What Stops You Having That Courageous Conversation? - By Jasbinda Singh

Whether you are in a leadership role or not, from time to time we all have to gear up and have those courageous conversations – the ones that we tend to avoid. And therein lays the trouble. The more we avoid these, the bigger the issue gets or the more it festers. As one senior leader put it, “if something isn’t feeling right, nine times out of ten, it isn’t!” And this means some conversation needs to take place – whatever the scenario and whoever your situation is with.

We all have different ‘brakes’ that we put on. This stops us from tackling what needs to be tackled. Some examples of thinking that get in the way include – “I will destroy the existing harmony” (what harmony - the current “walk on egg-shells” version of keeping peace?) or “if I ignore it, it will just go away” (with denial, the issue rarely just disappears) or genuinely not having the skills or confidence to deal with it (these can be learnt).

Consider that your ‘self-limiting’ brakes are very likely worse than what the possible outcome could be. When people including managers and leaders do take action, invariably the result is far better than what they had conjured up in their heads! Our minds have a tendency to blow up the worst case scenario. If the same energy is applied to some considered thought and planning in ‘tackling’ the particular situation, you can actually end up with some degree of relief and resolution if you deal with the situation, rather than “sweeping it under the rug”!

So what are your brakes? What do you say to yourself to avoid tackling what you need to? Having such conversations becomes even more critical where there are matters of fairness, justice and integrity. Imagine having taken the right action here. As a manager or leader, you will feel better for having done so. Through being authentic in expressing your intent, feelings and expectations, people will also know where they stand with you. Furthermore, you will be respected by your staff as being fair and not afraid to do the right thing.

If handled with care and due consideration, courageous conversations can pave the way for a better relationship between two parties. Most rational people get the intent of where someone is coming from. If you are coming from a clean, ‘uncontaminated’ place (not “out to get the other person”, make them wrong or humiliate them) at the very least, it can open up a positive dialogue and understanding for a way forward. It can bring the two parties even closer than before; be it at work or home.

Jasbindar Singh is an experienced business psychologist and leadership coach who is passionate about creating workplace excellence. She speaks on this topic along with employee engagement, leadership and “being in our groove”. She is also the award winning author of “Get your Groove Back.”


Social Media: Nothing But The Same Old Song - By Debbie Mayo-Smith

Social media. The experts have got it wrong, or maybe they’re too young and not experienced enough in business to understand the real point, the real value of social media to business today.

So I’m going to give you the Debbie Mayo-Smith view of social media, and as normal I’ll begin with a story.

Let me take you back to early 2001. It was early in my speaking career and I was dubbed The Email Guru. The internet was new, and I was one of the first in New Zealand pushing email as a fabulous marketing tool. For a year the subject hit with resistance and it felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall. Until finally, so much noise was coming from around the world that New Zealand businesses at last took notice. Back then my conversations and presentations centred on email. The different ways to use it in marketing. The benefits and cost advantage.

20 September 2002. Queenstown. B&D Garadoor Annual Conference. Top of the mountain in town at the Skyline restaurant conference room. Mid afternoon. My presentation on email marketing to the lovely contractors and business owners that worked with the company just finished. One of the gents came up to me and said “Debbie, I love your ideas. I can see how they would work well. But my problem is, I don’t have a database so I can’t do what you’re talking about”.

That simple comment was like a thunderbolt. It was both a slap and an epiphany. At that moment I realised two things. First that it never occurred to me that business owners would NOT keep a database of their clients and prospects. Second that I had the message all wrong. I had the wrong emphasis.

The song I should have been singing was the benefits to business of having a database and using it. Email was simply, is simply, the vehicle that carries the communication. The postman if you like. Nothing more.

Fast forward to 2010 and everything we’re hearing about social media is the same old, old, old message. It’s primarily the same that was said about how to use email back in the early days (as well as now).

· You should figure out a communication strategy
· You should have business goals in mind
· You have to add value
· You have to target
· You want to get it viral
· You have to make it interesting

Blah blah blah. You had to do this with email marketing. You have to do it with print communications. You have to do this with social media too. However because it’s interactive, you have to be prepared for written backlash.

