DISRUPTING HR IN A VUCA WORLD

DISRUPTING HR IN A VUCA WORLD

HR DISRUPTED - THE BOOK EVERY 'HR' PERSON SHOULD READ

HR DISRUPTED - THE BOOK EVERY 'HR' PERSON SHOULD READ

Lucy Adams ‘doesn’t mince her words’ as my Scottish mother would say!

As a fellow Glaswegian, I was drawn to Lucy’s compelling case and urgency to waste no time getting HR folk to refresh and reinvent their business of ‘people’. Acknowledging the VUCA status of our world, her advice is generous, her reasoning credible and if you’re not on her wavelength then you’re in dire straits.

No matter where you are on the ‘HR Change Continuum’ I know you’ll glean plenty of useful ideas for your organisation. And no doubt, some of you should share your super HR practices with Lucy. However, I was appalled listening to a now ex-employee of one of Australia’s most iconic sporting institutions who recounted their ‘manager’s inability to lead’ and HR’s lack of support; sadly it was too late when the CEO listened and acknowledged his plight. This recent encounter heightened my drive to change Australian workplaces and getting the HR space involved in leadership.

HR Disrupted asks you to turn your HR upside down and:

·        Help leaders be more human in their communications

·        Become the people experts, not the policy police

·        Encourage staff to challenge the status quo

·        Be a provider of opportunities to innovate and be creative

·        Get fresh people to lead departments to see possibilities

·        Treat Employees as Adults, Consumers and importantly, as Human beings (a new HR model = EACH)

·        Listen to the five generations in your workforce, they all have different needs, and

·        Ask, How was work for you this week? Or, What policies frustrated you most? (And do something immediately about it.)

It would appear that Australia isn’t alone in creating policies based on the lowest common denominator (i.e. one person stuffing up) opposed to removing the ‘HR Policy Handbook’ and creating the People Book – building great people and leadership. 

Three components of the book were standouts:

PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS/REVIEWS

I cracked open the champers when I read “remove appraisals” – thankfully someone agrees with me on this one. I have honestly never met anyone who enjoys the performance appraisal system. Have you? We waste so much of our time, people’s time and money to roll out, stuff it up and roll it back up. We would be best investing in helping our people and leaders give and receive awesome feedback.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Chapter Thirteen delved into my world of Leadership Development; challenging the approach to developing leadership by sending people off on a one day workshop or a six-week program. Whilst I didn’t agree with all of Lucy’s thinking, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to listen to the employee as a consumer of our products - not HR or the business alone. We do know that people struggle to implement their learning – it’s too easy to fall back to what is known opposed to showing courage and experimenting and failing in our attempt to change.

MOTIVATION

Motivation was examined at length; identifying that the key role of HR is to help leaders learn and understand, what drives people. Given that we know most people want to be respected, appreciated and work with a company doing something special, we can focus less on the need to onboard and off-load as people will be motivated to stay. When HR become the people experts they will be doing things terribly different.

The crux of Lucy’s message is this: HR need to work with leaders to become amazing human beings, helping them communicate in a human way: saying sorry if they get it wrong, use storytelling to engage, and praise staff in a natural and spontaneous way.  When this is done, HR have done a super job. In actual fact, HR might do them out of a job!

As more Millennials take on leadership roles and ‘command and control’ baby boomers leave their roles of authority we will have a greater opportunity to disrupt HR. However, that might take a while, so we need the current HR gang to take the lead and exemplify the mindset of VUCA world ready leaders. They’ll do this by building trust, lessening threats, encourage collaboration, connecting people across organisations and have a generosity of spirit.

I believe you get the gist that I’m quite fond of this book – so much so, I’d say it’s been the best read in my reading challenge.

Your actions include: read the book, share the book with people in your organisation and start doing HR differently. And, whilst I prefer to spruik my own workshops, I notice that Lucy will be in Australia in May – check out www.disruptivehr.co.uk

I’d love to discuss Lucy’s ideas and of course my practice – so let’s connect.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

ARE YOU ACHIEVING EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS?

 

ARE YOU ACHIEVING EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS?

If you are achieving extraordinary results, I suspect you trust and are trusted by others. No matter what you are doing in life.

If you have the interest and agility to increase your results, consider the conversations you’ve had today; yesterday and the day before. If you deconstruct these conversations, what would you uncover about yourself? And, if you placed the results on a dashboard would the dial point to connected, productive or creative? Or would the dial move to the opposite side of this gauge – pointing to sceptic or resistor?

Judith E. Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence – How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results, advises her readership and clients over the past 30 years that we’re probably speaking to and from the wrong brain – the Primitive Brain. (Who would have known?!)

By using your Executive brain, you’ll notice that this connection will alter everything: the way you phrase your greeting, ask your questions and how you offer or make comments. Rather than create distrust, this newish brain will build trust. And trust is the anchor in your relationships to weather all situations.

Whilst some of us might think our conversations are powerful, we may be failing to see the impact these interactions have on others. We need to heighten our awareness and increase our use of the Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) skill which connects intentions with impact.

Judith’s goal is to help you move from operating at C-IQ ‘Level I – transactional’ (how to exchange data and information) and make the quantum leap to the learnable C-IQ ‘Level III – transformational’ (how to co-create conversations for mutual success). Put simply, change to a listener rather than a teller.

Your Conversational Dashboard ... where's your dial pointing?

Your Conversational Dashboard ... where's your dial pointing?

The new language is co-create – working together, cutting through bureaucracy, hierarchical levels, removing the need to be right all the time, in an effort to build a successful culture. This is done by influencing each other’s neurochemistry, while we express our inner thoughts and feelings to strengthen relationships while making sense of the world. Too easy!

Which brain do you operate from?

We have five brains according to the research which Judith shares liberally – each brain having an influence on our conversational ability. The Primitive brain, which hosts the fear mongering Amygdala, operates differently to our Prefrontal Cortex (Executive brain) which is activated when we feel we can trust others.

 

chemicals.jpg

As leaders, we unconsciously drip-feed our teams with ‘conversational cocktails’; resulting in the team being drunk with happiness, excitement and enthusiasm, or, all too often, they start acting like angry animals.  The ‘cocktail’ is a mixture of biochemicals triggered by what you do and say. The chemicals, oxytocin (bonding), dopamine (when you’re right) and serotonin (happiness) are released if your conversation is at ‘Level III’ – when you and the team are working to achieve a mutually successful outcome.

When what we say, what we hear, and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies.

So, when what we say, what we hear and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies. We make “movies” and generally fail to connect.

If you were to replay ‘the movie’ of a recent staff meeting, what would you see and hear? Would you see the same people sitting in the same spots, hear the same people speak and see the agenda following a similar pattern? To make a change, Judith recommends commencing with a ‘Rules of Engagement’ activity which talks to the Amygdala, calming it down to be more fully engaged with the meeting intent. Similarly, when we host a workshop or conference – we break the ice with this style of activity to build trust in the group – we talk to the Amygdala!

The term ‘intelligence’ was brought alive with the advance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ); which is differentiated by Judith: “Emotional Intelligence is about self-regulation whereas conversational intelligence is about co-regulation”. I get this and it will be the EQ leader who will ease into becoming a C-IQ leader. One who will masterfully observe their inner world of desires whilst observing the impact of their actions on others.

I am currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s my 30th book. I’m a little behind with reviews as I found writing about Conversational Intelligence a challenge. I’m not totally sure why, the content isn’t new to me – it’s probably deciding what to share with you and what not to include!

Please take the opportunity to read this book. It’s a definite ‘must read’ to learn how to train your brain and ultimately achieve extraordinary results in your endeavours.

I have been inundated with questions about my reading project, in particular, my ability to read so many books. Well, I do read, I don’t listen to the books and I know that I am a disciplined person who enjoys learning what others are learning. I believe you must keep ahead of the amazing information and practices which others are successfully applying in their Leadership Practices.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

Have you written your 2017 Goals?

