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8 “Big Things” that happened in 2016

It’s the final day of 2016.

What a year.

The last 12 months were most definitely the most filled with change, plot twists and transformation than any I can remember previously.  In conversations with many people, I’ve likened 2016 to a snowglobe being shaken – all the little snowflakes bubbling and bouncing off each other, with the ultimate outcome being them settled at the bottom of the globe once the water had calmed.

It seems I’m not the only one who felt enormous change this year – I wonder if you’re the same…

I’m writing this from the verandah off our cute little villa in Vanuatu – overlooking a lagoon.  Our villa is right next to the local village, and the local kids play non-stop in the water from 9am to 7pm.  I woke up at 7am this morning and spent a couple of hours reflecting on the year that was, and filled six pages in my journal with a little debrief to myself.

I also reread my journal entries from the beginning of the year – I had written: “Have a good feeling about 2016.  Think (and hope) it’s the year that I make some brave moves, step into the person I want to be and – really hope this – that I have some adventures.”

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Richard and I white night

The biggest thing I learned from Richard Branson

I just left Necker Island yesterday, after what are up there as five of the best days of my life.  The invite came three months ago, and it was one of the (rare) instances where I said yes immediately and decided to figure out how to make it happen later.  As the man himself says: “Screw it, just do it!”.

I travelled there with 22 members of Business Chicks and I don’t quite have the words to describe the week.

Magical, inspiring, motivating, gratifying, nurturing, connecting, healing, loving…

In my time on the island – and in the 24 hours since I left – my brain kinda felt like a freshly-shaken snowglobe, where the sheer amount of experiences, new people and new information were all floating around furiously.  It’s only today that my thoughts have started to settle and clear “take-outs” have materialised.

I’m writing now from my hotel room in Miami, fuelled up on key lime pie and an iced coffee from the local diner.  I wanted to first get down in black and white what seems to be in the running so far for the biggest take-out I had – and it’s something I learned straight from Richard himself.

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Woman door

8 things I’ve learned about letting someone go

A couple of weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from a kick-ass young entrepreneur who occasionally asks for my advice.

It read: Need a little advice! Tomorrow morning I’m letting go someone for the first time. I’m so nervous! Any good reads or advice?”

I sooooo got why she was nervous.  Letting someone go is hands down one of the shittiest bits of running your own business.  I’ve had to do it several times – the shortest tenure being three weeks and the longest being seven months.

I’m afraid it doesn’t feel any less shitty the more I’ve done it, but I’ve definitely learned some things that help me do the deed with more compassion, professionalism and conviction each time.

I could write a LOT on this topic, however as a starting point I’m sharing the email I sent her – verbatim.  I hope it helps you if you ever need to part ways kindly with someone on your team.

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Send a grown-up no quote

Please send a grown-up

I should have expected it.

The team structure had been motoring along nicely for five months, which is just about the amount of time for a big change to hit…

Last week a senior member of the team left the business after just three months with us – to pursue a once-in-a-career opportunity elsewhere.  It was one of those “blessing disguised as a curse” moments, as we hadn’t had the huge success we had both hoped for out of the role.

It was the first time in quite a while that something has knocked the wind out of my sails.  It was also the first time in quite a while that I wanted a margarita at 11am in the morning!!!  Thankfully both feelings were temporary…

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Gifting - present

Eight gifts for eight occasions

At The Remarkables Group, we send a LOT of gifts.  Not in a bribey “please spend money with us” kind of way, but as a thank you for someone’s support or to congratulate them on a special event in their lives.

It’s a great way to make someone feel appreciated, and I know personally I probably get more out of giving a gift than receiving one!

The importance of sending a thoughtful, well-timed gift cannot be overestimated.  Particularly in our industry, clients and influencers are “love-bombed” (as I call it) daily by various different companies trying to get their attention or their money.  So the more unique, special, thoughtful or touching gifts are, the more unique, special and thought-about the gift receiver will feel.

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Sofa

It’s not all about the money

Sorry Meja.

Since I started my business, I’ve been fascinated by how you go about selling your company.

The steps that happen in the run-up to that point where you say: “Ok, the money’s hit my account – it’s yours” intrigued me.

Mainly because I was so focused on what we needed to get done, worrying that we’d make enough money so I could feed the cat; and facing down the “OMG WHO GAVE ME A BUSINESS, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!!” moments that – really – the point where someone wanted to buy my business felt like it was not just years, but light years away.

