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How to navigate through and emerge stronger from a crisis – learn to live (and work) more bravely

“I thought a great deal about sharing these details. We all have our limits. We don’t necessarily know where they are, but as and when we hit them, it becomes clear that whatever the heck Plan A was, it’s time to let go of the hope that we’d nurtured, and instead open our hearts and minds to the possibility of a successful outcome with Plan B. It’s embarrassing for some simply to admit that we are human, and that this inevitably means that we can be weak and fallible at times. But we are all weak and fallible at times. And the moment that we are able to acknowledge that and allow others to help is a turning point. Only then will the impossible slowly start to look achievable again. And only then will hope return.”

 

This is a book that can be read in a few sittings, once you’ve managed to divert the children, step away from the laptop, and steal a few quiet moments to yourself. This is a book that can be read as you wait for your gate to be called, and quietly hope that you’re not going to be seated next to a snorer or a foot tapper, or an unselfconscious leg spreader, until you’ve managed to disconnect, and lose yourself in somebody else’s journey. This is a book that may well make you cringe in recognition, or laugh with relief at the obviousness of mistakes that you’ve never made, or perhaps question whether next time, you might do that one thing a little differently.

This is a book that many people could have written; that perhaps, somebody will write again with the benefit of their own experiences. But this book, this time: this is my story.

 

So is it all about fish?

No! It’s about preparing for the highs and lows of life. It’s about thinking for a moment that you’re doing ok, and then seeing all traces of smuggery wiped cleanly from your face as you career head-first into a crisis. It’s about recognising it, and working your way through it with collaboration, clear communication, and a hell of a lot of coffee. And it’s about learning from what worked, forgiving yourself (and others) for what didn’t, and deciding how you want your story to continue.

It dives into a real live crisis – the KFC distribution crisis that shook the company in the UK in 2018, when a distribution failure led to hundreds of KFC restaurants across the UK being unable to open – and shares insights into which methods and strategies, both on a personal level and on a commercial level, made it possible to successfully navigate a path through.

It’s some of the things that people didn’t think to mention because they took it for granted that you already  knew, and it’s those same things that you did not in fact know, but which you really wish you had. It’s also the things that, whether consciously or subconsciously you do know, but which perhaps don’t yet mean enough to you to compel you to act upon them.

Rather than being a book of advice, it’s more a book of sharing insights. I’m a big fan of list making so, in amongst the storytelling and examples, I’ve included some clear checks and summaries of what I believe the most important lessons of each chapter to be.

Piranhas do feature, however, in places where I wished they weren’t. Chicken, or a sudden and dramatic lack of it, also features.

 

Why would I buy it?

You’d buy it if you’re aware that you don’t know what you don’t know. You’d buy it if you were interested to learn some of the lessons that a very-almost 40-year old woman, lawyer, business leader, mother, friend, adventurer and student of life has learned along the way.

You’d buy it if you wondered what it was like to go through a colossal and very public crisis at work, which was reported in every national (and almost every local) UK newspaper and on TV channels and in the press around the globe day after day after day, and you’d buy it if you wanted to know what could be learned from it, as an individual and as an organisation.

You’d buy it if you are like me, and want to compare notes and see where we agree and where we differ. You’d buy it if you are nothing like me, and want to understand why someone might think or act the way that I do, and what I’m consciously working at doing better.

You’d buy it if you haven’t thought about Christmas presents yet, and you realise that an interesting, limited first edition book might be just right for anyone from 12 to 112…

You might also buy it if you’ve heard of the fantastic charity, Sal’s Shoes, which takes outgrown shoes from little feet in England and finds them new owners amongst the 300,000 children worldwide without them (www.salsshoes.com), as 10% of the author’s profits from the sale of this book will go to support this very worthy charity.

And you’ll certainly buy it if you are a member of my family or tribe, because I’ve been discussing it with you for over a year now, and you want to finally be able to stop listening and start reading it for yourself!

 

What style is it written in?

