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.
If you're on the hunt for a new position or you want to become an indispensable employee who shines, then you want to understand the key traits that managers and CEOs look for in star employees.
Some of the key traits they might be looking for are these three H's:
Happy: No one wants to work with an unhappy person. Energy drainers can bring down their team with their drama, mood and poor attitude and it's no way to earn brownie points. Do a quick self assessment - do you find yourself smiling at work, relaxed and conversing with open body language or are you closed, frowning and frantic all the time?
Hungry: No I don't mean you are in the kitchen snacking all the time! As the old adage goes, time is money. Leaders want people who are driven and hungry, who chase the sale, make the deal and get the job done efficiently and effectively. Do you make the most of every second? Do you hustle in your job duties?
Honest:As an employee, you will be entrusted with inside information that's going to move the company forward. A leader doesn't want to have to second guess if you are going to deliver the work they're paying for and that you're not playing hooky or entertaining the competition. In short don't lie on your resume. Don't lie in your interview. Don't lie after you're hired. Companies don't run well and culture get toxic and poisonous when they don't have honest, decent employees in them.
So how do you go to the next level and get known as a batteries included, star employee? Follow these three tips in this week's episode of UQTV.
At UQ Power our team coach many intelligent, articulate, experienced professionals on the art of a great job interview. And while many of the people we work with have skills for the jobs they are applying for, most of them had come for coaching because they felt they lacked confidence, finesse or experience in delivering a great interview.
One way to ensure you impress at interview is to be prepared for the questions - theirs and your own. There are a multiplicity of questions interviewers often ask, such as:
What is the greatest value you can bring to us?
Why do you want to leave your present position?
What is the most stressful situation you have experienced at work within the past year, and how did you handle it?
Critically then, you must prepare to ask your own questions of the panel or interviewer for example:
What is the most important thing I can do to help within the first 30 days of my employment?
What main factors do you attribute to your growth?
What makes you better than your nearest competitor?
That's a few ideas, want more? Then check out this weeks episode of UQTV where I share a few more that will really make you stand out at interview.
Are you looking to land a new job? Then you have to use your body! I'm not just talking here about how you suit up, I'm talking about how you show up and communicate through your gestures, facial expressions and movements we make with our bodies that indicate what we think and feel.
The way we walk, talk, sit and smile is part of our everyday communication and it becomes even more critical in all important job interviews, because everything we do is scrutinised more closely and because due to natural nerves, are often exaggerated more than ever.
There are several ways you can effectively use your body at a job interview from making a confident entrance as you enter the building, to giving a warm, friendly, not a bone crushing handshake on entry into the interview room.
Watch this week's episode of UQTV for three more body language techniques to help you put your best foot forward and be your best self in an interview situation.
Remember at the end of the interview to also leave a good impression, rise calmly, pick up your things without fuss, smile and nod your head to the panel. If shaking hands with everyone isn't convenient, at least shake hands with the person who brought you to the interview space or seeing you out.
As the world around us continues to change and increase in pace and complexity leaders can find themselves increasingly vulnerable to high pressure and stress.
Which is why I'm delighted to bring this week's interviewee Charlotte Thaarup to the screens of UQTV. Charlotte is a clinical mindfulness consultant who facilitates mindfulness based workshops locally and abroad to help overwhelmed leaders and those on an inner journey to become more resourceful and calm.
I have the pleasure of co-facilitating many workshops with Charlotte as well as participating in one of her mindfulness retreats at the serene Zen Resort in Bali late last year. Charlotte not only practices what she preaches, she also is one of the most compassionate, non-judgemental leaders I have had the pleasure to work with.
Earlier this year I compiled a list of 50 thought leaders I’d most like to interview through UQTV to inspire you to grow flourish and make the shift to lead in this new world of work. Charlotte is featured on that list as I believe she is a game changer for the new world of work. I hope you enjoy this third interview for our series of 50 Leaders I Most Want to Interview.
Have you ever condemned others to a thousand small deaths from your pitches, boardroom presentations or conference presentations?
OK perhaps nothing quite as extreme, but if you're keen to go from boring and bland to interesting and compelling and you need to give a presentation or speech but public speaking is not one of your strengths then this video was recorded for you!
When it comes to the positivity or negativity of relationships at work, at home and at school, multiple studies have shown that mood is literally contagious. It’s not simply that happy people gravitate to each other and unhappy people congregate in the corner —the people adjacent to you can actually move your mood up or down.
This makes managing morale and protecting a positive company culture extremely important because one unhappy person can infect an entire team. On the flip side, a few satisfied, engaged, high-performance people placed strategically throughout an organization can spread happiness and produce even better results. As a leader or manager, investing in the architecture of your team or businesses social, communication and functional networks is critical to ensure optimum happiness and effectiveness.
Scott Crabtree understands this only too well. After spending 24 years climbing the ladder in the gaming and software industries, eventually leading a team at Intel, Scott observed that the happiest people were also the most productive. The difference was so striking to him that he retired and rebooted his career, founding Happy Brain Science to surface and share the scientific underpinnings of what makes people happy and how that makes them more effective at their jobs and in their lives.
"Happier people are more successful, more creative, energetic, resilient," says Crabtree. "They work better together. They absorb more information. They have more tools in their tool belt to help them handle whatever life throws them. They are healthier, they live longer—and they show up at work more often."
What science has proven and we also see played out time after time through our work at UQ Power is that happiness is not part of a person's genetic makeup, nor a product of circumstance. It’s a choice. We believe business is 100% a people game and that your experience of work begins with you.
Want to overcome adversity, change how you feel about going to work and create a happy virus in your workplace? Then watch this week's video to find out how.
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.
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