Sunday, January 30, 2011

Your Difference Making Mantra for 2011

A few years back my colleague sent me an article by Guy Kawasaki’s on mantra vs. mission statement. Guy, a former Apple Evangelist and now a Venture Capitalist, is an ardent supporter of individuals and organizations having mantras rather than mission statements. It was no surprise that my knowing colleague had sent this to me. The idea of having a mantra for the New Year appealed almost instantaneously! My Indian DNA quite relished this concept and could contemplate the many possibilities.

I began to explore the “Mantra for the year idea” with some of my leadership development clients when discussing their goals and vision for the year ahead. What unfolded in the coaching sessions was interesting. I noticed that many of my coachees already had some existing theme in their coaching conversations with me. And not too long after introducing the idea of having a personal mantra for the year, we would arrive at something they liked and felt they owned. Some examples of their mantras include: taking decisive action, having effortless flow, possibility thinking, being my best, mindfulness, creating massive value, challenge and stretch and greater engagement!

You can also have sub-mantras for the month. My friend and colleague, Gihan Perera, who helps business owners succeed on-line, reminded me of the value of a monthly focus recently. Gretchen Rubin, the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Happiness Project” also gave herself monthly focus including “attitude,” “mindfulness”, “marriage.”

Mantras are effective because they tap into what is important to us at the core level of our value base. Compared to the more formal mission statements, mantras tend to be powerful because they hit the mark almost instantaneously. It engages the right brain as well as the heart and spirit along with left-brain thinking – the best of our IQ, EQ and SQ. And like our core value base, we can resort to our mantras during the year when we are challenged, stretched and or need to make a decision.

In such instances, good questions to ask include “what truly matters here?” “What do I stand for in this situation?” and or “In light of my mantra, what might be the best decision here?” Your mantra could help you navigate your way from a perspective you may not have had previously. Or just use your mantra for a more conscious, aware and engaged daily life.

According to the Vedas – ancient scriptures or revelation of the Hindu teachings, Sanskrit mantras with their unique sounds backed by one’s mental intent have been known to have immense power.

Your success mantra for 2011:

1) Have you noticed any emerging theme for you this year?

2) What might be an apt mantra and touchstone for you in 2011?

3) And the mantra for this month? Next month?

4) What might be 3 -5 sub-tasks/concepts which will break down your
monthly mantra into doable bits? Gretchen Rubin – for January’s theme - Vitality ( boost energy) had – go to sleep earlier, exercise better, toss, restore, organize, tackle a nagging task and act more energetic.

5) How will you keep this alive and top of mind for you? A 3M sticky on your computer, daily review, morning meditation, checks points during the day, or something more visual?

Be experimental. Play with the mantra until it feels right for you. Finally, insight alone may not be enough. However, insight combined with “behaviour change” will result in you achieving your desired outcomes.

Use your mantras powerfully to spur the changes you desire. And before long you would have chanted your way through another successful year!

Jasbindar Singh is a Coaching Psychologist based in Auckland, New Zealand -

Small talk that can be significant

My most viewed slideshare, describe your strategy in six words, tells the story of how I began to help my clients develop unique strategies, get buy-in to them, and significantly increase the likelihood of execution.

Since producing the slideshare I have discovered perhaps the originator of the six word concept, Larry Smith.

Larry Smith's Six Word Project from PopTech on Vimeo.

And recently one of my favourite authors, Dan Pink has had an incredible response to asking his readers, What’s your sentence?

The amazing growth of Twitter, TED talks and Pechakucha are further examples that small talk can be significant.

Still, my favourite significant small talk occurs when authentically I say and hear, please, thank you, and I love you.

What is your favourite small talk that you would regard as significant?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The law of attraction is not a secret

I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about the law of the attraction made popular by the extraordinary sales success of The Secret DVD and book, and the so-called channelings of Esther Hicks.

We concluded that the law of attraction has become another thing people grasp at to be successful when the point is become a better person and success follows.

We reflected on the Jim Rohn line:

Success is not something we attain, it is something we attract by the person we become.

and this from Harold Whitman

Do not worry about what the world needs, but find out what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs, is people who have come alive.

I would be very interested in your thoughts. Please email me or get in touch.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Global Financial Crisis (GFC) - what crisis?

