The Future of Banking in a 100 words

I recently had the privilege of giving a keynote address at an Islamic Enterprise conference. I share HRH the Prince of Wales view that the traditional economic principles of Islamic Business and Finance have something to offer the West – just as the Islamic world is in much need of leading edge Western technology and innovation.

Anyway here is what I concluded about the future of banking:

Fractional reserve banking will become a perpetual slow growth heavily regulated utility and exciting growth will come from a new generation of FinTechs which can provide all of the growth we need without putting their or our survival at risk. These FinTechs will sometimes be stand alone companies and sometimes partner with existing banks , providing the innovation and digital transformation which seems beyond large banks. Islamic banks and next generation Islamic banking will become of increasing importance to the world’s financial system
And become increasingly differentiated and competitive with western Banks for Muslims and non Muslims alike.

These days I have IconicShift focused on supporting FinTechs aligned with this vision

If you are working on anything relevant in the FinTech space and you think you have an investable proposition (either to get it going or to grow) then type “Iconicshift Mike Harris” into google to see the latest.

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Vince Cable interviewed by Miti Ampoma and talking a lot of sense about SMEs

Miti Ampoma has been one of the stand out success stories of the 2013 IconicShift mentoring intake.
She has developed a growing reputation in her field and is a sought after speaker, consultant and commentator. Her recent interview with Vince Cable, shown here, is one example of her influence.
Here is what she has to say about her ambitions: Keep Reading…

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Why smart design of small living spaces could change the world

I’m mentoring Suzannah Bartlett who specializes in the design of small living spaces. With the rapidly increasing urbanization of the global population an increasing number of people are living in small spaces and facing challenges of fitting both their lives and their possessions into that space.

Good design advice can transform a small space from the proverbial ‘shoebox’ into a jewelry box where there is space and a place for everything, Good design can make small homes desirable and this in turn offers individual, economic, social and environmental benefits. Keep Reading…

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Ground Breaking Innovation

Tim Thorne and I worked together at RBS to create the Group Innovation function. He was Innovation Director and I was the part-time Chairman of the Innovation Board to which Tim reported. It wasn’t the most promising environment for new ideas to flourish but Tim was a leader with an unstoppable sense of mission and accomplished a lot – nothing capable of changing the world though.

But now he is changing the world. He is up to a lot of stuff , but it’s a project he is leading at Cancer Research UK which I want to write about. The project is finding a way to speed the development of new cures for cancers – this is real ground-breaking innovation which is capable of changing the world for a lot of people!
Keep Reading…

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What do you value most about women?

When I told my friends I was on an all male panel  at the world’s most prestigious women’s networking event – Women , Inspiration, Enterprise (WIE) – in London on 8th March and that  the 6 of us were the only men speaking they thought I was brave!

June Sarpong , the broadcaster and co-founder of WIE, introduced us – Alastair Campbell, super model David Gandy, Radio DJ Dave Berry, musician Charlie Siem and philanthropist Peter Thum. She then said she thought we were brave or crazy. So now slightly worried I waited for her to pose the first question to me; ” Mike, what do you most value about women?” .

The audience laughed in anticipation and I assume I said something sensible because my wife who was in the audience nodded supportively after I spoke. It was something about the workplace would be  a drab and dreary place without women and the fact that women are very skilled at understanding the link between peoples’ emotional reaction to something and their subsequent behaviours – vital in consumer marketing and any form of organisational change.

What fascinates me though is that how many smart , capable and ambitious women are rejecting the compromises of the corporate world where the pressure on them to conform to male values is intense – the higher up the organisation the more intense it gets. Instead they are opting to create their own businesses where they can write their own rules.

In my IconicShift mentoring programme I have handpicked the  24 companies I am working with from well over 100 applications. I picked the ones most likely to change the world. I looked for talent . I was blind to gender. 13 of the 24  companies I chose  are led by women and 11 by men.

You wouldn’t get that result in contest to pick a director of  a public company.

Women entrepreneurs – the wave of the future – you heard it first here.

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Hidden Gems: No 1 Kemi Laniyan

I wanted to follow up my previous post on leadership with a request.

Let me give you some context first. As I said in my last post I have set myself a challenge of discovering and mentoring 100 leaders who change the world in the next 10 years.

I’m building 3 powerful partnerships which will massively leverage my influence and give me a chance of hitting the 100 leaders goal. The first will be announced on 7th March.

All the partnerships are designed to do one thing, although they will do it in different ways. They are designed to inspire people who have business ideas powerful enough to make a difference to the way we all live to go for it and make those ideas real and big.

One thing we need to do is discover hidden gems (ie great ideas/people who haven’t been discovered by those who could help them) and connect them to the support, advice and funding they need to succeed big time.

So my request is you know any such hidden gems or if you are one yourself please let me know. Keep Reading…

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The last word on leadership

Leadership is about making something new and different happen, something that simply wouldn’t happen without you. You don’t have to have people working for you to be a leader. You can be working on your own and still be a leader as long as your agenda is to make something new and different happen.

What is often unappreciated about leadership is that success depends to a large degree on how you deal with problems and with the unpredictability of life. We often make the absurd assumption that things will go to plan. They never do – we are constantly confronted by unexpected difficulties , things we could never have anticipated. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. At other times we are often overwhelmed by the amount of things we need to get done and how difficult everything has become; we find results we expected to get fall short. We find things we expected to work which don’t. We find people we thought we could count on letting us down.
What’s also unappreciated is that none of this ever gets any easier. In fact the opposite is true – the more successful you are the more issues you have to face and the issues are bigger and hairier and they come at you faster and in greater volume. Being successful has many compensations , but an easier ride as a leader isn’t one of them.
I run a workshop on high performance leadership which gives participants fast access to everything I’ve learnt about dealing with leadership issues in the last 40 years.

