Monday, 31 July 2017

My Coming Out - And Why

One month ago, I executed a decision made back in December 2016; I moved away from traditional or structured employment.

I was not retiring, simply changing the way I work and the work I do to generate an income.

It has been a coming out of sorts.

The reaction these last 4 weeks from many friends, family and acquaintances has certainly been interesting.

Overwhelmingly, there has been support if not a great deal of understanding .

There has been surprise as to why I would walk away from a role that paid particularly well and where I had enjoyed a degree of success.

Secondly, explaining the difference between retirement and stepping away from a traditional employer/employee relationship has been hard for others to comprehend.

In all cases, I am asked the same question – Why?

The answer is really quite simple; I am being true to myself.

I have often articulated to others a need to:

“Know why you do what you do, why you do it where you do, and why you do it with the people you do it with.”

I had reached a stage where I was unable to answer these questions in the positive.

For the past (almost) seven years, I have been clearly aware of why I was doing what I was doing. I had a clear picture of why I fronted each and every day and inevitably put in a 12-hour day. I was comfortable I had both the platform and support to execute my fundamental Leadership/Management philosophy. My beliefs and ethics were not compromised.
Interestingly, my Leader/Manager for much of this time fundamentally disagreed with my way of doing things, but never ever waned from his support for what and how I did what I did. It was a mark of a good leader. It is also a rarity.

This changed.

Through much change over these years I remained comfortable with the alignment of my ethics and intent, with those of my employer. Therefore, I clearly knew why I was doing what I was doing and also why I was doing it where I was doing it.

This also changed.

Finally, there were “people” changes over a period of 6 months, commencing in December 2016. This involved both the teams I was responsible for and then my Leaders and colleagues.

A key element of Leadership is walking the walk and talking the talk. So many Leaders fail the authenticity test in that they advise, coach and lead from a base they basically do not believe in, or do not believe in themselves, to live by and adhere to. They lack courage, they lack conviction; they talk the talk, they do not walk the walk.

I could no longer provide myself with an answer as to why I was doing what I was doing.  Furthermore, I no longer had the confidence I had the support to continue to operate within my own philosophical and ethical belief system. This in turn made the other question as to the leaders and peers I was doing it with, self fulfilling.

The decision to cease was easy. What has surprised many is that I did not seek the simplicity of another traditional employer.

One month on, I am most satisfied with my decision.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Friends Of Our Youth

There is something different about old friends.

They are both challenging and rewarding.

Today I spent time separately with two people I have known for 30 years or more.

Conversations were effortless and moved seamlessly between the past, present and future.

Events of the past were recalled with pleasure, satisfaction and at times, embarrassment.

The activities and achievements of children were shared as were plans for the next phase of life, the post work phase.

In one case, we discussed the changing work environment and the impact technology is having and will continue to have on future careers and working life. She shared a story of recently challenging her team to consider what their industry will look like in 10 years’ time; the impact technology will have and how to best prepare for it. She is a dynamic 60-year-old senior executive seeking input from a younger cohort to ensure her workplace is planning for changing times. The responses were uninspiring.

What was important is that even as her career is coming to its end, she is still planning for, thinking about and preparing her employers business for its next evolution even though she won’t actually be a part of it.

How many of us in the last few years of our career fall in to the trap of adopting a steady as she goes approach?

In the second case, we discussed retirement and the ever-rising cost of living. She is considering the merits of moving to live overseas as it is considerably cheaper than living in Melbourne.

I have heard various stories of retirees re-locating to Asian countries and recently read an article about retirement options in Europe. The world has genuinely changed when we can seriously consider retirement locations without being impaired by boundaries or borders.

What was most enjoyable about both “catch ups” was the openness of conversation, exchanges of views and judgement free nature of the interaction.

All too often we are at our most defensive and most protective when spending time with long standing friends. After all, they know us and our history. When younger, we are more fragile of ego and building of image and the temptation is to adopt the persona of our younger selves and not our evolved selves when conversing with those of our youth, or in these cases, of our teens.

All friends are important, valuable and valued. However, if we can break down the barriers of our ego, perhaps the most rewarding are those friendships of our youth that have endured the test of time and geographical separation.

Credit Where Due

Credit where credit is due.

The Go Card Public Transport system in Brisbane seems to work really well, be it from my limited experience.

You purchase a Go Card, add money, tag on and off at the start and end of a trip and your fare is paid. It operates equally on Bus, Train and Ferry.

There are Go Card top up machines at every station and banks of them at entrances to the main stations such as Central and Roma Street. I am not sure about Ferry and Bus stops.

It is simple and seemingly effective.

The MYKI system in Victoria is not.

First of all, at the ground level of Southern Cross Station in Melbourne City (formerly Spencer Street Station) there was a single MYKI machine. I discovered there are more upstairs but it is not obvious going upstairs is the better thing to do.

I needed to check the balance on my 18-month-old MYKI Card. It had a balance of a couple of dollars so I sought to add funds. I selected MYKI Card, followed by Zone 2 as I knew I would be traveling in to that zone. I then selected $28.00 from the menu options.

My subsequent train trip was ok, I tagged on to gain entry to the platform and tagged off again at Mitcham.

Two days later (Friday), it worked perfectly again, in reverse.

Feeling confident, I presented for my return trip some hours later, tagged on to enter the platform and the gateway did not open. Trying several times, I bailed out as the feeling of impatience from the queue growing behind me was growing.

Back to my faithful machine and the balance showing was 40 cents.

All of a sudden train travel in Melbourne seemed very expensive.

Two queues later, I discovered I should have selected MYKI money (not Card) and by selecting Zone 2, my card would only work properly for travel within that zone.

