Strategies for Effective Talent Retention

Retaining top talent is important for any business that wants to stay ahead. Often the cost of a new hire is underestimated and if you don't get it right the HR budget ('what's that?' I often hear) will blow out causing heads to be scratched as owners and senior managers look at cashflows and question 'why are our marketing and sales not achieving the expected results?'. Answer: that's a different issue, one that requires attention, but in this instance your attention is going to the wrong place.

If your systems are not created to attract and assess people whose values are aligned with the business, who have the skills you need or are open to rapidly training up to acquire the skills and whose personal passions or interests are not aligned to a sufficient degree with the role you need them to do, you are destined to be a what we call in Total QX a seasonal employer. (for context read the poem by  Brian A. “Drew” Chalker).

Candidates who have just one of these will be a struggle, two ... well Meat Loaf was right ( ... and three ... possible PowerBall Jackpot! Whether you get the PowerBall or not will show over time.

Staff retention is not just about keeping staff; it's about fostering an environment where they can thrive and contribute to the company's success. Whether it's through competitive pay, career development, creating a positive work culture, feeling valued or something else, the right approach will make all the difference.

What's your strategy for keeping your team engaged and motivated? What do you think is the key to developing more durable, adaptable teams?

In the poll below I've chosen the three top responses (presented below in no particular order) from a workplace survey I conducted several years ago for clients in the hospitality, tech and financial services industries. Of the three, which of these do you think is the best strategy for retaining top talent? If you think that these are no longer relevant and/or there is something else more on point, please use the "Other" option and enter your thoughts for better strategies in 2024 and moving forward.

Staff Retention Strategy Poll

What's your top strategy for retaining talent?

Understanding The Venture Capital Investment Journey



Venture Capital (VC) firms deploy a variety of strategies to scout and support potential investments. Key among these strategies is the due diligence process, a critical and comprehensive evaluation focusing on a startup's business model, market potential, and overall viability. Parallel to this, albeit less commonly employed, is the concept of a residency program - not yet an investment, but a distinctive selection process. Unlike direct financial investments, residency programs offer startups a unique value proposition: direct access to the VC's resources, mentorship, and networks, essentially serving as a hands-on approach to assess and nurture potential investments within a collaborative framework.

These residency programs are designed to provide startups with closer operational guidance and oversight, resembling accelerators or incubators in their structured support and intensive engagement. This approach is particularly advantageous for early-stage companies in sectors where operational expertise and strong network connections are pivotal. It represents a strategic choice for VC firms aiming to deepen their involvement with startups, offering a significant value-add during the selection process.

Typically, VCs engage in strategic investments after thorough market analysis, followed by a spectrum of post-investment support ranging from board participation to strategic advice. The implementation of residency programs, however, underscores a proactive involvement strategy, emphasising the importance of collaboration and hands-on support in sectors like technology and healthcare, where such engagement can dramatically influence a startup's growth trajectory and success.

In summary, while residency programs and due diligence are both selection processes, they cater to different aspects of a VC firm's engagement strategy. Residency programs, in particular, offer a tangible value add by fostering a more integrated and supportive environment for potential portfolio companies, underscoring a commitment to nurturing startups beyond mere financial investment.

The VC Investment Journey Road Map

Here is a brief overview of the essential stages of engagement with VC firms, from initial selection to successful exits, offering a clear roadmap for navigating the investment process.

1. Initial Engagement and Selection:

The first step in a startup’s VC journey involves a thorough selection process, ensuring that both the startup and the VC firm are aligned in terms of vision, potential, and growth trajectory.

2. Post-Investment Support and Growth Facilitation:

Following the investment, the VC firm’s role shifts towards active support and strategic guidance to ensure the startup’s growth and success.

3. Sustained Growth and Exit Planning:

The ultimate goal of VC investment is to guide startups towards a successful exit, benefiting all stakeholders.

Venture capital offers a pathway to secure funding and partner with experts dedicated to guiding startups through every growth stage. This collaboration provides startups with strategic insights, resources, and networks, essential for thriving in today's dynamic market landscapes.

Taking Your Startup to New Heights with Venture Capital

Navigating the Venture Capital journey can require a lot of adapting on the part of startups. Venture Capital offers more than financial support, it opens up avenues for strategic mentorship, networking, and substantial growth opportunities. As you've explored in this guide, engaging with VC firms involves a comprehensive process, from initial due diligence to post-investment support and strategic exit planning. Each stage is designed to maximise your startup's potential and align it for success in competitive markets, so that the VC firm achieves the greatest possible return for the investment and their investors.

Understanding and navigating this journey can also be daunting. Whether it's mastering the art of the pitch, refining your business model for maximum appeal, or strategically planning for growth and exit, expertise and guidance can make a significant difference.

If you're looking to enhance your readiness for Venture Capital investment, or if you're seeking to refine your pitch to make a lasting impression on potential investors, I’m here to help. My services include specialised online courses and personal coaching programs for founders and co-founders focused on creating effective and winning pitch decks, as well as tailored advice on pitching to VCs and other types of investors. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to successfully navigate the venture capital investment process.

Ready to take the next step in your venture capital journey? 

Reach out for more information on the courses and coaching programs. Let's work together to prepare your startup for the opportunities and challenges of VC funding, ensuring you're well-equipped to create a compelling case for investment and to capitalise on the growth opportunities that venture capital provides.
Contact me today to explore how I and my team can support your startup's journey towards success in the venture capital landscape.

The Recipe and Ingredients of Business Excellence

Creating and running a hugely successful business is the same as the process of preparing, presenting and selling insanely delicious food or beverage and I don’t mean ‘cooking the books’ which one (now incarcerated) accountant suggested to me at an industry event where I was invited to speak. 

Whilst there are several "X" factors, like using the Total QX (Total Quality Experience) framework, that can completely ramp up a business to stand out from the crowd, there are some fundamentals that create the opportunity for sustained success. Whether preparing a great dish or an amazing cocktail the process is relevant to the setup up and running of a business in any industry. You’d think then that hospitality would be the most effectively run and operated businesses in the world. It’s an industry I love and I would love for this to be true. Sadly though, too often nothing could be further from reality. 

Most industries have to deal with all of the same challenges of external forces such as Economic Downturns, Changing Consumer Preferences, Market Dynamics, Regulatory Changes, Natural Disasters, Seasonality, Cultural and Political Events, and Currency Fluctuations, so the idea is to control what we can and navigate to the best of our ability the things we have no direct influence over.

Identifying Your Dish: Choosing a Product or Service

Before you can select a recipe or envision the dining experience, you need to decide what dishes you want to serve. This involves understanding the culinary landscape (the market), identifying what appetites exist (customer needs), and determining what unique and satisfying dish (product or service) you can offer that isn't already being served by others (niche), or how you can make an existing dish far superior (differentiation).

Choosing the Recipe: Vision and Strategy

Just as you would select a recipe based on the occasion, your guests' preferences, and the ingredients available, starting a business requires a clear vision and a strategic plan. The recipe you choose embodies your business idea – what you wish to offer to your target market. The vision is the dish you aspire to create, while the strategy outlines the steps to get there, including the markets you'll enter and the competitive advantages you'll leverage.

Sourcing Ingredients: Resources and Talent

High-quality ingredients are fundamental to an excellent dish, just as the right resources and talent are crucial for a business. This involves securing capital, technology, and materials (the ingredients), as well as assembling a team of skilled professionals (the chefs and sous-chefs, service personnel, back of house, admin) who share your vision and can execute the plan. Each ingredient and team member must be chosen to ensure they contribute positively to the final outcome. During the hiring process it is best to match the psychographics of the candidates to the business goals so that the people you hire will excel in their roles to help you achieve those goals

Put it on the Menu: Marketing and Visibility

Before guests can order a dish, they need to know it exists. Similarly, in the business world, before customers can engage with a product or service, they must be made aware of its existence. While restaurants need to advertise their venue and overall experience, from the perspective of the food offering, marketing and advertising in any business are akin to putting it on the menu. This step is crucial because it directly impacts the customer's ability to make an informed decision. Just as a well-designed menu can entice a diner to try a dish, effective marketing strategies can draw customers toward a business's offerings. This involves showcasing your product or service in the best possible light, highlighting its features, benefits, and unique selling points to stand out in a competitive landscape. It's about ensuring visibility in a crowded market and making it easy for potential customers to find and choose you over others.

Specials: Special Offers and Promotions

Restaurants frequently showcase specials to not only draw in patrons but also to spotlight select ingredients, creating a unique dining experience. Similarly, more generally in business, promotions and time-sensitive offers serve as powerful tools to attract new clientele and encourage loyalty among existing customers. By leveraging the sense of urgency and the fear of missing out (FOMO), these strategies effectively motivate consumers to act swiftly, boosting sales and reinforcing brand engagement.

