This is a guest post from April Abboud.

April Abboud is a successful American entrepreneur who has moved to the Middle East.  She gave up the business she grew, the culture she knew and having family close by to start a family in a land thousands of miles away.  She has chosen to challenge herself all through her life.

April was recently asked to be the Moderator and Welcoming Speaker for the regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.  She shared a powerful story about the need for each of us to face difficulties in our lives:

The Regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Man who Helped the Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

It stopped moving. It seemed to have stopped making progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

The man decided to help. He took a pair of scissors and cut off the remaining cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily.

The butterfly had a sluggish, swollen body and small, shriveled wings.  The man continued to watch the butterfly.  He waited for the wings to grow and expand to be able to support the body.  He waited for the body to shrink to the beautiful proportions of a butterfly.

He waited.  Neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The butterfly never was able to fly.

The Universe is Wise

The man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand nature.  The restricting cocoon and the struggle is necessary.  As the butterfly squeezes through the tiny opening, fluid from the body is forced into its wings.  This long, tiring, intense struggle for escape is necessary for the butterfly to fly once it fights its way to freedom from the closed cocoon.

This is not only the nature of butterflies.  It is the nature of life.  It is our nature.  If we do not have adversity and strife on our journey we cannot carry the weight that our dreams require of us. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were. Some understand this difficulty for what it really is:  Growth.

As an entrepreneur, I have often made the choice to travel the road less taken, one filled with uncertainty and fear.  I dare to make the world a better place and somehow along the way find the courage to believe in my wings and let myself fly.

We must give ourselves permission to accept the struggles, for in them we find our true original, authentic self.

To those who crawl around swollen with desire we become leaders. Fierce are those with restrictions, strengthened by their journey, that not only find their wings but take to flight.

Follow April…

You can follow April on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprilabboud/

This post is an interview with Oscar Contreras who has recently published the book “B2U” (Business To You and Be To You), a guide to personal branding and entrepreneurship.

oscar_contrerasOscar Contreras is a former Division Manager for EA Games. He worked on big hits like “The Sims”. Brand Ambassador, Personal Branding and B2U Evangelist.  Currently in Santiago de Chile, he is a consultant to high level executives and to celebrities.  He has recently published his second book: “B2U Marketing Personal” (in spanish).

His background is hybrid. Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Arts and a Major in Strategic Communications, from San Francisco State University, and MBA with Specializations in E-Commerce from the same alma mater.

Interview with Oscar

Oscar kindly agreed to answer a few questions from me…

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out?

In 1999, I wish I knew I should never follow other people’s patterns: the ones that are imposed by society, education or profession. Patterns are the result of failure, and they never define nor predict who you really are. I followed that pattern to fail in my career as a lawyer (after spending 4 years in Law School 😉 I thought I knew what I wanted, but instead, I did what I thought or was told that I wanted.

It took me 15 years to finally find out what drives my life: interacting with people. That makes me a very unusual kind of animal.

Who are 5 people who inspire you to be the best version of yourself?

  1. My father Oscar, who is the most correct person I’ve ever met in the whole world. Thanks to him, I still keep ingenuity and ethics as some of my personal tools.
  2. My grandfather Santiago (unfortunately died this year), because he was relentless and brave. Didn’t have formal education, but acted as a master of sobriety and negotiation. He became successful and influent by his own hand.
  3. Elon Musk, he told me about being servile as a manager. One of the biggest lessons of my life.
  4. Pope Francis. Yes, I was raised catholic, but I’m not a religious fanatic, nor I want to evangelize anyone ;). He has an edge that makes him different, he has character and guts. His actions do move people more than his prey.
  5. Steve Jobs. Yeah… typical right? But I knew the guy and have had it on my table while negotiating. He is both passion and a despot. He has no fear as long as he pursues what he wants. He reminds me to always speak up what I want, if I want to be a game changer.

Where did the idea for setting up your Company come from?

After skyrocketing a career of ten years at Electronic Arts, I went back to Chile in 2010, thinking I was going to have the same success as an Entrepreneur.

I was wrong.

