Each year I take time out during this break to reflect on the year that was and to pen my Annual Gratitude Letter - in my 2015 letter I wrote how on New Year's Even 2014 I read Oprah Winfrey's book What I know for sure that had been loaned to me by a dear friend Tracy. The book truly set the tone for me for the coming year and little did I know at the time that I would round off 2015 with a bus trip to see Oprah live in Sydney on 12 December 2015 with 10 of my Leading Ladies clients and friends organised by the very same friend Tracy.
What an exquisite way to top and tail the year!
The middle of 2015 was also a peak or highlight for me as I had the amazing experience of travelling with my great friend Mel to Sir Richard Branson's private island Necker. While there we were joined by none other than spiritual teacher of our time - Marianne Williamson.
My experience of and interactions with Marianne had a surprising and profound impact on me personally as well as on the way we now operate at UQ Power. In this week's episode of UQTV I will share some of the wonderful insights I gained from time with this amazing leader. I hope you find her wisdom to provide you with some tasty food for thought at this time of the year as well.
PS - If you want to get a glimpse of the power of this woman then check out this video of her speaking recently on women and religion at the Parliament of World's Religions in Salt Lake City Utah - I have some footage I took of her speaking on Necker however the Caribbean breeze and 100 flamingos in the background make for challenging audio, plus I wanted to experience her in person not through an iPhone ;-)
I look forward to being of service and sharing more with you all on the other side in 2016!
At the start of the year I compiled a list of 50 leaders that I wanted to meet, interview and bring to you to share their insight, wisdom and energy.
Of course being an entrepreneur myself the #1 person on my list was none other than Sir Richard Branson. In early 2015 I was delighted to discover myself and my great friend Melissa Histon, Founder of The Sista Code, had been successful in being accepted to attend a Virgin Unite Leadership Gathering called "When bold minds and big thinkers come together" hosted by Business Chicks on Sir Richard's private island Necker.
Virgin Unite is the entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group, uniting people and ideas to create opportunities for a better world to shine a spotlight on unacceptable issues; to incubate disruptive collaborations and to empower entrepreneurs to change business by giving access to skills, support and capital.
Headed up by the super smart Emma Isaacs, Business Chicks was created to bring like-minded souls together – to give us a chance to swap ideas, share stories, and spark inspiration. They're a tribe of explorers and a band of big thinkers and I couldn't think of a better group of people to travel to a leadership conference in the British Virgin Isles with!
From the moment I arrived on Necker until today I have felt a definite surge in energy, an expanded reality about what's possible and a new way to view workplace environments. In the spirit of service and sharing I bring you my learnings and insights from meeting and talking to none other than Sir Richard Branson.
It goes without saying that an essential part of our every day work lives is the ability to communicate effectively. So how can you make some small changes to continually improve the way you communicate so that when you talk, others listen?
Well first you should be considerate of your audience, having empathy is a critical skill in relating with others. The ability to consider the impact that your message will have on the other person is key, by seeking first to understand your audience, you will be better able to tailor your message for them.
Also being courteous and respecting the receiver of your communication is important, when you are appreciative, thoughtful, and respectful, you create a cushion of good will on which your message can land. Just like your mother taught you, being polite will go a long way in any business or personal situation and allow your audience to feel more comfortable and therefore receptive to your message.
These are just two simple behaviours which demonstrate your professionalism, in this week's episode of UQTV I share three more of the critical "Cs" to influential communication - see if they resonate with you!
Have you ever thought about how much time you waste on silly, frivolous things in life, will I have the decaf or full blooded coffee? Should I go to that networking event or finish my report? Will I wear the blue or black suit today?
I don’t know about you, but I can easily get trapped into wasting time deciding what to wear for the day which is why in this week's episode of UQTV I explore the benefits of wearing the same clothes everyday like a form of uniform.
What's your thoughts? Is it smart, sensible and on brand or just plain boring?
Now I’d love to hear from you. How much time do you spend each day worrying about what you’ll wear?
Would you find dressing the same every day smart, sensible and on brand or just plain boring? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If there is one thing that most neuroscientists agree on it is how awesomely creative every single human being is. It’s in our DNA. Creativity is how we, as a species, have become so dominant.
Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you may be called imaginative but not creative.
IBM’s 2010 Global CEO Study stated:
“The effects of rising complexity calls for CEOs and their teams to lead with bold creativity, connect with customers in imaginative ways and design their operations for speed and flexibility to position their organizations for twenty-first century success.”
So can creativity be learned? The short answer is yes. A study by George Land reveals that we are naturally creative and as we grow up we learn to be uncreative. You learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesing information. Learning to be creative simply requires practice to develop the right muscles, and a supportive environment in which to flourish.
Tweet this: Why creativity is essential in business: Crushing creativity myths. Creativity has always been at the heart of business, but until now it hasn’t been at the top of many leaders agendas. Creativity is essential to the entrepreneurship that gets new businesses started and that sustains the best companies after they have reached a larger scale. In the past creativity was often considered unmanageable—too elusive and intangible to pin down. Today it is essential.
What can you do to encourage more creativity in your team or workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Happiness is an elusive goal; everyone seems to want it, but by all the "shelf help" books out there my guess is that we are still searching for it.
Sure it’s not easy to be happy most of the time and many of the solutions suggested in popular culture take a fair bit of effort and TIME, the one thing we all seem to be short of in modern society.
