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...

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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, December 31, 2009

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: motorbikes and cars were materialised on stage, a paper rose was lit on fire and turned into a real rose and of course there were ducks (well one duck at least called Webster).

Strangely what stood out for me the most though was Copperfield’s story about his father and his grandfather. Copperfield’s father won a prestigious acting scholarship (also won by Robert Redford and Danny Devito) but his father (Copperfield’s grandfather) banned him from taking it with threats of disowning him. His father acquiesced.

At the age of 14 when Copperfield decided he wanted to pursue a life as a magician his grandfather tried the same act on him telling him that performers were “bums”. Obviously Copperfield wasn’t dissuaded but sadly his grandfather never spoke to him again.

I’ve got to have such respect for someone with the maturity to determine a career path at age 14 and to overcome such obstacles to follow it. He had a dream and wouldn’t be bullied into forsaking it.

I feel sorry for his grandfather. Firstly, he’s attempted to bully two generations and has succeeded in helping one give up his dream. Secondly, he didn’t have the courage to admit he was wrong prior to his death when Copperfield had obviously proved he wasn’t going to be a “bum”.

If there’s someone around you: young, old or even yourself with a dream, what can you do to encourage it today?

And just for a giggle, here’s Webster (the duck).

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Monday, December 21, 2009

Message In A Bottle

In my continuing theme of “little ways to set yourself apart” let me show you the best gift voucher I’ve ever purchased.

It’s from the Drunken Admiral restaurant in Hobart, Tasmania. These guys really know how to do little things that make people talk.Their gift vouchers come “message in a bottle style”. Their seafood chowder which is truly world class comes displayed on a printed version of the recipe, but in pirate style the secret ingredients are “burned” off it. There’s a romantic booth for two that you can book which his actually inside the hull of a ship.

They’re little things, but they get me excited, they make me want to tell friends and they make me want to come back!

What’s the “little special” about you or your organisation?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, December 11, 2009

How much does it cost to make someone feel special?

My husband and I cruised through Alaska as part of our honeymoon. On this trip a fellow traveler told me that Alaska is the “cruise you take before you die” (the comment was more to do with the average age of the cruisers, not the danger level involved in trying to run on a treadmill while the ship dodged icebergs!)

We LOVED Alaska and this cruise despite the fact that we may have been the youngest people ever to set foot on the shuffleboard deck.

One of the reasons we loved it so much was because of our housekeeper Merawai. There’s a reason I still remember her name 4 years on (and it’s not just because she liked to enter our room without knocking.)

Every morning when she serviced our teeny tiny cabin she’d leave us a towel folded into a create of some sort. She’d use my glasses as props, or hang them from the ceiling.

It was systemized brilliance and gave us a giggle each and every day. It cost the company a little in time and nothing in materials and 4 years on I’m still telling people about the experience.

What could you start doing today to make someone still feel the need to rave about you 4 years on?

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Question on purchasing multiple properties

Question (paraphrased slightly)

How does a normal person on a normal salary get to a position where they can accumulate multiple properties purchasing negatively geared properties?


What a great question! And one everyone should ask himself or herself prior to starting to accumulate property.

Step 1: Work out what each property you’re looking at will cost you on a case by case basis. The best way to do this (I think) is to read Jan Somer’s investment books on residential property and formulate a spreadsheet (excel is great for this) which takes into consideration all estimated expenses (land tax, insurance, property management fees, marketing, estimated maintenance, body corporate, interest and more) and then factors in any tax and depreciation benefits and works out approximately how much that property will cost you to own per week.

Step 2: If your goal is to accumulate lots of properties, the closer to neutral and positively geared properties you can find, the better. That’s easier said than done in many markets, but I think the best way to find these properties are:
- Look at lots of properties and do lots of research
- Get a property manager (not a sales agent) to give you a rental prediction on any property prior to you making an offer
- Don’t be afraid of making cheeky / low offers. If you’re worried about offending the owners of the properties, just remember, they can always say no. But if you don’t offer them anything, they never have the chance to say yes and you usually have little idea about their circumstances or motivation.
- Revert to step one and work out your numbers (all of them including EVERY expense)! The most common mistake I find these days comes down to basic math. If you’re paying $350,000 for a property and it’s renting for $350 per week that’s NOT a 10% return!

Step 3: Talk to your account about the best entity / people to own the properties under. For you it might be in one partner’s name or in a family trust, but work out what’s going to get you the best protection and the best tax benefits. You might also want to talk to your accountant about getting the amount you are taxed at your main place of employment decreased on a regular basis rather than getting a larger return at the end of the year – this can be great for cash flow.

Step 4: Maximise your rent by:
- Finding a great property manager who will get you top dollar
- Staying on top of regular market rental increases
- Looking at ways to increase the rental return on properties (if a tenant is prepared to pay extra for different heating, a carport, new carpet etc: work out your sums!)

Unless you work towards the above steps you may find it hard to accumulate more than a couple of properties as your cashflow will be depleted. Perhaps this is why around 80% of Australian investors only own one investment property!

Now of course there are lots of other strategies, but what I’ve outlined above is a fairly simplistic strategy for buying and holding residential property long term.

Of course, this information is general and should not be construed as financial advice. Consult your accountant for information specific to your circumstances.


By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jim Rohn

I was so sad this morning to hear of the passing of Jim Rohn.

Watching him speak years ago in Sydney had a profound impact on me.

I highly encourage you all to hit YouTube, google Jim and look into his books and CDs.

His message is timeless and always powerful.

Rest in Peace Jim Rohn.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Common Courtesy Creates Captivated Clients

My parents in law are presently undergoing a kitchen renovation – stressful enough at the best of times, but made all the worse by having tradies stomping muck all over their floorboards, chipping bricks into their brand new bench tops and leaving all the cupboards full of sawdust.

We spent a fair amount of time this weekend discussing the simple things those tradespeople could have done to create an absolutely captivated client who told all their friends about their service:

• Brought some tarps to cover the bench tops while they were working on the bricks
• Wore hospital booties over their boots when they walked inside (we’ve used these previously at open homes and given you end up with bright blue covered feet, they’re a prominent advert for your care)
• Brought a dust buster or vacuum to clean up after themselves

If any one of these simple acts had been done my parents in law would have been raving about them and recommending them to every one of their friends.

As my mother in law said: “it’s just one of many jobs to them, but this is our house”.

Now whether you work in a trade, or in any other field, a simple act that doesn’t take much time or forethought can often have the power to amaze and impress.

Like the real estate agent who brings a CD of appropriate music to play at her open home, or the hair dresser who offers to save a lock of a child’s first hair cut for a doting parent or the insulation sales person who sends back his quote with a dog rusk for the beloved family pet. Having just read the book about John Ilhan, founder of Crazy John’s I loved the part of the story where it detailed that Crazy John staff would program in mobile phone numbers into their clients phones (common courtesy and a great business idea – after all, if the numbers are already in there, they’re more likely to call them right!)

What can you do today to captivate and amaze?

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Story Do You Tell?

Some of my favourite songs are those that are able to convey a storyline worthy of a full feature length movie in only a few minutes.

There’s the eternal Kenny Rogers (yes, I like Kenny and won’t hear anything negative about that) with Ruby don’t take your love to town.

More recently, and while it’s not as powerful as Ruby, I still love the simple and beautiful story in Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus:

And the shocking (well I found it shocking the first time I listened to it) All I wanna do is make love to you by Heart:

This got me thinking, if a musical artist can convey that much of a story line in such a compressed time, so too can a business in their marketing materials. For my money, the “about us” page on your website is the best place to start.

One of my favourite corporate about us pages is that of the recently aquired Zappos Check it out to see how they’ve incorporated testimonials, video, social networking, blogs and more.

Even on twitter where you’ve got only a few tiny characters for your bio, http://twitter.com/caseystevens got my attention with hers (although I don’t know if I agree with the ugg boots):

• Bio Yes to: Marketing, Dancing, Dogs, Pina Coladas. No to: Brussel sprouts, violence, wearing ugg boots outside

Check out this fabulous article to see a few more wacky but story filled examples:

Here’s a simple checklist for your website’s about us page:

• Does it adequately convey the personality of you / your organisation?
• What else can you do to link it to your social media output (twitter, facebook, linked in etc)
• Does it help people get to your blog (er… do you have a blog?)
• Could it link or show testimonials?
• Can it help me find your team bios?
• Is it current and up to date?
• Does it link to the other pages on your website?
• Have you missed anything “bragworthy” – awards, qualifications etc?
• Is it visually appealing?
• Is there anything on there that would make me want to tell someone else to check out that page?