MY SHINING YEAR

Have you written your 2017 goals? It's the 1st of February and if you haven't, I have a book for you which may ease the pain of goal setting.

This isn’t exactly a book … it’s a workbook. Better still I believe … as too many books are read and no action is taken. My Shining Year by the colourful and creative Leonie Dawson provides a platform to Stop, Think, Feel, Write, Do and Discover.

I received my copy of the 2017 My Shining Year from the gorgeous @cynthiamahoney for Christmas and given I was heading on the plane the following day on receiving it, I only found time on Monday (30/1) to read through the workbook and complete most of the activities. There are 160 pages and you could spend an eternity working through it – however, I found myself being able work through it, answering questions, writing ideas ... all very quickly.

It will appear rather quirky even female-focused to some, however, I think this is a super tool to use yourself or in particular, to give to others who would benefit from some support and guidance if they need a boost in their businesses or considering venturing into doing happier things in life.

The workbook does what I believe is very important and that is REVIEW. Reviewing the previous year is the first section - allowing you to leverage off the information recorded in the workbook as you answer the questions. A closing ceremony is a fun way to view this activity. Be reminded of what you did which worked well and the things which didn’t work in your ‘2016’.

Once you’ve closed the door with your 2016 lessons, you can immerse yourself in the guided tour of achieving and creating new goals for 2017. Starting with income (how much do you want to earn!) followed by the resources, support, systems, habits, education, customers and marketing which are evaluated and identified to make things happen.

Plenty of reading is recommended to learn how to make these things happen, (I’ve taken note of a few reads especially in the systems area) and the love or loath activity of ‘dreamboarding’ is highly recommended. Make your dream be achieved by the Law of Attraction. I’m yet to complete my 'dreamboard' – but I have promised myself to spend a weekend afternoon playing with cardboard, glue and magazines.

A component of the workbook provides space to ‘make your goals happen’. With the metaphor of the magical mountain, you need to climb, step by step. This was a fun exercise, involving brainstorming 2017 goals (with myself) and prioritising what’s required to be acted on first – even with dates to commit myself. There's an emphasis on having a ‘mastermind’ or ‘circle of friends’ who can hold you accountable to your plans. (Such an important piece of advice for those on their own.)

I also have a ‘My Shining Day’ planner – which you can use every day to prioritise the activities, remind me to drink water and four important reminders including my favourite – MONOFOCUS. Do one thing at a time!

I’m still completing an activity: 100 things to do in 2017. It’s challenging. I have to dream up 100 glorious goals for me to do in my business this year. Help, I’m only at #11. I need to seriously monofocus on this activity.

So, it’s the 1st of February and already one month of my potential shining year has disappeared (on a gorgeous overseas holiday) so I need to do what I’ve written in this workbook and potentially, we might work together (if you’re reading this now!)

If you’re interested in looking at this workbook – jump over to www.leoniedawson.com – she’s offering 50% off her ‘my shining’ products. I also noted that she supports not-for-profits and gives away these products. This gives you an idea of the type of person behind this workbook – I like it even more that I’ve discovered this generosity.

As usual, if there is a book you’d like me to read for us, let me know. Or, I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about my previous  24 books which I’ve read and blogged about to help you decide what to read or learn from my learnings. (These are all on my website - under the section of Leadership Thoughts.)

I'm currently reading a great book to help you with your teenagers and I've just downloaded a book which has been on the list for a while: Conversational Intelligence. I'll be reading it this Sunday & Monday as we're driving to/from Canberra. 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

Successful Morning Practices

Book Review: What the most successful people do before breakfast

Do books need to be two, three, four or five hundred pages long? Is there a prerequisite?

I know that the ‘thud factor’ gives credibility – lots of pages equates to lots of knowledge printed on lots of pages. However, I fear that a big book scares off potential readers. As I near my halfway mark of reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’ve identified how to read quickly and how to create the time and space to read.

So, I was totally surprised to find that my choice of reading this week was completed in one night. A quick purchase on my Kindle based on the title was only 50 swipes. Complete with a few key lessons – enough to reflect on for the week.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do before Breakfast presents her findings of what others do to make the most of their day.

My daughter Jennifer was perplexed with the cover of the book, a cup of coffee. She doesn’t like the smell of coffee and concerned that she’ll be unable to be successful! So, let's get beyond the cover and I’ll share what I learnt … very quickly!

Depending on what time you rise, and the time you have breakfast, there is a space to fill with activities which some say enables them to be successful.

We all have our own routines, rituals, quirky habits and a mindful of thoughts in the morning, so here’s your opportunity to TICK off if you’re aiding or hindering your successfulness:

·        Wake at 5am – or at a time which gives you an extra 60 to 90 minutes to use wisely

·        Reflect and or Pray on a daily basis

·        Prioritise items to tackle for the day

·        Avoid social media and especially email until you’ve completed a ‘chunk’ of real work

·        Journal your thoughts

·        Exercise - Run, walk, yoga or gym work

How many ticks do you have?

We all have 168 hours in our week and ‘successful’ people use a proportion of these hours a day to nurture their career, relationships and their self.

New research (prior to 2012) identified that self-discipline is in abundance after a good night’s sleep and depletes during the day. I think we’ve already worked that out – I know I can kick off with a healthy breakfast and then arrive at the evening snacking on potato chips while I cook dinner …. 12 hours later! We lapse as the day progresses and whilst some can squeeze in exercise after work or during their lunch break … the research tells us that morning is best; we are fresh and our internal motivation is in abundance to tackle tasks which the outside world isn’t demanding.

The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation. These are generally activities which have long term benefits.

So, if you had minimal ticks a few suggestions were offered to change:

·        Tracking your time – identify what you’re doing with your 168 hours a week

·        Picture your perfect morning – visualise what it would look like to be effective in the morning

·        Think through the logistics – what can you change around you to make it work

·        Build the habit – it’s like a muscle … keep practising

·        Tune up as necessary – keep correcting and get your early morning working

This is a seriously short book, however, it’s straight to the point and very implementable. I’ve already adopted the practice of ‘no social media’ in the morning until I’m having a coffee at 10.30am. (Let me tell you, when I do it, it's magic, however, it’s very difficult to change your habits!)

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

WHAT'S YOUR PROVOCATIVE QUESTION?

WHAT’S YOUR PROVOCATIVE QUESTION?

What do you collect?

I’ve met collectors of shoes, cars, houses and recipes! I simply or crazily collect questions.

Great questions can: transform a superficial conversation into an extraordinary relationship; unlock the real you … someone whom you thought you really knew and questions can elevate your happiness (think: Will you marry me?)

I glean questions at every opportunity. I record them, highlight them in a book, send myself recorded messages when I hear questions and their answers – quite alarming when I think of it!

So, it was very exciting to be handed a book which was filled with questions. That’s a Great Question, written or should I say, collated by Greg Bustin, provides on a platter, hundreds of tried and tested provacative questions, categorized into themed chapters – handy if you’re coaching others or as I found myself, using it as a self-help coaching book. Don’t be fooled thinking it’s a one hour read!

This book is your ideal, end of year practical exercise to prepare for 2017. As Greg suggests, take yourself away from your normal space; go hiking, block out a day to work through this book. Surprisingly, I am still reading this book today (Sunday) as I have found myself continually stopping in search on the answers.

In my business this week, we completed a mini-skills session with a client – exploring a couple of models to coach staff. I am always amazed how people come to realise how powerful a conversation becomes by using great questions to dig and discover.

Greg says that using questions effectively is like a dance. I agree. It’s not a checklist. It’s a conversation which you can exercise your lead but it’s about two people committed to working together. Whilst it might not look like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the dancefloor, it should feel like a performance (of achievement).

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Courtesy of DHC Treasures

I couldn’t decide on a favourite question to share; so I’ve selected a few from a few of the thoughtfully categorised sections of the book. Use these on yourself and be surprised how time consuming it can be truthfully respond.

