If you are to build a great business, you need to know how to hire great people.  There are 3 things you want to see in a person to know that they will make a lasting positive impact on the organisation.

  1. Can they do the job today
  2. Will they do the job long term
  3. Do they fit with the team

What do you look for in people when you are deciding whether to make an offer?  What red flags have you identified?

I’ve had a few people asking me for specific details on the kit I use to make videos for my YouTube Channel.  The most basic videos, I make with my iPhone 7.  Enter photo app, selfie mode, hit video and talk.  My friend Seb Lora has over 220K youtube subscribers and does most of his non-studio videos with his iphone.

Camera: My main camera is the Canon G7X Mark II.  There is a big vlogging decision to make between DSLR or “Mirrorless” camera.  DSLR are bigger, heavier but get a better image (especially depth of field – those crisp foreground images with blurrer background).  “Mirrorless” such as the G7X are lighter and easier to carry around with you.  My decision was to go with the camera that is easier to carry.

Audio: For YouTube vlogging, I was surprised to discover early on that poor sound is more damaging to your video content than poor image quality.  People can cope with low quality video, but they really hate low quality sound.  

Video Editing Software: I use Final Cut Pro on the Mac to do my video editing.  I used iMovie before, but found myself quite restricted in terms of what I could do with multiple cameras and audio tracks.

Conor’s Vlogging Kit in Detail

Here’s a full list of all the bits and pieces that make up my vlogging kit.  Here’s the full list as an Amazon.com wish list: Conor’s Vlogging Kit.

Video: Canon G7X Mark II

Gorrilla Pod tripod for Canon G7X
Optional: improves sound quality (especially outdoors) from Canon G7X

Audio: Zoom H1 audio & lavalier microphone

Super portable, long battery life and great audio quality
lavalier mike – get better voice quality
necessary adaptor for Rode lavalier to Zoom H1

Video Editing Software: Final Cut Pro

I use Final Cut Pro, but Adobe Premiere is also powerful. 

Iphone Extras: tripod & clamp

flexible tripod and clamp to get good video shots with smartphone

Video Extra: Go Pro Hero 5

Gives an extra camera angle. Adds interest to your video image – allows switching between “headshot” and “scene” image.

Audio Extra: Remote Microphone

This is only useful if you speak at conferences and want to film yourself.  I can be on stage and leave the camera & audio gear at the back of the room.

Spares (Batteries, Memory cards)

This video comes from the foothills of the Wicklow mountains, near my parent’s house in Dublin.  I was teaching at the UCD Smurfit Business School and then spent the weekend down in Wexford at the opera festival.  My parent’s have been big supporters of this festival over the last 20 years and it was important to me to see it with them.

What Lesson Have You Learnt?

I ask a question: What is the most important lesson you have learnt in life?  I’d love to hear from you.  What would you say is the most important lesson you have learnt about living life well?

If you liked this post, you will also like Life is Difficult, How to Handle it or 65 Lessons Learned at Tony Robbins’ Event.

In his TED talk, Stephen Duneier explains that what defines him are not titles, but an approach to decision making that transformed him from someone who struggled with simple tasks to a guy who is continuously achieving even his most ambitious dreams.

For thirty years, he has applied cognitive science to investing, business and life. The result has been the turnaround of numerous institutional businesses, career best returns for managers who have adopted his methods, the development of a $1.25 billion dollar hedge fund and a rapidly shrinking bucket list.

“Every one of my report cards basically said the same thing: Steven is a very bright young boy, if only he would just settle down and focus.”

“What they didn’t realize was I wanted that even more than they wanted it for me, I just couldn’t. And so, from kindergarten straight through the 2nd year of college, I was a really consistent C, C- student. But then going into my junior year, I’d had enough. I thought I want to make a change. I’m going to make a marginal adjustment, and I’m going to stop being a spectator of my decision-making and start becoming an active participant.”

