Tag Archives: Engagement

2014-05-22 20.18.06

Have you ever done an MBTI or Myers Brigg’s Type Indicator test to figure out your communication style? I haven’t. And by the sounds of it, that’s ok.

Last night we held a small Lumina workshop, which is a development from MBTI which works differently, assessing us as people that are changeable and wear different hats in different situations. We were there to learn more about communication styles and to learn how to read others.

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As some 22 people piled into the Thomson Reuter’s boardroom (thanks for the lend!), I was interested in seeing us huddle together with our colleagues and friends –  there were only two other WMN staff alongside me, with a majority of TR guests, followed by those from Turner.

Having already answered the questionnaire (so that Lumina could give us our profiles at the end of the session) I was aware of a few behavioural aspects: Do I take charge in a group? Do I like to bring others around to my point of view? Upon meeting Donna from Lumina, I quickly said that I was aware when answering, that my responses for work-based situations were different than those for family, friend or social interactions.

When it came time to sit and start the session, guess who was there saying “no, don’t sit on the side and it’s ok if you didn’t do your questionnaire, please sit in the middle so we have a nice audience”? Me, of course! Hey, I was there for work, I’m a WMN staff member. And I knew that we wouldn’t not be sitting still for too long. But I also noticed how in these situations, we do herd together.

The session, which took us through personality ‘areas’ (not types, because it can all be blurry), which you can see partially in the image below. It’s broken into:

Yellow – Social, imaginative, spontaneous

Green – Intimate, collaborative, empathetic

Blue – Observing, Evidence-based, Reliable

Red – Purposeful, Competitive, Takes charge

But note the blurring colours inbetween, too.

Lumina

And did you know that we make our first judgement of a person – all non-verbally, this fast?

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(But don’t worry, we make a more lasting, detailed judgement within 30 minutes).

We started our activities with three cards each from each suit (one of the four colours) and we then met people to trade out those cards which held statements that we felt didn’t apply to us. The statements varied from things like “In a group I prefer to listen first” to “Others see me as a rebel” (that one resonated with us WMN ladies).

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We also did group work to come to understand the potential character attributes and style of each ‘colour’ to see if we could understand what kind of personality each colour represented. Then, we looked at ourselves and decided what order rating we would give each colour, in describing ourselves. Again, I laughed as Event Manager, Sheli, and I came out with the same – we have similar day jobs too.

The next task was to move around the room, try to talk to at least five people who would then decide what colour order I was, as I did the same for them. My first meeting was interesting, I got talking – and before I knew it, Donna came along and told us to hurry on as we needed to meet more people. What did that mean about us? I quipped.

I was interested to see that I had been rated exactly the same by the four people I met (am I one dimensional? My brother once said I was, but only because I was given three of the same Marmite cook book for my birthday one year. I’m not one dimensional. I just really, really like Marmite). More so, I was interested to see that actually, I think those appraisals were right and it was slightly different than what I had first guessed for myself.

But to be clear, we all take on different aspects in different situations, so we’re all a bit of each colour and our profiles provided by Lumina break down into the underlying persona, the every day persona and the overextended persona. Lumina also recognise that these types have negative aspects – for instance,  someone who’s tough could be too blunt for others, or aggressive. Or you could become isolated if others see you as a rebel.

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Towards the end of the session (which Lumina kindly reduced to only 1.5 hours) Rachael took us through the ‘Spark Mandala’ and asked a few to take steps forward, when the question asked applied to them. We did one set for Introverted personalities (by starting from the opposite side of the wheel, printed on the mat) and another for extroverted personalities. Again, I laughed – and announced – that the two most extroverted personalities on that group were both from WMN.

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It’s easy to see that Lumina has a rounded view of how people are and behave – and that it’s helpful both on a personal and professional level to have an understanding of your style. After all, as a ‘yellow’ person I would say that life is all about those relationships, work might mean professional relationships, some of which crossover to personal, but really, our interactions with each other, with strangers, friends, family, colleagues, loved ones and even those we don’t like so much really makes up the colour of life.

To learn more about Lumina, visit these sites:

Illuminate Training

Lumina Learning

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For our International Women’s Day event, we decided to turn things around a little and discuss whether some women block other women’s careers. Learn more about the event description, here.

