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Playing from a 10.

It’s no secret Australians love mobile technology. Gizmodo reports over 97% now own smart phones. But we often forget we’re carrying the most sophisticated mobile tech of all above our neck. Using your mind in business sounds like a no-brainer, so it’s surprising to learn that our ‘necktop computers’ are often the least used.

I recently attended a networking luncheon at RogenSi, an international communications consultancy, best known for assisting the Australian Olympic Committee to successfully win the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Having the confidence to bid for an Olympic Games may be beyond the reach of most, but RogenSi Melbourne Director, James Cumming, makes an interesting point. He links confidence to attitude, a mindset for success. James calls it “Playing from a 10”.

According to James, this is what you need to do to prepare for your next business meeting, job interview or a sporting match, to get yourself in the right state of mind to be the most confident you can be: Imagine yourself at a 10. This is where you’re switched on, on the ball, bulletproof, pumped and ready to take on the world!  In this state of mind you’re going to do your best work. You’re going to give it your best shot.

Those times you’re feeling flat, disinterested, lazy, or uninspired? You’re not playing at your best, you’re playing from a 1. It’s an unproductive state of mind.

The numbers make sense to me. Of course in the real world, we can’t always be a perfect 10, but let me share a few tips from James to help bring you closer to 10 than 1.

  1. Your mind’s a ‘video vault’. To access your video memory bank, think about your past successes. That could be a great interview, a positive meeting or a sales pitch that went well in the past. Replay your mind’s video, remembering how you felt engaged at the time. Accessing that confident feeling from your mind’s video library brings it to your present. World champion athletes have been using visualisation for years. It’s a trick of the mind, and it works.
  1. Think about your non-verbal communication – the way you are using your voice, your body language, your facial expressions. Engage all of these non-verbals when speaking and you’ll present with confidence, passion and be in the right state of mind, whether it’s a business or personal conversation.
  1. Don’t forget your necktop computer. It’s better than any phone, tablet or watch.

I’ve tried these techniques myself and they really work. Don’t be afraid to try them yourself. Before your next business appointment, a job interview or a footy match, make sure your necktop computer is plugged in, turned on and you’ll be playing from a 10!

What techniques have you found useful to be confident in your business and personal dealings? What puts you in a productive, resourceful mindset?

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Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

A few minutes on mindfulness could be the gift of a lifetime

I was recently invited to a positive psychology talk (by my wife and daughter) with Smiling Mind – some of you may know the app?

Being receptive to new ideas, I went along. I was impressed by the panel of speakers who included well-known psychologist Michael Carr Gregg, author and meditation facilitator Tami Roos, and Professor of Public Health at Melbourne University Rob Moodie.

Some of the concepts that resonated with me were:

  • We have over 10,000 thoughts at work
  • Our day is made up of lots of unconscious thinking
  • The mind, body and spirit is our inner world
  • Mindfulness means slowing down your thinking and being present in the moment

Contemplating the psychological can be a little scary in the workplace, yet I came away thinking that unless we are careful, our days at work (which for me are often full of interviews and meetings), may also be full of unconscious thinking. In fact I’d argue that most of us are too often on remote control and not really listening to the people we work with or do business with.

Experts say first impressions are vital; we know they happen in the blink of an eyelid. In his ground breaking research about communicating feelings and attitudes, Dr Albert Mehrabian suggests that words only make up a small part of a person’s communication. In fact, “how the words are said, and how people look when they say what they say” are more critical than just the words alone.

To help you be more mindful (present and aware) at work, here are the signs to look for in your next face-to-face meeting with a colleague, client or customer:

  1. Listening – are you listening to hear or listening to learn?
  2. Eye Contact – read the person’s behavior with your whole body and mind
  3. Body Language – the body doesn’t lie, look for what’s really going on
  4. Vocal Tone – can you hear enthusiasm and passion in the voice or monotone and boredom?
  5. Pause – be present, be silent, really pay attention

Be more mindful of what’s really going on. Be present, switch on your mind, engage your whole body and spirit. You may see and hear a brilliant new world. I know I have!

Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work

Reference checks… your past is your future

Here is a valuable career lesson.

Recently I was at the final stages of a recruiting assignment. Slade Partners use a robust recruitment methodology, so I had some outstanding candidates for the client to interview. Shortlisted candidates had been asked to prepare a 20 minute presentation about what they’d bring to the organisation. Two strong presentations from two candidates and the client was impressed with both. He asked me to proceed to reference checks – the final stage before he would make a hiring decision.

The client’s preferred candidate for the role needed only to confirm his suitability with satisfactory references for the job offer to be his. In this case the candidate’s last two roles had been challenging: they hadn’t been great role fits and he had subsequently moved on. He was quite reluctant to provide referees, and really struggled to come up with the names of his direct reports from the previous two employers. This was a red flag for me: A high performing candidate with no suitable recent referees?

Learning One: Inability to provide referees spells danger

Make one bad career choice and learn from it. Two bad choices in a row and it starts to look like you are the problem.

After some prodding from me, the candidate provided the names I needed: two senior people who had directly managed him. Unfortunately, his referees had little positive to say. One in particular was very critical of his performance. When I relayed my findings back to the client, as I am professionally bound to do, it was the end of the journey for that candidate.

Clearly this candidate had not had a perfect career track record; more importantly, he hadn’t learnt about wise choices in matching job fit with true personal capability. When a client is made aware of performance issues in a previous job, naturally questions about suitability arise.

As you can guess, the candidate was unsuccessful and he was naturally disappointed to find out a promising opportunity was no longer within his grasp. When providing this feedback, I counselled him about making wiser choices rather than just jumping into a job for the sake of it.

Learning Two: An unflattering reference may not necessarily cost you the job

Reference checks are not bulletproof predictors of future performance, but it’s never good to have doubts about a candidate in the final stages of the hiring process. The majority of companies use background checks, yet in its General Assessment ROI 2014, Thomas International rates them as having only 9% validity!

Here’s another twist. Even with reference checks that were below par, the client still rated this candidate highly. They liked his background, were impressed with his ideas and could see value in the initiatives he tabled at his presentation. I’ve continued working with him and suggested he undertake some psychometric testing to gauge his work preferences, behavioural and leadership styles – factors that will no doubt contribute to his success with future roles.

Posted in Slade Executive, The world @work