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, December 23, 2010

Some people get it…

Some people get it… like the staff at Faull’s shoe shop here in Launceston where I just bought a fabulous new pair of shoes. While I was in there I pointed out my badly scuffed, but well loved red leather boots (my staple this past winter). They organised some shoe polish for me to purchase as well. The lady helping me out then came out with some polish on a cloth to “test the colour” and proceeded to re-redden both my boots. Service – they get it.

Some people don’t get it… like the café I sat in for around 40 minutes when 4 of the 6 total customers asked for gluten free options and were told by the owner of the business that the café only had one. Listening to their customers – they didn’t get it.

Some people get it big time… like the Atrium café, also here in Launceston who when they discovered they’d taken a little longer than their usual standard time to deliver a coffee to my friend and I the other day brought out two complimentary little tasty treats. When I questioned whether they were gluten free (my friend has an intolerance) we were presented with a further treat – at no cost – that was gluten free. Turning a problem into an opportunity – they get it.

Do you get it?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Mess Or A System?

If you walked in the front door of my house, on certain days, you'd probably step right on top of my car keys placed carefully on the floor deliberately in the way.

What a mess you might instantly think - but no, you're walking straight into a system of mine.

You see, awhile back I had this terrible habit of putting my clothes in the washing machine, turning it on and forgetting about it. Hours, sometimes even days, would pass before I'd realise my mistake. An embarrassing confession – but true nonetheless.

After having my clothes colours run together one too many times I knew I needed a system. At first I started leaving my downstairs light on but my eco-friendly side didn't like this. Then I started leaving my keys in front of the door.

I'd see them as I walked around the house and remember to remove my clothes. This worked beautifully except for the few times my extremely helpful husband decided to put my keys "where they belong" without telling me.

Now, clearly I'm not suggesting you all start leaving keys on the floor (I'm sure most of you probably don't even have this same particular problem as me) but it's a simple illustration of the implementation of a system.

* Step 1. Have a problem (in this case, not remembering my clothes were in the washing machine).

* Step 2. Come up with a solution (leaving the light on).

* Step 3. Work the solution and amend if necessary (changed system to keys).

* Step 4. Remember to let people know the system (letting my husband know so that he wouldn't mess with my system!).

* Step 5. Go back to step 3 as often as is necessary.

This five step process is exactly the same simple one that I use for implementing systems in the workplace. Now... I'm off to implement a system that stops me turning the bath on and getting distracted (yes, I've had a few floods!).

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 4 comments

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A few of my favourite people...

These are a few of my favourite people who, this year, kindly donated blood on behalf (at 7 months pregnant I've been out of the donating loop for a while!)

Cassandra, Lauren, Janelle and Anna - you're all rock stars to me!

Kirsty




By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Where’s your sticker?

Here’s a classic example of motivation gone wrong - a big Australian company that once placed large stickers on employee’s desks declaring them “not competent” (as told to me by a friend and ex-employee of the company).

Now, while most of us could look at this example and clearly see that it’s not going to do much for motivation, as a leader in your organisation, do you recognise when you’re doing this in other, subtler ways?

I know I don’t always.

A criticism might slip from my lips in front of the whole office when it could have been delivered directly to the person in question in private.

A well-deserved opportunity for praise may pass unnoticed, despite feeling great appreciation.

A hastily typed email may not convey the jovial tone in which a comment was meant in your head.

Now, you wouldn’t go and slap a “not competent” sticker on an employee’s desk – but are you a good enough leader to recognise if you just slammed a virtual one down in their inbox or mentally imprinted it on their forehead?

And more importantly, can you adjust the behavior for next time?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Your boss knows…

Your boss knows when you stay later at work to finish important tasks by the time stamp on your emails.

Your boss knows when you’re getting through a huge workload by the state of your desk, the empty in tray and compliments they receive about you from other team members.

Your boss knows you’re ready for more when you can get through your current workload efficiently and effectively and you start asking for more development, more responsibility and the training to take on more tasks.

Whether they mention it immediately or not a good boss sees what you’re up to and takes an internal note of it.

They’ll remember it when it’s time for internal promotions, reviews and appraisals.

IF – you’re putting in that extra effort.

IF - you’re showing initiative.

IF – you’re getting through your workload and looking for more responsibility.

IF – you’re showing value.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preferred Future Friday

Over a lunch with a girlfriend this past weekend she told me about an inspiring friend of hers.

While I've never met him, he has inspired me as well and hopefully can do the same for a few of you.

In short, this friend of a friend, works in IT Monday through Thursday of every week. It used to be Monday to Friday - but at some stage he realised that his real passion was actually in producing music.

So now, every Friday, he no longer works in IT, dropping back to 4 days a week so that for that one day a week he can work on his passion - what he calls his "Preferred Future Friday".

He had the guts to lower his salary, step out of his comfort zone and work every Friday on what he'd like to be doing each and every day in his ideal future.

And what was my girlfriend doing last Friday night? She was at a record launch for an album her inspirational friend produced.

What's your preferred future and how are you working towards it?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, October 11, 2010

Who Do You Trust?

Family members, friends, colleagues? What organizations, businesses, companies have your trust?

What level of trust do these people and groups of people have?

Would you leave your child with them? Would you trust them to keep secret the most juicy piece of gossip? Would you trust them to sell your largest asset?

Have they always had your trust or have they had to prove they were worthy of it?

In a business sense – who trusts you?

Would your boss or workmates trust you with sensitive information?

Are you the type of person people know can be relied upon to get a job done?

Do your clients trust you (really trust you) or do they simply deal with you?

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tears of a Turtle

Zooming through the Amazon in Peru on the way to our eco lodge our amazing guide Luis stopped the boat every now and then to point out some of the fascinating wildlife.

A cayman (a sort of a small crocodile) basking on the bank, a family of capybaras (squat wombat sized rodents) nestled nibbling away at food, birds galore and what would soon become my hands down favourites – small turtles stacked unmoving on logs.

When handed Luis’ binoculars we all noticed the most beautiful thing. Surrounding each of the turtles were beautifully coloured butterflies. This on it’s own was stunning enough, but then we were told that the butterflies and turtles have a symbiotic relationship.

The butterflies drink the turtle’s tears and get vital nutrients from doing so all the while cleaning the turtle’s eyes.

It was an amazing and unexpected synergy and a partnership you’d never predict unless you saw it happening.

If you’re the turtle – who in the business world out there could be your unexpected butterfly?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, September 20, 2010

To blog or not to blog, that is the question…

I’m often asked my opinion about corporate and personal blogs, both in regards to their effectiveness and how I find the time to write them.

