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)...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is It An Asset Or Just Making You An Ass?

What’s not an asset in your business?

1. Your systems (if they’re only in your head)

2. Your written systems (if they’re rigid, inflexible, un-personalised and can’t be changed with influence from your team and customers)

3. Your number one customer (if your business is too dependant upon having their custom)

4. The customer you’re dealing with right now (if you don’t have a service plan in place to nurture the relationship into the future)

5. Your best salesperson / employee (if they believe that they’re indispensable, worst still if you believe they are)

6. Your longest standing employee (if they can’t embrace change)

What could be a hidden asset?

1. Your customer complaints (they should scream to you: fix or implement a system here)

2. Your outgoing emails (many could serve as a blog post, an answer to a frequently answered question and a reason never to have to type that same email answering that same question ever again)

3. Your current customer when you only have a few (One delighted customer (if you do it right) can talk about you ten times more than 10 moderately satisfied ones)

4. Your suppliers (if there’s a hidden customer hiding there)

5. That plucky (translation: sometimes annoying) employee who just won’t shut up with all their great ideas (find a way to channel their creativity so that you don’t get frustrated, and so that you can farm any brilliance that may occur)

6. That employee you know has dreams and desires of leaving you and starting their own company (figure out a way to encourage, challenge and inspire them, utilising the best they have to offer while they’re with you – who knows you might also end up with a dedication in their book once they’ve gone on to further greatness)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Success Junkie Interview - Kelly Perdew - Entrepreneur and Donald Trump's Apprentice

After winning the second season of the NBC hit show, The Apprentice, Kelly spent 2005 as an Executive Vice President in the Trump Organization, where he managed several projects. Kelly earned a BS from the US Military Academy, West Point, a JD from the UCLA School of Law, and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. Kelly authored, “TAKE COMMAND: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump,” to provide guidance on how anyone can develop their leadership capabilities and he donates a percentage of the royalties to the USO.

Kelly Perdew is the CEO of www.rotohog.com. RotoHog provides the best fantasy sports platform in the world. The unique RotoHog game solves many of the problems that have plagued the Fantasy Sports industry for years. Currently, they serve as the official fantasy basketball game provider for the NBA, and have created NBA.com's most successful online game, the NBA Stock Exchange. RotoHog also powers a fantasy soccer game for ClicRBS, a major Brazilian media company. In addition to providing fantasy sports games for major media companies and leagues, www.rotohog.com provides fantasy sports games directly to users on their site.

Your background including the military side is very different to the other Apprentice winners, how do you feel this gave you an advantage during the interview process?

Actually, I wrote my book about how my military background assists me in business and how it helped prepare me for any situation – including competing on and winning The Apprentice. Specifically for The Apprentice, my background helped me because I learned how to remain calm and focused under pressure, learned how to lead people, and learned how to solve problems creatively.

While reading your book Take Command I found myself completely seeing how the values instilled in you during through your military time (Duty, Impeccability, Passion, Perseverance, Planning, Teamwork, Loyalty, Flexibility, Selfless Service and Integrity) would serve an aspiring entrepreneur or intrapreneur. Would you recommend some sort of military service for anyone looking to follow that path?

Military service is not for everyone and it is not the only place where those leadership qualities are instilled, but it is one of the best. Every individual must first understand themselves and determine what will truly make them happy. Not their parents, not their kids, not their partner…really understanding what makes you “tick” will help you decide the path to follow.

I'm a big believer that failure and the ability to deal with it shapes many entrepreneurs. What failures have you encountered and what would you change looking back?

My first start up was a "failure". I learned so many important things in that endeavor…

1. Be careful taking investment money from friends and family
2. Make sure to surround yourself with great advisors
3. Raise as much money as you can when you’re raising money
4. Think big
5. Never underestimate the competition

What three books would you recommend all aspiring business people read?

1. The Art of War – Real World Strategy
2. Done Deals – VC Stories
3. The Cashflow Quadrant – What do you want to be?

What were the three things you now see were most vital to your win as the Apprentice.

1. Think strategically all the time
2. Organized planning is critical
3. Keep your head about when all those are losing theirs (stole that from Kipling)

What three things surprised you during your year working with Donald Trump?

1. Donald gets 100 requests a day from people and organizations asking for things.
2. Donald has people that have been working with him/for him for 30+ years. 3. He gets invited to a lot of parties!

I know that you have some exciting new projects including Rotohog.com - what's next for Kelly Perdew and how will your time as the Apprentice contribute towards who you are going forward?

