Thursday, 31 August 2017

Most Disruptive Technology in Human History

I have always fancied myself as a Futurist.

How hard can it be?

You day dream your way to the world of the unknown, devise all sorts of predictions and then articulate it all in an entertaining presentation. You then sit back and wait for the big speaking appearances to flood in and bank the fees, all the time bearing no accountability for your predictions.

I have attended several conferences where a Futurist has presented and in every case, I have enthusiastically looked forward to hearing what they have to say. However, in all cases, I have not really understood much of what they were saying or the relevance to the conference agenda.

Was Henry Ford a futurist? He envisaged producing a motor vehicle many more people could afford, therefore revolutionising transportation. He delivered this by way of the first mass produced, production line.

Alexander Graham Bell imagined a world where we could speak to each other in real time even though we were far apart. His dream was a more connected, communicative society. Look at us know. Was he also a Futurist?

Brisbane hosts the first ever World of Drones Congress this week. It commenced today (31 August) and concludes on 2 September.

The drone commenced life as a military item and has morphed in to a toy used  largely for (poor) amateur photography. I am perhaps typical of many males in that I would really like a drone but have no idea what I would realistically do with one. They just seem like a cool thing to have.

Renowned Colorado Futurist Thomas Frey is booked to speak at the Congress and he has given some time to “futurizing” about the impacts of drones on the way we live.

He describes Drones as being the “most disruptive technology in human history, incomparable even to the introduction of mobile phones”.

A big statement indeed, but he provides examples to support this.

He outlines that drones could change the basic concept of ownership. *“If I’m doing some construction work on the house and I need an electric drill, do I have to have one in my house or can I just summon one?”

He added that a drill can be flown in, used for 15 minutes and sent back which changes the idea of ownership.

“This gives us so many more freedoms that we just didn’t have in the past”.

He made a number of other predictions too including:

  • Drones will be managed in fleets, with every organisation or business owning its own fleet of drones
  • Many new and interesting job opportunities will evolve
  • Humans will accomplish far more than ever, perhaps 10 or 20 times more than someone 20 years ago.

And he is suggesting this will all happen within 13 years.

The application of drone technology in to everyday life presents endless possibilities. From the delivery of urgent goods and medicines to delivering a new putter on the 11th hole after you threw the old one in the water hazard out of disgust.

It may be the take away pizza or the bottle wine.

It most probably will be a used in ways not yet imagined, unless of course you have commenced your work as a Futurist.

*Quotes extracted from Brisbane Times articles published 30 August 2017

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Challenging Our Need to Self Define

Consciously or sub-consciously, deliberately or otherwise, there is usually “something” we define ourselves by.

For many of us it is the work we do, whether we actually like or enjoy our work, or not.

For others, your principal defining quality may be your role as a parent. Alternatively, it may be the sporting, academic, career or artistic achievements of your children that you chose to be defined by.

There are several factors that drive our decision as to what defines us. It may be the activity we devote most time or most emotion to. It may be what we perceive others or society will perceives as our defining quality. It may also change as we evolve.

A friend who very clearly defined himself by his work and career surprised himself when on becoming a first time Father in his 40’s, became aware just how unimportant his work was as he re-defined himself by way of immediate family.

His was a case of being very conscious of his personal definition but I suspect many are not as aware of “what defines us”.

I became involved in a conversation at my favourite Nundah café today with someone I know in passing but cannot claim to really know. He referenced not seeing me much lately and I told him about my career change and this lead to a most interesting discussion.

He revealed that he is going about life seeking to not be defined by anything specific. He does not want to limit any opportunities or experiences. He further revealed that for many years he was so wrapped up in “stuff” that his concentration was on the day to day where the primary focus was, the day to day “noise”. There was little or no time to reflect, think or consider where he was going and why; being swept along on the wave (my words not his).

He reflected that an unexpected serious illness gave him the motivation and more importantly, the time to think.

He now moves between full time and part time employment to both fund and provide the time to design and develop a men’s line of fashion. He studied fashion design at University. His first product is nearing production readiness.

I asked if he answers to being a “designer” and he said he doesn’t, even though that is how his Boss introduces him.

He was really clear that he does not want to be defined or pigeon holed as being any one thing. He explained that he is many things, surfer, skate boarder, designer, entrepreneur, barista, biker and musician. When meeting someone for the first time, he finds great difficulty, even discomfort answering the simple question “and what do you do?”.

It is an interesting and illuminating take on his position in the world, and one worth reflecting upon.

We tend to feel a need to be something, to define as someone. There is an expectation we present ourselves as “doing something” acceptable.

The lesson from my conversation today, is to remember we are made up of many things, multiple different components and they all roll up to being who we are. What dominates our world will change at any given point of time and we don’t need to define ourselves as being any one thing or another, at any particular time

We generally feel a need to conform, it is easier, but is it really better?

