A duck and a dream

I had the pleasure of watching arguably the world’s best magician David Copperfield live in Melbourne recently. The magic itself was awesome...

17 reasons you should always carry a book with you

1. As someone who used to spend a lot of time waiting for real estate clients to show up – I know that clients / appointments / people in general are often late...

Reality Television your way to Success

I think I’m one of the only “motivational speakers” (not that I call myself that) who will openly admit that I watch television. I watch bad television too… even… dare I say it… reality television.

Where is the love?!

One of my businesses, Elephant Property, works in the notoriously under appreciated category of residential property management. The old adage in property management...

The power of the word

I’m quite distraught. I was eating my personal trainer approved afternoon snack of 12 almonds (my suggestion of 12 Tim Tams: not approved)...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Best In The World Or The Best You Can Be?

I’m about half way through reading a great book at the moment: The Masters of Success. It’s a compilation of works from heaps of amazing people like Mark Victor Hansen, Lou Holtz and Brian Tracy. I always say when I read a book, attend a conference or go to a networking event – all I need is that one spark, one gem, one nugget of gold to have made the entire thing worthwhile. I didn’t have to look far in this book - I got my first nugget on page 20 (of 260 odd!).

The nugget was in Erin Brokovitch’s section. She talked about a janitor not striving to be the best janitor in the world – but the best janitor he could be.

I must admit, I’m a pretty competitive person, some would say diabolically so (but usually only when they see me play a board game). I’ve always thought that the aim to be the “best in the world” was a fabulous one! Until I read and then re-read this passage and realised that striving to be the best I could be at whatever I do was a far more practical and important aim for the following reasons:

1. Practically speaking, most people can’t be the best in the world. So why have an aim that will, in the most part, lead to disappointment?
2. Let’s say you can be the best in the world! Striving to be the best you can be will still get you there, and won’t allow you to stop once you’ve achieved it.
3. Even if you substitute “best in my company”, “best in my office” or “best in my circle of friends” for “best in the world” – aiming to be the “best you can be” will still eclipse that if you push yourself and focus.
4. You can still use the accomplishments of others as motivation, as milestones – but we all know when we’ve given an endeavour our all. Celebrate that.

Now that I’ve read this passage by Erin and changed my mindset a little I’m noticing examples everywhere of people striving to be the best they can be – rather than the best there ever was.

On that note, let me take the opportunity to wish my friend Candice all the best in her first marathon, coming up next month! I know the elation she’ll feel when she triumphantly crosses that finish line won’t be shadowed by the fact that it doesn’t come with a first place – because she’ll have rocked that marathon and been the best that she could be.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Review - Masters Of Success By Misner & Morgan

Great as "go to" for a "pick me up"

While I wouldn't recommend sitting down and reading this book from beginning to end as I did - for litle moments of inspiration I think it's a winner. I particularly loved (not surprisingly) Michael Gerber's portion and yet (surprisingly) also loved Erin Brokovitch's. If you can't find something to make you smile or think in this one you're not trying.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Great Hope For The Future

I was watching a recorded tape of “21 Up Japan” on television last night. It’s the latest Japanese instalment of a groundbreaking documentary series that started in the UK in 1964 with 14 seven year old children taped every seven years of their lives. Its premise is based on that of a Jesuit saying "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Up!) The latest instalment of the UK series is these same children, now all grown up at 49. As far as reality television goes – I think this is pretty much the ultimate and I find the documentaries deliciously fascinating.

They’ve also started replicating the series in other countries including Russia, South Africa, the USA and of course Japan which is how I ended up watching the third Japanese installment last night.

At the end of each individual interview each 21 year old Japanese participant was asked what they hoped for the future. One spoke of wanting children, one of wanting to be a professional baseball player and one sadly lamented that he felt he would always be alone.

