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The Confidence Trap: Do you need to be confident to be successful?

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I was recently talking to a very senior woman in a large company who asked me, when will she stop doubting herself and have confidence in both themselves and their capability?  At this point I would like to contextualise this conversation and say that they are highly respected within their organisation and industry, and externally you would never expect to hear such a statement or question from her.

There is a perception that part of what defines success (apart from achieving goals and financial gain) is the feeling of confidence.  Success is sometimes portrayed by jumping up in the air, air punching, straight backs and a confident stance. I know that this is a HUGE generalisation but to some extent it is true.

After reflecting upon the conversation, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about it.

1. In business you are in a constant state of change, flux and growth. This results in being out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to do things differently and risk. None of these scenarios is a place of knowing, quite the opposite. When defining confidence, it is the knowing that we can do something after we have repeatedly done something.  For example, public speaking.  The more you do it, the more comfortable you get because you have proved to yourself that you can do it and subsequent confidence grows over time.  However, the reality is we need to accept and welcome this feeling of the lack of confidence in our world if we are to be true explorers.

2. Self-belief. But all is not lost…at the core of our being we must nurture self-belief as this will be the engine that fuels us through all the changes, risk and beyond.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”

This is something I often refer to in my talks, as opposed to “fake it till you make it”.  Self-belief is essential, as it will sustain you through all the ups and downs of your career journey (and life journey for that matter).  Self-belief is the quiet voice that says to you as you go to pitch your idea to your boss, raise your hand for a promotion, make a presentation that you can do this.  You may not have done it before but it doesn’t mean that you are not able. None of these situations require confidence, they require your self-belief.

3. Impostor syndrome. This is a big one. Some of the most successful people suffer from this – the fear that they are not good enough or a fake, with thoughts like “when will they find out that I am not as good as they think I am”.  Like all fears, they are false evidence that appears as real.

False

Evidence

Appears

Real

It is a fear that must be overcome but the reality is there are bucket loads of CEOs, high level executives and wildly successful people that suffer from impostor syndrome.

My overall reflection is that all these 3 areas that I have shared with you are internal.  It is our mindset, our thought processes; it is what we tell ourselves, our values and beliefs.  And despite lacking confidence I will say that most successful people do not walk around confident all the time, as based on the general perception. We need to look inwards to our self-belief.  To believe we are worthy of success and rid ourselves of the impostor syndrome.  And continue step by step, day by day walking in the directions of our goals and dreams for ourselves.

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The advertising industry aren’t all bad, but part of a bigger problem

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Startup Business

In recent weeks, light has been shone on the advertising and communications industry on gender diversity with Kevin Roberts, ex-Executive Chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi said in an interview that in regard to gender equality in the ad industry “the f—ing debate is all over” and he doesn’t spend “any time” on the issue at his company.  Swift action was made, he lost his job and Saatchi & Saatchi quickly distanced themselves saying that they do not tolerate anyone speaking for our organisation who does not value the importance of inclusion.  It is no secret that the advertising haven’t been doing well in that space for a while.  Bec Brideson, Founder of her own agency, Global Marketing Women and Influencer within the advertising industry, wrote a great  piece highlighting the statistics that sit behind the industry.  Everyone was shocked and heads shook from side to side, and faint sounds of tsk tsk could be heard.

It was compounded by another event here in Australia by Surungi Emily Hohol whose post went viral around her discriminatory experiences at another agency.  It is clear that discrimination still exists, which is why I am proud to represent FlexCareers on the Recruit Smarter Pilot which is a group of key members of the recruitment industry including the peak recruitment industry body, Recruitment & Consultant Services Association (RCSA) coming together with corporates including Westpac and PWC and Government Agencies to find better ways to recruit smarter and avoid unconscious bias.

There were a number of great articles and opinion pieces written about all of this at the time however since then I have been privileged to have had conversations with members of the advertising and communications industry including their peak body, The Communications Council and agencies including Ogilvy and Saatchi and Saatchi to name a few.  A number of them reached out to me at FlexCareers as they saw that we could assist them in this challenge.  What these conversations showed me is that they are challenged by exactly the same thing as those in banking and finance, mining and construction, professional services, netball….stop, what…yes I wrote netball.  The fact is this conversation of unconscious bias/ gender diversity and diversity in general goes across all industries in a work aspect as well as into the sporting space.

Let me explain.

Recently, I was giving a talk to a group of post-graduate students at University of New South Wales on inclusive leadership and focused on unconscious bias as being one of the reasons why there aren’t more female leaders (disputing the good old chestnut that women just aren’t ambitious).  This is a common experience across the majority of industries.  In the Q&A part of the session, a man put up his hand and began to explain that he sits on the selection committee for girls’ netball teams (and yes I mean girls aged 8 – 18, not women that are referred to as girls, but that is another blog for another time).  He said that their selection criteria for the judges is purely based on physical capability not how someone looks (i.e. speed, number of goals etc), but why is it that the sport continues to be dominated by tall and usually blond girls? He asked, is unconscious bias at play? In short the answer is yes.  Like in leadership, when you see what is the norm, someone who doesn’t fit that mould chooses either break that mould and be a trail-blazer or what normally happens is that people opt out and find something else.  Subsequently the Chinese and Indigenous girls or whomever doesn’t fit the mould don’t get to the top not because of a lack of ability but because they don’t see many (or any) girls like them on Saturday morning sports so over time, they stop trying and opt out.  This is a broad sweeping statement but it is true.  Just take a look at who is playing netball.

This scenario being played out on the netball courts is not far off that of the boardroom.  How?  Because when you ask yourself the question, what does the typical netballer look like, there is a ‘type’ that usually comes to mind.  When you think about a leader in business, there is a ‘type’ that comes to mind.  These types create what is known as a ‘stereotype’.  How is this relevant to the advertising and communications industry, well my observation is that so much of what we are dealing with is not industry specific but a reflection of a much deeper problem of equality and a lack of.  An inequality to particularly women, however this can easily be extended to cultural, LGBTI and more.  One industry is not the devil when it comes to discriminatory practices – yes some can be worse than others.  But countless stories circulate across all industries of the challenges of women trying to return to work after caring for children, people from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds being discriminated based on the colour of their skin, or people being judged because of their sexual orientation.

Each and every one of us has the responsibility to become aware of this.  The main antidote of unconscious bias is to shift from unconscious to conscious and become aware of the biases within ourselves and how they impact those less privileged around us.  As Dr Michael Kimmel says in his TED talk, privilege masks inequality, you just don’t see it until you are aware of it.

 

Natalie Goldman is CEO of FlexCareers, a disruptive online talent-matching platform connecting career women with progressive employers offering flexible work. FlexCareers is redefining careers by challenging convention and leading the future of talent matching and career support. 

 If you are looking for a flexible role or looking for great talent, connect with FlexCareers.

 Like what you read?  Please share this with your tribe.

 

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How to give 100% even when you don’t FEEL 100%

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overwhelmed

Not feeling 100%?  It is hard to maintain, all the time.  Eat well, drink water, exercise and sleep more…all simple enough but when life happens we start to lose focus and comfort eat, skip our exercise or forget to drink water.  Many of us want to feel 100% all the time.  And if we don’t then this is the beginning of the end.  Well maybe not so dramatic but sometimes we start using this as an excuse for not giving 100%.

A few years ago I had a big conference presentation to make.  I was all prepared when one of my kids became mildly unwell.  My husband agreed to look after him as I had to travel to the conference.  On top of that there were a lot of things going on in many aspects of my life that were potentially distracting but when I got up on that stage in front of 1000 people I put everything aside and gave it 100%…I had to.  I couldn’t explain my way as to why I could only give them 80%.  It just doesn’t work like that.

So two key words I would like to focus on.  Feel and give.  If you look back to what I just wrote, I wrote ‘not feeling 100%’ and ‘giving 100%’.  Why is this so important?  Because when we don’t feel 100% we use it as an excuse for not giving 100%.

So how can you change your internal voice when it comes to shifting your mind on this?

  1. Accept. It is ok not to be 100% every day. Be kind to yourself.  Between our many responsibilities let alone our businesses, we are only human and have good days and bad days.  That is just the way it is.
  1. Acknowledge. Reflect on why are you not 100%. Is it emotional or physical?  If emotional, we need time to understand, digest, resolve many issues in our lives and sometimes it can make us feel ‘meh’.  That’s OK.  Talk about it with someone or write it down.  Sometimes just by acknowledging it’s existence is all it needed and you carry on with your day.  If physical, maybe there is something you can do about it.  Eat better, move more or rest more.  Somewhat simplistic I know but simple can be good too.
  1. Let Go. Don’t stew. This doesn’t help anyone.  Through accepting and acknowledging you are recognising what is bringing you down from your A Game – it may even be more that 1 thing.  That is fine.  By focusing on it, won’t change the situation, if not it will only get worse.  If we focus on negativity, it breeds negativity by creating a negative paradigm on how we see the world.  Simultaneously by focusing on positivity, we create a positive paradigm on how we see the world.  So let go.
  1. Change Gears. Just because you don’t feel 100% doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your all. Yes, you need to work harder and be more self-motivated but by saying that you can’t give 100% because of how you feel – that is just an excuse.  In your business it is all up to you.  If you don’t give it 100% each and every time you won’t succeed.  So don’t make excuses for yourself.  Change your mental gears and accept and acknowledge how you feel.  Then let it go.  So now you are ready to just go and give it all you have irrespective of how you feel.
  1. Show up. No matter your role, you have to be “on show” each and every time for your clients. I think of it like I am going on stage to give a performance.  I don’t have a stage name like Beyoncé, hers is Sasha Fierce, but that could work for you.  The point being is that when you don’t feel 100% but need to give 100% you can imagine that you need to push yourself by being on stage to help carry you through your day.
  1. On a serious note. What I am talking about here is not when you are very sick.  In these instances you should rest and take care of yourself.  Furthermore, if you feel that what you are experiencing is more than just a dip in your day-to-day life, I strongly encourage for you to seek professional help.  We all have times in our lives when we are challenged by serious matters and we can’t do it alone.

What do you do to give 100% even when you don’t feel 100%?

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Facebook Live… tried and tested – what I learnt

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Last night was my first Facebook Live event.  It is an exciting new functionality of Facebook that is essentially a live stream or webinar to whomever is watching at the time (hence the term ‘Live’) but it can also be recorded and then shared again.

These days, much of social media is leaning towards video content, especially on Facebook.  And for those of you who are using social media for business know that connecting with your community is essential to building trust with them, building your brand and presence. Facebook Live is a great enabler to producing your own content, for free.  It also can be done as an event where you promote to your community (and beyond).

So what did I learn from my experience last night?

Test. Our amazing head of marketing @FlexCareers, Lauren Hill, created a private Facebook group for me to go and test this feature out. This was our second go at FB Live, here is our first foray into this new media. It can only be done on a phone or tablet not on your laptop or PC (yet), but the whole point is that it is more casual and on the go.  Keeping your hand steady is helpful.

Be natural.  I know that sounds corny but this is not a major production, it is about having a chat with your people – connecting with them one on one.  So no scripts, talk from your heart.  Be authentic and you.  Was I nervous?  Sure.  It was a first for me and that always makes one apprehensive of the unknown, but I will definitely be doing it again.  I visualised that I was talking to a friend.

Lights, Camera, Action.  I know I just wrote that this is not a professional production but it is worth checking:

  • Background – does it look good?
  • Clothing – if you are doing this for a work purpose – think about what image do you want to present
  • Lighting – any big shadows?  No really, you want to put your best foot forward so make sure that lighting is your friend
  • Positioning – try to have the angle of your phone a little higher than you, always more flattering

Have fun.  Although it can be nerve wrecking to do a video, especially with it being live, however no-one is expecting this to Oscar level stuff.  Be yourself, have fun and enjoy the platform and what it has to offer.

In researching for my session I came across Live Map, which is a link to all the active Live sessions in real time anywhere in the world.  This is fascinating to me as I often think about what is going on in another part of the world, right now…and here is the answer.  I also found some additional useful tips on the FB page.
So go forth, play, have fun and give it a go!

 

 

 

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How social media can be used for good not evil

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Make it Hapen Image

 

I know that is a strong statement but it comes from a recent personal experience that I would like to share with you.

A few days ago a client sent me an image of a banner for an ad that she had seen in Thredbo.

 

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We both agreed that this would just not do. We both found it offensive suggesting that women/mothers are not as capable as men/fathers. Furthermore it suggests what is a normal family, i.e. father, mother and kids not taking into consideration single parents, widowers, LGBTI families and more. In short we thought that this ad to be poorly thought out and just not on.

So I set to task, sharing the image on social media to let as many people know about it with a clear intention to let Toyota know and get the banners removed and brought down.

And here is how it played out.

Sunday night. Shared the image on my Facebook Page, Company Page, Launch Pod group page and a few other group pages as well. It started gaining traction almost immediately but it wasn’t all support. There were some polarising comments but all very respectfully written.

Monday. Comments, likes, shares and re-tweets were all ablaze! By the afternoon a journalist had picked up on the story and by 6pm it had been published, stating that Toyota had removed the offending banners. Success!

Tuesday morning. Awoke to more media channels having picked up the story even in the UK. Clearly it had sparked interest.

Within a very short period of time we managed to get our voices heard and affect change. How good is that?

But with good comes bad. I started receiving tweets directed at me. Horrible tweets. And then I had a look at the comments on the website of the media channels…I was shaken to the core about what they said about me and my client. Just horrible. So I stopped reading them.

It got me thinking. When you stick your neck out people will always want to cut you down. Even more so when you are a woman. A vocal strong woman confronts the norm. I started thinking about how people who live in the spotlight must feel. Even though this experience had been brief, I reflected on how vulnerable and exposed it made me feel. It made me even more grateful for the amazing people who have stuck their neck out way more than I had to affect big change. I wonder how exposed and vulnerable they would have felt?

Either way it felt good to make a difference. And as for the haters, well I turned my back on them. They are cowards that hide behind their computers and phones. I will not let them get to me. I am all for open discourse and sharing of one’s opinions…like in the Facebook groups I mentioned before – not everyone agreed with my opinion. And that is fine, as they did it respectfully. It was those tweeting me personally or making comments on public feeds that really got vicious. I have no time or respect for faceless cowards.

Our voices will not be silenced. I feel privileged to be able to share my opinions and make a positive impact.

Here is someone’s amendment to the image:

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#skilikeagirl #amazingwomen #ownyourfuture

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the biggest obstacles to Flexibility and what can you do about it.

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Refresh-your-Business-How-flexible-are-you

I am excited to announce that I have started a new chapter as the CEO of FlexCareers, which is a disruptive online talent matching platform connecting talented women with progressive employers offering flexible work. Together with my work at Launch Pod means I am now able to economically empower women across corporate, SME and the entrepreneur ecosystems.

Flexibility is one of the enablers of true gender equality in a working environment. Whilst primary care giving continues to fall to the responsibility of women (something I challenged in my recent post) flexibility enables women (and men too of course) the ability to focus on growing their careers whilst meeting their parental responsibilities and dare I say flexibility is for all, even non-parents too. Time and time again, report after report, the number 1 thing to keep people in your organisation is flexibility. So if the leadership know this then why is it such a challenge to implement flexibility?

There are many reasons but I will focus on 1 today and what can be done about it: perception.

Perception is powerful. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. One of us see a glass of water filled half way up the glass, another may see a glass half full, another may see a glass half empty and so on. As a collective, we see work in so many lenses. And flexibility is something that challenges the way we do things, the way we work. This is not necessarily a bad thing however it is confronting and it is change.

So how do we overcome this?