After 3 years of struggle to maintain a videogame start-up called Syrenaica (raising various rounds of capital), the time came to pivot the business model to training instead of development. I started working with Colleges and Universities in the country. I did well enough, by creating a certificate program that sold well in four consecutive years. In the process I found out that the core of our success was the training methodology. I faced some resistance from academics. Thus, Universities are really not the best partners for this kind of business.

In 2013, the company finally failed. I tried miserably to find employment. The working culture was too different. My mind was already forged in the American Way. With my bank account numbers in red and with a big knot in my stomach, I quickly had to find my first 6 company clients to work as a marketing consultant. In the meantime, I started to write my first book “Restart”. It was a memoir, but at the same time a chance to tell my career story to many people and find some kind of catharsis. It’s was a dark period, losing a dream was like losing a son.

Oscar’s latest book

In that time, I had the chance to sit down with a variety of people, ranging from big CEO’s to disoriented students.  I started a deep research about the definition of what makes marketing successful, but in personal terms, and how that affects all traditional marketing as a whole inside an organisation. The whole thing started as workshops, then experiential formation, and finally as a book called “B2U” (Business To You and Be To You), a brand new theory that supports and converges everything I currently do. That is currently the core business of my company Empodera Consulting Group.  We place extreme focus on specific KPI’s.  Since we started in 2015, we have grown 400%.

The recipe is simple:  I only make money If my client makes more money and is successful.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I run 5 miles in the morning. It really helps me prepare my willpower for what’s coming next. I visit or I’m visited by some clients (corporate) that I’m counselling and advising.

Mid-day, I’m visiting some prospects.  I write my thoughts; sometimes I teach a class at a University.

I’m always available for my family; I make them part of my schedule. Vacation for me is a real vacation, not an escape from pressure or stress.

At the end of my day, I have another long session with clients. But these are private, certain “influential” people that wish to remain incognito. I usually end my day at 10:00 PM. Have dinner, put my kids to sleep, kiss my wife.

What single achievement are you proudest about?

I have a beautiful family.  My objective in life has changed dramatically.  Now, I don’t want to be rich. I only want to have a comfortable life and see that I am changing the world one client at a time; I can sleep like a baby when I put my head on the pillow, knowing that I’m doing something good and have never damaged another person’s dreams.

However, you might think that this is a happy story. It is not. It took me decades and stomach to stand the risk of never working for another boss. You start being a coach of coaches, but who coaches you? When you live your life driven by your own expectations, you can feel very lonely sometimes. I love it, but it’s not perfect.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

As a sales associate in Sears, Oakland, in 2002 when I was restarting my life after leaving Chile. Terrible pay and horrible hours. I was studying in College with an F-1 Visa, but working illegally to survive.

I saw one of my colleagues being arrested by immigration.   I never felt secure.   I realised that nobody is better and nobody is worse than me.  I’ve learnt that I can handle being poor, and since I had nothing more to lose, reinventing myself was a much easier process.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I organise my schedule a week in advance. It gives me the chance to create the reality I’m going to live.

What change would you make in the world?

In the information era, the one with the best story wins. Thus, you should stop fooling yourself with so much “yadayada” that others say, instead of making your own genuine decisions. Or try to have mentors that have really changed the world by your side.

So many people postpone important decisions, because they tend to find as much information as they can. Too much information usually contradicts, and that can be confusing. Learn by failing and don’t be afraid. Afterwards, you are constructing your own story and that can make you a winner everywhere. Make failure your best success and success your best failure. You cannot judge anyone but yourself.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and would recommend everyone else to do?

I dedicate 1/3 of my week to meet new people.

These 2 weekly cups of coffee are my best investment.  Coffee is cheap, and it has allowed me to get to know people I had never never imagined.

What burning Question do you want the readers’ help to answer for you?

What is success? Is what you were told or promised, or what you biggest dream commanded? Or maybe you were always successful and you haven’t realised it yet?

What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?

Choosing the wrong person in my first start-up. I used guts instead of head to put one of my co-founders on board.  I was betrayed.  It meant debt, headaches and deep personal disappointment.

