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Branson Vs Obama who dares wins

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sir Richard Branson - aka Dr Yes - has been at his antics again!

This time the tie loathing adventurer and thrill seeker challenged Barack Obama to a kitesurfing v foil boarding competition around Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Not only do the photos (full credit to @hijack Jack Brockway for the awesome pics) and video Sir Richard  shared on social media depict a good dose of humour but they also show a relaxed and carefree former president lapping up the sun, surf and social life.

There are so many lessons we can take away from watching two world leaders at play.

As I talk about in my video Lessons From Necker Island I learnt so much about life and business from Sir Richard especially how much you can get done and the connections you can make when you are having fun and letting go. How wonderful to see Sir Richard invite Barack and Michelle down to his private island Moskito (across the channel from Necker Island) for a complete break after Barack finished as President and left the white house.

For eight years while in office Barack didn't get to surf, enjoy water sports or do any of the things he loved so it is wonderful to see him living in the moment, carefree and enjoying the water once again.

Sir Richard challenged Barack to learn to kitesurf before he could learn to foil board - on the final day they had a challenge - who could stay standing the longest - check out Branson's latest post to find out who dared and won in the end!

In this start of 2017 with my goal of it being the year of the JOYful Unicorn I look forward to continuing to incorporate fun, play and friendship into my world and business. What can you takeaway from watching two world leaders at play?

Have you ever said no to a big opportunity?

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Have you ever said no to a big opportunity?

No I don’t want that new job and pay increase.

No I don’t want to go on that secondment to the other department.

No I don’t want to make a presentation to the Board.

I said no to a big opportunity last week, one that I’ve had on my vision board since January, and it was a tough call to make.

As a workplace futurist and someone who helps organisations plan and strategise their culture and brand for the future I am constantly scanning the environment, travelling throughout Australia and around the world, visiting companies that are on the forefront of modern work practices to bring those ideas back to leaders and organisations we work with.

I spend a lot of my waking hours thinking about the future. So you can imagine how excited I was to have been invited in March to speak at the World Futures Conference in Washington this past weekend. My topic – How to make work work in the future. Awesome and so right up my alley.

I had been planning the trip for some time, I’d already bought a conference ticket, accommodation was sorted and I’d been making connections on LinkedIn with peers that would be at the conference.

And then last week, life got a bit crazy, things weren’t lining up at work or at home and I came up against some pretty deep stuff – like feeling like a fraud and off course.

So I said no to speaking at the conference. I said no to a big break. To the crème de la crème of the futurists gathering. I said no to showing up regardless.

Instead I said yes. Yes to staying home. Yes to me.

For once I was totally and utterly honest with myself. I checked in and no it wasn’t fear making me back away, in speaking is one of my favourite things to do. It was just that the pull to say yes to being true to me was stronger.

I felt bad for letting the conference organisers down, but the truth was I was on day 2, not the headline, plenary speaker, a bit of reshuffling and the conference agenda would work fine. It was more a blow to my ego than an inconvenience to anyone else. Funny how the universe has a way of delivering harsh lessons at the most inopportune times.

I’d been having some hints and intuition that a change was necessary but a total transformation? Hadn’t seen that coming – some futurist I am ha ha!

I wrote a blog last week as this all unfolded and I was sick in bed with a stomach virus purging and transitioning. Some would warn against such a potentially career limiting article, however the feedback about the raw and real honesty has been a surprise to me.  

How did I get here? When did I forget the things that I love doing the most?

I love my work, I love helping people and companies unleash their uniqueness so they can show up authentically and love their work every day. It’s bloody awesome work. But somewhere along the way I had lost my own way and forgotten to heed my own advice.

I started asking some big questions about life, my business and how I want to work and who with. Magically new clients turned up immediately, precisely the kind I like to work with as if to say – here, do more of this!

Awesome nudges. Perfect clues. Thank you universe.

Luckily the conference organisers were very understanding and agreed that I could donate my conference ticket I had already purchased to a scholarship student who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend – awesome #generosityeconomy in action.

I was so relieved once it was done and of course a little disappointed.

But as with any decision, once made, energy has began to flow in the new direction and clarity has returned. I’ve begun making changes in my business, a new website, a new podcast, a documentary, a charitable collaboration and a new theatre style event are all now in the pipeline. Some of these will be launched in the very near future, some a little further off, but already synchronicities are beginning to happen.

