6 not-so-obvious ways to run effective meetings and avoid the dumb-ass ones


How you can run effective meetings

Imagine a world where you are known as the person who knows how to run effective meetings. Where your work colleagues and staff actually want to attend your meetings.

There is a buzz about your meetings. They are events that people simply cannot afford to miss. And when someone does miss out, they hurt.

This is a world where you are the corporate rockstar and your meetings are your sellout concerts.

This may sound utopian, but hell yeah, why not? Work can be too serious too often, with meetings in the corporate word being the butt of many jokes.

quotation - meetings, the practical alternative to workMeetings are often synonymous with time wasting, achieving nothing, boredom, big-noting, arse-covering and pontification.

So let me break it down for you now. The what to do’s and not to do’s of meetings, with one condition;

I will focus on the not-so-obvious stuff. The stuff that may not necessarily be politically correct, but it will be effective, meaning you and your meeting management is effective.

Your key takeaways from this article will be

  • Simple and subtle strategies for minimising meeting time and maximising meeting effectiveness
  • How to avoid being caught in meetings that offer little value to either yourself or the other attendees
  • Knowing when you just need to “suck it up” and proceed with a meeting

1. The best meetings are the ones that don’t happen

The first strategy is to avoid meetings as much as possible. Just don’t call them

Apply the “I grew up in a small town” rule where people just did a drop-by and visited each other.

No planning, no appointment necessary. You would drive by their place and if their car was in the driveway you would just pop-in and say Hi.

You were always welcomed.

Meaningful conversations and relationships were formed.

In the business world this can take the form of a 5-10 minute drop-by desk side conversation. The tea room or a nearby coffee shop also works, but they take more time, usually between 30mins-60mins, and your prospect may not have been able to afford that sort of unplanned interruption.

So why do it this way?

The best meetings are the ones where the decisions have been made before the meeting.

This requires one-on-one time so hustle the floor and make that happen. If this is done well, then (formal) meetings can often be avoided.

If you need to call everyone together to collectively endorse a decision or outwork a plan, the meeting should be faster and more effective, because 95% of the conversations have already been had.

So, don’t use meetings as the single path (aka shortcut) to a decision.

run-effective-meetings-2If you avoid calling meetings as your starting point, people will love you for it. Busy people like this outcome so don’t build your reputation as “that meeting guy/gal”.

People will begin to avoid you like the plague.

2. Keeping it Fresh

If you have locked in the decision to run a meeting, ensure your meetings are memorable (for the right reasons).

The functional stuff when preparing and running a meeting is well documented in this excellent article eg: set an agenda, define a purpose, keep to time, take minutes, assign actions, review actions etc.

These are the necessary but boring parts of organising and running a meeting.

To make a meeting truly effective and memorable, you need to step outside your comfort zone and consider spicing up your meetings with an x-factor or two.

I recommend you commit to trying and applying at least 5 of the suggested meeting boredom busters that you can download here for free……

Send me “30 Meeting Boredom Busters” please

These are actions you can take to make your meetings more engaging, and when people are engaged your meetings are more effective.

3. Less is More

When you are calling a meeting, apply the “traveling overseas” strategy. This is where I pack my suitcase, then I immediately re-pack it but commit to removing half of what I originally packed into the suitcase.

Do this with your meetings

Don’t default to a 1hr meeting. Can it be achieved in 30mins, or 45mins or some other portion of time?

Always challenge yourself to reduce the duration as this will really help you focus on the agenda, it will make you focus on driving the meeting quickly and efficiently, and it helps “re-frame” the invitees expectations of your meetings, and what meetings in general could be (should be) about.

If you are a meeting invitee, apply the same rule.

Theory in Practice

I was recently invited to a 1hr meeting to review a draft audit report about an area of my responsibility. I immediately rang the organiser and asked if she could make the meeting 30 minutes instead of 1 hour as I had already read the report was about to send her a copy of my notes and mark-ups, so 30 minutes should be plenty of time.

That three minute phone call regained 30 minutes of my working day, and the meeting actually finished ahead of time!

run-effective-meetings-3Another strategy to apply when you are a meeting invitee is to only attend for a portion of the intended duration. I recommend you target the second half of the meeting because the first half is usually the least effective half.

Meetings can often start late; we wait for the previous meeting to clear the room, we wait for people to arrive, there is some preamble chitchat, delays in getting PCs and projectors to communicate properly, a recap of actions from previous meetings, etc, before the actual agenda commences.

Avoid this meeting dead-time, but ensure you advise the organiser in advance of your planned late arrival.

I use the line, “I can attend your meeting but I have a prior commitment that will clash with the first <insert time> of your meeting”. I have never been challenged on this by the organiser when the call has been made or the drop-by conversation has been had.

Another strategy I use when I am organising a meeting, is to book a room that has another meeting booked immediately afterwards. This then forces the meeting to conclude at the designated time.

I particularly use this strategy when hosting external sales reps as they will use as much time as they possibly can with you, to “build the relationship”.

4. Meandering meetings

In accordance with Parkinson Law, people have a tendency to fill the allocated meeting time regardless of whether it is needed.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion – Parkinsons Law

So delegate important stuff to busy people, and finish meetings early.

When you are a participant in what I call a meandering meeting, don’t sit there for the sake of it. Make sure your presence is short, sharp and to the point.

run-effective-meetings-4Contribute and listen, but once there is no significant value remaining in the meeting for you to give or receive, get up and leave.

WTF? Just get up and leave a meeting? What will people think? What if I miss out on something?

These are the questions that cripple us all, that keep us in drawn-out talk fests and that feed the meandering meeting beast. Take action and change something

5. How to (discretely) leave a meeting

  • Always arrive early and take the seat nearest an exit. A rear exit (if it exists) is preferred but not essential
  • Always “travel light” to a meeting….ensure you can quietly pack and go drawing as little attention as possible

Tactics to excuse yourself early from a meeting:

  • Prior to the meeting commencing, advise the chairperson that you have a meeting clash and you need to get to that one at a certain time
  • Pre-can a mobile phone call to arrive at a certain time. You can use the Ring My Phone app to do this. If using this method you must be able to collect your things quickly and quietly as you attend to this “important” call (see travel light above)
  • Wait for a suitable time and just quietly leave. Amazingly, many meetings actually continue regardless of a single departure. A suitable time is when everyone else is actively engaged in a conversation. This is when your departure will most likely go unnoticed

When it is not a great idea to leave meetings early

  • When you are running the meeting!
  • If the meeting has the CEO or other seriously senior people that can influence or decide your employment fate
  • When you are the new kid on the block and people are still working you out [1]
  • When you know you will be assigned actions at the end of the meeting that you potentially need to dispute, delegate or negotiate
  • Where decisions will be made that directly affect you

[1] actually this could be a good thing. You are setting the expectation that you are in control of your time, not others, and that the world does not revolve around them.

Apart from these, don’t feel obliged to stick around if you are not getting any value from the meeting. Your alternate is to get back to productive work that is directly linked to your expected deliverables, your KPIs, and ultimately your career success.

6. Don’t Call Meetings or Accept Invites

This should be your default position, albeit on many occasions it will not be your final position. Meetings do serve their purpose, but your challenge is to understand if a particular meeting serves a purpose for you;

  1. Do I need group consensus on an issue to move forward?
  2. Is it really important that people hear my contribution?
  3. How will this help me when it comes to me delivering on my bosses expectations ?
  4. Will the effectiveness of the meeting be significantly diminished if I am not there?
  5. Is my attendance important in maintaining or developing a key relationship?

Some of these may seem a little too self-focussed, but it is a useful 1 minute exercise to reflect on these questions when a meeting invite has arrived. They will assist you in regaining control of your time, and to only participate in meetings where there is value gained or given.

