Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Location is everything

In Auckland city, New Zealand, there is a fantastic hotel that is literally 5 minutes walk from the Sky Tower and casino and is 10 minutes walk from the heart of Queen Street.  The hotel is new, fresh, clean, safe and great to stay at.

So whats the issue?

Well the great thing is that the hotel is now having to offer super cheap and discount rates for people to stay there.


The building owners and designers didn't factor in that a) car parking in the city is an issue and b) New Zealanders prefer to travel using their own vehicles rather than public options.  So hotel stayers and visitors stay in hotels where there are lots of car parks and car parking is free.  (Note - City Central Hotel does offer car parking but the spaces are limited and if you stay later than 10am it can be really expensive).

Why is this good?

The hotel has lowered tariffs to be super cheap for visitors and the rates are half of what other hotels are charging for the same size room and services.  So here's a tip.  the next time you need to stay somewhere in Auckland - check out the Central City Hotel.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saying - Thanks

I found this video posted by Benjamin McCall on the PunkRockHR blog. Lets be honest - this is a damn cool idea and method of thanks from an employer!

How do you thank and acknowledge your employees?  How about giving them a day they will never forget.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Keeping It Real - Motivation

My recent reading list has included a lot of books that look at sports psychology and neuro linguistic programming (NLP).  There are a lot of lessons that are similar in sports excellence and in management excellence as well.

I uncovered the following list of motivating strategies that we can use as managers to ensure we stay focused and on target for our goals -
  • Push the edge.  Look for a skill or weakness that needs work and start working on it.  Look for ways that you can encourage others to do better and improve their game. 
  • Experience success.  Enjoy improving - an inch at a time.  Remember to enjoy the little successes.  When you string a lot of little successes together - then you will have some big wins.
  • Change your thinking.  Learn from your mistakes.  Analyse, review and assimilate.  Remember what you've done well and focus on your wins.
  • Get involved.  Be a part of decision making opportunities and involve others.  Take ownership of the goals and mission that you and your team are involved in.
  • Praise others.  Look for the excellence in others and tell them.

  • Vary training.  Make your professional development a mixture of technical skills as well as fun.  Focus on compliance and regulation requirements as much as you do for your management and people skills.
  • Put yourself first.  Look after your body and yourself.  If you need a day off to relax your mental state, then take one.
  • Find motivated peers.  Let others who are better or different from you challenge you and provide you with energy.  Create a support network of people that you can rely on to help you get better.  Hang out with people who will talk you up and will inspire you onto greater things.
  • Think positively.  Be aware of the conversations that take place in your mind.  Are those conversations positive or destructive?  Practice focusing on the positive aspects of life. Don't ignore the negative but work on them and make them your areas of strength.
  • Remember you dream.  "Spend time frequently  reconnecting with the real reason why you perform".
Adapted from: 'The Sport Psych Handbook' by Shane Murphy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Review - How to Do Business in China

Following on from my recent trip to China I thought I would expand my knowledge of the way business works in China.  I searched our local library and found a book that sounded like it would fit the bill perfectly (according to the title anyway).

So I picked up the book - "How to Do Business in China" by Nick Dallas (McGraw-Hill).  Subtitled - 24 lessons in Engaging the Dragon.

So what did I think?  Given that there are 49 pages of content - you can probably guess my thoughts.  This book is big on taking a common sense approach to doing business and launching yourself within the country.  The problem is that most of the lessons in this book are true for any foreign country that you may decide to launch in. 

This is a lightweight book that does little to actually school a person in what you will be walking into when you go to China.  There are plenty of great quotes and anecdotes but there is very little substance in this book.

One commendation I do have is the fact that the writer points readers towards subject areas and topics that will be worth their while if they are considering China as a future potential business partner or frontier.

Final thoughts - this is a nice, compact, short book that is an interesting starting point.  If you are searching for more depth and knowledge about business practice in China then you would be best to find a more specific book that will fit the bill.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quote of the Week

""Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Being Successful

Once again the good folks at took the words right out of my mouth.  So here is what they wrote -

"Success in business is not about having the most brilliant answer. It's about having a workable solution — and that requires developing an understanding of the unwritten rules of the organization.

To become more persuasive and effective, figure out who and what really matters. Ask successful people at your company what approaches and relationships help them most.

Be curious about the ways people get things done and observe the inner workings of projects and initiatives you aren't part of by building relationships with influential people. All of the information you gather can contribute to your own success in the future."

