Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Growth and Improvement

It is easy to become sluggish and comfortable in your current position. The challenge is to keep getting better. Constant improvement and change. How do we get challenged?

Try these ideas -

  • Read authors you disagree with. Write a retort and send it to them.
  • Read books at your local library. Read about subjects you have no idea about. What about - Nursing? Bio-mechanics? Physics?
  • Talk to others. Find people who are doing something and are getting somewhere. Get them to challenge you.
  • Learn from the best. I quite like these series of videos being produced by the London Business School -

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Thinking

When leaders and teams are faced with making decisions often times it is easy for the discussion to become stuck in a rut. Old ideas keep flowing through, people can not agree and the process becomes bothersome and tiresome.

A great tool to get people thinking is use the mindmap. This is one example that is free to use online.

Similar to brainstorming the mind map helps to create definite lines and approaches to enable progress to be made in going forward.
The mind map concept works especially well for people who are creative in their thinking and approach to work.
Tony Buzan has written a number of very helpful books that share ideas on how to make the most out of your mind mapping experience. Check him out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Customer Service

If a company or organisation wants to keep existing customers there are a few simple things you can do -
  1. Communicate to your customers.
  2. Provide rewards for loyalty.
  3. Provide quality service.

Frankly - I get frustrated when a company that makes millions/billions in revenues every year can not answer my phone call within 10 minutes.

I get irate - when they can't answer within 30 minutes.

I switch companies - when they finally answer my call after 44 minutes.

Well done Telecom New Zealand! 44 minutes of waiting for a two minute password reset.

Hint - this is not a good way to retain customers.

What would be a good way?

  1. Let customers reset their passwords online.
  2. Hire more telephone operators and answer the phone.

It's easy when you try.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Technology and People

Technology exists but it does not replace people.

People need people and people respond best to other people.

A phone call is better than an email (for personal contact), a visit is better than a telephone call.

Technology can create buffers and obstacles between people that can produce more tension than release it.
Remember - even in the midst of all the technology that exists, people are still people who need people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I love the message of this video -

Life's too short to spend it walking around looking down. Look up, look up, look up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Staff Rewards

If a person in your team does well - thank them.

Thanks can be given through a variety of different ways.

  • Say thanks,
  • Buy a gift,
  • Give the person a day off,
  • Give the person more responsibilities (not more work),
  • Acknowledge the person in front of their peers.

One tool to help you decide what the appropriate method are the 5 love languages. Devised by Dr Garry Chapman the languages are broken down into five categories - words, time, gifts, acts of service, touch.

I thoroughly recommend all persons look into these!

"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude." Albert Schweitzer

Monday, September 21, 2009

Career Advancement Principles - Politics

If you are ambitious, want to get somewhere in your career, or are looking for advancement it is easy to become frustrated when circumstances don't appear to go your way.

So what should the worker do? There are three basic options.
  1. Leave.

  2. Stay.

  3. Improve.

All workplaces have a level of politics and operate around who knows who. Advancement when broken down is more often the result of relationships rather than ability. Rob Yeung writes a great post about the place of office politics. Here is an excerpt at the cosing of his article -

"You can use your understanding of politics to influence people and achieve goals that are good for the organisation as well as yourself. Even in the most friendly and supportive of organisations, people don't always agree – so having an understanding of politics and how to exert influence can help you to pull people together and achieve outcomes that are in the organisation's best interests too.

Try to manipulate and use people and you will probably get caught. You could be tarnished with the label of being "political", which can make people refuse to trust you or want to listen to you again. So effective politicking has to be as much about give as it is about take. So. Play the game. Or get left behind. Which are you going to do?" (Source:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mr Branson and Virgin

@TheEssentialOrange posted a fantastic post this week.

It gives an update on what Richard Branson and Virgin are up to.

Here's a brief overview -
  • Screw the recession - attitude.

  • Day in the clouds - creative marketing.

  • Freefest - get customers by giving them what they want.

Personally I find Mr Branson to be a lot more appealing than Mr Trump. He is fresher, has more attitude and writes great books!

Essentially Mr Branson and Virgin understand their customer, listens to their demands and gives them what they want.

Attitude is everything. Be it negative or positive - it determines your mood, your thoughts and those around you.

I also like this quote - "attitude = altitude".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Building Customer Loyalty

Adobe know all about customer loyalty - how to win customers AND how to keep them.

  1. They win customers by products that integrated, seamless and work together to achieve what the customer wants (c.f. what they want). They make their products easy to use and accessible. They keep the features the professionals want to use while still making sure the average Joe can achieve their goals as well.
  2. They teach their customers how to use their products through online seminars. This is how they keep customers. Customers are constantly able to learn new tricks and ways of doing their work. Customers can constantly increase their knowledge so the product they bought doesn't become redundant.

How about your business or organisation? You may have won some customers but how do you ensure they keep coming back to you for more - more services, more upgrades, more teaching, more haircuts?

Often time's it's the little add on's that make the difference. Putting time and effort into making sure people come back to you and your organisation is time and money well spent!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Being Accountable

Quote "The finance person in a company of any size plays a crucial role in supporting management and their decision making." (Source: David Irving,, Feb 08).

