Danger mouse, dockers and why collaborative solidarity trumps competition

Although I’ve tried to deny it for many years I think the inevitable is happening…

Slowly but surely and in a bunch of different ways I’m turning into my dad.
Recently whilst watching TV with the kids and regardless of whether it’s the Wonder Pets, Pokemon or Peppa Pig I find myself saying stuff like…
“This isn’t as good as Danger Mouse”
“This ain’t a patch on Fraggle Rock”
“Really!? You call this formulaic dross entertainment!? You need to watch He Man and the Masters of the Universe! Get out of my ‘ouse!”
Actually I’ve never said the last one as I still want to retain the relatively pleasant environment in our house but the point remains…
My old man’s references were different (replace Danger Mouse with, I dunno, Bill & Ben) but the words were the same.
Whilst he was and still is a relatively positive forward thinking person there are parts of his childhood he used to cherish. I reckon I’m the same.
However I assumed a few years ago that in one aspect of our lives we were fundamentally different.
You see my dad was a docker. He was part of the union. He was part of a band of brothers….a tight knit bunch which,right or wrong, stuck by each other.
My dad had a sense of solidarity.
In the early days of setting up the business, and having started out on my dining room table with only a laptop for company, I incorrectly and naively assumed that solidarity didn’t exist in the business or advisory community. You see my perspective was limited by previously only working for large organisations which had a sense of solidarity if you were ‘in’ (and a loss of it if you were ‘out’).
However the reality is I couldn’t have been more wrong.

To have a sense of solidarity all you need is people, people who understand the power of collaboration instead of competition and are driven by the same values and ethics. You need to be part of a group of people who, even if they go about it in different ways, broadly want the same things out of life.
I’ve found that solidarity isn’t about whether you’re employed (or self employed) but is more about what you stand for, what you believe and what you’re trying to achieve rather than who you’re employed by or whether you’re a member of a particular ‘gang’.
I’ve also found that having solidarity doesn’t mean that you agree on every topic. In actual fact often it makes more sense if you don’t.
Solidarity for me means just one thing….
Working together as and when you can to achieve a greater goal.
For me a sense of solidarity naturally leads towards opportunities to collaborate.

Sometimes this collaboration consists of a sharing ideas, books to read or podcasts to listen to.
Sometimes these collaborations are more formal. For example the relationship between me and our clients (or the relationships we have with partner businesses who use AE in a Box)
Sometimes collaborations develop into relationships which sprout new businesses…..something I definitely didn’t expect to happen when I was first sitting at my dining room table.
However as much as I like to collaborate there’s one type of person I don’t feel solidarity with.
People who live in a purely competitive ‘dog eat dog’ world. They may be successful. They may be happy…..but I’d rather live in a world where collaborative solidarity trumps competition every single time.
I firmly believe that in the world today where so many resources (including information) is so abundant and we are not only locally, but nationally and globally connected we are now all need to work in a far smarter way.
For me that way is must consist of finding common connections with people I know, like and trust and forming mutually beneficial collaborations.
However I might be wrong. It might be that I’m just too idealistic. The world might still be ‘dog eat dog’ and I don’t see it! 
What do you think?

and while you ponder whether collaboration or competition is the order of the day I’m off to tell Charlotte and Sophie how much better TV was in the 80’s…..
…..now where did I put my A team box set?

8 thoughts on “Danger mouse, dockers and why collaborative solidarity trumps competition

  • Danger Mouse??? What about SuperTed or Rainbow or Button Moon? I have recently been educating my 3 year old son in the wonders of SuperTed and I think I have him hooked!

    On a more serious note, I also like to think we don’t live in a “dog eat dog” world but I think the reality is that it does still exist. As owner of Brand Financial Training, we have a great relationship with some of our ‘competitors’ (I don’t like that word for them – we’re all serving the same people and appreciate that we can work together). But there are also some ‘competitors’ who definitely see us as a threat rather than a company that helps the same people that they do. I think that’s a great pity but I still recommend them on the occasions when we can’t offer exactly what someone is looking for but I know they do. Some may think that is stupidity, I just see it as putting the customer first and doing the right thing by them.

    Some would call me daft but I’ve built a strong business based on putting the customer first, and I sleep well at night.

    I’m off to watch Bagpuss…. 🙂

    • I can’t believe it! Not only did I miss Superted, Rainbow or Button Moon…..but I didn’t even mention Bananaman! Although if the challenge was ‘mention 80’s TV shows’ I could probably go all day!

      Although the fact that the button moon theme tune was written by ex Doctor Who Peter Davidson always surprises me!

      There’s no denying that ‘dog eat dog’ does still exist and I think the key to collaboration is being prepared to pass on work you haven’t got the specific expertise or capacity to do…..it sounds like you’re doing that!

      I agree, putting the client first and doing the right thing does far more good in the long term than anything else!

  • Chris, I belong to 3 family law groups and within each is at least one other IFA. Yes, we each want the lawyers to refer to us rather than any other adviser, yet we know that by working together, promoting a common voice and sharing ideas we’ll all get our fair slice of the cake.

    We’ve worked together on presentations, marketing ideas, technical support and in doing so we are all benefiting.

    Anyone just out for him / herself in this environment, wouldn’t last long.

    • Hi Paul,

      This approach makes sense. Even though you want the lawyers to refer to your business you also know that collectively you’ll achieve more and therefore work together.

      I absolutely agree with you. In the respect of the way you run your business (i.e. like many of us in collaboration with other professions as well as other professionals) anyone who’s fiercely competitive won’t thrive….I’m just not convinced that in today’s economy global and connected economy there aren’t many places it will!

  • I quite like the Cbeebies offerings particularly the Furchester Hotel :).

    Anyway, great blog.

    I fall into both camps. I have often believed in soladarity and I really enjoy the community of IFAs and Financial Planner that seems to be evolving in the personal finance world. I find some of the comments on the usual IFA sites quite sad and I don’t understand what it achieves.

    On the other side, you have to be competitive and you can do it by putting clients first. As I learn more or more in this industry (or should I say profession) I see a very clear line between those that care about their clients and those that look after themselves first and foremost. It is human nature unfortunately, but the competitive nature in me wants to see the latter camp forced out of the profession one by one. We won’t achieve it completely but every crook that is forced out is a positive for us all and the clients.

    • Hi Adam!

      I love the furchester too! However I remember the Cookie Monster from back in the day…..so I’m counting this as a retro remake! 😉

      I know where you’re coming from in relation to putting clients first. I think we’ve been seeing a constant and gradual change in our world from industry to profession over the past few years for the common good.

      I think this change is having two impacts. It’s forcing the many of the ones who were totally in it for themselves out but it’s also showing many who work in our profession (especially if they’ve been in an ‘old school’ environment) that there are different approaches which serve the client more efficiently with better outcomes.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • I got my young ‘ uns watching the classics Paddington (before the film came out), Mr Benn and The Wombles.

    I love that so many in our profession are willing to share ideas, best practice, skills and knowledge. I’ve spoken to so many people over the last 2 years since leaving the big bad banking world and when I’ve asked help has been given freely oft times it has been volunteered without needing to ask.

    In the next month I’ve got two meetings with other IFA business owners. One I asked as I think he is on a similar path to the one I want to follow but a bit further down it. I met the other guy at a seminar day and he offered to meet and help me to ‘not make the same mistakes I made starting out’.

    Together we can grow our profession, grow our businesses and help our clients.

    • Hi Darren,

      It’s a great environment to be in when it comes to sharing ideas and best practice. It’s also a bit of a cultural changed when you’re used to the banking environment (I’ve made this transition too).

      Thanks so much for your comment.


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