How to Decipher (and Achieve) Success at Your Company  (June 22, 2010)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Blaming Others

If it was you that stuffed up - own up, face facts, deal with it.  EOM.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dealing With Negative Feedback

Three quick points about dealing with negative/constructive criticism -

  1. Assess.  Was the feedback legitimate?
  2. Review.  Was what was said relevant to your performance or your behavior?
  3. Implement.  If you need to change something go ahead and do it.  If the feeddback was irrelevant or unnecessary - then ignore and move on.
In my view I find it is best to deal with what has been said and move on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Understanding Your Place in the Team

Sports provides some great analogies and illustrations for the everyday manager and the everyday employee to use to better understand the workplace environment.  Today let us look at the roles within teams.

Sports teams usually have a combination of the following sorts of players -
  • Starters,
  • Reserves,
  • Developing Talent, and
  • New Recruits.
Knowing which one of these positions you fit into and currently hold can help you better understand the whys and how's of your job.

The starter - usually means you have had time to develop your skills, you understand the game plan, you have chemistry with your fellow team mates and you are reliable without being boring.

If you are a reserve - this probably means you are good at what you do but there is someone who is that little bit better than you are.  This isn't a crisis situation but it allows you the opportunity to watch what the starters are doing and to work on your own game out of the spotlight and the glare of watching crowds.

Developing talent - is usually a younger person who has been in the team for a while but still doesn't fully understand the game plan or doesn't yet have the same levels of chemistry with the remaining team members as the reserves do.  Developing talent is also usually on rotation which means they are exposed to the spotlight every so often and then are sent back to training for more development.

New recruits - doesn't need much explanation.  The great thing about being a new recruit is that you haven't yet been in the team long enough for your skills and personality to have been pigeon holed.  So the new recruit can showcase their skills and grasp opportunities that developers and reserves may not have the same opportunity to show off.  Recruits need to make the most of every chance they get to impress and build.

Starting on a team is never a guaranteed position.  Neither is being on the bench.  One thing great coaches understand is the capability and potential of their players and they have the skill to know when someone needs a rest, when they are peaking or when it is time to cut them loose.

So which type of player do you think you are?  Do you understand your role and how pivotal it is?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

FIFA World Cup

So it's now the weekend.  So what better thing is there to do than enjoy the FIFA Soccer World Cup?

My money is on Argentina to go all the way and to back this up - I have a $5 bet on them to win.

So to celebrate the enjoyment and festival that is the world cup I have added the theme song for the tournament just below.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Women - Unsung Heroines

"Where knowledge is shared, when confidence is confided, then empowerment equals possibilities."

The ladies in this preview video have real lives with real stories.  The reason I hve shared the video is to challenge you to reconsider your place in the world.  What potential lies locked up within you - that is dormant or bursting to get out?  And what will you do with it?

For more info on the video see here -

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stick to your knitting

One of the most important lessons that we learnt at business school can be explained in four simple words -


So what does it mean?
  • If you are good at something, keep doing it.  If you're in business it is because you know how to do something.  If you want to be great in business then you should focus on being able to do what you do better than anyone else.
  • Don't get distracted by fads or whims.  Trends come and go but your core business should be your focus.
  • Make the main thing - the main thing.  Remember the customer is king not the opinions of the fashionista.  

For more on this topic you can also check out this article over here.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Relationship Management - Using Remembering Tools

So today I had the opportunity to make a presentation to some of the key people who influence our priority customers.  Sound a bit overblown?  It's not.

I am in the business of recruiting and educating students so that they can become valuable members of society.  They will have careers, employment opportunites, pay taxes and contribute to society.

So who were the key people I was talking to?  The Careers advisors and Transition Educators (or CATE for short).  These are the front line people who can influence students decisions on what they want to do in life and where they want to study.

Last year I had the same opportunity and at that time I gave each teacher a wooden kiwi that had been manufactured by our students.  Today a number of those persons commented on the fact that they still have those kiwi's on theor desks or near their phones.

Another momento we handed out last year were Christmas trees.  At the time they were about 30cm tall.  Students were encouraged to take them home and grow them.  And guess what?  Those students came back 12 months later and commented on the fact that they remembered getting a tree and their tree was still growing.

So my question to you is -
  • When you see someone important again in 12 months time - what does that person take with them? 
  • and when they see you again in the future - will they remember you?  And how?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Build or Lease? Advice for small businesses.

One question that occurs quite often in business is - do we buy or do we lease?  There is no quick or easy answer tothis question.  In the same way there are very few times when one business will be in the same position as another.