Purpose

If our company did not exist, what would the world be missing?What gives me a sense of certainty?

Values

What’s one principle I wished everyone practised?

Goal Setting

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

Trust

What am I kidding myself about?

How do I respond when I place my trust in someone and they let me down?

Communication

If a stranger walked in and asked any employee about our vision, mission and strategy, what would they hear?

Leadership

Do I behave differently in the office than at home? If so, in what ways? If so, what causes my behaviour to differ from place to place?

Time Management

If I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a month, what would I find? Is this how I should spend my time?

Talent + Teamwork

Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?

What am I doing to help make this job the best job my people have ever had?

Customer + Prospects

What memorable experience are we creating with our customers?

Making Things Happen

Do we measure the things that are important to us?

Are we having fun? Am I having fun?

Accountability

Whose job am I doing today? (I do like this question.)

Blue Sky

What would I do if I didn’t work?

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein

 

The book provides tips to help you coach others effectively, how to structure your questions, which words to never use and rules to abide by to establish a trusting relationship where private information is shared.

My greatest tip for you is to use the book on yourself first. Leadership works well when there is authentic self-awareness. Let this book be your gift to others by getting yourself ready for an awesome 2017. Alternatively, gift yourself a Coach for 2017 and get in contact with me to discover your best self.

 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

THE LEARNING BOARD

THE LEARNING BOARD

This week's Book Review: The Fish Rots from the Head - Bob Garratt

This week’s book was gifted to my husband 19 years ago and I’m sure neither of us has read it. However, its title is imprinted on the inside my forehead as the Chinese proverb (title of the book) was mentioned at a Board and leadership education session I attended 20 years ago.

I’ve finally read ‘The Fish Rots from the Head’ and whilst I don’t have any immediate intentions of joining another board, it’s a fascinating read. I’m almost inclined to download the current (third) edition given the tumultuous time boards and directors have experienced over the past 20 years.

It’s interesting to note that the Australian Institute of Company Directors has the third edition of this book for sale on its website – must be a recommended read for aspiring directors.

It’s an easy read and I was pleasantly surprised that the focus was less on the mechanics of identifying issues with the financial plan, however, more on how to skill Directors to know the importance of corporate climate, culture, accountabilities, strategic thinking styles and leadership.

Whilst Corporate Governance isn’t sexy … it sure is significant if you’re a Director.  Addressed under the chapter of Accountability, governance gets some airplay, however, I would think the third edition of this book would catch up with the ever changing heightened importance of being a responsible director.

As a Director, no matter which organisation or even country you reside, you’re faced with four dilemmas:

·        Be entrepreneurial yet prudent

·        Knowledgeable of day to day actions yet stand back from the management

·        Sensitive to local issues yet have a global view

·        Focused on commercial needs yet responsible for people and partnerships.

Bob’s mission for Boards, is that they are a Learning Board: keeping ahead or at least working at the pace of change encountered by the organisation, stakeholders and society; educating directors on a continual basis. This can be done as a group of Directors, using models and tools shared in the book with the focus on short and long term activity.

During the week I used a SWOT analysis with a client on their Planning Day which is the first tool recommended by Bob for the strategic thinking process. It’s use created a day of conversation which we didn’t finish, highlighting the need to get groups and teams together to think and talk and share their intelligence.

These are the simple standout messages which made the book interesting and informative:

·        Direction–givers need a brain-on, rather than a hands-on attitude.

·        A director needs to use ‘intelligent naivety’ as a key tool of the job. (Like a leader should always be asking questions to understand people.)

·        The Vision should be unattainable in the short term to medium term but sufficiently tantalising for everyone to be exciting about it and see it as a real possibility, even in the worst times.

·        Board members must act out the values they agreed to and check that the company is doing the same.

·        Directors need to scan the environment, religiously reading daily and questioning “what does this mean for us?”

·        Using scenarios to test strategies, identify thoughts and possibilities enabling the killing of a strategy if it strays from the purpose.

·        Avoid creating committees of the board, rather, form working groups which have a ‘use-by’ date.

·        Boards are typically groups of powerful individuals and need to work effectively as a group in the short time which they have together.

·        Directors must think: to the past, in the current and to the future. Right, true and new! Sadly, many Directors look to their past experience and stop there.

When I reflect on the books I’ve read so far, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday is one which I believe ‘would be Directors’ or current Directors should read to realise the how debilitating their ego can be to their organisation.

Bob offers this activity to help with the Directors development; it’s similar to one which I use however this is brilliant – I can see how dynamic it would be if everyone was honest with their feedback.

ACTIVITY FOR DIRECTORS (and Leadership Teams)

Stop, Start, and Continue. Write the names of each Board member onto individual pieces of Butcher’s paper (large white paper) and these three headings: Stop, Start and Continue. Affix the pieces of paper to a wall in a room and encourage Directors whilst they have a coffee to walk around and write in each category against each board member, feedback and ideas which would help their fellow directors be more effective on the board.

The critical question is, what training and activities have you done whilst in your role as Director? Likewise, as a Leader, what training/learning have you completed to be an effective and efficient Leader? Get in contact with me as I can definitely help you and your leadership team develop.

The third edition.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

THE NEED FOR DISCOMFORT

THE NEED FOR DISCOMFORT

Here I am, at my 21st book, reviewing its content using my leadership lens. To be honest, the lens fell off at times and I found myself shifting in my seat with the discomfort of truth.  Powerful questions made me stop and ponder, thinking about my current life, causing more discomfort.

My new discomfort is still being experienced as I am yet to complete the many exercises I commenced (they could take some time which I don’t have at the moment) which all appeared so very worthwhile. (I hope I get back to them.)

The Unlimited Self by Jonathan Heston was a free download onto my Kindle. I was dubious … as they say ‘you get what you pay for’ so I was pleasantly surprised that I was onto something great.

Jonathan has produced a useful ‘self-help’ book which I believe is a crucial read for those who are either looking for the next best thing in life or on the extreme end of the life continuum, experiencing doubt in their life and need support; in particular, guidance with a path or map to follow.

From a leadership perspective, The Unlimited Self offers a new communication style and language to help the leader understand how to help people who are in their comfort zone and need to be pushed to their edge – to feel some vulnerability or at least feel a need for change.

I highlighted these particular statements which I’ve reread a few times:

·        Accept the reality of your weakness – its feedback where you can grow.

·        Perceptions hold you back – from where you are and where you want to be

·        Limiting beliefs are stories our mind feeds us which limit who we are and where we want to go. They disempower instead of empowering us.

·        We need to love and respect ourselves or everything disintegrates. We are the only filter between the world and ourselves.

·        Authenticity is you being the best you that you can possibly be.

·        Work harder on who you are, more than what you do.

·        How we view others is often a mirror of how we view ourselves.

·        Vulnerability is one of the most difficult habits to practice and develop. But it’s also incredibly rewarding

Like many of the books I have been reading, it is crowded with quotes … here’s a powerful one which: 

 

To destroy our limiting beliefs, and uncover the inner greatness, Jonathon suggests we need to reprogram our future self by:

·        Practising forgiveness as it is fundamental to free your perspective – even if you forgive yourself first. Try writing a forgiveness letter (you don’t have to send it).

·        Talking to our self! Try talking to yourself in the mirror (without giggling), out loud with meaning. Make powerful statements about your identity.

·        Meditating to be comfortable with yourself – 15-30 minutes a day (Yikes – this is my discomfort)

·        Use a journal morning and evening – writing questions that you seek to be answered by your subconscious mind and using it to write what you appreciate in life (I’ve changed from gratitude to appreciation.)

·        Find a group of people who allow you to be your future self – who are also wanting to live on the edge.

Reading books like this one make you pause from your busy hectic life. They make you ask questions of yourself and hopefully you’ll make time to answer them truthfully. Powerfully simple questions such as “Am I happy?”

To be an effective authentic leader, I suggest you read this book as it’s a great little tool to help you to help your team of followers be authentic. You could read it together!

