Archive | June, 2010

Uniquely, exquisitely you…

I’m so energised and inspired by the many bloggers and authors who are calling on us to find our niche, revel in our strengths and bring our unique self to the world. Whether your favourite flavour is Hugh MacLeod, Pam Slim, Seth Godin or any number of others worthy of honourable mention, there’s a lot to be said for knowing what makes you uniquely and exquisitely you and then working hard to keep original. I agree with them that passion, energy and commitment is very alluring and contagious.

Whether you are focused on yourself as an individual, or how you define the special difference that your business brings to the world, understanding what others gain from meeting and knowing you is essential to branding yourself.

  • What do people/organisations gain from interacting with you? How do you aid their world?
  • What did you bring to the table today that might otherwise not have happened had you not been there?
  • Did you enable them to do something quicker, smoother, more effectively, cheaper than they might have otherwise done on their own?
  • Did you spark a new idea? Create something? Help move something forward? Alleviate the pressure from someone else?
  • What change in the world did you enable (big or small, noticed or not) that would not have been possible were it not for your contribution.
  • Did you leave the people you met today better for having spent time with you?

I hope I did.

Have a fantastic Canada Day everyone!


Things that make you go “mmmmm…?”

This morning’s post is inspired by Liz Strauss (via chuckfrey). 20 Questions to Kickstart New Thoughts

Although written in 2007, the questions Liz poses to inspire new ideas are still very valid. The one that made me go mmmmm this morning was #6 of the second 10 “Do you know the most important thing you’ve learned?”

While I have learned many things and I hope to continue learning every day of my life, the most impactful lesson I learned came from a cherished mentor who gave me the courage to trust my instincts.

For me – my instinct kicks in whenever there is a tough choice to be made. It fires up and shows me which way to shoot. And I can tell the difference between instinct and lizard brain because more often that not the instinct brain is telling me to do something which is neither easy or simply – just right. Whenever I steer away from what my gut is telling me, or ignore the inner voice that is trying so hard to guide my actions, it feels false – like I’m trying too hard to do what others think I should.

I try every day to live my authentic and instinctive self, which isn’t easy. Trusting your instincts is about following through with something that feels right – even when it feels risky and against the flow (ESPECIALLY when it feels risky and against the flow). Its the moments that make you uniquely you, and not an automaton. Trusting your instincts can also be about listening to others, taking onboard different perspectives and then being clear with the decisions you are making and why. Its okay to have your instincts either reinforced or guided by others but fundamentally the core must be your own.

So – to continue with Liz’s provocation – Do YOU know the most important thing you have learned?

8 questions to focus activities…

I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years providing practical suggestions for how to connect with clients, grow business strategically and clarify brands and value propositions. One of the things I’ve learned along the way is to ask myself and others questions about what we do and how we choose to spend our time. These questions have become even more critical to me now that I am self employed.

Question all activities – be really accountable for the answers

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What am I intending the result to be from this activity?
  • How will this contribute to my objectives today? Long term?
  • Is this the best way to spend my time right now?
  • What am I choosing not to do when I choose to spend time on this?
  • Do I have all the information, tools and resources I need to maximise this activity (if not – where can I get them?)
  • If I could only do 2 things today, what 2 things should I do?

and my personal favourite…

  • If I were hiring me to perform this job, would I pay me to do this…?

In response to Hugh…

If you define Art as a process or activity that purposefully seeks to affect the senses or emotions, I challenge you to remain un-inspired by the provocative Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void. Hugh’s eloquence with the jagged line and cutting commentary is pure artistry.  Clearly – his gift to the world is to make us think and have fun at the same time.

Therefore, when he recently laid down the challenge to show him something back; to write 500 words or less to interest and excite him to a cause that he could care enough about to draw one of his infamous cube grenades, I had to throw my hat in the ring!

Now I have to say – I’m not one of those who will try to outwit, outlast and outplay the thousands of other ‘applicants’ that will surely lay claim to this generous offer.  That would mean simply shouting at the top of my voice “Pick Me… Pick Me… I’m the best…” without really adding any value to the process.

See, I figure that Hugh has the mind of an artist. Just as he seeks to inspire and provoke us to a new perspective, he’s pleading with us (his audience) to provide the same gift back…  He wants to feel inspired and compelled to align with the cause and commit to its advocacy.  And perhaps, just maybe, there’s a little bit of soul searching to see if anyone ‘gets’ what he’s doing. Yeah, we all love the cartoons and many of us subscribe to the newsletter to have a social object to circulate. But is that enough??? Are we making the world a different place because we enjoy Hugh’s work?

The Wallace Effect is an entrepreneurial venture still in its humble infancy, but the seeds have been germinating for some time.  With optimal growth conditions, my goal is to provoke new thinking, develop new approaches and inspire full potential in people and their organizations.   Named after Alfred Russell Wallace, who provoked Charles Darwin to go beyond his religious sensitivities and think bigger with his theories, The Wallace Effect is first and foremost an agent for cultural change.  For businesses that are looking to evolve and align their strategies, embed change in their culture and energise their results, they must first consider what prevents them from reaching their full growth potential today and what will help them adapt to their competitive environment more successfully in the future.

In my own way, with the directness of my questions, the candour of my observations, and the practicality of my solutions, I aim to do for my clients what Hugh is trying to do for all of us in his gallery – inspire change.

