GLOSS business | money | life | change | reviews | you
DEC 2014-JAN 2015
GLOSS Founder & Editor in Chief JANINE GARNER | email@example.com Managing Editor KATE STONE | firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editors Melissa Browne, Nikki Fogden-Moore, Chris Allen, Renata Cooper Featured This Month Lisa Messenger, LTGEN David Morrison, AO, Alice Ruhe, Amber Daines, Gwen Blake, Margie Warrell, Margot Andersen, Victoria Butt, Kimberley Hutchings, Dr Jenny Brockis, Zahrina Robertson, Evelyn Lundstrom, Kieran Flanagan, Dan Gregory ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES email@example.com EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN INTERN Hayley Chiplin | email@example.com Published By: LBDG | littleblackdressgroup.com.au MEMBERSHIP ENQUIRIES AND FEEDBACK www.littleblackdressgroup.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org ÂŠ LBDG 2014 All content in this newsletter is protected under Australian and International copyright laws. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of LBDG is strictly forbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this online magazine at time of going to press, and we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. All rights reserved.
#LBDG #bebrave #netweave #collaborate #frommetowe
COMMERCIAL COLLABORATION ARE YOU READY? From Me to We shows business decision makers how the ability to effectively collaborate for mutual commercial benefit is the solution to future-proofing a business. Smashing the myth of the “Me Economy,” this insightful guide explains the model of Commercial Collaboration and the mindset and think-space it requires. Expanding upon Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” premise, this book emphasizes the need for continuous professional evolution and effort, and describes why women hold an important role in effecting change. Ideas are illustrated with examples, and backed by sector-specific research and interviews with business leaders who have seen real-world results of effective business collaboration. The Seven ReConnect Principles outline methods of realizing change, providing readers a way forward that will future-proof themselves, their careers, and their businesses. Collaboration isn’t just a soft skill that’s nice to have – it’s a vital business practice that affects the bottom line. As the way we do business continues to evolve, collaboration is becoming ever more crucial to steeling an organization against the threats of tomorrow. From Me to We is a practical handbook for more robust business strategy. If you have been programmed or conditioned by society to believe that success means achieving on your own, you need to realise that no one achieves wealth, happiness, success, long-lasting love or anything else without the guidance and support of others. Innovation starts with collaboration. I can confidently say that I would not be where I am today without consciously working with people who share in my vision and desired outcomes. You are as successful as the people you are surrounded by and Janine has dedicated her whole working life collaborating with and bringing together like-minded people to ensure continued and sustainable success. --Layne Beachley, seven-time world champion surfer, speaker and author
Pre-Order ‘FROM ME TO WE’ now! Use Discount Code JG20 at checkout to receive 20% off #frommetowe
A Message From Me As I put this issue to bed, I am deeply saddened by the events in Sydney this week. I now call Australia home, and have been touched by the outpouring of sorrow, the uniting face of the #illridewithyou campaign, and above all the amazing generosity of spirit that the Australian public has shown. My heart is filled with grief at the loss of life and the impact on so many families. I extend on behalf of the LBDG community our love and support. As 2014 comes to a close, now is the time to review and acknowledge all youâ€™ve achieved this year. In the spirit of planning 2015, and in the strong tradition of GLOSS, this bumper issue is filled with tips, thought-provoking articles and contributions designed to get you thinking for the new year. A huge thank you to our featured gamechangers Lisa Messenger and LTGEN David Morrison, and of course all of our regular contributing editors and guest writers. I would like to wish you all a fabulous Christmas. Check out the forthcoming LBDG events calendar for some new yearâ€™s inspiration - and above all, relax and rejuvenate. Just a note - our new format allows you to read GLOSS offline on tablet. Perfect for the holidays!
If you would like to write for GLOSS, or are interested in advertising with us, please contact us via email@example.com
DECEMBER & GLOSS ‘14 MESSENGER OF THE GODS:
HAIL TO THE CHIEF:
Keeps the ‘success’ in succession planning
Female entrepreneurs are on the rise - and so are female investors
An Exclusive Interview With Lisa Messenger
An Exclusive Interview With LTGEN David Morrison, AO
Gwen Blake & Jacqui Lawrey Welcome to the world of Rafferty’s!
Margie Warrell How to live bravely into 2015
LOIS LANE LIVES
Are you living your purpose?
Keeps recruitment on the boil during the holiday period
Has our personal style under control
And talks Xmas shopping turkey
BODY & SOUL
NEWS & REVIEWS
Mel Browne keeps our wallets healthy for the festive season
... and Nikki FogdenMoore keeps our bodies in the same shape
The Latest Greatest New Business Books
YOUR GIFT FROM US ALL AT GLOSS An exclusive chapter from Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan’s new book
DEC ‘14 JAN ‘15 Your Editorial Team JANINE GARNER Founder & Editor in Chief
“Togetherness – or collaboration – requires a plus and an equal sign. Togetherness can, and does, create the momentum of greatness.”
Janine Garner is a business woman and entrepreneur who is passionate about the return to open and transparent corporate relationships and the power of commercial collaboration in futureproofing careers and businesses.
She is the Founder and CEO of LBDGroup, a community of successful and results oriented business women and entrepreneurs working together to drive continued change and success. Janine spent 20 years working across the world in corporate marketing roles for some of the luxury sector’s best brands including Ralph Lauren, Oroton Jaeger, Sainsbury’s Homebase and Citizen Watches.
She is the winner of an International Stevie Award, a Top 10 finalist in the DARE Magazine Daredevil Awards and was listed in 2013 as one of Australia’s “Most Inspiring Women” by Madison Magazine.
Janine is a sought after keynote speaker, mentor and advisor. She writes every week for her own blog and is a regular commentator in the business print and online media.
Janine is also the founder of Australia’s first gift giving circle, the First Seeds Fund, committed to reducing the impact of poverty and abuse amongst women and children in our Australian backyards by focusing on education, community and employment.
KATE STONE Managing Editor
“A heart that loves is always young. And quite possibly perennially stuck in the 70s, but that’s a personal choice.” Managing Editor Kate Stone is a ghostwriter, columnist, copy writer and editor who has a passion for all things social media and graphic design. If she isn’t living in someone else’s head, she is online or onscreen, or often both together. She is determined to bring her love of the written word, presented as beautifully as possible, to people whether they like it or not. She is the sole (at present) outpost of LBDGroup in WA, but is working very hard on changing this, and is proof positive that the power of a collaborative community is alive and well.
Find her in one of her various guises on Twitter at @oskythespy, read her own writing at What Kate Did Next or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are looking for someone to time share your brain with.
WHAT DOES A LACK OF DIRECTION, FOCUS AND PLANNING COST YOU? IF YOU ARE WANTING TO: • achieve more • drive results and levels of personal and professional success • are ready to work and commit to greater success • get the passion back in to your work • shift thinking and perspective, to change your game • reignite your business/career passion • achieve step change in your results
THEN INVEST IN MENTORING IN 2015 WITH JANINE GARNER. As a trusted advisor, and experienced and results-driven business woman, Janine is one of Australia’s leading experts on leadership, belief and collaboration to gain greater commercial success, productivity and fulfilment. Time with Janine is invaluable to your personal and business growth, your big picture thinking, identifying and achieving your goals and what’s next. Contact her now to make 2015 YOUR year. Limited Spaces Available.
This Month’s Gamecchangers
DEC ‘14 JAN ‘15 LIEUTENANT GENERAL DAVID MORRISON, AO “The first step to reaching a solution is knowing that you have a problem.”
Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, joined Army in 1979, after completing a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University. He rose steadily through the ranks of the military, serving in Papua New Guinea in 1994, and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for his services as Brigade Major, Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation and as Commanding Officer.
He was promoted to colonel in October 1999 and served as Colonel of Operations in East Timor. His services culminated in his promotion to Lientenant General in 2011 and concurrent appointment as Chief of Army. His standard three year tenure was extended to four, which ends in May 2015. LTGEN Morrison has been involved at a frontline level in the reforms of the Australian Defence Force after several high-level incidents involving the unacceptable treatment of women. He is known for his lack of tolerance for those who see themselves as above the law and for his active promotion of women on their merits in the ADF.
“I want to be for entrepreneurs globally what Martha Stewart is to living and Jamie Oliver is to food...” Lisa Messenger is the Owner and Creative Director of The Messenger Group and has worked globally in events, sponsorship, marketing, PR and publishing.
In 2004 she authored and produced a beautiful photographic book, Happiness Is…, which supported Kids Help Line. To avoid the constraints imposed by traditional publishers, she self-published the book and as a result developed a custom funding and distribution model that is unique in Australia. In March 2013 she commenced publication of a new print and online magazine, the Renegade Collective, which is now sold in 37 countries, and this year published her new book, Daring and Disruptive, which is hugely succesful both here and overseas. Her new book will be published early in 2015.
JAN ‘15 DEC ‘14 MELISSA BROWNE
Contributing Editor Melissa Browne is an author, entrepreneur, business owner, and shoe & jumpsuit lover.
She has two successful, award-winning businesses - Accounting and Taxation Advantage & Business Advantage Coaching and is the author of the recently published to rave reviews business book, More Money for Shoes. She has also just branched out into a new venture with Rod Soper, thinkers.inq - go to the website to find out more about this incredibly innovative model for early childhood education. A regular contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald, find Melissa on twitter at melbrowne_ or visit acctaxadv.com.au
Contributing Editor Nikki Fogden-Moore is all about practicing what she preaches – and what she preaches is balance. Balance between work, home and maintaining your personal best.
The owner of Life’s A Gym, Nikki is a motivational speaker, trainer and all round powerhouse who will help bring your body and soul together. Connect with her on twitter @nfogdenmoore or visit www.thevitalitycoach.com.au
Renata is a visionary entrepreneur who seizes the moment and is pioneering financial change through social and ethical investment. In 2011, Renata founded Forming Circles aiming to change the way we do business through the power of giving. Committed to empowering people and ideas, through Forming Circles Renata improves the community locally and globally. She has invested in over 100 local and national businesses, individuals and organisations since its inception. Collectively the Forming Circles network reaches millions of people, Australia-wide on a daily basis. A woman of inspiration, Renata is an active philanthropist contributing to a number of projects including: Livvi’s Place Ryde – an all abilities playground in Ryde, Chalk Urban Art Festival, the 2013 Sydney Writers Festival and the anti- bullying short film ‘A Cautionary Tail’.
Contributing Editor Chris began his career as a soldier and was commissioned as an officer, serving with the Royal Australian Regiment.He was engaged in humanitarian aid work for CARE International during the 1999 East Timor emergency and in the wake of September 11, 2001 became involved in Australian government protective security.
Chris’s first novel, Defender, was self- published before being re-released by Momentum Books with his second novel, Hunter, released at the end of 2012. Both novels rocketed to the top of the charts and there is a US film / TV franchise in development. His third title in the series, Avenger, will be published this year. Visit him at IntrepidAllen
In This Month’s Issue
DEC ‘14 Kimberley Hutchings
Kim is the co-founder with her husband, Andre, of VOLO Mission, the leading helicopter long-line training company. Her love of flying evolved past multiple viewings of Top Gun to a helicopter pilot’s licence and a Masters in Aeronautical Science with a specialization in Human Factors and Safety Systems.
Gwen is the Managing Director & Founder of Boxer&Co, a Sydney based design agency specialising in packaging and branding, who go beyond aesthetics, getting to the heart of what makes your brand tick and helping it beat stronger for your customers. Their proprietary approach to design has been developed to address the specific needs of packaging and results in effective, award winning creative that stands out and gets purchased.
Daniel Gregory is the founder and CEO of The Impossible Institute™, a Behavioural Think Tank that advises organizations on what truly drives their customers, their teams and themselves.
Margot is the Owner and Director of talentinsight Australia, a company founded on the principal that true career fulfilment and organisational success occurs when individuals and businesses talk openly and honestly about what they need, their responsibilities and genuinely work to bring out the best in each other.
Creativity, collaboration, culture, change, innovation, sales, marketing and leadership are only a handful of topics Dan has tackled for corporations, small business associations, government departments and NGOs . He also regularly advises the C-Suite and Boards on how to lead with the power of a purposeful and compelling identity in a rapidly changing world.
As the organisation’s principle coach she brings a depth of knowledge and experience in operational and performance management, career mentoring and leading and developing high performing teams.
In a 20 year history as a thought leader in human behaviour, marketing, NPD and communications, Dan Gregory has worked with the biggest global brands and won awards around the world for creativity, effectiveness and ROI.
Margie Warrell is the “Resident Coach” on Channel 7’s Sunrise and bestselling author of ‘Stop Playing Safe!’ and ‘Find Your Courage’.
Victoria’s recruitment career began in London over 11 years ago and has spanned across the International and National Banking, Commerce, and Financial markets. Victoria was voted one of the top 4 recruiters in London where she worked for 5 years before moving her career to Sydney, Australia.
Her next book ‘Train the Brave’ will be coming out with Wiley in April. Sign up for her Live Bravely! Newsletter at margiewarrell.com
Victoria established Parity Consulting 3 years ago specialising in Product and Marketing recruitment and has successfully cemented herself in the Australian market as a thought leader in the recruitment profession.
One of Australias most experienced image and communications consultants. Evelyn is a Master Practitioner in NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) and is experienced in accelerated learning techniques. Evelyn’s training experience includes communication skills, presentation skills, Think On Your Feet, Image Management for Professionals, and Business Etiquette & Protocol.
For over twenty years, Kieran Flanagan has been a transformational leader in the creative industries. A Behavioural Researcher & Strategist, she is an author, educator and corporate coach, and is the Chief Creative Officer at The Impossible Institute™, an innovation and engagement think tank founded to make what’s not… possible! In addition to being one of the only female Creative Leaders in the world of MadMen, Kieran was also one of the youngest Creative Directors to lead an award-winning advertising agency.
Dr Jenny Brockis
Director of Bespoke Communications, Amber’s company is a Boutique media training and public relations consultancy that works with a range of small to medium sized businesses on media management, publicity campaigns, fundraising planning, web site copywriting, marketing collateral and event management.
Dr Jenny Brockis, the Brain Fitness Doctor, is the founder and director of Brain Fit. She helps business leaders, senior managers and educators create a brain friendly working environment to nurture and develop all brains at work. She works as an international speaker, author, and mentor and is Mum to two gorgeous young adults. When not working she enjoys travelling the world with her husband, challenging her long standing fear of heights.
JAN ‘15 Zahrina Robertson
Zahrina is Australia’s pioneering and leading award winning personal branding portrait photographer, who has been capturing the success of International Stars, Leading Entrepreneurs, Thought Leaders, Game Changers, Speakers, Authors and high quality brands for over five years.
Alice has practised in the Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Industry for nine years and is a Registered Trustee in Bankruptcy and registered Official Liquidator. She is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and the Insolvency Practitioners Association and has experience in all forms of corporate and personal insolvency administrations.