Folllow the Twitter conversation and event highlights, here. If you want to join, please use #WMNIWD

Our wonderful panel was made up of Christine Brendle, Founding Partner of Kids Dailies and Independent Non Executive Director at The Red Flag Group Kimberley Cole, Head of Specialist Sales, Asia at Thomson Reuters andMariko Sanchanta, Asia Pacific Regional Managing Director, Media at Burson Marsteller, with the amusing and candid MJ Jennings, Director, Training & Executive Coaching, Active Communications as Moderator

Brendle: Was the only woman on her first team/ job – and the only one who knew how to use a computer. Therefore, there were no women in senior ranks. After moving to New York, she found supported female bosses… She quotes Madeleine Allbright, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Sanchanta: Had good sponsors and mentors as well as some issues – she joined the panel because she couldn’t believe that women would block each other.

Due to a fire, our Hong Kong President, Christina Pantin had to step in for Cole at the beginning. To start us off, she shared some information: For the first time, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y millennials are working together now.

  • Lawyers under 40 prefer working for men who give better direction and constructive criticism.
  • 40% of workplace bullies are women.
  • 70% of the time a woman is bullied is by another woman.

 

 

So, why might women step on each other?
Some women who play the lone female at work might feel threatened by other women that come into the work place. When women work together and become friends, they might also share some very personal stories and secrets – perhaps becoming a root cause for future bad behaviour with one another?

Cole shares that she tries to see which women at work always have their heads down, and then tries to mention to others about their work, to help them connect with each other.

 

Should women working in Corporations play by the men’s rules?
Sanchanta: I’ve always refused to do so – and I’m a small Asian woman so I just can’t take that presence. I’m feminine and a woman and kept a mix of friends. In my experience a lot of workplaces are gender neutral, for instance after work activities like drinking in the pub are quite inclusive.

Brendle: Those rules exist but I don’t think you should play by them. Moving from France to the US, it was like the ceiling was raised by about 50 meters!

But the same company can be a totally different place depending on the corporate culture there. Encourage women leaders. Think about who is replacing you and what that brings. I’ve seen women who I’ve hired and am grooming take a hundred steps back as they become Queen Bees or try to assimilate more with the men.

Pantin: If a man is running the business, then it is under such rules because women have different career tracks and styles. But until you accept and take into account the different biology, those differences will be clear.

Why do women leave the leadership stream? Do they settle or do they just not want it? Fostering women to move up the ranks to the top is a big change that has to be approached at all levels of the company and management chain.

 

How do you juggle your life balance?
Cole: My kids were born in the UK where maternity leave is fantastic and practical. I came back to Asia to have them looked after!

Women feel guiltier going back to work and feel bad – men take it differently. I don’t think you can have it all, at the same time.

Brendle: For my second child I stopped work and enjoyed it because for my first born, I missed out. When you leave and come back to work it’s great to feel welcome – don’t bring them back and give them a second rate job.

 

Women are delaying careers for their family but might still go for new job interviews while pregnant. What are the compromises?
Sanchanta: Most of my colleagues don’t have wives who work. I have a baby and if I don’t leave by 6.30 I won’t see my daughter – I told my husband to stay home with her tonight instead of supporting me. I couldn’t miss bath time for a whole week but I think some men can.

Audience: I started my own business so that I could spend time with my children, when it became evident that between my and my husband’s career, we had no time at all.

In your early thirties in places like the US, you can’t afford a nanny or day care, so the pay gap between husband and wife determines who goes back to work.

I have three boys – once, they were all under five. I’m aware that my boys can learn why mummy shares responsibilities with daddy and why mummy needs to have a good job. We try to balance it as a team but I know my boys will be future workers. I’d prefer a good hour with them in the evening than time when I’m trying to do all of it, working from home, etc.

Cole: I always intended to have it all and have a career and children. I would have gone back even if my work only covered the childcare, but I was probably lucky to have those six months paid maternity leave in the UK.

 

Who do you turn to when you’re afraid? A cultural shift in your organisation or managing your lives better? What about mentors and paid mentors?
Sanchanta: “I’ve had a range of different female mentors in my life – but only ever been sponsored by men (in hiring/decision making positions).

Brendle: I’ve had mostly male sponsors and mentors – usually the same person – but I have also mentored.