My favourite comment was this from one of the participants “At home and in my work, I want to become a person who people say is irreplaceable.” What a fantastic aim and how eloquently put I thought. To be “irreplaceable” – isn’t that a far better expression than to have people think you’re “great to have around” or “fun to be with” or “loveable” or “great at your work” or “cute”. Irreplaceable – at home and at work – what are you doing to achieve this?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Why Send A Handwritten Card?

1. People keep them - I’ve seen plenty of handwritten cards lovingly saved on the fridge, desk or a mantle. I’m yet to see too many emails, faxes or text messages souvenired like this.

2. Hand written envelopes are more likely to be opened – because people then know it’s not going to be a bill, some lame business letter or a speeding ticket.

3. It’s different - in this day of email, texting, IMing, facebooking and myspacing – a handwritten card harks back to an gentler era where people cared more – ok, I agree that’s a bit lame, but it shows that you were prepared to spend 2 minutes of your time and a stamp rather than just firing off some ill thought out misspelled email.

4. Why send a handwritten card? Cos the ones written with your feet just aren’t as neat.

How to send a handwritten card:

1. Find a groovy card that says what you want and stands out. I’ve had my own line done up www.unleashedknowledge.com/cards.html with quotes that reflected the type of message I want to get across like: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible – Walt Disney”

2. Make it stand out. Use a marker instead of a pen, again – it’s different to what people usually get. Different makes people look. Your message will keep them looking.

3. It’s a personal form of contact so take the time to write a personal message! This goes for your Christmas and birthday cards as well – there’s all that blank space inside the card so that you can actually write something. Dear Kirsty, from Kirsty aint gonna cut it.

4. Attach a business card. It’s personal sure, but a business card means the person can easily get in touch with you afterwards – to thank you, to do business with you, to get a coffee – whatever.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

True Or False: Companies Lie To Their Customers

Take a major international credit card company I’ve recently reluctantly been communicating with.

They launched a new card in America – I thought it was cool, I went to their website to submit an enquiry to ask when / if it would be released in Australia. I wanted this card and I wanted to give them more business.

To follow was their response (which to read I had to click on a link in an email, log into a website and click twice more to read):

Dear :

Thank you for taking your valuable time to e-mail us. Your association with (XYZ) is highly appreciated.

I would be glad to assist you with your inquiry regarding (the new) card however, please be advised that you have reached the e-mail center in the United States. I am unable to assist you with your inquiry as your account is a Australia based account and we do not have access to your account records, nor we are trained to navigate your account. Therefore, for immediate assistance, please contact us at (insert American phone number) and a trained representative will provide you immediate assistance.

Please be informed that you are a Valued Cardmember, we are sensitive towards your concerns. Therefore, please be assured that we will do our best to most effectively understand your needs and more quickly handle your request.

I apologize for any inconvenience this matter has caused you and appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

We look forward to hearing from you so that we may effectively resolve your inquiry.

XYZ staff member

This company’s lie? Saying I’m a valued or appreciated customer! If I actually was a valued cardmember:
• Perhaps their communication might have said “Dear Kirsty” instead of Dear blank
• Perhaps knowing I was in Australia they wouldn’t have sent me American phone numbers
• Perhaps they may not have sent me another equally useless communication after I responded to this one
• Perhaps instead of telling me how valued I was, they might have shown it by actually finding out the information I required and letting me know it

Tell your customers they’re valued all you like. But if your communications and your actions don’t scream it in every single way they’re not going to feel valued.

My gym makes me feel valued when I walk in and the check in counter is busy and they call me by name, wave me through and tell me they’ll fix up my sign in for me.

My post office makes me feel valued when they’re frantically upset that they don’t have my phone number on file to let me know about an express post parcel that arrived a few minutes after we collected our mail.

And yet neither my post office nor my gym have ever felt the need to sent me correspondence telling me I was “valued”. I feel it because of their actions, day in and day out.

Which would you prefer? Customers who can read that their valued or customers who feel valued?