As far as I can tell not one person has been held to account for the GFC. I am surprised that many executives haven’t been jailed.

And from what I can tell from my research the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. The salaries some CEO’s receive tells the story vividly.

Many CEOs receive a salary package that is more than 300 times their lowest paid employee. In my view no one person is worth this.

Even JP Morgan, one of the most successful bankers in history, and not someone whose actions I would regard as a heroic, believed that no CEO should earn any more than 20 times the wage of the lowest paid employee.

What’s going on?

Perhaps Warren Buffett, whose actions as a CEO I would regard as a heroic, has the right perspective. His salary is $100,000 pa and has been for 30 years!

I recommend you read the Why Sky-High CEO Pay is Bad Business article by John Mackey the Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market one of the worlds best organisations by any measurement.

I would be very interested in your thoughts. Please email or get in touch with me.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

Looking for inspiration to change what’s normal in your life and work?
I can help you via a tailored talk, meaningful and measurable mentoring, a changing what’s normal program or your participation in a Master-class.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Top 10 On-Line Trends for 2011

Each year, my friend Chris Pudney and I make 10 predictions about what will be hot in the world of technology. Join us for our annual report on the top on-line trends for the next 12 months.

Listen to the podcast here:

MP3 File

Subscribe to the podcast here.

Here are our 10 predictions:
  1. The Resurgence of Reading: There’s no doubt video has been the hot on-line medium for the past few years, but we think 2011 will see a resurgence of (gasp!) the written word.
  2. Email is Dead (NOT!): Rumours of email's death have been greatly exaggerated. Business communication is not really being conducted to any significant degree via social networks or SMS.
  3. The Power (if not the Wisdom) of Crowds: Deal-of-the-day Web sites like turn the disintermediation model on its head. They sit between the customer and the supplier, but in a highly value-added way.
  4. Facebook is "the" Social Network: Facebook will continue to be the dominant social network during 2011, and other networks will have to settle for catering to niche demographics. However, there is much room for innovation in social networking so the door remains open.
  5. More Out of Office Workers: More and more organisations will start embracing different Out of Office workstyles for their people - it's feasible, desirable and inevitable.
  6. Enterprise Cloud Computing: We’ll start to see more private, packaged cloud services aimed at enterprise customers.
  7. The Year of the Tablet: Kudos to Apple for breaking new ground with the iPad in 2010. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is hot on its heels, and both will face stiff competition from other manufacturers.
  8. Mobile Trends: Android will dominate; smartphones will become even smarter; and smartphones will become the default for mobile phones.
  9. Online Sales: E-commerce has been rising steadily over the last decade, but we have reached a tipping point, where on-line selling has
    gone mainstream.
  10. Politics: A Tangled Web: The Internet will increasingly become a political battlefield: governments around the world will
    attempt to censor, regulate and control the Internet; while political activists will create and use Internet tools as a platform from which to attract support for their respective causes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

To stem the rising tide of inequality... ACTION

I was reading comments from an article posted on the topic of the increasing gap between equality and inequality in the world. There were many wonderful ideas and opinions that were shared yet there seemed to be something missing within the many threads of the discussion.

What was missing was the simply our need to act.

Of course, it is one thing to state the need for action and quite another to know what action is best to take! For example there are thousands of people throughout the world creating “actions” to help reduce the gap between the rich and the poor yet the gap between equality and inequality in the world is widening at an alarming rate. So what should we do?

One type of action is through creating new laws, new proclamations, more non-profits and businesses to transfer “things” and money to those who need it most, books written, research undertaken, and government “watchdogs” expanded. This is the prevailing model and all are extremely important.

A second type of action is teaching individuals, organizations, businesses, families and public servants how to think differently, especially how to create new realities and world views. It is also critical that each of us understand that we have the power within ourselves and with each other to find our way upward. For even among us large inequalities exist.

Notice that I changed from speaking about “them” to speaking about “us”. For if we do not deeply believe that we can change our lives and create our future; then we cannot help those who are struggling to survive in the world. If we do not absolutely believe we can create a new future for ourselves, we will be unable to truly help those who are struggling to survive. If we do not believe that we can change our reality, then all of the actions of the first type will be for naught.
This is the type of action that is needed most right now in the world.

