Monday 28 October 2013

The business of belief

'The business of belief' by Tom Asacker is the best read I have had in awhile. I have been reading a book a week for 35 years. Very few make my recommended list. This one certainly does.

I have read it twice already and expect to be studying it for some time. It may even make the permanent spot on my desk where my favourite books live, it is that good.

Tom Peters says of this book - "This is a short book. But I hope it takes you, like me, a long time to read it. The Business of Belief earns the word 'profound'—every sentence should be savored."

I agree with Tom.

This book "arrived" at a great time for me too as I have been reinventing how I go about my business in the world.

In part my reinvention was triggered by being forced to change the URL of my personal website by February 2014, so I am currently building a new site. Details soon.

A consequence of the above is no posts here for a time. See you in a week or two.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 27 October 2013

What do your customers/clients truly value?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

"What the business thinks it produces is not of first importance. What the consumer thinks he is buying, what he considers 'value' is decisive." 
Peter Drucker

What do your customers/clients truly value?

Answering this question is the key to the future prosperity of everyone’s business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Friday 25 October 2013

Are you having social media free days (at very least)?

My thanks to Ian Brodie for prompting this post through his recent emails about taking regular breaks from social media.

For me I have actually been contemplating taking a complete break!

I am bored with social media. I find very little value being offered.

For me social media is increasingly about vanity. In public it's anti-social. Some people are obsessed with being online. I actually saw a guy taking a pee yesterday and texting at the same time!

In my online work I am down to writing this blog and my twice monthly newsletter, sharing these via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ and while I am online doing that I scan, share, and spread what my friends and colleagues have posted that I feel might be of value to others. I also sometimes comment on a post by someone else I feel I can added value to. My actual time online is a few minutes each day. I left Facebook altogether 18 months ago.

When I first started online 7 years ago I estimate I was spending 20 hours a week!

Since I consciously decided to limit my time online to research and very minimum time on social media the quality of my life and in-person relationships has improved and my business has increased and has not suffered in any way.

How about you? Are you having social media free days (at very least)? 
Are you limiting your time online like me? 

Please share what you are doing.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Showing appreciation to all the beings in your life really matters - guest post by Winston Marsh

This is a guest post by my friend and colleague and National President of the National Speakers Association of Australia, Winston Marsh. Winston recently lost one of his dogs Sharnie.

Since Sharnie’s demise I’ve been reflecting on how I treat my Millie girl and the difference sometimes between that and the way I treated my kids and team members.

You see, yesterday, I tried to notice the number of times I told Millie she was “a good girl”. It must've been 30 or 40.

And yet, even allowing for my fading memory, I don't think I've ever told my kids 30 or 40 times in a day that they've been good. Yet I had always been quick to criticise them. And I guess the same has happened to my team members in the past.

What a difference it may have made if I’d told my kids and team members that they’d been good or done a great job 30 or 40 times in a day.

Well, I can’t relive the past but I can fashion the future. I’m gunna tell more people more often that they’ve been good about whatever I can find... and sometimes I’ll tell them for no real reason!

Maybe you’d like to try it too!

By the way if you’d like to listen to an article I recorded sometime ago for my business Marketing program on this topic you can hear it here.
Winston Marsh

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"The deepest human desire is to be appreciated."
William James

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Stop feeding the beast that is significantly inhibiting the performance of your organisation

Aside from putting up with BS about people, the great reason for far less than is possible performance in organisations is the failure to name the elephant in the boardroom, office, showroom, shop, factory, wherever, and humanely remove the beast.

Most of what could be better about an organisation is known yet unsaid. It is said underground and away from the organisation! 

For 22 years I have been walking into organisations as an adviser and I am told, usually within an hour, of what could be better and yet no one has raised issues with insiders for fear of reprisal or fear for their jobs and other nasty reasons. A common reason is a cultural issue of not talking about what can be perceived as unpleasant.

If you are not naming the beast you are feeding the beast and need to stop.

Sometimes I name the elephants myself. Once or twice I have been thrown out for doing so! Usually I mentor people to name the elephants themselves. The outcome often is relief and very quickly elephants are humanely removed. Soon creativity and innovation happen. Often the reaction is why was this not spoken about before?

