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, September 26, 2013

But I don’t want to get her fired!


A close friend of mine just had a horror experience with a local business. It was the first day for the staff member who was serving her and, without going into too many details, it was an up close and personal experience that, due to the occasion it was required for, should never have been left in the hands of someone on their first day, in their first job.

“What do I do if she (the owner and the person who had recommended her to the service) asks for feedback?” my friend asked me “she was such a lovely girl – I don’t want to get her fired!”

So now this business is in a predicament. My friend feels unable to give them feedback that they need to hear because she’s worried about the impact of it. My friend is extremely sweet and likes to avoid conflict at all costs.

The feedback this business really needs to hear shouldn’t put that staff member in danger because it’s not  – “your staff member wasn’t up to par”, the feedback is “your staff member wasn’t adequately trained or experienced yet to deal with my needs and shouldn’t have been let loose on me yet”.

One is a staffing issue, one is a training / management issue.

How can people provide feedback to you in your business? After writing this – I’m off to design an anonymous questionnaire for our customers right now, hopefully so that I won’t repeat this mistake in my own business.

By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This is Xavier’s bucket list – he’s 4.5, what’s your excuse?


I got a gorgeous email recently from a wonderful friend chatting about a lunch she’d had with her little boy Xavier that day. They were talking about holidays, dreams, aspirations and very inspiringly, they decided to write Xavier’s bucket list.

Everything on it was thought up by him, here goes:

•      Ride in a sea plane

•      Be a doctor

•      Be a photographer

•      Be a dad

•      Go to a restaurant on my own for peace and quiet

•      Be a fireman

•      Be able to read a list (I think he means this one)

•      Make cup cakes on my own

•      Go to a One Direction concert

•      Go to a Bruno Mars concert

•      Be a singer

•      Be an artist

And since the first draft he’s also added going to Legoland.

He’s 4.5 and his bucket list will rival many of you who are reading this! C’mon – what’s stopping you? Want more inspiration than Xavier’s rad list above? Check out Ben’s adventures over at Red Rucksack  or Candy Chang’s incredible Ted talk “Before I die”.

What’s life without dreams?

PS – since compiling his bucket list, Xavier’s Mum had a friend post on facebook within days that she had to give up her two One Direction tickets. Bucket list fate I say! Xavier will tick this off in October. And – I’m encouraging him to set up a photo blog right now, I know he took some great photos at a wedding we recently attended. Why not head here and leave him some love http://xaviersphoto.blogspot.com.au/

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The value on being unpaid


There’s been a lot of furor lately about unpaid internships with headlines like “Sheryl Sandberg earns $100m, but won't pay interns” (http://www.news.com.au/money/money-matters/sheryl-sandberg-earns-100m-but-won8217t-pay-interns/story-e6frfmd9-1226697612115) flooding my twitter feed.

I’ve enjoyed reading both side of the argument including one my favourite writers Mia Freedman who has loudly and proudly talked about the half dozen women she’s hired who started as unpaid interns – and about her own experiences with unpaid work to get her foot in the very competitive industry of magazines.

My thoughts? Well – I think of April, who has just received a paid position casually at our real estate agency Elephant Property. We didn’t have a position that needed filling: we created one for her. It’s only small at the moment a few hours, but it will likely grow in the future if she keeps on impressing us.

Why did we create a job for April? She came to us on a form of internship from a local high school. She was polite, well presented, eager and did the work given to her well. That said, we’ve had perhaps 10 other students perform equally as well as April during their time with us and while we’ve maintained a lovely ongoing relationship with many of them we haven’t created a job for any of them.

April got a job, because April showed initiative and dedication and determination. Upon leaving her one week’s initial stay with us (part of her schooling program), she took it upon herself to ask to come back for her entire two week school holidays and work, unpaid for the experience. While we didn’t allow April to give up her entire holidays, she did come back in for 2 days during her holidays and was so keen to continue to volunteer to come back in to build her experience after this that we knew she would make a lovely asset to our team. Anyone who shows that much commitment and dedication gets bonus points in my eyes and while April never asked for a paying job, she did show with every action that she deserved one.