Now, I’m leaving now ‘cos you just heard the slamming of the door (if this doesn’t make sense then I humbly request you start listening to more Kenny Rogers!) I’m off to work on updating my about us pages… how ‘bout you?

Also If you know of any great “about us” pages, please put them in the comments here, I’m always up for seeing fabulous examples.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Would you write a reference for your boss?

This week while making an application for a new employee under a scholarship program for our new real estate agency Elephant Property (www.elephantproperty.com.au) I had the strange experience of asking two former employees who had worked with our team under that program to write me a reference!

I’m in the position of still closely following the careers of both these former staff members and I was flattered and brought to tears by what they both wrote which was fabulous (thanks Emma & Clinton) but it got me thinking, how would you feel if your last boss asked you to write them a reference?

Would it be glowing? Would it be honest? Would you even bother?

In reading “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood (amazing book!) one story about his former boss – Steve Ballmer (now CEO of Microsoft – stuck with me.

John mentioned off hand to Steve (arguably one of the most powerful business leaders in the world) one morning that he was planning on running the Boston marathon later that year.

The day of the marathon came and immediately afterwards John caught a flight directly to an important Microsoft announcement by Steve. After the hubbub of the announcement had died down Steve, surrounded by his entourage, walked past John and as he was passing called out “3 hours 4 minutes in the marathon – sensational” (or something to that effect). When John queried how he knew this he said that he makes it a point to know everything about his team.

To me, that’s an awesome leader and if you read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World you’ll see that John Wood writes Steve Ballmer a great reference in what he says about him in those pages.

So, would you write that reference for your current boss or are you perhaps the type of boss that would have that type of reference written about you?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What can you learn over coffee or in a weekend?

I’ve just had a super weekend. Yes there was a pole dancing party (which I bought at a recent charity auction) and yes there were cocktails, but what’s more there were two amazingly inspirational business women for me to network with.

These two women were Lara Solomon, founder of www.mymocks.com and author of Brand New Day and Kate Tribe, founder of www.triberesearch.com.au.

Now I’m a huge believer that one of the best ways to increase your own knowledge is by simply having a chat with someone fabulous. Neither of these women work in my industry, but both always have amazing insights and I can always learn something that I can R&D (rip off and duplicate – thank you Mr. Terry Watson www.terrywatson.com) into my business.

So instead of just hogging their brilliance I thought I’d share some of it with you this week and encourage you to head out and do some R&Ding of your own.

A little of what I got from Kate:
• Tribe Research has an ex staff members club where they’re invited to staff events, get an update newsletter and even get a trophy when they leave! What a fabulous way to ensure that staff members (many of Kate’s obviously leave on great terms) stay advocates of the firm and would encourage others to work at the firm in the future.
• Tribe also send business birthday cards by finding out when a company was created searching through ASIC. As Kate and I discussed at length – anything strategy like this isn’t a short term measure, you might only find out how appreciated it is after the 3rd or 5th year (or even later), but how much will it make you stand out!

A little of what I got from Lara:
• Lara had just arrived back from a mansion in Beverly Hills (yes 90210) where she was promoting Mocks at a pre-Emmys event and getting amazing snaps of celebs like Jennifer Love Hewitt and Randy Jackson (American Idol) with her products. What a sensational way to create buzz and get celeb endorsements!
• Lara’s business is also breaking into the US at the moment and so we had some fab chats about drop shipping, manufacturing, PR firms and distributors. For more on this, check out her smart company offerings.

So, when was the last time you spent a weekend, a lunch or a coffee with someone you found inspirational?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, November 2, 2009

Does Your Organisation Boo?

The air was electric as I looked over a sea of bobbing blue caps hotdog in hand. It was my first Chicago Cubs baseball game at historic Wrigley Field and I was loving every minute of it. With every crack of bat to ball my breath paused, my neck arched and I took another bite of my fabulous Chicago dog.

That day, like so many others, was not the a day for Cubs victory – but one moment definitely stood out. The opposing team hit a huge fly ball right…. out…. into centre field… home run.

All of a sudden the crowd started to boo and howl wildly. My husband asked me why the Cubs fans were showing such poor sportsman ship. Being a nerd (with access to Wikipedia on my iPhone), I knew exactly what the boos were about.

It was soon readily apparent to all Australian tourists at the game that the booing wasn’t about the home run. The boos were about the fan who caught the home run ball keeping the home run ball from the opposing team! Culturally speaking, Chicago Cubs fans throw back the opposing team’s homers and nearly every one of the 35,000 people at the game let their feelings be well known on the subject!

Now whether you agree with throwing back the homer or not (my husband adamantly states that regardless of the boo-ing, he’d be keeping that homer!) you’ve got to admit, this is a very clear indication of the culture of Wrigley Field.

Is the culture within your organisation as readily apparent to new comers? Now I’m not suggesting that you should be getting boo-ed by 35 accountants in your firm when you don’t refill the paper in the photocopier. But I am wondering how comfortable the team around you feel about pointing out when someone isn’t living up to your office culture? Does the new guy know that in your firm you reward other’s successes, you actively engage with the people around you, you say good morning with a smile each day, you don’t take shortcuts, you get your filing and other little tasks done, you treat even the most junior of staff members with respect…. And who amongst his peers will figuratively boo at him if he doesn’t?

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beauty and the Brain

I’ll admit it I love Jamie Durie. Here’s a man who was famous for his glistening pecks, and his ability to flip over his head while simultaneously writhing semi-naked and yet today, nannas all over Australia queue up to get his latest garden design book and my husband oohs and ahhs over (no, not his pecks) but his outdoor wall gardens. He’s moved from beauty and brawn to brains and business savvy.

Another beauty to brains example is Tyra Banks. Obviously beautiful she was making astute moves even when she was still marketing with just her beauty. When her body started to change and become fuller than the rake thin models of the day instead of starving herself to remain on catwalks she shifted her career over to a market that appreciated her increasing… er assets, the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret. Since retiring from modeling full time she’s shown the brain that’s also a sizeable asset in starting up Bankable Productions under which she helped create America’s Next Top Model which is now a worldwide franchise.

I guess you can simply use your beauty to get what you want a’la Anna Nicole Smith or more impressively you can leverage the connections and experience you get from your beauty and parlay that into further dealings where your brain also gets to shine.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kirsty Dunphey launches her new passion project: Baby Teresa

You may have heard whispers about a new project I’ve started called Baby Teresa. Now that our website is up and running I wanted to tell you guys all personally – I’ve started a baby clothing line!!

Weird right? I would have thought so too if you told me I’d be doing it two years ago! The thing that makes this so appealing to me though is that for every baby all-in-one outfit we sell, we donate another to a baby in need.

So far Sammie and I at Baby Teresa HQ have donated outfits to needy babies in our home state of Tasmania and just last week we sent our first donation off to Uganda in the middle of Africa. Our eventual goal is to clothe at least one baby in every country in the world!

It’s darn exciting – and I’d love you to help us get the word out there about it so that we can help kids who aren’t as fortunate as the ones we know and love.

So… if you’d like to help here’s what can you do:

1. You could forward this posting on to any expecting or current Mums, any shops you think should be stocking Baby Teresa, any media person who you think should know about us or anyone you think might be shopping for a baby present.

2. You could join our facebook fan page here and tell your friends on facebook, twitter or in your blog!

3. You could check out our website and give us some feedback on what you like and what you’d suggest www.baby-teresa.com

4. We’ll be doing launches for Baby Teresa all over the place. If you want to be on the invite list – it’s as simple as replying to this contacting us and telling us where you’re at!

5. Finally – if you want to buy a Baby Teresa outfit for a baby you know (and in the process give one to a baby in need that you don’t know) – head here: www.baby-teresa.com/buy.php BUT - as a special offer for my VIPs – you can check out our cool special offers (only available for Kirsty’s VIPs) here: www.baby-teresa.com/vipbuy.php

What are people saying about Baby Teresa?