We must not be lulled into looking outward for something to save us. We must learn to look inward and tap that power that can create new lives and realities. It is not a “we can do it by ourselves mentality, rather it is a we can do it together though combined individual thoughts, beliefs, and actions. If we each believe we can, then by our individual actions, together we will change our world.

Both type of actions are necessary, but the second type is the most critical if we are to become more than we are today. Even with the best laws and organizations, we will not be able to stem the tide of poverty or inequality if the “have less” in the world do not believe in themselves and their own ability to make a difference and create their own future.

Of course most of us are choosing actions to help change the world. Yet we must constantly ask ourselves if the actions we are taking are truly making a difference in the world’s inequality or is it just a good business where we feel good yet in the end nothing has really changed. We must constantly question ourselves and our world view and not presume we have the answers, for the moment we think we do, we become part of the problem. We must find ways of empowering people to build from the energy and power within them that which they need… and we must find ways of getting this empowerment and knowledge to those in the world that do not have the funds to go to one of our programs or buy one of our webinars. We must ask ourselves if we are truly making a difference, and then have the courage to act in new ways in order to bring about the change we wish to see in the world.

The world can become more equal in each of our ability to live lives that matter and have meaning. But it will take action, not words.

May you all, by your actions this day, truly make a difference...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Real leaders are readers regardless of reading formats

ebooks outsell hardcover books on Amazon. See July 2010 press release here. for some very interesting statistics.
They are significant considering Amazon has been selling books for 15 years and Kindle ebooks for 3 years!

I have read at least one book a week for more than 35 years and while I have helped Amazon increase their ebook sales!, I still prefer to have a hardcover book in my hands!

I also enjoy reading book summaries. My favourites are those produced by The Book Rapper, Geoff McDonald.

So my reading habits are:
1. hardcover books
2. ebooks
3. Geoff’s book raps

I would be interested to learn about your reading habits.

Writing and publishing ebooks myself and with other people has been a significant business building tool for me. Some examples are here.

Please download my recommended reading lists by clicking here, and putting ceo in the password box.

Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What is stopping you from achieving your aspirations?

All human beings have aspirations. Most people do not achieve them. In my view this is because most of us do not feel we are worthy of achieving what we aspire to.

A key to being able to feel worthy is our willingness to be vulnerable.

I gained much from this TEDx talk by Brene Brown about being vulnerable.

I would be very interested in your thoughts about vulnerability as a key characteristic of real leadership and differencemaking.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

If you need inspiration to change what’s normal in your life and work then please call me without delay. I can help you via a tailored talk, meaningful and measurable mentoring, a changing what’s normal program or your participation in a Master-class.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Peace may not be what you think it is

This 10 minute 52 seconds TED talk by Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams will inspire you to find ways to collaborate to change what’s normal.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Will CSV supersede CSR?

I am celebrating 20 years in business for myself this year. And since the beginning I have been helping my clients to build and grow businesses that are good for people, our planet, and for profit.

A key to my modis operandi has been helping my clients to discover a shared view about now, where, why, how, who, what, and when, and the creation of shared value for all stakeholders of their businesses.

In my 20 years I have come across many operators who have wanted to embrace CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) for all the wrong reasons or have taken the view that CSR is a must do in order to maintain a good reputation or that CSR is a nice thing to do because it can be a way of giving back or doing good.

A few enlightened leaders have taken a different view. They see responsibility as integral to their growth strategies. These folk are my kind of people and it is working with such people that brings me joy because creating shared value is at the top of their agendas.

So you can imagine my delight when I read a Harvard Business Review article recently about creating shared value and referring to it as The Big Idea! The article is written by none other than highly regarded strategy guru Michael E. Porter and a colleague Mark R. Kramer. You can read the article here.

Here is an excerpt:

Companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together. The recognition is there among sophisticated business and thought leaders, and promising elements of a new model are emerging. Yet we still lack an overall framework for guiding these efforts, and most companies remain stuck in a “social responsibility” mind-set in which societal issues are at the periphery, not the core.

The solution lies in the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Businesses must reconnect company success with social progress. Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. It is not on the margin of what companies do but at the center. We believe that it can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking.

A growing number of companies known for their hard-nosed approach to business—such as GE, Google, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, NestlĂ©, Unilever, and Wal-Mart—have already embarked on important efforts to create shared value by reconceiving the intersection between society and corporate performance. Yet our recognition of the transformative power of shared value is still in its genesis.

