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Lessons In Creativity – From A 3 Year Old!

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While sitting in the garden with 3 year old Tailei, I commented that my tummy was cold. “Granny, lie back and let Mr Golden Sun relax on your tummy and keep you warm” she said while demonstrating an excellent example of what a relaxing pose should look like.

 

What a creative way of looking at things! Most of us would perceive this scenario as me relaxing in the sun, but not our creative 3 year old. To her “Mr Golden Sun” was relaxing on me. I felt strangely good about that, it was nice to think that I was providing some sort of comfort to the sun rather than the other way around.

 

This got me thinking about how we are programed to perceive things in an ordinary or common way. What incredible achievements would be within our grasp if we opened up our minds and looked at things from a totally different perspective? What if for a moment we took a step back from every day ordinary and thought like a child.

 

“I painted an elephant today” our 3 year old announced. “And what colour did you paint him” I asked. “Purple!” she replied with huge excitement and a twinkle in her eye. Now of course I could have told her that elephants are actually grey but the thought of a certain purple dinosaur popped into my mind and let’s face it, Barney has generated millions of dollars in income. So I, with equal enthusiasm said “That’s fantastic, I would love to meet a purple elephant!” She bounced off happily, proud of her creation and excited about the world around her.

 

And what does this all have to do with the business environment? Well, how many of our purple elephants have been stomped all over by management who tell us that elephants are grey, have always been grey and why would we change a perfectly good grey elephant? Now I’m not saying that purple is always the best colour, but perhaps blue is. If we just listened, considered and even brainstormed a ‘way-out’ idea, maybe together we’d come up with the most awesome elephant ever!

 

Creativity is essential to any business’s growth. An environment where creativity is not only encouraged but expected is the key to innovation. Nurture creativity in those you are privileged to lead. Be the leader who encourages those around them to bounce off happily, proud of their creation and excited by the world around them.

 

When To Say “No Thanks” To An Interview

 

“I have the perfect position for you” the recruiter said. I was a little taken aback as I had not spoken to this person before. “My Client would like to meet with you tomorrow” he continued. My contract was nearing its end and I needed to find a job soon. So, with very little information, I prepared as best I could for the next day.

I arrived for my interview in good time and was shown into a boardroom by a seemingly nervous, tall man who told me that the Director would be with us shortly.

The Director was clearly not in a hurry and left us sitting for some time. Eventually he burst into the room, looked at me and said “Why are you here?” I was a bit lost for words (unusual for me)! No introduction, no apology for keeping me waiting? As this short, chubby man seated himself next to the nervous tall man, the thought occurred to me – I am being interviewed by Laurel & Hardy! That picture got me through what by all accounts was an epic interview fail. “I am not looking for someone who has worked for Mickey Mouse Companies” Mr Chubby Director said. I fought to suppress an obvious puzzled look as I had worked for 3 listed companies. “You don’t have enough sales experience” was his next retort. My next question to him …. “Why am I here?”

It was as clear that I would never have fitted in with this Company’s culture, as I was not what they were looking for and that sort of culture was certainly not what I was looking for. A total waste of time for all concerned and it could have been avoided. Hopefully you can take away a few tips from my experience and be cautious if you encounter any of the following:

  • Your CV was submitted to the Company without your prior consent.

Let’s for a moment imagine that I have your CV on my database and a Client contacts me with a job order. As recruiters do, I drop whatever I am doing and enthusiastically attack my database to see if I can find a match. Your CV pops up first, and as I read through your skills set and experience, my Serotonin levels sky rocket and I cease to think! I beat the world land speed record getting back to my Client and without considering a dip into the pool of “how things should be done”, rush your CV off and impatiently await feedback. The Client calls back and says something along the lines of ….. “This candidate works for my brothers Company, I wonder if he knows that (….fill in candidates name…) is looking for a new job?” The damage done would send me for a week long soak in the pool of “how things should be done”! But what would the effect be on you? If a recruiter cannot see the dangers of this type of practice, I would think twice before putting my career progression or even more so, my salary negotiations in their hands.

  • You did not have an in-depth interview with the recruiter beforehand.

“This job is perfect for you!” How would I know that if I didn’t take the time to find out exactly what you want, what you can bring to the table, where your strengths lie and what outstanding achievements you have wowed past and/or present employers with? If I have not bothered to get to know you as a person, how will I know if you will fit in with the Company culture? Yes I know that it’s exciting and a good stroke to the ego to get a call from a recruiter telling you that you are the perfect candidate for a top position. But, if they do not have an intimate relationship with the pool of “how things should be done”, chances are they are wasting your time!

  • The recruiter failed to give you a detailed description of the job requirements.

This is a bit like buying a lotto ticket. You have no idea what the winning combination is going to be but hey, you’ve “gotta be in it to win it”. But, this is your career and spinning a wheel and hoping for the best is not an option. The recruiter has opened the door but now you have to sell yourself. If a recruiter cannot supply you with details of qualifications / skills needed, what the job entails, what challenges you would be facing if you were awarded the position and background info on the Company and persons interviewing you – point them in the direction of the pool of “how things should be done” and move on.

I could certainly add to the above but would love to hear from you. Have you had any similar experiences?

Are You Making Value “Able” Career Choices?

