.Cocoon is a part of

Tartu, Estonia 2020

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Mark Ashton

Founder and Principal at Resolve Gets Results

UK

What are you doing today?

I am a business leader, coach, and consultant based in the UK, working mainly with privately-owned businesses who are seeking growth in the UK and North America. I have been in business-to-business sales for 30 years and build long-term working relationships by providing exceptional value.

My current roles:

  • I am the founder and leader of an executive coaching and consulting business called Resolve Gets Results© (‘Resolve’). I have a team of 10 people in the UK and the USA, all self-employed with their businesses. We also work closely with trusted partner companies in the UK, USA, and Canada.

  • I am a coach/mentor to leaders and management teams in the UK, and I mentor in the .Cocoon program in Estonia.

  • For over 20 years, I have been a business consultant. I help companies to win more business from new and existing customers. I also help them to solve difficult problems, which stop them from becoming great performers and from developing great leadership skills and a high-performance culture. I have conducted many successful projects which have required creativity, original thinking, logical analysis, and strong people skills. My work has often had a vital impact on the client organizations I work for.

 

Resolve inspires and delivers great results for privately-owned (including private equity and venture capital) the UK and North American companies in their home markets and on transatlantic business. We focus on scientific, technological, engineering, and manufacturing sectors.

 

We are experienced business leaders and senior subject matter experts with expertise in business-to-business sales, export, strategy, market research, executive coaching, organizational development, and corporate finance. Our focus is on teaching client businesses the healthy purposes, values, attitudes, and behaviors proven to create great results, and on building lasting business relationships for clients and ourselves.

We are hired as executive coaches and mentors, consultants, non-executive directors, fundraisers, part-time managers, or full-time managers for short periods. Clients hire us because we have strong individual reputations and deep experience in our different fields of business and leadership. We work flexibly with them, allowing them to decide how they use us. We do not pressurize them.

In August 2018, we were appointed as the official North America partner for www.chamber-international.com, which helps UK businesses to export to other countries. They promote our services, organize events where we present what we do, and introduce companies to us. We have close links to the UK Government Department for International Trade, and accounting and law firms in the UK. In the US, our main business partner is the Honorary British Consul to the State of North Carolina, who has been a friend for 27 years since I lived and worked in North Carolina. We have other strong business partners in Canada and other parts of the USA.   

How did you get to the business you are doing today? 


My career has been nearly 40 years. I started work in engineering as a management trainee before I went to university. I graduated in 1984, and after 4 years in software development, I took a sales role in a company that built high technology textile machinery. After two years, they sent me to the USA, where I ran their sales and service business for five years. I returned to the UK, took an MBA (Masters’ degree in Business Administration) for one year, and worked for a management consultancy for 8 years in the UK, USA, and continental Europe. I set up my consulting firm in 2005 and have been self-employed most of the time since then. There have been three different stages of my self-employed career, with different groups of business partners and a different business model each time. The current stage began in 2016.


Running the textile machine company in the US (1991-96) was a fantastic learning experience, but it ended badly. For four years, we grew dramatically from $6 million to $20 million in annual sales. Even so, there were big challenges with technical problems, customer service, and the behavior of my UK boss and our American salesman. They were both corrupt, and my boss was extremely difficult to work for. The £40 million, 400 employee company got into major financial problems globally and had to be sold – 90% of the workforce, including me, lost their jobs.


I returned to the UK in 1996. After my enjoyable MBA year, I fulfilled my goal of becoming a management consultant with business leadership experience. Working as an employed consultant was satisfying – I could bring new ideas and approaches to help clients to improve their businesses. It was a great learning experience, and I made lasting friendships with clients and colleagues. On the negative side, I had another difficult boss who was a greedy psychological bully and drove several people, including me, to the point of burnout.


