Monday, January 31, 2011

This year I step up

(Authors note - this post is my Chinese New Year resolutions list.  Chinese New Year celebrations run from February 3rd to 18th, 2011).

The big area that I am doing a lot of reading about and self reflection on at the moment is around being authentic.  Authentic as a person, an employee and as a manager.  (See book review of Linchpin).

This is one area that I have struggled with over the past three years.  I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking that I had to be watching my back, keeping others in check and ensuring that I was doing everything possible to protect myself.  That said - I was being Defensive.

Don't get me wrong I have been able to generate some fantastic results and have some life changing experiences not to mention getting to work with the best administration team any person could ever wish for.  What I was doing though was struggling within myself to feel like I was achieving real results and as a result was very down on myself.  This shone through the most when I went to a few job interviews - and I was really, really bad.  ;)

2011 is the year that I switch up and go into Offensive.  I remember an old saying that a friend of mine uses "Offense is the best form of defense". 

I could and have spent a lot of energy trying to have a secure position.  But I can see that my strategy was both flawed and misguided.  So what am I doing different?

  • Creativity.  I am generally pretty creative but haven't put as much emphasis on this area as I should have been doing.  This year - I step up.
  • Spontaniety.  I will relax around others, not be concerned what their motives may or may not be and have FUN.  This year - I step up.
  • Speaking up.  After you get smacked down a few times it easy to be reluctant to confront people or to have the courage to speak up.  This year - I step up.

Having finished reading Linchpin by Seth Godin I feel inspired to a) be myself, b) have fun and c) bring my authentic self to work - everyday.


Book review - Linchpin by Seth Godin

I have heard it said that sometime's there are books that come and find us.  It's like someone wrote a book and it has been sitting there waiting for the right moment to either jump out at us or it places itself in our way so that we have no choice but to trip over it and start reading it.

Linchpin was one of those books for me.  Linchpin is written by one of the most inspiring people of our time - Seth Godin.

Seth Godin is a guru.  Okay - that is debateable but probably true.  What he does he the best is write books, blogposts and give talks that inspire and encourage people to think differently and view the world from a different perspective.

The book Linchpin is no different.  You will not find in this book the three keys to success or easy to follow formulas that will guarantee succcess.  What this book is - is a series of daily, easy to follow challenges for the authentic self to come to the fore.

Linchpin takes a central theme of life being art.  And based on the art theme - everyone is an artist.  The question is - are you creating art?  I won't give too much away but the whole art theme is both a metaphor and a literal sense of what we do with our time.  Artist or cog - the choice is yours.  Whether you are a cleaner or a CEO the questions and the challenges are the same.  Bring your authentic self to your work, create art and let the good times roll!

The book is super easy to read and understand but at the same time it cuts straight to the heart of the matter.  There are no mysteries or hidden messages.  In this book what you see is what you get.  Simple.

My overall rating for this book - 4 and 1/2 stars.  Yes, it is that good.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Edelman Trust Barometer - my thoughts

The Edelman Trust Barometer is an annual questionaire that is given to people from around the world to gauge what they think the big issues are as far as business goes.

This is an interesting exercise with some valuable insights.  Self-reflection is more effective when coupled with realistic and constructive feedback compared with the stories that we tell ourselves.

So my thoughts centre around the personal areas of management.  That is

  • How do we know that people trust us?
  • What behaviors do we exhibit that show that we are trustworthy?
  • If you were someone else would you trust you?  If not - why not?

Trust is a huge issue.  The simple fact of being alive means that you are trusting people.  Managing people, business or others wants and desires is no small matter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things that people remember

A number of years ago (before the internet was even thought of) there was a gameshow on in New Zealand and a very famous person made a slip up while playing Wheel of Fortune.  That saying and slip up has become famous and is still used to this day - which is almost 20 years later.

Thought for the day - mind what you say in public because people don't easily forget.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Go on take a risk...

...what have you got to lose?  Nothing ventured - nothing gained.

So why this post?  I have been in my present role for 3 and 1/2 years.  Now I feel the time is right to shoot for the stars and try something new.  My issue is though that I have been in my present role so long that I am unsure if trying for something new really is the way to go.

Then earlier today I had a great conversation with a work friend who wound me up about taking a risk.  "Why not have a go?" he said.  And so I argued with him becuase I my confidence and thinking was just far too narrow at that time.  My arguing with him was futile because he was right.  So now that I have my confidence up and some gusto in my stomach - it's time to go for it!

Sometimes we need to have someone challenge us, our thinking, and our motivations or lack of.  Now to get started on getting my CV and application looking sharp.  I challenge you to find someone who will challenge you!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Performance Appraisal Jargon - Demistyfied

Performance evaluation translations

A keen analyst: Thoroughly confused.