I was very lucky to make it onto the show and I feel incredibly fortunate to have won. One of the best things about winning was it gave me a platform to help some causes I support – Big Brothers/Sisters, The National Guard Youth Challenge Program and the USO. www.rotohog.com is a platform for fantasy sports so come play on www.rotohog.com!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Can Childhood Dreams Come True?

When I was a kid, I had one recurring dream (that wasn’t a nightmare about Witches from Roald Dahl’s book of the same name). I would climb our fence and jump off it with a towel strapped to my back, just before I hit the ground I would swoop up into the air flying away or towards whatever that dream happened to be about (giants, piles of lollies, you get the drift). I know lots of you have had the same or similar dreams, maybe even a few of you have acted them out with the same painful consequences I encountered, but in watching the following video, which I’m ga-ga about, I realised that if my childhood dream of flying could come true surely nothing is impossible.

If you think back to your childhood your dream may not have been flying, it may have been going to Disneyland, having a happy family with 7 kids, buying your Mum a brand new car, starting your own business or eating 25 big boss cigars in a single sitting.

Maybe you even dreamed of selling a sibling (hey – if James Blunt can do it…)

I don’t know what your childhood dreams were, but I do know that in this world, not much is out of the realms of possibility. Take 5 minutes today and think about what you dreamt of when you were a child, and if you still want it, get to it. I’ve put base jumping in the flying suit in my goal box what’s going in yours?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Success Junkie Interview - Kevin Eikenberry - leadership and learning expert, author, speaker and Chief Potential Officer.

Kevin is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that has been helping organizations, teams and individuals reach their potential since 1993. Emphasizing the power of learning, Kevin’s specialties include leadership, teams and teamwork, organizational culture, facilitating change, training trainers and more.

Kevin’s philosophy in business and in life is that every person and every organization has extraordinary potential. Investments of time, energy, focus and money are required for that potential to be realized. He believes learning is an active, ongoing process, not a passive, one-time event. Learning, work and life should be fun; and if we are doing it right, work (and learning) is play.

Kevin, in your work as a consultant and speaker specialising in leadership development. What would you feel are the top 3 characteristics that the world's best leaders possess.

In my book Remarkable Leadership I identify 13 competencies that I believe are the package of behaviors and skills that we all work from, so it is hard for me to pick three specifically. The characteristic that most of don't think about, but is tremendously valuable is being a continual learner. The best leaders recognize that great leadership is complex and therefore a journey. The journey of improvement is a journey of learning. Beyond this critical habit, I believe that the most successful leaders recognize and build on their unique strengths. It is our greatest strengths that propel us towards our potential.

Let's ask you the age old question - leaders, born or made?

Yes! Leaders are born (with our unique set of DNA that gives us the potential to be great) and made (the skills of leadership are developed, taught and practiced throughout our lives). If we think great leaders are born (and it isn't us), then we can easily be cynical about our ability to lead (after all, we can't be great if we weren't born with "it", right?). If we think it is all about being made, then we don't recognize the value of our unique collection of innate skills and abilities.

Your book Remarkable Leadership is a great read. What would you consider to be your top 5 "must read" recommendations for our readers and why?

It is hard to pick just five books! I've thought about your question for some time though, and I came up with some books that I believe everyone - leaders included - should read.

The Greatest Miracle in the World - Og Mandino
Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion - Robert Cialdini
How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
The Leadership Challenge - Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner
Something from Tom Peters (take your pick)
And of course, Remarkable Leadership!

You can learn about Kevin and his products and services at: http://KevinEikenberry.com and http://RemarkableLeadershipBook.com

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Is The Right Time To Bad Mouth Your Competitors?

Earlier this week I went to see a health practitioner, let’s call him Dr. Chris. When I mentioned that I’d previously seen a different health practitioner, let’s call him Dr. Joe, to treat my ailment Dr. Chris then proceeded to tell me that Dr. Joe was every sort of evil under the sun and had probably ruined me for life with his service.

I left with a pretty uneasy feeling about Dr. Chris – I found the talk unprofessional, unnecessary and I left feeling no less confident about Dr. Joe! All Dr. Chris did was make me feel less confident in him.

So when is the right time to bad mouth your competitors?

1. When you really really want the client?
2. When you know for a certainty that your competitor is a really dodgy character?
3. When your client starts to bad mouth them first?

In short, NO NO NO!

