Art of Living Make First Splash Towards “Joy Tsunami”

March 30, 2010

This morning, Auckland’s Britomart Transport centre and Queen St was awash with 50 joy-spreading volunteers from The Art of Living Foundation who handed out 10,000 smiles, 1000 free roses and conducted a meditation for world peace.

The event was to raise awareness of the “ripple effect” where one random act of kindness has a positive ripple thought a whole family or community.

The meditation was conducted to make the joy-spreading more powerful, and to raise awareness of the next watershed event in the joy-tsunami when 5000 people gather at Trusts Stadium on 5 April with the intention of lowering the stress levels of all Auckland.

Auckland Business Leader and Art of Living spokesman Daniel Batten says “Meditation is now routinely practiced by C-level executives in the US, but NZ lags behind. Citing Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar, he said “Many people are working for world peace. But unless you are peaceful inside, creating peace outside will not happen. That is where meditation is so powerful.”

The effects of a few people in meditation being able to reducing stress in an entire city is well documented: In 1983 during the Israel-Lebannon war, a few meditators were shown to have lowered violence in the city by a statistically measurable degree.”

This event paves the way for a huge action that The Art of Living, a 100% volunteer-based organization, is planning: 5000 people coming together to meditate at Trusts Stadium on 5th April. In this not-for-profit event, Art of Living founder and triple-time Nobel Peace prize nominee Sri Sri Ravishankar will come to New Zealand specially to lead the meditation and reveal ancient secrets to combat modern stress.

Art of Living claim that the effects of this mammoth event have the ability to lower Auckland’s stress levels by as much as 20% through the “ripple effect”.

A recent study showed that even if an individual had friends that knew people who became happier, that individual would themselves become happier themselves. Can 5000 people in meditation really trigger a joy-tsunami, sending shockwaves of good vibrations through the country? 5th April at Trust Stadium Waitakere at 6pm, Auckland will have the chance to find out.

This blog has moved

March 8, 2010

We’ve recently made some improvements to our web presence including incorporation of the blog into the main website at www.beyondtheceiling.com

From now on we will be blogging there rather than here.

Please adjust your bookmarks and we’ll see you there!

Are you in the business of addition, multiplication, or “power of”?

March 7, 2010

As I was about to start re-jigging some positioning for a client today something struck me.

Most people are in the business of addition. They rely on adding up the number of hours a day, squeezing a little more efficiency out here and there, but never truly multiplying the results of what they do.

Some people are in the business of multiplication. They take something – say a product – and “multiply” its perceived value by telling a compelling story about how you can use it that will genuinely benefit your life. Some marketers of course will also simply manipulate the human subconscious in order to raise the perceived value without adding any real benefit. Both are possible.

That’s why people doing sales and marketing generally get paid order-of-magnitude more than the doers. The doers are in the business of addition. The sales and marketers are in the business of multiplication. Both of course are necessary. Without the doers, there is nothing to multiply.

But what about “power of”? 3 x 3 is a better result than 3+ 3. But what about 3 “to the power” 3. What would be even more powerful than sales and marketing leverage?

I am pondering this now and I think I have an answer. I believe it has something to do with authentic conviction matched with courage. When I think about the moments in life that really make a fundamental difference, they are when we went out of the ordinary to do something outrageous. The time we did some outrageous thing that got the attention of someone we loved who didn’t yet know we existed – and now they are our husband/wife; the time we took some outrageous action with a company and now we have a dream-job. The time we took an opportunity we didn’t feel wholly prepared for – and now we have a thriving business.

So are you in the business of addition, multiplication or “power of”? The third is the most powerful by far – it also takes the most courage. It also causes us to grow the most. Ask yourself right now “What authentic action can I take today that scares me, which will move me ahead to a whole new plane!” Then do it.

If you still wont do it, then at least do this right now: form a master-mind group, a circle of peers, or a coaching relationship with someone who will hold you to a higher standard, and hold you to account for doing this.

“Why do all entrepreneurs always hate doing accounts?”

March 6, 2010

Have you sometimes felt that it’s as if all entrepreneurs are hard-wired to detest anything to do with book-keeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable or tax?