Accepts new job assignments willingly: Never finishes a job.

Active socially: Drinks heavily.

Alert to company developments: An office gossip.

Approaches difficult problems with logic: Finds someone else to do the job.

Average: Not too bright.

Bridge builder: Likes to compromise.

Character above reproach: Still one step ahead of the law.

Charismatic: No interest in any opinion but his own.

Competent: Is still able to get work done if supervisor helps.

Conscientious and careful: Scared.

Consults with co-workers often: Indecisive, confused, and clueless.

Consults with supervisor often: Very annoying.

Delegates responsibility effectively: Passes the buck well.

Demonstrates qualities of leadership: Has a loud voice.

Displays excellent intuitive judgement: Knows when to disappear.

Displays great dexterity and agility: Dodges and evades superiors well.

Enjoys job: Needs more to do.

Excels in sustaining concentration but avoids confrontations: Ignores everyone.

Excels in the effective application of skills: Makes a good cup of coffee.

Exceptionally well qualified: Has committed no major blunders to date.

Expresses self well: Can string two sentences together.

Gets along extremely well with superiors and subordinates alike: A coward.

Happy: Paid too much.

Hard worker: Usually does it the hard way.

Identifies major management problems: Complains a lot.

Indifferent to instruction: Knows more than superiors.

Internationally known: Likes to go to conferences and trade shows in Las Vegas.

Is well informed: Knows all office gossip and where all the skeletons are kept.

Inspires the cooperation of others: Gets everyone else to do the work.

Is unusually loyal: Wanted by no-one else.

Judgement is usually sound: Lucky.

Keen sense of humor: Knows lots of dirty jokes.

Keeps informed on business issues: Subscribes to Playboy and National Enquirer.

Listens well: Has no ideas of his own.

Maintains a high degree of participation: Comes to work on time.

Maintains professional attitude: A snob.

Meticulous in attention to detail: A nitpicker.

Mover and shaker: Favors steamroller tactics without regard for other opinions.

Not a desk person: Did not go to college.

Of great value to the organization: Turns in work on time.

Use all available resources: Takes office supplies home for personal use.

Quick thinking: Offers plausible excuses for errors.

Requires work-value attitudinal readjustment: Lazy and hard-headed.

Should go far: Please.

Slightly below average: Stupid.

Spends extra hours on the job: Miserable home life.

Stern disciplinarian: A real jerk.

Straightforward: Blunt and insensitive.

Strong adherence to principles: Stubborn.

Tactful in dealing with superiors: Knows when to keep mouth shut.

Takes advantage of every opportunity to progress: Buys drinks for superiors.

Takes pride in work: Conceited.

Unlimited potential: Will stick with us until retirement.

Uses resources well: Delegates everything.

Uses time effectively: Clock watcher.

Very creative: Finds 22 reasons to do anything except original work.

Visionary: Cannot handle paperwork or any project that lasts less than a week.

Well organized: Does too much busywork.

Will go far: Relative of management.

Willing to take calculated risks: Doesn’t mind spending someone else’s money.

Zealous attitude: Opinionated.

(From: via

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More thoughts and musings on life in 2011

(via: A.S. Preciado)

"In 2011 listen to the music, be honest with those around you,
and please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gone shopping...

I am out of the office this week - shopping.  I will be back again next Monday (24th January).

See you then.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Night Lights - chillin out on Friday

Friday night is the right time to kick back, enjoy good company and unwind from the week.  Add to the mix some great music and you set yourself up nicely for a great weekend.
This week I have been grooving along to the chill and funky sounds of Mr Scruff.
Why Mr Scruff?  There isn't too much bollocks or pretension in the music.  And if the internet had a sound - this would be pretty close to my imagining what it would nbe like.  Lots of sounds collected from all corners of the world, thrown into a big blender of imagination and then moulded together into a smooth concoction of sweet sound.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thursday Tidbits

Here are a few interesting articles, quotes and bit and pieces to help inspire and enthuse you!
  1. 30 Most Influential Under 30 CEO's of 2010.
    This list of people has been compiled by readers of the Under 30 website and is pretty exhaustive.  It is a who's who of the modern online world - that's where all the money is.  Interestingly the first female doesn't show up until number 11 and is a celebrity (Justine Ezarik / iJustine) - so is she really a CEO?
    Authors note - One thinks she has been chosen due to her stardom rather than her actuial management style or skills.  Then again - if you've got it, flaunt it!
    (I will do some further research into this company to see what they do, how they do it and is this more than just a celebrity phenom?  Report to be posted in the next week or two).
  2. Quote - Seth Godin from "Linchpin".
    "If you can be human at work (not a machine), you'll discover a passion for work you didn't know you had.  When work becomes personal, your customers and coworkers are more connected and happier.  And that creates even more value.
    When you're not a cog in a machine, an easily replaceable commodity, you'll get paid what you're worth.  Which is more."
  3. Incredible - art by Gaping Void.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

McKinsey Quaterly - Five Global Business Forces

Seriously, if you want to know what is happening inthe world it pays to listen to the people who know.  The great people over at McKinsey Quarterly are people in the know.

