Friday 29 November 2019

The BS Free Workplaces Manifesto podcast and post

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

According to some we live in a post-truth world.

For me personally I’m more in alignment with Chris Katurna who says "Social media invites us to make a clear, historic choice: To declare that Truth is dead — or to resurrect it."

Watch Chris’ great 10 minute TED talk about this.

One place I know from personal experience that we can stand for and live our truth is the workplace. You may have to just start with your team.

My BS Free workplaces manifesto may help you. I first wrote this in September 2013 and I have updated it this month. It’s all one one page. Here's the PDF version.

BS Free workplaces - a personal manifesto by Ian Berry

The greatest nonsense, the biggest load of codswallop, the BS that is permeating most workplaces is seeing and treating humans as numbers, overheads, expenses, resources, assets, or capital.

My reason for being is to change this because we are none of these things. We are, every single one of us, a one-of-a-kind human being. When we are treated as such we respond in magnificent ways.

Creating workplaces free of BS is often hard, emotionally draining, exhausting work. We encounter self-serving, and greedy folk who think life is all about them. We run into fear, mediocrity and massive resistance.

For these reasons I can’t say that I have loved every minute of my work since I began my quest in 1991.

What I do love, with an abiding passion, is the progress and the results. 

I particularly love the defining moments I observe every week, often unexpected, usually a surprise to the person, when their light goes on and they bring their best selves (their essence) to their work.

There is nothing on earth as magnificent as a human being fully alive. When we remove BS, people come alive.

In workplaces where people have come alive people feel valued, live values and deliver value. Numbers are seen for what they are, results, not reasons.

Every business should make a profit. There is nothing evil about money. How we make it and what we do with it is what matters.

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

Our reason for being in business is about how we have personally chosen to serve humanity.

The trouble with BS about people is that we have become used to counting the wrong things. Millions of people feeling that they don’t count is the sad consequence.

At the heart of all the world’s troubles is seeing people as things, as means to an end, rather than seeing one-of-a-kind human beings that each of us is.

End the BS about people in your workplace and instead start seeing and bringing out the best in people, including yourself.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

How can we turn the bad of big into good?

When I say big I refer back to this post about 'the ecosystem of wicked problems' and the diagram there that mentions:


My personal interests in particular are in "BIG PHARMA, BIG BANKS, BIG TECH, BIG CHURCH " because I see them influencing so much of everything in our lives.

I would add BIG CORPORATIONS and BIG BUSINESS in general and BIG FOOD which is now greatly influenced by these two and BIG PHARMA.

Of course then there's the role of BIG in governments and economics which both dominate our lives and which I think in the main are both morally bankrupt.

BIG TECH, BIG BUSINESS, government and economics get a work out in this video which I watched over the space of about 10 hours. There's lots to contemplate!

Yet in this are many profound insights that can change the political and economic narrative and turn the bad of BIG, and the interference of government and our economic system in our lives, into good.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 25 November 2019

3 ways to shift when the status quo is no longer serving you

Below are the top 15 of the 48 books I have read so far this year. 50 books a year is a habit I've maintained for 30 years+ to meet my goal of staying in touch and being ahead of the game for my clients, as well as for my own enjoyment and contentment.

The last six books pictured all made it to my top 21 all time recommended reading list.

There's a common theme in all of these books. None of the authors are satisfied with the status quo, particularly when it no longer serves them or the world. And so they shift.

Insights from these wonderful authors and my own experience tell me that there's 3 ways to assuredly shift when the status quo is no longer serving you:

1) Make a deliberate choice that you're going to change yourself. Then change or modify your intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions. Different results are not possible without changing or modifying these. This is competing with yourself. More about this (and the other side of the coin, collaborating) here.

2) Make the changes deliberately small as in quantum leaps. Then as you progress aggregate your marginal gains. More about these two wonderful concepts here.

3) Celebrate progress. More about this here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 22 November 2019

The conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives manifesto (podcast and post)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is a manifesto I often embrace and help my clients to embrace too.

Please download this manifesto as a PDF.

Here's a companion podcast back on May 3rd.