I never looked for a mentor but it happens sometimes. At one point I had two men above me in different arms of the company, but I learned a lot. If you’re hiring the staff you might have a lot of wisdom and be a great sounding board.

Cole: I’m task oriented so I needed a sponsor – if that person can be a mentor as well that’s great. I now have one woman who was my mentor but she’s been so elevated now is that she could also be a sponsor. But it’s great to have both internal and external mentors and sponsors, because if people leave, what will you do? You get the balance.

 

How do you celebrate success?
Brendle: If you only have one discussion a year about your pay rise, it’s something that most people don’t feel too comfortable about. Doing this, you have metrics that are measured, and some women feel quite trapped by having men measure this – “oh growth in Asia, well, anyone could do that” – make sure you have your facts and proof behind you. Prepare.

Sanchanta: In Japanese culture you should be humble – so it took me a long time to unlearn these things. Working for American companies, you have to learn to trumpet your achievements.

Audience: Have a yey me folder to track and recall your successes.

JJ: Share feedback about people within the organisation, about a team etc – it will impress managers too. What goes around comes around!

 

What helped you on your journey to keep growing and taking a step forward?
Brendle: I waited ‘til after I was 50 to become an entrepreneur, by enjoying the means I could from corporations. I’m still learning a lot – I’m good with the big picture but I find being detail oriented a struggle.

Sanchanta: I have had several catalysts that make me do things differently. Having a child encouraged me to leave my 15-year comfort zone of journalism. Networking is great and amenable here because of the size of the city. I just keep going and perhaps I’ll end up doing my own thing one day too.

Cole: I like a challenge but the reason I keep taking them is financial independence. I was brought up by a single mother and she always taught me to have options and being able to be in control. 



WMNPRES

Kicking off 2014, Women Media Networks hosted an event about personal and presentation communication skills (#wmnpres). Our friend and supporter, @TheModernBelle_ writes up her takeaways from the event.

I was invited to blog about the event, covering a topic I find especially interesting. Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin, offered valuable tips on how to present yourself and also revealed her big secret on public speaking (I’ll come to that later).

Pantin has a love for the art of communication and has worked in over five countries around the world, which includes 25 years with Reuters. Her experience is evident as she makes us think about our personal brands.

What makes a brand?
The talk begins with Pantin asking us to consider, “if I were a brand, what would my label say?” She showed us an example of a food label, which often use positive buzz-words, like organic, natural, healthy, or improved recipe.

Brands always present themselves in a positive light, so that’s something to think about applying to your own brand. She also asks, “what do people look for in a brand?” Image is everything, so having a high-resolution, professional photograph of yourself is important. Think about how you want to come across in your photo – friendly? Professional?

Being unique is another important factor. What makes a brand stand out? Why is it different to others? What makes it memorable? Pantin cites National Geographic’s iconic magazine cover from 1985, of the girl who was an Afghan refugee and was photographed for the very first time – it’s a great example of uniqueness. And something that most remember, because of the girl’s expression and the look in her eyes which told a story of war.

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What makes a personal brand?
Appearance, voice, written and verbal communication, experiences, upbringing, values and most importantly, market value are all facets contribute to defining a personal brand. Pantin advises us to understand our market value within our industries, explaining that many women tend to shy away from their real market value. 

She also advises us not to forget about the digital side ­­– be careful when expressing yourself on social media, as it can be potentially damaging to your personal brand if you come across as negative or controversial.

WMNPRES

Citing Kiran Bedi as an example of a great personal brand, we saw a short clip of Bedi’s TED talk
 where she tells the story of her upbringing. Her family (in India) broke traditional roles and she was educated instead of staying at home. She went on to work in a prison and managed to make a significant change. Bedi’s passion and courage was evident in the talk, which helps her to be a great personal brand – being personal helps people to feel connected to you.

Presentation
Who are you and what do you want to say?

Pantin reveals her No. 1 tip when it comes to personal branding: Trust yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone else,  and you are your best story-teller. Pantin points out that we each have more control over the impression we make than we think we do, so consider about your opening line and the type of language you use throughout the presentation.

Of course, content matters. Make sure you your facts and figures are well researched and correct and don’t over-complicate the presentation. Rehearse until you feel comfortable enough and remember your notes more. Every crowd is different, so anticipate your audience’s needs – especially if they’re a smaller crowd.

