Thursday, December 31, 2009

Value idle moments

Amongst life's helter skelter, let's value "idle hours" - those moments of "not doing". Idle Hours is the name of a current exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. You can visit online at until 21 February 2010.

These idle hours are moments of "not doing". They are not nothingness. They are "unremarked moments that punctuate our lives" like reading, finishing the dishes, taking tea, dozing, a daily swim. These are the quiet times that make up "the stable warp of the fabric of our our lives".
They are moments that are easily dismissed as wasted, unproductive, empty. Yet they can be moments of reflection, refreshment, a space to disperse thoughts.

While writing this (by hand) is not one such idle moment, once finished, my locale invites pausing. My temporary office is a park bench in the shade of a huge tree in the Old Parliament House Gardens (Canberra). Nearby is the Ladies Rose Garden. The roses are in full bloom - reds, yellows, white, pinks - and carry delicious names like Red Pixie, Scarlet Sunblaze and Just Joey.

This year I'm going to identify several offices around town to escape my computer, enjoy different surroundings, sustain a productive day. This will vary by season.

For now, this is a top spot for both idle and productive moments.
What and where are your favourite idle moments?

Ann Villiers
Mental Nutritionist

My top 10 predictions for 2010

1) Politicians will be less seen as world leaders due to their monumental failure to lead in Copenhagen. World Leaders will be the social entrepreneurs and business people who actually do things that make a difference. I call these folk insightpreneurs™ and differencemakers™. Insightpreneurs™ are experts at turning information into insight into inspiration into ideas into innovation, fast. Differencemakers™ are folk who innovate for the good of people and our planet.

2) Social media will continue to evolve and grow and influence us. The movers and shakers will be those people who turn conversations online into real world collaborations that make a difference.

This is what we do at differencemakers community. Please join us here.

3) Greed and stupid business practice will continue in some sections of the financial services sector. Some folk haven’t learnt their lesson. People with demonstrable ethics, genuine corporate responsibility, and general good business practice will thrive.

4) The number of double (social and environmental) and triple bottom-line (social, environmental, and economic) businesses will continue to grow.

5) Sustainability will still be the zeitgeist of our time.

6) Business leaders who have sustainability and innovation linked and as a core of their growth strategies will thrive

7) Local Government and Non Government Organisations (NGOs) will continue to be the non business places were things that really matter get done.

8) There will be more meetings held online that ever before however savvy people will also begin to reinvent how face to face meetings (1:1, teams, and conferences etc) work and they will do very well.

9) Twitter or something similar not yet invented will replace email as the main means of staying in touch online

10) ebooks and other means of online learning will thrive in 2010 particularly those that focus on self development that is practical and real, making social media work for business, sustainability, innovation, leadership.

I wish all of earth's citizens your best year yet in 2010.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Webinar 12 Jan 2010: The Planck Scale of Leadership - The Essence from which all Leadership Arises

Click to play a video summary of the webinar.

This will be a brief look at the essence of real leadership... the source of leading from one's self and with others. It is a look behind the tools of leadership (the formulas for success and the how to lead principles) to a place where all leadership within people begins. AND, as with the quantum world, the essence and power is found by looking within.

Summary about the webinar
  1. That no individual can lead anyone until they first understand how to lead themselves.
  2. That when goes deep within themselves, they will find their true core values and purpose.
  3. That when core values and purpose are realized, one finds their bridge to the divine and to each other.
  4. That there is a process for becoming "aligned" with our true self and the making of choices that truly matter.
  5. That there are concepts of reality and thinking that can influence how we create our own world view... the lens from which we interpret and see the world.
  6. That our thoughts do matter and can create realities and impacts.
  7. That there is a difference between reacting and responding when it comes to leadership.
  8. That leadership is not a science but a way of "being".
Register your place in advance via the widget below (wait a few seconds for the widget to load)

Learnings from the movie 'Avatar'

James Cameron may have taken 15 years to translate his thoughts into the movie 'Avatar', but the movie's release has been well-timed. In the post-recession era when the market forces are slowly gearing up to create more demands that can justify more spending, which will lead to liquidity and wealth creation, there is need for a different kind of perspective towards life other than wealth creation.

I watched this movie with my wife and daughter on Christmas, and was completely mesmerised at the learnings that could be drawn from the movie. I would like to share them with you all.

1. Select a person for his extraordinary potential; do not write him off only because he doesn’t have ordinary attributes.

2. Man’s quest for probing the space outside himself is governed by his ineptitude to manage the space that is provided to him, so that it is sustainable for all.

3. Man alone is mere mortal – it is only when he submits himself to become an effective channel of flow of cosmic energy does he enable himself to perform greater actions.

4. Sources of energy/power are meant to be preserved/ treated as sacred, and not to be abused, exploited, exhausted.

5. To lead them, become one of them in the true sense.

6. To lead you must first be willing to learn, follow, endure, improve and then overcome stiff competition at the top.

7. Unless you emotionally connect with the people whom you are trying to impact, you may go very wrong with the change you want to make – they may not actually need it.

8. It is in the strength of finding common purpose and communicating it effectively across divides, that you will gain strength enough to pursue it.

9. Once the common purpose is identified, and all the available resources have been garnered, do not waste any time thereafter – just go for it. Along the way, your bold actions will attract more support from unexpected quarters – suddenly you will find alongside, people whom you never thought would join you.

10. When planning any campaign, plan to outwit your adversary/competitor by combining expertise, teamwork, innovation and finding gaps in the adversary’s/competitor’s defenses.

11. The more mankind ventures to sustain itself, the more it impinges upon the space meant for others, the more the necessity to accommodate everyone’s needs; ultimately, the story remains the same – the fight between your Greed and their Need.