So it’s possible to say no to a big opportunity and still find a silver lining!

This week I’m focused on getting even clearer about how I want to live and work, where and with whom so I can put it into action.

Making the decision to say no was the hardest part, once it was done it was done and I could move on again and regain my flow.

Are you finding yourself at a crossroads unable to say yes or no and feeling stuck and frustrated? Don’t worry pushing through the resistance is just part of the process, it’s a sign that you’re on your way.

If you need help and you want to know how to get clear on the future path for your career, business or brand visit www.uqpower.com.au and check out our services and offerings.  

Our videos, articles and resources are a great way to start the forward momentum yourself – whether it’s to grow your team, increase your income or profits or create the most memorable brand in your market.

Start saying no and releasing more energy and space to say yes to you and your dreams. You know you’re unique and you’re awesome and the world needs you!

The Generosity Economy is Alive and Well

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I have always said if you want to change the world, you have to #startwithU.

However like me, many people express that they feel helpless or uncertain of how they could begin to take steps to change the world. They ask what could I possibly do? What could I give? How could I be of service?

It got me thinking after speaking to a friend who had returned from Nepal: in a world that is materialistically rich, yet spiritually poor, is it possible for a generosity economy to emerge and to flourish?

It’s not a new concept, in fact, historically as a race we survived on the exchange of gifts, goods and services; there was no artificial paper notes or numbers on a page assigned to give something value.

Is it possible then for us to reverse our materialistic focus and revert to operating from a place where we are rewarded for our productivity, our generosity and our service?

Rather than the old paradigm of ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’, the new generosity economy creates more of a circle of goodwill where people give and share freely and where everyone benefits.

I am delighted to say that I put this question to the test and saw evidence of this new economy in spades on a recent overseas trip.

It began in San Francisco, I arrived after a long flight to be greeted in the hotel foyer by my roomie and friend chief Sista Code blogger, Melissa Histon. Mel had generously waited around for me for more than an hour so she’d be there to take me to the room and help me settle in.

After unpacking we took to the streets in search of a restaurant to eat, deciding to catch a cable car. As we waited in line, a beggar came up along the line asking everyone waiting if they had any money to spare.

Everyone looked away, ignored them or grumbled under their breath. But not Melissa, she said bright and cheerfully to him, ‘I have something for you’ and reached into her wallet and took out a five dollar note to give him.

He mumbled thanks and moved on.

Someone in the line ahead of us cursed her saying something about ‘great there’s always a sucker now we’ll all be bothered by him’. Mel didn’t respond to them but once we boarded the cable car she whispered to me, “you just never know what someone’s going through and how your kind gesture might help.” I had to agree with her.

Later that week, while in New York, we walked past a church and saw a robed man handing out food to homeless people sitting waiting on the steps of the church. His movements were slow and deliberate with an air of kindness and compassion.

I took a mental note of how this simple act of generosity appeared to not only raise the recipients’ spirits, but also mine too. I realised that just by witnessing this act of generosity my energy levels had been raised as well. I pointed out the interaction to Mel and together we smiled in joy at the simple act of loving kindness.

It seemed that everywhere I looked on the trip from then on I began witnessing and partaking in the generosity economy. Whether it be the policeman or soldier in the street I randomly asked to pose with me for a photo wearing my cape who agreed generously and played along with the fun. To meeting a group of people protesting about the lack of abortion clinics for women in the USA who we gave a donation to and who shared their stories, stickers, ideals and hopes with us openly and enthusiastically.

The next leg of our journey was sure to be yet another extension of the generosity economy as it came about through the kind generosity of an amazing business woman Emma Isaacs, CEO of Business Chicks Australia and USA.

Emma had herself experienced a trip such as this a few years prior and rather than hoarding it or wanting it to remain exclusively hers she came home asking,“how can I share this experience with other women in our business chicks community?”

And this was just the tip of the iceberg, for the following week we travelled to the British Virgin Isles in the Caribbean to attend a Leadership Gathering on Necker Island I experienced even more pure, non-judging, generous behaviour.

Everything about Sir Richard Branson’s private island was done with a sense of service and generosity. Whether it be the generous free flowing drinks, the warm smiles and welcoming hugs of his fabulous staff to the new friends we made who joined us on the trip.

