Thursday, March 31, 2011

Leadership - Only Part of Creating Change

We are learning through the study of Quantum Physics that the "cause and effect" mentality we have grown up with is far from actual reality.

We have known nothing but the concept of cause and effect and it has seemingly served us well. Yet, now it has become a hindrance to understanding the role of leadership to creating change. Today, if there is positive change that has taken place, it must have come from an individual (leader) or group of leaders. Then in our rush to discover out how they did it we read their books, try to understand their thinking and do our best to imitate their actions into our own lives. For clearly, if can duplicate their methods (cause) we too will be able to create a similar result (effect). Unfortunately we are learning that the actual assumptions of what created the change may not be correct.

In short, the quantum world is teaching us that the only real things that are important are relationships. And though it is true than individual actions matter, individual actions by themselves are just a part of an overall convergence of relationships in the universe. The concept that by our own actions, we can change the world is obsolete. We can have IMPACT by our actions and we cannot participate in the universal play without action or thought, but the results that will be created will be in combination with billions of other actions known and unknown throughout the universe. The sooner we realize that our actions are intertwined with the actions of everyone and everything else, but closer we will be to understanding how to sustain ourselves in a universe that is chaotic and unpredictable.

Nature has always given us the sense of how things actually work for it is only those things that sensed the changes occurring around them and were sensitive of the relationships affecting them that have been able to adapt and change in order to survive. Those who blindly went on their way with the classic “what has been working has been good so far so why change” attitude have perished.

The other fascinating thing we are beginning to understand is that those things which have adapted and sustained themselves throughout all the changes, may look different from what they once were but at their core, the fractals making up their true essence are the same. This too has great learning for those wanting to understand leadership in today’s world. The lesson here is that what we are at our core (personal or corporate values and purpose) will stay intact even though what we do and our outward appearance may change.

So when thinking of leading in the world, remember that it is not just what you think and do that will have impact, but how your see and respond to the relationships that are affecting your every move. Those who become aware of the relationships within departments, management teams, families, competitors, and the world around them will have the best chance to survive. Sensing change from the relationships and choosing to adapt is critical. And with this knowledge comes an awareness that there are no “leaders” in the classic sense. There are only relationships.

Great service costs nothing - wooing and wowing is another matter

I had to get up at 3.30 am this morning in order to catch a flight in Auckland New Zealand so that I could make a meeting in Melbourne Australia, so last night I had an early dinner at Vapor’s Holiday Inn near Auckland Airport. Helen who served me did a great job and I told her so and also mentioned her name when I filled out the service questionnaire that is left on everyone’s table.

When I got to the airport Virgin Pacific’s computers were down however all their staff were great and handled a manual check-in well and we left on time. Great service costs nothing except a little effort!

Wooing and wowing however is another matter and it is not yet normal. What Helen from Holiday Inn and the folk at Virgin Pacific did is normal.

My colleague Paul Dunn is known internationally as ‘The Wizard of Wow.’ Paul will feature in this years changing what’s normal program.

In the Hong Kong intensive that kicks-off the program Paul will be exploring

how to link passion to your business so that your business truly 'radiates' and attracts people to it like a high-powered magnet.

how to set your business apart in stunningly simple ways so that you become the 'go-to' business — the one that most customers choose — in your category and broad location.

why what you do or even how you do what you do are increasingly irrelevant in today's ever fast-paced market.

Why it’s never about a business plan!

Why on the day you started your business, you made a crucial choice — one that might just be harming and hindering you each day.

why bad customers drive out good ones and how to prevent that happening.

how to add buzz, excitement and purpose to your business so that it builds. Effortlessly and simply.

the 6 'must-communicate' things post-GFC (and not one of them is price)

why 'normal' is the worst thing you can be

how to connect to new (and existing customers) in a way that makes them stick with you and spread the word about you

Please enjoy 19 minutes from Paul:

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Saturday, March 26, 2011

patterns in randomness: 2

An example of seeing patterns relates to the way we tend to segment data. If we are presented with the following data:


we may segment the data like this:


and infer that as x increases, y increases (i.e. x is correlated to y).

We must remember however that:

Correlation does not imply causation

Our segmentation of the data is totally arbitrary. If we split the data like this:


we would see no pattern at all.

This segmentation effect is common in stock markets where a falling stock with often hover around a psychologically significant number (1000, 5000 etc.) for some time before ‘breaking through’ or ‘recovering’. We must remember that these numbers are arbitrary segmentation points. If human psychology was not involved then there is no reason to assume any magical significance for 2000 rather than 2347.6

The way we naturally segment data can lead to incorrect decisions or to not making decisions when a different segmentation point would make the decision clear. Decision makers should carefully consider whether their segmentation points are arbitrary or whether other points would prove more useful.

Aricle link

Friday, March 25, 2011

When profit is a reason we confuse what with why and therefore our how’s are at best fuzzy!

I well remember the moment 20 years ago when I said publicly for the first time, profit is not a reason for being in business, profit is a result of being good at business.

I was speaking to a group of Chief Executives and although no-one laughed out loud there were plenty of smirks and internal chuckles!

20 years ago I was stating a notion I had. Today it is a firm conviction that I have seen to be true 100s of times over.

Now let me be crystal clear. I am not saying profit is bad or that we shouldn’t make a profit. Profit is good and if you aren’t making one in your business then something is seriously wrong with how you do business.

What I am saying is that profit is a result of being good at business not a reason for being in business. And to be confused about this means we get very fuzzy about how to’s and the consequence is we fail to perform at optimum levels. Paradoxically profits are less than they should be and therefore we are unable to reinvest appropriately in our business nor do what we really could for society.

In a groundbreaking book Start With Why Simon Sinek says: People don’t buy WHAT we do, they buy WHY we do it.

The philosophy Friedrich Nietzsche said: When we understand the WHY the HOW is easy!

Hear this: When our WHY's become clear, our HOW's become easy!

If you are not achieving the results you want in your business right now, more than likely you are not really clear about why you are in business. So Start With Why.

Here are some questions to answer that will help you get clear on why you are in business:

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What difference are you making to the communities in which your business operates?
What drives you?
What kind of legacy will you leave?
What is the purpose of your life?
What do you really care about?
How could you thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time?

I am in business to change what’s normal because I believe the status quo no longer serves humanity well. I’m with Seth Godin:
The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organization we care about.

Why are you in business?

If you are not really clear please consider joining my unique executive development program, a year of changing what’s normal.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How book publishing and selling has changed - how I bought Garr Reynolds' book The Naked Presenter

Yesterday I bought Garr Reynolds' excellent new book, The Naked Presenter. I'm an avid reader, so buying books is no big deal, right? So why am I blogging about it?

Because the buying process was so different than normal.

And yet, I think it's going to become the new normal.