I have seen one company spend a 40% premium to hire contractor because it didn’t want the admin hassle of doing PAYE tax returns.

I have seen another company grind their business to a stand-still by not doing basic accounts (OK, I’ll confess that was me back in the bad ol’ days)

I have seen another fail to invoice hundreds of thousands = 25% of their entire annual turnover because they “really didn’t like doing this”. Because of a recession, the sands of time, and other events, some of this money they never saw again.

I have seen another business fail to do tax returns on time, resulting in more paper work, wasted energy negotiating with IR rather than chasing sales, and huge late penalty fees.

Entrepreneurs don’t like and should never do accounts. Accountants should do accounts. The problem is most entrepreneurs try to save money by doing it themselves. Trying to save money is the wrong goal, and it leads directly to wasting money, time and energy. What a trifecta! Saving energy and time should be the goal. When you look to save energy and time, the money naturally gets saved, and even when it doesn’t directly get saved – your increased time and energy allows you to generate 10-fold more revenue than you could possibly save by doing accounts yourself.

So why do entrepreneurs all hate doing accounts? For the same reason you hate listening to someone singing off-key: we are using our gifts in the wrong way, and this strikes a sour chord at the core of our being. We are telling ourselves we don’t truly value our gifts and area happy to squander our finite time on this planet doing things we should never be doing. Moreover, our tanks soon hit empty because we have been energetically depleted by doing something we should never ever be doing.

You cannot afford to not get your accountant to do this. Ask yourself the question “How can I save my precious energy and time, trusting that money will be saved/generated?” If that’s too much of a leap of faith and you feel you must still focus on the money-saving as the primary objective then ask yourself “Who other than me can I cost-effectively get to do my accounts, while I provide nothing but guidance?” If you believe you can’t afford an accountant , get an accounting student. Do something – just stop doing things that sap your energy, or your business will never fly.

“New evidence that giving it away helps generate commercial success”

March 5, 2010

Have you ever wondered what the relationship is between wealth-creation and philanthropy? Sure you can’t do philanthropy with at least some wealth. But what if the opposite were also true; that doing philanthropy helped you create wealth?

Three years ago, I started researching the relationship between philanthropy and wealth. I looked at a cross-section of books on wealth creation. Without exception, they all talked of the critical importance of giving. The act of giving they reported made manifestation more likely to occur.

Then I remembered how we had generated wealth by giving at one of my companies without me even realising that was what we were consciously doing. When I was CEO of Biomatters, we created a software product for molecular biologists. We had a free version and a version you bought (like Quicktime). The free version had been wildly successful and gone to the top of Apple.com worldwide.  When the “to buy” version was released we decided that we would donate 10% of the company’s revenue in one month to a cause voted by the end-users.

We got a huge response. However I also faced opposition from a fellow-directors. It was pointed out that even “Ben and Jerry’s” only gave 5% of profit, and there was no precedent for a company early in its growth giving away part of its hard-won revenue. Being a “pitching expert”, I was thankfully able to convince the board to trial the plan. The amount of good-will we generated from end-users was huge.

Our “to buy” version became very successful and went on to be distributed into 24 countries in the next four months. I have no doubt we would have achieved this anyway, but I believe that benevolent action helped us get there faster. It made our team tighter, it defined one of our core and solid values, and it attracted many others with shared core values that they were relieved to see another entity, a commercial enterprise no less, reflect back to them.

So even in a commercial context, in fact especially in a commercial context when you give more you tend to get back more. Your bean-counters may challenge you – that’s simply a test of your resolve. Its also your opportunity to practice being very good at pitching to them.

You may even show them this article as one piece of many pieces of evidence that when you do the right thing, it pays back in spades.

“What 2 minutes changes your career and life destiny?”

March 4, 2010

Here is one way to triple your chances of getting an interview in the first place

First – here is a riddle: what is the C-word that overcomes C-grades?

I train people in the 5 secret that turn job interviews into a job offer almost without fail. But what should you do if you are having trouble getting that interview in the first place? I’ve employed a lot of people over the years, and without exception when I reflect – they were the ones that were the hungriest. One person came to drop her CV off in person and asked to meet me. We ended up giving her an interview even though we had just put her CV in “12th place” and we were only interviewing 6 people.