Among the facts Pantin shares is that 75% of women decline an invitation to speak publicly. SO here’s Pantin’s big secret tip: Everyone gets nervous and afraid, so don’t worry about presenting. She advises trying to look comfortable and to wear comfortable clothes – there’s nothing worse than being nervous and physically uncomfortable! To help, familiarise yourself with the location before the presentation and get used to the setup. And when you present, remember to give eye contact and pause every so often.

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Conference calls
You might not consider this public speaking, but con calls can be tricky – more so because you can’t see the other people involved in the conversation.

Pantin advises to prep beforehand and know who and how many people will be on the call. If you have a moderator, it’s useful to ask people to announce themselves when they speak. Follow a pre-arranged agenda and make notes during the call. Now, your voice is your image, so be mindful of your tone – smiling when you speak can really help, here. Interrupting someone who goes on too long can be hard – the audience offer a few ideas here, like waiting for the right moment or interrupting with a clarifying question. And finally, make sure there’s a backup plan if you have technical problems.

Ending a call is as important as ending a presentation – end strong, say thank you and smile. One of the best tips Pantin offers is to always have a Q&A session after the presentation or call – it’s the best opportunity to get valuable feedback.

 


 

 



Our next event in Hong Kong, on June 19th, is about your personal brand.

 

This one sparks my interest more than ever, because after setting up my own creative servicescompany, I not only moulded a company around my skills but I became the personal brand through which I was trying to meet clients and earn a salary. Funny how that happens, without you really planning it that way.

For our breakfast event, the objective is to empower women to make career choices that are aligned with their life goals. Making work align with my overall life goals? Wow, that also sounds great. I almost feel a burst of “I can do that?!” even though this is something I’ve been slowly (realising and) doing for the past three years.

 

Our speakers, from Linkage, Vivian Lo and Yulee Teng will share some practical tools for participants to realise and own their goals in order to lead effectively in all aspects of life.

  1. Framework of the 3 Factors of Personal and Leadership Effectiveness
  2. Understanding your values and Defining Your Goals
  3. Women’s Life Cycle and Career Choices:  Making and Owning Your Choice

“What is your personal brand?” asks Yulee Teng. “Knowing what you wish to stand for and how you demonstrate that effectively in pursuit of a happy and successful personal and professional life, is what Personal Brand Management is all about.”

Teng will take us on a guided journey of understanding our own values and needs to be effective in roles that we play in our lives and career. Acknowledging that success may take a different form and definition over the life span of a woman, we’ll explore how tomaintain authenticity while leading ourselves and those around us.

 

 

 

 

But to get you thinking about things before the event, here are some of the things I do, when I’m trying to get my work (therefore, my life) to move in the direction I really want it to.

 

Make a list. It helps you to know what you want. Always have a few things you’re asking for in your life. If you don’t how will you get it?

Think about why. Why do you want that thing? Where will it lead you? What do you need to do to get into position to enable that thing to happen?

Talk to people. Tell them what you want, let it be general knowledge. And listen to what they say. Take note of the overall response you receive, just in case you are crazy… or missing something really important in your idea.

 

Those few things at least, will get you in the right frame of mind for our session. From the point of view of a small business owner, who is basically touting herself in the name of aforementioned business, I’m really looking forward to seeing what skills I’ll learn.

See you there,

Vickie

 

If you have thoughts, questions or readings to share in advance of the event, please talk to us via our social media accounts!

@wmnasiapacific (the hashtag for this event is #wmngoals).

www.facebook.com/WMNAPAC

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Our strategy breakfast event on May 15th was presented by Rob Depinto, a Silicon Valley veteran.

 

The hashtag for the event was #WMNstrategy.

 

Strategy is essential in having a successful business, yet its definition can become blurred. I was really excited to attend this breakfast, but I didn’t know that much about the strategy and this was the perfect way to learn more.

The event kicks off with Rob DePinto, director of strategy at innovation consultancy, ikyo. He explains that there are three aspects to consider when creating a business strategy.