I'll explain ...
  • I'm a big fan of Garr's other book Presentation Zen (I even created a video book review for it).
  • I follow Garr's blog Presentation Zen, which is full of high-quality content (which is important - otherwise I would have unsubscribed)
  • His blog post today mentioned the new book.
  • Because Garr had established trust through his first book and his blog, I knew the new book would be fabulous. And I didn't even need to read book reviews, read a sample, or anything like that (although those things would have been easy if I wanted them).
  • I clicked through to, where I could buy the print edition for US$15 plus postage (and a long wait for delivery); or the Kindle edition for US$9.99 (and instant delivery). No contest! I chose the Kindle edition.
  • I don't have a Kindle. But I do have the free Kindle app on my Samsung Galaxy Tab, so within minutes I had the book in my hands! That's the picture you see here.
I admit this is not the way most people buy books ... yet! But I strongly believe it's going to be that way soon. If you're an author, are you ready for this shift?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Living in a revolution

In another great talk here Sir Ken Robinson says we are living in a revolution particularly because of what is happening in technology, culture, and with resources.

He refers to a David Attenborough program on the BBC that asks and answers the question - how many people can our planet sustain? I was intrigued by the answers - 15 billion if we live like most people do in Rwanda and 1.2 billion if we live like most people do in North America!

Sir Ken also refers to a great website The Peaceful Planet.

What could you do today, this week, this month, this quarter, this year, to be more revolutionary and make a greater contribution to the sustainability of your world?

And what will you do?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what’s normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Earth Day

A month from today (April 22) is Earth Day. Will you be a silent observer or an active participant?

Created in 1970, the first Earth Day is considered by many as the birth of the environmental movement.

Earth Day 2011 is being organized around the theme of: A Billion Acts of Green. The concept is to get one billion pledges from individuals, organizations and corporations to live and act sustainably. The target date for registering these billion pledges on the A Billion Acts of Green website is the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.

Elements of the 2011 Earth Day campaign include:

Athletes for the Earth: gathering the voices of Olympic and professional athletes to create greater awareness worldwide for the environmental movement.

Trees for the Earth: efforts to support global reforestation.

Women and the Green Economy (WAGE): engaging women leaders in the creation and development of a global green economy.

Creating Climate Wealth: a gathering of 200 of the world's most successful entrepreneurs to generate ideas on how to solve climate change and create a green economy.

You can donate money to the cause, help power the movement through your social networks, and register your own company or local events at the Earth Day 2011 website.

Whatever you do.....don't be a passive observer. Join the millions of others making a difference for Planet Earth on April 22nd.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What would you do if you ran the world?

Cindy Gallop founded

She says The single biggest pool of untapped natural resource in this world, is human good intentions that never translate into action.

You can read a short version of Cindy’s story and 49 other great differencemaking stories in SXSW Pokes a free ebook from Seth Godin and the folks at The Domino Project.

Please download it here.

What have you intended that you haven’t yet acted on?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what’s normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Push me, Pull You - what kind of marketing do you do?

It seems we're all under more pressure these days. We're looking for results but it's tough out there - more sellers, fewer buyers. Our natural response is to push harder. More ads, door drops, cold calling, e-shots - push, push, push.

The problem is it's a broken system. There's too much noise out there, and we just end up ignoring stuff.

It's time for a different approach - a PULL approach. It's time to draw people in - the right people; ones who find something appealing in our message.

So the question now is "What are you saying that's worth listening to? What are you doing that's worth talking about?" This switches the focus away from the areas you're trying to target, to the quality of what you're doing. It's about getting back to the core, the 'story'.

The first problem is that many people don't fully understand what their story is.

Someone representing an accountancy firm would normally start off with, "Hi, my name's Cliff. I'm a tax accountant with *** and we're based in Manchester. We have a wide range of clients..." Dull and entirely forgettable.

Try this instead: "As accountants, we get really frustrated when we see owners who are essentially imprisoned in their own business, because they're getting drawn into work they shouldn't be doing. They're working incredibly hard but not getting the results they want. That's why we like to work closely with clients, not just looking after their tax returns but acting as a strategic partner. We encourage owners to focus their efforts on the right things, so they realise the true potential of their business and actually gain some personal benefit from all that blood, sweat and tears."

This is more of a 'why' approach and it's more likely to convey what kind of firm you are to deal with. It's more distinctive and is more likely to attract attention (see Simon Sinek's concept of The Golden Circle).

But again, they're only words - your words - and your audience might reasonably expect some proof. That's where your case studies come in.

You might claim to put customers as your no.1 priority but that's what everyone says! Far better to relate a story that's memorable and gets this across. A friend of mine who works for the John Lewis Partnership told me a wonderful story of when she was running the kitchen department at her store. A doctor and his wife were about to sign their lives away for the kitchen of their dreams when the husband threw a major spanner in the works. "Our house is inaccessible for delivery vehicles so I don't think we can go ahead," he explained.

My friend arranged a site visit and sure enough it was a complete nightmare - thick trees on one side of the house, a body of water on the other. Mission Impossible! Undaunted she came up with a novel solution - she hired a barge, parked it under a bridge, lowered the kitchen units one by one on to the boat and sailed the kitchen to the doctor's house!

The beauty of stories such as this is they allow the listener/reader to make their own mind up about the store's attitude to customer service. But more than that, it's memorable and gets passed on (as I'm doing now).

Many individuals and companies do great work, but they don't the recognize the true value of what they're doing. A receptionist who placates an irate customer and ultimately turns them into an advocate for the company is doing something remark-able (ie worth talking about). In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin describes this as 'art'. But for most people, it's simply lost in their job title. "That's just what I do."

It's vital to have a 'nose' for a good story. Try to capture these anecdotes (especially ones of before-and-after transformation) and make it easy for them to spread. Telling them well in the first place makes it easier for others to pass them on. But using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook gives your stories greater (and immediate) reach.

To conclude, it's not just a matter of pushing an unremarkable message harder and wider. Focus on what's at the core. What it is about the things you do and say that are worth paying attention to? Spend time understanding your own story. Improve how you tell it and look to cement your reputation in your chosen field. Try these pull strategies:

Start conversations through LinkedIn
Do interviews on YouTube
Speak at events
Organise things
Be a connector
Capture great client stories
Leave behind a great footprint wherever you go

These things create chatter (and they mostly cost nothing). They go towards cementing your reputation. They form your story, your distinctive 'signature'. That's when you start attracting the right people to you.

Are you ready to go on the pull?

Are we paying the right kind of attention?