But, the quality of service from the MYKI staff was exceptional. The guy in the ticket office was understanding, attentive and explained what had gone wrong. He also acknowledged how difficult it can be, especially for visitors.

The service centre he directed me two delivered another exceptional service experience. The lady again explained the issue, cancelled my old card, transferred credit left had I selected the correct options to a new card and then came out to the machine with me to ensure I understood what to do next time. It was a truly outstanding level of service.

Early that day I was in the queue waiting for the service centre of Births, Deaths and Marriages to open. I needed a new Birth Certificate.

I was dreading the pending wait and bureaucratic frustration that would surely follow.

I walked out 8 minutes later with a new birth certificate having been triaged in to the correct sector by a friendly and helpful gentleman and then attended to by an equally happy and attentive lady.

On two occasions, I received exceptional service from happy, enthusiastic and capable Public Service staff. In both cases I was dreading what I assumed would be frustrating and time-consuming experiences with inconclusive outcomes.

Well done Victoria, very impressive indeed. If only you can take over the Queensland Public Service, starting with the Transport Department.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

101 Articles in 101 Days

101 days ago, I commenced a self-issued challenge to post a new article each day for 30 consecutive days.

Today marks the 101st consecutive post.

There are several reasons I continued past the 30 days including:

I was aware from feedback that a number of readers were looking at each day’s post at the same time as part of their daily routine. I felt a sort of obligation to continue and on occasions only posted because I knew they would be logging on and expecting to read something at 6am the next day.

At different times, it has been hard to write a daily article while at other times it is easy. Many days I sat at my desk to write the obligatory post and drew a blank. The majority of days I have had absolute clarity of subject and the article is clearly outlined in my mind.  

However, strange as it may seem, the writing process has proven easier and quality of output far more to my liking and of better quality on the days I have started with no idea of what the article will be about.

Conversely, the opposite has been the case. Articles I am least pleased with have resulted from when I have had absolute clarity about what it is I want to say.

I continue to be amazed at what articles attract the most readers and by the geographical spread of readers. Australia is the clear leader followed by the United States. There is then a gap to Germany and Italy where numbers are very much the same. Poland, Ukraine and Philippine numbers have grown while Russia and Singapore have dropped off.

Where to from here?

I intend to continue regular posts but reserve the right to miss a day here and there. I travelled yesterday and had a host of commitments on arrival in Melbourne. My article yesterday was rushed and I was not at all happy with it and should not have posted it. I did so only because it was day 100. In reality, I was disrespecting the reader by submitting something of a quality I was not pleased or satisfied with. If the same situation occurs again, I will not post.

Thank you to all readers, regular and occasional. Thank you for all feedback, it is always appreciated and has been remarkably accurate and constructive.

Finally, thank you (again) to Toula who has continued to proof read just about every article – I am incredibly appreciative.

As always, ideas for articles are welcome.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Judgements Galore

There are parties taking place all over Australia tonight – apparently.

Then again, I guess there are parties each and every evening, some celebrating milestones, birthdays, weddings and others of a more commercial nature involving perhaps Tupperware of other types of “wear”.

But there are extra events this evening.

I am specifically aware of one such party and was just a little surprised to hear of it.

It is the getting together of 4 woman aged between 26 and 62. All are tertiary qualified and several have multiple qualifications. All are considered specialists in their professional field. Between them, they have 5 children, own 5 properties and are all very well-travelled.

Outside of family and work, they have diverse interests, are well read and hold strong social values. They are all strong, independent intelligent woman setting a great example for others.

They have long planned tonight’s gathering. The champagne is chilled and the food prepared in readiness. Initial research has been completed to ensure maximum enjoyment and interaction.

They are gathering as a jury.

Tonight, is the first episode of the new season of The Bachelor, a program where a group of woman compete for the love and affection of a sole male, the Bachelor.

Personally, I think the show and its associated program The Bachelorette are demeaning and prey on either the insecurity of the contestants or a desire to be in the spotlight, no matter what it takes.

The group of woman I refer to will get together tonight to critique, asses, review and I guess pass judgement on the contestants.

They will scrutinise the contestants dress, hair, language, behaviour and conversations. They admit that much of the chat will be “not positive” but are quick to add that compliments are given where appropriate. The objective is not to have a “bitch fest”.

They admit it is an entertaining distraction.

I asked if they will get together for each episode and they won’t, but will watch in parallel and continue to comment vis SMS and Messenger etc. They will gather again for the finale, and more champagne.

I am very surprised that such intelligent, educated independent women are even watching the program let alone arranging a get together to do so. I am surprised they see it is being appropriate to sit and pass judgement of the contestants.

But, I guess there is little difference to the judgement I am passing upon them for watching a program I have never seen, only heard and read about.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Power Struggles and Porridge

Life is tough.

I get that increasing electricity and power charges in general are placing a strain on family budgets.

I listened this morning as a number of people talked about the stress each night caused by turning off standby lights to their TV’s, Foxtel Boxes, Microwaves, Home Theatres, multiple family computers etc etc in a desperate attempt to save power costs.

I listened as someone else talked about decreasing the temperature they run their 24-hour climate controlled heating at by a single degree to save power, and the hardship this was placing on the family.

As I said, life is tough.

I had a conversation today with a Mother who described the scene earlier today over breakfast as her two children were preparing for school. The considerate and caring Mother offered a choice of eggs on toast or porridge to each child. She wanted to ensure they had something warm and substantial in their stomachs to be better prepared to face the cold morning and start of school. It was 2 degrees.