The finance person is a critical cog in the wheel to ensure the smooth running of an organisation. They may not always have all the right answers but they should be providing all the right data.

Knowing how accountants get their data isn't as important as understanding what the data says and applying it.
Here is an extract - "The monthly accounts are a more comprehensive picture of the company performance, covering all costs in revenues and any other activities. Quarterly reviews typically capture seasonal fluctuations where monthly numbers are too arbitrary a period. Ice cream sales may be crucial in the first quarter of the calendar year while soup sales lead the way during the winter months. Annual accounts, of course, have a very traditional layout but need to be written in a form that give value to the reader when comparing this year to previous years and seeing the consequences of any changes resulting from management decisions made during the year."
These are basic principles that can be the making or the breaking of a business, organisation or group.

Note - Interestingly the article was originally published in February of 2008 - just 5 months before the start of the global financial crisis.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Customer Service - Thanks

I was filling up with petrol on the weekend when I noticed a small sign of the pump. It said -

"Thank you for choosing Gull".

Thanking your customers for choosing you is a very small show of appreciation but can mean a lot to others. Saying thanks may be the difference between them choosing to use or communicate with you or not.

When was the last time you thanked your customers? Try these examples - in education - thank your students; at work - thank your employees; at home - thank your wife and kids.

I hadn't noticed the little sign on the petrol pump before, but when I did notice I thought to myself - "I will come here again". I would like to congratulate the person whose idea that was - because it is a good one!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Customer Service - Rarotonga Examples

We had a couple of interesting instances while travelling and staying in Rarotonga.

Virgin Blue Airlines. Cut price airline that used friendly staff. Excellent informal service that everyday people could relate to.

  • Guess what? The plane was absolutely full!

  • Why? Virgin have figured out what customers want and they give it to them. Cheap holidays and the ability to travel.

  • How do they do it? Cut the frills.

  • Lesson? Know your customer and what is driving their decisions.

Hotel attendants. At the hotel we were staying at the reception girls had to be asked/told quite specific instructions for them to act on them. We visited another hotel and the levels of service were far better.

Example - calling a taxi.

  • Hotel 1 - we asked for a taxi to be ordered and were told to come back later and the person would do something. This was nothing short of being fobbed off.

  • Hotel 2 - we asked for a taxi to pick us up a bit earlier. The taxi company wasn't listed in the phone book. What did the reception girls do? Rang directory and locals to get the phone number.

Huge differences in the level of service. Hotel 1 could move from 3 stars to 4 stars with some training of staff to understand their customers better. A little initiative goes a long way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


One of my key drivers that I have discovered is - ambition. This driver has both positive and negative sides to it.

"ambitious - Possessing, or controlled by, ambition; greatly or inordinately desirous of power, honor, office, superiority, or distinction; Strongly desirous—followed by "of" or the infinitive; as, ambitious to be or to do something; Springing from, characterized by, or indicating, ambition; showy; aspiring"

When possibilities exist in front of me - I produce high quality work with ease and am driven to succeed.

When I can't see the way - that's when I struggle.

So what do I do when I hit a blank spot? Here are a few things -

  1. Spend time and energy on training. This is both educational and physical training. "No moss grows on a rolling stone".

  2. Create a real sense of accomplishment. Look for small opportunities that exist that I may not have seen. I look for tasks and projects where I can create small wins which creates momentum towards big goals and tasks.

  3. Seek support or ideas from others. All of us have blind spots. That is we can't see where we are missing opportunities or where we are blatantly on the wrong track. Ask, seek, knock - the answer will come.

Ambition is a great trait for people to have. But like most things in life - too much of a good thing can be dangerous.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Organisational Culture

Nevin Danielson published his manifesto on Change This:

"Flow, Flee or Fight: Declare Yourself For Change In Your Organization".

Here is an excerpt - “It’s time for a shake-up. This one won’t happen because your boss decides it’s time. It will happen because you and your peers decide it’s time. Rather than relying on organizations to see what's in their long-term best interest, individuals are in a better position to instigate change. It will feel uncomfortable. You’ll be labeled a heretic. As solace, you’ll have the knowledge that you’re right.”

Nevin's basic message is built on the "fight" or "flight" premise. However he also expands it into "flow". Interestingly Nevin advocates for employees to begin to tell their bosses that the current systems don't work and need improving.

Empower the employee - build the business. It's that simple.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Marketing Silly Season

The secret to marketing is knowing - who to talk to and when they are listening.

In education a majority of the brighter students know years in advance where they are going and when.

Some of the bright kids who have a bit less conviction make their minds up within 6 to 12 months.

The kids with no idea make their minds up on the spot.
  • When should marketing start for an education provider? As soon as possible. Every child and person is a potential candidate.
  • What marketing strategies should providers employ? Graduates and career choices. Profile the people who have done well and show people the lifelong options available to them.
Education providers should have the easiest Marketing roles in the world. They are tasked with educating people and thereby helping them and improving their lifestyles.

What better product is there than that?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Island Service

I have returned from Rarotonga!

What a fantastic place!

I will add more about the island over the next few days.

This is just a quick update - to say I'm back!
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