As an individual seeking flexibility a good place to start is by understanding the various forms of flexibility that are available. It doesn’t automatically mean part-time, but it may for you. It can be condensed work weeks (doing 5 days in 4 or every fortnight working 9 out of 10 however still doing the same hours), working from home, flexible start and finish times (start late – finish late) and the list goes on. A great resource is the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). Then think about what works for you and your role – how can you balance the 2 effectively?

Trial – most people don’t like change. So baby steps are recommended. In my career I have often asked for flexibility. I enjoy working from home as I have the opportunity to get clear stretches of time to get work done not have as many meetings. When negotiating flexibility I suggested trialling 1 day a week over a 3-month period to see how it goes. Needless to say it worked and moved it to 2 days week after that. If I needed to travel or be in the office I did – flexibility is a 2 way street.

Technology – having great technology at our fingertips means being accessible is easy. Whether it is phone, Slack, email, Skype or any other type of communication channel. Furthermore remote access means it is just like being at your desk. Virtual meetings – these need to be had, but run well. Using video is a must as well as ensuring the one/s that are dialling in have as much air-time as those physically present. There are so many great collaborative cloud based tools that allow people to contribute to group work at any time from anywhere such as Google, DropBox, Asana and Basecamp – take your pick.

In short it is about providing evidence to employers that it can be done. Flexibility will be the future of work – the norm but not quite yet. Considering we have been working the way we have for a VERY long time, change can be slow. By implementing a step-by-step process to enable flexibility and manage change is essential to gain buy in from your leader and company. Hard evidence of your productivity and results whilst working flexibility is the language that most powerful to shift these perceptions.

 

Natalie is very excited to announce her new role as CEO of FlexCareers. FlexCareers is a disruptive online talent-matching platform connecting career women with progressive employers offering flexible work. FlexCareers is redefining careers by challenging convention and leading the future of talent matching and career support.

 

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Thinking in binary…the good and the bad

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gender binary

As a Libran, I am forever weighing out options, balancing and comparing. It is how my brain thinks. Maybe that’s a human thing but I like to think of it more as an astrological influence. Recently I attended a great panel event called Men@Work (ran by the 100% Project), where they addressed the challenges of gender equality at work from a male perspective. The main focus was around achieving true parity between men and women at work. Topics included addressing the taboos for men around asking for flexibility and other topics too with the aim of addressing the challenges of creating true gender equality.

There was one point that kept surfacing that bugged my, of which of course I raised my hand in the Q&A to share my thoughts…it was around the concept of Primary Caregivers. Although flexibility is for everyone, at the moment it is seen mainly as the domain for women, particularly working mothers. In my opinion flexibility in the workplace is the way that we will all work in the future.

However I digress, the reason why the idea of primary caregivers bugged me is why is it solely the responsibility of one parent to take care of a child/ children? Why is it that there is always the one, usually the mother, who is called when a child is sick at care or school, why one parent, usually the mother, needs to compromise their career in order to manage the home life? This is a generalisation, as we do see a number of families where they consciously decide for the wife to be the breadwinner, and the father to the be primary care-giver. Fantastic, why, because it isn’t an automatic assumption of roles but challenging the norm to see what best suits that family. So here is the challenge, what happens when it is a single parent home or where a parent/ parents are LGBTI? We often think heteronormative, but the reality is everything gets turned on its head when we think broader than the binary.

In my family, like most, when the children were born we fell into roles. However after a while the ‘mother’/ ‘father’ roles didn’t suit us as individuals. Let me explain. On a recent speaking tour to Australia run by TalkPoint, Dr. Michael Kimmel talked about why gender equality is good for men (both at work and home, in life in general actually), and a number of things stayed with me – one in particular, we need to take the gender out of the picture. What does this mean? Practically, when we are talking about primary caregivers, why does this always fall to the mother? That is the societal norm…but after a child is born and breast-feeding ends, the gender can start fading away and you are left with parents (rather than a mother and father). This changes the conversation. Why should one parent be required to do 80% of the home stuff whilst still working? Why should one parent miss out on all the great things in their children’s lives because they are expected to work? That doesn’t seem right. In short the roles that we give ourselves are too binary.

Going back to my family, we made a conscious decision to both be primary care givers, or simply put we decided to parent equally. We both do the shopping, alternate who picks up a sick child, support the other when they go travelling and so on. It is not one or the other, it’s both. Yes sometimes one does more parenting and the other more work but then it flips – it’s constantly changing, flexible and adapting to the needs of the time – all needs of the children and family, of the individual and of our work responsibilities.

So why do we fall into binary thinking when problem solving, good/bad, right/wrong? Well so much of world is divided into binary to simplify and bring ease but some basic ideas around Ying and Yang, Good and Evil, Black and White, Male and Female. However we are starting to see even these basic concepts being challenged, which I am glad about. Why, because nothing is simple yet we fear the complex. Look at gender, in recent times transgender has become something more mainstream challenging the very basis of what it means to be a man or woman. My children have friends that have 2 mothers or fathers and other people in our world that are LGBTI. The roles of what it means to be male or female in our society are starting to crumble and be redefined.

The point is things are not black and white, and I don’t want them to be. I have come to realise that the reason that the primary caregiver conversation bugged me so much is that because it is reflective of binary thinking, yet when it came to the conversations in the workplace it was quite the rainbow of ideas including creating flexibility, finding true parity and understanding the chaos that can ensue but to embrace rather than fear it. Yet in the home life binary remained, roles remained – maybe the mother isn’t doing everything but now the father is, but I also see that as limiting. True gender parity in all aspects of life means we respect each persons’ individual needs and wants, not boxing them into a certain role because of societal norms. I, like every parent knows, that this doesn’t mean that one gets to do whatever whenever one wants, quite the opposite, one needs to make many sacrifices. However my point is that I would like to start people living more consciously and more aware of the binary thinking that limits both our home and work lives as parents and as people day to day. Falling into roles blindly can be an enslavement to our society and not one that respects our individual soul. By consciously agreeing with yourself and your partner how you would like to share your lives, your children and your work will bring greater fulfilment. Embrace the mess and chaos and challenge binary thinking.

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Humanising Work…why is this so hard?

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moderntimes

There is more and more out there about the concept of humanising work. It fascinates me. Why? Because it goes to the heart of much of my curiosity about humanity – why do we do what we do?…more specifically how do we then shift our behaviour? In this instance I am talking about watching the shift from working in an industrialised fashion to a modern digital economy.

The last time I saw this happen was in a very different construct. My heritage is Hungarian and I have spent much time going back and forth, and spending time with family and friends over the years. From childhood days, where Communism was the state of play and then through its transition in the late 80s and 90s (and I would argue still today) to Democracy/ Capitalism. As a person who grew up assuming democratic civil liberties I would to stare at amazement at the queues for bread and staple products…and even experience thrill when joining my grandparents in such a queue. Or going to the supermarket and seeing 1 milk on offer or 2 types of yoghurt (plain and strawberry). The point is that change takes a very long time even if it is good change (from Communism to Democracy, from queues to choice); people are creatures of habit and subsequently you still see many remnants of Communism in most ex-Communist countries today.

Jumping back to the topic de jour, humanising work, I think about how long women have been battling for fair and equal treatment in the work environment (and even more broadly too) and we are still far from the finish line. But when I look at the issue from a work perspective and think further about the other areas of work that I have been involved with to humanise work including flexibility for all, I realise that we are stuck in a mentality of human capital where people are still products or things within an organisation so it is easy to de-humanise the experience of others in our work environment.

The de-humanising of work goes right back to the Industrial Revolution where people became the workers, the property of the employers with limited rights. Things became worse when Henry Ford introduced mass production factories for the Model T car. All in all people became an aspect of the “machine” of work, cogs in the wheel – think Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Although things may look different with computers and cleanliness the mentality of how we view our people has not.

So why haven’t we changed? There are many reasons but one keeps coming up which goes back to what I was saying before in my Communism transition analogy – people like familiarity and don’t like change. In addition to that we like things in boxes…neat and compact – things are easier to understand and figure out. But as humans we are not neat and compact, we are messy emotional beings with complexities. This doesn’t fit well in the work construct. So by taking the ‘human’ aspect it becomes easier to deal with the human capital.

By humanising work we are dipping our toes into the grey murky water of uncertainty…but I say bring it on! We know the research and we can see the benefits of treating our people well. Flexibility is a great example of recognising our humanness at work…we may have responsibilities (children, ageing parents) or we may like to surf or go to yoga in the morning and would like to work 11-8pm each day…whatever the flexibility looks like, there is less and less reason why more and more roles can’t become fully flexible and we are starting to see companies recognising this (slowly). Furthermore the infrastructure (i.e. technology) is fully available to ensure that full productivity can be maintained. We can work from almost anywhere at anytime. 9-5pm is as antiquated as Communist Hungary…change will take time, it requires us to step out of our comfort zones and recognise the fact that we are each human, trying to live our lives to the best way we can. It is time to release ourselves from the shackles of antiquated perspectives and embrace the reality that most people are wanting: flexibility and a humanising of work.

 

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Why are we so averse to slowing down?

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Runner woman running

The busier we are and the more we have on the more we feel like we are getting somewhere. But where are we going? Starting and running your own business or even having a fast paced job, then add family responsibilities (kids/ ageing parents), other responsibilities, friends – things start to get very full very fast. So why do we try to pack so much in?

On reflection on seeing 2 clients recently that are close to burn out (and I am not being dramatic) we discussed the idea of slowing down and taking a break. I then even breached the holy of holies and suggested that is this lifestyle all it is cracked up to be? They both responded, well how else do we live our lives? Running a business is a busy life. I don’t dispute that. However, we need to change the way we see all of this from being a never-ending sprint (which just isn’t sustainable) to the reality of this being a marathon, then we change the paradigm. Part of the issue is that the pace of society around us is fast. From social media to expectations we want everything, yesterday. So how much of our lives are being lived reactively vs. proactively? And why are we so adverse to slowing down?

I will be honest with you that part of this reason that this topic is on my mind is because I am taking the week off next week, yep you heard it…I am checking out, sleeping, resting, meditating, walking, writing and restoring. I can tell that I am running on empty. Previously I would have worn this as a badge of honour. Look how tired I am but I still did a full days work plus kids and life…but who am I trying to impress? I have let all that go and have learnt to listen to myself. And a few weeks ago when I realised just how tired I am, I knew it was time for a well needed break.

Yes I am an alpha type where I push myself to the limits every day and try to be as productive and proactive as possible however I am also learning to know my limits. To give it my all but know when to rest. The focus is not how busy I am, or even how productive I am but rather – looking at the bigger picture to see how many clients I have, am I generating enough revenue – creating meaningful experiences every day with those around me – focusing on the big rocks as Steven Covey would say. It is too easy to fill one’s day with the small stuff, the time fillers that really add little or no value to your life and business.

By saying no to certain things as they really add little value to my business or life is OK…a lesson that has taken me many years to master. And learning the important lesson of saying yes to other things, like taking a break and slowing down. To enjoy the precious time to foster the creativity within me, to allow spontaneity to re-enter my life and have the opportunity to re-energise and restore myself. I am learning to feel worthy of this and know that I am enough – I don’t need to be busy to impress anyone.

Do you live a continuous sprint or recognise the marathon you are in, allowing yourself time to restore and repair?

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Should you break up with your client?

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In a recent session with a client the topic of saying “thanks but no thanks” to their clients came up. There were a number of things happening that made them think twice as to whether or not they actually wanted to work with them. This started me the thinking about other conversations I have had with clients on this topic as well as my own experience and I realised that there are a number of situations where breaking up with a client is applicable.

1. The client are slow to pay or don’t pay at all. After the excitement of landing a new client (more so for service based businesses than product however the topic is still applicable to both), and the honeymoon is over, reality sets in. Good work is done. Hours and hours given to said client. However when it comes down to it they are not paying your invoice. They ask for you to do more work despite the previous invoice not being paid – what do you do? Many clients have said that they keep working in a show of good will. Others refuse to work until paid. This is a dance that one needs to feel their way through as to what is the right thing for you and your relationship however one word of warning: by continuing to work un-paid for too long devalues your worth – with the client and yourself. You deserve to be paid for the good work that you have done. There comes a point where you need to be aware, are you getting paid your worth or are they taking your for a ride?

2. The client is well known. Having a well-established, well-known client can be great for business whether a new or existing one as it creates credibility and makes you attractive to other potential clients. This is a big pull to have them on your client list and testimonials, however at what cost? One of the biggest challenges both my clients and I have faced when working with well known brands is that sometimes these clients use the fact that they are such a big brand and they know that they can push you down on price, based on the sheer volume and size. One client was doing 1,000s of transactions with a big name client however the profit margin that was negotiated was so low that not only were they not breaking even, they were losing money. Initially my client said that they wanted to keep them on and saw the loss as marketing spend but after a long period of time came to the realisation that it wasn’t worth it and dropped this big name client. Despite the rational to keep them onboard because it would attract other big clients, there was a word on the street to the low margin rates that were agreed to, so other potential clients started to expect the same. It just wasn’t worth it.

3. Lack of alignment. Personality and product – we like doing business with people and with organisations that align with our values and what we are trying to achieve. Whether you are a start up or you are hungry for a new client, we can make allowances for someone or a company that may not align with us with the justification that we need the income. That may be true but in the situations that I have seen with my clients and myself when there is a lack of alignment we lose our heart in the process…meaning we don’t enjoy the work, the relationship with the client and often the outcome is that the quality of work isn’t as good and you are not that engaged. It may be worth having them as a client for a while as you need the money, or their brand associated with yours – but this needs to be a conscious decision. If you have too many clients that do not align to your brand, your vision and values what does that say about you and your brand? Furthermore, it can attract similar brands and people to your business and perpetuate the cycle – and you end up doing work that you don’t enjoy and working with people that you don’t enjoy doing business with.

At the end of the day we take on clients for a number of reasons but there comes a point where we need to have the confidence and awareness of our self-worth to know when we need to break up with a client or say no thanks even before you take them on. Furthermore, business is about people. Surrounding yourself with people that align with your values means that you will be more engaged, create and produce better work and grow your business even faster. It is understandable that when starting out a good client is a paying client however once you are more established there needs to be a level of discernment and awareness as to who we say yes to being our client. Who we work with says a lot about who we are, our values and what we like to achieve. What do your clients say about you?

 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through how grow your business b having the right clients. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

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6 steps to having a great meeting!

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We all have so many meetings however how many of them are truly productive and have a great outcome such as closing a deal, making a sale, signing off on a project etc?

The reality is we have too many meetings that run for too long with little or no benefit. So how can we change this? Well follow the next few steps and you will find yourself having more meaningful and productive meetings and less time waster ones.

1. Be clear on the purpose of the meeting. Going into a meeting with a vague intention is not enough to keep the ball rolling. Ahead of the meeting think through what is the purpose of the meeting? Do you really need to have a meeting about it or can an email exchange suffice? If there is more than one purpose for the meeting create an agenda, either formally written up or at least in a note book that you can talk to through the meeting.

2. Be clear on the desired outcome of the meeting. A clear purpose is not enough, one needs to have a clear outcome in mind to drive the conversation towards a goal. By stating the desired outcome at the beginning of the meeting sets the tone. You are in control, you know what you would like to achieve. Furthermore, this reduces the likelihood of wafting conversations that go nowhere and another meeting to discuss this meeting.

3. A short meeting is a good meeting. Less is definitely more in this case. Schedule meetings for 30 – 45 minutes. This different time frame tells people that this is a meeting with purpose and drive and let’s get to it.

4. Bring yourself to the table. Up until now the tips may come across somewhat robotic and systematic. This is needed to set the framework in place for effective and productive meetings. However remember, meetings are with people. Bring your humanness to the table. Be real and authentic. The meeting may be shorter but the conversations can still be meaningful. If you feel that you would like to engage with that person longer, have the meeting and then continue the conversation over coffee.