She relayed to me how she exercised self-control when the children complained at the choice because they wanted waffles. Her inclination was to withdraw all previous offers and leave Weet-Bix and cold milk as the only breakfast menu item.

Our conversation was lengthy and covered a wide range of topics including volunteer legal services, the dangers of new credit services, the homeless and how we take so much for granted and complain about what in the scheme of things, is so minor, such as hot waffles for breakfast.

You see, what this friend really, really wants to do, is cook up a huge bowl of hot porridge and take it down to the local park where a dozen or more people are sleeping rough. She wants to serve them breakfast and put something warm in their stomachs to perhaps help ward of illness, provide a ray of light in their life and show that at least some people care.

She is not seeking any Government funding or support for this. She is not looking for publicity. She is simply concerned that in this cold weather, there are people sleeping out who are hungry and cold and in more need of a hot breakfast than her children.


When I asked what is stopping her she referenced concern about the “haters”. Apparently if a citizen seeks to assist homeless people, there is a coterie of people who rally to quite aggressive verbal abuse. They consider any assistance provided to be encouraging a homeless way of life. They consider doing nothing is a positive step towards having the problem go away.

My friend told me of situations where others have provided rugs, pillows and clothes to assist against the elements and have been abused.

I would have thought the act of providing a hot breakfast during the cold of winter would achieve a number of positives above and beyond the warding off even if only temporary, the pangs of hunger.

I would have thought over time, an element of trust would be established which may result in conversation leading to an introduction of formal support services and knowledge of the help available should a homeless person feel inclined to seek it.

We live in a fundamentally wealthy society where we stress about the need to turn off pilot lights on our many devices in order to save power in our heated and airconditioned comfortable homes. Homes which we leave in our cars, perhaps adorned with heated leather seats and equipped with rarely if ever engaged four-wheel drive functionality.

In this environment, it can be challenging to acknowledge there are people without shelter, living in parks and under bridges, who perhaps months before had what we have. We give generously to charitable organisations and disaster recovery funds, but struggle to acknowledge the problems in the next suburb or down the road.

Back to the Porridge in the park dilemma, there is also the matter of requiring a health department (or similar) accreditation for the kitchen in which the Uncle Toby’s instant oats are prepared, but that is another matter.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Inspiration - Own It

I have been contemplating the concept of “Inspiration”.

More specifically, I was considering what inspiration is, from where it originates, how long it lasts and why we seek it.

How often do we hear of, or read about something we find ‘inspiring’? It may be a story of survival, personal sacrifice, sporting endeavour or charitable pursuit.

We note it at the time, feel good about the act of inspiration, vow to remember it but do we actually ever draw upon it? The reality is, we just about always forget about it and even less so, draw upon it.

I found the story of Lance Armstrong to be inspirational. He contracted Cancer of the Brain and Testicles, had surgery for both, achieved remission and returned to Professional Cycling achieving 7 consecutive victories in the toughest annual sporting contest of them all, Le Tour de France.

I wore his yellow wrist band for many years and following open heart surgery, took on “Livestrong” as my moto . I heard an interview with him about his cancer battle and he adopted a saying “You’ve got to be brave, you've got to be strong”. I also borrowed this for my surgery and recuperation.

Was it inspirational? Perhaps, but it certainly provided a focus, and it continues to be a focus for me today.

The only problem is, the whole Lance Armstrong story was based on a system of structured cheating.

So, was the inspiration or focus I took from him also a lie?

It was real at the time as it is real now. In retrospect, it would not have mattered if the phrase was said by the lady in the supermarket queue, the Dali Lama, Roger Federer or the President of America (well, it would have mattered if it was the current President but that is another matter altogether).

The point is, inspiration comes from within. We all have it within us already, it is just a matter of drawing on it.

The reality is, we are each our own inspiration.

Our challenge is to determine with honesty what is important and then to focus on it. If we find a phrase, or create a phrase in order to remind us of what is important and what our focus is, all the better. 

We don’t need external inspiration, just the tools to know what matters to ourselves, uniquely. We also need the strength to avoid following the path we perceive others see for us, which gets back to our individual and uniquely “own” focus.

So, be inspiring, to yourself and your goals, your dreams. Given they are yours, only you can inspire them and they are too important to delegate to someone else.
Inspiration - Own It

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Golf Lessons

I am wondering if Golf is a metaphor for how society is evolving.

Some 9 years ago, I suffered a cycling crash which left me unable to play for at least 6 months and probably longer. I advised the Club I had joined a few years earlier and arranged to be placed on their Membership Hold list for medical reasons.

At the time I joined the Club, I needed several references and had to endure an interview process. I then had to attend a ‘chat’ with a committee member and eventually after what seemed to be a significant process, I was granted membership.

With the prospect of having more spare time, a few weeks ago I made contact with the Club to enquire about my status. No problem they said and advised me of a period of membership credit still available to me. I asked if anything else was needed from me given the intervening 9 years and there wasn’t.

In further conversation, they suggested I bring a friend along and mentioned there is currently no joining fee, nomination process and everyone is welcome to join. Things had changed.

I mentioned this to a number of people and learned that Golf is very much a sport in decline and Clubs have all sorts of different member options available as they seek to attract and retain members.

The British Open is currently underway and several friends plan for weeks so they can watch it. At least one takes leave to ensure they see every shot. Many others follow the results closely and debate, and bet on the outcome. Another records each round and then watches it back during day, being careful to avoid first hearing about, or reading details of the day's play.

But no one I know who follows The Open is under 50 years of age.

