A letter from America: part two

Nick Livingstone, winner of the Diageo Learning for Life Saltire Fellowship, combines coursework and visits to Boston bars and restaurants as the programme picks up pace

Nick Livingstone, 7 Saints

TOM Cruise is currently doing the rounds in cinemas with his film American Made, which is an apt description of what we are going through – like some kind of entrepreneurial six million dollar man, we are being rebuilt.

Every preconception we hold on any part of business is being challenged, broken down and then built back up utilising the very best teachings and models available.

Week two at Babson College started on familiar ground – finances. Like most in the trade I am basically self-taught in how to read accounts so I entered the class a little worried about what was to come. Thankfully, I was on solid footing and enjoyed it.

It does beg the question, though, why as an industry we give so much ownership of the P&L to site management but so little support in training and development? Expect a financial training module at 7 Saints soon!

It’s all about shared information here – everyone from lecturers to start-ups to venture capitalists openly discuss business, including the financials, and I believe this openness is a key factor in the number of business start-ups in Boston.

The following week, Tuesday stole the show with a visit to IDEO – a human-focused design company which has set trends and designed products that we all use every day for the last 25 years. After a quick presentation, we got a tour of the facility and the chance to meet and talk to these industry leaders; we left with a fresh perspective to look at things from a human point of view.

We were also very kindly invited to Helen Sayles’ home for a Saltire Foundation evening. Helen is a Global Scot, a great host and – even better – from Ayrshire! She left a huge impression on all of the cohort.

Aside from all this, I’ve been visiting as much of the greater Boston area as possible. Highlights include Koreanos – a Korean chicken joint with seven seats and a queue out the door; Grass Fed JP – a simple counter-service burger joint serving 100% grass-fed beef, the best burger I’ve had so far; and Commonwealth BBQ, which basically looks like a converted garage forecourt in the middle of nowhere. Had it not been recommended I would have kept driving but thank god I didn’t – this place was off the charts good!

Finally, a wander round the river mouth of Boston was truly beautiful – the mix of old and new, the rickety crab shacks standing in the shadows of big business. It’s an awe inspiring place and, in every sense of the word, American Made!