After selling her branded toiletries manufacturer Pacific Direct in 2008 for £20m, Lara Morgan’s latest venture, Company Shortcuts, is teaching UK business owners how to accelerate growth. Here she reveals her secrets to stress-busting and successful leadership
The world is a small place. Going to boarding school in St Andrews, Scotland, and travelling back and forth to Hong Kong where my parents lived, meant I developed a cultural awareness from a young age – and that’s helped in business.
I’m still waiting for my first great idea. My first business was not started on the basis that I wanted to run a company – it was created because I needed to pay bills. It was 1991 and I was unable to get a job, but I had sales skills so I started selling products to the hospitality industry. That’s how Pacific Direct came about.
I’m on a mission to teach Britain to sell. I took my skillset and set up Company Shortcuts in 2009. We treat salespeople appallingly in the UK – that has to change.
I overcome challenges by taking advice. I am happy to accept that I can be wrong. My mum brought me up to understand that life isn’t fair sometimes. As long as I learn from the situation and get it right the next time, that’s what’s important.
Everyone has something to offer. There isn’t a particular person I seek guidance from – everybody I meet can potentially teach me something. I learn from my three daughters, or from having a conversation with someone in my company, or from another business leader.
My office is my computer. I was at the IoD recently having a cup of tea and I thought, ‘what a nice environment’. I also use coffee shops, hotel lobbies and my London flat. We don’t need fixed locations.
I’m the worst shopper in the world. But I like watching people and the way they behave. It’s a result of having to sit for hours waiting for planes, trains and automobiles in my childhood.
I combat stress by doing anything that raises my heart rate. I stay fit, I play sports, I go running and I cycle competitively sometimes. I used to do triathlons – I was number 10 in the world three years ago.
Communication is at the heart of modern leadership. My role is to take out any roadblocks that stop my team from doing their job – and that means being open with them.
I have been known to talk about ‘cutting once and cutting deep’. During a crisis you have to make difficult decisions, but you need to act fast. You also must behave with integrity. The first thing you should do when something goes wrong is to apologise.
I’m only allowed two coffees a day. I try to avoid sugar and I’m very conscious of my diet. It’s about making it a life habit because if you eat right and exercise well you might have half a chance of avoiding dreadful illnesses.
Sri Lanka is where I go to relax. The food is great, the people are lovely and it’s got fantastic beaches.
It’s vital that leaders embrace health and wellbeing. If you reduce absenteeism at work you will have a happier workforce. People perform better when they feel good about themselves.
Lara Morgan is a member of IoD Bath and Wiltshire
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