The Secret Army: Leadership, Marketing and the Power of People

Do you have a Secret Army?

Who are the people who motivate you, challenge you, support you and enable you? This is your Secret Army.

It’s a cloudy evening in London. The Thames is sloshing gently against the side of the RS Hispaniola. The boat rocks, almost imperceptibly, from side to side. And our guest speaker, Gina Balarin, is looking nervous.

She frantically searches her handbag.
'What's wrong?' I ask.
'I'm looking for my motion-sickness pills,' she replies. 'I completely forgot that I get seasick – even on a big boat with pink trim, moored to the embankment.'
'Shall I fetch you a bucket?' I ask, prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to support her. After all, we're in the same army, and we support one another when the chips are down.  

Fortunately, Gina's motion sickness abated, and she opened her talk by telling us what makes her come alive – speaking, doing marketing counselling, writing, and helping people share their stories. She is passionate about uncovering stories. Diving beneath the surface to discover what makes businesses come alive – crafting stories from the hidden gems she finds. And through real-life tales of ‘people like you and me’, she creates marketing content that people trust.

‘It’s not about marketing’, she explains, ‘my book is about living... not just surviving in the modern world.’. Her own story was born of frustration: a story based on personal observations of what NOT to do in management; a story of triumph over adversity; a story of how people can rise to lead and inspire change – even when no-one even notices them.

'We each have our own Secret Army,' she tells us, 'whether you’re aware of it or not. This Secret Army is the group of people who help motivate, support, challenge and enable you. Every single business owner, entrepreneur and individual have an army around them – some of us just don't realise it.'

Gina also talks about an 'itch'. 'That thing in your life that makes you feel alive. That gives you purpose. That makes you feel uncomfortable – even ‘itchy’ if you can't do it.' Her itches are writing and dancing.

Howard Truman was quoted as saying:

'Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'

Gina believes that all of us have a responsibility to discover our 'itch' and use it for good. And that business leaders should encourage people to scratch their 'itches', for going beyond their day job can help the company.

The challenge is for leaders and entrepreneurs to scratch their own itches, and identify others’ itches too so they can add value to each others’ lives. That 'itch' is one of the things that drives entrepreneurs – compelling people like us to start businesses and lead people.

For many entrepreneurs, keeping focus is a challenge. You may discover your 'itch', but never finishing the important things. Those things that by always doing become the way we define ourselves. Gina calls it the ‘formula of ‘ing’’.

In her example, she defined herself as ‘writing’ a book – never ‘written’, never done. Like how some people say they’re ‘losing’ weight – never ‘have lost’ never done. Only by stopping defining herself in the continuous present (the moment of ‘ing’) was she able to finish her journey, complete the book, and get it done, and published, and shared with the world.

When you connect the pieces, what Gina is telling us, is this: each of us has an 'itch'. That thing that makes us come alive. To rise up and do what the world needs you to do, muster your secret army. Have them motivate you, enable you, support you, so that you can overcome your 'ing' and give the world your best.

 Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead

Is Gina’s story the kind of thing that happens at The London Group regularly? Yes, but with a different flavour each month. We're not just a group of people who come together to network – we're a group of people who all believe in something.

So if you enjoyed this story, come along and join the next event. It’s worth it.

Gina Balarin

Gina Balarin, author of The Secret Army: Leadership, Marketing and the Power of People recently shared her story of why she wrote the book, what lessons she has learned, and how these can apply to people who run or have just started their own small businesses.