business.  I wanted to love what I did and I wanted it to be hugely successful and have some fun doing it.

Elliot Moss

Very good.  Stay with me for more from Paul Jacobs my business shaper.  Latest travel in a couple of minutes but before that some words of wisdom for your business from our programme partners at Mishcon De Reya.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning, 9.00am to 10.00am you can catch me talking to a fantastic business shaper.  If you have missed any, go over to Cityam.com and you will find some of the best ones over there as well.  Paul Jacobs is my business shaper today and he is the founder and managing director of LoveWorkLife, it’s all in the name.  Paul is the person that you should be going to if you need help developing people strategy or you need mentoring and all sorts of other things as well.  Paul, your business now is obviously in a relatively early stage, do you think that you have learnt the right things from corporate life to apply to your own business as you look to your own growth strategies?

Paul Jacobs

Yes, I mean I think so, I have spent a life time working in businesses, some small but mostly very large and I guess that it is funny because people say, you can’t buy experience and actually that is exactly what they do when they engage us.  They do buy experience.  I think every business needs somebody that is grey haired and been there and bought several t-shirts, in my case, a few scarves and hats as well along the way so I think that it’s…

Elliot Moss

Nice scarves?  Any particular preference, colour?  Is it important?

Paul Jacobs

Red to go with my eyes.  But I think that I learnt a tremendous amount along the way and I think that is what people buy as it were when they engage me and my colleagues but at the same time, and I think this is very important, you know, you don’t reach this age without getting some baggage along the way, you know, there are cuts and bruises, a few broken bones.  You can’t get to a point in business where you have an experienced some bruises.  There is no way and I think I would be fairly useless to anybody I worked with if I hadn’t carried a few of those wounds because my purpose when I work with organisations is not only to guide them and counsel, provide a bit of wisdom and education along the way, it is also importantly to say, don’t do this, don’t do that, try this instead.  Because I think that that’s where we are invaluable to organisations.  Why allow people to make mistakes that you have made yourself.

Elliot Moss

And you’ve obviously learnt lots of stuff from other people I would imagine? And what would those, if you had two really brilliant lessons from all the gazillions of experiences you have had over your long career, what would those two things be if you are passing it on to someone just thinking about setting up their own business right now?

Paul Jacobs

Well I think the first is that you don’t want to be wallpaper in any business.  I think you know, to be camouflaged is not good news.  In other words to be like everybody else and if you are going to own a business, make it a stand out brand and you have to have a level of courage to do that.  It is important not to be the same.  You know often you hear lovely key clichés like CPIs and things like this.  In the end I think it is about having, if I can use the word, the cahoonas really to get out there and make it happen for yourself in a way that inspires people.

Elliot Moss

So that’s lesson number one.

Paul Jacobs

Lesson number one.

Elliot Moss

And lesson number two?

Paul Jacobs

Lesson number two I think is about engaging brilliant people.  You know, getting a culture, developing a culture around you that’s once fun and at the same time interesting and exciting and I think if you can engage people in your business you win hearts and minds to use that expression than actually going out and delivering the message and growing your business is not as difficult as you might think.  Surround yourself with wonderful people that balance out your own strengths and weaknesses.  It is like a football team, not everybody can score a goal, you are going to have a goal keeper and I think those are the two things I have learnt.  Have great people around you, people you have fun working with and who are tremendously passionate, as passionate as you are and at the same time, ensure that you have a vision that is different and exciting.

Elliot Moss

Very good.  Time for some music, this is Sam Cook and Blue Moon.

 

That was Sam Cook and Blue Moon.  Paul Jacobs is my business shaper, I am sure you have been listening so far.  Managing director of LoveWorkLife.  It strikes me that giving advice around people is one of the hardest things, there is no science to it, there is a lot of psychology, you go to a psychiatrist to get a, you know, really in depth bit of information, you go to a doctor if you have got a bad knee and all those other things.  Do you find that over the course of the advice you offer often people haven’t diagnosed the problem properly and that you end up going, hold on a minute you thought you had one of those and you’ve got one of these and if so, how have you developed a skill to enable yourself to diagnose the issue that a business faces because most businesses face issues at any one time, it’s a dynamic fluid thing.  Identifying the problem is critical because if you don’t identify the right problem you are never going to fix the problem and so on and so forth.  So how have you managed to do that?