The Bottom Line

Meetings do serve their purpose but too often the meetings we attend lack purpose. To be a more effective leader ensure you are purposeful when organising or attending meetings;

  • don’t call meetings for the sake of it
  • hustle the floor and obtain consensus before a meeting is convened
  • keep your meetings fresh by introducing some meeting boredom busters
  • shorten your meetings, or avoid them altogether
  • don’t persist with meandering meetings, leave them early

Send me “30 Meeting Boredom Busters” please

rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – What non-conventional meeting hack do you use?  Share your story here.

Triple Threat Leadership – the ultimate guide (part 1)


Who doesn’t want to become a rockstar leader? But where do you start and what do you focus on? What do you really need to know?

Fortunately, Rockstar leadership can be distilled into three very easy and simple focus areas known as Triple Threat Leadership™

Remember and master the three elements of Triple Threat Leadership™ and you have everything you need to become that rockstar leader in your organisation.

WTF ? Just three things to remember and understand?  We don’t need to over complicate this stuff. Simple is good right?

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”
– Leonardo Di Vinci

or said another (simpler?) way

“The ultimate sophistication, simplicity is”
-Master Yoda


Your key takeaways from this article will be

  • a simple-to-remember framework for you to use to guide your corporate success;
  • a few “how to” tips on leading like a rockstar, and
  • the 4C’s to leading your people

Triple Threat Leadership™

Triple Threat Leadership™ describes the three essential focus areas that all leaders and managers within organisations need to understand and master. If you focus on these, understand the layers and intricacies that each offer, and apply what you learn here you will be well on your way to becoming a rockstar in your company. They are :

  • Direction
  • People
  • Control

Leadership Tri-Cycle 0

What you need to do is make sure you have these three things “covered” and you will become the corporate rockstar.

Here I will give you the high level nuggets you need to know to get you started.

In future articles in this series I will drill deeper into each of these areas, explore lanes and alleyways, and to reveal the street truth behind each which you will need to succeed.

Set your Direction

Quite simply, develop, and then instil “hope, purpose and belonging” in your team.

Inspire your team with why they are doing what they are getting paid to do. The what has no meaning without a why.

In the Billions of Boring Business Books (4Bs), this is often referred to as “a vision”, “a mission”, “a purpose statement” etc. And they are correct, this is what is needed, but I don’t intend to trot out the vision statement 101 stuff here.

The most successful teams that I have lead have been those where I spent the time to develop this direction at the start of our relationship. It is where these were regularly reviewed, tracked and monitored, and where ultimately everyone could recite them without referring to their notes.

Theory in practice

I create a “team business plan” with my staff and I ensure our monthly work group meeting has a standing agenda item where we collectively review and reflect on progress. I let the team do the talking and presenting, which further consolidates their understanding and buy-in to the direction.

The vision, mission and purpose statement matter more than you think.

They are not management BS nor are they just words on a nicely designed glossy poster on the office wall that ticks a box. They are the teams guiding star and it must resonate with them to be effective.

In future articles I will breakdown what you need to do to set and instil an effective direction, but if you don’t have one established with your team, you are doomed to corporate “average-ness”.

So watch out for “Mastering Your Teams Direction in THREEasySteps™”

Lead your People

Pretty obvious statement, right? So what’s new? This is what you won’t get told by the 4Bs.

Try and make your role redundant as soon as possible.


That’s right; try and make your role redundant as soon as possible by getting the team to the point where they can effectively lead themselves.

rockstar-leadership-making-others-betterBy doing so what you have effectively developed and embedded is a high performing team and in doing so you have elevated your own personal stock in the organisation.

If your organisation cares about the long run, and they value great performers, they will reward you with more responsibility, challenges, diversity and possibly remuneration.

If you did such a great job that the team is now self-sufficient and your organisation elects to “let you go” then they were not worth your value anyway. Your track record will surely set you in good stead for securing another role elsewhere. Either way, you are a winner.

So what do you need to focus on to lead your people well. I have distilled it into my “4Cs of Rockstar Leadership™”

  1. Communicate well and often
  2. Challenge them to outperform
  3. Cut the bad apples, and
  4. Celebrate achievement

These are fairly self explanatory and in future blog posts I will break these down even further.  So watch out for articles such as “Mastering 1-on-1’s in THREEasySteps™, and “Mastering High Performance Teams” in THREEasySteps™”.

Theory in practice

The 4Cs of rockstar leadership……..

Communicate and Challenge – I schedule weekly or fortnightly 1-on-1 meetings with each of my staff (depending on the size of team and their locations). This creates a forum where the 4Cs are regularly addressed.

Cut the bad apples – if somebody is just not up to it they have to go. The rest of the team knows it and expects it. They look to a strong leader to do something about it. I favour a 6month probation period for new starters, and use this time to critically ask myself “are they good enough?” and if there are any doubts, I let them go.

Celebrate – many things can be done here, but one of the simplest and most effective is to create a “brag board” where positive feedback about the team and/or individuals is printed and permanently displayed in a prominent part of the office. Ensure a visit to the brag board is part of a new starters’ day 1 induction.

PS: The best app I have ever used to improve communication within the team is called the “talk-2-me” app. It involves me and my staff talking to each other, no touchscreen or keyboard allowed.

It works in a face to face environment, over the phone, or via skype or other similar video conferencing platforms. Best of all it requires no download and is completely free.

Control your Outputs

Outputs are your teams specific deliverables such as products, services, projects, designs, proposals, sales, budget spend, reports, widgets, customer experiences etc – you get the point.

Controlling your outputs means establishing rigorous systems and processes to ensure that what you were hoping to achieve is actually being achieved.

When it comes to organisational control the 4B’s will rattle off the buzzwords such as  “management operating systems”, “lean manufacturing”, “six sigma”, “governance and proberty”.

I won’t go there, I will give you the paired-back, jargon free lowdown on what you need to do to ensure you are in fact controlling your outputs.


Again, controlling your outputs can be distilled into a few simple steps;

  • Establish measures
  • Take measures
  • Report measure
  • Correct measures (that are poor), and
  • Reward measures (that are good)

In the world of the 4Bs, catchy acronyms are all the rage, so the above can be summarised with the easy to remember acronym “ETRCR” – establish / take / report / correct / reward. How easy is that?

In future blog posts I will breakdown in much more detail what you need to do to control your outputs so watch out for “Mastering Your Deliverables in THREEasySteps™”


The Bottom Line on the Bottom, otherwise known as the wrapping-up statement

To master Triple Threat Leadership™ in any organization you only need to remember, understand and master these three things well;

  • Direction – Set and instill a compelling direction and purpose for your team
  • People – cultivate real and meaningful relationships at all levels of your organisation, and
  • Control – track, monitor and control your outputs

Stay connected to Rockstar Leadership where we will drill deeper into these three elements and provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to become the rockstar leader.

rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – which of the three  elements in the Triple Threat Leadership™ framework do you consider the most important?  Share your views here.

7 Reasons Why Employee Awards Schemes Suck (and what you can do about it)

chess board with all pieces knocked over but the king is still standing

Many of us will agree that employee awards schemes that celebrate outstanding individual or team performance are admirable in their intention.

But …they are often lacking in their execution.

It is the unintended consequences of these schemes that needs further thought.

The problem is that those that receive the award are singled out and deemed more worthy than the 98% of the workforce who read the winners announcement and ask “who are they?”,”what was so special about that?” or “what about me?”.

But there is a smarter way forward. One that celebrates achievement without ostracizing those that miss out.

Your key takeaways from this article will be

  • An alternate perspective on the value of employee awards in organisations
  • An insight to the reasons why not to do it
  • More effective approaches to recognising excellence in the workplace

I understand that celebrating achievement is an essential part of the workplace and in life in general.