One more thought before I end this post. Greed is perhaps a necessary evil – it boosts you to venture further, deeper across new frontiers to seek new bounties that can be life sustaining and wealth producing. But in the bargain, Man is disturbing the delicate balance that is the essence of all creation. In the end, will it be worth the Greed?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Handbook 2010


  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured from plants.
  4. Live with the 3 E's: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  5. Make time for reflection.
  6. Rediscover creative thinking and think like a child. Play more games.
  7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
  8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  9. Sleep for 7 hours.
  10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk every day. And while you walk, smile.


  1. Enjoy your own life journey and don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Use your energy wisely, invest it in things that you can control in the present moment.
  3. If you are in control, you're not going fast enough (Mario Andretti - former Formula 1 racing driver)
  4. Laugh at yourself, it shows great humility.
  5. Be a connector, not a gossiper.
  6. Dream more while you are awake (kids - don't do this at school!)
  7. Adopt abundance thinking. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Chinese proverb: when near black ink, you become black; when near red ink, you become red. You can choose to love or hate someone or something. Do you want to be loved or hated?
  10. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil your present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. Instead of thinking why the other person is disagreeing with you, ask yourself "why is the other person thinking differently to me?"
  15. If you are no longer able to change the situation, you have the ultimate choice to change yourself. Will you?


  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.


  1. Do the right thing!
  2. The truth is out there. Always speak the truth.
  3. Everything will heal with time and you are in charge of how long.
  4. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  5. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  6. The best is yet to come.
  7. When you awake alive in the morning, be thankful for it.
  8. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:

If You like this, tell others about this blogpost.

With acknowledgement to Madhumita Katta

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Your Online Strategy for 2010

Are you confused by the myriad options for creating an Internet presence? In this presentation I ask you 27 key questions to help you create your own personal on-line strategy for your business for 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar - a must see movie for our time and our future

My wife and I were thrilled to watch the Avatar movie today, our 36th wedding aniversary.

James Cameron is one of the great storytellers of our time. This is a story from humanity to humanity and I trust we will heed its profound messages and together build a better world.

Happy holidays to all taking them and may 2010 be the year when our new world really comes to life.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not a solo sport

Looking for new ideas? It's not a solo sport. If you expect individuals to come up with fully-fledged, ground-breaking ideas on their own, you could die waiting. Provide opportunities for people to spend time together and combine their thinking.

Great ideas start with a glimmer; if that glimmer is shared it might become a spark that ignites.

If you expect individuals to present their ideas to you in the form of a business case, fully developed and costed, you will not receive very many ideas, and the ones you do receive will not be particularly innovative.

I was asked to judge an innovation competition run by a law firm in my city. The firm offered generous prizes such as cash and travel, and allowed the staff to take time off work to write their submissions. Although the applications were well written, the suggestions were very disappointing in their lack of creativity, e.g. “Hold a cocktail party for accountants”. Competing as individuals for valuable rewards, the lawyers played it safe. They offered ideas that they knew had been successful elsewhere. But you don’t get competitive advantage by copying what others have done.

Researchers have shown that people who have an intrinsic interest in the issue are more likely to come up with good ideas than people who are just trying to win prizes.

People who are good at developing a business case are not always the ones with the most innovative ideas. These are different skills, so you need a team effort.

Collective thinking is more powerful than an individual effort. Provide opportunities for people to share their thinking and build ideas collaboratively.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Copenhagen climate change conference was a monumental messup however there is hope

A statement of intent was all the politicians could come up with after 2 years of talk and a failure to collaborate and agree on a legally binding agreement over the past two weeks in Copenhagen.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development President Bjorn Stigson issued a stark warning to ministers on 17th December in Copenhagen: "You will not solve climate change without business at the table as an engaged, involved partner - Governments cannot deliver on the targets which are being talked about without business." I agree with Mr. Stigson.

Social entrepreneurs (I call them insightpreneurs and differencemakers - see my article here) are the business leaders leading the change for good. I have written about many of them on this and my personal blog and will continue to do so. Become such a leader yourself. You could do a lot worse in getting started that adopting some of the 142 actions I recommend in my book which you can download here.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Post Copenhagen action regardless of the end result of the conference

I don't need any scientific evidence for climate change and the human contribution to it.
I have seen it with my own eyes.

I think the wrong people by enlarged have been at the Copenhagen conference. I think we need to take away the perceived right of politicians and bureaucrats to be making the kind of negotiations that are being attempted at the Copenhagen conference on climate change this week. Why? - because self interest tends to rule among these folk rather than enlightened self interest.

We live in age of collaboration and with one day to go collaboration for the good of all is a long way from being achieved. I am hoping for the best. It seems to me world leaders, again this is a self-proclamation, believe in collaboration, however as yet haven't found a way to turn belief into real action.

Whatever happens in the next 24 hours and way beyond that, entrepreneurs and differencemakers who change what's normal or innovate for the good of people and our planet need to take charge of the agenda and make it happen and politicians and their sidekicks need to get out of the way except for making laws that protect what matters and enhance our innate human ability to collaborate for the common good.

Please joining me in taking charge of the change for good agenda by joining differencemakers community as a first step.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Embrace Ignorance

Ideas come from curiosity. Admitting that you don’t know all the answers, and
encouraging others to do likewise, leads everyone to explore new possibilities.

Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, offers a
“Time Management Matrix” in which activities are classified as “urgent” or “non-urgent”, and “important” or “not important”. He makes the point that our time is
usually taken up with “urgent” things that clamour for our attention. To get
ahead, we need to make time for the things that are “non-urgent”
but “important”.