I’m a big fan of blogging, starting my first blog oh so creatively entitled Kirsty’s thought of the day, when I was in University (I have no idea if anyone actually read it – but I enjoyed myself!)

As far as finding the time for a blog goes – well, if that’s going to be an issue, I’d recommend scrapping the idea of a personal blog. If you don’t have the time to update a blog preferably at least weekly, there might not be much of a point to doing one.

BUT – you might still want to consider a corporate blog.

Most people write corporate blogs without even knowing they’re doing so, they just never take the time to actually turn their valuable content into a blog (ie: a searchable resource for your company). Every time you answer a query to a client, you could potentially re-word it as a frequently asked question style blog. I did just this myself this morning at our real estate agency Elephant Property. I’d sent an email out to all our owners yesterday with some common tax-time queries and realized this morning that with a few tweaks this could easily be reworded in about 2 minutes to be a corporate blog. Voila – blogging done for the week.

If you’re running short on topics for your blogs sit down in your team meeting and task everyone with answering two commonly asked questions about your industry. When we run short on topic ideas I might email a friend who deals with someone in our industry in another state and find out how their service provider is going or what queries they have in general about our industry. Blog topics abounds.

And while I’m a huge fan of blogging – it’s not without it’s perils. I’ve had my wrist spanked on more than a few occasions for unknowingly committing cardinal blogging sins.

Two of these that pop to mind straight away are:

1. Reposting my blogs on another site and then, because I hadn’t been notified of comments on those blog posts, not replying to them. Queue angry people thinking I was quite rude (bad blogging etiquette) by not replying to their questions and comments.

2. I have a policy that if I’m writing a blog that mentions a type of behaviour that I have found a bit poor service wise – I don’t mention the organization – personal choice. However, just recently I mentioned an amazing organization in a blog about poor service from a separate organization. It wasn’t done with malice, but it was poor form and I ended up giving myself quite a hard time over doing it without thinking.

So – if you are going to blog, be prepared to make some mistakes along the way and the very point of having a blog is that you’re open for public comment – and at times, people aren’t always going to like what you’re writing. If you’re prepared to accept that… why not get started writing your blog today?

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, September 6, 2010

Standing Out or Blending In?

A new real estate agent has recently opened in my home state of Tasmania called Buzz Property (buzzproperty.com.au/) Their logo / branding and photos are super-hero-esque with one of their team ripping open his shirt to reveal the Buzz logo underneath.

I had a giggle when I saw the advert, which then made me look up their website, which then made me tweet (@kirstydunphey) about it.

For whatever reason – their branding stood out and caught my eye and made me talk about it. It was the same thing when Fruit Property (www.fruitproperty.com), also in Hobart opened. I like to think we had the same impact with our branding for Elephant Property (www.elephantproperty.com.au/).

These days when you’re thinking up a name and setting your branding for your new business you’ve got a few choices. Using real estate agents as examples (although of course these relate to any industry): you can choose a branding and a name to convey:

* Respectability, stability and that of being an established company (like www.corkhill.com.au established through their branding)

* Innovation, freshness (like: www.fruitproperty.com and our company www.elephantproperty.com.au)

* A real desire to shock and get people talking like Buzz above (it’s important to note though that I’ve encountered some people who really don’t like their branding – but you run that risk when you choose to be this innovative!)

* A known brand like Harcourts, Ray White, McGrath etc whereby you’re leveraging on the reputation that brand or name has already built.

* Your own personal name – but bear in mind the difficulties you may encounter selling that “brand” / business later on.

For me – I like a name and branding that gets me talking – so I’m all for Buzz’s new branding and I wish them every success with their attempt to break into Hobart’s competitive real estate market.

Thanks to Tony McCombs who let us know about this great TED video on the power if BOTH standing out and blending in - a great 3 minute watch:

www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, August 23, 2010

Show You Care

I love zoos. I’m the first to suggest we visit a zoo on any trip anywhere in the world. Of course, the better the enclosures and the more life like the animal’s environs the better an experience it is for me to go along.

While in Santiago, Chile recently I was warned off going to the local zoo by almost everyone that I spoke to. Usually this would be enough for me not to go, but for some reason I found myself hiking up the hill towards the central zoo

In fairness, it didn’t look to be one of the best-funded zoos I’d ever been to (I’m spoiled by being a regular visitor to Melbourne’s amazing zoo) but I enjoyed my initial walk around and found some great local animals that were really interesting.

As we progressed we found an enclosure that housed macaws and turtles. Only one of the turtles had met with a seemingly untimely fate. It had slid down an enclosure bank, landed on it’s back and now each of its four legs and it’s tiny head and neck were lolling out, unmoving. I gasped at the sight of this poor little turtle, upside down and expired.

I wasn’t the only one who had gasped apparently as about 15 minutes later a zoo worker approached the enclosure. He was probably mid 40’s, a manly looking type in a brown zoo uniform. He entered the enclosure, picked up the turtle, inspected it and then did something fantastic.

He kissed the turtle, placed it right side up and off it wandered to resume it’s life.

The kiss was unexpected. It wasn’t for show. It was a heartfelt gesture from a zoo worker who clearly loved these animals.

I was the only person to my knowledge who saw the kiss, but I knew then instantly that regardless of how well funded the zoo was, there were people here who cared passionately.

If someone watched you do your job on a daily basis – would they get the same impression?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Monday, August 16, 2010

Are You Doing A Woody?

I’ll admit it without shame, I love the classic 80’s television show “Cheers”.

One of my favourite characters is Woody, the lovable, if a bit dopey bar tender.

In a recently watched episode Woody was asked how an acting audition of his had gone. “Excellent” he remarked, he’d said his lines faster than anybody else auditioning!

This made me laugh but also made me think back to some of my early mistakes in the workplace and to some that I’ve seen others make – with the best intentions of course.

So clearly, we can learn from Woody that faster isn’t always better. But then, in my opinion, slow perfectionism doesn’t overly benefit a workplace either. The real challenge is to find that happy medium between perfection and speed. Everyone finds it at different levels. For me – I work on about an 80 / 20 rule – get it 80% right and get it working and adjust, perfect and tweak as you go. That level works for me because I know it’ll take me at least twice as long to get something from 80% to 90% perfect without working on / in it as it will do if I get in there and adjust as I go.

For example, at Elephant Property, when a new tenant moves into a property there’s a very detailed 2 page checklist that we fill out in office which shows everything that we need to do prior to the tenant being given keys (and after!) This checklist started out as a single A4 page 18 months ago and has morphed and been added to and improved incrementally over time. Had I tried to get it to it’s current stage 18 months ago it would been impossible because I wouldn’t have learnt the lessons I know now. Could I have gotten it better before we’d started using it? Absolutely. But at what time cost?

