Archive for December, 2014

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

December 16th, 2014

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‘We do not learn from experience…. We learn from reflecting on experience’

– John Dewey
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]As we madly dash towards the end of the year, it is all too easy to become caught up in the silliness and busyness of the season. Christmas parties, end of year work and school activities; annual catch-ups and break ups; Christmas day planning and coordinating are all vying for our attention and time. Before we know it we have closed out one crazy year and are fixing our gaze firmly on the year ahead.

Amidst all of the busyness and celebrations it is however so important to take time to critically reflect on the year that has passed. What do you deserve a ‘high-five’ for; what were the challenges; what are the opportunities that lie ahead; and most of all WHY, WHY, WHY?

Taking the time to critically reflect on your year and career to date opens up the pathway to higher level learning, deeper engagement and provides the platform for informed and confident decision making. James Zull once said ‘ it is hard to make meaning of experience unless it engages our emotions’. So the exercise of reflecting on your previous experiences and subsequent level of fulfilment is critical if you are to create a career and business you love.

Reflective thinking and judgment are powerful tools for you to keep in your leadership toolkit. Not only are they effective catalysts for deep and lasting learning, but also vital elements in supporting change; transformation and growth at both an individual and business level. However they also often prove to be challenging and unfamiliar to many. As leaders our challenge is to create a climate that promotes this level of reflection at a personal level as well as a project and business level. To do this effectively we need to assist individuals not only understand the importance of reflective thinking but also provide the frameworks and strategies to do this.

So what are the key elements for critical reflection?[vcex_spacing size=”10px”]

  • Description: What is your current situation? This is a factual account of your year. What were the major events that occurred throughout the year that have lead you to be in the position your are today. Don’t make any judgments or try to draw conclusions, simply describe.
  • Feelings: What you thinking and feeling? What were your reactions and feelings toward the events of the year? What did you enjoy, what were you challenged by? What events offered you a higher degree of frustration, fulfillment? Rather than analyzing these feelings simply recall what your thoughts and emotions were in response to these events.
  • Evaluation: What is working / not working? At this point you can make value judgments. What was good or bad about these experiences and outcomes?
  • Analysis: How is this part of the big picture? This is a crucial part of developing your career plan. Understanding and knowing how your past experiences are influencing and complementing your future plan ensures that you are moving forward and not stagnating. What sense can you make of the experience over the past year? Were there other factors at play? Were other people’s experiences similar to yours?
  • Conclusion: What are your options? What can be concluded about your own specific, unique, personal situation or way of working. What do you need to do differently to ensure growth and change occur in the coming year? Is it time to consolidate / step up / change what you do or how you do it?

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Based on the Gibbs Model of Reflection

  • Action: What steps do you need to take? If we are to create genuine growth and/or change in our careers, we need to understand what steps we need to take on the basis of what we have learnt over the past year. What can we do to leverage our experiences to maximise opportunity in the coming year?

As we enter the end of the year, it is a natural time to reflect personally on where we are at with our careers and businesses. I would encourage you to schedule some time over the break period to do this and make it more than a list of what merely remains unfinished from the past year, but an in-depth review that will support both your personal and career success and fulfilment in 2015.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]

Have you considered working with a career coach to elevate your career and build clarity and focus for the year ahead?

Please contact Margot directly on or +61 400 336 318 if you would like to know more. 

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The BBQ Chat

December 9th, 2014

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If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go with others. 

– African Proverb
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Tis the season to be jolly! For many of us here in Australia, it means beach holidays, summer bbq’s and lazy days where we have the time to really engage with those we want to spend some quality time with.

It is the season to catch up with family, friends, old colleagues and community networks. To reconnect; to reflect on the year that has been and tell a few stories; and to discuss plans, hopes and ambitions for the year ahead. Invariably there will be old university mates; ex colleagues; sporting mates and neighbours in this mix. Familiar faces along with a few new ones who are all an extension of who you know.

It also means it is a perfect time for networking … and networking of the best kind – genuine opportunities to get together because you want to, with people you normally share some degree of common interest with and in environments that see us comfortable, relaxed and with time to engage.

Making the most of these genuine opportunities does mean though that you need to have your ‘bbq story’ ready. How we reflect on the year that has just passed and discuss our opportunities ahead is a critical part of building and establishing our own personal brand. Doing this with the people who are closest to us and who are or can be key influencers can be a challenge for many because the notion of work and life remain two very separate worlds.

True networking is about contribution. It is about the giving and receiving of support, advice and tools to help us be better at what we do and want to do. For most of us, the people that we hold in our inner circle genuinely want to be able to support what we do and our future directions. They can’t however do this if they don’t know what our personal journey is.[vc_single_image image=”433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]The way we tell ‘our story’ is a critical part of building our personal brand and reputation. This brand can help build our direction or it can become a hindrance. It is what others seek out to support key decisions, understand more about industries, companies and people. One of the most common misconceptions individuals have about their brand is that it is really only important for when they want to make a shift in their career. The reality is that it supports all phases of our career whether we are looking to grow, consolidate or change.

