​​​​S2E2: Leadership Lessons For Challenging Times: Ben Page, CEO, Ipsos MORI UK

S2E1: A conversation with top CEO Ben Page

In this first episode of our second series Leadership Lessons for Challenging Times, Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos Mori UK and Ireland, a leading market research agency, talks with Xquadrant's Founder Richard Medcalf.

Ben is a frequent writer and speaker on trends, leadership and performance management. He is also visiting Professor at Kings College London, a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Market Research Society.

Learn these leadership lessons for challenging times...

In this discussion we cover a wide range of topics and benefit from Ben's longstanding experience as a chief executive.

Listen in and you'll learn:

  • One crucial rule to bear in mind when dealing with a crisis (8'21")
  • One of the key challenges for a leader at this time and how to respond to it  (15'13")
  • How to help create a new structure when the one you had was destroyed  (22'16") 

TRANSCRIPT (Click to open)

Note: this transcript is automatically generated and only lightly neatened up. So this should be used  only to get the gist of the conversation and any transcription oddities should be ignored!

Richard Medcalf

Hello, my name is Richard Medcalf, founder of Xquadrant. I coach some of the world's top executives in management, helping them achieve bigger and more meaningful results than ever before. In this season, I'm speaking with C suite leaders from around the globe to find out what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them, and what wisdom they have to share for other leaders. Welcome to leadership lessons for challenging times.

Today I'm speaking with Ben Page who is the UK CEO for Ipsos Mori, a global research company. Ben's got 30 years of experience in the sector, incredible tenure as an executive, and he's lived multiple business crises including the 2008 financial crisis where he was also the UK General Manager. I think what you'll find in the interview, is how he talks in a very human way about what it's like to be CEO, dealing with several thousand employees. And he's also brutally realistic about the need not to succumb to our optimism bias, and to focus on the worst case scenarios as well as what we hope will happen. So listen in Ben has got a lot of wisdom to share, and he shares it in a very casual and engaging way. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Ben Page.

Richard Medcalf

Hi, Ben, good to see you.

Ben Page  

Hello, good morning. 

Richard Medcalf

Well, great to have you here. And before we go any further Why don't we just start with like a quick two minutes elevator pitch or introduction. Just tell us who you are. And what Ipsos Mori is for those rare people who don't know.

Ben Page 

Okay, so I'm Chief Executive. So Ipsos Mori in the UK and Ireland, I'm on the Global Management Committee of IPSOS. We're a large global research and information organisation about 19,000 people globally. I'm responsible for about 1500 of them in Britain and Ireland, and we look at everything human beings think or do basically, our biggest clients are people like Google and Facebook or large manufacturers like Unilever. But we also probably we think we're one of the largest providers of research to governments around the world. So that's, that's broadly us and we're so we're everything about how people make decisions and trying to provide intelligence and analysis for decision makers across the public and private sector. I've been there for 32 years. I mean, started there at the age of five.

Richard Medcalf   

So you started as the paper boy and has now become the global,

Ben Page

slightly older I think I was 22.

Richard Medcalf 

Brilliant. So that's the intro. So we'll get on to some of the research finding that might be relevant to people in times of crisis or in challenging times. But first of all, how as a business have you at Ipsos Mori in the UK had to adapt to COVID-19. Right? It's hit pretty fast, pretty unexpected.

Ben Page

It's like the 2008 recession at high speed. And with the added complication, of course, that we still do about 45 million pounds worth of face to face interview in a year for the government and for media owners who want a fully representative samples rather than online panels, which is the bulk of market research. And so of course, we had to make a decision to furlough hundreds of interviewers who do that work, and of course, there's now a big question about when it will restart. We transferred some of it online and to telephone and we've converted some of the face to face interviews to become remote telephone interviews because some of our clients just need continuous data and they if we can, if we can gather it by telephone, they will be happy with that. So we've done some of that. There's also just some people like, you know, receptionists, etc, who we've had to furlough because there is nobody coming into reception. But overall, you know, we are we are turning out to be able to work at home quite effectively. And I think that's one thing that a lot of knowledge based industries will be thinking about is, particularly if people are reluctant, and we have some data suggests they may be to be anxious about working in a busy crowded office, whether we'll actually you know, repurpose some of our offices in future, there's already one where the lease expired, and we were planning to go into a flexible working space, and now they're just working at home, they don't have an office anymore. So that's saving some money. And I can see that being quite a big, potentially a big change. I could see lots of people coming into the office a couple of days a week in the future.

