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Personal development

You are half way to changing when you acknowledge what you need to change

Recognising you need to change in order to be more successful and fulfilled in business and in your personal life is one of the hardest challenges we face.

Complacencies, making excuses for our behaviour, means that we don’t move past the point of acceptance for the current state. Losing a promotion, not securing a role, not given opportunities to step up, destroying a friendships can be a turning point where you reflect on what you are doing or not doing.

For me its not just situational, reading self development books, meditation blogging and journaling are also a cause for reflection on my own behaviour and what I need to do to enjoy life more. The four tools are a powerful combination to accelerating your learning and enjoying life and work.

The process of contemplating your own behaviours and the impact you have on others can be confronting, lonely, and transformational as we move from blaming others to taking responsibility ourselves.

When I look back at why I have been slow to change certain behaviours it was because I believed something else was at play, that was causing me to be held back, something outside my control. For women in the workplace we can blame bias and “the boys club”, but what if that is stopping you from facing some poor personal behaviour, which regardless of sex you would be held back?

When coaching and mentoring, I often say when the mentee recognises what they need change, you are already half way there. Why because the recognition is the hardest part, moving past that point into behaving differently is not that difficult, as the results of the change are immediately obvious and encourage you to continue, as you can see the impact you are having.

You are half way to changing when you acknowledge what you need to change

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Career planning Coaching Leadership Personal development

How to get on in corporate?

There are some unwritten and unspoken rules to getting in incorporate. Here are 10 things you need to nail to get on.

1. Get on with everyone. You cannot afford to have any detractors. Always look at how you can help others be successful.

2. Deliver results. Focus on the inputs to deliver results not the outputs. Energy placed in the right place will deliver the outcome

3. Get great at PowerPoint. This is key with point 5. Being succinct on your delivery of information, content for a decision or content for collaboration, be clear on your asks as this is where most presentations fall down.

4. Dont talk too much, learn to ask questions, be the third or forth person to contribute

5. Learn to speak in public and be on point. Remove the waffle

6. Always give execs a heads up on things that may get escalated. A key skill is making sure stakeholders understand a risk of escalation. Content needed what have you tried to mitigate the risk, what you are doing next and the next update.

7. Be a great project manager. Key skill to delivering plans

8. Have great Business process skills. Never bandaid, always find the root cause and fix process

9. Collaborate to deliver great strategy, resolve issues and creating plans.

10. Communication is critical to keep everyone across what you are doing and get feedback.

Corporate is where you accelerate your personal development and develop skills that are critical to driving business success.

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Personal development

Defensive behaviour

As a mentor and a coach I often call out defensive behaviour and how it reflects poorly on the individual.

Far better when you feel you are being personally attacked especially in a group environment, take a breath, and another breath and then calmly ask the person why they feel the way they do? Why they came to the position they are taking? What they want you to do? In Dale Carnegies words ‘Seek to understand before you are understood”.


Defensive behaviour, hostile challenge and reactive leadership and the same thing: reacting badly to a situation.

I found the creative vs reactive leadership helpful, when dealing with areas I feel attached to.

https://angelalovegrove.com/2020/09/14/reactive-vs-creative-leadership/

What is triggering your defensive behaviour?

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Personal development

Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success.

Often our opinions are not heard by leaders, whether bias, credibility or other reasons. In that moment when there is no acknowledgement or you are shot down or the conversation moves on to someone who is listened to far more than you, you know that you flogging a dead horse. One of my colleagues has a saying “put it in the drawer and dust it down in two years”. When she told me this, I was puzzled. The reason: when I don’t get heard I keep going in the hope the message will land. Repetition irritates others and hope is never a strategy, its better to take my colleagues advice and move on and put the suggestion in the drawer for another day.

Strong opinions are often based on bias, so we need to consider our first position as an initial hypothesis, until we uncover further information to develop an opinion. Source https://medium.com/@ameet/strong-opinions-weakly-held-a-framework-for-thinking-6530d417e364. We need to actively seek out contradictory information instead of clinging to an opinion.

In the words of John Gruber: Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success. The inference is not to cling to your original idea, decision, or forecast even in the face of contradictory information. In fact, actively seek the contradictory information — this provides you with data to iteratively improve the situation or forecast, until you get to the right answer.