It is my belief that as a business grows so do the complexities and the advantages and disadvantages of owning property come into their own as the business phases change.  Here's my very basic view on the purchasing of fixed assets -
  1. Establishment.  Keep it lean and mean.  I would tend to keep cash flow available rather than tieing up up those funds in assets. 
  2. Growth period.  Okay so maybe a few fixed assets like computers and the like would be handy now.  But I would still urge caution against tieing yourself into long term lease agreements or contracts.  Keep them short and sharp.  It may cost you moe in the short term but it will save you money in the long term.
  3. Expansion.  Invest in people.  Rent a premises and invest in stock and people.  The time for assets will come.  Now woud be a good time to look at leasing a vehicle.  (Don't buy).  Leasing a vehicle will allow you to keep up to date and all the servicing costs are already built into the price so there won't be any surprises in the need for repairs.
  4. Maturity.  This is the time to look at purchasing a small scale property.  Don't take on any grandiose building schemes or pans at this stage unless you get super good interest rates or you can rent out excess space that you don't require.
When you hit the fourth stage - it's time to call in the experts and strategise onhow you will take your business to the next level. 

In summary - keep cash available for you to use when you need it, invest in people before buildings, lease don't buy as much as possible.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Human Resources - Blogs worth checking out

There are no shortage of 'experts' offering their opinions n what should and shouldn't be happening in HR practice around the world.

Personally, I have three favorite blogs when it comes to HR practice, management and idea's in general.  Here they are and here's why -

  • Punk Rock HR.  Honest, straight up and often very funny.  Laurie is a great writer and always cracks me up.  Lauries blog posts are as much about professional work as they are about personal opinion.
  • Talent Management Matters.  Well written, up to date, and down to earth.  All the best traits of a great blog.  Michelle has a knack for simplifying and providing simple solutions and ideas for everday situations.
  • Work Matters.  Honesty is always the best policy.

No one knows it all.  I certainly don't but I am more than willing to listen to the views and opinions of others as I continue my journey towards becoming a better everyday manager.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

CEO Interview - Herbert Hainer (Adidas)

One of the regular features I do is post a link to video where a CEO or similar has been interviewed and they are sharing their thoughts on management and the like.

This week's turn is Herbert Hainer, CEO, of Adidas.  Seeing as how Adidas has managed t position itself as the global leader in sports apparel and sponsorship and also as how the FIFA Football World Cup is being played - Ithought - why not?  Enjoy.

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The Future

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Globalization will tend to make strong business designs stronger (through global sourcing, selling, and science). It will make weak business designs weaker (through more competition, reduced differentiation, and a greater disconnect from customers). And it will create more no-profit zones for companies and even entire industries."  Adrian Slywotzky, Peter Baumgartner, Larry Alberts, and Hanna Moukanas

Are You Enjoying Globalization Yet?  The surprising implications for your business.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Exit Strategies - Leaving A Job

So you have decided to move on from your job in search of a better opportunity or a career change.

Here are a few ideas to make sure that when you leave your current place of employment a bit smoother -
  1. Be Honest.  Let your current employer know the real reason for your wanting to leave.  If it's for a good reason or for career development - that's great.  If the reason is you are unhappy or upset at least give your employer the chance to speak about the issues and try and reach a positive resolution.
  2. Keep it sweet.  Don't burn your bridges after you have crossed them.  You never know when or where you may meet again with your colleagues and if you might need a favor from them.
  3. Stay open to possibilities.  If you are a star employee there is every chance that the organisation will not want to lose you to a competitor.  Try speaking to your HR department and see what possibilities exist in other departments or sites before committing to leaving.

This cartoon was too good not to share. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Trip to China - Part 2. The Travel.

So whats it like to travel to China?  Not half as interesting as it is to travel in China!

So you get on a plane and go to the airport.  Then after making your way through Customs etc you jump on a plane and fly.  Guess what - ho hum.

Te fun really begins when you jump in the taxi from the airport to your hotel.  Now I have seen some amazing driving but NOTHING beats a Chinese taxi driver.  Those guys are great!

The best thing about travel in urban China is the accessibility and the price.  Example - a train journey from Nanjing to Shanghai (2 hours by train) = $10US approx.  How good is that?

What about the taxi.  Travel for 30 minutes after being picked up from your door and being dropped off at your destination = $4US maximum!

I thoroughly recommend travelling both to China and in China as well.  It's well worth the effort.