 

 

  1. Strategy
  2. Innovation
  3. Execution

 

DePinto says it’s important to not confuse the definition of strategy in business. Strategy is all about where the business needs to go and how to get there. He advises not to confuse strategy with sales forecasting or vision because if the definition isn’t correct, then the strategy won’t be successful. In addition, DePinto stresses that time is a huge factor to consider – so anchor yourself in reality when creating a strategy.

 

Strategy
DePinto breaks down strategy into three areas: objective, diagnosis and guiding policy.

 

Objectives are pretty self explanatory and DePinto offers tips on areas to look at, such as winning customer preference, creating sustainable competitive advantage and leaving money on the table for shareholders.

Diagnosis is all about analyzing problematic areas of the business and asking important questions, like what is really going on? What areas concern us? What will create advantage?

Lastly, the guiding policy is necessary to help the strategy reach its targets. It’s an approach to help overcome obstacles on the way and defines the principles of the strategy. DePinto explains it is a system of action with measurement – and emphasizes again that timeline is very important when creating a strategy – so your competitors don’t get ahead.

DePinto provides a Gucci case study. They had to understand where they were in order to see where they needed to go, so they conducted extensive research in the process. Gucci bought competitors’ handbags and pulled them apart to really see what they were up against. Then, they looked at what they could do with what they had. Ensuring that every department was involved in the strategy process was critical to success. DePinto explains Gucci’s system of advantage through involving and being willing to analyze all areas of the business, from marketing to stores, supply chains and HR, to customers.

 

 

Innovation
Innovation is extremely important for a business to be successful. Why? DePinto says that bringing a product that yields new value to market is critical to success. He offers tips when it comes to innovation and explain that the ‘product’ is the complete value proposition and not just a device. This includes how the customer feels when they buy the product and what makes them want to buy the product. He also advises focusing on serving a ‘market’, not customer by customer. He emphasizes that ‘value’ has to be created with your product – then you have to dominate the chosen market.

 

 

DePinto breaks down the innovation process, stating you have to precisely determine ‘value’ and what that is for your customer. Think about what problem you are solving and how you’re solving it. Who is the customer? Exactly what segment and sub-segment do they fit into? Any hypothesis created needs to be tested and the sales process needs to be repeated in order to accurately scale how successful the product can be. What follows is where everything links together. Strategy is where and how to get there; innovation is about bringing a new product to market – which then moves forward to diagnosis, guiding policy and finally, cohesive action (execution).

 

Execution
This is the system of getting things done and requires tough discipline. The ability to execute is vital, or the product fails. Another DePinto case study of Yellow Tail Wine shows an excellent example of execution. Their strategy involved bringing new wine drinkers into the market, instead of trying to target existing wine drinkers. They made it easy for their target market and excluded technical words surrounding wine. Yellow Tail even offered simple recommendations like which wine goes with which type of meat, which was ideal for their target market. They executed their strategy well and covered the innovation process. DePinto says that being different is much better than trying to be better than competitors.

 

 

When developing a strategy, DePinto highlights that covering all areas of the business when creating a strategy is also very important, including key performance, activities, value, resources, revenue, channels, customer relationships, customer segments and cost structure. He finishes with a few great examples of strategy, including the Yahoo! Weather App. Yahoo! isn’t the most popular search engine, but their new weather app has been very successful. It uses simple icons and is very useful with its maps feature. It’s a great example of innovation and execution, and was a boon for Yahoo!’s marketing as it showed they were moving forward and changing for the better.

After attending the WMN breakfast, I felt very inspired because DePinto gave great advice and case studies on strategy in business. I learned that being realistic with timeline, as well as executing for all areas are an important part of strategy. I also learned that strategy is an essential part of reaching goals, whether it be in business or creating something new. I will definitely be implementing some of the advice offered by DePinto into my work.