To make a difference we have to pay attention to the things that are non-urgent and important; otherwise we are just reacting to what is put in our path to deal with.

Difference-making is pioneering. We enter new territory where we do not know all the
answers. We have to be willing to admit our ignorance and generate a lot of new

Admitting ignorance takes courage, because traditionally leaders are supposed
to know the answers. Be willing to ask “na├»ve” questions. Make it clear that you
intend these questions as a catalyst for creative thinking. Focus your attention on
something that others think they know and take for granted.

Accept that when it comes to new ideas, you won’t know if they will work, until
you try. Set up an experiment or pilot program. If you don’t get the results you
want, don’t just give up; just change the conditions of the experiment. The risk of
being wrong brings with it the chance of being right.

Green is good regardless of what they do or don't do in Copenhagen

What to know more about green business, green urban development, green lifestyle, art, and architecture, food and sustainability, wildlife, ecosysystems, and conservation, climate change, and/or sustainable energy? then check out the 100 lectures available here at online college.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mindfulness and Leadership

Simply speaking, being mindful means knowing what you're doing (and thinking and feeling) in the present moment. For example, when you keep your keys down, you know where you are keeping your keys down, and therefore can find them again! Mindfulness practice helps us know clearly what is happening, and how we are reacting to what is happening, as it is happening – which helps us choose a skillful response instead of reacting mindlessly in a stressful situation. Daniel Woo, founder of a legal consultancy in Seattle and a leadership thinker, recommends the definition of mindfulness used in the book ‘Mindfulness and Psychotherapy’ written by therapists about mindfulness teachings and practices, which is: (1)awareness,(2) of present experience,(3)with acceptance. Having such mindfulness then leads to more informed, conscious and intentional choices at a higher level of consciousness, he adds.

Mindfulness is beyond mental skills and sensory awareness – it includes quality of information received and transmitted, processed and awarenessed; being fully present with all of whatever is occurring. It requires full engagement of mind, body, and spirit: high-quality general intelligence, (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), communication intelligence (CQ), and spiritual intelligence (SQ). These are capacities of continued cultivation comprised of learned skills of awareness, communication, and connection, and their practiced application. As a well-known meditation teacher puts it: "It's not what's happening that's important, it's how you're relating to what's happening that's important".

How Mindfulness could Benefit Leaders

Mindfulness alone is without any bias or judgement. Mindfulness is a state of being, and NOT a state of becoming. All actions performed in a mindful state will inevitably have some salutary impact, but again, THAT is not the motive. Mindfulness is a practice and impacts all actions that follow, be it helping in the kitchen, or leadership at work. However, for leaders to use mindfulness to obtain results, they will have to combine it with a sense of purpose to live every moment as they ought to. Mindfulness by itself is Buddhism, Mindfulness with purpose is Leadership.

As a leader, one needs to take or make decisions based not just on what is obvious but also the larger but subtler dimension which is also at play every moment. This can be accessed only through being in a state of mindfulness. When mindfulness is strong, we can respond to difficulties in a less reactive, more conscious and accepting manner. For example, when something or someone provokes us, in the heat of the moment it "pushes our buttons" and we feel intense fear or anger. Rather than react with fear and anger, mindfulness makes it possible to feel those feelings without getting lost in them or acting them out, so we can choose an appropriate response rather than react in an automatic and often counterproductive way. Mindfulness also helps us see how we often relate to people or situations based on our thoughts and feelings about them rather than who they really are or what is actually happening right then.

Michael Carroll, in his book 'The Mindful Leader' (2007), has made a strong case for connecting mindfulness to leadership. He suggested that mindful leaders cultivate the following ten talents: simplicity, poise, respect, courage, confidence, enthusiasm, patience, awareness, skillfulness and humility.

Mr Anil Sachev, CEO of School of Inspired Leadership, says, "The essence of all these facets of inspired leadership is being led by the “self” or consciousness or the life giving force – the ultimate truth. Once we learn to introspect, reflect and contemplate, following questions come to mind: What is the purpose of my life? Why have I taken human birth? What are my gifts? How can I lead my life in a way that leverages by gifts to realize my purpose? How is my work and the way I am leading my life enabling me to move towards my purpose? What changes do I bring about in the way I am leading my life to move towards my purpose? What competencies do I need to develop to enable these to happen? How do I lead my body and the process of perception to make this happen? How do I lead my mind and my emotions? How do I lead my intellect? What do I need to learn to make progress? How can I use my preferred learning style to learn this? Seeking answers to these questions help one to become fully aware and present and make changes in the ways to become a true leader. The ultimate gift of this form of leadership that we can give ourselves is to learn to live in the present and make every moment special. Instead of worrying about the future and having regrets about the past, it is about acting with complete awareness. While eating, we are fully present, while playing, we are fully present, when working on a task, we are fully present. This is what we call as 'Mindfulness' or the ultimate form of self awareness."

One aspect of mindfulness that is so important for leadership yet missing from leadership books is Compassion. In the heart of Mahayana Buddhism, wisdom does not arise without compassion. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness starts with the breath, continues with the body, feelings, mind itself and then objects of mind (contemplative meditations or analytical meditations that include the Four Noble Truths, etc.). In essence, mindfulness is developed to better comprehend, absorb and practice compassion.

Mindfulness for Optimal Leadership

Mindfulness is the result of knowing – knowing yourself and the world around you, Being aware – of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, and Experiencing Yourself as being a part of the whole, i.e., one with the universe. It gives you the Awareness to understand how powerless you are (outside) and how powerful you can be (within). Through this awareness, mindfulness leads to doing the right action and inspiring others as well. Therefore, Mindfulness addresses the Knowing-Doing Gap in a complete manner.