Realizing it will require leaders and managers to develop new skills and knowledge—such as a far deeper appreciation of societal needs, a greater understanding of the true bases of company productivity, and the ability to collaborate across profit/nonprofit boundaries. And government must learn how to regulate in ways that enable shared value rather than work against it.

Capitalism is an unparalleled vehicle for meeting human needs, improving efficiency, creating jobs, and building wealth. But a narrow conception of capitalism has prevented business from harnessing its full potential to meet society’s broader challenges. The opportunities have been there all along but have been overlooked. Businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues we face.

The moment for a new conception of capitalism is now; society’s needs are large and growing, while customers, employees, and a new generation of young people are asking business to step up.

The purpose of the corporation must be redefined as creating shared value, not just profit per se. This will drive the next wave of innovation and productivity growth in the global economy. It will also reshape capitalism and its relationship to society. Perhaps most important of all, learning how to create shared value is our best chance to legitimize business again.

If these words delight you as much as they do me then I suggest you are going to have a great year in 2011 and beyond.

Will CSV (Creating Shared Value) supersede CSR? I expect it will and along with it a changing of what’s normal for the betterment of the world.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

If you need inspiration to change what’s normal in your life and work then please call me without delay. I can help you via a tailored talk, meaningful and measurable mentoring, a changing what’s normal program or your participation in a Master-class.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't Rely On Google Alone for Getting Traffic to Your Blog

Blogging is one of the easiest and fastest ways to publish material on-line. Every blog post becomes a Web page itself, which increases your Internet footprint and makes you more attractive to Google. But Google traffic alone isn't the only way to get visitors to your blog.

Here are some other ways to get "eyeballs" to your blog:
  • Link to it from your Web site. This seems obvious, but many Web site owners don't have a link from their Web site to their blog, or vice versa.
  • Every time you write a blog post, tweet it. You can use a free service like to automate this process.
  • Subscribe to other blogs about your topic area and comment on them whenever they mention your topic. This helps build a relationship with those bloggers and their readers. The curious ones will visit your Web site and blog.
  • Find and participate in on-line communities on these topic areas. Again, this is a way of establishing your reputation among the community of people in your field.
  • Put your blog address - in addition to your Web site address - in your e-mail signature.
  • Make it appear automatically in your Facebook profile. Facebook has apps to show your blog posts automatically on your profile.
  • Add a link to it in your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn, too, can show your blog posts on your LinkedIn page.
  • Make it appear automatically in other on-line communities. If you're a member of other on-line communities, check whether they will allow you to show your blog posts on your profile page. Look for the ability to add your "RSS feed" - that's your blog.
  • Add a link at the bottom of your newsletter, so regular e-zine readers know about your blog. You can even encourage them to visit the blog to add their comments to a topic you mention in the newsletter.
  • If you publish a podcast (an audio newsletter), write a blog post every time you issue a podcast episode, with additional information - for example, links to Web sites you mention in the podcast. Encourage your listeners to visit the blog for this information, and to leave their comments.
  • If you participate in on-line forums, include your blog address in your forum signature (if appropriate).
The point is, it's not just one thing. It's about being passionate about your area of expertise, and then you'll naturally find ways to promote your blog.

Is your slogan authenticated by your story?

Australia’s big 4 banks have interesting slogans.

The Commonwealth Bank’s slogan is Determined to be different and every day their slogan features in numerous TV advertisements.

I find the slogan odd. I don’t want to do business with people determined to be different; I want to do business with people who are different. And my personal experience of this bank is that they are not different, rather they are the same as every other bank!

Is your slogan authenticated by your story, or is it aspirational rather than actual?

When stories don’t match slogans brand value suffers. It is all very well to be aspirational, as determined to be different is, however being aspirational when it comes to our slogans, tag lines, or value propositions, is for me a dangerous practice. Of course when our one line positioning statement is actual and present tense, and we don’t deliver, we are in even more trouble!

Think very carefully about what you say about yourself and your organisation. Only say what you will deliver.

The ANZ Bank has the slogan is We live in your world. I have no idea what this means so they are unlikely to attract me as a customer.

Westpac Bank says We’re a bank you can bank on. I have no idea what this means either. I bank with them more because I have for many years rather being attracted by anything they say.