Recommend it: Sales and Customer Service

Just as the suggestions of wait staff can sway the dining decisions of a guest, in the business world, the role of sales teams and customer service representatives is equally pivotal. They are the frontline in presenting products or services to potential buyers, guiding their decisions through personalised recommendations. This helps customers understand the unique benefits of an offering and also fosters a sense of value and trust. These tailored interactions are key to boosting customer satisfaction and nurturing loyalty, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience. Furthermore, they serve a strategic function by guiding customers toward offerings that the business aims to highlight or clear. This approach not only aligns with inventory management goals but also enriches the customer's exploration of the business's range, potentially uncovering hidden gems or timely deals. By harmonising customer interests with business priorities, these recommendations cultivate a more engaging and mutually beneficial relationship.

Preparation and Cooking: Execution and Operations

This step is the daily operations of your business. Just as in cooking, where timing, technique, and temperature are key, in business, efficient processes, effective management, and operational excellence determine the quality of the output. Adjustments may be necessary as you respond to feedback and unforeseen challenges, similar to tasting and tweaking a dish as it is cooked.

Plating and Presentation: Branding and Customer Experience

The presentation of a dish can significantly influence its reception, much like how a company's branding and the customer experience it delivers affect perception and value. This involves the visual identity of your brand and the interaction customers have with your product or service – the "plating" that makes the experience memorable and distinctive.

Tasting and Feedback: Market Response and Adaptation

Finally, just as you would taste a dish and adjust the seasoning before serving, and then gather feedback from your guests to refine your recipe, a business must be attuned to its customers' responses. Interactive Engagement Circuits as used in the Total QX (Total Quality Experience) framework are the next generation of traditional feedback loops. These circuits or loops are important for making iterative improvements, adapting to market changes, and innovating over time to meet evolving tastes and preferences.

Enjoyment and Sharing: Growth and Scaling

The ultimate goal, akin to enjoying a wonderful meal with friends and family, is to grow and scale the business, sharing your value proposition with a broader audience. This involves expanding your market reach, diversifying your offerings, and perhaps even teaching others your "recipes" for success through franchising or partnerships. Irrespective of industry, almost every business wants more customers to come back more often, spending increasingly more and telling others to do the same.

Present the Check: Complete the Sale

In the same way that presenting the check concludes a dining experience, requesting payment for the service and meals enjoyed, the business world mirrors this final step through invoicing and payment processing. This crucial phase is where a business formalises the transaction, detailing the services or products provided and the amount due. Effective invoicing and efficient payment processing are essential to secure the revenue, facilitating a smooth transition from the completion of the sale to the actual receipt of funds. Just as in restaurants, where the presentation of the check is a clear signal that the service has been rendered and payment is now expected, in business, the invoice serves as the formal request for payment, cementing the exchange between customer and company.

If you’re not in the hospitality industry, you may never have considered the process of how food finds its way onto a plate and to your table, and why would you. Yet, when it comes to running a business, have you considered the importance of meticulously following each step to ensure your enterprise is both sustainable and also primed for growth? It's essential to pay attention to these details. Ironically, even within the hospitality industry, where this process is fundamental, it's often overlooked.

Reflecting on the journey from concept to customer in the context of a restaurant is a valuable metaphor for business operations across industries. Each step, from deciding what dish to create to presenting the check, mirrors critical stages in business development, marketing, and customer engagement. Yet, the question remains: Are you meticulously crafting your business's menu and ensuring each dish (product/service) is deserving of a spotlight?

Consider this an invitation to examine your business processes with the same care a chef gives to crafting a menu. Are there areas where your business could benefit from a fresh perspective or innovative strategies? If navigating these steps seems daunting or if you're seeking ways to refine and enhance your business recipe for success, let's connect.

As a seasoned management consultant, business coach and teams trainer with a passion for blending business acumen with the pursuit of pleasure, passion, and purpose, I'm here to guide you through optimising your business operations for growth and scalability. Together, we can create a bespoke strategy that both meets your current needs and also anticipates future trends and challenges.

Reach out today to start crafting your business's success story. Let's ensure your offerings are not just on the menu but are the talk of the town.

Navigating Entitlement in the Workplace

Employees are such lazy bastards and that mongrel boss really needs to get a reality check. It’s a common scenario across many industries, possibly every industry. 

Employees are thought of as spoiled, arrogant, presumptive, absorbed in self-importance with a privileged attitude and unjustified expectations and demands for their toil. 

Employers are considered narcissists (ok some are), arrogant, demanding, imperious, high-handed and think that they are doing their employees a favour by giving them work as if it is a privilege for their staff to work for them. 

OK that’s a pretty toxic environment and still it is one that, at different levels, permeates business of all kinds and sizes across the world.

At the root of all of this is simply one thing - namely entitlement instead of empowerment.

Entitlement erodes the fabric of collaboration and mutual respect, challenging leaders and employees alike.  What is required is a culture of accountability and empowerment. Leadership actions and employee behaviours need to work in tandem to cultivate an environment rooted in value, respect, and shared success.

For owners and leaders, the path forward involves nurturing a culture rich in gratitude and empowerment. This  can be achieved by embracing innovative approaches like elements or all of the Total QX framework. 

For employees it means stepping up, being accountable and being or at least thinking like a boss.

Traditional Approaches for Employers

Real empowerment will not be achieved through traditional methods that have been espoused for years. Traditional, or "old school," strategies typically encompass:

Lead by Example

Demonstrate gratitude in daily interactions. Recognise efforts publicly and appreciate the small wins as much as the big ones. This sets a tone for a positive work environment and encourages employees to mirror these attitudes.

Establish Clear Expectations

Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and the impact of each position. When employees understand their contribution to the larger vision, it fosters a sense of ownership and accountability.

Promote Open Dialogue

Encourage feedback and open lines of communication. Create forums for sharing ideas and challenges, making it clear that every voice is valued and every concern is taken seriously.

Facilitate Professional Growth

Invest in training and development opportunities that empower employees to take charge of their growth. This enhances self-reliance and aligns personal achievements with organisational goals.


OK. So if the yawn-fest is over, stick around a little bit longer, but not before we evoke a little more yawning …

As said for employees it means owning your shit, stepping up embracing accountability and self-reliance, and embracing the mindset of a boss. 

Certainly, many businesses and their owners might initially recoil at the notion of granting employees a degree of self-reliance, fearing it could lead to a lack of control. However, the truth is that autonomy is frequently given, albeit in a tightly regulated manner, with stringent guidelines to ensure focus and direction. I’m simply advocating for a much bigger game. 

Wait a moment longer to hear what I suggest instead of the following employee yawn-fest. 

Traditional Approaches for Employees

So employees are traditionally told to:

Acknowledge Your Role

Understand and embrace the impact of your work. Recognise that your contributions matter and take responsibility for your tasks and outcomes.

Seek Feedback Actively

Don’t wait for feedback; ask for it. Show a willingness to learn and adapt, which reflects humility and the desire to grow.

Practice Generosity

Share knowledge and resources with colleagues. This builds a supportive network and counters entitlement by fostering a culture of giving rather than taking.

Take Initiative

Don’t shy away from challenges. View them as opportunities to contribute to the team’s success and to your personal development. This proactive approach is considered a cornerstone of self-reliance and innovation.

Yada yada yada!

In truth, there's nothing inherently flawed with these approaches. For those encountering these concepts for the first time, they likely appear quite insightful and innovative.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line of all of the above and more. Employers, you can’t expect your staff to keep giving your clients exceptional experiences when you couldn’t give a shit how they experience the same interaction/transaction.

… and employees, you cannot expect your employer to give a shit about you if your mindset is “it’s a job!”. So fucking what if you are studying to be an Astrophysicist and working your way through uni (college). Your employer is not a halfway house. Your employer is an important milestone on your journey. Kudos that you don’t sit on your ass sucking on the toxic teet of the welfare state like many others, just don’t expect a medal for being a decent human being. It’s the price of entry.

What Employers Need To Do

Building on the understanding that all of the traditional approaches are already a part of standard operating procedures, employers can further enhance their workplace by implementing the following strategies:

Employee Psychographics

Start by understanding the psychographics of your employees. Psychographics for employment have been around for a while, they just haven’t hit full mainstream yet and remain in the too much, too hard, too ‘whatever excuse you want because I can use that to hide the fact I am not really interested’ basket for the greater majority of employers.

Right person in the right place

Use the information for hiring to begin with and then only hire when there is a match between the requirement and the person sitting in front of you. When people are already employed, and by doing the transformative work after which you discover an employee is not a good match for the role in which you have them, it can present challenges. 

Here’s what you do. Explore other opportunities in your organisation for them to contribute and add value. When their interests and values align with the role responsibilities they will shine and in turn make you shine. Role responsibilities will fly out the window and accountability will kick in. If you don’t get that, ask me.  Smaller organisations may find this a huge challenge. 

