Commonwealth Bank – Interesting posts

Here are some links that I have enjoyed from the Commonwealth Bank Women in Focus newsletter:

Why Don’t People Listen

by Hugh Mackay

isbn: 0-330-35595-3

This is a great book but a very long read.  Mackay uses a family (husband and wife (second marriage) with 2 children) everyday communication as the back drop to demonstrate how and why our communication goes so wrong. 
I’m sure as you read this book, you will recognise yourself several times and think ah-ha that is why I didn’t get my message across! 

Some of my favourite snippets are:
• It’s not what our message does to the listener, but what the listener does with our message, that determines our success as communicators.

• When we speak of a powerful message, we are really referring to the power of the message to evoke a response, not to shoot a bullet of meaning into the mind of another person.

• We are the prisoners of our experiences.

• We don’t only perceive and interpret selectively; we remember and forget selectively, as well.

• The cage is one of our most powerful psychological weapons.  It gives us the ability to shape the world to our liking.  In communication, it (the cage) allows us to deal with messages in a way which confirms what we already thought or what we had expected to hear – even when that was not the intention of the speaker.

• Listeners generally interpret messages in ways that which make them feel comfortable and secure.

I do encourage you to read or at least flip through this book.

100 Great Business Ideas

by Jeremy Kourdi
Isbn 978-462-09960-6

Another book to add to your bookshelf – well at least to your library list to have a read of!  Each chapter is limited to 2 pages and concludes with an “in Practice” to help you implement the ideas in business.  While the ideas vary from running a business, managing a team, marketing the business irrespective whether you work in a business or own a business I think there is value in this book.

My favourite chapters were Bumper-sticker strategy, Information dash boards and monitoring performance, Balancing core and the context, Built-in obsolescence, Precision marketing, Rethinking the budget, the balanced scorecard, Value innovation, and The leadership pipeline.  Now while you might be thinking “I’m up on all of these topics”, I find each of us have so many things happening that having a short reminder and a practical way to assist you to implement a great idea is always refreshing.

One of the ideas that I have implemented involved re-writing the closing page of each of my face-2-face training courses to include a paragraph on how participants can go to my online learning site if they want to get more information.
Another topic that I have implemented is creating a weekly dashboard to monitor my life. 
The dashboard has indicators that let me know that I’m on track with my personal and business goals.

301 ways to use Social Media to boost your Marketing

by Catherine Parker
isbn: 978-0-07-173904-7

You may have heard the horror stories about social media. Conversely you will have heard the good fortune stories about people finding their lost friends and relatives. The question is – Does social media have a relevance to business?

The simple answer is YES. This book believes you can build brand and product awareness using social media, BUT it stresses you do need time and a strategy. Just joining Facebook isn’t going to do it for you.

So what is social media in a business context? It is web tools and websites that allow a conversation to take place between you and your target market.

Reported statistics speak volumes about the potential of social media, for example, during 2010 Facebook reached over four million users, Twitter receives around 50 million updates each day.

Social media’s accessibility stems largely from the scalable nature of the Web, as well as the fact that most tools are easy and free to use. So you don’t need special technical skills or extraordinarily deep pockets to run a successful social media campaign. The only real things you need to be successful on the social media scene are a good strategy and a healthy dollop of time – this I can testify to with my playing with different forms of social media over Christmas.

So how can this book help you? Firstly it can explain in simple terms the different categories of social media, how each can assist your business, key advantages, strengths, weakness and opportunities. One of the key messages is ‘use less rather than more’ and ‘take action’. The book also writes about linking the various social media tools to minimise your efforts. I strongly recommend this book if you haven’t got into this space yet.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

by Verne Harnish
isbn: 10:1-59079-117-7

Over the last 12 weeks I have been lecturing third year students on Advance Strategic Planning at the University of the Sunshine Coast.  This has given me a great opportunity to reflect on the plans for my business while trying to engage the students to think of strategy as a tool for business as well for personal life.  Now while I won’t bore you with text books, I will encourage you to read ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ and take action to build an exceptional personal and business life.

Verne Harnish starts off the book relating a discussion he had with Tom Meredith (former CEO of Dell Computers).  Tom had attended a course called Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) and was relating to Verne how some of the fundamentals were just as applicable in business as at home:

1. Have a handful of rules

2. Repeat yourself a lot

3. Act consistently with those rules. (Which is why you better have only a few rules!)

Verne then writes how he was reading a biography of John D. Rockefeller and recognised how these same three underlying habits were the key to successful management in the Rockefeller businesses.  Verne rephrases these habits as:

1. Priorities – Does the organisation have its objective Top 5 priorities for the year? Does the organisation have its Top 1 of 5 that it focuses on for the quarter (/month) and does everyone have his or her own handful of priorities that align with the organisation’s priorities?

2. Data – Does the organisation have sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis to provide insight into how the organisation is running and what the market is demanding?  Does everyone in the organisation have at least one key daily or weekly metric driving his or her performance?

3. Rhythm – Does the organisation have an effective rhythm of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to maintain alignment and drive accountability?

Verne believes these habits will shape an organisation that understands – and acts upon – its Top 5 and Top 1 of 5, as an organisation that progresses and prevails.