What fascinated me most was how that initial contact takes place.

Do you just get a call one day and someone says: “Hey, I’d like to buy your company?”

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Morning affirmations

Stuck for affirmations? This should help

Are you an affirmations person?

If so, you are going to love these!

I see the amazing Nicole Bayliss for a tarot reading each year (and have introduced a lot of friends to her too).

I get her newsletter and these little babies popped into my inbox last week.  I knew I had to share them with you all, and happily Nicole agreed.

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7 lessons on success from the movie Joy

Yesterday I finally got to see a movie I’d wanted to see for months – Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence.  I took my fake little sister Jenny as my date.  I say “fake” as I also have a “real” little sister Jenny, but by strange coincidence I got paired up with another Jenny back in 2011 as part of the SISTER2sister mentoring program.

It was exactly the movie we both needed as a big year of big plans stretches out ahead.  I LOVED it – JLaw was completely fantastic in her role and the random assortment of characters around her were fascinating in all their flawed glory.  The movie is based on the true story of entrepreneur Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop and many other products since.

Watching the story unfold, I was in awe at the standing start the main character was coming from as she sought to fight her way out of the less-than-ideal existence she was leading.  I had a fresh appreciation for the supportive people around me and the savings I had when I started The Remarkables Group almost four years ago now (!!!).

I spotted some marvellous lessons on success woven throughout the movie.  I don’t think there are any major spoilers here beyond what the trailer shares.  If I do give anything away…. Sorreeeeeee!

Lesson 1: In order to succeed, you need to tune out all those who say you can’t do it, who think you’re less than you truly are and who haven’t had success themselves.

Joy’s family in the movie are, well, pretty horrible.  They take her for granted, question her ideas and tell her she can never amount to much.  They are completely oblivious to the raw potential and pure guts she has, which makes her success all the sweeter!

Joy scene 2

Lesson 2: Cherish those who want to see you fly, and keep them near you.

Conversely, Joy’s best friend and ex-husband give her their full support and encouragement from the very beginning, then throughout all the negativity and challenges she experiences.  The movie closes with both these people still her closest aides and advisers.

Lesson 3: Get rock solid legal advice.

Joy goes with her investor’s lawyer to make the legal arrangements to patent her idea, which results in a shambles of a situation.  Finding a lawyer who was a specialist in patent law would have prevented the whole disaster.

Lesson 4: In the early days, you can sell your product better than anyone.

Joy manages to get QVC onboard to sell her mop invention, but the presenter screws his spot up and doesn’t get a single sale.  Joy wangles her way onto presenting it herself live on air, and does a pretty crap job initially.  Once she finds her voice and begins to talk about her product though, she comes alive and the sheer belief and passion she has for it shines like a beacon.  The result?  50,000 mops sold!

Lesson 5: If all else fails, get a new haircut and kick absolute ass

When everything has pretty much gone to shit and she is at rock bottom, it’s pretty clear that Joy feels she has nothing left to lose.  She hacks off her long hair and gets on a plane to Texas in one last attempt to save her business.

Joy scene 5

Lesson 6: Rock a power pose for extra confidence

In Texas Joy faces her VERY intimidating business adversary, who is the instigator of the whole mess she’s in.  In what is probably the best example of a power pose I’ve seen in my life, she stands her ground and tells him how it’s going to be.  I’m a massive fan of the power pose when I’m speaking.  Just by planting my feet further apart than normal and facing the audience squarely, it tricks my brain into thinking I’m in control and confident – even if inside I’m terrified.

Lesson 7: No matter how hard you think your life is, there is an alternative reality waiting for you if you believe in yourself and are willing to step outside your comfort zone.

As I already mentioned, Joy had the odds stacked against her starting her business – and she could very easily have pulled her head in and remained a broke mother of two with limited prospects.  However a little voice told her that she could be more, could do more, and create a life bigger than she even imagined.  That voice got her through seemingly impossible challenges.

Joy scene 1

Pretty inspiring, yah?

By the way, if you’re like me and the first thing you do after watching a movie or TV show is to Google the “real” person behind the story, here’s Joy Mangano.  And you might also enjoy this Vanity Fair story on the similarities and differences between the movie and real life.

Joy Mangano

Five movie stars from me – if you see it, let me know what you think!

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Our first ever Annual Planning Day

As I mentioned in my last post, I am determined to be as organised as possible this year – it’s seriously the only way I’m going to be able to get everything I want to do done!