    Hello friends,
     I've stepped back from the frenzy of 'making it happen'. I've turned down the pressure of performance, getting out there, and stepped back from the belief that man-made time-lines and dead-lines are the real A list. I've had enough spamming, scamming, begging, and mixed dealings to make me feel like the wild west is back!
      We're being catapulted and roller-coastered through imaginary time warps and fast talk, short speak, and marketing blitzes that excite us, super charge our imaginations and create massive flushes of new enterprising, some of which will catch the jet stream of popularity while others fade away because the measuring stick of today finds them falling short.
       Laying a foundation for the future is an honorable goal that requires deep and timely thought. It is an art. It is a craft. Something more than a top techie toy and trailblazing new portal. A healthy, strong foundation is a living form that will sustain the becoming of future evolving generations and requires the elasticity and innate intelligence to foresee solutions that temper catastrophe as well as aide survival, internal and external, of life.
      The foundation needs to be rooted in the fluid now rather than the commercial now.  A healthy foundation comes with the insight of wisdom with humility and conceives realities from the future back to the now and not from the now into the future. It will embrace a larger existential vision of universal order and unfolding.
    What is different about this current behavioral pattern compared to the social modification pattern that grew me up and made me an information-abiding citizen? Information changes but the patterns are still the same.We are repeating history, not changing it, we are wearing new clothes and using different equipment in old ways. We still advocate massive information intake, high consumption and group associative participation. The medium is still the messenger which is still the end result and we remain cliques-identity based junkies.
     I learned 'scientific' theory and systems recognition, etc that I was assured were accurate. I had my doubts about a lot of it but obeyed the status quo, learned it, even passed it on to others who 'trusted' me, only to learn twenty years later it was untrue. However, I wouldn't have earned my social stripes and citizen worthy status and social worthiness without learning and regurgitating those false theories and figures. I wouldn't have gotten a great job without the brand name of the classy university I went to. What about you?
      I was moved when the Japanese officials interrupted their government business to stand and bow to the Japanese people and ask their forgiveness. I was moved by the medium of the message, the bow and the  stark silence. The humility. The shame. The absolute need for internal reflection. While it remains a travesty that we still require untoward crisis to cause us to remember we are supposed to be creating societies that support life in all its diversity but systematically fail and fall short. As citizens we are enablers of this massive social injustice because we know it is dysfunctional and corrupt. How deeply sad it is to know that we must create tragedy to trigger the awakening of our conscience. 
     Are we paying the right kind of attention as human(e) differencemakers or are we chasing the game called 'making a difference'?
     What if you stopped moving for a moment, took a deep breath and let it enter into your being-stream that you came into this world with the 'difference' already in your dynamic human system. You are the who/what/when/where/why difference. What if you allowed yourself to really listen and co-respond to those inklings you get, the voices that say something like , 'whoa, wait a minute, that doesn't ring true, that doesn't sound right, something is outta whack, I smell a rat, not quite clear...", what if you seriously believe that you know what you think and your thinking is coherent? How would it shift your view and understanding of the world around you?
      Real consultants consult. They ask you to step back, broaden your field of vision, notice what it looks like different point of view. They exercise your innate capabilities and allow you to remember how to apply elements to the fluid now. They embrace the idea of speaking sincerely. Fearlessly. They reacquaint you with your self and allow you to work from a state of benign integrity, in safety and freedom of your own value system that is inherently eco-sustainable. They  truly are the midwives of healthy enterprising, personal, professional, public, private: after all, it's all you. When you know you're in trouble is when they have you on speed dial, charge by the quarter hour and arrive late to meetings.
     We've been in the new bombastic information age for a hefty 20 +years, lots of massive intellectual property and angel wealth spent on building the new tinker toy techie generation while educational competency plummet - and I mean the capacity to cultivate the mecca inside our skull cap and yet we have no craft of conscience. What's cooking? What are we paying attention to?
    With all the billions of dollars gifted to end hunger and poverty why are more and more people homeless and hungry? Why does the slave trade, pornography, pedophilia, drugs and addictions still top the charts? Why does the military sneak drugs into the country in military body-bags? Why has self help become an 'industry' instead of an art? Why are the rich still emulated and considered the special ones? Why are we still enabling corporate greed and perhaps even longing for its insider benefits?Why does 1% still hold 99% of the wealth? You get the drift.
      Why does a 3,000 year old Buddhist temple survive an 8.9 quake and tsunami as modern buildings crumble? What dynamics are we too busy ignoring because it's more fun to search portals and 'share' on Facebook?
     It appears we keep our feet steady in two opposing troughs and therefore null and void ourselves out. There are deep, socially ingrained, and highly degenerative beliefs about being human that roar within concurrent to the deep belief that we have the knowledge and capabilities to rebalance the planet and bring an eco sustainable world into reality. Stepping into one trough tempts the ongoing battle between what we believe are 'the good and bad within', another strong poppycock tale we pull out when excuses are needed.
   We cannot create a healthy world with our two feet in contrasting beds of existential reality.
   What are we paying attention to?
    What are our true priorities?
    What really motivates us?
     I bet that if you truthfully answer these questions you will discover something like a timetable, when you turn the juices on and when you shut down or shut off or shut out, you'll find a well ordered laundry list of what you really care about and what you don't, you'll even see how you're keeping tabs on the competition and yourself, winner, loser, invisible, even alien. You'll find out that you've never chosen many of the things you do nor have you ever investigated them in terms of their utility and benefit to the world. You'll even discover the layers of calloused skin you've formed to keep the deepest secrets out of sight and mind. You'll also discover your conscience and find out how remarkably vital and proactive and earnest she/he is. Best of all, you'll start remembering you, liking you, and you'll willingly let go of the trappings that don't fit.
     Yes, you'll have to formulate the new, authentic ones that have an elastic language pattern because they know they will evolve with cultivation of the craft. Creating the eco-sustainable is a craft not a commerce and in order to create it we must also be eco-sustainable beings.
     The newborn comes into this world understanding it as a fluid now and interacting with it as an eco-sustainable conscience.
      We need to reclaim that birthright.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Attention Bias in decision making

We are much more likely to spot something if our attention is drawn to it. There are two forms of attention bias:

  • internal

  • extrenal

internal attention bias

When we have a particular focus on something we tend to pay too much attention to it and this seriously skews the way we interpret and make decisions on data. For example if we buy a new car we tend to overly notice other cars with the same colour or which are the same make or model or even number plates that seem to be similar to ours. One urban myth which is caused by our internal attention bias is when an ‘infertile’ couple adopt a child. There is a totally incorrect myth that they are then much more likely to conceive themselves. There is absolutely no statistical evidence for this, it only appears that way because we will notice the fact they they conceive and put more weight on it. The fact that some ‘infertile’ couples conceive without adopting and some ‘infertile’ couples adopt and never have children of their own escapes our attention.

This example of infertile couples also happens because of:

external attention bias

In this case the news media is much more likely to bring such a story to our attention because it is ‘newsworthy’ and so our attention is drawn to it by external sources. Other external sources include our friends and other people who we know. The attention bias is compounded in these cases because other people have their own internal and external attention biases.

combating attention bias

To remove or at least decrease attention bias we can try to spot our own attention biases. We can do this by noticing when we are looking for specific things (e.g. cars with the same colour as ours) and once we realise this we can decide to look for more balanced data.

Another way of deceasing attention bias is to choose multiple focuses for our attention. For example in our car example we could look for all red cars, then all green cars etc. This will help to balance our attention biases and assist with the correct interpretation of the data on which we base our decisions.

Article Link

Can creativity save us?

On my list of New Year's ‘resolutions’ this year was to meet Sir Ken Robinson. With that thought written on the first page of my notebook, it seemed the whole universe conspired to make it happen. On 16 March, I shook hands with the great man himself and thanked him for the inspiration he’s given me and my dear colleagues to our organisation, MojoLife.