Sure perfectionism has a place – but before you waste hours of productive time striving for perfection in everything, ask yourself if in this instance you’ll get closer to perfect by getting in and working with and on the project rather than just designing or conceptualizing.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why don’t you love me?!

One of my businesses, Elephant Property, works in the notoriously under appreciated category of residential property management. The old adage in property management is that you don’t hear anything from your clients or customers (property owners or tenants) unless something’s going wrong. I hear lots of property managers in my work as a trainer spout this or a variant thereof over and over again.

From now on – I’d like to impose a new rule.

No whinging about people not loving you, no whining about lack of client appreciation and certainly no bitching about your customer’s only calling you when something’s wrong UNLESS….

1. You’ve shown 5 people that you think they’re amazing this week. 5 EVERY week needs to be the minimum goal. If you tell 5 people they’re amazing reciprocity WILL reward you with feedback coming in the other direction.

If you get great service at a restaurant write a thank you note on the receipt or post a review on their facebook page. (http://www.facebook.com/theatriumcafe)

Use the “share” button on facebook and share a link or business that you think is fantastic. (http://www.facebook.com/SocialRabbit)

If your insurance broker does an amazing job, ask for his bosses email and let them know what a great staff member they have. (Thank you Aaron Jones at Armstrong’s Insurance)

If you call up telephone banking be polite, treat the person like they’re a human and tell them they’re doing a good job. Ok – that’s a personal one in there because my 21 year old brother is in phone banking and I know that they’re not often met with the happiest of people on the other end of the phone! (To my brother John – you rock and I love you!)

Call your Mum and thank her for doing the best job she knew how in raising you. (Mum, thanks for all the recent advice especially, you crack me up!)

Write a card of appreciate to your boss or workmate. (Megan, Bella and Mon – you are Elephant Property and I look forward to seeing your smiling faces every day)

Send a referral to a current client for whatever their line of work is. (In my case it was my plumber this week)

Thank EVERYONE who has referred you business in a memorable way (put a system in place). Our system is to reward referrers when any new owner comes to our business – thank you Novaros & Alchemy Restaurants for being two of our best ways to reward!.

2. You’ve given your clients an opportunity to praise you. Ask ALL your current clients for at least 3 points of feedback:
a. What are we doing that you like (you’ll feel instantly appreciated reading these responses – well – providing that you do a good job!)
b. What’s the most memorable thing about dealing with us (if there isn’t anything memorable – insert something!)
c. What can we improve (you can’t just get the good stuff, this question is vital).

We ask our owners to provide feedback at this simple form: www.elephantproperty.com.au/feedback.php and then we compile the answers here: www.elephantproperty.com.au/clients.php (remember to make it easy for them – our survey only takes a couple of minutes!)

3. You’re doing something worthy of praise! What’s unique about your business, what do you do that really knocks people’s socks off, what do you do that is going to make someone HAVE to tell you that you’re awesome? Good service is the price of entry- if you want people to tell you you’re fantastic do something worth talking about.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You never know who you could be talking to...

I recently spent 2 days at a great real estate conference and as I always do, I spent a good deal of time looking around the trade stands to see all the new and innovative ideas and products being offered to the real estate community.

There was one stand I was particularly interested in - so I headed over there late this afternoon and left with virtual smoke pouring from my ears.

Firstly - I had to wait a bit of time before anyone at the stall would talk to me. Not a huge concern IF the staff were busy with clients but they were talking amongst themselves.

When someone finally came over to talk to me (the inventor of the product and their managing director) he quickly informed me that this product was "for sales people" and that I was clearly "just in property management".

Now, I do have a property management business, BUT:

- I communicate with over 2,000 sales agents on a monthly basis through my various newsletters / twitter / facebook and I happily spread the word about new and innovative products I like

- Secondly - his product could easily be utilised by property managers, he just hadn't thought that far ahead

- Finally - how much business from sales people and business owners has he lost by simply assuming they're in property management (I dare say I looked even more like his definition of a stereotypical property manager when I owned a large real estate sales business!)

His initial assumptions were judgemental and annoying to me - but what's more, they've lost him potential business.

Not only could I have used his product, recommended it to sales agents and used it in my property management business, it's also a product that I could have recommended to the public at large as it's success or failure will be determined by consumer traffic.

When I pushed him further and asked questions about his product I was met with a condescending spiel about what it did.

To top off his beautiful sales pitch, despite asking what my name tag meant (I told him I'd previously spoken at the conference) he either didn't listen to me or didn't hear and ended our conversation by telling me that "If I ever get into the real estate business" I should go to his website!

My first week selling real estate my boss told me that it was extremely dangerous to judge a book by it’s cover. Over the years some of the wealthiest property owners I've come into contact with have driven up in a ute wearing stubby shorts and a bonds singlet. Some of the wealthiest business owners I've ever met are shy, unassuming and modest. Some of the people in the biggest debt and worst financial situations I've ever met drive Porsches and have all the flash labels on their clothes.

Whether it's showing the kitchen of a potential home more to the wife and the workshop to the husband without finding out more about their interests, assuming that someone can't afford your product, or even as my new "friend" did, making the completely egregious assumption that someone who is a lead has nothing to do with your industry - assume (as my corny Dad used to say) makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me".

And to end my night on a chuckle I've just gone to the website of this new product and on the top right hand corner is an option for me to "tell a friend". I think not.

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How do I get my team to think like me?

Thanks to Mick for asking me to blog on the topic of: “How do I get my team to think like me?”

My answer, blunt as it might be: You don’t want them to think like you!

20 “you’s” running around your office with the same ideas, the same view points, the same knowledge would be an absolute disaster for the creativity and innovation of your business.

You want staff who think differently to you so that you can come up with multiple solutions to problems, differing ideas on how to improve the company and, dare I say it, so that you have people who are willing to tell you when you’re wrong. (Yes – the boss is sometimes wrong and it’s a brave and vital team member who will let you know that!)

But – I think the point you’re asking about is not getting your staff to be your clones, but how to get them to understand what are the “non-negotiables” of working in your team.

I’ll go through my non-negotiables for anyone working on my team and maybe you’ll find something in there that you can incorporate:

Non-negotiables:

Mistakes are OK
So long as, if anyone (yes, including me) makes a mistake, they own up to it straight away, we fix the immediate mistake and then we put a system in place so it doesn’t happen again.

You will follow the system in place
We have a system for almost everything and you will follow that system, complete that checklist and do things in an orderly manner following the guidelines that have been set. BUT – if you see a better way to do something, we want you to tell us! Bring it up at a weekly meeting or just email me and make a suggestion. If we agree with you that it’s a better way to do things, we’ll change the procedure.