5. Keep moving. One way I like to have meetings (as mentioned before in my previous post: How many firsts have you had this year) is having a walking meeting. Rather than sitting down for your 50th coffee for the day or in a meeting room, get outside and move. When having a walking meeting you get to be side by side with someone and moving forward. The subliminal messaging is huge – you are equal and you are progressing forward.

6. Follow up. After the meeting be sure to send a follow up email saying thank you for their time and note the key points discussed and action points that will be taken (and by whom). This way there is no confusion as to what was discussed or agreed to, and if there is, it can be resolved immediately. 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through how to invigorate your business. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

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Changing the world one conversation at a time

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I am not a complainer nor one to rant however there is something that keeps happening more and more and it is starting to bug me.

Recently my mother and I went to a café to order a coffee. When the barista saw us he said: “Good morning girls”. This has happened with female clients, colleagues and friends as well. When clearly we are not girls, but women.

I know that the person saying this is not trying to be spiteful, deliberately mean or putting us down, yet I can’t say it makes me feel good. In fact it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Why does this bother me?

For me it is about the little things. I can’t imagine anyone would say “Hello girls” to the likes of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Julia Gillard or Julie Bishop…they are women in power. And this is the thing that niggles me. By addressing me as a girl it is an act of disempowerment. Not a conscious one though. I don’t believe the barista is consciously trying to put me down. However language is powerful, and the words we choose to use impact those around us more than we realise. Furthermore, in our society there are so many things (big and small) that chip away at a woman’s feeling of empowerment and worth that it takes a lot of conscious action on a woman’s part to counter it. Here are a few more examples:

  • Look at advertising and the main role for a woman is to be a mother – not a leader, builder or scientist
  • 29% of women have a leading role in films (from Hollywood) and only 30% of speaking roles are women (Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University 2015)
  • “You run like a girl” – this common schoolyard saying tells little kids from a young age that being a girl is not as good as being a boy
  • Women are not paid equally to men – money is power; money represent worth – what message does this send?
  • Only 17% of government ministers are women (globally) and the majority of them look after education, family and healthcare (UN Women, 2015)
  • Despite the fact that women are now much more active in the workforce, they are still doing roughly the same amount of domestic duties as they did 40 years ago (i.e. women are now working more but still keeping the home)
  • 1 woman a week dies from domestic violence in Australia (White Ribbon Australia, 2016)

As a mother of a girl and a boy, how do I explain to them that in our society my daughter is not valued as much as my son? That she is at a higher risk of something bad happening to her because of her gender. That she is more likely to get paid less than her brother. The list goes on. This is not a conversation I feel comfortable having but we do talk about it.

Gender equality is not a woman’s issue. It is a human issue. Both men and women have a role to play in bringing about gender equality. It starts with the small things that we can do in the world around us, from our family and friends to our colleagues.

So each time a barista or someone begins the conversation with “hello girls”, I politely correct them by saying, “I have a girl, she is 11, however I am a woman, please don’t refer to me as a girl”. Sometimes I get strange looks, but more often then not we enter into a mature exchange and share our views on gender equality and hopefully changing the world one conversation at a time.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

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How many firsts have you had this year?

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As a child we experience so many firsts. The world is full of wonder and excitement. However as we get older the number of firsts we experience diminishes because we have experienced so many things yet seek to repeat what we know. And then the routine sets in. Routine is important and has its place. With 2 children and a growing company, time is a premium and routine can often be a saving grace. Being organised is key. However for all the structure and calm that routine brings I lose my creativity and spontaneity that produces some of my best work. So how do I balance these two worlds?

Quite simply I try something new.

By trying something new it pushes me out of my comfort zone which is always a good thing. By staying in our comfort zone we stay safe, by stepping out we get energised. That sense of wonder and excitement creates an amazing energy – a reinvigoration of sorts that lasts with me for quite some time.

Let me give you some examples both work and personal.

  • Ask a colleague how they do something, such as organise their day or manage their social media – there are so many ways to do the same thing, a new approach may shake things up for you.
  • I tried walking meetings about 3 years ago and I have never looked back. By walking you are able to take new paths, explore new areas and see new things whilst walking which positively affects the nature of the conversation.
  • Go to a new café (ask for suggestions from your client or colleague) rather than the same old same old.
  • Think of something that you have always wanted to do but never have, make some time to do it. I did this recently with a business colleague and friend who took me to the labyrinth in Centennial Park. We walked through together and then meditated – very special.
  • As a kid I was a picky eater. My kids have put me to shame with their adventurous spirit. Recently on Chinese New Year, we went to Chinatown where they tried chicken feet for the first time. I am not a big meat eater especially when bone is involved (it’s my thing – we all have one) – but they were encouraging me to try it. The sauce was amazing, but I can’t say I will be rushing back…try biting your hand and you will get the same feeling of tendons and bone…an acquired delicacy for sure.

So this year I continue on the adventure as I strive to increase the number of firsts in my life. Listen to new music, go to events that I normally don’t go to, meet new people and expose myself to as many ideas as I can – this all contributes to my creativity, ability to run an effective business and a full and rewarding life. I still love the routine that keeps the home life calm but bring on the disruption that firsts can bring. Trying new techniques, new paths, new ideas can bring positive change and challenge the status quo.

What will your next first be?

 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through how to invigorate your business and personal life. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

 

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Another 5 Steps to Overcome the Overwhelm

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Last week I shared with you 5 steps to overcome the overwhelm and I got a great response from you. Clearly I touched on a nerve. We (including myself) can fall into the overwhelm and then we lose site of what is important in running our business’s successfully and having full lives as well. As promised I would like to share with you 5 more techniques on how to overcome your overwhelm and gain control in your day.

1. Single Tasking. Although multitasking is not a skill that is taught at school it is something that most of us do really well. We think that by taking the call, emailing, checking social media and writing notes all at the same time is a good use of our time – wrong. There is mounting research that shows that counters this idea but most suggest that multi-tasking is counterproductive. Our conversations aren’t meaningful and we cannot recall the facts and details of them. The quality of the emails are poor (which then usually means more emails clarifying initial said email) and so on. The key thing with multitasking is that we are time poor so we think the antidote is multitasking as we feel we are more productive when in actual fact WE ARE NOT.

2. Finish What You Have Started. I would like you to take a look at your computer. How many tabs are active on your internet browser? How many incomplete, unsent email windows are open? How many other program windows are open with unfinished work? Whether due to distraction, multitasking or sheer procrastination, many of us suffer from the inability to start and finish a task in one go. Yet if you think about it, isn’t that productive? But today we are focusing on minimising overwhelm and by giving the email, the proposal, the task at hand your focus and attention and completing it well can contribute to minimising your overwhelm by taking control of your tasks rather than the other way around. Last week’s post talked about reactive vs. proactive and this is another good example of this, are your tasks in control of you or are you in control of your tasks?

3. Take a Break. Neuroscience has shown that the brain works in about 45 minute cycles (on average). We are not programmed to sit for countless hours working…so take a break. Get up, go for a short walk, breath, make a cup of tea/coffee…you get my drift. Once again, the logic by many is, but I am too busy to take a break. But what happens to our brains is that after about 45 minutes our brain gets tired, it makes poorer decisions, loses concentration faster, poorer quality of work ensures. But after a quick 5-10 minute break, we reboot the system (so to speak) and you are fresh as daisy ready to continue handling the task at hand, and more likely to complete it faster and better. Take control of your day and have more breaks.

4. Drink Water. We require water to work well…but why? By staying hydrated we optimise the brains capability and we counter fatigue…. particularly at 3pm. This simple act can help you physically stay in better shape mentally, emotionally and physically reducing the overwhelm. I am not suggesting “here drink this water and the rising panic will go away”…but it’s about the habits that we instil that create the optimal state for our bodies and minds to function.

5. Meditation. The beautiful thing about meditation is that it forces us to stop. Stop revisiting the past over and over again, analysing, dissecting what went wrong as much as stopping us from forward gazing, to limit us from worrying about all the possible outcomes of a problem we face or planning we need to undertake. It makes us be here, in the moment. Quiet the mind. Be still. Meditation not only reduces stress but shows us that we can take control of our thoughts and not let them carry us away. A very powerful tool when the overwhelm comes.

We have the ability to reduce the overwhelm in our lives but rather than getting as much done to reduce our to do list, It is about our mindset: being proactive and taking control of our minds, body and even tasks, rather than being in a reactive state and responding to each situation automatically and without discipline. The techniques in this series vary in ease of implementation but it has start from a place where you want to reduce the overwhelm, commit to that and the discipline of your day will come through practice and repetition and proving to your self that doing 100 things at the same time really fast is not the best way to use your time. The proof is in the pudding.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through effective strategies to reduce your overwhelm. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

 

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

 

 

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5 Steps to overcome the overwhelm

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Whether you are starting your business or in the thick of things with scaling it to the next level, the most common response I hear when I ask my clients or female business owners how they are feeling: is overwhelmed.

There is always so much to do. And despite having full days of getting through so many emails, meetings, decision making and more – there is a feeling of treading water and going nowhere fast as opposed to swimming towards the goal.

Part of the reason for this is that there really is so much that needs to be done however there are a number of things one can do to minimise the overwhelm and start gaining some level of control over one’s day and feel more of a sense of accomplishment rather than swimming nowhere fast.

1. Stop and Breath…I know that we do this automatically but when you start feeling very overwhelmed it’s because there are too many things going through our mind and we don’t know what to do first. To stop the whir in our minds we need to gain control of it rather than these thoughts being in control of us. By stopping, focusing on our breathing (basic meditation really), the whirring slows down. Things stop spinning and we start to gain perspective. If nothing more we slow our heart rate down which helps with gaining control of both our mind and our body.

2. Clarity of Goals. Yes it is important to have big goals for our business; to hit $1m turnover, sell 50,000 units, gain 10 new clients – whatever your goal is, it is important to have them to give us the direction we need. But having big goals alone doesn’t help you today to know what you need to do right now. So I use a technique called Backwards Planning with my clients to breakdown the big goals into small daily achievable goals. Let me explain. We work backwards from the big goals, break each one down to quarterly targets, monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily to dos. It means that it is clear what you need to achieve today in order to contribute to the bigger goals.

3. Big Rocks Small Rocks. Going on from my previous point, some tasks are more important than others. So the order of what we do with our day is essential to gaining control and calm, whilst achieving our goals. The concept comes from Dr. Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The idea is that if we focus on the small insignificant tasks, even the ones that aren’t important that distract us (extensive time on social media, responding to EVERY email etc.) we fill up our time with things that make us seem like we are productive but when you look at the bank balance…not so much. So we need to prioritise our tasks each day – and the backwards planning technique can assist in doing that. By being clear on what you HAVE to focus on that day/ week, means when something shiny and interesting comes along you can ask yourself whether or not you want to give it your time or not.

4. Proactive vs. Reactive. You may be sensing a theme here, taking control. I am not a proponent of being in total control of every situation in order to have success. What I am suggesting is a mindset shift: from reactive to proactive. When in a reactive state we respond to whatever is immediately in front of us (email pop ups, phone calls etc) as opposed to thinking to one self, now the next thing I need to focus on is finalising my quarterly projections, or calling that client. The difference is the flow of energy. When in a reactive state the energy is all over the place, which creates overwhelm. When in a proactive state, your energy is targeted and less likely to overwhelm you.

5. Write a to do list. Simple but effective. Be clear on your day. Align your to dos with your bigger goals (aka backwards planning) and stay focused in the proactive state of mind to be as targeted with your energy as possible. We only have so much energy…it is not limitless (like time) so be wise in how and with whom you spend it.

Next week I will share with you more techniques on how to overcome your overwhelm and gain control in your day.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can go through effective strategies to reduce your overwhelm. This is a real coaching session. Click HERE to book.

 

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

 

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Why did I start my business, Launch Pod?

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I work with entrepreneurs every day, particularly women and one of the most common questions I get asked is, why did I start my business.

I went into Launch Pod with a very clear why. By having clarity around my why it has given me:

  • Clarity
  • Purpose
  • Focus
  • Motivation

So why did I start?

I wanted to make a bigger impact on women in the world.

Like any good entrepreneur, once I had this idea I began researching. I started looking at global research on ways to improve the plight of women around the world. I read reports from the likes of World Economic Forum and International Labor Organisation and more. There are a number of factors that can make a difference but the areas that I had expertise in is:

  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship

My path was set. Next step was to speak with female entrepreneurs and business owners. Apart from the fantastic stories and achievements I was interested in focusing on the pain points – how could I help these women? There were (and continue to be) a number of pain points that women who run business experience:

  • Lack of self-belief
  • Lack of confidence in themselves and the decisions they make
  • Lack of financial knowledge and perceived capability
  • Juggling more than just a business: children and ageing parents
  • Thinking too small…not scaling
  • Not risking enough

I will continue on why I started Launch Pod in a moment but I would like to interject that I am still speaking with female entrepreneurs to understand your challenges and obstacles – would you share your story with me? Just click here to schedule 15 minutes to tell me your story and to say thank you I will give you a free coaching session – this is not a sales pitch. This is research and a thank you.

Continuing on…

The other reasons why I started Launch Pod was to create financial success for myself through my business. I believe that for women, financial security and independence is essential. It provides choice and freedoms that for so long women didn’t have. Money is not what this is about, it’s about security, opportunity and choice. Being the driver of your own destiny.

Another reason I started my business is lifestyle. Let me be clear. By lifestyle it doesn’t mean I work 20 hours a week and turnover more than a million dollars. No, I have a family and I am a mother to 2 children and I wanted to be able to create a way to have more flexibility to be present when I need to be. There are still times when I can’t make a swimming carnival or certain play. But I try my best. The rule is, if it is important to you that I am there then let me know…I can’t do it all but I will aim to be there for what is important to you.

So this is why I started my business and I remind myself regularly of these reasons. As mentioned it gives me clarity, purpose, focus and most importantly motivation. Understanding my why ensures that every day I feel my days are meaningful and aligned to my bigger dream. By no means is it perfect. I get caught in the daily doldrums, paperwork and the necessities of running a business, having bad days and experiencing failures – no one is immune to that. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other with my why in mind propelling me forward.

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The fastest way to achieve success in 5 easy steps

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I bet that caught your attention. The truth is this post is more about how to really achieve success in a robust meaningful way rather than in the fastest way.

But on that…why do we always look for quick fixes? Why is fastest the best? It seems that we all get caught up in trying to do what ever we need to do the fastest way possible. The truth is, nothing that will bring you true success, great wealth and an authentic life will come from anything that is fast.

Yet still as human beings we are psychologically pre-disposed to move out of situations that are uncomfortable so fast solutions and quick fixes connects with us on that level. Yet at the same time, we really know that when in start up mode you are not going to hit 6 figures in 90 days or whatever tripe the next post you read will tell you to do.

Here are 5 tips to bring you sustained, robust and meaningful success into your business.

1. Clarity on purpose – what is the pain that you are trying to solve with your customer? Is the pain real or is it in your mind – have you done real market research or just observations amongst your friends (which is a great place to start but then have you expanded your circle to other potential customers). In addition to this, why? Why do you want to do this? Are you prepared to work day and night for years to make your dream a reality?

2. Goals. You need to know what you are working towards in order to know whether or not you are successful. These goals need to include financial as well time targets. Be bold, aim high and stretch yourself. Importantly be sure to measure how you are travelling and also have rewards set out for you when you achieve them.

3. Take care of yourself. This is not a sprint but a marathon and you need to be able to maintain high performance over a long period of time. Be sure to sleep well (8 hours a night), drink water, exercise and eat well. If you are sleep deprived and continually unwell how can you be performing at your peak.

4. Clarity of mind. It all starts with your mindset. Being open will allow for you to be your most creative and see the opportunities that others can’t. You will allow and expect failure, if not welcome it to enable you to grow and learn. Meditation will assist you with giving you mental space and clarity that sets the stage for greater achievements.