The alternative as articulated in my conversation today strikes me as being honest, authentic and a label free representation of freedom.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Just Because It Is Hard………

It is so easy to not proceed down a chosen path. It may be impatience with progress, disillusionment with a market place or distributor who appears to be out of sync with the conviction you have for your idea, product or service. Persevering is challenging.

In the creative world, the internet means there has never been a greater thirst for content, however, the experience and skills demanded by the internet appetite are arguably lower than pre-internet days. Everyone with a phone is a photographer and everyone else is a reporter.

Authors can now self-publish with relative ease and musicians can produce music in their home studio and release it to the market via a website.

The highly competent photographer producing quality images may not receive appropriate compensation while the image snapped on a smart phone can be edited to make it acceptable and be paid the same price.

It is the same for produces of written content.

It is a highly competitive market and it’s difficult to generate a reliable income.

So why try?

For writers, journalists, actors, artists, photographers and musicians, it has always been extremely difficult to get a break. The Beatles worked really hard for 6 years in order to become an overnight sensation.

The market place for creative content producers is just plain hard.

Passion and talent help, but are not enough. The first step is the hardest and subsequent persistence is a must.

There is a huge range of podcasts available, covering each and every subject imaginable. Entering this market as a new unknown player may be considered somewhat optimistic, to some it may seem silly. It is full to overflowing and almost impossible to generate a commercially sizable audience.

However, if we all faltered before we started, we would have no variety, little new talent and eventual boredom with the same old, same old.

In tandem with an equally adventurous and optimistic colleague, I am entering the podcast ring.

Much of today was spent testing equipment and conducting some trial interviews. Editing and production now follows to give us a first draft to market test and guide us in our next round of trials.

More details to follow.

In the meantime, if you have a story to tell, that would help, inform or educate others, or know someone who does, I would be happy to hear from you.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Think Priority

We all have our own unique definition of what a luxury is.

Long haul flights are my luxury by way of providing an extended period of uninterrupted reading time. I have a 12-hour flight in a few weeks and with it, the luxury of 12 hours continuous reading time, less a few breaks for a nap and something to eat.

If I have a passenger next to me eager for a chat, they will be disappointed.

For you, it might be a visit to the day spa, coffee and cake, a fine bottle of wine or theatre night.

Almost certainly, a luxury we all crave and seldom achieve is “time to think”.

We lead busy lives and not just those of us who carry significant work and business responsibilities. Life itself has become more demanding as the activities available to fill our leisure time and that of our children are forever increasing.

The variety of distractions are also spiralling upwards; online, offline. Not that many years ago our primary distraction was free to air Television, Now, an increasing number of us rarely watch this outdated medium as streaming and on demand viewing provides countless more options and absorbs an increasing amount of our time.

Our schedules are full, meetings, flights to catch, presentations to prepare, school assignments to assist with, sporting commitments, ballet, book club, gym class, social events, business functions and more fill our diaries.

A common factor among those most creative, imaginative and innovative is allowing themselves time to think, to day dream.

Steve Jobs dreamed of mobile computing and connectivity via a wider application for the humble cell phone.

Einstein imagined surfing a light wave when contemplating “relativity”.

Charles Darwin had a “thinking path” he would walk down. Literally.

Fiona Kerr of the University of Adelaide said:

“Daydreaming allows the mind to wander. The outcome is consistently more productive when dealing with complex problems or coming up with creative solutions and ideas”.

Sounds like a powerful and valuable activity, doesn’t it?

If time to think is something we crave and need, should it be scheduled in our diary?  If it is important, why is so much else prioritised ahead of time to think, imagine and day dream?

To para phrase comments by Zat Rana, contributor to

Thinking is not valued by a culture that mostly fetishizes measurable outputs like hours worked and reports produced.

No doubt you have an important engagement this week, it might be a specific business meeting or a parent/teacher event. It is scheduled and is a not negotiable priority.

Try scheduling an hour of thinking time in your week for each of the next four weeks, and prioritise it as important and not to be overridden.

Remove yourself from all electronic distractions. Leave your phone elsewhere, no screens and no music or radio of any type.

All you have is you, a notebook (paper based notebook) and a pen.

Relax and let your mind wander. Record what comes to mind, if you want to.

Put some questions in to your consciousness and let your sub conscious work on then.

It may be a specific work issue or it may be more introspective such as if you are engaged in your life or rolling in aimless motion, or perhaps what opportunities are you procrastinating over and why?

It is hard, particularly at first, very, very hard. Like everything worth while, it takes practice. We struggle to slow ourselves down. However, if you schedule and execute an hour thinking time each week for 4 consecutive weeks, chances are you will want to make it a weekly habit and even increase the time allocated.

What have you got to lose?

Sunday, 27 August 2017


What will you do, that makes you proud this week?

Come Friday, you may look back on a great week having met and even exceeded expectations, but what will you be proud of? After all, you are the only one who knows the real intent behind what you did.

Will it be the guidance you provided to the graduate, the encouragement you took the time to provide when you would have been quite justified in continuing your important, busy activity but stopped to help out?

