Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

Hello everyone,

I've just had some very sad news - John Sproson has died.  John was one of the very first members of the 'SF EDGe' group that Paul Z and I set up in 2004 for people who'd trained with us, and he maintained a very active participation in the SF community including being part of the organising team for SOLWorld 2012 in Oxford, and also the forthcoming 2013 event. 

I wonder if people might like to post their memories of John and his particular contributions to our community and our lives?  I have more to say too - would like to reflect on it for a few moments first. 

Cheers, Mark


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In John's "Ten Powerful Sales Tips for Directors" (which I was grateful to receive a pre-print from him in 2005) his "Tip Number Four" begins with "Smile before you pick up the phone ...". So that's what I did: Smile, before I started to write here. Thank you, John; that helped already!

Even more important for me was his "Tip Number Two". I learned that teaching from him even before I met his books, when I asked him which single one of all his ideas about selling he would recommend as the most important one to know. He said, that could be summarized in a very brief sentence: "(When in sales,) Leave your ego at the door!" And he clarified that to mean, that you should take good care of yourself (or "your self") at all times, but not try to replenish your personal ego desires from a (prospective) client, but rather outside sales situations. Thank you, John; that helped in many situations since!

Apart from remembering John as "Mr. SF-Selling" - maybe his own "USP" or most visible brand? - I remember him for two further special aspects. The first one, his SF way of handling his own disease, has already been mentioned. It impressed me a lot in Oxford. The other aspect I associate with his face is a short video he showed at a SOL-conference (2006 in Vienna if I recall it correctly): about "herding cats", of all animals! ( Thank you for the laughter, John!

John's little book "The ABC of Sales Lead Generation" still contains a card reading "with the compliments of John Sproson, your sales mentor. Thank you, John, for having been such a kind, effective, and memorable Mentor!

I'm really sad that John passed away. And I'm happy to remember many good moments with him. He contributed in so many ways to the SOLsummer retreats in Fontana Passugg and to the SOLworld conferences where I met him. As Klaus already mentioned, John was "Mr. Sales" and he loved to share his knowledge and skills. I also like to remember his funny side. He loved to make people laugh... for example during our rehearsal for the song "thank you for the retreat". And then there was a very personal and quiet side of John: when he talked about his health situation and how much he wanted to survive. I was so happy to see him again in Oxford.

I will always remember John and keep a quote which he left in my personal diary as a treasure: "a candle looses nothing when it lights another candle". I think John lit many candles, didn't he?

Thank you for many inspiring moments, John.

John used to say, 'I don't have any creative ideas, but I recognise them when I see them.'  And he enthusiastically embraced the ideas of SF throughout the 10 years we knew and worked with each other. 

Our most recent projects were the SOL conference in Oxford last year, and the development of a fund to support the SOL community.  I suspect he'd be pleased to know that one of the first fruits of this fund is to provide a scholarship offer in his name for one or two participants to attend SOL2013 who would not otherwise have been able to come.

We had a lot of fun, discussing and implementing SF to sales, to online learning and to the conferences and retreats (including the cabarets, in which he was a keen improviser).  And he seemed to me to provide quite a few creative ideas, whatever his modesty.

He'll be much missed and fondly remembered.

So  very sad to hear this

Many memories of laughing and bouncing off each other at conferences in Europe at UK and at the SF london group

Always fun hanging around with John , he once showed me his car speeding tickets (Enough to fill his car !)

Always optimistic and smiling I will always remember you your "colonial " suit laughing and

taking the mickey out of me ...

A real gent

Rest in peace mate

Rob Rave   

I'm finding it difficult to believe that John won't be around anymore. He'd always been a larger than life character in the SF world ever since I got hooked 12 years ago. His presence always filled the room with interesting thoughts, ideas, challenges and lots of humour. I remember John telling me at one of the SF 'Edge' meetings which Mark and Jenny used to host in the UK, that he was never sure what he was going to get out of the meetings but he always knew it would be something useful. This struck me as an inspiring and wonderfully SF way of vieiwng the world - here was a man who clearly trusted in emergence! Latterly, he was a colleague and friend as part of the SOL 2012 organising team and he did a huge amount of work in marketing the event to ensure that it was good as it possibly could be. I'm glad that he at least saw the conference through to its successful conclusion, but sad that he lost his battle so soon afterwards. I'll miss him.   

Without a shadow of a doubt, at this very moment and wherever he is, John if offering someone his vast expertise on solution focused thinking and working. Maybe, while you read these line,  John is selling Steve and Insoo the idea of writing another book or heaventube another demonstration down to us.

Thanks, John for having been part of our community.


Louis Cauffman

Still find it hard to grasp it.

The more I realize I won't ever meet John, the more it makes me sad.

John was the first one to welcome me last year in Oxford, as part of the SOL2012 team. His friendly & familiar face, known from previous SOL conferences, immediately gave a warm feeling.

I like (hard to say: liked) his special smile and our mutual discussions around what is unique in SF talks versus positive talks in general.

I admired the special niche of Solution-Focused Selling he proposed, where he actually reframed the term: "selling".  Any solutionist can offer his "touch" this within this great approach. This to me, was John's touch.

Participating in his workshop last year at SOL2012, I enjoyed the full optimism he brought in and admired his observations of using the SF gems to escort him in his healing process. I loved his vitality expressed in that workshop. I will miss it.

During the the years, in the SOL conferences, we sat for a drink here and there. I will miss that too.

Cheers and farewell John.


I have received the following tribute from Jeni Jones of Pancreatic Cancer UK:

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of John Sproson. John was a Pancreatic Cancer UK “Voice”, and was involved with the charity following his own diagnosis and subsequent treatment. John had benefitted from our support service and wanted to “give something back” and help others find treatment options when there seemed to be no hope for them. He felt his contact with us had given him just that, and he wanted others in a similar situation to encounter hope as he did. John helped in reviewing information for us, and he also wrote his Real Life story for our website. One of his goals was t walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, which he managed and achieved. I had the great privilege of meeting John for the first time at the Houses of Parliament, when he spoke for us at our very first APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Pancreatic Cancer in May 2012. John spoke eloquently about his own story and where he highlighted the need for improvements in early diagnosis. John also helped us at our first Early Diagnosis Summit in June 2012, where he got stuck in as part of the team, and we had great fun and a few light heads blowing up balloons! I last had contact with John in December 2012, where John had a few questions about symptoms he had been experiencing. We did not know he was unwell, and were shocked and saddened to find out of his passing. We remember him as a positive person, in the face of great adversity and a poor diagnosis and prognosis. He will be greatly missed.”






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