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.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Just in case you haven't yet ditched performance appraisals

The following is from my Changing What's Normal book published in June 2011. You can download a copy of the book with my compliments by scrolling down here.

Sparkenation 47.
Appraisals are dead;
just not buried yet


Whilst working in the United Kingdom in February 2008, I was surprised at the amount of media concerning performance appraisals. One article in particular, in the Sunday Times of 24th February, grabbed my attention with the sub headline reading “Managers need to be trained better in carrying out annual staff performance reviews …” The article went on to quote a recent survey by Investors in People which found that a third of employees think appraisals are a waste of time.

I have never been a fan of appraisals because I have rarely met an employee who enjoyed having one!

To leave a performance review for a year in the modern world is poor practice. Every 90 days is the norm for organisations which are changing what’s normal and where the key is the informal feedback exchange that occurs daily. This means that the formal review is about celebrating performance and agreeing on the performance plan for the next 90 days. 

In the past year, I have found that, because of the speed of change, a formal performance review every 30 days is also common. On the 8th of November 2010 I posed a question to my LinkedIn connections: “How often are employees you know having formal performance reviews?” More than 50% answered “annually”. Very few answered “quarterly” or better.

Changing what’s normal

One firm conclusion that I make after 20 years of helping my clients to develop and grow performance leadership and management systems that actually lead to performance improvement is that human beings do not want to be appraised; they want to be appreciated.

People also want to be held to account when their performance is less than it was planned that it would be.

To leave appreciation or being held to account for a year is an insult to humanity.

It is not training for managers in how to complete annual reviews that is needed. What is needed, and desperately in most quarters, is a complete rethink and redesign, and in some cases a complete relearning, about the essentials of effective performance leadership and management.

In my view, regardless of the system used, or the sophistication or otherwise of it, the essentials are:

✓ regular celebration of performance✓ personal and business performance plans that arealigned with the strategy and execution plan of the organisation
✓ daily appreciation of people
✓ holding people to account when appropriate or as the following technique illustrates helping people to hold themselves to account.

Possible actions:

All of us have aspirations, and the greatest way I know to achieve them is to have a performance plan created with performance partners which is aligned with something greater than ourselves, and for other people to appreciate us when we do well and to help us hold ourselves to account when we perform less than we desire.

The great leaders who are changing what’s normal, in my experience, are those who ask great questions. The poor leaders I witness are stuck in the status quo of giving answers.

I designed the ‘Double A Technique’ around asking great questions.

Effective use of the technique assumes employees buy into and own your strategy, particularly their piece of the execution plan, i.e. their personal and business performance plan.

The ‘Double A Technique’ can be downloaded in the vault that is a companion to the Changing What's Normal book which you can download by scrolling down here.

If you are an employee help your boss to ask great questions by asking them great questions yourself.

Do your work.

The Double A Technique

Ask: “How are things going?”
When you get a positive response:
Ask: “How does that make you feel?”
(be quiet and pay attention)
Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate.
Then ask: “Any other areas I can help you with?”
(be quiet and pay attention)

When you get a negative response
Ask: “What happened?” (be quiet and pay attention)
Then Ask: “What do you need to do to get back on track?”
(be quiet and pay attention)
Then Ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
(be quiet and pay attention)
Finally, Ask: “Anything else?”
(be quiet and pay attention)

You can use this technique any time you meet informally with anyone with whom you have goal congruence and their permission to be their performance partner.

In the video below I demonstrate the use of The Double A Technique.

Here's a direct link to the video if it's not loading for you.

Many of the world's most well known and respected organisations have recently upgraded their performance review system. Here are a few examples:




General Electric


There is a very interesting time line in a Harvard Business Review article titled 'The Performance Management Revolution' which you can read here.

Part of the timeline above was the so-called 'War on Talent' which I totally disagree with. My thoughts are here.

Should you need any further convincing please read this short article by the folk at Impraise 'Annual Appraisals Are Dead: 5 Reasons Why.'

