How often do you get frustrated as a customer? Working part-time in hospitality to put herself through university, Catherine DeVrye had a customer centric work ethic drilled into her. Later in her professional life working at IBM in Japan, she became totally ingrained in a culture where she lived and breathed service quality every day. Over the last 25 years in her career as a best selling author and motivational speaker, Catherine has helped organisations on five continents to become more globally competitive by embracing continual improvement.
In today’s competitive talent market, a job isn’t enough for most employees; they want to make a living and make a difference. These days Catherine says she seldom speaks just about customer service. Taking a holistic approach, providing a good service also means the service you provide to your team, your community and to yourself. In this video, she explains how to develop relationships for long-term repeat business and why you can’t take care of your customers, if you don’t take care of yourself.
One of the very few Australians recognisable by their first name (no, it’s not you Eddie, Elle or Kylie), Cadel Evans has the honour of being the only Australian to have ever won the Tour de France (he came second in the Tour in 2007, 2008, both by less than 60 seconds, finally winning the race in 2011). For an Aussie on the world stage, it doesn’t get much bigger than that… come on Ricciardo, get that Renault firing!
Last week’s David
Parkin Oration for Sport and Social Change at Deakin Edge in Federation
Square brought me face to face with Cadel, and reignited one of my early
childhood passions – cycling. I’m not a weekend warrior or part of the lycra
set, but I love the sport of cycling.
Cadel was on the couch with
sports broadcaster, Gerard Whateley, and talked about just how far a bike has
taken him. It was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with a
cycling great, but what I heard for just on an hour was an unbelievably humble,
focussed and self-driven individual.
If you’re looking for the gold, here are my quick takeaways
from Cadel’s chat:
Don’t ever doubt yourself
Don’t underestimate the power of motivation and consistency
Learn to stay calm and absorb enormous pressure
in races and competition
Forget eat/sleep/rave/repeat. Cadel’s
teenage routine was solely: ride/school/eat/sleep. People told him he’d never
be a cycling champ. No Aussie had ever won the Tour, but he was out to prove
them wrong. It’s no surprise that Cadel is very single-minded; it took an
incredibly focussed individual to achieve what many others (including himself)
had had within their grasp numerous times, retaining the elusive yellow jersey.
Cadel says hard work opens up
other opportunities and sport can be an awesome agent for change. Growing up
near Katherine NT in the small Aboriginal community of Barunga made him realise
what a woeful job Australia has done with addressing the treatment of its
indigenous people. Sport has a privileged position to influence attitudes about
social issues, such as racism, eating disorders, alcohol, violence towards
women, gender equality and homophobia. It can also fall prey to its own issues.
When cycling was clouded by
performance enhancing drug-taking, Cadel praised those individuals and
organisations that provided him with a good moral compass: his mum (Helen Cox),
his coaches, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), his teams and team mates.
I think Italy holds a special place in his heart, probably due to Prof. Aldo
Sassi – his Italian coach and mentor.
Cadel would love to see more
Aussie school children ride their bikes to school. I’d like to see more people
back themselves too. Don’t underestimate your ability to motivate yourself –
strive for consistency.
Deakin University’s annual David Parkin Oration is always a great
opportunity to hear from inspiring people in sport. Who has inspired you
recently through learning or achievement in your world @work?
What do you think is the most watched Ted Talk of all time? It’s Sir Ken Robinson’s Do Schools Kill Creativity? It challenges us to rethink our school systems, to acknowledge there are multiple ways to learn successfully.
In my career
as a teacher I made the very deliberate decision to transition from teaching the
VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education, formerly the High School Certificate –
simply known as the HSC in Australia) to VCAL – the Victorian Certificate of
Applied Learning. For those who aren’t
au fait with the nuances of VCAL, essentially the curriculum is geared towards
a more hands on (applied) approach to
learning, and assessment is focused on outcomesrather than traditional
grades or results.