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, it's interesting. When I was at Cisco, there was very similar things going on Cisco was obviously on the vanguard of remote working because of the internet and everything else and, and they say, you know, the future is here, but it's not equally distributed, right? 

And one thing that I found was, you know, one of the things that hadn't caught up necessarily was how do you then adapt in a world where people are at home, and they will come into the office at different times of the week and they never see each other physically. So I think there are some things will have to kind of be worked out. But I think you're right, this is definitely an accelerator.

Ben Page

We have Whatsapp group. So we've tried to get everybody into a whatsapp group for their different teams. The management committee have one we have, you know, we have face to face conversations on ms teams, three times a week. So we're talking to each other. I do a broadcast to the whole company, which I used to do, sort of every three months I used to have face to face meetings with everybody in different offices. It was a bit of a bind, travelling around but I did it quarterly and now of course I'm doing and I think it's necessary in a crisis, but I'm doing weekly calls and there's you know, there's 1200 1300 people on the call just to a 20 minute update of where we are and what's happening, because what we know is that people in a crisis demand for information rises. So every week, I'm like, what on earth am I going to say to them this week? We usually have some new things to say and the feedback. I mean, to be honest, I think, and I think it's a small it's a bit like the effect that we've seen with the rally around the flag effect for governments, people support the leadership, generally, assuming they're not Donald Trump, in times of crisis, and you know, these people's responses have been very positive. So I think it's important to reach out to people. It's a terrible American expression, but you know, to connect with people and the demands are, particularly in the times of crisis that you have to do more of that.

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, I have a saying I say with some of my clients, when times get challenging tweet like Trump, which is just a memorable way of saying, you know, don't over communicate right over communicate. You're never gonna be told off communicating too much in these moments.

Ben Page 

Yes, people want and they want to know that, you know, you're looking at the issues, they need a bit of empathy about people's situation. So that's what we're trying to do and being transparent. We've got a workers council, we haven't been sort of consultation led internally, particularly, but we're now we've now had to set up formal consultation over pay cuts and reducing pension contributions. But actually, we've had a lot of people volunteering. I mean, I've taken a pay cut, and so have the management team, but a lot of people have actually come forward and just volunteered for pay cuts, even before we've made them mandatory through consultation. So, you know, people do do want to make the contribution because what we did in you know, what we're trying to do is what we did in 2008, which you saw in the economy as a whole, of course, which was trying to protect employment where possible. And I think the fact that in Britain the government's furlough scheme has been extended by another month. Gives us again gives a bit a bit longer for people to sort of try and see where the dust settles, and therefore what the implications are going to be in terms of employing people.

Richard Medcalf  

So you talked about 2008, a couple of times, and you've started to talk about some of the decisions you've been taking. Do you have a kind of a mental playbook? So like, what are the two or three things?

Ben Page

Just, you know, the evidence is that all of us have optimism bias, and we all hope that everything's going to turn out well. So if you know that you have a natural bias towards optimism, then you have to be brutal about looking at the worst case scenario, which we've done. So I mean, if they're not, you know, you've got any job. We've at the moment, we've got projects that have been put on hold for more than three months, we've taken them off the books, so we aren't sitting there pretending they're you know, and until they're definitely going to confirm that they're coming back. They're not on our books so we can see what our revenue would look like without them and therefore our cost base would look like without that revenue. So I think that's a brutal, brutal honesty, and but also just transparency with people, people aren't stupid. They know that, you know, the company can't, we can't lose money you can do for a short time, or month to month, you can't do it, you can do it for very long. So, you know, just be transparent with people. I mean, in 2008, I had to let go of 90 people in the end, but we did it in a way that was reasonably sensitive in terms of who we chose and morale went up. So I'm not we haven't had to do that at this time. And people are absolutely rallying around the business, but we'll you know, we don't know what the recovery looks like, if we can't do any face to face interviewing for a year. Then, you know, there are some things, some other things that have to happen. But I think it's just important to be transparent and understand other people's positions really.

