Monday, 21 August 2017

The simple solution to the sad and stupid dual citizenship debacle

Senator Nick Xenophon is the latest Australian politician to declare he didn't know he has dual citizenship. He's going with others to the High Court to see if his breaking of the rules can be overridden. Who is paying for all this? That's right you and me, the taxpayers!

The simple solution to all this is stop all the nonsense, do an audit on every politician, declare an amnesty, let them renounce their citizenship of other countries, and let's all move on.

Why is this common sense solution not happening? My answer is politicians major in minors in order to drive self-interest and therefore fail to see simple solutions to problems.

In despair with those who pretend to govern.
Above cartoon courtesy of this link

Friday, 18 August 2017

What are the alternatives to politics and politicians?

I don't have any clear answers to this question.

Brexit, Trump, and now the lack of common sense and humanity in Australia about dual citizenship and marriage equality have tipped me over the edge!

For me marriage equality is a no brainer. The push for what is now a postal opinion poll in Australia is I think the most pathetic excuse for indecision I have come across.

And in the dual citizenship drama we're seeing tasteless opportunism by the Opposition party and a complete lack of common sense by anyone when the answer is simple, people renounce what they didn't know about and everyone moves on. The thought of a hung parliament, by elections and high court challenges etc etc is simply beyond belief.

I'm up for conversation that would lead to action to change the status quo.

If like me you're frustrated, annoyed, saddened or in any way feel disenchanted with politics and politicians, please give me a call. My number is +61 418 807 898.

Who knows we may start a movement the ends the stupid, senseless, self-interest of party politics that results in mediocrity, mayhem and a mess in more ways than one that we would all like cleaned up.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What's the plan Malcolm? guest post by Mark Hodgson

This is a guest post by Mark Hodgson.

Demise of this great country

I love travelling. There’s no better way to create a new perspective. After three weeks overseas I’ve found myself reviewing my thoughts on Australia. I think we’ve lost the plot. As a strategist, mentor and consultant, I work with businesses and individuals to create a better future. We work to set a vision and a plan to achieve it. So what’s the plan for Australia? I don’t know. I can’t see it – and neither can many smart people I’ve asked. It seems we are in a rudderless ship of fools. That’s a problem.

Leadership gone missing

English Kings are given nicknames encapsulating their best-known attributes. Ethelred the Unready, Edward the Confessor, Alfred the Great. The last decade has seen a run of appalling Australian leaders. Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Abbot and now Turnbull. I think he’ll go down as Malcolm the Disappointing. Apparently a brilliant man, he has his head in the sand and up his arse at the same time! Whilst anatomically impressive, it’s depressing. He is the latest in a parade of ‘leaders’ who can’t or won’t lead.

Under the watch of this lot (from both political persuasions remember), the national debt has increased from $50 billion in 2007 to $550 billion today. Oh and we had a resources boom – the proceeds of which appear to have been pissed up against the wall of vanity and vote-buying.

From my home office I run a business. I win and serve clients from all over the planet. Clever, affordable and time-saving tech makes me probably ten times more effective than a decade ago. Applying the same principle, the size of government will have correspondingly reduced right? Wrong. With a few exceptions, both state and federal government are the same size or larger than ten years ago. Why?

Small thinking the norm

That’s no way to run a railroad. Talking of which, NSW Government has just admitted that it’s poster child light rail project will not be compatible with other similar light railways in Sydney. You see no standard format has been agreed. Yes, that’s right. The Victorians nutted out this stuff 150 years ago, but it’s a bridge too far for the myriad and well-paid executives of Transport NSW (none of whom appear to be losing their jobs for gross incompetency).

This is one of a million examples of small, parochial thinking. Disappointing Malcolm signed off on building Australia’s next generation diesel electric submarine fleet in South Australia in the knowledge they would be 30% more expensive. That’s a waste of $15 billion. Obscene doesn’t begin to describe it. Not to mention that we really need nuclear submarines given the vastness of our ocean territory.