It wasn’t until I had my own baby that I realized how unfair it is that not every baby in the world is as loved and well provided for as my own. With Baby Teresa I get the fun of shopping for my own child, and the knowledge that I’m helping another child as well. It’s a great feeling. Bella Fountain

I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 years over working with disadvantaged children, orphaned children and children that have been abandoned and I’ve seen how excited they get about something so simple as having something new to wear. It’s the small things that we really take for granted back home. So many children over here have never ever had a single new thing to wear - in orphanages, shelters and poor families it is always hand-me-downs and not enough. Children in the Western world are such an important, treasured part of our lives. It's our culture to keep them safe, loved and to be able to spoil them! Its great to be able to give people the opportunity to still partake in that mind set while being able to benefit a less fortunate child overseas at the same time. Carrie Hesketh

And finally..

Thanks for your support as always. Obviously this is a bit of departure from what you’ve usually seen me doing – but the joy its bringing me lets me know how right it is!!

Stay fabulous (I know you will!)


By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Best Applicant Ever!

In the early days of having my first real estate agency, me and my two business partners would conduct all our interviews for new staff.

We’d spend what we thought was an appropriate amount of time with each applicant – about 40 minutes in a first interview. What was strange though was that we loved every applicant, they were all the best applicant ever!

After sitting down to look at our interview process to find out why we loved everyone we found it went something like this:

• Applicant enters the room
• Applicant introduces themselves
• Myself and my business partners proceed to speak for 38 minutes about why our company is awesome
• Applicant nods politely
• We love applicant

We were just so darn excited about our company that we did a sales pitch to the person who we should have been hoping would do a sales pitch to us! When we figured this out and started letting the applicant pitch to us we had a lot more success.

We also discovered some great interview questions along the way, these are a few of my faves:

• What do you know about our company? (c’mon a simple google of your business should give them some great info here if they’ve bothered to take the time)
• Why are you leaving your current job? (as soon as anyone started to have a go at their previous boss, regardless of how justified it might have been, they’ve shot themselves in the foot – after all what will they say about their next boss? Discretion is key.)
• What would you do this situation…? (use a real tricky situation you’ve had happen at your workplace)

Depending on the type of organisation / type of staff member you’re looking for I also love:
• An in workplace trial period (maybe a day where they come and work for you)
• After this ask them what they think can be improved about your workplace, what did they enjoy, is this the type of place they can see themselves working?
• Where you can’t do an in house trial period, set them a task to do between job interviews 1 and 2 such as look at our 3 biggest competitors websites and tell me what they have that we don’t… go to this open home and tell me what we could be doing better… rewrite this piece of literature… (find a task that will give you an indication 1. of their work ethic and 2. of whether they’ll be good at the job you’re hiring them for!)

And above all else, hold off on the sales pitch during your interviews! (I still find that a hard one!)

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Star Struck – Creating a Buzz

It was my first time in Hollywood, I was staying just off the main strip and on our first day we took a wander to see the stars on the sidewalk and of course to go “star-spotting”.

I was in luck almost immediately. Outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre a small but determined crowd had started to gather. Like moths to a flame we joined the crowd jostling and craning our neck to see who the celebrity in the inner circle of the group was. Autograph pads were flying, cameras flashing, excitement was most certainly in the air.

After around 5 minutes of rubbernecking I was still no closer to finding out which celebrity was in the middle of the crowd. I asked the question to the excited person next to me, they had no idea. Five people later and I finally got my answer.

It was the 12th guy from Oceans 12! (The new Oceans 12 movie staring the delectable George Clooney was about to come out at the cinemas in a few months).

By this stage the crowd was whipped into an extreme frenzy with certainly over 100 people all clambering to get their taste of this “celebrity”. After around 10 minutes, we left the autograph signing mass without our autograph, but still excited to have seen a “star”.

You can imagine my surprise a few months later watching the Oceans 12 movie only to find out that there was no “12th guy” in it! It was the same original cast as in Oceans 11.

Now you can either look at this one of two ways I feel:

The first, 100 people on the streets of Hollywood were conned into thinking they saw a celebrity.

The second: 100 people on the streets of Hollywood were given a “star” sighting and something exciting to go home and tell their friends AND we can learn the lesson that it’s easy to create a buzz about ANYTHING if you think about it hard enough.

So, taking the second lesson, when your business opens its doors for trading, or has it’s 5 year anniversary, or hits a milestone, or starts selling a new product, what can you do (without lying!) to create some buzz and excitement?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Heartfelt Apology

Sometimes I feel as though I’m one of those people that likes to nitpick. I’m so fixated on customer service and get so disappointed when it doesn’t live up to even basic standards that I’m often “whinging” about the dodgy hotel experience I had or the conference I attended that did such and such.

I almost think that sometimes I’m a little programmed to see the wrong, which is why it was so nice that a bad service experience yesterday turned into something kinda great.

I’d emailed a property manager to meet my husband at a property at 1.00pm amongst a whole swag of other things, they’d confirmed with “all done”. At 1.13pm I got a call from my husband – no-one had been there to meet him. I called to chase up and long story short, the property manager hadn’t read the part of my email about the appointment.

Her boss apologised to myself and my husband which was fine, but the thing that had me leave the experience with an uplifted feeling was her apology to me on the phone. It was heartfelt. It was genuine. She didn’t offer any excuses. She just assured me that it wouldn’t happen again and took her lumps. She then followed it up with a further email.

We’re human. We mess up. All of us (I know I certainly do!). It’s what you do when you mess up that determines how that relationship will progress.

Option number 1 is:

1. Own it
2. Convey your apology in a heartfelt way
3. Put a plan in place so that it doesn’t happen again

You easily have the power to turn a bad experience into a positive. Where you run into trouble is if you follow the dodgy conflict resolution strategy of Option 2:

1. Bury it
2. Deny it
3. Shift the blame

The next time you mess up – and we know it will happen – what 3 steps will you decide to do?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hidden Secrets: The Corporate Alleyways

On a recent trip to Melbourne I found myself, yet again, past dark sidling up a seemingly deserted alley way. I was in search of “La la land” a bar.

You might already know that seemingly all the very groovy bars in Melbourne are hidden in laneways more befitting a morose mugging than a civilised cocktail. It’s part of the culture and thankfully I have my Bar Secrets Melbourne cards so that I can try a new one each time I’m there.

I have to lurk in a laneway in Melbourne to manifest my mohito, but did you know in the corporate world you’ll also have to do some covert skulking?

The corporate alleyway you might have to lurk in could be:

• Knowing the right after work drinks place to network with your target demographic.

• Knowing which receptionist to turn on the charm with to get your messages delivered on time.

• Knowing what bottle of wine is the client’s favourite to ensure their repeat business.

• Knowing that promotions at your office get decided by a select few at a monthly luncheon.

There’s secret “laneway-like” world in almost every workplace and every industry. How many corporate secrets do you know? Too bad there isn’t a card that can help you out with that one. But you could try:

• Finding out where the most successful person in your industry has their after work drinks (you could even, shock horror, offer to buy them a drink).

• Charming all the receptionists at your work place (being nice to the front face of your business always pays off in the long run, they are your tie to the rest of the world).

• Ask your best client’s assistant or partner what their favourite drop is so that next time you get them a gift you know it’s spot on the money.

• Find that person who got the promotion you wanted and take them out to lunch to try and unearth their secrets (a good mohito helps with this too).

Good luck in uncovering the hidden laneways of your industry and workplace.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Value of Pancake Promises

When I was about 6 years old I was at my Mum’s workplace running amok as I always did. When it was time to go I’m not sure what came over me, but I refused. I hid under tables, I ran from my Mum and I basically caused all sorts of fuss and embarrassment for her.

I then got the brilliant idea that with this newfound leverage over my Mum I’d start making demands (genius I know!) I wasn’t leaving the office until she promised me that we could go out for pancakes.

After much to-ing and fro-ing my Mum finally gave in. I’m sure I let out a yelp of delight and we left the office.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that, sadly, there were no pancakes that night or for a very long time afterwards.

It taught me a really important lesson though – making demands is pointless if you’re looking for a good long term relationship. Even if you are able to demand your way into what you want, the animosity created by that demand leads to ongoing acrimony.