Do the people who you want to be your customers/clients get your slogan?

The National Australia Bank has the slogan more give, less take. I find this also an odd slogan for a bank when most people think of banks as more take, less give! Of course if National Australia Bank is delivering, then they would be standing out from the crowd. I can’t comment, I am not one of their customers.

Is your slogan authenticated by your story?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
The Change Master - catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

If you need inspiration to change what’s normal in your life and work then please call me without delay. I can help you via a tailored talk, meaningful and measurable mentoring, a changing what’s normal program or your participation in a Master-class.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An artist, a dream and creating your future 'in action'!

Inspiring stories don't have to come from far away places. On many occasions they can come from a single degree of separation. This article is about a family friend, Camilla. My wife and I met Camilla through our local primary school where our children go to school together. Camilla has an inspiring story about creating the future that she desires. Camilla has two daughters and is an active mum.

Camilla's story
At heart, Camilla is an artist. Trained as a secondary school teacher, Camilla teaches Italian part time at a local private girls school. As her life unfolded and the pressures of family life grew, Camilla's art took a back seat in her life. Yet, deep down she wanted to see if she really had what it took to be a genuine artist - could she create an exhibition and sell her art?

When rare opportunities arose Camilla continued to paint her oils on canvas, producing at least a couple of paintings per year. On occasion friends and family would say to her, "Camilla, these paintings are so wonderful. They are bright and the colour combinations are amazing. You really should try to sell them."

Self doubt sat heavily on Camilla's shoulders for a long time. "No one would ever buy my paintings, they aren't good enough.", she would say to herself. This went on for many years. Then one day Camilla asked herself, "What do I really want?". Her answer was to "Have a go. You never know, maybe my dream could come true! I'm going to have an exhibition!".

Camilla's first step was to find out what was involved. Her research uncovered that she required 30 paintings, but she only had 12. So, with less than 12 months to prepare, Camilla set about creating a further 18 paintings. This is an important step in her process. When Camilla discovered that she was well short of the required number of paintings for an exhibition, she could have easily given up. Yet her clarity about why she was doing what she was doing it was such that quitting never entered her mind. "I just had to paint, it was as simple as that!" Camilla told me. This is the power of desired futures in action!

Later that year Camilla opened her exhibition at an art gallery in Glen Waverley, Melbourne, Australia. Her 30 paintings looked amazing as they adourned the walls of the gallery. Varying in size from 30 square centimetres to 1.5 metres by 1.8metres, Camilla was stunned when a single buyer bought a collage of her paintings. By the end of the exhibition, 22 out of her 30 paintings had been sold. I'm told that such a high number is extraordinary for a first time exhibitor at a local community gallery. It certainly looked impressive to walk around and see so many red dots (which means that theb painting had been sold) on her paintings.

Camilla is now preparing for her next exhibition. What is also interesting about her story is how she discovered that the energy that she gained from living her passion enabled her to get back into exercise and to increase her fitness. People often report how living their passion provides energy for the rest of their life. What is your passion? Are you living it, at least in some part of your life?

Camilla's story really is inspirational in the context that she had a dream and made it come true. No doubt a lot of effort went into creating her dream, and while it was terrific that she did sell her paintings, she genuinely states that it was the experience and the fact that she was having a go that was more important than selling her paintings. An added bonus was the look on her two daughters' faces. They were so proud of their mum that it cannot be put into words. And what do you think the lasting effect on them will be?

If you are interested in seeing Camilla's art, please check out Art By Camilla.

What are your examples of inspiring friends or family who are truly creating the future they desire?

Gary Ryan is the founder of Organisations That Matter and the OTM Academy. Gary guides people and teams in the development of an OTM Plan For Personal Success.
In 2010 Gary published his first book What Really Matters For Young Professionals!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

There is no such thing as a Black Swan!?

