Monday, 11 November 2019

I've added to my complimentary resources file for you

Once a quarter I add to the PDF document that contains links to all my resources including my books.

This quarter I added '96 questions we all need to answer to thrive on the challenges of change' (see page 15), and the one-page pulse check to see how you're going and where you can shift to in the 5 interconnected roles of Sparkenator Leadership (see page 19).

You can download the PDF here.

Be remarkable.

Friday, 8 November 2019

The three kinds of leadership

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

One of my leadership heroes is Mary Parker Follett. In the first paragraph of her Wikipedia page it says “She has been called the "Mother of Modern Management”. Instead of emphasizing industrial and mechanical components, she advocated for what she saw as the far more important human element …”

If you know me at all you will know that it is this human element that is the focus of all my work. Any wonder that Mary is a hero for me!

In her 1924 published book ‘The Creative Experience’ Mary says: 

Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led.

The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.

I love this - The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.

Is your work creating more leaders?

I define leadership as the art of inspiring people to see and bring the best out in themselves and other people.

The first kind of leadership is self-leadership. No one can lead successfully without first leading self.

All change is personal first. Self-leadership is everyone’s business. It all begins with self-awareness which I regard as the number one leadership skill.

The number two skill is awareness of others which is the realm of the second kind of leadership that of leading for others.

In my work I call leading for others appreciative leadership. It has much to do with fully appreciating people and processes. It’s primarily about sustaining shared-view in the seven areas of significance that I have explored in previous podcasts - reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress and culture.

The third kind of leadership is leading for leaders.

This is arguably the toughest kind of leadership. It’s the daily practice of inspiring people to fully appreciate and bring out the best in themselves. It’s all about ensuring people feel valued, live values and deliver value.

The work I highly recommend that you do to enhance these three kinds of leadership is two-fold:

First set aside time to assess yourself in the following areas


Self-talk, gratitude, well-being, how you receive feedback and feedforward, and how you reflect on your performance and take action to be better, wiser and more valuable.

Leading for others

Your ability and willingness to inspire, converse with people 1:1 and in groups, and to  communicate and present ideas with clarity and meaning for others.

Leading for leaders

How well do you ensure that others appreciate themselves, bring out their best and feel valued, live values and deliver value.

Second action

Take time out with your peers at least once a quarter and ask for feedforward about how you can be better, wiser and more valuable in each of the leading for others and leading for leaders areas.

If you’d love some help check out my all new just online Sparkenator Leadership program. 

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Enshrining people as our primary driving force

I'm very excited to announce here my new program Sparkenator Leadership - self-leadership, leading for others, and leading for leaders that enshrines seeing and bringing out the best in people, including ourselves, as our primary driving force.

This is my first all online, yet in person program!

Check it out here.

This program is all about sustaining living in the top right hand quadrant below. It's for business leaders and owners (30+ employees and 10M+ turnover), and for seasoned professionals providing services to them.

The program is about mastery, in your own best way of 5 interconnected roles:

Up until 31st January 2020 I'm offering very special investment options to pioneers who undertake or begin the program before then.

Be remarkable.

Monday, 4 November 2019

I highly recommend checking out the serialisation of Team Human

This is a great book.

The author has just begun serialising it on Medium. I highly recommend it.

It begins here.

Of course getting the book might be even better for you.

You can get this book here.

Be remarkable.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Simple steps for turning possibility into reality

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

I’m perplexed by what I see in workplaces around goal setting and the achievement of goals. It seems to me to be still about command and control. And the main focus is the organisation and not much, if anything, about people and their personal goals.

I admit to still having a slight hangover from the indoctrination I received early in my corporate life through ‘management by objectives’ even though this is over 40 years ago. Just saying the words give me a bit of chill up my spine!

The 21st century version of MBO is OKR’s or Objectives and Key Results. I’m not inspired by it and haven’t met anyone who is in the employee ranks.

The acronym SMART is still prevalent.

I like FAST better. It’s perhaps the latest acronym. F for Frequently discussed, A for Ambitious, S for Specific and T for Transparent. For me this still has an element of command and control.

I’m left wanting more.

I’m a fan of my friend and colleague Keith Abraham’s 8 Step Goal Setting Process:

1. Identify your goal.
2. Decide your deadline to achieve it.
3. Determine your driving emotions to achieve it.
4. Why do you want to achieve this goal?
5. Key milestones.
6. Personal development plan—actions to start and stop doing.
7. Your vision for when the goal has been achieved.
8. The 30 day plan of action.

Here's a short video by Keith about his process.

My own process is to first get really clear about who I want to be and what behaviours I must live.

Each year I choose a theme for the year and then I decide what’s possible in areas of life and work that are important to me. I then create quantum leap maps per area of focus to highlight the actions I must take to turn possibility into reality. Below is one of my quantum leap maps. Here's a small slidedeck that overviews them.

In the past four years I’ve used the Chris Brogan ritual of choosing three words to keep myself focused. Next year I’m following the concept of one word from Dr Jason Fox. My blog post last Wednesday the 30th of October gives you more insights into Chris and Jason’s work.