Richard Medcalf  

What's the most difficult or complex decision that you've had to take in this time when visibility comes right down?

Ben Page 

Well, I think I mean, as you know, it's making decisions at some point, you've got to make a decision about what's going to happen in the future at the moment we haven't had to make that I think it will get, it will get some we've had the original rush of cancellations. So people, you know, one of our clients just said, look, we're not gonna do all that work we wanted you to do this year, we're moving it to 2021, or another of our clients said, what do they say we just cancel them, they've got 30 people working for them. They don't do any work for anybody else. They're just doing this one project. And they just said, oh, we're cancelling everything after six months. And it's like, okay. The clients are where the client into react, the direct client is almost in tears, actually, because they've worked with these people for a very long time. But we've been able to furlough them and redeploy them. The most difficult decision I think, is really when we're going to come out of lockdown. And so it's a state it's a stage series of decisions, but at some point, you know, we're going to if we're if we are unable to resume or we find out things are impossible we'll have to take some some tough decisions. But at least I think so we're not we're not rushing into things, but we're being transparent. So so far we've you know, we've we've, we've you know, we've got a tapered form of pay cuts I didn't rush into just doing pay cuts across the board because junior people in my industry don't earn that much. And you know, paying rent to live in London is pretty expensive for them so I didn't I want to do so we have we haven't I don't think I've had any terrible decisions so far. You know, there's been everything's been a pretty much a no brainer so far. It will get more difficult as you know, we're facing if furlough ends and you've got to pay 200 people to do nothing. And you've got no income coming in to cover their wages, then you have to that's going to be more tricky, but so far that decision that's been moved, of course back until the first of July, so we will see where we are on the first of July.

Richard Medcalf  

And when you look back at previous times 2008, for example, was there a surprising side-effect or outcome or a positive outcome of those challenging times?

Ben Page

We looked back at the data for 2008/9, the most depressing thing was not the end I think this is the challenge with COVID-19. So originally, many forecasters, were saying there's going to be a V shaped recovery, I think they're now talking about a U shaped recovery or even some sort of L shaped recovery where you go down and stay down, because I think, looking at certainly looking at our business after 2008, it carried on shrinking. It shrank in 2009 2010 and 2011. We only reached awesome in 2012, looking at our business looking at looking back at the data, and I was I was CEO in charge because I had forgotten after these good years of the last 8 years or so. And so I think the challenges as as you know, so we've basically closed the hospitality and you know, the law of travel and large parts of retail and the question is how those knock on effects play through the economy. And we you know, it's not clear yet even as those things reopened, they won't reopen in the same way. That means, you know, if we see what we've seen in China, and people just shops reopening that spending still very, very constrained because people are worried about their jobs. So they start saving, they've already noticed that they can get by without a whole load of milk lattes and chicken sandwiches from fresh every day, and they've noticed they're saving quite a lot of money. they've noticed not going out, they're saving quite a lot of money. And because they know that things are still rocky, so there's a sort of because, you know, the economy is ultimately heavily influenced by consumer psychology, there's a real risk that all of those knock on effects keep happening, and actually our business doesn't get back to, you know, to grow until 2022. And I think that's, you know, that's a probably a more realistic scenario, potentially. 

Richard Medcalf  

Yes, so that really changes the way you have to think and plan right if that's the belief.

Ben Page  

Yes. The millennials I mean, we noticed after the 2008 recession, Millennials were the people with the lowest, so these are people born between about 1980 and 1995, but these are the people who have the lowest levels of trust in the economy. And you know that they were because they were hit as hard as they graduated by the recession after that after 2008. But the challenge is now they're now having kids, and they've now hit this, you know, so they've had a sort of double whammy in one in one sense, but no, absolutely. I think that's the that's the challenge that the recovery won't be V shaped. And they're all it's a bit like an earthquake, but we're very long aftershocks. And so we're just at the foothills, I'm afraid. It feels like what what's really going to come? I mean, there will be some benefits. Some people will develop new business models direct to consumer, and we can we are moving we're doing all sorts of things digitally that we would have regarded as difficult before or, you know, obviously not preferable to doing things face to face, but they're actually turning out to work quite well. So there will be some there will be some upside but I don't believe In terms of overall money flowing around the economy, I'm pessimistic.