In This Month’s Issue
She has successfully developed and delivered training programs for industries as diverse as financial services, professional services, travel, hospitality and tertiary education. Her workshops are insightful, entertaining and tailoured to clients needs.
FEB | MAR | APRIL
Events Y SYDNE UM PLATIN ON MERSI M I S S BUSINE UARY 3 FEBR
FEB ‘15 A SYDNEY
COCKTAIL CONVERSATIONS 5 FEBRUARY
E OURN B L E M R INNE D E V USI EXCL RY BRUA 10 FE
EY SYDN ER DINN E V I US EXCL Y RUAR B E F 19
SYD NEY EXC LUS IVE DIN 12 F NER EBR UAR Y
BR ISB EX AN CLU E SIV E DIN 24 F NE EBR R UA RY
EXCLUS IVE DIN NER 15 APRI L
MAR ‘15 APRIL ‘15 Y SYDNE R DINNE E V I S EXCLU CH 5 MAR
EY SYDN NER E DIN V I S U EXCL RCH 19 MA
BRIS BAN E EXCL USIV E DIN NER 31 M ARC H
EXCLUSIVE DINNER 22 APRIL
EXCLUS IVE DIN NER 25 MAR CH
SYD NEY EXC LUS IVE DIN NER 23 A PRI L
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Messenger Of The Gods An exclusive interview with Lisa Messenger Kate Stone There aren’t many people who are lucky enough to answer, when you ask them the question ‘who would you most like to interview - alive or dead?’ with the words:
heading for a very long afternoon nap.
“Richard Branson - ummm, tick! Martha Stewart well, I guess she’s a tick too...”
The rest, as they say, is magazine history. On the 4th of March last year, the Renegade Collective hit newstands with a pretty loud bang. It wasn’t glossy. It wasn’t airbrushed. It had swirly writing on the cover, and a massive online presence called the Collective Hub. It was a magazine, sure - but then again, it was something entirely new. It was a zineaverse, and immediately, it caught the imaginations of the Australian consumer public.
This would be really, really annoying but for one thing. I’m talking to Lisa Messenger, and trying to be annoyed at someone you happen to think is pretty damn amazing is actually quite hard. Imagine it’s 2011. You’ve decided to start a fairly risky new business, based on sponsorship, and just to make things extra tricky for yourself, you decide to launch it straight after 9/11. People aren’t too keen on giving out cash to a entrepreneurial venture they don’t really understand. But does that deter you? No. Turn around to 2013, and The Messenger Group is a content creation, branding, design and marketing solutions one-stop shop. But that’s not enough. Things in traditional publishing are looking a bit well... stale. There are magazines going under literally by the dozen, and the industry is at, if not a standstill, then certainly
Perhaps what’s needed is an alarm clock of sorts to wake things up a little bit?
This has to be put down in part to the incredible power of Lisa’s own personal magnetism, because she is a one-woman rock show. I have never seen people respond to someone outside of ‘celebrities’ in the traditional sense (although I am not sure that meaning exists anymore) the way they do to Lisa. And I understand it, because you know what? She is genuinely, tremendously likeable. This past year has seen Brand Messenger go from strength to stength - both personally and professionally. Followers of her social media adventures will know that her now fiance Jack Delosa, head of private business education
I would have loved to have a conversation with Nelson Mandela... So extraordinary – to be in prison for as long as he was and maintain his positive attitude towards other human beings.
company The Entourage, which has more than 60,000 online members around the world, proposed not very long ago in one of the most romantic efforts in the history of proposals after time away at Richard Branson’s private getaway, Necker Island.
I asked Lisa about Daring & Disruptive, and more widely about people’s perceptions of her. Because if there is one thing I have noticed, it is this overwhelming phenomenon on social media that people feel they ‘know’ Lisa Messenger
As for the Collective... “It’s going through massive growth – we’ve got huge plans for 2015. We’ve been in the market for 18 months, and it’s been such a great training ground. Now we are on to the massive strategic planning stage. We are currently in 37 countries, and we are intending building to 50, so there’s a lot of expansion – literally! We are moving offices, and taking on another 9 staff. And yes, I got engaged, so I am planning an engagement party and wedding, but not only that, we are moving house AND launching a business together in three to six months. Watch this space!” Then there’s that book. You know, that book. You may have seen it. It’s in a few places here and there... maybe an airport or two. Perhaps a newsagency, or a bookshop... you never know. It may even have popped up online. That’s the one.
It is a common phenomenon, the blurring of ‘Brand Person’ and ‘Person’ - but how much is ‘brand’ and how much is just plain ‘p’?
“What I try and do – if you see me down out the park, or see me on social media, or see me at a speaking gig – actually yesterday someone came up to me and cried – I have tried to be as honest as possible. No spin, no hype. As soon as you get some level of success, people put you on a pedestal, and I am not interested in that guru label – everyone should have their own journey, and their own focus. They need to take the good with the bad. My next book comes out on the 12th of February. It’s much more nurturing and personal, and it will be interesting to see how people perceive me. I got Jack and my mum to read it, because there’s a lot of them in it – I had to be courageous!!” As someone who works in branding in my other life, I am also absolutely awestruck by the way Lisa has harnessed the power of social media for Brand Messenger. She is the Goddess of Google, the High Priestess of Pinterest - call her what you will, this is a woman who can Instagram a room into submission with one well-thoughtout hashtag. I want to know the secret to her #success... “Yeah, I suppose a good example of this... in the last 24 hours – we had over 180 shares of the new product range; [the] poster and candle and book. It’s about getting into the groove. My biggest tip is this; success is in the strength of the product; and it’s about being in multiple touch points. Next year we are bringing out at least 30 products – around the print magazine, and product across different disciplines. It’s about us being on tablet, and me being constantly and consistently across social media, doing 3 speaking gigs a week – and yes, it’s about being authentic, and knowing your why.” I say to her that I have seldom seen someone so driven (with the exception perhaps of someone who shall remain nameless, cough, Janine Garner). What is it that makes her want to keep going and breaking new boundaries? “It has actually changed over time – now, it’s much more about giving back. I did a good ten years of solid personal development; now it’s about inspiring other people and letting them know that they can do, and achieve, whatever they want. That’s what keeps me going.” I mentioned before that Lisa has had two of her dream interviews, but she admits that there are a few who still elude her (and George
Clooney, recent cover bloke, was interviewed by someone else. Rats.) “Angelina Jolie... from a brand and every other persepective. Ellen. Oprah.” Small potatoes then. Finally, I ask what Lisa Messenger does to ring in the New Year - and does she make the dreaded New Year’s resolutions? Being very much an anti-fan of NYE, I am genuinely interested. “Hmmmm... a New Year’s Resolution? I don’t drink as you know, so it’s a pretty low key night – but on the 1st of January I have a ritual; I do vision boards for the year ahead, and also look at what I had done for the year past. And of course I don’t have the hangover!. I don’t like dictated fun – society dictated fun. And it’s absolutely essential to me to start the new year on a high.” I can’t help myself. I have to ask... what would Lisa messenger be, if she were a hashtag? She laughs. “It would have to be #daringanddisruptive of course.” Then she pauses. “But also #fun - yes. Definitely #fun.” Agreed. Definitely #fun. And I would have to add definitely #authentic.
Hail To the Chief An exclusive interview with Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO Kate Stone
There are a large number of people across the planet who now know the following words, judging from the number of hits (1,536,771 at last count) on a certain YouTube clip, which the current Chief of the Australian Army says somewhat ruefully ‘make(s) me shake my head; that a 37 year career has been crystallised into a 3 minute video’. You know the words I mean. “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”
Let’s step back a bit. To be frank, the Australian military has not had a reputation for gender equality and being a hugely forward thinking entity in the last hundred or so years. I can say this with equanimity as the ex-partner of an Australian military officer and (briefly) as a cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy. This is not to say that there are not brilliant, brave, loyal, worthy, amazing leaders and personnel of both sexes within the ranks, because there sure as hell are; it’s just that the old boys’ network was firmly a part of the way the military worked. What the last decade or so has seen however, is a growing uneasiness within the ADF itself, and a rising public perception, that what may have been accepted previously as all part of the ‘just the way things are’ was in fact masking deeper and much darker issues. Then a certain Infantry officer, whose background places him firmly in said old boys’ network, decided that issues which had been swept under the carpet needed not only to be made public, but to be vacuumed up and dumped in the garbage once and for all. I first met Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, just as he came into office as Chief of Army in 2011. I am sure that our meeting was just as auspicious for him as it was for me, and that he has fond memories of
the brief handshake we shared at a major Defence conference in Sydney. I know that they say hindsight is 20/20, but it was evident even then that this was a man on a mission. He wasn’t there to mess around, or to give lip service and say ‘for the next three years (it was extended to four) I will be sitting back and providing a figurehead for a branch of the ADF which is doing just fine, thanks very much’. He was there to start change, and that’s exactly what he has done. He was soon thrust into the role with a thud, when a new cadet at ADFA filmed himself having sex with a fellow female recruit and ‘Skyped’ it to other male cadets. His troubles were only just beginning however, when in 2013, the so-called ‘Jedi Council’ scandal came to light, involving several officers and senior noncommissioned personnel sending e-mails from official Army accounts which were, as he described them, “explicit, derogatory, demeaning and repugnant” towards women with whom they were serving. This brought forth the famous YouTube clip, which was first shown on the Army’s official channel. It also brought forth sackings, suspensions and wholesale enquiries into Army’s ‘exclusionist’ way of thinking - oh, and world-wide fame for a certain Chief of Army. As General Morrison said to me, “I do shake my head that a 37-year career has been crystallised into a 3 minute YouTube video – but in some ways those words did shape what needed to happen into the future of Army and defence. We must draw potential from everybody. If you can’t recognise that, you are not part of a progressive or capable Army, and you should find new ground.”
His tenure has also seen the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, carry out the Review Into The Treatment of Women In The Australian Defence Force - which, although damning in parts, does make encouraging reading for the future of Defence, particularly the culture that General Morrison and his senior officers are instilling. He admitted that this has not been easy, but it has definitely been necessary. “We have had to open up the military to review – Lizzie Broderick has made life very difficult for me, and I say that with great appreciation for what she has done, and I do think we have delivered on what she has asked. I think Australians should be very proud of that; we are definitely heading towards the inclusive rather than exclusive, and gaining a perspective from eyes that are not your own means you become more capable of operating in conflicted societies - 52% of which are invariably women.” It is this sense of drive and purpose, this policy of inclusion which he is determined to see thrive in an institution of tradition and resistance to change, and which he believes will only continue to grow over the next 5-10 years, that is pushing momentum onwards.
“Look I do believe, Kate, that there has been a fundamental change to this approach – it’s not that the former Generals were not committed to making Australia a more safe, secure country – but in my time we have become more crystallised in making everyone - myself, the Generals and senior soldiers all together - engaged in seeking out and not letting go of these issues. In the past, dealing with instances of poor behaviour was done on a case by case basis. Now, we link it in together, and leaders have to deal with it on an integral level - which means a better organisation, and in turn a more capable and progressive organisation. I am a lousy Nostradamus – but the momentum for change is unstoppable, and we will continue to see our military leadership take the lead for other areas of society. I want women of talent to think about the Army as a career choice, and that can’t happen without change. We won’t go from our current 12 percent to 25 percent in 5 years – it would be great, but I don’t think it will happen - but the momentum is there.”
As someone with close ties to the military - both male and female - I wanted to know what he feels Australia’s view is of Army now, at the end of 2014, as perhaps compared to 2011? “Progressive and capable – I do think that any army that isn’t progressing and being adaptive and trying to find the competitive advantage can’t call itself an army in my view. The competition is, of course, life and death. An army has to be progressive to do its job. But you can turn those phrases on their heads, and I can say that I think Australians see us as progressive on gender and trying to tackle matters within our culture – for example, the number of women who are joining our Army. In terms of capability – my bottom line has never been about altruism, but about harnessing the talents of different races, of different sexual orientations, sexual beliefs and genders – because not only are we greater than the sum of our parts, but of different perspectives as well. The nature of military operations that we are engaging upon – we are recognising in a particular way now, that we have to operate within the human dimension, and [as mentioned before], 52% of most populations are female.”
ADF personnel as part of the International Stabilisation Assistance Force’s (ISAF) Female Engagement Teams I am certain that General Morrison would deny this, but there is no doubting that there is something of a cult of personality when it comes to wanting to act on what he says. Why? Because this isn’t lip service. He lives and breathes what he says; it is evident in his actions and his passion for what he talks about. There is a sharp, sharp intelligence there, and anyone who underestimates it is a fool. I do wonder though, does he feel that, having implemented the changes within Army - when he finishes his tenure as Chief in May next year, will the impetus continue? “I honestly believe that when I do finish in May next year, that the momentum for progressive change will be unstoppable. I am no longer starting the conversation – it’s started for me. Not for one second do I set myself up as successful as eradicating poor behaviour – but it’s on the way... And the momentum to improve culture [has been] made.” This June saw General Morrison sharing the stage with world leaders and luminaries such as Angelina Jolie (in her role as Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees), at the Global Summit To End Sexual Violence In Conflict. He gave the address to the closing plenary session, where his words included the argument that armies that separate themselves from civil society, that value men over women and celebrate violence “do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute”. As a country
which engages on an international level as a military presence, I asked him if he felt we were in a position to guide other nations in their international engagement strategies. “Before we set ourselves up as a guide to other countries, we need to make sure we have our own house in order. But I also say Kate, that we have a very proud history of how our soldiers, our airmen and our sailors have conducted themselves. That however shouldn’t make us complacent. UNSCR 1325 (covering Women, Peace and Security) – means helping those it covers try to secure a place in fractured societies; in other words, having their say in the resolution of security issues. The point I was making in London, as military personnel, is that we must open up all areas of our service to women – so that it’s not gender by which we judge talent – it’s talent by which we judge talent.” Next April of course sees the one hundredth anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. General Morrison and I have discussed in a prior conversation the ‘ANZAC myth’ and what its connotations are for a modern Army. I asked him for more of his thoughts on this - will the ANZAC legend ever diminish? “I don’t think it will diminish, and nor should it. The real story is that of courage and resilience and positive mateship. No Army leader will, and nor should they, try to sully the real legend of ANZAC. What I go against is that unless you are ‘a country lad’ you don’t fit the image of the ‘ANZAC spirit’. On the anniversary, we need to be careful of the overly masculine, somewhat xenophobic retelling of the ANZAC myth. I see myself as needing to retell it as inclusive rather than exclusive.” I was genuinely curious as to whom he feels needs to step up as leaders, generally speaking, in the next few years. His answer was prompt and direct. “Men. Unequivocally. It is a man’s world - that hasn’t changed yet – and men should be, and are there, with clear and articulate women to make a difference. Having declared myself publicly as a feminist, I still say this is a societal issue, not a feminist issue. I am not denying women their voice, but unless men speak out, nothing will change. It is a societal issue.