Will it be the extra review you did of the e-mail to all staff announcing the new initiative meaning it is superbly drafted therefore achieving maximum team engagement? You made it a great and not just an adequate communication.

Perhaps you finally executed a week of improved dietary changes rather than reverting to ingrained habits on Wednesday afternoon or did you actually start the exercise program you have been planning? Was it both?

When your son or daughter was wanting 10 minutes to show you their new basketball jump shot or ballet move, did you watch, or did you actually pay attention? Maybe it was spending an extra 10 minutes helping them understand and not just complete their homework?

Did you make the call to the team member whose parent had been unwell last week and check to see how they were getting on? Did you follow up the client who complained the previous week to confirm the solution was sustainable and not simply representative of an action to close the file.

No matter what our role or our weekly routine, we tend to go about it with a take it for granted mind set. We most capably do what we need to do, but we rarely invest the little extra, the extra that makes a difference to others and of which we can reflect with pride, internal pride.

And internal pride is the most important because it is real.

Come Friday, what from your week will you be proud of?

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Heart to Heart

Often, the first knowledge of having heart disease is the suffering of a heart attack.

People die of heart attacks.

People die from flu too but there are noticeable symptoms for a period before it gets this serious. If these symptoms persist, chances are we do something about it.

Equally, chances are there have been heart health related symptoms too, but these are often ignored or passed off as something else. Shortness of breath is blamed on poor fitness or excess weight; chest pains are excused as indigestion.

I am not claiming any medical knowledge as such and have no medical qualifications at all. I have experienced heart disease and undergone bypass surgery, quadruple bypass surgery. I was aged 49.

Fortunately, circumstances were such that I did not suffer a heart attack. I acted on symptoms before it came to this.

It is from this paradigm I urge the following actions:

  • Understand your family health history. If there is a history of heart disease, you may have a predication to this as well. I had such a history.
  • Know your cholesterol level and the ratios of good and bad cholesterol. I only discovered my levels after heart disease was suspected.
  • Be honest about your weight. Obesity can creep up on you. If you gain a kilogram a year, you are well overweight after 15 years and you don’t necessarily realise it.
  • If you decide to improve your fitness after a period of inactivity, first consult your Doctor.
A key learning of mine was:

Just because you are fit, doesn’t mean you are healthy, but you cannot be healthy if you are not fit.

I was active, playing hockey twice weekly, participating in week long cycling events and racing most weekends. I was riding most days and regularly running.

I justified enjoying chocolate, cheese, ice cream and coca cola as being ok because of the physical activity I was doing. I viewed this as one balancing out the other. But when your cholesterol is closer to 10 than it is to 5, your health is not good, even if your physical fitness is.

Heart disease is more often viewed as being a male dominant condition. Unfortunately, heart disease is a growing industry for females and a major factor in deaths.

Why am I writing about this today?

Drew Morphett has been a constant sports media personality throughout my life. A sports commentator who practiced clarity of speech, simplicity of phrase and the ability to connect with listeners and viewers alike. He was a window in to the summer world of cricket and the winter world of football. Come the Olympic games, he turned his ability to diving and cycling. He also covered hockey, lawn bowls and was a fine golf commentator.

Drew Morphett was watching the football on TV last night enjoying a glass of red wine. He was happy and content and looking forward to his commentary role over the coming days. In a week's time, he was heading to Amsterdam with his wife to enjoy a 19-day river cruise. He, his friends and family considered him to be in good health. He passed away before the game ended.

All I urge is that you better know your health so you can determine what decisions to make or equally, decide not to make any at all. But, just know.

Thanks for the memories Drew Morphett

Friday, 25 August 2017

End of Working Week - Satisfied or Not?

How was your week?

Are you a list maker? If so, how many items on the lists made during the week have been completed?

How do feel if all or most have a tick beside them? How do you feel if they don’t?

If you are not a list maker, chances are you would have started your week with a conscious set of actions you wanted to complete or objectives you wanted to achieve.

Inevitably, how we feel on a Friday depends on what we perceive we have achieved judged against what we set out to achieve – consciously or subconsciously.

If you deem your week to be less than successful, what will you do next week to achieve a better outcome?

If your week has been successful, do you understand why it was, or did it just happen?

I suspect most of us reach the end of many weeks with a sense of relief and a touch of dis-satisfaction.

All too often, we feel the circumstances that impact our end of week work happiness are outside of our control. Many of us have become experts at blaming others for our challenging week.

There are three really simple things that if practiced consistently, will improve that happy end of week feeling and perhaps also improve your weekend.

1.       Prioritise, prioritise and re-prioritise.

Understand with absolute clarity what you want and need to achieve for the week and then prioritise each item. If something unexpected comes up and your input is requested, asses it against your priorities and deal with it accordingly, which may be to not deal with it at all.

2.       Say “No” to as many requests for meetings as possible.

Meetings bloody meetings. When asked to attend a meeting, before agreeing, ask what the purpose of the meeting is and what the measurement will be for it to be considered successful. Chances are a less senior member of your team can attend in you place and if detail is required, they will be more useful than you. It is also a chance for them to shine in front others, therefore pushing their credentials.