I’ve chosen the word Magnificence as my theme for 2020. I’ve already begun working on it. I’ve chosen behaviours and principles and have them on one page (see below). I’ll be ensuring each of my quantum leap maps are alignment with these behaviours and principles.

Your turn.

What will you take away from today's post, podcast and associated resources here that you will turn into action to better achieve possibility in your personal, working and other aspects of your life?

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

A word or words to guide your choices and actions

For the past 4 years I've been following the 3 word ritual I learned from Chris Brogan.

He says: I practice a ritual called “My 3 Words.” The idea is that you think up three words that will help guide your choices and actions over the coming year. This has become quite an event, with thousands and thousands of people working their way through the ritual and planning their year based on their own three words. Read more from Chris.

My 3 words this year have been people, processes and progress which have really helped me to hone my performance personally as well as with my clients.

For 2020 I'v chosen just one word. I learned about this concept from Dr Jason Fox. Learn more from Jason here, and in his short video here.

I'm going to lean into my one word gradually which is why I've begun this quest early!

I like Jason's insight that he shares in the video of choosing a bundle of behaviours to do with his one word. I'm working on this.

I love Jason's idea that the one word we choose is a gift to everyone around us and that we can draw on others to live our one word.

My one word is
What will your one word be?

or if you are going with 3 words, what will they be?

If you take Jason's advice to heart you will sit with these ideas for a time. He says let it percolate. When you're clear please let me know your decision so that I can help you.

Be remarkable.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Aligning your personal and business goals with those of the United Nations

Below are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. You can learn more about them here.

I'm noticing more and more people individually, in business and in partnerships aligning with these goals.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Make your message a 'Micro-Statement’ (Macro-Statements Tell, Micro-Statements Compel)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

One sentence introductions or the traditional tagline are meant to be “Read rather than said” to quote presentation guru Graham Davies who calls them Macro-Statements.

I swear by Graham’s book.

In his book regarding Macro-Statements Graham says “they’re meant to be a floodlight rather than a spotlight.”

Graham recommends Micro-Statements for live, spoken presentations.

“A Micro-Statement is a sequence of words that quickly and compellingly captures the essence of your presentation in a way that is specifically shaped for the needs of a specific audience at a particular time.”
Graham Davies

You can get Graham's book here.

I take Graham’s advice to heart in my preparation for every presentation, communication and conversation in my work with clients. I create the Micro-Statement first for each audience, each time.

In preparing the content for each presentation, communication or conversation I use a Pink Sheet, which is a wonderful tool created by Matt Church and Peter Cook, as well as Graham’s insights.

You can get your copy of Think here.

I have Pink Sheets for all my main areas that I work with clients on. I just up date them or modify them to suit each piece of work.

Below is the Pink Sheet I created for one of the conversations I hosted about shared-view.

I find the explanation of the statement valuable for conversations in particular.


Macro-Statements Tell, Micro-Statements Compel. To inspire people to take action however you need a model, or a metaphor, a study or a story. Sometimes you need all four!

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Do your work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

What is your change process?

A lot of my work with clients continues to be about thriving on the challenges of change.

People being and doing the best are following a process like Bernadette Jiwa's one below or John Kotter's underneath Bernadette's.

I also have my own change process that some clients follow. The version of this pictured below is overlapped with the original process I learned over 40 years ago that originated with W. Edwards Deming Plan - Do - Study/Check - Act.

What's your change process?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The BIG three pathways the most successful leaders are travelling

Since I began working as a mentor professionally 30 years ago I've worked with over 1000 leaders, women and men in all kinds of roles and situations, in a myriad of industries, and in over 40 countries.

What all these highly motivated people have in common is a deep desire to keep on getting better, wiser and more valuable.

Three BIG pathways have emerged that each of these successful people are travelling in their own best way. The three are people, processes, and how progress is measured.


The most successful leaders put their people first and ensure that they are working in the right roles for them.

In the workplaces of these leaders every person is working on a personal and professional development plan to see and bring out their best.

These plans focus daily communication, conversation and presentation.


The most successful leaders are ensuring that strong processes are in place that mean it's simple for people to bring their best to their work.

Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems.

In the very best workplaces all of these are under constant review and are being improved and updated regularly by the people doing the work.


This is the area that I've witnessed the biggest shifts by the most successful leaders.

Profit is just one way to measure progress. Increasingly the very best leaders are seeing profit rightly in my view i.e. it's a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business.

Increasingly the best are embracing a five-fold bottom line. I couldn't say this when I first introduced the concept almost 20 years ago.

In addition The Progress Principle is being widely embraced. This is all about "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

How are you tracking in these three BIG pathways of people, processes and progress?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

The Five-Fold Bottom Line as I first articulated it in the year 2000

"Economic Prosperity:  Making monetary profit is essential for personal and business sustainability and growth; and for our being able to choose our lifestyle now and in the future.

Social Responsibility:  All organisations are made up of individual people.  The cost, and not just economically, of unhealthy and unhappy workers is probably immeasurable. Therefore every organisation has a role to play in helping to prevent social ills.  Businesses must be responsible members of the communities in which we operate. Corporate citizenship is now much more than a sneaky way to promote our brands. 