My current company is successful because it doesn’t have employees: It has associates. I recruit talent on a project by project basis.  I look for a “business owner” mentality.  I don’t want to deal with complainers. I proactively choose to surround myself with energised people.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I love to sing, and I sing very well (enough to impress the girls in the front row). Mostly ballads from the 80’s.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. Short enough to read it quickly. Effective enough to change the world one step at a time, and make a real difference in terms of personal strategy and tactics. A must read for an entrepreneur with guts. We are saturated with info. If you read the ancients from centuries ago, you’ll find out they recommend exactly the same many current gurus have said.

 

Favourite youtube video?

This is my favourite youtube video:

 

Connect with Oscar Contreras :

Where are you located? Santiago, Chile

 

This is a guest post from Riya Sander.  Riya is an overseas teacher. She has spent her past 5 years teaching in Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines.

All too often, I hear adults tell children to simply “do the right thing”.  

This is not enough.  We need to help children figure out:

  1. what is the right thing or
  2. how to decide what is right.

Teaching in various schools, in various countries, I’ve seen a wide range of responses: from completely ignoring ethics to teaching ethical decision making at all levels of the school curriculum.

Some parents ask if ethics and education belong together. Ethics are the shared values of a given group or culture. There are some ethical values that are widely shared, and others that vary widely depending on the local culture. This is one of the conflicts that children must be taught about.

Not just “It is Wrong”, but Why is it Wrong?

photo: Riya Sander
photo: Riya Sander

One ethics teacher, Alyssa Kelly, described teaching ethics this way: “The emphasis is not on moral instruction but on finding reasons why something might be right or wrong.” Instead of teaching students what is right or wrong, ethics courses for primary school students focus on teaching them how to decide for themselves what is right or wrong.

Students are faced with challenging social situations on a regular basis. Not every moral instruction can be blindly applied to every situation. When I ask my students if it’s okay to lie, they respond “no” in unison every time, in every class, regardless of what country I was teaching in. The nuances of “right” and “wrong” are more subtle when students have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

Ethical Decisions are Never Black and White

I once had a female student whose friend was contemplating suicide. The suicidal girl told her friend what she was thinking of doing to herself, but asked her not to tell anyone. She asked her friend to keep her plans a secret. The friend, my student, was distraught. Someone was in danger, but she was asked to keep that danger a secret. Thanks to her ethics classes, she was able to reason her way through the situation. She later told me that, although she felt bad about breaking her promise to keep her friend’s secret, the resulting intervention and the fact that the broken promise helped to save her friend’s life was worth it. The suicidal girl was angry at the time, but became very thankful to her friend after therapy.

Ethical choices apply to what students say as well. With the growth of social media and its use earlier and earlier by students, we do them a great service by teaching them how to make ethical decisions about what to do and what to say before they reach the quagmire of social media. An acronym I frequently use with my students, which fits well in the ESL curriculum, is before you post/write/speak, THINK. Consider these factors: is what you’re about to say True, Helpful, Informative, Necessary, and Kind. We then discuss what these words mean to each of us. Students always enjoy the play on words: they learn about thinking, and each of those factors requires serious personal thought.

Did you T.H.I.N.K.?

“Sitting in a circle listening to other people is a skill set that many adults could benefit from.” Alyssa Kelly

Once we’ve learned this acronym, students often help each other remember what to do: “May, did you THINK before you said that to Kai?” This is one of the great benefits of having these kids talk through questions that make them think. As teacher Alyssa Kelly said, “Sitting in a circle listening to other people is a skill set that many adults could benefit from.”

One of the keys to this type of program is starting early. The earlier primary school students start to learn about how to think through ethical questions, the easier it will be for them. Skills learned early in life are foundational. This type of problem solving will lead to greater skill in more and more complicated problems that students will encounter later in life.

The Benefits of Early Ethical Education

Ethics and education go hand in hand. In addition to teaching children facts and figures, teaching ethics begins to lay the groundwork of metacognition: thinking about how we think. If we can help them develop an awareness of how they think about things and how they make value decisions early in life, we set them up to make better choices throughout their lives as well as preparing them for higher level thinking that will be of great use later in their education.

About the Author: Riya Sander is an overseas teacher. She holds a master’s degree from Australia Institute of Business & Technology. She has spent her past 5 years teaching in ESL countries i.e. Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines. She currently works for Point to Point Education, a dynamic education recruitment company.