Even if you really want the client, bad mouthing your competitor only makes you appear unprofessional. The alternative: Just talk up your own positive points (without saying you do it better than your competitor, that still counts as bad mouthing). Check out this link to see when bad-mouthing goes to a ridiculous level http://www.designersmind.com/creative-showcase/creative-airline-advertisements/. I also saw today Virgin Blue’s rewards program Velocity entered the grey zone in bad mouthing stating something to the effect of: “the new Qantas Frequent Flyer Rewards program proudly brought to you by Velocity” which reminded me a little of these airline adverts.

Even if you are 100% positive that your competitor is a dodgy character, bad mouthing them makes you look like even more of a dodgy character! The alternative: recommend that your client asks to speak to people who’ve dealt with whichever professional they are going to do business with, this way they can get the real truth about your competitor from their previous clients (be prepared though that this also means you recommend they speak to your clients!)

If your client starts to bad mouth your competitor, even then – don’t help them get stuck in! The alternative: tell your client what you would do in any situation where they have had bad previous dealings and see if that’s how they would like to be dealt with in the future.

On the flipside… if you’re this major company – you can make an entire ad campaign with Drew Barrymore’s paramour (sorry – but I love that rhyme) bad mouthing your competitors http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/

But without Apple’s budget and ad-guys – you’re probably going to end up no more slick than this:

My preferred method? Do the opposite and find opportunities to congratulate your competitors. This worked exceptionally well for me in real estate. I’d make sure I knew a positive point about the agents I most regularly competed with so that I could say credibly something like: “Sue’s lovely, she writes really creative advertisements and she keeps the rest of us on our toes in that respect”. Client’s don’t expect it and most respect you for taking the high road.

And back to Dr. Chris and Dr. Joe, the first thing I did when I went home was let the friend who’d referred me to Dr. Chris know what he’d said about Dr. Joe. Being that Dr. Joe’s a personal friend of hers I’m not sure Dr. Chris will be getting too many other referrals from her.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aliases (not the Sydney Bristow type)

A lot of things bug me. One of them is seeing a company with a website that doesn’t have email @ that website. For example, their business card will read:

Website: www.bucketoftrouble.com
Email: bucketoftrouble@yahoo.com

It just drives me insane that someone would go to the trouble of having a domain name, but not also have service@bucketoftrouble.com / james@bucketoftrouble.com etc as their email aliases.

While I’m ranting thought, let me tell you one thing that doesn’t bug me. Companies that make clever usage of their email aliases:

legendaryservice [at] atlassian.com reminded me how much I love interesting email aliases this morning (why am I typing [at] instead of using the @ - because this is a real email addresses – and I don’t want them to get besigued with spam)

What does it cost you to get another email alias set up so that Robyn at your work had the email:

robyn@48hoursaday.com as well as

rockstarrobyn@48hoursaday.com or ordersuperstar@48hoursaday.com

Well, with my internet hosting set up, it wouldn’t cost me anything extra. You might find it costs a couple of extra dollars set up, once off.

But the benefits are: You make Robyn smile, you make Robyn more likely to want to give her email address out (and your company domain conversely) to everyone she knows, you make your customer smile, you show a bit of your personality. All good things if you ask me.

To check out a very cute use of email aliases see the last two staff members on this page: http://www.century21.com.au/web/agents/staff.cfm?grpofcecode=NSW202

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What happens in Mexico…

Friends and I were chatting recently about our favourite places in the world to shop. Paris, Berlin, London, Thailand all got a mention along with one of my favourites Mexico.

I’ve only spent half a day in Mexico (so far!) – but it was one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences of my life.


Firstly, I love to bargain – and so did the shop owners I met in Mexico.

Secondly, the entertainment value was immense. To prove to me that it was real gemstones, leather or silver I was being sold, every merchant we met in Mexico whipped out a lighter and burnt their product saying that real gems don’t melt and plastic burns but leather doesn’t etc (highly entertaining especially after a few daiquiris).

In having this discussion with friends however I was told what may be an urban myth about shopping in Tijuana, Mexico. The myth being that when you purchase something you’re given a plastic bag that corresponds to your strength as a buyer.

As an example, a yellow bag may mean you’re a complete push over and will pay way over market value but a blue bag may mean you’re a hard negotiator who’ll drive the price down and bargain til you’re blue in the face.

Is it true? I have no idea. But I must admit – I think its genius.

Imagine if we could do this in other areas of life. If your employer were to send you out to the marketplace secretly colour coded say with red meaning you were a world class invaluable employee, how do you think that would impact the next job interview you went on? What secret colour coding would you have if your clients were secretly rating you? Your boss? Your family? Your friends?

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