Peter Merrett

Episode (56) – How to build the most dynamic business culture

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Peter Merrett is a professional speaker, and he has an international reputation for ‘Bringing Wonderful to Life.’ Peter specializes in creating vibrant and mostly award-winning business cultures with tantalizing customer experiences.

On today’s show,

Peter shares how to create the most vibrant business culture by paying attention to the people you work with and how to dare to be different and try new things.

Peter also covers,

• How he brings the things he learned working in the hotel into a corporate business culture
• Why people call him Memorable Mr. Merrett
• The importance of daring to be different and trying new things
• Why Willie Wonka is his hero and how he inspired him to be playful and mischievous in life and business
• How speaking in front of an audience became an overwhelming enjoyment and passion for him
• There is always something that we can make better with real simplistic attention and playfulness
• His Life Changing Question is: How can I bring wonderful to life?
• Why he uses an alarm clock instead of his phone to wake up
• The essence of wonderful always comes from people
• The importance of unscrewing the lid and encouraging people you work with to be creative instead of keeping them in a glass jar like butterflies
• The thing on his bucket list is to visit India and explore its culture

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Peter Merrett is sharing his Life Changing Question. You can listen here Click To Tweet Do you know what to do to bring wonderful to life? Peter Merrett knows just the right way Click To Tweet Want to create vibrant and award-winning business culture? Listen to what the expert on the topic, Peter… Click To Tweet

Resources Mentioned in this show:

petermerrett.com

Recommended Reading:

Transcription

So welcome to Episode No. 56 of the Life-Changing Questions Podcast.  On today’s show, we have Peter Merrett.  Peter has an international reputation for ‘Bringing Wonderful to Life’.  He specializes in creating vibrant and mostly award-winning business cultures with tantalizing customer experiences.  I am so excited today to welcome to the show, Peter.  Peter, welcome to the show.

 

PETER:

Thank you, Kevin.

 

KEVIN:

It’s an absolute delight to have you here.  Clearly we’ve had the privilege of knowing each other now, I would guess, for 3 years and I have been at one of your keynote presentations and certainly ‘wonderful’ is definitely the way that I would describe it.  I would love for you to give the audience a little bit more about your background, I mean, we know that you are a professional speaker now, but I would love to hear a little bit about your story.  How did you come to this place, where you get to travel around the world and help organizations ‘Bring Wonderful to Life’?

 

PETER:

Oh, thank you, Kevin!  That’s a great question and I think all through my career, I’ve had quite a creative passion with everything I do and from early in my career, I actually started and trying professionally as a chef because I have this real fascination with bringing food alive and actually being playful with ingredients to creating credible experiences, but more so all the way through my career, in the earlier days, was as a hotelier so actually had the incredible opportunity to manage and lead some of the nicest luxury hotels in the UK and that’s where I learned the craft of incredible hospitality and looking after people and providing incredible guest experiences, buy more so just uncovering that incredible magic that comes with an incredibly well-tuned group and team of people to put on this brilliant performance each day for our customers and our guests.  That really became my greatest enjoyment where we learned the importance of all of the little things that could make the biggest difference and how we also learn to how to anticipate what our guests needed before they were asking, but all of those, as I said, little touches that could help bring those moments of goose bumps to people’s experiences, which I suppose lead me through to, more recently, working full time in corporate environments, where I was able to be quite playful and bringing those hotel and hospitality styles into corporate businesses, well, which was very, very enjoyable, very satisfying, lots of fun.

 

KEVIN:

I heard fun come up several times in there.  I certainly get that when I am around you.  You are certainly very fun to be around and you mentioned quite a lot about the experience.  I certainly remember from your bio, there’s a great quote in there from a lady at JLL America.  She says, ‘We call you Memorable Mr. Merrett.  It’s 2 years since your keynote and we still talk about it today.’  Wow!  What a great quote.  So tell us about that.  How do you suddenly become known as Memorable Mr. Merrett?