The key skills of Mindful Leadership include:

1. Defusion – the ability to ‘let go’ of unhelpful thoughts and patterns
2. Acceptance of self, others and circumstances – rather than fighting and struggling
3. Being in the present moment – rather than scattered and unfocussed
4. Acting from values – creating a meaningful and satisfying approach to leadership
5. Self awareness – seeing self as context rather than content
6. Taking committed action – based on personal values that facilitate meaningful change

I would like to convey my gratitude to the following discussion groups on LinkedIn that have helped me write this post:

- School Of Inspired Leadership
- Leaders Cafe Foundation
- Leaders & Thinkers
- Leadership Think Tank
- Personal Leadership Development

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The ever-growing business case for CSR/sustainability

In a report for IBM Global Business Services, George Pohle and Jeff Hittner make some excellent points from a survey of 250 global leaders that clearly advocate the business case for CSR/Sustainability including:

“A growing body of evidence asserts that corporations can do well by doing good. Well-known companies have already proven that they can differentiate their brands and reputations as well as their products and services if they take responsibility for the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate.

68 percent are now utilizing CSR as an opportunity and a platform for growth.

Today, a surprising number of companies already regard corporate social responsibility
as a platform for growth and differentiation. the shift in thinking from CSR as a cost or risk
mitigation effort to CSR as a strategic goal that brings in new revenues.

Over two-thirds (68 percent) of the business leaders surveyed by IBM are focusing
on CSR activities to create new revenue streams.

Over half (54 percent) believe that their companies’ CSR activities are already
giving them an advantage over their top competitors.

The traditional adage, “buyer beware,” has now become “seller beware.”

A company’s most valuable asset is its ability to convert brand power into customer buying
decisions. Only the company that shares reliable information can be a trustworthy “partner
in sustainability” for customers who are ready to buy.

What happens when a customer walks into a store, a bank, a showroom, or even a factory
floor and asks if the products they see are fair-trade or sourced sustainably? Do employees
have the information at hand? Can they answer questions about the company’s labor
practices and energy consumption as well as product disposal? Not usually.
Are they prepared to have a real dialogue, one in which they learn about the customers’
needs? Not frequently enough, according to the respondents of the survey.

All too often in corporate life, the CEO announces a vision and the average employee
is mystified or indifferent. With CSR, it can be different."

Please download the full report here.

I would also highly recommend an article published in the New York Times by Jared Diamond, distinguished author and professor of geography at University of California, 'Will Big Business Save the Earth?' You can read this article here.

Is CSR/Sustainability key to your growth strategy?

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Differencemakers make a difference

A bunch of politicians are gathering in Copenhagen this week, ostensibly to set out a plan of action for managing - and reversing - the effects of human-made climate change.

There's been a lot of talk and spin about the Copenhagen talks, and it's easy to get caught up in the fervour without stopping to think about what's really going on.

So let's stop and think.

First, let's forestall one line of objection and assume climate change is a problem, that we humans caused it, and that it's going to take a concerted international effort to fix it.

Assuming that's the case, then it is appropriate to have a global summit to tackle the issue.

The first question must be: What's our goal?

Just for a moment, let's put aside the economic costs, the feasibility, and especially the rhetoric. And let's turn to the simple scientific statement of the problem. Presumably it's something like this: The atmosphere has currently X parts per million of carbon dioxide, and that's too high. We need to reduce it to Y.

The next obvious question - and yet one that nobody seems to be asking - is: What do we need to do to fix it?

It's all very well for Kevin Rudd, Penny Wong, Barack Obama and other politicians to spout hot air about what level of change they're going to commit to. But if it doesn't fix the problem, it's a waste of time and resources. Sure, it serves their purpose to pretend to be doing something; but it doesn't serve the planet's purpose.

Not only would that be a waste of time and resources; it would be an unconscionable waste of time and resources.

Some would argue that some action is better than none, or that we can't afford the risk of not taking action (the Precautionary Principle). But these are not valid arguments. Sure, all other things being equal, these arguments hold water. But all other things aren't equal.

There's a huge cost of taking action: People - particularly the world's poor - suffer; jobs are lost; whole industries struggle; and livelihoods are put at risk.

There's also a huge cost of diverting all our attention and resources to this one issue - that may or may not be solvable - at the expense of other, more pressing issues. Right now, people around the world are dying of malnutrition, curable diseases, lack of clean drinking water and war. And instead of saving them, we're chasing some far-off solution that might save their great-grandchildren!

Some would say this is a small price to pay to save the planet, but that's my point: Does this save the planet? Or is it just a bunch of hot air from politicians who care more about their own jobs than the planet?

Our elected officials almost always promise to make a difference. They hold themselves up to be differencemakers. But when the rubber hits the road, let's see what happens. Differencemakers make a difference. That's the point.

Already we're being told that the Copenhagen summit won't end with an international treaty. Fair enough - this is not something that can be hammered out over a few chats and cocktails. But what should we expect from these self-proclaimed differencemakers?

Well, the correct course of action is for the summit to say something like:
  1. Here's what we need to achieve (in a scientific sense) for the climate.
  2. Here's what each nation needs to do to play its part.
  3. Here are the sacrifices you - ordinary citizens - need to make.
  4. Here's the course of action we've plotted.
Is this going to happen? Possibly, but very, very unlikely. It's more likely that Rudd and Wong will return to Australia with some vague statements about international goodwill and cooperation.