Complaints come to me
If you have an issue or a problem with the company – I want you to come to me. I don’t want to see it blabbed on twitter or facebook – I want you to say, hey, I have an issue with this and I’m giving you a chance to fix it.

Agreement isn’t guaranteed
I may not always agree with you – but I’ll always listen to you.

Come with the solution
Don’t just come to me with the problem. Bring one or more potential solutions as well.

There’s a time and a place
The time for bringing up issues with systems or the “way things are done” isn’t in front of a client. It isn’t in front of anyone actually. It’s one to one to your manager.

Whatever your non-negotiables are – you need to clearly voice them to your team so that they know that while you don’t want Mick-clones you do want respectful obedience and helpful suggestions on how to make the team better in the long term.

Hope that helps!

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, July 2, 2010

Motivation Made Easy

I’m a pretty motivated person. Often I’ll get asked how I got “so motivated” and how I “maintain it”.

These sorts of questions usually leave me a bit stumped.

Motivation is a really fluid thing. I think that anyone that tells you they’re motivated 100% of the time is probably lying or is probably a bloody nightmare to be around.

There are times when I’m really motivated to eat take away Indian food and lay on the couch watching dodgy television – but I don’t think that’s the type of motivation I’m being questioned about!

To me however, motivation stems from three main areas of your life:

Like the Flu…
Motivation can be “caught” from those around you. Who are you hanging out with? Do you feel more motivated to achieve your goals and take action after you’ve spent an evening with friends, a day with colleagues or a weekend with your family?

What you Do…
Is what you’re doing on a day to day basis uplifting you or dragging you down? “What you do” relates to your work, your hobbies and your pastimes. If a majority of what you do is getting you in a more motivational state of mind – you’re on the right track.

Stick like glue…
Ok – I was clearly struggling for a rhyme here, but what sticks like glue to you is my way of asking what you’re putting into your brain? When was the last time you read a book that put you in a more motivational state of mind. Is the type of music you listen to geeing you up or making you want to smash your face into a wall (sorry, just thinking of some music I heard yesterday coming from another car). In short: if you’re putting good stuff into your brain, there’s more likely to be motivation coming out.

I challenge you to find an unmotivated person who even fulfills two of these characteristics:

1. Hanging out with people that are motivated, positive and who take action.

2. Who is doing work they are inspired by and has hobbies / pastimes that lift them up.

3. That reads and listens to motivational information.

But remember: motivation without action gets nothing done.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How can I leave my business for a month at a time?

So, I was being organised this morning and pre-writing some of my blogs. Yes, shock horror, I don't sit down and write them each and every week - I write them when inspiration strikes and often weeks or months in advance and then my fantastic newsletter editor Megan schedules my posts on various sites and in our newsletter so that even when I'm not home - I still maintain a constant presence. To me this makes heaps more sense than trying to force write when I'm in the middle of a jungle or simply not feeling as inspired.

I know I have another 5 blogs to write so that I'm all ready to go on a month long trip to South America in a few weeks. Being a little low on inspiration this morning I thought I'd reach out through twitter and my facebook page and run a competition to get some ideas on what people wanted me to blog about in exchange for a chance to win my book.

Funnily enough - the first "entry / suggestion" was from @msmadwoman "...write about how to be so organised that you can take a month off your business and it will still run!"

Given that I'm pretty fond of taking large chunks of time away from my businesses to travel (US x 2, Malaysia, Singapore, the Caribbean, Egypt, Jordan and a fair few Aus destinations in the past 12 months) it seems like a great blog idea!

So here goes... this is how it works for me, how can I take a month of from my businesses and have them still run. Take what you want from the list and good luck on getting your month / months away soon!

1. I have partners who are there when I'm not
First and foremost I have awesome partners in my business endeavours. The most prominent are Megan and Bella at Elephant Property and Sammie at Baby Teresa. Without these guys I wouldn't have a business if I left for a few weeks, let alone months at a time. They are exceptional. For you, this might also mean having great staff as well as or instead of partners. Regardless, if you have a business that requires constant contact with people that can't be automated and that requires real brains behind it - you're going to need to have awesome people running the ship when you're not home.

2. I've found some businesses with complete leverage
Some of my businesses don't need my time at all. I write a book, record a CD or write a real estate eproduct once - I can sell it on www.unleashedknowledge.com over and over again. The real estate advertising website I started www.reallysold.com doesn't need my input at all anymore. My investment properties have sensational property managers looking after them and do not require me day to day.

3. It's the plan
When I sold my real estate agency at age 27 I knew that whatever "work" I wanted to do after that, I wanted it to be something where I could take off at a moments notice to do anything I wanted. The plan is: see the world and when I'm home work at businesses that I find fun and challenging and rewarding. The plan is not: work and then try and find time to see the world around work. The plan was also spelled out to my business partners so that it isn’t a shock when I disappear for extended periods of time. What's your plan?

4. I batch things together
When I have an idea for what to write a blog post on I'll quickly grab my iphone and email the idea to myself and then I'll sit down and write 3 or more posts at a time. I'll call through all my target clients for Elephant Property on one day a week. We write hand cards for all our clients birthdays at Elephant once a month. Multi-tasking is a farce. I'm so much more efficient doing one thing and getting it done and completed well than I am trying to concentrate on 7 things at once and half starting each of them.

5. I love a system
I'm 10 times happier if I can write a system or procedure so that I can delegate a task and know with certainty that the person I'm delegating it to can do it in an appropriate manner than I am doing it myself. As a business owner there will always be certain things I want to do myself, but I see so many business owners touting the same tired lines like "If you want a job done well, do it yourself" that it makes me feel ill. I want to delegate. I want to train our staff so that they feel confident taking on bigger and bigger roles. I want to travel for a month at a time! Our systems and procedures (that are constantly evolving) allow us to do that and mean that not only can I travel, but that I can travel and not be called or emailed for "work emergencies" and I can travel with peace of mind that things are going well back in the business.

So... that's it really. Nothing that's rocket science, but it's how it works for me.

Now - off to complete my packing list for the Inca Trail.

Happy holidays,

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ideas Are Everywhere

When you're in "the zone" (the business zone that is) there's business lessons abounds as you go through your everyday life.

The horrid service you receive at a hotel reception should signal something to you that you wouldn't want repeated in your business, or perhaps a procedure you need to implement.

The awesome service you get from your local barista could show you a way to make your first point of contact with a client sparkle.

A fabulous website you see mentioned on twitter should scream at you "do something in this vein on your site".