Like many people concerned with the future of education and how we develop human potential and, moreover, what happens downstream in our organisations and economy, I first came across Sir Ken Robinson on TED. I subsequently read some of his acclaimed books on education and creativity.

Amongst his’ hymns’ to creative learning and education transformation, Sir Ken wrote an important book called The Element. It explores the idea that each and every human being has unique talents that should be identified and nurtured. When people do both what they are best at, and what they love to do, they flourish. Then they are in their ‘Element’. This is important for our human potential – as the Dalai Lama said, ‘Now you’ve got this life, what are you going to do with it?’

There are around 7 billion people on earth and this human population boom is unprecedented (it is estimated that 10% of entire humanity that has ever existed is currently living on earth). Meanwhile, natural resources become increasingly scarce. People need to be able to adapt, grow collaborate and leverage new skills in order to survive in these tumultuous times. New skills for 21st century survival and growth are needed – I wrote about this in an earlier post. Given the requirements to create and nurture a human life – all that the generations before us have, nurtured and endured to enable this is a miracle. Each miracle, each person deserves to live a life and contribute to humanity all it can – and be fulfilled in doing so.

For me, enabling people to connect with their Element is central to the purpose of education (much has been written about the need to fix education, but I’m not going there; if I were to I would recommend you read this incredible book by Richard Gerver – another education hero of mine - he also has a blog). Helping individuals to connect with their passion and purpose, and to grow and flourish, is in the heart of to anyone concerned with developing human capacity

Sir Ken said, ‘Human resources are like natural resources - they lie deep below the surface’. I envisaged this as an oil well. Like an oil well, gifts and talents need to be released and channelled before the true potential of a human life glimmers. We don’t know what we’re capable of until we are ‘untapped’ and have chance to find out.

The teaching profession enjoys, or should enjoy, the great privilege of identifying and nurturing talent. For many people, sadly, their talents are neither identified nor nurtured. They never, or rarely, get to enjoy being in their Element, spending their lives in a job they don’t love before retiring and wondering what it was all about.

Redundancy and life change often enable people to take a different path and make conscious choices about how to redirect their energies and creative potential – this is something that MojoLife helps people to do. Given the social, economic and environmental challenges we face it would seem that we need to harness our people potential much more effectively than we have been doing lately. Deep within all of us, I believe, is a creative spark waiting to be ignited.

So, can creativity save us? The pain with creativity is that it is often perceived as something that is superfluous to needs, it is ‘fluffy’, a leisure activity, something to be enjoyed but not necessarily integral to the ‘mechanics’ of daily life. Certainly in the education system young people are often prompted to study ‘more academic’ subjects rather that art, drama, music etc. So the message about the value of creative skills and art is muted from early on in our learning lives. Yet we all have an art. Seth Godin, who has been described as a ‘humanistic marketing expert’, extends the idea that we are all artists – we all have an art through the value we create for others in our work, be it in creating a product or delivering a valued service well.

I believe nurturing creativity can save us because it will enable us to unleash our imaginations and tap into our intuition and unique abilities. Our creative growth will enable us to reach the depths of new possibilities and a coexistence that will add up to something in spite of living on an overcrowded planet. Connecting with our inner creativity, gifts and spirit is not a new idea – it’s an ancient art, old wisdom requiring a renaissance to lift us above and beyond the industrial age. Unleashing human potential through creative education and learning will be critical to us navigating the digital age, which has only just begun.

Does what you do resonate with your spirit? Why shouldn’t it? If you’re still with me (thank you!) I’d like to leave you with this - as much as I love Sir Ken Robinson, Nelson Mandela says it with immeasurable beauty:

Nelson Mandela - Inaugural Speech

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God
Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking,
so that other people won’t feel insecure about you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
Other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others too.

With warmest wishes to you all - long may you be in your Element!
Sara Knowles, 18 March 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brain Exercises ; The New Caffeine

Are you one of those people who cannot start the day without your caffeine fix? It’s what gets you going, gives you energy, sets you up for the day and starts your motivation clock.

If you are worried you may be addicted or that it has become a habit that’s costing you too much money, then brain exercises may be worth trying. The claim is that they produce the same, or even better, effect.

Leading professional and corporate organisations are seriously engaged with brain exercise and its value in the workplace and there has been increasing publicity about this “new caffeine” in many business and professional publications in the last few months, including “The Financial Review” and “BRW”.

So Why Would We Do Brain Exercises?

Everybody today is very aware of how important physical exercise is, even if we can’t always meet the challenge it poses! Some of us have made a real commitment to keeping ourselves fit. Some of us have built exercise into our lives and it is as much a habit as showering and brushing our teeth. We have an exercise program we do each week. There are gyms all over the place and almost every month a new exercise craze takes hold. Let’s not forget the range of exercise equipment on the market and advertised on TV.

The adage: “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, has been popularised and many are taking it seriously. We are living longer and many of us want to be active, mobile and fit in the later stages of our life, avoiding walking frames and nursing homes.

While this emphasis on physical exercise has been around for a few decades now, the same “use it or lose it” message is, in recent times, being applied to the brain. There is now a movement towards exercising the brain with exercises that improve memory, attention, language, decision-making, cognition and visual-spatial capacities.

Until recent times, it was believed that the brain was fixed by genetics and early development in childhood. We now know that is not so and the science of neuroplasticity has emerged, exploring the way the brain can change and reorganise itself and become more effective and efficient. A book that has highly popularised this view is Norman Doidge’s international best-seller book “The Brain That Changes Itself” which is full of amazing stories of just that.

Doing brain exercises is not just about preparing for old age or preventing the brain deterioration that sometimes occurs as a result of the ageing process. They are being used in every age group. An area particularly relevant to all of you reading this is in the workplace.

Brain Exercises In The Workplace.

A number of organisations are now offering corporate programs in brain exercises. They are focused on and target the improvement of particular areas of brain functioning, for example, problem solving or quick thinking or performance.

One of the organisations offering these brain training programs is Spark! developed by The Brain Department. It has pilot programs in Australia at the moment. This program is only for organisations and its employers and costs $150 per employer for 6 months or $200 per employer for 12 months. Employees do the exercises for 15 minutes a day 3 times a week. Spark! claims you will be able to concentrate better, remember names, react quicker, increase focus and think sharper.

If you want to explore what brain exercises are like without making a financial commitment, another organisation is Lumosity. You can get access to a free program there and then upgrade to a paid program later if you wish. On their website is a very good PDF you can download called “The Science Behind Lumosity” which is really the science behind brain exercises. It has research results that they have compiled of their work.

Is It As Good As It Sounds? Is It Really The New Caffeine?

As with everything there are the skeptics and some with solid credentials. Some believe that people can become good at the exercises but question if it translates across into changes in their daily activities.