Note: I also felt a level of discomfort with the references to ‘God’ in the second half of the book. I found it evoked my cynicism (very unlike me) and I am yet to understand why. I almost stopped reading the book because of this, however, I soldiered on, thankfully.

 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

 

THE WHITE HOUSE APPRENTICE

THE WHITE HOUSE APPRENTICE

It’s ironic that this week’s book was about the Enemy!

Last week whilst the US elections occurred, I was reading Ego is the Enemy, a super read (by Ryan Holiday, an American) which alerted us to history and research which suggests that we tone down our ego if we seek success and happiness.

How to get rich cover.jpg

This week’s book blew this belief out of the water; How to get Rich by Donald J. Trump, an assisted autobiography. Written in 2004, the now President-Elect, stated that he was too blunt to be the President! Funnily enough, one of his other books (there are several) touts he is the most supreme leader of the free world!

The one thing which a large percentage of Australians don’t like to admit is that they suffer from ‘tall poppy syndrome’. They are affected by people who unashamedly self-promote. Aka, those who are egotistical. Which is why the whole American election was a Primary school playground discussion topic – which of these two egos (Hilary vs. Donald) do we dislike the most.

Whilst I had my preconceived beliefs, perceptions and thoughts, I attempted to put them aside while reading the book. I actually found it too easy to read as there isn’t much depth; my daughter (9yo) was shocked that an adult book would have two pages in a chapter!

I feel that I’ve researched the personality and behaviour of USA’s next President; understanding what drives him to do and say what he does which offends so many of us.

How to get Rich leverages off the cult following of The Apprentice, a show which I admit I didn’t follow closely like my husband. The final part (VI – which is the shortest), is about this show, however, the remaining five parts are interesting and do offer information to consider.

Lessons worth considering:

·        The sincere gratitude he shared for his family, team of dedicated staff – recognising them for their talents and commitment to the company and his friends

·        Keep the door open to listen to everyone – as long as it’s not a chat fest, be focused and succinct

·        Don’t equivocate (aka beat around the bush)

·        Staff should be able to answer these questions: What do you contribute to the welfare of the organisation? Do you work wholeheartedly? Are you instrumental in keeping it humming and moving forward?

·        Focus on talent, not people’s title

·        Read books every day; set time aside to read and learn

·        Be Passionate – people with passion don’t give up. (A hidden gem in the chapter – Play Golf)

·        Brand yourself and toot your horn – Trump Tower was going to be called Tiffany Tower!

·        Listen to your gut and learn to tap into your unconscious and subconscious (Trump follows Carl Jung)

·        Connect with your audience when you’re speaking publically – and learn to speak confidently: be a storyteller, learn to think on your feet, listen well and enjoy it (he has an 11 point plan to speak publically)

·        Be positive and have faith in yourself – increase the altitude of your attitude (he recommends reading The Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale)

·        Learn to negotiate – however I would tone down Trump’s advice

·        Keep meetings brief – really brief.

A chapter is dedicated to his hair.

 

What I question or disagree with:

·        Intertwining leadership and management as the same practice

·        Being too blunt publically about who he doesn’t like and why he doesn’t like certain people and advocating it’s OK to hold a grudge

·        Don’t shake hands, it’s how we spread germs. Bowing, like the Japanese custom, is a better option.

·        Learn from your successes, not from your failures (there are no excuses for failures if you do your homework)

·        Too much emphasis on style, looks and beauty - relating to success and the decision maker of gaining attention. (There’s a chapter dedicated to the art of his hair!)

·        Advising on being your own financial adviser, getting a prenuptial agreement and maximising the power you have with being wealthy

·        Valuing wealth and associating it to his success when he numbers his wives and names his beloved buildings.

The love of his life ... buildings.

The part which gained my attention was Trump’s ‘A week in the life’. An hourly recount of activities, conversations, movements and character accounts. Trump lives and works in the same building and identifies how he uses his time to maintain his success. It is all about communication: innumerable phone calls, meetings (either one or a three minute in duration), letter/email reading and longer meetings = playing golf. I suspect that Trump spends his time on the ‘Tell’ end of the communication continuum opposed to the ‘Ask’ end.

I was surprised to learn that that Trump attempted a career change in 2000, running for US President and quickly decided that he preferred running his business. As we embark on a new journey, it will be intriguing to see Trumps change of role as the Apprentice in the White House.

I feel better informed and plan to read another Trump themed book in my ‘52 book, 52 week challenge’ – it’s important to know who you’re dealing with and get inside the head of someone whose influence will have a massive impact in and on our world.

What are your thoughts about Trump? What have you read recently which gives you better insight? I've now read 20 books in 20 weeks and I am better informed and better positioned to do what I do best - consult on leadership development and performance. Let's connect if you're interested, to increase your performance.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

EGO - YOUR ENEMY?

Is Ego your Enemy?

In the ‘70s, Skyhooks, an iconic Australian band, had a hit song, ‘Ego is not a dirty word’. So iconic, that the mere mention of the word “Ego” sends the Australian (of my era) mind into a lyric mode. (Am I right?)

I grew up believing that Ego wasn’t a dirty word however in recent reads, ‘ego’ has raised its head as the culprit and the demise of so many known identifies. Ego caught my eye while book browsing and this week I read Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, a New York media columnist, reformed workaholic and historian.

To be told that ego is the enemy, the reason for so much sadness, failures, and unfulfilled dreams, proved a challenging read. However, as I flicked through the pages, it proved to be an interesting, informative and I must say, influential read. If a book can change your view on a matter then it’s been a worthy read. I was really challenged by this book’s content– more so than any other book I’ve read during my self-imposed reading ‘challenge’. Ryan’s style is sophisticated, yet soothing with so many stories and his blatantly biased beliefs.

With his rich source of historical stories and fact, I found the read a most educative read – it’s saved me reading 20+ historical books – learning about his choice of individuals who have either suffered their own demise of egotism or mastered a humble life. I feel most informed about; Aristotle, Churchill, Machiavelli, General Marshall, Howard Hughes, Genghis Khan, Benjamin Franklin, Katharine Graham, Angela Merkel, Malcolm X, Steve Jobs and Adam Smith.  

Chancellor Angela Merkel is sober, when far too many leaders are intoxicated - with ego, with power, with position.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is sober, when far too many leaders are intoxicated - with ego, with power, with position.

The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in your own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.

The book is organised into three sections: Aspire, Success, and Failure. Purposely designed to heighten your awareness when ego will plague you, encouraging you to start your training to suppress ego and to replace the temptations and cultivate strength. In other words: be humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failures.

I would expect that my many extroverted mates will be intimidated with the views scattered through the book and suspect that 51% of the population, the introverts in our world, will agree with the populated world of extroverts who are overly noisy about their passion for sharing in their egotistical manner!

WHEREVER YOU ARE, WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING, YOUR WORST ENEMY ALREADY LIVES INSIDE YOU: YOUR EGO.

I found myself sinking into thoughts of the past, using this new Ego lens to view people’s performance, behaviours and management of matters. Ego has taken the paramount place in guiding their choices and humility has been left behind.

I suspect that this book would be a great gift for that person who’s Ego needs taming or needs some training.

I’ve been following Ryan on Twitter for the past week and he shares an abundance of historical quotes.  This is evidently his style as the book is saturated with wisdom and challenging thoughts. To master our greatest opponent, our ego, let’s contemplete these thoughts:

·        Passion typically masks a weakness – it is a poor substitute for discipline, master, strength, purpose and perseverance.

·        We tend to think that ego equals confidence, which is what we need to be in charge. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.

·        Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind.

·        Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.

·        What is rare is not raw talent, skill or even confidence but humility, diligence and self-awareness

·        The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.

·        Talk depletes us – while goal visualisation is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress – the same goes for verbalization.

·        The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other.

·        If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.

·        Only when free of ego and baggage can anyone perform to their utmost.