I’m running probably my last ever public high performance workshop on 20th March at the University of London .See for details. That’s why I called this note the last word on leadership.

The reason that it’s probably the last public workshop on this topic also tells you something about leadership. A year ago when I created Iconic Shift mentoring I set myself a challenge of discovering and mentoring 100 leaders who change the world in the next 10 years. Setting a big , apparently impossible , but very desirable goal is something effective leaders do.

I’ve been going around telling everyone about this goal and why I’m passionate about it. If you do that things happen.

I’m mentoring 24 companies now (and that’s enough!). And I’m building 3 powerful partnerships which will massively leverage my influence and give me a chance of hitting the 100 leaders goal. Working with others to gain leverage is anther key job for leaders.
These partnerships all have formal organisations being created to run them. Organisations of which I will be Chairman. The first partnership will be announced on 7th March. We may pre-announce the second on the following day , but may leave it for a formal announcement later in the year. The third one has global ambition and needs serious money – so I’m busy helping to raise that that – give me a year!
So with all that going on I’m too busy to run public seminars anymore.

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Al Lukies and the mindset of a winner

Al Lukies is a friend of mine.

He is the CEO and founder of Monitise plc which has become a global leader in mobile banking and mobile payments.

He was the only business man mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech to the conservative party conference last week.

Here is what David Cameron had to say:
There are so many opportunities in this world. I want to tell you about one business that’s seizing them. It is run by a guy called Alastair Lukies. He and his business partner saw a world with almost 6 billion mobile phones and just 2 billion bank accounts. They saw the huge gap in the market– and they started a mobile banking firm … helping people in the poorest parts of the world manage their money and start new companies. He’s been with me on trade missions all over the world – and his business is booming.
Back in 2010, when we came to office, they employed about 100 people – now it’s more than 700. Then they were nowhere in Africa, nowhere in Asia, now they are the global player, with one million new users every month. So don’t let anyone tell you Britain can’t make it in this world – we’re the most enterprising, buccaneering, creative, dynamic nation on earth.”

Like anyone who has built a business from scratch to a public company worth hundreds of millions of dollars – Al has faced numerous challenges along the way.

In my mentoring programme I talk a lot about the mindset of a winner. Winners set out with determination to interrupt the normal flow of events and cause something new and different to happen, something that simply would not have happened without them. Warren Bennis called this creating a dent in the universe- a phrase later picked up by Steve Jobs.

Winners live by the following mantra : Every accomplishment, however small deepens my confidence that the dent will be created.
Every defeat, every setback, however large , reinforces both my determination and my ability to deepen the dent because I will have gained strength from the struggle.

I work constantly on my mentoring programme to instill this attitude in people until it becomes second nature.

When I need to give them an example of a winner in action I tell them about Al.


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Iconic Thinking

Mike Harris invites you to join him for a seminar at the Google Campus, 5 Bonhill St EC2A 4BX on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 from 17:00 to 20:30 where he will share the principles he used to build three iconic billion pound businesses.

This event is being sponsored by The Startup Leadership Programme so it is available at an unusually attractive price.
Register here

Not every business aspires to a billion pound valuation, but all businesses want to be more successful. In the iconic thinking seminar Mike gives you the three key principles used by game changing iconic businesses which can be easily and quickly implemented by any business- whatever it’s size and whatever its ambition.

The Workshop will last for approximately two and a half hours. There will be an opportunity to meet and network with some Startup Leadership Fellows and Mentors.

Register here.

About the  Startup Leadership Program

The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a highly selective, world-class training program for outstanding founders, leaders and innovators who are or want to be startup CEOs, and be connected to a global network. SLP Fellows across 12 cities have founded over 300 breakthrough startups in tech, clean tech, life sciences and social sector and have won many awards. If you want to become part of a an incredibly accomplished, lifelong global network of peers and mentors who will answer your questions, provide you with access to investors, and help you along the way in every way possible, apply this summer to the class of 2013. The sixty hours you invest here will be transformational. Session begins on September 1 and lasts for six months. For more details check

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Game Changers

When you have spent your career challenging entrenched incumbents (in Banking with Firstdirect and Egg, Telecoms with  Mercury and Identity Protection with Garlik), you learn to love game changing ideas.

These are ideas that if well implemented cause existing players in an industry to sit up and take note, wondering if the game they are playing and winning might have reached its sell by date.

The game changing idea behind Firstdirect was the thought that telephone banking could be used to so differentiate a bank based on the quality of its customer experience that you could create a whole new bank , one that would take premium customers from the competition. Until Firstdirect banks had been thinking of telephone banking as a low cost channel to bolt on to their existing operations and best suited to less well off customers.

Far from sitting up and taking notice other banks dismissed Firstdirect out of hand – “that will never work ” they all said.Later they changed their tune.

According to Jim Utterback at MIT this is a very common initial reaction from incumbents to a game changing idea introduced by an outsider to an industry. Incumbents dismiss it for a while before waking up to its disruptive potential- often too late . Nokia and Sony were both sleep walking it seems to me as Apple hit them with a whole series of game changers. IBM , as late as 1986 thought the total world market for PCs would not exceed 50,000. Microsoft’s game changing idea of putting a PC on every desk and in every home all but destroyed IBM- until they came up with a game changer of their own (services not hardware).

These days I’m always on the look out for people with game changing ideas. They are prime candidates for my mentoring programme. You see a game changing idea has to be matched with a leader who is ready , willing and able to be accountable for making it happen. Helping leaders implement game changing ideas in a way that transforms industries and changes the world – now that’s my idea of a good time and is the game changer I’m working on!

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