This book is supported with an excellent website and I encourage you to review the articles within and download the resources that Verne supplies. (

The Power of One

by Bryce Courtenay
isbn: 0-7343-0550-8

This book review is a little different.  During my journeys in July to Brisbane and Tin Can Bay, I was listening to this (audio) book and I realised that there were numerous business lessons to be learned from Bryce Courtney’s’ story.

My favourite quote from the book is ‘first with the head and then with the heart.

And here are just some of the valuable business lessons that you may be able to adopt in your journey:

  • ‘It’s good to be a little frightened.  It’s good to respect your opponent.  It keeps you sharp.’
  • ‘Now my (Hymie) theory is that to beat any system you have to know it intimately.  Rebellion is senseless and being pointedly different only leads to persecution.’
  • ‘This time we gambled and won.  Next time you fight we’re going to know the form.  We’re going to know everything it is possible to know about your opponent.  Every time he scratches his bum we’re going to analyse why.  The making of money should never be left to chance.’
  • ‘It’s time to get out, Peekay.  There are two important rules of business, knowing when to get in and when to get out.  Of the two, knowing when to get out is the most important.  We’ve got bigger fish to fry.’
  • ‘… business is simply a matter of opportunity and money.  If you’ve got capital, sure as tomorrow is Tuesday, an opportunity will come along.  We’ve built up a considerable bank over the first two years, fifty percent of everything we made went into our capital which was earning interest’
  • ‘Look, Hymie, it meets every criterion we’ve established for a business.  There is a known need for our services.  The risk factor is small and easy to control, our creditors can hardly default can they?  We don’t have to borrow capital and the profits are reasonable and regular.’
  • ‘Geel Piet taught me to anticipate the problems likely to occur in any situation and to review the answers to them long before disaster struck.  His mind was a network of emergency plans.’
  • Over all this lay Hoppie’s dictum: ‘First with the head and then with the heart’.  Winning was something you worked at intellectually, emotion clouds the mind and is its natural enemy. 

Small Giants : Companies that Choose to be Great instead of Big

by Bo Burlingham
isbn: 9780 141 031 491

This book caught my eye as it was about companies that have chosen not to focus on revenue growth or geographical expansion (although a good return on their investment is important).  The companies are more interested in pursuing goals such as:

  • being great in what they do;
  • creating a great place to work;
  • providing great service to customers;
  • having great relationships with their suppliers;
  • making great contributions to the communities they live and work in, and 
  • finding great ways to lead their lives.

Business goals (in this book) that resonate with me:

A common dominator Bo found among these businesses is what he called “human scale”.  This is where it is still possible for an individual to be acquainted with everyone else in the organisation and for the CEO to meet new employees.  Bo’s research identified that (human) scale played an important role in their approach to reach these business goals.

Bo also remarked another common element was that companies aspiring to these goals remained privately owned with the majority of the stock in the hands of one person, or a small group of like-minded individuals, or in a couple of the cases, the employees.

Bo uses individual chapters to describe each of the six common threads pertaining to these companies. 

One passage that I found inspiring was:
Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group talked about businesses having soul.  He believed soul was what made a business great, or even worth doing at all.  “A business without soul is not something I’m interested in working at,” he said.  He suggested that the soul of a business grew out of the relationships a company developed as it went along.  “Soul can’t exist unless you have active, meaningful dialogue with stakeholders: employees, customers, the community, suppliers, and investors.”  When you launch a business, your job as the entrepreneur is to say, “Here’s the value proposition that I believe in.  Here’s where I’m coming from.  This is my point of view.”  At first, it’s a monologue. Gradually it becomes a dialogue and then a real conversation.  Like breaking in a baseball glove.  You can’t will a baseball glove to be broken in; you have to use it.  Well, you have to use a new business, too.  You have to break it in.  If you move on to the next thing too quickly, it will never develop its soul.  Look what happens when a new restaurant opens.  Everyone rushes in to see it, and it’s invariably awkward because it hasn’t yet developed soul.  That takes time to emerge, and you have to work at it constantly.

PS – the book focuses on fourteen businesses and I will admit I was challenged that a couple of the businesses had the human scale factor – one business has nineteen hundred employees! I am sure you will find the book an interesting read.

Small Business, Big Opportunity

by Sensis in partnership with Rob Hartnett.   isbn: 0 646 46222 9

This is one of my all time favourite books for Small Businesses (for that matter any business) trying to get a hold on smart marketing and advertising. 

The book starts with an explanation of various business models and continues on to the big issues facing businesses.  It also gives a snap shot of Michael Gerber’s three types of business owners. 
(Let me know Which one are you? After you have read the book.)

The book focuses on the four factors which Rob Hartnett believes build a successful business:

  1. Your available market;
  2. Your ability to create selling opportunities from that market;
  3. Your – and your staff’s – business, sales and marketing skills;
  4. Your ability to contain costs and increase margins.