Richard himself was generous with his time, his energy, his laughter, his praise and his stories. I witnessed the conservation work being done on the island from flamingos to tortoises to lemurs, his generosity went beyond man and was extended to the environment and fellow animals, not for kudos or image but from a genuine, loving place. 

Read the rest of this article about my experience and see all the photos here http://thesistacode.com/want-to-be-uplifted-join-the-generosity-economy/#comment-858 

Germanwings Crash Why Leaders Must Discuss Mental Health Issues

Alexandria Joy - Monday, April 06, 2015

In the wake of the recent tragic Germanwings crash, the working world is reminded of just how far we still have to go to identify, treat and manage employees living with mental illness and experiencing extreme stress or anxiety in the workplace, especially in high-risk, high-pressure professions.

The tragedy raises many questions for leaders and organisations today and not just should we allow pilots with a history of depression to fly passenger planes? Here are some questions you should consider as a leader:

  • Should we promote employees who have required psychiatric care?
  • Should we approach a workmate we suspect of experiencing depression or anxiety?
  • Should someone on medication for mental illness be allowed to drive vehicles or operate heavy machinery on job sites?
  • Should we permit a person with a mental illness to be promoted to a stressful job?
  • Should an employee ask a supervisor or upline RUOK?

This is a complex issue and has no simple answers. When faced with such complexity it is valuable to begin with the facts:

Fact: Smart workplaces provide support. If profitability and responsible business practices are part of your company’s vision, mental health should also be a priority. Your commitment to mental health should be communicated openly and frequently to all employees. For example as part of induction, displayed in tearooms on posters, as policies and procedures that everyone is aware of and visibly reinforced through the practices of management.

It's one thing to have a policy in place to to accommodate employees with mental health issues, but it is another to create a supportive environment where they don't feel inhibited to take advantage of them.

Fact: Healthy workplaces discuss Mental Health openly. Mental illness is a cloak and dagger affair in many organizations, mentally healthy organisations on the other hand start and continue the conversation. A good test of how supportive your organisation is is to ask yourself this question: “How safe is it in your company for an employee to let their manager know that they are on medication for depression and/or visits a therapist?”

Addressing the issue of mental illness in the workplace has to begin with an acknowledgement that it exists and needs to be discussed openly.

Fact: Healthy workplaces promote a culture of respect. Sometimes the greatest help to mentally ill employees comes not from some kind of official policy but from peers or line bosses who are willing to listen and offer genuine support. The fish rots from the head - organisational leaders and business owners need to make visible, long-term commitments to mental health in their workplaces as they are in the strongest position to positively influence the company culture.

Ensuring robust policies around bullying and harassment is also important, as well as encouraging employees to call out or report any inappropriate behaviour they witness or experience.

My heart goes out to the passengers, crew, families and all those affected by the Germanwings crash, especially the family of our two Australian passengers. The loss of life is heartbreaking and yet it may have opened a door to many employers to start having difficult, compassionate discussions about mental illness. As tragic as it has been, let us not waste this opportunity to create more awareness.

PWC research shows $2.30 is the average return on investment for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Better productivity begins with a mentally healthy workplace

A positive workplace environment and good mental health go hand in hand. Let's honour those lost by beginning this conversation today.

If you are a leader in your organisation have you tackled any of these questions? How have you opened up dialogue? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to read more about the benefits of creating a healthy workplace environment then you may also like the following articles and videos:

How Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Workplaces

How Workplaces Are Making Us Sick

How Toxic Workplaces Are Killing Us

How Giving Chocolate Can Boost Company Culture and Profits

Alexandria Joy - Friday, November 21, 2014

Decades of research, in multiple countries around the world, has shown time and again that investing in a positive, high-trust workplace culture yields distinct, tangible business benefits. Studies show that great workplaces enjoy significantly lower turnover and better financial performance than industry peers. 

In a nutshell – positive teams means a positive workplace and positive profits. Sounds simple. The trick is making it happen. 

So what do most positive company cultures have in common? Let's call it the UQ factor (UQ = Uniqueness Quotient – recognising the unique strengths in every individual).

Our work and research has shown that positive employees work harder and are more productive than their less than chipper peers. The fact is these people choose to give their best work every day because they feel appreciated, valued and able to contribute their talents. The companies that grow these cultures recognise and deliver on the promise to value their people as their most important asset. 