I've been reading a fascinating book titled The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The author introduces the subject in this way:
"Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists (and others extremely concerned with the coloring of birds), but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird." 
Taleb's point is that extreme events have huge roles in life. The book is not as concerned about the possibility of the exception, (the Black Swan) as it is about the role of the exceptional event. Black Swans are things that are unexpected, but they can also be the highly expected things that for some reason do not happen. Black Swans are things like:
  • The 9/11 attacks - they were a Black Swan for us, but they were not such for the terrorists.
  • The untimely death of a close relative.
  • The unplanned meeting of your future mate.
  • The invention of the microwave.
Taleb says that Black Swan logic "makes what you don't know far more relevant than what you do know." What you know can be inconsequential - the surprise and the disruption come from the things that you don't know, that you don't anticipate. If you protect against threats a-z, what's to say that the Black Swan won't be a 1,2 or 3? You might never have considered that a number might be a threat, and therein lies the impact.

Prevention (in the case of a negative Black Swan like 9/11) probably won't drive your name into the history books. If you succed in preventing a negative occurence the absence of the negative event will make you un-newsworthy. Ironic, isn't it? The crisis handlers get far more attention and acclaim than do the crisis averters.
On the positive, beneficial side of the Black Swan,

"almost no discovery, no technologies of note, came from design and planning - they were just Black Swans. The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves."
Taleb goes on to say that the strategy is to tinker as much as possible and try to collect as many Black Swan opportunities as you can. The reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky thanks to aggressive trial and error.

It may seem counter-intuitive not to want to know too much about a given topic. But Taleb says that when we learn we tend to deepen our grasp of what we already know - the Black Swans, the big changes, are coming from some other direction. By definition they are surprises with big impacts. So it follows that if you are investing time in thinking, more is gained by taking time to think about what you might not yet know.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Are you doing what you must to ensure your first quarter result in 2011 matches your dreams?

By the end of March every year normal people are wondering what happened because results dreamed of at the end of last year have not materialised.

This is because appropriate actions haven’t been taken in September, October, November, and December, and even before that!

No need for despair however. Act now and you can ensure your results on the 31st March 2011 exceed your dreams.

Meet with your team in the next 48 hours and do the following.

1. Agree on what the best possible 31st March 2011 team result looks like

2. Break down team goal into individual goals. This is easy of course if there is only you in your business!

3. Help each person complete a personal performance plan. A template is here.

4. Have appreciation conversations with people when they do well and accountability conversations when they don’t perform according to their plan. You need do nothing more than ask the questions outlined here and then keep your mouth shut. If there is just you in your business then get a family member, friend, or colleague to become your performance partner today and have them ask you the questions.

5. Celebrate achievements with individuals at the end of February and help them complete their personal performance plan for 1st April through 30th June 2011. A template for celebrating and upgrading plans is here. If there is just you in your business complete this process with your performance partner.

Some people tell me the above is too simple and won’t work.

Let me tell you that simple rarely means easy. And let me tell you something else. The people I know who take these 5 simple steps each quarter, regardless of country or culture, or industry, are outperforming the people who don’t by a staggering margin.

Normal people don’t do the above which is why they achieve normal results. Normal doesn’t cut it anymore.

Normal is why the world still hasn’t solved our biggest problems even though solutions to every single one are possible.

I have declared 2011 as the year of changing what’s normal for the good of yourself, other people, our planet, and for profit.

I hope you will join me in changing what’s normal.

All change is personal first and it begins with making an oath to never ever again be stupid or idiotic.

Someone said that the definition of stupidity is:
Expecting a different result by continuing to do the same old thing.

Someone else said that the definition of idiocy is:
Doing something different and still getting the same result.

If you need inspiration to change what’s normal in your life and work then please call me without delay. I can help you via a tailored talk, meaningful and measurable mentoring, a changing what’s normal program or your participation in a Master-class.

I work with passionate people who want to truly make a difference and not die wondering.

Together we can achieve results that will take your breath away.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Make the new year a new year

Happy New Year! How easily it rolls off the tongue. But will this year be really new, or just a re-run of previous ones?

You've probably heard it said that 20 years' experience could really be one year's experience, twenty times over. That could be true for some people, but not for you, right?

But what are you really doing to make this new year new? How much of what you do this year will just be a continuation from last year? You return from the holiday break to find the same problems, only they are more pressing now because the the time not spent in the office. It can seem like the only solution is to keep slogging at it.

How different the world of work is from the world of school. Particularly living as I do in Australia, the New Year really was a new year. The school (or Uni) year finished in November or December, and recommenced at some time between late January and early March. The new year brought with it new classes, new teachers, new books and stationery, sometimes even a new school. The new year always heralded a new beginning. Then I started working as a lawyer, and one year began to merge into another. The "school year" became a "work life" - just a continuous thread of pressing challenges.