“And so, that year, instead of pretending, again, that I would suddenly be able to settle down and focus on things for more than five or ten minutes at a time, I decided to assume I wouldn’t. And so, if I wanted to achieve the type of outcome that I desire – doing well in school – I was going to actually have to change my approach. And so I made a marginal adjustment. If I would get an assignment, let’s say, read five chapters in a book, I wouldn’t think of it as five chapters, I wouldn’t even think of it as one chapter. I would break it down into these tasks that I could achieve, that would require me to focus for just five or ten minutes at a time. So, maybe three or four paragraphs. That’s it.”

“I would do that and when I was done with those five or ten minutes, I would get up. I’d go shoot some hoops, do a little drawing, maybe play video games for a few minutes, and then I come back. Not necessarily to the same assignment, not even necessarily to the same subject, but just to another task that required just five to ten minutes of my attention. From that point forward, all the way through to graduation, I was a straight-A student, Dean’s List, President’s Honor Roll, every semester.”

“I then went on to one of the top graduate programs in the world for finance and economics. Same approach, same results. So then, I graduate. I start my career and I’m thinking, this worked really well for me. You know, you take these big concepts, these complex ideas, these big assignments, you break them down too much more manageable tasks, and then along the way, you make a marginal improvement to the process that ups the odds of success in your favor. I’m going to try and do this in my career. So I did. I started out as an exotic derivatives trader for credit Swiss. It then led me to be global head of currency option trading for Bank of America”

Mr. Duneier teaches graduate courses on Decision Analysis in UCSB’s College of Engineering. His book, AlphaBrain is due for release in early 2017 from Wiley & Sons. Through Bija Advisors, he helps business leaders improve performance by applying proven, proprietary decision-making methods to their own processes. His artwork has been featured around the world and is represented by the Sullivan Goss Gallery. As Commissioner of the League of Professional Educators, Duneier is using cognitive science to alter the landscape of American education. He is the former Head of Currency Option Trading at Bank of America and Emerging Markets at AIG International.

For more on achieving goals, check out 6 Reasons we Give Up on Goals and Finding Purpose and Defining a Vision for your Life.

It’s a “first world problem”.  Flight delays.  When air travel works, I love travelling as a speaker and teacher.  When there are delays… I start to reconsider how much it should be worth to leave my comfortable home city of Barcelona.

What to do when your flight is delayed? 

  1. Step 1: be grateful that I am travelling alone, and not with my kids. 
  2. Step 2: buy some food before the shops in the airport close and I am left starving. 
  3. Step 3: hope that the connection in Madrid waits for us.  
  4. Step 4: start writing…

Here’s one ugly looking departures screen at Barcelona airport this evening. There’s some storm hitting Portugal at the moment.

What I do when I am waiting?  I write blog posts, I update my IESE technical notes, I add thoughts and ideas to my journal.  

I’m sitting here for the next 2 hours… so hit me with your comments and let me know how you handle flight delays?

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain.  As it tires, your brain looks for shortcuts.  The 2 most common decision avoidance tactics are:

  • to act impulsively (without seeing the consequences of the decision)
  • to procrastinate (do nothing)

Taking decisions takes willpower.  Willpower is a form of mental energy that can be exhausted. It is like a muscle that gets fatigued with use.

There are a limited number of good decisions that one can take in a day.  You might be a more effective decision maker than those around you, but you will still have a finite limit on the number of good decisions you can take in a day.

Decision Fatigue for Leaders

How do you Ration your decision making?

In the toughest days of my life as a CEO – dealing with the fallout from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the collapse in bank lending at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, I hit my limits of decision fatigue.  In order to get through the weeks and have energy to deal with the things that would allow us as a business to get through these tough times, I rationed my decision making.

The first step was to specify when and where I would take decisions.  (Initially… when: on a Friday; where: only in my office).  Previously my team would approach me at any time in the day, over coffee, over lunch, via email, via sms to request budget for small projects or permission to do some new activity.  I felt responsable as leader for providing an immediate answer.  It was killing me and leaving me with no energy to dedicate to building our future once we survived the immediate crisis.

“That’s great, bring it on Friday…”

I decided that I would take all budget decisions on a Friday between 9-12.  If someone came to me with a request, I learnt to say “that’s great, bring it on Friday and we can take a decision”.  It was hard at first, people were frustrated and angry and didn’t like my lack of willingness to engage at the time and place that they wanted.  Over the following months, the people around me learnt to plan ahead and bring the information necessary to take a good decision on the Friday before they needed the decision.