Environmental Sustainability:  Once, most of us turned a blind eye to waste disposal and a myriad of other environmental disasters. Thankfully most of us no longer do.  As the simple weekly collection of recyclable items in many Australian neighbourhoods demonstrates we can save our planet if we work together.  All businesses have a clear obligation to obtain and dispose of resources in ways that protect and sustain our environment.

Universal Harmony:  We are living in a global village.  The Internet in particular makes it possible to do business with almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost any time.  We are also at war in many places despite the obvious fact that war never leads to peace. As businesses we must ensure that what we make, sell and deliver does not, in any way, contribute to local or global disharmony.  Organisations increasingly have a role to help bring about and sustain universal harmony. 

Spiritual Validity:  In survey after survey what we repeatedly find is that people want, above all else, to be genuinely valued.  For a business this takes much more than being socially responsible.  At no previous time in history has there been such a search for meaning.  Many people are searching outside of the church for spiritual answers. The workplace can no longer be a place where people are treated as mere commodities, or God forbid, resources. 

We must build workplaces that are uplifting for the human spirit.  A bottom line that honours and values the spirit of all people leads to greater performance in all other areas. Organisations who ignore this do so at their peril.

These five bottom lines must be our targets."

Friday, 18 October 2019

The awesome opportunities to innovate that happen every day

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

It amazes me that in organisations everywhere problems/challenges/disruptions are not seen as opportunities to innovate. Set yourself apart from the rest and innovate every day.

I define innovation as changing what’s normal when sameness or the status quo is no longer serving you. Four steps precede sustainable innovation. They're pictured below.

The first step, the fertile ground is the insight, idea or inspiration.

Often these come from a problem/challenge or disruption and a subsequent dip in performance. 

Often the insight, idea or inspiration is all there is. The politicians infamous thought bubble is a great example. In their case very rarely does anything innovative actually happen and the status quo is returned too or worse.

In the best organisations the dip in performance is seen as the great opportunity. When this is grasped implementation of insight/idea/inspiration actually happens.

An after-action-review should be a game-changer because the best time to review performance is as soon as possible after the performance. This is why all of the top sports coaches speak with their players in the rooms straight after the game!

Integration of new perceptions with what is already working well for you should be done next. 

I recommend the following 5 stage format for after-action-reviews and integration work:

1) Review one implementation action at a time and answer the following questions what happened and why? what did we learn, relearn, and unlearn? How can we be better, wiser and more valuable in applying these learnings? Who will we become? What will we do next?

2) Determine with your colleagues how your answers will be integrated with what is already working well for you.

3) Upgrade your individual, team and organisational plans and co-promises on a page accordingly.

4) Reflect new perceptions in appropriate standard operating procedures, policies and practices.

5) Upgrade learning and development materials.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Moving on from the disgusting and dangerous political game of creating us v them

This is a very powerful TED talk by author and academic Juan Enriquez. I hope it spreads so that we can move to #grownuppolitics and move as far away as possible from the Trumpian cultism we have been sucked into.

Be remarkable.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Technology for the common good not just making a few people rich (Doug Rushkoff)

Wonderful 34 minute talk from Doug Rushkoff about how technology should and can be for the common good, not just making a few people rich.

My key takeaways

"Mass production disconnects the worker from the value they create.
Mass marketing disconnects the producer from the consumer.
Mass media disconnects the consumers from one another."

"Using technology to do something to people rather than providing technology for people to do things."

"Optimise an economy not for growth but for flow. Not for the extraction of value and its storage in share prices, but for the velocity of money, the velocity of transactions."

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 11 October 2019

21st century leadership and management (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Much has changed since I entered the workforce 48 years ago.

When I began bosses were seen as God’s. They were revered or hated.

My first boss loved to say “It’s my way or the highway.” I eventually chose the highway.

Today 7 out of 10 people some research suggests don’t leave their employment, they leave their bosses.

When I first became a manager myself I was fortunate that my boss was a people as well as process person.

We arrived in the small town together. He knew the town and the people. I didn’t.

His advice to me was to go and meet everyone in the main three streets and find out how I could help them and then within company policy help them achieve what they say.

Regarding my two staff members he advised me to see their best and to focus on inspiring them to bring that best to their work.

I didn’t really know any better and his advice made sense so I followed it. I was very successful and within a year was promoted to managing a larger office.

It was there that I first began to really understand that leadership and management are two sides of the same coin and that leading is about people and management is about process.

Fast forward to now where I’m closing in on 30 years of being a mentor to leaders. Over this time I have been privileged to work with more than 1000 leaders, women and men in over 40 countries and across a myriad of diverse industries.

My conclusions are that my enlightened boss was right on the money with his advice to me as a brand new manager.

Is success in the future about leadership or management? is a question I am often asked.  My answer is that success is always about both leadership and management, never one or the other.  Therefore it is essential to understand,  appreciate and value the difference between them.

This is where there is often trouble.  For many management is still seen as controlling people and dictating what they feel, think and do and don’t feel, think and do.  This is a nasty hangover from the industrial revolution where it was assumed we could treat people like machines.  The headache this hangover has been allowed to cause is a massive barrier to progress in the 21st century in almost every aspect of our lives.  It is a fundamental reason for non-achievement of what is possible or just plain mediocrity in business, politics, education, family, religion, you name it.