What I loved
about VCAL assessment was that it was based on life skills and employability. Nowadays
those same skills are referred to as 21st
century skills, which includes skills such as verbal communication, problem
solving, time management, leadership and teamwork. While the traditional ways
of learning are still addressed through assessment, more emphasis is placed on
creative and critical thinking in order to solve a problem.
fundamental message was that children (and adults too) should be encouraged to
use their imagination!
education is changing. Task-based learning, working in teams, appointing
students to leadership roles amongst peer groups… these are all things that we can
benefit from later in life, both personally and professionally. Not all lessons
are learned in books – a cliché, but true.
As educators we need to encourage all learners to read widely, to search
out subject matter that isn’t enforced by a standard curriculum and to be
guided by their intrinsic motivators. Put simply, allow students to go away and
learn something they want to learn.
While we’re here, let’s update our definition of text to include digital publishing and non-traditional modes of reading and learning. In the electronic age, it’s also timely to remind ourselves that education is not only about how you remember facts, because anyone with a smartphone has a virtual encyclopedia of reliable information at their fingertips. However, the power of information and how we choose to use it continues to be a defining question for our societies in the future. In an environment where fake news has become a real thing, knowing the facts has become less important than being able to deconstruct the message – an important skill broadly taught across many university degrees.
When I look back at that decision I made nearly 10 years ago, it’s interesting to see what the motivators were that have brought me on a journey into the professional services industry. Working in recruitment, our brief often identifies the hard (technical) skills sought in candidates. Recognising those soft 21st century skills that, along with appropriate knowledge and experience, ultimately determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular role, is something I’m proud to say I now specialise in.
Continuing our series of boardroom luncheon
events with influential people in Technical & Operations, Slade Group recently
hosted Kate Bailey, Associate Director – Head of Logistics and Retail Research
Focusing the conversation on how the Australian
economy will perform in 2019 and beyond, we discussed the impact of e-commerce
on the industrial property market, looked at how increasing vacancies and
slowing retail sales impact the retail sector, and considered infrastructure
challenges in the face of fast delivery.
Kate had some interesting statistics about how
our online shopping habits have contributed to land fill. For example, I didn’t
know that 30% of all goods sold online are returned, with a staggering 2billion
kg in the US going to landfill waste annually. While many retailers no longer build
their businesses with bricks and mortar, the space required for warehousing goods
bought online is having a significant impact on urban planning. With parcel
delivery now their major activity, services like Australia Post have had to
completely change their business model. Yet it’s still often cheaper to purchase
a book from Amazon, which is shipped from the other side of the world, than to
buy the same item from local bookshop. Kate says 30% of customers will pay more
just for faster delivery.
highlighted that omni-channel shoppers, those who buy online as well as in
physical retail stores, typically spend up to 30% more than traditional
shoppers. Sneakerboy in Melbourne is an example of how an innovative business
has successfully integrated the concept of omni-channel retail. Its Flinders
Lane store has 96% floor space for maximum storefront efficiency – they only
stock a single pair of shoes in each size. Customers try on the shoes then
purchase via an iPad in store. The shoes are shipped directly to the customer from
Convenience is becoming more and more a part of
the building design of both commercial and residential buildings. We’re
starting to see features like hot food vending machines for time poor (couldn’t-be-bothered-cooking)
professionals on the go. Driverless cars, soon to be a reality, are further
evidence of convenience led product development, but what will happen to the
We had a great chat around the table, with everyone
from retail, construction, land development, engineering, architecture, interior
design and those of us involved in the recruitment of these industry
professionals, contributing to the discussion.
Continue the conversation by posting a comment
on this blog or feel free to send through a question for me to refer on to
Kate. If you
would like to be a facilitator at one of our quarterly boardroom lunches please
contact me directly, details below.
The Boardroom Podcast in conversation with Anita Ziemer, Managing Director of Slade Group, about young people entering the workforce and the future of industries with the presence of automation.
The Boardroom Podcast is a series of engaging podcasts discussing the journey of and lessons learnt from many insightful industry leaders guests with a focus on having real and authentic conversations.
A Working Holiday Visa doesn’t have to mean charity mugging other professionals on Collins Street. It can literally turn your world upside down (if you’re from the northern hemisphere, like me). Currently residing in Melbourne – one of the top destinations for Brits on working holidays – I’m originally from Liverpool in the UK. As the newest member of the Interchange Bench team, I am delighted to share my Aussie story (so far) and provide some insight into the seemingly chaotic world of a traveller working in the professional services industry.