Certainly Naomi Simson believes it does. Her organisation “Red Balloon” is using the Spark! program. She speaks highly of the results for her organisation and sees it impacting on productivity, as well as memory, among other things. She says she has seen very real changes in both herself and her employees.

So if you want to check it out for yourself, here are the details.

For Lumosity, go to and for Spark! go to

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Change your strategy, not your principles

Regardless of whether you are a manager or leader in a large corporate, owner of a SME, self-employed or an employee it is impossible to escape the current global recessionary climate.

Business is feeling the heat and “things are tough but we are doing what we can to keep pushing ahead” is a common experience. The range of adjustments and changes range from cutting costs to restructuring and redundancies to managing stakeholder expectations. At an individual level, feelings of anxiety and panic, fear of the future, job insecurity also prevail.

While in the grip of such an economic crisis and downturn, the reactive approach might be to make sudden changes in one’s vision and strategy as for some the survival instinct kicks in.

However, the SQ invitation in is for you to do something else first.

This is to re-visit your guiding principles and values that you have built your business, team and life on and which has served you well to date. For example, if one of your guiding principles has been “customer first” “to do no harm” or “one team” than be really, really mindful that any strategic change does not cut across the very fundamentals which have grown and distinguished you from any other business. This is your uniqueness.

The reputation and name you, your company or your product has built up in the market place over should not be compromised in any way. Your brand built on specific features and values, that your customers buy, should not be tinkered with.

Some other things you can do: focus on what you can control and give this some consideration, focus on the positive and what is still working and delivering for you, catch and reward people for what they are doing well, watch the airwaves and notice what you are putting out in the company ether – stories of doom and gloom or inspiration and acknowledgement.

Recovery may take time but lets make the journey a telling one.

Jasbindar Singh is a Leadership Coach -

Missions matter - mission statements don’t

I came across a brilliant blog via a discussion on LinkedIn group Association & Convention Innovators. The blog by Dan Pallotta in Harvard Business Review Do You Have a Mission Statement, or Are you on a Mission? hits the target on why some organisations are thriving, others are barely surviving, and some are going South at a rapid rate, namely talk and no action.

You can read Dan’s blog here.

Here are my thoughts on the pointlessness of vision, mission, and value statements unless they are lived.

In The Culting of Brands Douglas Atkin asks:
What’s your cause?
What do you want to have happen? If you’re not out to cause anything then you might as well go back to bed.

What’s your cause, your mission?
and, did you leap out of bed today with it at the forefront of your mind?
and, are you living it, every minute, of every day?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what’s normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are you turning waste into wealth?

I have been back many times to learn from Fast Company’s
list of their top 50 most innovative companies in the world today.

The 14th ranked company Kosaka in Japan is thriving by turning old cell phones into gold mines.

What waste are you turning into wealth?

Years ago I spent less than an hour in a clients factory and noticed theft and waste were rife and leaders seemingly oblivious. I got their accountant to do a cost benefit analysis. Very soon the company saved 4 million dollars!

There are probably things right under your nose that you haven’t noticed that are costing you big time.

Do a regular check of how wisely you are spending your time, your energy, and your money. And ensure you have systems and processes in place that mean you know exactly (and they do too) how well your employees are spending their time, energy, and money.

My guess is that by doing this you will soon turn a lot of waste into wealth.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what’s normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

classical decision making techniques: pros and cons


Planning is an unnatural process: it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”

Sir John Harvey-Jones

This is the simplest and probably the best known way of making decisions but may well be the only way you need, especially with some of the extensions that you can use with it.

To use this method you simply draw a table and list all the positive and negatives effects of making the decision:


You might want to leave this table on your desk for a few hours or overnight to let your subconscious work on it and spot more 'pros' and 'cons'.

The simplest way of using this is to make your decision based on the total numbers of items in each column. If there are more 'pros' than 'cons' then make the decisions, if not, don't.

In reality, however, many people still feel unhappy with the outcome and feel as if something is holding them back from taking the appropriate action. Even though the 'pros' significantly outweigh the 'cons' you might still feel hesitant about taking the decision. If the 'cons' outweigh the 'pros' you might still feel that this is the correct decision to make (see 'Intuitive Decision Making'). This may be because some of the items have more weight in your mind than others or that there might be some hidden 'pros' and 'cons' which have not risen to your conscious mind as yet.

weighting items

So, firstly, we could try to put some weights on each item. We can go through the lists and assign to each item a 'significance value' of between 1 and 10, where 1 is not very significant and 10 is highly significant. By adding up the items in each column you may get a better analysis of the decision.

strengths and weaknesses

Secondly we can try to extend the number of items in each list. If we assume that 'all strengths are weaknesses, and all weaknesses are strengths' we can take each item in the 'pros' column and map it to three items in the 'cons' column. For example, if I am thinking about buying a new car:

we might map this to a number of 'cons':

So now for that single 'pro' we have three new 'cons'. (Don't worry if some of the new 'cons' were already on the list.).

We can now repeat this for the rest of the 'pros'.
Similarly we can look at the list of 'cons' and map each of these to three 'pros'.


You can choose to do more than three items for each mapping and, all although this is sometimes useful, it may become a bit complex. If you do want to do more a large free space and post-it notes may help.


You can also dig deeper with your analysis . If you map a 'pro' to three 'cons' then take each of the three 'cons' and map them back again to three more 'pros' then you will potentially have nine new 'pros'. This can be useful for a deeper analysis but can get complex. Use your judgement.

making your decision

Now if we look through the lists we might find that the balance has changed and you may have a much deeper insight into the ramifications of the decision. You can delete the duplicates in each column but the very fact that there are duplicates may suggest that this factor is very important for you.

link to article

Monday, March 14, 2011

Use Precedent Purposefully

When people are discussing future directions, there is a tendency to default to what has been done in the past. The conversation goes something like this: "What should we do?" "Let's brainstorm some alternatives" "Well, what did we do last time?" "What are other people doing?" "What is best practice in this arena?"

Why does this happen? The people may want to think more innovatively, but something is preventing them. That thing is the human brain. Throughout your life, your brain takes in pieces of information and arranges them in patterns in your memory. As new information comes in, your brain does a search to see how it might fit with other information already stored in your memory. When you look for an idea, your brain goes straight to its store of similar ideas and retrieves those. The "shelves" of your brain are stocked with examples of things you've seen or done or heard of before.*

Your brain offers you a selection of "templates" (or "precedents" in lawyer-language).

This explains why many people find it difficult to think laterally, and why a brainstorm often produces little in the way of novel suggestions.

To make the most of the brain's liking for precedents, search for examples that are "broadly similar" rather than "narrowly similar". You can do this by stating the challenge from a variety of different perspectives, and by experimenting with different levels of abstraction (by expressing the question in a more general or a more specific way).

New ideas often come from unconsciously combining elements of existing ideas. To maximize the likelihood of such a brainwave, you need plenty of examples to work with. Don't just go with the first idea that seems to be workable - map out a whole range of options, and examine the best aspects of each.

Have patience with the process, because new ideas take time to develop.