“We must open up all areas of our service to women – so that it’s not gender by which we judge talent – it’s talent by which we judge talent.”
No man is an island, in the words of John Donne. We prosper or fall according to the health of our society. Culture really counts – it pervades everything, and thus if the stories we tell are inclusive and are around the themes of talent and inclusivity, and include men and women, then that’s the right message.” I am going to enclose a link to his speech at the Global Summit, because after two interviews and several (rather large) meanderings off topic, I am stunned by a man not only with a plan, but who has had the brain, the brilliance and one could say the arrogance (and the cajones) to carry that plan out. I have no idea what David Lindsay Morrison is going to do post-Army. He will possibly, whilst still in the position, arrange a special court-martial for me, simply because I couldn’t help myself and included a link to THAT YouTube video. But I will say this; I hope for the sake of women, men and Australian society as a whole, that it is something very public and loud. Because if this is what he can do in just four years, in an organisation which fights change with all its khaki-covered might What could he do with an entire country?
Succession Planning GET OUT OF THE WAY Chris Allen
What does succession planning really mean? As a writer I like to look at the origins of the words when getting to the heart of a topic. In this case, I'm focussing on 'success' as the core component. If we're serious about grooming those who succeed us we need to be evaluating their successes to date and aligning that with the goals and objectives of the organisation. Sometimes the two just don't gel and there's nothing wrong with that. There's great mutual value to be gained from individuals making a specific task or time related contribution to an organisation before moving on. I don't believe in people doggedly clutching to the coat tails of an organisation for life because it's not healthy. Routine becomes the norm which becomes familiarity which becomes a comfort zone which leads to complacency which in turn promotes laziness, minimum effort, cutting corners and so on. Too far? Not really. I've seen it time and again. So I can get back to my soapbox and back on topic, at the centre of this is the responsibility of leadership. The more you advance as a leader the greater your responsibility to futureproof your organisation by establishing a contribution based culture, recognizing the immense value of a diverse, mobile and flexible workforce. In my view, loyalty isn't about the perceived value of those who stay around the longest (in terms of years). It's more about the actual value to be gained by those prepared to give their all for the duration of their tenure no matter how long that may be. So, while we’re busily making our own personal contributions as senior leaders and we’re thinking beyond the horizon on what our leadership legacy should look like, we must consider the organisation’s future and what the leadership model of that future requires to thrive and advance in a sustainable way. In doing so we must also consider our role in developing the leadership culture we all want for Australia. Do we want to maintain the old ways or do we want to play a
part in evolving it for future generations? But nurturing and planning the career progression of those who follow us can be unsettling for some. The idea of developing the apprentice to eventually surpass the master is counterintuitive to our basest survival instincts, yet we have an obligation to do it. It’s evolution after all and there’s satisfaction to be derived from the development of others. In fact, I consider this to be a fundamental responsibility of leadership. Obviously there are a few approaches to this. Some may prefer to fashion their protégés in their own image whereas I prefer to surround myself with those who bring different skills to the table. It’s important to enable your developing leaders to challenge you, to let them know they can, so that you’re presented with options you may not have considered. If you’re smart and you’ve chosen wisely then give them opportunities to prove themselves. If they make mistakes here and there, allow them to learn, improve and move on with confidence. The days of shouting and screaming at people are (or should be) long gone. There is no intellect behind a rant or belittling others. It reflects more on the ranter than the rantee. So avoid hanging your charges out to dry by taking the time to debrief, assess, guide and lead. Remember, your capacity for real leadership is reflected in your ability to think strategically - not just looking over the horizon to the next five or ten years but beyond that, futureproofing your organisation well beyond your own tenure.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere”. - Ronald Reagan
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Renata Cooper
19th November saw 144 countries, including Australia, observe the inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Driven by the United Nations, the day was created to support and empower femaleowned businesses and causes globally. Women’s entrepreneurship has been gaining interest and momentum over the last few years across the world. Forecasts are now pointing to an expected $6 trillion in additional earned income from women over the next five years. In comparison to most other nations, our entrepreneurial ecosystem ranks high as conducive to this growth. The 2013 Gender-GEDI report ranked Australia as the second best place in the world to be a woman entrepreneur. However, we are still way behind in this space compared to the country that took the top notch – the US. During a recent trip to San Francisco and New York I noticed first-hand how much more progressive and supportive the market is to women starting businesses. In New York, I attended Springboard Enterprises’ A Week with Springboard event and their annual Winners Circle Awards Dinner – both were women focused events aimed at connecting entrepreneurs with growth experts and venture capital networks. I noticed that US women entrepreneurs spoke a more assertive and opportunistic language.
Although the landscape seemed more developed, it was far from perfect. The US still has a long way to go to even get close to gender equality in this space. My conversations with experts in Australia have drawn similar conclusions of the differences – and similarities between us. Laura McKenzie, CEO of Scale Investors thinks it is ‘crazy’ that only 4% of Australian high growth technology start-up founders are female. According to her, “Women struggle to raise capital. Even in the US, only 15% of companies with at least one female founder receives capital today”. For women to truly take risks, disrupt the landscape and innovate, we need to develop a support structure with access to and availability of required funding. In spite of limited access to capital and other hurdles thrown our way, we are growing and gaining traction. Democratisation of entrepreneurship with technological advances, community engagement, and crowdfunding has helped get more women into business by giving them the power to give birth to an idea and see it grow. Businesswoman Kate Sutton, owner of uberkate jewellery, attributes the growth to the support that women entrepreneurs extend to each other – in a way men don’t. “It’s down to the way we communicate and believe that supporting each other won’t lessen our success, but add to it,” says Sutton.
Here in Australia, we know the gender diversity debate in any field is closely related to other factors such as access to childcare, traditional caring roles, flexible work opportunities and the cost of living. But, post my trip, it begged the question of how the US, a country with less support offered to women, is ahead of us in entrepreneurship. Could the fact that the laws are less favourable to women be driving more to higher degrees of competitiveness, business achievement and growth? Is it that that they are less risk averse and have stronger business networks? Or did they just get a head start in a bigger economy? There isn’t one clear answer. But experts agree on the solutions to the challenges presented. Nicole Watson, Senior Manager, Digital Channels, Commonwealth Bank - Women in Focus Community, believes that more women need to be encouraged within the entrepreneur ‘systems’. She proposes change on a more fundamental level. “Grass roots programs – from school to university and founders institutes, women need to be encouraged – with promising data that entrepreneurship is a viable and valuable path to start on. Female entrepreneurs sharing their stories with young women is vital for this process,” says Watson. Recognising the lack of funding options for women,
the last two to three years have seen more women focused angel and seed investors enter the market to drive the change they want to see. According to McKenzie, “We need more female investors so that in turn female entrepreneurs are able to raise more capital. We need to address the unconscious bias and lack of encouragement in the venture capital (VC) community for both female entrepreneurs and investors, who have been leaving the traditional VC firms (Aspect VC in the US, Arbor Partners in Asia), establishing their own women led firms or angel investing directly (Scale in Australia, Golden Seeds in the US).” As we move on to the next Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we need to consciously be involved in the change we want to bring about, take an avid interest in our investments big and small – from the holiday savings account to our superannuation and capital investments and be more involved in supporting other women entrepreneurs. Each of us has a role to play in creating an ecosystem that supports women entrepreneurs. Let’s start today, so we can share our own stories of success in a year’s time.
RAFFERTY’S RULES Gwen Blake & Jacqui Lawrey
When Gwen Blake, Managing Director of packaging design agency, Boxer & Co. went along to her first LBD dinner in Crow’s Nest, Sydney in February last year, she had no idea just how big an opportunity she was going to be faced with.
Jacqui explained to Gwen at the LBD dinner that she was about to run a pitch for the redesign of the Rafferty’s Garden packaging but that sadly it was one week too late for Gwen’s company to be part of that pitch.
“I had been back at work for just a few months after my second baby’s birth and was enjoying the juggle of business and being Mum to 4 year old Samson and 5 month old Onnie.”
Gwen wouldn’t take ‘No’ for an answer. “I hounded poor Jacqui by email and phone, explaining why we were the best agency for the job until she allowed my agency to be part of the pitch. It just seemed like such a fantastic fit that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without giving it my all’, said Gwen.
Gwen found herself sat on a table with Jacqui Lawrey, LBD member and newly started Marketing Manager of Rafferty’s Garden, the leading brand in wet baby food in Australia. “I was right in the baby zone myself and using the Rafferty’s Garden product at the time, so I was thrilled to have this surprise opportunity to connect with the Marketing Manager of the brand. I had used the product years before with my son and had often dreamed of re-designing it. The idea behind it was original and stand-out, but I felt it needed some sound strategic thinking, a good tidy up and a hit of modernity.”
Boxer & Co. took part in the pitch, running against two Melbourne agencies and a London agency and were absolutely thrilled when Jacqui called to let them know that they had won the job. “It was great to see how the LBD network could work so effectively and I admired Gwen for her “not taking no for an answer” attitude. Gwen and the team at Boxer & Co were so keen to work on the project and impressed everyone in our business with the work that put into their proposal” said Jacqui.
Jacqui and Gwen have worked closely on the project over the last year, re-designing the brand’s logo, re-working the loveable Rafferty baby character, creating a new design to apply across all 53 products and creating brand guidelines for future use. “Finding a packaging agency who could work on both the strategy and design was essential for our business. We have had such a great experience working with Boxer & Co. They have been great partners who challenge and strive to deliver the best solution for their clients.” Said Jacqui.
Through our research and strategic thinking, we realized that for babies and children, eating is about fun and enjoyment. Most parents will tell you that if they do the ‘choo choo’ train or ‘aeroplane’ with babies food, there is higher chance they will eat it. A lot of brands are tapping into parents’ fear that surrounds childrens’ food (is it healthy, nutritious etc?) rather than celebrating the JOY of the eating experience. Children eat with all of their senses and love to explore.
The final design is due to be launched in February 2015. Gwen explains the thinking behind the new design.
We created a new platform for this fun-loving brand. Babies love having fun with food: exploring, getting stuck in, their fingers in everything. Textures, tastes, smells, getting messy, testing if things are squishy or squashy! Just exploring & enjoying the pleasures of simple, fresh, great tasting, real food.
“Rafferty’s Garden had great stand out with eye catching colours, but very little beyond this to help brand blocking and navigation. We decided early on that we needed to retain many aspects of the popular current brand, but it needed to stand up and punch at a heavier weight – we needed to introduce a consistent brand colour across the range for greater impact on shelf and give Rafferty and the logo a stronger role on the pack to aid instant recognition and brand recall.”
This message is reflected in the vegetable coloured splats on each pack and the new, more artisan, illustrative style of the Rafferty character. We introduced food photography to give taste cues – this is genuinely the best tasting baby food on the market. We realized that the top right hand corner is almost as important as the variety name and worked hard to make this area as clear and concise for busy parent shoppers as possible, making the month indicator much bigger. Overall, the pack is cleaner, with less messages and more focus on what’s important, whilst injecting an exciting new feel. We can’t wait to see the packs on shelf and ringing through tills!
Make 2015 your year for living bravely Margie Warrell
7 Strategies To Make 2015 The Best Year Of Your Life
“I don’t do resolutions,” my friend told me. “No-one ever keeps them so I just don’t see the point.” It’s not an uncommon attitude. Nor an unreasonable one when you look at the stats… 80% of people have broken their resolutions by the end of January. But while we can choose any day of the year to make a fresh start or begin a new habit, there’s something about the first day of the new year that calls us to think a little deeper about the future we aspire to live in to, what we really want for ourselves… and what we don’t! More connectedness; less conflict. More vitality; less lethargy. More security; less debt. More confidence; less doubt. More fun; less stress. More success; less struggle. The question is: what will it take? If you look at the happiest and more successful people you know (the former being a measure of the latter) you’ll often find they do things others don’t. They are clear about what they want, focused on getting it, prepared to challenge themselves and persistent when plans don’t work out. If you want to MAKE 2015 YOUR YEAR OF LIVING BRAVELY take time now to make a plan so you start strong and stay brave, no matter what.
Know Your Big Why Change is difficult, even change for the better. If it wasn’t everyone would be changing those aspects of their relationships, finances, jobs, and health that pull them down day after day, year after year. The reason they don’t is because to change anything we have to give up the pay-off of sticking with the status quo. Emotional familiarity. Mental complacency. Physical comfort. Short-term gratification. Nothing is more powerful than a strong sense of purpose. So always connect your goals, ambitions and resolutions to things that fuel your sense of purpose and align with your deepest values. Doing so will help you to dig deeper and exit your comfort zone when the going gets tough and habitual ways of thinking and acting threaten to pull you back to the status quo and those well-worn excuses that keep it so fixed in place.
Focus! Aiming high is great, but deciding you want to run a marathon, finish your MBA, change jobs, renovate your home, and write a book all in the next year can leave you bouncing about like Tigger on Red Bull, not quite sure which direction you are going. Instead, set yourself up for success by focusing on one major goal at a time, not twentyone. Distraction is a goal killer! So too is overwhelm and exhaustion.
Don’t go it alone! Never underestimate the power of your social environment to support or sabotage your success. Recruit a cheer squad among your family and friends, enlist someone(s) to hold you accountable, hire a trainer, engage a coach, create a Facebook accountability group. Likewise, if there are people (or environmental triggers) in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly and set clear boundaries up front. When you surround yourself with people who believe in you, it makes success so much easier to achieve!
Make it measureable. It’s great to want to eat better, get fitter, be happier, relax more and create better work/life balance but you could add an apple a day to your diet and tick the first box. You need to set goals you can track and measure. For instance, if you want to get fitter, set a goal of running 10k by May 30th, then schedule how many workouts you’ll do each week.
Think big, but start small. Every great feat is really just the accumulation of thousands of smaller steps. So however big your goal, break it down into small short-term goals, and then down into small highly ‘doable’ bite size steps. E.g. Step 1, print out this article. Step 2, write down your goal (doing so increases the likelihood of achieving it by 70%). Step 3, tell your partner and ask them to hold you accountable. Step 4, schedule time to write down the next 10 steps!
Be realistic; expect setbacks. Success wouldn’t be meaningful if it landed easily in your lap. In fact it’s the roll-up-yoursleeves hard-yakka that grows your muscles for life. If it were easy to live a big and brave life everyone would be doing it. Assuming everything should fall neatly into place is a surefire recipe for disappointment and frustration. So too is thinking you’ll be as motivated a month from now as you are today.
Motivation ebbs and flows, so too does luck. What matters most isn’t that everything goes exactly to plan, but that you stay connected to your ‘Big Why’ as doing so will pull you forward when habitual ways of thinking want to pull you backward. Your disappointments, bad-days, failures and setbacks don’t define you; how you respond to them does.