If nothing can be found, actively help them find other employment that is suited to them within your network. You will be doing both the employee and the other company a favour and you mitigate the cost of laying someone off. Also energetically this will work better for you and your business as you become known for excellence, seeking excellence and being excellence in everything that you do, even in difficult circumstances like having to let someone go.

Ownership and accountability

Encourage your people to make choices and be accountable rather than simply accepting responsibility within their role and making decisions.. What’s the difference?

Decision vs. Choice:

Responsibility vs. Accountability:

If you want significant results and progress, empower people to take ownership and be accountable.

Expand acknowledgement

Recognizing individual differences is key. Some employees prefer private praise, while others value public recognition. Thus, incorporating both into standard operating procedures still has its place. Rather than traditional accolades like Employee of the Month photos, certificates, or plaques, or some other two-bob trinket (which can and do feel impersonal and formulaic) shift towards more meaningful experiential rewards. Obviously it's important to align the reward's value with the achievement's significance. 

When designing recognition, consider these three possibilities:

Personal Relevance

Tailor the recognition to the employee's personal interests and values, ensuring the gesture reflects their uniqueness rather than the company's generosity.

Family Inclusion

Explore ways to involve or centre the recognition around their family, adding a personal dimension that acknowledges the support system behind the employee's success.

Empowered Choice

Offer employees a budget to design their own reward, providing autonomy and ensuring the recognition genuinely resonates with their preferences and desires.

This approach will personalise the acknowledgment and foster a deeper sense of appreciation and connection between the employee, their family, and the organisation.

What Employees Need To Do

Employees, what you can do is understand your real value and discover how to align what is important to you with the organisational goals of your employer, and then do it.

Leverage Self-Knowledge

If you’ve never done any personal development work, do it. Use your personal insights to understand your own motivations, preferences, and work style. This self-awareness can guide you in aligning your role and contributions with your core values and strengths.

Seek the Right Fit

Actively pursue roles that align with your personal values and way of being. Within your current employment, take the initiative to demonstrate how your unique skills and interests meet the organisation's needs. Should you find yourself in a role that doesn't align with your abilities or aspirations, initiate discussions with your leaders to explore opportunities within the organisation that may be a better fit. In instances where a suitable internal role cannot be found, and the misalignment persists, consider asking your leaders if they are aware of any opportunities in their wider network that might align more closely with your profile. This approach facilitates your professional growth and ensures you are contributing to an environment that resonates with your values and professional goals.

As you prepare to transition out of your current role, leverage your intimate knowledge of the organisation to recommend potential successors who would be an optimal fit. Traditionally, recommendations from departing employees have been viewed with scepticism, under the assumption that outgoing staff might suggest less capable candidates to ensure their own legacy remains untarnished. However, embracing the overall mindset I advocate transforms this practice. By recommending genuinely qualified individuals, your referral becomes a valuable inside track—a trusted endorsement. When your recommended hire proves successful, you not only facilitate a smoother transition but also save your (former) employer the significant costs and resources typically associated with recruiting new staff. This approach reflects a forward-thinking and organizationally beneficial perspective, reinforcing the importance of integrity and mutual success in professional departures.

Ownership and Accountability in Your Role

Make Informed Choices

Understand the distinction between making decisions and making choices. Engage in choice-making with a full commitment to the outcomes, recognizing that this involves a deeper level of personal investment and accountability.

Take Ownership of Your Actions

Cultivate a mindset of accountability, where you own the outcomes of your choices without excuses. This level of commitment enhances your contribution to the organisation and personal growth.

Take the Initiative with Innovation - Go Beyond the Ideas Box

As an employee, actively engage in thinking about ways to improve the business. This involves observing current processes, identifying potential areas for enhancement, and conceptualising innovative solutions that could lead to better efficiency, increased customer satisfaction, or enhanced product quality. This is more than dropping an idea in the idea box. Formulate a solid proposal and approach the owner or leader with your ideas, clearly outlining the benefits, the required resources, and a proposed budget for execution. Demonstrating initiative in this way will further showcase your commitment to the organisation's success and position you as a proactive and valuable team member. Seeking permission and resources to implement your ideas can lead to meaningful changes that benefit the entire organisation, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.

As an employee, embracing these enhances your own professional experience and contributes to a positive, empowering workplace culture. By understanding your value, taking ownership of your role, and engaging meaningfully with the business and colleagues you play a pivotal role in the collective success and culture of your organisation which serves you personally immediately in terms of job satisfaction and being happy with your choices, as well as in future when you move onto the next leg of your journey.

A Shared Journey Toward Excellence

This is neither a one way street nor a ‘I’ll move when you move’ scenario. Either party can initiate the transformation although it works best when the employer has a genuine interest from the outset and initiates it. Overcoming entitlement in the workplace requires a concerted effort from both leaders and employees. By embedding principles of gratitude, accountability, humility, and self-reliance into every aspect of our work, we can transform challenges into opportunities for growth and sustaining healthy viable businesses. My goal is to guide organisations through this journey, leveraging insights from frameworks like Total QX to build environments where everyone feels valued, empowered, and committed to excellence. Together, we can create a workplace that achieves its goals and elevates the well-being and potential of every individual involved.

Transforming Hospitality: Mastering Workforce Dynamics in Tourism Hotspots

Like many industries, in hospitality and especially in the bustling tourism hotspots every move counts.

I've been involved in the Private Equity/Venture Capital industry for over 35 years and have witnessed firsthand the seismic shifts and subtle nuances that define success. My journey began in the hospitality sector, and it's where my passion for refining and revolutionizing business models took root. Throughout the years, I've stayed intimately connected to the industry, shaping its future through investments, consulting, coaching and developing staff training programs.

My latest ebook, "Peak Performance - Mastering Workforce Dynamics in Tourism Hotspots" shares insights and strategies from my career adapted for today’s world. It’s more than a collection of concepts, it's a practical guide born from real-world experience and success. The focus is to provide you with actionable strategies that address the pressing challenge of labour shortages and workforce management in the hospitality industry.

Peak Performance - Mastering Workforce Dynamics in Tourism Hotspots eBook. Comment below with "Yes" and I'll personally ensure it reaches your inbox

Why is this important now? The hospitality sector is at a critical juncture. The way we manage our teams, the strategies we employ to attract and retain talent, and how we adapt to the ever-changing market demands will determine our place in the future of this industry. "Peak Performance" dives into these themes, offering a blueprint for action.

Recruitment isn’t about filling positions; it's about understanding the rhythms of your business, aligning your team's strengths with your operational needs, and creating an environment where excellence is the norm. From strategic talent acquisition to fostering resilience and excellence in your staff, the ebook covers the spectrum of challenges and solutions that you face daily.

In the hospitality industry, the workforce is the heartbeat of every successful establishment. However, the rhythm of this heartbeat varies greatly, especially in tourism hotspots where the pulse of activity ebbs and flows with the seasons. This unique characteristic of the industry presents a complex array of challenges, but also a canvas for innovation and excellence.

The seasonal nature of resort regions brings about a fluctuating demand, requiring a workforce that can adapt swiftly and efficiently. But how does one navigate the delicate balance between scaling the team during peak seasons and ensuring sustainability during quieter times? The answer lies in strategic workforce planning and a deep understanding of the market's rhythms. It's about having the foresight to anticipate needs and the agility to respond effectively.

However, the challenges don't stop at managing the numbers. Securing skilled staff, particularly in a competitive market, is a task that demands a proactive approach. In the earlier days of my career, the industry thrived on passion and vocation, drawing individuals who aspired to build a career in hospitality. Today, the landscape has evolved. The view of hospitality jobs has shifted, and the industry now faces the arduous task of not just attracting but also retaining talent that views their role as more than just a job.

In facing these challenges, the Total QX (Total Quality Experience) framework I've developed becomes pivotal. It's about enhancing the human aspect of business, creating environments where staff don't just work, but thrive and grow. This approach goes beyond traditional concepts of staff management, integrating pleasure, passion, and purpose into the fabric of business operations. It's about building teams that resonate with the establishment's ethos and are committed to delivering exceptional experiences to every guest.

Addressing labour shortages, fostering resilience and excellence in staff, and navigating the complex dynamics of seasonal demand are not just operational concerns; they are strategic imperatives that define the future of any establishment in the hospitality industry. "Peak Performance - Mastering Workforce Dynamics in Tourism Hotspots" is more than a guide; it's a strategic partner, offering insights, strategies, and actionable steps to transform these challenges into opportunities for growth and differentiation.

Peak Performance - Mastering Workforce Dynamics in Tourism Hotspots eBook. Comment below with "Yes" and I'll personally ensure it reaches your inbox

Each chapter isn't just information; it's a stepping stone towards transforming your business. You'll discover how to turn the tides of labor shortages into opportunities for growth, how to harness the power of your team's diversity, and how to build a culture that thrives on excellence and innovation.