 

PETER:

Oh my goodness, I mean, what a moment!  That was in March this year when I had the opportunity to speak in Arizona and it was 2 years on from a conference that I spoke up previously and some of the attendees almost came running along the hall quoting a quote, “Oh my god, it’s Memorable Mr. Merrett!” and I was also very humbled with receiving that beautiful piece of feedback, but it did lead me into ask the question what they meant by that and one of the things that they said was the way that I made them feel with the message that I shared and I think it’s something that I always focus on most clearly as a speaker, what an incredible honour it is to speak in front of an audience, but the important thing that we always have to remember is that it’s not about me as the speaker, but all about the audience and the message that I am sharing with them.  So for this particular keynote, I am always trying to use a number of different props of visual things that can help support my messages I am speaking, so this particular moment that the quote came from, I remember I had several hundred red rose petals on stage with me and things like an umbrella and all different things that just helped to visually bring the message, really engaging for everybody who were in the audience, so but also [0:04:18] word’s gonna come out here as well, Kevin.  I just try and make everything as fun as it possibly can within that short time that I have on stage in front of people because I suppose right into the core of my message, I think it’s really important that we are more serious about having fun.  It’s just similar to when we were children, adults also, the same as children, like to have fun.  So it does help learning as well particularly.

 

KEVIN:

It certainly does.  And I think that’s such an important message, people are gonna remember how you made them feel, probably more so than the specific words that you said to them.  So that’s so powerful.  Now talking about fun, I know I have seen your bio picture as well.  Quite often people will have a stuffy bio picture and you know, just staring straight down the camera with their suit and tie, but [0:05:05] what looks like to me to be a sit-on lawn mower.  Tell me more about that?

 

PETER:

Oh god, what an amazing moment that was!  I was doing some filming recently in [0:05:14] New South Wales in the remote [0:05:18] and a good friend of mine, who’s doing my filming [0:05:21] sort of cheekily said, ‘Oh, come and have a look at this’ [0:05:27] we were at his parents’ house and he opened the garage doors; his parents were out; and said, “Let’s take this for a spin-it on dad’s lawn mower.’  We actually pinched his dad’s lawn mower and drove it through into the outback and I think that’s really such an important part of my message where you know, why not?  I could easily have had an picture, sitting on a chair in a board room, in a meeting room, but something like this, I suppose, is just capturing the essence of what I am trying to encourage people with – with daring to be different and trying new things and yeah, just having as much fun as we possibly can.

 

KEVIN:

Perfect!  So the take out from the message is, if you can go and borrow someone’s lawn mower and drive around on it, go for it!  Jump on it!  Do it!  Dare to be different.

 

PETER:

Absolutely.

 

 

KEVIN:

Now I know for sure because you told me that you have a bit of a hero, who on this idea of fun, has been maybe a little bit inspired by this hero.  I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about who that hero is and in what way he has inspired you?

 

PETER:

Yeah, so one of my greatest memories as a little boy was Willie Wonka and just that incredible impact Willie Wonka had on my life as a [0:06:36] child and that real essence of possibility and creativity with all the things that he brought to life with the chocolate factory and I guess that real essence of how he helped to bring up in the minds of young children, is something that I really connected with and used that with the way that I work now with encouraging the same with people and business and organizations today to have that same kind of playful mischievousness, to bring amazing things to life and bring wonderful to life and [0:07:11] getting into the heart of creating cultures of happiness, you know, this is where the magic happens, where people feel amazing. You know, they’re gonna go on and do amazing things for their customers.  So Willie Wonka is, I guess, a really strong part of my character today and I am really happy to admit that publicly with you for the first time.

 

KEVIN:

Oh, good!  Well, I am glad that you shared that with us publicly for the first time.  And I certainly feel that through my interactions with you, I mean, you mentioned the fun again, it comes through in the playful and mischievous, which is really great and I get that’s how it comes through.  Tell me along this journey then, I know that you had the background as a chef and then in hotels, but now of course a speaker and at some point you made a decision to go into speaking.  So tell us a little bit about that.  What shaped your thinking around doing that?

 

PETER:

I think, you know, particularly in my time in hotels, I had the opportunities, sometimes, to speak in front of an audience or speak in front of a group, [0:08:14] always lead induction programs when we have new employees starting.  So I started to stand up and to speak in front of a group of people back from the early days in hotels, but then most of them in recent years, over the last 9 or 10 years in corporate life, that became more frequent and the audiences tended to get larger where actually I’d be speaking more frequently and sharing my message in it.  Personally, it turned from something that absolutely filled me with fear to the point of sleepless nights and just sheer blinded dread of having to speak through to recent years where it’s just become my absolute, overwhelming enjoyment and passion to have the chance to speak in front of an audience right the way to the point of late last year where it was quite overwhelming and you know after a lot of really careful thought and thinking, was to give this a try and actually create my own brand.  I own a little business and speak on stages [0:09:15] rather than part of another organization.