My definitions of leadership and management are therefore sharper than ever.

I define leadership as the art of inspiring people to see and bring the best out in themselves and other people. I define management as the practice of making it simple for people to bring out their best.

For some management is still about command and control. This is fine in emergency situations otherwise it has reached dinosaur status. Don’t be a dinosaur.

Modern management is about ensuring processes mean it is simple for people to bring their best to their work. Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems.

Modern management needs modern leadership and vice-versa.

I suggest a primary action is upgrading all of your processes, policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, principles, structures and systems over time with your people because you will increase their ownership of and commitment to them. 

Then focus on leading. Just make sure that one of your processes is checking that all the other interconnected processes are working as intended. In today’s language we call this risk management.

This work is that of the Systemizer, one of 5 roles that are essential to master in order to see and bring out the best in people including yourself. Here is the performance possibility pulse check that enables you to see how you’re going in each role and where you can shift to.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Tough-minded, tender-hearted and Temperament

The best, authentic leaders have created harmony for them between being tough-minded and tender-hearted. This harmony is how people describe their temperament.

This behaviour is in stark contrast with many political, religious and business leaders worldwide at the moment. Disharmony characterises many of these people. Trump, Johnson, Morrison come to mind. They're in disharmony with themselves and us.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 7 October 2019

28 proven exercises to access your full capabilities from Ryan Holiday

I've contemplated and acted on this wonderful guest post by Ryan Holiday on the Tim Ferris blog.

And I've ordered the book!

My favourites from the blog post are:
Realise you have plenty.
Develop your values - memorialise them.
Be present.
Detach From Outcomes.
Take walks.
Cultivate relationships.
Do Good.

Your favourites?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Unplugging for best health and well-being (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

A year ago I took a month off from all forms of media, social and mainstream.

I learned many things including the immense value that comes from having a couple of hours extra per day to be a better human, and to better experience nature and other humans.

I learned that conversations in person and online are so much better when there isn’t a smart phone distracting or disrupting us.

I learned life is so much better with less negativity, self-interest and bias, and the bullshit (fake news, lies and propaganda) of all forms of the media.

Overall I became much more relaxed.

Since then I’ve integrated being unplugged from technology as a part of my daily life. I feel a better human.

Living a life without the constant noise of technology in the background means that my life is more peaceful and in harmony and flow.

In person with family, friends, colleagues and clients is the place to be for me. Online still has a place in my future particularly in increasing the value of my relationships with my community through technology like Zoom as well as conducting a lot of my mentoring with clients also using Zoom.

The big difference is that I’m much more deliberate in scheduling my time online. I've lost interest in algorithms and their undue influence.

Just sitting and thinking and often just sitting are more of my practice now too. I’m less distracted by technology and more distracted by life in a non shallow way.

I’ve become more valuable to the people who matter in my life.

Is being unplugged from technology a key part of your daily routines and rituals?

The great paradox of all this for me is that I am being more productive than I’ve ever been!

When was the last time you switched off from all forms of technology?

Being unplugged from technology daily is a part of the work of the Simplifier, one of 5 essential roles for seeing and bringing the best out in people, including yourself.

Simplifiers are masters at achieving results through quantum leaps, i.e. small significant shifts, and aggregating marginal gains.

Here's a pulse check for you to complete to see how you’re going in each of the 5 roles.

These are three great books that have helped me to integrate being unplugged for a part of each day. I highly recommend getting these books yourself Essentialism, Deep Work and Digital Minimalism.

The essence of being a essentialist is the concept of “less but better”.

One way that I have embraced “less but better” is to have my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly rituals documented on one page.

Here's my one page rituals document.

I highly recommend developing your own rituals on one page as a key to being unplugged for your best health and well-being as well as living your most productive life.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

M.I.C.E could be the reason we lack grown up politics

My wife and I are really enjoying the series about Danish politics on SBS called 'Borgen'.

We're into season 3 and a comment by a spy in one episode got me thinking. He said there are many reasons why people betray their country Money, Ideology, Crime and Ego.

Could explain a lot as to why we lack #grownuppolitics in our world right now. Your thoughts?

Good news though. Trump, Johnson and Morrison are doing their best to free us from them through their own extraordinarily dumb rhetoric.

The photo below says it all for me. Source unknown.

Be remarkable.

Friday, 27 September 2019

21st century management is never about telling people what to do

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

When I left the corporate world in 1990 to start my professional practice as a mentor I conducted a number of seminars to showcase my work in front of possible clients.

At one seminar, and in a room full of mainly CEO’s, I declared people management dead and that there was a new management happening that was all about processes in support of people bringing their best to their work.

There were a lot of sniggers in the room and a couple of out loud laughs.

I didn’t leave the venue that day discouraged though because two people thought my insight deserved further discussion. They were both to become major clients.

There’s nothing derogatory happens when I make the statement today. Only a few conservative white males are hanging onto to the old command and control of people management.