Another kept badgering us, even though his CV was one of the worst I’d seen (honestly) – but he didn’t just badger: he had a good story to tell about how the grades reflected only the fact he didn’t like structured study but he knew his calling was in a workplace environment. We liked his hunger so we gave him a shot, and he ended up being right – he was one of our top employees. Getting a job is no time to be shy. You need to get more than your CV in front of someone to get an interview. Get your face in front of them. Show up at their workplace and insist on dropping it off in person. Ring them up and speak to the prospective employer. Tell them you are contacting them because you didn’t want to be just another CV without a voice or voice.

The C-word that overcome C-grades is courage. Combine this with conviction in yourself, and certainty in your moves and you will get the result you want, despite an appalling CV, an abysmal academic record, or an atrocious job history.

Most people never ask the question – “how can I be more courageous in my approach?” Instead, they abdicate responsibility for getting a job to

–        the economy

–        an employment agency

–        a CV

That’s why the quote is “fortune favours the braves” not “fortune favours the grades”.

2 minutes of courage counteracts 10 years of underachievement at school

2 minutes of courage can be the switch that flicks your life into a new dimension

2 minutes of courage will triple your chance of getting an interview in the first place.

What Event in 1819 Stopped You Taking Risks in Life Today?

March 3, 2010

What you are about to read may surprise you. It may even shock you as it shocked me when Educator Andrew Mowat at Group8 Education told me. Whether you in business or not, this article will speak to you.

Firstly, be warned that this article is controversial. Not in because it contains obnoxious opinions, but because thanks to Mr Mowat, it benefits from others’ well-research truths, not commonly known.

But first, I have a question.

Have you noticed that a child has no problem asking for what it needs? She has no problem applying what she learns to her life. And she acts free of limiting fear.

You on the other hand, like me, probably don’t experience this level of freedom daily. Why?

If you have ever found it difficult to – apply new things you read or hear to your life, – overcome paralyzing fear or making mistakes – take the risk to leverage the skills you have mastered this article reveals why.

To understand how this came about we need to understand Prussia in around 1819.

Napoleon had just decimated Prussia. The Prussians’ analysis revealed that defeat occurred because in times of battle, soldiers were thinking for themselves: they were thinking like entrepreneurs, not soldiers. To save their country, key board meetings, committee meetings and forums were held. The solution was found: re-educate 94% of the population to follow orders without question.

Among a host of sweeping “innovations” designed to train 94% of the population to think like soldiers, the school bell, the division of subjects into silos, and the removal of “real life” context were introduced.

I call this system the “PRUSSIAN keyboard”, for reasons that will become clear. The Prussian KEYBOARD was carefully constructed to tell people when to think, how much to think, and what to think (Origins & History of American Compulsory Schooling, Flatland Magazine #11). The result was a success. A new generation of people grew up to follow orders and do a better job defending their country.

During the Civil War, The Northern States of America saw the payoff and adopted this system. Soon the PRUSSIAN keyboard became the universal standard for the whole world.

The modern school is a QWERTY keyboard. While typewriters have changed to computers, the QWERTY keyboard lives on. The QWERTY keyboard was carefully designed to overcome the problem of neighboring keys “clashing and jamming together when typing at speed”. The resulting design was perfect in 1870, but the QWERTY innovation is no longer necessary – in fact it slows down typing.

Similarly, school uniforms and buildings have changed, but the PRUSSIAN keyboard lives on. And the PRUSSIAN keyboard was carefully designed to overcome the problem of neighboring nations jamming together in protracted wars that damaged the home country. The resulting design was perfect for Prussia in the 1820s, but the Prussian innovation is no longer necessary – in fact it slows down thinking.

Now step forward 191 years into a world where today billions of people who use or have used the PRUSSIAN keyboard each day of their school lives.

In times of war, a society of entrepreneur-thinking is dangerous. In times of peace, a society of soldier-thinking is disastrous.

Today, the impact of the PRUSSIAN keyboard includes the following:

– Because knowledge was silo-d, not integrated, we feared the unknown areas outside our subject expertise: we learnt to avoid the unknown.