(Images: - train - car)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Global Business - The Mindset

Okay so as you can guess following on from my trip abroad I have a certain POV to do with global business.  The powerpoint slideshow I have embedded below goes a long way towards explaining the importance of having a mindset that is bigger than just your local economy.

I have often wondered in the past where people who excel at their work get their drive and ambition from.  I now think a large part of that is attributable to -
  • their interaction with the world at large,
  • being exposed to ides bigger than themselves,
  • seeing the potential and infinite possibilities that working collaboratively across borders can bring.
Before I took the trip overseas I was quite comfortable and found my job to be very pleasent.  Now I feel invigorated and excited about the possibilities.  I now have a new goal to add to my life book and I shall set out to start achieving that goal tomorrow.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Trip to China - Part 1. Understanding The People.

For the first time in my life (so far) I was able to travel to China and get an education (all be it a very quick one) on who and how the Chinese operate.

I loved my time in China. The people were great and appeared really genuine. The structure and systems provide a clean operating area for life and for conducting business.

Yes it was a business funded trip but for this trip I plated the part of observer more than negotiator.  For me this was actually quite a different role to play.  I am used to being a talker and working towards cutting a deal.

This trip however required different skills and a different methodology and approach.  So what did I do?
  1. Observed.  Watching people in their own environment and the way they interact with others plays a large part in negotiations and in getting along with others.  When in China do as the Chinese do.  This lesson saved my bacon a few times (more on that in future posts).
  2. Listened.  We are trying to find some common ground and synergies with fellow educators and agents.  I think I learnt the most from our trip in two different conversations that we had.  I sat and listened and absorbed what was being said. 
  3. Asked questions.  When I saw people who could speak English and were open to us I asked questions.  What's the average income?  Where do the students come from? What employment opportunities do they expect when they are finished?  Simple questions but they will help me determine the future approach we will take when we return to China to talk some more.
  4. Reflected. Spending time musing and considering what has taken place is just as vital a step as is the actual being there.  I am now 50 times more knowledgeable about the people, their aspirations, their educational setup and methodologies than I ever was before.
I could have expected to have gone to China (or any other country for that fact) and expected that they would listen to me because I showed up.  How wrong would your thinking be if this was the case.

My first trip to China was very much aa reconnaissance mission.  Now I feel I have learnt much from that trip and now I will do everything within my power to assure the success of future plans we have in partnering with China.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

People You Don't Get Along With

Nobody gets on with everybody all the time.  It's a fact of life.  So what do you do about it?
  1. Be courteous.  Respect is a valuable commodity.  You also never know when you might need a favor or if that perso will ever be on an interview panel.
  2. Be polite.  Being rude or obnoxious will only make the situation worse. 
  3. Cut to the chase.  Don't spend too much time mucking around with nicities.  When in a meeting, talking on the phone or sending an email - get to the point and get on with it!.
  4. Be careful what you say to others.  Playground politics can be incredibly destructive and corrosive.  If you've got anything to say - speak directly to the person.
One interesting situation I have is where I have previously had one person whom I had difficulties working with.  There were a lot of tense moments and no matter what either of us did we could just never agree on anything - even when we agreed!

Nothing changed overnight.  However three years later we can understand each others perspective and have learnt to respect each others work.  The real issue is we are more alike than apart in personality.

And now I have to work with another person (who also has a large personality) and guess what?  We don't get on.  Well, we do get on, but we'll never do coffee.  So whats my strategy for dealing with this person?

The same three points I've listed above.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Success often comes to those who have the aptitude to see way down the road." Laing Burns, Jr.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Going Global

I found this today and this will sum up my blog posts for the next week -

How to Assess If You're Ready for a Global Role

Being a high-potential employee in your home office doesn't necessarily mean you can make it on a global scale. If you're looking for a job with a more international view or you're considering taking an overseas assignment, be sure you have these three components of a global mind-set:

Intellectual capital. This is your capacity to understand how business works on a global level and includes a strong grasp on how the industry operates worldwide, as well as the ability to piece together multiple scenarios.

Psychological capital. To be a global leader you need to have a passion for diversity, a thirst for adventure, and the self-confidence to succeed in a culture completely different than your own.

Social capital. You need to be able to build productive relationships with people from other parts of the world. To do this, you'll need intercultural empathy and strong diplomacy skills.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm Back

Thanks for staying with me while I was away.  I have now returned from a whirlwind trip to China and will start posting again from Wednesday onwards.

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