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Monday, May 19, 2008

10 Simple Ways To Save Money In Your Business10 Simple Ways To Save Money InYour Business

1. Throw out those fancy pink duplicate phone message pads that everyone loved so much (in the ‘80s) and email phone messages through your organisation.

2. Don’t mail out tax invoices – email them. Why pay for printing, paper, a stamp and an envelope when you can just mail the invoice?

3. Set up a blog with an RSS feed as the memo board for your staff, if this sounds too techie – set up a facebook fan page and do the same thing.

4. Ban overseas phone calls and have everyone use skype instead. If it’s a business call it’s probable that whoever they’re calling is going to have skype anyway.

5. Throw away your cheque book (well as much as you can). Pay everything by credit card or direct deposit (save the stamp, envelope and time).

6. Teach your staff the difference between using express / overnight delivery envelopes just ‘cos they’re fun and pretty and actually needing to. Also teach them that when sending a letter in the same post code – it’ll get there tomorrow anyway!

7. If you send out a printed newsletter – stop! C’mon who doesn’t have email these days – it’s cheaper and you’re killing less trees.

Ways to spend money that’ll still save you money in the long term

8. Subsidise staff member’s gym memberships. Healthier, fitter staff have less sick days. If you were to subsidise $100 from an annual gym membership and it results in 2 less sick days a year – you’re way in front.

9. Get rid of the charity choccies and biscuits (sorry!) and have fresh fruit available for your staff to munch on. See point eight about healthy staff being better staff.

10. Get a decent coffee machine in your office. 3 trips to the Starbucks a day ‘aint cheap (on your business – forget about on their pockets). If your staff are gone for 15 minutes a time for each coffee break, that’s 45 minutes a day more productive they could be if the coffee were easier to get to. Also (considering my rant on health), get a water cooler and make it much easier to get to than the coffee pot.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ship Shaping Your Partnership

Things to consider when starting a business with anyone other than the person that stares back at you in the mirror:

1. People change.
You and your partners will (not might – WILL) change in some way given the new responsibilities of your business. Stress levels, staff issues, budgeting and all the other fun things that can drive business owners to distraction will play a part in the type of people you grow to become within your business. The saying “nothing is constant but change” is definitely applicable in a business – and if you don’t expect it from your partners (and yourself), watch out.

2. What do you do again?
It’s all well and good to set up a business with the innate knowledge that everyone will work their butt off just as much as the next person, that all partners will put in equal hours and that everything will just be la-di-dah because that’s “what we agreed to”. In my experience however, not having set job descriptions can be one of the major areas in which partnerships come undone. Take the time to plan this aspect of your business to the degree that everyone has a detailed job description which outlines who does what and who has responsibility over what areas.

3. Who decides what?
In an ideal world when there’s a decision to be made within a business – the partners put their heads together, take into consideration all appropriate information, and then – presto, they all agree on one way forward. In reality, this may happen a lot of the time, but there are going to be occasions where you don’t agree. What sort of a plan do you have in place for when there are two directions (or even three or more) and you have different people wanting to go down different paths?

4. Who is the one?
Might I suggest that you break up your business – no matter how small it is now – into divisions such as marketing, product, human resources etc? Work out amongst the partners who is the best fit to manage each department (it doesn’t have to be an even split – decide based on who is best qualified). From there, agree that discussions will be had about all large decisions. However, if there is dispute over direction, the final decision will be made by the head of that division. That failing – decide amongst the group who is most qualified for an over arching CEO type role and have them as the final decision maker. Trust me, it may seem harsh now to appoint one person as the grand decision maker but it will solve so many problems in the long run. Note for the CEO: although you get the glory when things go right, remember your neck is also on the line if the decision you make goes pear shaped!

5. Friends and family.
I’ll keep it short and sweet here, but just think long and hard about whether you’re willing to jeopardise your relationship with your friend or family member by going into business with them. I’ll talk more about the fun and games of employing family members later!