5. Focus. Now you are ready to go…you are clear on what you need to achieve but life is not simple, distractions will come daily, hourly, even every minute (think social media) so keeping your eye on the prize and staying focused will help you prioritise what is important (and what isn’t) and how you can best use your time.

 

What’s your story?

I would love to know more about you, what are your struggles and successes as an entrepreneur. If you give me 15 minutes of your time, I will repay you with a free 45 minute coaching session – no strings attached. It is to say thank you for you time. The purpose of my research is to ensure that I am delivering the best possible services to you. To share with me your thoughts, click here – I can’t wait to hear about your journey so far and what you have learnt.

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Why your first solution is not the right one to solve your problem

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One of my most popular posts from last year was titled: There are no vertical cliffs or dead ends only pathways to new beginnings. One of the reasons that I believe that to be such a popular post is that it resonated with many of you…the core idea is that there always solutions and paths that you haven’t seen yet.

So why is it that we get so stuck? It’s one way or another and a 3rd way cannot be seen.

In short we are acting on basic human impulses. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable or out of comfort zone. So we look at our immediate options for a quick way out of the situation. Unfortunately these solutions are often short sighted and do not explore the broader options that a level of creativity can bring.

In order to have that level of creativity one must move beyond the immediate impulse of trying to solve the problem, allow to sit in the discomfort of the situation and broaden one’s perspective to see the bigger picture. By doing this one can see a greater horizon of opportunities and subsequently solutions.

These alternative solutions are often not quick fixes or fast exits to resolve the problem however they often bring more meaningful change and an outcome that in the long term be more favourable.

Here are a few steps to take to draw out these alternative solutions, rather continuously relying on the quick fixes to resolve situations.

  1. Allow yourself to believe that there are other alternatives to the current situation. You may not see the solution yet but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. By giving yourself permission you open the door to the possibility.
  1. Change of scenery. We are creatures of habit which can be a good thing however when it comes to encouraging creativity habit and routine are killers of creativity. You need to step out of the every day routine and start seeing things from a different perspective.
  1. Space. There is a lot of noise in our world that takes our attention. Meetings, email, social media…and much more. By allowing yourself some space from all the noise in your world, will bring a quietness of mind and the space to think about things. There has been a lot of research to say that the brain does not have endless capacity when it comes to absorbing information,. It gets tired and doesn’t function as well. By giving it space, it allows the brain to function at full capacity as it is not being distracted.
  1. Sleep. The irony with this is that in times of heightened stress and having problems weigh us down, often our sleep suffers. Yet sleep is something that becomes even more essential in the process of problem solving. Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive all came about because of incident where she blacked out in her home office, collapsed and her daughter found her unconscious lying in a pool of blood. The doctors identified that the cause of her collapse was sleep deprivation (she had spent the previous number of years building up Huffington Post). She delves into research about the direct correlation of quality of sleep and the quality of decisions being made. More sleep better solutions, less sleep, poor decisions being made.
  1. Talk it out. It’s about getting a different perspective. The more diverse people you speak with the more diverse the ideas and opinions…which may be challenging but this is what you want…you seek not an easy one dimensional solution but a multifaceted approach that is robust and meaningful.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can create meaningful strategies to find effective techniques to problem solve your challenges. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

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How one word changes everything

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In previous blogs I have talked about the power of language, in particular removing the word should from our vocabulary.

The implications of telling ourselves, or others for that matter, that we or they “should” do something are not good. But why can one word like ‘should’ be so powerful? Well it is. And I have spent some time thinking, researching and talking with people about this one very specific word.

And I would like to share it with you.

Should implies obligation, that we must do something for a reason. That reason is something that can be imposed because of expectations – which can be external or internal. Expectations alone are not a bad thing however when they do not align with our personal values then the misalignment brings negative outcomes.

What do I mean in practical terms. I have a friend that comes from a family that are all doctors, well at least for the last couple of generations anyway. When we were in our first year of university together they had automatically signed up to medicine whilst I was commencing my psychology degree. At the end of year one they were telling me how they loved the science and helping component but preferred the idea of becoming a vet. The idea alone made sense but the context of the expectations they felt from their family cast a certain shadow of their thought process. When they said to me that they had talked to their family about it, they were not happy about it but my friend did it anyway. Subsequently they have become a very successful vet and has a thriving business. When I think back to it, it was such a courageous act to stand up for your voice and have yourself heard in a sea of disapproval. Especially at such a young age. In addition they were true themselves, what they needed to do to be happy even if it went against the expectations of their family.

Fast forward a number of years (about 20) and I look at my clients and can see how powerful external expectations are when making decisions. Especially the mothers in that group (which are by far the majority of my clients) are challenged by the additional responsibilities of running a business, managing a family and more; So when wanting to scale their business they feel that they shouldn’t as they won’t be able to manage everything. What I challenge them with is questioning the paradigm that they are functioning in. Why is it that they need to be the primary carer, why can’t it be more equally shared? Why do they feel that it is their responsibility? Is that from society’s expectation on them or self-imposed? I suggest both. However I also suggest that it is time to challenge these expectations that we have in our space…they are limiting us from fulfilling our incredible potential.

By removing the word from my vocabulary I feel liberated by own expectations of myself as well that of others. Of course one word can’t do all that, but it was the start of my journey towards living a more authentic life. It’s important to be honest with oneself and by removing one word has made a big difference in not only my life but of many of my clients.

How would you live your life if you removed the word should from your vocabulary?

 

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How much pressure can you take? Self-imposed vs. real deadlines

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Let me ask you a question. How are you feeling right now as you read this post? Are you feeling the pressure of a million and one things to get done? Most of us are. Now let me ask you, how many of these things have deadlines that are self-imposed? Many or most are. Yes some are set by external forces, agreed delivery time for a client, stock to be delivered and so on. But the steps that we need to take in order to achieve these deadlines are in in our control.

What I mean by this is that sometimes we get into a habit of taking too much on. Losing sight of priorities and saying yes to too many things. This results in losing focus, increased pressure to complete additional tasks and often missing deadlines.

So what can you do?

Priorities. Be clear on your priorities. What is essential and urgent for you to complete. Think both big and small picture here, meaning look at the long-term deadline and break it down into smaller milestone deadlines that you need to stick to.

Focus. Time and time again, I read in countless articles about traits of successful people, and one common theme is that they stay focused and not allowing themselves to get distracted. With this in mind, it’s about staying focused on your priorities, every day. When something comes across your desk, don’t just accept it that it needs to be done then or at all (by you or can it be delegated?) – question it. Take a moment and ask yourself where does this sit in my list of priorities. If it doesn’t fit, then drop it. If it is important then allocate the time that you think it deserves.

No. This is a word that many of us struggle to say – to say no to people when they ask us to do something. We often feel obliged to say yes to whatever comes our way but it is important to have the courage to know when it is not appropriate for us and saying no.

False Pressure. We put deadlines on tasks so that get them done – this is good, however I would like to challenge that there are times that we stick to deadlines that aren’t important and forget to stick to the important deadlines rather than the ones that we self-imposed.

In short, be aware, stay focused and keep on top of your priorities when it comes to managing your deadlines. Remember that some pressure can be good to keep us going but too much can be bad, sometimes even paralyzing ourselves.

 

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

A number of you have taken up my offer of a free 45 minute discovery call – some have become clients others we stay connected in a network, one I am even doing a project together with them – so open yourself to see where this can take you. Do you find you are under too much pressure from self-imposed deadlines then let’s have a chat and create some strategies to make a change. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

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Do you stalk or politely persist? Making the right connections!

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At what point does chasing someone up become stalker-like behaviour? In business you need to hustle. Things don’t just magically happen, you make them happen. Networking, meetings, emails, phone calls and so on are daily touch points for any entrepreneur and business owner. But most people (if any) are not just sitting there waiting for your call. In fact quite the opposite, so often you meet someone and they say, yes let’s connect but when you reach out, often there is little or no response.

There is a term that I made up called Polite Persistence (a friend recently told me her version is to lurk with intent…love it!!!!). Polite persistence is all about giving yourself permission to make contact with said person on regular occasion via the many various forms of communication that we have available to us.

When reaching out most people get dismayed by the first ‘rejection’ but as anyone in sales will tell you, you need 8 touch points before someone will do business with you. So you need to connect, meet a number of times – so when a call isn’t returned or email replied to, don’t give up. Keep trying. But be polite about it. Don’t get all “well who do you think you are to not return my call” or even worse “don’t you know who I am” – neither will serve you well.

If you take a step back and think about your life and I can guarantee it is very full of meetings, problem solving, strategy, phone calls, emails and much much more. The sphere of reference here is that when you reach out to someone there is a lot of noise to compete with…so keep at it and eventually you will be repaid even if it is just a phone call or email, it is a step in the right direction.

But there is a fine balance that in this equation. On one hand you don’t want to push too hard as you may come across as a stalker but at the same time sitting around for the universe to manifest your greatest intentions is not enough either. Each of us have our own fine balance however I err on the side of polite persistence…too many give up after one or two rejections.

One trick that I do is I keep a note everyone that I am wishing to connect with, the purpose of wanting to connect (sales, networking, mentor etc), and prioritise them in the scheme of things. This assists to guide me to how much do I wish to polite persist after someone. If they are important, then I keep going – get creative – maybe I know someone who could re-introduce us (LinkedIn is great for that) or alternatively I recognise that although I would like to connect, clearly they don’t and I let it go.

A number of you have taken up my offer of a free 45 minute discovery call – some have become clients others we stay connected in a network, one I am even doing a project together with them – so open yourself to see where this can take you. Do you find you give up too easily or try to hard to connect with people – let’s have a chat and find your fine balance. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

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Being Vulnerable is a Strength and Will Grow You and Your Business

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I watched Brene Brown’s talk again the other evening after a friend asked me to go with her to see her speak when she comes to Sydney in early March. Although I have seen both her TED talks numerous times, each time I watch them I get something different from it each and every time.

In light of where I am at the moment, I felt it spoke to me about some very important key themes that I wanted to share with you.

1. Connection. At the core of human existence we want connection. No matter the relationship, whether that is with a customer, a client, a friend, our partner or our child – we all seek connection with the other at various levels.

2. Blockage to Connection. Brene Brown’s research shows us that the main blockage to connection is shame and fear. The belief that we are not worthy of that said connection. That we are not good enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough…insert whatever your fear is and that is what is stopping us from connecting with those around us.

3. Worthy. Those that have connection with those around them have been shown to have a common trait that they believe that they are worthy of that connection. This self belief or as I see it, self-worth, means that we give our selves permission to connect because we are good enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough. That we are enough: a measurement that we have set for ourselves.

4. Authenticity. In order to be the authentic version of yourself you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable, imperfect and embrace the essence of you. Those that display authenticity and vulnerability have daily courage to speak the truth that is in their heart. Being who they believe they are not who they should be. When we live to other people’s expectations we are not living a true authentic life that in turn creates a blockage to connection. So if you are trying to build a community, customer base or tribe maybe one of the fundamental issues here is you…are you being truly authentic, vulnerable and honest. You are allowing people to connect with you. This is VERY hard to do but the benefits far outweigh our fears…easier said than done but definitely a courageous one.

5. Innovation, creativity and change. The birthplace of these things that so many of us seek in our businesses (and lives for that matter) is vulnerability. The ability to dig deep, take away all the fluff and see the raw truth. It is there in that uncomfortable place, out of our comfort zones where we feel exposed and vulnerable real change, creativity and innovation takes place.

6. Myth Busting. There is a dangerous myth that vulnerability is a weakness. Brene Brown (and I completely concur with her) says that vulnerability is an act of courage and bravery, something that requires strength to achieve. So when we have failures these are lessons to show us what not to do next time and put us on our path towards achieving our goals and achieving success. We need to make a mindset shift on how we see vulnerability and embrace it wholeheartedly.

Below are her two TED talks that she is most well known for … if you haven’t seen it or not watched it for a while I encourage you to do so…it will change your business and possibly your life.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can uncover your fear and shame, welcoming your vulnerability and using it to charge your innovation, creativity and change. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

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The Confidence Trap: Do you need to be confident to be successful?

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A client asked me, when will they stop doubting themselves and have confidence in both themselves and their business? At this point I would like to contextualise this conversation and say that they are run a successful business with a multi-million dollar turnover and over 35 employees. From an external perspective they are successful.

There is a perception that part of what defines success (apart from achieving goals and financial gain) is the feeling of confidence. Success is portrayed by jumping up in the air, air punching, straight backs and a confident stance. I know that this is a HUGE generalisation but to some extent it is true.

After reflecting upon the conversation, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about it.

1. Being a true entrepreneur means you are in a constant of change, flux and growth. This results in being out of your comfort zone, pushing yourself to do things differently and risk. None of these scenarios is a place of knowing, quite the opposite. When defining confidence, it is the knowing that we can do something after we have repeatedly done something. For example, public speaking. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get because you have proved to yourself that you can do it and subsequent confidence grows over time. However the reality is we need to accept and welcome this feeling of the lack of confidence in our world if we are to be true explorers and entrepreneurs.

2. Self-belief. But all is not lost…at the core of our being we must nurture self-belief as this will be the engine that fuels us through all the changes, risk and beyond as entrepreneurs.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?”

This is something I often say to my clients as opposed to “fake it till you make it”. Self-belief is essential, as it will sustain you through all the ups and downs of creating, growing and scaling your business. Self-belief is the quiet voice that says to you as you go to pitch your business to your first potential client, or to the group investors (especially when you are a woman in a sea of men), or when you are making massive decisions about the direction of your business. None of these situations require confidence, they require your self-belief.

3. Impostor syndrome. This is a big one. Some of the most successful people suffer from this – the fear that they are not good enough or a fake, with thoughts like “when will they find out that I am not as good as they think I am”. Like all fears, they are false evidence that appears as real.

tumblr_mozznqcz811swvvcio1_1280 It is a fear that must be overcome but the reality is there are bucket loads of CEOs, high level executives and wildly successful people that suffer from impostor syndrome.

My overall reflection is that all these 3 areas that I have shared with you are internal. It is our mindset, our thought processes; it is what we tell ourselves, our values and beliefs. And despite lacking confidence I will say that most successful people do not walk around confident all the time, as based on the general perception. The reality is as entrepreneurs we are explorers often entering unchartered territory and we need to come to peace with the idea that confidence does not equate to success. We need to look inwards to our self-belief. To believe we are worthy of success and rid ourselves of the impostor syndrome. And continue step by step, day by day walking in the directions of our goals and dreams for ourselves and our business.

 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where together we can work to building your internal mindset and resilience to achieve your goals. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think.

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The double standard for women and men: Part 2

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Continuing on from the last blog… Over the weekend I saw 2 movies…The Danish Girl and The Intern. You couldn’t have 2 more different genres of movies. One is a classic art movie whilst the other was classic American Pulp. Both had been high recommended but I must say the latter left me a little wanting. Despite their polar difference in quality of film…both tackled the topic of gender – from very different perspectives.

The Danish Girl is the true story of a person who is transgender, a woman trapped in a man’s body and how he and his wife (or she and his wife) tackle with the enormity their journey…plus it is 1926 in Copenhagen. Whilst The Intern is a modern day story of a female entrepreneur, wildly successful who is also a wife and mother with a “stay at home” father to look after their daughter.

Both movies challenged perceptions of gender (one way better than the other) and left me thinking about how I see people…both women and men, and the roles that we have. What I find fascinating is our society’s need to put people into boxes…it makes it easier to judge and handle each other I guess but it also means we cannot be our true selves. Why is it that gender defines who we are and our capabilities of task? Why do we need to be defined by them at all?