Don’t mention the war

Nuclear is one of the many conversations we can’t even begin to have. Whether it’s nuclear submarines, nuclear energy (for which Australia has a persuasive business case – stable continent, uranium deposits, electricity crisis, low-emissions commitment) or nuclear storage as a new industry for financial basket case South Australia (ditto), it’s considered political hara kiri to even talk about it.

I am not claiming that these things are easy or necessarily right. But as a mature, clever economy, surely we are smart enough to be able to discuss possibilities in the quest for the best way forward. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,

“the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Not only is our ‘first-rate intelligence’ out to lunch, our right to vigorous debate and the free speech has gone backwards. I for one am appalled that my tax dollars have supported the $400k salary for Professor Gillian Triggs. You can’t make this stuff up. What is more worrying is the meekness with which we appear to have accepted the new status quo of public debt, piss-poor performance and what’s-in-it-for me mindset.

Politics of Envy

Complex problems are cast in the binary tones of pantomime. It’s the fault of ‘the rich’ or ‘unions’, ‘the big-end-of-town’ or ‘welfare bludgers’. We can’t discuss budget correction because our leaders are too scared. No one can be a ‘loser’. My maths aren’t perfect, but I am pretty sure that you can’t take more and/or give less without someone being worse off. We need to have that conversation as mature citizens. As a country we’re acting like a student with their first credit card. As long as we can pay off the monthly minimum life’s sweet.

We urgently need reform to create the 21st century platform for a 21st century country. Instead we cling on to anachronistic institutions and thinking. The Senate is madness. In what universe does it make sense that Tasmania (population 515,000) has the same voting representation as neighbouring Victoria (population 5,700,000)? State governments were the product of a Victorian era Federation in the age of the horse. Do we need them in our hyper-connected digital age?

Time to have a go

You can poke holes in my arguments and disagree of course. This is not a uniquely Australian malaise. Many other economies are on similar trajectories and equally poorly-led. How Theresa May missed the open goal that is Jeremy Corbin in the recent UK snap election is mind-boggling. They are stuffing up Brexit and there’s Trump of course.

But this is Australia. We have an extraordinary range of unique advantages. Debt is still relatively low and – with sensible policy decisions – can be reversed. We can control our borders. We are on the doorstep of the fastest-growing economic region in what we are promised is the ‘Asian century’. We have vast natural resources. Most importantly, we are home to many brilliant minds and organisations – both large and small. I work with some of them and am inspired and optimistic about what is possible by harnessing their energy, passion and creativity.

Your job Malcolm is to harness this potential. Becoming Prime Minister is not the prize. Doing something meaningful when you get there is. You are a smart man. Go out swinging! Move me with a plan, not just a robotic “jobs and growth” mantra. Be remembered as someone who had a red hot go. You’ll gain respect and – who knows – you just might rekindle in enough of us the idea that society is more about what we give than what we get.

John F. Kennedy challenged his countryman to,

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

That’s an excellent starting point.

I’m in.

Are you?

About Mark here.

PS When I first read this post on Mark's blog and in emailing him to get his permission to post here I commented - "The real challenge I think is the political system. It means the tail wags the dog and mediocrity is the usual result."

Your thoughts?

Who will you become? 

What will you do next?

Monday, 14 August 2017

Leaving Your Legacy While You're Alive

We all want to leave a legacy. And particularly while we're alive!

Stephen R. Covey says this is one of four basic human needs and motivations of all people. More from Stephen shortly.

I've been reflecting a lot on legacy lately as I enter what may turn out to be the swansong period of my business life.

Initially my reflections were focused on Zig Ziglar's famous insight

This led me to zeroing in on what my clients value the most, which in turn led me to the design of my possible swansong work which I explore here.

Being willing and able to fully appreciate and get the best out of themselves and other people tops the list for my clients.

Stephen R. Covey's book, The 8th Habit From Effectiveness to Greatness, and my favourite of his works, sheds wonderful light on this subject.

The 8th Habit is Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs. Covey defines voice as "unique personal significance" which he illustrates in Figure 1.2 in the book as pictured below.