And they'll push ahead with their ETS, as if it's a solution - or even part of a solution. It's not. Unless they demonstrate that it's going to help solve the real problem, it's just a tax that redistributes wealth. And it takes our eyes off the real human suffering going on all around us today.

I wish this wasn't the case, and I'd like to be proved wrong. But I suspect that I'm right.

So let's hold them to task. If they don't return with at least a clear path of action based on the science, let's treat them with the contempt they deserve. And hold them to task until they do the right thing.

Ask, don't tell

Questions get people thinking. To make a difference, ask the questions that others are not asking.

Leaders tend to do a lot of “telling”. To get things done, they often default to telling people what to do, and how to do it, and what is going to happen, instead of asking them what they have noticed, what they have been thinking about, and what they have learned from recent experiences.

Doing things differently requires curiosity, and this involves “asking”.

Instead of telling people what to do, ask them what they think. Leaders need to provide a catalyst for thinking. Set a new and unexpected topic for discussion. Be creative with your questions. Ask the sort of questions that other firms are probably not asking.

Experiment with creative thinking techniques – there are many books available on this subject.

During discussion, ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard, and that people don’t take entrenched positions. Allow time for discussion, and also allow time for ideas to incubate. This may mean coming back to the question at a later time. Ideas don’t always appear on demand. They occur unexpectedly, because the subconscious continues to work on the question. If you limit your discussion to a single session you might miss the best ideas. Revisit the question to find out what other answers people have thought of.

Just as the body keeps burning energy after an exercise session, the mind keeps on working after you have finished discussing a question.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do you know the secret YOU?

"Put your eyes on Bobby Jones... Look at his practice swing, almost like he's searchin for something... Then he finds it... Watch how he settle hisself right into the middle of it, feel that focus... He got a lot of shots he could choose from... Duffs and tops and skulls, there's only ONE shot that's in perfect harmony with the feild... One shot that's his, authentic shot, and that shot is gonna choose him... There's a perfect shot out there tryin' to find each and every one of us... All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us... Can't see that flag as some dragon you got to slay... You got to look with soft eyes... See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin' of the Earth, all come together... where everything that is, becomes one... You got to seek that place with your soul Junuh... Seek it with your hands don't think about it... Feel it... Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be... Now I can't take you there Junuh... Just hopes I can help you find a way... Just you... that ball... that flag... and all you are..."

The Legend of Bagger Vance

Now who was playing, Bobby Jones, or someone else?

Take a look at this great BBC Horizons documentary on 'The Search For Consciousness'. It is in 6 parts (YouTube's 10 mins limitations again). The first of which is here. Would love to hear your thoughts - conscious or otherwise :-)


Great insights on climate change from Green Economy Post

For some great insights into the issues facing Government and NGO representatives and others gathering in Copenhagen in the next few days please check out this excellent work by Green Post Economy.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Expect More From 2010

2010 will be my 19th year in business. I know it will be my best year yet because like every other year I have plans to execute that will change what's normal.

What are your plans?

If you feel, think, and do like you did in 2009 the most likely scenario is that 2010 will be a shocker (that's Aussie for bad).

To help you avoid this scenario I have prepared an exercise for you in the ebook Expect More From 2010.

My thanks to Gihan Perera of First Step for making this ebook happen for the 4th consecutive year. There are many great ideas from 43 different authors you might consider in this ebook, all designed to help you make 2010 your best year ever.

Please download the ebook here. My exercise is on page 8.

Be remarkable
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Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It seems a majority of politicians don't understand that we live in an age of collaboration

I watched an interview yesterday with Tony Abbott the newly elected leader of the major political party in Australia not in government. He said "our job is to oppose the government." He later in the interview tried to correct himself by saying "our job is to hold the government to account."

Mr. Abbott got elected after extraordinary scenes in his party where one minute they were supporting the governments climate change bill and then they weren't. These decisions and indecision followed 5 weeks of collaborating and the former leader Malcolm Turnbull telling the government our collaboration has been successful, lets pass the bill.

Australia now has egg on its face going into to the Copenhagen summit this weekend on climate change. Our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, unless there is yet another change of mind by Mr Abbott's party, will go to Copenhagen a follower instead of a leader.

Seems to me that Mr Abbott, like most old school politicians, hasn't yet realised we live in an age of collaboration. My hope is that he and everyone who thinks and acts like him will soon come to their senses or we vote these kind folk out and replace them with people who will do what needs to be done for the good of people and our planet.

Be remarkable
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Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finding Purpose: What great leaders know and you need to find out

“We need your daring; we need your enthusiasm; we need your energy; we need your imagination; a willingness to follow your passions regardless whether they lead to fortune and fame and a commitment into doing what’s meaningful to you. What helps others? What makes a difference in this world? To find the greatness that lies within each of us. Don’t stop adding to your body of work.”

President Barack Obama
Your body of work is never done
ASU’s 2009 Spring Commencement Ceremony

Do you feel like you barely have time to deal with work, rest and play? In the hustle and bustle of 21st century life, do you feel you run out of time to find the greatness that lies within each of us? Do you find yourself asking how am I supposed to find my purpose?

In a Differencemakers Masterclass webinar, I will be sharing my thoughts on "Finding Purpose". I would love you to join me and explore the possibilities for you.

Places are limited to 50 so it is advisable for you to register in advance via the DimDim widget below. A 'quick start' user guide presentation is also available at

If you do find all the places have gone - please email me - I will be happy to run another one.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Know what you know

The tacit knowledge in your organization is a powerful strategic asset, but, being invisible, is often overlooked. Become attuned to your tacit knowledge and create new possibilities for products, services, methods and processes.

