Start with fire


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When selling fire extinguishers, start with fire, advises an old adage. Yet I often see charismatic leaders who the minute they have to present morph into boring ole’ Clark Kent instead of Superman!

One way to channel Superman mode when presenting is to start strong. Why is this so important? Your audience is tough on bad starts: Sixty six percent of people said that they are unwilling to give someone who made a bad first impression a second chance, according to a recent Roy Morgan survey.  You get one shot at it. So start with fire, not kryptonite. There I blended both metaphors!

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Getting your a**e kicked – the dark side of leadership


Brene Brown

Within the first 18 months of setting up our business, we had an article published in The Age newspaper. It made massive waves, and our phones and inboxes began to overflow with great feedback.

The very next day, however, a vicious attack on the article from another consultant appeared in The Age, while online a ‘storytelling expert’ went ballistic with personal criticism that just kept snowballing. It was traumatic and humiliating. At the moment of our lowest ebb, the phone rang. It was a CEO we had recently worked with. He had never personally rung us before, but did now to say, ‘First of all well done for standing up for what you believe in.’ Then he added, ‘Every time you stick your neck out, there will always be someone who will try to kick it in.’ The CEO was empathetic, reminding us what the stakes are when you enter the arena.

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Do you have any lighter fuel?


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‘Do you have any lighter fuel?’ the interviewer asked Chris Darwin, Charles Darwin’s great-great grandson.

Once upon a time, Chris had a job where he had to wear a suit. Having tried it though, he decided that it wasn’t for him. It just wasn’t the right fit – and fit, he resolved, was going to be one of his priorities from now on.

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Be still my analogue heart!


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My godmother was in hospital a few years ago having her right knee reconstructed. On operation day, the surgeon came in and carefully marked her leg with a black texta before she was wheeled into the theatre. He wanted to ensure there was no mistake about which knee was due for operation! Isn’t it funny? Despite all our advancements in technology and medicine, this simple step with the most basic of tools is still crucial to preventing error.

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Social norms: your waiter says more than you think


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During a recent commute between meetings, I found myself tuned into an interview with a psychology researcher. The discussion focused on how restaurant-goers tend to order more when served by heavy waiting staff.

Diners ordered significantly more items when served by heavy waiting staff with high body mass indexes, compared with waiting staff with low body mass indexes,’according to research fromCornell University and the University of Jena, ‘The impact was the same regardless of the diner’s own BMI.’

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What is the opposite of courage?


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When Paul McCartney was in school, he was told he should give up music and get a ‘safe job’ in Liverpool’s then-thriving shipping or manufacturing sectors, just like everyone else. Thank god he didn’t follow that advice! The rest, of course, is history: he launched himself to stardom in the world’s most iconic band.

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My love bomb for you


bauble

Yes, it’s that time of year again: the tinsel is out, carols are playing, and countdown clocks with the number of days until Christmas are popping up everywhere. As if we could forget!

These reminders always make me both reflective and grateful for the year that was. I am grateful to do ‘work I love with people I like’ all over the world, as my mentor Matt Church puts it.

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Defying The F-Word


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The hermit crab lives in a salvaged empty shell. As it continues to grow, this shell eventually starts to pinch. The crab must then move into a new shell or die: its price for not changing is the steepest imaginable. So the crab leaves its shell and for a time is naked and vulnerable, an easy target for predators… Until it finds a new, bigger shell. What bliss when it does! It will live in its new home, enjoying the change it has made.

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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


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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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