But the life in general awards are usually comparing apples with apples. The most obvious example is the “Best On Ground” type award, where all players can be compared because they actually play together in the same game, at the same time, on the same court or field each week.

Workplace awards and programs generally do not.

1. Same Same but Different

multiple t shirts on a shelf, all similarAnyone who has travelled throughout Asia will know the saying…

“same same but different”

The local street vendors use this ironic saying as a means to (try) to differentiate themselves from the thousands of other sellers of the “same” teeshirt, or handbag, or whatever.

In truth, everything is the same, the only real difference is the price you may be able to negotiate.

But in the business world, employee awards really are same same but different.

Same Same” is the management perspective that the award is on equal standing from employee to employee, year to year, month to month, or whatever frequency they are bestowed.

Different” is the employees perspective of the award…

What they do is different to me, or what I do is different to them.

A typical question arises “so how can someone else (or a team) be singled out when what they do, and their particular contribution within the company is completely different to mine?”

When you are part of a small organisation (say < 20 employees) this can generally work because everyone does almost everything. Everyone also knows each other well.

But when you are part of a large organisation, one with departments, different floors, different offices, different cities (and/or countries) etc, employees are different.

They are silo’d into their particular sphere of influence and control, and that is perfectly natural.

What is not natural is then trying to compare one persons contribution to another. It just does not work, and employees know this.

They play along and celebrate the achievement with the colleague they do know, but they are completely removed from the work colleague they do not know.

A shrug of the shoulders, a “whatever” comment, and they move on to the next email.

2. Sharing is Caring

the facebook thumbs up iconThis saying is true in the online world, where people actively seek out a “like”, a “+1”, or a post that has been shared or commented on. But not in the offline world of employee awards.

The trap with large organisations is there is an unwritten obligation to “share” the award around the different departments.

Imagine if the Sales Department clean-swept the awards every year, or the Strategic Projects team. You get the idea.

The executive management politics also plays out here. Each Senior Exec wants someone in their team to be recognised.

And if one department has 20 employees, versus another that has 800 employees, this does not matter.

What matters is that the 20-strong department get’s recognised also, or at the very least were nominated for a  gong.

Hence the award becomes a “if we share we care” award.

Again, employees see through this and the whispers begin. It can almost be predicted which team or individual is likely to win based on what area they work in.

3. In whose opinion?

caricature holding a gavelSubjective judging is certainly not unique to awards. Almost all creative / artistic awards are subjective, as are industry awards and many sporting events at the highest level (think gymnastics, diving, dressage, boxing etc etc).

So if this is the way the world works, why not apply it in the workplace for employee awards?


Because subjectivity will always be subject to criticism.

And criticism is the exact opposite outcome an organisation is hoping to achieve by running an employee awards scheme.

Who decides which project, outcome, effort or contribution is more worthy than another?

Whether it is a judging panel, the CEO, or some other combination, it inevitably becomes a perception call. Which nomination is perceived to have had the greatest challenge, or delivered the greatest outcome?

This answer will vary from person to person, and this further erodes the credibility of the eventual winning decision(s).

Often it can be decided by the best salesperson. That is, the person who is most adept and passionate when preparing and presenting the nomination story.

4. The Law of Attraction

close up of female sexy eyesAnother undisputed law of nature is that people are attracted to attractive things. Why do good looking people dominate presenter roles on TV?

Or why does a beautifully presented dessert make everyone go “I want that”.

Strangely enough, employee awards suffer the same fate.

It is the “sexy work” that catches everyone’s eye. The high profile flagship project for the company, the successful new product line, the new IT transformation, the exponential sales figures.

These are attractive, and these are the ones that are always in the box seat to win a gong.

Employee award programs need to actively look past the initial first impression, the gorgeous eyes, the charismatic smile, the smooth talk that is the glamour project or team within the company.

Not everyone can work there, and just because they don’t does not make them any less worthy.

5. Vanilla…..is so vanilla

Did you know that vanilla remains the number one ice-cream flavour sold today, by a factor a 10x the next favourite flavour (which is chocolate in case you were wondering).

So what has this to do with employee awards?

Vanilla is the flavour we need in all companies, for without it you have no company.

Vanilla (typically) describes the work undertaken in accounts, on the phones, administrating our systems and databases, human resources, and other “less sexy” areas of an organisation.

female office worker on the phoneThis is also known as the BAU work (Business-As-Usual) and there are many many people working just as hard, just as diligently, and are making just as big an impact within their sphere of control.

They just don’t get noticed as much because there is no “steering committee” overseeing their activities, or there is no dedicated section in the monthly report highlighting their progress.

Therefore, your employee awards scheme needs to pass what I call “the mailroom test“.

That is, could you ever ever realistically see your mail person winning the award? If not, your employee award scheme suffers from BAU blindness and you need to reassess your criteria and mechanics.

6. Miss Congeniality

A GIF file showing Miss Congeniality remembering to include world peace in her speechIs the Miss Congeniality award the most cringeworthy award given out at beauty pageants?

The pageant organisers spin is that this awards signifies “the friendliest contestant, as voted by the other contestants”

The reality is that it is perceived as a popularity contest, and this may have been (reluctantly) acceptable in our high school years, it is certainly inappropriate in the workplace.

Some employee award programs actively use a voting system where staff can vote on a winner.

This is great if you are well known, your work touches many parts of the organisation, your work is high profile, or you are just great at promoting and networking (Ms/Mr Congeniality).

Not so if you are one of the back-office vanilla workplace warriors (see previous section).

Q. Why then would an employee award scheme ever consider a staff voting system?

A. To be inclusive, and an inclusive workplace is a progressive workplace.

This is leadership BS as it ticks the superficial box that “we actively seek, engage, and value the views of our workers” but it does not consider the end result.

Ms/Mr Congeniality wins again, whilst the office introvert who is amazingly talented and works ridiculously hard misses out again.

7. It’s All Hype

The final aspect of the annual (or to a lesser extent, the quarterly) award scheme is it is a single point in time.

This means there is a lot of hype in the lead-up to the award, promotion of the achievements, pictures of the nominees etc etc.

calendar with the 18th circled

It becomes an event on the corporate calendar, and as such commands the airtime on the company communication channels in the lead-up to the final announcement.

Nothing wrong with that at all, it’s just when it is all over, it literally is all over.

One day later, everyone is back to their BAU activities and the achievements have vapourised into thin air.

No more celebration, no more outstanding achievements until another 12 months.

If the timing on your project is out by a month or two, bad luck. There is always next year. Let’s hope the memory is still alive and the achievement still relevant in 11 months time.

And the pressure is off management. No more active encouragement of nominations, or seeking of outstanding achievements until at least another 10 months. Whew, we can get back to work.

This may seem like a very cynical view of the world, and maybe it is. But maybe there is an ounce of truth in this also, and if so, should you not reconsider your approach to employee award programs?

“I want solutions, not problems”

So what can you do about it?

Make sure recognition is small, local and frequent, not grandios, business-wide and infrequent

Ditch the periodic awards and make recognition a BAU activity. Embed recognition into you daily workplace culture. Ensure achievement is acknowledged and rewarded at the operational level when it happens, not weeks or months later.

quotation - make sure recognition is frequent and local and smallEmployee recognition needs to become a habit rather than a goal.

It does not need a brass band and fireworks to precede it. The best feedback and recognition is when it happens, so establish an environment that does this.

A simple “great job Kel, that report you presented this morning was outstanding” is often that is all that is required, as long as it is said with sincerity and with the appropriate context.

Actively measure and recognise line managers and supervisors who do this.

Ensure your staff satisfaction surveys measure this outcome so you know how you are going.

Get creative with the mechanics and KPIs to achieve this, but always consider the impact from the employees perspective.

