Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Winding Up Wellbeing

I recently wrote about the importance of personal wellbeing in sustainable peak performance. We need to take care of ourselves first before we can fully succeed and take care of other areas of our lives. When it comes to happiness and wellbeing the notion exists that we are happy if negative emotions are absent from our lives. And the other way round. If you’re stressed or anxious, you won’t be feeling happy.

This is where many of us go wrong according to Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania. In our pursuit of happiness, he says, we should stop focusing so much on negative emotions and spending time to eliminate those. Instead it’s more important to actively cultivate wellbeing. I like it.

Seligman suggests four exercises that can help us to readjust our focus when it comes to happiness.

1) Identify your Strengths: When were you at your best? Write it down and think about the strengths you showed in that situation.

2) Find the Good: Each night write down three things that went well that day.

3) Make a Gratitude Visit: Have you thanked people who showed kindness towards you in the past? Think of someone you haven’t thanked, write a letter. If you’re feeling brave, meet that person and tell them.

4) Respond Constructively: That’s a good one. Instead of saying ‘that’s great’ next time somebody shares good news with you, show more enthusiasm. Celebrate others accomplishments. There’s nothing better than sharing a celebration with somebody and some red wine.

I’m a radical optimist – shifting focus towards the positive rather than dwelling on the bad just makes sense. Being an optimist might mean slightly different things to everybody. To me it means to continuously put oneself into a good space, avoiding negative actions, and making happy choices.

Image: Roxana Barnett Pinterest
 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One for Wellington

I’m in Wellington New Zealand this week for two monster rugby games, the British and Irish Lions versus the Wellington Hurricanes and the All Blacks. Both games are at the stadium affectionately known as the ‘Cake Tin’ – a circular stadium not unlike a colosseum. When full with about 40,000 people, the atmosphere is electric, the energy kinetic. And so it was last night for the Lions-Hurricanes game, the result was a pulsating 31-all draw – and yes, you can call a draw pulsating, especially as the Hurricanes came back from a 23-7 halftime deficit. Saturday night brings on the decisive Lions-All Blacks test.

I’m an Aucklander through and through. It’s a big international city with a magnificent harbour where we’ll be sailing the next America’s Cup thanks to the grit, guts and genius of Team New Zealand. But as the citizens of the windy capital remark, “You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.”

Looks like the world agrees. In May this year New Zealand’s ‘coolest’ little capital was named the most liveable city of the world in a report by Deutsche Bank in Germany – beating Edinburgh, Vienna and Melbourne. Cities were ranked based on indicators like their crime rate, pollution, healthcare options, cost of living, house prices, commuting time and climate. It’s a big win for Wellington. It’s a vibrant place full of innovation. It’s the Hollywood of New Zealand with Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and their band of merry pranksters making Wellington a movie making center of global significance. And not to forget there are few better places for café life.

Wellington generated a lot of positive global press earlier this year when the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency and Workhere New Zealand launched LookSee Wellington - a global recruitment campaign for tech talent. That campaign attracted more than 48,000 applications from all over the globe. The world loves Wellington.

Wellington wasn’t the only NZ city included in the ranking. Auckland came in 13th. Personally I would rank Auckland much higher. Wellington might be New Zealand’s capital, but Auckland is the capital of the world’s edge. With Lorde sitting on top of the Billboard charts and the America’s Cup heading back to Auckland, it feels that wherever you are in New Zealand, the idea of “winning the world from the edge” is pretty darn good this week.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Banana Rescue? Shoes That Grow? Why Didn’t I Think Of That!

Some ideas are staring us in the face, but it takes a sideways glance to remove their camouflage. These lateral leaps spring a lock. Having a surprisingly obvious idea is one of the talents of a creative leader.

As someone with a business stake in healthy food, I like what UK supermarkets are up to with fruit and veg that don’t look the part.

The BBC reports that waste of good food is a serious problem. The Government's food waste awareness service, Wrap, found that 1.4 million bananas are thrown out every day for having minor bruises or black marks on their skin, which it says add up to £80m in waste a year.

Better labeling, promotions and creative approaches can crack the perception lock. UK supermarkets are making more space for increasing amounts of less-than-perfect produce. Sainsbury is promoting blemished bananas ("banana rescue" stations in about 500 stores to encourage consumers to use fruit that is overripe or past its best; their suggestions include using them to make banana bread or muffins). Morrisons has a “wonky” range. Tesco, which has a Perfectly Imperfect range, has a strategy that no food safe for human consumption will go to waste from its UK outlets by the end of 2017.

Here another ‘surprise with the obvious’ innovation. Foot injuries and infections are a risk for hundreds of millions of children around the world. Who would have thought of expandable shoes, shoes that grow with your feet, that aren’t costly, and that last long enough to pass on to other children? Kenton Lee dreamed up and didn’t let go the idea, and now its a reality. 100,000 pairs of the adjustable shoes have been distributed across approximately 85 countries. Ideas right in front of us have extraordinary power. What is you surprisingly obvious idea? How will you make it happen?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I’ve been asked to make this thanks rhyme

This week I spoke at a lunch for Newmarket Rotary, a service organization in an established Auckland suburb adjacent to where I live. It was fun, it felt like family. Four years ago when I spoke the then president of the club Alastair Macfarlane prepared a poem of thanks. This week Alastair was on song again...

