Friday 31 July 2015

Making Meetings Matter guest post by Colin James and Erica Bagshaw

This is a guest post from 'The Colin James Method'.

A recent episode of the brilliant ABC comedy Utopia, a mockumentary about an inept government department, opens with 15 people in a meeting. An awkward silence descends before someone finally asks, “Who called this meeting?”

How many times have you sat in a meeting and wondered, “What is this about? why are we here?”

Let’s face it: meetings are often just activity to create the illusion of work. Many meetings are mundane, poorly run and are often a waste of time, money and resources.

So how can you lead engaging, relevant meetings? And how can you ensure others fully participate and stay on track?

Let’s look three key requirements:

1. Set The Context

This will sound like a blinding flash of the obvious, because it’s such a simple step, but it’s also the most ignored. Before every meeting ask yourself, ‘Why is it being held in the first place?’

Recently, an HR client called us in for a meeting with a senior manager. We asked for an agenda, but were left in the dark. When we arrived on the day, the senior manager greeted us cautiously, almost coldly. Once in the meeting room, she sat opposite us with a wide eyed-look before asking, “So…how do you want to proceed?”

She had no idea her HR team had called the meeting with us to discuss a program they wanted us to deliver. This could have been easily avoided with an agenda. So have the honesty to really question why you are bringing people together.

Having a considered well planned agenda that:
Establishes the context
Sets the tone
Presents the event as highly valuable and not to be missed
Allows participants to plan their contribution
Outlines each participant’s role
Keeps the meeting on track

2. Engage Your Audience

To lead a meeting that matters, you need to engage participants from the start. Obviously. When you ‘chair’ or lead a meeting you are responsible for the quality of the experience and the outcomes achieved.

Here are 4 techniques that work:

Punctuality. Start the meeting on time, every time. This simple act says ‘our time is precious and this meeting is of great value’. In my twenties, I worked for radio station SAFM, where the critical Monday Operations Meeting started at 9am. At 9am, the door was locked. No one was late. Ever. Missing the meeting was professional suicide.

Posture of excellence. Don’t slump or slouch. Walk into the room confidently and sit with an open, upright posture. You’ll immediately command attention and influence others to stay engaged.

Voice of authority. With conscious projection, pace and pitch, your voice can have profound power. Your tonality literally sets the tone.

Eye contact. Make a point to consciously connect with every person at the table throughout the meeting. Again this seems so obvious it’s hardly worth mentioning, yet we often see it not being done. Eye contact is critical to high quality engagement.

3. Hold People Accountable

As meeting facilitator, it’s your responsibility to ensure everyone understands his or her role.

Try these 3 tips to keep things moving along:

Ask people to be punchy. Too much time is wasted when we think as we speak, rather than before we speak. Reminding participants to be brief takes the meeting to a higher standard and creates relevance and value.

Frame the behavioural standards. At the start of the meeting, mention the behaviours that won’t work in the room – such as interrupting, negativity, blaming or apathy. Insist that phones are off and out of sight. No exceptions.

Stop, review, reflect. Every 10 or so minutes, pause to reflect on what’s been achieved so far. This progresses the meeting, avoids the group getting stuck on one agenda item, and sustains a high energy level.

So now you know some proven ways to make meetings count.

In the Mastering Communication Program, Colin James and Erica Bagshaw delve deeper into these and other proven techniques to influence elegantly and powerfully. I highly recommend them.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

What people with a millennial mindset want

Need help gaining the above ATTITUDE? Contact me. Complimentary strategy session first step.

Find out more here.

What would you add to my list. I'd love to know. Please email

Be remarkable.

Sunday 26 July 2015

The wonder of weeds

This Sunday's sparkenation.

I have spent several hours over the last two weekends weeding my garden. I'm preparing for Spring here in Australia.

I've also done a lot of thinking about the weeds that have gathered in my heart and mind. There's much I have had to get rid of, misguided intentions, useless emotions, clouded thoughts, actions I'm not taking that I know I must.

What weeds have gathered in your heart and mind that you need to get rid of?

I have reflected too on my Grandfather teaching me about the law of the farm as a boy. It's a law we all need to live in our own way.

You can watch and read what Grandpa taught me by scrolling down here.

There's wonder in weeds. They're alive as much as the flowers. Weeds gather and impose themselves in our hearts and minds. If we fail to pay attention and remove them we are hiding the flowers, the beauty our lives have for others.

Be remarkable.