If they don't know - then there's something funny going on.  This video below captures the thoughts on where the world is going in relation to global business.

I recommend you watch it - click on the following link and check it out.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Dress for success

One topic that I enjoy reading about and keeping a handle on is fashion and styles.  Keeping with the times and trends can be a seriously hard thing to do.  However it is worth the effort.  And keeping up with what is happening in the wolrd today need not be so hard.

I have a few blogs and websites that I keep an eye on to watch what is coming up.  Here in New Zealand we are fortunate in it that we have the polar opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere and we are generally 6 months behind when it comes to the average fashion trend.

Clothing styles from the US don't tend to take off too quickly here mainly due to the famboyance and OTT of some styles.  What NZ does do however is a real good job of watching what England, and in particular London, fashion trends are.

So here are the pages and people that I like to keep an eye on from time to time.

gq magazine

You don't need to spend a fortune to keep it.  Watch what trends are upcoming, buy in advance, and buy in the off seasons.  Works for me.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Highlights from the Index of Economic Freedom

Every year the Index of Economic Freedom is published.  in the executive summary there a few key points made which are very interesting and very debateable.  I list some of the points I enjoyed in the following list.

  • The positive relation-ship between economic freedom and prosperity is confirmed yet again in the 2010 Index.

  • Gross domestic product per capita is much higher in countries that score well in the Index. The positive relationship holds true at all levels of economic freedom but becomes even more dramatic as economic freedom increases.
  • Economic freedom improves the overall quality of life, promotes political and social prog-ress, and supports envi-ronmental protection.
  • The 2010 Index provides strong evidence that economic freedom has far- reaching positive impacts on various aspects of human development. Economic freedom corre-lates with poverty reduction, a variety of desir- able social indicators, democratic governance, and environmental sustainability.
  • As a result of increasing government interference in economic activity in many countries, overall progress toward greater economic freedom has been interrupted.

And here is the real kicker -

  • Increased government spending did not improve economic crisis performance.


What do you think?



Thursday, January 6, 2011

I think, therefore I am.... Managing your self

Here are two quotes from people I have spoken to in the last few days –

“I think I undervalue myself”, “I will only be happy with someone else when I am able to be happy with myself”.

While these two statements are related to different issues the base issue is still the same.  That is being comfortable with yourself and accepting yourself for who you are.  I struggle in this area and I am really critical of both myself and my performance.  I have had to develop methods for dealing with self-negativity and I happily share them with you here.

  • Blog.  This is my primary method of keeping sane.  Oprah Winfrey for years promoted the idea of using a journal to record one’s thoughts and developments.  Well this is my journal and record of development.  It just happens to be completely open to the public. 
  • Keep a record.  With my training for running I keep a diary of my sessions and track my development across the days, weeks and months.  I do this as well with my job.  In my desk is a folder where I keep important or rewarding documents across a year.  In my folder I have letters of affirmation, performance appraisal reports as well as other prompts.  Such prompts include pictures of famous people who inspire me and scenes from movies that speak to me (The Godfather being one of them).
  • Hobbies.  One reason I enjoy running is that I have a challenge before me every day of the week.  On the days that I run I have a clear goal to achieve and on the days I am not running the goal is – NOT to run!

Those are the ‘hard’ systems I use.  I also engage in ‘soft’ systems as well.  One of those is the use of affirmations.  The internal conversations that you have with yourself can either propel you forward or ensure you stay stuck.  One affirmation that I highly recommend is by Zig Ziglar.  Here it is here - 

"I, ......................... am a person with integrity, a great attitude, and specific goals. I have a high energy level, am enthusiastic, and take pride in my appearance and what I do. I have a sense of humor, lots of faith, wisdom, and the vision and courage to use my talents effectively. 

I have character, and am a smart, talented person. My beliefs are strong, and I have a healthy self-image, a passion for what is right, and a solid hope for the future. I am an honest, sincere, and hard-working. I am tough, but fair and sensitive. I am disciplined, motivated, and focused. I am a good listener and am very patient. I am an encourager, a good-finder, and a forgiving person. I am caring, unselfish, and committed to doing the right thing.