This book is just the beginning. It's part of a comprehensive series that tackles the 18 core challenges cafes and restaurants face in resort regions. Each book is an exploration of a specific challenge, providing a holistic understanding and practical solutions to elevate your business.

If you're ready to take this journey with me, to transform the way you approach workforce management in your hospitality business, let's connect. For those interested in a journey towards operational excellence, enhanced customer experience, and sustainable success in the competitive landscape of resort-region hospitality, email me via the Contact Page and I'll personally ensure it reaches your inbox. Let's empower your team, elevate your service, and transform your business together.

Supporting Staff Wellness and Growth in the Food Industry

Employee Empowerment through Prioritising Staff Welfare and Career Growth

The well-being and professional development of employees play an important role in the overall success of any business. Often seen as something only big corporates do, it’s an area that bar, restaurant and café owners respectively franchisees and operators of small chains can benefit immensely by being invested and giving it focus.

This article explores the concept of Employee Empowerment, emphasising the importance of prioritising staff welfare and career growth as a strategy for building a more robust and successful business.

Employee Empowerment is more than just a philosophy; it's a practical approach to enhancing staff satisfaction, which in turn, significantly impacts customer service quality and business success. To effectively implement this, we focus on three key areas: fostering a supportive work environment, offering opportunities for professional development, and recognizing and rewarding employee contributions.

“Empower and invest in your team with genuine leadership and a commitment to their career growth. You will foster a deep sense of loyalty and cultivate a workforce that becomes the driving force behind your business's success and expansion. When your staff thrives with loyalty and dedication, your business prospers."

- Paul J. Lange

Strategic Empowerment Actions

Following are a number of actionable strategies designed to bolster staff wellness and career development in your business. These carefully curated actions are guidelines for transformative steps that can redefine how you support and empower your team. By implementing these strategies, you'll enhance the overall morale and skill set of your staff and lay a strong foundation for the sustained success and growth of your establishment.

Develop a Mentorship Program

Action: Pair experienced staff with new employees in a mentorship program to facilitate knowledge sharing and foster a culture of support.

How to Track: Monitor the progress of mentees through feedback forms and performance metrics, assessing the impact of the mentorship on their skills and confidence.

Being Practical: Allocate specific times during the workweek for mentor-mentee meetings, ensuring this program is structured yet flexible enough to fit into the busy schedule of a hospitality business.

Innovative Skill-Building Workshops

Action: Organise quarterly workshops focusing on emerging culinary trends, advanced customer service techniques, or wellness practices.

How to Track: Evaluate the success of these workshops by tracking participation rates and applying post-workshop surveys to gather feedback and suggestions for future sessions.

Being Practical: Collaborate with industry experts or local chefs to conduct these workshops, adding value and uniqueness to your professional development offerings.

Transparent Career Progression Pathways

Action: Clearly outline potential career paths within your organisation or even beyond, detailing the steps, skills, and milestones required for advancement.

How to Track: Conduct semi-annual performance and career progression reviews, offering constructive feedback and setting clear goals for advancement or progression in the industry.

Being Practical: Create a visual career roadmap, accessible to all employees, and support it with resources such as training programs or leadership opportunities to help them progress.

Success in Practice

Consider the case of "Café Revive," a local café that implemented a "Chef of the Month" program. In this initiative, every month, a different chef was given the opportunity to introduce a unique dish to the menu. This program motivated the culinary team to unleash their creativity and significantly improved teamwork, as chefs collaborated to refine each other's dishes. The program received positive feedback from customers who enjoyed the diverse culinary experiences, leading to increased foot traffic and a stronger, more engaged kitchen team.

The Road Ahead

By moving beyond basic measures and embracing innovative, structured strategies like mentorship programs, skill-building workshops, and transparent career pathways, you can profoundly impact your team's morale, skill set, and motivation. A supportive, growth-oriented environment nurtures your staff's potential and drives your business forward, creating a cycle of continuous improvement and success.

Partner for Growth

Elevating your team's well-being and career prospects requires thoughtful strategies and a commitment to continuous improvement. If you're ready to explore how these tailored approaches can transform and benefit your establishment, let's connect. Together, we can build a thriving environment where your team's growth translates into exceptional customer experiences and business success. Reach out to me, and let's make your bar, restaurant or café a benchmark for employee empowerment and satisfaction in the food industry.

Creative Catalysts: Driving Business Optimisation Through Innovative Ideation

Innovative thinking is not just a trendy concept; it’s a pivotal practice for businesses seeking optimisation and growth. Competition often appears to become increasingly fierce. Technological advancements are constant. A lot of people latch on to it for more than simple efficiency and call the result innovation. In some ways it is, but it often misses the mark in terms of full innovative potential.

Innovation existed long before computers. In fact, at its core the value of innovation has everything to do with humanities creativity instead of generation of benefits artificially through circuit-boards and semiconductors. Embracing innovative thinking during the ideation process is not just beneficial – it's essential.

Here are some notable examples of how innovative thinking helped shape various industries before even simple computers became standard in business.

The Essence of Innovative Thinking in Business

Innovative thinking refers to the ability to look at problems and processes from a fresh perspective. It involves thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo. When applied to business, it means creating new ideas, services, or products that improve efficiency, solve problems, and meet customer needs more effectively.

The Role of Ideation in Business Optimisation

Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas. In business, ideation is the foundation of innovation. It's a structured brainstorming process, often involving team members from various departments, bringing together diverse perspectives to foster creative solutions. The goal of ideation in business optimisation is to identify opportunities for improvement in every aspect of the organisation, from product development to customer service.

Strategies for Implementing Innovative Thinking in Ideation

The Impact of Innovative Thinking on Business Optimisation

Innovative thinking in the ideation process can lead to significant improvements in business optimisation. These improvements can manifest in various forms, such as:

Final Thoughts

Innovative thinking is more than just a buzzword in the business world; it's a fundamental aspect of business optimisation. By fostering a culture of creativity, leveraging diverse perspectives, and embracing continuous learning, businesses can use innovative thinking to drive growth and success. In an era where change is the only constant, businesses that prioritise innovative thinking in their ideation processes will be the ones that stay ahead of the curve.

The Interconnection of Optimisation and Innovation in Business

Understanding how optimisation and innovation work together in business is crucial. They are not isolated concepts but intertwined processes, each contributing to the other's success. Optimisation can lead to innovation and vice versa.

I’ve been around business optimisation for over 30 years and in almost every role optimisation has been the requirement created by previous innovation or has led opportunities to innovate. When you take a step back it’s easy to see how each process feeds into the other.

To add a twist to this, I’ve also found that optimisation benefits from innovative thinking lest it becomes solely a clinical exercise in efficiency generation, and optimisation at its best is everything but clinical and much more than simply creating efficiencies. I’ll leave that for another time though.

Optimisation's Role in Leading to Innovation

Optimisation involves making existing processes, products, or services better. It's a stepping stone to innovation in several ways:

However, optimisation has its limitations. It can sometimes lead to a narrow focus, where companies become too comfortable with minor improvements and miss out on big, innovative leaps. This is where the need to pivot towards innovation becomes clear.

Innovation's Role in Encouraging Optimisation

Innovation, the introduction of something new or significantly improved, can seem like a giant leap compared to optimisation. Here's how innovation encourages further optimisation:

  1. New Challenges: Innovative products or processes often come with unforeseen challenges, requiring further optimisation to refine and improve.
  2. Shifting Markets: As innovation leads to changes in market demands, there's a continuous need to optimise these new solutions to stay competitive.
  3. Feedback Loop: Innovation brings new customer feedback, which is essential for subsequent optimisation cycles.

Yet, innovation is alsonot without its pitfalls. It can be risky and potentially resource-intensive, and not all innovative ideas are successful. Sometimes, an innovation might be ahead of its time or not meet market needs, necessitating a return to the optimisation stage to realign with customer demands.

The Reciprocal Cycle

The relationship between optimisation and innovation is not linear but cyclical, and as I indicated above they are sometimes intertwined. Each process feeds into and enhances the other:

From Optimisation to Innovation: As businesses optimise, they accumulate resources, knowledge, and insights, which can spark innovative ideas. However, there comes a point where further optimisation has diminishing returns, signalling the need for a fresh, innovative approach.
From Innovation to Optimisation: Once an innovative idea is implemented, it's rarely perfect. The subsequent need for refinement and improvement leads back to optimisation.

This cycle ensures that businesses do not stagnate. Traditional optimisation keeps operations lean and effective, while innovation pushes boundaries and opens new opportunities. The best kind of optimisation is that which utilises innovative thinking and that requires an innovative mindset, something that not all leaders have and many who do have, do not dare to exercise.