 

Paul Jacobs

Well it’s a tremendous question.  I guess over the years you learn to try to get beneath the individuals personality and characteristics.  You know I think the best business people are very often people who have very high emotional intelligence, EQ and I think it is very important to understand the people that lead the business, lead the organisation.  I mean you have almost got two areas.  I certainly address two areas.  One are the business issues which cut across a whole range of very important and critical core strategic areas and the other to your point is around the actual individuals, the personalities.  And I spend a tremendous amount of time getting to know the people I work with.  That’s not just about business issues, that’s about their personalities and their drivers.  What is motivating people and it is interesting because when you work with people leading businesses they often have very different drivers and motivators and I think that’s the important thing to try to understand.  What is it that the individual really wants?  Not only from their business but in their personal lives.  What drives them?  Sometimes you find that people are driven very clearly by making money, you know, earning as much as they can, having a Maserati out the front door and three homes around the world and that may be their driver but often, and more often, you find it is more than that.  It is about a pride in what they are doing, it is sometimes actually linked to fear.  Fear of failure.  Making sure that they don’t fail, that they achieve something for themselves and they leave a legacy and it is also about I think ensuring that people get a level of pride in terms of the business and what it represents out there in the community and in the business world and I think getting beneath the surface, from my point of view and understanding an individual is so key because I cannot motivate unless I understand what turns them on.

Elliot Moss

So over the years for you, who has motivated you best and what was it in one word that they understood about your own motivations and what drove you?

Paul Jacobs

Well I have worked with some really excellent people over the years.

Elliot Moss

What did they nail about you Paul?

Paul Jacobs

I would say I think that the people that really understood me most recognised that for me it was always about doing a great job and going the extra mile and I think that I have done very well in many instances but in a strange way, I don’t think and I think lots of people would echo this point, being driven by making lots of money wasn’t necessarily where it was at for me, it was much more about I think being involved in something that was competitive.  I have a very competitive nature so I think that for me, giving me something to go for, targets or a league table was very important and I was driven to be the best in what I was doing.

Elliot Moss

Now we are getting to it. You wanted to be the best.  So basically if you want to motivate Paul Jacobs, throw down the gauntlet and competition.  Final chat with Paul coming up plus we will be playing a track from Shaper of Jazz, Robert Glasper, that’s coming up after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was Robert Glasper and the fantastic I Stand Alone.  This is Jazz Shapers and just for a few more minutes Paul Jacobs is my business shaper today here on Jazz FM.  Paul we have talked about all sorts of things.  As you think back over your, your long and illustrious career, when you have had difficult stuff to deal with, how have you dealt with it?  Have you learnt the coping mechanisms that are required to go “Okay that isn’t good, I am in a bad place now but I am going to get myself out of it”.  How did you get yourself out of it?

Paul Jacobs

Look I think it is important to keep things in context and it is very difficult sometimes, you know, being involved in something you believe passionately in means that you are going to suffer the highs and lows of that business but you know the sun sets at night and it rises again in the morning and I think…

Elliot Moss

But only for 5.5 billion more years Paul?

Paul Jacobs

Well that…

Elliot Moss

That’s not that long.

Paul Jacobs

It’s not that long, I’d like to think I’d live that long but I suspect I won’t but I think it is about that.

Elliot Moss

Yeah.

Paul Jacobs

I think it is keeping things in context which is extremely difficult if you believe passionately in something but I think you have to have that coping mechanism and I also feel very strongly that you know, life is an interesting thing, you know, I think back to the things that I have been very successful in and I, often they are linked in a sense to low points in my career, like being made redundant in a  previous role led me to finding a job with Office Angels at a fairly moderate level.  I had to go backwards as it were.  It was a point of recession and I was out of work so I took a job that was probably several levels lower than the role I had prior to that and ultimately became the managing director of that business.  At the time I lost my job it was really bad news, it was very upsetting, I had two young kids but I went forward, I didn’t look over my shoulder, I just looked forward and ultimately it led me to a really great thing which in turn has led to other things and I kind of feel that, and it sounds a bit sort of airy fairy stuff, but if you kind of open yourself up to the universe and you just say, you know, that’s life, it’s a part, it’s a chapter in my life and I will just keep moving forward and have belief in where the future lies.

Elliot Moss

And momentum, just keeps you going.