We usually plan quarter to quarter, which to date has proven to be very effective.  This year is my (and by extension the business’s) Year of Adventure and as such there are some chunky – and frankly some terrifying – moves we want to make.

It’s imperative that we map out all of those things so we can properly plan the next twelve months, giving ourselves the best chance of success in the process.  As a result, I booked the team out for a day in January to buy us the thinking time we needed to hatch a plan.

Jack (Delosa) very kindly said we could use his place for the day, which has stunning views over the water in Mosman – perfect for getting this inspiration cranking!  An added bonus was Bear the puppy, who demonstrated a fabulously can-do attitude when it came to cuddles and sniffing out the smallest trace of food.

AP Bear

AP Bear 2

I thought it might be useful to any of you who have strategy days coming up with your teams to share the sessions we did.

First up, I did a quick welcome and set out what the outcome of the day was – to have a good map of what 2016 is going to look like, and for us all to be inspired and aligned in order to make it all happen.

Session 1 – Personal Goals – 1hr 30 mins

Next, Ashleigh led a session on sharing our goals for the year.  I had given the team my headings – listed in this post – and they used them as a basis to identify what they’re each aiming for in 2016.   We went around the table one-by-one and each of us shared what our goals were.

I love to know my team’s goals outside of their career!  Firstly, as it helps all of us be more fully-rounded humans.  All work and no play and all that…  Secondly, it helps them and me to be accountable to making those goals a reality.  And lastly, as it means I can give birthday presents and thank yous that will move them closer to their goals – e.g: one of our past team members Emily had a goal of learning to surf, so we gave her a surfing lesson for her birthday present.

Part of this session also asked each of us to prepare a statement starting with: “It’s December 2016 and the three things I spend most of my time doing are…”  Then we listed three activities that we’d like to be doing more of by the end of the year.

Session 2 – 2016 overview – 1hr 45 mins

I took the team through what I see our top priorities being for 2016 as a business, our revenue and profit targets, and what the organisation structure should look like by the end of the year.

I allowed plenty of time for this session so I could break each priority down in detail – I had worked on the plan with the management team in advance, however some of it was news to the rest of the group.

I also think it’s really important to walk a team through financial targets, rather than just presenting them with numbers.  Ours are bloody ambitious this year; so spending time walking through the numbers, breaking down what comes from where and getting the group’s buy-in means that everyone sits a little more comfortably with them.  Of course, people are still nervous about stretching targets but this process makes them that bit more manageable – almost like we grip the target up together and tell it who’s boss!

AP whiteboard

Lunch – roast chicken and salads from Chargrill Charlie’s.  Key details here, people.

Session 3 – Big Ideas – 1hr 45mins

James got us into brainstorming mode with some brilliant optical illusions and tasking, then we each shared one big idea that we’d like to see the business tackle this year.

To whittle down which ones we wanted to look at in more detail, we were each given an imaginary $100 to spend on “ideas shopping”.  So we could spend our entire $100 on one idea, or spend $50 on one idea and $25 on two others.  It wasn’t the most useful of tools in this case, as the general consensus was that they were all worth looking at!  We agreed to scope out five of them over this quarter, and make a decision at that point on which ones we’ll coax into reality.

Session 4 – Quarterly Planning – 1hr 15 mins

Sarah took us through an analysis of the last quarter of 2015, and using this and the overall annual plan we pretty easily identified what our top five “rocks” would be for the three months ahead.

AP Sarah session

We work to Verne Harnish’s approach in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits (if you haven’t read it, READ IT – it transformed my business).  This means that each quarter we select five big things we need to make happen in the immediate 90 days following, then break down the individual tasks that we need to complete within them.

We also allocate a theme for the quarter and set a corresponding celebration to it.  As this is the Year of Adventure, we’re adopting one famous adventurer as our theme each quarter… starting with Indiana Jones!

When we complete all our rocks and hit our budget target, we’re going on a treetop adventure.  I’ve ordered some Indiana Jones hats that we’ll wear in our Friday meeting to keep the theme alive and kicking.  Will share a photo when they arrive….

Session 5 – Team Development – 1hr

At the start of 2015, we made our team learning a priority and started a weekly training and development session – just 45 minutes before our weekly meeting on a Friday.  It alternates by week between our Book Club and Street Smart Sessions – where we learn from another person on the team or an external expert about a particular area.

Eddie and Chelsea had canvassed the team on key areas we’d each like to focus on and had narrowed the votes down to four key areas.