They are oblivious to the fact that even the so called father of management Peter Drucker always knew that trying to manage people is a bad idea.

My insight in 1990 was not based on Drucker or any other guru, rather personal experience.

I had invested 15 years into learning how to lead people well. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that telling people what to do and trying to control their actions was never a good idea.

What I learned was that the role of a leader was to see and bring out the best in people and that to do so requires processes that fully support people in bringing their best to their work.

In the 30 years since and through working with over 1000 leaders, women and men in more than 40 countries, I’ve learned over and over that processes include policies, procedures, practices, principles, philosophies, structures and systems. All of these need to align and must mean that is is simple for people to bring their best to their work.

I have arrived at several conclusions after 40 years of studying and observing leaders and leadership and through working up close and personal with leaders. One conclusion I make is that there are 5 roles to be mastered in order to see and bring out the best out in people, including yourself.

I’ve already explored some aspects of these roles in the past. As part of writing a book on them I will be sharing further in future posts and podcasts.

For now you may wish to complete the pulse checks here to see how you're going in these 5 roles.

21st century management, the art and science of ensuring your processes, policies, procedures, practices, principles, philosophies, structures and systems are in alignment and mean that is is simple for people to bring their best to their work is a part of the Systemizer role.

Recommended action

Begin today to systematically review all of your processes, policies, procedures, practices, principles, philosophies, structures and systems with your people and update them to better reflect seeing and bringing the best out in people.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Is anyone actually endeavouring to find a cure for cancer?

Excuse me sir "Will you support research to help find a cure for cancer?" says the kid rattling the tin.

I say no I won't. Not without fully knowing who will be doing the research, what previous research they are building on, and who else is funding the research.

The following is taken from the Cancer Council of Victoria's 2018 Director's Report. I can't see anywhere that they are actually trying to find a cure for cancer. I assumed it would have to be part of their activities.

The more I look there and elsewhere I get the same result. Is anyone actually endeavouring to find a cure for cancer? 

My wife and I are both cancer survivors. We've both been given death sentences. We have met a lot of caring people in the medical world, yet no-one, never, has ever talked to us about cures so we do our own research and get on with living.

We're learned that diet, exercise and attitude are the 3 keys to living well.  We have also learned that there are many, many alternatives available to the chemicals most doctors prescribe and that actually in general terms have a very low success rate.

What's your experience/awareness? 

Please feel welcome to email me your insights. My email is

Be remarkable.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Follow your bliss

In the past few days I've been upgrading my Performance Possibility Plan on a page for the October - December 2019 quarter. You can download it and the template I use here.

Part of my planning has involved revisiting this great book that was published in 1946 yet still a highly relevant resource.

I've also been watching again the wonderful 'Power of Myth' series on Netflix.

Joseph Campbell's concept of follow your bliss has always intrigued and inspired me as well as greatly influencing my work for the past 30 years.

Follow your bliss

According to Joseph Campbell it's “identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it.

In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.”

Learn more at the Joseph Campbell website.

In my case following my bliss is three-fold:

1) Research, write and publish insights, inspiration and ideas that my clients and colleagues also working in people development and business process improvement find highly valuable.

In the first instance I publish here on this blog and the best valued become part of my complimentary resource here.

2) Present/explore insights, inspiration and ideas online first Mondays (February through November) and in person third Wednesday’s in Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne (February through November
except July). Learn more about my events here.

3) Work two days per week online and/or in person with a small number of individuals and groups as they implement and integrate insights, inspiration and ideas in their own best way. Learn more about my professional services here.

What is your bliss?

How are you following it?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Sustaining shared-view in seven areas of significance - part seven - culture

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is the final in a series of seven about arguably the most powerful philosophy that I work with my clients on. I call it shared-view.

In the workplace to be remarkable we need a shared-view in what I call seven areas of significance:  reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress, and culture.

Today we're exploring culture.

Here's the Reality post and podcast.

Here's the Possibility post and podcast.

Here's the Purpose post and podcast.

Here's the Strategy post and podcast.

Here's the Execution post and podcast.

Here's the Progress post and podcast.

I’ve been referencing throughout this series a short paper that I published recently about shared-view which you can download here. There's also a designated page at my website where there's short videos on each of the seven.


Corporate anthropologist Michael Henderson says "Culture is; “What it means to be human here.” (‘Here’ being wherever you are referring to when talking about a culture.) I have always loved Michael’s definition.

Typically culture is described as "the way we do things around here." I believe this is only part of the story. Who we are as human beings precedes what we do, hence my mantra ‘who before do.’ 

My friend and colleague Steve Simpson created a concept called UGR’s i.e unwritten ground rules.

I very much align with Steve and refer him to my clients where appropriate.

I believe that the key to culture is agreeing to a set of behaviours that demonstrate how we live our values.

Lately I notice conversations about so-called 'traditional values' have entered the mainstream, particularly through religious and political leaders, yet also by citizens in reference to them. I find this all ironic given both religious and political leaders as a generalisation have a lot to answer for when it comes to not living their values!

Most organisations have values described in single words. Only the most remarkable have agreed behaviours about how their words are lived.


Over time and involving every member of your team turn your values (those single words) into virtues ("behaviours showing high moral standards”).

