Archive for May, 2011

What You Need to Know from Oprah

May 31, 2011
Oprah Winfrey‘s final show

She’s gone. The legendary Queen of daytime TV talk shows said her last farewell  in a surprisingly quiet fashion.  No guests, no celebrities, no cars for audience members, no gadget giveaways.

But yet, it was an extraordinary performance by an extraordinary woman.
Oprah spoke for an hour about lessons she learned from having interviewed over 30,000 people in 25 years. She highlighted the people and stories that touched her the most and was moved to tears several times as she gave heartfelt thanks to her viewers.
Here’s the takeaway for you:
Oprah said that there was one common thread of everyone she interviewed with problems, issues and unhappy lives. Deep down each of them thought they were unworthy. They thought they weren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough.
“You are enough because you exist” said the TV icon.
What is keeping you from being, doing, having the life you want?
Have you got those pesky voices in your head feeding you negative excuses? Did your parents/peers/spouse say you’ll never get ahead?
From an abused childhood to a global celebrity – take a lesson from Oprah. You ARE enough right now.

It’s Not All About You

May 21, 2011

So a colleague bad mouthed your work, the client didn’t like your product, a friend doesn’t call any more, you get one bad evaluation after your speech.

What to do? Stop and rethink. It’s not about you.

They don’t know who you really are. They can’t get inside your head to understand your thinking. When someone yells at you for whatever reason – it’s usually about them.

It’s about THEIR fears, insecurities, problems, mood and THEIR agenda….not yours.

Try not to take it personally. Do your work, provide the best service/product  and be the best you that you can be.

Don’t waste your time trying to please everybody. That SO never works!

All Stressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

May 16, 2011

In researching content for my topic on Extraordinary Performance I came across this article by Peter Bregman at Fast Company and thought it worth reprinting to help deal with a difficult colleague, motivate better teamwork, boost morale and productivity…

Stress doesn’t discriminate between good and bad. It comes, unbidden, anytime we are in a situation in which we are worried about an outcome we feel is beyond our control. So we complain. We gossip. We get snarky. Which quickly infects those around us. And then they complain, gossip, and snark. Pretty soon we’re competing for who’s most stressed. Who’s got the most work. Who’s got the most ungrateful, unreasonable boss. Which, of course, just makes us all more stressed. What is the best way to cope with feeling overwhelmed while also managing the complaining, gossiping, snarky colleague? How should we respond without becoming that person ourselves?

Offer to do some of their work for them.

I know it sounds crazy because you’re already so busy. Probably busier than then they are. Even if you did have the time and energy to help them, you might not be feeling so generous towards them because all of their complaining is annoying. On top of that, if you’re competing for who’s the busiest, how will it look to offer to do their work? You’ll lose that battle for sure. But you’ll win the war on stress.

We complain because we feel alone and disconnected in our stress. So we gossip to create camaraderie with our fellow gossiper. We get snarky about our boss to align ourselves with our colleague.

But complaining and gossiping are like my chocolate chip peanut butter Rice Krispies mixture — they make us feel good while we’re doing it, but we feel worse immediately afterward. Complaining breeds distrust with our colleagues, it infuses the office with negativity, it wastes time, and it solidifies our sense of isolation. Offering to take some of their work, on the other hand, achieves the opposite; it creates connection, which, ultimately, is what we’re after.

If someone were really in serious trouble — think of the people in Japan after the tsunami — we wouldn’t hesitate to reach out and help. Think of this as that same, generous, human response only on a much smaller, less critical scale.

The unexpected offer will immediately change the dynamic. Who would continue to complain in the face of an offer to share the burden? It builds trust, creates a positive work atmosphere and gets things done.

It also helps you get your own work done. Reaching out in an act of generosity makes you feel better and moves you away from your stress and toward your productivity. By acting as if you have the capacity to help someone out, you actually gain that capacity.

So how should you do it?

1. Listen without contributing or competing. Empathize with the other person’s challenge. Resist the temptation to join in, add your own juicy piece of gossip, or talk about how much work you have and how hard it is for you, too. Just listen.

2. Acknowledge the challenge she is facing. In one or two short sentences, let them know that you understand they’re in a tough, stressful spot. Don’t patronize; don’t add on. This might be hard if you feel like you’re in a tough spot, too, but you don’t need to agree with what they’re saying. You just need to convey that you hear what they’re saying.

3. Offer to help in a specific way. Maybe they’re dreading a conversation with someone and you can offer to intervene on their behalf. Maybe you can help them out in a personal way like grabbing lunch for them when you get your own, saving them the trip. Don’t worry that they might become dependent on your doing their work for them. Sure there’s a risk they might take you for granted. But, more likely, they’ll be appreciative, stop complaining, and you’ll both get to work with renewed energy. Next time, they might even do the same for you. Which is how a great, productive team operates.

The Eyes of Aussies are Upon You

May 10, 2011

Houston we have a problem.                     

Last week was the huge Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) with over 70,000 delegates from all over the world visiting our fair city.  As an Aussie expat living in this great country,  I had the pleasure of attending a  fancy schmancy luncheon honoring Australia and sat next to an oil & gas recruiter from Perth where the economy is thriving to the point of less than 4% unemployment. Andrew Tomich of Hudson said by the year 2020 they will need 250,000 more workers to cope with the rapidly flourishing industries in Western Australia.   

I asked Andrew for his impressions of Houston. His answers:

  • People really friendly
  • Service excellent
  • Shopping brilliant
  • Opportunities everywhere
  • Housing prices are so low

  But wait. Here are some surprises:

  • I got asked if we speak English in Australia
  •  Houston air-conditioners are set far too cold. Clearly nobody here is worried about global warming.
  • Everyone drives – doesn’t anyone take public transport?   Come to think of it I didn’t see any.
  • So much concrete
  • Why do men wear cowboy hats in the city when they’re not cowboys?
  • Meals are massive

Food for thought?

Houston is Sister City to Perth. Maybe it’s time to take a little sibling advice ……?

Royalty and Reality

May 2, 2011

As the eyes of the world focus on the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton I tip my hat (or should that be fascinator?) to an outstanding performance by the Brits. They are SO all about pomp and ceremony. And we are SO intrigued we’ve been watching it for months.


In this humble speaker’s opinion it’s because we need some good news. We need a distraction from devastating weather, a sagging economy, bloody battles and bickering politicians.

Top performers look for new ways to exceed customer/employer expectations. They focus on the goal and embrace new ideas regardless of how ‘fluffy’ they appear. Outstanding performers never underestimate the value of joy.

Cheers to the royal newly weds. Anyone for tea?