Richard Medcalf  

How is how do these difficult times force you to grow as a leader? How have you actually been stretched yourself? 

Ben Page

The main thing is people want to, you know, they want authenticity, they want clarity. I mean, they want to know that somebody has a plan, even if you say, even if you don't have a plan, you better make it appear that you do have a plan. And you know, because clearly there's a huge amount of uncertainty. And no, so you know, you've got to, you've got to show up at this point, and you've got to be, you've got to be friendly to people, you've got to be empathetic. You're never going to please everybody, but you've got to be clear. It takes you end up working harder than ever and I've taken a 20% pay cut and I'm working. I'm thinking longer as ever, but now they want to see you they want clarity that you need to over communicate, you've got all your different stakeholders that you've got to talk to reassure and also but also, you know, stop false optimism. I think that's the other thing is the sort of hope that, like people can ignore things, and it will all get better and it won't. So those are the sort of challenges, I wouldn't say any of them are particularly rocket science, it just requires visible leadership. And that means getting out there and doing it. If you're one of those people who suffers from imposter syndrome or something like that, then you're going to have more difficulty at this sort of time. But, you know, it's it's like anything if you've I mean, I do a lot of public speaking anyway. So talk doing the webinars for 500 people is fine. It's something I do for a living sort of thing. Yes,  that's what people that's what people want, they want to see they want to you know, and they, they like seeing the pictures even get people asking me, what's that picture behind you, Ben and things like that. So you know, fine. I mean, we're one thing that the crisis is doing is letting us all see more of each other's lives and backdrops and domestic existence, of course, which in some ways is positive.

Richard Medcalf  

Yes, it can add a different dimension. I think it's just the question of when everyone's working remotely, there can be a tendancy to become transactional, you know, in teams and in relationships.

Ben Page  

I don't know about you but I found actually that I have more informal sort of friendly chats with people because you're now seeing there, you're now seeing their domestic life. So we never had, we never had a chat group for the management team, we'd all talk in emails. And now we're sending each other ridiculous little video clips and guess what else that like everybody else's. And I think that if I assume that seems to be happening across the business, so people actually in some ways feel closer. And it's something that we've seen in research with the general public, we've got 80% of people saying that they're talking more to relatives and to people who matter to them.

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, fabulous. Anything else from the research that surprised you during this time? 

Ben Page  

Yes, what's come out of it in Britain, I mean, Britain is one of the more compliant countries and you know, there's 90% support for the lockdown 80% support for the police. There's been a 16 point surge in support for the government, which has been also replicated across Europe, in, in France and Italy in Germany, Angela Merkel has got 79% satisfied, which in political terms is like walking on water quite frankly, so those are the most people are now more worried about the economy than they are worried about their own personal health. But at the same time, there's a lot of support for lockdown generally. And I think this is the point that people are anxious about coming out of lockdown, both in terms of their spending, because they're worried about the knock on effects and everything else, but also because of their health. And you know, because although most you know, the disease does affect older people, much more than younger people. There are still lots of examples of perfectly healthy young people catching it and dying and you know how exactly we come out of locked down is going to be really horrible, but it's sort of interesting in that it will be interesting to see these European countries that are doing stage phase phase. reopen the schools reopen some largest shops, you know when but then when do you reopen cinemas theatres, you know, hotels, bars, restaurants? That's the that's the question when and I'm not sure it gets back to normal quickly or simply I mean, but we'll we'll see. Because the vaccine is the only certainty it is at the moment.

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, absolutely.

Ben Page  

Unless we had and the other thing that research does show is at least in Britain quite high levels of support for Chinese style surveillance. So the government tracking your phone and if you leave the house, today, fining you based on your phone's activity, I mean, I suppose the way around it is not take your phone with you every time you go out.

Richard Medcalf  

But but people will start twitching if they do that, right, you'll tell them because they'll be twitching in the street

Ben Page 

You know, a scheme that would let you know if you've been near somebody that had got COVID-19. So are we going to see, you know, much more much higher levels of government surveillance, but we'll we'll see, I guess, I mean, that's one that's another way out, along with a lot of a lot of testing. But again, our infrastructure is nowhere where It needs to be on that of course. 

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, it's interesting, right how things that were once considered almost impossible to imagine suddenly become on the table, right?

