The Pandora & Blackmore Stories – As featured in Our Manly by Jon Dale

Well, you won’t believe it but I learned something recently.

As a member of Pittwater Business Limited (see the new listing on this site) I had the pleasure of hearing breakfast presentations from both Karen Adcock, MD of Pandora Australia and Marcus Blackmore, CEO of Blackmores. Surprisingly, perhaps, they had a lot in common and I’m going to share with you, the bits that struck home the hardest.
It may be a cliché – that the value in your business comes from your people – but it is starting to feel, to me, like perhaps it is true.

Pandora’s Story

Karen spoke about the amazing success that Pandora Australia has experienced over only the last five years. She spoke with passion about the excellence of the product, its consistent quality and the constant innovation in product, manufacture and systems that the global company has invested in.

She spoke also about the incredible personal passion and sheer hard work and perseverance that she herself invested in the business. If there was ever something that appealed to me, as a business coach and a professional sales person for over 15 years, then this was it – persistence, pavement pounding and hard bloody work.

(If you are listening out there….you need to work hard. The pipe dreams of easy money are not true. As someone smart once said – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.)

Karen also spoke about how she has invested a great deal of her energy in building a good team. Pandora invests in its people, in creating a fun and close environment for all those loyal and hard-working people, without whom Pandora would not be nearly so successful. Pandora rewards them well – I have independent reports of the parties, the bonuses and the way everyone gets to share in the joy of being part of a successful company.

The final thing that struck me was how much Karen actually meant it – she is not paying lip service to trying to be a good employer, she really is making sure that she treats these people as her friends and as valued individuals and, obviously, it shows to them.


Marcus Blackmore spoke with a similar brief – tell us how your company has been so successful. He also talked about passion and about having an excellent product, about innovation and quality. He spoke about leadership and entrepreneurship (risk-taking) and he, too, spoke about how his successful company takes great care to look after its best assets – its people.
He talked about managing people with humility, about ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect and about setting up a culture that encourages innovation and creativity. Blackmores pays well, shares its profits, gives people treats, celebrates, communicates and managers encourage other people to develop.

Are you seeing the consistent theme?

The business literature and, certainly, most of the managers I’ve met in my corporate career, talk about people as a resource, to be managed and used, not so much as real people with thoughts and feeling just like you, or as your equals and peers who are working for you by agreement.

Even the term “Human Resources” speaks loudly about how people are regarded. (This is a paraphrasing of something I read somewhere but can’t remember where to attribute it. It is too good not to repeat).

It is clear to me that a successful business has a massive head start if it is staffed by a team of people who like the management, who want the management team and the company to succeed and who stand to share in the rewards of that success. It is also clear that a good place to start is one of respect and admiration for the qualities of your peers who have done you the favour of bringing you their energy and enthusiasm for your business.

What should you do?

Think about it and think about your business. How do you think of your staff? How do they feel about working for you and your business? Are they engaged? Do they like coming to work?

In every business survey I have ever read, the biggest frustration felt by business owners was “Staff”. Most of us are not doing it as well as Pandora or Blackmores, I’ll bet.

This article is not the place for a lengthy discussion on how to improve your management and leadership but, for now, why don’t you try to change the way you feel about your team. Try to remember that they are your equals and here because you both agreed it was a good idea.

Go from there and I’ll write some more when I’ve collected some reading material together!!

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See you later.

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