Employee recognition and awards programs are not meant to be a tick-the-box-and-feel-good management initiative.

That may have worked in the 80’s and 90’s, but times have changed and so must you.

And finally, despite everything noted previously, if you do persist with the annual employee recognition scheme, make sure it will pass the mailroom test (see above).

Daniel T is the voice behind the blog Rockstar Leadership. If you want to be the best you can be at leading yourself and leading others, then click here to get your backstage pass to personal awesomeness.

PS: If you want to see what sort of leader you might be then take the (fun) 3 Minute “Ugly Truth” Leadership Quiz here.

(This will also see you added to my potentially exclusive, semi-infrequent and maybe monthly email newsletter.)

Feel free to contact Daniel directly here.



Whoops…I Just Pissed Off The Boss

angry faced cat

Today I breakdown to you what to do if you did something that has really pissed off the boss. None of us purposely mean to do this, but it can happen.

I thought it was worth sharing a recent situation and how I chose to deal with it.

There are many different ways to approach the situation, but this is the path I chose and it may be applicable to you also.


I could just tell by the tone in his voice, HE WAS NOT HAPPY with me!

I had let him down, and the circumstances had amplified this.

I could just pretend it was a small glitch in our typically healthy relationship, but that is dangerous ground.


My boss is on holiday but felt compelled to dial into an important meeting on a matter where momentum needs to be maintained.

I had changed the meeting time to earlier in the day, and as a result the meeting was held without him. He texted me soon after asking “are we still on for 2pm?”

He rang me at 2pm saying “are we still on” to which I had to explain that the meeting was already held.

“What about my text, you did not reply?”

The question and tone in his voice said it all. He was pissed off with me. He was on holiday and had set aside a specific time to get involved. He did not want to be jerked around.

Now I’m not going to offer up weak excuses here, I let him down and I can understand his frustration with me.

This is (fortunately) a rare situation between him and I, so it has really put me on edge.

That’s the backstory. Now what?


I have to acknowledge that this is not just a small, trivial let down. There are deeper implications here.


I have disappointed him and I let him down. It will take more than one good deed to regain that trust.


I have lost credibility here. I now need to demonstrate over and above my normal track record that he can depend on me. I’ve got a lot of ground to make up and this will take consistency of application and output.


None of us are perfect and I am certainly no different. Some of us may be well-oiled workplace machines, and some of us are not.

I’m definitely not a dud, but I’m not a Ferrari either. Our CEO is the Ferrari, that’s why he is the CEO and I’m not.

I saw this quote in a recent article and it is worth sharing here.

The point is not to get better than others, it’s to get better than the old version of yourself.

That is my focus.


  1. Undertake some honest reflection, collect my thoughts and write them down.
  2. Talk it out with my boss when he get’s back from his holiday. I will do this on Day 1 of his return.
  3. Maintain the faith. I still believe I am a valuable contributor and asset to my employer so I can’t let this bring me down. If I lose my self belief at work, I lose my (work) identity. This could lead to an ugly downward spiral.
  4. Develop and execute my plan. I need to change something to claw back the trust and credibility. Just saying to him (or myself) “I’ll be better next time” is horseshit. I have some ideas on what I need to do and I will discuss these with him. I need his reality check and to be accountable not just to myself, but to him.
  5. Remain authentic. I am who I am. I can’t change who I am, I can only change my behaviour. Thus, I will focus on some specific behaviours that led to me pissing off my boss, but I won’t change me. I have plenty of redeeming features that are an advantage in the workplace so I will continue to leverage these.
  6. Continue to grow. As the saying goes “If you’re not growing you’re dying”. My spare time outside of work, family, friends and community is spent on this aspect. I read and I write a lot. Most, if not all of it is themed around self-leadership, workplace leadership, personal growth and happiness. I’m walking the right path, I just need to stay on it.

So wish me well as I commence my recovery journey with the boss.

Daniel T is the voice behind the blog Rockstar Leadership. If you want to be the best you can be at leading yourself and leading others, then click here to sign up and get your backstage pass to personal awesomeness.

PS: If you want an awesome freebie then get your free download of “30 meeting boredom busters” here.

Feel free to contact Daniel directly here.

office workers all asleep in a meeting room

Inject some life back into those routine, mundane, lame-ass meetings that we all love to hate. Get your “30 meeting boredom busters” free download here.

This will also get you onto my semi-infrequent, most likely monthly email newsletter.

A version of this article was originally posted on Medium

Using The Fear Of Missing Out As Your Greatest Ever Lifehack (FOMO)

boy on sofa hiding under pillows becuase he is scared

Screw the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), try this instead…

Is FOMO the most overused f-word today?

Originally associated with children and their need to keep up with everyone else in their extended peer group. To avoid standing out or being seen as different. To have the safety of being one of the crowd.

FOMO has also found its way into the grown-up world. It is now the four letter word of choice when describing someone who is seen as a follower, needy or deparate.

If an adult is affected with FOMO, they are someone who has a desparate need to keep up or be left behind.

Well I prefer the glass half full perspective of life so I have created a new definition of FOMO.

This definition will do a much better job of ensuring you keep up and not be left behind. In fact it will see you excel rather than tread water until you slowly drown.

FOMO – Focus On My Objective

quote FOMO focus on my objective

Write this on the back of you hand. Get a tattoo on your wrist. Sticky note it. Do whatever it takes to imprint it in your mind and refer to it each day.

I dont need to break this down any more for you. It’s self explanatory. This could become your greatest ever lifehack.

If you focus on your one big thing, it will get done.

Then move to your next big thing and apply the FOMO principal. Rinse and repeat.

Daniel T is the voice behind the blog Rockstar Leadership. If you want to be the best you can be at leading yourself and leading others, then click here to sign up and get your backstage pass to personal awesomeness.

PS: If you want an awesome freebie then get your free download of “30 meeting boredom busters” here.

office workers all asleep in a meeting room

Inject some life back into those routine, mundane, lame-ass meetings that we all love to hate. Get your “30 meeting boredom busters” free download here.

This will also get you onto my semi-infrequent, most likely monthly email newsletter.

A version of this article was originally posted on Medium

The essential guide on how to climb the corporate ladder

a building wall covered in scoffolding and ladders

woman with finger over her mouth saying sshhhHow to climb the corporate ladder

Have you ever wondered what are the best-kept secrets to successfully winning promotions and knowing how to climb the corporate ladder?

You may be surprised to hear that it has nothing to do with what they teach you in MBA classrooms.

Read on to find out what you really need to do to make your way up that elusive corporate ladder.

Apart from the obvious “produce great results, be consistent, innovative and progressive”, this guide gives you the black-ops perspective of how to make it, rung by rung.

It’s not all about your performance

Understand that this is both about your work performance, and your social game. One needs to compliment then other and in reasonably equal doses.

You need to take a strategic view of your desired ascent. Why spend so much effort producing outstanding work if the right people do not know about it, or they do not know about you?

Going unnoticed has never been my strong suit – Jerry Lewis

And why spend so much energy actively promoting your outputs and your personal brand if they are actually mediocre or good at best? You will do yourself more damage than good if this is your current calling.

Know where to be

Every organisation is different so you need to do your own homework.

Understand the dynamics of the organisation; what is celebrated, what is not? Try to be part of the celebrated parts of the company rather than the more BAU (business-as-usual) parts.

This is more important the further down the company food chain you are as by sheer weight of numbers, you may go unnoticed.

The laws of the organisational jungle will repeatedly show that the following functional areas seem to remain “sexy”;

  • those linked to the development or deployment of new products or services,
  • new business-wide system implementations,
  • business transformation programs, or
  • business strategy, or any area with the word “strategy” in it

It pains me to say this, but back-office and traditional functions such as finance, human resources and legal unfortunately remain “un-sexy”.