It seems younger people are simply not attracted to Golf. It is too dull, takes too long and is played by stuffy people in stuffy Clubs. (Apparently)

Increasingly, we live in a world of instant gratification. A world where we want the outcome of our activities to reward us immediately. We play computer games, follow the shortest form of sports like cricket and all too often, business outcomes are measured by the latest share price rather than allowing the reward of long term strategic investment.

Our Politics is played out in 140 character tweets and a ravenous 24 hour news cycle where success is judged by the latest fortnightly opinion poll. Pursuing long term policy outcomes has a negative outcome.

Is it wrong?

No, it is just different.

It is also just a little sad that the character building traits of a round of golf, where the disappointment of a poorly executed shot can be redeemed by way of a great shot a few minutes later. And where the pressure of a one metre putt teaches concentration and focus and where the combined challenge of 18 holes over 4 or more hours comes together to provide a measurable outcome of personal endeavour that is the total responsibility of the individual.

It is probably too simple to say Golf is a metaphor for how society is evolving, but it does seem a little sad that a decreasing number of people are being introduced to a healthy, low physical stress activity that can be enjoyed well in to the later years.

Long Live Golf.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Doohan Sets an Example as MND Strikes

Peter Doohan passed away this afternoon.

His battle with Motor Neurone Disease ended the way every single diagnosed case of MND ends; death.

Every single case ends this way, no exceptions. He was diagnosed just 9 weeks ago.

Peter Doohan became an overnight sensation 30 years ago when he defeated tournament favourite Boris Becker at Wimbledon.

Stopping Becker’s path to a 3rd consecutive All England Championship was his greatest triumph in a professional tennis career that peaked with a world ranking of 43 in August 1987.

This was the year Pat Cash took out the title and he often attributed his 1987 success to Doohan’s dismantling of Becker.

Our sports stars occupy a media enhanced, public obsessed position of importance in our society. We admire them for their resilience, longevity, skills, hard work and achievements. We obsess over their relationships and appearance and demand they set an example. We lament poor behaviour and seemingly ineffective performances and outcomes.

In the world of professional tennis, Peter Doohan’s career was unremarkable, accept perhaps for a single performance that June Day in 1987.

However, there is much to learn from Peter Doohan.

Prior to his contest with Boris Becker, no one but not one believed Doohan would emerge victorious. Chances are, not even he genuinely believed he would win.

Notwithstanding, Peter Doohan prepared to ensure he brought the best version of himself to the Becker contest. He brought his whole self to the match and he gave himself a chance to succeed, and then did so.

What a great example to us all. No matter what is unfolding and in what part of our life it is unfolding, if we bring the best version of our whole selves to the occasion, the possible outcomes are limitless.

RIP Peter Doohan.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Leadership - In Everything We Do, All Of Us

It struck me recently how it is unfortunate we learn more Leadership, Corporate and Life lessons from the negative than we do from the positive.

I was reading an  article via LinkedIn by Marty Stowe, a North Carolina based VP of Client Services for TriNet.

He recounted a story when working as a sleep deprived over worked first year graduate auditor, of the behaviour of a Senior Partner towards him and his equally sleep deprived colleagues. The Senior Partner displayed a lack of empathy and an almost demeaning manner.

Marty Stowe vowed that day he would never do this if and when he became a Leader, and claims his subsequent success has in part been due to never wavering from the learnings of that day.

But what about Marty’s colleagues who were subjected to the same behaviour? I wonder what became of them?

Given we are inclined to copy the behaviours and examples of those in authority or who we perceive as being successful, it is reasonable to assume the majority of those exposed to the Partners behaviours that day reacted counter to Marty.

Given the above assumption is reasonable, the poor or negative behaviour by the Senior Partner form part of the legacy and behaviours of the majority of young professionals in the conversation  and therefore will magnify many times over as they too progress to roles of influence.

There is not much we can do about these people now.

There is much we can do, to better influence others.

Whether we like it or not, we are all in leadership roles. Some may be more obvious or formal by way of the careers we pursue and the titles we achieve. In many more cases, it is the role we have as Parents, as Partners, as Siblings and as Sons and Daughters. It may be in sporting teams, service clubs, charitable activities and as volunteers.

In all roles in life, it is easy to criticise, it is better to comment constructively; it is easy to point out what is being done incorrectly, it is better to help another or show another person the better way to do it; It is easy to tell, it is better to teach.

We all lead, we all influence.
We can do so constructively or destructively.
We can change the world around us, a hundred at a time.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Gender Reporting - It Has to Change

I wonder just what progress we have made these last 50 plus years.

Before I continue, I must first say I don’t think I have ever watched an episode of Dr Who.

I do know there is a time travel machine and I it is called a Tardis.

My understanding is the Doctor is not human as such and has an assistant who provides interpretation of Human behaviour for the Doctor.

I am broadly aware that the Doctor is able to, and I think needs to, “resurrect” from time to time. My take on it too is the Doctor can resurrect to any earthly being.

I get there are Doctor Who fanatics and each new Doctor announcement is the subject of much speculation and excitement followed by passionate discussion as to how the new Actor will uniquely interpret the role.

Jodie Whittaker was announced this week as the Actor to interpret the Doctor in the next series.

I would like to think we have progressed to a point where the subsequent discussion concerned acting skills and ability and the qualities likely to be brought to the role. However, I do fully understand that the discussion is dominated by matters of Gender and I reluctantly accept we are not yet at a point where Gender is not relevant.

Progress has been made in matters of Gender equity. We do have Women as leaders in industry, politics, sport and the arts, be it a less than proportional representation.

Despite this, or I fear because of this, there is still much every day violence inflicted upon women and severe suppression continues in some cultures.

Sexual violence continues at alarming levels and domestic violence towards women seems to be increasing.

