Welcome to our first ‘Meet the Team’ post! I thought it would be a nice idea to interview the different members of the team that work behind the scenes here at React. And I can think of no better place to start, than with Miles, the founder and Executive Chairman of React.
How did React start?
As a young (mainly) out of work actor I was asked by a management trainer friend to come and play a couple of characters to help give participants an opportunity to practice some appraisal conversations. It was a success and so I was asked back - and then I was asked again - and then I was asked if I knew any other actors who could help… and the rest is history as they say.
From something started in my bedroom on a typewriter*, React now delivers L & D events and actors across the world with a fantastically talented network of internationally based associates.
BTW - That first client organisation is still a client today 30 years later… so I must have done something right!
(*A typewriter was a piece of equipment from ancient times that helped you write professional looking documents).
Why the name ‘React’?
I remember very clearly sitting on a train and trying to think up a name! I chose ‘React’ because as a role-player that was what you did - ‘react’ to what participants were doing when they were practicing challenging conversations. I added ‘Acting for Business’ because that would be a very clear description of what we were about! So, React: Acting for Business was born.
Nowadays we do all sorts of L & D activities, of course, and having been going for decades, I don’t have to worry (quite so much) about people not understanding what we do.
What did you find most challenging when setting up a new business?
Truthfully, I loved the adventure so much that I didn’t find anything very difficult. Looking back now I realise that I was incredibly focused, for example, I worked every hour available, weekends and night times included, no holidays for years etc. I am not sure I would have the energy to do it again!
As time progressed, I was very lucky to have been joined by some incredible people, who improved the business and make React what is it today. And the adventure continues!...
I think for any business, the most difficult thing is marketing. It sounds easy - come up with a great idea and sell your product to eager customers - and there are so many different channels like social media to use these days. But it is still a challenge to make a splash and get noticed.
What made it work?
Our values at React are Positivity, Generosity of Spirit and Creative Excellence.
Back when it all started, I had a very positive ‘can do’ attitude that supported my clients and built a lot of bridges. And as well as being excellent at what we did, I also wanted the business to be run in a way that was kind, valued people and maintained relationships.
As the React team of staff and associates has grown over the year’s a great strength has been working with people who share our values.
It’s an observation that nowadays bigger organisations are recognising that things like empathy and kindness are essential strengths.
What does your current day-to-day job entail?
Really, it is ‘people relations’.
Everything starts and ends with your clients. If you have no happy clients then you have no business, no need for systems or processes, no need for talented associates, no need for fantastic staff etc. Gosh, that all sounds a bit serious! But you can see my point of view. I think that’s a ‘business founders’ viewpoint.
Also, it is about maintaining team spirit. Appreciating the contribution of every team member and associate. They are React. And they enable React to help people be successful all over the world today.
What advice would you give your younger self when it comes to running a business?
Blimey! Good question. I think not to take everything so personally when challenges arise. That can be a great strength - but overplayed can be damaging to your health.
What would your dream job be? (If React didn’t exist!)
What do you do when you’re not working?
I don’t understand the question? What’s ‘not working’?? I love watching films, documentaries and dog walking and I am also a big foodie fan.
Ah… now I have several! I was a Film and Drama student. How long have you got!?...
Favourite country you’ve visited?
I have been very lucky to have travelled the world as a back-packer and through work. I remember visiting a place called Nepenthe, Big Sur, on the coast in Southern California. It was very chilled out and stunningly beautiful. Quite a spiritually calming vibe. I remember thinking I could live here! But then I love the Greek Islands too. So, not so much countries, as chilled places.
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