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I’ve been reading a new book, Think Small: The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher. I picked it up because it mentioned ‘nudge theory’ – something I’d heard about, and wanted to delve into.

It turns out, the behavioural science approach of “thinking small” aligns with a strategy I’ve been using for a while. That is, to identify 3 things to do this week, that help me make progress on projects, or reach goals.

I’m now trying to tackle each day with 3 small goals – nudging myself to be more organised and productive!

My goals for the last 24 hours:
– preparing clothes for a bike ride the night before
– using my outlook calendar to set times to return phone calls
– not checking emails on my phone after 8pm

This may not be rocket science, sound particularly interesting, or life changing, but it’s worth considering if there are ways to reframe our thinking, and stay on track in our increasingly busy lives.

I figured it was worth sharing.

You can find out more about the book, and the Think Small theory via Website  or Youtube

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As the old year ends, most people reflect on their achievements, and set resolutions for the new year. I must admit, 2017 was a whopper of a year for me – personal and professional achievements were way beyond my expectations at the start of the year!

In 2016, I set myself a goal to read one book every single week – i.e. 52 books in the year. I came close, hitting 48 books for the year. It was an interesting challenge, but I wouldn’t do it again. Making my goal too specific made reading less enjoyable – I realised this after the first 28 books, so eased off, and focused on enjoying reading, and reading regularly.

I will admit, when I started 2017 I didn’t have a specific plan and didn’t set any goals. I like to think I was open to opportunities as they came along! This meant making new friends, standing for local government elections, (eventually becoming the Deputy Mayor of Orange City Council), and starting a new business entity with 3 other motivated business owners (our own regional co-working space: Co-Work Orange). I developed collaborative programs within the community (headspace Orange) and started working with TAFE in Management Services. I took on a leadership role in Rotary District 9700 (Membership Director) and started restoring a vintage car (1969 VW Beetle, Herbie, who is registered and now my daily drive!).

My tips for planning for success in the year ahead:

Reflect: When setting your plans, don’t just focus on the past, or just on the future, but link them together to set your ‘present’ mind-set.

  • What did I achieve this year?
  • What did I learn this year?
  • How can I build on these, and achieve and learn more in the future?

Be open to opportunities that arise:

  • Try new things, and see where they might take you. If you don’t like the path it has taken you down, then you can switch back to where you were, having learned what you don’t want to do!

Be nice to everybody:

  • Smile, be friendly, and show respect for others. A little bit of kindness can go a long way. Let us all try to be a little bit nicer, and make the world a better place.
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It’s been a while since we’ve posted! We’ve been busy with individual consultations, and facilitation for small business, but there’s a new project in the pipeline for Mayten Consulting!

The Youth Employment Skills (YES) Program will provide a strong foundation for youth employment programs in our community.

In partnership with Marathon Health (headspace) and with support from Rotary, we have been successful in receiving a grant from The Sally Foundation Small Grants program, administered through the FRRR. This provides essential support for a new program targeting employment and career skills for Orange’s young people.

Mayten Consulting is also exploring other opportunities that create links between local businesses and employment opportunities, particularly for school leavers and those choosing to spend a GAP year in the Orange area. We are committed to programs and activities that help people to reach their potential.

Find out more: FRRR Sally Foundation announcement or contact us.

 

 

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Are you keeping up to date with developments in your field? A little light reading now and then can help you stay up to date with emerging issues, or just remind you of key concepts for effective leadership and management.

I’ve got a few friends who blog, and I also follow quite a few people on LinkedIn and other social networks. Their advice is thought provoking, and delivered in nice neat packages, easy to read on any device.

I also keep an eye on leaders in their fields, particularly when they are interviewed about their professional work and personal lives. Recently, I’ve seen a few great articles from local leaders – people I know, respect, and admire.

I will admit, reading about local stars makes a big impact. When I know it is someone I can talk to, or seek more information from, it adds a nice social aspect to an often solo-activity.

I also confess, I enjoy skimming through a textbook every now and then, reminding myself of key concepts and theories, and following up online – looking at new developments or ways to implement ideas. I’ve got some old favourites on the shelf, and will often pick up something from the local library to get new ideas, or revisit older ones.

In the world of constant connectivity, an unexpected 5 or 15-minute wait time can be put to good use by following up idea, and looking for more information online. It’s not hard to keep up to date, but it does take a little bit of effort to keep up with regular reading. I love podcasts (check out ABC Radio’s Best Practice podcast), but I’m not a big fan of online videos (the occasional TEDTalk maybe). So, if you aren’t a big reader, it’s worth checking out what other options are available to keep up to date.