Balancing the Two

Even without having an innovative mindset and exercising it, a business that consciously embraces the cyclical nature of traditional optimisation and innovation will find themselves ahead of others in their industry. In this context,. the key for businesses is to balance optimisation and innovation. Relying too heavily on optimisation can lead to a lack of creativity and an inability to adapt to changing markets. Conversely, constant innovation without sufficient optimisation can lead to chaos and inefficiency.

Businesses should aim for a culture that values both processes. Encourage teams to optimise existing workflows and products, but also allocate resources and time for exploring new ideas. It's about finding the right moment to pivot from one to the other: optimise until it's clear that incremental improvements are no longer sufficient, then take the leap into innovation. After implementing innovative ideas, focus again on optimisation to refine and improve.

Final Thoughts

Optimisation and innovation are not standalone processes but deeply interconnected. Each serves as a catalyst for the other, creating a dynamic cycle of continuous improvement and breakthrough. For businesses to thrive, understanding this relationship and mastering the art of pivoting between optimisation and innovation is crucial. This cycle ensures that businesses remain efficient and effective while also being adaptable and forward-thinking, ready to meet the challenges of an ever-evolving market landscape.

The Power of Small Changes, Big Results: Transformative Strategies in Small Businesses

Although grand innovations often grab the headlines, there's an understated yet powerful narrative emerging: the remarkable success of small businesses making strategic, seemingly minor adjustments. This narrative champions the "power of small" – an approach highlighting how subtle shifts in strategies or operations can lead to substantial transformations in business optimisation. It's a testament to the idea that the smallest steps can lead to the most significant leaps forward.

Embracing Minor Adjustments for Major Success

DC Mosquito Squad: The Automation Revolution

DC Mosquito Squad's strategic decision to invest in automation software marked a pivotal turn in their business operations, primarily focusing on enhancing their sales and marketing processes. This move was designed to bolster operational efficiency and streamline various facets of the business.

The implemented software took over routine tasks such as managing customer communications, scheduling services, conducting follow-ups, and potentially some aspects of the lead generation process. This automation significantly reduced the time and effort previously invested in these tasks, freeing up staff to concentrate on more high-level, strategic activities.

The ripple effect of automating these processes was a notable enhancement in scalability. DC Mosquito Squad found themselves adept at managing a larger customer base and handling increased service demands without needing to proportionally expand their workforce. Automation simplifies scaling operations by cutting down the complexity and resources typically required for growth. As a result, the company could efficiently broaden its customer reach and diversify its services.

Financially, the benefits of automation manifested in several ways. For starters, it curtailed labour costs, with the software handling tasks that would otherwise require several work hours. More consistent and timely interactions with customers, a direct outcome of automation, led to heightened customer satisfaction. This improvement in service quality naturally translated into increased sales and enhanced customer loyalty. Additionally, the newfound ease of scaling allowed DC Mosquito Squad to boost their revenue without incurring equivalent increases in operational costs.

In essence, the adoption of automation software by DC Mosquito Squad stands as a clear testament to how targeted technological enhancements can yield significant operational and financial gains. This strategic decision not only improved their day-to-day operations but also set a solid foundation for sustained growth and development.

GooRoo: Personalising Tutoring

GooRoo, founded by Scott Lee, reimagined tutoring. By shunning the one-size-fits-all model, Lee's platform matched students with tutors based on specific needs. This approach, rooted in his personal experiences, led to a thriving business with over a thousand tutors in New York. GooRoo's success story underscores the impact of personalisation and tailored services in small business growth.

The Presentation Source: Niche Market Innovation

Laure and James Widmaier's The Presentation Source carved out a unique space in the saturated tech market. By targeting government sector organisations, they tapped into a niche with ample opportunity for growth. This strategic pivot illustrates how identifying and focusing on a specific market niche can lead to significant business expansion and success.

The Body Shop: Ethical Consumerism as a Cornerstone

Anita Roddick's The Body Shop is a standout example of aligning business with social trends and ethics. By focusing on natural, reusable body care products, Roddick tapped into a growing consumer awareness, propelling her business to global heights. This case exemplifies how integrating ethical consumerism into business practices can resonate with customers and lead to widespread success.

Canva: Revolutionising Design Through User Experience

In the story of Canva, co-founded by Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, the one small yet pivotal element that made a significant difference was their emphasis on user experience (UX) in product design. This focus on making graphic design accessible and user-friendly was the key factor that set Canva apart and led to its widespread success.

Before Canva, many graphic design tools available in the market were complex and had steep learning curves, which made them less accessible to the average user or small businesses without specialized design skills. Canva's approach was to simplify this process, offering an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that made graphic design more approachable for everyone.

By prioritizing UX, Canva effectively addressed a major barrier in the graphic design industry. They transformed a process that was typically seen as complicated and exclusive to those with technical expertise, into a more inclusive and user-friendly experience. This seemingly small change in how the product was designed and interacted with by users was instrumental in overcoming the limitations of the freemium business model. It attracted a broad user base, ranging from professionals to amateurs, and established Canva as an essential tool across various sectors.

This focus on user experience not only made graphic design more accessible but also ensured that users who started with the free version of Canva found enough value in the platform to later transition to its paid offerings. Hence, Canva's emphasis on a simple, user-friendly design was the small yet critical step that underpinned its success.

Getty Images: Pioneering in Digital Imagery

Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein, the founders of Getty Images, identified a significant gap in the market for online licensing of stock photos. Before their intervention, the process of obtaining stock photos was cumbersome and inefficient, primarily relying on physical archives and manual distribution methods. This gap represented an untapped opportunity in the rapidly evolving digital world.

To revolutionize this space, Getty and Klein created a platform that allowed for the easy licensing and distribution of stock photos online. They digitized an extensive library of images, making them readily accessible to a global audience via the internet. This move significantly streamlined the process of acquiring stock images for both personal and commercial use.

By shifting the stock photography market from a largely offline, physical process to an online, easily accessible system, they not only improved efficiency but also expanded the market's potential. Customers could now quickly and easily find and license high-quality images from anywhere in the world, a significant change from the previous, more localized access to such resources.

Getty Images became a central repository for stock photos, serving a wide range of needs from media companies to individual creators. Their platform also provided photographers with a broader and more accessible market for their work, changing the way photographers and visual content creators could monetize their work.

In essence, Getty and Klein's foresight to digitize and centralize stock photo licensing played a pivotal role in transforming the digital imagery landscape. Their approach exemplified how a small business could leverage technological advancements to fill a market gap and, in doing so, lead significant changes in an industry.

SurfHappy: Community-Centred Business Model

SurfHappy's success, fuelled by founders Erin Champ and Josh Hallmark, demonstrates the power of understanding and catering to community needs. Their focus on positivity and a swift move to e-commerce led to their initial product line selling out instantly. This case shows the effectiveness of a community-centric approach in building a successful brand.

Key Takeaways: Small Steps to Big Success

These stories from DC Mosquito Squad, GooRoo, The Presentation Source, The Body Shop, Canva, Getty Images, and SurfHappy are not just individual success tales. They collectively underscore a broader lesson in business: the immense power of small changes. For small business owners and entrepreneurs, these examples serve as a beacon, illuminating the path to success through strategic, minor adjustments. In the dance of business dynamics, where every step counts, these stories reaffirm that sometimes, the most subtle moves can lead you to the grandest stages.

Optimise Your Business or Become Irrelevant: The Critical Path to Efficiency and Resource Reutilisation

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the mantra for survival and success is unequivocal: optimise or become irrelevant. This imperative goes beyond the traditional view of merely streamlining operations for efficiency. It extends into the realms of resource reutilisation and strategic personnel management, elements crucial for contemporary businesses aiming to thrive.

The New Dimension of Optimisation

Traditionally, optimisation has been synonymous with efficiency - doing more with less, faster, and with fewer errors. While this remains a cornerstone, the modern interpretation includes the judicious use of resources, particularly human resources, and the reinvestment of funds liberated through optimisation.

Reutilising Resources: Beyond Dumping

The old model of discarding resources, especially human talent, in the name of efficiency is not just unsustainable but counterproductive. Modern optimisation involves identifying new roles for resources that may no longer fit their initial purpose. It's about adapting and reorienting, not discarding. By doing so, businesses not only save on the costs associated with acquiring new resources but also leverage the latent potential and experience of existing ones.

The Right People in the Right Seats

Human resources are the lifeblood of any organisation. Optimisation today means ensuring that each individual is in a role that maximises their potential and aligns with their skillset. This approach leads to increased job satisfaction, higher productivity, and, ultimately, a more robust bottom line.

The Risk of Irrelevance

Why is failure to optimise a direct path to irrelevance? The answer lies in the pace of change in the modern business environment. Companies that stick to outdated methods or fail to reorient their resources effectively will inevitably fall behind more agile competitors. Innovation, efficiency, and strategic resource deployment are no longer just advantages – they are essential for survival.