Back in early 2018 I was a wide-eyed, fresh-faced, slightly less tanned 20 something who had just touched down, eager to explore what Australia had to offer. Some would say I was living VERY vicariously (using pay pass in any country is just too easy – keeping track of your spending, not so much).
Fast forward two months of living life to the fullest… my finances considerably diminished, I was almost royally f#&$@d! I knew it was time to stop fantasising about never ending holidays and return to the real world, which meant I would have to secure a full time job!
I had previous experience in Healthcare Recruitment and Law in London, so securing a role that would stimulate me, as well as further develop my skills and experiences, seemed like a reasonable expectation. Yet after scanning numerous backpacker pages on Facebook and applying for hundreds of jobs on SEEK, Indeed and various other job boards, I was at a loss as to why I was unsuccessful.
I’d already tried the standard traveller’s juggling act: two hospitality jobs with unsociable hours that were not only underpaying me, but I was travelling the length and breadth of the city just so I could eat and pay my rent. Over the course of 6 months I realised it was very easy to fall into the trap of an unbalanced working lifestyle… and once you’re in it, it can be very hard to get out.
Horror stories abound about the 88 days of regional farm work we travellers do to extend our time here. I appreciate that fruit picking would be an anathema to many city folk, so you may be surprised to know I found it rewarding. The location wasn’t too bad (I worked at a renowned winery in the Margaret River region, just a few hours south of Perth on the beautiful WA coast). My labouring pushed me in ways I didn’t think it would (mentally, not physically, the monotonous nature of the work meant you had a LOT of time to reflect). Battling Mother Nature in the peak of winter for 8 hours wasn’t on my bucket list, but it had to be completed and I’m so happy I did it. During my three month period in Western Australia I met characters from all different walks of life. I spotted kangaroos, explored majestic jewel-caves, surfed for the very first time, took selfies with the smiling quokkas in Rottnest Island (officially the world’s happiest animal, according to the WWF) and even had the sheer luck to see a Great White shark at Busselton (from a safe distance).
With the epiphany that upon my return to Melbourne, I’d solely apply for positions that would offer me fulfilment and career development, I now look back on my first approach to job hunting and understand the errors in my ways. I didn’t have my recruitment head on: my cover letters were generic, the emails I sent to hiring managers were longwinded and I’d left all traces of my personality somewhere back on the road. No wonder I received hardly any responses!
Thankfully things changed when I fell in with a recruitment consultant. Job searching in general is hard work, but much tougher in a foreign country, even when you speak the language (no comments on my accent please). Hand on heart, recruiters are the glue that bind candidates to jobs in the market. They provide insight and guidance regarding career progression, pay rates and much more. But most importantly, working with someone that’s on your side helps alleviate some of the stress that comes with a job search, as well as being a fish out of water in an ocean on the other side of the world.
Things began to change and opportunities arose. With the support of my consultant at the Interchange Bench, I navigated the storm of the Australian job market, and here I am on the other side of the desk, ready to do the same for you.
Have you ever taken a working holiday? I’d love to hear about your experiences as an expat in the world @work.
Compliments of The Hustle, this blog is a 100% lift from Zachary Crockett’s post this week. If you’re not already, we highly recommend becoming a subscriber to The Hustle. Here he’s in conversation with Professor Robert Frank economist with Cornell University.
The ultra-wealthy often claim
they earned their riches through hard work and perseverance alone — but luck is
just as important.
A toxic myth pervades the business world:
Hard work and perseverance are the only things required to achieve immense
success and reach the top of your field.
It’s a mantra championed by everyone from
Wall Street titans to our sitting US President (“I built what I built myself,”
Trump told Charlie Rose in
1992. “I did it by working long hours, working hard and working smart!”).
This idea is staunchly rooted in the very
foundations of America — a nation built on the cornerstones of rugged individualism,
picking oneself up by the bootstraps, and accruing riches through sheer
determination. Those who do make it big often fancy themselves to be
But these stories overlook a crucial
ingredient of success: Luck.
Our conversation, lightly edited for clarity
and length, is transcribed below.
