Lesson #1: Getting the best from your staff comes from teaching them how to swim.

In the first lesson in this series I explore how you can mentor staff to enable them to contribute more to your business.

The day after Lionel had surprised me with his offer, I had my first mentor session with him (I was no less petrified at this stage.)

“Before we begin Eddie,” he said. “I think it would be a good idea if you could get rid of the gold rings, the gold necklace and the gold bracelet.” I thought I looked good, but clearly my attire was not working for me.

Lionel then said he was going to teach me how to swim, which I thought was a most unusual start to our first meeting.

However, I soon learnt with Lionel that he was never just going to tell me anything without a story attached.

“There are three ways I could mentor you,” he said.

“I can take you to the pool, throw you in walk around the other side and wait for you, but you may drown on the way across.

“I can throw you in, jump in with you and hold you up until we reach other side, but that would mean you would never learn to swim alone.

“Or I can throw you in, jump in with you, swim alongside you and when you start to go under, gently lift you up.”

As I had nearly drowned several time in my uninspiring career to date the first option didn’t look too good to me. The second sounded ok, but clearly that was not going to work for Lionel. So we settled on option number three, as of course he’d intended us to.

And that is exactly what he did in those 10 years. He left me alone but never let me drown (though I came close several times). He was always there for me, helping me when he realised that I could not make it alone.

We all make mistakes and as a mentor Lionel knew I would make mistakes – and needed to make mistakes in order to learn – but he was clever enough to minimise those mistakes, ensuring limited harm to the business. He knew I could only learn from my own mistakes. If you cannot accept mistakes will happen with staff then you will have a difficult time developing them.

Just like me, every successful businessperson can name the person/people who helped them achieve their success – who’s yours? If you’d like to talk to me about our mentoring retreat in Tuscany this October contact me for a no-strings chat to see if I’m a good fit to help you and your business.

This is an article series based on lessons learned from my great mentor Lionel Morely Joel. Read the first article to understand the background and then dip in and out of the lessons as you please.

Next: Always treat people the way you want to be treated.


Retreat to Advance

October 2017

The next Retreat to Advance will run this October 21-27. The five-day, five-night retreat runs Sunday night to Friday morning. The retreat is held at Il Borghino, a stunning Tuscan villa perched high on a hilltop with vistas stretching over the vineyards and olive groves Tuscany is famous for. Lovingly restored the villa is comfortable and modern while retaining its traditional charm.

One of the most special things about Retreat to Advance is that the final programme is built around what you – our guests – want to discuss, debate and learn, not from what we believe you need to know.

Presumption of knowledge can often be recipe for disaster. As such you’ll be sent a detailed questionnaire before the retreat from which we will determine the specific subjects you would like included in the guided discussions and what points to be openly debated in the free discussions. We’ve compiled a list of the type of business challenges that come up most often, to give you an idea of what types of business challenges get discussed.

As well as plenty of peace and quiet to work independently throughout the retreat there are ample opportunities for guests to discuss their specific challenges, predominantly organised into the three following avenues:

  • One-to-one sessions with mentors
  • At guided group discussions led by the mentors (the first hour is led by the mentors with the following 60 minutes as open discussion and debate)
  • Discussion time over breakfast, lunch and dinner on guest-elected topics



Come prepared for a week that will transform your business – complete the Outline* questionnaire to streamline your goals for the retreat and notify us of your learning requirements.


  • Arrive at Pisa Airport or Lucca station, collected by car and transfer to villa to settle in
  • 6.30pm welcome drinks and introduction to what will be happening over the coming days
  • 7.30pm welcome dinner – during which each guest can give a brief introduction about themselves, their business and what their key objectives are for the following days.


  • 8.30am – breakfast (free discussion)
  • 10.00am–12.30pm – group session where participants complete our Identify* framework to spell out their objectives and then Validate* a working plan with their mentor.
  • 1pm – lunch (discussion on guest-elected topics)
  • 2.30–7.00pm – free time to Think* or meet with mentor for Review* sessions. Take this time, with no distractions, no to-do lists, no meetings, to do the thinking that you never get to do then review what you’ve been working on with your mentor for insights, advice and to be challenged where necessary.
  • 7.30pm – dinner (free discussion and feedback on the day)

Tuesday to Thursday

  • 8.30am – breakfast (free discussion)
  • 9.30am–11.30am – optional guided discussion
  • 11.30am–1.00pm – free time to Think* or meet with mentor for Review* sessions
  • 1pm – lunch (discussion on guest-elected topics)
  • 2.30–4.30pm  – optional guided discussion or free time to think and plan
  • 4.30–7.00pm – free time to Think*, Review* or enjoy the villa facilities and activities
  • 7.30pm – dinner (free discussion and feedback on the day)

One of the lunches will be held at a restaurant in Lucca offering the opportunity to visit the charming walled city and one of the dinners will be held at local Tuscan restaurant.