– Because exams penalized mistakes, and wrong answers resulted in poor “success” – we learnt to avoid mistakes at all costs.

– Because saying something different, unique, unexpected in front of a group of peers engendered ridicule from our peers and/or teacher, we learned to give predictable answers or no answers: we learnt to avoid being the fool at all costs.

These strategies worked inside school, but were disastrous outside school.

– The cost of avoiding/fearing the unknown knew meant that outside school, we could not adapt as fast, think creatively, or look at the “big picture” so well.

– The cost of avoiding/fearing mistakes meant that we avoided taking calculated risks such as doing things we loved doing, but which there wasn’t a ready-made job for.

– The cost of avoiding/fearing being a fool meant that we wouldn’t venture unique opinions or ideas. Instead, we would wait until the mainstream adopted our social-vision, or someone else commercialized our product-vision.

Observing children, you will notice that they start off as entrepreneurs, adventurers and calculated risk-takers. The PRUSSIAN keyboard then turns our entrepreneurs into soldiers.

Remember, the PRUSSIAN keyboard was the right solution for the time. What is needed now is not to attack the keyboard. But having become aware of the keyboard, look for every opportunity to re-educate your mind past the three lessons that school taught you without your permission

“How do you identify and remove areas of drag on your business?”

March 2, 2010

There is a simple way to identify and root out drag on a business in next-to-no-time.

Start by asking these provocative questions of yourself.

“Are you risking rejection every single day?”

Every day, there is a conversation with your customers that you are either having or not having- or

there is a conversation with your prospects that you are either having or not having – or

there is a conversation with your staff that you are either having or not having – or

there is a conversation with your peers all co-founders that you are either having or not having

Yes of no?

And by not having any one of these conversations are you not holding back your business.

Yes or no?

So is one of the most important things you can do in business to overcome fear of rejection and to be confident you can land any communication

Yes-or-no?

Holding back your business is a pretty serious consequence.

A Doctor can treat a patient irrespective of whether that patient is an engineer, an artist, an Australian or an African. In the same way, as a business mentor, it is not necessary that I know your business in order to know whether the company is healthy

So why do most people tolerate behaviour that is holding back their business? The answer is because most people are not confident in their ability to “land” their communication in such a way that they won’t fail. This is a condition that can be treated.

Start by asking yourself each day the provocative questions above.

“What forgotten 4-letter word is the most important element of goal setting?”

March 1, 2010

After mentoring many entrepreneurs I noticed a pattern: entrepeneurs were generally not great at goal-setting. So I did what most mentors did to remedy this: I taught them SMART goal-setting techniques. But unless I was there holding them to account, they did not apply these principles for themselves.

And then it struck me why SMART wasn’t working for them. SMART is a great tool for people who already like task-orientied lives. But most people aren’t like this. In fact, I estimate that 90% of even the entrepreneurs I see do not have what I’d call the “project manager gene”.

One day, I picked up a book from a well-known motivational coach on my bookshelf and turned to a page at random. The page had a great process of how the do goal setting. I showed it to my wife and asked for her opinion.

She said “It’s good”.

I said “Would you do it?

“No.”

Now, I’m fascinated. “Why wouldn’t you do it?”

Her reply is forever engraved in my subconscious mind. “because its boring.”

Most of the latter half of the last century, motivational experts noted how fear stops us taking action. So does boredom however. Isn’t it about time we address the second cause of inertia?

Imagine this scenario which illustrates how goal-setting and boredom work hand-in-hand to lead you in a big circle.

Step 1. Goal-setter articulates Goal A: to start a company

Step 2: You read that “A person without a goal is like a rudderless ship” or “If you have no goal, any road will take you there” and you get motivated to take action, so you buy a book on goal setting/ listen to a motivational speaker/ buy an audio programme.

Step 3: You listen to that speaker/author/book, then you realise you have to do some work.

Step 4: You get bored

Step 5: You rationalize “hey isn’t it more important to have fun?”

Step 6: You abandon your goal-setting.

Step 7: You are back where you are started.

So how do you avoid the twin evils of boredom or non-achievement and get excited achievement. I can answer that in 4 letter.

P-L-A-Y.