Now if you are thinking that these four factors are only relevant to business, I believe any successful business person could relate how these factors influenced them.  For instance, if I apply these four factors to a business person I believe they would relate them by:

  • Knowing who is interested in their skills (their market);
  • Understanding what their skills mean to a market space;
  • While mastering their business skills, having an understanding how to market and sell themselves;
  • Being able to demonstrate how they can add value to the business they are joining.

So I believe this book is for everyone.

What will you find inside?  When I flick through my copy each page has several highlighted points.  The book is jam-packed with helpful tips and hints, and it gives you some very practical activities to assist you in quantifying some of the intangible aspects of your business or business profile.

The most sensational aspect of this book is that it is absolutely FREE!  You can obtain your hard or soft copy by going to and clicking my “Favourites” tag and using the link to the book or you can contact Sensis.

Mind Maps for Business

by Tony Buzan with Chris Griffiths. isbn: 978 1 4066 4290 2

Approximately 20 years ago I was at a conference and one of the speaker said, “In this session you are not to write one word of what I say but you can draw any image that links what I am saying to what you are interpreting.” Now as a very studious student I was extremely concerned with this idea that ‘not a word could be written down’ but I was even more concerned with the idea that I had to draw ! (Have you seen my drawings? You wouldn’t want me on your Pictionary team!)

Before we started with the content of the session, the speaker introduced the tool of Mind Mapping as a technique for taking picture notes rather than taking word notes.

So why use Mind Mapping? Tony Buzan (the creator of Mind Maps) says “The human brain does not think in toolbars and menu lists; it thinks organically like all natural forms, like the human body’s circulatory and nervous system, or the branches of a tree and veins in a leaf. That’s how the brain thinks. To think well it needs the tool that reflects that natural organic flow. The Mind Map is that tool.”

How do you do a Mind Map? Before starting I suggest getting an A3 piece of paper (you will work your way down to an A4 with practice) and various coloured pens/pencils.

  1. Turn your (blank) sheet of paper sideways in front of you (landscape-style) so you can start your Mind Map in the centre of the page (giving you plenty of space to work with).
  2. Now place an image in the centre of a page that represents the idea, concept, thought, theme or subject of whatever issue is your focus.
  3. From this centre image draw out curved lines. These are your first-level branches. On these branches identify key concepts with images or keywords. The experts recommend a different colour for each branch.
  4. From these first-level branches draw out another series of lines. These will emulate the second-level branches (sub-concepts to the key-concept).

The end result is a core image connected with curved lines, symbols, words, colour and images that mimic the myriad of synapses and connections of our brain cells, reflecting the way we ourselves are created and connected.

As I often describe myself to people as a linear person who works from top left to bottom right with a pencil in note taking, the workshop request to start with a picture in the middle of a page was a stressful experience for me! This book will assist you with the creating your first mind map, teaching you how to use mind mapping to facilitate communication and negotiations in your business and how to use Mind Maps for better business outcomes.

NB: If you want to check out how a Mind Map is developed by an expert or how it can look, please review:              or

Alternatively, try developing one in PowerPoint or a shareware application at

Have fun.

Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire

By Mireille Guiliano. isbn: 978 1 84737 440 0

Next time someone next asks me “What is your philosophy of doing business?” I will just hand them a copy of this book. Yes, this book is a mirror image of how I believe business professionals (and not just women) should conduct themselves in business.

This book has many tips and aspiring stories to build your confidence (at any stage of your business career) and the author has also tackled some business topics that no-one wants to talk about. Perhaps you may consider some of these topics ‘light-on’ such as how to handle your emotions at work; business dress-sense; how to conduct yourself in business entertaining (whether at home or out). I believe that after reading the chapter on ‘Branding’ you will see how these fundamentals will contribute to your business signature.

The book was easy to read and had an interesting title for each chapter. Here are some of my favourite chapters and tips within:

• The principle of enlightened self-interest: Mireille acknowledges “We live in a 24/7/365 business world and the demands always to ‘be on’ are intense”. Mireille suggests the way to survive is to ‘to know thyself’ and act with enlightened self-interest. This requires you to step out of your immediate body full of instant passions, anger, love, jealousy and perhaps even hate and to make a cold analysis of your situation in its content before acting. Not always easy but Mireille gives some great tips on how to do this.

• Of velvet gloves, words, and handshakes: One of the greatest challenges we have in the business world is communication and this chapter covers some of the fundamentals that should be taught in every business course including – how to make a PowerPoint presentation; greeting business people (do you kiss them or give them a hand-shake, including how to do a handshake); giving feedback; mentoring others plus other great basics.

• Paint yourself orange: My favourite paragraph in this chapter is “What do people think of when they think of you as a brand? If you don’t stand out with a clear identity, you are lost in a sea of indistinguishable peers. If you have business ambitions, you don’t want to be a commodity, something perceived as commonly available, unspecialized and easily exchangeable with another product of the same type. … You need to be known for your unique qualities, and that means being recognized.” This chapter also covers some great tips on company branding.

• Whose success?: Mireille believes many women ‘want it all’, but she says that is not possible unless you manage your expectations and those of the people closest to you of what ‘having it all’ means. This is a great chapter for those over-achievers.

The book’s subtitle is ‘business sense and sensibility’ and I believe it lives up to this. I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did.