He defines the elements of above as follows:
Talent (your natural gifts and strengths)
Passion (those things that naturally energise, excite, motivate and inspire you)
Need (including what the world needs enough to pay you for)
Conscience (that still, small voice voice within that assures you of what is right and that prompts you to actually do it)

I've been privileged in my own best way to help many people to find their unique personal significance (voice) over the 45 years of my working life so far.

While rereading Covey I googled voice and came across this great article 'Develop Your Voice, Not Your Brand' by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Here's some of the article:

The idea of developing your personal brand is a bad one, according to Sandberg. “People aren’t brands,” she says. “That’s what products need. They need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely. People aren’t like that.”

“Who am I?” asks Sandberg. “I am the COO of Facebook, a company I deeply believe in. I’m an author. I’m a mom. I’m a widow. At some level, I’m still deeply heartbroken. I am a friend and I am a sister. I am a lot of very messy, complicated things. I don’t have a brand, but I have a voice.”

Focus on developing your voice, she says. Figuring out what’s important to you and being willing to use your voice for that purpose is incredibly valuable. “If you are doing it to develop your personal brand, it’s empty and self-serving and not about what you’re talking about,” she says. “If you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the world, that’s where it will have value and depth and integrity.”

So leaving your legacy while you're alive has much to do with Stephen R. Covey's 8th Habit: Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs. 

Who will you become? What will you do next?

If you'd like some help please give me a shout.

Be remarkable.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Is the art of conversation dying in the Digital Age? guest post by Andrew Thorp

This is a guest post from my friend and colleague in the UK Andrew Thorp.

Recently in Manchester’s Northern Quarter I’ve been giving a series of talks organised and promoted through a platform called Funzing. It’s a great concept that seems to be inspired by TED talks – speakers delivering all manner of topics to engage and inform an audience, all for a modest ticket price of £10-12.

Having already spoken on 3 occasions on the topic of “What makes you YOU?” (what it means to tell your story), I wanted to explore a fresh theme and last week we ventured into a current and somewhat controversial subject - social media and its impact on our communication habits.

You might think it’s an exaggeration to claim that the art of (face-to-face) conversation is dying, but the image of people seated around a dinner table each staring at their smartphones has become commonplace in recent years – and it worries me. 

So, I thought it would be interesting to address a group of people (last week’s audience were predominantly 20-30 years of age) and canvas their opinion. To my surprise, these digital natives were almost unanimous in their concern about the way that social media and online communication has come to dominate the lives of their friends, colleagues and even themselves.

Image credit Johnny Magrippis Creative Commons

My main interest was how the ‘digital habit’ is impacting our ability to communicate effectively in face-to-face situations and I’ve been fascinated recently by the findings of academic and author Sherry Turkle. A professor at MIT in America and a psychologist/sociologist by trade, Turkle has long championed the opportunities created by digital technology, but over the years she’s become increasingly concerned that we’ve got things out of balance.

This isn’t just a gut feeling on her part; it’s supported by hundreds of interviews carried out with colleagues, students, business owners and others, all of whom have strong views when it comes to the way we communicate.

Here are some of the issues she highlights in her book Reclaiming Conversation; the Power of Talk in a Digital Age, many of which we explored last week:

Face-to-face conversations are just too scary!

The prospect of having an actual conversation leaves some people cold. They worry about the loss of control and the need to reply in the moment without the time to formulate their response, edit and deliver it when they’re ready.

The loss of empathy

Turkle interviewed many teachers who were concerned that school kids were not able to empathise with others, to properly understand how a text message or Facebook post might affect someone’s feelings. They spoke of a 'de-sensitising' effect on the kids. It’s all done at a distance; you don’t need to look people in the eye when you ‘unfriend’ them or say something unkind.

The need to be ‘on call’

Many of Turkle’s interviewees spoke of a sense of responsibility to their online network, a feeling of needing to be constantly ‘on call’, just in case someone wanted to contact them. In a sense these are conversations, but I share her concern that this need to be available leaves no time for quiet solitude, of simply being alone with one’s thoughts.