The dodgy post you see someone make about their boss on facebook could be a lesson on what you don't want your staff saying about you in public.

Every frustration, cringe and annoyance can signal an opportunity. Every awesome moment can signal something to tweak and implement yourself.

When was the last time you saw something out in the wild world and made a note to work it into your business?

PS - this can stretch a little too far, as it did for me one recent night while I was watching Sweeny Todd (the Tim Burton / Johnny Depp film). I had to admonish myself for marvelling at the complementary marketing / strategic alliances between the pie shop and the barbers while all the while wondering how Sweeny Todd got any repeat and referral business when he kept slaughtering his clients.... oh dear!

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Monday, June 7, 2010

It's easy enough to impress me (and most people)

Just do a little extra on top of my expectations and my previous experiences.

A hotel in Atlanta did just that on my recent stay there.

They injected more humour than I was expecting:
The gym is called "Sweat", there's a kaliedoscope in my room, their tone in all communications is fun and casual.

They were more personable than my last hotel:
Staff have been a delight right down to the cleaning staff lady who took time to greet me in a super friendly way and ask me in the hall whether everything in my room was to my satisfaction.

The little details are beyond my expectations:

The mats in the elevators that are changed so they say good morning or afternoon as appropriate.


What are your clients expectations and previous experiences of businesses of your type and are you exceeding those in any memorable ways?

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

From Strangers to Friends in a Minute or Less

This is my friend Hussein. We met in Siwa - a tiny desert oasis in the North West of Egypt.

After one meeting we went from being strangers to friends - such good friends that I insisted everyone on my group tour of Egypt went into his shop (and most did, many spending 2 or 3 times more on items we could purchase elsewhere in Egypt).

Why was I such a huge advocate of Hussein's after just one brief interaction?

He took an interest and not just in getting my business
Hussein took a real interest in getting to know me, he wanted to know about where I was from and what I was doing in this tiny town. After seconds of chatting we'd formed such a great dialogue that he insisted there would be no talk about business - and instead we'd have tea instead. Sugary delicious Egyptian tea followed and our conversation expanded.

He shared his own story
While he was born in Egypt, Hussein had lived for 32 years in the USA and was actually from the South East of Egypt originally. I found out about his wife who had sadly passed, his son who was getting married to a Swedish girl soon and about his shop. And then we drank more tea.

We found common ground
When I asked Hussein how he had ended up in tiny Siwa - he pulled out the book he's holding in this photo "1,000 places to see before you die". It was the very book I'd used in planning my trip to Egypt. On different continents and being from different generations, not to mention the other differences, this one book had still meant we were in exactly the same place at the same time. Our connection was cemented (and then of course, we had a bit more tea).

I never felt pressured
While I did end up buying from Hussein's shop he never asked me to buy. He never even asked me to look at the goods! He simply had a great interaction with me and I felt comfortable in his shop even on the 5 or so visits where I bought nothing but just came in for a chat.

It wasn't about price
I've mentioned already that Hussein's prices weren't the cheapest even in the town, let alone in Egypt. We were happy to pay more because the purpose of the purchases wasn't about getting the cheapest price. They were part of an entirely great experience, they were quality goods and as such price wasn't the determining factor.

He gave without asking
When I mentioned to Hussein that we were going sand boarding he offered me, at no cost, a sand board to take from his shop. This meant that the 6 of us who braved the dunes had 3 boards instead of 2 - which added lots more time hurtling ourselves down the sand, a great benefit to us that cost him nothing.

He thanked me for my referrals
When Hussein saw me crossing the street later on our first night in town he called out to me thanking me for sending my friends in to his shop. What did this do? Well it made me send more people to him after my dinner that night.

Now the challenge for me is to find ways I can incorporate the lessons I learned from Hussein into my every day business practices. What common ground can you find with a client today?

Disclaimer - This photo was taken after I'd spent about 8 days in the desert sleeping on the ground at times, comments about my fashion choices or how tired / dirty I look will be met with disdain.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

When are you the highlight of someone's day?

The highlight of my day today (as sad as this may be to admit it) was when our printer cartridge got returned from being refilled.

Why?

Because I know every time www.tpcc.com.au return one of our cartridges they also tape a little packet of chocolate inside the package and today I got the cartridge returned to me (which I took as carte blanche to eat the tiny chocolates all by myself).

Now, I know this is only a tiny thing, and it's not the highlight of my day every time it happens - but it always brightens my day significantly.

And what does this highlight set them back? 20c perhaps? 20c to ensure that I am ALWAYS happy to see them. 20c to guarantee that I'm always far more excited about my chocolatey treat than I am the $70 invoice that came with it.

That's a fairly good return on money spent if you ask me.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Popular... It's All About Popular

I recently went and saw (again) my favourite musical Wicked - based on the story of the witches in the Wizard of Oz.

One of my favourite songs in the musical is called Popular.

Glinda (the one you might know as the good witch) is teaching Elphaba (the green/wicked witch) how to be popular in the song. It's light hearted and witty and all together one of the most fun moments in the musical but as I sat listening to it in my car this morning (for the umpteenth time) I giggled with recognition at the following part:

When I see depressing creatures with unprepossessing features I remind them on their own behalf to think of celebrated heads of state or specially great communicators did they have brains or knowledge? don't make me laugh! They were popular! please-- it's all about popular! it's not about aptitude it's the way you're viewed so it's very shrewd to be very very popular like me!

Having worked in real estate for 16 odd years now I know it's a strange industry indeed and one where "great communicators" thrive. Where else do you walk into a stranger's home and within an hour or so get to a point where they feel so comfortable with you that they give you a key?! Now while you might not instantly think to call this "popular" I say it's a version of popular called "likeable". In real estate - as in so many other industries, if you can't be likeable you won't win the business.

It's why the most successful real estate agents don't all look the same, but all have a way of becoming likeable/popular with enough of their target demographic to earn a substantial income. Take the real estate agent I know who towers over most people at 6 foot and too many inches and is about 2 metres wide (well - almost). He compensates for this somewhat scary outer appearance by being so softly spoken and unimposing that little old ladies feel completely at ease. Take the amazing sales woman I know who could have been a model in a previous life. Rather than amplify her overtly gorgeous presentation - she dresses in a super professional manner never veering towards obvious sexiness and therefore doesn't alienate / terrify half her target demographic.

So how do you work on popular? For me - it was about working on becoming more outgoing and talkative. Naturally I'm a massive introvert. I have waitressing while I was just out of high school to thank for my take on "popular". I worked in a restaurant and quickly learned that being a wallflower wasn't going to work. As months went by I found techniques and ways to come more out of my shell and by the time I went back into real estate again at age 19 I'd learned how to put on my likeable/personable/popular/more extroverted face at work.