The present and future of performance reviews is covered in the following line from this article "Talk to your people. Don’t wait. Do it now, and never stop."

and then this HUMAN RESOURCES ISN’T ABOUT HUMANS by Karen Wickre.

Finally I love the following insight from Cynthia Maxwell in this article:

“This is not a performance evaluation. This is a performing evaluation. The question is: how I can get you more into your work, not get more work out of you?"

Is it your turn to upgrade how you review performance with your people and therefore improve well-being and performance?

Maybe it's time to review how you see people full stop!

Should you like some help please contact me on +61 418 807 898.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

My number of true fans is 28. What's your number?

I've carefully read and contemplated Kevin Kelly's 1000 True Fans article many times. It has been a key to every evolution of my professional practice for the past 8 years.

You can read '1000 True Fans' yourself here.

My true fans number has lessened as I narrow my focus and seek to be highly valuable to just a small number of people.

Currently I'm on a journey to have 28 true fans. At the time of writing I have 6.

All leaders want to leave a legacy particularly while we're alive!

Focusing on true fans is one way I leave my legacy while helping my true fans to leave their legacy.

Here's how it works for me

I'm building an inner circle of 12 people to be members of an in person master-mind group meeting monthly. I also provide a 1:1 mentoring session for each person each month. Currently I have 6 members. I started with 5. We collaborated to make it work and have just begun to attract more members. I am leveraging the original 5 to attract the remaining 7.

Each person above has lifetime individual membership of my Appreciative Leader Online Community.

Recently I added team and organisation membership options to the community. I'm currently contacting people I've identified as candidates to take up the 10 team and 6 organisation memberships on offer.

So 12 in my master-mind group and 16 team and organisation members of the community = 28 true fans.

Of course having true fans doesn't mean ignoring everyone else. We never know whose legacy might be enhanced through connecting with our work.

I love Kevin's idea of concentric circles. In my case I have 3 circles. The outer 2 lead to the inner 1.

In my second outer circle are a number of people who have individual community membership who may be interested in team or organisation membership.

Currently I am offering community membership for a limited time to those who take up my 1 hour, 1 day or over 1 month special services as some are likely to become true fans.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

PS A key operating philosophy of my own in all aspects of my life is Who Before Do. I love Simon Sinek's Start With Why yet I actually believe it's Start With Who. More about this here.

As far as I can tell there is nothing — no product, no idea, no desire — without a fan base on the internet. Every thing made, or thought of, can interest at least one person in a million — it’s a low bar. Yet if even only one out of million people were interested, that’s potentially 7,000 people on the planet. That means that any 1-in-a-million appeal can find 1,000 true fans. The trick is to practically find those fans, or more accurately, to have them find you.

Now here’s the thing; the big corporations, the intermediates, the commercial producers, are all under-equipped and ill suited to connect with these thousand true fans.

Kevin Kelly

Apply for membership of The Appreciative Leader Community from here.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Is it time to upgrade your human operating system?

Last week I introduced you to the guide and pulse check pictured above. If you don't yet have it please email me and I'll send it to you.

Often taking the actions in the guide follow a review that I conduct by spending a day with you in your business working on your business. Sometimes such a review becomes the catalyst for upgrading your human operating system which is how I sometimes name workplace culture.

Corporate anthropologist Michael Henderson got it absolutely right when he said "Culture is what it means to be human here"

If you have less than 90% of your employees bringing the best version of themselves to their work every day, you need to transform your culture. By doing so now you are ensuring your total readiness for the inevitable disruption that's coming to your business. And which usually arrives like a deadly virus and threatens your existence.

Maybe I can help you my conducting  a review. I'll provide you with key recommendations in each of the areas pictured below. To arrange this special day together please contact me on +61 418 807 898.
The above review tool and the special guide and pulse check referenced are keys to maximising value delivery capability in your workplace, which I have found to be the simplest yet most profound way to increase self esteem and business worth.

This insight inspired me to develop the following maximising value delivery capability process:

Be remarkable.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Appreciative Leader Community Stage Two

I'm sure you're familiar with the diffusion of innovations theory. 

The Appreciative Leader Community has now entered early majority territory!