Play is the most effective, accelerated and immediate tool for manifestation that the human nervous system could devise. I’m not talking about drama games or playing Drs and Nurses – although that might be fun. What I mean is “intentional creativity” and “structured play”.

I’ll look at examples of these terms in a minute. But first lets look at the three biggest benefits of play.

Benefit 1. Play avoids ever boring us into abandoning a strategy because it utilises the existing ways that humans are hard-wired to learn.

Benefit 2: Play is in our DNA, and a couple of hundred years sitting at desks being serious and stressed cannot change millions of years of evolution.

Benefit 3: Play is the way that all children learn, and it is also the way adults learn effectively. That doesn’t have to mean “physical play”, it can mean “cognative play” too.

So what might “intentional creativity” or “structured play” look like to you.

It might mean

  1. Deciding that you will only set goals in line with your passion, then asking a question that is designed to invoke “intentional creativity” in the answer such as “how can I have fun and achive my goal at the same time?” Great question.
  2. Asking a playful question. It worked for Einstein. Before he discovered relativity he asked himself the famous question “What would the world look like if I travelled on a beam of light?”
  3. Using what a professional actor uses to create an authentic powerful character. It is possible for anyone to take borrow those acting rehearsal methods to create a “more powerful version of you”.  For example,
    1. Use your imagination to envision yourself as having already realised your goals.
    2. Envision all the great feelings you will feel
    3. Start performing actions today imagining not only that you have already achieved your goals, but that you have become the person who has achieved them: the slightly more confident, slightly more centred person you will need to become. This is the same process an actor uses to create a character. The only difference is, you don’t have to stretch the imagination quite as far because the character is “the future version of you”.

Play creates fun, and fun is what sustains you when you would otherwise give up.

Play is what guides you to choosing the right goal for you in the first place. It stops you going down the wrong path: a path that doesn’t promise the combination of achievement and enjoyment.

Play is what gets you in a state-of-mind where creative ideas “just come”: ideas that move you ever-closer, ever-faster to your goals.

Play is the forgotten 4-letter word that moves you towards your goals faster than perhaps any other single factor.

“What are the top three ways to instantly improve your communication?”

February 28, 2010

I just spent some time with a client who is building an incredible online outsourcing solution that solves the main issues of trust, communication and payment. Think of it like TradeMe for buyers of any contractable, part-time or freelance service – anywhere in the world.

I have the best job in the world. Every day I get to hang out with inspiring people who are doing amazing things. And each day, through sharing what I know about business, positioning and building a vision, I get to help people live their dream, doing what they love.

Today, my client said “for the first time I can understand the importance of story. I’d always been told that ‘stories sell’ – but I never knew how to do it and always doubted how story fitted into the world of business – the world of facts and stats and balance sheets.”

Think of a story like this – its a glass. Imagine if you go to someone’s house and they say “would you like a glass … or would you like ‘some water’?” You would be baffled, as you want some water inside a glass. Water by itself will make you drenched. The glass by itself will leave you frustrated.

The water is the information, with all its facts and stats.

The glass is the water.

Story is the container for your information.

Have you ever felt drenched by someone who gave only information, but it wasn’t put in a story container?

Have you ever felt frustrated by someone who told a good story but had no substance?

The solution is to give them the glass (the story) and then give them the water (the information).

Now, do you notice that this article follows this principle. It told a short story, then gave some related information. The story provided the real life context where the information became useful.

Did you also notice the use of two metaphors? The metaphor to describe his company, and the metaphor to describe how a story works. If story is the body, metaphor are the arms and limbs that support it.

It is said that a picture is worth one thousand words.

However a metaphor is worth one thousand pictures. A metaphor links the unknown to the known more efficiently than any other device known to human-kind, and a story allows information to be absorbed, remembered and acted upon more powerfully than any other device known to human-kind.

PS: Finally, using story and metaphor to talk about story and metaphor is doing something else very important in communication: it’s illustrating the difference between telling and showing. Telling is like a stand-up comic saying “I’m a very funny guy”. Showing means telling a joke. Which would you rather listen to? That’s how important “showing” is when you are selling any message.

Get in the habit of showing not telling, using metaphor, and start story telling – and you instantly add three cylinders to your communication engine.