Ben Page 

Magic money tree. And this is May our former prime minister said there was no magic money tree. And now it turns out there is a magic money train and it's on steroids. I mean, we've got, you know, the government is now paying the wages of is basically invaded the private sector, and is paying millions of people's wages. I mean, it's astonishing. And the question is, but it does cost I think something like 40 billion. I don't know if that's a week or a month, but it's certainly a lot of money. And we are, you know, we may see permanent government government debt levels at levels that none of us have ever imagined, but most of the sustained living rates for a long time to come, but exactly what the if the ramifications are like the quantitive easing after the 2008 recession, that that implies yet another some sort of other asset bubble, but at some point will come back to haunt us. So it's very, you know, the, the other things, we may see some, you know, big social change if people if, you know, furlough ends and there's now mass unemployment as they'll be getting, you know, massive reductions where voters demand the government's carry on paying wages. And therefore we at some point, I mean, we'll see when the when the government can't borrow money easily anymore the moment people appear to be perfectly happy to let the British government expand by 10 expands that spending by hundreds of billions, and there is nobody's blinking an eye there. You know, interest, the interest rates, the government's paying aren't going up, if anything, they're actually lower. So in theory, this could all carry on for some time. But, you know, on one hand, it's all going to work, who knows.

Richard Medcalf  

That's amazing information.

Ben Page

Our economic site our ideas about economics, maybe about to be challenged once again.

Richard Medcalf

And if we zoom in, really, you know, from this macro economic view into you know, back into your organisation Ben, how do you observe leaders reacting? So what have been like the positive ways in which you see leaders showing up in your team and your organisation and one people who are perhaps stepping up in a way?

Ben Page  

When I heard about this, I immediately asked for the person concerned to be disciplined. This was that somebody demanded that everybody appear on their FaceTime or zoom calls or whatever appeared smartly dressed in business attire. I just thought this was deeply inappropriate. So I don't actually know the name of the person who did it. But I heard about it and said, this cannot be right. I mean, for God's sake, we're asking people to work while there's children running around them and building on them and somebody actually asked them to wear a tie or something. But in seriousness, I think most of you know most people are running much more regular catch-ups, briefings, having check ins etc. And those I think that's really important people to keep in touch, particularly if they're, you know, Isolated if they're living on their own or something like that so all of those things that's that's the main thing and encouraging people to look after their their own mental health. So making sure that people try to encourage people we're running yoga lessons mindfulness meditation, we've got various colleagues who are offering these on on the team, but encouraging people to do those sorts of things. We've got a recipe clubs going on. So we have all this other activity that we that we would normally do in the office that we've now switched to online. So you're, you're trying to get people to have a routine, have a separate space to work in, get washed and get dressed into some clothes that tie every morning and, and those types of things and having enough time to have coffee chats and things like that. So giving people a structure. And you know, that seems to be important. I think I do a webinar every Thursday at 11 o'clock, which is pretty well attended. I think people have said to people that do I really need to do this now? Yes, we like it. It gives rythm to the week people know that Thursday, stop what you're doing listen to Ben blah, blah. So people like those things, and I think it's important to build those structures for the new, I suppose for the new reality.

Richard Medcalf  

Yes, it's trying to recreate structures when you can't physically do the physical ones that you'd be able to do I talk about structure in life, often, you know, the point, you've got the vine, and then you've got the trellis or whatever that supports the vine. And obviously, the life is the interest, the important thing, but the structure is what keeps that healthy. And I think when all the normal structures have been ripped out, you have to build new structures for the distributed remote world.

Ben Page  

Yes, absolutely.

Richard Medcalf 

And so given all of this, if you you know, what would your leadership lesson be to yourself 10 years ago, right or even a bit longer?