3.       Get yourself an e-mail management plan, and stick to it.

The most time effective people are those with a plan to deal with their inbox. Devise a plan and then stick to it. Your plan is your plan and needs to suit your work patterns and work personality.
Whether you allocate specific times each day, determine a minimum time before responding to an e-mail,  or only open an e-mail when you intend to action it or something else. If you don’t have a plan, you risk being taken advantage of and you risk always having a plausible distraction.

4.       Do it consistently, always.

Prioritise, say no and devise and execute a plan. These three things will make a difference.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Innovating and Supporting Community

A conversation last week and an event I attended last night got me thinking.

What does “Community” mean?

In days gone by, “community” was viewed as a geographical area, usually residential where there was a sense of belonging. This was a time when we were less mobile, if we had a car it was one only. Not everyone had a landline phone and information was gained from the morning and evening newspapers. Neighbours talked about the goings on in the community and the world, sharing opinions and information alike.

Increased mobility and the growth in communication technologies has in part contributed to the breakdown of the traditional community.

We talk about on-line communities, the connection of like minded people with similar interests often communicating over the back fence that is the chat room, website or "App".

But, I wonder if it is swinging back just a little to offline communities, or personal connection.

In a discussion last week, it was put to me that freelance or independent artists, photographers, writers and other creatives are a community. Irrespective of our particular field of endeavour, we should see ourselves as a community, come together formally and informally and share resources including ideas, referral networks and distribution channels.

Last night I participated in another community when I was one of 1200 attending an event at the Triffid in New Farm.

The event was hosted by the Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur for “Start-Up” Founders, would be Founders and Venture Capital Enterprises.

As with the traditional focus of “community”, there was a strong sense of interaction, communication, support and sharing. There was also wide diversification of gender, age group, ethnicity and industry.

The Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur was established in 2016 with the founding Chief Entrepreneur being Mark Sowerby of Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited fame. Its purpose is to encourage Queensland Entrepreneurship, stimulate local, national and international investment and showcase start-up and entrepreneurial talent throughout the state.

Arriving some 30 minutes before formalities commenced, a creative vibe was immediately evident. There was the buzz of positive and engaged conversation. Significantly, as much as people were talking enthusiastically, equally they were listening with the same engagement and intensity.

People are the essence of “Community”. One consistent stand out message from the nine presenting Venture Capital Groups was not about money, return on investment or how much money the founder would make. It was about investing in good people, honest people with passion, commitment and values. All signs of a good community.

I am not claiming to have joined the Queensland Entrepreneur Community, well not yet anyway. However, visiting was rewarding, interesting and educating.

It was also exciting to see, meet and talk to the innovators of the moment and the movers and shakers of the future.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Perception and Reality

"That’s not what I said, well, it’s not what I meant when I said that".

We might make an announcement, verbal or written and in doing so, are totally clear in our mind of its clarity, informative qualities and how it will be received.

Have you ever had a one on one meeting where each of you have completely different perceptions of what was discussed and agreed?  

How we are perceived is powerful.

How others perceive our actions and words can influence outcomes, engagement, morale relationships and careers.

My mantra for many years has been “One's Perception is Their Reality”. I have always accepted responsibility for the perception I have left with someone, intended or not, and perhaps more so when the intention differed to what became their reality or perception.

But while I accepted responsibility, I rarely sort to change the way I went about things.

After all, we all know the good will, energy and intent of a communication, be it written or verbal. It is incredibly clear in our eyes and minds.

Some of the most valuable coaching or advice I received during my senior management career was to be more aware of my intention and of the outcome.

What this meant is, while my intention may be noble, well intentioned, necessary, positive and well thought through, the outcome, or feeling I left with an individual or a group was not necessarily reflective of my intention. This was the case even though in the main, the required result was delivered.

What brought clarity to me was feedback that some staff, including senior staff, occasionally felt intimidated in my presence at a meeting.

My excuse or justification was always that I was merely being upfront, honest, direct and businesslike.

I readily embraced a gentler way and introduced the concept of intent and outcome to my own coaching.

Being aware of the wake we leave behind us is extremely important. Taking responsibility for how our comments and actions are perceived is critical to building and maintaining effective and high performing teams.

As for Perception and Reality - in the eyes of another, Perception is Reality.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Culture Comment

In the last 24 hours, a senior coach of a team in one of our major football codes has been sacked.

It is not all that uncommon for a Manager/Leader/Coach to be “let go”.

Another coach of a team in our other major football codes found himself unemployed last week too.

There are several common factors.

In both cases, the team they coached is considered to have underperformed when results are considered against expectations.

The expectations set for each team were driven by the organisation, sponsors and also media.

The other common factor is location. Both are based in Queensland's beach holiday playground, the Gold Coast.