Knowledge gained from experience is “tacit knowledge”.

Your organization is unique. It is a product of the path it has followed and the people that are in it. No other firm has precisely what yours has. “What you have” includes your collective wisdom –knowledge and know-how. There is a hidden source of competitive advantage embedded in how you do what you do.

How can you become attuned to your firm’s tacit knowledge?

When you have finished a complex or unusual project, don’t just move straight on to the next thing. Debrief to see what everyone has learned as a result. Take a broad view of learning. It’s not just about information but also about methods, strategies, ways of working with clients, approaches to negotiation and other key skills. What made the team work well together? What could have been done better? How could the learning be applied in future matters or across the firm as a whole?

What do you know about the work being done by others in your organization? What interesting approaches have been developed? Could these be adapted for use in other parts of the business? Are there particular elements that could be usefully applied in other contexts?

Knowledge is not static but always increasing. As a leader, encourage others to reflect on what they have learned, and to become attuned to the collective wisdom in your organization.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

CSR Reporting Best Practice

Cindy Mehallow of Triple Pundit has put together some excellent insights about CSR reporting including some great work being done by FedEx and Gap.

Please read Cindy’s blog with the links here.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The size of the crowd matters

Last weekend I had the opportunity to speak for a not-for-profit organisation. I wasn't being paid a fee, but the organisers allowed me to sell products. I decided to use it as a fund-raising presentation for Samata Sarana, a charity I support in Sri Lanka.

I had a $100 package for sale, including some e-book downloads and tickets to two webinars. I couldn't decide whether to offer it at the special event price of $50 or $20. I knew that offering it at $20 would get more takers, but would they be enough more to make up for the lower price?

In the end, I chose $20. I wanted more people to take up the offer, not only because I thought I would make more money for the charity, but also because it would get more people into my network.

Sometimes the size of the crowd matters more than what they paid to be there. It can create a buzz in the audience, it gives you more people to share your message with, it increases your network, it creates more possibilities for testimonials and referrals, and so on.

This isn't always the case, and I'm not saying you should always reduce your price to get more takers. But sometimes it's exactly the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Have a vision

If you want to make change, you must be able to explain WHY you want it and why others would want it too. An inspiring vision for the future motivates you
to try new things in order to achieve it, and elevates your work above the daily

Businesses often lack an overarching vision. A former lawyer puts
it like this:
“As a bright-eyed young lawyer joining the profession in the early 90’s, like many
of my colleagues I had grand ideas about making a difference. We soon
discovered that there was no bigger inspirational picture to buy into, or, if there
was, it was paid lip service in deference to budgets and billing. So it was no
surprise that many of my colleagues slipped into the competitive malaise of
focusing on their promotion prospects and individual bonuses. It is equally no
surprise that the term “passionate lawyer” is close to an oxymoron. It is hard to
be inspired by a pure profit motive.” *

This would apply to many other types of business, not just law.

Everyone in the business needs to understand the strategy; where the
firm is headed. Share this information; don’t keep it a secret. Otherwise, how can
your people make suggestions that will move the business in the right direction?

Do you have a vision or philosophy? Do you believe in it? Does it excite you?
Speak from the heart and let your enthusiasm show, to help people buy into your vision.

*Andrew Hughes, Team Building: Establishing a new playing field

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Difference makers tear down walls

On November 9 we witnessed celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – a wall that separated, fortified, restricted, divided. Depending on your point of view, the Wall ‘protected citizens and safeguarded a frontier’ and it was a ‘symbol of the suppression of human rights’.

Other physical walls exist around the world, and they continue to be built or extended, serving similar purposes to the Berlin Wall. Some are hotly contested. These physical walls reflect powerful invisible walls, the ideological, economic and social barriers we build in our minds to divide, separate and restrict others.

Difference makers often achieve results by challenging invisible walls. I recently interviewed Colin Slater OAM, founder of Sing Australia and finalist for Australian of the Year. Colin deliberately made his choirs inclusive. He accepts everyone, regardless of their singing ability. To join some choirs you have to be able to read music, sing in tune and commit to turning up each week. These are walls, barriers, that prevent many people enjoying the pleasure of singing. Colin has analysed why people are reluctant to sing and built a suit of tools to get rid of people’s excuses (walls) for not singing. Allowing anyone in to his choirs does create challenges, but the value of inclusiveness is more important.

What invisible walls do you operate by that divide and restrict others?
What invisible walls are you challenging in order to make a difference?

Monday, November 23, 2009

How would you want to live your next life? I think Woody Allen may have the answer.

In my next life I want to live backwards.
You start out dead and get that out of the way.

Then you wake up in an old people's home feeling better every day.

You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day.

You work for 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.

You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school.

You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilties, you become a baby until you are born And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then ....

Voila - You finish off as an orgasm! I REST MY CASE

My Next Life - Woody Allen

Isn't it time we turned Maslow's hierarchy upside down?

Why wait until we have our food, shelter, social and esteem needs satisfied in that order before we go into self-actualisation?

Let's get 'dead' out of the way and wake up to feeling and leading better everyday. You never know, there might just be an orgasm at the end of it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Managing Leadership in Organisations

Leadership is no longer only an individual characteristic to be exhibited primarily by someone in a higher position; it is inherent to the organization, naturally expressed by all of its members, and managed by senior executives.

The concept of individual leadership is getting redundant because:
- It places on "leaders" untenable burdens that irresistibly lead to isolation, loss of direction – and disloyalty.
- It represents the surrender of our organizations, their owners, boards, executives and other stakeholders to the "leaders" and their "vision".

On the other hand, if managers are enabled to handle and utilise Leadership as a resource, they can effectively control organizations in all fields.

