Hello, I’m Steve Jones and with your support, I’d like to help the Mensa organisation.
I’ll jump right in with my main concern: member attrition.
Considering why people join, I thought back to 1986 and why I wanted to join Mensa.
Despite having a decent education, I didn’t go to university. I looked around and saw people with excellent degrees who, while clearly well-educated, didn’t always seem all that bright!
I wondered how I could demonstrate (primarily to myself) that I was as intellectually capable as them. Mensa immediately stood out. When I passed the entry test I felt incredibly pleased with myself, a bit smug and, in many ways, validated.
Might people still go through a similar thought process today? I believe membership of Mensa still holds the same position in people’s thoughts, as one of the ultimate demonstrations of intellectual acuity.
But… membership is declining.
I must confess, during my 30 plus years I have wondered if it was worth renewing my membership. What was I getting for the annual fee? What was it being used for?
Could these be thoughts our lapsed or ex-members share?
I believe we need to add more value to members to ensure people don’t feel this way, and that we need to be more transparent. Mensa brings in about £1million per year, and I think the members deserve to know where and how this money is spent.
In addition to member attrition, I think we also need to focus on the public perception of Mensa.
When I joined, we had several high-profile ambassadors who regularly appeared in the press. In recent years though, it seems the only coverage of any note was the data breach.
With the increasing importance to organisations of ‘influencers’, particularly in social media, it will be useful to rekindle more positive coverage.
I’m proud to be a member of Mensa, but it seems to me that we don’t capitalise on the organisation’s profile or make the most of the commercial opportunities it gives us.
I believe my commercial background will be a good complement to the board. For over 20 years I worked at board level in buying roles for a variety of major retailers. I turned around and sold an ailing confectionery company and founded, grew and sold a food brokerage business. In 2000 I established Focal Point Negotiation, specialising in providing commercial training and consultancy to companies and leaders under pressure to deliver tangible, measurable results. I am also a visiting lecturer at Kent Business School, and serve as a non-executive director and a mentor for several businesses.
As one of the UK’s leading negotiation experts, I’m often asked by the BBC to comment on topical issues, including on Panorama regarding Tesco’s negotiation approach, and on Radio 5 Live regarding David Cameron’s EU negotiations.
Outside of business, I am an avid chess player, coming third in a Mensa tournament (being knocked out by a guy who designs missile guidance systems) and have represented Mensa in the BCC League for a number of years. I am married with two fantastic daughters, am on the board of two charities – one of which recently won Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and am Chairman of our local parish council (a non-political role I hasten to add!)
As a CEDR qualified mediator, not only do I make a positive contribution to boards, I ensure that discussions are conducted with the minimum of conflict while maximising results.
If you elect me, I will do my utmost to ensure Mensa adapts, grows and thrives.
I hope I can count on your support.