It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Keep on sharing. It really DOES matter.

Who are you? What do you know that is of value to others?

You are you. You are unique and your experiences do really matter to other people. You create value when you share who you are, as well as what you know.

I know that the people marketing and sales would have you believe that all about what you know. It’s not that what you know is not of, or does not create value. It’s more that who you are is an important and integral part of the value created when you share what you know.

People buy people. People buy feelings.

Do you really think that purely what you know is enough to make people spend money? Or is it the outcome that they will achieve for themselves?

I believe it is, for the most part, the latter. By learning from you people hope to get a specific result for themselves. That result, in turn, delivers a specific feeling for that person. The greater that feeling is in importance to them, then the greater the value it has to them.

This is where commerce comes into play. The people that you create value for have access to resources that are of value to you. The resources they have maybe skills, knowledge, networks, attention, time or money. And as we know, one of the main resources that is traded for the value you have created and the value that you desire to receive, is money.

Granted, it’s not all about money (at least it isn’t for me). It’s also about the one email, tweet, Facebook or LinkedIn message where you hear from someone the you never met.  In that message they thank you for changing their lives for the better through what you’ve shared. [I’ll share the message I received in a later post]

You may, like me, have forgotten what you wrote. But you will know that it came from a place of compassion, and passion. At that moment you will get that feeling of knowing that what you do and who you are really does matter.

I say all that to say this….

i2i TMM Global reach 20121119I have been writing blogs fairly consistently now for over a year. I know that it is necessary for me to share what I know and who I am. Until recently, I did not take a look at the web statistics that shows the global reach of what I say about what I know and who I am. The image in this blog was taken from my website stats analysis.

With that said, I want to say a big “thank you” to you for taking the time to read, watch and listen to what I have to say. No matter where you are on this global map (shows the countries that people have viewed this blog from) there are people just like us all over the world that seek to grow, share and walk together on this journey called life.

In 2013, I’ll be focusing most of my thoughts, videos and writing around a few core subjects. This will help me to focus my time, energy and efforts in a way that I will be able to establish a clearer “message” that we can discuss and share together.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Do you have a message that you wish to share? Have you allowed fear, or the illusion that it does not matter to others to be the reason for not sharing that message? Or have you allowed “planning to prepare” and “getting ready to get ready” to be the reason for not starting or building a rhythm for sharing your message?

If so, please know that what I have done is a baby step. But even the baby step is still a step forward.

This is all that we need to do. It may not be perfect, it may not be as consistent as we desire (at first), but is, can be and will be SOMETHING.

This is not about you, this is about them. All the people in the orange and red countries of your global reach map waiting to hear what you have to say. It may start small, with only one blog or video. It will become more, in time.

And in time you will hear the stories of how your words have impacted and changed the lives of others. This is my story, this is my song. And I thank you for taking the time to sing along.


Invisible, But Essential

The magic of appreciation

Are you in a role within an organisation where you work hard, do the right thing and don’t get the appreciation or recognition that you feel you deserve?

As a programme and project manager a significant part of my duties are administrative.  As with many administrative roles, you’re often given near-impossible tasks with unrealistic deadlines and when you achieve the task the typical response is…..

“OK, thanks….. just leave the report over there”

It’s not that we – who do the day-to-day operational work and don’t necessarily get appreciated – aren’t guilty of doing the same thing.

In fact, I’m sure that today when you turned on an electric appliance you probably didn’t call your electric supplier and thank them for the complex infrastructure, administration and work it took to make it possible for you to flick the switch.

Recognising this, I have, as a standard part of inducting staff into my team, made sure to manage expectations by highlighting this particular fact of life

To illustrate it, I refer to an episode of the deep, philosophical treatise of life on planet earth…. Futurama. In series 3, episode 20 (aka “Goodfellas”) the character ‘Bender’ (a robot) has a conversation with ‘God’.  During the conversation ‘God’ notes the difficulties of leadership (or being God).  “You can’t do too much for them or they’ll get dependent on you.  And if you do too little for them, they lose hope.” Ultimately….. (watch the19 second video for the profound insight)

I say all of that to say this….