It gave me peace at lunchtimes, in the break area, even in my office when someone opened the door on a Tuesday.   It was a challenge to remove my sense of responsibility to decide at all moments.  I learnt to be able to have a conversation where I could contribute ideas, but allow it to be clear that no final decision would be taken during this discussion.

When One decision is not really One decision…

My wife realised that one of her struggles with going to the gym is that it was never just one single decision.  Each trip to the gym was a series of decisions: do I change at home or at the gym? do I shower at the gym or at home?  will I eat there or not?  which t-shirt will I bring? which trainers will I use today? which bag will I use?  As the idea of gym came up, her brain knew that it would be exhausted by the series of 20 decisions.  Her solution?  She wrote down all the questions that she used to ask herself and wrote the answers.  She make going to the gym become one simple decision, with a written template of pre-decided answers (shower=yes, trainers=blue, eat=there…)

In Vistage one of the first processes of change that we see in a new CEO member, is a greater awareness of which decisions they should be taking and which decisions they should not be taking.

Are you taking €10,000 decisions, €100 decisions or €1 decisions?  

If you are taking the €1 decisions, your brain’s decision willpower will be depleted before lunchtime.

If you are taking the €1 decisions, your €10,000 decisions will not be receiving the analysis and impact that they deserve.

Jack Welch spoke about the size of decisions that he allowed himself to be taking.  GE is a multi-billion business.  As leader Jack allowed himself to only be taking decisions that could affect at least $50M of the market capitalisation.  

Steve Jobs is famous for having a wardrobe full of identical blue jeans and black t-shirts.  It was not a fashion decision, it was a conservation of decision willpower for the important decisions of Apple.  Barrack Obama speaks about a similar challenge as President of the USA.  He set up a structure around him that ensured that he would take no more than 5 important leadership decisions in a day.

The Structure of Leadership Decision Making

The Vistage Decision Model captures 60 years of experience of working with CEOs as they take operational and strategic decisions to lead their companies and their lives.  There are 3 levels of Decision “skill” – Instinct, Judgement and Perspectives.  There are 5 areas of leadership decision: Talent, Operations, Financials, Customers and Leadership Style.

The Vistage Decision Model

Learn More about the Vistage Decision Model

Jeff Bezos of Amazon has a very clear view on how to dedicate his time as a leader of his business:

  • Time working on the Future
  • Time working in the Present

How does Jeff allocate his time?

50/50?  80/20?  90/10?…

What do you think is the allocation of time that Jeff aims for himself?  What is the allocation of time in your life as a leader?  Watch the video for Jeff’s answer.

(If you want to skip all the introduction and go straight to Jeff’s answer, go to 3:05 in the video or click Jeff Bezos’ ideal allocation of CEO time)

If you liked this idea from Jeff Bezos, check out Amazon: Why Jeff Bezos banned Powerpoint and Jeff Bezos on High Standards (and why you don’t achieve your goals).

The secret to a good life? No, just a simple reflection on the nature of things. The important gestures you can make each day that really make an impact on others over the long time, are often so small that they are easily forgotten each day…  but over 10 years the presence or the lack of a couple of small gestures makes a huge impact on your relationships and what you can have achieved in life.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Ancient Wisdom

This video comes from the beautiful location of Villa Ottoboni, on the outskirts of Padua in Italy. I had the privilege of teaching an interactive workshop on “The Psychology of Leadership” with the Ambrosetti organisation today.  

and that’s “Goodbye” from the central market of Padua

I have been on and led many corporate and group retreats over the last 16 years around Barcelona.  This blog post serves primarily as a reminder for myself of some of the great locations that I have used.

(I will be adding to this post over time, so bookmark it and come back regularly when you are looking for new ideas.  If you have run an event near Barcelona in a location that I have not listed, I would love to hear about the location!).

Barcelona Corporate Retreat Locations

Here are some great locations for a Vistage Group, EO/YPO forum or corporate retreat near Barcelona.