This means I have now introduced team and organisation membership options as well as individual.

All the details are here.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Future of Training by Gihan Perera

This webinar by Gihan Perera is a great companion to the one he did on The Future of Conferences which you can view here.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

PS I highly recommend Gihan's book The Future of Leadership referenced in the webinar. You'll find the book here.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Maximising Your Value Delivery Capability

My greatest lesson from working with more than 1000 leaders, women and men, in over 40 countries since 1991 is that maximising value delivery capability is the simplest yet most profound way to naturally increase self esteem and business worth.

For this reason the one-thing I focus on in my work with you is maximising your value delivery capability.

My special guide and pulse check pictured is my gift to you. You don't have to subscribe or sign-up for anything simply email me requesting it.

Be remarkable.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Are visuals and conversation better value than tests and analysis?

When it comes to learning and helping each other to learn my answer to the questions is yes.

Below is an example I use in helping people to learn and reflect

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

3 is a great rule

Image courtesy of organisational

I'm sure you're familiar with many famous 3's. The theory is we can easily remember 3. And it works in practice! I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the 'Rule of Three' is pervasive everywhere in our society. Think stories, fairy tales and myths, and the lines from history that inspire us

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen”
“Blood, sweat and tears”
“The good, the bad and the ugly”

are just 3 of zillions of examples.

And of course we know that we humans can last 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.

I know in my business I speak, mentor, and provide online programs and resources that support both. I do other things. These 3 however are where my gifts (talents) lie and where I provide the most value to my clients.

Essential Threes for Remarkable Leadership, Management and Culture


Self-leadership: self-awareness, self-appreciation, self-expression.

Leading For Others: understanding, appreciating, influencing.

Leading For Leaders: assessing, deciding, executing.


Process: circular, proven, visible.

Policy, Procedure, Practice: simplicity, brevity, practicality.

Systems: reliable, interconnected, empowering.


Who Before Do: feeling valued, living values, delivering value.

We Before Me: shared-view, collaboration, solidarity.

What it means to be human here: happy, safe, meaningful.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A co-promise is always better than a compromise

It's obvious that many citizens of planet earth are disillusioned with traditional politics regardless of persuasion right?

Just think Brexit, Trump, Emmanuel Macron, and Theresa May's disastrous decision to go to the polls and lose the "unlosable" majority. The common denominator for me has been ego's; the trouble that always follows ego's that are out of control, and how change follows ego's not out of control (Macron in my view).

Interesting take on Trump by Henry Mintzberg here. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte bucked the trend and I suspect Angela Merkel will too. These two both appear to have their ego's in check.

I was pleasantly surprised with Oliver Stone's interviews with Vladimir Putin. Critics have been savage like this article for example. I have no way of verifying what Mr. Putin said. I did feel I was listening to someone who knew what he was talking about and that he was decent human being. I didn't detect an unhealthy ego.

You might be shocked with a Westerner saying nice things about Putin. All I can do is say what I feel. Your response is entirely up to you of course.

I heard refreshing things no Western leader has said in the Putin interviews. I have no way of verifying what Western leaders say either.

I do know that there's always more than one side to a story and a house divided against itself never achieves anything remarkable.

In my own country Australia I shake my head pretty much on a daily basis. If the press is even half right then missteps, mumblings, and mayhem reign. the resulting compromises politicians make means mediocrity is the normal result.

A common sense solution (what say you?)

Do whatever it takes to gain a co-promise. In my view it's always better than compromise.

This book by the FBI's former chief negotiator Chris Voss will help you.

There's much that's excellent in the book. I particularly like the fact that being a remarkable negotiator has much to do with being a remarkable human being!

Chris is scathing of compromise. He says:

"I'm here to call bullshit on compromise right now. We don't compromise because it's right; we compromise because it is easy and because it saves face. We compromise in order to say that at least we got half the pie. Distilled to its essence, we compromise to be safe. Most people in negotiation are driven by fear or the desire to avoid pain. Too few are driven by their actual goals. So don't settle and - here's the simple rule - never split the difference.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The great connection between what you read and how you lead

Your past, present, and future reading list is a great indicator of who you are as a leader, and who you're becoming.