Ben Page

I mean, I think the main thing about and, you know, as a, if you're running a larger organisation, I mean, it's, I mean, one nowhere as large as you know, a lot of global multinational but there's a great quote from Jack Welch you know, the late guy from GEC, you know, 'you can't do the f****** work yourself' as he put it. So the point is I, you know, I can't make my people do anything. I have great difficulty just getting them to fit in timesheets, I really put my mind to it. So all I can try and do is you know, what leadership is about. I've done quite a lot of work looking at average, high performing and failing leaders in the past. And one of the things that distinguishes the ones who turn out to be more successful is, is often about very clear communication, storytelling, and, you know, clear delegation not being upset and not being a control freak. So you're building a culture, you're trying to build a culture that defaults to the right thing. You can't do that overnight, but it's about setting the ground rules and reinforcing behaviours at the right time. But then, of course, there are certain parts of the routine which are regular communications being there for people saying thank you. So every time we client we get I get client feedback every day, because we're a market research company. So of course, we survey our clients after each project. And so I will try and be disciplined about when I get when I when they come into me, I'll make sure I forward it to the team say thank you. It was like good, blah, blah as these small things that all add up because people if you don't, if you don't do these small things, it's not that people people don't think oh, Ben was, you know, somebody, you're busy, they just simply think you don't care. So it's very important to have those routines of regular briefings. Regular talk is talking to people, clarity about the story, the values, etc. None of it is rocket science. But what I found interesting is when I studied leadership, and we've looked at high and low performing organisations, what we found is that everybody talks about leadership in the same way, setting clear goals, being there for people, all of those things, but then what's interesting another project I did about 10 years ago, I talked to 40 chief executive Three hours each. And they all pretty much describe leadership in the same, roughly the same ways. But what was interesting was that when I looked at the diaries of those people afterwards, you found that the effective ones were actually doing it. Whereas the the ones who were less effective talked about it, but didn't actually do it. So you know, the person who told me well, actually, Ben, at the end of the day, it's just a job. They were out, they lost their job within a year or the guy who was so status obsessed that he made people want to come and see him, Go downstairs to reception went there to be someone to go and see him in his office, you know, and again, that guy lost his job, too. Whereas the more effective ones were, you know, literally making sure that they had maybe a dinner with each of their direct reports once a year. So that's 14 nights gone, you know, then they've got the next meetings with sets of plans. You can sort of see it as almost as discipline and a routine. If you do those things. That's what you know, ultimately, what good leadership is about so now I'm sure you have those meetings, even if you don't think they're absolutely necessary, and you're making sure that productive people feel listened to, which is hugely important. And then finally, random acts of kindness. There's a lot to be said for random acts of kindness. You know, you can't, you aren't going to thank everybody all the time about everything and you're not doing it. But random acts of kindness definitely go a long way.

Richard Medcalf 

Yes, thank you. That's been really helpful. And, again, it reminds me of the structure and the life thing, right? You know, you go ahead and put those dinners in the diary, you know, and that's, you gotta show up in them. You gotta listen, you got to engage. But if it's not there, it's just words again, you know, I'm gonna listen.

Ben Page 

You have to make time for those catch ups. I mean, I'm not as good as I should be with my direct reports, but I figure they're all quite well paid. And they should know when I'm, if they know I'm available if they need me, but I do try and make sure they're in the diary. But in terms of standing up in front of the staff, the regular communications, you've got to do it.

Richard Medcalf 

Thank you. So hey, a few quick fire questions. Just to finish so what's your favourite book?

Ben Page  

Oh my god. My current favourite book is a book called Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan. It looks at our ability to predict the future, which at the moment, of course, is much in demand. And Margaret Of course writes about how it's not possible to predict the future but there are things you can do to be more resilient in an uncertain world. So that's one of my favourite books at the moment, but I I'm not sure I have a totally favourite book ever. But anyway, that's, that's very strongly recommended Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan.

Richard Medcalf  

Perfect, thank you. What about your favourite productivity tip?

Ben Page  

Oh god, I'm I'm, I'm, you know, all of the evidence is do not multitask focus on some tasks. And the other productivity tip is do the difficult thing that you don't want to do start at the beginning of the day, do that. Do not defer it to the end of the day. Don't do the easy things and tick them off, do the difficult things and you'll find that you have you know, you've made more progress. I will also do it now. Don't do it today. Don't delay in a build something difficult. Just do it now. 

Richard Medcalf  

Who's your most inspiring leader?