From that, they prepared a shortlist of potential books and we took a team vote on which ones make it into Book Club this year – with the aim of reading at least one book a quarter together.

First up for this year is The AlchemistTechnically this wasn’t on the list but as our other book this quarter is very small, I used my executive sway to sneak another one on there.  This book should be compulsive reading for everyone – it’s essentially a manual to manifesting what you want from your life.

Rather fittingly, this print was our thank you for being able to use the house – the entire text of the book on one page.  So cool!!

The Alchemist print

We definitely got the outcome I was after in terms of having a big annual plan that everyone is onboard and excited about.

What I didn’t necessarily plan on was the huge morale and energy boost that the day gave the team.  Between the day out of the familiar environment of the office, the fun hanging out together and the brain collaboration, the team was bouncing off the walls on Friday morning.  “Energised”, “excited” and “pumped” were words on high rotation all day – which was just brilliant to hear!

AP team [oc

I hope this peek behind the scenes to our planning day will help you with your team strategy sessions….

I’ll tell you at the end of the year if ours worked.  😉

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New Year goal-setting part 3 – making goals a reality

I am BACK in Sydney.

It felt very strange to come back to the city after our week in the Outback – no red earth, no 4WDs everywhere, cool air, noise… My favourite thing about living in Sydney is that it always feels great to come back, regardless of where I’ve been travelling.

The three days after I got back were major sort-my-life-out days, all about getting set up for the year ahead – and seeing friends in between. There was a major healthy food stock-up, a bedroom zen-ifying and the first stage of my new hair.

Cupboard

Hair 1

Cab selfie for Wade!

 Cover image credit: watchfit.com

Back to the office on Monday, and it was so nice to see the team. We’ve got our annual planning day on Thursday this week so we’ve each got a session to run for that. This is the first time we’ve done a day like this – normally we have a loose plan for the year and then do an offsite quarterly planning session every three months.

This year we’re going to be a LOT more organised, so we’ll have the whole year mapped out as much as we can at the end of this week. We have our key dates in the diaries for the year as well – so the team retreat, quarterly planning sessions and even the Christmas break for next year…. I’ve diarised my business trips and holidays, and the overall result is that I’m feeling I’ve got a good visual of how this year (hopefully) will go.

Anyway, onto the final stage of annual goalsetting…

Now I’ve got my goals set for the year, it’s time to make them happen!

A US study of millionaires and billionaires found that millionaires looked at their goals once a day, and billionaires twice a day. It’s key that you put your goals somewhere that you’ll see them. Every. Single. Day. Without. Fail.

My trick in our last house was to stick them up in the shower – achieving a double whammy of me being a captive audience to my goals, but it’s also the place that many people get their best ideas!

I bought a $15 laminator a few years ago, which makes it super easy to laminate important documents for the office… and home. Sticky dots keep your goals in place even in the hot and steamy shower, and can peel off easily if you move out or want to shift them about.

The shower may not work for you – so think about where you are without fail every day: your wardrobe door, car, dressing table, car or above your desk in your office.

I’ve moved mine now to my dressing table as the layout of our new shower didn’t work as well in our new house. As I do my make-up in the morning, I scan through the list and make a mental note of which goals I can move forward that day.

The next thing we need to do is kick in our Reticular Activating Cortex – we make our goals visual! Humans are programmed to seek out something we can see – ever wonder why you see a certain breed of dog everywhere once you decide on the puppy you want? Or maybe you buy a Toyota Prius, and all you seem to see are Prius cars on the road?

That’s your RAC at play. It’s also why vision boards are so effective.

Take the time to look at your goals and pick some key images that together paint that picture for you.   Some people spend days putting their vision board together, snipping inspiring images and quotes out of magazines, and they’re beautiful works of art.

I am not one of those people.

Mine was built using Google Image searches and a blank Powerpoint slide – it doesn’t need to be complex, it just needs to do the job! Select some images that portray the vision you’re working towards, and look at it every day. You’ll be amazed at how you start to make those images a reality.

My vision board captures all the key things I want to make happen in 2016 – health, success, spirituality, style, travel and relationships.

By doing these two simple things – putting our goals somewhere we see them every day and having a vision board alongside it – we can effortlessly keep ourselves on track to where we want to be.

Here’s my dressing table this morning (note calm new bed linen – love!!):

Dresser

I hope these little tricks help you have the most successful year yet in 2016. Let me know how you go…

 

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