My apologies to those who work in these areas, essential as they may be, they are just not that exciting (to others!).

Know who to know

Understand that every organisation has an “inner sanctum”, a subset group within the senior management team that seem to have the majority of the say and “clout” in the company.

chess pieces on a board protecting the king

These select few will be very tight with the CEO, will be a sounding board for any key decisions, and will also be instrumental in the key decisions and directions the company takes.

Find out who these people are and get connected with them.

Watch and observe and follow

Key an eye on those that have achieved what you are seeking. Those that are more senior than you and who are also in the inner-sanctum. These are the leaders that have succeeded in your organisation, so model yourself on what they do, who they are connected to, and how they go about it.

Manage Upwards

Manage your manager, not the other way around. Granted, your manager is your immediate supervisor and as such should be providing some level of direction and expectations for you, but don’t be passive in this relationship.

When it comes to providing them with regular updates, your professional development plan, and feedback about your performance, you take the lead.

You drive the outcomes by scheduling the regular discussions, and by proposing the agenda at each.

Proactively provide reports and updates. Don’t wait to be asked.

In short, over communicate.

Look two levels above you and proactively manage this person. This will likely be the person who has a big say in any advancement opportunities that may come your way.

This person needs to be on your side or you are toast.

Finally, you need to understand what the CEO likes and dislikes (e.g: introvert style vs extrovert style, details vs snapshots, etc?). What leadership styles resonate with the head honcho?

Are they the pacesetter, the authoritive, the affiliative or the coaching type of leader. You can learn more about these different leadership styles here.

Lame Ducks or Golden Geese

Understand what is “hot” at the moment. What are the high profile initiatives, programs, or functions? Position yourself for a key role in these, and smash it out.

Or perhaps, what are the “core business” lame ducks and get involved and turn it around.

a yellow duck with a plaster cast on left legLook at the company Key Performance indicators (KPI’s) and see which ones are under-performing.

KPI’s are the ultimate source of what is important to the company, these are what the CEO will be measured on, so they matter!

Then identify which departments or teams have a strong influence over these, then get involved.

Example – perhaps customer service indicators are under-performing. So is there a role or opportunity for you to make a difference? Put your name forward, get involved, and turn it around.

Absolutely avoid the non-core business lame ducks e.g: struggling trial product lines or service offerings, programs or initiatives that have a “bad smell” about them.

These are the offerings that may have diminishing management commitment so when the going gets tough, these will be cut first, or they will often die a slow death.

It is best to distance yourself from these before their inevitable demise, or your inevitable association with their below par outcomes.

This is where you need to have thought through an exit strategy…

Plan to leave

Always make sure you have an exit strategy for whatever role you are fulfilling. Exit strategies tend to have a negative connotation associated with them (implying that those who have them are not committed) but this is simply not the case.

Everyone should consider an exit strategy because at the very least it forces you to consider a contingency plan. A “what if” scenario. A “what are my alternatives” scenario.

Even if you never need to enact your exit strategy, it is sound business practice to have least considered one and thought through the situations and possible actions.

The Social Game

I call this the social game because for many of us it is taking us outside of our comfort zone and forcing us to “play the game” until it becomes natural. To learn new skills. To practice and practice as though it is a game, and you want to be the best player.baseball player sitting down and thinking

It is forcing us to do things we that do not come naturally to us e.g: self-promotion, public speaking and presentations, networking, following-up, small talk, being extroverted.

Recognise that this is as important as exceptional performance as you do need both to keep climbing.

This means strategically connecting with people that can help you progress. Work with them, get involved in committees they are involved in, show an interest in their areas or responsibility.

Try to find common ground on matters others than work eg: sporting teams, musical interests, family and community, etc.

Basically anything that can be an ice-breaker and help you deal with the dreaded un-announced elevator conversation…….

CEO – “Hi Chris, how’s that new billing system implementation going?

You – “It’s going great thanks Jane. We’re on track and user acceptance testing has been positive. And how did your son’s soccer try-outs go?”

You get the picture. Don’t be a workplace robot, be a human. Be someone who others find relatable. This is the essence of the social game, so practice it until you become a master.

Build your own profile

silhouette of business womanBuilding your own profile is a cyclical process and cannot be neglected at the expense of getting on with great work. Building your own profile is part of your great work.

Maintain your humility, but do not become a shrinking violet who does great work but nobody knows about it.

Gone are the days where “build it and they will come” used to apply. There is so much noise out there that you are competing against in today’s work environment eg: daily email counts of +50, +100 or more, 7 meetings in a day, daily/weekly/monthly reports, etc.

It is very easy for great work to go unnoticed because the key person skipped that email, or missed the status report, or otherwise.

So you need to proactively compete for attention, in a subtle but consistent way, and being very careful to not fall into the trap of over-exposure.

This is an art, not a science, so always place yourself in the shoes of the other person and ask yourself “is this too much?”

Theory in Practice

A previous colleague of mine was very active at the self promotion. He was good at his job but he would constantly hustle and grind, to the point where we all started to get tired of seeing his face or name.

It was so over-the-top that he became known as the Used Car Salesman and his active self-promotion became his downfall.

The flip-side to this was Annette, who was very active in the “voluntary” aspects of the workplace. She was a mentor on the graduate program, she provided lunchtime technical training seminars to junior staff, and was also part of the graduate recruitment panel.

All of this took up considerable amounts of her time, and it was very much appreciated by the new recruits as they found their way in the new corporate world.

Her contributions were not truly understood by senior management because she did it all with no fanfare or attention.

Janette eventually took a higher role at another organisation (congrats to her), but I remember her farewell function where one graduate spoke so eloquently about how Janette had positively impacted her in her first few years at the company as a new employee.

What you need to do

Firstly, build your personal brand.

Decide what sort of person you want to be known as. What will people say about you when you are not around? What will your staff say, your colleagues, your seniors? If you left the company, what would people remember about you?

lego stormtrooper facing thw wrong way in a line of stormtroopers

Understand what sort of person you currently are. Self awareness is the key here. You need to seek real and honest feedback about how others perceive you.

You also need to understand yourself more by undertaking some self-assessment. There are numerous providers of 360 degree feedback services so tap into one of these.

Decide how you will build your brand. What role should you play in the organisation to maximise your chances of achieving the above?

Seek out the opportunities. Put your name forward for the projects or secondments that will offer these opportunities.

If you are established in a current role, performing well and enjoying it, create initiatives within your sphere of control to meet your personal brand goals.

Importantly, identify the things that are stopping you from achieving these, and apply Rockstar Leaderships version of the four D’s;

  • dump it,
  • delegate it,
  • design your way out of it (automate it or permanently transition it away to make it someone else’s responsibility, not yours), or
  • deal with it

Promotions require self promotion

finger being raised on the airNow you need to promote your brand. Make sure people know what you are doing, don’t assume they know.

But don’t overdo it. There is no correct formula here, just do enough to remain “noticed” with those that matter.

Identify communication channels that work within your organisation. It might be your company intranet, monthly reports, committee meetings, newsletters, team meetings, slack channel conversations etc. Basically any established forum or channel that gets your message out there.

Without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing! – P.T. Barnum

You should target frequent touch points with the key influencers and decision makers. These touch points can be direct eg: face-to-face meetings, distributed reports, presentations etc, or indirect e.g: a general story about your work on the company intranet, or a well crafted post or shared post on LinkedIn.

Continual Improve

Finally, you need to Review, Reflect and Revise.

How do you know you are achieving your personal brand objectives unless you find out from others? Your perception is one thing, but it counts for nothing.

It is what others think that really matters, so you need to find out. This is about returning to step 2 in the process and starting again.

