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The Recruitment Network Summer Retreat 2019 Write up

The Recruitment Network Summer Retreat 2019 Write up

Written by Will Colthup

Last edited May 8, 2023

The Recruitment Network Summer Retreat 2019 Write up

It seems like only yesterday we were setting up for the Summer Retreat 2019 at Tortworth Court Manor Hotel.


It seems only fitting we document what we got up to.Encouraging business leaders to understand the art of “being clueless” isn’t a message you’ll hear at many events, but The Recruitment Network’s Summer Retreat has never been an event where ‘same old, same old’ is churned out.

180 business leaders learned from Coffee Republic co-founder Sahar Hashemi that even though Coffee Republic grew to be considered one of the most successful coffee brands in the world – Sahar and her brother Bobby started the business completely clueless. Clueless about business; clueless about building a brand and completely clueless about coffee. Surprisingly, being clueless turned out to be one of the key contributors to the success as Sahar and Bobby were able to see things through the eyes of their customers – which ultimately gave them an advantage when making the most important business decisions that led to their growth and success. Being clueless meant that they weren’t stuck in – what Sahar described as – “the expert trap”. The expert trap comes armed with phrases such as “I know what works”, “it’s not industry practice” or “this is the way we’ve always done it” and at times, this kind of attitude can become toxic within a team and can stop the business from flourishing. After a lot of rejection, persistence and coffee tastings – due to Sahar and Bobby’s ability to put themselves in their customers shoes – they came up with the perfect blend for their business model and their cup of coffee. Inevitably the more expertise and experience we gain over the years, the less ‘clueless’ and therefore entrepreneurial we become.

Over a jam packed schedule at TRN’s two day summer retreat, members come together alongside some of the most remarkable thought leaders at the beautiful Tortworth Court in Bristol. Collaboratively they tackled how we can achieve not only the perfect cup of coffee, but the perfect blend of people; systems; processes and attitudes in our businesses to really help them thrive.

“It’s impossible to come away from any TRN event and not feel energised, informed & commercially re-invigorated, and the annual Retreat was no different” – A comment from one of our members when asked about their time at this years Summer Retreat. So to give you a bit of an insight on how the two days unfolded …

The Recruitment Network has always sought to help members think outside the ‘box’ of their business and indeed recruitment to think differently. F1 team leader Mark Gallagher how even in the high tech world of Formula 1 his ultimate learning from his (very successful) 35 year career is that “it is people that make a difference every single time”.  Trust-worthy, dedicated and motivated people are the foundation of success and in a world where everyone talks about innovation – sometimes the answer doesn’t have to be a crazy and complex idea, something seemingly small and simple can change everything. Mark shared a story of how his team’s hospitality bus driver (Dave) was ultimately responsible for the team winning the French Grand Prix. Dave shared none of the technical skills that his colleagues in the pits or data analysts had, but Dave came up with a simple idea that would give the team an edge over their competition. At first Dave’s idea was ridiculed, until eventually their technical director gave instructions to the team to follow Dave’s advice – mid-race! Why? Because he trusted Dave, and he had seen Dave’s passion for his job and his team for the past 7 years.

Recognise their contribution, involve them in decision making rather than leaving them feeling disconnected and encourage them to bring ideas (no matter how big or small) to the table – it can be a game changer.

Hearing Mark’s thoughts on how we can use data to improve human performance was also really insightful. It sparks the question – do we use the data available to us to its full potential? For most of us in the recruitment industry, the answer is probably no.

Lars Tewes isn’t a household name but he should be for anyone in sales. Lars ran a phenomenal, truly thought provoking, sales workshop, introducing us to the “Habits Triangle”, a ridiculously simple, yet powerful framework to drive up sales performance. The Habits Triangle frames skills, motivators  and systems which impact the sales performance of recruitment consultants. Having mapped it out the and rated it, the results were extremely eye opening – it became apparent that 17 out of 18 tables had rated ‘systems’ effectiveness the lowest – which meant that approximately 95% of people in the room agreed that systems/processes and the use of them were their businesses’ weakest link.