You'll struggle to find a course in popular - but if you're in an industry where you're trying to win business (and isn't that almost all of us?), it's an essential skill. Three ways to give yourself a home course in it:

- Study "popular" people - what makes them so likeable? how do they put people at ease? why do you and everyone else like them and want to be around them so much?
- Ask people what your most annoying habits are (ask honest people and brace yourself for the answers)
- Find a way to be likeable in your own way - ask your friends what makes you likeable and amplify that (generosity, kindness, compassion, remembering little details, being a good listener etc)

And remember... "You will be popular, just not quite as popular as .... Glinda".

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Friday, May 14, 2010

Size Shouldn't Matter...

I received some fairly ordinary customer service today and it's not the first time from this particular company. I wrote it off in my head by saying that we're only a small client of theirs and then I thought - hold on a minute. Should size matter?

I'm a client. They took on our business knowing that we weren't BHP and implicit in them taking on our business was, I believed, a promise of a certain level of service.

Here at our little business (Elephant Property), I don't care if you have one $250 a week rental property or 20 at twice that price - you'll still receive a high level of customer service and I'd be horrified if I ever heard the words "you're only a small client" ever leave one of our team member's lips.

Now sure a bigger client may receive additional extras, but there's a base level of fantastic customer service that merely being a client of any size or description qualifies you for if you deal with our business. Shouldn't that be the same at all firms? I say don't take on the small client if you can't offer them at least that.

And remember... a small client can easily become larger and a small client can recommend (or dissuade as it may be in this case many others from coming to you).

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Your Business Idea Sucks

I get pitched business ideas all the time. Some I think are great, some I wonder how many cocktails the person had before coming up with the idea, some I think are a great start looking for a unique twist and others I think downright suck.

Recently I was introduced to Fiverr by Lara Solomon (@LAROO). The simple premise of the site is that there's a whole bunch of people there who'll do things for $5. Some of them border on the bizarre (I'll be your Facebook girlfriend for a week and make all your friends jealous) but many seem, at first glance, like they could actually be useful (I'll design you a custom MySpace profile).

Long story short, I've become a bit of an overnight fan of this site, tweeting my little heart out (@kirstydunphey) about it after having purchased three different things yesterday and already receiving my first job (five photographs put on transparent backgrounds for @Baby_Teresa) done perfectly and in around an hour after I booked and paid my US$5. We'll see how my cartoon and video, currently on order, go.

My point is not to rave on about Fiverr though - despite how novel and great an idea I think it is.

My point is that if the people who started Fiverr had pitched the idea to me - I might have told them it sucked.

My first thought would be - who would do anything for $5?

And of course, I would have been wrong (check out the site to see how many people are prepared to do a wide range of things for $5!)

So the next time someone tells you your business idea sucks, tell them to bugger off! It doesn't matter if everyone doesn't "get" your idea. It matters that you see a market, it matters that you have a vision and it matters that you're prepared to get off your butt and do something about it.

PS. if the guy who started FedEx had listened to his college professor he may never have started that either.
PPS. And here's my video which has just arrived (bear in mind it only cost a fiverr!)

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

To Lunch or M-unch?

Each day most of you get a lunch break… Many will work straight through it (I know I’m guilty of this)… working straight through lunch gets you maybe an extra 40 minutes of work in your day… maybe you're a little more cranky and tired and therefore dilutes the quality of your work… maybe it also means you munch away at your lunch and don’t enjoy it (or don’t notice it’s dubious nutritional quality?)

I’m suggesting this week – instead of just munching lunch at your desk, aim to swap it at least 3 times for one of these other M-unches.

M-unch #1 – the meeting lunch. Invite someone awesome to lunch and have a scintillating conversation or learning experience.

M-unch #2 – the mastermind lunch. Grab a book and sit in a park for 40 minutes and increase your brainpower during lunch.

M-unch #3 – the movement lunch. Grab a friend and get moving. Swim or walk for 30 minutes.

M-unch #4 – the mentoring lunch. Find someone younger or less experience than you and take them out to lunch and share a bit of your experience with them. (Or if you don’t feel you’re ready to take on that yet, ask someone you value to offer their wisdom to you).

M-unch #5 – shout your Mum (or Dad – although D-unch doesn’t have quite the same ring to it) to lunch and let them know that you value the role they’ve had in making you the person you are today.

To Munch or simply Lunch? That is the question for the next week - here's hoping you can M-unch (maximise your lunch).

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 6 comments

Monday, April 19, 2010

How Do We Learn?

If my first experience eating a seafood platter is anything to go by, I can tell you for certain I learn by watching those around me.

I learned my phone technique from the fabulous people I saw around me every day when I worked on my first real estate reception at age 15 (thanks Nat and Janelle).

I learned basic web design from watching my first business partner (thanks Andrew).

I still learn every day how to be a better property manager by watching and working with 3 of the greatest (thank you Megan, Bella and Laurel).

My point... there's no point telling your team to work one way if you're going to demonstrate another in front of them. You will not have your new staff following systems correctly if your senior staff don't set the example, you will not have fearless sales people when it comes to cold calling if the culture in your office says that it's terrifying to pick up the phone and call a stranger and you will not have happy staff if you're an unhappy leader. And finally - along with observation comes the verbal side of it - coaching after the fact to correct and refine.

Oh - and back to the seafood platter. I hadn't eaten one before the age of about 19 and I really had no idea what I was doing. So rather than dig in I sat back for a few minutes and watched everyone else at the table. I saw how to handle a mussel, what to do with lobster and how to deal with fish bones.

I learned by watching.

However, being inexperienced in the world of seafood, I didn't get it exactly right just from observation (as was proven to me when I was politely told that the bowl I was dipping everything into was the finger bowl!) But after a little verbal coaching I was back on track and have never looked back.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Are The Most Valuable Commodities?

In my mind, ingenuity, the ability to be able to create something from nothing and the ability to problem solve all have to be right up the top the list.

That’s why I was so inspired by what some people online are creating out of nothing (well out of duct tape, toilet paper and garbage bags).





(both of the above made entirely from duct tape)



(both dresses made from toilet paper!



(made from a garbage bag)

If the above masterpieces can be created from household items most of us would readily throw away – what masterpieces can you create in the workplace from next to nothing to show your ingenuity and creativity?

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Friday, April 9, 2010

My New Hero (and she's only 12)

This is my new hero - she's 12 and her name is Lauren.

What she's holding up there is her Dream Board full of things she wants to do, earn, be, have invest in and go to in life.