This is a guest post by Marc Siles, He is an Executive MBA from IESE Business School who leads the INNEOX team from his base in Finland!  Over to Marc...

marc-siles-equipo

The 7 Golden Behaviors – The secret to create a true “Dream Team”

Here is what I would like you to do. Think about a moment in your life when you have been told what to do. It could be by your parents, friends, boss, or by anybody who was trying to impose their will…or at least it felt like that. Can you recall that little voice inside your head, after you were told what to do, asking to yourself “Why should I?”

This is a situation I have observed in many occasions when seeing companies, sports teams and other institutions trying to build the ever-wanted “Dream Team.” We are told on many occasions we must work as team. However, it seems that we keep forgetting about integrating this information in our habits in order to become a team, isn’t that interesting? They keep telling us what we must do, but not why we should do it…more importantly, for what purpose?

A high paying salary might help you get best talents you can find in the market, however, do you want people to work for you, or with you? Would you prefer people who share your passion, or those whom are just after fame and economical rewards? When you are recruiting people for your “Dream Team,” is it not the past history that matters, or is it their individual achievements? What matters the most is their attitude, their habits, their ability to let go and to adapt to the uncertain future, and that they continuously evolve. Should it be you as a leader who owns the task of creating this desired team spirit, or should it be the team itself who creates and owns its development? I believe that as a leader, you should drive the future vision and create a common ambition. It’s then that people will join you, not because they have to, but because the want to. They will then share the same views and values which you preach and practice. It’s then when they will own their evolution.

I’ve noticed a certain pattern, which keeps repeating in all long term successful “Dream Teams” I have been observing during the last years. I call it “The 7 Golden Behaviors.” I am not going to ask you to reflect while you are reading the rest of this article about how you could identify those in your team, but I would like you to keep an open mind next time you are developing or recruiting a new person for your team. Is it the past, or the future attitude that really matters?

The 7 Golden Behaviors

#1 – Sense of Curiosity: The need for continuous proactive interest of the unknown will keep those interesting questions flowing. It is from here, where all the true insights come from. Those who dare to open new doors and explore what new paths might bring to them, will not only add improvements to their daily business, but will also contribute to seeing clarity to the future ahead. Would you like to be part of this selective club?

#2 – Genuine Interest: Truly caring for somebody without expecting anything in return. Being owed favors is just another way to put heavy weights on those around us. Active listening is a key skill your team members must have in order to develop the common spirit. Would you like to improve your active listening skills? You can find some very good tips in this post by “Mind Tools.”

#3 – Behavioral Flexibility: Even if we have a very detailed plan, we have to be able to adapt to the situations the future scenarios might bring. The ability to adapt on the go and readjust will become extremely relevant after the team is finished with the deploying phase. This is why you want to identify this behavioral trait correctly in the beginning, as this will forecast the probability the team will have to hold together as the journey moves ahead. People who look behind in search of new learning, but concentrate on the opportunities the future will bring…people who can let things go and evolve with the needs of the new times. This is what you are looking for to create your “Dream Team.”

#4 – Self-Awareness. In a Dalai Lama speech I assisted some years ago, he compared this to the situation in a plane. If suddenly the masks drop and you try to help others before you have your own mask on, you won’t be able to help many before you pass out. However, if you have your oxygen supply in place, there’s no limit on your capabilities of helping others. There are many ways to get a deep level of knowledge on ones self, however, I would recommend the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. From all the methods I have tested, this test provided the best results. There is a wealth of free information on the internet, so I encourage you to take some of these free tests online, and do some research on your MBTI profile.

#5- Empathy: Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend where you noticed that the she or he didn’t really care about what you were explaining? A “Dream Team” must have the ability to engage in an emotional level with each other, share their joys and pick each other up when times are not so good. Everybody is responsible for his or her own challenges, however a good “hug for support” now and then gives the extra bit of energy we all need.