One of the great challenges facing leaders in the workplace is that most people don't yet excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement. 

If you are failing to have such conversations you are feeding the beast and need to stop.

The known not being said and a failure to excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement is costing organisations billions, probably trillions. The biggest cost though is to human life.

Most of the great disasters of my life-time could have been avoided, and most of the trouble in organisations too. It takes someone on the inside to speak up and to do so long before a consultant or an auditor arrives. 

Are you the person speaking up? If not you are feeding the beast and need to stop.

If you know it, speak it, otherwise you might be guilty of wilful blindness and a tragedy could be about to happen.

If you are afraid, for whatever reason, please find an ally inside your organisation and/or seek outside help today. I would personally welcome your call. I can help.

Like me you might find inspiration in reading Margaret Heffernan’s book Wilful Blindness - Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril or watching her TED talk.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Are you on your customers/clients most loved list?

APCO’s list of who they think are the world’s most loved companies makes interesting reading not least because of their method of measurement they call “Emotional Linking”.

I learned about APCO’s list via a blog about it by Corporate Eye and author Susan Gunelius comment below interested me more than the list.

"I’d argue that a different emotional factor is actually at work driving the other emotional factors for a number of these brands—reliance. I’m not sure that consumers actually “love” Yahoo!, Google, or Sony the same way they “love” Disney. Instead, I’d argue that it is consumers’ reliance on some of these brands that causes consumers to rank them higher on APCO’s emotional linking model."
Susan Gunelius

Reliability is one of the seven factors I write about in my Changing What's Normal book that I believe make up a compelling story.

How reliable do your customers/clients think you are?
And how compelling is your story?

Another thing that interests me about these kind of lists is that they are usually all about big corporations and yet the engine room of business is really small to medium businesses possibly like yours.

What really matters is this: Is your business on your customers/clients most loved list?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 21 October 2013

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared by the United Nations on December 10th 1948 makes valuable reading.

Perhaps you have a charter, a mission statement, a credo, a manifesto for your business.

The big question is, Do you live it?

What we say and what we do must be in alignment otherwise very soon people take no notice of us which sadly is what in the main has happened to the United Nations.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 20 October 2013

All change is personal first

This Sunday's sparkenation.

All change is personal first. Relationship change is second. Organisational change is a distant third.

If you are bringing the same intentions, feelings, thoughts and behaviours to this week likely you will get the same results as last week. Want a different result this week? Modify or change your intentions, feelings, thoughts first. Then behave in alignment. The outcome will take care of itself.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Friday 18 October 2013

What systems do you have that support innovation?

“Pacesetter organisations have a system and a workplace culture that support innovation ... organisations that don’t innovate wither and die.”
so said Tony Gleeson CEO of Australian Institute of Management Victoria/Tasmania in the October 2013 issue of Management Today magazine.

Do you have such a system?

My Enhancing Their Gifts System is worth a look if you don't. And even if you do!

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Differencemaking is often just a moment of wisdom and kindness

I have watched this video many times and several folk have sent me a link to it.

It always reminds me that little things are what often make the big difference.

In less than two minutes it beautifully demonstrates that we can all make a difference in moments of wisdom and kindness.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

The biggest reason strategies don't get executed - lack of common sense

The challenge with all strategies is their successful execution.

In the October 2013 issue of Management Today Gerard McManus quotes Ram Charan one of the world's most respected management consultants.

Two building blocks of execution 
“... a leader must do 7 things
He or she must know their people and the business
They must insist on realism
They must set clear goals and priorities
They must follow-through
They must reward the doers
They must expand people’s capabilities
They must know who they are

The second building block of execution is a leader’s ability to create the framework for cultural change ... ideally, robust and frank discussion."

Sounds like common sense to me.

Is common sense the common thing at your workplace?

If your strategy is not being successfully executed I would review of common sense because the lack of it is most likely the reason your strategy isn't being properly executed.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Are you a red apple or a green apple?

Your business is probably dying if you are not standing out in some way.

Are you a red apple or a green apple?