Women are exposed to levels of objectification that Men cannot comprehend and this is perpetuated in our media and popular culture.

A simply horrible demonstration of the mountain society still has to climb in the way we behave towards and represent women, was the reporting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who by the United Kingdom’s Sun Newspaper.

The Sun went through Whittaker’s movie and TV catalogue and extracted still photos from her work – photos of scenes in which she appeared naked, and published these photos.

What possible relevance can this have? 
Are we not meant to be living in an increasingly educated, understanding, equal and tolerant society, or is our civilisation actually declining?
There is much more I would like to say but a combination of disappointment, despair and anger leaves me speechless, for now.

In the meantime, I felt this to be an insightful article about the matter.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Creating Change in Academia

I attended the Graduation Ceremony for The University of Queensland Law and Business Faculty today.

It was a fully ticketed event and a crowd primarily of Family packed in to the UQ Centre.

Queensland University takes great pride in its standing in the world referring to itself as being a Top 100 University and a Top 50 University for those with 10,000 students or more.

Its traditions are further on show by way of the quite stunning sandstone buildings.

However, I was both surprised and impressed with the overt ceremonious nature of the Graduation Ceremony.

It was just a little bit “Royal” although there was no playing of the National Anthem.

The University Senate paraded in full regalia and took up their places on the stage with the Chancellor taking centre stage in the “big chair’.

Every speaker "tipped their lid" to the Chancellor prior to speaking. Very traditional indeed.

I am not necessarily one for such overt Pomp and Ceremony however, the speeches were all of a digestible length and all delivered a message that was practical, relevant and respectful.

The graduating students' were the stars of the show and were definitely made to feel they were a part of something special. They had good reason to be proud of their achievements’, University and Alumni.

A quintet provided a musical interlude and the programme concluded with an exit parade by the Senate.

I suspect the ceremony we witnessed was very much as it would have been some 100 years ago.

I did however find myself being just a little amused by the new marketing theme of Queensland University which is “Create Change”.

But not in the Law and Business School.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Being Green Should Be Easier (and Red or Blue too)

Larissa Waters was born in Canada where her Australian Parents who were then studying and working.

She left as an 11-month-old baby and has never again set foot on Canadian soil.

At age 21, she had the choice to take up Canadian citizenship and did not exercise this choice, effectively confirming her “Australianism”.

Her parents were of the opinion this was all she needed to do in order to be considered Australian, and at the time of her birth, it was. Canadian Citizenship law changed a week after she was born.

In good faith, on behalf of the Australian Green Party Larissa Waters stood for election to the Senate in 2011 and was successful. She was again successful at the 2016 election.

She resigned today having discovered that at age 21, instead of simply not taking up Canadian Citizenship, she should have formally denounced it.

The eligibility rules for Federal Parliamentary Candidates are clearly defined as part of our Constitution. They even make sense, although arguably less so now than when they were drafted over 116 years ago.

Larissa Waters should not have stood for election without first denouncing her Canadian dual citizenship.

However, I don’t think anyone is suggesting her nomination for election was in anything other than Good Faith.

Despite being ineligible, her Senate vote has been cast in literally hundreds of cases (in good faith) and will stand.

The Greens will wear criticism over her situation, particularly as it is their second such case in a matter of days. Their Federal Parliamentary Leader Richard Di Natale, has already said the Party will revise its Governance processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

In my opinion, the Australian Electoral Commission should be charged with confirming the eligibility of all candidates before they appear on a ballot paper. No candidate should be able to present to the electorate seeking our vote without first being independently confirmed as eligible.

At the last election, former Australian Democrats Leader, Andrew Bartlett was in second position on the Greens Senate ticket in Queensland. It would be reasonable to assume he would have been in first place had Waters been discovered as ineligible. Given the low appeal former Australian Democrats have when running for office under the banner of another Party (think Cheryl Kernot), I doubt he would have attracted the vote Larissa Waters did.

We have had two Green Senators resign within a week, both because they were ineligible to stand in the first place. Both have served terms in excess of 6 years and had significant influence on the floor of the Senate.

Laws have been passed, Bills amended and reforms rejected on their vote.

This is too important to leave to individuals to understand the nuisances of the citizenship details of their country of birth.

The Australian Electoral Commission needs to assume responsible for confirming the eligibility of all candidates and resourced accordingly so they can do so.

We, the Electorate, deserve nothing less.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Tie Debate - To Wear or not to Wear?

The humble necktie.

There are several opinions as to the origin of the tie including ‘blaming’ China’s first emperor, Shih Huang Ti for its existence.

The popular theory is the tie as we know it dates back to the French King, Louis XIII and the time of the 30-year war (1618 – 1648).

Sales of ties in the United States peaked in 1995 at US$1.8 billion but have since steadily declined with sales now struggling to top US$400 million.

One of the bastions of proper dress standards is Investment Bank JP Morgan. They relaxed their dress code in 2016, allowing employees to use their best judgement depending on their daily activities, who they were meeting with and where.

It is fascinating in a way that JP Morgan has even seen a need to continue until now with a dress code. After all, they delegate responsibility and authority to individuals to make decisions on behalf of clients and owners worth tens of millions of dollars a day, but haven’t trusted them to select the correct clothes to wear while doing it.

For perhaps the last 10 years, I have not been required to wear a tie in my day to day employment. However, I have elected to keep wearing my colourful piece of silk and have done so for several reasons.

I have never found wearing a tie to be uncomfortable. Since primary school, wearing a tie has been a daily ‘thing’ and besides, it allows some expression of personality and individuality in a male business wardrobe dominated by dark blues and greys.