Invest in your best-self. Who are you when you are at your best? Physically strong and energetic with plenty of stamina. Emotionally confident and resilient. Mentally focused and calm and clear on your priorities. Spiritually centered and attuned to your highest purpose on this earth. Now ask yourself, what do you have to do for yourself - daily, weekly, regularly - to be that person… to be playing your ‘A Game’? Whatever it is, schedule time right now into your calendar for doing it! For working out, for planning ahead, decompressing, recentering, reconnecting, and recharging! You will go further and bounce back faster if you are continually investing in your ‘best-self.’ It’s not selfish, it’s not indulgent… it’s plain old smart and indispensible for living bravely! Last of all, whatever resolutions you make or goals you set for the year ahead, know that the greatest gift you get from your effort, sacrifice and bravery isn’t what you accomplish, it is who you become. So trust yourself, challenge yourself, value yourself, and believe in yourself. The world is hungry for you to step through the doubts and fears that are keeping you from pursuing your dreams, sharing your talents and making your unique mark. What are you waiting for? Do something, just one thing, every day of 2015 that pushes you outside your comfort zone, and you will not only be amazed at what you accomplish, but more so, who you become. Stronger. Braver. More confident. More you!
Margie’s book, Stop Playing Safe, is available here.
Living Our Purpose Margot Andersen “Too often, we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases, we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our purpose, the difficulties we encounter make sense.” – Paulo Coelho
“Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own”... Oh my, how many of us have learnt that lesson the hard way! As we enter this wonderful time of the year that affords so many of us the opportunity to hit the pause button; to stop, relax and spend some well-earned time with our loved ones, it is also a golden chance to ask ourselves ‘Am I doing what makes me happy?’ We are all driven by the need to make a contribution and to know that contribution offers value and meaning to others. To do this in an ongoing capacity we need to ensure two things: we are aligned firstly with our own purpose and secondly, that of the environment we work in. If that alignment is not there we will simply reach a point where we run out of fuel. Take a moment to consider how you are feeling about the way 2014 ended and how well positioned you are to take on 2015. We all know that brilliant feeling of operating in ‘our zone’ – we seem to be able to run faster, operate with more clarity and conviction, anticipate situations with ease, produce greater results and ultimately feel confident, prosperous and fulfilled in what we do. Bingo!
Conversely, when we aren’t operating in our zone, we feel ‘stuck’, unable to deliver the results we want to, uninspired, disempowered, drained of energy, lacking in confidence and left with more questions than answers: Is this it? Is it worth it? Where is this taking me? Can I really do this all over again for another year? Blah! Regardless of whether or not we are in the ‘Bingo’ camp or the ‘Blah’ camp, we need to take the time to ensure that we are well positioned in 2015 to maximize our capabilities and opportunities. The New Year brings us a fresh clean canvas and with it the opportunity to write, draw, build and create what we want. So before the busyness of life, work and another year take hold, I encourage you to create the time to do the following five things:
1. Stop and Evaluate It’s time to be honest and to own your own story. You are the painter, the writer and the candlestick maker! All too often I meet people who are unable to articulate what they are really interested in and want from their careers. It’s not enough to know what you don’t want. Career fulfillment is not something you discover, it is something you create. AND you can’t create it if you don’t know what it is.
Understanding what your values, strengths, talents and needs are, is a critical piece of the puzzle, but so too is knowing how to use them and where they are in demand. Whilst self-reflection can be a very difficult thing to do, it is essential to ensuring that any future plan is built on solid foundations. Conducting an audit on yourself and the alignment you hold to your career and/or business is critical if you are to be clear about where you want to go.
2. Determine Your Direction When we understand what we want and need, we are in a position to define our ‘big picture’ goal and explore the options available to us.
nor behind but stationary which is dangerous.
4. Build Your Marketing Strategy Everyone in today’s market place needs a way to showcase his or her brilliance. Whether we are aware of it or not we all have a personal brand, and we constantly have to position ourselves to engage in the type of work that inspires, motivates and fulfills us, be it as an employee or business owner. It makes sense therefore to take control of your own brand. As a potential employee or service provider it is what will see your noticed and sought out in the market place. Ask yourself: What do I do best and what am I known for? What do I want to be known for? How relevant is it to my industry? Who are my networks and influencers?
All too often we narrow our decisions to A or B? Right or Wrong? Should I stay or should I go? Every year I hear people tell me that their New Year’s resolution is to find a new opportunity without being able to articulate why.
Creating a plan that addresses each of these questions will support the actionable outcomes to drive your success.
Failing to consider the full range of options can see you running the risk of bouncing around – chasing new jobs, new markets, new clients when really you may be missing the opportunities that are right under your nose.
It’s time to say goodbye to your comfort zone and step out into the world of action. The great news is that when you do this with clarity of purpose, clear direction and a well-defined plan your ability to execute is so greatly enhanced.
Knowing and understanding how to explore, critically assess and reconcile all available options to our direction and purpose is key to our success.
Engaging with your network, your market place, your stakeholders and clients will bring further clarity and confidence in what you are doing. It will elevate your brand and attract new opportunities. It will highlight options and position you as being ready, willing and able.
3. Develop Your Plan For many of us writing a business plan is so much easier than writing our own career plan. Why? Because our career plan is so personal, it can require change and like most things, we don’t want to muck it up! However to build a long-term career that is both resilient and successful we need to plan for it. Gone are the days of having a single job for life. Our plan needs to be a working document that is re-evaluated, updated and amended to ensure that our objectives remain relevant and in line with our desires and goals. Remember success drives success, so your plan for 2015 needs to be both measurable and timely in order to generate further action, confidence and clarity. Without it we will find ourselves in March in exactly the same place as today – neither ahead
Creating a fulfilling career and business isn’t a quick or easy journey. It takes time and effort. It takes continual re-evaluation and planning. You need to engage yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to be active. It’s time to get your hopes up, to raise your expectations. Your best days are in front of you! Wishing you all a prosperous, fulfilling and purposeful 2015!
Myth of the Merry Slow Down Victoria Butt
Across two countries, four industries and over 11 years, I have seen the recruitment market consistently buoyant between the months of October and December. Why does everyone think it will slow down? I have closed placements on Christmas Eve with a glass of bubbles in my hand and a very happy camper on the other end of the phone, I have closed placements the week before Christmas and I have even closed placements the day before the Christmas closing party! I see it every year, the hiring market seems to ramp up before Christmas, not down! The biggest question is where does this perception come from? So why do people feel that after Melbourne cup, the weather heats up and the silly season starts that everyone is on the wind down? Why do applications via career websites drop by 30%? Why do professionals decide that October/November is too late to look for a role and hold out until after Christmas? For most of my clients, they are definitely not in wind down mode; in fact, this time is a critical point in the race to recruit the right team member and here are a few of the reasons why;
Psychological Hiring managers want all their ducks in a row before Christmas so they can start fresh next year with a full team. Hiring managers like their new starters to be part of the festive season, as it's a great opportunity for them to meet stakeholders and integrate within the wider team.
Sign-off challenge Taking leave in January seems to be imbedded into the culture of Christmas in Australia! School holidays in general can slow business decisions, however in the month of January, hiring decisions virtually halt! In these economic times, 2-3 additional signatures are required by senior management before an offer is made. Thus sign-off is far easier when executives and senior management are in the office!
Soft and hard deadlines The turn of the New Year seems to represent project, budget, team and business unit deadlines etc. It is often used to get products launched, websites changed and promotions/ campaigns ready. 'Staffing up' to deliver these projects can be a short/mid or long term hire. Hiring managers get creative with their capex budget and short term staff can also be kept through to financial year end and onwards.
I'd encourage applicants who are looking to secure a new role to go hard until 24th December as this is when hiring is at its peak! After this point, enjoy the next 2 months off as the recruitment market is awakening later and later in these new economic times.
I love sport. I love playing it and I generally love watching it. I publicly confess to brushing aside a sneaky tear during big moments such as Cathy Freeman’s 400 metre win, Sally Pearson’s hurdle victories and the Australian netballers triumphant celebrations over our nearby kiwi rivals. There is just something about an elite athlete training hard, overcoming injury and then mentally pushing through any obstacles to win. It’s also perhaps why I love football movies of any kind. And yes, a sneaky tear embarrassingly escapes during these occasionally too. Sad but true.
gate because she’s too worn out? Now I’m sure they were all incredibly tired and they would have loved the opportunity to stop but it was more important to finish well and to give their all. Yet stopping and having a lie down before we arrive at the finishing line is precisely what many of us are doing with our finances during this time of year.
What I do know through my many years of playing sport, from listening to athletes or reading about them is that training, eating well, a great mindset and the right coach play such a big part but at the end of the day it’s what happens on the field or the track that will lose or win a race or a game. And often that comes down to what happens at the very end. Whether it’s the last few kilometres in a marathon, the last quarter of a game or the split second over a finish line it is so important to finish well. Otherwise you could have trained hard all year, eaten well, had a great mindset going into the game and performed beautifully but in those final minutes if you don’t end well then really it’s all for nothing. I mean, can you imagine Sally Pearson arriving at the last hurdle and deciding it was simply too high and too hard? Or Cathy Freeman running the last hundred metres and deciding it hurt too much? Or Jessica Fox lying down in her kayak at the final
Finishing the year well Melissa Browne
Finishing the year well
Confused? Let me explain. Let’s say you’ve had a fairly good year. You’ve worked out goals, you’ve put in place budgets, you’ve tracked spending, you’ve paid off your credit card debts and you might have a savings buffer in your accounts. Fantastic! So you arrive at December or at the Boxing Day sales and you decide to reward yourself for having had an outstanding year. Or you decide to splurge a little extra on Christmas this year, because you can. And somehow that splurging and shopping and spending ends up undoing all the great work from your year and you end up feeling defeated and slipping back into a whole lot of bad habits. That’s like running a great race but then stopping at the last hurdle or having a lie down while everyone else in your team plays on! Now I love a good sale and buying presents for others so I’m certainly not advocating that you sit at home, do nothing, buy nothing and act like the grinch! However I am suggesting that you make sure you are conscious of your spending this holiday season and you put plans in place to make sure you enjoy it both now and when your credit card statement arrives late January. Now I know from hours of watching and playing sport that athletes always go into a race or a game with a strategy. And generally that strategy encompasses the moment they start the race to the moment they finish. That’s because they understand the mental toughness it takes to finish a race well or to win a game. So my question to you as we reach the final moments in this year is what financial strategies are you going to put in place to make sure you end your race well?
Perhaps your strategy will include writing down every person you’re buying for and keeping track of how much you’re spending using free apps such as Evernote or Santas Bag. Perhaps it’s working out how much you’re going to spend over the Boxing Day and January sales and then tracking it using the MoneySmart App or Xero to make sure you stick to your limit. Or perhaps it’s about simply buying everything online so you’re not tempted to purchase more as you walk past something bright and shiny at the shops. Whatever you do, make sure you have a plan to finish well. The most incredible moments in sport often happen at the end of the race. The elation on the face of the winner, the embraces of team-mates winning a grand final or the marathon runner who has finished miles behind everyone else but still stumbles over the finishing line determined to finish to a standing ovation from the crowd. Whether you feel like you’ve won your financial race this year or you’re stumbling, broken over the finish line, why not choose today to finish this year well and put half an hour aside this week to create a strategy so that you do - and then make sure you celebrate your over a glass of bubbles, a cider or a green smoothie on New Year’s Eve... at the financial finishing line.
LIABILITIES Alice Ruhe
As an Insolvency Accountant, I see many business owners make mistakes, often without the full understanding of what the ultimate result might be. My aim is to help readers learn from some of the more common mistakes I have seen, and assist in identifying red flags so they can discuss the same with their accountants/lawyers/advisers so that they can make the most of their business ventures.
Current vs Non-Current Liabilities Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between current and non-current liabilites in order to have a fully representitive balance sheet. In short, a current liability is a liability that is due to be paid within twelve months and a non-current liability will not be due for payment in its entireity for more than one year. The importance of proper classification is highlighted when undertaking ratios and analysis (for example for solvency purposes). If liabilities are incorrectly classified, it may lead to a company incorrectly appearing either hopelessly insolvent or perfectly viable when, in fact neither may be the case. Trade Creditors Generally when I ask a business owner about their liabilities, they will provide me with a listing of their trade creditors. Although, often most of an entity’s liabilities may be represented by trade creditors, it is important to understand that the term “liability” represents much more than merely these trade payables. Business owners need to be aware of this when we discuss solvency, as we talk about an entity being able to pay its debts as and when they fall due. These “debts” do not only mean the trade creditors, but all of the entity’s liabilities. Whilst trade creditors are not the only liabilities, they are incredibly important to understand. Business owners should be fully aware of the trading terms that they enjoy with their trade creditors, which may vary from creditor to creditor. This way business owners can more effectively manage their cash flow. Business owners should ensure that all invoices and associated payments are entered into their accounting system promptly so that they can consult their Aged Payables Listing on a weekly or monthly basis. This way business operators can fully appreciate the quantum of outstanding creditors, and be alerted to any solvency isues in the event that a number of their creditors start creeeping into the 60 days column. If this does occur, business owners should consult their accountant to discuss whether the aging of creditors is as a result of short term cashflow issues or inherent solvency issues and attempt to rectify the issue accordingly.
Australian Taxation Office (“ATO”) One of the major creditors in many businesses is the ATO. The amounts owing by an entity to the ATO may include amounts for: • • • •
PAYG Withholding; Superannuation Guarantee Charge; GST; and Income Tax.
Each of the above can have different due dates and different lodgement obligations. Having the correct accounting set up for ATO lodgements is vital to understanding a business’s solvency position. It is important to note directors can become personally liable for a company’s PAYG Withholding and Superannuation in the event that lodgements are not filed within three months of the due date. If you are a director of a company with overdue lodgements, it is imperative that you discuss this matter with your adviser (or an insolvency practitioner) immediately to ascertain your options. Many businesses treat the ATO as a “bank” or an alternative source of funding. It is important that the ATO is given the same respect as other “trade” creditors which an entity may require to continue ongoing trading. When a liquidator is appointed to a company, he or she can recover preferential payments made to creditors in the period leading up to their appointment. Directors should note that, in the event that their company suffers from an insolvency event, if there has been a payment arrangement through which the company has been making payments to the ATO, and the company has previously had a payment arrangement with the ATO which had been broken, not only can a liquidator recover the “preferential” payments from the ATO, but the ATO will join the director personally to any recovery action brought by the liquidator and has the power to sue the director personally for the clawed-back amounts. Therefore, any entity that may be using the ATO as an alternate funding source should analyse their solvency position and discuss same with their advisers so that they can understand their options.
Banks & Other Financiers Obviously any amounts owing to Banks or Other Financiers are liabilities that need to be accounted for on the balance sheet of a business. It is important that businesses are aware of: • the terms of finance arrangements; • what is required before a bank can call upon its security; and • which assets are subject to the bank’s security and which are owned outright by the company. Classification of bank liabilities is also important for solvency analysis purposes. For example, a credit card debt would be a current liability whilst a 15 year business loan would generally be a non-current liability. Appropriate interest calculations are also necessary in order to show a proper reflection of the business’s net asset position.