Even when you do the right thing and do it well, you may not get recognised. In fact, people may not even acknowledge that you are even necessary.  This is why it’s important to be your own best publicist.  Not that you should always shout about what you do.  Maybe you should allow others to shout about you.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Do you know your own value? Have you taken inventory on your successes and reminded yourself of your accomplishments?  Have you taken time to thank and acknowledge the accomplishments, work and contribution that others make to your life?

If you are going to show your gratitude, please ensure that you follow a few simple guidelines to saying thank you;

  • Be sincere and authentic
  • Say it when it counts
  • Say it or show it in a way that THEY would appreciate

What often happens from here is magic. And it’s likely that no one will even know you did it…. but that’s OK that’s the way it works.

If You Know Better, Do Better

The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes

We all have things that we know that we should do.  We all have things that although we KNOW better, we don’t always DO better.  As a coach, mentor and businessman I know that consistency is an important ingredient for success in leading a team. And yet……  and yet…….. I allowed ‘life’ to get in the way of doing this one thing. Maintaining my blog.

I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of others and allowed my ‘children’ to go barefoot.

It’s not as if I didn’t write anything, I just didn’t see it all the way through.  Good ideas, all in draft mode.  Good intentions, none of them seen through to the realisation and actualisation of the potential in the timely manner that they had been intended.

Well, now they are live.  Now the written words have been published and shared with the world.

I know that only a few hundred people (currently) even read these words, and yet, just knowing that my words can make a difference in one person’s life is enough. To you, my friends, I apologise for not being all that I know that I can be.  And to myself, the person who I know becomes better and stronger as a result of writing these words, I re-commit to doing better.

I say all of that to say this….

It’s so easy to spend your time taking care of others; your family, your friends, your clients, your suppliers…. and the list goes on and on.  You have to –  you must – take care of business at home …. your mind, your body and the day-to-day things that are a reflection of the fact that you take care of your mind and body.

A requirement of leadership is that you lead by example.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Are you walking your talk in ALL of the areas that you lead (or aspire to lead) in? Are you making a full investment of time in doing the things you know that you ought to do in order to maintain and grow in mind, body and spirit?

Look out for the signs of when things start to slip. It’s easier to lead when things are sorted at home. It’s easier to help others when you are operating on full power and efficiency.

Remember, when the oxygen masks drop on an aeroplane, you are advised to put your mask on first before you assist others.

Employee or Employer… THAT’s the question

Your life depends on it

In a recent blog I noted that the CV is as much for you as it is for the prospective employer or investor.  The CV exercise is even more useful if you are facing the choice of being an employee or becoming an employer (i.e. starting your own business).
Both of these paths lead to an interview of some type.
Whether you are interviewing for a job to clean toilets, design them or run the company that makes them, the interview should be taken very seriously.  By ‘serious’ I don’t mean that you should ‘stress out’ and lose your mind.  What I am saying is that accepting a role for a full-time position is a major life decision that should not be taken lightly.
Your short-term plan may be a job, but still take a long, hard look at what the job can offer in respect to what you want to achieve, who you want to be and become.  If you take on a role will it help you to be closer to where you will need to be positioned (skills, experience, financially, socially) to achieve it? What can you do to allow the job to will serve you as you serve others?
Like I said, it’s a serious matter.

I say all of that to say this….

Too many people spend their lives investing in someone or something else only to look back and have regrets. When you are clear about your purpose for being on this planet it becomes easier to make the important decisions and recognise the short-term pain for the long-term benefit.
I think it’s safe to say, that long gone are the days when somebody had a job for life. This job, this decision, is only one chapter of a book (your life) waiting to be filled with experiences and adventures. Along the way we have to make money to pay our bills and enjoy a lifestyle that meets our needs at this time.
As an entrepreneur myself, and being part of an entrepreneur or community, I know more people who feel more fulfilled making less money but living the lives that they choose. They recognise that it takes heart, courage and faith to either accept a job that will help them to get closer to their dream or to even say no to a job and shape their own destiny.