Effective Communication

An essential skill if you are to ever climb the ladder is the ability for you to communicate a status in a clear and concise way.

Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY likes someone who waffles on, or someone who delivers a confusing or non-convincing update.

Execs are the BLOT type of person, they want the Bottom Line On Top, meaning they want the summary facts in as short of time as possible. And if they need to know more, they will ask for more.

Know your numbers

And when someone asks you for those numbers, with no notice, you had better deliver. If you don’t know your numbers, you are judged as someone who is not across their brief.

A previous CEO of mine actually told me once “Dan, even if you don’t know the exact numbers, deliver the answer like you do. Deliver with no hesitation, no qualifying or confidence-eroding statements”.

I would exercise some level of caution with this approach, especially if key decisions are being made at that time based on the numbers you are presenting. But even so, make sure you have all your key metrics on hand.

Theory in Practice

I am terrible at remembering stats so I make a cheat sheet of all the important metrics related to my area of responsibility. I was into asset management at the time, so knowing how many of type X and type Y assets we had, average age, total $ values etc was a big ask.

The cheat sheet was prepared (MS excel worked fine), and I made sure I had a copy in my notebook inside cover, in Evernote, and in my wallet. It was always on hand for me should someone ask me a question without notice.

Stay Agile

boys playing soccer, one boy airborne kicking for goal

You may be kicking amazing goals in your current role, but you need to move on. To be considered as a genuine senior management prospect, you need to demonstrate you are flexible and adaptable.

You will be judged on your preparedness to getting out of your comfort zone and demonstrating the ability to fight through and succeed again.

Staying on the same role for 5+ years will unfortunately see you labelled as a perennial foot soldier, great at what they do, but lacking the breadth of experience for a more senior position.

So my advice here is to stay in a job long enough for you to gain some meaningful experience….to be someone who can assess and comment with confidence on the subject at hand.

But don’t stay in a role to the point where you become the Subject Matter Expert, the one-and-only go-to guy/gal. This is not Senior Management material, this is Middle Management material.

Senior/Exec management need to know enough to understand what happens operationally, but not to the point where they know how to run the operation.

This is what your Middle Managers and Team Leaders are paid to do.

So if you want one day become a Senior/Exec manager, you need to focus on breadth of knowledge, not depth of knowledge.

So stay agile and seek new roles on a regular basis. Stay long enough in a role so you can demonstrate some real progress was made, and that you delivered some great outcomes.

But leave before you become synonymous with the role and become labelled as such.


A desire to climb your way up the corporate ladder is admirable, but can lead to disappointment unless you approach it strategically.

  • Focus on doing great work, ideally in the right areas.
  • Seek out the opportunities in your organisation that have some profile about them.
  • Don’t do the same role for an extended period of time even if you are awesome at it.
  • Work out who is who in the zoo and seek connections with them.
  • Create a personal brand that you would be proud of if you were not around.
  • Actively promote your achievements without being over the top.
  • Work on your communication skills. Be clear, concise and accurate.
  • Regularly assess where you stand by asking others who will give you honest feedback.
  • These steps may seem simple but they are not. They require constant effort and refinement, but if they are done well you may find that doors will open for you.

Good luck!

Daniel T is the voice behind the blog Rockstar Leadership. If you want to be the best you can be at leading yourself and leading others, then click here to sign up and get your backstage pass to personal awesomeness.

PS: If you want an awesome freebie then get your free download of “30 meeting boredom busters” here.

office workers all asleep in a meeting room

Inject some life back into those routine, mundane, lame-ass meetings that we all love to hate. Get your “30 meeting boredom busters” free download here.

This will also get you onto my semi-infrequent, most likely monthly email newsletter.


Detour ahead. How to avoid your road to failure

lady sitting on window sill looking outwards looking sad

Do or do not, there is no try — Master Yoda


The weakest word in the world. When you use this word you have chosen a path that includes the option of failing.

The Yodameister summed it up nicely. Do, or do not, there is no try.

yoda staring into darkness


Make a call one way or the other and commit. Yoda says there is no place for fence-sitting or half-baked efforts.

When I reflect on my life I note it has had a generous dollop of half-baked efforts or fence-sitting moments. These are the things I regret. Some tough lessons or lost opportunities.

I have learnt by not doing, rather than doing. These are my biggest regrets.

But then I have also had my victories. I’ve had a few. Some grand, most are not, but wins nonetheless.

And the common denominator for these was that I made the decision and went all-in.

I once heard someone use the term “you need to neuro-commit”. I actually think that is a made up word, but it sticks with me today. I replay that term in my head whenever I am facing a critical decision or action. It works. It is switching my brain into “Do It” mode.

When you neuro-commit you have mentally gone all-in. Years from now when you are on your death-bed you won’t look back and regret that decision.

Do not

Now just to be clear, going all-in may actually mean choosing to not do something, and then absolutely owning that decision. Saying no immediately frees your mind to focus on a (perhaps) more fruitful direction that may end up being your next grand victory.

Do or do not, there is no try

I hear the words “I’ll try” all the time from my children. I have tried to ban it’s use in my house, and guess what happened. I failed. That is what happens when you try.

There is a cruel personal irony here. I am a big fan of rugby union, where a try is the pinnacle of the game. The primary objective of each team is to, well… score a try. Keep the ball, break down the other teams defence, get across the goal line and score a try. I celebrate a try.

Am I therefore confused? Hell no. I keep it simple.

Keep it binary.

Do or do not.

 rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – what weak words do you hear being used too frequently in your world? Share your story here.

This story was originally published on Medium by rockstarleadership

How to avoid self-imploding at work after a holiday

man holding his head in his hands, about to self-implode

Recently I returned to work after an extended overseas holiday.

My first day back at work had me reflecting on some useful strategies I use to ensure I maintain my sanity when returning from an extended break from work.

Key Objectives

Day 1 can be an absolute nightmare so my personal objectives for the first day back from a big break are:

  1. To not return to a huge pile of backlog tasks that need doing, by me, urgently.
  2. To quickly be up to speed with anything important I may have missed whilst I was away.
  3. To be back in control by the end of my first day back from leave.

Own your first day back

Before I go on holidays I always block out my calendar so I have no meetings scheduled on my first day back from leave. My only exception is an early morning 20 minute catch-up meeting with the boss, and similar with my staff. These are the only meetings I will take on my first day.

Tell People

I leave a very clear out-of-office message on my phone and email that states that I won’t have access to emails or phone calls whilst I am on leave. This places a very clear expectation on those that are used to contacting me to “go elsewhere and deal with it”.

In truth I do have access to email and phone calls, but I want to specifically discourage people contacting me just because they can.

My boss knows she can contact me if absolutely necessary, and she respects the boundary knowing I am on leave with my family and that time is sacred.

So far, I have never received an “emergency” contact from my boss.

Nominate somebody

returning to work. picture of uncle sam pointingI am fortunate enough to be able to nominate a 2IC whilst I am on leave, so he will be the referral point for anything that needs attention. This is generally enough to deal with 99% of anything that may arise whilst I am away, and will definitely reduce the backlog I must deal with on my return.

If you do not have staff that you can delegate to, cut a deal with a work colleague to cover you, and you will reciprocate when it is their turn.

Otherwise, be very clear with your out-of-office messaging to actively discourage people leaving you time-bombs in your inbox or voicemail.

Be Human

I know I will have plenty to do on the first day back from a holiday, but I cannot ignore that people will want to talk to me.

returning to work quote - communication is the real work of leadershipWhether it is about what I missed at work whilst I was away, or more general conversations about my holiday, how was the food, the locations etc etc.

These are important social connections so my first 1 – 1.5 hours of the day is to “be human” and have conversations.