Changing What's Normal book and more sparkenations here.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday 24 July 2015

Reach shared-view and then let the people get on with it

The following would be (and may become) key points in a letter to political leaders in my country (Australia).

Ladies and Gentleman (particularly)

Please stop debating ideology. Instead debate ideas. Please stop petty point scoring and playing the blame/shame game. Instead respect each other (and show it) as the one-of-a-kind human beings that you are. Stop avoiding policy making because it may risk your re-election. Make the hard decisions even if it means you lose an election. Put aside party politics and stand up and be counted by reaching a shared-view together and then let the people get on with it.

We need a shared-view (where we are, where we're going and the other 5 areas above) about

1) Fully embracing renewable energy industries, and the phasing out of fossil fuels and electricity companies
2) Properly funded research and development of other emerging and new technologies
3) Properly funded health care
4) Properly funded aged care
5) Self-funded retirement, assisted retirement, pension schemes
6) Fairer consumption tax and reduction of company and personal income tax
7) Education systems that enable creativity to flourish, actually prepare people for life, and prevent radicalisation of any kind from even being thought about
8) Immigration policy and practice that treats everyone with human dignity and that allows people to integrate into our society and keep their heritage, without feeling the need to impose it on others
9) Non fear driven national security policy and practice that keeps citizens safe yet allows true freedom of speech and the sensible debate of ideas
10) Building of infrastructure based on current and future needs without serving the self-interest of those who build it
11) Redesign salary packages for politicians that mean you get paid more and yet cost the people less

What would be your top 11 for Government to focus on?

If I was writing to you about the top 11 challenges you need a shared-view about in your business what would they be?

I'd like to know what they are too. Please email

"In business, reengineering, restructuring and ‘re-everything’ have exhausted people – and they didn’t get us to a brighter, shinier future anyway. The breakout of any deadlock is creativity. The more unremarkable brands get, the more valuable ideas become.

Cultures that have the most ideas are best placed to win, because creativity has unreasonable power. Ideas have reframing power, talking power and sharing power. Old world power, scale and money have been eclipsed by the velocity of ideas."

Kevin Roberts, Executive Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and Head Coach of Publicis Groupe, in the Loyalty Beyond Reason Red Paper, April 2015. You can download the paper here.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

What marketing really is

I very much enjoyed this clip from a presentation for WOBI by the guru of guru's Philip Kotler.

I took this screenshot

About marketing Kotler says

The organization's marketing task is to determine the needs, wants and interests of target markets and to achieve the desired results more effectively and efficiently than competitors, in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's or society's well-being.

He also says

I would rather improve my business every day than depend on a breakthrough every year. 

More great insights from Philip Kotler here.

Be remarkable.

Monday 20 July 2015

5 remarkable personal and business development opportunities

I believe that if you're not investing at least 20% of your time, energy and money on yourself and on your business you're a very poor judge of a great investment.

Below are 5 remarkable opportunities (and the first four are free!)

1) Join me in a candid and convivial in camera conversation with Australia's number one small business author Andrew Griffiths. You must register before 5 pm AEST tomorrow.

Here's the link. While you're there you can watch last months chat with Andrew about The Energised Entrepreneur. On the 23rd July the conversation with Andrew and myself is about being a story-sharer of significance, one of 8 roles real leaders|mentors play remarkably well.

2) On the 29th July I'll be sharing details in camera online about my latest adventure - Maverick Thinkers Farm.

Here's the link.

3) I have 3 places left for the pilot online group for Maverick Thinkers Farm.

First in best dressed. Simply email me and express your interest.

4) You can take a 21 day trial membership of Maverick Thinkers Studio for free.

Take up this offer here.

5) I've had an incredible cross section of clients this year, banking, real estate, car rental, accounting, workers compensation, local government, travel, and even nuclear energy, just to name a few.

One outcome is lots of leading edge insights to share and 7 updated speaking topics.

1) Candid and convivial communication and conversations that count.

2) Changing What's Normal - all change is personal first, relationships second, and organisation third.

3) Every day innovation - how to be better one quantum leap at a time.

4) Guaranteeing you succeed in the change/s you lead - the principles of success for thriving on the challenges of change and how to apply them in your own way.

5) Remarkable is the new normal - why great is no longer good enough and the 7 areas you must be remarkable in.

6) The significance of shared-view - the 5 areas where alignment is paramount and the 2 that underpin them.

7) Who real leaders are and what they do - character based leadership and the 8 roles 21st century leaders|mentors play remarkably well.