It was a relief to leave the company in 2005 and set up on my own. I attracted more than 30 self-employed consultants inspired by my business vision and ability to sell. Unfortunately, we had poor legal and accounting advice, so we ended up with a complex organizational structure that was too costly and difficult to manage. We hit the 2007/08 financial crisis and the recession which followed. It was a very difficult time, and in 2010 we closed the business. I restarted it in 2012 and built a new, smaller team. That team broke up in 2016, and I carried on working alone, gradually creating a new team and a new, more focused business.
I now have a great team and a low-cost business model that works well. Our reputation has grown, and we are getting interesting referrals/introductions and new business opportunities that fit well with our skills.

Why are you doing what you are doing? 


The big WHY, the cause, is that I want to change the way business is done and how it is seen by as many people as possible. The most successful long-term businesses are healthy, creative places where people feel psychologically safe, happy, and inspired to achieve things they never believed they could do. These businesses all have a compelling purpose beyond profit – they meet a need, they have a positive impact on the world, and they are never driven by fear or greed.
I believe passionately that great businesses need humble, selfless, fiercely determined leaders who act for the greater good and develop other people to be the best they can be. They need great people with strong positive values, and a powerful focus on something at which they excel, for which they have passion, and which meets an economic need. Great businesses require commitment, discipline, clear insight, and the ability to solve difficult problems creatively.


All these aspects of great businesses are confirmed by major independent research studies all over the world, so there is powerful empirical evidence to support my belief and my cause.


When I was employed by other companies, I found they had many weaknesses. Some of these were practical – they needed better business processes, better ways of measuring performance, better computer systems, or better policies. But the biggest problems were due to poor purposes, values, attitudes, and behaviors, especially from top managers or owners of the business. They behaved with ignorance, prejudice, and opinion, not based on empirical data. They were usually motivated by money, power, and status, and they often behaved badly and mistreated other people.


I hated the values and behaviors of the leaders of the two companies I worked for periods of eight years. They were arrogant, bullying, corrupt, greedy, hypocritical, intimidating, sometimes harsh, and unpredictable. They exploited others and abused their power. They were disliked and distrusted by many people, but they still seemed to prosper, though their personal lives were often a mess.


I choose carefully whom I work with and for. I believe that the world is changing in favor of my cause. Wellbeing and mental health at work is now a huge crisis. It damages productivity and profitability, as well as people. Many people of my generation are sick of the way they have been managed. Millennials do not want to work for unethical, bullying leaders, and companies. So I think there is a large, growing target audience for my big game, and I think and act with a long-term perspective.

Where you are heading from here on? 


I see Resolve as a ‘family business.’ I have no genetic family members working with me, but I see my colleagues, business partners, and even some of my clients as ‘family.’ Like most family businesses, Resolve thinks and acts long-term and has strong values beyond making a profit. Profit and cash are necessary, but they are outcomes of doing things well, and they are a means to an end. They are like blood and oxygen – necessary for human life, but not its purpose.


Where I am heading is to grow this ‘family business’ called Resolve and the big WHY behind it so that it becomes a loved and respected force for good in business. I want lots of people to speak of Resolve as a source of inspiration, and I want the company to live long beyond me with that enduring reputation.
Resolve is still an early-stage business. In the next few years, I plan to nurture it like a child until it ‘grows up’ and becomes strong and healthy. That means it needs strong finances and great people. It also means systematically applying to Resolve the empirical findings and principles from the research studies into the most successful long-term companies.


Currently, there are two interconnected parts of Resolve’s business:

  1. Inspiring and delivering great results for clients by using the principles from the research studies into the most profitable long-term companies;

  2. Helping the UK and North American companies to succeed with transatlantic business. We are experimenting with different consulting and coaching products to develop better leaders and healthier, more sustainable organizations.

 

Meantime we are helping clients to find new business in the UK and North America using our selling and export skills and strong business networks. We are also investigating if there is a niche that we can fill by providing more valuable employee assistance programs (EAPs) to improve employee wellbeing and mental health. We may form a joint venture with one of the leading providers of EAPs in the USA, McLaughlin Young, led by Dr. John Young, a close business partner of ours.    

One can learn hard skills at the university; however, we need wise mentors to learn EQ and soft skills, and Mark is the right mentor for it.

Ansis Lipenitis

CEO of Wiserstate