Conversations about what’s on your smartphone

Watch a group of young people around a table and invariably they’ll be sharing images and videos with each other and reacting to them. In other words, conversations are often about what’s on their smartphones. On the face of it that’s fairly innocuous – I’ve done it myself with my kids – but I wonder if there’s a danger that we’ll lose the ability to converse and tell stories when there’s a digital pre-recorded version to hand which saves us the bother.

The need to record and share

I recall hearing an interview with a man who organised hot air balloon trips over the Serengeti. He expressed sadness that his customers wanted to record the trip on a digital device instead of experiencing it through their natural senses. One has to question the motivation for recording and sharing such footage. Like a wedding, it’s understandable to want to record a special moment for posterity. But do we simply want to feel good about the likes and shares we get by posting it on social media? Is this the way we measure our self-worth?

Sourcing help

There was a fascinating passage in Turkle’s book about a couple of young women, quite close friends, who had an interesting interaction. One received an upsetting text from her boyfriend (a kind of ‘remote breakup’) and her friend tried to console her as they chatted over a drink. But within 5 minutes the injured party was texting her other friends (who were not present) and responding to their reactions, ignoring the friend who was physically next to her. I think it’s regrettable that she was prioritising her wider "consolation network" over the friend who was present and willing to provide her with face-to-face support. Perhaps when there are all those other people ‘out there’ we worry what we’re missing if we focus on one person.

I’m a huge fan of social media and the opportunity it affords us to voice our opinion and build influence. But I am worried that it’s squeezing out those precious moments when we breathe the same air and learn how to find a connection. 

An interpersonal skill is like a muscle – if we don’t keep using it there’s a danger it will shrivel up and become ineffective. Face-to-face conversations (like the ones recorded for Radio 4’s The Listening Project) are moments to be cherished. They help us develop critical skills like the ability to:


Give feedback sensitively

Tell stories

Explain concepts

Read people


Build relationships

Pause and reflect

I love this quote by actor Stephen Fry:

Conversation is the improvised jazz of the English language 

The beauty of a conversation is not knowing where it will go and having to improvise on the spot. Even actors who memorise a script will point out that acting is actually about reacting – not just to the words they hear but to micro expressions, tone, body language, energy, etc. Live, interpersonal conversations help us develop these skills; they’re immensely important in interviews, presentations and other influencing situations. They build confidence and help us navigate our way through life.

Let’s occasionally put down our smartphones, engage someone in dialogue and stay very much in the moment. It’s worth it.

Andrew Thorp is a coach, trainer and consultant in the field of business communication. He works with companies both large and small, through the School of Mojo and on bespoke projects. His mission is to help leaders become more confident and persuasive speakers and to humanise and 'storify' business communication.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Let others do. Leaders focus on who

I believe Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) got it absolutely right.

And yet the focus in most workplaces is on doing.

Do follows who.

All the time I witness employees asking managers what should they do? and managers telling them!

Let others do. Leaders focus on who.

When asked what should I do? The wise respond: What are your feelings and thoughts?

‘The way we do things around here’ has long been the catch cry to describe culture.

From 26 years working at the coalface my conclusion is that do is at best a third of the equation with who and why the far more powerful two thirds, because they dictate the doing. 

If you want your culture to get better, start with who.

You no doubt know about ‘Start With Why’. I love the philosophy too. It’s author Simon Sinek got it absolutely right when he said “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

More on who and why here.

I think why comes from who which is why is I suggest start with who.

A modern day Aristotle Jim Cathcart captures this well:

Focus your leadership on inspiring and influencing your people to be the best version of themselves, that remarkable one-of-a-kind human being that each of us is. All do follows why and why follows who.

I keep the following chart visible to help keep myself focused. You may find it useful too.

Another action I take is visualising something about the character of the one-of-a-kind human being/s on the other end of the line/screen or sitting with me.

Who Before Do.

Who will you become? What will you do (no pun intended) next?

Be remarkable.

In my work with clients I always start bottom left of the process below.

Monday, 7 August 2017

The human insights missing from big data by Tricia Wang

We all need to pay attention to the key message of this TED talk. Nokia didn't and they paid a very heavy price.

If video doesn't load please go here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.