Why NOT in my backyard?

Difference in the group

A few years ago one of Australia’s leading retailers was preparing to open a flagship warehouse store near where I live in Melbourne. Many local residents were up in arms against the project but it went ahead – and today each of those same locals can be spotted happily shopping there on weekends!

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? While we might in principle agree with a change (like safe injecting rooms, or wind farms) we are often known to balk when change threatens the comfortably familiar – when it lands in our own backyard.

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How to do a Warren Buffett


When Warren Buffet was asked at a conference how he got smarter, he simply held up a stack of papers and said, ‘Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.’

In last week’s post, we figured out what to read. Our next challenge is learning to read both fast and smart. How can you get instant gratification from a book without having to plough through 50,000 words?

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Strategically Expanding Your Mind


In the film The Book Thief a young girl named Liesel finds solace through literature amidst the horrors of World War II Nazi Germany. One powerful scene depicts Nazi soldiers destroying books in a giant bonfire. They want to get rid of the words and ideas that books contain. Liesel finds the smouldering remains of three books and carries them home, hidden under her dress, almost burning herself.

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If It Ain’t Got That Swing!


I am so over passion, aren’t you? Lately the term “passion” feels like just another buzzword tossed around to sell someone or something. In business, you could define passion as deep expertise combined with a fervent enthusiasm for the topic, the product and the people with whom you engage. But I think there might be more to it.

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Do you have a TED talk in you?

QMDo you have a big idea to share and a compelling story to tell?

Are you passionate about voicing the big ‘why’ behind what you do to inspire your tribe?

Would your organisation or business benefit greatly from your own powerful TED-like talk to be filmed in front of a live audience?

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Beginner’s Mind, Zen Mind

buddhist_monk‘How do they get non stick material to stick on non stick pans?’ A user question posed to Richard Cornish, the columnist of Vexing Culinary Questions. Puzzled and unable to answer, he asked his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Simple,’ she replied, ‘It’s non stick on one side only!’

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How to use private discourse to surprise and delight your audience

political-discourseI was recently talking to the CEO of a large, global professional services company that had run a massive event for its clients. At the end of the PowerPoint central presentation, they asked members of the audience for feedback and received lots of polite positives.
The CEO, however, confided in us, saying: ‘We could detect a lack of sincerity in their voices.’ He was sensing the undercurrent of a conflicting private discourse. Private discourse is what people are really thinking but don’t say. Often private discourse can be masked by a very polite public discourse that conceals the truth.
The CEO was right! An anonymous online survey afterwards showed that attendees were less than impressed with the event. The CEO and his team listened to the feedback and substantially altered the next event. It was much more successful.
What happens when you become aware of the private discourse & it’s contrary to the public discourse? You can choose to step into a moment of authenticity and create a deep connection with your audience.
One of our clients Jack—was presenting at a roadshow. He told us employee attendance was compulsory, though he knew they would all be thinking but not saying: ‘Oh no, not another road show.’
Jack, as a senior leader, decided to step into the private discourse and opened by saying: ‘I know a
lot of you might be thinking: “Not another bloody roadshow!”
It was both unexpected and refreshing. His audience immediately burst into laughter. They’d been outed, but here was a leader who understood what they were thinking and feeling. They leaned in and listened.
Articulating the private discourse helps you show empathy and understanding for your audience, creating powerful connections and demonstrating courage.

Three Must Know Life – Changing Global Work Trends

YaminiI’ve just spent September criss-crossing the globe, working with leaders, entrepreneurs and educators in the UK, Canada and USA. Is there a point to this shameless bragging?! Yes: I discovered three emerging trends that fill me with optimism. 

The quest for purpose  

Businesses are in search of meaning. Hitting profit and performance goals alone seems strangely hollow. Companies now need to know what difference their work makes in the world. Leading this shift are companies likToms. The shoe company’s purpose is not footwear; it’s about improving lives. 

Dr Raj Sisodia’s book, Firms of Endearment, is a key work in the pursuit of a conscious approach to capitalism. Simply stated, doing good is good for business. Thought leader Carolyn Tate nails it when she declares ‘I believe the biggest disruption in the business world in the next 10 years is not going to come from advancements in technology, but from advancements towards purpose.’ 

The ‘humanising’ of work

This is my label for a smorgasbord of initiatives. A key focus is untethering employees from the 24/7 demands of technology. At the vanguard is German company Daimler which created a vacation email tool. Describing the impact, board member Wilfried Porth said: “Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails. With ‘Mail on Holiday’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”  

Author and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington’s work is seminal to this shift. Inspired by Daimler, she says: “At HuffPost we’ve always made it very clear that no one is expected to check work email and respond after hours, over the weekend, or while they’re on vacation.”  