In each case, culture has been criticised and seemingly with some merit. Recreational drugs have been evident, as have alcohol and general behaviours unbefitting elite athletes.

The final similarity is both have a high profile, highly paid player who has not lived up to expectations over the last 2 years. In fairness, in one case performances over the previous 5 years were outstanding.

What is culture?

Behaviour, values, common purpose, teamliness, work ethic, commitment?

It cannot be purely behaviour. The highest achieving club in the AFL is credited with having a great culture driven largely by its leader. Some years ago, this same leader was prosecuted for (low level) driving under the influence of alcohol. They went on to win the premiership just a few weeks later with his leadership being hailed as a major contributing factor.

In the case of one of our Gold Coast based clubs, having a few glasses of wine the night before a game was considered a major sin. Arguably this is less significant than illegal driving.

Culture, good or bad is something that is almost always reflected upon after it is in place.

In my opinion, a good culture comes from some very basic principles.

1.       Communication

2.       Decisions made in accordance with what has been communicated

3.       Decisions are executed with total consistency

4.       Feedback is welcomed and respected, be it positive or otherwise

Sporting clubs and Corporates are often very good at communicating the big picture. Where we want to be, how we will get there, how important “our people” are and our commitment to their growth and development.

It is the other areas that tend to fracture good culture development.

Decisions are not made consistently in accordance with stated objectives, particularly when under performance or financial pressures.

Person A has outstanding sales results so we will overlook their poor paperwork. Player Z is our best goal scorer so we will forget that they presented to training hungover.

As for feedback, all too often feedback is viewed as threatening rather than constructive. This becomes self-fulfilling as team members (corporate and sporting) express views and opinions within cliques, or feedback becomes non-constructive. This usually leads to a blame mentality where everyone is looking for someone else to take responsibility.

All organisations want a good culture, but executing the four fundamental principles to develop this takes discipline and above all, courage.

After all, if it was easy, we would all have it.

Monday, 21 August 2017

With a Totally Open and Positive Mindset

Imagine if you could clear your mind of all negativity.

What would this do for your business, your life?

Without those past negative experiences clogging up your world, you will bring optimism and hope to every activity. You may be more outgoing as past social hiccups will no longer bring down the cloak of self-protection. Everything is limitless.

You will retain the manners of your upbringing and associated positive traits embedded in your self-consciousness.

Further, imagine you are Vice President of a multinational, well known Company and are based in Brussels.

The fresh, uninhibited perspective you could bring to everything your employer does would be hugely significant. Truly ground breaking.

Is this in any way appealing?

Imagine this could be achieved by the taking of a tablet or an injection. 

Would you take it?

Before you answer, there are some temporary side effects.

As well as erasing all negativity from your mind, you will also not initially be able to remember or recognise your partner or children. You will also not recognise any other family or friends or have any recollection of who they are or why they are friends or family.

You won’t recall your childhood or have any recollection of where you studied or what you studied.

You won’t remember how to do basic tasks, where the bus stop is or how to get there. You won’t remember how to cook.

Does that change your answer?

However, your Partner, Family and Friends will be totally supportive of your new, be it temporary way of life. They will help with your education, fill in the gaps in other walks of life and be protective

But there is more.

Your ability to study, to learn new things is extraordinary as your mind is free from all clutter. What may have taken years to grasp now takes weeks.

Does that make a difference?

In addition, your Partner of many years all of a sudden becomes like a new romance with all the associated excitement. You have no memory of love making meaning that mentally, you lose your virginity for a second time, but on this occasion to a caring, considerate and loving partner, which is not always the case when a teenager or soon after.

As an adult, you also get to experience the wonderment that comes with what mentally, is your first time flying, train trip and boat ride. Your first merry-go-round ride, first chocolate and ice cream. It is all new. You get to everything for the first time, again.

You have no sense of fear and are willing to try new things, to benefit from new experiences.

The peak of this new state of mind will last 2 months and gradually over 6 months, much of your past will re-present itself, but you will retain your new learnings.

Your employer will have benefitted hugely from your new perspective and your career is set to soar further.

Your partner and children and many friends think you are pretty cool too. 

However, some friends were offended you did not remember them but this is another side effect and anyway, were they really friends in the first place?

The above is based on the true story of Robyn Pratt. A lady from country Queensland who underwent sinus surgery in Belgium, and upon waking, had no memory. She did not recognise her Partner or Children, had no childhood memories; she did not know who she was. This was thought to be a reaction to the anaesthetic.  

At the time, she was Vice President – Six Sigma and Operation Innovation with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Robyn later became Vice president – Brand Management – W Hotels, Le Meridien Hotels for Europe, Africa and Middle East.

She is now Malta based and is Principal and Managing Director of Impact Consulting Limited.

It took 2 years for her to reconstruct her life.

Here is a podcast of an interview with Robyn in 2013. It is fascinating, a little confronting and also uplifting.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Whole Self Engagement - A Sunday Self Refelctive

My weekdays are different now, my weekends too.

