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PrintNZ Forum Speakers Enlighten Delegates


New Zealand captains of industry Mike Hutcheson, Mike Pero and Kim Campbell shared significant business insight and interesting personal life experience during the PrintNZ Forum at SkyCity on May 13.

A full audience heard advertising/marketing guru and columnist Mike Hutcheson speak on innovation and marketing, entrepreneur Mike Pero on business success and Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association chief executive Kim Campbell about business conditions and challenges. All three also touched upon their own involvements in the printing industry, in engaging addresses laced with humour.

In an often history-laden presentation, Mr Hutcheson spoke of how “life was simple” for those like himself leading the advertising industry in the 1970s -- a placement in The Listener and on television would essentially “get everyone”.

Given the proliferation of mediums in the time since, Mr Hutcheson drew a comparison as to how modern air travel had changed but not ended sea travel and challenged the print industry to “go upmarket” -- “some things you still want in print”.

Noting that “everything changes, but everything stays the same”, he said human motivations were the same as they had always been -- “you need to work out how to reach them”.

Citing the example of a local bolt manufacturer which tests its products three times before they are deployed in various key industries, he said printers needed to similarly identify and promote their key stories -- “what need are you solving for them?”, “why do they chose you?”

He said modern social media outlets were a perfect means to “get inside their heads”, but also noted that as a firm’s customers might not all be intuitive -- given “intuitives are outnumbered four to one” -- printers needed to find the means to “talk to them the right way”.

Encouraging diversity in company personnel to challenge thinking and external collaboration to maximise success, he said people needed to be prepared to look at things a different way -- “don’t go to the answer, work out the problem”.

Furthermore, noting that we each have elements of eight different types of intelligence, he said it was vital to recognise where you individually were strongest and work with those whose strengths complemented yours to maximise problem-solving.

“Look at the world differently and do things differently,” he said.

“Our customers want us to go beyond the normal range.”

In this vein, Mr Hutcheson said minds work best when people were relaxed and possibly even drifting in thoughts, quipping “the best ideas we’ve ever had is when we’ve had a few drinks”.

As a parting thought, he shared a quote from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”

A very likeable and down-to-earth Mr Pero took the audience through his career and life journey to date, humbly describing himself as an “accidental” businessman. From the “poor side” of Christchurch, an early willingness to wholeheartedly embrace challenges and risks, saw Mr Pero rise rapidly in the motorcycle-racing community -- riding to multiple national titles and establishing his own dealership by just 20 years of age.

Singing the praises of a subsequent $1700 Success Motivational International investment as focusing his process to “set goals and plan life”, Mr Pero made a successful transition into the world of insurance and then targeted becoming a commercial aviation pilot.

Alas, revealing to delegates that his life -- no doubt just like theirs -- had not all been plain sailing, he described how circumstance would deny the opportunity to evolve through the full pilotage ranks to Air NZ and the mother of his two children also left him at about this time.

Then launching his now-famous mortgage franchise -- which was boosted by an innovative Yellow Pages advertising campaign -- Mr Pero ultimately sold the business for a handsome profit, but nonetheless continues to front the brand.

Exemplifying “Kiwi ingenuity at its best”, Mr Pero then became involved in reverse-engineering commercial aircraft simulators -- literally by measuring up real aircraft cockpits late at night. Those simulators have since been used commercially around the world, as well as providing a flying experience for the public.

A move into Australasian street car and V8 ute racing followed, including through sponsorship of Greg Murphy Racing, while the real estate business was also launched.

Taking inspiration and mentorship from Michael Hill and Richard Branson, whom he considers friends, Mr Pero now prioritises family, spending time at his landholdings in Rarotonga and fitness, as well as continuing his active business life.

Encouraging attendees to consider the SMART goal-setting system, he told printers that communication was a key to their success.

“Encourage your customers to use print, communicate how important it is,” he said.

“Make the message simple” he added -- albeit noting the temptation to rundown alternatives should be avoided -- “there is a part for everyone to play”.

Encouraging attendees to unite with others to create stronger business entities, he urged delegates to “test the boundaries -- feel true fear and do it anyway”, to strive to achieve ever-quicker turnaround and to continue to target positive goals.

“If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.”

In a very detailed and passionate presentation, Mr Campbell sought to challenge the audience’s business thinking.

“Real voyage is not seeking new lands but just looking with new eyes,” he said.

Regarding economic indicators, he forecast that December 2015 to December 2017 growth would move from 2.2% to 2.7%, inflation 0.5% to 2%, unemployment 6.2% to 6.1% and interest rates 2.7% to 2.9%. He said there was more liquidity “than ever before” in the world and was happy with New Zealand’s economic growth, but lamented interest rates remained too high which “make us less competitive as a nation”.

As well as the threat of the growing skilled labour workforce in the Developing World, he said there was a “ticking time bomb” of youth unemployment throughout the world. In a related observation, he noted that in New Zealand there were 32,000 children not attending school who should be and that this year there would be 31,000 new entrants to the country’s jails -- and intimated a direct correlation between those two figures.

Although stating that business confidence was “bouncing back”, Mr Campbell commented on a host of global issues that could potentially impact the economic outlook -- albeit, “Peak Oil” was no longer one of those.

Nonetheless, he felt New Zealand was “fit for the world” and saw the economy evolving from being dairy-driven via growth in the services, education, tourism and non-dairy agriculture sectors. Growth was also being delivered by free-trade agreements, the rollout of ultra-fast broadband, immigration and the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the latter “crucial to our future”.

Encouraging business owners to understand and maximise their own place in the supply chain, he quipped: “Someone’s eating your lunch now -- find out what they are doing and do the same thing, but better.”

In this vein, he gave the example of his own work experience of the historically-laborious task of having a specific tool made -- “now they’re printing stainless steel!” Similarly, he picked up a smartphone and noted that it probably cost $10 to build in modern “cross-border production”, but was being sold for $650 -- “the money is in the development and intellectual property … that is the challenge to our firms”.

Calling for revision of the Resource Management Act and a “business growth agenda” among key Government policy focuses, Mr Campbell predicted the National Party would remain in office at the next election, albeit noting “the others could rule today if they could agree on anything”.

He said New Zealand should look to Ireland, where exports as a percentage of GDP are at an extremely high level due to “massive” Government-led investment in research and development and education. Alas, he lamented the New Zealand Government’s economic policies were “not working” and stated: “We need more investment into businesses like yours.”

As a parting comment, Mr Campbell opined: “When the paradigm shifts, everyone is back at zero and I suggest it is shifting fast. You have to find ways to capitalise on it.”

In her address to delegates, PrintNZ general manager Ruth Cobb noted that the “circle” of the printing industry was getting ever wider. Ms Cobb said PrintNZ was very focused on its role to “promote print as cost effective and environmentally sustainable” and had recently appointed a new marketing manager to help drive further initiatives such as growing the membership. Delegates were also reminded to put applications forward to the Trust4Skills fund, which provides training and educational assistance.


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