·        When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.

·        It is poise, not pose.

·        One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible.

·        Don’t allow your ego’s noise to indulge in games – ignore the noise, don’t allow it to distract you. Restraint is a critical skill.

·        Man is pushed by drives but he is pulled by values.

·        Disease of Me – after a team starts to win, the simple bonds that joined the individuals begin to fray – people calculate their importance.

·        Silence the noise around you; ‘go into the wilderness and return with inspiration, a plan, perspective and an understanding of the larger picture.

·        Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.

·        Power doesn’t so much corrupt: that’s too simple. It fragments, closes options, mesmerizes – clouds the mind precisely when it needs to be clear. Sobriety is a counterbalance, a hangover cure – or better, a prevention method.

·        Ego can’t see both sides of the issue. It can’t get better because it only sees the validation.

·        Vain men never hear anything but praise.

·        Not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.

A great metaphor is shared regarding training to master your ego. Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day dust comes back. Every day we must sweep. (Every minute of the day and then sweep again.)

If you struggle with the discipline of changing your behaviour, it's worth considering asking for guidance. Get in contact with me to help you with your ego.

I’m looking forward to my 20th book which I found in my library – it’s by Donald Trump! 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

The New Leadership

The New Leadership

Did you miss the news? There’s a new leadership in town!

Take a moment and consider which version or brand of leadership you are using at the moment.

Is it out of date, redundant, out of touch and not meeting the demands of your customers? Or, have your customers and people not changed in the past five, 10 or 15 years? Just think of the arrival of the Millennials – different expectations, values and focus.

Whilst we speed through life, navigating Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA – a military term), it’s a reminder that we need to be flexible in our approach to lead our relationships and interact with technology which we never dreamed of using five years ago.

We need to reinvent our leadership, learn the capabilities of being adaptive and agile according to Dr Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership, who skilfully turned his doctoral research into a must read. Incorporating client case studies in his capacity as CEO of Cirrus (International Leadership Consultancy) we travel the many changes which prominent world known businesses have implemented to keep customer focused, profitable and proud of their leadership brand, many of whom have adopted the Connected Leadership framework.

A connected style of leadership leverages off the learnings from previous styles, applying behaviours which meet the demands of the 21st century and departs from 20th century practices of heroic and hierarchical command and control. (Consider placement of car parking spaces – Customer vs. C suite). We need to keep adapting our leadership to keep up with change; in particular with social media, where customer experiences are often played out on the global stage with millions in the audience, exaggerating the effect of the connections.

 

Given my reading journey, navigating approximately 5000 pages in 18 weeks, I found Simon’s book will summerise what we’re expecting of our leaders in 2016. You can then delve further into content in other books which I’ve recently reviewed – think Making Sense, Adaptive Leadership and Your Leadership Edge.

Being agile, moving quickly and easily, needs a strong spine of clear purpose and direction and a strong sense of shared values with the flexile muscles of colleagues who are empowered to take decisions based on their proximity to customers and a willingness to trust and collaborate.

 So, how connected is the leadership in your company? (Spine and Muscle) You can assess your organisation by completing a simple survey in the book. This reinforces the framework helping you mentally measure components of your leadership and business practices. These are the five key factors contributing to a style of leadership suited to this connected world in which we live. Would your customers and people describe your style of leadership which incorporates:

Purpose and direction – a common understanding of why the business exists, helping people make sense of how their roles relates to the purpose of the business.

Authenticity – values, ethics and a behavioural framework are consistently followed with a high level of trust and respect is experienced

Devolved decision making – decision makers are determined on who is best placed, their proximity and relationship with the customer

Collaborative Achievement – there is open dialogue and mutual influence to focus on end to end processes to achieve efficiency, collective merit and a breakthrough of bureaucratic silos to produce new answers to old problems

Agility – fail fast and learn – full stop! Enable people to adapt to changing circumstances, share what they learn and build a culture which supports experimentation (remember continuous improvement) without blame. I contacted Simon and he mentioned that if he were to do a second edition, he’d add some Agile methodologies to help you.

To tweak your style of leadership following this five part framework, I noted in my read that you need to concentrate on these specifics leadership practices:

Sense making – help people understand the importance of what they are doing in the organisation

Storytelling – inspire with your communication to help connect colleagues with strategy

Strong moral compass – be accountable for your behaviours which are based on your values

Share power – delegate decision making to others in your business who are closer to the customer

Self-aware – seek behavioural consistency by tuning into your emotions to manage your reactions

Solicit feedback – receive feedback with good grace and look for any lessons you can take.

Amongst the lessons there were many quotes and I was drawn to - You need to have five fingers touching the factory and five touching the customer. Amancio Ortega is the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, (part of Inditex), which has been operating for over 40 years, has 6,500 stores in 88 countries. Referenced regularly in the book, it’s current and very interesting.

We all have customers in our life, maybe not as many as Zara, and interestingly, Simon’s final chapter is targeted at political leaders: tips on how they can apply the leadership framework to their role. Bravo I say – let’s encourage our local Politicians to read this book to think of their constituents as customers - maybe we should gift the book to each of our representatives.

Whilst it’s clichéd, I think all leaders and better still, those expected to demonstrate leadership, should read this book. It could well lead to aspirations of changing your organisation to becoming more agile and customer driven.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE?

ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE?

Exploring you!

Exploring you!

I felt many emotions whilst reading Finding Your Element; enthusiasm due to the brilliant resources contained and often sadness. I wasn’t sad for myself but for the many people who don’t get the opportunity to read this powerful message; gifts of wisdom, schools of thought and practical advice.

Too many people in our world are “too busy” or too lazy to contemplate what they can grasp and learn from reading what another person has taken so much time to prepare and share.

I feel humbled that a colleague and friend loaned me, The Element (last week’s read) and Finding Your Element which I’m sharing my views on now. How lucky am I to learn, and be reminded of useful ideas, techniques, activities and research to add richness to what I do in my business – which is very similar to the purpose of this book.

Ken Robinson, author, TED Talker and now a ‘Sir’ has followed through with responding to ‘how do you find your element that you told us about in your book?’ Again, another really easy read, however you might get lost in time if you answer the multitude of questions and delve into the many activities.

I’d be really surprised to meet anyone (here in Victoria, Australia) who took the time to complete the activities. They’re not difficult, but what concerns me the most is that people fear what they will discover about their life. I suspect many people will realise that they are living someone else’s life.

My tip is to read the book first and then go back to the beginning and respond to the questions and complete the activities. Like many self-help books, it’s hard work!

So here are a few gems which I think would entice you to read Finding Your Element … here goes:

In a nutshell, finding your element boils down to being self-aware of your aptitudes, attitude, personality etc – having an honest audit of yourself allows you to slot yourself into future opportunities which you will want to create.

Essentially, Ken wants you to lead a life (the dash between the years of your life) filled with passion and purpose which means you need to articulate what you’re good at, what you love doing and essentially, what makes you happy. Do you know the answers to these questions?

Reading people’s element stories was heart-warming – courageous acts of change that sometimes sounded almost unbelievable. I felt like a plodder (is that a term?) compared to some people whose pursuit involved using all their funds, selling family homes, returning to study and leaving their technical expertise. Taking risks because they knew that their ‘true north’ was yet to be discovered.

Amongst the many exercises which Ken provides, one is extremely useful - determining what you’re good at. We generally get caught looking for, talking about and thinking of ‘what we’re not good at’ (especially women) – the activity enables you through its step by step explanation, to differentiate your aptitudes and abilities. This exercise encourages you to explore aptitudes at a depth concealed, latent and waiting to be discovered.

And finally, amongst the many questions, the five which I found would help many consider what their element might be:

·        What do you know of that you’re not good at and would like to improve?

·        Do you have any talents that you haven’t developed that you wished that you had?

·        What sorts of activities lift your spirits and feed your energy?

·        If you couldn’t fail, what would you most like to achieve?

·        When do you feel at your happiest?