Differentiation is a major key to success in business even if what you are selling is a commodity.

Differentiation is about your people doing what others do, just better, differently, or more uniquely.

Differentiation begins with people discovering their unique gifts/talents and then enhancing them.

Differentiation is also about helping your people achieve what drives them because otherwise they are unlikely to fully help you achieve what is driving you.

Differentiation is a key to success in the business we are all in - delivering value to our stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve.

We attract customers/clients to us through our differentiation. So that customers/clients stay with us and share and spread our story with others their experience with us online and in-person must be distinctive.

Differentiation, Discovery, Drive, Delivery and Distinction are the delightful design elements of a distinguished modern business.

If you would like my paper about these 5 pillars, The Delightful Design of a Distinguished 21st century business, please email me And if you would like to explore my Enhancing Their Gifts System that will enable you to thrive in all five then please contact me.

Are you a red apple or a green apple?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 14 October 2013

Leadership - serving those who serve others - an interview with Simon Sinek

I highly recommend spending a hour watching and listening to this interview with Start With Why author Simon Sinek.

Many great examples of living life free of BS.

I loved the point around the 32 minute mark about Dunbar’s law and how when organisations move beyond 150 people in the division/unit there is often trouble.

And I also loved the brilliant story after that piece about CEO Bob and how he sees his employees.

I would be very interested in your take aways from this interview. Please email me

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Two types of employees. Which one are yours?

This Sunday's sparkenation is a follow-on from last weeks about shareholder value being the "dumbest idea in the world."

"Every company at a certain stage ends up with two sorts of employees... some that work hard to improve the experience and value for the original customers, and some that tear down that experience and value in order to please shareholders in the short run."
Seth Godin

Seth's full post about this.

Which type of employees are yours?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Friday 11 October 2013

The Entrepreneurial Revolution is an inside job too

I am sure you have noticed that an Entrepreneurial Revolution is happening in the world today like never before in history.  It is fuelled by the enabling tools associated with the internet, and I sense a growing frustration with governments and corporations.

We can't overlook the fact however that the Entrepreneurial Revolution is and can be an inside job too.

It has been my honour to work with many intrapreneurs. The thrill is the same as it is with entrepreneurs.

Successful companies have long celebrated the contribution of intrapreneurs with Google and 3M being famous examples.

What are you doing every day to inspire and influence the entrepreneur inside each and every one of your employees?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 10 October 2013

What have we learned from the mistakes that caused the GFC?

I was interested in this Harvard Business School article about whether or not we have learned from the mistakes that caused the GFC. The authors of this article say there has been real progress. They also lament missed opportunities and remaining challenges.

I was also interested in a further HBS article that argues fixing climate change should be left to the markets

I don’t think so. We left finance to the markets did we not?

Our challenges are simply too big for one sector of society to solve. Sustainability requires all of us working together and this requires putting aside ideaologies and finding a shared-view of the way forward. 

Politicians think they rule the world and they keep trying to prove it as evidenced by the stupidity going on in between Republicans and Democrats in America that if unresolved may again bring our world to it’s knees.

Corporations rule our world. Corporations don’t exist of course without employees and customers. We the citizens of the world have a clear choice in my view and we all need to take a stand.

Which side of the fence are you on? And what are you doing about it?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

The wisdom of Yoda

I am a lover of the great movies, those that tell the deeper story of life. The Star Wars films are right up there for me.

My favourite character is Yoda so I was thrilled to find this website with many of Yoda's lines.

Here are three of my favourites:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”

Wisdom is often found in unusual places. Where are you looking?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Are you seriously good at giving presentations?

How to give a great presentation (seriously) is a great post by Mitch Joel.

Being seriously good at giving presentations is a skill all entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs must have.

In addition to being great at telling stories (see yesterdays post) and using humour (which doesn't mean telling jokes) there are many other skills you need.

Despite being a professional presenter for more than two decades I continue to study the art religiously and hone my skills every week. You should be too.

I recommend two books on speaking/presenting.

The Exceptional Speaker by two masters Alan Stevens from the UK and Paul Du Toit from South Africa.

and The Presentation Coach by Graham Davies, one of the wittiest speakers I have ever witnessed and also one of the wisest.