If I were looking for work right now I’d target in on the company/ies I wanted to work for and if I couldn’t convince them in an interview that I was the gal for them I would absolutely be offering to come in, unpaid, to show them my worth and value.

Heck, there are companies I’d do an unpaid internship at right now and many that I would pay for the privilege of doing so for what I would learn. Would I feel exploited at the end of it? Hardly, I’d feel enriched if I were given the opportunity to learn from the inside. And the beautiful thing about it would be that if I felt exploited I could simply leave. 

By Kirsty Dunphey with No comments

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Be consistent in your love letters



When my first daughter was born I wrote her little love letters almost weekly for the first year. I wrote about my dreams for her, my pregnancy, her adorable father and all the cute little things she was doing and at what stage. After her first year had passed I compiled the many many pages of letters into a photo album with all her first year’s photos. Well – 6 albums actually (I’m a bit of a prolific shutterbug).

A well-meaning mum said to me wisely upon viewing my efforts, “you’ve made a rod for your own back now” indicating that I’d need to put in the same effort for any future children. And now having had my second child, I understand what she meant. While I have the same desire to write to my new daughter, the frequency is harder to keep up due to numerous reasons including illness and chasing an active 2.5 year old around!

I will keep writing, but part of me hopes my gorgeous second daughter doesn’t decide to do a page count!

In thinking about it today it reminded me a company we deal with at work. There aren’t a lot of options for who we choose in their field and I’m neither overly happy nor disappointed with their service – but – about three or four years ago they did something that wowed me. They sent our office the coolest Christmas gift. It wasn’t overly expensive, but it was just super fun and creative. I talked about this gift to my family and friends. In the office we all fought over what part of it we’d each get to have. During the year I must say I actively watched our usage of the company far more closely. And when the next Christmas came around, I eagerly anticipated what they’d do to match or top the previous year’s awesome effort.

Only they didn’t. They didn’t top it, they didn’t match it… they didn’t actually deliver it.  I was sad. I was so sad (much to the embarrassment of my business partner) that after 2 years of no gift I asked some reps from the company at a trade show what we’d done to go off the Christmas gift list. They just chuckled (clearly thinking I was having a joke).

They’d set an expectation within me of something creative and fun at Christmas time – and once they’d set it (in such a memorable way) I missed it. Does it mean we don’t use them anymore? Of course not. But do I pay as much attention to our usage of the company in the years since – I don’t.

Once you set a standard – it’s hard to go back on it without it having some measurable effect on the impact of your brand.

I used to publish a weekly newsletter from my blog and still use the website that managed my database and sent the e-newsletter for some other business ventures. For years I’d referred people to them and when those people signed up to create their own mailouts, the company would send me a quarterly referral cheque. Until the company sold and they decided they didn’t want to do that anymore. Now the cheque wasn’t going to swell my bank balance significantly, but the letter I got from them stating that it wasn’t viable for them to continue paying referrers was harshly worded and cancelled payments without notice. Do I care to refer to them anymore? Not so much. Would I have referred to them in the first place without the reward for referring – I don’t doubt I would have. I only miss the referral fee because I was used to getting it.

I only miss what I had grown accustomed to. This for me is an important lesson to remember as I’m all for constant innovation especially in a service capacity – but I need to remember that if it’s not sustained, it can send the wrong message to my clients who may have been just as happy without it in the first place.

PS – I’ve long been an advocate of the book “The 5 love languages” – I’d strongly recommend it as a read for anyone wanting to improve their relationship BUT also for anyone who wants to understand why the client gift’s, rewards and thank yous won’t have the same impact on every person as it would on you.

By Kirsty Dunphey with 1 comment

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