Below are two examples from Netflix and a small Australian organisation The Physio Co that was voted 7 years in a row as a top 50 best place to work.

At The Physio Co one of their values is Be memorable Behaviour wise this means:

At Netflix one of their values is Communication. Behaviourally for them this means:

You listen well instead of reacting first, so you can better understand

You are concise and articulate in speech and writing

You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you

You maintain calm poise in stressful situations.

Your turn. Your work will lead you to what Dov Seidman calls sustainable values which will set you apart from most organisations who only have situational values.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Real leadership is childlike, never childish

You can download this post as PDF here.

“Four year olds speak the truth.” This is one of many great reminders about how to be in the world from the wonderful television series on ABC TV Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds. You can watch the show here.

We need more childlike leaders.

What we’ve got is a lot of leaders, particularly political, religious and business figures whose behaviour is often childish. You know who these people are of course because you scratch your head, raise your eyebrows and/or just sit there with your mouth open like I do!

God forbid you may even have some of these clowns in your workplace.

The TV show demonstrates delightfully that four year olds don’t just speak the truth, they are also candid, curious and caring all at once.

We need leaders living these characteristics out loud, and desperately. There’s a planet to save and peace to be made for goodness sake.

Behaviour is so childish across the political spectrum that I’ve gone on a quest on Twitter to help bring in #grownuppolitics. This is a work in progress.

In business for over 30 years I’ve been helping leaders see and bring the best out in themselves and other people. Truth, candour, curiosity and caring are all essential to see and bring out the best in people.

And then there’s love.

One of my favourite authors Steven Farber has just released his book 'Love is just damn good business'.

His title is a fact in my experience that more and more people are embracing. You?

I find people need to feel valued, then fulfilled, before they can feel loved.

People feeling valued

In remarkable organisation’s there’s a strong, unbreakable bond between people feeling valued, living values, and delivering value. Remarkable is rare.

Most organisations have stated values. Very few are lived. Rarely is there a shared-view around the behaviours that demonstrate your values. Of course if you are the exception rather than the rule you have competitive advantage.

To help your people feel more valued, your first step is to agree with them about what your values are.

There must be alignment between personal and organisational values. Any disconnect means trouble. The good news is that there are many universal values. The second step is crucial, it’s about reaching a shared view with your people about what behaviours mean you live your values. Learn more about shared-view here.

With the above as a foundation you can accurately determine and agree on what value must be delivered to all the stakeholders of your organisation. Delivering value to others that they demand, desire and feel that they deserve is fundamental to helping people to feel valued.

Living values and delivering value pave the way for appreciating people which is also fundamental in helping them to feel valued.

The eminent psychologist and philosopher William James famously observed:

"The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

There are many simple and common sense actions for expressing your appreciation to your employees. All of them contribute to them feeling more valued.

Here are just a few
Catch people doing things right and doing the right thing.
Give people genuine compliments.
Informally and formally celebrate with people what is going well for them.
Always say please and thank you and mean it.
Be courteous and kind.
Share stories about the successes of your people.
Be compassionate.

A further simple yet profound way to help people feel valued is to find out what is really important to them and then help them to achieve whatever it is.

The more people feel valued, the more they will deliver value to others, and the more they will live the behaviours of your values. You can see why I say that there ought to be a strong, unbreakable bond between values, value and valued.

People feeling fulfilled

I love the word fulfilled because of what it means “satisfied or happy because of fully developing one's abilities or character.”

There are some great synonyms for fulfilled as well like “realized, carry through, accomplish, execute, carry out.”

The number of employees you have who you could say the above about I guarantee that your business results are a direct reflection.

Often when I begin change initiatives with organisations I interview the leadership team and the people that report to them to get a sense of who is willing and able to change. I end up with a rule of thumb assessment of where people are at in the following four categories:

I then dig deeper checking the vital signs of employees feeling fulfilled or not.

I am particularly interested in employee turnover and why people are leaving and staying. I also want to know the amount of time leaders are spending trying to sought out so-called people problems. Low employee turnover is a sign employees feel fulfilled. The less time leaders are spending trying to solve people issues is also a sign.

I then dig deeper still. I want to know what the majority of people feel and think about the following three statements:

We understand the defining moments in people’s lives and help them to bring the lessons learned in these moments to their work.

We are aware of and have continual conversations with people about what really matters to them.

We help people identify what is special about them, their unique gifts/talents, and then make it simple for these gifts/talents to be enhanced.

If I find that less than 90% of the time people feel these statements are true, then I know that the organisation has got work to do.

Once I have done my investigative work as described above I design a program with my client to close performance gaps.

The outcomes of such programs are directly and indirectly connected to increasing the number of employees who are fully alive.

Fulfilled human beings are spiritually alive, emotionally healthy, mentally alert, physically active, and universally aware.

The above diagram is from book Remarkable Workplaces. You can download it along with my other books and resources, all from the one PDF file here. 

Imagine even just a small increase in the number of your employees feeling more alive!

People feeling loved

Most people live in fear.

Most people are frightened of being hurt. 

Most people fear they won’t be liked if they take a certain action. 