More so though, I have always been amused by those who routinely do not wear a tie, except for certain meetings. (I exclude client meeting where a tie may be decreed mandatory by the employer).

The usual non-tie wearer will make an assessment as to the relative importance of the meeting they are going to and decide if a tie is needed, then remove it on return and proceed to their next meeting.

What does this all mean?

Perhaps if the tie on, tie off person meets with you and does not “tie up” they are inferring you are not important to them.

Alternatively, does it reflect their lack of self-esteem and confidence that they feel a need to put on what is essentially a false persona by wearing a tie to the CEO discussion or Board Committee meeting?

If only everyone would be authentic in the work place. To my fellow Males, wear a tie or don’t wear a tie, but whatever you choose, do it always and by doing so, you will be respecting yourself and all those you work with.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Prioritising the Environment and the ABC - Liberal/National Party

In the interests of transparency, I make the following declaration:

I am an avid listener to the various incarnations of ABC Radio including Radio National, News Radio, Local Radio, Classical FM and Triple J.

On the rare occasions I watch TV, it will most likely be one of the ABC channels or SBS.

The various range of ABC Broadcasting services appeals to me for more than just the lack of advertisements.

My perception is the ABC produces content devoid of commercial bias. There are no financial or advertising revenues to consider when reporting or investigating a matter.

There are constant accusations of political bias however given that all sides of politics make this accusation from time to time, I tend to be amused more than concerned by it.

My view is, the so called 6 cents a day per tax payer that funds the ABC is money well spent.

I also understand and respect there are alternative views and I certainly see their merit.

Until yesterday, I had not realised what a huge and pressing issue Federal funding of the ABC is to Queenslanders.

This weekend, the Liberal/National Party held their Queensland State Conference. I assumed this to be a conduit for informed and robust discussion contributing to policy positions always with the best interests of Queensland at front of mind. I also assumed the agenda would reflect the big State issues.

In addition to the essentials of Health and Education, I would see items including Public Transport Infrastructure, Conservation of the Barrier Reef, Sustainable Primary Production, Power Generation, Regional Employment and Roads and Ports as being big tickets items. There are only two days so concentration was surely on matters Queensland.

Not quite.

My understanding is the Conference debated a motion that the ABC should be privatised. It failed.

But there was a backup motion (as I understand it) that funding for ABC and in particular ABC News be withdrawn. This also failed.

Fortunately, attention then turned to matters of the climate and environment.

Queensland does have several pressing environmental matters requiring attention so this is a topic worthy of proper policy consideration. The two that come first to mind are the Adani Mine proposal and the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. If time permits, throw Coal Seam Mining in to the mix too.

But no.

Concerning matters environmental the motion was that Australia should withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

Seriously, the weekend Liberal/National Party conference debated and voted on a motion for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

Again, I preface my comments by saying “as I understand it” the motion was defeated only after two past Party Presidents each declared they are Climate Change Sceptics however encouraged a “no” vote because to vote yes would embarrass the Prime Minister.

A yes vote may have embarrassed the Prime Minister, but not nearly as much as it would have embarrassed the Liberal/National Party in Queensland and dare I say, embarrassed many Queenslanders and Queensland residents.

And in less than 12 months’ time the LNP will be presenting to the Electorate as the alternative Government.


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Eggs and Chickens - Universe or Consciousness

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

A question as old as can be, and as relevant today as it ever was, if in fact it has ever been relevant.

We read about, hear about being truly open so as to allow the “Universe to Deliver”, but what or who is the Universe?
I am in the process of developing several concepts, some or all of which will go to market.

Accordingly, I am challenged to expand my horizons and my sphere of thinking, to understand my market and position a product or service in such a way its value is also be perceived as “value”.

With this at front of mind, it has been fascinating, if even a little eerie how many times appropriate subject matter has crossed my path.

And crossing my path in the usual or traditional manner and also in almost random or freakish ways.

For example, I received an offer of a free one-month on-line trial to a quality newspaper and I decided to accept. The number of articles being featured that are relevant to my current activities is quite amazing.  

Some recent blog posts were shared on Twitter attracting several new followers some of whom I followed back. Some of their content and links posted have been inciteful, interesting and relevant.

I flicked the radio on during the week at a time I would not usually do so and, a highly relevant interview had commenced.
My Medium daily recommended articles has also contained an extraordinary number of relevant topics.

And there are several other similar examples.

However, are these examples of the Universe Delivering or is it simply my conscious awareness being more attuned to this subject matter because of its relevance at this point of time? Would it always have been there, just not noticed by me?

So, is it the chicken or the egg, the Universe or heightened consciousness of subject matter always available?

Maybe it is both, with one simply following the other.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Family Planning - Of Sorts

The self-improvement, personal development, be best version of “you” industry is alive and well, and growing annually.

We are awash with books, eBooks, on-line teachings, lectures, podcasts, Ted Talks and pub talk as to how to do more, have more and be more.

He have programmes touting 8 steps to happiness, 11 steps to wealth and health and 5 rules for success. *

I do wonder if we are on a relentless quest to obtain, what it is that most prevents us from attaining, what we really want.

There seems to be so much pressure on the up and coming Professional to be all things to all people.

All genders feel the pressure to “be it all”. Successful career, model parent, perfect daughter/son, Partner plus, plus, all while adhering to tailored exercise regime and completing the second University degree, part time.

We imagine social pressures to live in the right area, drive the approved car and wear the necessary labels.

Is it any surprise there is an increasing demand for the easy answers from the personal development industry?

I do question if the teachings are counter - productive?

In our already crowded, busy and stressed lives, do we really need ways to allow us to do more, or to better manage our time so as to do all we want to or feel we need to do?

