News & Views
Extracts from a conversation with Paul Zisman Autumn 2017
Paul says he’s increasingly struck by just how unpredictable our world has become over the past few years. He reflects on how we used to rely on research and economic predictions that more or less got it right. Not anymore. The idea of the election to highest office of a Trump or a Corbyn or the rise of the AfD in Germany would have been unthinkable. But today, as Maurice Saatchi once said in a moment of ad-man hype, “anything is possible”. Anything can happen nowadays and no one is too big to fail or fall. Uncertainty is the new normal.
So how, I ask, do we cope with this? Paul’s view is clear:
“Our attitude to life is what will transform our fortunes. Optimists and opportunists will always prevail. I’ve seldom had a day when I’m depressed and querulous. Most of my life has been full of song and hope.”
I ask him to summarise the most important conclusions about his working life. These eight thoughts underpin the way Europa works.
1. Client Service is the key
It’s about providing exceptional, beyond-the-call-of-duty client service. In a digitalised world the aspect of service most wanting is empathy, seeing it from the client’s point of view and feeling how he or she feels. Unless we learn to co-operate, collaborate and confer our chances of success are hugely reduced.
2. We relish the fact that business is never easy
US business author Patrick Lencioni said:
“The high point of being a leader in an organisation is wrestling with difficult decisions and situations. Truncating those high points just doesn’t make sense.”
Paul relishes challenges and believes:
“There’s never (nor ever should be) an easy fix.”
3. It’s unpredictability that plays to our strengths
Uncertainty creates new opportunities. Because it’s when others are confused that the weight of experience and the structure of Europa pays off.
4. We believe that operating below the radar works best
“This is all about quietly fitting businesses together so everyone wins. In reality it’s best that no one knows we’re even involved. I regard myself very much as the silent advisor operating behind the scenes.”
5. We must be true to our strategy
He reckons he’s lifted the company’s game to new levels of “listening, creativity and targeting”. He denounces the grapeshot approach of some competitors. “A deal at any price is a terrible strategy” he says. The right deal at a good price leaves all parties happy and a successful new business platform for the future.