The real point that everyone is missing is this.

You should view social media as your businesses (online) database of the decade.

Doing so puts social media in a new light.

As you know back in the early 2000’s email for marketing was King/Queen. Everyone loved it. Everyone freely gave their email address. It was sinfully easy to be new, innovative. There was no crowd. As that lovely gentleman reminded me in Queenstown, you needed a database to do it.

Here we are in 2010. What is the view on Email? Everyone is hassled and overloaded. Toooooo much email. It’s hated. Spam filters chew up most marketing emails. Many people use their smartphones to read email. It’s very difficult to naturally grow email lists. If a database is your answer to communicating with and earning more from your past present and future customers, yet email is losing effectiveness then what is an additional or alternative vehicle?

Yup. The likes of Facebook. Linkedin. YouTube. Twitter. By using these platforms well, you develop long online lists of Fans. Friends. Connections. Followers. You can get, hundreds, thousands of them. They give you the viral ability that email lost 10 years ago. As I said, social media is your database of the decade.

But it doesn’t stop there. Another phenomenally important aspect of social media is almost universally ignored. That is the ability for businesses, small and large, to use the free and easy (I call it freasy) technology to their advantage cleverly.

What do I mean by this? Here’s two quick examples

YouTube- how delicious to have a place to put videos – for private and public viewing and not incur one penny of cost for hosting or viewer bandwidth usage? We know the public use of YouTube – but how many are using it for hosting private internal training videos for example?

Facebook – forget about the personal profile pages. Facebook also has business fan pages and group pages. Where else can the legions of small businesses that have ignored creating a website do so for free? As a starting point website and a place to host pictures of products. No hosting, no domain, no bandwidth fees. Groups can be open or private. Who has thought of using the private group as an internal intranet, or forum for an association, franchise, national or international company? Of course you don’t own it and Facebook can take it down – but why not use it anyway in the short term?

In conclusion, the value of social media is twofold. First as the new freasy (free and easy) communication channel to strike up and maintain referrals and relationships with past, present and future clients/customers. Second as freasy technology to grab and use cleverly to save your business costs while improving internal and external communications.


CLARE FEENEY - Profit, people and the planet – how to achieve business success in all three areas
at the same time -

Climate change

Most of the world’s scientists believe that the human race’s increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called ‘greenhouse’ gases are causing global warming. While this sounds great if you live in a colder climate, in reality it will mean more weather extremes; more hurricanes, more storms, more droughts and more heat waves – and yes, some areas may experience more big chills, too.

These increased emissions result from our ever-faster use of the world’s fossil fuel reserves, until we reach ‘peak oil’ – the inevitable point at which the maximum global production rate is reached and after which the rate of production will decline. Some think we have already passed that point. The oil will not suddenly ‘run out’, but prices will rise, perhaps dramatically – and because everything in our global economy depends on fuel at some point in its life cycle (from extraction or growth, transport, manufacturing, use, recycling or disposal), everything will get more expensive in the future.

Carbon footprint

The amount of carbon a product or service demands is called its carbon footprint. Defined as the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted over its full life cycle, it is usually expressed as grams or tonnes of CO2 equivalents, to take into account the varying global warming effects of different greenhouse gases.

Sceptic or convert?

Climate change sceptics and converts disagree on whether global warming is happening and whether human activities are the cause. Converts think that reducing the carbon footprint of all our goods and services can slow the rate of climate change so we can avoid serious adverse effects on the planet’s weather, ecological and economic systems. However, many people – sceptics and converts alike – are worried about the cost of reducing carbon emissions.

Who cares? Let’s just make money!

Smart businesses that use resources efficiently and minimise the volumes of waste needing expensive disposal don’t need to be climate change sceptics or converts.

They just use their carbon footprint as an indicator of wasteful practices generally, and then work out how to reduce their inputs. So many resources need oil for extraction, processing, transport and use that any saving will reduce their carbon footprint.