#6- Awareness, Adoption & Evolution: I’m sure that some of you are aware of a habit you have, which might not be beneficial to your health. However, being aware doesn’t add much value if this piece of information doesn’t evolve into wisdom, integrated in our future behavior in order to generate change. The capabilities to create evolving wisdom will unleash the growth potential of each of the team individuals, creating a sense of self-steam and self-confidence, unbeatable by any situation or challenge. If you would like to do some work on the integration of unconscious wisdom and evolution, you can read this post published on Linkedin.

#7- Mindfulness: The last and most important golden behavior is the art of creating interdependencies, as well as being aware of how your actions impact others around you. First, understand yourself, then, understand others before you are understood. This habit will create the needed flow of respect and communication within the team to be able to take the results to the next level via ambitious goals. These ambitious goals are unreachable without the collaboration with each other and always being aligned towards a common vision.

You have 100Km run ahead of you. However, instead of running 100Km once, focus on running 1Km 100 times, and enjoy every single step. Success is a journey to enjoy, not a destination.

New Possibilities Ahead

A team, which displays these 7 Golden Behaviors, will be ready to achieve anything they set for themselves. As a fellow Toastmaster once told me, “The sky is not the limit, there are men stepping on the moon.”

I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to start integrating this knowledge and let it roll into wisdom the right way, or, if you would prefer to let the unconscious do its work and work it out later on. I just find it amazing to have people working around you because they feel energized with you. Fighting hard for the common vision and goal, not because they have to, but because they want to. Isn’t that amazing?

Have you observed any of those Golden Behaviors around you lately? If so, it would be great to hear about those and read your comments. When was the last time you observed some of the Golden Behaviors? Which one was it and how did it relate to the future success?

Marc Siles
Marc Siles

This is a guest post by Marc Siles.

Marc Siles Aligué is a self declared “Innovation Liberator”. He is Managing Director Finland at INNEOX and a regular speaker at conferences on the topic of Customer Experience Management. You should follow him on twitter: Marc Siles

This is a guest post by Luca Rossini. Luca ran home. This is a big deal when you live in Paris and your family home is near Milan.  This post shares how he kept the journey going day after day after day... 

Over to Luca…

How I found the Strength to Run 900 kilometers through the Winter roads of France and Italy

I would like to share something I learnt in the winter of 2012 on the French roads of Bourgogne, on my 900 km run home to Italy.

It was the year when I lost my father, and my brother had been diagnosed with leukaemia. I had always loved running as an amateur, and so, despite hesitations and perplexities, I decided to take a month off from work and find the energy that I wanted for myself and my family, by running all the way from Paris, France (where I live) to Pavia, Italy (my hometown, close to Milan).

luca-map
Luca’s planning for his 900km run from Paris to Pavia (Milan)

Starting my Days Slowly

On an evening two years ago, I listened to Conor’s speech (http://youtu.be/XUsvWP6seQE) in my apartment in Paris. He talks about the advice coming directly from Kenneth Blanchard, author of ‘The One Minute Manager’.

Conor had asked him if Blanchard had ever had that black day, the last after a month of efforts, that 30th when one feels that one’s leadership, the energy hoisting one’s organisation or project, isn’t there anymore; and if he did, what does or would he do on such a day.

After a pause, Blanchard replied, suggesting that you ‘start your day slowly’.

In practice, it implies that when you wake up in the mornings, take a moment to reflect on the reality of life. Take the time to feel your presence, consider where you are and why, and the reasons that will enable you to execute the endeavour that lies ahead, before you dive in and invest the energy in the whirlpool of life.

Learn to Spend Time with Yourself

As I closed my laptop after watching the video, I was reminded of something my father told me on a winter night when we were staying at a monastery, which also serves as a mountain hut, in the snow-capped Swiss Alps. After dinner, the monks requested ten minutes of silence, for them and us, bunch of ski-mountaineers in colourful fleeces and boots.

Ten minutes is a long time. I remember my father telling me that a few minutes into the silent reflection, he started asking himself, “Why am I here? What brought me to this point? What is the deeper meaning, the underlying reason that has brought us up here, now?”

Start your day slow. Ask yourself why.

luca-roadI was quite surprised to arrive at the same answer, or more precisely, the same question, during my long run through France and Italy. It was my beacon through the cloudy, freezing December mornings that led me home.