If you don’t see the need to read this book for yourself, then consider your role in life. If you’re a team leader, you’ll appreciate this as a resource – providing quality questions to add to your repertoire. Applying the questions in regular conversations will enable you to coach your people to self-develop and help them locate their element or other elements (we’re not limited to one).

I am a self-help book junkie. To say that I enjoyed Finding Your Element, is an understatement. I hope that some of you will be influenced to read it too and feel the emotion of joy that it brought me.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

ARE YOU IN YOUR ELEMENT?

ARE YOU IN YOUR ELEMENT?

Which TED Talk has been viewed more than any other?

If you guessed correctly, you would have said Sir Ken Robinson’s – Do schools kill Creativity?

Following his recording, 10 years ago, he pumped out this week’s read: The Element – How finding your passion changes everything. Interestingly, Sir Ken is asking people to send him an email about the impact his TED talk has had on their lives.

This week's read: The Element

As I read The Element, I could hear Sir Ken’s voice on every page packed with a good dose of humour. It’s now a toned down English accent as he resides in sunny California – a big move from his humble beginning, being one of many siblings and being struck down with Polio at a young age. This adds great creditability to Sir Ken’s enthusiasm to take heed of his message and the story of his journey.

The format of The Element makes for an easy and interesting read – providing rich stories and research supporting the opportunity to apply the push to find the element lurking in your inner self … if you’re yet to locate it.

The Element – the place where the things we love to do and the thing we are good at come together.

The added bonus of this book is learning more about the many people who I have grown up with (well, they don’t know me, but I thought I knew them well). Living their youth filled with adversity, or parents who had different plans for their future and those who didn’t become famous until later in life. People like Vidal Sassoon, the man behind the Shampoo on the shelves of the supermarket. He said, “That the inconvenience of discipline, the structure in my young life, one of adversity, is what helped shape me and make me be successful and be in my element.

Sadly, too many people live other peoples’ lives. They don’t follow their passion, for various reasons, and succumb to living and behaving how others want them to be.

Many people put aside their passions to pursue things that they don’t care about for the sake of financial security.

Sir Ken examines many reasons why people don’t operate in their element, more instructions on how to get your element happening and a bucket load of data to support why you should get busy with your Element as he has overturned all excuses of why you wouldn’t and couldn’t.

Here’s a summary:

We are now more aware of our many intelligences; we’re not relying solely on IQ tests to determine our success. By exploring where our strengths lie, we will have more opportunity to discover what we love doing, and doing it well – which equates to your Element.

In Sir Ken’s TED talk, he focused on how schools stifle creativity and the need for parents to help their kids decide if education is the right path to follow to locate their Element. In his book, we delve into the power of the mind, imagining what you want to do and then taking it to the next level by being creative to make it happen

We are introduced to another great book, which is on my list to read, Flow, by Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – the text is referenced to suggest that we need to be skilled and invested in a goal to achieve a state of Flow or as we more commonly say ‘in the zone’. Many of us have experienced this feeling in sports - consider training for a Marathon: you know how to run, you know the distance which is required and you can run and run and feel no pain.

If you‘re a leader that encourages others to be in the flow and in their element, you are giving them energy. If you’re the opposite, you have a workplace which discourages people being in their element and in Flow, then you suck the energy (and creativity) out of them.

Circles of Influence aka your Tribes are required to help you achieve your Element. Hanging around with people who encourage you to be creative and be the real you, create the environment to operate at your best. Think of a great team, whether that be work or a sports team, they will testify that you were in your Element. Sadly, it is our closest tribe, our family, who often have other plans and priorities for us - preventing our achievement of our element.

How many square pegs in round holes have you encountered in your work life? I have met too many and sadly they cause too many of the dilemmas and dramas in workplaces. When people are in their Element, they require less management and leadership. I do blame managers in these situations – it takes good leadership to have helpful and challenging conversations to guide people to locate their element … elsewhere. At the same time, it’s a big price to pay to change. Resistance from friends, family and fans to leave a ‘good paying job’ to find your mojo elsewhere.

And help is needed on this journey of change in search of your Element. This help can be obtained from a Mentor. Mentors connect you to the right people, will be a part of your life and a critical influence in your Element search. If not a Mentor, search for your Hero’s – those who have saved you from a position or situation and put you on a better course. Either way, like having a tribe, you can’t do it alone – you need others in your life to be in your Element.

Being in your element often means being connected with other people who share the same passions and have a common sense of commitments.

I enjoyed learning about people who chose a different road in their life, later in their life. I am affronted with the thought of retirement. I’ve never considered stopping doing what I love doing. I often challenge myself to do new things and continue to learn. I’m always looking for the opportunity to change … to find a possible new element! You are in charge of your life. The only thing which is stopping you is in your head – your mind.

When we are in our element, we feel that we are meant to be doing what we’re doing and being who we are meant to be.

My favourite piece to read was the debate of the Professional and the Amateur – the professional gets paid for what they do and the role they fulfill whereas the amateur does not. The Amateur is passionate about what they do and doesn’t get the cash. Are you a professional or are you an amateur on the Element Continuum? How prepared are you to forfeit your money opportunities to fulfill the feeling of being in your element.

The final chapter in The Element links back to the TED Talk – discussing school systems. This makes sense as it’s in school that we heard ourselves say, “When I grow up, I want to be a ….” and when we’re in our final years of education, we’re less sure of our desires. It’s a terrible indictment on our Education system and I hope in the past ten years, we are on a better course to help our young people find their Element

I’d like to think that you’ve got this far reading my review and said Yes, I am in my element. However, I think not. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not happy ad unsatisfied with what you’re doing in your life. If there is any doubt, do something about it. If you are in your Element, then consider being a Mentor.

And do I recommend reading this book? Absolutely – we should all be involved in our and others’ Elements. I opened the first page The Element and a hundred books. Sir Ken was very generous with his research and writing, quoting, sharing and extracting the core value of so many other books which supports The Element. You should read it too.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

FOLLOW YOUR PERSONAL LEGEND

Follow your Personal Legend

So, I’m at book fifteen (of my 52 book challenge) and given my busy week, I reached into my library in search of a short book. The one I grabbed I had read many years ago although I had no memory of the messages. At the time of the initial read, about 15 years ago, I do recall reading many books of this genre: A Road Less Traveled, The Ninth Insight and The Celestine Prophecy. All promising life changing conspiracies and secrets!

So, I approached my read hoping to glean at least one lesson which could be applied to my personal, professional and or into my leadership practice. I wasn’t disappointed: I learned a couple of interesting life lessons, was fascinated with the Koran (the story is set in north Africa with Islam being a popular faith) and enjoyed the lessons being shared through a fable-styled story.

What I enjoyed about reading this ‘fable’ is its ability to ‘suck’ me in and make me reflect on my life’s current journey. I can understand why it had a cult following in its heyday – after some research, I discovered it’s the most translated book in history – it’s been reproduced into over 80 languages since first being published 29 years ago.

The crux of this book is finding one’s own destiny – ‘your personal legend’. Author, Brazilian Paulo Coelho tells us the story of a young shepherd, Santiago, who is told by a Gypsy to follow his dream to visit the Pyramids leaving his flock, family, and his love, Fatima.

There are several contradictions throughout this book – in one breath we are told to follow our dreams and in the next, live for today, aka be present and mindful. Putting that aside, I found five life messages which I thought was worth having read The Alchemist.

What's your personal legend? 

Santiago, the protagonist, meets five people in his life quest and coincidentally learns five lessons:

Travel frequently and meet new people every day – when we see the same people every day, they become part of that person's life and that person wants them to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

Realise your personal legend – do what you’ve always wanted to accomplish. Be young again when everything is clear and everything is possible. Be not afraid to dream. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

Learn to read without words – take time to listen and observe and you’ll understand the world. This language is about enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose and is part of a search for something believed in and desired. It requires courage.