It starts with the company recognizing and embracing the unique value of every individual employee and giving them an opportunity to do their best work. This means all managers must get to know their employees – their strengths and talents and take a sincere interest in understanding how they learn, grow and work best. 

Here’s three things you can give to create a more productive, positive and powerful workforce:
  1. Give feedback – people crave feedback, yet much of corporate communication is lacking in this area. When employees don't feel heard as an individual, they don't feel respected or positive about the workplace. When this happens, they begin to look for of greener pastures. Upskill your managers in how to have coaching conversations so they can start listening to, developing and leveraging the talent in their teams. Set up a quarterly or monthly meeting where the whole team can talk through their ideas and suggestions, and be sure to wave the flag when you implement an employee-suggested concept. 

  2. Give back - Most people want to work for a company they can be proud of, and this means doing well by doing good in the world. (This is especially important for Millennial workers). Your company needs to grow its capabilities in the EQ Quadrant of the UQ Powerhouse to become more socially responsible and more in touch with your local community. Get out in the local community and find ways to help, offer volunteer days off or align your company with a charity who is doing great work. 

  3. Give chocolate – Need I say more? Is there anything chocolate can't do? Rewarding and recognising staff for a job well done or for living according to your values and culture needn’t be reserved for the annual company dinner. Nothing works better than immediate, positive reinforcement so why not keep some sweet chocolate treats in the workplace for just such rewards? Workers like to snack during the day, and a quick word of thanks (or hand written note) with a special pick-me-up attached is sure to hit the spot. It’s a quick and easy way to improve mood and productivity
A great company culture can keep people productive and help you retain your best employees. If your bottom line needs a boost and you need to turn some frowns upside down then consider making giving a priority for your company culture. Using some of these outside-of-the-box methods, you can give your team a smile and give your company a productivity boost. 

Need help? Our UQ Power Pulse Check will help you find out how healthy your workplace culture is. 

What do you think? How do you improve employee happiness and productivity? Share in the comments below!

Six Easy Steps to Turn Happiness Into Success

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From an early age, most of us are raised to believe that success equals happiness. We work hard to get good grades, finish school, and land that fantastic job. Then many of us find that we still are not happy, so we work hard again to climb the corporate ladder and get that promotion, in the hopes that as we become more successful we will also become happier.

However, does success really equal happiness? Author Shawn Achor believes that things should actually be reversed, instead of believing happiness comes from success, we should believe that success comes from happiness.

Nevertheless, of course, achieving happiness takes work. Most of us actually have to train our brains to think positively instead of negatively. Fortunately, there are activities and exercises we can do every day to help achieve more happiness in our lives, and achieve more success.

  1. Start every day with a positive thought. Instead of beginning your day lying in bed silently swearing at the alarm clock, think to yourself that something good is going to happen today. Then spend the day looking for it. You will be surprised at how many good things you will notice throughout your day.
  2. Write down three things that you are grateful for every day. Purchase a journal, or use a notebook, word document, or even an online journal, and write down three new things that you are grateful for each day. Research has proven that this helps to improve optimism and helps to raise success rates.
  3. Journal for two minutes a day describing something positive that has happened to you in the past day. You do not have to write much; simply take two minutes out of your busy day. This helps you to transform from a task-based thinker to a meaning based thinker, or someone who looks for a meaning to something rather than it simply being something you have to do. This approach can dramatically increase happiness at work.
  4. Exercise for a few minutes every day. Even if it is only for ten minutes, a short work out will help to train your brain that your behavior matters. Exercise also gives you energy and a general sense of well-being, which will increase your happiness and success throughout the day.
  5. Mediate for a few minutes daily. Spend a couple of minutes every day focusing on your breathing. This will help to undo the negative effects of multitasking, and help decrease stress and anxiety. Additionally, research has shown that most people get things done more quickly if they focus on one task at a time rather than multitask.
  6. Perform a small, random act of kindness every day. Simply spend a few moments, preferably in the morning writing a quick email praising or thanking a co-worker. This increases your feeling of social support, which is one of the largest predictors of happiness.

When you follow these steps, you are training your brain that you do not have to be successful to be happy. In fact, you are reversing the formula and are proving that you can turn happiness into success. If everything seems a bit overwhelming, begin with one of these habits and build them up slowly until they all become second nature to you.

Now it’s your turn in the comments below share what your number 1 tip for happiness is.

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