I am still reading Annabel Crabb’s book the Wife Drought (got lost in a fiction novel but I am back) and she refers to a study done at Stanford University in 2007 where researchers looked at the impact of a person’s marital and child status would have on a starting salary for a new role (reflecting their value to the company). What the research found was that a man married with children would be seen as the most valued and competent and had a starting salary of $150,000 whilst his equivalent female candidate was perceived as less competent and reliable with a starting salary of $137,000; what this shows is how we think of gender despite being in the same “capacity” i.e. employed and with children.

Why is it so? Well without going into the long history of gender studies, in short men are seen as breadwinners and women are the nurturing caretakers of the family and home. This may seem outdated but not much has changed for women other than the fact that there is many more women in the workforce. They still do the lion-share of caregiving and care-taking the house.

I totally didn’t connect with The Intern…because although I would like to think that the stay at home father thing is real…I only know of 1 case in my large-ish network PLUS the evidence shows that there was a bump in the number of stay at home dads just around the time of the GFC and now the number of men who don’t work is back to its minuscule percentage. I know it exists but it is far from being the norm.

Our perceptions need to change…so where is it working? We only need to look at the Nordic countries. Take a look at this great photographic series of Swedish Dads… which shows images that we don’t general see as the norm yet in Western countries…but they give me hope. Furthermore, another country that has got it right is Norway where paid parental leave commenced in 1977 and today 90% of Norwegian fathers take paternity leave. PLUS they do 3 hours of housework/ caring per day whilst women do 3 ½ hours per day…much more equal. It is all interconnected.

Their success in shifting the “norm” gives me hope and faith that perceptions will change but I am still somewhat cynical considering a woman’s worth is not deemed as equal in many aspects of Western society whether it be in work (pay gap), legally and otherwise and even worse in many other non-Western countries. Having said that, this cynicism fuels my passion to affect change. How…well, I am still working on that, keep you posted. By I know with each conversation I have, and with each blog post, each coaching and training session I run, each keynote I give, I am challenging the status quo on how gender is perceived.

Gender equality is a human issue, not a woman’s issue and the sooner we see this, the easier our roles will be with each other, as we will define it for ourselves rather than have others dictate what is the right or wrong thing for a woman or man, mother or father, wife or husband or partner to do. We need to think for ourselves and see what is right for us.

I came across this TED talk just this week – the timing of things is impeccable.

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The double standard for women and men on gender equality

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I am currently reading the Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb…and although I am only a third of the way in I feel I have to share my reflections on this book as it has already made a big impact on me.

For starters this is not a book that gives women guilt for not being the perfect wives (whatever that may be) nor is it a ”all men are evil” type book that are stopping women from succeeding at work…it is an intelligent analysis on how skewed life is for both women AND men. I am all for true gender equality which means that there is true equality for both men and women. This is not a “women’s” issue but a human issue.

After years of working with organisations to bring gender equality to the workplace, sat on countless diversity councils, changed policies, worked with Government agencies, lobbied left, right and centre I have tried various policies and strategies that have had made an inkling of a difference but none have been roaring successes. And now I know why.

The issue of why there aren’t enough female CEOs or women or boards is not because of work policies (though that is still part of equation) but Annabel Crabb has very poignantly and correctly pointed out with incredible aptness (and supported by a ton of research) that the other part of the equation is the home. Meaning in order for women to increase involvement at higher levels of business they need the same support that men get in those roles. In essence, they need a wife, or what a wife stands for – support – to help out with housework shopping, cooking, cleaning and children (in no order of course).

When I became pregnant with my first child every one congratulated my husband and I however I had an add on question to me which was “and what are you going to do about work?”

These assumptions are as detrimental to women as it is to men. It presumes that women will be the main care-giver as they juggle career, children and home whilst men get added pressure of being the main breadwinner. I am ashamed to say that as progressive as I am, I never sat down with my husband pre-children to talk about what are our expectations of each other with having children and our careers. We assumed, followed roles but we also challenged them too. Everyone finds their own balance. It is uncommon for a man (unless they are in one of the Nordic countries) to a) feel comfortable about asking for more than 2 weeks off after a baby is born or flexible work arrangements to assist caring for kids, doing regular school drop offs/ picks ups etc. b) to actually asking for the above mentioned. It is perceived that they lack ambition or worse, they are not perpetuating a ‘manly’ role.

Somehow the current state of play is not working out for anyone. Women feel exhausted, short changed (emotionally as well as financially when you look at how much less super women get at the end of their careers – pay equity and negotiation is part of that conversation too) but men feel pressured to fulfil roles that are enforced on them…they miss out on being with their kids and participating in their development. Everyone is feeling pressure, stress and unable to figure it all out.

Do we live to work or work to live?

Many women have addressed this situation by finding much flexibility in the world of entrepreneurship…it doesn’t address the home front however it does assist creating your own future based on your needs.

So it is time for women to lean in, but for men to lean out of work to be more present in their lives…and as Dr Michael Kimmel says in his TED Talk (who is a leading thought leader and academic on gender studies – just amazing, you must watch) women and men need to lean on each other…gender equality benefits all – when will we realise this? When will the change come?

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The double standard all girls and women face, and what you can do to change it!

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I recently posted the following image on both my Facebook Group Page and Facebook Page and was overwhelmed by the response…it is clearly something that struck a nerve and so I felt a blog needed to be shared.

Bossy quote

I have already a blog on a similar topic but it focused more on the power of language…however in light of the reaction more needed to be explored.

As a child I was often called bossy. I have always liked getting people organised, sharing my opinion and was strongly encouraged to do so by my mother…as I do with my daughter (and son for that matter). One particular incident occurred when I was 4, at kindergarten. My teacher was providing feedback to my mother about something when she said I was very bossy to the other children. Always telling them what to do and being a real ‘bossy-pants’. Well my mother just smiled and said back, well I am glad to hear it, she has leadership qualities.

Fast forward some years and leading people has been part and parcel of my career and one that I have enjoyed. The label not so much.

The truth is we live in a society that has double standards. One thing is OK for men but not women…particularly when it comes to strength, assertiveness and being outspoken. I am a tall woman (6ft 1in (184cm) to be precise…without shoes and I love heels)…and there is NO WAY that I can be a wall flower…apart from the feminist upbringing that I had encouraging me and my voice but physically I understand that I have a presence by sheer height…so I use it to my advantage. I am strong, assertive and have a voice…but many have tried to cut me down.  There is nothing wrong with being like this, however I fear the label has stayed around.

One of my first bosses even asked if there was something I could do about my height as he found it very intimidating. I was 20. I thought to myself…no, but is there something we can do about your personality…I never said this and glad that I didn’t as it wouldn’t have been professional nor the right thing to do.

In this clip below, many of these double standards that women face are outlined…

In addition to that there is the campaign to #banbossy which is aimed to educate girls, parents, teachers, managers and top leaders about how the double standards impact girls and subsequently women. Here is great clip from the campaign.

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where we can start working on your goals for 2016. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

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Let me show you a tool on how to ensure you achieve your goals

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In my last post I focused on setting SMARTER goals to get you off on the right track for 2016. Without goals you are not in a position to achieve the great things that you envisage for yourself and your business. Now that you have your goals, what now? How do you start implementing them? Many of your goals I am sure are long-term goals or even BHAGS – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. So how do you go about ensuring that your daily and weekly actions attribute to your longer-term goals?

There is a term that I have come across that I feel encapsulates the process, and it is called backwards planning. Dr. Steven Covey referred to it as beginning with the end in mind, as one of his 7 habits from his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (if you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you too).

Backwards planning is the process where you start with a goal, usually one that is more long term, such as a goal with a 6-12 month timeframe on it. In an act of pure transparency I would like to share with you one of my goals and how I utilise backwards planning to create daily and weekly goals. So lets begin with the SMARTER process.

Specific. I would like to generate revenue by doing keynote speaking, being and MC and speaking at conferences both in Australia and overseas. I enjoy public speaking and training and know that it is a strength of mine. I have spoken at conferences and done ad hoc keynotes and MC gigs but would like to create this a strong revenue stream in my business.

Measurable. I would like to generate $30,000 this year with the view of increasing this figure annually.

Achievable. Initially it will be a case of finding the right channels to promote myself, associations, networking. As a capability I know that I can do this so it is definitely achievable.

Relevant. Keynote speaking on the messages around my business and passions is very relevant and in line with my broader company strategy. I will need to refine my messaging but it will always be aligned to myself and the company.

Time-bound. Giving myself the year ahead to achieve this I believe is very achievable.

Evaluate. At this point I am not able to evaluate my goal however I would like to set milestones to ensure that I am on track to achieving this goal.

Reward. I would like to reward myself by going on a 5-day meditation retreat up Byron Bay way. I love that area and feel I can reconnect with myself there.

Now for the backwards planning!

There are a number of actions that need to take place in order for me to achieve my goals and some of them include (in no particular order):

  • Become known as a keynote speaker
  • Research
    • where people look for key note speakers
    • Find associations to register with
    • Speak with other keynote speakers to get advice, guidance and network
  • Write a keynote that is my key messaging
  • Create a show-reel
  • Create a personal website for people to find me
  • Seek a mentor
  • Networking
  • Start booking in speaking gigs

Here comes the fun stuff of backwards planning, let’s take the next 2 months as an example:

In January I will:

  • Contact people that I know that are keynote speakers and arrange coffees/ Skype chats to ask them how they got into it and any advice that they would give me
  • Research local and international associations for keynote speakers
  • Speak with my contacts at local and international conference organisers
  • Action recommendations made by people
  • Seek and secure a mentor
  • Refine my keynote message

In February I will:

  • Have first session with mentor
  • Register with relevant associations as a key note speaker
  • Set up my website
  • Research how to go about creating a show-reel
  • Finalise my keynote speech

By breaking down my goals into monthly tasks I can then break them down into even weekly tasks such as:

January: Contact people that I know that are keynote speakers and arrange coffees/ Skype chats to ask them how they got into it and any advice that they would give me

Week 1 goal:

  • Contact 5 people in my network that I know that are keynote speakers, seek possible mentor
  • Speak with my contacts at local and international conference organisers
  • Action recommendations made by people

Week 2 goal:

  • Contact 5 people in my network that I know that are keynote speakers, seek possible mentor
  • Action recommendations made by people
  • Research local and international associations for keynote speakers

And so on.

It can be a detailed process but one that will ensure that your goals will be achieved and you will be accountable to achieving them.

I do have a template that I use with my clients and I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where we can start working on breaking down your goals in achievable monthly and weekly action points to ensure you reach you goals for 2016. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

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7 Steps to creating your BEST goals yet

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Unless you have been hiding under a rock there have been a gazillion articles, offers and posts all about making 2016 a great year (including from me) and the key theme has been all about setting goals for 2016. So why does everyone focus on setting goals?

Well without goals you are less likely to achieve things and more likely to stay in the same place. However have you found that you have had put goals in place but the above happens anyway? Well there are a number of things that you need to do to create robust goals that will serve you and your business going forward.

There are a number of strategies that you can use however I like the tried and tested SMARTER technique, which is the extension of SMART.

When setting goals you need them to following principles in order for them to be effective:

Specific. To say you would like to grow your business, or make more money is a good start however the goal is not specific enough. You need to drill down and focus on the detail such as: I would like to grow the online retail part of my business or I would like to increase the profit margin by X%. Try to envisage your goal in your mind and write down what it looks like in as much detail as possible. The more specific it is, the more likely you are to achieve it. You can utilise the Who, What, Where, How and Why strategy and answer each question about the goal.

Measurable. Like everything in business you need to be measurable so that you know whether or not success has been achieved. You may like to increase sales by 20%, or increase your profit margin by $50,000. Whatever the metric you need to have one in order to measure whether or not you have achieved your goal.

Achievable. You want to create goals that stretch and challenge you however you also want them to be achievable. If you are in year 2 of your business and you would like to double your profit, I would most likely say it is not achievable however not impossible…if you over extend yourself in all your goals and achieve none of them, it can be very demotivating. Learning to be able to create stretch goals is a skill and requires a firm grip on reality to know just how far you can go.

Relevant. How does the goal tie into your overall business plan/ strategy? Is it aligned to your objectives? You need to ensure that you are creating goals that are working towards your overall goal in your business.

Time-bound. Timeframes, deadlines and dates need to be set in order to know when your goal (and the milestones for the goal) need to be achieved by…otherwise you will be working on it endlessly.

Some of you would be aware of the SMART technique and here comes the extra magic that I think really adds value to the process.

Evaluate. It is important at the end of the process to evaluate how you have gone…did you achieve your goal or not. What happened, what would you replicate, what would you do differently next time? It is not an opportunity to berate yourself but rather learn key lessons on how to repeat the success or avoid the failure.

Reward. If success is achieved you need to celebrate and reward yourself. Too often once a goal is achieved we move onto the next goal/ project…however we need to take the time to really reward yourself. Possibly, when setting the goal think about how you would like to reward yourself if you achieve that goal.

Yes this may take some time however it is worth it…if do not set goals, we do not achieve, and then why are we in business? What strategies do you use when setting goals?

 

I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, where we can start working on your goals for 2016. Click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

 

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Why is the ‘done thing’ not OK: the power of perception

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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about letting go of what other people think and following your own path. Since then a follow on thought has been brewing in me and came to the fore in a conversation with one of my clients, Bianca. She was telling me of a situation in her business where there is an expectation to do things a certain way. I challenged her and asked why? Why is it done that way? She answered because it is the done thing. My red flags went waving madly…too often we do things without thinking. It’s easy. Everyone else is doing it. But is it the best way? Is it the way that works for you?

I continued asking a few questions…what came out of my questioning was that she felt that everything seemed to be working and going so well for her competitors (and everyone else for that matter) so wanted to follow suit. Being in the early days of her business (year 2) she still doesn’t feel the confidence to listen to her own voice. Furthermore, the power of perception is strong.

The perception of others is an interesting idea to me. I feel that our society has created a very good engine that feeds our insecurities. “Everyone else but me seems to be successful/ winning in business/ cruising through life [INSERT YOUR OWN]”. We assume that everything is easy for others but bloody hard for us.

The reality is we are all brilliant actors. Through Facebook, Insta and other social media – reality is distorted. Filters added. Perception of easy success is perpetuated.

If you were to scratch the surface of anyone around you right now, you would find that your perceived reality of their life would be far from the real reality of their life… Life is not easy. Starting a business is really hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is lying. Another client Eli recently told me that she is a 5 year overnight success. I have heard it before but still love it.

So the next time you are feeling challenged by forging your own path know that it won’t be easy, but we are all here to support you.  Come join the Launch Pod Facebook group.

 

If you would like start your journey in finding your voice or forging your own path, I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

 

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The great lessons from both failure and success.

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Many people are in planning mode for 2016. It is going to be a great year, I can feel it – however before we start planning for all the big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs) it is important to take stock of the last year. One of the activities that I have been doing with my clients is to write down both the successes and failures that they have experienced throughout the year.

We look at both success and failure as there so many lessons from both. I recently went to an event called F*ck Up Night. What I loved about it was that rather than the usual panel talking about the path that they took to achieve their success we listened to some successful entrepreneurs who made BIG mistakes. What I took away from that event was that despite being so afraid of making mistakes we can learn so much from them too. During the networking part after the panel, I found a natural openness amongst everyone there to sharing our mistakes with each other, and importantly the lessons learned rather than it being a shameful thing. Which counters so much what our society espouses…success good, failure bad.

When we make mistakes we often look deep into the path that took us there to ensure that we don’t make the same mistake twice. We analyse and dissect what went wrong. This is important and should be done. Einstein once said:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

At the same time we are often too busy to celebrate our successes. We hit our goals and milestones and then move on to the next with little fanfare. But now is a great time to list them out…you may be surprised by how much you have actually achieved in the last 12 months…and that’s the point.