There's a good list by the folk at Tomorrow Today here.

The following also came from Tomorrow Today:

New York Times Business Bestseller List (based in sales not recommendations) 

Here's my full recommended reading list. 

My top 21 recommendations list (pictured) is here.

A lot of people enjoy book summaries. My favourite is The Book Rapper, Geoff McDonald. Get his raps here.

What are you reading?

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A Pathway To Personal Accountability

Below is my first video blog.

The subject matter is also the feature of my next complimentary online symposium at 4.30 pm AEST on Monday 7th August 'How To Make Accountability A Sure-thing In Your Business.' Learn more and register here.

Please note that the video runs for 15 minutes so time for a break or quick catch up with colleagues.

Be remarkable.

Monday, 10 July 2017

5 proven principles for thriving on change from Aaron Dignan

I love this short talk from The Ready's Aaron Dignan.

One of my favourite pieces is about getting rid of "organisational debt" (about the 32 minute mark).

Aaron's 5 proven principles:

From control to participation, planning to experiencing, big changes to small changes, adding to subtracting, resistance to information.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The crucial differences between passionate people and zealots

I read the following in the July edition of Balancing Act a great newsletter from Alan Weiss:

"I think passionate people seek to influence and persuade. But zealots insist on conversion. A passionate person will give it his or her best shot, but respect you if you decide to demur. However, zealots insist that not only are they right but you must be wrong. You can only be "cleansed" by becoming one of them. (When you talk to people about climate change, or immigration, or abortion, or—unfortunately today—politics, you can see this phenomenon all too readily.)

"Zeal" means "great enthusiasm." But "zealotry" is about fanaticism and intolerance. I love being around passionate, enthusiastic people, whether I agree with them or not. But I eschew zealots, even if they do agree with me."

I'm with Alan. You?

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Leader's New Work

I've been restudying Peter Senge's great work recently.

The original publication in 1990 was highly valuable when I was just starting out as a leadership development speaker, writer and mentor.

I read the 2006 revised and updated edition shortly after it came out and have continued to use the insights presented in my own best way as foundational to my work.

My passionate interest in the new world of work, and particularly what this means for leaders and the future of leadership, meant that this restudy (I did reread all 445 pages) focused on chapter 15 'The Leaders New Work'

There's a lot that's old about the new!

Senge quotes Confucius for example "To become a leader, you must first become a human being."

I see leaders becoming better humans every day in my work. One of the reasons I get out of bed every morning filled with enthusiasm is because of the joy of knowing that leadership is fundamentally about being human and that I will see this in action today.

I'm not into generation descriptors (I value humans of all ages) however what I know for certain is that Millennials, Generation X and Y whatever the label are people half my age. You get that leadership is about being human and because you outnumber the rest of us the future of the world is in good hands.

In The Fifth Discipline Peter Senge says that the leader's new work is about being designers, teachers, and stewards. I like these. What really jumped out at me however in this chapter was the reference to the English verb "lead" which comes from the Indo-European root "leith", which means "to cross a threshold."

My takeaway from this is that The Leader's New Work therefore is all about helping fellow human beings to move from what is to what can be with meaning and purpose for them.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

PS FYI below is a snapshot of some of my notes from rereading The Fifth Discipline.

Monday, 3 July 2017

"Fear-setting" is better than goal setting

This is a wonderful TED talk from Tim Ferris that I initially discovered here.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Future of Conferences by Gihan Perera

This is excellent from my friend and colleague Gihan Perera. I highly recommend you download the report too via the link in the YouTube summary.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Is it time to reset your structure and systems?

I was fascinated to hear Carlton Football Club Senior Coach Brendon Bolton talk about structure and system reset in a recent post game press conference. (Disclaimer I am a Carlton supporter!)

He was referring to time out in the game due to an injury to an opposition player. Brendon commented "we got a few messages out, our leadership group did a great job in spreading the messages, and we got our systems and structures reset."