Case Studies: Lessons from the Leaders

Consider Toyota and Apple, companies that have remained at the forefront of their industries. They have continuously adapted, found new efficiencies, reutilised resources creatively, and ensured their human capital is optimally employed. These organisations don't just survive; they set the pace for others to follow.

Here is some background

Toyota: A pioneer in lean manufacturing, Toyota's approach, known as the Toyota Production System (TPS), is a hallmark example of efficiency and resource reutilisation. The TPS is built around the concepts of "just-in-time" production (minimizing inventory waste) and "jidoka" (automation with a human touch). Toyota's approach allows for significant reduction in waste and maximizes efficiency in production processes. This system not only ensures that resources are optimally used but also improves quality and reduces production costs. Toyota's commitment to continuous improvement (Kaizen) has also meant that the company has remained adaptable, constantly refining processes in response to changing market demands and environmental concerns.

Apple: Known for its innovation and market-leading products, Apple also stands out for its efficient use of resources and its commitment to sustainability. The company has made significant strides in resource reutilisation, particularly in its product design and packaging. Apple products are known for their longevity and robustness, which reduces the need for frequent replacements and minimizes waste. The company has also invested heavily in renewable energy sources for its data centers and stores, further emphasizing its commitment to sustainable practices. Apple's approach to human capital is also noteworthy; it heavily invests in employee development and has created a culture that fosters innovation and creativity, ensuring that its workforce is optimally utilized and continuously contributing to the company's success.

Both Toyota and Apple demonstrate how companies can remain industry leaders by focusing on continuous improvement, sustainability, and efficient resource management. Their approaches not only yield financial success but also set a benchmark for responsible and forward-thinking business practices.

Things to do

To avoid the fate of becoming irrelevant, here are the steps your business should consider:

Audit and Adapt: Regularly review your processes and resources. Identify areas for efficiency gains and potential new roles for existing resources.

Invest in People: Ensure that your team members are in roles that suit their strengths and provide them with opportunities for growth and development.

Reinvest Smartly: Use the savings from optimisation to fund innovation and expansion. This creates a cycle of growth and improvement.

Stay Agile: Be ready to adapt to changes in the market and technology. Flexibility is key to maintaining relevance.

Optimisation is not just a buzzword, it's a vital strategy for any business aiming to thrive in the 21st century. By embracing a broader view of optimisation, focusing on resource reutilisation, and placing the right people in the right roles, your business can not only survive but lead the way into the future. Remember, optimise or risk becoming irrelevant. The choice, and the time to act, is now.

Stand Up, Speak Out, and Be an Owner!

For me, especially when evaluating a potential investment, the difference in what can become only an average or possibly good business instead of a great or even exceptional business comes down to the intangible things about the business. Sure, the things like team, traction, target market et al are all important and still they are only conditions of the state that can create an exceptional business.

What do I mean by the intangibles? Simply put character and leadership! … and I imagine several people’s eyes will roll and glaze over at that statement as they ask themselves, ‘so what am I supposed to do with that?’.

Here’s what! Is your way of being in your business the way of an owner? Does what you do and how you do it help other people? Do you do the right thing, especially when no one's watching? The worst type of employee mentality is to do the right thing when it serves personal agenda and do enough to keep your job instead of actually doing your job, which is part of doing the right thing even when no one is around.

Great and exceptional companies and organisations are constructed around people who have the mindset of owners. People who are consciously on a journey to figure out what they believe. People who have the guts to be in a way that helps both the organisation and helps other people. If you are the business owner or a C-level executive it is your responsibility to foster this mindset in the business.

So understand from this, I am not just talking about the business owner or C-level management. Anyone, everyone, in any company or organisation has the ability to be like an owner. If you are the actual owner or part of the C-suite of a larger organisation then it is your responsibility to hire people who have the mindset of an owner and nurture that in them and in the team. But here’s the rub, unless you have it yourself, how can you ever identify it in others to hire them let alone to nurture it in them?

I get it that we all tune into the same radio station … what’s in it for me … and that’s fine as a concept. Only a lot of people take the approach that their reason for being in business or following any profession is simply to put money in their pocket so they can put food on the table, a roof over their head, procreate and have a vacation once a year, and then rinse and repeat with the next generation.  They’re clueless how robotic their lives are.

Helping other people, adding value as a focus, really is not part of the equation. That kind of mindset, is not going to manifest experiences for anyone to be like a leader. You are not going to be like an owner and the time will come when it catches up with you. The way you be in your business will be reflected in the people you hire, their way of being, the type of clients you attract and the results of the business.

It’s innate in the human form to want to promote others or advance others who make others better, not simply those who produce. In a professional setting people feel good about promoting others that make the organization better.

A key part of this is the ability to detach, which you’ve probably heard of and may have explored to some degree. In this context I mean detach from the need to be right, the need to be acknowledged for having a great idea, the need to protect from potential ridicule or worse fear of repercussions. The mindset of an owner has none of these needs.

When they figure out what they believe and are passionate about something people with an owner mindset stand up and speak out no matter what the perceived consequences. It’s a choice rather than a calculated decision. It’s doing the right thing versus backing down because of the thought that "yeah, that's a bit too risky. I don't think so." which is part of the worst type of employee mindset.

Part of that mindset is the person, whether work-floor or management, who thinks that maybe they should figure out what the boss thinks and then act as if that's what they think. Or when the boss suggests a course of action and they disagree with it and think it's a mistake, they say nothing

“Oh but the boss doesn’t like people disagreeing with him so they may not like what I have to say.” … so instead of standing up and speaking out like an owner, they sit down and shut up. That helps no one! … and the crazy thing is that there are a lot of business owners and senior executives who act more like employees than bosses, afraid to upset people and never speak out. Then they wonder why the whole dog and pony show goes to hell and back.

You have to say, "Okay, I'm going to take the risk. I'm going to be myself." Why try being someone else? You can’t. It never works and if the outcome is they are pissed off consider the possibility that the relationship is one that is not in sync and possibly should never have been.

Now, this is not open or creative license to go off the reservation. Far from it.

You have to use good judgment and you have to express yourself respectfully. At the same time you also have to play this game of life with detachment from the outcome. It is in part that detachment that will liberate you to be yourself.

If you master this, I believe will go so much further and take your business so much further than is currently within reach. With over thirty years of business under my belt, I can honestly say I prefer to elevate, promote, work with, invest in somebody who's willing to speak up and disagree, when they do it with conviction and accept responsibility for the outcome of their choices. These are the people I want to be a part of and have them be a part of me. These are the people around who you can build a company.

My wish for you if we work together is to help you to transform your situation so you can shine. So you can be yourself, and be authentically you. So you can do what you are meant to do and build a business that serves others and you and gives you the lifestyle you desire and an exit you deserve. My wish for you is that you and the people in your business get further than your current potential.

Self-belief and Positive Thinking​

The Structure of Beliefs

A belief is a consistently recurring thought. In fact they recur so consistently that they are burned-in and indeed so burned-in that people often have little to no conscious awareness that they are thinking the underlying thoughts that create the belief.

This is part of what we know as default behaviour. It’s also partly the reason why it feels so difficult to change your way of thinking about fundamental stuff, and why many people feel attacked, and the need to defend their beliefs vehemently, when someone expresses their own beliefs that are contrary to the listener.

Creating From a Belief

If you can create a thought in your mind, you have the capability of creating it in the physical world. I’m not saying you’ll know how immediately nor am I saying that you will be the one mechanically, operationally executing what is needed. Frankly if it is a business thing then I hope you aren’t doing the work personally, except the part of it you love doing and are passionate about.

So when believe you can, you can. Although you might not, or perhaps not immediately. Alternatively when you believe you can't, it changes nothing about the fact that you can.

What believing you can’t  does is camouflages the fact that you can and creates another blindspot for you, and ultimately may result in you not being, doing, or having whatever it is you believe you can’t, unless you transform that belief into you can.

There is this seemingly amazing thing that happens though when you simply get started with something and then consistently move in the direction of the belief you have. It is unimportant how small or seemingly insignificant to the whole the first steps are. It is unimportant whether you take the first steps with some degree of apprehension. What is important is that you take those first steps and keep moving.

When you do this you create momentum and a force that is only unstoppable by your own thoughts and beliefs that cause you to stop short or surrender.

The seemingly amazing that happens is that when you look back a day, a week a month or a year or more later when you have achieved it, you’ll get how important it was to simply take the action in the direction of the belief and you’ll find it next to impossible that was ever a possibility that you wouldn’t achieve it.

Start and Then Start Again

Now if you are one of those people, like I am, who are good at starting things and strong at finishing them but really crap at what it in the middle, there are two things to do, one you must do and the other you will want to do, or at least try it on.

The thing you must do is get a team of people around you. Remember you are not meant to be an island.

The thing you will want to do or at least try on is just start, and when you find yourself losing steam or you’ve stopped already, then start again.