If you have not disproved your original opinion, when the opportunity comes knocking, you dust down your opinion and off you go for round 2! However by now you may also have a greater groundswell of support and evidence, but what was implemented is not working.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking , makes the argument that people frequently make some of their best decisions in mere seconds. We think without thinking, sizing up situations and determining how we feel about someone or something based not on voluminous new information, but rather on our accumulated experience.

The alternative is that other facts or information have emerged, which demonstrates your opinion or idea was ill informed and its time to well and truly move on. This is also a great personal learning to reflect on what bias created the strong opinion in the first place?

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Personal development

Connecting with your peers and leaders

A common question I get asked is how to connect with peers and leaders in the business, when there is not the opportunity to meet with them in your daily work.

Here are three ways you can connect to a wider circle in your organisation:

1. Share insights, information that you know will be valuable to the receiver. An example is being close to the customers I get to hear what is happening in the market, trends, changes in leadership and more. With this information I would text my boss and bosses, so they knew what was going on. My team also do the same thing, as we work in frontline of sales. I also send a weekly update across the division and beyond as people ask to be added to the distribution. The update contains key information on what is happening in the team, whats in the news relative to the customers we manage, insights, key frustrations for customers and focus for the following week.

2. When you spot a problem, Don’t walk past it, thinking its not your area. Own the development of the problem statement along with interested peers. Set up a workshop to outline the problem and brainstorm solutions with people that are interested in resolving the issue. This is an opportunity to get a cross functional team across the problem. The owner of the solution always emerges. Phenomenal opportunity to work with an extended network in your company

3. Praise your colleagues and leaders by thanking them personally in a call, email and internal workplace. Be specific about what they have done and utilise the company values to call out the behaviour that supported the value, and ensure your include their boss and bosses boss if relevant . We all love to be praised, recognising others is a great way to connect with your colleagues and leaders. Also call out your boss or leader if they have done something that inspires you, helps you or just for caring. It’s important for them as it is for you to be valued.

Creating connection with others is critical to being successful. The wider the network the more effective you can be in your role.

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Personal development

When passion is dangerous at work

I’ve had personal experience and witnessed too many highly-passionate people risk their relationships, risk their reputations, and neglect to appreciate the people around them in order to pursue a dream. I’ve seen too many fail–because their focus on the future makes them oblivious to the present. https://www.inc.com/todd-nordstrom/how-passion-can-destroy-your-potential-according-to-5-experts.html

There is so much written about pursuing your passion at work. There is a health warning that comes with it in the corporate context. In the wrong environment, over used passion is seen as emotion that represents in an imbalance in the person. In startups and entrepreneurial organisations it is celebrated and rewarded.

So why the extremes of perception. I have worked in both and seen it from different lens.

Corporates are looking for calm leaders, who never get emotional or passionate, (may be beneath the surface) just calm and considered. Gravitas. In start ups and SMB, passion is seen as essential to drive success and the team.

When passion is dangerous at work?

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Career planning Mentoring Personal development

Tips for young women starting out in their career

carreer womenIf you are career minded and want to get on, there are 5 things to start doing now, don’t leave it too late to achieve the following:

1. Sales and Finance

Both skills can lead you to a CEO role. Rarely is the top role filled from other disciplines in a business. So nailing one or the other or both, is essential is you plan on getting to the top. Sales has had a bad wrap, but it is the best place to prove yourself by delivering outstanding results.

Action: Land a sales role or finance and get exposure to the other, by working with those teams, understand what they do and how you can learn from each other.

2. Public speaking

If you are not able to hold a room, then your career will come to a screeching holt. No matter how good you are, public speaking is key.

Action: Join Toastmasters and practice practice practice

3. Mentors

Find great mentors inside and outside the business. Ask your boss to help find the person in your organisation. Outside ask your family or friends. Once you have established contact, its your responsibility to schedule the catch ups ie once a month.

Always go prepared with questions for your mentor. This is a great opportunity to seek out advice on how to deal with situations, understand what they have done to get on in their career. Most important: Be vulnerable.

Ensure you thank and acknowledge feedback. Get comfortable as you cannot get to where you are going without feedback. It’s a lifetimes work.

4. Networking

Meeting new people, making new connections, helping them with their goals, is the only way to get on in life and business. It’s also gratifying helping others and they never forget your generosity. Use every opportunity to get out and network.