Grasping this opportunity Brendon felt was a key to winning the game.

There are many opportunities to reset your structure and systems in your business. Are you making the most of them?

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Digital technology is a means not a strategy

The above graphic is from this excellent research document by the Alimeter Group which you can download yourself here.

I meet many people who think technological change and transformation is the be all and end all for their business success. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Thriving On The Challenges Of Change Manifesto

Be remarkable.

PS Scroll down here and you'll find all of my manifesto's, the above plus Changing What's Normal, Remarkablisation, The Appreciative Leader, and BS Free Workplaces.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Are you scaling your business into irrelevance?

I came across the above statement here.

It got me thinking about my own professional practice and my client's businesses.

Who will you become? What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Turning a 'hunch' into your next big thing

For several months now I've had the following statement on my office wall as a visual reminder:

"Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do." 
Steve Jobs

I stopped travelling all over the place all the time for my work about 5 years ago. My goal was to work 90% of the time with people whose primary place of business is no more than a couple of hours from my home, as well as working more online.

Contemplating Steve's statement every day has helped me to get it mostly right for me yet I still believed I had a missing piece.

I had plenty of ideas running around in my head.

Then I read Bernadette Jiwa's latest work pictured.

The subsequent personal work I did working through the exercises in the book got me over the line on my new flagship work which you can read about here.

I've consumed all of Bernadette's books and read her regular blog posts and contemplate them all very carefully.

Along with Seth Godin and a couple of other people Bernadette has changed marketing forever in my view.

What I particularly value about 'hunch' is the Over To You sections in the book where you take action based on Bernadette's great structure and prompts, as well as stories she has previously shared.

I highly recommend 'hunch' which you can purchase here.

Be remarkable.

PS 'hunch' was the first physical book I've bought for awhile. It was really great to hold a real book again and to leave it on my desk, in the library, on the lounge room coffee table etc, while I was working with it. I have a hunch things that we can touch and feel might be making a comeback!

Friday, 16 June 2017

How to make the shift from knowledge work to meaningful work

There's a lot to love about this working class manifesto.

Meaning no disrespect to the author I would replace the word knowledge with human or meaningful.

I believe we've moved on from knowledge work.

Knowledge might have meant power once. Today trust is power.

Today the most remarkable work is human work. And the key to human work is that it's meaningful.

The author of the manifesto Esko Kilpi nails this himself when he says the following:

Post-industrial business is about doing meaningful things 
with meaningful people 
in a meaningful way.

Machines will soon do most of the algorithmic work, the simple, routine, and repetitive. In the process at least half of the jobs available today will be gone in a decade or less.

The exciting news is that this means human work is increasing in value. The artisan is back. Human work is creative, collaborative, and meaningful.

Human work can also be rare as well as valuable and meaningful as Cal Newport beautifully describes in his wonderful book 'Deep Work'.

One of the key reasons I believe we have past the era of knowledge work and knowledge workers is because knowledge is now accessible via the internet.

Of course knowing doesn't mean wisdom and as Stephen Covey once observed "To know and not to do is really not to know."

How to make the shift from knowledge work to meaningful work

We can all do work that is meaningful to us. A key question to ask is: How can work that is meaningful to us be meaningful and valuable (and rare) for others?


Make a list of all the people you have working relationships with and over time converse with each person to discover how the value you deliver to them can be more valuable, meaningful, and rare to them. Then deliver such value.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How to find your ikigai

I first came across the Japanese concept of Ikigai in this Linkedin Pulse article by Bruce Kasanoff. Then I read about it again on page 445 of Roger Hamilton's great ebook 'Entrepreneur Inspiration 2017'.

Here's to you finding your Ikigai!

Be remarkable.

Monday, 12 June 2017

How To Guarantee You Have The Best Time In The World

The most common answer I get when I ask people How are you going? is busy, or a number of variations on the theme.

When I really know the person and they know where I'm coming from I often ask; Busy doing what?

It's easy to be busy isn't it?

It's a different thing altogether often to being valuable.

I'd much rather be valuable than busy.