I’ve been asked to make this thanks rhyme
So I’ve given this some of my time
For this special guest
Who’s faced every test
Is still very much in his prime

When we heard from our speaker before
He told stories of Lovemarks and more
This time a new theme
With fresh thoughts to extreme
And a book of ideas to the fore

This new book with chapter and verse
With multiple shots to disperse
Has three score and four
Which means 64
Of ways into which to immerse

And again we’ve heard a new line
From this man who has passion and time
To share unique views
That gives us all clues
In these crazy & demanding times

Your knowledge of business is sound
And with practice and time you have found
That the old status quo
Is no longer a Go
And requires new hunting ground

The new winning equation is Q
Being IQ and TQ for you
Let’s not forget B
Which is also for thee
And the big one of course is EQ

And to beat the odds you need Heart
With Head and Speed to jumpstart
Add Tech as a glue
To make the break through
Your ideas will have power and be smart

Innovation is still to the fore
Inspiration full on to the core
With creative thinking
And marketing linking
It’s the key to winning once more

Team building from singing with friends
Is delivering huge dividends
To those companies who share
And embrace everywhere
Choir Nation that KR recommends

The new future is philosophy
Stretching Google’s capacity
Soft skills we will need
To perform with full speed
With empathy and dexterity

In this high speed era of time
Each idea can bring riches sublime
And today we have heard
Sound thought and wise word
How to scale the steep mountain to climb

So to Kevin we say thanks a lot
Again you have hit the right spot
So please give your applause
To this man of great cause
For his speech you’ve enjoyed and just got

Alastair Macfarlane

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Full Speed Ahead


The impact of technology on modern living is mind-blowing. Tom Trezise, an expert in accelerating innovation in healthcare and in socially responsible leadership, is on the Dean’s Council of Lancaster University where I'm Honorary Professor of Creative Leadership. He sent a note last week addressing technological disruption and preparing people and organizations to succeed. He tracks 25 technologies that will change the way we live. Here they are:

1. Semantic Web

2. Virtual Reality

3. Augmented Reality

4. Immersion Technology

5. Processing Capability and Speed

6. Mobility

7. Battery size

8. Chip Implants

9. Collaboration

10. Data Analytics, Attribution and Value Vectors

11. Robotics

12. Nanotechnology

13. Genetic Technology

14. Social Media

15. Quantum Physics

16. 3D Printing

17. Digital/Smart Manufacturing

18. Materials Innovation

19. Internet of Things

20. Machine Learning

21. Artificial Intelligence

22. Cost Curve Reduction i.e. big data storage

23. Rare Earth Minerals Substitutes

24. Brain/Body Implants

25. Delivery Systems i.e. treatment and prevention of disease

If this mind-bending list is not enough, Tom posed the challenge: Determine what is the evolutionary timeline for integrating the readiness of individuals (early adopters to last adopters), culture (what percentage of people and processes are needed to sustain changes), and new technology that will potentially impact your organization.

As the resident radical optimist, I’d say it’s a 90/10 equation between opportunities and issues. The potential technology has for bettering our lives is breath-taking.

According to Stanford adjunct professor and former Baidu scientist Andrew Ng, a rule of thumb is that anything that a human can do in less than one second of mental thinking will be automated. For those in panic mode on employment, a smart observation comes from Dr Michael Naylor, a finance and insurance academic at Massey University: “Jobs are not replaced, activities are. Some activities will be replaced but the impact on any job will depend on the mix of activities in that job. Some activities within most jobs will be untouched, and demand for the remaining activities may even expand.”

Image: Flaticon
 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Leadership by Lombardi


Leadership is a mix of qualities, and a building of character. One thing I advise students of leadership is to find leaders you can relate to. Study them. Learn from them. If you’re up for turning the other cheek, then study Ghandi. If you like stinging like a bee, study Ali. I like leaders who are winners, and the winner of creating winners is ESPN coach of the century Vince Lombardi, a force of nature who used football to teach life.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Archivist Jon Kendle has just written a piece on Lombardi’s legacy for the Ohio Times Reporter. Anyone coaching a team would do well to study Lombardi. Here are a few selections.

"During practice sessions, Lombardi could be seen teaching football fundamentals, while simultaneously preaching to his players the importance of dedication, love, passion and pride. Lombardi built his teams on the premise of selflessness and unity. He wanted high-spirited, disciplined, talented people willing to pay the price to succeed. His teams were fueled by heart power. He loved his players, and in return, his players loved him."

"Through raw human emotion Lombardi communicated to his players. Good or bad, he never held back. He learned to use emotion to create the desired effect. He motivated, he led, and he taught through his passion, never concerning himself with what others thought about him. He built character through action, teaching his players by example, and instilling confidence in everyone he met. Lombardi’s leadership did not rest on ability, his leadership was a combination of intangibles, it was a culmination of commitment, loyalty, pride, and discipline held together with relentless emotions."


Lombardi himself wrote: “After the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written, and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.”

My kind of coach.