In fact, as I progressed through the run, I began suffering from tendonitis and inflammation due to lack of training to cope with the intense pace of about 40 kms a day. Some days, I would wake up from the bunk beds of the hostel where I spent the night, feeling cramps as soon as I put my feet to the ground. It would make me wonder if that would be my 30th day, the day when I stop.

But then, I clearly remember, and remind myself ever since, something happened, every morning.

I would start walking early in the wintry morning lights, one stiff leg after another, feet cold in my running shows, and looking probably odd. After a few hundred meters, rain or shine, the walk softened, my dear Achilles tendon warmed up, realising this was anyway a great ride to do.

A kilometer or so later, I could risk running a few steps, often realising with pain that it was too early to do so.

The important thing was that, sooner or later in the morning, and every morning, I found myself, legs warm, feet in the air, round movement in the knees, running as I love to, headed to my destination behind the Alps.

Finding the Source of Inner Strength

luca-pavia
Luca arrives home

I am not a professional, neither do I run regularly. My only preparation for the run consisted of my rucksack, spare t-shirts and socks, a smartphone for maps and a duvet. I reached my hometown with no fanfare, finishing alone on my usual training loop leading to the door of my childhood’s house, for a warm shower, just before Christmas.

One might wonder what such a lonely wolf experience would give you. I didn’t articulate it in words until now – what I can say is that it made me conscious of the fact that the reservoir of energy we can tap on is virtually infinite, because is constantly refuelled by the meaning we assign to it.

This is the well of inner strength, and it is something I will always bring with me. I hope it also inspires some amongst you.

About the Author

Luca has a blog that followed his run day by day The Long Run Home.  Luca has started the Bruno Rossini Marathon in memory of his father each year in Pavia.

This is a guest post by my good friend Bill Treasurer, who's latest book Leaders Open Doors makes its big time release this week!  Over to Bill...

If you’re a leader, there’s an important question on the minds of the people you lead. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work … and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their jobs and their loyalty to you will suffer. The question is: Do you care about me?

Do you care about me?

share_14The answer shows up in your treatment of people. You may say that you care about people, but if you never smile, constantly move up deadlines, rarely ask for their opinions or use their input, take credit for their good work, set unrealistic goals, and don’t say “thank you” for their hard work, then you don’t really care about them. And they know it.

To be a leader means to get results. But when the drive for results monopolizes a leader’s attention, people become a lesser priority. When a leader cares more about the “ends” (results) and less about the “means” (people), the leader becomes susceptible to treating people like objects. A single-minded focus on results often leads directly to treating people poorly. The drive to achieve results becomes the leader’s excuse for toughness, saying things like, “Sure, I’m tough. We’re under relentless pressure from our competitors, and margins are tight. Being tough creates urgency and motivates people to work hard. My boss is tough on me, so why shouldn’t I be tough on the people who work for me?”

To be sure, results matter. But people achieve those results, and when you treat people poorly you’ll get poor results. Answering “yes” to the core do-you-care-about-me question means taking a deep and genuine interest in those you are leading. Caring, in this sense, is obliging. For when you care about people, you give them more of your time, attention, and active support. A wise leader treats people as more important than results, because strong people produce those results. Period.

So what does caring look like? When you care about people, you:

  • take an interest in their career aspirations
  • seek, value, and apply their ideas
  • acknowledge people’s contributions and say “thank you” generously.

As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. Here’s why: when they know you care about them, they will care about you … and your success.

In fact, you’ll know that you are truly a leader who cares when the people you lead start seeking and valuing your input, when they take an interest in your career aspirations, and when they are actively supportive of you. And when your people care about you, they’ll help you get better results.

About Bill Treasurer

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 22.46.22Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.

This is a guest post by Tobias Rodrigues who will be collaborating with me next week in the IESE Executive MBA intensive week in Barcelona.  Tobias broke his foot this summer - and learnt some surprising lessons about himself, his family and what it means to be dependent on others.  

Over to Tobias…

39 Days, 11 Hours and 30 Minutes of Bandage

On June 29th at 10:30 pm, while I was out enjoying an evening jog, I tripped and broke the 5th metatarsus (the main bone of the pinky) of my right foot. On August 8th at 10:00 am the cast was removed.