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I came across Women Media Networks when doing research for my own site, The Modern Bitch, in August 2012. At that point I thought it would be a dream to be part of WMN and eight months later I was given the opportunity to attend an event in celebration of International Women’s Day.
One thing that inspired me to create a site for young women in Hong Kong was a TED Talk by Tavi Gevinson, a teen blogger who discussed feminism and how she was still figuring things out. Feminism has always been something close to my heart and since I was a child, I’ve always looked up to women and had female role models whether it be lead singers in bands or successful women in the corporate world.
In the UK, where I grew up, teen pregnancy is high and many of my friends weren’t aiming high or thinking about their future. When I entered my early teens I started to become very ambitious and knew that a career was something I wanted and family would come later. By the time I graduated and an opportunity came along in the form of Hong Kong, I knew it was a calling and I had to push past my worries and fears. Two years on I have a stable job that I enjoy and continue to think about my future in terms of career first and family later.
The discussion started straight at the root, as the panel asked each other if women could really have it all? I personally believe that women can, but not everything will be in balance all the time. It also depends on the definition of  ’having it all’ as this differs for everyone. Most of the room agreed.
My version of having it all from a basic definition would be having a successful career while having a family at the same time. One thing I took away is that the definition is difficult to simplify because all kinds of complexities come into family and career such as, whether you have your own business – and how big it is – how big your family is, whether you’re a single parent… the list goes on.
Bobbi Campbell touched on the point that you have to be really good at what you do in order to have the right to tell people you’re leaving at 5.30pm and will be unavailable for certain hours. I completely agree. It involves years of hard work and staying late to work your way up to the top, which in turn makes you really good at what you do. This isn’t always easy for women who aren’t necessarily at the top and after doing a little research on Marissa Mayer and Yahoo!, it’s clear that having understandable employers who support your choice of working and raising a family is something that is vital in having balance.
Doubt is one of the biggest problems that I face while trying to succeed in work and managing my side projects. It was a relief when Mia Saini mentioned this and an even bigger relief when other women agreed. Confidence is something that I have struggled with from time to time and I had a lot of doubts when creating my website, especially over the name. I overcame this by using my instincts and asking myself, what’s the worst that can happen?
It was great to hear advice from Bobbi regarding checking a company’s culture before working there and she stressed the importance of being comfortable asking co-workers for help. It was reassuring to learn that some women have key influencers to aspire to, which helps them overcome the fear of asking.
Letting go of some control over your work and allowing others to step in was also a big talking point and Chris Bowers mentioned having to allow her staff to handle things for her after having twins. I thought about this and considered it a challenge in the future for me personally as I like to be in control of every little detail and think that other ambitious women might feel the same way. Bowers also mentioned that she met with personal development coaches to better herself in order to better her business. That is definitely something to take on board. Other people help you grow.
Towards the end of the discussion, Shea Stanley and others panel members talked about the future and what can be done now, to help change the stereotypical view of mothers. It’s important to educate children on equality and leading by example by sharing chores between the parents, so the mother isn’t doing it all and they don’t see just mum doing it all. There is also some advice for younger women in that they shouldn’t worry about the future or planning family. Just focus on pursuing something you love and figure out how family will fit in later on. Not only that, but do not doubt yourself. Just own it!
One of the main things that I can relate to and take away from the discussion is that women are still trying to figure it out. None of the women in the room that day had all the answers or a 101 on how to have a career and family at the same time. What I felt inspired by is that strong and successful women have come together to discuss this. I may have a long way to go in building a career for myself, but I learnt a lot during that discussion and I think it’s very important to expose younger women to these discussions to ensure the lives and roles of women continue to progress healthily.

