If you were in Carriage B on the 15.35 Kings Cross to Newcastle yesterday afternoon, our apologies. It was a quiet coach, it wasn’t quiet. Carsten Staehr was in the carriage.
Two weeks ago, at the age of 52, Carsten Staehr became a father for the first time. The man is a viking marauder, a blue-eyed Dane who looks trouble. He’s tall with a mane of fine silver hair, the man knows no moderation in his love of life – were life a party, he’d be its life and soul.
When Carsten won best boss at the Payroll World awards, this is how his company promoted his profile
I have tried to tie this man down for a year. He runs a decent payroll-Cintra, it made the best part of a million quid last year off a turnover of £5m, Carsten’s making the company grow and he doesn’t have time for idle chat. I made up my mind to ride the East Coast Box-Car to Newcastle – listen to his story for three and a quarter hours, so I bought a day return to Newcastle, a bottle of Chablis and pulled the cork.
Here are the few notes I took
“write this down Henry- we like to spread the jam”.
Carsten on HR
“If you don’t give a f**k about your customers, you get a P45”.
The idea behind Cintra is “happy clients”. Carsten is happiness in a bottle , though I haven’t seen his wrath, it seems fired by the injustice of sadness. “Make my customers sad, feel my wrath”.
Carsten on sales
“I keep enough money in my company so I don’t have to sell anything” ..how many companies do you know, who don’t have to sell anything?”.
Carsten is always selling, he doesn’t know how not to. But his point is about capacity, about getting rich slow and about keeping customers happy over time.Sometimes you cannot take on new business, if it threatens to swamp customer service.
Carsten on Denmark,
“Denmark is good because there’s no fu**in corruption. Everyone in Britain is on the make, We (the Danes) enjoy paying 73% tax rates because nobody ever goes to hospital old and hungry.”
The man’s an old fashioned socialist, a wealth generator who believes everyone can be as happy and rich as he is, because everybody he meets leaves him happier and wealthier. I am sure there are people who don’t get Carsten , but they probably don’t like sunshine either.
If this sounds like the Pension Plowman, losing his bearings and succumbing to a potty-mouthed Scandinavian charmer- so be it. I haul up the white flag and surrender to three hours on the train and a further three in some Persian Restaraunt in what Carsten called the intelligent end of Newcastle. We were to drink Austrian wine in the Cherry Tree but the Cherry Tree was shut. We drank Chateau Musar and remembered the Hochar’s who produced great wine in a war-zone.
I smiled my went back to London on the last train, and Carsten went off to look after his new baby! This morning I am bubbling with the spirit of the man and with the pleasurable prospect of doing business his way.
It won’t be a struggle!
And to Alexandra , who arranged all this , I leave the last word. Carsten told me that when she started working with him, she wrote the right formal letter. Here is the email she sent me last week after I’d tried phoning Carsten to confirm …
Lovely talking with you yesterday – sorry for confusing you by talking in a coherent way with no swearing
Carsten runs Great North Run with Usingh Boult – I can see this blog running and running!