You'll find overviews and outcomes for you of these 7 at this link.

Is is time for a tailored talk/master-class for your team?

Be remarkable.

Friday 17 July 2015

Simple yet profound and profitable change is an inside job

If you're not achieving what you want personally and/or in your business you must change yourself, your relationships, and then your organisation. It's as simple and as a complex as that!

Stuck? I can help you in a myriad of ways. Here's how.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Making the best player the captain is often a big mistake

How often have you seen a drop in performance when the best salesperson, engineer, lawyer, whoever, is made the leader of the team? In my case I've seen this over and over and over again.

Real leaders don't have to be the best players. What real leaders are remarkable at is inspiring others to play at their best.

How is it at your place?

Be remarkable.

Monday 13 July 2015

The Breakthrough Decade

I highly recommend downloading and taking action on this paper from Volans and watching the video from co-founder John Elkington, one of my heroes. Hard to believe it's 20 years since he introduced the powerful concept of the triple bottom-line.

You can download the paper here.

Be remarkable.

Sunday 12 July 2015

A one page constitution for your organisation

I'm following the Holacracy movement with great interest. When I read their constitution here I kept saying to myself surely success is simpler than this.

Perhaps this is a quest like Einstein I believe suggested "We need to make everything as simple as possible yet no simpler." 

In work with my clients my quest is always about simplification without losing the profound. One way I do this is to continually ask the question of processes, policies, procedures, practices and systems, Does this mean it's simple for people to bring their best to their work?

I love Nordstrom, the US department store. Their employee manual says:

We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Rule #1: Use best judgement in all situations. There are no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

25 years ago, just before I left the corporate world to start my own practice, I was inspired by the book All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum.

This book inspired me to create one page business plans, strategy documents and performance plans.

Since such one-pagers have become a keystone of my client work helping 1000's of people to maintain focus and improve performance.

Recently the celebrations around the 800 year anniversary of the Magna Carta have renewed my passion for creating one page constitutions or charters for organisations. Watch this space.

If you'd like to collaborate on this or know of something that already exists please get in touch with me.

Be remarkable.

Friday 10 July 2015

The 3 fundamentals for thriving on the challenges of change

A majority of change initiatives/programs fail.

A 2008 survey of 3199 executives by McKinsey found that only 1 in 3 transformations succeed. From what I see every day in the trenches the stats haven’t changed.

Here are my 13 key observations about why change programs/initiatives fail:

1. People charged with making the change happen don’t really believe in it and therefore their work is half-hearted at best.
2. Program is designed to take a long time and therefore the status quo will most likely remain.
3. Expectations are unrealistic.
4. People are not genuinely appreciated when they do well.
5. People are not held to account when they fail to perform as they agreed they would.
6. Measurements of progress are poor or non-existent.
7. Desired change is actually problem solving which usually means a return to the status quo rather than real innovation.
8. Intentions, emotions, and thinking doesn’t change and therefore any behaviour change that may happen doesn’t last.
9. There isn’t a real shared-view about why the change is crucial/essential.
10. There isn’t a real shared-view on how the change will happen and who will do what, and when.
11. Leaders don’t understand all change is personal first, relationships second, and organisations third.
12. Leaders don’t personally change.
13. Broken relationships remain broken.

And then there’s the really big reason a majority of change programs/initiatives fail – people trying to take big jumps rather than transitional steps (quantum leaps).

To guarantee you succeed in the change/s you lead master 3 fundamentals first

1) Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. This is sage wisdom from the late Jim Rohn.

Here's the fact - All change is personal first. When you're known and respected for working on yourself you'll have credibility when you begin to have conversations with people about possible change/s in your business.

2) Invest at least 20% of your time, energy and money working on your business rather than in it. This too is sage wisdom. It's from Michael Gerber.

I'm continually amazed at how many business leaders don't actually know what's really going on in their business. A key reason is that every minute is spent doing and a consequence is not seeing.

In the past week how many questions did you ask your employees and your customers about how they're feeling and what they're thinking? Your answer to this question is a key indicator of how much time, energy and money your investing in working on your business.

3) Continually tap into OPE (other people's experience)

Are you working with mentors inside and external to your business?

Are you part of a master-mind or peer group?

Both the above are essential components of working on yourself and working on your business.

To not be engaging in both is a significant risk for your business and your well-being.

Be remarkable.