Most people fear losing. 

Most people fear the possible consequences of naming the elephant in the room - the obvious truth that is being ignored or going unaddressed.

I drew a laugh one time when someone in a meeting asked me for my thoughts. Without referring to anyone in particular I said “I can’t speak at the moment because the elephant in the room has got her foot on my throat.”

After the laughter died down and a long silence, the person we probably all least expected had the courage to finally name the elephant. Everyone felt better straight away.

I notice over and over that when fear is named it vanishes or at very least we feel able to confront it.

If you want to help people enhance their gifts/talents and to bring their best to their work then we must help them, support them, encourage them to face their fears.

The opposite of fear is love.

The Ancient Greeks had four words for love. You no doubt know two - eros (romantic love) and agape (love in a spiritual sense). The third is storge, meaning natural affection like parents feel for their children.
The fourth, philia, is the one I find the most insightful for our workplaces. 

Philia is often translated as affectionate regard or friendship. We need more philia in our workplaces.

I find it simple (not always easy) to have affectionate regard for people because I know everyone of us is a one-of-a-kind human being. Only the hardest of heart can’t not love a one-off.

When there is affectionate regard or friendship in our workplaces better performance follows. 

Usually in my experience very, very quickly.

In Q & A sessions that follow a lot of my presentations I often break the ice by asking people what they are passionate about. The most common answer is family. I then go on and ask the following four questions:

1. What makes great families great?
2. What do great parents do?
3. What do great life-partners do?
4. What do you notice about siblings who really get along?

Whatever the answers I then ask: What would happen in your organisation tomorrow if you began to apply the principles behind your answers?

I leave you to answer these questions and then apply the principles behind your answers in your workplace. 

Improved performance will follow your actions I promise.

“Love drives out fear” say many of the ancient texts in all sorts of ways.

“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” 
From the film ‘Strictly Ballroom’.

Helping people to feel valued, then fulfilled, and ultimately loved is grown-up work. The great paradox though is that being grown-up still requires us to tap into the key characteristics of our being a four year old, speaking the truth, and being candid, curious and caring.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Forging partnerships to create a tipping point in sustainability

This is a wonderful interview by David Lancefield and Jeremy Grant from strategy+business with Paul Polman the former Chief Executive of Unilever.

In this are a great deal of insights about how to lead a 21st century purpose driven company that is good for all stakeholders including our planet.

Some of Paul's words that I particularly like:

The average life span of a publicly traded company in the U.S. has dropped during my lifetime from 67 years to 17 years. I think one of the main reasons for that has been the myopic focus on shareholders and the increasing short-termism that has crept in.

Some companies have tried to compensate for their own successes by moving somewhat into corporate social responsibility or philanthropy and other things, but ultimately this all falls into the “less bad” category, and clearly we are beyond the point that the world can afford that. So companies need to think hard about having a positive impact.

If they do think about these models, then their development agenda is one of opportunity, and there is probably a bigger market out there waiting for them. And, actually, a very profitable market. Getting companies into this shift in mind-set from moving from CSR to what I call RSC — the “responsible social corporation” — is perhaps a big step, but very rewarding.

... keep it simple, in human language, from being a net taker to a net giver. Some people think greed is good, and some in the financial markets even more so. But generosity always wins long term.

Companies are a mere reflection of the human beings that make up that company. There is no reason companies can’t be more human either, and we somehow forgot that. Bringing companies back to humanity is what business leadership is all about: making positive contributions, trying to do that little bit more every day. This guarantees not only your company’s long-term reason for being, but also your financial success.

If you were coaching a new CEO in a large organization, what would you tell her or him to focus on first?

POLMAN: Fortunately, I come from a part of the country in the Netherlands where we keep both feet on the ground. So my first advice would be: Be a human being.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Sustaining shared-view in seven areas of significance - part six - progress

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is the sixth in a series of seven about arguably the most powerful philosophy that I work with my clients on. I call it shared-view.

In the workplace to be remarkable we need a shared-view in what I call seven areas of significance:  reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress, and culture.

Today we're exploring execution.

Here's the Reality post and podcast.

Here's the Possibility post and podcast.

Here's the Purpose post and podcast.

Here's the Strategy post and podcast.

Here's the Execution post and podcast.

I’ll be referencing throughout this series a short paper that I published recently about shared-view which you can download here. There's also a designated page at my website where there's short videos on each of the seven.


For most of my 48 years working life I’ve observed that in the very best workplaces progress towards shared objectives has been visible via scorecards and/or scoreboards of some kind.

In the 1990’s one of my clients was a train builder. I remember the whiteboards in the factory where about 300 people worked. Each whiteboard showed each team where they where at with their piece of the build.

When ‘The Balanced Scorecard’ concept began to be adopted from 1996 not only did the pictures get better, so did what was being pictured.

This was taken to a whole new level in 2011 when Teresa Amabile and her husband Steven Kramer published their book ‘The Progress Principle’, which was rated by Harvard Business Review as the breakthrough idea of 2010’s.