Many of us are invested in careers including the regular round of preparing business plans to ensure the attainment of Corporate Objectives. We prepare associated budget forecasts, seek the necessary signoffs and approvals, publish the final Plan and set about cascading it down the line.

With all our focus and energy, we set sail on the execution of the Business Plan, motivating, cajoling and encouraging all those in our sphere of influence to get on board and make it work.

And the rest of our world goes on, partially planned, formally unstructured and largely reactionary.

Why do we not apply the same level of scrutiny, inquiry and planning to our non corporate life. How many of us have a specific, tailored and formal “Family Business Plan”.

How many of us succumb to FoMO illness – the Fear of Missing Out.

In the meantime, we exhaust ourselves and we exhaust our entire family. We straddle the never ending treadmill of income, expenditure and image with too little self scrutiny or planning about why we do what we do and what it is doing for us.

Then again, if there was a Ted Talk or Personal Development book titled “Family Planning”, it may have a very different appeal to those of us requiring more calm and defined purpose in our life.

*I made these up but suggest they are at indicative of such programmes, if not actual titles.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Neural Pathways & Technology Dangers

An article arrived in my inbox this morning. I didn’t get to read it for some 7 hours which is probably a good thing as it would surely have distracted me from what I was doing.

The article addressed concerns of Psychologist, Sue Palmer.

 In 2006, Palmer’s book titled Toxic Childhood warned of the dangers of too much screen time on young people’s physical and mental health. At the time, her concern was more violent video games and too much TV; Facebook was still quite new and the smart phone was in its infancy.

I suspect she would be quite pleased if such distractions were the problem today.

Sue Palmer talks now about the use of IPads as a pacifier for toddlers. She evidences witnessing a toddler in a supermarket ‘making a scene’ when lollies are denied and being handed an IPad which instantly calmed them.

Further, she references research revealing 10% of children under the age of 4 being put to bed with a tablet computer to play with as they fall asleep. Staggering.

Palmer wishes the fact Steve Jobs didn’t allow his own children to have IPads had been public knowledge as this may have helped parents with their own decision making.  

But the real issue is that high levels of screen time in young children substituting for what she calls “real play”, slows the development of neural pathways.

Real Play is considered essential for children to develop curiosity, independent thought, problem solving skills and even the skills to enable enjoyment of real friendships.

Other adverse impacts include a very short attention span and poor concentration skills.

An experienced Teacher told me this afternoon how it has become increasingly difficult to engage children in learning without the intrusion of electronic media. Again, perhaps evidence of at best, ‘different’ neural development.

We are all busier than ever with forever increasing pressures on our time and resources. It can be a challenge for stressed parents to avoid the temptation to quickly return a child to a state of calm by use of a tablet or smart phone.

However, there appears to be growing evidence of an associated risk to their development.

I am also reminded of a Neuro Scientist I know who has had a long-term policy of a technology free Sunday in her household. No phones, tablet, computers, radio, internet or TV for 6 hours from 2pm every Sunday – no exceptions. She talks about it being an extra challenge for her teenage children as they reach the later years of secondary school but says they need to organise themselves so any weekend school work requiring internet of computer access is completed before 2pm each Sunday. 

This technology blackout has been family policy for more than 5 years making Sunday the most interesting, stimulating and communicative day of the week.

Interesting also was a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a 57-year-old. In discussion about a health matter I asked if he had noticed any drop of in his ability to concentrate. He said he had but also had decided this was a direct result of his habit of watching TV while playing on his IPad. He said his attention to nothing in particular had adversely impacted his attention span in everything he does.

His self-observation is most interesting, but also makes sense.

It is only a “sample of one” but it may well be that we should all be aware of our screen time.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Life Lesson From a Criminal Psychologist

Dr Tim Watson-Munro is a Sydney based Criminal Psychologist.

Starting his career at the then notorious Paramatta Gaol, he quickly established his credentials as a talented  analyst of the criminal mind.

He went on to became the 'go to' Criminal Psychologist for many senior criminal lawyers seeking professional analysis of their clients. Working for such highly credentialed members of the criminal legal fraternity meant he was also working on high profile cases and his public profile grew accordingly.

Watson-Munro notes that many, if not the majority of his criminal analysis investigations were not to the benefit to the Court case of the accused therefore never seeing the light of day.  

It was 1999 and his career was soaring. His profile was now truly National through his work with Alan Bond, Hoddle Street gunman Julian Knight and Melbourne identity, Alphonse Gangitano. He was Chair of the Forensic College of the Australian Psychological Society and a member of an advisory Board at Melbourne University. Life was good.

It was at a Party for a QC friend that he realised his world was about to collapse.

Through all his success, Watson-Munro had been living the double life of a Cocaine addict, and one with a $2000 a week habit. That afternoon, news came through of the arrest on drug related charges  of well-known criminal lawyer, Andrew Fraser.
Fraser was a regular source of coke for Watson-Munro and he knew immediately he would be implicated by way of Police intercepts that would have been conducted as part of the investigation.

He took pro-active action and presented himself to police and his subsequent guilty plea was met with a good behaviour bond, a payment to the poor box and no conviction being recorded.

In his book, Dancing with Demons: True Life Misadventures of a Criminal Psychologist, he references the superficiality of the media coverage that greeted his past success and accompanying so called high achievement life style.

He emphasises that “Accomplishment is a transitionary phenomenon but connectedness and love for others is not”. Ego drives us in many ways and all too often the direction it takes us is negative. Watson-Munro’s states his primary lesson in life as being “to leave your ego in a box”.