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I was four year’s old when my mother announced that new neighbours had moved in across the road. “They have a little girl about your age” she said, and I excitedly asked if she knew what her name was. “Not yet, but their surname is Herholdt” Mom replied.

 

My fanciful four year old mind immediately imagined how this ‘not yet’ friend and I would conquer the world together. We would fly our cardboard box rocket into space and discover new galaxies, we would dress-up as princesses (my mother’s jewellery came to mind), we would heal our dolls when they were sick or injured and make the biggest mud-cake the world had ever seen. We would be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, raise our children together and be friends for absolutely ever! But wait a minute, what if she didn’t want to do all that. I needed to find out and this important fact finding mission could not wait another minute.

 

I marched my little self over the road and encountered what to me seemed like an incredibly tall man working in the garden. Must be her daddy, I thought and confidently walked over to him. “MRS. Herholdt” I erroneously blurted out, “My name is Adele, may I please speak to your little girl?”

 

Now what could this possibly have to do with career choices I hear you ask with a sigh? Well not a whole lot but it does have something to do with personal core values.

 

Loosely put, personal core values are the non-negotiables in our lives. The lines that cannot be over-stepped, the absolute must have’s that enable us to be comfortable in our own skins. They are the guidelines to every decision we make. Here are two thing to bear in mind when making value-able career choices:

 

Aligning your personal core values to your choice of career.

Core values are built and shaped by a number of influences in our lives, but a good many are evident very early on. As my story illustrates, my need to connect and establish relationships from an early age was stronger than my fear of crossing the road or speaking to a strange adult man (yes, my mother did warn me about that). Connecting with people is why I get up in the morning and my happiest days are spent reaching out to those I encounter. I would never be happy working in a job where people were not my focus. Establishing and being aware of your core values will greatly assist you in making decisions around your choice of career.

 

Aligning your personal core values to company values.

If you value uplifting people, the likelihood of you being happy and productive in a company that does not, is pretty remote. Companies proudly display their values on their websites, on plaques on their walls and in their profiles but do they live by them or are they a mere sales tool? Has the value of these values been lost in the business of everyday business. Before accepting a position with a company, speak to people who already work there and find out how value-able the company is. Joining a company is a bit like a marriage, so do your best to avoid a “till our values do us part” situation.

 

I believe that values are the basis of everything we do and influence how we respond to both the positive and the negative. It would be difficult to find a perfect alignment of values and you may have to work on some. But, if values between your career choice, the company you represent and your own are aligned closely, you are given the tools to shine. To show the world what you are about, to represent your company with pride.

 

Many decades later, I am still affectionately teased by the Herholdt family for calling Mr. Herholdt Mrs. Herholdt. Heather and I traveled the world on the swings in her back yard. We nursed hurt baby birds, had more dress-up sessions than I can remember and planned our weddings together. Through naturally acting on a value I was not even aware of, I gained a life-long friend. How much more could we achieve if we raised our awareness of what really matters to us? How much more could we contribute to our relationships, careers and the lives of others if made decisions based on our personal core values?

 

I would love to hear your stories around the core values you can identify when looking back on your childhood.

 

3 Things You Can Do Right Now To Build Your Personal Brand

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If your name is Rory then you must have red hair and be mischievous! Well, in my mind that’s the case. The reason for this has everything to do with association. Red-headed Rory was one of those boys at school who delighted in placing a snail in your lunch tin or lowering a plastic spider on a thread from the second floor window to cause mayhem in the classroom below. We associate names with the behaviours of people we encounter.

The ‘Rory Principle’ also applies to Corporate Brands. Woolworth’s for instance conjures up a perception of quality, Nando’s = humour, Red Bull = extreme sports, Eskom & SANRAL = *&^%&#. We associate these Brands with our experiences and dealings with them.

But back to young Rory. Although totally oblivious of the fact, he was creating a Personal Brand. Through his repeated actions, he was associated with mischief. Probably unjustly at times, but his was the first name to come to mind when you found that your pen Super Glued to your desk.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when people hear your name? Are you actively building a positive Personal Brand? Here are my favourite quick fixes.

1. Listen
The highest form of respect you can show anyone is to listen to them. And I mean really listen. Answering a phone call or a text message mid-way through a conversation is an indication that the person in front of you is not important enough for you to put any distractions momentarily on hold. People feel valued when they are heard. Listening is costless, but priceless to those that are heard. Dr. Brian Jude has a great article on Listening so pop over and have a quick read.

2. Sweat The Small Stuff
Make every form of interaction, be it a WhatsApp message, a formal business letter or the way you greet those you encounter, reflect nothing but excellence. The small stuff matters. Your communication style is a reflection of you. The receiver of that communication will make assumptions based on what they see or hear. I am not saying that all interactions need to be formal, in fact, quite the opposite. You are the most powerful and effective tool you own and your interactions are a platform for you to showcase your awesomeness. Show a little personality, but do it with style.

3. Serve
The most important function we have is to make a difference. The irony here is that when we change our focus to impacting positively on the lives of others, our lives are instantly uplifted. True leaders see themselves as servants to developing those they have the privilege of influencing. Serving is a state of mind. Tell people they are appreciated, share your knowledge selflessly, do the best job you possibly can every day.

How are you making a conscious effort to build your Personal Brand?