So, when it comes to your professional learning:

  • Who do you look to for advice?
  • Where do you find your updates and inspiration?
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Running a small business is hard work. You put passion, emotion, and energy into building relationships with your clients, and hopefully they do in return.

Working in a business is hard work! You put passion, emotion, and energy into your relationships with co-workers, managers, and other stakeholders. Hopefully, they value your input in return.

I’ve had a few conversations lately about ‘The Break Up’. That time, when you make a choice to end a client relationship, or leaving an organisation or workplace. When your time and effort just isn’t balancing with their priorities, values, or your future plans, it’s time for the “It’s not me, it’s us” conversation – “The Break Up”.

Last week, I was well into development of a new partnership, which had been building for a few months. It was intermittent progress, complicated by Christmas holidays, key players in their team being ill or resigning – lots of issues out of my control. We met on Friday to sort out specific details, but by Monday I had realised, that we just didn’t have the same foundation for collaboration. My beliefs, and their behaviours just don’t align. I had to break up with them.

They are a big player, while I am a bit player. They are in control, established and have policies and procedures that prevent the changes required for me to feel comfortable in my role. I realised, like coming across a ray of sunshine and peace while in the eye of a cyclone, that it was time to break up.

I should have gone with my gut – the sense I had quite early on – that not everything was aligning as I expected. I should have trusted my instincts, and assessed my unconscious concerns. I should have implemented my own coaching approach to get down to the key issues! (If only my subconscious voice spoke a little louder!).

It was a tough call, and certainly has implications for my income, but I come back with confidence to my foundations and to my values and standards. After the break up, I will sleep better. I will have more time and energy to put towards projects and partnerships where there is alignment, and most importantly, where I can make an impact.

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There’s a common thought that “Busy people get more done”. Good time management is a great skill to have. Each of us will have different approaches to prioritising our time and organising our efforts. It’s important to know yourself, your time management issues, and develop strategies that work for you. As a busy small business owner, also juggling casual contracts, and volunteer commitments I’m continually refining the way I allocate priorities and manage my time.

Achieve early in the day

I was always told to make my bed – not just for neatness, but because it is your first achievement of the day! For many people it can be hard to get started, but once they do, they build momentum. Consider how completing something can get you moving and make you feel like you are achieving progress. For example, some people tick off some easy email replies first thing in the day. Others tackle the jobs they have been putting off. This second strategy, to do the least pleasant job first, often means you look forward to the rest of the day as the tough work is done.

Calendars

Relying on memory works for some people, while others need a diary, calendar or to-do list. I’ve seen some people use bits of paper and post-it notes, however if these are poorly organised it can lead to big issues. There are apps like Remember the Milk and Evernote across various platforms. In terms of basic technology, I recommend using an electronic diary which updates live to your computer and your phone, and keeps you on track. I tend to use a paper diary for notes during meetings or on the phone, and I’ve found a day to a page is ideal for this kind of detail. My online diary tells me where and when I need to be, while my notes can be found by searching for the date of a meeting and looking up the hard copy diary.

Whichever approach you use, find a method which ensures you follow up on any actions required. Plan ahead, and make sure you complete the required tasks in the required time.  There’s nothing worth than realising at 10am that you were supposed to have something done by 9am!

Managing workload

It might seem overwhelming to have 299 unread emails after just one day away from work, but not all new tasks should require the same type of engagement, action, or time commitment. Dealing with new tasks need not be complex. I suggest there are four options when dealing with any task, particularly email: I like to call these the “4Ds of Task and Time Management”.

  • Do it now
  • Delegate it to the right person
  • Decide when, setting a date and time to do it.
  • Delete, or decline.

Need help in planning your time, developing your time management skills, or having a coaching conversation? Contact us.

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Entering a new environment is exciting, but sometimes scary. You are moving out of your comfort zone to try something new – a new job, starting study, a new neighbourhood or adventuring somewhere else in the world. These opportunities give you a chance to engage other people and grow your network.

I will admit, it’s taken me more than 40 years, three degrees, and a lot of missed opportunities to figure this out! Here are my tips for developing your confidence in new settings, and making the most
of those new opportunities.