When you use slides (I only do in presentations longer than 90 minutes) I also recommend Presentation Zen, Presentation Zen DESIGN, and The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds and the work of Nancy Duarte and her team.

"I've discovered a few things about the spread of ideas: first, in-person interaction really can't be beat. While digital ideas spread far and fast, there's something really powerful about being in the same room. And second, it often takes more than an hour or two to really dig in and discover not just who else is in the room with you, but what's holding you back and what's available to move you forward."
Seth Godin

"Presentation skills are worthy of extreme obsessive study."
Tom Peters

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 7 October 2013

Your future depends on the stories you are telling yourself

The future of storytelling website is worth a visit.

Are you telling and sharing stories like people are on the site about your idea, your cause, your organisation? If you aren't please get started. You don't want to be left behind.

Stories have always been the fabric of social and organisational culture. Stories are perhaps the oldest form of art. What stories are being told in your home, neighbourhood, and in the corridors of your workplace?

As a storyteller and sharer I am very glad story telling/story sharing is making a big comeback and that the internet means stories can be shared and spread like never before in history.

The oldest story though and the one that needs to be our best art is the story we are telling ourselves about ourselves. Your future and mine, like our past have much to do with the story we are telling ourselves.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Shareholder value - "the dumbest idea in the world"

This Sunday's sparkenation.

The first time I made the statement below to a group of CEOs 20 years ago there were giggles and sniggers in the room

"Profit is not a reason for being in business, rather a result of being good at business."

I don't get derision any more.

The purpose of your business is the unique way you add value to all the stakeholders of your business including our planet and society. Shareholder value and profit are outcomes of the value you provide other stakeholders. They are never reasons for being, always results of being.

For the article that sparked this post please check out Steve Denning's article What Killed Michael Porter's Monitor Group? The One Force That Really Matters.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations.

Friday 4 October 2013

Acknowledge the exceptional more than the exception

In my corporate career for many years a part of my role was internal auditing. My job was to find the exceptions to company policy, procedure and practice, point them out to people, and help them to rectify them. Governance is very important in your organisation. Are you on track?

What is more important though is showing appreciation to people when they do exceptional things.

There should be more catching people doing things right than catching people doing things wrong.

What are you doing the majority of your time, catching people doing things right or catching people doing things wrong?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Membership matters

The Liberal Political Party in Australia who recently became the Government have about 80000 members. A drop in the ocean of our population of about 23 million.

The Labour Party they replace has about 40000 members.

The Hawthorn Football Club who last Saturday won the Australia Football League Premiership had 63000 members before they won.

Enough said really.

All you need is 1000 real fans to be highly successful!

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"If you think you're leading and no one is following you, then you're only taking a walk."
Afghan Proverb

Wednesday 2 October 2013

The delightful design of a distinguished 21st century business

To guarantee success in business today and tomorrow we must provide a distinct experience for our customers/clients.

The journey to distinction begins with radical differentiation - what our people do that is better, different, or more unique than anyone else providing the same/similar product/service.

Radical differentiation is only possible when people are bringing their best game to their work every single day. This is only possible when people have discovered their unique gifts/talents and are continually enhancing them. Enhancing people’s gifts/talents is the number one role of leadership and followership.

Fundamental to discovery is understanding what intrinsically drives people. We must help our people to fulfill their deepest desires.

Differentiation, discovery and drive make the delivery of value to our stakeholders, value that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve, possible.

How we deliver such value must be distinctive.

Differentiation + Discovery x Drive + Delivery x Distinction = a Distinguished 21st century business.

This is so important to me, and I suspect to you, that I have written a paper about it.

You can also download my paper here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Stop trying to motivate people?

Famous Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz said:
It's not my job to motivate players. They bring extraordinary motivation to our program. It's my job not to de-motivate them."

Ask your employees What do I do that de-motivates you?

Stop doing what they tell you.

If your people are coming to work de-motivated that is their issue. You are accountable for you. Be their role model not their motivator.

"Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way." said Ted Turner. Good advice.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.