When there is no natural break in your work, you need to create one in order to review where your work is taking you, and where you want to take it. Do you set your own goals, or simply let your employer set them for you? What are you planning to read this year? What courses are you planning to take? What skills do you want to improve? How many articles will you write, and on what topics? What do you want to be known for, and how are you going to achieve this?

Here are some tips which have helped me make each year different from the last:

1. Set aside time early in the new year to think about what you want to achieve in the coming year. If you can't face this on New Year's Day, then do it the day after.

2. Write a list of all the things you achieved last year. Go through your diary to refresh your memory. Seeing your achievements in writing will provide encouragement and build motivation to achieve more this year.

3. If you struggle to list a page of achievements, think seriously about whether you are in the right line of work. Humans need a sense of achievement to feel good about themselves. If your work is simply about earning an income, you might want to think about whether that will be satifying enough the longer term. Or think more deeply about the value you provide to your clients or employer, and reconceptualize the way you see your work.

4. Make a mindmap (diagram) setting out and linking visually all the things you want to work on this year. Tape it to the wall where you can see it, and check them off as you achieve them.

5. Make a list of all the things you have to look forward to in the coming year. These help to sustain you whilst you do the work.

6. Whilst you are feeling energetic and enthusiastic, enrol yourself in a course so you can learn something new or build on existing skills.

7. Collect references to books that look interesting, and order them.

8. Write down your goals - this is an old one, I know, but the act of writing does seem to clarify things and crystallize your intentions. Otherwise fleeting thoughts swim around in your mind and quickly disappear. Just half an hour of quiet time now with a notebook and pen could make all the difference by this time next year.

The power of stories in creative education and business

Stories are the linchpin of our cultures and social development. Moreover, they are the key to economic revival. Stories and our ability to enjoy and learn from them are essential at all stages of life. Stories give us insight into the experiences of others, into histories we can learn from and futures we need to navigate. The arts of story creation, storytelling and story sharing must be nurtured in our homes, pre-schools, business schools and the worlds beyond. Increasingly storytelling and story sharing are recognised as critical life skills for successful business, career and personal development as well as being an important literacy and communication skill.

One of my favourite stories is one I read with my young daughter, ‘That Pesky Rat’ by Lauren Child. The book is about a rat’s quest to become a pet and find an owner. It captured my daughter’s imagination from a very young age (leading to enactments of living in a crisp packet) and, indeed, mine (for one I have a new perspective on crisp packets!). It is a book about the importance of belonging, having a home and being loved. For me the ability to share stories is synonymous with the messages of this book: a story shared is a sign of care and storytelling is about wanting to be heard, to be loved and find a home – in the hearts of minds of others.

Stories enable us develop a strong connection with others, give us fresh perspectives and cognitive ‘food’. Given the challenges being faced in the business world and jobs market it is perhaps no surprise that the ancient art of storytelling is enjoying a renaissance as a way of enabling people to shine and reach out and connect with their audiences, customers, potential partners, collaborators and co-creators. Movements such as Get Storied – an online network - and creative networking events such as Speakeasy give people a forum for crafting and sharing their stories. These stories captivate the imaginations of others, inspire and can move us to new realms of understanding and being.

Stories and our ability to enjoy and learn from them are essential at all stages of life. Stories are the linchpin of our cultures, society and yes, let’s face it, our economy’s revival. Self-leadership is about developing self-confidence, self worth, creative and innovative thinking and strong communication skills. These skills are as crucial to the education of children and young people in schools as they are to people in business, navigating a career journey or pursuing other life goals.

Storytelling and receiving – the ability to listen to and interpret stories – play a critical role in enabling these skills to develop. The real magic occurs when the stories inspire others to take on the impossible. It is the same for the would-be entrepreneur, business leader, writer, artist, political or other leader as it is for a pre-school child creating their own imaginary world inspired by the tale of rat who slept in a crisp packet.

"‘…when I am tucked into my crisp packet, I look up at all the cosy windows and wonder what it would be like to live with creature comforts.’ That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child (2003) "

Wishing you a year rich in stories and inspiration,
Sara Knowles, Connect Create