I have happily left behind the expectation of the new working week and likewise, have left behind the anticipation of the weekend about to start.

I have commented on numerous occasions that I am not sure if every day is a weekend or every day is a workday. What I do know is everyday feels exciting.

In several articles, I have referenced conversation I have been involved in. Having conversations is not something knew however there appears to be a greater quality now. I am also enjoying social occasions far more than I used to and even looking forward to these.

Again, it is not as if I previously didn’t enjoy or look forward to such occasions. I have however become very aware that my dynamic or energy is different now. I pay far more attention, actively listen, ask more questions and am overall far more engaged.

What has changed is that I am not being constantly aware of the time, of where I next need to be, who is in need of my counsel or advice and who do I need to seek out for advice or decisions.

When I am “there” I am all there, or at least most of me is.

Last week, I was out for dinner with friends I have not seen for nearly 12 months. I not only looked forward to it, but was relaxed and involved, genuinely interested in what they were all up to and their future plans. Two have retired, another will by year's end while the other has broad ideas about what work will look like in the future.

Thursday morning was coffee with a friend and former colleague from North Queensland. We share a number of common interests and our conversations have always been reasonably diverse. It was however our common business involvement that inevitably dominated our chat. On Thursday, we referenced matter Financial for about 2 of our 70 minutes together and if it wasn’t for a need to catch a flight, we may have spent another hour or more over yet another coffee.

Friday was another dinner date, with a couple who have just purchased the caravan and car package. I was interested in just what goes in to making a caravan purchase. I suspect I would have been bored to tears with this conversation had it occurred 12 months ago, perhaps even 2 months ago.

Back to the matter of work days and weekends. It really doesn’t matter. Every day is enjoyable, satisfying, stimulating and with objectives in mind.

But, perhaps the biggest change is that I am no longer in a state of perpetual tiredness and exhaustion, making everything else more enjoyable, relaxed, stimulating, educational and engaging.

If only I could find the secret to helping others achieve this engagement in traditional working life.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Liveable City

The 2017 most liveable city results were released three days ago.

The Economist Intelligence Unit conducts research and produces the annual report having assessed Liveability based on Healthcare, Education, Infrastructure, Culture and Environment and Stability.

Each category is given a rating out of 100, these are then rolled in to an overall rating out of 100.

The top three Cities were separated by 0.2. The top 10 by 2.5.

I am not disrespecting these ratings, but I do wonder what the point is.

I would like to see if those Cities with consistently higher ratings have attracted more business investment or population growth than others at the mid-point.

I also wonder if people are moving away from Cities on the basis of their ratings.

The Economist has determined the criteria by which Liveability will be rated and these seem all very reasonable. But what about the actual people living in each City.

Most of us live where we do because it is home. Our City of residence is where we are comfortable, happy and where the people are that matter most to us. The City in which I live is highly Liveable, but came in at number 16. I was in Adelaide 6 months ago and noticed almost zero difference in Liveability and the South Australian Capital is rated at 5. Yes, Adelaide with some rather suspect Power infrastructure is the number 5 most liveable City in the world.

Sure, some people move Cities to pursue a change of lifestyle, it may be weather related, cost inspired or chasing an opportunity. I doubt their decision is influenced by the official ratings.

Many simply do not have a choice, or do not perceive they do.

Overall, we mostly love where we live, because that is where we live.

As for the most liveable City, in the world. It is the same this year as it was the previous 6 years. It is a City that abounds with Gardens, hosts sporting events as well as anywhere in the world and has an adequate, although stretched Public Transport network. I cannot comment on health services as I have not experienced these for 30 or so years. It has great cultural diversity and tolerance.

The City rated most liveable in the world for the 7th consecutive year is Melbourne.

I suspect however, that it is more important to most Victorians to merely be rated above Sydney.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Leadership or Management?

In the Corporate World, we have moved on from the concept of Management in favour of that of Leadership.

We no longer defer to our Manager, we defer to our Leader.

Development initiatives are now about creating Leaders, not Managers.

The idea is perhaps that Managers manage stuff but Leaders motivate, initiate, instigate, strategise, communicate and coach in order to well, manage stuff.

Where we had General Managers’ we now have “Chief Officers”, Divisional Managers have become “Heads Of” and Managers “Team Leaders”.

With all this emphasise on Leadership, why is it we seem so bereft of it.

Management was always about taking responsibility. Is this really the difference between the “M” word and the “L” word?

Leaders talk about the big picture, the new strategy, engagement and cohesion. Leaders talk about it then all too often default to short termism.

Am I being unfair? Am I generalising? Yes, I am being unfair and I am generalising.

My concern is that we are progressing to a state where the taking of responsibility may be becoming less common.

I have been in many a forum where it has been stated by Management, sorry, by Leaders that compliance is the responsibility of every employee. At times, I have been the orator of this mantra.

However, for Leaders, is there a danger that actually addressing a compliance matter is only relevant when a problem is discovered?