Be confident in addressing 3 key areas:

  • Can you confidently introduce yourself?
  • Can you explain ‘what do you do?’ in 25 words or less?
  • Can you answer ‘Where you are from?’ without a geography lesson or rehashing your resume?

You might practice with a trusted friend, draft it as your short biography, or simply practice in front of a mirror. If you know who you are, and what makes you tick, and can express this without ums, ahs, and ‘sort-of-like-you-know’ in your answers, you can be more confident in meeting new people.

Embracing a new environment:

Learn names, and use them.

Listen. It can be hard for some people to really listen, because we are so busy thinking of what we are going to say next! Listen to what they are saying. Affirm what the speaker has said. Ask them a relevant question, build rapport, and see where the conversation takes you both.

Be open to the ideas of others. Be prepared to hear new stories and different perspectives from your own. Coming in as a ‘know-it-all’ can be a big turnoff. Don’t talk about “At XYZ we used to do ABC”, but present your ideas and options without the shadow of the past. Phrasing like “Have you considered doing ABC?” might get you a lot further than telling people your old work/house/neighbourhood was bigger, better, and brighter.

Take hold of opportunities to meet new people and grow your network:

If you are a university or college student, go to the extra workshops, seminars, or information sessions that are on offer. You will meet other students, but also be connected to key staff with expertise to assist you. Join clubs, groups, online forums and social events.

If you are in a new workplace, make the effort to join social activities and events. You might need to figure out which ones are a good fit for you longer term, but by showing your willingness to get involved, you will have many more opportunities than someone who stays behind their desk and is solely task oriented.

New neighbourhood? Meet the neighbours, smile at the people who walk past your house, and be prepared to be involved in your community. Whether it is a volunteer or service organisation, a craft group, or holiday event to attend, be willing to invest some time and effort in the place you live. You will get much more than you give.

 

Need some advice on growing your network, practicing your skills or identifying opportunities? Contact us.

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board game

 

Some people are amazingly cool, calm and confident when it comes to interviews. These are usually the people asking the questions! They know what to expect, they know what questions will be asked, and they are usually in control and well prepared.

On the other side, the nervous applicant often has their adrenaline pumping, their nerves on edge and their pulse racing. While some interview processes might mean you get to read the questions in the last 10 minutes before your interview, this can sometimes make you feel even more pressured to get the ‘right’ answers. How can you manage your nerves and get your head in the right space?

A recent ABC Article and podcast present some good information about interviews – for both sides of the desk. Read the original post here.

While there are some great tips, they’re also quite advanced. For someone taking their first interview, or who is being considered for a promotion, or a position in a project team, these tips are too narrow. If you are doing a radio or newspaper interview, where can you get practice and advice? If you are being interviewed for a scholarship, a project team or a promotion, what’s the best strategy for you?

Regardless of the type of interview, they all require strategy. Like playing a board game, a musical instrument or any sport, you need practice, technique and confidence. These three are critical to a strong interview strategy, regardless of the setting.

Practice

Nothing can replace having someone ask you to answer a specific question. Whether you practice with your aunt/cat/dog/neighbour, nothing helps you identify your responses, and your reactions to a real ‘on-the-spot’ answer.

Technique

To answer a question well, you need to listen carefully, think quickly, respond logically, and then read the interviewer’s reaction to see if more talking is needed. It’s tough to get this right in the heat of the moment. There’s also the challenge of applying transferable skills to the tough questions – the ones that you have to think on your feet. The techniques you use need to be practiced so that they come naturally. Once you’ve got an approach that works for you, this will give you confidence.

Confidence

Firstly, confidence in yourself from the moment you walk in! Then, confidence in your ability to communicate, without stumbling over your nerves. Finally, confidence in your level of content knowledge.

To practice answering questions, develop your technique, and be more confident in your next interview, contact Mayten Consulting. We can help you put your best foot forward.

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10 paint splattered feet standing around paint brushes

Last week, I was involved in a kids’ art competition, and it prompted me to ask myself: “What kind of experiences do parents think will provide a rich education?”

I was one of the workers behind the scenes. My job was to remove and replace the dirty water containers – the tubs in which the budding artists had washed their paintbrushes. It was an outdoor community event, with all age groups involved. I was kept busy, but still had time to see how the artists were progressing. It was great to see some parents let their kid’s creativity shine with encouragement, positivity, and enthusiasm. I was also witness to some interesting ‘helicopter’ behaviour from many parents. There were some who stood over their children, giving them instructions. In some cases, they ‘helped’ mix colours, and I witnessed more than one who held the paintbrush while the paint was applied to the paper!