6. More on family.
If there are frustrations at work, or cracks in a partnership, the partner who goes home upset will naturally vent to their family. As we know, there are always two sides to any disagreement, but family usually only ever hear one side (and probably would still be very biased even if they heard both). Be prepared for the impact on a partnership that outside family members can have. The wife saying to the stressed husband “I can’t believe he doesn’t put in the same hours as you” or the husband saying to the dejected wife “She just doesn’t value your input!” can have a huge unseen impact. In some ways, family input can be like a cheer squad for the breakdown of a partnership.

7. Get me out of here!
Before you go into business with anyone, I cannot stress more highly the vital need to have some sort of a contingency plan in place, in case the partnership doesn’t work out. Who leaves, how it is decided, how the business is valued, how a pay out structure will be composed if needed etc. Working it out early can mean you’ll miss out on a lot of sleepless nights and a huge dose of drama. It is definitely worth it for the hour or so it’ll take to sort it out… early!

As complicated as partnerships can be, setting up a business with people who possess complementary and opposing skill sets to you, has many great advantages. Just remember to protect yourself in the ways mentioned above.

Excerpted with permission from Kirsty Dunphey’s new book – Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

The Eyes Have It

In the TV show Friends, massage therapist Phoebe is accused of flirting with one of her clients because she got a pedicure, new toenail polish and a toe ring. Obviously – as a massage client, looking down through the hole in the table, Phoebe’s feet are the only part of her he can see.

My husband would be relieved to know that my masseur yesterday was definitely not foot-flirting with me! As I peered down through the hole in the table all I saw were some scuffed shoes and a very plain boring floor. As someone who has the attention span of a goldfish I must admit I was a little bored (not by the massage – just the view).

As I sat there peering at beige linoleum I was reminded of my firm belief that as many people as possible within a business should experience the business from the client’s perspective.

If the masseur had been in my place, perhaps next time I went back there might be a bowl of water with lilies or even goldfish as a friend of mine once experience while getting a massage in Vietnam.

If all dentists sat in their own chairs once in a while (and felt the terror that many of us do), perhaps they may all have the very groovy television on the ceiling I’ve heard one Sydney dentist has where you can watch a TV show or movie and pick up from that point next time you come in.

Where do your clients eyes go? If you run a gym, what is there for your clients eyes to go to while they’re on the spin bike or on a treadmill. My gym has little motivational quotes on the equipment. What about when you’re flat on your back doing a chest press – your client’s eyes are on the ceiling – what’s there for them?

My eye’s always go to the bathroom with me (shock horror) when I’m in a restaurant. If you work in one, head on in there and look around with your client’s eyes on (metaphorically of course!).

If you’re in retail, perhaps it’s your dressing rooms you need to study (see Interaction Enhancement for more ideas on client service and being a dressing room superstar). In real estate the eyes may be focussed on your car (what is that smell?) or the insides of your client’s cupboards (the buyer’s eyes will almost definitely go there).

Take a moment and be your client for 10 minutes today and change what doesn’t delight the eyes.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Life: If you're bored, you're doing it wrong

Found at: http://www.growinghappiness.com/ - I love this - Kirsty!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The A-Z Guide For The Future Entrepreneurial Superstar

Want to be an entrepreneur? So do a lot of people! And a lot of people go to their grave saying “I wish I’d…” and “If only I’d…”. If you’re determined not to be one of them, run through the A-Z and see if you’re on track.

Action – nothing starts without it. What are you doing today, right now (not tomorrow) to get you closer to your goals?

Bare yourself… (to yourself). Ask what it is you really want, what are you passionate about and what are you prepared to do to get there. More importantly, what are you not prepared to do to get there.

Care – Any entrepreneurial endeavour that has clients who care about the company has one leg up. Who are your raving fans? Who cares about what you do? What can you do to further cultivate that?

Dare – Risk doesn’t necessarily have to mean risky, but any entrepreneur dares where others don’t. Are you ready to be daring?