Employee Entitlements Employee entitlements can also be a significant liability in the books of a business. These amounts include: • Unpaid Wages; • Unpaid Superannuation; and • Unpaid Leave (including provisions for Long Service Leave). When a business is subject to a bankruptcy or liquidation, the government may pay out certain amounts owing to employees (excluding superannuation) via the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (“FEG”) scheme. This scheme allows employees to be paid their entitlements earlier than they might otherwise be paid through the liquidation or bankruptcy and the government then stands in the employees’ shoes (including with respect to their priority) for the purposes of dividends from the bankruptcy or liquidation. Further, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”) now has the power to liquidate companies in the situation where there they have ceased trading and owe entitlements to their employees, so that the employees can benefit from the FEG scheme. Beneficiary Loan Accounts Many businesses are traded through a discretionary trust with a corporate trustee. It is common place that the distributions that are made out of the trust to beneficiaries are “loaned back” to the business which generates a beneficiary loan account. Although many accountants may advise that these distributions and loan backs are merely “paper transactions” or “journal entries” it is important that these loan accounts are treated as any other liability account in the balance sheet, for analysis purposes. They can be called upon at a future point in time Insolvent Trading It is vital that accounting records for an entity are properly kept so that directors are conscious of the solvency position of their entities on a regular basis. This is vital in business operations, as if a company is trading whilst insolvent, the directors personally can be sued by either a liquidator or a creditor for any liabilities that have been incurred during the period that the company was insolvent. It is for this reason that as soon as directors identify that their company is insolvent or about to become insolvent they must discuss the issues with their advisers and/or a suitably qualified insolvency practitioner. Please note that there are a number of “Pre-Insolvency Advisers” who may claim that they can assist companies with their insolvency situations. Unless you are dealing with a qualified insolvency practitioner, however, these business relationships can cause more harm than good. “Pre-Insolvency Advisers” are often
unqualified, unregulated and charge a substantial amount to “prepare your business for an insolvency appointment”. Unbeknown to many business owners that deal with these “Pre-Insolvency Advisers”, many of the actions that they attempt to take to “protect” a business from the powers of a liquidator are voidable by the liquidators. This means that the business owners may have spent a considerable amount of money to put them in the same position they were in at the start. A reputable insolvency practitioner who is qualified to advise on these matters generally are a registered or official liquidator or a registered trustee in bankruptcy and be a member of the industry body, the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (“ARITA”). Sum-up The above issues are relevant to most businesses, however at different levels of significance. Whenever in doubt, always seek further advice from your advisers, and if warranted, seek a second opinion. If you have queries with respect to any issues outlined above or insolvency in general, please do not hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org This article is intended to provide general information only in summary format on relevant issues. It does not constitute legal or financial advice, and should not be relied on as such.
Out & About
In Conversation With Kimberly Hutchings 1
Tell us a little about your business and what you do I consider myself lucky because I now have two businesses. The first one I call my “day job.” It’s a helicopter specialty training company called Volo Mission and is located in California (U.S.). We train pilots who are working or wanting to work in the external-load industry (i.e. firefighting, construction, logging, etc.). I am a helicopter pilot but do not “work” per se as a pilot. My degrees are in Psychology and Human Factors so aside from running the business (my husband runs the operations), I do all the case studies, human factors, and safety work for the company’s training courses. I refer to this as my day job because it allows the professional and more serious (academic) side of me to be fulfilled while my second business is what I consider my passion and purpose! I have always heard the sayings about “doing what you love and you will never work a day in your life,” or how people start businesses because they are passionate about… and, although I absolutely love flying and the helicopter industry, I just didn’t feel the passion and purpose like I do with mentoring teen girls, that’s why I decided to start a second business this month called the Spartan Girls Mentoring.
What’s the bravest decision you have had to make in your business? Wow, I can’t really think of one specific thing. When you are a business owner, you have to be brave so often. You are always putting yourself out there in so many ways. Anywhere from launching a new website or product, to deciding to expand or relocate, to making sure you are doing right by your staff and customers. I guess the bravest thing in regard to Volo Mission was deciding to run a company operating in the U.S. from Australia. My husband and I have to put a lot of faith in our employees, which some business owners struggle with. It’s very hard to put all your blood, sweat, and tears in the hands of others and not be there to oversee every last detail. Building the right team is extremely important for us. The bravest decision so far for Spartan Girls Mentoring, was actually deciding to turn it into a business. I had been mentoring my daughter and three of her friends because I thought it would be great to be able to give girls some confidence to go out in the world as strong young women but then I started getting so much positive feedback from parents and calls from mothers wanting to get their daughters involved that I decided to turn it into a business.
What’s your vision for your business? For both businesses, I want them to be recognized on a global level! I want to help make peoples lives better. Both Volo Mission and Spartan Girls Mentoring were created to help people on their journey through life, to give them the confidence and skills they need to be successful.
First thing you do in the morning? I hate to admit it, but it’s picking up the phone laying on the dresser beside the bed and reading emails. I know it’s a bad habit but it helps me determine which way my day is going to go. With having a business in the U.S., I get emails during the night and I have a limited time to respond because their business day is finishing before I am even half-way through mine.
Most inspiring quote? This was one of the toughest questions for me because I consider myself a bit of an inspirational quote fanatic! I have them everywhere (i.e., phone, desk, calendar hanging on the wall)! But it really boils down to this: “Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing”
If you were a hashtag, you would be?
#firedragon – It’s my Chinese astrology sign and it sums me up pretty nicely
Top 3 tips for women in business? 1.
Don’t underestimate yourself! Don’t be afraid to speak up and give your opinion!
2. Accept help. I know there is a big push on asking for help but the other part is actually “accepting” it. As women, it seems we are used to trying to do it all and it’s hard enough to ask for help, but I think it is even harder to accept the help once we ask for it. 3.
Give yourself the credit you deserve and don’t ever downplay your accomplishments!
What would you tell your 21-year old self now if you could? Thank you for having the wisdom to know you were destined for a different path in life and having the bravery to start making the necessary changes. You did the right thing!!
Surviving the Christmas rush: be brain fit
Dr. Jenny Brockis
It’s that time of year again. The shopping malls all have their decorations up and radio jocks have been telling us since September that there are only “x” number of shopping days left until Christmas. While it’s been possible to live in a blissful state of denial so far, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s now December, and school holidays, end of year preparations and Christmas are coming up fast.
So how do you tackle this crazy time with all it’s silliness, Jingles and Mingles? There are probably three options. My colleague April*, approaches December with same military precision she devotes to all her work. Her todo list is complete, colour coded for clarity. Christmas presents have all been bought, wrapped and labelled. Cards are written and in neat piles for family, friends and business. The dog has been booked into a kennel for while they entertain and she’s just awaiting delivery of the Christmas crackers she ordered from the States which are two days late. She has this strange calm expression on her face, which I’m never quite sure what it signifies. You might call it beatific. You could also call it smug. The second option was taken up by my pal June* who has announced that she is about to head off overseas with her family for a six week sojourn to Dubai, Italy and Canada returning after Australia day. Lucky duck.
The third option, which is the one I seem to naturally fall into every year despite thinking that things could be different, is to assume that with 31 days in the month there is of course loads of time to get everything done. I mean we are only talking about two actual days of public holiday when everyone can sit back and relax with a nice glass of something cold and wet, stuff our faces silly with lots of good food and enjoy catching up with good friends and family. What could be easier? The trouble with the third option is that it assumes Christmas is at the end of the month and so I’m never ready for the 25th. The Christmas letter to the ‘rellies doesn’t get sent until the New Year. That great idea for a present for Uncle Ted, who is impossible to buy for, isn’t available until March and on top of that there are work tasks waiting for completion, and new projects waiting to get unpacked and developed properly to roll out in the New Year.
The human stress response to threat is well known. It's our fight, flight or freeze reaction. Which response we adopt can vary though you may have noticed we quite often respond to a particular threat in a certain way. However, it doesnâ€™t have to be this way. It's time to look at how we can make Christmas, our holidays or anything different to our normal routine easier and more enjoyable, simply by adopting a Brain Fit approach.
While I was never a boy scout (for the jolly good reason that I wasn't a boy) taking the time out to think about "how do I want this to happen", takes away the stress of running around like a headless chook buying three circles of Brie that you'll end up eating until Easter and a pile of unwanted "spare" presents you bought in case you forgot someone. A couple of hours put aside to think and talk over with your other half (if he's interested or vaguely listening) helps you to clarify what you will need and to start to plan accordingly.
Indulge in moderation.
If like me you're wondering why last year's cocktail dress has managed to shrink in the wardrobe and you've got nothing else suitable for that work event tomorrow night, it's probably a reminder to travel light (and suck it in). There are only so many Christmas parties, drinks and meals we can go to without suffering a surfeit of greasy sausage rolls, cardboard mince pies and too much booze. So make sure you keep your exercise schedule happening, even if that means walking to an event. Choose to alternate alcoholic drinks with aqua pura. No one will notice that that sparkling beverage is actually water. Avoid turning up hungry to an event, a light snack before hand makes it easier to forego that deep fried wonton or bucket of chips.
With so much to do and so much on, itâ€™s easy to end up exhausted and without enough sleep. That makes surviving the next day not just a headache, but much harder to do things well to the level you know you're capable of. We all need roughly 7-8 hours of good quality uninterrupted sleep every night for mood regulation, better memory, better decisions, greater insight and time to flush out all the trash that accumulates in our brain during the day. So, while it's fun to party, be a Cinderella and make sure you're up tucked in bed in reasonable time, with or without your shoes on.
Being a martyr to Christmas is never much fun, no one acknowledges your martyrdom and they'll just assume you love the role. So if it's not what you want, don't do it. Get someone else to. If they don't want it to do it either perhaps this is a signal that it's time to do things differently. While being a fiercely independent, super coping, productive and busy person is marvellous for elsewhere, there are times (like now) when it's fine, appropriate and necessary for sanity's sake to ask for help or delegate tasks. The fewer choices we have to make, the more mental energy weâ€™ll have left over to apply to those more important items, and avoid decision fatigue.
Ultimately it's all about choice and what works for you. What you choose determines not just whether you survive the silly season, but how you can take the silliness out of it all and enjoy a truly wonderful and happy time. * Names have been changed to protect the innocent
This is a special time of year because it's a wonderful time to pause and reflect on everything you have achieved and to anticipate good things to come. It's about expressing gratitude for what you have, and for appreciating who mean the most to you. When we are grateful, our mind can relax, we are more positive and we feel happier. Why not treat yourself to something really nice; something you might not had time to do during the rest of the year. A massage? A retreat? A day to spent doing non-work things: a trip to an art exhibition, a trip to the country or a night away with your partner/husband/lover?
Building Your Personal Brand Zahrina Robertson Today, there is a lot of talk about personal branding and every career minded professional understands its importance. Everybody has his or her own personal brand. Effective brands are based on reality. To build a strong brand, you must focus on authenticity and who you really are. Strong brands are uncovered, not created! Strong personal brands know their values, passions, goals and ultimate mission. You must know yourself and to know yourself you need to learn what others think about you. Since your brand is held in the minds of the people who know you, you must be constantly aware of external perceptions. Think about what you stand for and what your values are. With a clearly defined brand statement, you can begin to get the message out, both online and offline. Start to share your story so you can build emotional connections with your target audience. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Circles and Instagram are some of the most accessed websites on the Internet. By not being present on these platforms, or by having an average social media presence you are missing valuable opportunities. Effective personal branding requires constant repetition. In the steps of this process you should integrate your brand into everything you do to increases the breadth of your brand, reinforce your message and increase your credibility. Personal branding requires steadfast commitment, regular attention and constant intention. This should not daunt you, as above all else, personal branding is about being your best self â€“ always.
The Importance of looking after your personal brand this Christmas, New Year and Beyondâ€Ś The Christmas season is upon us once again and so begins the staff parties, Christmas drinks and New Years celebrations. The weather is warmer, the days are longer and that is reason enough to celebrate! The many events that surround Christmas and the New Year could be the perfect opportunity to showcase your personal brand. You should enjoy yourself at these events; it is a celebration after all! Be positive and spread good Christmas cheer amongst your colleagues and friends, as they will remember you in the New Year. While staff parties are intended as social events to reward employees for their hard work, they remain strictly business events.
Don’t skip a party, as it displays disrespect for the hosts of the events, whether they be your peers, friends or colleagues. The hosts have been kind enough to extend an invitation to you, by attending the event you will display respect, commitment and kindness. Unless you have justifiable conflict, showing up is a must. When you do attend, spend at least an hour at the party for your future strategic relationships. Remember that not attending could hurt your reputation, but partying until the wee hours could hurt it more.
Keeping all conversations positive maintains the impact of your personal brand. Don’t spend the event complaining, bragging, whining or ridiculing. Avoid controversial subjects. People won’t remember the specifics of what you said; they will remember how you made them feel.
executives from your company. In a social environment they are more open to talk. Introduce yourself on a personal level and ask about hobbies and interests. This is a key opportunity take advantage of it.
Ask the host of the event what the dress code is (if it does not appear on your invitation) and stick to it. Conservative clothes are always a good choice, keep it professional and fun! What you wear is a direct representation of your personal brand. Dressing for success is about reflecting your authentic self. Your clothes should communicate the essential stuff that makes you you at a glance. Dress tastefully and your peers will instantly perceive you as professional.
Events around Christmas and the New Year are great opportunities to spread the goodwill of your personal brand. It is a great time to catch up with friends, colleagues and employers. Be careful not to turn these catch-ups into gossiping sessions because this is not how you want to be perceived by your peers. Staff parties are a perfect time to get to know your colleagues! Use these events as an opportunity to rub elbows with the
Drink plenty of water at these events. The weather is warmer and alcohol is dehydrating. Drinking too much is the most damaging thing you can do to your personal brand, especially at a work event. Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage and set a limit. You can always go for a social drink with friends afterwards. By doing this you will ensure that your relationship with alcohol doesn’t define your personal brand. Remember, there are so many more aspects of you to showcase! Finally, don’t forget to thank your hosts for their planning and coordination of the party. Sending a thank you card is a sure way to help you gain notice and be appreciated.
These tips are not only applicable to the Christmas and New Year season. By following these simple guidelines at events throughout the year you can enhance and protect your personal brand and will perceived by your friends, colleagues and employers as professional and confident.