To start us off, certain successful folks — so-called “self-made”
businesspeople — believe they’ve earned everything in life due to hard work and
self-determination. But you argue they’re forgetting an important factor.
RF: Luck plays a
far greater role in life outcomes than successful people like to admit. When
you suggest that luck played a role in their success, they tend to get very
[Polls have shown that people in high-income
brackets are far more likely than low-income earners to say that success mainly
comes from hard work. Similarly, wealthy people are far more likely to
attribute their own success to hard work rather than good fortune.]
How do you define ‘luck’ and ‘success?’
consider luck to be anything that you’re not responsible for. Something
brought about by chance rather than your own actions. For success, I
focus narrowly on material success [i.e. the people with the most money
— those at the very top of the chain].
And are you saying that hard work and talent
at all. Hard work and talent are absolutely necessary for success.
market — especially in a space like tech — is extremely competitive. So you’re
probably not even going to be in the position to compete without the right mix
of hard work and talent. But the point of my argument is that these things are
not enough on their own.
of the time, the hardest-working and most talented people aren’t the ones who
experience the most success. There are a ton of people who are nearly as
talented and nearly as hard-working as those people who probably just
got a little luckier.
a meritocratic contest where 98% of a job candidate’s success is based on
talent and hard work and the other 2% on luck. You can run this a thousand
times and the most talented or hardest-working person will very rarely win. To
win, you have to be talented and hardworking — but you also have to be
you get into the top ranks of any profession, there are so many people who are
so good that the difference in skill level is almost imperceptible.
Winner Take All market is a market where someone who is maybe only 1% better
than another person gets a disproportionately high share of the rewards.
the #1 person and #10 person in a profession aren’t that far apart. The
most well-known soprano singer might only be a tiny breath better than
the tenth best. But in this market, she gets a huge premium and the other one
might end up being a 3rd-grade music teacher somewhere in New Jersey.
Does luck begin from the minute we’re born?
begins way before we’re born. The mere fact that you were conceived is such a
long-odds phenomenon: If one of a trillion things happened differently, you
wouldn’t exist at all.
you’re smart, inclined to work hard, have ambition — these qualities are all
some unknown mixture of genetics and environmental factors. You didn’t choose
where to be born, you didn’t raise yourself, or provide the genes that made you
who you are. So, when you say you’re “self-made,” it’s kind of hard to lay
claim to those qualities.
On that note, what are your thoughts on Kylie Jenner being
dubbed the youngest “self-made” billionaire?
At the very least you have to give her credit
for starting a successful company.
she lucky? Of course! She began with a lot of money and name recognition, so
that title is a bit of an overblown claim. To say anyone is a “self-made
billionaire” — that she earned the entirety of her wealth through merit — is
It seems like even tiny little things you’d
never think about — factors out of our control — can dramatically impact your
chances of success.
you were born in June or July, you’re less likely to be a CEO. You’re probably
one of the youngest in your class all the way through school, so you’re less
likely to hold leadership positions. [This is called the relative age effect.]
don’t choose your own height, but that can make a big difference too. [The
average Fortune 500 CEO is 2.5” taller than the average
American man. Overall, 58% of top CEOs are 6’+, compared to 14.5% of the US
population. It’s also worth noting that women only make up ~5% of Fortune 500 CEOs.]
these little events that are out of our control might seem like they don’t
matter, but they do. They can change your entire career path.
A lot of people say things like, “You create
your own luck,” or “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Do you agree?
sayings are valid, in my opinion.
you’re not prepared when an opportunity comes along, what the hell difference
does it make? If you’re not prepared, you won’t be able to capitalize on an opportunity
if one happens to come along. But you still have to be lucky to get that
Why do people get so defensive when you tell
them luck played a role in their success?
people look back on their lives and think about why they were successful, they
more readily remember all the hard work — not the chance events. [This is
called hindsight bias.]
best metaphor for this is headwind and tailwind. If you’re battling an
obstacle, you’re conscious of it; you have to work hard to overcome it. But if
something is pushing you along, you don’t notice it as much and you’re less
likely to credit it in the narrative of your success.
