Critical Friend. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to.

For those running SMEs, it can be a lonely existence with barely a minute set aside for you to take stock, share concerns and find good advice. Our workshops and conference models may be too big for this stage of your company’s development. What you may need is someone to talk to on a regular basis about your business and its issues, someone who offers good advice and who can present ideas from elsewhere according to your agenda. Our Critical Friend service offers you just that kind of companion.

Multi-sector experience with communications at its core

As a director of an agency with 20 years of experience, augmented by ten years of leading Urbano, Mark has met and chatted with around 30,000 business people. He has hosted over 100 speakers, many well-known and leaders in their own sectors, at events for diverse audiences across the Urbano communities: Build, Create-Media, Professional Services (Financial, Legal & Advisory), People, Tech & Telecoms, Zero Carbon & Environmental.

He hosted events on BIM, blockchain, bitcoin & cryptocurrencies; diversity, inclusion and staff engagement; digital, social media and the web; sustainability, science and the transition to zero carbon.

In that time, he has listened, learned and connected people with ideas, but found that one thing that all successful entrepreneurs and business leaders share is knowing what others are doing better than they are and adapting them in their own companies.

Talent Lab Critical friend service is focused on Mark’s specialities: brand, business strategy, communications, and networking. Monthly meetings are confidential and either in-person (and away from the office if necessary) or remote.

Each meeting works in two parts.

Part I – listening to the challenges and concerns of the client.  An open, friendly discussion can reveal some quick wins and suggestions to improve the current situation.

Part II – this follows each meeting where a menu of requests is acted upon to be delivered and discussed at the proceeding meeting. This activity gives Critical Friends clients a connection into what is happening elsewhere and influence decision-making; a process of understanding and informing.


Many companies claim they are looking to innovate without having the time set aside in their diaries to do it. Having your own personal researcher, with access to tremendous resources, allows the founder, MD or CEO to ‘litmus test’ their own thoughts and ideas ahead of investment.

Contact The Lab to discuss the benefits of a Critical Friend to you and your business.
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