Possibly the biggest factor preventing us from achieving our goals is therefore a lack of good systems and processes being used. This is common across a lot of sales businesses, and recruitment businesses are no exception. Lars’s experience is that the ‘culture of sales’ has convinced us that the ‘systems/processes’ part of the triangle is not as important as the other two aspects. We pay a lot of money for good systems, whether this is a CRM or other tech – but if we are not analysing and utilising the data we gain from it, then we will never experience a good ROI.

“Meat Loaf was wrong when he sang Two out of Three ain’t Bad”  Skills and motivation without use of systems/processes does not unlock sales performance and potential. We need to put a focus back on systems and how we can leverage our data.

A day soaking up knowledge and insights from thought leaders, industry experts and peers earned everyone the chance to reflect, let their hair down a little, chill and have some fun. Members, partners and the TRN Team enjoyed a memorable Glastonbury themed evening with entertainment ranging from a live band, giant bubbles, a butterfly on stilts, jugglers and a fire show!

“I couldn’t have found the last 24 hours more stimulating and energising, frightening yet reassuring, innovative yet so simple and just plain fun” – some feedback shared by one of our members.

TRN has always believed in physical wellbeing as much as developing skills and knowledge.  Yet again the Summer Retreat 7 am bootcamp proved popular this time run by Steve Preston, CEO of Heat Recruitment (ex-military!). With the scorching sun and an hour of high impact physical exercise – some of our members, partners and the TRN Team certainly felt the heat at The Retreat!

Friday morning introduced Kate Hull Rodgers to TRN with the philosophy of “People who have fun, get more done”. With mental health and wellbeing higher up the agenda than ever, Kate shared (in a hysterical approach) how laughter can improve your mental health and the list of health benefits associated with the physical activity of laughter and taught us an exercise (that she has named humour-obics) that will not be forgotten.

This year, to add real practical value the members as possible, on top of the speakers, a selection of 6 interactive breakout sessions were offered throughout the two days, with members choosing the workshops most relevant to them and their businesses across on marketing, finance, productization, building a contract desks, scaling up and creating high performing teams. Each workshop combined recruitment sector experts, peers challenging each others’ thinking and collaboration in solving some of the biggest challenges currently being faced within the industry and within each of their businesses – TRN at it’s best.

We wrapped up two days worth of incredible content with an interactive presentation from Pete Wilkinson (Founder and CEO of Reclaro), who dug deep with our members about what challenges they face themselves, with their teams and with their business. Pete provided a lot of practical solutions and one piece of advice in particular really resonated . “Lots of us write a to-do list, but what we need to build is a ‘not to-do list’” – Pete recognised that not using our time efficiently, can be one of the most detrimental things we can do. Pete told us about an american corporate who banned staff from cc’ing each other into emails for 30 days. Most of the time, CC’ing someone into an email is just a way to safeguard yourself from blame – but it wastes a lot of time. On average, the business found that each exec gained 45 minutes a day, simply by not having to read emails that weren’t relevant. So simple, but such a great piece of advice from Pete.

TRN’s 2019 Summer Retreat was really an event to remember and we are delighted that our members found true value in our key-note speakers, interactive breakout sessions, practical take-aways and in many peer to peer exercises.


“Brilliantly organised, amazing attendees and powerful speakers – made a huge difference to me and my business”


“Exactly what I needed to refocus and revisit the strategy in my business. Brilliantly planned with excellent keynote speakers. 10/10 TRN. Can’t wait to implement all of the things that I picked up over the 2 days”


“The retreat gives me both the encouragement and kick i need”


“Great opportunity to share ideas and collaborate. Feeling refocused thanks to great speakers & practical takeaways”


You will often hear our Founding Director Gordon Stoddart, talk about the importance of asking for (and providing) feedback. Asking for feedback is something that TRN feel passionate about – and it’s feedback like this that makes us incredibly proud of our network and what we can achieve together. In the words of one of our members – “TRN is not your average network, it’s THE network for recruitment leaders”, we couldn’t agree more!

Emma Reeves – The Recruitment Network

To find out more about The Recruitment Network please drop us a line at

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