In his book Managing Leadership Jim Stroup writes, "Leadership is more efficiently managed through the kind of spontaneous and unheralded forms of leadership from deep within an organisation. Just as the advance of infantry across the battlefield depends on the prompting of a comparatively small number of individuals acting according to circumstances and their ability to seize the moment, so too do large organisations progress by the smaller stimuli provided by employees, technicians or administrators, within the organisation who are much closer to customers or to whatever constitutes the sharp-end of their business."

In managing leadership, the emphasis is on:

- Organisation's objectives: The organization defines the framework objectives systematically, so they can be fulfilled
- Indicator and objective system: The indicator and objective system structures and spreads business to all levels
- Stakeholders' needs: To know if stakeholders have received it
- External communication: To carry out all the activities so that our brand is transmitted appropriately and we receive feedback.
- Culture of excellence: To promote a culture based on achieving excellence in all fields of management and to involve people.

These dynamics would enable everyone to: -
- learn leadership skills
- apply them constantly to themselves
- take responsibility for their own actions and decisions
- partner with others as equals, rather than seniors and subordinates.

This view of leadership:
1. Unleashes the leadership from within the organization towards achieving remarkable results.
2. Frees senior managers from the pressure of doing something extraordinary and drives them to do run the organisation extraordinarily.
3. Enables them to return to their principle duty of managing the organization - including the leadership inherent to it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Al Gore could become first carbon billionaire

I read with interest last week that if Al Gore gets his way, and pushes through laws that support his climate change policy, he stands to become a billionaire due to his investments in green-tech technology.

Is it a problem that he will profit from the very policies he's pushing? Not necessarily, because he is acting as a private citizen, not an elected member of government. So of course here's entitled to make money from it.

And does his financial benefit taint the quality of his argument? Again, not necessarily, though some disclosure of his financial interests would have been more honest, and would have prevented any possible scepticism over his motives.

So let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

But I wonder whether the Gore supporters - and indeed, Gore himself - who will brush this potential conflict of interest aside (and could reasonably do so) will be equally forgiving when attacking the other side. For example, will they still argue that research funded by oil companies is unreliable and biased?

This isn't for or against global warming. This is about clear thinking. It's about consistency and double standards. The next time you hear somebody dismiss research funded by oil companies or statements made by executives of those companies - purely because of the source - ask them whether they're equally critical of Gore; and if not, why not? They can't have it both ways.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How long is a piece of 32cm string? Why are these ways of measuring a piece of string also a measure of your leadership?

There is much we can learn about leadership from trying to measure a piece of string. I recently saw a documentary on trying to measure the length of a 32cm string. I found it fascinating and decided I would share the leadership reflections that it triggered.

Measuring a piece of string is not as easy as it sounds. It is a mathematical and a physics problem first considered about 5000 years ago. But science alone has not solved this problem. A great deal of philosophical thinking has been applied to this conundrum. How long is a piece of string is not a simple question. In trying to measure a piece of string, we discovered

  1. The whole of the human race can be compacted down to the size of a sugar cube
  2. The string can be infinitesimally small
  3. Fundamental building blocks to life can be at many places at the same time
  4. The string only exists because we are measuring it
  5. The more you measure the string, the longer it gets
  6. The string can be infinite in length

1. The Standard Measures (string length = 32cm)

The challenge with ‘measuring’ is that you want the measurement standard to be the same and stable for everyone. In the UK’s National Physics Laboratory, they have a metal ‘Standard Metre Rule’. The metal is made from 90% platinum and 10% iridium – discovered 200 years ago to be the most stable combination of materials under every conceivable environmental pressures and stresses.

Measuring the piece of string will only be as accurate as the scale you can read off the Standard Metre Rule.

Leadership Reflection #1

Can we come up with the ‘same and stable’ standards for measuring leadership? What should be the leadership equivalent of ‘90% platinum and 10% iridium’? i.e. something that can withstand every conceivable environment pressures and stresses. What combination of values, virtues, ethics, hope, principles etc works best?

2. Speed of Light Measure (string length = 319.445mm)

Using the speed of light can produce a much more accurate measure. However, for the measure to take place the string needed the help of a reflective surface to bounce light off the two ends of the string. The dull surface of the string doesn’t work.

Leadership Reflection #2

How reflective are you as a leader? Is your leadership like the string … dulled and can’t be measured. Perhaps you need the help of reflection (or a reflector) to make sense of your leadership?

3. Fractal Measure (String length = infinite)

Using a ruler to measure distance on a map compared to using a map wheel results in different results. That is because a map wheel can follow the contour lines much more accurately. In effect, the map wheel zooms into the detail. However, in the mathematical science of measurement, the more detail you reveal and the longer your length becomes (there’s a joke here about men looking at their private part – but we won’t go there). This is a branch of mathematical science called Fractals.

Fractals are mathematic repetitive shapes that look the same no matter how zoomed in they are. Their shapes are repeated over and over again. A piece of string can be seen as a fractal shape because the closer you look at a string, the more crinkles there are. So, if you had a small enough map wheel to trace all the crinkles – the string could indeed be infinite in length.

Leadership Reflection # 3

Do you exhibit ‘Fractual Leadership’? Does who you are and what you stand for remain the same – no matter how closely you are scrutinized. Does what you stand for retain it’s shape no matter how much others ‘zoom in’ on you? In other words, really deep down, are you the same person as the one you project externally?

4. Atomic Measure (String length = infinitesimally small)

Surely, if we measure the string using the smallest unit possible - the atom – we will get the definitive answer. Sadly, no. The atomic level is when things get really complicated.