And if I'm being valued as well as being valuable then life doesn't get much better.

Some folk wear being time poor as a badge of honour. There's not enough hours in the day they say. There is actually.

It's easy to get caught up isn't in a seemingly always on 24/7 world and to have lost sight of what actually matters? I too heard myself say to myself the other day, Where did the day go?

It's been said that time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. I find this a sobering thought. Particularly the older I get and when the realisation sinks in that there is much less time left than there's been in my life!

1) See yourself as remarkable and become who you see

In case you need a reminder that we are all remarkable please read here and here or pages 7 and 13 and 14 in the ebook 'Meaningful Work and The Meaning of Life' which you can download here.

Imagine yourself in flow every moment of every day. And when it doesn’t work, stop and be still. Reflect and learn, and start again. The meaning of life is to live a meaningful life.

Imagine yourself not being stressed, just being the best version of yourself in each moment. And when you mess up, take corrective action in the next moment. Move on, no regrets about what you did or didn’t do, and no attachment to what others did or didn’t do.

Imagine no time constraints, just promises you made, agreed to keep, and actually do.

We all have 168 hours this week. Because you and I are one-of-a-kind human beings how we invest in this time is our choice.

My best advice is take W Mitchell’s wisdom to your heart, "It's not what happens to you. It's what you do about it."

2) See other people as remarkable and make it a priority to help them to become who they see

When we feel like we don’t have enough time there are generally three key reasons:
1) We made an unwise choice that seemed fine at the time and it’s been all down hill from there; 2) we and/or the person or people we’re dealing with right now aren’t being the best versions of ourselves, 3) the processes we’re following don’t make it simple for us to be the best version of ourselves and therefore we should modify or change the process before moving on.

In the 8th Habit Stephen Covey defines leadership as “communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it themselves.”

His 8th habit BTW is "finding your voice and helping other people find theirs. " I call it remarkablisation.

However you name it or see it make it your priority, regardless of circumstance or situation, to see other people as remarkable and help them to become who they see.

3) Systematically eliminate everything that’s inhibiting people feeling valued, living values, and delivering value in your team/organisation

The following are the top 21 most common inhibitors I witness. Would you add any to the list? What’s on your list? 

What's the one action you will take next?

1) There’s an absence of visual measuring of progress in meaningful work.

2) There’s no agreed behaviours in place for values.

3) The delivery of value and who to is absent or unclear in role clarity statements.

4) Problem solving & decision making processes not being followed.

5) Mostly problems are solved and challenges met and performance returns to normal rather than opportunities being taken to innovate.

6) Not all processes, policies, procedures, practices, and systems means it’s simple for people to bring the best version of themselves to their work every day.

7) Conversations are avoided where there’s difficulty, conflict, or disagreements.

8) People are trying to manage change rather than lead it.

9) There’s no change process being followed.

10) Decisions are being continually revisited.

11) Documentation is produced in lieu of action.

12) Meetings occur with key players absent.

13) Meetings have no agendas and/or the purpose of them is unclear.

14) Meetings are poorly conducted.

15) Questions about whether the purpose of the meeting was fulfilled aren’t being asked.

16) Whiteboards are full and scoreboards aren’t easily seen.

17) Diaries full.

18) Inbox full.

19) Not enough deep work is being undertaken and shallow work dominates. There’s a majoring in minors.

20) Confusion between what information should be shared and what doesn't need to be.

21) Overall there is a lack of people being appreciated when they do well and a lack of people being held accountable immediately they need to be.

A key is not be feel overwhelmed by any of these inhibitors or those you may have added to the list. The keys are What's the one inhibitor you see right now? and What's the one action you will take next?

Be remarkable.

PS Below is my foundation model for ensuring everyone is having the best time in the world. It comes from The Appreciative Leader handbook.

Friday, 9 June 2017

How to guarantee you'll succeed in the changes you lead

On the first Monday of every month (except December and January) I conduct complimentary symposiums online from 4.30 through 5.30 pm AEST. We explore the 5 foundations for remarkablising your workplace pictured below.