In recent years, we have seen numerous scandals in and around financial services. Is it possible Leaders were blinded to reality by short term objectives? Do Leaders operate in the long term but work day to day in the short term? Is it possible short term incentives based around next week's targets impact such behaviour?  

In moving ahead, does Leadership need to combine the modern theory of strategy etc with some of the drudgery of Management practice; the drudgery of the responsibility of “getting stuff done”, and getting it done properly?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Workplace Behaviour - Politicians Setting the Example

Television programmes, movies, books, DVDs and in fact nearly all content we consume has an associated rating attached to it.

The ratings systems vary depending on the category however in all cases, the more restrictive the rating, the more intense the violence, more graphic the imagery or colourful the language. The theme contained within the content may also be a factor.

The theory is, we should not expose those in our society considered not yet mature enough to apply a sound and balanced decision making logic as to what is real or not, what is acceptable and what is not.

It is time to place coverage of matters political in to the adult only category?

Tune into the comings and goings in and around the American, British and Australian Political scenes and you will see what in my opinion are textbook examples of mental abuse, verbal abuse and general bullying. And this is just what we see in the open. If this is happening for us all to see, what will be going on behind closed doors?

When one of our sports stars misbehaves, we hear about the responsibility they have to set an example to the community and young people in particular.

When one politician accuses another of treachery and spices it with personal acrimony, it is considered to be fair game in the rough and tough of political debate.

We, the taxpayers, employ these people, we pay their salaries.

We pay the salaries of the public servant who handles the renewal of our drivers licence too. Would we be accepting of such behaviour in their workplace?

There are dozens of examples of past behaviours and actions that we now deem inappropriate and unacceptable, in the workplace, on our sporting fields and in society as a whole.

It is time to require our ultimate leaders, our elected politicians, those we delegate the authority to spend our money, defend our country and to make the laws we agree to be bound by, to behave in accordance with acceptable social and workplace standards.

Maybe then, they would do what they are meant to do and concentrate on matters that support the disabled, underprivileged and others who are disadvantaged while providing a fair and equitable country rewarding honesty, hard work and efforts to advance individuals, enterprises and families alike.

Come to think of it, I am not sure the behaviour we see in Federal Politics is even suitable for Adult consumption.

It’s Time

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Patience Before Judgement

We often click on a link with a variety of emotions or energy. Some positive, others not.

The title may excite us so the page is opened with much expectation of a satisfying and enjoyable reading experience.

Alternatively, the title of the link may infuriate us, or have us enter in to a feeling of negativity and a corresponding preparedness to be critical or judgemental.

It was with the energy of the second example that I clicked on a link that came across my LinkedIn feed a week or two ago.

The title of the article was the first thing that accelerated my heart rate. What was expressed is the exact opposite of what I believe.

Secondly, the writer was well known to me, having delivered her consulting services to my former employer over a period of about two years. Not only that, the results were comprehensive and positive.

What made it worse, was that only a week before I had written a testimonial for her business.

The article in question was written by Professional Certified Coach Kylie Denton and is titled:

                             Four tips to get more out of others"     

I find the concept of getting more out of others to be somewhat old fashioned, hailing from a time where the “boss told and the staff member responded” or else.

I jumped to images of a management style of red faced ranting and raving and one way communication.  

I believe the best way to achieve ongoing sustainable outcomes is to create an environment where individuals can work collaboratively and are supported to be the best they can be, exceeding the expectations they perceived for themselves.

I was also shocked because having worked with Kylie, my opinion is she is devoted to helping and supporting people to develop as they desire and to fully achieve their potential while being true to their individual desire for balance.

I performed the MacBook equivalent of ripping open the envelope and readied myself to be appalled by what I was about to read. I was also mentally drafting the e-mail I was to shortly send to Kylie, withdrawing my testimonial.

I speed read the article and realised my state of mind was such that I must have missed something. I read it a second time, feeling again I had missed something.

Kylie’s article proved to be positive and constructive as well as being informative and valuable. It was nothing like I expected from the heading; it was definitely in keeping with my experience working with her. My emotional build up had been wasted.

How often do we jump to conclusions before considering the facts?
How often do we do ourselves a dis-service by pre-judging a situation or circumstance?

How much better would we be if we eliminated this tendency from all we do, in our business, social, recreational and family lives?

Kylie, I apologise.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Picture of Passion and Ethos

Conversations fall in to various categories.

Some are educational for one or both parties. Others are fun, whimsical, opinionated or inspirational.

On a rare occasion, a conversation includes all the above, and then some.

Today I had such a conversation and it was with someone I feel I know well and have known for a long time. However, we really don't know each other that well at all.  

It was our first conversation in about 2 years however there was no re-capping  of the last 2 years; this didn’t seem necessary.

My conversation partner is two years my junior. He withdrew from the structure of employer/employee work relationships a little over two years and is therefore two years further down this path compared to me.

Alberto was my conversation partner. He is a professional photographer, having returned to his passion some 15 years after first establishing (then closing) a studio in Adelaide before settling in Brisbane after a stint as a diving instructor in Cairns.