I’ve written it the way I would tell it to you if we were sat together in a cosy pub or eclectic coffee shop as it poured with rain outside. We’d luxuriate in the knowledge that we had nothing to hurry away for, and could spend time sharing experiences that we’d always hoped we’d one day be able to look back at and laugh about. You’d tell me about some of the situations you were grappling with, whether at home or at work, and you’d share some of the challenges that you were struggling to get your head around. I’m not you, and I wouldn’t pretend to know the correct answer for your exact situation, but I might well have felt the same as you do now. I might have got through it, whether with pain or with ease, and I might have picked up a tale or two about it along the way. I would top up our glasses and tell you my story. I wouldn’t mind if you laughed at me; I wouldn’t mind if you declared triumphantly that it was immediately obvious to you what I should have done! If it somehow helps you to identify the right path, or the right answer for you, I’d feel glad that there was at last some merit in my having gone through it.

There’s a limit to how many evenings I can spend ensconced in pubs or coffee shops with people I haven’t yet met, however, before my husband starts asking uncomfortable questions, so instead, I’ve written this book for you.

 

Where can I get it?

If you want a first edition, or any other combination of limited edition rewards, the only place you can get it is right here – on the Unbound website. Of course if all goes well, you’ll also be able to buy it on Amazon and in bookshops further down the line, but by then, all of the Unbound specials will be gone…

Sarah Nelson Smith is the Regional General Counsel for global unicorn, WeWork. Starting her working life at the age of 11 as a babysitter, she progressed to stable hand, kitchen assistant, tennis coach (essentially collecting up the balls and throwing them back at the children), holiday rep, English teacher and 10 or so other roles, before alighting on law some 15 years ago. Sarah qualified at a Magic Circle law firm and moved in-house to join the (then very small) Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut legal team (both companies owned by global giant, Yum! Brands). There, she built and led a European legal team and weathered numerous professional challenges, but none hit the headlines quite as dramatically as the #chickencrisis of 2018, when a distribution failure led to the closure of the majority of the KFC restaurants in the UK.


Sarah was listed on The Lawyer Hot 100 – a list to celebrate lawyers in the UK who are disrupting the industry with their creative flair and transforming their organisations. Her team at KFC was shortlisted for the Lawyer Awards 2018 In-house Commerce & Industry Team of the Year, and Sarah was shortlisted for European Counsel Award 2018, named on the 2019 and 2016 General Counsel Powerlist, and winner of the UK In-House Lawyer of the Year award in 2014. Sarah is a sought-after speaker at legal conferences around the world, and is recognised for her authenticity and courageous leadership.


Sarah serves as a trustee of the social justice charity, NACRO (www.nacro.org.uk), and of start-up charity, Sal’s Shoes (www.salsshoes.com). She is the Executive Sponsor of the ‘Women of WeWork’ group, and mentors men and women from all walks of life.


Sarah lives in Surrey with her husband, two incredibly chatty daughters, and her enormous dog, Otto.

“There’s never a downside in seeking and listening to many different opinions and words of advice and wisdom. Some might have no relevance immediately, but might linger in the darker recesses of your mind until they’re needed, when they can be unpacked, dusted down, and revisited in a slightly different set of circumstances. 

The people whose opinions and advice I seek out most frequently, are the people with whom I tend to disagree the most. Why? Because they clearly see situations through a very different lens to mine and they’re more likely to spot something I’ve missed, or point out the weak spot in my thinking than someone with whom I’m entirely aligned. With my most valued colleagues, we regularly go for long walks to discuss and debate, disagree and sometimes argue before getting to a point of understanding, where we can happily agree, or equally happily agree to disagree. Agreeing with somebody is not a pre-requisite to respecting, liking or getting along with each other.

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Transforming the Lone Nut

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Thank you! 

A very huge and heartfelt thank you for reading about “You Didn’t Mention the Piranhas” and for deciding to take the plunge and buy a copy (or indeed many copies - for which, very many big thank yous!). Having gone live on here on Thursday, the book was 84% funded by Friday night. There is of course still a way to go, but I’m delighted to have got off to such a great start, and excited…

These people are helping to fund You Didn’t Mention the Piranhas.

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