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Chris Rea: “Create a phantom to increase sales”

Rea admits stealing the idea from the MD of coach holiday firm Shearings Dennis Wormwell. "He told his staff, ‘Shock, horror! Our biggest competitor is taking on one of our most profitable routes. We’re going to have to pull out all the stops!’," explains Rea. "Of course, there was no competitior. But he created the illusion of one to put positive stress on the company."

Rea, who runs the £80m-turnover industrial seal manufacturer, believes that this kind of positive stress "focusses people’s minds".

The Aesseal boss has a few other tricks up his sleeve too. He also likes to set up "imagined hindsight events".

"You create a date in the future and give yourself two options," he says. "You can either celebrate and pat yourselves on the back for achieving all your objectives. Or you can have hell. It concentrates the mind to make sure that by the time you get to that date, you’d better be celebrating."

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