For example a commonly cited one is to do more exercise. A study cited in the book: “The Happiness Advantage” also confirmed the importance of exercise on our happiness level. Basically, this study looks into three groups of depressed patients found that exercise had the biggest effect in reducing depression.
Others suggest all you need to do is get more sleep. True we spend roughly one third of our lives sleeping, so you cannot underestimate the importance of sleep, in particular nanna naps. An interesting study in 2011 from BPS Research Digest showed how sleep affected our happiness, in particular that people who take an afternoon nap are desensitized to negative emotions and more responsive to positive ones. But who has time for a nanna nap and unless you work at Google is that acceptable behaviour in your workplace?
So what can you do if you're feeling a bit blue and you're time poor? Well you could ask Siri on your iPhone to tell you a knock knock joke (go on try it). Or you could just watch this 4 min video for my two happiness hacks that will have you faking it until you make it and get happy again in an instant:
Regardless of the level you are at in at your workplace or business I bet you find yourself sometimes becoming easily consumed by work and overwhelmed?
Joel Peterson wrote that many people, "despite being at a pinnacle of career or financial success, have expressed profound loneliness and despair."
Why? Because for many of us we often respond to success by working even more, hiding ourselves away from our support network, stopping our health and fitness regimes and burning the candle at both ends as well as the middle.
So what do you do when, this is you?
A simple way to #StartwithU is to begin by as Mark Twain suggested and make your vocation your vacation. On today’s episode of UQTV, learn how to learn to love your work. Here’s 3 simple tips to get you started
You always have the power to lead yourself to your highest creative potential. Ultimately, it’s not your circumstances, friends, age, background, education or any other factor that determines your ultimate destiny and how much you enjoy what you do. The choice is yours.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever had a job you hated, or worked in a challenging work environment and were able to turn it around? What did you do to #startwithU? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The virtue of a man ought to be measured, not by his extraordinary exertions, but by his everyday conduct. Blaise Pascal
Business leaders and entrepreneurs with the BLT Factor have a distinct competitive edge over others. And as the quote above suggests, it's not that they are necessarily superior, nor achieve extraordinary things, but that they instill great trust through the little things, and their every day actions and behaviours.
You can have a compelling vision, focused strategy, excellent communication skills and a talented team, but if you don't have these three things that make up the BLT Factor yyou will always fall short of the results you want.
What are the 3 key skills that make up the Leadership BLT Factor? Watch this four minute video to find out what they are and how you can apply them to your leadership toolkit:
Like anything she's done in life - the way Lisa Messenger tackles books is counter-intuitive to the status quo.
From a girl who confesses she did "veggie English" at school, the Founder and Editor of the magazine Renegade Collective (launched in March 2013), has now released two new books within six months - both heading to best seller lists, both on very different topics and both featuring her signature UQ (Uniqueness Quotient) contrarian approach.
Late last year I had the opportunity to bring Lisa to Newcastle and interview her for a second time right after releasing one of those books Daring and Disruptive and following her trip to Sir Richard Branson's private Island Necker where she sketched the chapters and outline for her next book released this week Life and Love.
Just as she was in our first interview, Lisa was cool, casual and candid, open to sharing her ideas, insights and spill all the goss on what it was like spending time hanging out with Sir Richard in his lounge room in board shorts.
This interview From Necker to Newcastle is the first in a series of interviews I will be conducting in 2015 with the 50 renegade and inspiring leaders I most want to interview. You can check out my top 50 list here.
Have you ever sat in the waiting room of a client or service provider and noticed their Annual Report sitting on the coffee table in front of you? Bet you weren't even slightly tempted to pick it up for a browse (unless of course you hadn't prepared and done your research on them!)
Why? Because typically these are drab boring documents aimed to serve a legislative or corporate governance mandate not to delight, educate or entertain.
Imagine seeing a document instead that served as a piece of art, a design masterpiece or a magnificent representation and extension of that company's unique brand and essence. Would you be more likely to pick it up and flick through a page or two?
Annual reports are seeing a resurgence amongst a number of savvy brands. Once only the domain of publicly traded companies and non-profits these reports were typically single-color, and had a plain, boring design. I once had a designer tell me that an Annual Report is typically formatted as a “reverse mullet” ie: the “party in the front” via photography and interesting design, with “business in the back” where financial data was displayed. This trend grew well into the 1990s until Microsoft sounded the death knell by having their annuals available online, setting a steep downward trend in printed annual reports’ significance.
In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a wonderful trend: a resurgence of companies creating both online and print annual reports just for the fun of it. No other obligation than to share their year’s experiences in a bold, daring and totally on-brand way.
And we’re not just talking cutting edge print, paper and design techniques for the sake of being arty farty – we’re talking uniqueness that builds on the company’s point of difference. Check out today's episode of UQTV and you'll see what I mean with two cutting edge reports.
Hungry to see more? Check out crowd funding website Kickstarter's year in review, and email marketing company MailChimp's reports online.
So next time you are planning a company annual report or website or any brochure for that matter don’t just design and print your standard same old same old thing. Really sit back and think about what makes your company unique, what do we stand for and why do we exist, what do we want to be known and remembered for and build it from there. Your impact and strengthening your brands UQ will be worth it in the long run!
Heidi Alexandra has been the source of much information strategy and innovation that has seen me push the boundaries on social media internally and improved my local and national profile and that of my firm tremendously. Jeremy Kennedy, Director, Australian Business Lawyers and Associates
I would recommend UQ Power to anyone that is seeking support, guidance and growth in their business. Catherine Miller, Human Resources Manager, Allightsykes