I’ve seen it time and time again in workplaces where employees will make demands of their employer and wonder why neither party ends up with what they want. So, how about this – the next time you want something, rather than demanding it, why not show some VALUE.

If you want a new coffee machine at work, put together a quick proposal that will show your boss that it’ll give each staff member an extra half an hour in the office a day (rather than going across the road to get coffee) thus providing him with X number of extra work hours a week, that’s a VALUE.

If you want a payrise, put together a list of your VALUE (not demands) to the company. Show the improvements you’ve made in the past X months, the increase in revenue to the company, the benefit on office morale and then go to your employer with a plan for how you can continue increasing the VALUE to them.

As a child, how much better would I have been when Mum wanted to leave the office for me to say, sure, let’s go now, and by the way, is there any chance you could look at us having pancakes at some stage in the next little while if I clean my room and do the dishes as soon as we get home? Ahhh… if only I’d known!

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Put The Magic In

The highlight of every weekend I spend in Melbourne is a trip to the magic shop in Southbank. Yes, I’ll happily confess I’m crazy for the magic. I’ve always loved it. But I don’t go into this shop just to buy magic tricks.

Every time I go into this shop it’s an experience. The staff are all dressed in bow ties and when asked, or even sometimes when you don’t ask, they’ll start demonstrating their wares by performing fantastic magic tricks. I adore watching their demonstrations (they’re flawless and funny) and it’s great for business. I want to do EVERY trick they show me and I tell all my friends (and now you guys!) that they have to go into the shop.

Cost to the shop? Nothing. When the staff are busy serving, they don’t do tricks, it’s just in between customers buying. The benefit? Immeasurable I’m sure.

Now while a magic shop can literally create magic in their shopping experience, I don’t think it’s a feat beyond any business.

The restaurant Bubba Gump (based on Forest Gump) in the States did it for me by having a sign on each table that could be flipped to say either “run forest run” or “stop forest stop” depending on whether you wanted service for your waiter. I loved it so much I thought about getting my own portable version to take to every restaurant with me (it’s so frustrating to wait and wait for service!)

How will you create magic in your business today?

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feedback – why, when and how?

I recently published a blog based around an inappropriate text message that my dentist had sent me. I said in the blog that I wouldn’t be letting the dental surgery know that I wasn’t happy with the text. Many thanks to all the people who wrote to me regarding this blog (and for the various dental referrals I received!), but there was one lady who seemed pretty upset with me for not taking my complaint to the dental surgery. She said something to the effect of why vent in a blog when you could go and get the situation resolved.

There are many reasons I blogged about this instead of going to the dental surgery directly, the first being that it’s my personal preference not to provide feedback when I’m not asked.

You give me a feedback form or a questionnaire and I’m usually the first to fill it in. I LOVE to provide feedback (both positive and constructive) and I adore writing testimonials when I’ve been provided with a sensational experience.

BUT – I no longer provide constructive criticism to a business unless I’m asked for it, or unless I’m actually making a complaint about service. Why? Well, I used to give constructive feedback for many years and was increasingly disappointed to see my feedback not implemented.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that businesses that want feedback and want to implement it will usually ask for it. I do so in my own businesses, which is why, as an example, any of you that have trialled www.reallysold.com, had a property managed through www.elephantproperty.com.au or have purchased one of our books at www.unleashedknowledge.com will have received a request for you to complete a questionnaire based on the experience.

Also – I’m kind of a nut. If I gave feedback to every business I saw that could be improved, it’d be all I’d do with my life and my friends would refuse to ever go to another restaurant, bar, spa with me again!

So my questions to you today are: Do you want feedback on your business? If so – how are you giving your clients an opportunity to provide this?

Also, whenever I make mention of a business that’s done something I don’t love in a blog. It’s not to vent. It’s not in the hope that someone will read that blog who works at that business and will change their wicked wicked ways. And you’ll rarely see me list their name (unlike when I see a business that’s doing something positive).

I write because thousands of people might read the blog and if one business is doing something in a certain way you can guarantee they aren’t alone. I write in the hope that there’s a reader out there who sees the article and checks the text messages their business sends out, or puts a new feedback system in place etc and that something positive comes from that article.

Now, don’t even get me started about the hotel I just stayed in… ok, that one might be more of a vent! I’ll save it until I’ve found a lesson that I need to learn from that experience!

And as always, if there’s ever any feedback you want to give us about our newsletter, blogs or books, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy, please head to www.kirstydunphey.com/contact.html and write away. While I can’t guarantee we’ll implement everything, we do read it all and take your feedback on board.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Review - Lessons of a Lipstick Queen: Finding and Developing the Great Idea That Can Change Your Life by Poppy King

A little jumpy but a heart felt read

Let me preface this review by saying that, growing up an aspiring young female entrepreneur in Australia, Poppy King was my first and for many years my only role model. Her influence on me was profound and to this day she remains one of the “5 people I’d invite to any dinner”. As you can imagine then when I saw her book on the shelves I jumped at it straight away. I’ve always wanted a greater insight into the “Poppy story”, what went so well and also what went so wrong. Let me get the parts I didn’t like out of the way straight away. The book was a little too Americanised for me. I get that it’s being published in America and is predominantly for an American readership, but this little Aussie thought it strange to hear examples about Thanksgiving that could have just as easily been examples that would be relevant world wide. The voyeur in me also would have liked a bit more of an insight into exactly what didn’t work in Poppy’s business partnership, it was mentioned but forgive the pun “glossed over” a little. I also found that the “her story” parts of the book jumped about and were a little difficult to follow sequentially. That aside - did I enjoy the read? Yes. It was written from the heart, by a real person and by someone that’s obviously had to go through a whole heck of a lot in her journey from being the media’s darling to being raked through the mud. Will this book change my life: probably not, but there are some great nuggets in there for any aspiring entrepreneur.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The time is 2.30 (tooth hurty!)

I’m Horrified. That’s right, Horrified with a capital H.

I just received this text (SMS) message verbatim.

Hi u are due for ur regular dental check. We are booked for 6wks.Call on.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a strategic use of a text message. I get a sensational one from my physiotherapist to remind me about appointments and we even use them in our real estate agency for rent reminders, but this text message is, in my opinion, appalling.

What’s more, there’s an extra 69 characters they could have used in this text message without spilling over into a second message and thus costing them more.

I get that there is a language that people use for text messaging and I get that abbreviations make things easier to fit in to the limited space but c’mon! This text is just crazy. I don’t want to get my teeth checked by a place that sends out reminder text messages that look like they’re from a bored 17 year old.

The sad truth is that I will end up going back to this dentist (it’s near on impossible in my area to get into another) and I won’t let them know how horrified I was by this text message. How could they get the feedback? The next time I’m waiting the 30 minutes in the surgery why not give me a little survey that says “what can we do better?” Then I’d share it with them.

Until then though, in language my dentist’s receptionist will understand if no one else: C u l8r, KD.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 10 comments

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Review - Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

I thought this book was magnificent and completely fascinating. I constantly found myself trying (with limited success) to explain it’s brilliance to others and couldn’t wait to get back to read the next chapter. The message was profoundly simple but illustrated like this there were so many “ah-ha” moments for me. If you liked Freakonomics my bet is you’ll love this too.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Linked in to who? Tweeter-whating? Myspace, who’s space is that? (or social networking: how to work it for business)

So, more and more these days I’m getting asked about social networking / web 2.0 and what on earth their purpose is. This includes websites like:
• Twitter
• Blogger
• Facebook
• Linked in
• Myspace

Now, if you’re online, I doubt you’ve managed to exist without knowing about one or more of these sites, but from a business perspective, what’s their use?

We’ll go through each quickly, but there’s some general pros and cons that cover them all:

• Greater access to customers in a non-invasive, opt in (ie the person says they want to get your twitter updates or read your blog etc)
• Using these sites allows you to put a more human face on a business
• Almost all of these sites don’t cost anything (except your time) to use

• These sites demand time. I know people who invest upwards of an hour on social network sites every day (I don’t – but it does take time)
• Like a website, if you don’t update and keep things fresh on social networking sites there isn’t much point

It’s the latest and the greatest if you listen to celebs like Ashton Kutcher @aplusk (putting the @ symbol in twitter speak means that you can find Ashton at www.twitter.com/aplusk) or Ellen @TheEllenShow who are all raving about it. In short, Twitter (www.twitter.com) was built to answer the question, what are you doing? You get 140 characters to let people know what you’re up to.