Can good things come out of admitting that
part of your success was due to dumb luck?
tend to like you better when you attribute part of your success to luck instead
of saying you’re self-made. [In an experiment, subjects were presented with
multiple versions of a CEO bio: One credited luck and skill, the other just
skill. Subjects who read the luck version responded more favorably to the CEO.]
who acknowledge luck in success are also more generous. [One study showed that
people prompted to recall instances in which luck led to a positive outcome
were 25% more likely to donate money to charity than those who were asked to
recall an instance where their own actions led to a positive outcome].
people could just learn to recognize they were fortunate, they’d be happier.
It’s a missed opportunity.
Most organisations today are aware of their environmental impact and responsibility. But beyond any legislative requirements, are there lessons from nature that may boost resilience among employees?
And before you cynically dismiss this thought as too ‘touchy-feely’, think of scientist Albert Einstein’s comment “Look deep into nature; then you will understand everything better”. Recruiting and HR professionals appreciate that there have always been (and probably will always be) the darkest of disasters in both Mother Nature and human nature.
Thankfully few of us will ever face tragedy that strikes with the strength and speed of tornadoes and tsunamis, or with the ferocity of floods and forest fires. Yet most of us do indeed confront crises that can instantly change the course of our lives, eclipsing not only our dreams but also our desire to carry on.
I know because I’ve been there.
Misfortune strikes everyone sooner or later. In my case, it was long before I was HR Manager for IBM’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Tokyo. I started life in an orphanage, lost both adopted parents to cancer the year I graduated from university, faced that dreaded disease myself long after my divorce, and fractured a vertebrae to be told I’d never play sport again. Shift happens!
Although the ‘f’ is often omitted, shift happens not only in fault-lines of the Earth but also in the faults and frailties of its inhabitants. Budget cuts, redundancies and takeovers may not be life-threatening for some but rather paradigms shift in both our personal and professional lives. And whether change is referred to as disruption or transformation, it still creates stress that everyone from the CEO to the most junior employee must deal with.
We need to re-charge not just our devices but ourselves.
My own energy always seemed boosted amidst nature. Climbing in the sublime silence of the Antarctic, strolling along a beach or gazing at a beautiful garden all offered their inexplicable breath of fresh air for my soul.
Only while writing my latest book, The Gift of Nature; Inspiring Hope & Resilience, did I discover why. Research from leading universities now offers scientific evidence that time spent in nature does indeed contribute to better mental well-being.
Employees who are mentally and physically healthy are surely happier. And there is little doubt that happy employees yield happier customers, which in turn yield better returns and stronger organisations. And whether you’re a CEO or just joined the organisation yesterday, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself!
So here’s a few simple nature-related tips to help cope with that feeling of being overwhelmed those of us working in HR have all felt from time to time:
Don’t make mountains out of molehills, play the blame game or make excuses. It might not be fair and it might not be your fault – but it is still your responsibility to deal with it. For perspective ask yourself this: will this matter in five or 10 years’ time?
Do get moving and stop moping. You don’t need to scale the Himalayas but never underestimate the rejuvenating powers of getting out in nature for a walk on a beach, in a park or in your own garden.
Do re-charge your high tech world amidst the high touch world of nature. We’re so busy being busy that we overlook the importance of balance and unless you’re an emergency worker, you don’t need your phone on 24/7.
Do get eight hours sleep a night and sleep on it before making any major life decision. Take time to breathe in fresh air as you inhale the future and exhale the past.
Do talk to a trusted friend or health care professional. A problem shared can be a problem halved and never be too proud to ask for help.
Do fill your mind with positive thoughts. We are bombarded with the worst aspects of Mother Nature (typhoons, tsunamis, drought etc) and human nature (bullying, abuse, corruption, violence etc). So if a beautiful quote or photo from books, music or art resonates with you, put it on your fridge or bathroom mirror as a daily reminder to soothe your battered soul.
When you’re embroiled in the many faceted and increasingly complex world of recruitment and HR, when you can’t see the forest for the trees, when everything under the sun seems bleak and when you think no one else understands or has been there, think again. And know that lessons from Mother Nature can help you weather the inevitable storms of life. Such is the power of nature amidst the random nature of being alive.
And remember, life does indeed mirror nature – some of its tragic but most of its magic!