Retreat Locations with Accommodations & Food Service

Hotel Montseny

In Montseny Natural Park, 1 hour drive from Barcelona.  All located in a country house, dating back to the tenth century.  11 bedrooms and meeting rooms.

Web: https://www.hotelcancuch.com/en/hotel-montseny

Outdoor Activities:

Walking in the Montseny national park

Le Mas Sant Joan

 90 minutes from Barcelona, just beyond Girona. A short walk to the beach.  IESE style auditorium with space for 100 attendees.  Beautiful gardens surrounding a well restored Masia.

Web: https://www.chateauform.com/en/house/le-mas-sant-joan/ (pdf info sheet)

Outdoor Activities:

Walk to the beach, watch sunrise on the beach; Beautiful gardens and pool.

 

La Mola Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre

Near Terrassa, 1 hour drive from Barcelona. Large facility. 180 rooms and 22 meeting rooms.

Web: https://www.chateauform.com/en/house/campus-la-mola/ 

Outdoor Activities:

Parador de Cardona

In Cardona, 75 minute drive from Barcelona. Part of the Parador hotel chain.  Amazing medieval castle.  Meeting rooms are the old ducal royal rooms.

Web: http://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-cardona

Outdoor Activities:

Visit to the salt mines http://www.cardona.cat/en/tourism/salt-mountain-cultural-park 

Montanya Hotel

Near Montseny national park. Standard issue 4* hotel with spa and meeting rooms.

Web: http://montanyahotel.com/en/

Outdoor Activities:
  • Walk to the monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres
 

Hotel Balneari Vichy Catalán

75 minutes from Barcelona. Hotel with spa and meeting rooms next to the original bottling facility of Vichy Catalan sparkling water.

Web: https://www.hotelbalnearivichycatalan.cat/

Outdoor Activities:
  • Visit to the Vichy Catalan bottling factory

Big Houses in Countryside

Masia Escrigas

70 minutes from Barcelona in the rural countryside. Great for groups of up to 20.  We regularly use this for a family retreat for our EO forum group – last count 26 adults+kids.

Ctra. puig-reig a prats de lluçanes, km14, 08517 Santa Maria de Merlès, Barcelona

Masia Escrigas

More Venues…

  • https://www.masiarosas.com/en/event-venues-meeting-spaces-barcelona
  • Masia Victoria, Sitges https://www.sitgeshillsvillas.com/property-masia-victoria-sant-pere-de-ribes.html
  • Masia Pairal, Sitges https://www.airbnb.es/rooms/490421
  • Hotel Dolce, Sitges https://www.dolcesitges.com/ (Accenture use for European training)

Locations with Accomodations but no Food Service

Locations without on-site Accomodations

What other great locations can you recommend (in the vicinity of Barcelona)?

If Life is hard, it is especially challenging for rugged individualists.  

Rugged individualism, derived from “individualism”, is a term that indicates the virtuous ideal where an individual is totally self-reliant and independent from outside assistance.

W

I was a proud rugged individualist through school, into my first corporate job, and into my first 2 entrepreneurial ventures. 

In 2006 I came across Entrepreneurs Organisation (or better, they came across me…) and I began to change.  I learnt that you can make much wiser decisions when you allow others to guide you with their experiences and their questions.

I have had many mentors in these last 12 years.  I have been asked to be the mentor to others.  I feel underprepared to be a mentor.  David Cohen, founder of TechStars, wrote about the lessons he has learnt over 11 years of day to day experience in identifying great mentors for the entrepreneurs that form part of TechStars.

The Mentor Manifesto

Here is David’s mentor manifesto (full text on his blog: The Mentor Manifesto)

  • Be socratic.
  • Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).
  • Be authentic / practice what you preach.
  • Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
  • Listen too.
  • The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way.
  • Be responsive.
  • Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts.
  • Clearly separate opinion from fact.
  • Hold information in confidence.
  • Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
  • Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.
  • Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours.
  • Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague.
  • Be challenging/robust but never destructive.
  • Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard.

If you liked this post on mentorship, you will also like How to be a good mentor and What is Mentorship?