ADDING SOME EVERYDAY ZEN
to your business is the best investment for 2015 Amber Daines
Recently the UK’s most famous entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson came out in an article for Inc.com and said that “time was the new money”. A fairly simple statement in and of itself, the story pretty quickly had had social media buzzing. When I read this, I was one of the many retweeting groupies because what this successful self-made billionaire stated struck a big cord with me and it seems also so many of the hard-working but slightly over-worked business friends. Time for money is what most of us trade on and it’s how we make a living. It’s a one-way transaction though – your time can be turned into money, but not the other way around. And the trade-off can be scary. Lack of regular exercise, poor diet, less mental focus, and drinking too much wine at night to “switch off” after a hectic day all add to the pattern. Ariana Huffington’s acclaimed book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder has been on my high rotation reading and reference list for a few months now. It speaks to the heart of every modern business person who’s time-poor and health-poorer. She had her own wake-up call when she pushed her body and mind to the limit working 17 hour days for years in the early days of the Huffington Post. Falling down and injuring herself from sheer exhaustion was the turning point for Ariana. In her book, she shares her own research and that of experts in meditation, health and business who tell us what we need to know to avoid a physical and mental breakdown in the pursuit of more money and power. It’s a cliché that without your health you having nothing. But it’s also a fact. The upshot of ‘Thrive’ is perhaps nothing new but it summarises the journey I am on and know many of my peers are too. After seven years of running my own PR strategy and media skills agency, I am tired. Throw into the mix raising two little boys, balancing schedules with an equally career-charged husband, weekend sports, socialising, Sydney traffic and endless demands from every corner I look to, it is hardly surprising. Stress on an ongoing basis is negative for everyone. It generates cortisol and adrenalin, which wreaks havoc on our nervous
systems, and makes our minds foggy and affects our productivity. Not a great thing to run a business on let alone a lifestyle! The past six months has been my professional sabbatical in some ways. In April, after lots of thought, I made a strategic decision to walk away from my pipeline lucrative (but energy-sapping) PR clients that were simply not growing my business in the direction I want it to go to. I am committed to being the best media trainer and PR strategist in town and that has meant saying “no” more times than my accountant would like me to this year. But it was deliberate and worthwhile for me to be brave and get of the adrenalin-pumped merry-go-round that I have probably been on for almost 20 years. Our young family needs me home more and I want to be there before I miss out on too many milestones and everyday conversations that make a childhood take shape. My days have been spent chasing up the clients I really want to work with, saying ‘yes’ to new and daunting speaker opportunities, working for charities and writing for magazines and blogs (like this one) that mean something to me. What has also happened is I have finally understood what it means to be mindful; not just on a walk, when I get to smell the roses literally. It has certainly taken me years to “get” what being truly present is all about. In my times of great and compounding stress, with deadlines looming, in the wake of sleepless nights with sick offspring and a husband who has a big new job to step into, it’s been necessary for me to stay in the moment. To shrug of the mental “to do” lists for the days or weeks ahead. And you know what? It’s worked. I can literally feel my central nervous system is calmer – though it could use a few more practice runs some days – my head is clearer, my soul feels lighter and I can face almost anything. One step at a time.
I have also met some amazing like-minded business people who can inform and inspire me as I take this leap of faith, for example Jacqui Lewis, founder of The Broad Place (www.thebroadplace.com.au), a modern and thoughtful education centre where she teaches others the benefits of Vedic Meditation. As she explains, Vedic Meditation is an independent practice of repeating a mantra (an ancient Sanskrit sound), that you can do anywhere you can sit and close your eyes for 15-20 mins anywhere – the boardroom or bedroom, public transport or park bench! My kind of meditation – and not a Hemp happy pant in sight. “The results are so great, that people carve out the time with ease as their days are so much more productive, creative, and joyful. Personally I have a very engaged life, with a young family and many brands and businesses that I manage, so I understand wholeheartedly the challenges we all face in learning and then practicing meditation,” said Jacqui. Jacqui is no stranger to modern stressors and has her own story of how she got to start The Broad Place in 2014. “My husband and business partner Arran and I are committed to being purposeful within the world and operating with the highest of integrity and so successfully turned down $500,000 worth of client fees for our agency FOLKE ARMY (that I play a small role within) over the last 12 months. “We did this to ensure we could execute the best projects and not compromise on any level. This also provided space for excellent education platforms and the launch of our product with The Broad Place. It was petrifying I won’t lie to you! And a huge leap of faith that has netted a huge return for us well outside financial gain,” explains Jacqui. These sentiments are backed up by good food foodie and low-tox living guru Alex Stuart (www.alexxstuart.com), who makes it clear that having a healthier, cleaner diet and an everyday exercise plan is easier than most of us think. Her tips make it seem very accessible. “Do some deep and slow breaths with a pause at the top of the breath and the base of the outbreath, a couple of times a day to cut that ‘fight or flight’ state you’re in. If that’s all you can do for now, fine. It’s actually a huge step
and we often don’t pat ourselves on the back enough for heading in the right direction, but rather only when we achieve perfection, and that’s not the point. The direction is the point,’ says Alexx. Alexx reinforces the facts about the dangers that a prolonged state of stress can do to the body and argues it’s the current number one health concern to address in business. “In that mode, our body shuts down other areas of function/restricts energy being spent elsewhere in the body, to ‘get us through’ what we’re going through. I like to say our physiology can’t tell the difference between an impending attack by a lion and running really late for a meeting. So, our digestive system stops functioning well, as does our immune system.” Alexx also advocates that today any non-cookers can easily outsource the wholefoods delivery of meals like Eat Fit Food and Kamilla Johns Wholefood, but reminds me that it takes literally “two mins to get a roast chook and some chopped veg around it in a roasting tray and in the oven for an hour.” And finding time for some outdoors time and exercise of any kind you enjoy is key. “Everyone has 10 minutes, and if you don’t then you probably should take 20!” she adds.“The benefit is you live more consciously. You’re in tune with your wellness and you know when you need time out and you know when to slow down a little. It’s not a cop out, it’s a time out, to refuel. Two very different things. Funnily enough, you don’t get ‘less’ done either. You get more done because the time out clears the head and you are able to better prioritise.” The facts are in people. A new year is upon us. A fresh chance to reboot, recharge, redefine. One may make a few resolutions that may or may not come to pass, but who cares really? Only you can make 2015 matter for all the right reasons. The dawn of a new year is an ideal chance to draw a metaphorical line in the sand – to discard old habits, old clients, old patterns that no longer serve our higher self.
Do you want your clothes to express exactly who you are and what you stand for? Do you want to consistently dress well and feel confident with the way you look? Have you wanted to stand out from that sea of mediocrity but didn’t quite know how? If this sounds like you – you are not alone. Did you know that over 89% of women are less than confident about finding the right apparel that suits them, and often settle for second best? A high percentage of women are less than satisfied with their clothing choices. However, if you got to find out how to create a signature style that is uniquely YOU, you will dress with less effort and more fun and way more confidence than you’ve even had before.
How creating Your signature style can attract more opportunities and Ultimately change your life! Evelyn Lundström
And so combine this with my being a mercurial Gemini, and you have a glimpse of my signature style – dramatic (love black and white); Innovative – those special pieces put together in creative ways, and a relaxed less structured style to allow me ease of movement. I like the unexpected bit of waggishness when it comes to dressing - it’s got to be fun. So, what about you? How would you tell your story through the clothes you choose to wear? What have been the influences in your life that has shaped it the way it is? When you know who you are and what you want, and dress like you mean it, people notice. You get treated with respect, people defer to you, because evidently, you know something they don’t. You know that scene in the ‘Pretty Woman’ movie? That scenario is not far from the truth. So how do you develop your own signature style? Firstly, you need to focus on YOU – and not be distracted by what you think others expect you to wear or by wearing something you liked on someone else and expect it to work for you. It might work – but then it might not. Your style must reflect the true YOU, your uniqueness, your style preferences, your STORY! So what is your story? What has shaped you to be the person you are today? I am Evelyn Lundstrom, and have grown up in a household of girls. My mother was very stylish and owned a fashion store in Devonport Tasmania. She made regular trips to Sydney and Melbourne to buy stock and it was always different to anything else around in our small town. I developed an eye for quality at an early age, and would buy Butterick and McCalls Sewing patterns and the best fabrics I could find - all in my early teens because I wanted to create something different for myself. I changed the patterns, often using the ‘top’ of one and the ‘bottom’ of another – just for fun. My aunts and grandmother often sought my approval on something before they purchased a frock or that ‘once-every-six-year’ coat.
There are steps to starting to develop your signature style and they are:
Check out what you already have and assess whether they work for your lifestyle, your personality, your body dynamics and best features, and quirky style preferences.
Decide on the elements that will make up YOUR style signature including the type of accessories you love, your level of grooming, how much of fashion you like to play with.
Raise your SQ (Style Quotient) by blending all of the above to create a ‘style-synesthesia’ – which is your unique style signature. You will dress for every occasion, infusing your ‘style’ into everything you wear and carry.
At last, you start to dress in a way that is congruent with the person you are now. It’s authentic and you will know it. You will trust yourself to break out of ‘sameness’. You won’t worry about what the latest fashion is, what the ‘must buy colour of the season’ is – you will dress and know that you stand out for all the right reasons, having much more fun being YOU.
THE 12 WAYS
OF FITMAS How to stay HEALTHY & FIGHTING FIT This Christmas Nikki Fogden-Moore It’s time to beat the bulge and afternoon post-food trauma naps on the couch this Christmas. Avoid hangovers from office parties and find your balance as you head into December to end a dynamic year of hard work, vision and building your business - with a zing! Here’s my 12 WAYS OF CHRISTMAS to keep you the life of the party and still look and feel fabulous. No new years diet resolutions for you my friend, as we hit this silly season with the vigor of and the focus of an Olympic athlete.
YOUR GAME PLAN
KNOW THY SELF
CHANGE THAT STORY
First up remember that it’s up to you how you view the Christmas season in terms of keeping fit, healthy and feeling great. If you enter into it with the mindset “it’s going to wreck my plan and be so hard to be good” etc it’s a reflection you’re still on the diet and ‘exercise is a chore’ mentality. Why not approach Christmas as a time where you can integrate some healthy habits to maintain rather than a binge season to regret. You’re in charge.
If you like to get up early and have a moment to yourself before the rest of the family is running about then keep that up. Holidaying with friends and family and want to stick to your routine?
This really relates to point 1. If you’re reading this then chances are you’re an intelligent mover and shaker and really don’t need a lecture on having healthy habits. So what can you do this year to change your story and avoid the internal negotiation “I’ll just have one…” For example, I know that I have the 80/20 rule.
Just commit and offer for people to join but don’t give up on your plan if they decide to stay on the sofa with a wine…know your goals, what things you need to stay balanced and stick to your plan.
I am generally fit, healthy and eat well. So having a glass of bubbles or two is not the end of the world. Don’t get sucked into the sugar train this Christmas either. Just avoid sweets, artificial foods and anything processed altogether. Fresh is best. Enjoy amazing summer produce; bring salads and berries and fresh deserts and healthy snacks to family events. Get inspired to be the best version of yourself.
OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE FEW
Everything in moderation. Make great choices and enjoy the holidays. Put having fun for fitness at the top of your agenda. Try and stand up paddle with your friends or family, book a learnto-surf lesson or head out to the countryside and explore the region. Dust off the bike and explore on two wheels rather than four, take the dog outside and run around with plenty of fresh air and a fresh look at what simple things can be so enjoyable.
Maybe this year it’s about setting boundaries and committing to events you really enjoy. Choose to spend your time wisely and also who you spend your time with.
Avoid drinking until you can’t stand up, piling your plate high “just because it’s Christmas’ and generally letting yourself be a sloth at Christmas. Think sporty chic this season. Turn up for a party knowing you’ve done 30minutes of exercise that day, spent some time with your family or enjoyed the outdoors. Take pride in your appearance and remember that Christmas is just one day and is not a crutch to spend the whole of December drinking and eating yourself into mad oblivion…
Spread some healthy Christmas cheer with an outdoor glow (just remember the sunscreen).
Fresh is best - fresh air, fresh food and a fresh perspective. Follow my three pillars of vitality and you cannot go wrong.
80/20 rule, enjoy things in moderation. Choose the healthy options and just relax knowing you’ve got yourself covered with a sustainable healthy approach on a daily basis anyway. It’s OK to kick your heels up - just make good choices.
Essentially eat well, prepare healthy snacks and balance your day out. Enjoy the party season with vigor, energy and style knowing that you look and feel fabulous from the inside out. Have some healthy snacks or a light late lunch salad with protein before you head out for the evening. Don’t wait the whole day to eat then turn up at an event and devour all the hors d’Oeuvres.
BE THE CHANGE
CELEBRATE IN NEW WAYS
Like I mention above - you can inspire and ask your friends and family to join you for a walk or run or perhaps a dip in the ocean but don’t stop doing it if no one wants to join you. Be the change you want to see and you may be surprise who you inspire along the way.
Know you’d love to tackle all the above but get stuck thinking what to make at Christmas. Then hop online and get some recipes going - Pete Evans has some wonderful family food ideas as does Jaimie Oliver and our very own Alexx Stuart from Little Black Dress Group. I will also be sharing my top Christmas snacks and salad ideas and easy to make recipes on the blog.
For me Christmas is about calibration, time out, being able to head to the beach, spend the whole day in a bikini and not have a particular time limit.
Avoid using announcements that you “can’t have this” or “shouldn’t have that” - just make quiet decisions and stick to your guns. It will all pay off when you’re up on a beautiful morning and everyone else is nursing a food hangover.
Get your kids involved too. Making bliss balls for example are ideal as fun healthy snacks at Christmas time.
Health & Happiness this festive season! Your vitality coach Nikki @nfogdenmoore
CHECK OUT NIKKI’S NEW SITE www.thevitalitycoach.com.au
It’s enjoying some fresh cocktails or a glass of Veuve on the balcony, Skyping friends and family overseas and trying out my new surfboard (thanks Layne). What’s your way to celebrate? Put some thought into what really makes your heart sing this Christmas and do more of that! End the year with a sense of vitality, energy and gratitude that we all have the choice to create the life we want.
Intelligence without ambition, is a bird without wings.
Daring & Disruptive: Lisa Messenger After decades of success in multiple industries, Lisa Messenger blends her personal stories with the important business lessons she has learned along the way, from why money is not the only currency to how to fail well. Lisa gives readers a valuable insight into her world, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, seasoned game changer or a corporate ladder-climber dreaming of creating your own gig or making positive change from the inside. Available Now Here.
True Believers: Christina Guidotti True Believers know that anything is possible and that to bridge the gap between the life you have and the life you want you need to create your own success masterpiece. It’s your frame, you can own it and true belief is how you create it. True Believers have so much confidence, courage, conviction, resilience and so much commitment to aligning with their values that they almost don’t waver. These people know their true north. They are the ones that turn cultures, companies and communities around. Extraordinary thoughtleadership from Christina Guidotti. Available Now Here.
From Me To We: Janine Garner Collaboration isn’t just a soft skill that’s nice to have – it’s a vital business practice that affects the bottom line. As the way we do business continues to evolve, collaboration is becoming ever more crucial to steeling an organization against the threats of tomorrow. From Me to We is a practical handbook for more robust business strategy. From Me to We helps leaders drive better business, and in a time of future uncertainty, be armoured against threats. Available Now Here.