So Hugh, if you’re reading this – Thank you for making a difference. I would love it if you could help me do the same by expressing “The Wallace Effect” in visual form.

Are you really making a difference???

I am a huge fan of Seth Godin, and others of his cohort. They have taught us all so much about reaching for our full potential and making a difference in the world. They are clearly very insightful thinkers with a massive audience of followers and believers in their message.

Why then are so many who claim to be fans still failing to act differently!!!

In his recent post You’re already self employed, Seth makes a simple and elegant ‘call to action’ to shake people out of their sheepwalk. At the time of writing this some 450 people had retweeted the post and I’m sure by the end of the day many more will have done so.

However it reminds me of the saying

“when all is said and done, more is said than done”.

I have observed the reality that Seth speaks of, in companies where people bemoan the lack of empowerment and autonomy to change their role but do NOTHING to challenge the status quo and help establish better ways. They wait for the organisation to GIVE them the authority rather than claim their own role in leading the way. Even people who have leadership titles often wait to be shown the way….HUH???

And then there are others who clearly think their role is to keep on doing stuff without questioning whether that stuff is of ANY value to the organisation. How many countless hours are wasted on reports that gather dust, presentations that do not inspire change and meetings which put people to sleep?

When you are self-employed you have to demonstrate the value that you bring to the table EVERY day. You have to SHOW UP and be counted. Perhaps if more people did that, they would find themselves actively engaged instead of sucking a paycheque and waiting for the weekend.

So – people – show some respect for the man you claim to rever so much. Don’t just retweet his elegant words and succint messages. Go make a difference….

View from in here…

I recently acquired a great quote from Career Strategist Mark Venning at Change Rangers “Don’t let anyone rent space in your brain for free”…

I love the quote, and it certainly helps place a value on your knowledge and creative energy. This is especially critical for those of us who are seeking income for the value we provide! However, it also got me thinking. What if you could find a way to give a virtual tour to “The view from in here…” . I know from speaking to people that how I view the world and the connections I make between seemingly disconnected ideas to create new direction can (and does) inspire others to do the same.  And I get juiced by hearing back their thoughts and building on things together. Eventually I hope that the mutual exchange leads to something which improves both our worlds. I certainly don’t want to rent space in my brain for free, and once an idea is out there and flying free its hard to ask for a refund!!!! But it does also speak to Mitch Joel’s recent post about networking and the need for it to be a two way exchange.

I think people buy you, your ideas, values and the way you interact with the world way before they buy your work. I want to make sure people can get a taste of the way I think and connect before they buy. Perhaps thats why I blog, Twitter and engage in all forms of social networking (real world and digital). Just as I enjoy having offline conversations that are a mutual exchange of ideas, challenges and discovery, so I hope the online community will respond and add to the dialogue.

Join me – and likewise, share with me a little of the view from over there if you will.


The unlimited…

How come 6, 7 and 8 year olds fail to place limits on their own creative ability.

There is never a shortage of new pictures, stories and musical accomplishments from the young. The side of my fridge and the closet in my spare room are testament to that. So when exactly is it that we start to doubt our creative capability? Do phrases like “It’ll never work…” or “That’s not how we do it around here…” or “We tried that before..” ever stop you from trying something new? Or worse – do you fail to be creative because you’re worried that the end results might not be ‘good’ enough.

I was recently running a Sunday morning Kids Craft’s session at our family’s weekend campground and it struck me that many of these 5-12 year olds were still blissfully unlimited by other people’s constraints on their creativity. Using the same materials, they each somehow managed to make something very different and uniquely their own. Some in particular looked for ways to use the crafts provided in really special and unique ways – not following the ‘rules’ but inventing new ones.

It just led me to ponder and realise:

Whenever I stem my creativity and follow the path someone else ordains, the results tend to be mediocre at best. That is true for trying to compete using the same industry dogmas, trying to replicate someone else’s strategy or trying to follow another’s ‘proven’ methodology.

EVERY child I work with in our kids craft sessions merrily explores, creates, innovates, enjoys and engages in very creative ways to generate an effective result. From kite building to boat making and everything in between, they generate ideas and try out new approaches til they satisfy themselves with the results.

Take a moment today to be inspired by the kids – Any kids – and remove the limits on your own creativity.

The Kick Off…

They say your first blog post should establish your position – who you are, what you’re about and why you are blogging. So here goes.

I’m not a complete noob to blogging. I started writing in Spring of ’07 as a way of building my awareness. As Tapscott said – the only way to understand it (social media) is to dive in. Then a great position with a big4 consulting firm prevented me from continuing (all sorts of clauses about not running any kind of side venture).

3 years and many interesting challenges later, I am excited to launch a new venture and a new blog.  The Wallace Effect is about inspiring new thinking and removing obstacles to becoming remarkable (both personal and organizational). Named for Alfred Russell Wallace who provoked Darwin to go beyond religious sensitivities and think bigger with his theories, The Wallace Effect aims to provoke new thinking, develop new approaches and inspire full potential in people and their organizations.

I cannot wait to get back to the tools that will help me extend the conversation with people I haven’t met yet. Whether you write professionally or just to satisfy a personal itch – please add your 0.2 and join the conversation. What effect will Wallace have on your thinking today?