I am family oriented, open minded, and an excellent communicator. I am a student, a teacher, and a self starter. I am obedient, loyal, responsible, and dependable. I have a servant's heart, am ambitious and a team player. I am personable, optimistic and organized. I am consistent, considerate, and resourceful.

I am intelligent, competent, persistent and creative. I am health conscious, balanced and clean. I am flexible, punctual and thrifty.

I am an honorable person who is truly grateful for the opportunity life has given me. These are the qualities of the winner I WAS BORN TO BE, and I fully intend to develop these marvelous qualities with which I have been entrusted by God.

Tonight I am going to sleep wonderfully well. I will dream powerful, positive dreams. I will awaken energized and refreshed, and tomorrow's going to be magnificent.

God, my family and my true friends love me no matter what!"

Feel free to change any bits that you don’t consider to be relevant to you.  You could also write your own affirmation that is more specific to you.

Recommended action steps –

1.       Start a journal or blog.

2.       Complete a healthy self assessment of yourself and start researching what development options are available for you to start to progress.

3.       Use affirmations.

4.       Read the book Linchpin by Seth Godin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 New Years Resolution - graphic style


I borrowed this graphic from the gaping void people.  I love it!.  It totally encapsulates my state of mind and philosophy for 2011.

You can see the original version by clicking here, or you can view more by heading over to

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book review: Barack, Inc.: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign

This is a neat and tidy little management book that describes and explains the hows and whys of the strategies used in Barack Obama's successful presidential campaign.

Common sense approaches to management - people and campaigns.  That is the easeiest way to describe this book.  There is nothing to flashy or gorund breaking about this book.  Rather it neatly captures the essences of what President Obama did right in his campaign.  There are plenty of anecdotes and nice stories that back up what the authors have written all the way through.

Here are the three core things I got from the book -

  • Keep cool.  Temperament is vital.
  • Keep in touch.  Social media is where it is at for allowing people to interact with you.
  • Keep in front.  This relates to both leadership and direction.

It is a simple book that has been well written.  A good reader could complete this book in 3 to 4 hours.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My thoughts on NZ's trade agreement with Hong Kong

What a great idea!  Negotiate a trade agreement with the most competitive and financially sound market in Asia.  No trade agreements are ever reached without a lot of hard work, a lot of schmoozing and without a doubt a lot of concession making.

Here are a few basic facts about Hong Kong -

  • Population:7.0 million,
  • GDP (PPP): $306.5 billion, 2.4% growth, 5.7% 5-year compound annual growth, $43,924 per capita.
  • Unemployment: 3.5%
  • Inflation (CPI): 4.3%
  • FDI Inflow: $63.0 billion


Here are a few basic facts about New Zealand -

  • Population: 4.3 million
  • GDP (PPP): $115.4 billion, -1.6% growth, 2.0% 5-year compound annual growth, $27,029 per capita
  • Unemployment: 4.2%
  • Inflation (CPI): 4.0%
  • FDI Inflow: $2.0 billion


So Hong Kong wins in all areas.  Interestingly New Zealand ranks at number four in the region on the Index of Economic Freedom.

So what do these numbers tell us?  Hong Kong has strong wealth, a growing economy and will provide huge possibilities for trade in the future.

What interests me about these trade agreements is what does New Zealand have to offer that Hong Kong would want to partner up with us?  Seriously.  New Zealand has a lot of land, a lot of primary goods e.g. dairy products, tourism and wood products.  Another thing that New Zealand has is a lot of smart and analytical people.

China and Hong Kong are both friends of New Zealand and a lot of kiwi's (slang) head over to those countries to establish, grow and expand their business opportunities.  I sincerely hope the economic benefits of such an agreement create waves into the future and not just ripples in the short term on a very big pond.

So we shall wait and see how this relationship develops over time.  I would expect that there will be few tangible results or effects for at least 3 to 6 months.

If anyone needs any help - I'm always available.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My 2011 work and business goals

My 2011 work goals aren't as well defined or laid out as my 2010 goals.  That may change as the year proceeds but in the meantime here are the areas I am focussing on -

  • Knowledge.  I need to increase my knowledge and robustness of understanding for my workplace and the various areas of knowledge therein.
  • Relaxation.  This year I will worry less about trying to get somewhere and be someone.  instead I will focus on enjoying what I and my team are challenged with.
  • Expansion.  2011 is a year for growing both personally and socially.  In 2010 the social area was one that I did miserably in as far as my workplace.  This year I aim to correct that.
  • Value add.  This is my key work goal for 2011.  I want to be able to add value to my job, my team and those around me through who I am, what I know and who I know.  This is the area that I really want to nail and do well. 

With some hard work and sweat mixed in with a dash good luck hopefully I will succeed.  If I can straing all these areas together then I am sure I will continue to 'go places'.

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