The chances of failing with change initiatives are very high according to a vast amount of diverse research.

Following the 11 principles of this manifesto in your own best way will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Principle 1

You can’t manage change or people.  Stop trying to. You must lead.
Give people genuine hope, inspire them, and then enable adaptability.
A change initiative not in the context of these 3 is likely to fail.

Principle 2

Don’t speak BS and don’t take any from other people either.  Candour is the new competitive edge.

Principle 3

There are three worlds.  The world in here. That’s my world.  The world out there. That’s your world.

Then there is the world we share. Shared-view or common-ground, or third alternative is the only one that really matters in conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives.

Principle 4

There is nothing flashy or fake about charisma. Real charisma is your unique gifts/talents. Your real work as a leader is to bring your gifts to your work.

And your number one role: help other people unearth and unleash their gifts, and then enhance them.

Principle 5

Create with your stakeholders a compelling story about why change is essential.
It must be an authentic, relevant to stakeholders story that other people see themselves in.

Principle 6

Communication is a two-way street.  Never forget it. Sending a message isn’t communication, receiving one isn’t either. Communication has occurred when two or more people agree on what’s next.

Principle 7

Compete with yourself. You are the only one you have to beat. You are responsible for your intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions, never anyone else’s.

Principle 8


Principle 9

Celebrate what’s working and what’s not. Create an action plan 90 days at a time to keep doing what’s working and changing what’s not.

Principle 10

Culture and community. These two are joined together because feeling we belong matters. First place home, second place work.  Change initiatives must enhance belonging in both. And find third places to belong to as well, otherwise you’re living a two-dimensional life in a multi-dimensional world.

Principle 11

Change is continuous. Sustainability matters. It’s a reason and a result. Embrace continuity. Leave a legacy while you are alive.

Context, candour, common-ground, charisma, compelling story, communication,
compete with yourself, collaboration, celebration, culture and community, continuity.

Embrace these principles in your own best way and not only will you thrive on the challenges of change, you will conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The ecosystem of wicked problems with thanks to Christian Sarkar and Philip Kotler

I printed out the diagram below and placed it on the whiteboard in my office.  I've invested a part of each day for the past week studying it and deciding what more I can do to help solve the world's problems and overcome the challenges affecting us all.

Links that I've found very valuable:

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 18 November 2019

Lead with value and values, never with ideologies or belief systems

There's a crisis of leadership in the world today. The trouble I think is ideologies and belief systems.

Absolutely fine to have these of course. Just can't lead effectively from them because other people don't necessarily see the world as you do. Aside from self-leadership, leading for others and leading for leaders is all about other people.

To really lead we must honour different perspectives and lead with the value we deliver and the values we live by. Not the words on walls and in annual reports rather the agreed behaviours.

The consequence of such leadership is that people feel valued.

Where are you leading from?

Be remarkable.

Friday 15 November 2019

The 20 Foundations of Real Leadership (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer makes interesting reading on a number of fronts.

Two lines stand out for me

“People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”

“Employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.”

Real leadership is the key to crossing the bridge from business as usual to the new world of work.
In 2005 I put together a list of what I called the 20 foundations of real leadership. I updated the list slightly in 2012 and I’m updating the 20 again today. I have to say that not a lot has changed. Some things just stand the test of time.

1. Real leaders walk the talk

Some people have heard the talk, don’t believe it and therefore don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, believe it, but don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, talk the talk, but still don’t walk the talk.

Real leaders rarely talk the talk, they just walk the talk.

2. Real leaders ask more questions than they give answers

Anyone can talk all day about what they know. Real leaders don’t ramble, they ask questions in preference to giving answers, using words powerfully but sparingly and listening more than speaking.

3. Real leaders share insight far more than information

When real leaders do speak they concentrate on sharing insight. Any fool can disseminate information. Real leaders see through the overload of information and share only what really matters.

4. Real leaders care about wisdom more than knowledge

Knowing what to do is one thing. Doing it successfully is another thing altogether. This is wisdom.

5. Real leaders have a cause beyond profit

The main reason we should be gathering together in networks of relationships (organizations) is to create value for others. Profit is a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business. Find your cause, your reason.

