By Amy Cutler

Accomplished international trainer, speaker and author, Simon Clarkson delivered the first  of three instalments to UCFB Burnley students.

Simon started out trading commodities and working as an Investment Banker at Barclays. He quickly realised his expertise and passion lay elsewhere, encouraging him to begin his own personal journey, delving into the world of High Performance Thinking. Simon’s pragmatic and inspirational style aims to generate energy for both personal and organisational change and the results of his work range from substantial to sustained improvements in sales and efficiency. Simon has developed and delivered programmes for a range of individuals and organisations; Private Sector organisations, Public Sector bodies, Premiership Rugby, Premier League Football and even Olympians.

We caught up with Simon for a chat after his thought-provoking lecture:

Can you tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today?

I studied for an Economics degree at Leeds University, and from there I got a graduate job at an Investment Bank – Barclays Capital to be exact – and I spent five years there trading commodities. I quickly realised that investment banking wasn’t for me. By chance, I met up with a family friend and that’s when I became involved in the field of High Performance Thinking. He became my mentor, which was a really important factor in getting to where I am today. I would definitely advise that everyone surrounds themselves with a few mentors in the field they want to progress in as it really makes a huge difference. I worked for a company for a while and then eventually set up my own business, ThinkWorks, around four years ago.

What advice can you give to the first year students at UCFB to make the most of their three years here?

Firstly, enjoy it. Three years from now, things will begin to get really serious and you should look back on these years and remember how fun they were. Stop thinking “it will be better when…”, because then you never actually enjoy the moment. Life is short so it’s important to have fun.

Secondly, if you’re ever stuck or unsure about something then always ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed, because I guarantee nine times out of ten the aspects you are struggling with, someone else is too.

Finally, believe in yourself. Remember that your belief in yourself is what will change your attitudes and behaviours. You are the only one who can control your mind and the way you think drives what you believe and determines how you behave, so you need to always try to find the positives within a situation.

You talk a lot about attitude in your lecture, and how it can totally change the way you approach things in life. Do you think studying within Burnley Football Club or Wembley Stadium could have an impact on students’ approach and attitude?

Absolutely. To study within an environment like this, especially when you are interested in sport and football is very inspiring and motivating for the students. You can see that this particular environment engages them so much more than perhaps a traditional higher education institution would.

I certainly wish I had studied somewhere that I was more engaged with as it would have been hugely beneficial. I pretty much spent my three years at university preoccupied with anything but studying, so to have gone to an institution where you are able to see the end goal every day is definitely going to change your attitude for the better.

You’re coming back again for another session after Christmas. What can the students expect in your next session?

Well as today was all about the ‘Human Tree’, and how our attitudes shape our perceptions and behaviours, the next instalment will be the neuroscience behind all the theory that has been discussed today – demonstrating how the students can actually implement the theory and use it to drive improvement and change throughout their time at UCFB and the rest of their life. In my next lecture, I aim to demonstrate to the students how to deliver sustained high performance thinking, realise change and ultimately achieve superior self-development.