Are parents so obsessed with winning that they can’t let their kids put paint to paper anymore? Are the goals they’ve been set so high that children need constant parental input to avoid making mistakes or errors? With their parents’ ever-watching protective gaze, where are these kids going to learn how to cope as independent people in our rapidly changing world?

Today, I was really enthused by this parent’s perspective on education – a complete contrast to what I witnessed at the painting table. Louis Wang spoke of his responsibility as a parent:

“We can role-model compassion, integrity, resilience in the face of adversity, tolerance and acceptance of other people’s differences, respect for one another and the environment, the importance of hard work, and the satisfaction of doing a job well.”

In my humble opinion, being well educated is about embracing the wide range of experiences which a rich learning environment brings.

So, what should we focus on?

A sound education should enable an individual to engage in deep and wide learning experiences and develop a broad skill set. It is critical that kids experience:

  1. The joys and challenges of teamwork
  2. Disappointment, and the resilience to keep trying
  3. Victory, and pride in one’s achievements
  4. Taking responsibility for your own work, meeting deadlines and accepting feedback and criticism.

Not all parents seem to have the same worldview on the importance of independence. Parents like Louis Wang will provide rich, vivid, and diverse experiences. Their kids will be supported, and will go far.

Other parents hover and hold on to the paintbrush. Will their kids get the chance to experience life in full colour?

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Scrabble game board with interconnecting words: connections, issues, people, ideasI recently ran in to an old friend from school. She has experienced an unplanned change to her employment, and was unsure of how to get back into the field she wanted to work in. While there are still a lot of emotions around her change of job, she’s determined to find a new position that utilizes her skills and enthusiasm. When asked for my advice, one of the things we discussed was using her network to explore new opportunities. Fortunately, she has a wide network – wider than she realized!

But, what if you don’t have a strong network? How do you build your network?

I recommend you consider 3 aspects to your network: Local, Professional and Personal .

1. Local Networks:

Connect with others through associations or organisations in your local area. In my local area of Regional NSW there are a wide range of options. There’s a local Business Chamber and a range of business networking groups, including Rotary Clubs and Young Professional groups (eg. Orange Young Professionals). There are also a wide range of business breakfast and lunch groups meeting on a regular basis. Some specific professional areas run regular events related to their members, while others might be less formal. In just the last few weeks I’ve seen local Human Resources and Women in Business opportunities. Keep in mind the low key connection opportunities – many of the local trades, nurses, and teachers often meet at the pub on a Friday afternoon!

2. Professional Networks:

Engage in state  or national industry or professional associations. These often provide professional development events and conferences, and the connections made might also lead to future recruitment contacts or career opportunities. If someone is looking for an experienced person to fill a role, they will often look to people they know for recommendations and referrals. Some industries might have quite a few options to choose from, or might target different people within the industry for particular events (graduates, early career or experienced managers). While it might seem expensive to join (and for those of us in regional areas, might require more time and cost in travel to attend events) these networks often provide support, online resources and opportunities for collaboration – things which are priceless and can save you time and effort. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one place to start looking, and each state will have a list of incorporated associations (eg. NSW Fair Trading).

3. Personal Networks:

Find a mentor, coach or sounding board. While your partner/Mum/next-door neighbour/dog might think your ideas are fantastic, they might not have the perspective or expertise to advise you. Business Coaching is increasingly popular, for the benefits of objectivity, structure and accountability. If you have a strong professional or local network, there may be someone who you can mentor, or be mentored by. Finding the right mentor or mentee might be more of a challenge, but for de-briefing or a shoulder to lean on, they’re more than worth a cup of coffee! The mentor-mentee relationship builds over time as a learning experience, and in concert with the local and industry groups, can provide valuable opportunities for reflection.

Final thoughts:

Build your network through being ethical, genuine, engaged and reliable. Follow through with promises. Respect your competitors. Take up opportunities to be involved.

Be personable, and keep in mind that networks are a “long game” in relation to building trust and relationships. Don’t burn your bridges!

Don’t be in a hurry to get results from a network. The benefits should be mutual, and you should expect to get back what you give over time. You might also need to test out a few different network options to find the right one, depending on your needs and your goals.

Need help identifying opportunities in your local area? Interested in developing the skills to engage at networking events? Mayten Consulting can work with you to identify opportunities, build your skills and grow your network.

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