Puzzle me this puzzle me that….

Are you the type of person feels that you have a great idea that could be great business? If so, before you take the massive jump to start your own business spend some time with business owners (successful business owners) who no matter where they are in their business still have a joy and satisfaction in their decision to start a business. Spend some time understanding YOUR purpose. And if you don’t know what your purpose is, then your purpose is to find your purpose. By the way, I know this is easy, but it’s the truth. And I know this is difficult because I’ve made this very same decision for myself.
What is more important to you?

Dandelions In My Lawn

Catch It Early To Save The Day

So, it’s spring again. It’s the end of the tax year and the dawn of a new financial year. Just as we can use this time for Spring cleaning of our physical environment, it can also be used as a time to Spring clean your head and business.

Recently I encountered another sign of the season….. yellow dandelions that flowered in my lawn. For readers who do not have the ‘joy’ of tending a lawn or a back garden this may not be a big deal. For readers who know the challenges of nurturing, caring and grooming the ‘perfect lawn’….. this is a DISASTER waiting to happen – unless I act quickly and decisively.

The Causes

This situation can be the result of combination of small events including

  • Seeds – carried on the wind from a neighbours weed infested garden – landed, found good soil and took root
  • The ‘April showers’ watered the fertile soil – as nature intended – to nourish the seeds in the soil (both desired and undesired seeds)
  • I failed to do my weekly ‘pacing’ of the lawn – an activity that I do to look for moss, thatching and other signs of undesired growth. During the activity I normally dig out the weeds (including the roots) and treat the area to get rid of what I don’t want and replace it with what I do want.
  • I failed to pay attention to the early warning signs, i.e. leaves and stems that, although they are green and (to the undiscerning eye) blend into the landscape, the leaves are broader and longer that the grass that surrounds them. The size of the leaves have a relationship to the depth of the roots that they support.

The Cure

Act immediately.  No delay is acceptable.  The fact that the plant is flowering means that it has established deep roots.

Once the flowers turn into those ‘pretty white domes’ the seeds will be carried all over the lawn to start the cycle all over again but this time it will be dozens of them…. in MY lawn!

I say all that to say this….

Problems in your life, your finances and your business are rarely a surprise if you have been paying attention to the events that, when combined, normally add up to a larger matter that will take more time and energy to overcome that if you had spent time attending to the events that lead up to the issue.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

When it’s time to act, it’s time to act.

  • You’ll need to take the time to remove the offending or unwanted issue and ensure that you remove the root.
  • You’ll need to get into the habit of being vigilant and discerning as part of a routine/habit or inspecting the particular area of your life so that you can identify the early signs of a problem before it multiplies.

These activities are best achieved when you invest in yourself.

  • Invest your time – in yourself – for reflection
  • Invest your energy – in yourself – through physical exercise
  • Invest your money – into products that nourish your mind and body (e.g. food and education)

By doing this you will plant the seeds that produce the outcomes and fruit that you desire.

Do you REALLY want the truth?

You Can’t Handle The Truth.

Well, at least not all at once.  People say they want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But is that true?  Practical experience will teach you that it is the right thing to do although in many cases it has to be softened or diluted in order to be heard and accepted.

Whether it’s telling your significant other that “the outfit doesn’t bring out their best features” or the break up line “it’s not you, it’s me”-  we realise that the undiluted direct truth, even with compassion, may not be well received.

In fact, the hardest truths to hear are the truths about ourselves.

When we are willing to see ourselves and accept ourselves without the filters, masks and stories that cloud our vision, then we’ll be on the path to self discovery, growth and personal wealth (and I’m not just talking about money)

I say all of that to say this….