Listen to your heart – let it tell you what to do and you’ll be listening to the soul of the world. Discovering you possess great treasures is enough; keep it within as if you try and tell others of them, seldom are you believed. Be silent more and be friends with your heart and soul.

Have faith – in a God. Believe in someone or something. Allah features prominently, whereas the sun, wind and sand were also versions of a God. Believe in omens and take note of what messages they are sending as it’s unlikely they are a coincidence – someone/thing has sent a message for you to take note of. And most importantly, realise that you are God. (Yikes!)

If this was a ‘Book Club’ read, I think it would be torn to strips. However, we must be mindful it’s translated into English; it’s a belief of past shared stories and not based on any fact or research. If we were to look through the 'reality' lens, we’d have too many ‘buts’ and lose the intent of the messages.

I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to reread it and I believe I’m a better person given these important messages; dream big, have faith in yourself, network with new people and learn about them, listen with your gut and share stories to allow others to do the same.

 I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

Six Senses to Rule the Future

SIX SENSES TO RULE THE FUTURE

Being a fan of Dan Pink, I was surprised to discover a book of his which I hadn’t read. A Whole New Mind was first published in 2005 and given the book was future focused “Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The World”, I was immediately concerned that I wouldn’t be held captive on each page.

Wrong. Yes, I was immediately proven wrong, with the first section of the book craftily educating me of the differences of the left and right side of the brain. We flippantly make references to these differences in my game, but to truly explore the research, albeit in laymen’s terms, was fascinating, again. As a reminder:

Left Hemisphere ‘L’ = sequential, logical and analytical

Right Hemisphere ‘R’ = nonlinear, intuitive and holistic

This week's book: Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind

The reasoning behind the intrigue to write the book boiled down to the forces of the three As - Abundance, Asia and Automation. We are saturated with consumerism and people are now searching for more meaning in their life; Asia competently completes so much of the worlds ‘L’ work at lower costs forcing world workers to master abilities which can’t be shipped off shore and with the world almost being automated it reinforces the need to develop aptitudes that computers can’t do better, faster or cheaper!

In the Industrial and Information Age, we required the ‘L’ capabilities to power us to produce data which is now not enough. For those who want to flourish in the future, the once thought frivolous capabilities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness and meaning will be needed as people seek your new mind.

The research into our brain continues and fast forward to 2016, we now know that our brain can be manipulated, retrained and even rejuvenated however what differentiates us from other animals is our ability to reason analytically – our ‘L’.

I was intrigued with learning that the ‘L’ is sequential and specialise in text and the ‘R’ is simultaneous and specialises in context – for me, this highlighted our ability to speed read. I finessed this many years ago and only since launching into my self-imposed reading challenge that I realise how helpful this ability is (along with touch typing). I can look at a paragraph and quickly see the meaning.

Keeping it simple, what is most important to note is that whilst this book is highlighting the need to master the ‘R’ we need to appreciate the ‘L’ is just as important. Our ‘L’ handles what we say in life and the ‘R’ focuses on how it’s said – I’m glad I have both minds working together and I am open to learning how to make them both more effective.

So, the main content of the book focuses on the future requirement for the Conceptual Age, characterised by the creator and empathizers and to survive this age, we need to supplement our abilities with high concept and high touch aptitudes from the ‘R’, which Pink calls, “the six senses”.

A one page summary of Dan's book: A Whole New Mind

The crux of the book is to master these:

Design – it’s about bringing pleasure, meaning and beauty to our lives – you must be an agent of change. Wow, this is a big ask but design is a classic whole minded aptitude. It provides personal fulfilment and professional success by making differentiation possible at so many peoples’ fingertips which will in the future change the world. It is so rewarding to create something which is beautiful, whimsical and or emotionally engaging. Development opportunities include: read design magazines, keep a design notebook, sketch an idea of a solution to an annoying household item, go to the guru and check out www.karimrashid.com , visit a design museum, be choosy with things which should delight you not impress others. I’m taking the family on a world tour soon and I’ve added some of the book’s suggestions to our itinerary.

Story – represents a pathway to understanding, think the interest in genealogy and scrapbooking, both popular in the late 90s and 00s – appeasing the hunger for context enriched by emotion. Even today we are still learning that bullet points and PowerPoints are overshadowed by rich stories of peoples’ lives. Development opportunities include: reading great stories found in Aesop’s fables, or fast forward to Gabrielle Dolan a Melbourne author www.gabrielledolan.com, play photo finish by selecting a photo and fashion a tale about it.

Symphony – the ability to put together the pieces, to synthesize rather than analyse to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields, to detect patterns and invent something new by combining elements (think innovation). Development opportunities include: listen to great symphonies (I struggled with this), buy and browse through loads of magazines (love this idea), learn to draw (I did this a while ago – check out www.lynnecazaly.com), keep a metaphor log, create an inspiration board and master brainstorming.

Empathy – imagine yourself in someone else’s position and what that person is feeling. I love this: it is the ability to stand in others’ shoes, to see with their eyes and to feel with their hearts. Empathy is an ethic for living; understanding other human beings and it’s a universal language which connects us beyond country and culture. I’m currently coaching a Nurse and it’s highlighted how such a profession is amazingly empathetic, quite different to doctors whom I’ve also worked with!  Development opportunities include: participate in the Empathy Quotient to determine if you have a male or female brain (we’re more empathetic!) - https://psychology-tools.com/empathy-quotient/ Eavesdrop on strangers conversations, walk for a day in a colleagues life (great for CEOs to play), take acting classes - actors are good if they understand the emotional expressions of their character and Volunteer – a direct way to imagine yourself in someone’s situation.

Play – injecting laughter, games, humour and joyfulness into your day will provide what the ‘L’ cannot.  We don’t need explained how laughter, humour and joy make us feel however it’s interesting to consider how on-line game playing make us more effective at what we do, boost productivity and enhance job satisfaction. Development opportunities include: join a laughter club (there’s one on skype!), if you haven’t played an on-line game, do so with your kids (that’s my plan for today), and go and be a big kid in a playground!

Meaning – the final essential aptitude in this Conceptual Age is captured in Viktor Frankl’s 1984 book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Have you read it? It is the drive that exists in all of us and the two common denominators shared by many are Spirituality and Happiness. The latter is of interest given the momentum of the positive psychology movement. Development opportunities include: Using a Gratitude journal and saying ‘thanks’ more regularly, list important changes you’d like to make in your life and problem solve by replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’, take a Sabbath – don’t work or use anything technical and be mindful, read Man’s Search for Meaning or Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, check how you use your time – are your values aligned with your time and Picture Yourself at Ninety – What does your life look like when you view it from that vantage point.

So, I asked Dan Pink which of the six senses has he observed in the past 10 years have had the most traction since his book launched and he responded with (much to my delight) – “Hmmm. Good questions. IMHO, they all work together – that is, they’re ingredients in a soup rather than rungs on a ladder. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go for Symphony.

I’m concerned that we haven’t made enough effort to find ‘meaning’ in our lives. Whilst all six senses make a great soup, we need to boost the flavour with purpose. And this is why I do what I do in my practice. 

I absolutely adored reading and delving into the portfolio of tools, exercises and ordering further reading suggested. I have accumulated so many ‘to do, think and act’ items that I will need to rework my life planner to fit them all in – especially while I continue to read all the amazing books recommended.

Dan signs off the book with “good luck in the new age of art and heart” which summarises it nicely however I was taken by his reminder from Viktor Frankl’s powerful imperative: Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.”

Do People Buy You?

DO PEOPLE BUY YOU?

As far back as we can remember, we have been focused on wanting people to ‘work’ with us, to do things with us and for us, to help us and to get on board with our ideas. I try every day to get my kids to do what I want them to do! And I’m still trying to get that approach right.

And as we look into the future, nothing appears to be changing. As adults, our ability to negotiate, communicate effectively, read peoples’ minds and their body language continues to be a challenge and a goal in our lives. God help me as my kids get older!