Janine gets the challenge, the challenge of getting smart people working together. In From Me to We she offers a plan for creating competitive advantage by collaboration. — Matt Church, Founder, Thoughtleaders Global
There is something about the Christmas and New Year period which fills me with wonderment, joy, amazement and all things tinselwrapped and shiny. Who am I kidding.
LOIS LANE LIVES: NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT... Kate Stone
It’s the week before Christmas, and there might as well be nothing stirring except for a mouse in this household, because to date the number of Christmas presents I have managed to purchase numbers exactly... One. I am the Grinch That Stole Shopping. This isn’t out of any hatred of tidings of comfort and joy. I have, in fact, pulled out the Craft Card and whipped up a wreath for the front door (photographic evidence will be provided to those who snigger at this.) The Christmas tree, with tasteful gold and white embellishments, is blinking away in the window, that is when Osky the Spy Cat isn’t doing flying leaps into it and creating sudden wild disco effects on the walls. But when it comes to the present task of present-giving... I have hit a big, fat bauble of Noel nada. This isn’t about not wanting to give people presents - as I hope most of my friends and family would know, I love giving stuff to peeps. I am just not very good at doing it on the proscribed occasions; partly because I am useless at keeping secrets when it comes to exciting things like presents, and partly because I am hopeless with dates. So I have figured out that over the next few days, I need to have a plan. Not just a plan, but more a plan of attack. A gift-buying Standard Operating Procedure that shall be adhered to on all future gift-buying
occasions, with no deviation whatsoever. Right. Here we go. SATURDAY MORNING. EARLY O’CLOCK. Wake up. Check iPad for messages and e-mails (already Standard Operating Procedure for the Woman Who Cannot Switch Off). Look online for earmarked presents and their location in various places around the town. Get distracted by things that I want for myself* (shiny!), drop iPad on floor and fall asleep again until Osky jumps on my face because he hasn’t been fed yet. Finally crawl out of bed, look for food, realise we have no food because neither of us has done any shopping, feed the cat before he eats us both and blames the neighbours, chuck a tantrum because I’m hungry, give up on the day and go back to bed. SUNDAY MORNING. SLIGHTLY MORE REALISTIC O’CLOCK. Meh.
“Glen had a disability more disfiguring than a burn and more terrifying than cancer. Glen had been born on the day after Christmas. “My parents just combine my birthday with Christmas, that’s all,” he explained. But we knew this was a lie. Glen’s parents just wrapped a couple of his Christmas presents in birthday-themed wrapping paper, stuck some candles in a supermarket cake, and had a dinner of Christmas leftovers.” Augusten Burroughs, You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas
I think you see what Monday and Tuesday are going to bring, except with more swearing and caffeine because I’m still at work. Finally I go into a frenzy online and buy wildly over-priced things that NOBODY in my family will actually use - probably because they are all things I actually wanted for myself (wow, a new iPad stylus, I can just hear my Dad saying) - and then collapse on the sofa with a very large drink. I think I speak with modesty and honesty when I say that I have truly embodied the spirit of Christmas in one How-Not-To Guide. Speaking seriously for a moment (for a change), this Christmas will be a challenging one for a few reasons, and I am grateful and aware of the incredible people in my life. The New Year may be a little cloudy and uncertain at the moment, but I am counting several blessings nonetheless as I look towards 2015. May your days be merry and bright over the coming weeks. Whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Festivus or simply having a day to not think too hard, I hope you spend your down time in the company of those you love and who love you back, and that you spare a thought for those less fortunate at a very tough time of the year. Now I need to go. Osky has managed to turn the tree into his own portable rock show again. I think he has pretensions to going on the stage. Either that, or he’s realised I haven’t bought his present yet.
*A common phenomenon known as ‘one for them, two for me’.
LBDG is about community. It’s about business leaders and entrepreneurs collaborating. It’s about creating sustainable, leverageable and successful businesses. It’s about netweaving connections, knowledge and insight for results. JOIN US Members of the LBDGroup are cross functional and cross industry. Lawyers, bankers, marketing and PR professionals, media, mining, construction, designers, jewellery, fashion, philanthropists, non-for-profit, human resources, fitness, health and well-being, property, sales, speakers and authors to name but a few. And with a fabulous mix of corporates to own business it is the quality of conversations that we have that make us so different. JOIN US We offer three levels of membership for women that are committed to building their businesses, to fast track their growth and to ensure that they are surrounding themselves with the best in the businesses. BLACK, DIAMOND and PLATINUM membership levels are designed to offer increasing one to one mentoring and group mentoring and business education and training. Depending on where you are in your journey there is a membership level that’s right for you “Janine has an enviable drive and motivation that is not only infectious but so supportive & constructive. It is so very refreshing and admirable to see someone turn their passion in to reality and back it up with such determination to bring like-minded, talented & intelligent women together.” Prue Thomas Group Marketing Director- Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge & Glue Store - Australia
“Janine Garner is an inspiring visionary who brings together like-minded people to pursue and attain professional goals. Janine is a confident and warm person, and her skill of collaboration is impressive. The Little Black Dress Group is a brilliant source of knowledge and expression for business women and Janine is the keystone to its success.” Kath Creel Marketing Director at Impact AV Australia
“We Don’t Network, We Netweave”™
As a thankyou to all of our GLOSS readers for your support in 2014, here is an exclusive chapter from Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan’s new book, ‘Selfish, Scared and Stupid’.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Why failure happens Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan
Success is not final, failure is not fatal. - Winston Churchill
We live in an era of overindulgence. While the media likes to turn the spotlight on our junk food and computer game–addicted youth, our overindulgence is not confined to the physical (or lack thereof). Today, our psychological lives are also characterised by relentless positivism and happiness delusions as we strive to create a perpetual mono-emotional state, such that we can never be truly sated.
Of course, there are a number of reasons for this. It is in our natures to err towards optimism. Hope is quite possibly the most powerful drug we have ever injected into our cerebellums and many of us have an addiction so acute that we will sacrifice almost everything to satisfy it.
One of the problems with our overindulgence in the positivity and hope fantasies touted by much of the self-help school is that they inform so many of our strategies in business, and in life for that matter. Added to this is the fact that they’re not especially helpful if we want to achieve actual results.
Now we’re certainly not suggesting that optimism underscored with effort is a bad thing — quite the contrary. What we’re talking about is the baseless optimism that dominates so much of our social commentary and leaves us impotent in the face of reality. More importantly, we’re asserting that one of the consequences of this kind of optimism is that we court failure by not accounting for it.
Sure they’re entertaining and they temporarily make us feel good (selfhelp’s comparison with rock concerts is well earned: you leave on a high, buy the merchandise and a month later it’s all gathering dust). But the motivation industry’s almost religious status has convinced many of us to abandon our own cognitive processes and ‘follow our bliss’: trust the universe and invest in a cork-board! (It’s important to note at this point that there is a huge distinction between affirmations and mental rehearsal.)
We act as if we are generous, bold and intelligent all the time, and as a result we adopt hope as a strategy. We shun criticism as pessimism and at the first sign of negativity, we put our fingers in our ears and chant, ‘I’m not listening, I’m not listening’. Or else, we double down on a positivity bender and cavort like an evangelical congregation reciting cheery affirmations laced with doubt and desperation: ‘I am rich, thin and successful … I am a preciously unique snowflake filled with abundance’, and the like.
Consequently, great ideas, extraordinary teams, powerful organisations and some exceptionally gifted and talented individuals often fail. This is principally because they haven’t even considered the possibility of failure, let alone designed an environment or processes that help them thrive in spite of it. Worse, they come to blame themselves and process failure as a character trait rather than as simply another result, however undesired it may be. For instance, if we were to suggest to you that you volunteer to be the test subject for a never before tested parachute design that we were really positive and fist-pumpingly confident about, how readily would you give up the option of a reserve chute? The question is almost ridiculous, and yet this formula is repeated in offices, homes, schools and fitness centres around the planet every day. In fact, rather than being the exception, it has become the strategic norm. We have designed our world in such a way that only perfect execution can succeed … and just in case you haven’t taken a good look around recently, perfection is pretty rare.
The truth is, we set ourselves up for failure Children in modern life are, rather notoriously, never allowed to experience anything remotely like failure (heaven forbid they miss out on a ‘pass the parcel’ prize). As a result, failure hits them hard when real life refuses to grade them on a curve suspended over a padded floor with a loving acceptance of ‘their own special spelling’. Of course it’s easy to pick on children and no-one will thank us for it, so let’s turn our attention to the adult world. The same can be said of most corporate and government processes, business systems and selfmanagement programs. The more you set strategy or design systems without a consciousness of even the possibility of failure, the greater the chance of realising that failure actually is. Diets — or ‘wellness programs’ as they have come to be euphemised — are famous for simultaneously promising the virtually impossible in record time, and for almost universally failing to provide lasting results. And yet, the more preposterous the claim and the more inflated the possibility, the more these books, powders, audio-programs and reality television shows seem to sell. What’s more concerning is that when we do eventually fail or backslide (the faith-based terminology is not coincidental), we end up blaming ourselves rather than the system we’ve bought into. We desperately selfflagellate as our internal dialogue runs to phrases such as, ‘I’m weak … I’m hopeless … I can’t do it …’ and so the cycle continues. By ignoring the possibility of failure in our thinking, we unwittingly increase the chances of it ultimately eventuating. Contrast this strategy with the design
parameters of commercial aircraft. In 2012, while speaking at an international business summit in Bangkok, Thailand, we struck up a conversation with another speaker, Richard de Crespigny. Richard is the Qantas pilot who successfully landed QF32, the Airbus A380 that, en route from Singapore to Sydney, experienced catastrophic engine failure causing an enormous hole in the wing (which, it is pretty well agreed by all flying experts, is rather a bad thing to happen!). In a typically Australian, self-deprecating way, Richard is quick to deflect credit for the safe arrival away from his skills as a pilot and onto his crew and his aircraft. But when you probe a little deeper into his story, you really do get a sense of just how ‘foolproof’ the systems built into the A380 actually are. It turns out that all commercial aircraft are designed with the possibility that they may crash taken into consideration. And this stretches to considerably more than the life vest and its amazing light and whistle combination (which no doubt is immensely reassuring as you bob up and down in the middle of a vast ocean). Failure, it turns out, is actually factored into the engineering. In other words, when a system suffers a serious failure, the plane will, in most cases, stay in the air. It is only in the very unlikely event of multiple system failures of significant magnitude that you may really want to locate the nearest exit (if only to be sure of where holes in the plane are supposed to be). But even this understates the over-engineering involved in the building of the A380 (given the successful landing of QF32, the term ‘over-engineering’ may be an overstatement in itself). According to de Crespigny’s account, the aircraft exceeded even his expectations and what most pilots would consider its baseline specifications. The plane simply refused to let a ridiculously long string of errors lead to complete failure. So it appears that, when it comes to things where our lives are at stake (such as sitting in a metal chair at 9000 metres while travelling at 800 kilometres per hour) we start to get a little more realistic about our chances of success and in fact we improve those chances by preparing for the chance of failure. So how is it that we set ourselves up for failure?
Discipline is hard work As the sun rises on a crisp 1 January morning, those living in the Northern Hemisphere breathe out visible air in the cold as they step into a fresh new world rich with possibilities. Meanwhile those in the Southern Hemisphere, many of whom are already halfway through the new day, bury their toes in the sand on sun-drenched beaches clutching Moleskines and pens with pages optimistically titled ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. We may have partied hard over the holiday break but now it is time to get a grip on our lives — to make some ‘positive’ changes, rein in excesses and do a little exercise, maybe learn a language, be kinder to our livers and perhaps get back to playing the piano. This is the kind of interior dialogue we all engage in as we usher in a new year (those in Asia no doubt think this is a ridiculous practice best left until the ‘real’ new year a few weeks later). And what better way to embrace these possibilities than to apply a little healthy discipline. After all, surely that’s a good thing. It shows we’re willing to take responsibility for our lives and not passively allow life to simply dictate terms to us. So we swear off alcohol, join a gym, go out and buy some appropriately stretchy fitness attire, throw out every can of soft drink and refill the refrigerator’s crisper tray with loads of fresh vegetables (where they will, of course, rot as they have all previous Januaries). By February, we’re berating ourselves, ‘Why am I so undisciplined? Why can I not stick to anything? What is wrong with me?’ The answer is, ‘Nothing is wrong with
you’, unless of course you consider being exquisitely human ‘wrong’. Yet, much of our culture, certainly the ‘self-improvement’ industry, asserts that what we are lacking is discipline. They inform us that our attitudes need a tune up, that it’s all about our states of mind and that we should push ourselves to higher levels of self-control. This, of course, is mostly nonsense. Many of those who espouse this herculean discipline, be they personal trainers, life coaches or ‘self-actualising consultants’, are just as undisciplined in other areas of their own lives. Consider the typical Boot Camp– owning physical trainers who scream at their clients as they torture them in public parks but are incapable of picking their children up from school on time or organising their receipts come tax time. It makes you wonder how they would respond to a rather feeble looking accountant standing over them and screaming, ‘You’re worthless and weak … look at your expense reports … you disgust me!’ Discipline, it seems, owes rather more to the hierarchy of our own personal values and internal filters than it does to any self-imposed directions running to the contrary. But does that mean we should all surrender to failure and simply give up? Well, yes and no. There are certainly some things we should give up, such as strategies that don’t actually work (more on that later). But it would be wrong to see this as surrender. What it does indicate is that being successful in any sphere of life clearly comes down to quite a lot more than discipline, not in the least part because we don’t actually behave as predictably and rationally as we think we do.
subsequent questions of ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ This echoes the earlier work of Friedrich Nietzsche and of Viktor Frankl, who, in Man’s Search for Meaning, asserts that one can achieve any ‘what’ if the ‘why’ is large enough. All make a compelling case for the importance of developing and buying into a clear and inspiring ‘Why?’ This has certainly been a significant part of our leadership strategy during our combined 50 years in the commercial world and it is abundantly apparent in other people whose leadership we most admire. However, as anyone who has ever been on a diet can attest, ‘why’ is often temporary. Initially the ‘why’ — be it a high-school reunion three months hence, or a wedding, or a hot date — will inspire enormous amounts of action and even results. But, inevitably, time goes by and the ‘why’ fades. All of a sudden, we find ourselves back on the sofa in our sweatpants, watching Oprah and eating chicken out of a bucket!