 

KEVIN:

Yeah, great and so it’s always come from this desire to make things better and improve things.

 

 

 

PETER:

I think that one of my greatest focuses has always been around the thinking of ‘there’s always a better way’.  It’s always something that we can make something better with real simplistic attention and playfulness, but really ‘Bringing Wonderful to Life’ became the [0:09:43] for my business that I came up with, based on the experiences that I had continuously as a customer or as just with things in day-to-day life, where more often than not, I would be disappointed to underwhelmed by an experience and naturally where I captured the essence of my message with bringing wonderful to life based on own experiences.

 

KEVIN:

Yeah, great!  And I know certainly I have had experiences with organizations, who would definitely need the touch of what you bring, sometimes they are no where near wonderful [0:10:16] I might go as far to say, not even in the [0:10:17]. So, I know there are a lot of opportunities to help organizations continually improving this, right? Now, Peter, so one of the key questions that we love to ask you as well is around the quality of the questions, as we know the quality of the questions we ask ourselves impact the quality of our life.  With that being true, what’s one question that you have asked that’s had the biggest possible impact on your life or the life of the people that you serve?

 

PETER:

I believe that one of the most key things that bubble in the way in the back of my mind for the last of years is, all the times I have [0:10:45] did disappointed or underwhelmed as a customer myself and my biggest question that came right through to the front of my mind in recent months was, ‘How can I bring wonderful to life?’  So how can I achieve help people or organizations or groups or teams or whoever might be, helped and bring wonderful to life also and as I say this is really based on personal experiences.  And one of the strongest examples was just recently at Christmas, where we took our two young boys to have their picture taken with Santa at the local shopping centres, as often the thing that the families do and it was just one of the most bitterly disappointing experiences I could remember for such a long time and I remember standing in  the queue as we were waiting to see Santa with everything that was happening that day; I won’t go into all of the detail with this, but that’s where the penny drops; that’s just where it just hit me like as clear as day with what my purpose was with sharing my message and in helping people bring wonderful to life.  So all of the stories that I share as a speaker or when I am on stage or on delivering a keynote or on facilitating a training day, is all based on personal experiences or career experiences, so all things are real and authentic in the way that I encourage people to bring amazing experiences throughout our day and throughout our culture, throughout our day-to-day businesses of our companies for just the most incredible customer experience possible.

 

KEVIN:

Well, there you go and when you see an opportunity to help Santa Claus to be more wonderful, you know you need to go and take action.

 

PETER:

Exactly!

 

KEVIN:

And so in this process, in this journey, Peter, what I would really love to hear about is, your habits and rituals.  What are some of the habits and rituals that you have to have allowed you to continually improve and grow and help create this wonderful environment?

 

PETER:

So personal rituals is how I have completely changed the look and shape and feel of my own day, so from starting my day so much early [0:12:49] little things like, now I use, only ever use an alarm clock instead of my phone, so the phone stays in the kitchen overnight and I just have an alarm clock, but I find that by starting my day a lot earlier, I am in a much more creative state to before rest  of the world starts waking up.  It’s sort of my time, I guess.  My time to think and plan and prioritize what I want to achieve each day and just get myself in the mind space and really adventurous kind of state that I want to be for the rest of the day.  So they are probably a just a couple [0:13:20] snippets that I have done to change the beginning of my day.

 

KEVIN:

Yeah, and I  certainly can recognize that and I think I have seen some studies around how mobile phones and Wi-Fi can really impact the quality of your sleep and your thinking.  So probably great idea to have that in another space and have an alarm clock.

 

PETER:

Yeah.

 

KEVIN:

Where do you buy alarm clocks these days?  Can you still buy them?

 

PETER:

Yeah, it took a little while so in the local shopping centre, there will always be a watch maker or someone who can repair your watch and that’s where you tend to always find, replaced by little [0:13:50] alarm clocks, yeah, they are becoming quite a rare commodity, but worth it when you find them.

