‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ The saying is the basis of Galway business strategist John Mulry’s new book, ‘Your Elephant is Under Threat’, with the 30-year-old NUI Galway graduate explaining that it doesn’t matter how many chunks you break a goal down into if you have not identified and dealt with all the things in your life that may prevent you from achieving it.
He explains that the sentiment behind the elephant adage is that all is well and good “when all your ducks are in a row, but if there are outside influences or certain areas of your life that aren’t in gear, well then these manifest as threats”.
Mr Mulry explains that such threats for entrepreneurs or those starting out in business may include having a ‘short-term’ rather than long-term mentality. “Especially now-a-days since technology is so prominent, it’s very easy to get sucked into these quick fixes and short-term gain and the false promises of the overnight successes and different things like that,” he says, referring to this as ‘shiny object syndrome’.
Another potential ‘threat’ is negative self-image, says Mr Mulry, recounting a story told by ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’ author and plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, who found that a woman whose face he had reconstructed following a car crash accident was no happier after surgery. “He found out it was her self-image that had more scarring than her outer [appearance],” he says.
The Expect Success Academy founder knows a little something about addressing ‘threats’ in his own life and making positive changes, having started out in finance before reinventing himself as a personal trainer and later moving into business and lifestyle coaching.
He has also made changes from a personal point of view. “When I was younger I had absolutely no confidence and I’d be the last person to talk in front of a room, I’d be hiding in the corner.”
Mr Mulry’s outlook on life has also changed and he feels that one of the major turning points for him came when he spent time volunteering in South America. “Before I went over, my whole mind-set was around financial gain and looking at superficial things like gizmos and gadgets, whereas when I went over there, I was working with people in Peru who their whole lives were destroyed by an earthquake and they had nothing but their family and their friends and they were the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life and that shifted things for me.”
Another catalyst for change was his father, who passed away last year. “He had a lot of health problems and he didn’t take care of himself as well as he should have…seeing the changes he went through really cemented for me, I have to take hold of this and I have to take responsibility from a health point of view but from a personal point of view and a business point of view. He’s given me that inspiration to go forward and he’s given me the fire in my belly.”
When it comes to advising businesses, Mr Mulry explains that not dealing with ‘threats’ may lead to individuals taking incorrect decisions and actions. “And you’re not going to get the results you want, versus having a long term mentality where you’re setting out the end goal in mind.”
He adds that, in business, while a strategic plan for success is important, it’s also key to consider other ‘softer’ issues, like your mind-set and the people around you. He feels there are three types of people that business owners should surround themselves with to succeed.
The first is someone who has achieved what you want to achieve; a mentor or coach who can help you because they have “been through the mill, they’ve made all the mistakes already”.
The Expect Success Academy is based at the Ballybane Enterprise Centre, in an environment that Mr Mulry says is very supportive, praising in particular manager Michael Smyth and General Manager Liam Bluett. The centre is also home to the “fantastic” SCCUL Mentors initiative, which sees pro-bono business expertise provided to SMEs.
“Mentoring is one of the core things that is going to bring you on,” says Mr Mulry, adding that he has his own mentors across the world. “Having a person there to relay ideas to but also to give you that accountability really drives you on,” he says.
The second type of person that entrepreneurs should have around them are those who are “success-minded” and want to achieve what you want to achieve, while the third is those “who are going to help you achieve what you want to achieve”.
Acknowledging that business owners are sometimes reluctant to relinquish control or delegate, Mr Mulry stresses that to truly excel it’s best to be surrounded by those who can bring the business along further. “Because nobody is going to be an expert at everything.”
Reflecting on the enterprises he currently works with, Mr Mulry says his core clientele includes small business owners who are looking to do something different with their marketing, as his strategy involves direct response marketing.
“It’s not based around brand building or that kind of traditional marketing; it’s based around a direct response so you’re trying to elicit either lead generation or elicit a direct sale,” he says, explaining that he specialises in multi-step, multi-media campaigns.
The target market and who the business wants to sell to should be first considered, then the message the company wants to convey to their market, and, finally, the medium that should be used. Mr Mulry feels many businesses starting off feel they must market their product using certain media, when they should look at the customers first “and give them what they want, not assume that you know what they want”.
John Mulry’s book ‘Your Elephant is Under Threat’ will be launched this Friday, 28 February, at 6.30pm in Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Middle Street. For more details, see www.johnmulry.com.
Mr Mulry is also involved in a monthly business building summit in the Ballybane Enterprise Centre, with the next taking place at 7pm on Thursday 13 March, on the topic ‘The 4 Areas of Business Development – Laying The Foundation’. To register, log onto www.johnmulry.com/events.
For details on the SCCUL Mentors programme, phone Ballybane Enterprise Centre on 091-386004, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.scculmentors.ie.