  • 8.30am – breakfast (free discussion and take-aways)
  • 10am – Conclude* your retreat with a fully stated plan encapsulating what actions you need to take back to the ‘real world’ and schedule your follow-up sessions so we can keep you honest and give you support to Implement* your hard work.
  • 11am – transfer by car to Lucca, Pisa airport or weekend accommodation*

Note: We offer guests the opportunity to extend their stay leaving on Saturday at no extra cost – but only breakfast will be provided.

*Read more about the steps a Retreat to Advance involves.

The mentors

Eddie Thomas

With some 40 years at the helm of driving business success, Eddie Thomas knows what it takes to get results. Having managed, grown and sold a variety of businesses in his career, in 2014 he turned his focus towards using his years of experience towards helping others to do the same. And so Rare Breed was born.

Eddie’s appreciation for mentoring can be traced as far back as the launch of his career in a publishing company in London – when the owner recognised a rare talent in an inexperienced 20-year-old and thus began many years of a unique mentoring relationship. The steep learning curve paid off and within 12 years he had risen to CEO and sold the company to Robert Maxwell (Daily Mirror Group). Since then he has accumulated experience in acquisitions, capital raising, mergers, equity events, MBOs, amongst many of the other challenges and opportunities businesses face, hands-on experience he is now able to share with his clients.

Eddie is a master business advisor who can show you exactly what needs to be done to take your business to the next level. He is an extremely likeable, straight shooting business advisor who can successfully identify the best strategies and tactics to see any business flourish.

Find out what clients have to say about Eddie.

Mark Newey

After 18 years of working for corporations in international marketing, Mark set up his own company. Initially extremely successful, the company went bust due to a bad debt from a major client, and triggered a personal breakdown. Mark then changed his life by training in the neurosciences and has never looked back. He set up his own behavioural psychotherapy practice in 2000 and has since helped thousands of businesses thrive by working with the leader to tackle personal limitations such as stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self esteem and motivation.

Mark has an MBA and is a Fellow of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA); a Member of The International Stress Management Association (ISMA); an Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM); and of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Mark’s rare combination of knowledge and experience, which combines behavioural, organisational and leadership psychology, executive coaching and resilience and wellbeing, provides business owners with fast, far-reaching and effective solutions guaranteed to transform employee engagement, motivation, productivity and thereby growth and profitability.

What do business owners have to say about Mark?
“I have found Mark’s way of approaching things refreshingly different to the run of the mill. He isn’t ‘heavy’, he encourages you to think from a completely different angle and doesn’t harp on about the past. Mark is more ‘bespoke’ and with him you are guaranteed gentle support and plenty of ‘light bulb moments’, which is exactly what you need to when you are losing direction and need a reality check to help you re-clarify your vision and where to take your business. I would heartily recommend him.”
Julie Payne FIRP

“Mark is simply excellent at what he does, he truly cares and will not stop until he has helped you move forward. Well worth the investment of time and money.”
Chris Clark, Cert PFS

Accommodation & facilities

The villa offers 11 bedrooms, mostly en suite, large, beautifully furnished and with stunning views from every room. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for working solo and meeting for small and large group discussions.

Wifi is of course available within the villa. Outside guests can refresh body and mind with a dip in the pool or take a walk around the grounds or local countryside enjoying the views over the hills and vineyards. There’s also a sauna and optional massage, yoga and meditation to revive stressed out bodies and minds.

All meals and refreshments are included, with most major special requirements catered for. Morning and afternoon snacks served daily mid-morning and mid-afternoon plus tea, coffee and other refreshments on demand throughout the day. Pre-dinner drinks from 7pm. Choice of red or white wine served with dinner.

Price and inclusions

Room type:

€2950 – double bedroom with private bathroom
€2750 – single bedroom with private bathroom
€2500 – double bedroom with shared bathroom (shared with one other guest)

All-inclusive of:

  • Five nights’ accommodation
  • All meals and refreshments throughout the day
  • Local wine with lunch and dinner
  • Transfers

Note: Should you wish to bring a business partner or colleague, and are happy to share a twin bedroom, then the second guest will be charged at 50% of the rates above.