I heard an interview  with Tim Watson-Munro today and he said something else that is most important.

He talked about his poor decisions perhaps being due in part to a regular environment of being with criminal elements. He referenced their world perhaps ‘infusing’ in to his noting it is hard not to be affected by those we spend time with.

He still works in Criminal Psychology but has taken specific steps to balance or mitigate the effects his work may have upon him.

We are the product of our environment and by definition, the people within it.

We perhaps should regularly review who is in our environment and the impact it may have on us. This could be at work, in our sporting endeavours, friendships and acquaintances and cross check that our own values are not being compromised. We should also ensure that such relationships are not simply feeding our egos at the cost of our core values.

It can be difficult to perhaps leave a long-standing employer when new people arrive or a corporate direction changes to such an extent that it now fails to live up to our own standards. The decision to be made is difficult. Do we compromise and stay, or make the harder decision and leave? To leave is a risk, but arguably one with a guaranteed return.

The same goes for friends and particularly those acquaintances who are constantly passing through our world.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Climate - True Globalisation Priority

We increasingly debate the merits of Globalisation versus Nationalisation.

It is politically popular to chase electoral success by promoting the prioritising of National interests. Realistically, no Government will prosper if it does not put National interests first, however the realities of being a part of a wider world order generally benefit National interests. Think trade for example.
The election of Donald Trump was on the back of the “Make America Great Again” mantra combined with blaming his various predecessors’ involvement in Global matters as the reason for middle America's challenges.

The Brexit result was also largely due to the perception particularly by the Baby Boomers of  Britain’s challenges being due to being a part of free European markets and the free flow of people across borders.
In France, a similar message from Marine Le Pen appealed to the former Industrial areas in the North, propelling her to the final run off for the Presidency.

The signing of the Paris climate accord was an example of Globalisation. It was the coming together of world leaders to make a collective agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Significantly, the major industrial countries agreed to emission reductions for the benefit of all the world. They did so in the knowledge that if there is not a bipartisan approach Domestically, signing the accord may not be popular.

To gain a local political benefit. President Trump withdrew the United States from the accord, and celebrated doing so with a visit to the coal producing regions of America. Part of his argument is a requirement to prioritise National interests first and Global interests second.

Surely it is in all Leaders' National interests that the the number one Global issue be emissions control.

The impact of emissions (climate change deniers excepted) cannot be contained nationally. Carbon released in one part of the world effects another. Pollutants released in to Oceans impact all Countries with shorelines exposed to that Ocean. Noxious emissions in one country settle on agriculture in another via rain.

We can take a singular short-term approach Nationally; all countries can. But equally, all countries will pay a price.

We all have a National issue requiring absolute Globalisation.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Extremes of Balance

It seems everyone is searching for that elusive thing called “balance”.

I have previously  referenced my dislike for the concept of “work life balance” and with that, my belief in life balance.

The endeavours this past weekend of a friend and her partner has taken me back to the topic of balance and left me pondering the individuality of the concept. That is, one person’s idea of balance is another’s nightmare.

Their endeavours also had me thinking about another friend and her Esoteric studies and how the two could not be anymore different.

But first the weekend just past.

Jayne and partner Adam, participated in the "3 Marathons in 3 Days" event held in and around Cairns in North Queensland, Australia.

And, being quite hilly,  these were not simply 'routine' marathons.

Jayne reported on Friday (day one) a time of 6 hours and sore legs. And lots of hills.

They are both experienced endurance athletes having completed Marathons and 100 kilometre trail runs.

But this is an entirely different, and I would argue a harder event. There is no time to properly recover from the marathon effort of the previous day before finding yourself back on the starting line for the next 42.2 kilometres.

They love the challenge such an event offers. They thrive on the training and doing something together, having a joint goal and shared passion. They grow closer by the support and encouragement they provide each other in training and during the event.

But is such an extreme activity good for you, and is it just a little “un-balanced”?

My Esoteric friend would certainly argue that it is. Ms Esoteric would say that putting your body through such extreme stress is not an act of caring for and loving yourself. Further she may suggest the training time leading up to such an event is a distraction from what is truly important. I won’t go in to more detail about this except to acknowledge the authenticity and validity of her point of view.

Which lifestyle best represents balance?

Jayne is an experienced career professional, is successful in her chosen endeavour working in a high pressure technical environment engaging daily with people who both want and need her expertise. Hers is a work week of 50 hours or more. She holds an MBA too.

She is devoted to her extended family and spends much time helping and supporting her Mother and siblings.

That she chooses to also be an endurance athlete and to share this with her Partner is her definition of balance and it is also valid.

Is she healthy as a result of her athletic endeavours and associated lifestyle? No-one would look at her and describe her as unhealthy. They would see a fit strong mid 40’s healthy professional, engaged and interested in the world around her with diverse and varied interests.

The very opposite approach taken by Ms Esoteric is equally balanced.

She too is a successful and hardworking professional. She too is committed to a Partner and together they share and pursue an equal passion for their way of life including overseas travel to enhance their development and education.
She is also devoted to her Family and extended Family, daily.

She is fastidious about her way of life and is also in her mid 40’s. She has an equally fit, strong and healthy appearance and exercises daily by way of early morning walks. She too has a vast range of interests and is engaged in all around her.
While Jayne wakes at 4 am to go for a training run, Ms Esoteric wakes to participate in international meetings via Skype discussing the forum they are planning or the work the committee is doing for the overall student body.

Both are committed to and passionate about their chosen way of life and while they follow very different paths, I certainly could not argue there is anything about each that suggests a lack of Life Balance.

And, I am pleased to know and pleased to learn from each.