Thursday, November 28, 2013

Get Other People To Do Your Dirty Work

outsource versus in-house road sign cycleAs an expert and thought leader, you should do three things: Think, Sell and Deliver. Are you giving yourself enough time to do these things? Or are you wasting time doing other tasks in your business ... tasks that should really be done by somebody else?

I'm not just talking about administrative and secretarial work - although this certainly applies to those tasks as well. I'm talking about some of the other peripheral things that are required in delivering your expertise. Things like:

  • Proofreading and editing written material
  • Editing audio recordings
  • Transcribing recordings
  • Designing better-looking PowerPoint slides
  • Web page layout
  • Designing workbooks and handouts

It can be very tempting to do some of these tasks yourself - especially when you know that you can do them in a fraction of the time it would take somebody else. But that's a common trap! And it can get you caught in a time-consuming, energy-sapping, costly routine.

Why should you change?

Here are four compelling reasons:

  1. Your time is too valuable. If you're wasting your time on this mundane work, you don't have time to develop and present your ideas.
  2. Other people can do this better than you can (sad as it may be to admit to yourself)! Stick to your own expertise, and buy in other people's skills where required.
  3. Other people can do this faster than you can. This might not be true the first time, because you might have to invest time teaching them. But in the long run, it certainly takes less of your time.
  4. It's more profitable, because it frees up your time to focus on income-producing activities.

Where do you find these people?

You might already know people who can do this work for you. In that case, why aren't you using them? Seriously - if you already have access to these resources, use them.

If you don't already have access to such people, you can outsource these tasks to "talent markets" - the name given to online sites that bring providers and customers together. These include places like, and They brings together suppliers and customers from all around the world. Not only do you get to pick from many suppliers, you also get highly skilled people offering their services. Even if you have used local providers in the past, it's worth considering these talent markets for your next job.

Outsourcing has other benefits, too.

Outsourcing to these global talent markets also has other benefits.

For example, compared to outsourcing locally:

  • It’s often cheaper
  • Providers are used to working electronically and remotely, and the talent markets facilitate this
  • You can review feedback and testimonials of their past work
  • You might end up choosing a local provider on these talent markets anyway!

Compared to hiring staff:

  • You don’t need to hire staff
  • You can bring together project teams quickly
  • You don’t need in-house skills

Build long-term relationships

It’s tempting to view these talent markets as a pool of on-demand resources for one-off jobs. Some people do use them that way, but it can be very frustrating. A better approach is to take a more long-term view, and use them as a starting point for finding reliable people for the long term.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The machines will only take over the world if we let them

This weeks sparkenation.

I very much enjoy the musings and insights each week of Kevin Roberts worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. This blog post 'Will CBDs Become a Car-free Zone?' got me thinking about how easy it is in a technology dominated world to forget we are human beings craving the human experience.

I am making it one of my principles that I live by each day of my life to use the great tools of technology wisely and not let them dominate my life. My focus is about enjoying the human experience on purpose, like smelling a flower, walking the dog and interacting with my neighbours doing the same, sitting down in person with someone for no other reason than valuing and sharing each others human experience.

I have actually taken to switching technology off a lot of the time. I no longer do emails on my phone. I still over deliver on the promises I make to my clients. I have discovered that being on 24/7 is actually a distraction, a bad decision. I am more productive as a result and when I am on I am more present and accountable and everyone around me is better off.

The machines will only take over the world if we let them.

Where are you at?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are you letting yourself loose?

This weeks sparkenation.

“What lies behind us and what lies in front of us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you letting yourself loose?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Google Has Destroyed Your Business

How the Internet has Destroyed Your BusinessWay back in the 20th century, I used to run workshops to teach people how to find stuff on the Internet. At that time, there was no Google, and the leading search engines included Yahoo, Alta Vista and Ask Jeeves. In the first half of the workshop, I explained how each of them worked; and in the second half, they worked in teams to find the answers to 10 questions - including these:

  • What is the time in Toronto?
  • What is the weather forecast for London today?
  • What are the current performances at the Sydney Opera House?
  • What is the postcode for Geelong?
  • Why might some Berliners confuse John F. Kennedy with a jelly doughnut?

In 1998, it wasn't easy to find these answers quickly on the Internet! The participants had to decide which search engine to use, what words to type in, and how to then drill down through the results to find the answer.

Then Google came along and destroyed my business.

Google completely changed the way people found answers. Now, you can find the answers to all these questions by simply typing them - word for word - into Google.

As a result, Google completely wiped out that part of my business. Those workshops became redundant, and I moved on to other things.

Has Google destroyed your business as well?

I was lucky because I knew my workshops had become irrelevant. But many businesses are limping along, knowing something has made their life more difficult, but not knowing what - or why. If you're in the business of providing information especially, you might not realise that Google - or another online service - has changed your business forever.

Here are just a few examples ...