A great read, to help you learn and implement great connection with others is How to win friends and influencers people by Dale Carnegie

5. Develop an opinion on whats happening in the world

Not only develop an opinion, share and challenge others. This will build confidence. You dont have to agree with anyone, be seen as holding your own views. One of the criticisms of women by senior men, is that women don’t have an opinion on whats happening in the world.

Also look at your behaviour, ie giggly girls is not how you want to be remembered.

Good luck with your ambitions, ensure you get as much support as you can and remember to let others know your plans along the way otherwise they will fill the void with wild assumptions that I can guarantee are not going to help you. As my business coach says to me ” never die wondering” in other words ask the questions and speak up!

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Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

This is one of the most common question I get asked. After making the decision to go from tech start up to Corporate five years ago I spoke to a number of business women who are doing non exec roles for ASX200 Businesses, my ultimate aim from going into corporates. Understanding their perspective on what I needed to do over the next decade was critical to my success.  I met three senior non execs who told me not to leave exec leadership before 55, many women do and they have insufficient leadership experience to secure board roles on ASX200.

Regarding education, I only have a BSC in Business and Computing, they advised me to do the AICD Directors course as the governance and risk component of the training was invaluable. With 25 years business experience the MBA had less value.  I followed the advice.

Here are my top tips on how to decide, do I do an MBA?

1. “What do you want to do in the next 10 years?” Once you are clear on this you can plan your life backwards to what you need do.

2. Find at least 3 people who are doing what you want to be doing in 10 years time. Meet with them, explain your dilemma re:MBA. Ask them what an MBA would do for you? What value would it add to your career?

3. Always ask those three people, is there anything you can do to help them, they will appreciate that you are interested in them, you will also be surprised that they have learnt as much from you, as they have shared with you!

4. If you decide to do an MBA because you want to do it for yourself and no other reason. Do it, learning because you want to versus need to is far more pleasurable.

If you have no Tertiary education, there are many companies that will not consider you for a senior role. I started my degree part time at 24, put on hold for a decade and finally completed at 39.  My boss of 20 years could not understand why I was doing the degree when I had been the MD of European business for over 15 years, he use to say you could teach the professors.

When I did the BSC degree part time, I did it for me. To prove I was capable of doing it. What I got from the experience was far more: learn to challenge thinking, models IE Porters five forces, Boston matrix and more.  I loved it. The only time I have needed it to secure a role was when working at Salesforce.com it was a minimum requirement. I use the models I learned on my  degree courses and reference them all the time.

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

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Career Change Career planning Leadership

Career planning: Where are you going? What do you want from your career?

For many people not knowing what they want to be when they grow up stays with them most of their life. Women in particular find it difficult as they are waiting to be selected for their next role based on other people’s views of what they are good at,  rather than being clear about what they want. This becomes the greatest obstacle for success and greatest source of frustration and disappointment.

I was in this situation 4 years ago and breaking a habit of a lifetime of saying No to roles that don’t fit your career brief criteria is really hard.  My third start-up was behind me and I knew I had to stretch myself in a new way and my eyes were firmly set on a corporate role, yet the first five opportunities I was offered were all tech start-ups for US corporates wanted to set up operations in Australia. It was so tempting, as it was what I knew, thank goodness for Phil Crenigan my business coach who kept me focused and challenged me when he had a sniff that I was even entertaining any start-up opportunities.   I am forever grateful for his council on being clear before looking about your next move, and saying No so that when the right opportunity emerged I was ready.

In contrast having a career plan for the next 10, 20 years even if it changes allows you to plan and prepare for your next move. It also allows you to socialize with your peers, mentors, sponsors and executives and gain their input and thoughts on the best options for your future and open up projects that give you exposure where you need it.

I enjoy being on boards of tech start-ups and the businesses I have run over the last 20 years, so I am looking to become a non exec director on ASX boards in the next 10 years. To achieve this I need to be a Senior leader in an ASX business. I spoke to many Senior leaders who were doing the role I am looking to do and all advised me the following: women leave exec leadership too early, you need to remain in exec leadership in ASX businesses until your 60. Many leave in their early 50s and have insufficient experience at a senior level. When asking about education all recommended the AICD course as a must.  Seeking advice of people doing what the role you aspire too is essential for preparing for success.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. Alan Lakein

 Where are you going? What do you want from your career?