Once you have written them out you need to celebrate. Especially if you haven’t done so during the year…make a fuss and make it big. One technique I recommend to my clients is to link a reward for achieving a goal in the planning phase however I am sure you will be able to think of something to do to celebrate.

But there is one last thing I would like you to do. Often we leave it there with our successes – identify and celebrate. The one extra step I would like you to do is to look at what steps were taken to achieve that success, as that is something you would like to replicate. Too often we only look at what isn’t working to ensure we don’t do it again. Conversely, you want to understand as best as you can what you did to achieve that success and replicate that.

I promise you that by making the time to do this exercise you will not only gain a sense of achievement of what you accomplished throughout the year, you will start knowing what is working and what isn’t. And now you are ready to plan for a great 2016!

If you would like start your journey in looking at what is working and what isn’t in your business, I invite you to a free 45 minute discover call, click here to book. This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch.

If you liked this article, please share it with your people. Or post a comment below, it is always great to hear from you and what you think. What are the expectations that you live by?

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It’s Been A Busy Year. What I Don’t Like About This Statement.

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December is upon us and the race to the end of the year is on. Or so it seems. Each year is the same. When I ask people how they are, some of the common responses are:

I can’t believe how fast this year has gone

It’s crazy busy!

Wrapping up the year.

Where has the year gone?

With a number of my clients that have product-based businesses they particularly busy especially the retail focused ones to fulfil Christmas orders. However for those that are service-based, they too feel panicked by the impending toll of the bell of the end of the year. I question this crazy rush to the end of the year. At this point I am excluding those that are clearly rushed off their feet fulfilling orders (i.e. clients with product based businesses)…however many of us unconsciously fall into this mad race to the end of the year.

I question a few parts.

  1. The unconscious part: we should never blindly follow nor accept anything. Always question. Set your own path and rhythm. What is going on in your business and what needs to happen to meet your client’s needs? If they need you more at this time of year then meet them but don’t create a craziness just because people around you have entered the silly season.
  1. The race to the end of the year. Unless you have a deadline of some kind don’t create a false deadline because that is what everyone else is doing. Most of my clients are small businesses and most of us don’t have the luxury of a proper holiday. I don’t suggest you shouldn’t switch off, regenerate and be with friends and family…however things don’t really stop for small business owners…so why race? Yes meet your client needs but don’t try to do EVERYTHING by 24th December as it is the done thing…. we go on working on in January and so on…it doesn’t really stop so why push yourself with false deadlines?
  1. Busy…I really don’t like the word busy. It is a word that to me suggests that one does many things but on a superficial and non-meaningful level. Like a bee, buzzing from flower to flower…not stopping, not reflecting, not being present or mindful of the now. When I ask my clients how they are, often they will respond with: I am so busy. I will challenge that statement: a lot of action doesn’t often translate into sales or more importantly profit. It’s about quality not quantity.

Doing many things makes us feel productive, however the true measure is how effective and profitable have those actions been?

So in the lead up to the end of the year…stop and think:

  • What are your priorities?
  • What goals would you like to achieve?
  • Are you busy or are you productive?
  • Stay present and conscious of you and your businesses needs.

 

What is your current state of mind are you busy or present?

 

If you would like start your journey in developing strategies on how to be more productive and generate profit rather than just being busy, I invite you to a free 45 minute discover call, click here to book.

This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch, to kick start you on your journey of gaining clarity and understanding purpose.

 

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Why do we do what we do?

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This is a question that I often ask of both myself and of my clients (and of course friends and family too). Like Simon Sinek, I question, why? Why did you use those words, why did you react that way, why did you act that way?

To understand me a little better, I am first generation Australian. Both my parents immigrated to Australia from Hungary. I was brought up in a very European way of classical music, art, culture and lots of debates and discussions (plus being one of those ethnic kids at school that had salami sandwiches – I even had to go to the special English class (ESL) with the immigrant kids because being bilingual slowed my English comprehension down somewhat… but that is a story for another time).

From an early age I was encouraged to have an opinion, based on factual reasoning, to have a voice and be part of the discussion. Well, with a mother that has 2 PhDs are you surprised? I only have a Masters plus a few other degrees under my belt but I surely could take one of hers, no? But I digress. Lifelong learning is part of who I am.

What has always fascinated me from a young age is the question, why do we do what we do? It has taken me down a path of study including psychology, sociology, history, economics, communication and more. And then in my career I have focused primarily in working with people to transform themselves via training, coaching and psychology all within the context of business.

Now in the world of entrepreneurs, clients and suppliers – there is still the fundamental denominator of my career – people. And my question, one that I often ask my clients, continues to be relevant.

The core aspect of the why is motivation.

Let me explain.

In a recent conversation with my client Laura, she wasn’t able to explain why sometimes she felt very motivated with her business and other times she felt somewhat flat. To be an entrepreneur or business owner, we need to have continual drive and be self-motivated as the buck stops with us. So clarity over motivation is essential. I went through a process with Laura uncovering some basic motivators by asking her the following questions:

1. Why did you start your business?
2. What is the purpose of your business?
3. What service are you offering that makes a difference in your customers lives?
4. Why would they buy from you over your competitor?

By asking her these 4 questions Laura was able to start to gain clarity around her motivators, personal values and identify the issues that impacted her motivation levels.

There is no “right” answer to any of these questions, but rather the identification and understanding of what is really going on here? When we are not achieving our goals, part of the reason may be lack of clarity of goals. However more often than not it is a lack of motivation that drives the engine, us, towards those goals. And when times get tough, because they always do, we need to go back to basics to ask ourselves, why am I doing what I am doing. The questions that I asked above may not be easy to answer initially but in order to have clarity of your own motivation for your business, you should try to understand and spend time answering them.

If you would like start your journey in understanding your motivation, I invite you to a free 45 minute discovery call, here to book.

This is a real coaching session, not a sales pitch, to kick start you on your journey of gaining clarity and understanding purpose.

In addition to that I would like to point you in the direction of some relevant TED talks that may be relevant to your journey, particularly  Dan Pink’s Puzzle of Motivation as well as a an additional list of other TED Talks on Why We Do The Things We Do.

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93% Of What We Are Saying Is Not With Our Words

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I was taken aback by the impact of my last post The Lights Are On But No One Is Home, not just at the high level of engagement online (which is great, please keep sharing, engaging and discussing) but in the conversations it brought up with clients as well as people that I was having meetings with that read my post.

What came out of many of these conversations is that at the basis of everyday, every interaction is communication. Yet we barely pay any attention to it. My client Fiona was the first one to reflect on this last Wednesday morning, when she asked me to expand on the concept of Active Listening so that she could develop her communication skills and not just hear but also understand what the other person/ people are saying.

In that conversation I flippantly said, “did you know that 93% of what is communicated is not with words?”. Fiona looked at me as if I had just said that day was night and night was day… so I explained further.

55% of what is communicated is through body language. So whether you are trying to communicate a message or interpret one, body language is over half of what is being said without using words. This can include:

  • Body movements
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Muscle tension
  • Eye contact
  • Skin colouring
  • Breathing rate

One of the classic examples are that of someone’s arms being crossed. This is most commonly interpreted as either protecting one-self or defensive.

Whilst 38% of what is communicated is through the tone of our voice, how high, low, fast, slow, gruff or soft.

The crazy part is when most of my clients are preparing for a big pitch or presentation, so much time is put into what they are going to say…the words, the presentation. Yes, this is important as you need your numbers to be correct and you need to be clear on purpose, outcome and what it is you are trying to communicate.

But too much emphasis is placed on the words…because in a face-to-face interaction, what the other person or people see first is you, your posture or hear the tone of your voice. If it communicates confidence and credibility, then their ears are wide open to what you have to say. Otherwise, you can have the schmickest presentation but it will be for naught.

Similarly, when trying to read a client, or anyone for that matter, try not to just focus on the words that they are saying. You need to read between the lines and see what their body is saying and listen to the tone of their voice.

So today, when you are speaking with people take a look at their body language and listen to their tone, do they align with the words that they are saying? Or what are they really trying to tell you. In addition, think about your own body language and tone. How can you communicate more effectively without using your words?

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Channeling our impatient energy for good not evil

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I know that sounds dramatic but I don’t mean to be. The truth since writing my blog about active patience it has become a conversation with a number of my clients and it is something that I am still working on myself in my own world.

The reason that it continues to come up in conversation is about the challenge that many people face when they are on a path to reach a goal, start or run a business. The frustration of how slow things can get challenges us. What do I mean by this?

As a start up, things take time. From testing your product to making it right to go to market, to getting clients (and then more clients) to creating a meaningful digital footprint. Everything good takes times. But if you are like me and have a burning ambition to succeed in your business and life, then you would like things to happen and you would like to happen if not now but very soon (please).

But that is not how things work…don’t we all know it.

So what can we do?

We have a choice. I see impatience as an energy source fuelled by our desire and passion to succeed in said goal (business, specific goal and so on). So I would like to suggest something…if you can view your impatience as an energy source then you can channel it. It has 2 directions.

1. That you become frustrated by the limitations that you see before you. Your frustration turns to annoyance which then turns to inaction. You may talk about it with many people. You may possibly even think about it all the time. But in essence no real action is taken.

2. The second is the direction that I choose to take and coach many of my clients through as well. That is to implement active patience. But it is more than just that, it is about knowing that one of a number of things could be taking place:

  • Natural progression: it is important to recognise that some things just take time. This acceptance minimises frustrations. We live in an instant gratification society so if things don’t happen immediately we question them.
  • Locus of Influence: It is the awareness that there are somethings that we don’t have control over and we need to accept it. However of the things we do have influence we should be aware of what they are and do what we can to influence in them.
  • It’s OK to push. I am not suggesting that we throw our hands in the air and stop trying. But there is a difference between living in a state of frustration and annoyance and using that energy to keep motivating us to keep persevering forward.

It is the last point that is essential. It accepts a reality but doesn’t stop us from moving forward. We don’t use it as an excuse to stop the momentum of our journey but rather as an opportunity for reflection and self-awareness. If we allow frustration and annoyance to drive us we will most certainly fail…excuses will arise and reasons for not achieving our goals.

However by channeling our impatience towards a deeper understanding of our situation, to keep us moving even if it is one step at a time, we are using this energy to propel us toward our success rather than it being an obstacle to them.

How do you channel your impatience towards success in business and in life?

I would like to give you back an hour per day via my Time Saving Tool Kit. Click here to collect your free kit.

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Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken

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I love this statement. Simple and true. But hard to implement.

By nature, we crave inclusion, acceptance and community. One way to achieve it is by conforming to like-minded souls in our midst. Whether that be fashion or shared thoughts and ideas. We feel part of something. We belong.

But to be a success in business we need to stand out from the crowd. Not follow the herd. To think our own thoughts. To see things our own way.

We need strength especially when what we see is so different to those around us. The latest buzz word around this is to be a disruptor…but these days everyone around me claims to be a “disruptor” but it is now more a badge of honour or a fashion statement than reality.

It reminds me of the great line from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where a leader is addressing a large crow saying “You are all individuals”.

The crowd responds: “We are all individuals”.

One soul responds: “I’m not”…. pure genius.

So are you saying that you are a disruptor and an individual or are you just saying it because everyone else is?

I am no angel when it comes to this…there have been many times I have caught myself in the thick of a herd but I try to remain as authentic and true to myself where possible. Here are some tips that I have found useful to keep that going:

  1. Self-awareness. That old chestnut…well yes. Staying aware of yourself, of the people around you and the interaction between the two allows you to keep yourself in check. A big part of this is emotional intelligence.
  1. Mindfulness. This flows on from self-awareness but brings us back to the present…no reflection on the past or gazing into the future…mindfulness stills the mind and allows you to focus on what is important right now. It brings focus and peace into our day.
  1. Conscious Living. This brings together the first 2 points…it’s the active nature of living. Challenging what is in front of you and not just accepting it. Being curious and questioning. Asking why?
  1. Be strong. It can be hard to go against the herd. To stand out. To be different. But remember, why are you doing it? be true to yourself, and what you believe in.
  1. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will? When faced with rejection after rejection and a bucket load of disappointments…you need to dig deep. It is hard to be a trail blazer and be different.

After all, what makes the biggest difference in our business is our uniqueness that we bring to market and that needs to start with you. What is your special gift that you can share with the world?

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Everything is a matter of perspective

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There is the very well known example about perspective in relation to a glass of water; if you are a pessimist then you see the glass half empty; if you are an optimist then you see the glass half full; and third perspective may be that there is water up to a certain line. All are a matter of perspective.

This analogy is very powerful as it reflects that in business and in life when events happen we internalise it and create an internal dialogue, attributing values and judgement. All a normal process and one that is automatic. However I would like to suggest that we create an awareness about this process especially when dealing with more complex or challenging situations.

Why should I do this? I hear you ask, Mainly because it provides us with the opportunity to fully understand a situation, which means being able to look at it from a number of perspectives and subsequently create numerous solutions.

Being able to see things from multiple perspectives also gives us the ability to have more empathy in our relationships, in that we are able to see things from anther angle. Especially when it comes to understanding our customer’s needs and perspectives – this means that we can serve and deliver to them an even better product, service or customer experience.

Self-awareness and openness can lead to a more fulfilling business and personal life. Being open means more opportunity, which always leads to more success.

Innately I am a deeply positive person who seeks a half glass full approach to almost everything…annoyingly so for some…I promise it is not an act or falseness as I also experience negativity and sadness. However my ability to see positivity and opportunity reflects my open mindset. This mindset, also known as a Growth Mindset, as discussed by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, means that there is flexibility and an openness to situations and solutions. Conversely, a fixed mindset she suggests means that we are closed to various opportunities and solutions. Those with growth mindsets tend to be more successful in business but all is not lost, as Dweck suggests that we can shift our mindset.

To support this is the world of neuroplasticity, which says that we can change the way, we think and how our brain even functions.

But it all starts with an awareness of where we are and desire to want to change.

It can be a hard journey but a fulfilling one.

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It’s All About The Why…4 Steps To Regain Clarity

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Without clarity, we have nothing. I am sure someone has said it before but it’s true (so no claim to fame with me there). About half a year ago I write a blog about The Day I Gained Clarity and 7 Steps on How You Can Too. I re-read it recently as I have been going through a process of pivoting my business model to accommodate a change I saw in the market. More on that another time; however it did remind me on the importance of clarity.

Often we have goals, plans, strategies and we get pumped up and start our journey. But then life happens. Things don’t go the way we expect them to (both good and bad) and our trajectory shifts. As entrepreneurs we go a million miles an hour, and forget to stop and think about where we are headed, especially when we change course.

I am all for being nimble and flexible to respond to the changes for our customers and the market however we often forget to refocus on what we are trying to achieve. Going back to basics, to have absolute clarity on what is our purpose and how we will achieve that.

So in an effort to share some recent learnings, here are some questions ensure that you have the clarity you need to keep the momentum in your life and business. Take the time to answer them one by one.

1. Why are you doing this? Let’s start with the basics. By answering this question, can help us realign our daily crazy lives. Evaluate all the components and assess whether or not they are assisting, obstructing or doing nothing to achieve this purpose. If you haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about the WHY, please do… it’s life changing. Link Below.

2. What is the problem you are trying to solve? This one is also a good one to help remind us of why we are doing what we are doing. At the end of the day, a successful business is about solving a problem. Be clear on the pain and the hurt of your customer. Otherwise how can you help them and subsequently why would they purchase whatever it is that you are selling them?

3. Who is your customer? That old chestnut? But it’s true. I can’t tell you how many of my clients lack the clarity about who exactly they are trying to sell to. Be as specific as possible…who are they, how old, what gender, what do they like to do, what don’t they like to do, and so on.