1. Leadership speaker

You're a leadership speaker and trainer, helping organisations with their new and emerging leaders and managers. But now, instead of booking you to run another workshop, a client uses their internal L&D people to run a workshop, where participants watch videos of leading thinkers and facilitate a discussion about how to implement some of these ideas in the organisation.

2. Customer service trainer

You might have based your livelihood on customer service training for front-line staff. But the Internet has made it easier for your clients to outsource or offshore services - and of course, we all know how much customer service is being handled by overseas call centres. Suddenly the audience for your workshops has disappeared.

3. Real estate agent

In the past, you've been attractive to vendors (people selling their homes) because - in addition to your expertise and experience - potential buyers come to you to see what's available. But now, with online real estate sites like and, buyers are no longer automatically beating a path to your door. Suddenly, you've become a lot less attractive to vendors, who are increasingly turning to private listings.

4. Travel agent

You've provided a valuable service to your customers, because you have expertise and insights about the best ways for them to travel, best places to stay, and how to make the most of their experience in an unfamiliar place. But of course your customers can now find much of this information using Google, Trip Advisor, Expedia and other online services. What's more, they are increasingly making their own bookings as well.

Could this be happening to you?

When I present this sort of scenario to some people, a common response is, "Ah, yes, but ..." followed by a reason why they are different, their clients are more loyal, or their business is indispensable. Don't fall into this trap!

I'm not sharing this to depress you, but to inspire you. See, here's the point: If the Internet can disrupt your business, why can't YOU?

All of the examples I've presented create opportunities for you - as long as you're willing to look at your offerings differently. Don't just be a speaker, trainer, or service provider. Be somebody who genuinely understands your customers and clients, and is willing to add value to solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.

Don't ignore the threat - or the opportunity.

It's easy to do what you've always done, blissfully unaware that the Internet is going to pull the carpet out from under you.

Ignorance isn't bliss; it's bankruptcy.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nothing beats a good walk and a talk

This weeks sparkenation.

Many times my mentors have taken me for a walk and a talk. They have been deep and great learning experiences.

My wife and I often walk and talk. The experience still enriches our relationship even after 40 years!

I take my clients for a walk and a talk frequently. It’s often when breakthroughs for them happen, usually unplanned by me and unexpected by them.

I take myself for a walk and a talk at least twice a week. We are what we hear ourselves say to ourselves.

Nothing beats a good walk and a talk. Are you walking and talking? And who with?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We are prepared to change. We are not prepared to be changed. Therein lies significant opportunity.

Recently I received an email from the people who host my personal website telling me that from February 2014 my domain name would no longer be supported.

Oblivion is not something we want to contemplate. 

My initial reaction was rage. My domain name is my name and therefore a key to my branding and my business. And it has existed since the late nineties when I had to choose the domain name ending in because the one I wanted (.com) was already taken. 

This turned into an advantage I have exploited ever since. Advantage gone I thought.

Imagine the number of links accumulated both online and in print over the past 16 years! 

It never ceases to amaze me that we humans tend to think the worst when we first find out about change, particularly imposed change! We are prepared to change. We are not prepared to be changed. Therein lies significant opportunity.

I recovered from my rage and began to see a great opportunity for reinvention, something I have done in my business several times since 1991. I have also helped many of my clients to reinvent.

These words hang in my office

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.”

Reinvention is essential otherwise we end up being stupid. 
If reinvention doesn’t lead to a different result, we’re idiots!

The first step to reinvention is to imagine and reimagine.

As John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ is a favourite I began to play it often, hum it, reflect on it. My own line emerged “Imagine everything being simpler and better for everyone, it’s easy if you try.”

Questions for you to answer

How did you react the last time you felt change was being imposed on you?

How did others react the last time you tried to impose change on them?

When was the last time you reinvented your business? Is is time to do it again?

If you were to reimagine your life and your work where would you begin?

The results of my imagining and reimagining so far

I have a new personal website where you will see that I have reduced the number of my services to these

I have begun to simplify and upgrade the changing what’s normal website. For those of you who own a copy of my Changing What’s Normal book the link to the companion vault is unchanged, just no longer visible.

I have changed the website for my clients from one of equally attracting clients and serving clients to primarily for serving clients. This is a work in progress so please be patient. I will be in touch with all of you who are my clients personally before the end of the year. In the meantime your login details are unchanged.

The following words of wisdom from Albert Einstein are a great guide for me at present:

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." 

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Are you proud of where you live?

This weeks sparkenation.

I wondered out loud while walking our dog Molly yesterday why some people don't pick up after their dogs. Later while gardening and doing the edges on my nature strip I had a flash back to when as a child I asked my father why he cut the edges of the lawn so neatly. He replied "There is nothing wrong with being proud of where you live."

We are not responsible for what other people do or don't do. We can be role models. A key is what we do when no one is watching.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.