Paul Jacobs

And momentum and just, I think also putting your chin out there and saying, “You know what, no matter how many times you get punched I’m just going to keep getting up” and my view about life is that.  I think if you keep trying and you keep getting up off the canvas you cannot be beaten and I think that is the essence of being successful.

Elliot Moss

And in terms of the essence of being successful for your own business now, LoveWorkLife, where are you going to be in the next five years?  What do you reckon?

Paul Jacobs

Well first of all I am obviously going to love my work life clearly that’s very important to me.

Elliot Moss

Yes.

Paul Jacobs

We are building a much bigger organisation, we will be taking on a lot of extra people both in the management consultancy arm, in the new recruitment arm and we are very excited about the future and it is linked of course to this very interesting economy we are in where we are seeing big growth in jobs, a lot of opportunity now and there are lots of people starting out new businesses and an awful lot of established businesses now looking at how they are going to grow and we link to those opportunities, we work with lots of ambitious organisations.

Elliot Moss

And you are confident?

Paul Jacobs

I am incredibly confident.  I am very excited about the future.  I think we are at a point now where anyone that’s involved in a business or thinking of opening a business should do one thing, get on with it.  Get out there and make it happen.

Elliot Moss

Fantastic advice.  Just before I let you go Paul, what is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Paul Jacobs

This was such a tough question because I love jazz, love blues you know and millions of CDs so where do you begin and I was thinking hard about jazz particularly.  I had the great fortune to see Ella Fitzgerald back in I think ’81 at the London Palladium on a double bill with Oscar Peterson which was amazing and she came on stage, she was a sort of elderly lady and this twenty year old voice came out.  It was quite amazing.  So I was just thrilled to see a twentieth century icon so when I was asked this question, what would be my song.  I thought about her and she had a song, Nice Work If You Can Get It and since most of my career has been spent in employment and my company is called LoveWorkLife, I thought it was an entirely appropriate choice.

Elliot Moss

Paul, thank you very much for being my business shaper.  This is your choice, Nice Work If You Can Get It from of course, the fantastic Ella Fitzgerald.

 

That was Ella Fitzgerald and Nice Work If You Can Get It, the song choice of my business shaper, Paul Jacobs.  A man who has definitely lived, who has experienced tonnes of stuff, who has learnt from it and is now imparting great wisdom to the businesses that he is working closely with.  Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s 9.00am next week, Saturday Jazz FM.  Make a date in your diary.  In the meantime though and very excitingly, stay with us because coming up next it’s live from Glynde Place and it’s the Love Supreme Festival with Nigel Williams.
When you reach the ripe old age of your mid-fifties, you reach a point where you start to think: isn’t it about time I took a bit more control of my own destiny?

You can’t get to a point in business where you haven’t experienced some bruises.

Suddenly there you are all on your own, in a virtually empty room and there is a sense of enormous excitement but also a sense of trepidation and perhaps a sense of being way outside of your comfort zone.

you don’t know what you don’t know

…the name LoveWorkLife came about because I was thinking about my role…it was mostly helping them to enjoy what they were doing and love their work life…

I think every business needs somebody that is grey-haired and been there and bought several t-shirts. In my case a few scarves and hats along the way as well

…the thing I had never done was actually owned or managed my own business. Life is pretty short and it was an unfulfilled ambition and it kind of happened accidentally really

you don’t want to be a wallpaper in any business. To be camouflaged is not good news

Fear breeds a level of action

If you call yourself LoveWorkLife, you can’t go out and work with people you don’t like

People say you can’t buy experience and actually that is exactly what they do when they engage us

In the end, I think it is about having the cahoonas really to get out there and make it happen for yourself in a way that inspires people.

Paul Jacobs

Paul Jacobs is a recruitment specialist who has spent 37 years within the recruitment industry including his time as the Managing Director of Office Angels, the UK’s leading office support recruitment consultancy. He is now behind a new ‘Love Work Life’ initiative, which helps businesses strategize and succeed. LoveWorkLife provides strategic advice and mentoring to recruitment business to help them to create enviable and contemporary cultures that attract and retain clients, candidates and most importantly colleagues.

Working very closely with nearly 25 different recruitment organizations across the UK operating in a variety of sectors, professional, commercial and industrial, initial introductions and recommendations have been forwarded to owners and directors from their trusted advisors, specifically, banks, accountants, trade associations.

LoveWorkLife’s influence in the growth and strategic development of its’ clients has resulted in significant increases in turnover and profits for several businesses.