Read more from Beth’s blog, The Modern Bitch.
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Our first event of the year was an exciting and fun one – which if you’re not morning person (I’m not), is just what you need. And I should mention, our kind hosts California Vintage did a great job with the menu (California breakfast muffin, yes please). Moreover, the topics and advice syncronised nicely with everything else that’s been going on in my life lately, both at home and at work.
The task for the event was Developing mindfulness, reliance and confidence, learning strategies and techniques to transform challenges and setback into opportunities.
Our speaker, Sally Dellow from Rock the Boat had promised a frenetic event with audience participation, which is what we got with our small but comfortable crowd.
“Are you dealing with VUCA? ” Asks Sally.
VUCA is Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. The term was coined in the 90s for those dealing with the military issues. It’s likely that you’ve felt this at work or home recently. We live in a VUCA world, which isn’t going to change, so we have to manage our reactions.
We’re asked to put down our bags and phones (as if that isn’t scary enough?) and shut our eyes. This is a grounding exercise, so we tune out everything but place our feet on the footrests and consider that we are planted on the stool and the stool is on the ground. We bring the energy up from the ground and into our bodies. Sally asks us to feel connected and say: “I am grounded. I am open”. This is a good way to check yourself in the busy world; it will help give you resilience.
Ever seen anyone shake when they’re giving a speech? In our daily lives, our fight or flight response will blind us. But then when we need it, adrenalin kicks in. Yet constant adrenalin is bad for us too. This is Sally’s killer cocktail – adrenalin and cortisol, those stress hormones, which will literally give you a heart attack.
With a chart provided by Sally, we look at the world around us.
Meet SCARF
Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness.
Engagement and motivation will make us move toward a person, job or situation. But bad feelings will give a fight or flight response, where of course, flight takes over (see image at bottom).
Another slide shows that 65% of us are disengaged, un-energised – or worse – through our work. You might not think it, but those feelings and sentiments lead to feelings of stress (it’s not just complacency). High stress gives a 23% increased risk of a heart attack.
Meanwhile, a survey in Hong Kong shows that 74% of white-collar respondents experienced short attention span, memory loss and difficulty processing tasks. Our brains need a rest too.
There’s more than one reason why we need to give ourselves a break and put ourselves first. Ever flown on an airplane? The answer is yes, I’m sure. Think about how we’re told on flights to place our own oxygen masks before helping others. It’s for a reason. We need to breath healthy oxygen and have clear minds in order to think in order to act – in order to be of help to others. It’s an analogy also used in twelve step groups to show that it is ok to put yourself first; it is not necessarily selfish.
We naturally think it’s bad to put ourselves first, but it’s not. So here’s another exercise. Think of two situations where you need extreme self-care. It could be having a lie-in on Saturday. It could be making a delicious meal. Commit to yourself that you will do it in the next seven days. Write it down. Go on!
And when you’re getting stressed, remember to take a moment to come back down to earth. Because you need to be resilient.
Resilience will help you
  • Bounce back from adversity
  • Overcome the stress of threatening circumstances
  • Adapt successfully to challenges
Resilience is actually genetic – some of us really are more resilient than others, according to Sally. Those who are more resilient tend to be highly committed to the things in our lives. The more threads we have that connect us to our world – friends, family, hobbies, work, societies etc the less we will be rocked when one of those threads breaks. Our zone of control is less highly shaken.
When everything goes wrong, we can control our bodies, thinking and even our feelings.
Sally shares tips for feeling in control:
Permanence: To have a positive and resilient mindset, see negative events as temporary.
Pervasiveness: If one thing is going badly, focus on where things are going well and remember that you are the same person across those situations.
Fully acknowledge the things you can and cannot control.
And finally, forget the three pillars of happiness – some people don’t feel happy but there is something that can be more important.
The five pillars of wellbeing (PERMA)
  1. Positive emotion
  2. Engagement
  3. Relationships
  4. Meaning
  5. Achievement
In this exercise (PDF attached at the bottom), take two coloured pens and mark your score in those areas (each ring is 25% with the lowest percentile in the centre. Make a mark in the correct ring for you, under that category). Do one colour for you and another colour for work in order to see where you’re at.
How perfect is your circle? Now think about how to move towards where you want to be.
What went well
Here’s an exercise to do every night. When something scores low, think about what your wish would be to change it. Doing this will help you to get your ideas and sense of gratitude in order. While this exercise seems simple, let it become a practice and it will really help. It will become part of your natural approach to looking at things in your life; it breeds positivity.
Respond don’t react
Don’t let your emotions take control of your behaviour. If you’re afraid, it’s because you think you’re facing a saber tooth tiger. But you always control your breathing and your body, so take control and loose the fight or flight response. Breath, smile, deflect and decide.
(You don’t need to be unemotional – process your emotions).
Mindfulness exercises are plentiful
Shut your eyes and practice your smile without interruption.
Hormones can also help:
  • Connect with people and it releases Oxytocin along with sentiments of trust, loyalty and openness.
  • Laugh, serotonin gives perspective and stops you from muffling your words.
  • Be mindful, it lowers the stress hormone of Cortisol. Slow down, don’t get bowled along by life.
  • Exercise gives endorphins, which gives women a bigger hit than men. Just move around and feel more euphoric.
Well after an hour of inspiration, it’s time to STOP.
  • Sit
  • Take a breath
  • Observe
  • Prioritise

There’s a great list of short, tweeted takeaways here:
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