On the 3rd July I start the cycle of five symposiums again.

Before participating in a symposium you download a red paper and in the case of 'Remarkable is the new normal', a workbook. You then take action in your own best way before the symposium.

At the end of the symposium we arrange a time for a 1 hour online after action review and sustaining momentum workshop.

All the detail is at the registration link here.

Approximately 3 hours investment of your attention over 3 months for better business results at less personal cost. It doesn't get much better than this!

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The 19 essentials for remarkable value creation and delivery

The degree of success (or not) of every organisation is determined by value delivery.

Value delivery depends on people feeling valued and living values which are greatly influenced by leadership, management, and culture.

Below is the base model I often use when I begin to work with my clients.

As a general rule before I work with a team, business, or individual, I undertake a remarkability review checking on the 19 areas that I have come to understand are critical for consistent high performance in value creation and delivery.

I rate each area as good signifying basic standards of performance are being achieved; great, performance is better than basic, or remarkable, conspicuously extraordinary performance is happening.

I then document with those accountable agreed actions to be taken in the next 90 days and either schedule a time to come back for an after actions review, or agree with the client on what work I will undertake to help people to take the agreed actions.

The 19 areas critical for consistent high performance in value creation and delivery

People feel valued

1) People are recruited for value delivery role/s and for willingness to live values.

2) Role Clarity Statements (RCS) articulate purpose, value deliverables and to whom.

3) Induction/onboarding begins unleashing and enhancing people's gifts.

4) Personal and Team Performance Improvement Plans are conversation focusing tools along with RCS.

5) L & D framework in place and successfully unleashing and enhancing gifts.

6) Leadership is the art of ensuring people feel valued.

7) There’s a culture of catching people doing the right thing and being appreciated for doing so.

8) Individual and team scorecards show progress in meaningful work.

People live values

9) The organisation’s reason for being (purpose) is clearly articulated and understood as being very different to their results.

10) There’s an intimate awareness of who the organisation serves and the challenges they want to overcome, problems they want solved, and desires they want to fulfill.

11) Values are in alignment with above and are articulated as 5 or less behaviours.

12) People are held to account.

13) Persistent failure to live values means dismissal. No-one is any doubt about this or immune from it.

14) Candid and convivial communication and conversations underpin the culture.

People deliver value

15) Must Have’s, Should Have’s and Nice-to-haves (value) documented for all stakeholder groups and under continual review.

16) There are agreed processes in place for:
Major decision-making
Business development
Turning information into insight into inspiration into ideas into innovation.

17) Operating policies, procedures, practices, and system mean it’s simple for people to deliver value.

18) At transaction and interaction levels everyone is empowered to make decisions.

19) When a problem occurs opportunities are taken to innovate rather than simply solving the problem and returning to the status quo.

You can do your own remarkability review using the above process and this document.

If you'd like some help please give me a shout. My number is +61 418 807 898.

Be remarkable.

Monday, 5 June 2017

I'd be very grateful for your help in improving this blog

Having just entered my eleventh year of writing this blog I'm passionate about making the future better than past.

Therefore I'd be very grateful if you'd be candid and tell me what you'd like more and less of, and how you feel that I can better meet your needs, expectations and desires. 

Just email with your thoughts.

In gratitude and with thanks in advance.

Be remarkable.

PS If you missed the ebook (pictured below) that celebrates my 10 years of blogging with my best learnings over the decade for purpose driven leaders who want to achieve better business results at less personal cost, you can download the ebook by scrolling down here.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Remarkablise Your Leadership Self-directed Achievement Course

I'm delighted to formally announce that this unique online course is now available.

All 5 modules are here.

This is the only leadership development program in the world that I know of where you can choose to make your investment up front or at a time of your choosing as you take action on the proven principles presented in your own best way.

It's also the only leadership development program where you can invest what I'm asking or more or less.

That's right, You decide your investment!

Get started here.

Be remarkable.

PS Should you get to the course page and decide you're not yet ready to do the course then participate in an online or in person event first. Details of upcoming events are here.