From a business perspective, I use @kirstydunphey to tweet (a tweet is a post on twitter) and push traffic towards my blog (more about blogs later), to promote listings (with my real estate hat on) and to stay in touch.

Some tweeters to check out from a business perspective include:
@zappos – Zappos CEO (service oriented online shoe store in the States)
@miafreedman – former Cosmo editor and current author and blogger
@Rove1974 – TVs Rove McManus
@ThisIsSethsBlog – Seth Godin, author and blogger

Facebook / Myspace
I’ll lump these two together because they’re really similar. Myspace used to be all the rage and in the last two years it’s become more about facebook. I maintain a presence on both, but if you’re strapped for time then it’s more likely that you’ll go with myspace if you target a younger key demographic (say 10 – 19 year olds) and facebook if you’re targeting an older demo.

Both sites allow you to connect with friends (facebook prefer you connect with people you know, whereas myspace don’t care with people often having thousands of friends they’ve never “met” outside of myspace). Graphically facebook is a little cleaner while myspace allows you to customise your profile a lot more.

Secure wise, I allow anyone to access my myspace page (www.myspace.com/kirstydunphey) because I don’t use it for anything personal. Myspace is just about business for me in terms of driving traffic towards my blog and books and keeping people updated about my businesses. Facebook on the other hand I actually use to connect with my friends so I’ve tweaked my security so that the general public can’t see much about my personal side, only really the basics and my status updates (like a tweet but for facebook).

Facebook has another great functionality though where it allows you to start groups and fan pages. We have a fan page for all our businesses and it allows others to become “fans” and show that they love the business on their profiles. It’s all just basic free marketing.

Linked In
www.LinkedIn.com is like facebook but for business connections. A fabulous tool if used properly you upload your business / resume history and find people you know (the same as facebook), but from there, say you want to get in contact with an exec at IBM or any company, you can find out how, through your network you know that person. It might be that you’re 4 degrees of separation away (ie: you know someone, who knows someone, who knows… you get the picture) but linked in will allow you to trace that relationship to get in contact with that person. Another handy functionality is the ability to write referrals / testimonials about people you’ve worked with.

I use google’s free blogging site www.blogger.com to run all my blogs, but there are plenty to choose from. Blogging allows you to post online articles which can then be indexed and searched by web engines such as google. It’s a great way to increase credibility, drive traffic to your website and to give the world more of an insight into your business. Our real estate agency uses one (www.elephantproperty.com.au/blog) so that we can update people on our market, the economic conditions and what’s going on in property generally. People can then subscribe to get your blog updates delivered to their inbox (like a newsletter, only you don’t have to go to the trouble of making it and emailing it) and you can also subscribe to blogs you like reading, or a reader can simply come back to the website when they want to find out more.

Phew, the conclusion

So that’s basically it on the social networking sites I use for business. There’s a few more you may want to check out, but my advise is as follows.
• Don’t do everything! You still need time to run your business.
• Find out what works for you by employing simple and free google analytics on your website so that you can see where your traffic is coming from (if you’re tweeting like a crazy person plugging your blog, but no one is visiting, then maybe it’s not working for you)
• Utilise tools like www.ping.fm which will allow you to update your status simultaneously at all your sites so you don’t have to log into them all
• Link to your social networking on your website (see www.threadless.com for a great example of how to do this)
• And remember, if you don’t intend to update these sites, don’t bother! You’d do better to concentrate on more traditional marketing.

Now... off to post this article as a blog on blogger.com and then use ping.fm to update my status on linkedin, twitter, facebook and myspace to point to it!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Friday, August 7, 2009

Memorisation vs Internalisation

I had lunch a few weeks ago at a great little restaurant. Our waiter was very well spoken his restaurant patter flowed from his tongue like poetry.

Until that is, we started talking back. Whenever we interrupted his well prepared dialogue he stammered, blinked wildly and then went back to his script as though we’d said nothing at all.

He’d memorised what he was meant to say beautifully, but he hadn’t internalised it at all and as such, if we didn’t say our lines perfectly, he was thrown. Unfortunately no-one had given us a script for eating lunch!

I’ve written before on the fact that I love scripts and dialogues. I love it that when I call my hairdresser they answer the phone “how can I make your day” I love that many Harcourts offices answer the phone “it’s a great day at Harcourts”. That’s memorisation, but when you ask someone what the company’s all about. They can memorise your mission statement or you company profile and repeat it verbatim, or they can have internalised that information so that they can speak conversationally about it (with interjections) and not be thrown.

Memorisation’s a great start, but internalisation and be able to interject a scrip with a personality is key.

Many thanks to Rob Morton from the Disney Institute www.disneyinstitute.com for reminding me what an important topic this is in a recent speech of his.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

What to look for in a coach

I agree that the best tennis coach in the world doesn’t have to have Roger Federer’s skills on the court. I agree that the best swimming coach in Australia doesn’t have to be Stephanie Rice in the water.

BUT, if you’re going to get a coach or an advisor in the area of money, health or happiness I think they have to have proven their ability on themselves first.

I personally wouldn’t want to go a business coach who’s never run a business. I wouldn’t invest my money with someone who doesn’t invest themselves and who hasn’t shown a past ability. I also couldn’t take health advice as seriously from someone who wasn’t practising healthy behaviour.

These days you can be come a life, business or wellness coach by way of franchise or by simply putting out a sign that says that you are one and I think it’s crazy.

Be careful who you put your trust in. Ask questions. Be assertive. And as always, if someone presents you with an offer that’s too good to be true, it probably is!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buy Fast, Buy Cheap, Buy Now?

I’ve just spent the better part of the morning marvelling at the ridiculously low prices that you can get real estate in the United States for at the moment. Case in a point, a 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 3 storey brick home just sold for $7,102 USD in front of my eyes in an online auction.

I get so many emails at the moment from investors keen to grab their $7,102 investment property in the States sight unseen thinking it’ll be a gold mine for them as prices eventually go up and the rent will cover the teeny tiny mortgage in the meantime.

“Caveat emptor” is Latin for “buyer beware” and it’s my motto when buying any piece of real estate for investment or otherwise. Whether the property is in the States or 3 hours away in Australia, regardless of the price I still advise you to go through a lengthy research process including:

• Finding out what the street and suburb are like. What are homes of similar quality renting for in the area? Have you had an independent property manager (ie: not someone working for the company selling it) go and give you a rental estimate? How long are properties taking to rent in that area?
• Is the home even rentable in its current state? What repairs need doing? Have you had a building inspector look at he property?
• If you’re looking in the States, what back taxes are owing, are you buying the property outright or taking on debt from the previous owners? Are you buying through a legitimate source? Also check out www.zillow.com for some great info on neighbouring properties.
• Have you made contact with a good (no, great!) property manager to look after the property for you?
• Do you have someone looking after your legal interest and making sure that any contract you sign protects you adequately?

And please please please consider going to visit the property before buying it. A few hours on a plane gives you an opportunity to see the neighbourhood for yourself, to view similar rental properties, to chat to neighbours and so much more.

By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Friday, July 24, 2009

In all honesty… I hate my boss!

At 18 I received some of the best life and “interview advice” from my boss at the time Nick. I was interviewing with him and he asked me about where I was working at the time. I proceeded to tell him I couldn’t wait to get away from the place because I really was having issues with the boss.

Now, even though these issues were justified (a death threat is a justified issue right?) Nick sat me down after I got the job and explained to me that a future boss doesn’t want to hear about your issues with your current boss.

This was one of many lessons he taught me during the time I studied while working with him. Another one that stuck with me was when you start a sentence with “In all honesty…” you’re inviting the person you’re talking to think that you’re not speaking with honesty at other times.

I was reminded of these lessons when chatting with a friend recently who was having an issue with her boss. They didn’t appreciate her. They didn’t respect the work she put in. They took her for granted. No death threats here which is a great start! But it got me to thinking I’d had a similar discussion with her about her previous boss, and the one before that, and the one before that.