Lauren's fabulous parents were constructing their Dream Boards when Lauren decided off her own back to head to her room and start clipping and searching and planning for her own future. She was so enthusiastic that her board was the first one completed in their house.

It's an awesome example of someone not content to life drift by them, someone who wants to reach out and create the life she wants.

Just goes to show you you're never too young to start dreaming, planning and working towards your goals. Now if she's 12 and is already a rock star at this - what's stopping you?

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Little Extra Oomph!

We recently had a little party at our office and our caterer added just a little bit of oomph that has made me since recommend them to a number of other people.

Firstly - I suggested a menu. They quoted on that but then took the time to prepare an extra special menu at their recommendation which cost no more but was far more fabulous than I had planned. Tick for initiative.

Next - Right after the event we received a request for some feedback from them with them even suggesting what they think they could have done better. Tick for caring what we thought of the event.

Finally - Without us knowing it, they took our company logo and colours (an elephant in black and pink) and hand crafted these cupcakes for our event (see photo below). Not only were they a huge hit but they were a complete surprise to us. Tick for extra oomph!

All this has prompted me to recommend them to friends and colleagues - and now to you. If you're looking for a caterer who goes the extra mile in Launceston, I highly suggest you check out The Atrium Cafe.

What are you doing in your business that has a little surprise or initiative factor that will make your clients want to recommend you far and wide?

(and PS - I don't know whether it's just me and cupcakes, but I couldn't write this blog without also mentioning Cutie Cups in Hobart - www.cutiecupcakes.com.au who went above and beyond with these personalised amazing cupcakes from our Baby Teresa launch).



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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Walk Away Or Hold ‘Em?

Quickly think of the 10 people you spend most of your time with and jot them down in any order.

Pick a person on that list at random.

If I told you that in 12 months time you’d be exhibiting more of their personality traits, emulating their success level and experiencing the type of relationships they have – how would that make you feel?

If they’re people you would love to be becoming more like – great. If they’re not?

Well in the words of the immortal Kenny Rogers “the secret to survivin’, is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep”…. “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run”.

Now – I’m not saying you have to “fold” on any family member, colleague or friend who isn’t living your dream life, but if there is someone in your close circle who gave you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you envisaged becoming more like them. Perhaps it is time to walk away and spend more time with those people who inspire you?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

How Attractive Are You?

A long-winded discussion on the weekend with friends about relationships got me thinking. My personal belief on the subject at hand that day was that being in love and being in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that you promise never to be attracted to anyone else ever again.

One of my girlfriends stated, and I agree wholeheartedly, that it’s far more flattering and far more of a sign of a great relationship if you are attracted to other people but make a conscious decision to remain committed and faithful to your partner.

I think it’s kind of the same in a business relationship. I’ve always told any sales person that was employed by us that being “courted” by another real estate agency is simply a sign that you’re doing a good job and should be a matter of course.

In fact, if you’re awesome at whatever job you do – it’s likely that at some stage you’ll get a job offer to move elsewhere.

That’s when you get to decide how strong your “relationship” with your current employer is. Have they earned your loyalty or will you be more “attracted” to the offer at hand?

Employers – what effort are you putting into nurturing your relationships with your employees? What do you think your best 3 employees would say if they were approached today by a competing firm?

Employees – it’s a two way street! What are you doing to maintain the relationship? What do you think your current employer would do to try and keep you if you said you were leaving?

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Great Valentines Day Caper

I love Valentines Day. I'll admit it - as uncool and lame as some of you will think that is, I get a real kick out of it.

This year on our make up Valentines Day (he spent the real V-Day working) I was annoying my husband by chronicling one of our adventures with a present he got for me on facebook and twitter when I suddenly realised that I wasn't just mindlessly taking photos with my iPhone, I was illustrating two really important things - and all with coloured straws.

The present, as you can see from the photo was a very groovy straw joining kit that allows you to drink out of 2 (or more I've just realised) drinks at the same time while having all the bendy fun you can handle. I'm not sure that the cute kids on the box illustrate that it should be used with cocktails, but you get the point.

The kit consisted of over 200 pieces and after tearing it open my husband and I got to work, each designing our half of the straw concoction, neither looking at each other while we worked (we were far too consumed with our design job). We only saw each others creations when we joined them at the yellow connector after we had completed them. Despite working from exactly the same pieces, our solutions were completely distinct and unique.

Mine is right hand side - all high and a symmetrical across a diagonal point. My husband's (showing his very creative brain) is like a roller coaster and is completely 3 dimensional (which didn't even occur to me).

In a work environment I've always believed that before you do a joint or group brainstorm for issues, each individual should have their own brainstorm first so that they're not influenced or biased and have an opportunity to put forward their best and most creative ideas.

Left to brainstorm this problem together we might have influenced each other and we would have missed the unique solutions to the problem each of us made on our own.

Now - off to find two more cocktails and rework an even more sophisticated straw solution!

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Universal Education

As I write this I'm kicking back after a long and fabulous day in a hotel in Amman, Jordan. The 4.55pm call to prayer has just been broadcast from the nearby striking blue mosque mirroring the one that woke me at 5am. I've spent the day practicing my Arabic while rummaging through an ancient and amazingly preserved Roman city: Jerash.

It's my first time to the middle East and I expected the trip to be my most culturally confronting yet. I'm on just my second day at the moment, but I've been more struck by the similarities than the differences so far.

Of greatest impact to me was a conversation with our driver from the airport yesterday.

He told us so much about Jordan and Amman with the highlight being the huge impact Jordanians place on education. He stated a literacy rate of 96% and told me that while Jordan wasn't an "oily" country, they pride themselves on their "brain factory". He said everyone wants to be more successful and more well educated than everyone else they know. Everyone bar one though: their child. They all want to see their children do better than them. A universal truth indeed.

Its reminded me, when dealing with my international clients in future to respect the differences, but actively seek out the similar motivations and desires that are really universal.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Compromise Or Clash

When my husband and I first moved in together I was shocked at his atrocious taste. No – we’re not talking the overly large collection of heavy metal inspired t-shirts here (I would have been unable to get him to budge on them) I’m talking about the fact that he liked CRUNCHY peanut butter?!

Over the past 6 years we’ve grown into the experience of living together. I now eat the crunchy peanut butter and he’s switched to Colgate toothpaste. We’ve compromised and combined rather than clashed for the most part and it’s made our living experience that much more cohesive.

It’s the same experience you’ll find when you go into a business partnership or a team based work environment. Clinging to your own way like it’s gospel doesn’t do anyone any favours. And have you tried the crunchy peanut butter (it’s actually ridiculously good!)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

With passion and potential is it ever too late to be what you might have been?