When creating your strategy, don't simply default to precedent. But if you are going to use precedent, use it purposefully.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

“Global ‘family’ of rescuers ready at a moment’s notice”

I only buy newspapers at the weekend preferring instead to receive the headlines of most major newspapers worldwide via feeds to my computer. I also admit I am tired of the bias towards one political party or another in most newspapers (I am tired of politics period!) and the general lack of good news stories.

Today I caught up on two weeks worth of newspaper reading and the headline Global ‘family’ of rescuers ready at a moment’s notice caught my attention.

I then read the story by Weekend Australian journalist Nicolas Perptich. You can read it here.

Nicolas’s story is a fascinating read about urban search and rescue teams (USAR) and how they are always read to step in and serve at a moments notice, in this case to quickly get to New Zealand and help out with rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch.

I particularly like the fact that USAR teams around the world refer to each other as family. They can also be completely self-sufficient for a signicificant period of time.

This story got me thinking. Would am I ready to serve at a moments notice? And who do I regard as family?

Your answers to these questions I am certain will help you get really clear on who you are serving and knowing this precisely is a key to living your best life and building your best business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what's normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earth Hour: Time To Turn Off Your Lights

It's two weeks until the annual Earth Hour event. Have you planned how you will turn off your lights and all electrical appliances on Saturday March 26th at 8:30pm (your local time)?

Now organized by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney when 2.2 million people and over 2000 businesses simultaneously turned their lights off for one hour.

Within a year Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement, with over 50 million people in 35 countries participating, along with major landmarks such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Bridge, the CN Tower in Toronto and the Roman Colosseum.

This global movement continues to grow in size and scope. Last year hundreds of millions of people across 128 countries and territories joined in. Lights were turned off in iconic buildings and landmarks around the world, as well as in millions of homes.

Join in this celebration of life on this planet. Gather your friends and families to discuss, in the dark, other things you each can do to make a difference to reduce the ecological impact of modern society and your own environmental footprints.

After all, it's only for an hour on a Saturday night. But the benefits can last well into the next couple of generations.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Emerging Leaders Report by Alicia Curtis

Differencemakers Community member Alicia Curtis has recently made available her Emerging Leaders Report 2011. You can download here. It is brilliant and very insightful.

Adopt the recommendations in her report and I have no doubt you will better engage and retain the next generation of your leaders.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time

then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal program.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gail Kelly - common sense and civility

March 8th was the 100th International Women’s Day.

One woman amongst the many making their mark is Gail Kelly, the Chief Executive of Westpac, one of Australia’s 4 biggest banks. She was recently ranked as the most powerful woman in the Asia-Pacific by Forbes.

You can find out more about Gail here and here.

It has not been Gail Kelly’s fame, fortune or standing that has made me sit up and take notice however, rather the common sense and civility she displayed on the ABC television show Q & A on 7th March.

You can watch the full episode here.

What place do common sense and civility have in your business?

I think they are vital for success and sadly they are lacking all over the world.

I salute Gail Kelly for daring to be different.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details of my year of changing what's normal program here and get in touch with me without delay.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Day After IWD - So What's Next?

We've come a long way! We now have a female Prime Minister. We have paid maternity leave and women don't have to resign from the public service when they get married!

We have a long way to go, however, when you look at the top 200 companies on the ASX and find that only 3% of their CEOs and 9.5% of their Board Members are women.

It is now apparent that the reasons why we have so few women in positions of top leadership is not because there aren’t any with the experience or expertise to be there. The reasons have as much to do with the culture of workplaces and the stereotypes of leadership as anything else.

It is good business to have women in positions of leadership in our organisations. They bring a diversity of ideas and perspectives that can only enrich the decisions that are made. Yet at a time when there is an urgent need for new and creative ways of working with the complexity of today’s business issues, their talented contribution is being overlooked.

I have read dozens of articles, commentaries and books on what women can do about that as if it is women’s problem. Some women have solved the problem and reached a leadership position. Many more women decide they don’t want to engage in the political quickstep that will get them there and opt out of the “race”. Facilitating women's moves into key leadership positions is as much a men's problem as it is women's.

So What Can Men Do? How Can They Engage With Women In Bringing About Change?
  • Level the playing field and ensure that women are being viewed the same way as men in the organisational pipeline. In other words, examine the assumptions, the biases and prejudices that may unconsciously be present about women and leadership.
  • Act as mentors to women with high potential, but ensure that it builds on their strengths, rather than imposes a stereotypical leadership model on them.
  • Have male leaders mentored by woman outside their organisation who have reached the top so they can learn what they need to do to enhance opportunities for the most talented women in their own organisations.
  • Be careful not to assume what women can or will do. Don’t assume, for example, that women won’t be able to accept some new responsibility, or take on some new role or take a promotion overseas or interstate and so not even talk about it with them, or offer it to them.
  • Give women “stretch assignments and projects” within their current role, opportunities to demonstrate their abilities and talents as well as their potential for bigger roles.
  • Actively intervene where women are deliberately discriminated against, or when discussion takes place that is not enhancing women’s capabilities.
  • Stand up for them in the presence of male staff who de-value their ideas, for example, in meetings where their opinions are not heard until a man says the same thing and claims the insight as his.
  • Have building diversity in organisations (not just gender, but race, colour, age, for example) as one of the KPIs of senior managers. More and more organisations, like Deloitte, are now doing this.
  • Make sure that at least some networking events/activities are inclusive and women friendly and make a conscious effort to make women leaders and managers part of them.
  • Respect the work/family balance needs of women with children and be flexible in negotiating working arrangements. They will repay you 150%.
  • Have regular meetings at family friendly times, not 7.30 a.m. or 7 p.m. at night.
  • Develop programs for women returning after maternity leave that are workable and meet their needs. Stay in touch with them during their leave.
  • Have an on-going group of male and female managers to work on this issue in your organisation.
How To Change The Unbelievers!

All of what has just been said are strategies that many enlightened male CEOs and leaders will already be doing, or will embrace with real commitment. There are, however, many out there who are yet to acknowledge that something is wrong and that change needs to happen.

In 2009, an important report was produced on gender bias in the workplace which examined the underlying issues regarding the gender gap in leadership. This report - Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives: What Change Agents Need to Know – is an important document for any organisation to read that is serious about addressing this important issue.

It was produced by Catalyst, but sponsored by The Goldman Sachs Group, Ernst & Young, IBM and Shell International, all of whom have adopted change processes in their organisations to address this gap in leadership in their organisations.

Catalyst is a leading non-profit organisation working globally with business and the professions to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities foe women and business

A copy of this report can be downloaded at the link below.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th International Women's Day.

International Women's Day is a global day aimed at celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women. It was created at a conference in Copenhagen in 1910 and first held in March 1911.

(See for details on the various worldwide events taking place today, as well as for a detailed history of International Women's Day.)

What can you do in conjunction with today's 100th International Women's Day? Here are a few ideas:

SCHOOLS -- celebrate the life story of any woman who could be an inspiration to both your male and female students. Or simply ask each class to list the ten most inspiring or famous women they know. Have a discussion on why they think these women are important.