When a pattern like that emerges, where you’ve been at odds with every boss you’ve ever worked for, maybe it’s time to look internally instead of continuing to push the blame outwards?

There are great bosses out there and of course really average ones, but if you’re always looking for flaws instead of appreciate opportunities you’ll always have a martyr complex and be wondering why you’re not being fully appreciated. Who knows, given the economy (I was told just this weekend that 500,000 people in the States are losing jobs each month!), you could turn your feelings around and start appreciating your boss for the very fact that you have a job right now.

So, wrapping up and in all honesty… er I mean with as much honesty as I always write:
• If you can’t stand more than 60% of your current / previous bosses and managers, maybe it’s you.
• If you can’t stand your current boss but aren’t going to leave, try and change your attitude by realizing how lucky you are to simply have a job at the moment and consider what you can do to make the attitude more positive.
• If you’re getting death threats, leave your place of employment, but keep it to yourself in future job interviews!

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Monday, July 20, 2009


I’ve just arrived back from a 4 week holiday today to receive a great email from www.kiva.org telling me that I have enough credit to loan back some of the money I’ve already loaned to micro entrepreneurs.

That’s the awesome thing about Kiva. You can make some initial loans (of $25 USD) and then as those people pay the money back you can keep lending it, or if you need to, you can withdraw the money. I’ve never had any other charitable type donation give the money back to me or allow me to keep reloaning it!!!

Happy to have sent some money towards a group of 9 women in Ghana today through our lending team.

Added bonus of Kiva: it helps with your geography, now exactly where is Ghana…

I highly encourage you to go check out the site today www.kiva.org and make your own micro loan to an entrepreneur who needs it.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Blind Obedience

I’m not sure I could ever be in the military as my father was. Blind obedience doesn’t sit well with me, and yet it’s a way of life and a vital tool for survival in the military.

In a business environment however, I think that blind obedience only hamstrings an organisation.

Any manager who expects and wants blind obedience is really just saying they want to constrict the growth of an organisation.

There’s a huge difference between respect and blind obedience.

• Blind obedience keeps on doing something even when it knows there’s a better way.

• Respect, says “have we ever thought about adding / changing…”

And while there’s a huge difference between respect and blind obedience there are also miles between respect and disrespect.

• Respect says “I’ve been thinking, what if we tried…” and clearly and concisely states their point for their manager.

• Disrespect says “That’s stupid and inefficient” either to their manager’s face or behind their back or continues to press their point long after their manager has considered it and decided to go in another direction

The problem? So many employees think that what their manager wants is blind obedience. The secret? The best managers want your input. They want you to help your organisation get better. When you improve something, everyone benefits and you make your manager look better. They may not always take your advice, or move in your direction (as a manger that’s their choice), but done respectfully it will always be of benefit.

Tweak your communication so it’s always respectful and always helpful and you’ll soon see that a first class manager will welcome your suggestions.

What to do if you have a manager who isn’t first class and who only wants blind obedience? Firstly, find out if this is the case or if you just assume it is (have a coffee with them and try them out on one piece of feedback, ask how they like feedback delivered). If you’re positive that they only want blind obedience my advice is: fall into line (but keep your eyes open for a different manager or mentor - you deserve better).

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, July 10, 2009

Are You Creating The Magic?

I have a budgie named Walt (Walt Disney), I honeymooned at Disneyland, I’ve written articles and more about them. You could say I’m a crazy Disney fan. Why? Because of the magic. Walt Disney wasn’t perfect, but he did try to distil a little bit of magic back into the lives of the people who interacted with a Disney product.

I’d like to think that while Walt isn’t still with us (the man, not the budgie), that spirit of creating magic still is.

I feel it when I walk into a Build a Bear store where they create a retail experience like no other where you actually make your own teddy bear complete with the ritual that goes along with giving you bear true heart.

The magic was there at a character filled and people packed restaurant I once went to in Texas. There were around 8 of us dining on a huge round table and when it was time for our meals, 8 waiters all stood behind us and in unison placed our plates in front of us.

Magic surges from the website at Toms Shoes www.tomsshoes.com where you know that for each pair of shoes you purchase they also donate one to a child in need.

What are you doing to create the magic in your life?

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Important Is… ?

One of the most read articles I’ve ever written was on “Killer Customer Surveys” – however it’s just been brought to my attention that I’ve missed a vital part of it.

Now that it’s been pointed out to me – it’s so clear!

Let’s say for example, you’re asking people to rate your:

• Website
• Customer service
• Newspaper advertising
• Phone manner

You get an average rating of 9/10 for website and newspaper advertising and a 7/10 for customer service and phone manner.

Most businesses would be fairly happy with this overall average of 8.

BUT – what if you add an extra portion to your customer survey’s that also asks them to rate how important each of those items are to you.

From there you may get a totally different picture.

What if people still love your website and newspaper advertising but it’s not at all important to them. The customer service may be all the client cares about – and rates this as VERY important – and you’re only getting an average of 7 in this area. The 9’s you’re getting on the other two items which aren’t important then don’t contribute to an overall rating of 8 – they’re simply not important.

One simple addition to your survey could shed a whole new light on your customer’s wants and needs.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Different much?

I like to be first in… with my Christmas cards that is. I send them mid to late November and I like the emails I get proudly proclaiming that I was that person’s first card of the season. I’ve done this for the past few years and it’s my way of differentiating my cards from the mass of cards that always arrive from about the 10th of December onwards.

But, I’ve been trumped this year.

Lonely but spectacular, the last card I have left from the recent holiday period sits magnetized to my fridge. All the Christmas cards I received have long gone, as has every Seasons Greetings. The last one standing however is a card I received early in the new year. It’s a Happy New Years card and I’m proud to say it’s the first one I’ve ever received. The savvy entrepreneur Susan Henshaw who mailed it to me has found her own way of being different, unique and remembered.

Speaking of being remembered… did you hear about Sam Cawthorn’s recent visit to meet the Prime Minister for the Young Australian of the Year awards?

Sam’s a fabulous speaker and trainer who was involved in a horrific car accident and had his right arm amputated. When he met the Prime Minister of Australia, on a dare from his daughter, he unscrewed his hand so that it actually came off when the Prime Minister shook it!

Sam didn’t win Young Australian of the Year for Australia, but by being different (with a sense of humour) he actually ended up with world wide media coverage (just google Sam Cawthorn Kevin Rudd to see exactly how far the story ran!)

It doesn’t take much to be different, but being different means being remembered, it means standing out, it means people will talk about you and the services you offer. I think it’s the simplest marketing out there! Here’s to a very different 2009 for all of us!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, June 11, 2009

998 business ideas, yours for the taking

Just to prove that you really can find anything on the internet if you just know the right place to look:


998 different business ideas contributed from 9 fine young business minds (well Seth Godin thought so), and heaps more in the comments, and while 789 isn’t much of a winner… there’s some awesome content in here even if it does nothing but spark your imagination and creativity.

My other favourite places to find “anything”:

• Another Seth Godin creation: www.squidoo.com – a lens on anything
www.wikipedia.org – wiki your way to untold knowledge
http://scholar.google.com/ - Google scholar, essential for those university types out there looking for references
www.threadless.com – any t-shirt (well, almost)
www.twitter.com – for any amount of ramblings
www.reallysold.com – any real estate advertising phrase (and any shameless plug for writer’s own product)
www.facebook.com – for any old friend you thought you’d never hear from again (and a few stalkers you never knew you had)
www.99designs.com – any logo designed for you in ridiculously quick time
www.kiva.org – any aspiring micro-entrepreneur in a third world country waiting for you to assist
www.etsy.com – any handmade item for you to purchase

With so much information out there – the excuse of I can’t think up a business idea, or I can’t find a creative gift, or I don’t know how to find that information really just don’t cut it anymore.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Grab ‘em by the balls or kick ‘em in the balls (or 8 ways to open a speech: 4 that rock and 4 that suck)

You’re palms are sweating. You’ve spent the last 10 days preparing this speech and you know every point inside and out. Your power point presentation doesn’t suck. You manage to stop your knees from knocking. You look smoking hot (hotter still because the audience can’t see the huge knot forming in your stomach).

You get to the podium and you start your speech.