I’ve always been really inspired by my father in law who left the forestry industry when he was about my age to become a doctor. I know so many people who stick it out in jobs every day that they don’t love and his story always shows me that if you have the passion and think you have potential – age shouldn’t be an impediment.

I mean if James Cameron (director and writer of Avatar) can decide to pursue a career in film leaving his job driving trucks and if Harland “Colonel” Sanders can have a go at steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, fireman, farmer and soldier before finding his calling at age 66 and bringing us KFC – what’s holding you back?

Thanks to my father in law for the inspiration and thanks to James Cameron – as much as we need truck drivers the thought of Avatar (not to mention some of his other amazing work) not existing is torture!

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Add this to your reading list and don’t be scared by the heart!


I’ll often say that a The 5 Love Languages is the best book I’ve read in years. Now it has a huge love heart on the front cover and has fundamentally been written to help people improve their romantic relationships – however, I’m happy to go on record as saying that it can even be one of the best business books you’ll ever read too.

The principle behind the book is that people primarily show love in one of 5 ways and that’s the way they most like to receive it. Too bad if the person you’re showing love to prefers to receive it in a different way – we’re mostly hardwired to show it in our own way as a default.

After reading the book we figured out that my husband and I have pretty much completely opposite love languages. I like presents and gifts, even if it’s just a rock from the garden or a card. My husband likes acts of service, ie: when he’s painting the deck or vacuuming, that’s how he’s showing me he loves me. (Vacuuming?! How was I meant to figure that one out!!)

The reason I say this book is one of the best business books I’ve ever read is that the same principle applies to rewarding clients and staff. You’ve got to find out what language they speak and reward or recognise them in the same way. Giving a monetary bonus to a staff member that just wants you to take 5 minutes to tell them in a heartfelt way that you appreciate them is almost pointless.

I highly recommend you don’t get scared off the big heart and put The 5 Love Languages on your personal and business reading list for better relationships (with everyone!)

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What’s in a name?

You don’t enjoy lunch by having a “Big Kroc”, even though Ray Kroc is the one really responsible for the McDonalds burger you’re chomping into, not the McDonalds brothers.

And you don’t slip on a gorgeous pair of “Tamara Mellons” to accentuate your calves, it’s Jimmy Choos the ladies desire, even though Tamara Mellon is the founder and driving force behind the Jimmy Choo company.

Even Betty Crocker wasn’t Betty Crocker! She was Marjorie Husted, and in this case Betty doesn’t even exist the name just sounded “cheery”.

So just because you work under an organisation that sports another’s name or identity be it a Harcourts, a Ford, an Ernst and Young or Jones Local Family Store – it doesn’t mean you can’t capture that branding and make it your own.

You can be Jill Jackson the amazing agent who is the first thing people think of when they think “real estate” or “LJ Hooker” in your area.

You can be Tom Bakerson who buys the company “Smith Records” and takes it to the world by making it your own.

In short, anything’s possible under any name. Now I’m off to answer a call on my iJobs phone…

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Sunday, January 24, 2010

12 Too Easy Ways To Improve Your Customer Service.

1. Find out your customer’s birthday and incorporate a way to surprise them that also benefits your business
2. Have a trusted friend or advisor you trust walk through your business and comment on anything they don’t love
3. Have a friend call your business with an enquiry while you listen on speaker phone
4. Learn to love complaints. Keep a log of any complaints and actually do something to ensure they don’t happen again.
5. Systematically ask your customers what they like and don’t like about your business
6. Work out a way to give your clients a gift that costs you nothing, but gives them value. The easiest way is through a strategic alliance with another business who wants access to your clients, ie: a photographer, coffee shop, restaurant, video rental store, homewares store etc.
7. Acknowledge every customer as soon as they walk in your door (even if you can’t see to them immediately – a smile costs nothing)
8. And on that note… Smile. When you see customers. When you’re on the phone. When you’re in the street.
9. Make sure customers can identify who your staff are (uniform, name tag, groovy apron, funny hat – doesn’t matter how!)
10. Clearly display your opening hours on your front window and website. There’s nothing more frustrating than standing outside a place of business clueless as to when it opens.
11. Get back to emails promptly (set a minimum standard in your workplace and make sure everyone knows it).
12. Send awesome Christmas cards that are personalised and let people know you actually took the time to think about THEM not just about getting the cards done.

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Monday, January 18, 2010

Change Much?

I used to think I was open to change.

I used to even go as far as to say that I embraced, loved and welcomed change.

I was mistaken.

You know how I know?

3 hours after getting my new Apple Mac laptop I was reduced to Neanderthal like beating of clenched fists on my desk because I could no longer “alt tab”, because “alt s” no longer saved anything and because “alt f a” certainly no longer saved anything as anything else. In fact, my well-worn “alt” key was pretty much redundant and my “alt” loving brain couldn’t seem to handle it.

3 days later I was still claiming that I hated this new shiny silver laptop that had oozed it’s way onto my desk.

3 weeks into the experience I’ve realized I’ve had to re-look at my whole opinions about change. I can’t just say I like change when it’s easy and smooth and intuitive. Sometimes change is going to force you out of your existing habits, sometimes it’s not going to flow seamlessly and sometimes it’s going to be a pain in the butt.

But if what you’re working towards leads to greater utility – might it not be worth it to find an “alt”-ernative to brutally abusing your desk?

And now as my phone rings with a new ringtone I made myself using Apple’s Garage Band and I edited a new movie for my real estate agency made in half the time using iMovie while setting up a new document for www.baby-teresa.com using an Apple template I can just now start to see the rewards for me being worth a bit of short term change pain.

Are you willing to go through some short term change pain – to get better results - or will you just keep short changing yourself because you can’t hack the first 3 weeks?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

Monday, January 11, 2010

Delegate Good Times, C’mon!

This weekend we gave two rectangle pieces of material to my mother in law and asked her to sew them together into a table cover for us. Moments later with a whirl on her sewing machine she handed them back to us, sewed end to end into a really long rectangle, when what we actually wanted was them sewn side to side into a square.

It reminded me of one of the most important lessons in any workplace – communication is key. With a few more words, or a simple demonstration we could have more than adequately shown what we wanted, but we were rushed, and on the phone and didn’t take the time (miniscule as it was).

I’ve seen this time and time again in so many workplaces. Staff are thrown in over their heads and not adequately communicated with and it leaves managers or business owners spouting words like “If you want something done well…” and “Nobody listens to me!”

What can you be taking more time to explain today? So what if it takes you twice as long to explain it if you never need to explain it again and can delegate that task with confidence thereafter?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

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