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7 Questions with Kabel Vafiopulous
7 Questions with Kabel Vafiopulous
Name: Kabel Vafiopulous
Current title: Founder and Director
Current organisation: Love Is The Answer and Kabel Consulting
Kabel helps Corporates, SME's, Social Enterprises and Charities of all shapes and sizes make money, save money and avoid risk.
Kabel is an energetic, passionate, caring leader that believes in equality for all living beings.
Specialising in business design and strategy with a very accomplished career in Sales Management, Strategic Business Development and Account Management. Kabel is driven to help others through his two businesses. Kabel operates under the KISS principles of Keep It Simple Stupid and helps Corporates, Businesses, Social Enterprises and Charities learn the skills they are missing so they can grow and do more with the consulting he provides.
Love Is The Answer - although new and growing will be Kabel's life's work. Love Is The Answer is a Social Enterprise that allows me and my network to utilise our business and sales skills to help other Social Enterprises, Charities and businesses helping others improve their business, strategy, operations, sales skills and anything else we can do for them. Love is the answer to every question. Hatred never achieved anything good.
Most people who establish a social enterprise or charity do it from the goodness of their heart and a desire to almost blindly help others at any cost. A lot of charities are driven by a passion to help others. I have found that many social enterprises and charities need help to learn the skills that they don't have because they have never had the opportunity to learn these skills, they just want to help others and that is their mission.
Kabel Consulting - Kabel employs an insight driven style and enjoys leading by example. Honest feedback is guaranteed. Kabel has a specific focus on customer and staff satisfaction. He works closely with his clients to help create innovative partnerships that deliver significant mutually beneficial outcomes for his valued clients.
Kabel loves his job because he loves helping people and making new personal connections - He gets to talk to new people all the time and find out amazing things about them and the companies they own or work for. Then he gets to help them achieve what can seem impossible.
Kabel is also a strong advocate for Mental Health and Social Change. He believes that at the moment we are leaving a toxic world behind for our kids which is not acceptable. He believes every person can make a difference so that is what he chooses to do.
Kabel has chosen to work a 3 day week with a maximum of 4 days for peak times as a lifestyle choice. Remember we should all be working to live; not the other way round.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
For me the most challenging side has been learning how to actually run a business. The accounting, website development, building brand awareness and finding the right people to support me in running the business with sound advice. Kabel Consulting is rather simple and I had my first client the day I started it. It's a short term 6-12 month operation while I get Love Is The ANswer up and running. The complications with setting up a Social Enterprise that has clients before it was officially a business and then catching up. The complexities of ensuring a not for profit is set up the right way and getting the right advice has been an interesting learning curve.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I've worked at the top of the corporate market in Strategic Business Development and Management for over 25 years and through a series of major life events in 2020 decided I wanted to do my own thing after finding my life's purpose which is Love Is The Answer.
Kabel Consulting was born out of needing a way to initially ensure my family is financially secure and fund Love Is The Answer while I figure out the longer term funding models. This was brought about by the tragic death of a young Angel that hit me in a car accident. That moment has changed my life forever and helped me find my purpose which is to help others.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am lucky enough to have adopted a 3 day working week. I did this to ensure work life balance. Simply, I live more than I work.
I have been lucky enough to be working from home professionally for the last 15 years. I have a home office which is a professional office set up.
I'm very routine focussed when working from home.
I wake up, shower with good music to start the day, have a breakfast shake for energy, get the kids to school and then it's straight into my office. Each work day is different but there is structure in each day. I put aside time for research, LinkedIn posting in best times of 10am and 5pm, prospect/client calls, client work and meetings. I am generally focused from 8am-5pm as the working day and try to ensure that when I close my office door at the end of the day I leave work in that room.
As soon as I walk out my office door my phone goes silent and it is family time. Nothing I do involves life and death and my clients know my work life balance routine. They know that I don't check emails after hours or on my time off. If something is urgent they know to call or text me. It's about establishing boundaries and sticking to them.
You have to give yourself space in a constantly contactable world. You have to do it. Maximise your working hours so you can maximise your life hours.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Being REAL and everything is about connection with people. COVID has changed the world and there has never been a more pertinent time to value your connection with other people. I have always been able to establish trust and connection easily as I am a very genuine person who likes to help others. BUT because of COVID many people's lives have changed in ways they have never expected. I'm lucky to already be a long way down that path but many aren't.
Through my mental health advocacy and sharing my mental health journey I have learned that many more people than I expected are suffering. Each time I connect with someone I try to ensure the conversation is REAL and not just about business.
For me business comes from REAL conversations and truly connecting with individuals. If you keep that focus front of mind it rarely goes wrong.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
It's not a book for me. It is Simon Sinek and his Ted Talk video on How great leaders inspire action. Finding my WHY changed my life as a leader and has now been with me for years. Once you find your WHY everything else becomes clearer. If you haven't seen this video watch it over your morning coffee and I highly recommend following his advice
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
The right people are everything. Build your network and establish REAL connections with other professionals. Leadership is a servant role. You lead by example and protect and nurture your staff. Accept that some people are born leaders and some need development. If you find the right talent that has a passion and desire to succeed in what they do then nurture it and help it grow. The ROI for treating people the right way is far greater than treating them the wrong way.
Never micromanage, EVER. If you have hired someone to do a job then let them do it. Provide mentoring and coaching where necessary but never micromanage. Everyone will make mistakes, it's called experience and it's the best way to learn. We are not perfect and make many mistakes to get to where we are as business owners. Always have a fail forward attitude and be encouraging and supportive of your staff.Find out what they want from working for you, where they want to be in 1,2,5 years and then do what you can to help them on that journey. THey will reward you with a quality of work that can't be found any other way.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Balance and Boundaries - Love Is The Answer's purpose is Helping those who help others to do more for free. Most of the people in the space we work in are totally dedicated to what they do and give everything they have. While this is incredibly admirable it is not sustainable at times and can lead to burnout. In my first meeting with my first client I realised this and then ensured that when I got home I established my Boundaries so I could have Balance in my life. The causes I work for create a passion in me that is sometimes hard to turn off. But if you manage your outputs correctly you can do more. If you burn the candle at both ends, in the middle and half way between that as well your capacity to do more is considerably diminished. By ensuring you have time to rest and regenerate more can be achieved.