4. If failure wasn’t as option what would you do? Now we are starting to get into some more meaty areas and address the topic of fear. Too often we stop ourselves from creating a great path to success due to the fear of failure, whether that be growing to fast or total failure. So if it wasn’t an option what would the plan be? Then compare it to your more conservative strategy and see what you can take from this exercise? Remember it is good to take (measured) risk.

This post is not a ‘how to’ guide but more of the kind of exercises and questions I ask my clients in my eCourse, Pods and Coaching sessions…and they can bring up some very interesting ideas and breakthroughs. So once you have gone through this exercise, please share it with us – as we all learn from each other and I would love to hear from you.

 

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There is Always Sunshine Above the Storm Clouds

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I don’t profess to be a wise philosopher however I do enjoy reading it (and try to practice it too) – however I have had a personal belief that has helped me through dark periods in my life. That belief is a metaphor, that there is always sunshine above the storm clouds.

In a recent post “How are you? What to say when you are NOT OK?”, I addressed the reality of depression and really tough times felt by people. It is not all the Facebook and Instagram false-reality of “how great is it to be an entrepreneur” and “I feel so blessed”….we may have had moments like that but for most of us it is a daily slog. Starting and running a business is hard work with lots of rejections, disappointments and failures. Just ask anyone with a successful business.

One successful client, Michelle, recently reflected to me that she feels that to this day, even with a successful business it is all about problem solving…figuring out the puzzle. It never stops. Part of managing hard times is about putting things into perspective…running a business is hard. Really hard. And anyone who told you different, was lying.

The client that is in the afore mentioned post said to me recently “The sun seems so much brighter after a period of darkness”…I understand her thinking as it is linked to my belief.

When we go through a hard phase in our life, facing challenges and obstacles we are unable to do what we want to do. We start to feel like we are not really living but rather existing, day by day sometimes hour to hour. Our challenges can feel insurmountable and the solutions do not appear before us.

There are things we can do to start to gain control.

1. This to shall pass. This is an ancient proverb and means everything in life is transient. Both bad and good. Life is constant. Ever changing. Never still. In short, even though you may be feeling overwhelmed, like you are drowning in your problems – it will pass…eventually.

2. Perspective. I recently was confronted by some very challenging decisions and felt overwhelmed and taken over by these problems. It was around the time when the Syrian refugee crisis began. I decided to attend the rally to support the increase of refugees into Australia. Afterwards I felt lighter as I had realised that my challenges, although they seemed insurmountable to me (and they are real issues), in context of what the refugees are facing, helped me put things into perspective quick smart. It wasn’t my intention for that to happen, but an important life lesson for me. The challenges didn’t go away, however I changed my perspective on it.

3. Support network. They will also help you seek perspective. Give you new ideas on how to address the challenges or even how to cope. They can be a mentor, coach, business partner, your partner or a friend. It is OK to reach out and say, I am not OK. They will not think any less of you.

4. Move. I know I say it a lot but physical exercise, walking, yoga, whatever takes your fancy – it helps. Physically, mentally and emotionally. So move.

5. Meditate. Still your mind. So much of what happens in our life is in our own head, our thoughts. By taking better control of our mind, we can stop it from running away from us.

Remember, we have more strength in us that we realise. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong she is until she is in hot water.

This is a quote relevant to men too and don’t love the reference to women as tea bags, but I think you get the meaning – that often we don’t know our own strength until we are tested. So if you are going through challenges know that there are lessons there, support if sought and sunshine above the storm clouds.

Have courage. It will see you through.

Did you like what you read? Please share this with your people.  How do you deal with the challenges that face you?

I would like to give you back an hour per day via my Time Saving Tool Kit. Click here to collect yours.

 

 

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Can you say the dirty word? Go on…Try!

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As entrepreneurs we are always open to opportunity…that’s what brings us success. But sometimes it can be hard to decipher a good opportunity vs. an opportunity that goes nowhere. This is a common conversation that I have with my clients, and one that I have with myself.

Part of the reason I left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur is that I love working on a few projects at the same time. At the moment I have Launch Pod, sit on a board, working with Women as Entrepreneurs (event for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day coming in November…) plus forging a partnership with Global Sisters to become their Living Fearlessly Leader (quite excited, watch this space) and a few other irons in the fire.

It is easy to become distracted as opportunities are like shiny objects that can stop us in our tracks and take our attention.

I wouldn’t call myself a serialpreneur but some of my clients do. And I, like so many of you love variety, but it does have it’s downside.

I have seen it time and time again (and have fallen victim to this myself) where we spread ourselves too thin. Our focus is lost and we lose momentum. Nothing seems to happen despite countless opportunities that sit before us and working hard, or so it seems, on everything.

So the question is, how do you decipher what is a good opportunity and should you give your time to it.

Less is more.

In our age of more is more, it can lead to excess, too much distraction and not enough focus on what is important to our business and our life.

So what is the dirty word in the entrepreneur set, saying NO to an opportunity – sometimes it can be a wise move.

Stay focused. Stay on task. Be clear with your intentions. And go for it.

If an opportunity comes your way, assess it carefully – will it really add value to your bigger picture? It’s OK to say no.

Have you said no to an opportunity? What was the outcome?

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How much control do we have in our success, really?

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Socrates famously once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”. And as I edge ever closer to a milestone birthday I am in active self-reflection mode. There are many themes that I reflect upon in my life however one of them seems to come up in conversations with a number of my clients as well. How much of our life is fait accompli? Meaning the universe has bigger plans for us? And how much control do we have over what happens to us day-to-day, self-determinism?

In business we like to think that we have complete control over our destiny. We work tirelessly, long hours, day in day out. Sometimes there is success. Sometimes there is not. When there is success we ride high on the wave of energy that carries us. However when presented with failure we either reflect or run and hide. Reflecting at this time is healthy, to learn what not to do next time. I would also like to suggest that it is good to also reflect in times of success for 2 key reasons.

1. To keep us grounded so that we don’t lose ourselves

2. To understand the factors that brought us that success

When speaking with clients about their times of success (as well as reflected upon my own times of success) it is clear that luck and timing often have apart to play.

And here in lies the challenge.

How much of what happens to us in our business (and in life for that matter) is due to our tireless hard work and how much is luck (or the greater universal plan)?

I believe it is a combination self-determinism that sits within the greater universal plan. As humans we have the power of free will. We can choose whether or not to set a meeting or to initiate an idea and set it in motion. However sometimes there are things that are just bigger than us. And as I wrote in my blog last week on Active Patience …sometimes we need to wait for things to naturally unfold.

What this means to me is that there is a time to push, and push hard to make things happen and there are times to sit back and let things take their course and the balance comes from knowing when to do which. In some situations we have more control than we allow ourselves to believe have whilst in others we are riding the wave of the greater universal plan. Sometimes I like jumping off my board and swimming (my free will) but I will still get carried along in the current.

Happy reflecting.

Do you believe in complete self-determinism, accept that life has a plan for you or like me balance between the two?

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What made me jump ship and how my inner voice said it would be OK

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Why do we do what we do? We all have reasons and motivations for our daily actions. But what about life-changing events, what motivates us to take a totally different path in our lives?

Well mine began with a trip to New York. A city that left me inspired by life itself. I spent a week with 2 of my oldest and closest friends, seeing so much art, culture, eating beautiful food, meeting interesting people and dancing almost every night until 4am. It was a heady cocktail of sensory stimulation that jump-started my life into a new direction.

Upon return to Sydney and life (that included a full time job, 2 kids, family life, friends and more) I realised that something had shifted in me. I was so inspired by New York and the potential in life I just knew that I had a different path to follow.

How did I know? I listened. I listed to the inner voice inside of me that said it was time to change gears, to jump ship from the way life existed but it also said “It would be OK”.

How did my inner voice know all of this?

Because our inner voice is our most purest form of us and we need to listen to it. It holds real truths. Have you ever had that feeling in you that you knew that something was/ wasn’t right? Some call it your gut instinct. But that is part of your inner voice. It is our internal guiding mechanism that helps us on our path.

How did my inner voice know that if I jumped ship from a secure corporate job that it would be OK? With a family and children one needs security – or that is what I thought I needed. In fact, upon reflection upon my desire to start Launch Pod, I was driven by making a difference in this world more than my need for security. I trust my inner voice. I had self-belief. I just knew.

But what happens when our inner voice is plagued with negativity and self-doubt? This is a natural part of the process. It is our inner voice telling us of any perceived risks. However as women, we are trained from your girls to be risk averse, to not take risks. Be safe. Be responsible. The problem arises when perceived risks stop us from going down the path of our dreams. So more than often than not we stop ourselves and say we can’t or shouldn’t take this risk.

Of course there are days where I have said to myself, who am I to do this? Who will buy my services/ product? This won’t work. But as soon as I hear these words of self-doubt I stop and reflect – where is it coming from? What is the perceived risk/ fear? Usually it motivated by true fear of the unknown, not succeeding, public failure. All natural – but by having a reality check allows me to keep moving through the doubt and back onto my path of success.

Our inner voice can either propel us forward towards our goals and dreams or stops us in our tracks and even put us down.

But we have a choice. We can choose to listen to our inner voice and allow ourselves to be propelled forward to the future we envisage or allow it to stop us from taking the leap at all. I am not suggesting we don’t listen when it tells us something negative. I am saying listen. Then reflect. Why is it telling you this? Don’t be ruled by it and don’t let it stop you – hear its message and be aware.

In short:
1. Trust yourself
2. Listen
3. Understand the message
4. Be aware
5. Don’t ignore the negative – just don’t let it stop you
6. Reflect

I will be talking more about this and more on a webinar this Friday 4th September at 10am (AEST) on ‘Removing the obstacle of self doubt on your path to success.’ It would be great to have you there.

Click here to reserve your spot.

Do you know of someone that would be interested in coming too? Please share this post with them.

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Confidence is like Learning to Ride a Bike

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Ask anyone who is successful and one of the key aspects to their success was their self-belief and confidence. But many of us do not have much of either. There are no quick fixes but there are strategies that can be implemented immediately that can start to have a meaningful impact on your life.

To be clear, confidence can only come from action. Knowing that you can do something because you have done it repeatedly. Self-belief is the ability to have the belief that you can do something even if you never have.

I often use the following analogy with my clients of learning to ride a bike. Before you learn to ride a bike there is a good chance that you have mastered a scooter, possibly a skateboard or roller-skates/ blades. Maybe tried your hand at ice-skating, skiing or surfing. All require some type of coordination of balance and movement. Furthermore, your self-belief is also translated to saying to yourself: “I don’t know how to ride a bike but I can learn. Lots of other people have, so why can’t I?”. So when rating your confidence about riding a bike before you learn may be very low however your self-belief could be high. However after a few attempts, some successful and some failures (i.e. falling off, grazing one’s knee) you get back on and try again and again and again. You practice and each time you get better. When measuring confidence levels through this process they are increasing as you are showing yourself you can do this. Until you can ride a bike at which point your confidence in your ability to ride is very high.

Unfortunately there is a belief that in order to start something or achieve something, you need to have confidence. I say the opposite. You will get confidence from action. You need to believe in yourself that you can do this. Yes you will fail and you will also learn from that. You will also succeed. But by waiting for confidence in order to achieve you will never succeed. As it will never happen.

Here are 5 meaningful strategies you can start today to building your self-belief and ultimately your confidence.

 

1. It’s Your Choice

Helen Keller was born in 1880 and was 18 months old when she contracted Meningitis, which left her deaf and blind. Despite this she became a great author and advocate for social change. One of her most famous quotes is: 

“Life is a daring adventure, or nothing”

What it says is that we have 2 choices: you can live a life of daring adventure or choose not to. Which one do you choose? Do you want to grow, experience and live your life to the full? Or would you like to stay where you are? It is this conscious choice that will help fuel your confidence because it is about understanding the choices YOU make, your motivations and creating your future. You are in control. You choose.

 

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the mental state where you are completely in the moment, being present. Having the awareness to be present, an openness to the possibilities and able to focus on what you need to focus on without being distracted. Why is mindfulness so important to building your confidence? It trains our minds to not get pushed around by unhelpful thoughts and emotions and to remain focused on our goals. Through mindful meditation practices and other mindful activities we can teach ourselves on how to be completely present with the person we are talking to or in the task we must complete without allowing our lack of confidence or self-doubt stop us. If the negative doubts fuelled by lack of confidence arise then through mindfulness we choose to ignore them and return our focus.

 

3. Mindset: What would I do differently next time?

In order to build your confidence you need to have a growth mindset. But what is a growth mindset. Before we look into this, let us first define mindset. Mindset is one’s mental attitude that determines your responses and interpretations to situations. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential, there are 2 types of mindsets:

  • fixed mindset
  • growth mindset

Someone with a fixed mindset is someone who believes that they are who they are and there is nothing that can change them. Someone with a growth mindset believes that a person’s potential is unknown. They have an openness to situations and have a more optimistic view in life. When it comes to making mistakes this is where the real difference between the two mindsets becomes evident and especially why it is important for you to have a growth mindset to build your confidence. Someone with a fixed mindset will do everything they can to minimise and avoid making mistakes, failure or rejection. Whilst someone with a growth mindset will view mistakes, failure or rejection as a learning opportunity; asking themselves “what can I do differently next time?”. The good news is you can change your mindset from fixed to growth. So what would you do differently next time?

 

4. Don’t talk yourself down

Your words can create your reality. If you keep telling yourself that you can’t do something, then you will convince yourself, that this is your reality. Just as powerfully if you keep telling yourself you can (and should) you will find that you will get the momentum to act. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. More importantly you can be your worst enemy – talking yourself down can take away what little self-confidence you have (“I can’t do this, I don’t deserve this, people will laugh at me). Talking yourself up and positive affirmations will only go so far, you need the action to reinforce your thoughts and together they will become a vivid reality. Don’t let your self-limiting beliefs stop you from becoming who you want to be.

 

5. Be Authentic

Brene Brown has brought this concept to the mainstream through her 2 great TED talks around what is authenticity and how to be authentic in life. Another way to look at being authentic is through finding your voice. Your voice represents who you really are. What you believe and what values you uphold. Not what mask you hide behind or being the person you believe others want you to be. To be your true self takes courage but it also liberates us from the shackles of expectations and living an unfulfilled life. By being true to yourself, finding your voice, your confidence comes easier as you know who you really are and trust in yourself.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

I will be talking on this topic next week at Business In Heels on Wednesday 2nd September at 6pm at the Arthouse Hotel, 275 Pitt Street, Sydney. Connect with other like-minded female entrepreneurs, do some business and learn how to grow your confidence. It would be great to see you there. You can reserve your place here.

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Destination Set. But, What is My First Step?

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In one of my recent posts I wrote about that if you don’t have clear goals then it’s like driving without a destination. So what happens when you have a clear goal in your mind and you know exactly what you would like to achieve; the detail is there but you have no idea where to start or how to get there?

This happens to many of us, including me. You have a great idea for a business or you get clear on something that you would like to achieve in your life. You have created a very clear picture of your ideal future state. GREAT! But you are here, today in a very different place. How do you get there?

Sometimes the enormity overwhelms us and can put us into analysis paralysis. We look into it too much, over analyse without taking any steps to achieving the goals and we stop. Here are a few ideas that I have used personally as well shared with clients:

Bite Size Chunks. Of course you are overwhelmed you have BIG ideas, dreams and goals. You want to really change things, shake things up. But it isn’t going to happen instantly. So chunk it down into as many small steps as possible. This will take away the overwhelm. It will also give you achievable tasks you can do to achieve your goal. By achieving each small step, you will build your confidence and then in in turn propel you closer to your goal/s.

Momentum. In order to achieve you have to keep moving, even one step at a time. Don’t let fear or the unknown stop you from taking that step forward towards your goal/s. Keep moving.