Alberto was introduced to me about 9 years ago by his partner who I had met through the Hamilton Wheelers Cycling Club when we raced against each other in the same grade. She always finished ahead of me.

When first we met, he was building a reputation in masters age group bike racing, later taking out  the King of the Mountain title in the Grafton to Inverell Road Race. He doesn’t ride any longer. In his work life, he was 3 years in to a planned one year (gap year) stint as a baggage handler for Virgin.

As well as returning to his photography passion, he has also rediscovered his love of the ocean and surfing, a love first honed in his teenage years.

Much of his photography involves spending long hours in the Ocean, no matter what the temperature. He also produces some superb portraiture, still life and non ocean related scenery. He has an eye for the natural and for nature.

I know of some of his work through his Website and Instagram account. He also exhibits when invited and frequents the South East Queensland weekend market circuit. I first wrote about him two years ago when I visited his exhibition at Raw in Brisbane.

Alberto works to a client brief and I asked if there are any assignments he would not accept. He said he has given this a great deal of thought and fortunately, has not yet been challenged to consider this. He suggested it would depend upon the intent of the brief and the story his photographs would be used to illustrate and not just the subject matter being photographed.

I was more interested however to hear what drives his work that is not based on a client brief. For example, is he thinking about what he might be able to sell, or is he photographing what he would like to buy?

He did not hesitate in answering his work assumes he is his own customer.  

We discussed the cold hard commercial impact of always creating content, be it photographs or written material for the market versus producing content we like, while effectively "waiting to be discovered".

We landed on the side of idealism meaning that at least for the time being, we are prepared to be patient and will "wait to be discovered".

We also discussed matters Social Media and our attempts to discover the secrets of promotion via the various mediums; what words to use, what not to use and how to “boost” exposure. We are  still very much in the infant stages of our learning.

Alberto granted me permission to use his images in this article. I have decided not to as I cannot select from the many beautiful and many thought provoking photos he generously placed at my  disposal.

Instead, I will simply provide a link to his Website and Instagram account.

More than anything, I was inspired by our conversation and by Alberto’s love of his art and his passion and belief in his chosen path. I was inspired by his determination to continue being true to his own ethos and doing so during those periods of fluctuating income and sparseness of sales.  

Alberto's is both a lesson and a motivation.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Do You Promote Innovation - From Those Most Likely?

And the article concluded with this paragraph:

“I think people really get stuck with learning new ways. If you’re learning from a book then you are learning how to learn, and what to learn. If you have an entirely open mind and look at anything then you’re open to new things and ideas. I’m always trying new stuff and experimenting on myself with this. There are other ways out there.”

A powerful paragraph indeed.

The speaker quoted was lamenting the adherence we have to history and that much of our so-called innovation is about doing the same thing quicker, faster, lighter, stronger, but still doing the same thing.

He has challenged conventional wisdom within his chosen profession. He has asked the hard question of “why” and all too often received the answer “because that 's what we have always done and it is the known and proven way”, or words to that effect.

What’s more, even when he had researched, tested and proven scientifically there are better methods and conventional wisdom is lacking a basis in fact, obstacles were placed in his way. Many of the practices being challenged had been chiselled in stone for 100 years or more. 

Conventional education is valuable and important, but education is largely content based with little time spent on practical application of learned skills. The conventional approach is to teach/learn the content, full stop.

Graduates then move in to the workplace and in many cases, results dictate the quality of role and quality of employer. Or, who has best absorbed the content.

Having started work, the employer discourages innovation from their most recently qualified individuals. The ones who are actually their least institutionalised thinkers.

Look around your office. See the graduate who started 6 months ago and is beavering away happily and studiously. Does that person feel empowered to express, to be creative? Has anyone, have you, engaged with them, perhaps asked what their particular area of interest was when at University or College?

How revealing would it be to simply ask “what has surprised you most about working here and what you do”? or asked “What do you see here that you feel is just silly?”.

The response could be insightful, fresh, frightening and valuable.

Give it a go.

As for the person quoted in the paragraph above.

His name is Australian Professional Cyclist Adam Hansen who has competed in 17 consecutive, 3 week long Grand Tours and in a few weeks, will start the Tour of Spain in the hope of making it 18.

The previous record was 10.

Hansen is considered a freak of endurance and recovery. Completing 3 Grand Tours in a single year is rare and considered extraordinary, let alone 3 a year, every year.

Hansen has challenged just about every convention, many over 100 years old in his pursuit of excellence and efficiency of energy use.

He designed and makes his own cycling shoes, by hand, has a unique position when riding, introduced narrow handle bars and 180-millimetre cranks. He had his own uniforms made, without seams. His training methods are unique and his ability to recover, refresh and go again are unique. Other cyclists are taking note.

Who knows how many Adam Hansen’s are out there in our Universities and our workplaces, who have ideas and concepts that could challenge the traditional and achieve results never previously imagined.

The full article is here .