Last month, I asked my email subscribers a question:  What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (and wish you did).  Imagine you are having a coffee with a younger version of yourself. What would you say?  (If you still feel that you are the younger self… what would you ask the future you?)

I will be publishing a couple of the answers as I have really benefitted from the wonderful answers over the last 6 weeks.  Check out Lesley’s answer.

I am interested in these answers because I am in the process of preparing a speech to 1,600 undergraduates who are on the point of transition between the world of university and the world of work and building a career.

Fiamma’s Answer: What A Marketing Entrepreneur Would Say

Regarding your question about what do I know now that wish I knew then , there are 3 important things that I have learnt:

1. Listen to what people don’t say

Emotions play a substantial role in communications making most part of relevant messages non-verbal.  Moreover, we’re losing information in all our technological communications – for this an extra effort to listen to what people don’t say is needed in order to never miss the whole context.

2. Appreciate Failure.

Failure in a big company is a shared a responsibility and a learning experience for everyone. Failure offers huge thriving opportunities when you and those around you decide that a part of success is working through failed processes and learning from it.  The US military systematically makes this part of their culture.  After every project or exercise, they conduct “after action reviews” that are very harsh and ignore hierarchy in seeking what happened, what broke and how to fix it.  All project members from most junior to most senior are involved fully in the review.

And Most Important:

3. You Own Your Reputation

The most difficult thing to manage in a company are people, at all levels. Jealousy happens all the time, to unexpected people.

This is, even great leaders have shadows in their brightness. Making work mates or close managers green with envy can be quite common, suffering inappropriate comments, childish reactions or even disrespectful situations. Of course, time puts things in their place if you maintain firm, respectful and coherent… How can it be that the one that treated you the worst at work is now the one that recommends you on Linkedin and sends you birthday wishes 6 years after you left that job?

However, weird reactions from bosses are something extraordinary you can’t imagine and would never expect… In this case being firm and coherent to protect yourself is very tough; integrity, energy and emotional intelligence play a relevant role. For this, never lose control of your reputation, don’t let anyone’s opinion (even the CEO!)  define how you are and play with your values or your reputation.

About Fiamma Panerai

fiammaFiamma Panerai is a Marketing Strategist specialised in digital media and luxury brands. She has dedicated her last 10 years to focus on luxury brand marketing in digital media.  She has launched 3 businesses (1 as founder, 2 as part of executive team).

Fiamma loves transforming insights into strategic ideas and make them happen with passion and disciplined execution.  As a person: “what you see is what you get”!  Fiamma enjoy’s life in Madrid and makes sure fun is a part of every day.

You should follow Fiamma on twitter @FiPanerai or learn more about her on LinkedIn.

Are you a healthy eater?

This is a guest post by Julie Zimmer.  I asked her to share her wisdom on health by telling us some good foods to eat when we need our brain to be at its resilient, productive best.  Do you eat these 10 foods?  (BONUS: at the bottom of the post… 2 healthy recipes you can try)

About Julie Zimmer, HealthContinuum.Org

julie
Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience as a nurse, both directly in intensive/coronary care (medical-surgical) and as an advisor in public health.  Julie has degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).  Julie has a wonderful blog on health at HealthContinuum.org.

Feed your Brain: 10 foods that Build Brain Strength

photo credit: lablasco
Yummy Healthy Food (see recipe below) photo credit: lablasco

We often think about reshaping our bodies through exercise, but have you ever thought about reshaping your brain?

The human brain has an incredible ability to adapt and react and make new connections and pathways. With the right kind of stimulation and the right kind of mindset, you can reshape your brain. A healthy lifestyle and a good diet will help you unleash the power inside your brain.

Check your sleep habit before changing your diet

The better you sleep, the healthier you eat. This is a scientific fact. If you are sleep deprived, your body secretes a digestive hormone called ghrelin, which increases your appetite. It also releases less leptin, a hormone that signals you to stop eating when you are full.

When these imbalances occur, your metabolism is out of whack and not only do you crave sugar and high fat foods, you eat them in large quantities to combat fatigue. With insufficient sleep, your body also secretes fewer feel good hormones – serotonin and dopamine. Your body will ache and feel cheated as it relies on these hormones to feel great. To compensate, you will eat plenty of sugary foods to re-capture that good feeling sensation. Should you eat this way for too long, unleashing the power inside your brain becomes a struggle.