PARENTS -- remind your male children that boys are never to hit girls and that men never hit women.

BUSINESSES -- give surprises to some of your female customers today and tell them "thank you" for being mothers, daughters, sisters and women.

EVERYBODY - make a small contribution to a charity of choice that will help to alleviate poverty and illiteracy amongst women. (Statistics show that 70% of the world's poor are women and 65% of the estimated 780 million people who cannot read are women.) If everybody donated the price of a cup of coffee, a large influx of funds would be received by organizations working to end these situations.

What else can you think of? Please leave your ideas in the comment box below.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How to Write Stuff People Want to Read

Content is king for Internet marketing. This has always been true, but never more so than now, when you need to prove you're an expert before people visit your Web site. But how do you write great content that compels readers to keep reading?

The secret is simple: Solve their problems.

In other words, first write about stuff they care about, and then lead them to your products, your services and your cause.

This is easier said than done, I know! So I created a simple five-step process for writing a high-quality article that gives you the chance to promote yourself as well. I call it the PIPES process.

I developed this process because I saw too many low-impact articles on speaker Web sites, and the only alternative model seemed to be the "pushy" sales letters direct marketers use. The PIPES process gives you the right balance – it's about 80% content and 20% selling.

I'll explain the process here, and use this example to illustrate it:
Suppose you're an expert in customer service for the banking industry, and you work with call centre staff who have sufficient technical knowledge, but lack the interpersonal skills to deal with frustrated, angry and confused customers. You're now going to write an article to persuade managers to book your in-house training program for their staff.
I won't write out the article in full for this example, but you'll see enough to understand how it works.

State the PROBLEM they are experiencing.

Describe it in the words they use, not the words you use.

Customer satisfaction surveys show complaints about call centre staff are increasing steadily.

Tell them the IMPLICATIONS of the problem.

Explain the consequences, and if possible quantify how much it is really costing them.

  • Customers are closing their accounts and moving to other banks.
  • Call centre staff are frustrated and stressed, and hence less productive.
  • Call centre staff burn out, so staff turnover is higher than ever before.
Your goal is to make them realise how much more it's costing them than they realised. They can see the wound, but it's your job here to pour salt into the wound and rub it in!

So consider all the negative consequences and list them here. Where possible, use numbers to quantify these issues. However, be careful not to make claims you can't support. As much as possible, justify your statements with research, case studies, media reports and other sources.

Point out the POSSIBILITIES if they didn't have the problem.

Paint a rosy picture of how their life would be better if they didn't have that problem.

  • Happier – and hence more loyal – customers
  • Happier – and hence more productive and loyal – staff
  • Fewer personal issues for managers to handle
Again, your goal is to make them realise the consequences of the problem, but now we're talking about positive consequences of not having the problem. To begin with, simply consider the opposite scenarios to the implications you've already listed. The more you can provide concrete examples, numbers and research, the more persuasive your argument will be.

Give them an EXPLANATION of how to solve the problem.

Keep this brief, but not so brief that they feel cheated out of a true explanation. The point here is that you tell them how to solve their problem without you.

This is not an advertisement for your training program (that comes later). Rather, you describe what needs to happen to solve the problem (in other words, what you teach in your program). For example:

  • The staff member acknowledges the callers' emotions without getting emotionally involved themselves.
  • The staff member then separates the technical issue from the emotional issue.
  • The staff member creates an agreed plan of action with the caller.
Give a reasonable explanation here – even if it's just in summary form – so they don't feel resentful you're holding back a "secret". Somebody with the time and inclination could now go ahead and do these things themselves, without using your services. But in the next step, we'll give them a compelling reason to choose you.

Tell them what SOLUTIONS you offer to help them solve it.

Finally, tell them how you can help them implement the solution you've described. This can be as simple as a link to the Web page that promotes the in-house training program.

Of course, this is not the only way to write an article, but it's fairly easy to follow, even if you're a novice writer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

patterns in randomness

Humans have a natural tendency to see order in chaos. In most scenarios this is extremely useful, it created science and a deeper understanding of the universe, it simplifies our decision making.

The down side of this tendency is that we also naturally look for:

  • order

  • patterns

  • meaning

in things which are just random.

Can you see the face?

Can you see the face?

Of course there is no face, it is just a picture of tree bark.

Another more financial example of pattern spotting is:

An upward trend .....

An upward trend .....

..... or just random noise in a downward trend?

..... or just random noise in a downward trend?

This is related to what psychologists call the ‘clustering illusion’. Which of the following lines do you think are truly random series of 1′s and 0′s ?

1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1
0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0
0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1
1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1

You probably already guessed that they are all random (or as random as the computer programme that I wrote to generate them can make them) but we still tend to notice an inordinate amount of ‘clusters’ of 1′s and 0′s. This clustering illusion is apparent in the false beliefs of many gamblers.

So when we are examining data in order to make a decision on it, it is crucial that we are aware of this tendency and that we ask ourselves whether the patterns we think exist in the data are truly there.

link to article

Saturday, March 5, 2011

a year of changing what’s normal

This year is my 20th year of working with passionate and enlightened business leaders to change what’s normal for the good of yourself, other people, our planet, and for profit.

To celebrate I am leading a once in a life-time experience for 50 people.

This unique personal and business development program begins with a 3 day intensive in the “city of life”, Hong Kong, June 23rd through June 26th, where I will be joined by 6 of the best business and relationship builders I know, Keith Abraham, Matt Church, Paul Dunn, Amanda Gore, Allan Parker, and Kwai Yu.

Following Hong Kong I will be spending a day in each participant’s business, providing mentoring monthly on the telephone, or skype, plus each person will have 24/7 access to a leading people engagement system (compatible with whatever you currently do to lead and manage performance) that you will be able to embed into your organisation in your own way.

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here and get in touch with me without delay.

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Project Inspire

Five Minutes To Change The World

The Singapore National Committee for UN Women has teamed with MasterCard to create a difference-making initiative. Called Project Inspire, their aim is to inspire 18 to 35 year olds to share their visions for creating a better world for disadvantaged women and children in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and African regions.

Individuals and teams can submit 5-minute videos (or two-page outlines) of their life-changing ideas to The entires also need to incude practical ideas on how a grant of US$25,000 could be used to implement the ideas.

With statistics showing that 65% of the estimated 780 million people around the world who cannot read are women, and that 70% of the world's poor are women, Project Inspire aims to develop ideas and momentum to support the empowerment of women across the globe.

Two winners will be chosen. One will receive a US$25,000 grant to fund start-up costs for the best economic empowerment, skills development, financial inclusion, health or social entrepreneurship idea. The other will will get a US$10,000 grant to help fund the implementation of the best financial literacy or livelihood project.

Submissions for Project Inspire will open on March 8th, to coincide with the 100th International Women's Day, and will close on June 30th.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Believing Again that We can Make a Difference

As I watched the television the other night of the peoples' victory in Egypt, I was transported back into the 1960s and 1970s. These were the years of my youth. The ones that shaped my whole life since. They were the years when we truly believed everything was possible. We could actually change the world if we wanted to. We could shape a new destiny. We would strategise and plan and then take action in groups to make things happen that we believed needed to change. We believed we could make a difference!