PS If you answered no to the questions in number 3 above or you're looking for something unique join me for this candid and convivial conversation in camera online on July 29th.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Being a change champion in this disruptive age

I've spent my life ever since I was disrupted with a life-threatening illness aged 24 (37 years ago) curious about how to thrive on the challenges of change and how to do so simply.

I work with business leaders to ensure that thriving on the challenges of change is simple yet profound. And to guarantee you’ll succeed profitably in the change/s you lead.

Most people believe thriving on the challenges of change is hard. I know from working with change champions for 25 years that it’s simple.

Here's my 5 key learnings (with thanks to many wonderful people who have been my clients and colleagues on the journey)

1) Maintain an "attitude of gratitude." This was my doctors advice. I first had to be grateful for being sick. It wasn't easy. I later learned that when we're grateful for what we've got, we can have more of what we want.

Being grateful is a key to success in every endeavour. It's a key component of my friend, colleague, and mentor Mark Sutherland's Your Motivation Journal. I highly recommend it. Check it out here.

My story may help you too.

12 ways to maintain an attitude of gratitude here.

2) We're responsible for our intentions, feelings, thoughts, actions and behaviours. We're not responsible for other people's intentions, feelings, thoughts, actions and behaviours.

My best advice: Stop worrying about what other people do or don't do. Compete with yourself and seek to collaborate with everyone else. My video below may help you.

I love Paul McGee's SUMO too - Shut Up Move On.

3) Happiness is a choice we make. It's not dependent on what other people do or don't do.

4) Shared-view is sacred in your home, your workplace and every third place you belong to. Shared-view is a key to success in thriving on the challenges of change simply without losing the profound.

5) Appreciating people

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." said eminent psychologist William James

We are all unique. Not a single duplicate in the 100 billion lives that have walked planet earth. When we bring our best, free of BS, we are all remarkable.

Your birth was remarkable. Being born at all is even more remarkable than our birth. For most men only one or two of the 500 billion sperm cells produced in a lifetime reach the female egg, one of less than 500 that each woman produces in her life.

The fact that any of us is alive at all says to me that every life has a profound purpose.

Robert Louis Stevenson put it this way: "To be who we are, and to become all that we are capable of becoming, is the only purpose in life."

Most people either don't know or have forgotten they're remarkable and are therefore not living their lives on purpose. Leadership is about inspiring, reminding, and sometimes persuading people to be remarkable. A key is appreciating people. How well do you appreciate other people?

What would you add to my 5?

Be remarkable.

You may also like my manifesto 'Conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives.' You can download it at the top of the page here.

Monday 6 July 2015

The awesome power of debating ideas rather than ideology

Party politics in my home country Australia, and I suspect your home, is in the way of progress. One reason for this is the endless debate of ideology rather than ideas.

Barack Obama will do more good for the world when he is no longer President of the United States. His two terms could have achieved many great things and haven't because ideology and particularly the associated dogma have been in the way.

I see an increasing number of calls like this one from the Head of Internet Australia for bipartisan approach. What say you?

I imagine the remarkable results in climate change/renewable energy, health/well-being, education, national and world security policy, just to name a few critical areas of nation building, should our politicians ditch dogma, and instead debate ideas and then collaborate to turn ideas and inspiration into innovation (changing what's normal).

How about in your workplace?

Is there dogma delusion or are you respecting different belief systems, valuing difference, and debating ideas and then innovating?

Be remarkable.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Thriving in a VUCA and SUPER VUCA world - inspiration from Kevin Roberts

This Sunday's sparkenation.

We're certainly living in a VUCA world.

I prefer Kevin Roberts definition in what he calls SUPER VUCA than the one above.

The video below is 4 minutes and 46 seconds from Kevin on this.

Read all of Kevin's speech here.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Friday 3 July 2015

Become a story-sharer of significance with Andrew Griffiths

Being a story-sharer of significance is one of 8 roles real leaders|mentors play remarkably well. Find out more here.

On the 23rd of July Andrew Griffiths, Australia’s #1 small business and entrepreneurial author, is again my very special guest for an in camera candid and convivial conversation on the subject of story-sharing. Andrew will be sharing his own special formula for creating and sharing stories. You can register for this complimentary web TV event here.

Andrew was my guest last month on the subject on The Energised Entrepreneur. The recording is below.

I hope to see you online on July 23rd.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

The Best of Branson

Richard Branson is a person I admire greatly. 

He continues to lead the way in shaking up the status quo, championing the consumer, and putting employees first.

This interview with TED's Chris Anderson is a short selection of his best advice for thriving in the new world of work.

Be remarkable.