I believe that there are three key reasons why our BBQ stories are so important:

They demonstrate: capability, resiliency, proactivity and insight

They build: understanding, interest and reason for further connection

They establish: opportunities for follow up

Consider these four tips when building and delivering your BBQ Story:

Think story not pitch: This isn’t the time to ‘sell’ your latest business plan, recruit your team or close a deal. It is however a time to establish interest in what you are doing and share some of the journey of how you are doing it. Offering insights into what you do, your style and your achievements is about establishing rapport and opportunity for future conversations.

Listen more than you talk: Great networkers focus on asking quality questions and stepping back to understand what and how others think, act and behave. Asking questions that are ‘others focused’ allows you to uncover the stories of those around you and understand who might be in a position to help you and your journey and vice versa.

Limit shop-talk: Keeping your discussions focused on scenarios rather than incidents will allow for others to contribute to the conversation. Diving into details that are workplace specific alienates others from the conversation. It can also very quickly lead to compromising discussions that become fodder for gossip and ultimately damaging for you and your personal brand.

Remain future focused: Regardless of how good or bad your past year was, the ability to remain focused on the future and the opportunities ahead is crucial. Positive, proactive and forward thinking people are naturally engaging. Being excited about where you are going and/or new possibilities generates interest from others.

Your BBQ story is not about landing your next job, promotion or recruiting your next team member. It is about creating opportunity for building mutually beneficial relationships that offer support, insight and opportunities for future engagement. These networks like all good relationships require personal connection and time to grow. Taking the time this holiday season to establish or build upon these personal connections is a valuable opportunity to invest in your future career success.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to build your personal brand and networking plan, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”″]

The Business Of You

December 2nd, 2014

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Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves
– to break our own records to outstrip our yesterday by our today.

~ Stewart B Johnson 

[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Current employment trends have seen us bear witness to ever increasing job competition; rising unemployment figures; increased redundancies and company downsizing; low job security; and new technologies continuing to disrupt the way in which we do business.

‘Getting ahead’ on the career ladder and successfully navigating the volatility and ever-changing nature of the employment landscape is a challenge we all face. I recently heard a comment that obtaining career success requires individuals to consider themselves as entrepreneurs and their careers as a start up business. Reid Hoffman (Linked in Co-Founder) and Ben Casnocha wrote a book on this very topic, stating that the skills that start-ups require are the very skills that professionals need in order to advance their careers: nimbleness, personal investment, strong networks and intelligent risk taking.

Building these skills into your career requires a high degree of self-awareness, confidence and foresight: it requires a well-executed plan. Without one it is all too easy to become caught in the whirlpool of uncertainty, change and fierce competition.

So why are so many of us not creating plans for our careers? For many it seems to be a case of the ‘rabbit in headlights’ scenario – not knowing what we want, not knowing how to effectively develop or implement a personal plan, and not having the time. If you are to accelerate your career or stand out in the market place, there is no denying that you need a robust and adaptable plan. Creating one that offers you clear direction, practical building blocks, and builds resilience, is critical if you are to achieve personal fulfillment and career success.

Consider how you can apply these following seven strategies to help you future proof and accelerate your career today:[vc_single_image image=”433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””]

Be ready for change: It is estimated that over 65% of today’s children are currently being educated for jobs that don’t yet exist (Cathy Davidson – Futures specialist). The ability to develop and adapt your personal career plans as you change, as our social environments change, and industries and business protocols change is critical if you are to maintain relevance and protect your career.

Invest in your strengths: To build your competitive advantage you need to not only know your strengths but how best to build upon them, where to apply them and where they are most valued.

Never Stop Learning: Never assume that you know all there is to know about managing your career – even transitioning out of a full time career takes planning and foresight. Begin by investing time to acquire the right intelligence and know-how that will accelerate your career. Investigate key industry trends and challenges; recent business success stories; know who the key influencers and thought leaders are. Be proactive in educating yourself in what is required from both an industry and individual perspective.

Invest in a career coach or mentor: Building and maintaining career momentum can be difficult. It is all too easy to get caught up in the business of doing and for many the career management process becomes a stop start process. A career coach can provide clarity of direction, consistency of focus and provide new tools and perspectives to elevate performance and productivity.

Strengthen your professional network: Invest in the right relationships and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them. Build a networking plan that fosters authentic professional relationships where you can also offer valuable contributions.

Take intelligent risks: Low risk is often associated with stability. However it has been suggested that in the long term, continually opting for the low risk options leads to increased vulnerability as it reduces our resilience to deal with sudden and high level change. ‘Playing it safe’ with your career can in fact create higher risk through an inability to cope with the volatility and rate of change which is all to common in the market place today.

Create balance: When we create balance we create strength. Healthy relationships and interests outside of work help not bring a strong sense of calm, being grounded, resilience and motivation. You can contribute to the success of your career by building balance and dedicating time and attention to your family and personal life.

In the words of Mark Twain… the secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is knowing your career purpose, breaking down your larger goals into manageable, realistic tasks and simply starting on the first one.

What are you starting on next to advance your career for 2015?[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to advance your career and capability in 2015, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

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