Ben Page

I don't have any I don't know if I have anybody, particularly who I mean, you hear these great stories. You know, my favourite leadership story is JFK going to the loo at Cape Canaveral in the 1960s. So stop me if you've heard this one. But he's going to the loo and there are race riots in America at this point, and he's having a pee and he asks the black guy who's sweeping he says, what do you do here at Cape Canaveral? He goes, I'm sir. I'm working to put a man on the moon. And it's that sort of sense that I'm you know, I'm not trying to I'm trying to think of that amazing. I mean, there's a whole load of people, the guy who led Tesco what was his name before dangerous Dave who you took over and swept up Terry Leahy, see Terry, I wouldn't regard Terry as necessarily the most charismatic leader, but in terms of clarity and consistency about what Tesco stood for during those that time of success, absolute consistency, repetition, focus, etc. I mean, in the end, of course they overreached themselves. And you know, there's a saying, all political careers end in failure, but there's another saying that all careers end in failure. But nevertheless, that sort of level of focus and consistency, I think is hugely important.

Richard Medcalf  

Who's your favourite childhood hero?

Ben Page  

Oh, God. These are great questions, aren't they? Who did I really admire during my childhood. That's an interesting one, probably some sort of skateboarder like Tony Alva or Tony Hawk's or something like that. I was massively into skateboarding when I was a child. So that would be some some anti you know, some sort of antihero, you know.

Richard Medcalf 

We don't want to see you doing some skateboarding now on some social media. That'll be the next thing. 

Ben Page

See, there's an interview of me online with photographs of me riding around on a state park. So if you type in Daily Mail and Ipsos Mori boss, you can see photos of me skateboarding.

Richard Medcalf 

What about a conference or gathering or meetup or something where which in normal times, you found really valuable?

Ben Page 

And I often find, I used to find some of the members that called this the various sessions that don't necessarily happen anymore. I mean, you know, DevOps is interesting in terms of the breadth of people that you'll see there. Although it's a bit it's a bit frenzied. I'm trying to mean like, again, I speak in a lot of conferences. I'm trying to, I like things where you have a mixture of people from different disciplines who are in fact Okay, I'll give you one my my favourite one at the moment when I when I go to most yours is something in Pontignano in Italy, which is a British Italian conference of politicians, journalists and business people. Probably about 50 Italians and 50 British people sort of cheer rated a little bit and we meet in a monastery outside Siena. So to put the world to right so David Wood, it's Lord Willetts runs is the British sort of convener, and then there's an Italian but often often a former Italian Prime Minister, but I love Italy. It's my favourite country on Earth. It's a beautiful place. If you've been to Sienna, we have dinner in the town hall and Siena which has beautiful frescoes of the government of the government and bad government and things like that. Just you meet you meet interesting people from different walks of life, they try and get a mixture of age groups. So it's not just, you know, it's not just people in their 40s and 50s. They have some younger people from think tanks and stuff. So it's an interesting it's always an interesting setup, and you always meet interesting people, so yeah, Pontignano. If you can get an invite that's, that's always fun.

Richard Medcalf 

Beautiful. And last thing is what's your favourite quote or motto?

Ben Page  

Oh god again, I'm these you should have warned me about this.

Only the paranoid survive from Andy Grove of Intel ... there you go. Yes, I've said it enough to my staff but yes, that's that point about not trying not being complacent.

Richard Medcalf

Yes, that sums up a lot of what you said today to be honest right ... take a hard look at reality

Ben Page

You have to deal with the world as it is not the world as you'd like it to be. You can track change how you'd like it to be, but that does take time.

Richard Medcalf

Yes, perfect. Well, thank you very much. And where can people find more about you and Ipsos Mori?

Ben Page 

If you go to www.ipsosmori.com or type in Ben Page into Google will be there should be plenty of stuff there. We've got a regular updates on COVID-19 we're doing literally almost daily releases on where the public are on different attitudes on things around the planet on that and do have a look at the www.globaltrends.com if you're interested in what my come out after COVID-19 as the first part of COVID-19 as past.

Richard Medcalf  

Perfect, I'll put those in the notes. Thanks a lot and feature next time right cheers, Richard. Take care.

Ben Page 

Bye.

Richard Medcalf

I hope you enjoyed this conversation. Now let's turn to you. If you're a top performer, who's already accomplished great things, and yet knows that there's a whole new level of impact and potential open to you, why don't we get on the phone and strategise on how to get you there. Head over to xquadrant.com/speak to find out more. Until next time, be bold and be purposeful.


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