How you open that speech and what you say in that first minute will either entice and engage (or more crassly grab ‘em by the balls) or alienate and stagnate (kick ‘em in the balls) your audience.

4 sucky ways to open

1. ZZZ out. “My name is Brad Jones, thank you for having me here”. Your audience thinks: nothing. It’s unexciting, unimaginative and unnecessary. You’ve just wasted your best chance to make an impact.

2. Lame out. “I flew in this morning and man my arms hurt”. A weak joke or a lame cliché is a one way ticket to rolling eyes and stifled (or not stifled) yawns.

3. Freak out. By telling the audience you’re nervous. As a speaker, I’ve done this myself, even mistakenly thought it was endearing at times, but after your first 3 speeches, kick it from your repertoire immediately. Fake your confidence until you’ve spoken enough to have it for real.

4. Zone out. Looking at your notes. Even if you can’t remember your whole speech, you can for darn sure remember the opening sentence. Make eye contact during that first moment for a much more memorable entrance.

4 rocking ways to open

1. Shock ‘em. I sat on a panel once at a high school and delivered what I thought was a great little speech. Also sitting on the panel were respected sports people, politicians and a who’s who of my local area. I had no idea who the last person on the panel was however. Her opening: “Hi, my name’s Janice and I’m a hairy legged lesbian”. Total silence for about 3 seconds, and then the room went crazy. She had the audience in the palm of her hand, every other speaker including myself was forgotten and she was mobbed like a celebrity at the end of the talk.

2. Question ‘em. I love to open my speeches with a question, something to get the audience thinking about your topic immediately. I’ll often go with “ when you were 5 years old what did you want to be when you grew up?” Depending on the audience we get some laughter out of these answers to (strangest answers to date being “cat” and “fire truck”) or I can usually get a chuckle when I assure them that at 5 I was 99% convinced that I was going to be Madonna when I grew up.

3. Statistic ‘em. If you’re speaking on health and fitness you might state that statistically speaking, given the number of the people in the room X number of them will die of obesity related disease before they turn 70. Or someone talking about the importance of sleep might say that if you miss X hours of sleep it’s like being over the legal alcohol limit (so that when you pick up your kids from school it’s the same sculling 3 beers just before getting them). On this though – make sure your stats are well researched and you can back them up if you need to.

4. Story ‘em. The best speakers are all story tellers. There’s a reason reality television is the phenomenon it is today: people are interested in other people’s lives. Where possible share your own story, where it’s not relevant, find an inspiring story and share that to illustrate your point and set your mood.

And don’t be afraid to combine these. Shock them with a scary statistic. Or I typically like to question my audience and then work into a story. I’ll sometimes ask my audience who among them has had a bad day in the past month. Typically 80% of the hands in the room will go up. From there I’ll share a story about the day I met a man who’d had a really bad day Walter Mikak (www.waltermikac.com.au/) who lost both his daughters and his wife in one day in the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. After I’m done sharing part of Walter’s remarkable story and the perspective it’s given me on bad days, I’ll ask the same question again – who really has had a bad day in the past month?

So, rock ‘em, shock ‘em and blitz ‘em or freak out, lame out and zzz out: the choice is yours.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, June 5, 2009

10 ways to become an employer of choice, create staff loyalty and increase retention and engagement

So the question here is how do we whip our staff into a frenzy (as opposed to just whipping them)!

Having been a small business owner with a growing number of staff the focus on keeping them engaged, encouraging them to grow but still stay with us and finding time to run my business often felt overwhelming.

To follow are the simple, and yet at the same time not to simple top ten tactics that worked for me.

1. Communication – find ways to get your team to come to you when there’s an issue, not to whinge behind your back.

2. Create problem solvers – encourage your team to bring any problem to you, but to always bring a solution at the same time.

3. Reward fairly - based on performance, not time in the job.

4. Develop champions – who can grow into their roles and champion and action new ideas and techniques.

5. Trust – regardless of how you’ve been burnt in the past, treat your team first with trust.

6. Reward creatively – consider education rewards, family based rewards (such as dinner vouchers) and tiny rewards (such as their favourite chocolate bar) instead of just standard pay rises or bonuses

7. Involve your team – get their opinions, seek their feedback, hunt out criticism before it infects your organisation

8. Show the path – foster career drive by showing your team the career paths open to them within your organisation.

9. Listen – instead of always talking.

10. Lead by example – live in a manner consistent with what you say. It’s managing, not parenting, so “do as I say, not as I do” aint gonna cut it.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rock Star Manager: Which kind are you?

As the song so memorably says – I love Rock n’ Roll. I also love managing staff. And I really love helping managers become Rock Star Managers.

Rock Star Managers (RSM) inspire the same kind of passion and devotion in their fans (their staff) as do their musical counterparts. They have fans and their fans will follow them just about anywhere to worship, I mean work with them.

BUT! There’s the type of Rock Star Manager you want to be – and the one you don’t.

The Admirable Rock Star Manager

The Doors: This RSM respects their key players so much that they show them the doors to further career advancement – even if it means losing them to a new opportunity.

The Carpenters: RSM’s with Carpenter-like characteristics build their staff up, rather than breaking them down. The way they behave when mistakes happen empowers their staff, shows confidence in them and as such mistakes rarely repeat. This RSM always has the right managerial tool in their belt and at their disposal.

Destiny’s Child: The RSM who can inspire such a love for work in their staff that they feel as though it’s their destiny to be there. They get up happy to go to work each day feeling as though they’re making a difference.

The Beatles: The RSM who get their operation rocking along to a consistent beat and groove. There’s a synergy and things just flow.

The Avoidable Rock Star Manager

Dire Straights: Everything’s always at panic stations, the company’s always losing money and this RSM always let’s every staff member know it.

Blind Melon: Ah yes, the RSM who sees nothing, no problems, no solutions, no need for change of any kind.

Milli Vanilli: The RSM who has no idea what’s going on and is faking it until they make it. Their lip syncing faux-management is obvious to everyone except the person who put them in the job (at least for now).

Crowded House: The RSM who believes more bums on seats equals is the only way to go. Their staff are sitting on top of one another and there’s no time to manage anyone properly.

Guns and roses: The unpredictable RSM. One minute they’re crazy angry with you (guns) and the next it’s all lovey dovey (roses).

Tears for Fears: The RMS who is unprepared to be a manager and is emotionally unstable.

Counting Crows: The nitpicking manager who will count and ration every paperclip used and who micromanages their staff to death!

Rock on Rock Star!

By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Friday, May 22, 2009

Billy Joel: rockstar or business mentor?

A very cool day for me once involved me being interviewed for a half hour on a state-wide radio show. I thought it was cool for three reasons:

1. My future husband heard the interview and thought, hey I might like to meet that girl one day (he did a few weeks later and the rest is, as they say, history).
2. I got a whole heap of air time on radio! The publicity hound in me loved that.
3. I also got to program the music for the half hour.

My friends thought it was uncool for just one reason:

I got to program the music for the half hour.

You see, my choice of Billy Joel they say left a lot to be desired.

But I like Billy Joel! Is he cool? Maybe not to my friends, but I think he’s timelessly brilliant, and while I was thinking about my favourite songs I also noticed there’s some fairly relevant business lessons to be derived from some of his greatest hits too (double the Billy bonus!)

Tell her about it
When you make a mistake, own up to it straight away (hiding it only ever damages your reputation and your state of mind in the long run)

Uptown girl
How do you alter your communication style when you’re dealing with people from different social settings to you? The richest person I ever dealt with never showed it in his dress, so don’t think I’m saying that the “uptown girl’s” of the world deserve to be treated “better”. Everyone should get your respect and service, but how do you mirror or match your behaviour to best suit each client you deal with?

The longest time
Service is a marathon, not a sprint. Does your service plan continue on… for the longest time or just until you get paid?

Just the way you are
Managers – this one’s for you. How often are you praising your team for who they are, not condemning them for who you want them to be? Find our what they’re brilliant at and make sure your recognise it.

You may be right
I don’t believe the customer is always right. But I do believe that the best way to end conflict or an argument is for both parties to put themselves in the other party’s shoes and find out why they “may be right”. Understanding speeds reconciliation.