In the 1600s, French mathematician, inventor and philosopher Blaise Pascal famously suggested in his dissertation on ‘decision theory’ that human behaviour was the result of an individual looking at all of their available options, weighing up the pros and cons and then making the most logical decision possible. Of course, this was in the 1600s and there was very little reality television around to dissuade him from his idealism. More recently, scholars of the behavioural sciences, such as Daniel Goleman in his ‘Emotional Intelligence’ series, have suggested that we are far more driven by emotions than simple logic and that by developing our Emotional Quotient (EQ), we may better understand what drives human behaviour and belief systems. This certainly seems to be the case. Everything we do is to some extent filtered through how our actions will make us feel. Of course, we still post-rationalise our emotional decisions. There are plenty of men in their fifties driving around in sports cars who can tell you all about aerodynamics, German engineering and their marque’s racing heritage … but all they are really interested in is attracting women half their age. Alarmingly, behavioural studies carried out in Las Vegas indicate that this may often be a successful strategy (good news for the ageing gent in a Porsche or Ferrari then). Hot on the heels of Goleman’s research is the work by Simon Sinek, who tries to narrow down our emotional focus to dealing with a single question — ‘Why?’ — a question that he rather neatly dovetails into the
Why? Good question. It turns out that, like discipline, an inspiring ‘why’ can be difficult to maintain over the long haul. A lot of this is driven by our sense of Identity Congruence, our innate need to behave in a way that aligns with our sense of self. If the ‘why’ or the program of discipline conflicts with who we think we are at our core, it is highly unlikely to be sustainable. However, it is also a function of the environment and systems we create around ourselves. Discipline is a lot easier to maintain in an environment that supports it. Abstinence is relatively easy when you’re an overweight, bombastic senator with nothing on offer (versus being a charismatic President such as Bill Clinton). Eating fresh food is simple in the absence of fast-food options in your local area and workers without families in remote locations are more likely to be willing to put in a little overtime than those surrounded by other priorities. (Why wouldn’t they be?) People working in business-to-business sales often pride themselves on the rationality of both themselves and the customers they serve. In fact, many scoff at anything other than an order-taking approach to engaging their customers: ‘They’re not interested in soft sell, they want what they want. It’s a necessity’. While we hold an almost fetish-like fondness for office equipment, it does seem a bit of an overclaim to call it a necessity.
So what is it that drives these ‘rationalists’ of the corporate procurement world? When you dig a little deeper and ask them some provocative questions, the process of buying business-to-business products reveals itself to be anything but the straightforward, rational process that its participants claim it is. Do they buy the best product? No? Then perhaps they are not driven by a rational need for quality. Do they buy the cheapest product? No? So it seems they’re not driven by a rational need for economy either. The truth is, if they are lazy, they buy what they have always bought; if they are fearful, they buy the best known brand (remember, ‘no-one ever got fired for buying IBM’); if they are the typically disengaged middle manager, they don’t change things until someone higher up the chain complains. Of course, the list of causes goes
on and on, but very few lead to the world of rational decisions that Pascal promised. These compromised decisions even follow us into our personal lives.
Beliefs are hard to shift
beliefs prove to be the cockroaches of the mental world — impervious to even nuclear attack!
So, if discipline is hard to maintain and our rational minds are little help, perhaps we can enlist the help of belief systems. Of course, this is easier said than done. Yet this methodology — the shifting of belief systems — has come to dominate in the spheres of leadership, psychology, marketing, sales and performance coaching. We talk about changing our beliefs in such a casual way that it makes us seem ignorant of just how powerful these beliefs actually are. Many of our beliefs have proved stubbornly hard to move in even the slightest terms over the past few millennia and have in fact led to wars, murder, family breakdowns and even suicides. Nevertheless, it seems to be a logical place to start. One of the main problems with most campaigns around behavioural change, be they commercial, government or personal, is that we do tend to focus only on shifting beliefs. We employ communications campaigns, advertising, keynote speakers, audio programs and the like. However, try as we may to bludgeon our beliefs into submission with affirmations, rational platitudes and emotional blackmail, the
A restaurateur once shared with us that if you have an oversupply of a particular wine, you should present it on your menu as the second least expensive option, something they referred to as the ‘first-date’ wine. The paying partner’s ‘logic’, they claim, runs along these lines: things may not go well, so they don’t want to waste money on the really good stuff, but of course, looking cheap may decrease the chances of things going anywhere at all. So they assiduously avoid the cheap plonk and opt for the second most expensive option (‘A very good choice if I may say so, Sir’).
Almost every one of us can name at least one thing in our lives that we believe down to our toes is bad for us, self-destructive, unhealthy or emotionally heart wrenching. We know we should stop doing it and yet, despite all our affirmations — sticky notes stuck to the refrigerator, extra coaching sessions and seemingly rigorous strategies to counter this behaviour — we continue to do it. Part of the reason for this is that our beliefs are very much attached to our conception of ourselves. For example, followers of the various religions do not typically say, ‘I believe in the teachings of the Bible’ (or the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita the Dhammapada)’. They are far more likely to say, ‘I’m a Christian’ (or a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist). For people who are of Jewish ethnicity and Jewish religious belief this is no doubt even more selfdefining. What this means is, changing what you believe is not as simple as … well … changing your mind. It actually involves changing your conception of who you think you are.
So what are beliefs in essence? It is helpful to think of beliefs as simply meanings we’ve attached to the events that occur in life, either through personal experience or adoption through cultural context. Over time, and in accordance with our brain’s desire to streamline our very complicated decision-making processes, this distinction tends to get lost and the meanings we’ve attached to one occurrence start to become more concrete, universal and non-negotiable. At this point our brains behave very much like The Filter Bubble, which Eli Pariser describes in his excellent book of the same name. We selectively filter the information we seek and then absorb to reinforce these newly entrenched beliefs and simultaneously filter out anything that may challenge them. This is part of the reason why true diversity is so important in teams. Ethnic, gender and cognitive diversity actually make a group or team collectively smarter. They allow for points of view that would otherwise be missed in a more homogenous group due to contextual blindness. What this all means is that our beliefs are far more powerful than we give them credit for. But what is more disturbing is that we tend to view our own internal persuasive powers as more than up to the challenge of changing them.
Our brains are over-confident Confidence is drummed into those of us who have worked in the corporate world. It is seen as one of the defining characteristics of a leader and its absence is seen as a life sentence of working in middlemeh! So much so, that employees are often rewarded for talking themselves, and their capabilities, up while quietly intelligent souls who come at the world with a dose of wariness and caution are not so quietly sidelined and told, ‘Stop being such a downer’. Of course, there’s nothing innately wrong with a healthy sense of confidence or in being engagingly extrovert. In fact, it can be very useful as long as it is supported by a measure of complementary competence. The reasons why over-confidence evolved in our collective psyche are not completely understood, although perhaps having a bit of swagger and being skilled in the persuasive arts was as important to reproduction in our prehistoric years as it appears to be today. However, the problems with over-confidence are twofold. Many of us don’t know where confidence ends and over-confidence begins, but more concerning
are the small over-confidences we use in our everyday decision-making — the things we don’t even process as overly confident. The educated guesses we make, the assumptions we use based on past experience and the little generalisations we cumulatively filter the world through have the capacity to create enormous problems. Part of this is socialised into us in schools. Whenever a student asks a teacher how to spell a word or what the capital of a particular state is and the teacher replies, ‘What do you think?’ or ‘Try to answer it yourself’, they are unconsciously increasing the chances of guesswork becoming a lifelong strategy. In fact, when we conduct over-confidence tests in the field, asking random passers-by in the street a series of questions they think they should know the answer to — such as, ‘How many countries are there in Europe?’ — or asking them to point in the direction they think is north, people are far more likely to take a guess than to simply admit, ‘I don’t know’.
Of course, teachers are not to blame for this; taking chances based on limited information is necessary for human beings to just get through a typical day. This is partly because we don’t want to appear ignorant and lose social standing, but also because we create mental shortcuts out of a need for efficiency and rarely have all the information we would like before making a decision. For example, even though we know there is a slim chance a driver may not see the red light as they approach an intersection, most of us still step boldly onto the street when that little green figure appears on the other side of the road without a moment’s hesitation. The ‘confidence’ we exhibit in other people’s social conformity, however, can get us into rather a lot of trouble.
Just how much of an issue our over-confidence can be is explored in detail in the book Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and SelfDoubt. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London, writes that lower confidence is in fact necessary for gaining competence, which obviously sits at the base of genuine confidence. In other words, overconfidence gets in the way of us being curious, asking questions and developing our skills such that real confidence is justified. But the issue is larger than that. When you consider that, statistically, for any endeavour humanity has turned its hand to, half the people involved possessed a less-than-average competency, you begin to understand just what the scale of the over-confidence problem may be. The dilemma really lies in what over-confidence robs us of. Of course leaders must convey some sense of certainty in order to engage their team to at least attempt to prove a hypothesis right or wrong. It also makes sense that they have a reasonable amount of confidence that their hypothesis is probably correct. However, over-confidence stops us looking too closely
at blind spots and possible errors. It has us ‘hope for the best’ and ‘keep calm and carry on’ rather than dealing with issues that may completely derail our objectives, regardless of our confidence levels.
Laboratory conditions don’t exist Even when we don’t rely on our own prejudices, belief systems and confidence levels and instead do some research into what may be the best course of action, we can still come undone by the environment we choose to test in. Entire industries exist to help mitigate the mistakes we may make in our endeavours. Researchers, social scientists and strategists of all sorts test hypotheses, conduct double blind experiments and enlist carefully selected polling of ‘typical’ subjects, producing reams of data … even big data (the corporate world’s new security blanket). And yet, failure is everywhere. We have often been wary of the true intentions of much research and testing, suggesting (perhaps unfairly) that this work is largely used as ‘screw-up insurance’ — in other words, research conducted not to inform, but as a defence should things go horribly awry. An employee or consultant can hardly be held responsible for failure if the research suggested success was a more likely outcome. However, even when the aspirations and the participants involved in the research are noble and rigorous, errors still persist. Part of the reason for this is the choice of environment in which research is conducted and the margins for error agreed upon. So much of the research people do isn’t conducted in the real world and the artificiality of the environments we create can’t help but skew the results. For example, if you ask someone about their political ideals in a polling questionnaire, they are likely to want to appear more caring, more intelligent and more interested than they may actually be. As a result, a lot of research suffers from much of the same over-confidence in its results as our own best estimates. To be fair, big data has started to go a long way to improving this process, given its real-world sourcing, although, like all data, big data is only as powerful as its interpretation and application. Another possible solution lies in a more scientific rather than corporate view of research; that is, research that’s designed to generate information, not conclusions. In other words, rather than looking only to prove a hypothesis, we should also use research as a way of identifying the threats to our hypotheses and the conditions under which this proof may come undone. So instead of focusing on an outcome, we should be focused on generating outcomes.
We over-focus on results Exacerbating the problem are our goal-fixated cultures. Again, this is a hanger-on from the world of personal development. For years self-help gurus and business consultants have whipped us into a frenzy with goalsetting exercises and experiences that are analogous to facing our fear — such as walking on hot coals or performing a ‘trust fall’ — all while they drum into us a mantra of a no-excuses results obsession. Given the fervour with which the corporate world has embraced this kind of thinking, you’d expect organisations around the planet to be ridiculously over-achieving and ticking off milestones and goals like crazy. But that’s not what’s happening. In fact, the gap between our goals and our achievement of those goals is glaring. In 2011, researchers at US management consulting firm Bain & Company found that among the organisations they surveyed, a mere 20 per cent achieve their annual goals and expectations. Once again, as we’ve seen in our personal lives, this is often interpreted as the failure of the individuals involved while our systems and the process of goal setting itself remain unquestioned. At sales conferences around the world, inspirational speakers with big teeth and a disturbingly psychotic amount of enthusiasm pump up salespeople, telling them to focus on results with pithy maxims such as, ‘Don’t make excuses, make results’. The same empty platitudes are often applied in every sphere of life. To experience this phenomenon for yourself, simply hire a personal trainer or a life coach. One of the favourite anecdotes of the goal-setting fraternity is the 1953 Yale goal study. The story has it that 1953’s graduating class at Yale was surveyed to see who had written goals and who had not. It transpired that only 3 per cent of students had written down goals. Years later, when the class was contacted again to check on their progress since leaving college, it was revealed that the 3 per cent with written goals had eclipsed the personal wealth of the other 97 per cent put together. What makes this story interesting is just how powerful stories are in building corporate cultures and strategy, but mostly what makes it interesting is that it is completely made up. Yale has repeatedly denied any knowledge of this survey in 1953 or in any other graduating year. Yet this story has been repeated so many times by so many different sources that it has fallen into the category of belief. As a result, goal setting remains the holy grail of corporate and personal strategy, but more than that, it is often the only strategy employed, which is not to say that goal setting isn’t useful or that it doesn’t lead to success. In fact, we annually set goals for our organisation and staff and use benchmarks of
accomplishment to monitor our progress. The issue occurs when it is seen as a single-bullet strategy. Buddhists refer to this results obsession as ‘attachment’ and they frame attachment as one of the roots of disharmony. We prefer to see it more as one strategic strand of many that are available. In other words, a clear goal or result is useful, but it may become a limitation as better options and information become available. A great example of this is the Indian story of how to catch a monkey. It is said that in order to catch a monkey you have to stake a coconut filled with peanuts to the ground. The coconut must have an opening in it just small enough for a monkey to slip its hand into, so that when it reaches inside, grabs the peanuts and forms a fist, its hand becomes too large to come back out again. The monkey becomes so fixated by the goal that its hand becomes stuck and therefore it is trapped. (The story doesn’t explain why you’d want to catch a monkey; we’ll leave it to you to add your own editorial flavour.) What’s interesting about this story is that it’s a metaphor for how modern goal obsession has affected some of the actual results we’ve achieved. Poor work– life balance, chronic health issues, family breakups, environmental disasters and artificially stimulated truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel are all examples of goals getting in the way of success. In reality, we actually have very little control over results in our lives. The drunk driver who fails to yield as we approach an intersection, the earthquake that claims our home and even the client who fires us because their marriage is on the rocks and they feel a need to assert power in at least one aspect of their lives: all of these examples, despite the self-help industry’s protestations to the contrary, lie beyond our control. However, what we can control — and this is where we should look for control — is our behaviour and our environment.
Failure is an error in design We tend to personalise failure when we experience it. For all the corporate world’s talk of failure being an essential ingredient to success, it is seldom greeted with the enthusiasm of a student learning a valuable lesson. The language is often reminiscent of the breakup speech, ‘It’s not you … it’s me!’ So instead we look to apportion blame, limit damage and, depending on the political environment we’re working in, find a scapegoat. That’s very much how we build our cultures inside organisations too. So, given that so much of what passes for strategy in the worlds of business and personal development is fraught with faux science, ineffective processes that fight against human nature and systems that set us up for failure, what do we do now? We would like to suggest that we need to change environments and systems, not
people. Rather than ignoring or denying our foibles, weaknesses and bad habits, we should instead be designing our systems with them in mind. If we assume that failure is simply part of the process (and we should), then rather than planning for the best-case scenario (those days when we are filled with willpower, charisma, clarity and courage) we should instead plan in such a way that we can be successful on days when we are just average, middle of the road or plain old run of the mill. In other words, we need to design for being selfish, scared and stupid.
Published by WILEY International, Selfish, Scared & Stupid is available now in paperback, RRP $25.95, from all good bookstores and online at www.selfishscaredandstupid.com