While email might be the most insidious ball and chain that tethers us, there are many other imaginative ways to humanise work – it’s best to ask the humans in your workplace what would work for them. 

The rise of mindful practices in leadership and day-to-day business 

Mindfulness has gone mainstream more quickly than kale in the past decade, with the charge led by companies such as Google and Apple. While mindfulness might evoke stereotypical images of cross-legged Buddhist monks and incense, nothing is further from the truth.  

Harvard Business Review defines mindfulness as  ‘practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness’ and states that it changes the brain in ways that anyone working in today’s complex business environment – and certainly every leader – should know about. 

Backed by decades of robust neuroscience and delivering measurable business results (increased engagement, productivity and innovation) mindfulness allows the ability to focus, with a clear and calm mind.  

It’s the difference between working every day with a mind swirling with debris, or a mind as clear as a glass of water. Google now make its program available publicly through the Search Inside yourself Institute. 

Could all this be just a fad though? Like the wheatgrass shots of the ’90s? Two things feel right about these trends. The first is how aligned they are – previously we have always felt the contrary pull of decentralising versus centralisation, off-shoring versus on-shoring. Here, all three trends work in harmony: mindful leaders,leading purposeful work with employees in a humanised workplace. It ticks all my boxes.

It also feels right on another level. I don’t think we’ll look back on this – like we do with the  images of mullets from the 80’s – and say WHAT were we thinking?

In fact, we might look back and be able to pinpoint the exact moment when both work and business emerged as a force for good.

Books Referenced in the blog –


Small doors open into large rooms

Small DoorsThe 1999 movie, The Hurricane, was based on the true story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
Carter, a talented American/Canadian boxer, was twice controversially convicted of – and imprisoned for –
the same murder.
In the movie, his character says: “He who bemoans the lack of opportunity, forgets that small doors many times open up into large rooms.”
Sometimes the small things can make a big impact. So many of my clients work with thousands of other employees in large office towers in the city.
They share the lift with relative strangers, but strangers with whom they already have one vital connection: they all work for the same organisation. Each of these employees represents an opportunity to connect and engage in their
work and yours.
Mega-conglomerate, Google, spends vast sums on its workspaces, realising the power of people working face-to-face in common spaces.
They call it the power of the bump factor. People bumping into each other in the gym, in lifts, and the corridor strengthens the potential for collaboration, and for ideas to seed and grow.
One of the first and perhaps most controversial initiatives Marissa Mayer took as CEO of Yahoo was dismantling the well-entrenched telecommuting practice. She did so partly because of evidence it was being abused, but also to promote the power of people working face-to-face, and to give the organic bump factor a giant boost.
You will be delighted with the synergies and opportunities you find when you build those bridges and connections. What small doors are you going to open today?

Message mastery creates shift

imagesYoung men between 18 and 21 are at the highest risk in terms of road fatalities. But how do you get an 18-year-old man, who thinks he is invincible, to drive safely?

The New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) recognised the problem it had.   RTA knew the behaviour it wanted to shift. The challenge was to craft a message that would work for an audience that didn’t respond to conventional fear-based campaigns.

They went straight for the jugular, with a clever campaign based on the eternal attraction between the sexes, but with a simple twist.

Girls were shown watching a teenage boy speeding and behaving like a road-rager. In a simple but emotionally-charged gesture, they show the boy their pinkie fingers. It needs no words to explain that girls think boys who drive like maniacs are compensating for inadequacies elsewhere! 

This behavioural change crusade, known as the ‘pinkie’ campaign, was splashed across media and Clemenger BBDO Sydney executive creative director, Paul Nagy, explained the success: 

“It was memorable because it bucked the trend of speeding ads showing torn metal and shocking deaths. And it contained a brilliant insight: you speed to look big, but the very people you’re trying to impress think the exact opposite of you.” 

It’s funny and it hits the target audience where it hurts most: in the ego. What’s more, it worked. Pinkie’ became one of NSW’s most successful campaigns. Follow-up research showed three-quarters of young drivers said the ads had encouraged them to stick to the speed limit.

Statistics showed that in NSW, only a year into the campaign, 22 fewer P-plate drivers died compared with statistics from the year before.

Quite simply, ‘shift’ identifies behaviour, defines the new thinking or action required, and isolates the audience for whom the message is intended.  

Yet surprisingly few influencers start here.

What do you want to shift with your messages? 

Please comment, I love hearing from you.

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