Go Public. Share with people what you would like to achieve and how you plan to do it. Why? Firstly, you are making a commitment to people outside of yourself and you are more likely to keep it. (See my post on this topic). Secondly, they might have ideas on how you can go about achieving your goals, share with you mistakes they made along a similar path and lessons learnt to be shared.

Support. Another benefit of going public with your goals is you get more support from your network. And you will need it along the way. You can’t do it alone – and that is OK.

Write It Out. Sometimes we get overwhelmed as we have too much in our heads. The best thing to do is write it all out and create a plan. This way you will be clear on what you need to achieve in the short term (and by when) and you will start hitting your key milestones and closer to achieving your goal.

Remember, life happens and you will most likely deviate from the plan or the plan may even change – it is just a roadmap to where you want to go. As long as you stay clear and focused on your goals, does it really matter how you get there?

What else do you do to achieve your goals?

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There are no vertical cliffs or dead ends only pathways to new beginnings

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Last week I ran a Pod (one of my mastermind sessions) where one client explained that her main supplier had recently notified her of an increase of price, which would dramatically reduce her overall profit. She continued by saying how trapped and cornered she felt and saw the situation spiralling out of control. When dissecting the situation some more it became clear that she couldn’t see any other solutions and hence her feelings.

As a group we talked through the situation and a number thoughts came to my mind – which I shared with the group later in the discussion. Firstly, this is the classic attack of the amygdala. This is when we have a strong emotional reaction that our mind translates as a threat and puts us into flight or fight mode to protect us. This is a natural chemical reaction where epinephrine is released into the bloodstream; however considering the nature of the threat neither is appropriate. Furthermore, our rational/thinking brain stops working as it is frozen or blocked to focus on the immediate threat, hence the inability to see alternative solutions. But we can re-train our minds, and minimise our amygdala attacks (there is a lot of research from Neuroplasticity to Emotional Intelligence – connect with me if you would like to know more).

It also made me think of one of the well-known Harvey Spector quotes, the character from the Suits TV show:

Harvey: “What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head?”

Mike: “What are you talking about? You do what they say or they shoot you.”

Harvey: “WRONG. You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any one of a 146 other things.”

I don’t support the gun reference and they weren’t talking about guns specifically either but rather that when being cornered by a situation (which seems to happen weekly) we always have choices…according to Harvey 146 choices. It’s about not letting the situation determine the outcome, be creative and think outside of the box.

And to add to the synchronicity of life, I recently had a conversation with a wise friend about a personal situation, where I explained my perspective. They responded, somewhat philosophically, as they are that way inclined, that in their world there are no vertical cliffs or dead end streets, only pathways to new beginnings. This resonated very deeply with me. I admire their openness to life.

After hearing the conversation and then sharing my thoughts and reflections we came up with at least 10 different possible actions and solutions for her to choose from and she no longer felt trapped. Carol Dweck refers this to as an open mindset, which is very much the mindset of my friend. As opposed to the closed mindset referred to at the beginning of the post. What I have come to realise is that although we have a predisposition for a certain type mindset, we can shift (ideally to an open one) depending upon the situation. Importantly, just like our emotions, we have the ability manage our mindset. Take control of our amygdala and see 146 new pathways instead of a dead end.

So at the end of the session we all agreed that there are always solutions, even if we can’t see them and the importance of being able to turn to someone or a group of people in your support network that can shed a new light onto your world.

What do you do to overcome the feeling that you have no options?

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I can’t do it all…and that’s OK.

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I used to think that a measure of a person’s success was their ability to succeed at whatever they did. A measure that I held myself to highly, until recently. As an entrepreneur we do need to do it all (at the beginning anyway), a financial reality. However this is not always ideal because I have never met anyone who is good at everything. In fact over recent years strengths based leadership and learning has become prominent, as there is a shift in thinking towards the idea that we all have certain strengths that we bring to the table. But how do we know what we are really good at versus what we think we are good at?

It all began for me with Marcus Buckingham’s book, Now Discover Your Strengths from 2001. He introduced a great quiz style survey to identify your strengths. A more recent iteration of the book is Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which uses the same survey, but somewhat updated after years of feedback and research. Whichever book you read or even if you just do the test – it is a great way to figure out your strengths.

The concepts of focusing on your strengths and strengths based learning goes against what we are taught. From school-age we aim for straight As…or a distinction average at university etc…we’ve had performance management discussions on our “areas of improvement”. However very rarely do we focus on what we are good at, or even recognise the fact that we can’t be good at everything. There is a lot of research in the ‘strengths’ area particularly Zenger Folkman that show that by focusing on our strengths and building on them we increase or ability and performance overall as they are directly linked to confidence and outcome.

It all starts with self-awareness…understanding ourselves. Really thinking about what am I capable of? And here comes the activity…

Write down all the things that you think are your strengths. Then ask 10 people around you to (via email or conversation) what do they think your strengths are. Be careful who you ask. What I mean is, if you ask friends and family then they will respond on a more personal level. However if you are seeking to understand your professional strengths then you will need to ask people in those circles. Then compare the lists. Do the strengths that you have listed match up with how others see you?

Then is the time for reflection.

In the end I have accepted that being a straight A student does not make me any more successful than the next person…but knowing who I am and what my strengths are is much more powerful.

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There is something else that I would like to share with you: how to create a moment of clarity (Part 2)

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In last week’s blog I shared with you an event in my life where I had a moment of clarity that propelled me into action.

What we are talking about here, is about being out of our comfort zone…this is an interesting concept. We do so much in our lives to do anything we can to create comfort and convenience…yes it might feel good temporarily (such as food) or the ability to do something easier however when you think about when are you at your best or your peak?

Most of us when we are pushed out of our comfort zone do things that we would normally not imagine.

I am not suggesting going and living in the jungle in a tin shed with no mod-cons or anything that extreme, however I would like to pose to you – isn’t it strange that if we are at our most creative, have the most flow and have the most amount of clarity when we are out of our comfort zones yet we spend so much time, energy and money to keep us in them?

Why? Well, although there are many positive benefits of being outside of our comfort-zones, it is uncomfortable. It is hard. It is challenging. We don’t like that. In business we call that a ‘pain point’ and as entrepreneurs we try to find ways to take pain points away for our customers. However, as entrepreneurs I would like to suggest rather than finding ways to take away our own pain points I would like to ask what if you spent time finding ways to get yourself out of your comfort zone – regularly.

So how can we push ourselves consciously out of our comfort zones so that we have more true moments of clarity, creativity and innovation?

Face your Fears. Write down a list things that you have been putting off because of your fears. So as a public act of commitment I am writing down something that is on my list for you to see and also for me to commit to:

Heights…starting with something broad…for those of you that know me, I hear you laughing, why, because I am 6ft 1in (and yes I wear heals on top of that)…not afraid of being tall but heights – YES!
My Commitment: By the end of 2015 I will climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Please note that they don’t need to be directly linked to your business but it is about creating the right mindset.

Dream Big. There is a great quote, if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough. To me this means that if you are comfortable you aren’t taking a big enough risk…so push yourself, stretch yourself. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Change of Scenery. If you see the same thing every day, mix it up. Sit somewhere else in your office or work from a café for a bit. A change helps us see things from a different perspective.

Change of Routine. Mix it up. Do you do the same thing every morning? So much so that you are doing things on autopilot. Try to do things in a different order. Go to the office a different way. Walk instead of drive. This will challenge your brain to stop and think…make you uncomfortable.

Mindfulness techniques. There are certain mindfulness techniques that you can do to enliven your brain. Try to brush your teeth with your other hand. Sit on the ground cross legged, uncross your legs and re-cross them the other way around – all these things that make us a tad uncomfortable but enough to trigger our mind to stop and think.

How else do you push yourself out of your comfort zone?

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The power of language: Why I #BanBossy and I’m #NotSorry

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I’ve been called bossy most of my life. One incident in particular has always stayed with me. I was four and my kindergarten was being filmed for a children’s TV show; I saw an opportunity, jumped up on a block and began to pretend I was a policewoman directing the traffic. Afterwards my teacher went to my mother (who shared the story with me years later), thinking she should know that I was being a very bossy kid – demonstrated by my taking control over the traffic. In fact, my mother said that it made her very proud. I had seen an opportunity and made it my own and she saw it as more of a leadership quality than anything else.

There’s a similar story in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (highly recommended reading). Only when I read Lean In did it dawn on me that ‘bossy’ is a term used only for females and not for males (generally speaking – a authoritative trait or action that is deemed acceptable in men and not so much in women). To this day even some men in my working life have told me that I am quite bossy…but I turn it around and say thank you.

In 2014 the Ban Bossy campaign began and everything became clear. Language is so very powerful, often used as a tool for setting double standards between men and women and framing certain qualities in women in a negative light. This is something we as women can change today.

How many times have you said sorry today? I’m not talking about if you hurt someone; I’m talking about instances such as using it as a segue to offer your opinion: “sorry, do you have a minute?” Women will so often use that word where men would never even consider using it in the same context. I’m all for apologising when I’ve done something wrong but we need to stop apologising for just being us – for being women, being there and having an opinion.

So I say yes to #BanBossy and #NotSorry.

  • Reflect on how many times you think you say sorry in a day.
  • Get colleagues and friends to help you count how many times you say sorry a day – and to raise awareness about the project.
  • Take actions to raise your own awareness throughout the following day around how many times you say sorry.
  • Find out more from www.banbossy.com
  • Share this with your network to get them to share  #banbossy and #notsorry!

 

 

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Where did my mojo go?

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Do not give up

There are plenty of times when you feel like you have lost your mojo. Whether that is because of a disappointing outcome, negative feedback or just a general malaise. The cause is not so much the issue but rather how do you get your mojo back.

A client of mine was sharing with me recently how they had a really big win with their business. They had put so much work, energy and effort into making it happen. Once it did there was a natural high from the success followed by a release of the pressure which led to a massive come down off the natural high. She then went into a period of “recovery” she called it. It is not possible to sustain working at such a level she said, which is true. However this recovery period didn’t last a few days or a week, but over a month. By the time she came to me (at our first session) she confided that although she loves her business and normally not a procrastinator, she felt like she had lost her mojo.

So here are some of the ideas that we discussed to get her mojo back. Find out below whether or not it worked.

The BIG WHY. As Simon Sinek says, always start with the why. Why did you start this business? Go back to the beginning and really dig deep and find your motivators. By identifying this, it will help remind you why you get out of bed every day and give it your all.

Don’t Stop. The worst thing you can do at this point in time is stop working on your next goal, project and so on. By stopping you stop your general momentum. The more you do the more that happens, so even though you don’t feel like it, you still got to do it.

Walk it Out. Doing physical movement gives our brain the impression that we are moving and going somewhere. All forms of exercise create natural endorphins that will help you feel better about things.

Talk it Out. It is all about perspective and by talking with someone else they can provide you with advice or offer a new perspective on how get your mojo back.

Structure. If you are inclined to allow some down time to turn into longer than a little while and come into some serious procrastinating (you know if that’s you…who are you kidding)…well it is important to create a new rhythm and order in your day. Rather than being reactive to things around you create a structure so that you know what is going on. The momentum will carry you out of your malaise and bring you back your mojo – be disciplined!

Be Kind. Through it all be kind to yourself, not hard on yourself. There may be a bigger issue at play here so take the time to reflect and ask yourself why have you lost your mojo. What events occurred that took you to that point? Of those events, how much control do you have over them to ensure that it won’t happen again. i.e. what would you do differently next time. This reflection will allow you the analysis you need to take you through the next time you are presented with this situation, or ideally you were able to avoid it all together.

And, yes, she did find her mojo by gaining some new perspectives from her new Pod, and a number of trusted confidants, plus she reminded herself why she started her business as well.

Have you lost your mojo? How did you get it back?

Did you like this post? If so, there may be others in your tribe that would like to read it to, so don’t be greedy, share it.

 

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Why do we shut down and stop thinking and how to overcome it

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Why is that when we are faced with news that challenges us and our status quo(for good or bad) we tend to focus on the negative and catastrophise? Meaning we play out the worst case scenario/s over and over. Recently a client of mine, let’s call her Michaela, was presented with news by a client of hers which directly effected her immediate cash flow.

Being in start up mode she feels very vulnerable financially and it is of constant concern on how to make it all work. The news itself is not what is important but how she interpreted it. Initially she went into over drive thinking about how this news is bad for her and her business. She felt deflated, winded and incredibly down. She saw no way out. A few hours later after letting the situation calm down and she talked to someone about her situation. She found by talking to someone she was able to see the situation from another angle. Then she came up with a great solution that turned the tables completely in her favour.

After she recounted the story to me I reflected on what she had said. This situation has happened to me and I am sure that it has happened to you too. But why? Why do we shut down and stop thinking? It comes down the chemicals in our brain, the good old fight or flight response which is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to one’s survival. So how can we gain clarity to begin problem solving when there are chemicals rushing through our system that minimise our capabilities?

1. Perception. The key challenge is to change the way we see situations so when things happen we don’t perceive them as threats but as opportunities. This is not an easy task to do but it is achievable.

2. Get Physical. By doing something physical even as simple as taking a walk, helps dilute the amount of chemicals in our body by increasing the oxygen in our system. That’s the physiological aspect. However it helps you change your scenery and thus your perspective.

3. Talk About It. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees…we can’t see the opportunity in front us, so by talking the situation or problem through with someone provides us with another perspective. We need to be open to different ideas and perspectives but it may be the solution we are looking for.

4. Drink Lots of Water. Once again, we are dealing with a physiological reaction even though it feels like more of a mental and emotional one. But to assist in diluting the chemicals causing the problem, we can assist by drinking water.

5. Time to Relax. How do you like to relax? Breathing, yoga, meditation or some quiet time – whatever you like to do, this is the time to do it to bring stillness from the chaos that is happening in our minds.

6. What Would You Differently? After going this experience it’s time to reflect on how you reacted. Ask yourself, what would you do differently next time? Take the time to reflect and be kind to yourself. This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up but to figure out new strategies that you can implement in your business and life.

How have you dealt with this type of situation?

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So you have a great business idea…now what?

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Designer's Desk with Architectural Tools and Notebook

TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION

After countless hours of deliberation you’ve identified the perfect business idea. Now what? What are your next steps? Often the first couple of steps can be the hardest, so rather than looking at the whole overwhelming process of building your business let’s look at the first few crucial steps you can take to get the ball rolling.

Step 1 – document it. Put your ideas to paper. Make sure you’re clear on what your business is offering, what your financials are, who your target market is and all the other ideas you have around your business. This will form the beginning of your business plan, creating a pathway from idea to reality.

Step 2 – talk about it. Speak to friends and people in your network about your business idea. Be sure to protect yourself with a Non-disclosure Agreement – your Intellectual Property (IP) is what it’s all about. Having said that, people can be incredibly generous with their time and insight. Come armed with the questions you would like to ask them, such as:

  • What do you like about my idea?
  • What don’t you like about my idea?
  • Do you know anyone in your network that I could speak to?
  • What are the biggest lessons you’ve learnt in business?
  • What guidance/advice would you give me?

Step 3 – test it. Make sure your business model has legs! Make it real by testing it and making a few prototypes. This process will show you what works and what doesn’t in a real environment. Friends can be great guinea pigs.

Step 4 – just do it. Don’t let your passion and energy be quashed by a fear of failure, lack of self-belief and self-confidence and high levels of self-doubt. Ask yourself how many dreams you’ve given up on because of those emotions; what opportunities have you missed? It’s your time now to change the course of your life.

“genuine confidence is not the absence of fear; it is a transformed relationship with fear.”

Dr Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap

And one last thought:

FEAR = False Evidence that Appears Real.

So close your eyes, hold your breath and dive into it – it’s scary but what an exhilarating adventure!

What tips would you share with budding entrepreneurs?

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© THE LAUNCHPOD 2017