 

KEVIN:

There you go, even over here to make your sleep more wonderful, so that’s perfect. Now if we have people listening and they are asking this question, ‘How do I bring wonderful to life?’ and they think about this regarding their business or their day-to-day work and sometimes that can be mundane, sometimes it isn’t always wonderful to do.  Do you have any top tips about how they would answer that question, somethings that they can do to help bring wonderful into their life?

 

PETER:

Yeah, sure, that’s a fabulous question, Kevin, and I think the simplicity of wonderful is the fascinating part and really the essence of wonderful always comes from people.  So we are in a world that’s becoming more and more digitally focused, but at the end of the day, we will always be human beings and I think if we can find out the ways to focus on being, rather than doing.  So you know, one of the things that we learned in hotels, for example, was to walk rather than sit.  So if you are always continuously sitting at your desk processing tasks rather than actually walking and creating experiences, this is where the essence of wonderful absolutely starts.  So for an organization, I would always help to see the permission that we give to people to be themselves, so one of the little stories that I enjoy sharing is, they are all questions rather is, are we keeping people in a glass jar like butterflies or actually are we unscrewing the lid and letting them fly and letting them be themselves bringing their own personality, their passion, their enthusiasm to a task or actually are we keeping people to rigidly conformed in how they should perform a process, so the essence really starts with people and this is where you can uncover the absolute essence of magic.

 

KEVIN:

Yeah, great.  So out of too many powerful things I take away from that and sometimes we are gonna sit on our chair and be creative and make wonderful, our brain isn’t gonna be a stimulated, but if you get up and move and have that physicality, that can sometimes really help the creativity come through and of course the second piece is, if you have team members, let’s not keep like butterflies in a jar, let’s take the lid off and just help encourage them to create wonderful with you.

 

PETER:

That’s right.  Absolutely!

 

KEVIN:

Perfect!  Now, Peter, what I love to hear about as well as we had the world’s No. 1 bucket list expert on the show and he explained, of course, how we can create a bucket list to create the kind of life that we want.  If there was one thing that would still be on your bucket list that you really want to accomplish or achieve or do or experience, what would that be?

 

PETER:

Gosh, how do you choose one thing?  That’s a tough question, isn’t it?  But probably at the top of my list, I have got such an enthusiasm for India and I had visited India when I was [0:16:28] after I left hotel [0:16:30] by a month and I haven’t managed to return yet, but I would love to really, really in-depth sort of visit and travel and experience and see as much of India as I possibly can.  I think it’s a fascinating culture, absolutely beautiful country like no other.  So India would be top of my list, really discover properly.

 

KEVIN:

Yeah, wow, I would certainly love to go and take a visit there; haven’t been there myself yet, but yeah, what a wonderful place to go and see and if there was one book that you recommend for our readers to read or listen to, what would be that book be?

 

PETER:

I have got an absolute favourite book that I am just on reading currently at the moment, for the second time, it’s a book called ‘Disney U’, as in the letter ‘u’, which is authored by Doug Lipp.  Doug is the former head of the Disney University and this is such an enjoyable book to read and it just captures so many beautiful stories of Walt Disney and some friends, who helped Walt Disney create Disneyland originally and the other reason that this is so personally important for me as a book is that my most defining moment as a speaker was the day that I shared the stage with Doug Lipp and it was the conference that you mentioned, Kevin, a couple of years ago in Arizona, when we performed a double-sided keynote and that was the day when I realized that I wanted to become a professional speaker, so Doug has turned into a really important coach and mentor of mine and I just can’t recommend this book enough.  It’s quite life changing experience to see the words really getting into the essence of Walt Disney’s life and his real vision and creativity behind the magic of Disney.

 

KEVIN:

Well, I am looking forward to getting hold of the copy of that book and reading it. Peter, you have been absolutely fantastic on the stage show.  No, I take that back.  You have been wonderful on today’s show, so what I would love to hear, our listeners would love to hear about is, if they wanted to know more about you or find out more information about Peter Merrett and bring your wonderful to their life, where would be the best place for them to go?

 

PETER:

And probably the best place would be petermerrett.com and alternatively if you find yourself near a really nice old-fashioned looking brass lamp, just give a rub and I’ll pop up.

 

KEVIN:

[Laughs] I like it!  He’s a magic genie.  He’s Willie Wonka and he’s Mr. Wonderful.  So, Peter, we really enjoyed having you on the show today.  Thank you so much for your time and energy.

 

PETER:

Thank you, Kevin.  Absolute pleasure.

 

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