More efficient use of inputs saves money and grows profits. At the same time, it benefits people and the environment in many other ways, regardless of whether or not climate change is happening, or whether we are or are not causing it.

What does this mean for manufacturing and construction companies in these tight times?

A smaller carbon footprint = a bigger bank balance

We can reduce the carbon footprint of our own activities, and we can help and encourage our suppliers and customers to reduce theirs. We can reduce the carbon footprint of our own activities in many ways, large and small, in the plant, on the site and in the office.

For example, we can:

• choose materials and designs that are more energy-efficient and less energy-intensive

• design for disassembly and re-use and recycling of all components

• choose the most carbon-efficient suppliers – these may or may not be local

• plan and manage plants and projects for maximum efficiency

• use recycled content materials where these are suitable

• use electricity more efficiently and reducing unnecessary use

• reduce air and other travel and support planting programs to offset residual emissions

• measure resource inputs, waste and product outputs and identifying where wastes come from and why they come from there.

Construction companies can also look at how to:

• design road routes and grades so that vehicles using them reduce their fuel use

• use construction resources efficiently to minimise wastes for transport off site

• increase the fuel efficiency of plant and equipment and reducing unnecessary use, including company motor vehicles including company motor vehicles

• minimise vegetation clearance on construction projects and replanting wherever possible, ideally using locally sourced native seeds.

• contribute to carbon sinks by supporting other replanting plans

• help staff to do the same in their work-related and private lives.

We all can help and encourage our suppliers and customers to reduce their carbon footprint

– and hence, our own – in a number of ways to:

• reduce the embodied energy (the amount of energy used to extract, transport and process materials) in major inputs to our processes, as well as in the manufacture of our plant and equipment and construction of buildings and roads

• use renewable materials as much as possible

• use environmental engineering solutions to manage our energy, water, stormwater and wastewater needs

• design and build energy-efficient products, buildings and infrastructure that use less energy to operate and maintain over their working life, can be easily maintained to extend their working life, and can be broken down into re-usable or recyclable materials at the end of it – the cradle to cradle (not grave) approach see

Compete in this economy and build a new one that will last

Consider moving from a product-based to a service-based model, in the way that Ray Anderson did for Interface Carpets. See
http://www.interfaceglobal.com/sustainability and http://missionzero.org/, and look for him on YouTube. This model truly has the potential to save the world – and as the Paris-based Matisse model shows (http://www.matisse-project.net/projectcomm/), has the potential to create not only more jobs, but more meaningful jobs.

Steps like these help us protect the environment while becoming more profitable.

The money we make today is also an investment in a future we can all live in.


ZUZA SCHERER - “Shut up and be happy you have a job!”

As if a recession was all they were waiting for, many managers rub their hands. Micromanagement and command and control leadership style are finally back and well. Spoiled, demanding, disloyal Gen Y, shut up and be happy you have a job!

OK, we get it. Many Gen Y (and non-Gen Y employees too) are very happy they kept their jobs in this hard time. The challenge for leadership is how you shift your employees from being happy they have a job, to actually harnessing their potential to help you survive the recession and to position your organisation to leapfrog the competition when the economy turns. Recession is a quiet time. It’s when incubation for great things to come can take place.

Gen Y have no legacy thinking. They question unnecessary processes and bureaucratic procedures you have grown to take for granted. Gen Y r usd 2 cmin up wid economic, cr8ive n ficient solutions! Sometimes, all you need to do is let them innovate. Right now your IT or design team could be out with the sales people meeting customers to understand their problems. Different departments should be communicating, sharing ideas and collaborating to create innovative new products and services, ways of providing services that would be faster, cheaper, simpler and more profitable.

Understand your young employees and you’ve got the key to your young customers’ mindset! Gen Y - not settled with big obligations, mortgages, kids etc – is now the only group left with disposable income. Your “twentysomething” employees who operate on Gen Y frequencies better then you ever will, can help you plug into Gen Y markets and out of the crisis! Company loyalty is not dead but it is also not the same as being thankful for having a job. It’s a myth Gen Y want to hop from company to company. But if all you have given them is a job, the minute the sun comes up and new opportunities arise, you will have to deal with a massive exodus.