One Law, One Principle, Endless Possibilities to Increase Productivity Exponentially​

There is a seemingly endless list of tools with which to improve and increase productivity. Which one is better than the other is a subjective call, so simply make a conscious choice and go with it, once you break free from the eternal consideration loop of which one suits your requirements.

To assist you in that choice, and in terms of being more productive generally, there is one law and one principle which each alone can produce excellent results and when combined create infinite possibilities for you and your team to achieve more in less time.

Doing more in less time is one of the holy grails of the business productivity industry. It can also have nice knock-on effects like profitability.

Most important from my perspective is the possibility for a happier workforce that has the time to enjoy both their personal life and professional life.

You probably already know the one principle and the one law. 

Pareto’s Principle … is also known as the 80/20 rule and states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes; e.g. 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the sales calls, sales people, clients et al

Parkinson’s Law ... is that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Each are great standalone. My approach combines the two in what I refer to as …

Pareto Meets Parkinson

Restrict the time available for 100% completion to that which is normally required for only completion of the 20% causes; then (strive to) achieve 100% completion in the available time still focusing initially on the most productive 20%.

So if you would normally allocate ten units of time (minutes, hours, days, weeks et al) to complete a task, first restrict that to two units of time and then go for completion of the work that you would normally complete in ten units of time focusing on the most product 20% of the work first.

Happiness & Money: the Chicken & Egg Nemesis of Getting What You Want​

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but happiness is an essential part of being in life if you are going to make money.

Happiness is a state. Making money is a condition in life.

Life is a process of experiences and those experiences are influenced by how we perceive. How we perceive what is happening at any given moment vs what is actually happening.

Our perception is the product of many things and to simplify it for now, two key sources of our perception in life come from internal influences and external influences. You’ll find these referred to in most literature as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

External influences are other people and the physical things all of which are outside of you and the domain you control. The things that motivate you as you desire them or aspire to them. Money, possessions, social standing, and visible accomplishments are external influences. Leveraging others is an external influence, respectively receiving reinforcement or praise from others.

Internal influences are those ethereal things which inspire us to take action at some level. Avoid getting stuck on the word inspiration here. Inspiration doesn’t need to have as a result some great and immediately visible hugely impactful result. See it as the source that it is. The source within you that is nothing and from which everything is possible.

Internal influences are forces within you like, satisfaction, how interesting is the task, belief in your mission or a mission you are a part of, gratitude, understanding, compassion, enjoyment of peers.

Both internal and external influences serve their purpose. External influences give you the images and experiences that appear to make life happen for your internal influences.

We start out thinking that the external influences are leading. That they create, or create the circumstances for, our desires like health, success, abundance, creativity, confidence, love, self-love et al. Most people start out thinking this way and finish in the same place with the same thinking.

The issue here is that external influences are trailing edge. They are the result of and dependant on the internal, ethereal forces before they are experienced. What I mean by these extrinsic motivators being trailing edge is, in terms of space and time, external influences are delayed. They come to you, sometimes, after many, many years. Sometimes sooner depending on the magnitude of the experience that is the external influence.

Think about this. How much you have makes no difference when what you don’t have amounts to so much more. This will mean different things to different people and different things to the same person at different times. So just try it on and let it sit for a bit before letting that voice in your head react with some default response.

Internal influences are always now. Whenever they are there they are there now. They are the building blocks of the process of experiences that is life. You have internal influences all the time and you can transform them in a moment without effort and at will.

Professionally if what you do is driven primarily by extrinsic motivators, you sure as hell better have some of the intrinsic motivators because if you don’t, you’ll never hang in there long enough ‘make it’, to achieve the external influences you have in your mind that you desire. Personally, same thing.

Enjoyment in what you do is key. You have to be passionate about whatever it is you are doing or getting yourself into if you want to be able to sustain it for whatever length of time your relate to the idea of having it or being it.

There is a an innate connection between internal influences and high performance and a high correlation between high performance and the achieving a very high level of success in the related area of the performance.

I’m not saying don’t focus at all on the external influences. By all means focus but only dabble there and dwell in the internal influences.

In terms of your professional life, whatever business you chose to do, make sure you have enough internal influences that you enjoy the journey as you work toward the destination (the exit). If you don’t you won’t have the staying power to achieve your full potential either personally or professionally in that business.

Another thing will also happen when you have intrinsic motivators. After the exit as you reflect you’ll find you actually enjoy the journey more than the exit itself, no matter what the payout, and you will look forward to the next journey more than the joy you experienced over the exit just passed. This has been my experience and I’ve had five big exits in my life as well as a bunch of smaller ones, in addition to the crash and burn victims of business that we chalk up to research and development in the entrepreneurial space.

It's easier to measure external influences. That’s part of their external nature, they are measurable. You can contrast them against each other. You can hold them up against something else and measure them in some way. Internal influences, only you know. I know whether somebody leads a wealthy lifestyle. We can see it and measure it. Everyone can and everyone will have their own take on what they see and what it means.

Only I know how much I enjoy a task. I can communicate that to someone but they don’t see how much I enjoy it. They only get to experience my outward expression of how much I enjoy it; but the way I express it may not resonate with them in the same way as it has meaning to me.  So only I can answer the question of how much I enjoy something. No one else can tell me the answer to that.

Take ownership of how you be in life. Look inside yourself in both your personal and professional life and let the internal influences drive your thinking and subsequently your actions. Leave the external influences as images of possibilities to be experienced as a result that you give no meaning to and you can detach from as quickly as you have perceived it respectively experienced it.

Define Your Own Success

One of the reasons I put The Hedonist Entrepreneur Community together is I think there’s a lot of confusion or cognitive clutter about people generally and especially business owners and how they are supposed to manage their personal and business life.

External forces are constantly attempting to influence how you think and what you see, defining for you what your experiences in life mean. Are you successful? Are you struggling? Are you ….? ... fill in the blank.

So the challenge in both business and personal life is not how to become a success; equally it is not how to meet others’ definition of success. The challenge both personally and professionally as you move through your experiences of life is how to reach your own unique potential.

If being successful is what matters to you, it often means you are trying to meet someone else’s definition of what success is. Seriously! Think about it!

Without the contrast of other people’s thoughts and ideas which you are exposed to consciously and subconsciously at least thousands of times a day, how would you have this thing you call success that you strive for.

Defining success usually it involves being able to measure one thing against another. Different situations require different metrics, or achieving certain status, preeminence and prominence, fame and fortune, or whatever. All of these are external manifestations.

There is another way of defining success, and it has nothing to do with contrast or the opinions of others.

Reaching your own unique potential is fulfilling. It is much more satisfying than play a game of keeping up with the ideas, thoughts, opinions and expectations of others; and ultimately it may not meet others definition of success. So what!?

Reaching your own unique potential means creating for yourself, for your personal and business life, your own definition of success and then develop who you are so that you be the person that does the things that are a fit for your skills, and does the things that are a fit for what you are passionate about.  

You become the person who experiences life through performance of your unique talents. In the process you soon cease to be the go to person in your business and personal life. The one that has to do everything and be everything for everyone and instead the people around you personally and professionally will shift. Some will shift literally out of your life. others will shift in how they occur to you and, in business, the outcomes they achieve for your company, division or team.

Success in and of itself is insignificant and ultimately satisfies no one. It is a competitive analysis and a distraction to achieving your full potential.

Conscious Assessment of Your Strengths and Weaknesses​

What are you good at? … and I mean REALLY GOOD at?!

The ability to reach your potential and do what you are actually meant to do starts with understanding your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses.

It used to amaze me that most people don’t know their strengths and weaknesses, until I took a good long look in the mirror and realised at one time .. at that time! ... I was the same.

I find most people will hazard a guess at their strengths and declare them with ... a somewhat sheepish response.

When it comes to their weaknesses the majority of people I have spoken to (and I’ve spoken to a lot) have a hard time acknowledging their weaknesses, especially if you ask them to write them down and make a list. It takes real honesty with oneself to acknowledge our weaknesses verbally and/or in writing.

That whole processing in the mind thing is mostly a little voice inside our head that will continuously battle with you to justify every weakness you attempt to acknowledge through reflection … until you get truly conscious with yourself.

There is this thing lingering beneath the surface of the human awareness that suggests you need to be good at the stuff the people around you are good at. That’s crazy!

This thing is fed by different core psychological drives that vary from person to person. This thing is that same little voice.

For those people who are self afflicted with this, and that’s the majority, it causes them to be less productive and fall well short of their potential.

Let’s add some contrast.

In your home you expect a water pipe to be a water pipe and a tap (faucet) to be a tap. If the tap were a pipe the water would keep flowing and if the pipe were a tap no water would find its way from the mains. Same goes for electrical cables, wall sockets and switches. Each has its own unique purpose.