6. Real leaders focus on helping others achieve what is important to them

Zig Ziglar was 100% right. “Help others get what they want and you will get what you want.” Real leaders get what they want simply by helping others get what they want.

7. Real Leaders are heroes in their own homes first

If you can’t inspire your family forget about being inspiring for those you work with. If you can’t communicate with your kids you’ve got no hope with anybody else.

8. Real leaders actually communicate

Communication has only occurred when two or more people have actually agreed on something even if that agreement is to disagree.

There's only two fundamental reasons for human conflict; disagreement about the direction/goal, or disagreement about how to get there/achieve it.

9. Real leaders bring everything they are to everything they do

I am amazed at how many people I have met who are terrific people in the general community but apparently brain dead at work. To see life and work as separate is a recipe for unhappiness. The trick is to find harmony between what are two sides of a coin.

10. Real leaders inspire hope

Many citizens of planet earth have had their dreams shattered by war, famine, disease and increasingly floods and fires. Like no other time in history we must be leaders who inspire hope.

11. Real leaders manage processes, energy and focus

Leadership is about effectiveness, management is about efficiency. We need both.

Effectiveness and efficiency require astute use of our energy and focus and the creation and maintenance of processes that support people in being the best they can be.

Remember my input from previous podcasts. Processes include policies, principles, procedures, practices, philosophies, structures and systems.

12. Real leaders understand and use common sense

Staggering as it is, common sense is often the most uncommon thing.

Tap into universal, emotional, mental, and spiritual common sense. The physical senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are important but often they are just clues to truths that are far more important.

13. Real leaders live in the now yet clearly see the future

Now is the only time that really counts. However to not be clear on where we are going is a waste of the power of now.

14. Real leaders respect learning and are committed to life long learning

When we stop learning we die. Every action, transaction and interaction is an opportunity for learning.

15. Real leaders live a defined and measured set of values

To create value we must be valuable. Our worth to others has much to do with the values we live by. Many organisations parade their values however unless they are clearly defined behaviours and people are held to be accountable to live them, they are mostly just empty words.

16. Real leaders thrive on the challenges of possibility

Nothing is impossible.

There is a solution to every problem and a way out of every difficulty.

Life is meant to be challenging however all of the ancient texts promise us we are never challenged beyond our capability to triumph.

17. Real leaders laugh a lot, particularly at themselves

Telling stories that contain self depreciating humour are the most powerful form of influencing others to become who they are capable of becoming.

18. Real leaders tell the truth as they see it

I have been thrown out of a few organisations because I told the truth as I saw it. I have no regrets.

19. Real leaders create a culture based on serving others

Create a culture based on serving others and you will draw customers/clients to you like a magnet.

20. Real leaders are people of character

The most powerful force in the world is to be trusted. To be trusted means we must be people of genuine character.

Each one of us has the most incredible opportunity to make a profound difference to the lives of people we live, work and play with. It takes character, resolve, resilience, commitment and skill, what I call willability.

The previous 20 foundations of real leadership are powerful platforms to ensure we live a life that is a positive influence on others.

Be the leader you would follow.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

How do you talk to yourselves in your mind (positive or negative)? guest post by Jeremy Deedes

This is a guest post by Jeremy Deedes.

Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash

Negative self-talk is a consequence of stress;
it can damage your effectiveness and should be remedied
before it reinforces a vicious cycle.

Like most human beings, I sometimes suffer from a tendency toward negative self-talk. In neurological terms, this usually arises when I am stressed. Stress affects my pre-frontal cortex (PFC), upsetting its neuro-circuitry so that it fails to work correctly.

The PFC sits just behind your forehead and, in evolutionary terms, is the most recent addition to the brain. Often referred to as the CEO or conductor, the PFC plays a crucial role in day-to-day life, overriding the instinctual flight or fight responses generated by the older reptilian brain. The primary motivational emotions around hunger, reproduction and nurturing generated by the limbic system also become subservient to the PFC.