We didn’t start the fire
And one final Joel-ism not to follow to finish up with, amounting to “it’s not my problem, it’s someone else’s”. The biggest rock stars in the workplace find solutions and fix problems and don’t buck pass when the customer comes to them.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I’m confused

Why do Australia Post sell Christmas card stamps in packs of ten with only five “card only” stickers?

Why do hotels have signs up next to the scales saying “don’t weigh your luggage here” instead of just getting a set of scales to weigh luggage.

Why does every shop near a local Laundromat have a sign up saying something to the effect of “we’ve all gotten together and you can’t get change for the Laundromat at our shops”? Why not say: “change happily provided for the Laundromat with any purchase over $1” or even, shock horror just “change happily provided”?

Why did that phone guy just think it was appropriate to swear in front of my entire team in our office just then?

Why do people make so many promises such as “I’ll call you back before 4.00pm today” without so much as writing them down and then appear surprised that I’m upset that they didn’t call back by 4.00pm?

Why do so many businesses not show their opening hours on their front doors?

Why do so many businesses have email addresses like ABCstore@yahoo.com when they own the domain name www.ABCstore.com.au ?

I guess it’s like Jim Rohn says – “what’s easy to do, is also easy not to do”. So often people are looking for the next huge thing that will completely revolutionise their business without realising that the tiny things that they can change daily to make people’s lives easier could help them make the leap without them even realising it.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

What you don’t know can burn you

I’m not ourdoorsy. I’ll freely admit it. The thought of camping turns my stomach and in fact the first time I went camping when I was younger I was in hysterics when my Mum told me I couldn’t trail the extension cord for the TV out the back of my car window. Don’t even get me started on what my attitude was like when I discovered that there was no toilet at the camp site.

Strangely though, I’m married to Mr. Outdoorsy. He loves to camp and bush walk and is slowly but surely enticing me towards the outdoors life. Last weekend I even developed a tan. Ok, that’s not exactly true but I’m slightly less translucent than normal after some limited (albeit sunscreen slathered) face time with the sun while walking through Tasmania’s gorgeous Freycinet.

Knowing that I’m not one for the outdoor life I was pretty surprised by an incident that happened this weekend just gone… I became super outdoor Kirsty in just 5 seconds.

It all happened in our backyard, testing Mr. Outdoorsy’s new fire lighting flint. He hacked away at it for about a minute sending sparks everywhere but no fire was lit.

I decided (what with my ample outdoor-pedigree) I’d give it a go myself. Two gentle scrapes of the flint and a blazing fire leapt up from my pile of kindling. It was no fluke either as I proved I could firelight like a superstar on command time and time again.

Lessons I learnt from my brief foray into the outdoorsy life (even if it was just in my back yard).

1. I’m capable of doing things I would have never thought I’d have a natural aptitude for.

2. It may even be appropriate that I put in my Survivor application now. 

3. Sometimes it’s subtlety not brute force that wins the day (or lights the fire).

4. The best thing to do when you learn a new skill is to teach it to someone else (Mr. Outdoorsy is now a master himself!)

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Targeting your customers

If I walked into your business today, would you be able to look at me and know if I were in your major target demographic? Sure, I doubt you’d turn down my sale if I wasn’t in your target demo, but would you know if your marketing was specifically designed to bring me and my wallet into your business.

Gone are the days when your “target client” was anyone with money (in fact did those days ever exist?) but today I want to have a little look at specifically targeting one gender as your target demographic.

Now before anyone gets up in arms about sexism, please remember businesses have been doing this for years. While I’m sure many men like the look of a female leg in a heel, Jimmy Choos aren’t marketing to the boyfriends, they’re marketing to their consumer, the women. Or look at the “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined” Hooters or doll creation company Friends 2 B Made, they’re obviously not trying to attract every type of clientele either.

And if the literary world tells us that men are from Mars and women can’t read maps how do you market to just one gender appropriately and effectively.

First, we have to realise that men and women are different (thanks to legendary blogger Guy Kawasaki (link http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2008/07/how-women-work.html) for this info):

“…men have 6.5 times more gray matter than women. Women have 10 times more white matter. Gray matter is for processing centers. White matter is for creating connections between processes so that people can see and process patterns.”

So let’s have a little look at how two unlikely new businesses online are conducting their gender specific marketing:

Firstly: http://www.husbandhero.com/
This site will email your husband once a month giving him ideas on what he can do to be more romantic such as hiding fresh flowers around your house for not one but five days in a row. Can we all say awww…

I don’t know about how my husband would feel if I signed him to start receiving emails (this is an option on the site for harried wives out there). The first email going to my hubby would tell him that the site is to him what the utility belt is to Batman. Knowing my hubby he’d probably just prefer to go see the new Batman flick.

As of today my favourite new gender biased product online is http://www.manlymancandlecompany.com/

Described modestly on their website as “Quite possibly the world’s most perfect product. Ever.”: The Manly Man Candle Company sells manly-scented candles in flavours such as leather, hunting lodge, coffee, yard work, grandma’s cooking and my favourite: Sports Injury: Now you can smell like a professional athlete without the pain and suffering!

New flavours surely to come soon: “Socks after an hour at the gym” and “Trust me this t-shirt is fine to wear, I just smelt the armpit.”

You can’t get all the customers, so do you know who you’re after?

By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My hero of the day: Sarah Breedlove Walker

I’d never heard of Sarah Breedlove before today. I saw a small tag line on an email saying that she was the first “millionairess” in the world after developing the hair straightener. I had to know more. Upon delving further I found out the following which continued to blow my mind:

• Sarah was born to freed slaves in Louisiana, USA in 1867
• Married at 14, she was orphaned and widowed by the age of 20
• Upon retirement Sarah built a house beside tycoon J.D. Rockerfeller
• The Guinness Book of Records lists Sarah Breedlove as the first female (black or white) who became a millionaire by her own achievements

In her own words: “There is no royal, flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard.”

After watching the recent election in America many people across the world are amazed to see what someone of African American descent is able to do right now. How phenomenal is it to then consider what Sarah Breedlove Walker was able to accomplish as a female African American, over a hundred years ago.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Forward to the future

I’ve always loved the Back the Future trilogy. There was something so very exciting about watching them in the 80’s (something that had next to nothing to do with my crush on Alex P. Keaton.

Kids flying around on hoverboards, cars that flew and used garbage to create a nuclear reaction, video games you played only with your mind.

We’re now living in “Back to the Future”’s future and I must admit I’m pretty astonished at what the internet can allow us to do.

I just bought a friend the gift of giving literacy classes in Cambodia as his birthday present It took me less than 3 minutes.

In New York a boy saw an intriguing girl in the subway. He was too shy to talk to her, but upon regretting it he made a website with a drawing of her and actually tracked her down and they ended up dating!

A guy traded one red paperclip for a house using the internet to find potential traders.

And while I don’t yet have a hoverboard if the internet can do all this I’m not giving up hope on that yet either!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crazy about the clean: why did you get referred?

In chatting about the ancient art of tattooing recently (no, I’m not game enough to have any, but yes, I find them fascinating) I was surprised to hear my husband of all people highly recommending a particular tattoo artist.

Given my husband’s tattoo free stance I was surprised that he would recommend anyone and was keen to find out what was so amazing about this artist’s work. Turns out however that my husband wasn’t referring him based on his work but on the fact that when a friend of his tried to enter the premises with shoes on he was told to leave and the floor was immediately mopped where he’d walked. The commitment to maintaining a sterile environment had impacted on the person getting the tattoo so much that he had then told it to who knows how many people and that story had impacted on my husband enough for him to pass on the artist’s name.

It’s an unusual referral chain! Who’d have thought a tattoo artist would be getting referred because he was crazy about the clean? I certainly wouldn’t have, but his passion for sterility made such an impact that it’s become a little bit like urban legend and inspires confidence in respect to safety to those that hear about the story.

It got me thinking that you might not always know why people refer you: I’ve heard home owners refer builders because they took the time to clean up their work site at the end of each day and one of my uni lecturers loved telling the class that he flew Singapore airlines because they always have the “prettiest” cabin crew.

Or why people don’t refer you: I’ve heard an irate friend tell people not to shop at a local grocery store because they rudely refused a $20 note when she was shopping for something that cost less than $5.

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

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