This includes the catch up meeting with my boss, my 2IC and my staff. I also allow for any drop-by conversations from colleagues about my holiday, or any other matter.

Email backlog

I don’t launch straight into the hundreds of emails awaiting my eyes.

I stick to my workday start-up routine of reviewing my appointments for the day and the upcoming 2 week ahead. I then review my Trello board for the key initiatives and actions I have posted there.

This helps me re-frame my mind back into the important things I am aiming to conquer at work. It gives me the bigger picture view on what requires my attention.

I then commence on one of these.

By late morning I allocate 1 hour to purge my emails. This is basic (and ruthless) triage. High volume deleting based on the description or sender alone, and flagging and sending to Trello if it needs further attention.

I don’t act on any of the emails until this first pass is complete.

By lunchtime I have progressed or completed something meaningful and caught up with who I needed to. I also have a full handle on my backlogged emails.

I know which one’s need early attention, which ones are for information only, which ones can be parked for later.

Afternoon Delight

My afternoon is then spent prioritising and actioning anything that needs immediate attention.

By the end of the day (which for me is between 5pm and 6pm) I have cleared the deck of the urgent matters.

I go home “at peace” with myself, and not dreading the next day. Nor am I needing to pull an all-nighter just to feel I am back in control.

Keeping it Simple

So there you have it. A simple process for maintain your sanity on your return to work after some time off.

Like most things, it does not need to be elaborate. Simple and effective is the template to follow. Over to you.

 rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – what strategies do you use to retain your sanity on your first day back at work? Share your story here.

The 3 simple words you should use more often at work

young girl on a sofa patting a cute puppy

I recently discovered that a senior work colleague of mine was in the early stages of a divorce. I had met his wife and kids a number of times through work and social functions, so I had a very visual picture in my mind of a now broken family.

So yesterday, when I passed his office and saw him there with no one else in the room I did a drop-by.

I asked if he had a couple of minutes for a chat and he reciprocated in kind.

My 3 simple words

I simply asked him “are you OK?”

I then followed up with “how are the kids going?”, knowing he knew that I was referring to his recent divorce. We spoke for another 15 minutes about the situation, how he was handling it, how he and the kids were in the process of adapting etc.

The details aren’t important here, it is more the fact that a simple “reach out” happened.

I could tell that he really appreciated the conversation and that someone actually cared enough to ask.

The little things can make a big difference

quotation - in a world where many people could not care less, be someone who could not care moreI reflected to myself that at times it must be incredibly difficult and lonely in the role he holds.

He commands a very senior post in a large company that is directly accountable to the CEO.

He has significant responsibilities and demands on a daily basis and he must be “on his game” every minute of every day. Yet he is now dealing with a significant personal tragedy that he must compartmentalise for 10 – 12 hours every day.

Sure he gets remunerated handsomely for his role, but at the end of the day there is a human being behind the glass-walled office in the corner, who like all of us, sometimes just needs someone to say “hi” and to show they care.

He sent me a text the next morning saying “thankyou for the chat yesterday, it was appreciated”.

Small things can make a big difference.

Leadership is about doing the small things, regularly.

 rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – when was the last time you showed some unexpected care factor at work? Share your story here.

Workplace Tinder – Out of Work and the Search for the Perfect Partner

sad woman sitting at desk

Are you now out of work?

My good friend Sophia is. In fact, she has been out of work for almost 12 months now.

They are not returning her calls and she does not know why.

Prior to that she had been gainfully employed for over 25 years (minus some time off for kids) so you can work out what age bracket she occupies.

Her work breakup was a mutual decision, but similar to a marriage/divorce, she is finding it hard to adjust to the “single life” after being in her work relationship for so long.

She is a bit rusty with how the single scene (aka job market) works these days.

lady with a suitcaseBeing with another employer for so long means she comes with baggage. She is finding that  prospective new partners are not exactly enamoured with the fact that she has this perceived baggage.

They are not prepared to take the risk.

Look past the obvious

What they fail to see is that at the core of things she is the same good person she was in her salad days. Her challenge is getting the opportunity to demonstrate that again.

She needs a first date, a real one, not a virtual one.

But in this cut-throat world where recruitment firms screen candidates based on dot-point attributes on a resume, where they use software to filter for keywords, where they can easily back-calculate the age of the applicants, and then form an opinion.

This is the world where they can research social profiles to determine the gender, ethnicity, beliefs and any other details they feel are “relevant” of the applicant.

There is no such thing as a blind date these days.

And what about the other person?

And lets explore the other side of the relationship equation. Everyone is looking for the perfect partner, the “keeper”, the one and only. There is so much literature on the need to “fire fast and hire slow“, which leaves an employer looking for that perfect fit.

In Sophia’s case, the perfect fit profile would be someone 10-15 years younger than her, but with her 25 years of acquired knowledge and experience.

Someone with a lot more energy that she probably has, and someone who will not need to leave early to pick up the kids from school.

But we want her proven track record of delivery, and her wide network of connections she has nurtured through working in an industry for such a long time.

But we don’t want someone who is now “set in their ways”, probably lacks flexibility and is not as technology savvy as what we need.

And why is she out of work in the first place. Is there something wrong with her?

The eternal search continues

We will keep searching until that person pops up on our candidate shortlist. We will only swipe right when that person shows up. And when we do, we know we will have found that keeper.


quotation this is real life and that perfect fit is not always perfectThis is not a Mills and Boon novel. This is real life and that perfect fit is not always perfect.

Both partners need to take a leap of faith at the beginning, have a desire to make it succeed, enjoy the good times, push through some tough times, and be adult enough to recognise that it may not last forever.

And if it is not working out, have an adult conversation or two, separate, and start again.

In Sophia’s case, she has a track record that shows she can do all of this. She is not into one night stands. She has been a good loyal employee/partner for a long time and she will bring that quality to her next work relationship.

If reliability and stability is what you are looking for, she fits this profile. If you are after the head-turning young hottie, be prepared that you might get played.

So take a leap of faith.

See past the perceived baggage and imperfections. Focus on the things you know the person brings with them through their track record, rather than your pre-conceptions of what they might bring.

Time to Recalibrate

And as for my friend Sophia, and for any of you that may relate to her, you also need to act.

Always stay true to who you are, but stay tuned and polished.

Be the best prospective partner you could be. Being out of work can be a daunting prospect for many so you need to look your best and feel your best.

When you do your confidence will radiate, and this is an attractive quality to many prospective  partners (employers).

woman meditating with sunsetSo look after your physical and mental wellbeing. That will shine through when you have your first date. That may lead to the second date, and so on.

Surround yourself with friends and family who will support you in a positive way.  Avoid the Aunty who always asks in a cynical tone “haven’t you found anyone yet?”.

And keep learning and growing.

Read or listen to affirming stories of success and of those that have beaten the odds. Keep your mindset positive. Don’t give it an opportunity to think the worst.

Every day is precious, so make sure you are always taking one step closer to finding your next Mr/Mrs Right.

rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – what’s the best piece of advice you could offer to help someone who is out of work and trying to win that next job? Share your story here.

Sorry, but you’re never going to become the CEO

Sorry folks, but the reality is you are probably not going to become the CEO.

Even if you are really good at what you do, the law of the jungle, and statistics, determine this.

It is admirable to aspire to be CEO, to continue to learn and grow in your career, to perform, then outperform, reset and do it again.

But the odds are against you. The numbers just don’t work.

There is only one top job in any organisation, and the one that did make it is an exceptional individual.

So does me raining on your parade make you reassess your approach and outlook at work? I hope not.

Feel free to tell me to go and get f’kd!

Who am I to tell you what you can or cannot do?

Instead, define what your world is and be the best CEO you could possibly be in that world. It may not be head of your company (yet), but it will be head of something.

ladder-of-success-quoteRun your area like it is your own private company, like you are the CEO.