Maslow’s Theory indicates that our desire for safety which includes working and seeking people to work with us, is a fundamental motivation in our life; and we are yet to conquer dealing with humans; unpredictable at times, even though we know these basic motivations are in every human being.

Simon Dowling, a reformed Lawyer has produced a piece of work, this week’s book, to guide people to influence others to get on board with their ideas, AND it’s not restricted for your time in the rat race. It’s related to working with our kids, people in the community (think community committees) and yes, those who help us make money.

Complete with maps, models, methods and a good choice of historical quotes, you’re in for a good dose of planning for your next trip to get people to buy into your ideas.

As Simon suggests, use this book as your personal GPS to help you decide the route you want to take … it’s so easy to drift off track and we all need some guidance. As Alert Einstein said: “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

A substantial component of the book gets you ready – too often we launch into pitching our ideas without preparing ourselves and practicing how to persuade others. Whilst we read about organisations who proclaim to listen to all ideas … it may not be that easy.

So, I have 20 iridescent tabs reminding me of the pockets of gold found on these pages … let me share a few ounces!

Let’s start with:

Conviction Up – how intense is your conviction? By looking at you can we see how passionate you are about your idea and how committed you are … are you infectious? But it’s more than that – you need to be totally sold on your own idea.

Courier or Catalyst – confession time – are you delivering the message of change or are you instrumental in the outcome which the change promises? Be the Catalyst.

Nemawashi – (I like anyone who uses some Japanese culture to express a concept!) The informal gentle practice of taking the time to prepare the groundwork for an initiative by talking to the relevant people, listening to their input, feedback and support.

Wide Angled Lens – think wide while acting narrow (Bloody brilliant metaphor.) Keep an eye on the broader social landscape while you have your one-on-one conversations.

Social Map – create a map of the people relevant to turning your idea into a reality; tag them, label them, rate their influence and highlight your allies. The result is a page of circles and arrows connecting people. Then create your plan of attack … move it from paper to action.

Thin Slicing – Psychologists version of ‘judging a book by its cover’ – we do this every day and every hour. More Japanese wisdom – A reputation of a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single hour. People will buy you before your idea. Think how you want people to judge you and importantly feel about you – project your authentic self.

Be careful what you don’t say – this could be your body language which isn’t in sync with your intent. Grab a mate, an ally or a coach to observe you and ask them to identify what’s working for you and against you.

Pomodoro Technique – (this is a little gem) a time management technique which requires you to work for a 25 minute burst of energy with a five minute break in between the next 25 minutes.

3M Model – The second half of the book explores how you create the mood and give reason to people to say “yes” followed by assigning accountability and action . The Mood, Mind and Movement Model helps you create your map to navigate your territory to get people to buy into your ideas.

I believe you could treat this book as a ‘go to guide’, to help you get to more “yeses”. Rather than treat your business approaches and proposals as a numbers game, go for the quality and well planned, researched and rehearsed approach; practise the practice of getting people to buy into your ideas.

Check out Simon Dowling, he looks like a guy who can help you grow your business. Likewise, get in contact with me if you’re looking for a specialist in leadership development, in particular if you want to increase your performance in developing successful leadership behaviours.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

ONE MINUTE OF MARKETING

ONE MINUTE OF MARKETING

I’m yet to fill out the ‘1-page plan’, however, I have already started implementing this book’s processes which promise to get new customers, potentially make more money and stand out from the crowd. Watch this space!

This book was a random purchase selection on Kindle ($4!) however you know that there are times when things are meant to happen. In particular, receiving pearls of wisdom which Allan shares throughout the book has already made great sense to me (refer to my last book review) as a business operator.

An important read for business operators.

An important read for business operators.

Its target reading client is anyone who owns a business – any size, any sector and it doesn’t matter what is sold.

I was still reading, The 1-Page Marketing Plan yesterday when I applied an ‘OMG, that’s such a great idea’ to some marketing of my own and fingers crossed it pays off. The lesson was: don’t discount (ever) just offer more value. This has been my key take-away from Allan’s book, and there are many many other lessons – so many that I highlighted half the book on my Kindle!

Here are my top 25 lessons:

¯  While no one can guarantee your success, having a plan dramatically increases your probability of success.

¯  Understanding the difference between strategy and tactics is absolutely key to marketing success.

¯  To be a successful small business marketer you need laser-like focus on a narrow target, sometimes called a niche. (This is so challenging for me.)

¯  When you know your niche consider what is the ONE thing they crave above all else?

¯  Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Why should I buy from you rather than from your nearest competitor? What positions you differently, so that prospects are forced to make an apples-to-oranges comparison.

¯  We live in a sound bite, we’re living in the MTV generation – craft your message so that it’s immediately understandable, impactful and important.

¯  Can you explain your product and unique benefit it offers in a single short sentence? E.g. Apple’s iPod – 1000 songs in your pocket

¯  What can you do in your business that’s remarkable? Your clarity around this will have a huge impact on the success of your business.

¯  Fear, especially the fear of loss is one of the most powerful emotional hot buttons you can push. (Talk to the Amygdala part of the brain. If you’re not familiar with this … that will be another book I read for us!)

¯  Make your business name understood – if you confuse them, you lose them. Choose clarity over cleverness.

¯  Exchange value, not products. Become a welcome guest when you communicate, don’t become a pest. (E.g. constant email activity with no value.)

¯  Stop selling and start educating, consulting and advising prospects about the benefits your products and services deliver.

¯  Customer Relationship Management system – got one? Must be more than a spreadsheet or filing system. (I’ve already starting looking into this system.)

¯  Your pricing strategy should be simple: Standard and premium – don’t confuse people.

¯  Close down your Sales Prevention Department – do you have this department?! Make it easy for people to buy from you. (One of my pet annoyances … a handwritten sign “Only cash sales”)

¯  Build a tribe of raving fans – sell people what they want and give them what they need – help customers all the way through to achieving results from what you’ve sold them.

¯  Seek out or become a Voice of Value – you need to have valuable ideas and these can be founds from Thought Leaders, Mentors, Coaches and successful peers.

¯  Products make you money, systems make you a fortune – this is taken from Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth (I must re-read this book.)

¯  Business systems start with documented procedures and processes that allow your business to run with-out you.

¯  Customers can be divided into four categories:

o   The Tribe – raving fans, supporters, and cheerleaders – they help you achieve growth

o   The Churners – they can’t afford you and you spend too much time trying to attract them which can turn ugly if they leave you when they realise they’ve made a mistake.

o   The Vampires – you can’t afford them, they consume all your resources and terrorize your team and suck the blood out of your business!

o   The Snow Leopard – whilst you make most of your money from them, they are rare and don’t create growth.

¯  A more formal metric is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is based on one question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” (There are books and courses on managing the responses to this questions!)

¯  Fire customers who consume your time and don’t pay on time! In other words, ensure you have a strategy for your different types of customers. If you only have a limited supply you can be selective.

¯  Think of your business as a person – consider its attributes and describe its personality - create an avatar to bring it alive.

¯  A small business must focus on sales and then turn them into a tribe of raving fans which will enable you to establish your brand.

¯  Marketing is a process which needs attention daily to deliver massive value to your customers.

¯  Time is not money, value is money. Time is just one of the inputs it takes to deliver value to the market.

Leading my boutique consultancy practice, I found this read so worthwhile. With my one minute of notes, I feel more organised to get my marketing process into a daily system. Whilst I’ve shared my notes, I suggest you read this pleasurable commentary by a local Melbourne guy who’s written his book out of passion for marketing success.

Here's the 1-Page Marketing Plan

Allan also offers numerous tools on his website which is of course, his value add and encourages you to receive his newsletter to help you become a raving fan … that might well be me! (1pmp.com)

I’m almost a quarter way through my reading challenge and I’ve gained so many insights in many areas of personal and professional development. If you’re looking to increase your performance, let me help you achieve your goals I have so many experiments for you to complete. Let’s connect.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!