Amy Bran, a coach and neuroscientist, defines the role of the PFC in terms of higher-level cognitive functions such as information processing, planning, decision making and social relationships. It also provides humans with the ability to postpone immediate gratification in favour of longer-term benefits.

Negative self-talk stems from stress

Given its multi-functional role, it is not surprising the PFC uses a lot of energy. Stress diminishes the PFC’s ability to use energy. When this happens, your PFC does not function properly. As Bran says, you become lazy, uninspired, distracted, disorganised, forgetful, emotional — and prone to negative thoughts and negative self-talk.

So, in neurological terms, stress can cause you to talk negatively to yourself. You would assume this is a bad thing, and you would probably be correct. However, it is arguable that negative self-talk has a specific benefit, namely that it acts as a warning bell. Of all the ‘symptoms’ of a poorly functioning PFC listed above, negative thoughts are easily identifiable, immediate and actionable.

Generally speaking, negative self-talk is, well, negative. It harms your behaviour. This can damage your ability to function well, instigating a vicious cycle of stress, poor performance, negative self-talk and yet more stress.

Avoiding the cycle of negative self-talk and stress

How do you avoid this cycle? Well, relieving your stress is the obvious answer. However, depending on your circumstances, this may not be immediately achievable. In that case, your first port of call might be to turn your negative self-talk into positive self-talk.

  • Instead of ‘but’, use ‘and’ (this small change is so powerful it can make you completely rethink your thoughts and ideas).
  • For ‘if’ use ‘when’.
  • Replace ‘I will try to…’ with ‘I will…’
  • Turn problems into challenges or obstacles.
  • Instead of ‘Don’t do this’ use ‘Its better to do this’.
  • Turn ‘Don’t forget to…’ into ‘Be sure to set a reminder to….’
  • For ‘I’ll try to do this by Thursday’, give ‘I’ll definitely have this finished by Friday’ a go.
  • Flip phrases to include a solution. ‘You will be tired after your journey’ becomes ‘Remember to give yourself some time after your journey to recover’.
  • Instead of ‘Unfortunately we are unable to do that’ write ‘Fortunately we can do this’.
  • Remove negative words or words that hold back: ‘You will probably be good at this’ becomes ‘You will be good at this’.

You can find further examples in the Mayo Clinic article about the power of positive self-talk to reduce stress.

Another school of thought argues you refer to yourself by your name and not as ‘I’. Ethan Cross and others from the Universities of Michigan and Berkely hypothesise that self-talk is a regulatory mechanism. In their paper, they describe how LeBron James made a significant and life-changing decision.

Its all in the name

LeBron James played basketball so well that in 2010 he faced a tough choice. Should he stay with the small-market team that had been his home since he started playing? Or should he move into the bigger league? In an interview after making his decision, James said this. “One thing I didn’t want to do was make an emotional decision. I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy”.

The authors of the paper highlight the switch from “I” to “LeBron James” in the statement. They argue it is a deliberate move that ‘influences people’s capacity to control their thoughts, feelings and behaviour’. The authors suggest that ‘using one’s own name and other non-first-person pronouns to refer to the self during introspection is a form of self-distancing that enhances self-regulation.’

Thinking, speaking, writing positively

These examples are not, of course, just about self-talk. To be really useful include these variations in your conversations with others and in your writing.

Finally, we regard positive communication as an essential happiness habit. As such, we have included it in our Happiness Habits Programme. Positive thinking, talking, and writing will leave you feeling happier, more productive and more valuable.

References and further information

Mayo Clinic blog:

Kross, E et al. (2014). Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014, Vol. 106, No. 2, 304–324

With special thanks to Amy Bran, my sometime tutor and author of Neuroscience for Coaches: how to use the latest insights for the benefit of your clients, for her detailed explanations of the brain, its functions and the chemicals that have merged into the discipline of neuroscience.

Louise Orders at Dauntless Fitness provides a further take on the subject in her post ‘Say it like you mean it‘, in which she considers the importance of using ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I can’t’.

This post has been adapted from Jeremy Deedes’ original answer to a question asked by a Quora member.

Click the buttons at Jeremy's original post here to find out more.

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.