Like other generations, Gen Y want a sense of purpose, they want to see a place for themselves in your company’s big picture. They want to hear about your long term plans and direction. All employees want to work for a stable company which will see the crisis to the end and be positioned for further success. This rough time is your opportunity for building a sense of loyalty within your employees by sharing the big picture with them, giving them a chance to be helpful and be part of the solution.

By the end of this bumpy ride, the only companies who made full use of their best guns will hit the ground running and take full advantage of opportunities that develop after the marketplace transforms itself. Will your company be right at the gate when it opens? Or will you fall behind your competition?


MARK BUNN: Economic Downturn Can Equal a Health Upturn

There is at least one positive thing to come out of our current economic times. Such circumstances actually create an unprecedented opportunity for us to take on some of the age old practices of the healthiest people throughout time. People don't realise that the same things that can substantially improve our health and well-being are the same things that can save hundreds of dollars off our weekly budget.

1. Drive Less, Walk (or Cycle) More:

For short trips, leave the car behind in favour of walking or riding. When driving to a restaurant or outing, rather than stress about getting a car park right out front, park 5 -10 minutes away and walk. You’ll save on petrol, parking fees and parking stress. You’ll get some more exercise and help yourself digest what you’ve eaten too much of at the restaurant when you walk back to your car afterwards.

2. Make Your Own Morning Health Juices:

If you buy your breakfast or regularly purchase fruit or vegetable juices (which is good), start making some of your own juices or smoothies at home. These are perfect for breakfast. Apart from being healthy and inexpensive they can be very filling. All you need is a blender or juicer. Despite an initial cost outlay if you don’t already own one, within a few months you will be saving loads and getting the healthiest possible product. You’ll get some extra exercise cleaning up…the one downside! Find some Healthy Smoothie Recipes

3. Eat More Fruit & Veg and Less Meat:

Heavy, hard to digest red meats have rarely been eaten more than occasionally in the large majority of the world’s longest-living cultures. Not only is red meat relatively expensive, regular consumption (even in moderate quantities) is known to increase every major Western disease – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity (how many overweight, diabetic, heart diseased traditional Chinese people do you see? And no it’s not genetics!)

Cutting some your red meat intake in preference to adding some more wholegrains fruits and vegetables will cut chunks off your weight, your chronic disease risk as well as your weekly food bill.

4. Grow Some of your Own Veggies (or Herbs):

One of the most popular trends in the last 12 months has been in the growth of home or community gardens. This is not practical for everyone but there is arguably no greater single thing we can do for our health than to have such fresh, maximally nutritious foods. Vegetables such as silverbeet, english spinach, cos lettuce, rocket and tomatoes are easy to grow. If a veggie patch is too much trouble, herbs like parsley, basil, mint, chives and rosemary are easily grown in pots. They even regenerate after you have picked them. You can grow organic and pick what you want when you want it. Compared to supermarket produce, as well as saving you a fortune, the long-term health benefits are incalculable.

5. Nourish your Emotional Health & Savour the Simple Things in Life:

When most of us think of health, we think of diet and exercise. However, the healthiest and longest living people throughout time, as well as the latest modern science, show beyond any doubt that our emotional connections deliver by far the greatest benefits to our health. While spending lots of money on gym memberships, de-stress holidays or ritzy restaurants can all be good, don’t overlook the simple pleasures (that don't cost a cent) of connecting with friends and family. How about baking some home made cakes or having a movie night with homemade popcorn with the kids instead of expensive outings with lots of junk food? How about a picnic, a dinner party, a BBQ or a games night at home. The greatest (and cheapest) medicine Mother Nature has given us is in connecting with those we love.

6. Start a Regular Stress Reduction Technique:

Stress is well known as the number one cause of ill-health. Often we don't realise that the reason we smoke, eat too many sweet foods, eat or drink too much generally, or do any number of health compromising behaviours is because of ‘stress'. Although we don't always like to admit it, things like overeating and overdrinking have become our modern day 'stress management therapies'.