The truth is like syrup.  For those who have an appetite, they can consume it, but for most it’s too sweet, it has to be diluted with the water of compassion and empathy. People have to be led or directed to a place where they can have insights that, over time, will allow them to be able to deal with ‘the sweet stuff’.  Ensure that truth is diluted or mixed with nothing else.

We’re all doing the best we can for where we are and what we know right now. If there is no appetite to digest it all at once, then maybe it can be taken over time and – though diluted – it’s still taken in.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Ask yourself “Am I really ready to hear the truth about [insert one of your areas of insecurity here]?”  If you are really ready then it’s time to take action and put yourself in a place, forum or position where you will be told the truth by people who care.  Your job, at that point, is to listen, learn and take it on board without being defensive.  When you can do that…… you are in a VERY elite group of people. This group happens be the group that learn and earn more than anyone else because they realise that ‘the truth shall set you free’

Broken Bread or Broken Lives – The Choice is Yours

Worklife Balance meets work,life, balance

When was the last time you sat down to a ‘family’ meal to eat and talk?

Oh, let me add this… when was the last time you sat down for a meal with those who matter most to you AND did so with no TV, no distractions (phones, iPods, Nintendos, Sony PS etc) and just talked? 

If it was within the last five days, congratulations.  If it’s been longer then maybe it about time to do that again.

Dinner has the power to create family and community, whether the gathered are blood relatives, business colleagues or newfound friends. Simply put: Good things almost always happen when people share a meal. – Unknown

For all of the preceding scenarios, there’s something important in the words that follow that will encourage you.

Recently, I had a conversation with my brother on the topic of teenage pregnancy. (It’s a thrill to have a conversation with someone who is a self-declared authority on a wide range of subjects.  I mean, he even has a website called! )

In the discussion he noted that he had read a number of articles including one that group of teens were surveyed to find out information about their emotional state in relation to the activities that they participated in both in and out of their home. In the study it was noted that a high percentage of teens that were facing emotional and relationship difficulties did not participate in a regular family meal. What’s THAT about?

My conversations with my brother often turn in to debates – in the most civil sense of the word – each of us taking a position and engaging in a battle of wits like two highly trained olympic fencers.  What’s great about these conversations is that they began a long time ago during our childhood as we shared family meals. Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, Friday (or was it Saturday) nights watching Starsky and Hutch.  Later in life we shared apartments and would eat together and go for walks around the city just talking.

In recent years Janet (my wife) and I have been the host family for students from China. One of the traditions that we maintained was eating together as often as possible – without TV or distractions – to find out how they were getting on in their studies and their lives. The impact on their lives was positive and beneficial. In fact, it is one of the activities that students that have moved on from our home remember the most.

I say all of that to say this….

Eating is, in many cultures, as a communal activity. It is a place where people get to share, connect and nourish their body and their soul.

Sharing a meal is part of the courtship ritual for men and women across the planet.  It’s time and place where whatever may be on the plate, what matters is being together.

Sharing a meal is an opportunity to share your thoughts, build relationships and build trust.  When it is done consistently and with sincerity it becomes a tradition and in come cases… sacred.

It becomes an important and fundamental component of communication between the family members.

When a family (or even a couple) are able to share this time to listen and be heard then the children are less likely to need to find expression through alcohol, drugs and sex (leading to teenage pregnancy). Men and women are less likely to feel isolated or misunderstood and seek comfort in the arms of another person.

I’m not saying that this alone will solve all of the family communication problems, but I have seen that it can be an important step in the right direction. I also realise how difficult it can be to make this happen with the busy schedules that we all seem to have nowadays.

What I am saying is that communication has to start somewhere and at some time.  Why not go back to where it all began…. share a drink, a snack or a meal with your significant other and build from there.

Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….

Is it possible to schedule ONE meal this month with your family? It is possible to do that on a regular basis?

If the lives of the people you care about are important to you, make a decision to make a way to ‘break bread’ with them on a regular basis.  It’s worth the investment because you’re playing your part in the choice between broken bread or broken lives.