Humans are the same. What’s yours? … and be grateful there are millions of people out there who compliment you.

The simple truth is this. Everyone is good at a collection of things to some degree and then not as good at others. The clue here is figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, ideally both personally and professionally, and subsequently what are the areas where you have varying degrees of room for improvement.

Professionally you then have to assess them vis-a-vis a specific job.

For example, If I want to be a lawyer, there are specific groups of strengths I need and weaknesses that have no impact. If I want to be an bus driver, the strengths are different. If I want to be an AI developer, it's another group again.

Bottomline is you need to understand your own professional strengths and weaknesses and then align it with what is required of you to be able to do very well in order to be exceptional in your chosen profession. Same goes in the personal realm.

A simple human misconception is the notion that we can do it all ourselves. Ha!

Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses by yourself is not something you want to do let alone will be able to do effectively. We all have blind spots and out biggest blindspot is seeing what we are really good at and what we are really crap at.

The people who see you in action and watch you are the very people who can offer advice. Here’s the rub. Their advice is based on their observations and perceptions; their own programming.

Take said advice therefore as such and still avoid the natural bias to simply discard it because of that realisation.

On the one hand their advice is their subjective opinion base on their own experience and the stories they’ve made up about those experiences. On the other hand, subjectivity aside, they offer a lens, adjusted to a different focal point than yours, through which to view yourself.

Does any of this mean you ask random people who may see you regularly for an opinion? Well, you could and as far as very general stuff goes (with the occasional sprinkling of gold dust that could happen serendipitously) it can be helpful. For deeper access though you’ll want it to be from people who observe you in action and have the skills and experience to offer an opinion specific to whatever it is you are doing or seeking to achieve. After that, ideally, a coach or mentor would give you some focused advice on ways of being and doing, the techniques and tools for improving.

Unless you are open to listen and hear the kind of stuff you don't want to hear and unless you can avoid giving off energetically a vibration that you have no desire to hear feedback you’ll remain stuck in very close proximity to where you already are.

The three mistakes most people make is one or more of

  1. they don't truly understand their own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses,
  2. they are closed off to advice from others, and are unwilling to try on feedback on what they're really good at respectively what they are not good at, and
  3. they don't align their strengths, weaknesses nor the advice they receive to a specific professional or personal pursuit.

When I work with people I encourage them to have a systemisation mindset and create systems in their business and personal lives; and this is one of the foundational systems you need, asking for and gathering feedback then reflecting on it and acting on what is relevant after conscious reflection, since your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses are really the bedrock and building blocks of whatever you're here to do. 

3 Stage Process to Building Real Relationships

You Are Not Meant to be an Island.

In order to grow a successful business you need more than yourself, your laptop or mobile phone and a data connection. Follow this simple three stage process to create real relationships and build a bridge to get off the island.

You Need Help

No. Not like you need to see a therapist! Or maybe you do! None of my business.

What concerns me in the context of this community is are you able to accept help? I mean really accept help. It’s important to explore this aspect of your way of being. Reaching your potential in business and doing what you’re really here to do, what you’re really meant to do, comes with the requirements to accept help.

You can't do this alone. You need coaching to do it. You need constructive and candid feedback from people who can hold a mirror up to you and let you see the huge blind spots around and behind you. You need people you can talk to openly about your fears, your insecurities, your doubts without loading more of the same onto the experience. Some of the time, you just need people to talk to for a reality check. We all do. You know what I’m talking about.

The self made man/woman concept is nice and warm and fuzzy and that’s all it really is. You can see it so often on social media channels, especially Facebook, loads of people boasting about becoming millionaires with this or that system that they discovered, or by being a speaker et al. Most of the time implying and undoubtedly deluding themselves that they are self made.

Newsflash, you can trip over becoming a millionaire these days. The big one to aim for if financial status is your thing is billionaire, and that will definitely take a load of help.

Now if you still haven’t made your first million or are struggling to regain that status after losing it, AND if you are the sort of person inclined to take offence at the comment above, get over it or leave. I don’t really mind either way. Come back when you are prepared to try some stuff on that doesn’t sit comfortable in your default space.

if you still haven’t made your first million or are struggling to regain that status after losing it, your in the right place because I can guarantee the stuff I talk about in this community is precisely the type of stuff you need to reach or regain that milestone … and when you do you’ll join the ranks of the people who realise how minor, unimportant and meaningless it is and who aspire to much greater.

Relationships Are Currency

You don’t need to be a brain surgeon, hold a PhD or even be a rocket scientist to know that the world we live in is ultra-hyper connected and the speed with which you can become an online connection of other people and communicate with with them whether invited or uninvited is increasing by the second. I’m not saying that’s good thing or a bad thing. It simply is which allows it to be both good and bad depending on the context.

I find when interviewing new clients, who invariably have a huge challenge or difficult situation they want help with, they really want to talk in-depth about what they are experiencing. One of the questions I often ask is who have you talked to and the answer is always, less a few exceptions, noe one at all. The exceptions are, “I spoke to my accountant or I spoke to my lawyer or I know this person who is a coach … and that is how I ended up contacting you”

What should be clear from this, and if you are honest most probably to some degree large or small about your own life, is that people don't have many real relationships. What I mean by relationship is a sincere and unbridled level of mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual acceptance, mutual understanding, mutual tolerance, mutual compassion, mutual patience. Some connections have a one or several of these but how many do you have that have them all. I can count mine one hand.

I understand now more than ever something my grandfather told me as a boy. He said if by the end of your life you can count your real friends on one hand and the fingers are full you are very lucky. I didn’t get it then. I get it now. He died at the age of 94.

There are some simple things you can do to foster real relationships and that’s self-disclosure. OMB! Yes I am saying what you think I’m saying … no matter how much fear it strikes in you if you’re an introvert, and no matter how much you may have a default response of “bah, I do that all of the time” if you’re an extrovert … no you don’t … not really ... and both of the above if you are an introvert/extrovert. BTW I’m the last one.

Building real relationships requires these things I’ve mentioned which means if you want real relationships you have to tell the other person something fundamental about yourself. Not this superficial crap that people post online all of the time. Maybe something about your childhood upbringing, about your parents, about the experiences in your life that have occurred to you as traumatic. Tell them something about yourself that will help them to better understand who you are and your way of being.

So many people are wound up so tight and closed off they never do it and in their mind could never do it; and it is all in their mind.

The next stage of the process to build real relationships and a bridge off your island is to ask genuine questions of other people about themselves. Questions that will help you to better understand who they are and their way of being.

How often have you experienced, or heard of this happening or done this yourself. A senior person in a company is with someone more junior. They may be at lunch, at an event, at the water cooler, on a road trip or wherever. The conversation, if there is any, is superficial, all pleasantries and small talk.

They leave the experience knowing as little about the person as when they started it. They learn bugger all if anything. The simple reason is because they never ask real questions. A lot of people are not good at asking questions. Some are just plain disinterested in other people and the world around them. A lot of other people hide behind a fear of something. Fear of a real conversation, fear of getting too personal, fear of prying into other people’s business, fear of having to reciprocate!! That last one is a doozy!

Seek Advice

The last stage of this simple process is you need to seek advice? Stop thinking you can do it all in your head or even do it all by getting it out of your head and onto paper. I have a really good technique for that by the way, and still, as good as it is, that alone is not going to do it for you. In both personal and professional life seeking advice is invaluable, and again I don’t mean visiting a therapist unless that is what you really want to do.

Organise your thoughts about a situation that you want advice on or an area of your personal or professional life where you have self-doubt and ask advice.

Has anyone ever asked your advice about something? Do you remember how good you feel when another person asks your advice? You feel pretty awesome right? Valued, appreciated. You sense gratitude from the other person, and at least subconsciously if not consciously you feel gratitude yourself toward that person. People asking you or your advice are showing you a lot of respect. At least this is the way I feel.

So why is any of this or this process important? Well it helps people to understand you better, it helps you to understand other people better, it builds trust and these as a minimum help build real relationships, and you need to have relationships with people if you are going to get anywhere in life personally and most definitely if you are going to build a business where you are not the goto person and where you have a viable exit option you can execute on. You simply cannot be an island.

Over the last three plus decades of creating, operating and exiting businesses, and helping other people do the same, I’ve found that the times when people struggle in their lives or have regrets, then this is one of the major areas that they failed  give focus to and work on.

You see I’ve done all these things that I’m telling you about. I’ve made these mistakes in life. Experienced them first hand. That’s why I know them. One of the sure fire reasons some of my ventures have been failures is I’ve done the whole hermitpreneur. I mean it’s so counterintuitive to achieving anything and it’s both laughable and ridiculous.

If you want to achieve the outcomes you desire in life, if you want to have a business that is actually a business and not a self imposed job, a business that allows you the freedom to enjoy the things you had in mind to do when you first started the business, then you need people and you need to have real relationships with those people.