shutterstock_119145301HERALD BUSINESS

Thursday 25 February 2016

This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about travel.

Rustica Lamb is an owner and general manager at learning and development firm Bloom Learning.

Can you talk me through the kind of travel you do?
We started the business in 2012, and from the beginning it was set up so it could be run from anywhere with a laptop. My husband and I have a nine-year-old daughter, and when she was five and then again at age seven we took her up to Bali to spend time studying at an international school called Green School, which teaches children to be global, sustainable and environmentally aware citizens. And next year we’re actually moving to Bali for her to finish her middle and senior schooling there. Because I’ve known from the outset that those were our personal plans, every decision about the business has been made on the premise that I ultimately physically wouldn’t be in New Zealand.

More generally I do about four overseas trips a year, and I’d say 75 percent of those are for business. For example, I just got back from London where we received a silver award as startup learning provider of the year at the 2016 Learning and Performance Institute’s annual awards, and next week I’m going to Wisdom 2.0, which is a mindfulness in business conference in San Francisco. Then in August we’ll be spending a month in Bali, before going to Sumatra to look at the orangutans, and in November we’ll be back in Bali for our annual planning session.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as a business owner who frequently travels?

Time zones are a big issue, but you can’t really do anything about that! Team communication is another. We have an unusual business model in that all the team are contractors to Bloom, so when you add frequent travel to that mix maintaining communication and creating a sense of team is challenging.

We did an internal culture survey at the end of last year and one piece of feedback was that everything was in my head, and some of the team didn’t know what was going on from week to week. So now I do a weekly video on a Friday to update everyone what’s happening in the company, and also with personal stuff. I record it on my iPhone anywhere I am – last week was in Hyde Park in London – upload it to our team channel on YouTube, then email the team to tell them it’s there. The whole thing takes 10 minutes, and the feedback from the team has been great. We also do quarterly face-to-face meetings with all the team in Auckland, and this year we’re adding a fun event to those business catch-ups. After our next one in April, we’re doing a high ropes course together.

What other tools or strategies have you found helpful to keep business as usual running smoothly while travelling?

Technology is a big one. We moved from Skype to an online videoconferencing system called Zoom, which we’ve found brilliant. We also use the Google suite of apps – Google Docs, Google Calendar and Gmail. Everything is cloud based, so from a collaboration point of view it’s fantastic. And I’m currently trialing Slack, which is an app for team communication.

Also, one of the common factors I’ve observed among highly successful people is that their daily routine includes getting up early to exercise. I go for a run every morning, and I keep up my exercise when I travel. So when I got off the plane in London, I went for a six kilometer run, and also found a gym a five-minute walk from where I was staying and got a week’s pass. It takes discipline, but it’s worth it.

On the other hand, what things have you learned to avoid to keep things on track during travel?

On the technology front, developments are coming in thick and fast and I have a tendency to say ‘this looks great, we’re going to use this now’, whereas the poor team is saying ‘another thing to learn?!’ So I’ve learnt not to get overexcited about all these new technologies, and have a good set of criteria for adopting something new.

Another thing I’ve learnt is the importance of finding team members who are culturally a good fit for our way of working. As an owner of a business I think you need to look at your star performers and pinpoint what the qualities are in those people that you really like, and also look at the ones that didn’t work out and say ‘what are the things we didn’t like?’ so you can turn those lessons into a list of qualities you look for when recruiting.

View the Herald article

Bloom wins at Learning Awards


Monday, 15 February 2016
Scoop Business
Voxy Business

Tuesday 23 February 2016
North Shore Times

Auckland-based business Bloom Learning has won silver in the Start-up Learning Provider of the Year category at the 20th Annual Learning Performance Institute Awards in London this month.

The annual awards are recognised globally as the learning and development sector’s premier award ceremony, and this year’s awards attracted more than 460 entries from 14 countries.

British television and radio personality Claudia Winkleman hosted the event, which took place at the Dorchester Hotel, on London’s Park Lane. This year the finalists competed to take out the top spot in 13 categories including Learning Professional of the Year, Learning Provider of the Year and External Learning Solution of the Year.

Bloom’s General Manager Rustica Lamb was there to accept the award. “We couldn’t be more thrilled. As a small New Zealand company, to have our achievements recognised on a global scale is a huge achievement,” says Rustica.

In the last 12 months Bloom have grown quickly, securing global partnerships with The Entrepreneurs Institute, and the exclusive New Zealand partnership rights with Docebo Learning Management System (LMS).

Docebo is a cloud-based learning management software that large corporates and government departments use for online organisational development programmes, skills training, and professional development. “Docebo operates in 70 countries and is the best LMS we’ve ever used,” says Rustica.

Such is their success that Bloom have been invited to sit on the Change Makers Panel at this year’s Fast Forward Your Business seminar, alongside Excellerated Business Schools CEO Dame DC Cordova and Vend Founder and CEO Vaughan Rowsell. The series of global seminars will visit eight cities and have a combined attendance of more than 10,000 people. The Auckland event on March 17 and 18 at the Aotea Centre is likely to attract 500 entrepreneurs and business

About Bloom Learning

Bloom is a full-spectrum organisational learning and development, training and recruitment agency based in Auckland. Bloom itself has only been in business for three years but has made a huge impression in that time. In the past 12 months they have secured global partnerships with Docebo Learning Management System (LMS) and The Entrepreneurs Institute.