Focus on establishing your teams direction, on leading your people, and controlling your outputs (deliverables). This is known as the Triple Threat Leadership and it is what CEOs know and do well. These are what you should do well also if you wish to succeed.

If you do that really well in your world, and you continue to learn, review, reflect and improve as you take on more responsibility, you may end up being that one person at the top,

So become the CEO in whatever world you operate in. Own it.

 rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – what steps have you taken to emulate the actions of a CEO? Share your story here.


What do you do when you are facing your own career Kodak moment?

kodak moment. An old used roll of film on the table

Is your career facing a Kodak Moment?

We all remember Kodak – famous for pioneering and dominating the photographic industry for over a century. Infamous for then filing for bankruptcy in 2012 after they had unceremoniously let the digital photography era pass them by.

Thus, a “Kodak moment” is no longer synonymous with the ability of the ordinary person to create and capture a precious memory with the push of a button. It is now unfortunately associated with letting opportunities pass you by, or by not evolving and letting the world pass you by.

Kodak moments happen every day, both in our personal lives and at work, and most of us don’t even realise it until it is too late.

So what can you do to avoid your own personal career Kodak moment?

Your key takeaways from this article

  • Knowing how to identify an impending Kodak moment
  • A simple framework to use to avoid being left on the shelf
  • Tips for elevating yourself forward rather than stagnating

Forecasting your Career Kodak Moment

Self-awareness is a fundamental attribute of any successful leader, but when it comes to predicting your own shelf-life this needs to be strongly complimented with one other attribute – organisational awareness. You need to have both, and you need them to both be highly tuned.

female and male faces with eyes closed, seeking self awareness

Self-awareness; Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and understanding how others perceive you.

This gives you a great platform for gaining the necessary insight to whether your personal stock is appreciating or depreciating in the eyes of others. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Am I being considered and approached for other opportunities, either temporary or long term?
  • Am I the first to be considered?
  • Is the work I am doing being formally and informally acknowledged at senior levels?
  • Are there others that always seem to be getting the opportunities and accolades before me?
  • Am I on the “emerging talent” list in the organisation (ask your boss this, the list is generally kept under wraps)?
  • Do I feature in any succession plans, and if so, in what capacity (again, ask your boss)?
  • Will the strengths I have still be relevant to the organisation in 5 year from now?
  • Are the weaknesses I have currently stopping me from progressing any further?
  • Am I continuing to grow and develop, or have I plateaued? What would others say if you asked them?
  • What skills will I need in 1-3yrs from now to remain relevant?
  • Once you have answered these questions you become acutely aware of where you stand in the eyes of others. If the outcome is anything slightly concerning this is a good thing.

Becoming Self Aware

WTF? A good thing?!

Yes, because you are now aware of your shortcomings and this gives you an opportunity to do something about it.

No excuses. You can’t say “I was blindsided”, “I had no idea” or similar.  You have an opportunity to plan and act.

So take a selfie using your old Kodak instamatic camera and then once you get the photo developed (somehow, somewhere?),  somehow share it with your friends and family….then ask yourself “do I want this to be me?”

So start observing. Start asking around. Seek out the feedback that you need to become more aware of your standing in the eyes of others.

Many will tell you “it is not what others think, it is what you believe”. This is inspirational quote bullshit.

In organisations big and small, perception is reality. If someone perceives you to be (example) a washed up dinosaur, then you ARE ONE……in their eyes.

And sadly, their sphere of influence will hear all about it, whether it is real or not.

Managing the perception

So, you have three courses of action to take once you become aware of this type of perception:

  1. Take specific action with the intent of proving them wrong and reversing their perception. Whether you succeed or fail in this objective, you have actually succeeded because you have done something positive and taken a step forward.
  2. You can confront them on the issue and seek their feedback and suggestions. There is a risk they may get defensive, or deny what you are suggesting, or just tell you to bugger off. Either way, the mere fact that you asked the question is a demonstration that you care about self-awareness and self-improvement. Another positive step forward.
  3. Lastly, you could ignore them. You may internally summarise the situation by saying “their opinion does not matter”, or “they don’t know what they are talking about”, or “they have no influence over what I do”. You may be right on all fronts, but is this the correct approach?

career-kodak-moment-1Even if you don’t subscribe to their view, try a role play and outwork the situation from the perspective that they are actually correct.

In doing so, this will force you out of your comfort zone and seek solutions (actions) to remedy this perceived situation.

You have now taken action again. Another positive step forward. Another baby step towards self-improvement. Your personal stock has risen slightly once again.

Organisational Awareness

Organisational Awareness; understanding the climate, politics and executive agenda within your company. Understanding the trends and directions within the industry you work in.

This gives you the necessary foresight to understand the influences that may shape your opportunities (or threats).

  • How is your company going?
  • Are you profitable, and if so how sustainable is it?
  • Are you dominating / monopolising your industry, are you strategically niched, or the new kids on the block?
  • How competitive is your space, and is it subject to significant regulation?

a hand drawing a flowchart on a whiteboardAll of these can influence the direction of your employer, and the role that you will play in that. If you don’t have a sound understanding of these factors, you need to!

All employees should have a decent level of understanding about the influences that may impact your (likely) main source of income, which is your day job.

It is highly likely to be your most important financial investment at your current stage in life, so treat it that way.

Would you invest in shares and not watch the market? Would you invest in property and not follow the trends, the rental returns, the capital gains and the interest rates?

Your job is no different. You need to monitor the trends, to predict and act in advance of any significant change.

And the best form of action is to invest in yourself, to learn, to stretch yourself and to get out of your comfort zone.

Theory in Practice

If the CEO is newly appointed, they generally want to make an immediate impact. This can be achieved in many ways, so your role is to understand what these may be, and prepare accordingly.

Will they pursue a restructure? Will they change to an outsource or insource model? Are they seeking short term cost savings by cutting staff, or cutting contracts, or reducing spend?

Maybe they will pursue a “synergy opportunity” with another company, leveraging the best from both organisations and cutting away the baggage?

Become a Subject Matter Expert in something new

Is your industry a leader or follower when it comes to technology adoption?

It actually does not matter what the answer is here, what matters is that YOU need to be a leader when it comes to technology adoption.

A leader within your own sphere of control.

This could be baby steps such as becoming proficient in some form of company platform, or some cloud-based SaaS application that is work-related.

It could be a new product, or process. Whatever it is, choose something that perhaps many in your peers are lagging in (or perhaps you are the laggard?).

Whatever it is, take action, learn, use, fumble, repeat.  Eventually you will become proficient and then one day you may be known as a Subject Matter Expert.

If you are in a technology-based company, you need to find out what the new shiny object is likely to be and become knowledgeable. Knowledge lays the platform for proficiency, so start there and see where it takes you.

Whatever you pursue, remember that by doing so you are elevating and differentiating yourself from the pack.

A necessary step to avoiding that Kodak moment.

Thus, organisational awareness is a pivotal attribute you need to avoid your own Kodak moment. It takes you out of the daily mechanations of your job and enables to view the world as your CEO would, with a higher level strategic perspective.

It enables you to predict and respond in advance, and to be a leader in your own world, however big or small that is.

The Bottom Line

Avoiding you own Kodak moment is an analogy for remaining relevant and continuing to extend yourself.

To do so you must be active in understanding your own self-awareness and develop a high level of organisational awareness.

This will enable you to predict and act in advance, and avoid becoming the next blindsided individual who never saw it coming.

rockstar-leadership-questionRockstar Leadership is not about you taking over the world. It is about you becoming a rockstar leader in your own world, no matter how big or small that is.
Question – have you ever (narrowly) avoided your own Kodak moment? Share your story here.