The key for me about ‘The Progress Principle’ is the insight "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

I’ve never thought much of the idea that what gets measured gets done. I’m much more aligned with the following statement by William Bruce Cameron in 'Informal Sociology' published 1963:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Making progress in meaningful work visible takes the old ideas of lead measures and KPI’s to a whole new level.

As an 18 year old my boss came to me one day complaining my sales were down on expectations. I complained I didn’t have enough prospects. He spun on his heels and left my office only to return 5 minutes later with a phone book.

Slamming it down on my desk he said “There are plenty of prospects in there!” He then went on to explain to me that all the prospects in the world matters little unless they are qualified.

He further explained that qualified prospects was a lead measure meaning if I had a certain number at any given time I would almost be guaranteed the number of sales I needed. I could increase the likelihood of sales even more he told me if I kept appointments (another lead measure) with a certain number of qualified prospects every week.

My boss was right, and understanding lead measures matter more than lag measures has stood me in good stead all my life. It means I am never worried about or in fear of the future providing I am doing what I know works for me in the now.

The world right now is attached to outcomes or lag measures. The economy is an outcome. Profit is an outcome. What really matters is progress that is meaningful.

‘Technology vs. Humanity The coming clash between man and machine’ by Gerd Leonhard and ‘Everybody Matters The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family’ by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia, are two of the books on my top 21 recommended business books.

Of the many great take aways from ‘Technology vs. Humanity’ the concept of "key human indicators" as a far better way forward than the traditional and tired KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) got me very excited and led to a lot of thinking about how I can best integrate the concept in ways that benefit my clients.

Of the many great take aways from ‘Everybody Matters’ " ... process must serve the people not the other way around ..." was a favourite and also resulted in a lot of thinking about ways my clients could benefit.

An appreciation of both “key human indicators” and “process must serve the people” are keys to making progress in meaningful work visible.


What are you currently doing in making progress in meaningful work visible?

What improvements will you make?

Please considering the following:

“Post-industrial business is about doing meaningful things with meaningful people in a meaningful way.” 
Esko Kilpi

Machines will soon do most of the algorithmic work, the simple, routine, and repetitive.

This means you have a great opportunity to be remarkable and to do work that is meaningful for you and highly valuable for others.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Before you consume, create

This is a great conversation between Bernadette Jiwa and Seth Godin.

Seth Godin : What we need to do now from Bernadette Jiwa on Vimeo.

Seth's comment towards the end is a great insight into being in the world today - "Before you consume, create."

Be remarkable.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Dealing with distraction in this digital, data dominated age

“Whenever a new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response…We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”
John Naisbitt

The above is quoted in this excellent piece 'Distracted: A Manual for Living a Creative, Productive, and Happy Life In the Digital Age', by Brian Solis.

I highly recommend diving deep into his article and taking action in your own best way.

"What we also need is a manual for living a modern lifestyle, one that sheds dated concepts and shares what it’s like to be mindful, aware, analytical and creative, what getting back to the best parts of an analog life combined with new digital capabilities looks like."
Brian Solis

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Sustaining shared-view in seven areas of significance - part five - execution

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is the fifth in a series of seven about arguably the most powerful philosophy that I work with my clients on. I call it shared-view.

In the workplace to be remarkable we need a shared-view in what I call seven areas of significance:  reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress, and culture.

Today we're exploring execution.

Here's the Reality post and podcast.

Here's the Possibility post and podcast.

Here's the Purpose post and podcast.

Here's the Strategy post and podcast.

I’ll be referencing throughout this series a short paper that I published recently about shared-view which you can download here. There's also a designated page at my website where there's short videos on each of the seven.


I observe 3 major reasons why most strategies don’t get executed according to plan.

Number 1: The people responsible for executing strategy haven’t been involved in the creation of the strategy and therefore don’t understand it and/or don’t own it.

Number 2. Each employee doesn’t their own piece of the execution plan documented. 

Number 3. Once plans are documented they are not referenced frequently in ongoing conversations about performance.

I gave you an immediately implementable solution to number 1 in last Friday's podcast and blog post. Today our focus is on number 2 and 3.

Strategy is your compass. Execution is your map. And every employee needs their own piece of your map.

When I was a boy I was always fascinated to watch my Grandmother Ruby Sherriff making quilts.

She would have individual pieces all over her house and then one day she would magically stitch them all together.

Each piece individually crafted yet only in all it’s glory when stitched together.

When everyone's piece is stitched together you have your execution plan. Not a strategic plan, an execution plan. This is where many organisation suffer. They have a strategic plan not an execution plan.

The best way that I know of for employees to create their piece of your map is one page plans. I call them performance possibility plans. At the bottom of this page you can download a template, my own plan and a blank for you to get started.

The best format I’ve co-developed with my clients over the past 30 years is to use the seven areas of shared-view as headings for your one page plans.

Reality, Possibility, Purpose, Strategy, Execution, Progress and Culture all on just one page

Imagine all of your employees owning their piece of the execution plan that is a part of your giant quilt map.

You can begin today. Check out my plan and the template at the link and get started.

Then the key to success is to use people’s performance possibility plans (PPP's) to focus conversations about performance. Once you are in the habit of doing this you will soon see performance improvement regardless of how good your current performance may be.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.