And we did it! Over and over we did it. We changed workplaces. We changed the churches. We impacted on indigenous land right issues. We changed the balance of power in childbirth from doctors and hospitals back to mothers and families. We walked in the Vietnam moratoriums and believed we changed the Australian government's position. We prepared and signed petitions almost monthly. We wrote letters to important people. We were always having action oriented meetings, like I’ve never since experienced, to plan the next project. I had a very distinct and empowering feeling back then that I was able to change the world.

It wasn’t because I was young and idealistic either. I was connecting and working with people who were 20 years older than me. We all believed it. We were proving over and over that it could be done. It was the age of liberatory movements.

We adopted a process of action and reflection, action and reflection. We would take action, come back and reflect on it and take more action. Such a powerful strategy. Every success we had, spurred us on to more successes. We read Paulo Freire. Saul Alinsky, Ivan Illich, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Che Guevara. What a mixture!

I can’t believe now some of the things I did back then, that I could never see myself doing today in my “old age”! I would get politicians direct phone numbers and ring them - and they would take my calls. I was heavily involved in the youth movements in the Catholic Church, but we weren’t being listened to and taken seriously. I would go and ring the door bell of the Bishop’s Palace and I would be invited in. Yes, it was called a Palace so that gives you an idea of how extraordinary it was that I was invited in.

I was in Europe just after the Student Power Riots had taken place in Paris in the mid 60s. The barricades were still in the streets. I met with student leaders in little upstairs rooms like we now see in the movies. My children can’t believe I was in the States when Woodstock was on and didn’t go. I was actually engaged in meetings and talks to effect bigger change than that and didn’t have time for such frivolity. I was a bit too serious I must admit. Although they now think I was a hippy then because I gave birth to them at home in the late 1970s and early 80s.

About 5 years ago, I called together a group of key people with whom I had worked back in the 1970s. We wanted to look at what had motivated us back then and where that dynamic energy and spirit gone. Really we wanted to re-capture it – a bit nostalgic I now admit. Why was there so much apathy around today? Why were our own children so apolitical? Where were the action-oriented people who were strategically planning to make a difference? We met monthly for 18 months. We came to the conclusion that it was gone forever, that we had experienced one of the most exciting times in history but that it was over. We would never experience that momentum again.

Then something happened to change all that!

The people in the streets of Egypt rose up against a dictatorial leader. They stayed the course of the race and they won. They fought for freedom, for human rights. Once again the people in the street were making a difference. They had brought about the most extraordinary change in a country where no one would have thought it was possible. They had confronted the greatest odds and won. I was actually on the edge of my chair at one stage, until my husband asked me what on earth I was doing and brought me back into 2011.Now the people of Libya have been inspired and empowered by Egypt.

So I now believe again that all things are possible. We can make a difference in 2011. We have to think differently to the way we thought in the 1970s. As Einstein said: “A problem cannot be solved with the same type of thinking that created it”. Nor can it be solved with the same “tools”. And if, as was reported, it really was social media that moved the people of Egypt, that united them, that fuelled their commitment for change, that created the momentum and sustained it, then we have to begin to recognise the potential of this empowering medium when it goes viral.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to use illustrations to create Conversations That Matter

Creating conversations that matter is a key skill for organisational leaders. Amidst forecasting, attending to meetings and writing reports, the development of this skill is often neglected. Think about it, how do you stimulate conversations that matter with your peers, direct reports and your leaders? How do you stimulate them with your key stakeholders and clients?

Conversations that matter are conversations where people are able to speak from the heart, speak their truth (whatever it may be) in a safe environment where there will not be negative consequences for speaking their mind. This does not mean that people lose responsibility for what they say. Rather, their responsibility increases as respect is a core requirement for a conversation that matters to be conducted.

So how might a leader create a conversation that matters, especially when there may be a level of distrust present amongst team members?

One way is to use illustrations to catalyse your conversations. For these conversations to be successful, the leader must be prepared to do the following five practices:

1. Be prepared to 'listen to understand' to what is being said, rather than listening to defend/justify
2. Guarantee that no negative consequences will result to people as a result of the conversation
3. Listen more than speak - a good rule of thumb to follow is to speak 30% and to listen 70% of the time
4. Be prepared to ask open questions
5. Judge the quality of the conversation by the level of truth that is present in the conversation

If you are able to follow the five practices above, then determine the focus of your conversation, then select an image that you could use and give it a go. As an example a great friend and mentor of mine Jock MacNeish (Strategic Images)  has been creating such illustrations for the best part of his life. Over time Jock has created many illustrations for us and the 0 to 10 Relationship Management body of knowledge. As Licensed Elite Trainer Facilitators in 0 to10 Relationship Management, I am able to use Jock’s illustrations.

The 0 to 10 Relationship Management Culture Survey illustrations are very powerful catalysts for enabling people to have a conversation that matters. If you were interested to know what your team members thought about the level of autonomy that they had in their jobs, you could place the illustration below on the table and ask them to mark on the scale where they believe the level currently sits.

When people place their finger on the scale that they believe represents their view, simply say, "Thank you for your honesty. What examples do you have that would help me to understand what this score means to you?"

Their answers will be powerful and enable you to identify what you should keep doing, start doing and stop doing. If, of course, you have tried this technique and no-one in your team spoke up, then you may have your answer anyway!

On the other hand if you've never tried this technique before please give it a go. Either print the illustration from this article or select a different one for your team and create a conversation that matters. Please let me know how you go!

Finally, if you like this concept but aren’t sure what illustration to use, please provide a brief description of your issue in the comments box and I’ll help you find an appropriate illustration.

As a leader a significant part of your success is driven by your capacity to create and stimulate conversations that matter. Is this a skill that you possess? What are you currently doing to develop it?

Gary Ryan enables Leaders and Developing Leaders to do the things that matter, for their people, their customers and the community.
Gary is the Founder of Organisations That Matter

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Are you a card carrying member of Generation G?

I read a lot online about Generation C (folk born after 1990) - connected, communicating, computerized.

I don’t believe for a minute however that 24/7 access to digital devices, as great as this is, means we are connected or good at communication, in fact the opposite can be the case.

We are in danger of losing both the art of real human connection and real communication, as well as the big C is my view, compassion!

While I accept the rise and influence of Generation C, I feel the rise of Generation G, where the G stands for generosity, will be a greater influence on the future of the world.

You can find out more about Generation G in an excellent post here by

One practical way to embrace Generation G is to become a member, like me via differencemakers community, of Buy1Give1. See how here.

…the future face of capitalism, say authors John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio in their new book Spend Shift will be defined by delivering value and values. I have been saying this and helping my clients to actually do this for two decades, so it is nothing new, however what could be new is that the masses embrace this new kind of capitalism.

Are you a card carrying member of Generation G?

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