Earlybird discount: Book and pay your deposit of €650 by May 31, 2017 and a 12.5 % earlybird discount will be applied to your final payment (due August 14).

Book now and save!

If you’ve read this far then you’ve just explored what Retreat to Advance will offer your business. If your interest has been piqued and you believe one of our retreats could be just what you and your business need then don’t delay! One thing we all know in our busy working lives is that when you put things aside for later they don’t get done – so give us a call or send us an email now with any questions and to secure your place at the earlybird rate. Take this gift of time – with no distractions, no to-do lists, no meeting – to do the thinking that you never get to do, You’ll be pleased you did and your business will thank you for it.

Rare Breed Insights

Latest news & business insights from Rare Breed

On a Retreat to Advance retreat you guide the agenda. Once you book you’ll be sent a questionnaire to tell us about you, your business and your requirements. Upon receipt of the completed questionnaire your requirements are evaluated alongside those of your fellow participants and then mapped out across a series of one-to-one and group […]

Our retreats give every business owner the one thing they need to make their business a success: themselves. Turn off the noise and distraction and give the future of your business your full attention. Surrounded by inspiring, like-minded people and the support of experienced mentors to guide you through and keep you on track, you […]

In an article on LinkedIn Pulse I explored the concept of what I call a ‘rainmaker’. The article received lots of views and some really interesting comments. Here you can find a summarised version with the key points or you can head over to LinkedIn to read the article and comments in full. Recently two […]

In this article I explore what we can learn from the youth in our businesses. When the full-length version was published on LinkedIn Pulse it received more than 2000 views and some wonderful comments. Here you can find a summarised version with the key points or you might like to head over to LinkedIn to […]

In this article I explore how creating a culture of dedication could have significant benefits for your business. I am sure that any business owner/leader counts a great culture as one of the key factors in the success of their business. But what does a ‘great culture’ look like. While that may well be different […]

I’ve alluded before to the rather interesting, though dubious, types of employment I had before I got a ‘proper’ job. So as a slight aside today I thought I’d share with you a funny story about the power of persuasion from when I was 16 years old and working for a guy who had a […]

#Lesson 7: In this lesson, the day one entry-level employee was better than a whole team of senior execs. I clearly remember Lionel once saying: “If you don’t listen to youth, then you are going deaf.” But it actually wasn’t until a few years later that his message about listening to young employees truly sank […]

Lesson #6: If you don’t know the key KPIs that drive your business – you don’t know your business! In this lesson, why you need to know your accounts better than the accountants. Even though I didn’t have much of a schooling I was always good at maths, I’m sure in no small part thanks […]

Lesson #5: Don’t be afraid to change course, even when you are in front. In this article I discuss the dangers of complacency. Over the years, there have been amazing success stories of companies who knew they needed to make changes in order to prosper. Not many of us know it but Twitter, Pinterest and […]

Lesson #4: Don’t be frightened to employ people that may be smarter than you. In today’s lesson, why you need to get over your own ego when it comes to hiring. Things were going well at Newbourne Publications. The company was growing and we were making good profits. With a few stern words and being […]

Lesson #3: Let the revenue dictate the costs (not the costs dictate the revenue). Here I look at the danger of letting vanity drive your decisions rather than business sense. After short period with Lionel as my mentor I started to become more confident (many in the office probably felt over confident), so I had […]

business people

Lesson #2: Always treat people the way you want to be treated. Or why you must treat people with respect to earn their respect. I arrived at Lionel’s office for my daily round of mentoring. Just a normal day at the office, so I thought. As I walked into his office I could tell he was […]

Lesson #1: Getting the best from your staff comes from teaching them how to swim. In the first lesson in this series I explore how you can mentor staff to enable them to contribute more to your business. The day after Lionel had surprised me with his offer, I had my first mentor session with […]

Lesson #0: Behind every successful businessperson is the person/people to whom they owe their success. Meet mine. After being in media for some 40 plus years, you wouldn’t think deciding upon the theme for an article series would be that hard. But with the proliferation of digital content it seems everything has been said 100 […]

Lesson #1: Getting the best from your staff comes from teaching them how to swim. In the first lesson in this series I explore how you can mentor staff to enable them to contribute more to your business. The day after Lionel had surprised me with his offer, I had my first mentor session with […]