Eat up knowledge – anywhere you can and do it daily.

Friends – know who your real ones are and keep them close to you as you rise to the top.

Get up and go. No-one can train this into you. If you get up in the morning and want to go back to bed rather than off to pursue your entrepreneurial visions – get new visions that inspire you to get up and going.

Hug it out. Thank often and sincerely. Clients, staff, mentors, friends, parents and even your garbage person if they’ve helped you.

Individuality – what makes you special, unique and individual? How can you harness your special talents

Joke – keep laughing and smiling, you’ll need it for those less than perfect days.

Kill them with kindness. There is only one type of revenge you should ever enact on people who’ve slighted you in the business world, or said you couldn’t make it. Become amazingly successful! Nothing else you can do would make their stomachs turn even half as much.

Leverage – get the most talented people you can around you (people who are a heck of a lot smarter than you in their field). If you want to be all and do all yourself you’ll never have a saleable scaleable business.

Motion. Stay active in your mind and in your body. You’re no good to anyone if you’re not fit and healthy.

No. Learn how to say it. You can’t get to the top being everything to everyone.

Off switch. Find yours. Whether it’s yoga, gazing into your partner’s eyes or a marathon xbox-ing session, learn how to turn it off when you need to.

Passion! Even if your business is cleaning toilets, find something you can be passionate about within it. Whether it’s the systems, the service, the clients or even the relaxing sound of toilets flushing!

Questions – ask heaps! Find people who have done what you want to do, who drive the car you want to drive, whose staff think of them the way you want to be thought of and ask them questions.

Rough, tough and ready for critics. Got your tough outer shell on? The ride won’t always be easy and the comments about you won’t always be pretty.

Systems. Put them in place early and assess often. If your business can’t work without you – it’s not a business, it’s just a job for you.

Toxic people – get them out of your life! If you work with them, are friends with them or even have them in your family – stop hanging around them all the time. Strive for associations with positive, fabulous people who make you a better person.

Ubercool. Can you and your business be übercool? Are you setting in place the things that will make people one day say “I want my business to be just like

Voice. Find yours and make it heard. Publicity, press releases, media schmoozing – it’s all out there for free if you can make your voice heard.

Want a lot of stuff (success, things, travel, lifestyle, to be able to be philanthropic). Want it badly. And then get out there and get it.

X-ray like vision – use yours to stay on top of the latest trends, movements and shifts in your industry and in others. Challenge the status quo at every opportunity!

You are the CEO of your own life. What are you going to do with it?

Zorbing – do it or something you think is as much fun (skydiving, ride a roller coaster, travel to the pyramids, join the mile high club) as often as you can – why do you want to be an entrepreneur if not to do amazing things with your personal life as well.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Friday, May 2, 2008

The power in a tiny splash of colour…

The year is 1992 and with all my teenage creativity I’m trying to figure out how I can convincingly transform one pair of generic blue jeans and one small piece of red packing tape into what I most desire: a pair of Levi red tab jeans.

I didn’t care that the jeans my Mum had lovingly picked out for me were durable, I didn’t care about the fit, I didn’t care about the cost. All I cared about was that red tab.

These days I covet a different splash of red. That which you glimpse underneath a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.

And then of course there’s arguably the most famous splash of colour of all. The small delicate perfect blue box. Everyone instantly knows where it’s from and what it stands for.

I doubt any of these companies added their splash of colour thinking it was going to be the single thing that revolutionised them as a brand.

The splash of colour doesn’t make the brand. The jeans are no better or worse with or without the red tab and the blue box doesn’t affect the jewellery inside. It’s all about what that splash of colour reminds us of. Whether it says quality, style, value, exclusivity or something else, the tiny splash of colour speaks to us.

When someone sees your splash of colour be it on your logo, your corporate branding, your uniform, your office walls, your signage, your business card – what does it signify to them? What does it remind them to remember about your company, your business, your brand?

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