Why not use this time as a golden opportunity to start incorporating a better way to reduce stress in your life? If you don’t already, why not take up a weekly Yoga, Tai Chi or laughter therapy class? Even better, learn a proven stress reduction technique such as meditation. Meditation is the best tool for not only eliminating stress but increasing your mental clarity and over all productivity – the keys to peak performance. High achievers the world over meditate daily.

Every little bit of stress we eliminate can eliminate thousands of dollars over our lives in terms of reduced cigarettes, weekly junk food purchases or expensive health retreat programs. Besides, despite how many people tell us that stress is just a part of modern life (usually those trying to sell us supplements), that’s rubbish! Stress is a potential killer, it’s no fun and we deserve better.

Honour your body and your precious life by de-stressing your life, starting today.

7. Appreciate the Eternal Cycles of Life:

Our wisest ancestors knew that just as day follows night and winter follows summer, what goes down will eventually come back up. Though things may seem somewhat bleak at present, the sun will rise again. As winter is a time for hibernating and getting strong for the warmer months, challenging economic times can be a golden time for simplifying our lives and returning to the eternal keys to health. Don’t just accept the cycle, ride it. Get more sleep. Buy health equipment while it's at all time lows. Spend more time with loved ones. If you aren’t as busy as normal….ENJOY IT!!!


RESILIENCEThe key to thriving in challenging times!

Our emotions got us into the recession. They can keep us there, or get us out of it. Ralph Brown has found a sudden interest in training staff in resilience, or mental toughness.

The interest is coming from the Government sector as well as business. Some are seeing it as a health and safety issue – to help their staff protect themselves from stress. Others see resilience training as a way of ensuring their staff see themselves as problem-solvers during the challenges of the recession, not just passive victims of it.

Resilience is the essential ingredient for thriving when budgets are cut, sales are down, when our jobs are threatened or gone, or when we are simply overwhelmed by it all. People who lack resilience can go into a downward spiral of lost confidence, worry, poor motivation, negative thinking and depression.

Researchers have revealed what the most resilient people do that most of us don’t. The differences are not profound, but they involve changing our thinking habits so that we think in healthy ways, every time. That may be as challenging as any New Year's resolution, but the research reveals that the benefits are life-changing - more optimism, more motivation, less stress and better health. It suggests that we'll probably live significantly longer too.

Resilient people and teams have a particular kind of optimism that helps them deal with reality, not avoid it. Telling everyone, 'Don't worry, everything will be okay' then doing nothing when you should, is simply denial. Getting up in the morning and proclaiming, 'It's going to be a wonderful day!' is commendably positive, but it's not real optimism either and your good feelings may not survive an encounter with a grumpy teenager or being late to work.

Real optimists see life as a journey with inevitable setbacks, not a series of gold medal performances. When they have a setback, they're clear that it is a setback, not a failure. In other words it's temporary. Significantly, their setbacks are no reflection on their potential, just opportunities to learn, or caused by events that are temporary. We can train ourselves in real optimism by forcing ourselves to take that healthy perspective on setbacks until we change our thinking habits.

Pessimists can believe that bad events, or setbacks, are their fault and long-term. They may think those setbacks or their failings will affect everything they do. Researchers have measured the effects of that kind of thinking on human immune systems. It damages our health. Your score on the optimism-pessimism scale at age 25 would be sufficient to predict your health 20 years later.

In a study of 800 patients at the Mayo Clinic, the optimists reduced their chances of early death by 50 per cent. Where others see hopeless recession, the world's resilient people see challenges and opportunity. They might not be able to influence the world economy, but they can make the best of their situation and be ready when the recession goes. They develop a plan as their first action. They have a reasonably accurate idea of how big the cause of their stress really is. They stay committed to their plan, their belief in themselves and to their relationships with their families, friends and colleagues, and know that they can call on those relationships in times of stress.

The most stressful way to handle the recession is to do nothing - and worry. Resilience is something we can develop on our own, within our business teams and in the family. It's a focus, a challenge and liberating!

Article by Ralph Brown ... ask us about his availability to speak to your people!