Most of the atom consists of space. The only real mass is the nucleus. If we took out all the spaces that make up a human being, the entire human race would be reduced to the size of a sugar cube. So, you won’t even find the space if we just measured using the mass we can see from the atom.

The point is, we are made up of space … space is important.

Leadership Reflection #4

How much are you valuing space? Space to think. Space to learn. Space to explore possibilities. Space to change. Is your leadership thinking cluttered? What, in your head, do you need to get rid of in order to make space?

5. Quantum Measure (String length = don’t know)

Quantum mechanics tells us that the particles in the string can be in many places at once. The Interference Pattern experiment of shooting one photon at a time demonstrates this. What this means is that the fundamental building blocks of the universe don’t have fixed positions. Therefore, using fixed positions to measure something is not a good idea anymore (not just at the quantum mechanics level, but at any level)

Without fixed positions, quantum mechanics gives a totally different perspective on ‘observation’ – which is … ‘observation’ is something that is really only there when we are there to see it. By measuring the string – and seeing it being measured – the string has a length. It doesn’t have a length until you actually look at it. So, in the world of quantum mechanics, reality doesn’t exist until we are observing it. The act of observing it creates a reality. What an ambiguity!

Leadership Reflection #5

Is your leadership real? Does your leadership exist when no one is there to see it? Are you violating the fundamental principles that create the human being – that we are made of building blocks with no ‘fixed positions’? What are your fixed positions? What realities are you creating? When you interact with your environment (family, friends, colleagues, business, planet, community), what is the environment’s observation of you? Can you live with ambiguity? If not, why not – why are you not able to live with ambiguity when your living cells are a walking manifestation of ambiguity?

So, how long is a piece of string? How does your leadership measure up?

The greatest movement on earth by Paul Hawken

Great insights about the greatest movement on earth by Paul Hawken, one of the great social and environmental justice leaders in the world today.

A must watch video.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Please affirm the charter for compassion

On the 12th November The Charter for Compassion was offically launched. I encourage you to join me and thousands of people (hopefully millions) in affirming the charter and living its words. It’s just one page. Please read and affirm here.

Be remarkable
Founder Differencemakers Community
Partnering passionate people to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Fired Up

Want to turn your business into a cauldron of innovation?

Then BE fired up!

Moods and emotions are contagious. Do something each day to keep yourself
energized, enthusiastic, optimistic – ready to innovate!

Leaders set the tone in an organization. People look to their leaders for clues as
to how they should spend their time and energy. If you are narrowly focused, others will be too.
If you seem downcast and weary, that feeling will spread throughout the organization.

Delegate your work so that you have some time for recreation. Take an interest
in the world around you. You live in the same world as your customers; what is
happening in it? Paying attention to emerging trends will provide ideas for new
ways to help them.

Meet new people, for example by attending networking events. Expose yourself
to the diverse perspectives and beliefs that new acquaintances offer.

Go to more seminars; not just the ones that are directly relevant to your regular
field of activity. Engage your curiosity and stimulate your mind by exploring other domains. Actively listen and participate, with a determination to discover
something of value to you.

Visit new places. Travel exposes you to new norms, and it makes you question
your assumptions about the way things should be done.

Read more books, and broaden the range of subjects that you read about. Find
some interesting podcasts that you can listen to while you drive, wait or exercise.

When you widen your field of view and see new possibilities, you can inspire others to make a difference.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What do you do after you 'Decide to Lead'

'Decide to Lead' - A much acclaimed quote these days. As mentioned in my earlier post on 'Everyone can be a Leader', the willingness to lead is the critical primer required to start the journey.

Are you sure you have decided?

Just tick this checklist to make sure you are up to it:

1. You know that it is risky and are ready to take risks.
2. The thought of leading comes to you naturally and you are not being forced into it.
3. You are sure of the intent. Whatever your goals are, be sure that they will give you happiness on their fulfilment.
4. You know that you cannot do it alone, and have created space for your team/support system to fit in.
5. The ultimate objective is to benefit the others also, not only yourself.

So, if you have ticked the above, you are ready to lead. Here is the check list (seems so easy, but isn't) for the next crucial phase, i.e., what do you do after you decide to lead? Here are 10 points that should give you an idea of the challenge that lies ahead: -

1. Master the Basics. Honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, character, competence, are things we all know since school days, but fail to implement in our daily lives. The best part is that they are for free!

2. Align yourself to your cause. Know your natural compass and the direction it points towards. Find something that you would like to achieve in that direction.

3. Do a system scan(introspect) to identify any errors/viruses. Make a plan to deal with the report(find a solution that suits you, ranging from meditation to medication).

4. Have a mentor/coach/guide or even a confidante handy for the journey. It may be your best friend, your school-teacher whom you have been in touch, your wife or even your ex-boss.

5. Build your team. Many leaders think that their inspiration alone will work to get them their teams and followers. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to hunt, select, motivate, engage and improve this bunch of players who are going to make it happen for you.

6. Take your team along. Light their torch as well. Nothing can be more frustrating for the people who are with you, to find that you are not with them.

7. Start managing your leadership(I need a separate post to explain this. Let me know if you want me to).

8. Maintain your balance between health, career, family and friends. This is so important, not only as a support but also as a back-up, should things not work out as planned. At least you would have other things to keep you engaged and happy.

9. Create milestones. Look around, milestones are happening everyday - seasons are changing, children are growing bigger, promotions are happening, technology is changing the world, its just that we do not take notice. Start now and record these.

10.Pause every now and then and relish where you have reached.

There may be more things on the 'to do' list that I may have missed out, please go ahead and contribute.