What about glucose and caffeine?

Refined sugar contains glucose and fructose. When you eat sugary foods, your brain uses glucose for energy. Both glucose and caffeine react the same way – they quickly boost your mental ability and energize you, but their effect is short lived. Over a period of time, too much glucose or caffeine impairs mental and physical functions. I know what you’re thinking; there’s a lot of talk about coffee being good for you. A bit of coffee is fine; it contains antioxidants and it gives you a kick-start. Health experts recommend a daily intake of 300 mg of caffeine (3-4 cups) and 30-45 gm of sugar.

Ten foods to feed your brain

Your brain needs healthy blood vessels as much as your heart does. Choosing foods that are good for your heart will also be good for your brain. The key to healthy eating is moderation and variety.

  • Omega-3s: without these fatty acids, your brain is like a car running on empty. When a car is empty, it stops. Your brain won’t stop, but it can shrink. New studies show an increase in the hippocampus (where the brain forms and stores memories) and in gray matter volume in people with higher than average levels of omega-3s in their blood. Fatty acids are vital to brain tissues and cells. To get plenty of omega-3s in your diet, eat fish twice a week or take fish oil supplements. Other sources are nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil, squash, kidney beans, spinach, broccoli and soybeans.
  • 7592786440_15c43c16bd_o
    Colorful food, photo credit: lablasco

    Colorful fruits and vegetables: contain antioxidants, the substances that protect your brain against cell damage by blocking free radicals. Free radicals are the “bad guys” that work with damaged cells that cause diseases, from skin wrinkles to cancer. Examples are dark green leafy vegetables, berries (especially blueberries), bananas, apricots, melons and mangos. Red coloured foods, such as tomatoes and red cabbage are rich in lycopene – a very powerful antioxidant.

  • Pumpkin seeds: when I crave a crunchy snack, I reach for pumpkin seeds instead of pretzels or crisps. Just a handful is packed with protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Both seeds and oil are rich in zinc and fatty acids. Either raw or roasted, they’re nature’s perfect snack that promotes healthy skin, improves your brainpower and protects against diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer. The seeds are high in tryptophan, a compound that prevents depression and helps you sleep at night. At Halloween, when you carve that big pumpkin, think twice before throwing out those seeds.
  • Eggs: contain B12, lecithin and essential fatty acids that protect against brain shrinkage, which is often seen in Alzheimer’s. As we age, our body’s natural choline weakens. Egg yolk is high in choline, which nourishes brain cells and improves memory. Since the yolk is also high in cholesterol, healthy people shouldn’t eat more than three eggs a week. Other sources of choline are soybeans, peanuts, kidney beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and black beans.
  • Avocados: this fruit long deemed “too fat” has been put on the back burner. It’s time to bring the avocado at the front for brain health and anti-aging. It contains monounsaturated fats (good fat) and fiber. It’s high in vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. It has anti-inflammatory properties; it lowers blood pressure and improves circulation to the brain. A few slices of avocado per day and as a side dish is sufficient.
  • Whole grains: complex carbohydrate sources give a steady stream of energy to your brain. They contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Choose whole-wheat bread and whole grain pasta, cereals or rice. Go brown instead of white. Wheat, bran, wheat germ, barley, oatmeal and quinoa contain folate and B vitamins that help brain function and memory. Lentils, whole beans and starchy vegetables are also complex carbohydrates.
  • Green tea: the anti-inflammatory compounds and catechins in the tea can keep your mind sharp and fresh. Green tea helps you to relax and resist mental fatigue. Drinking two cups of green tea per day can help prevent cognitive impairment.
  • Dark chocolate: a bit of dark chocolate is fine. Dark chocolate with 70 percent or more pure cocoa is naturally high in flavonols that increase blood flow to the brain and boost concentration. Before reaching for coffee, try a piece of chocolate instead.
  • Red wine (or grape juice):  red wine in moderation (1 glass a day for women; 2 for men) can improve memory and cognition. Red wine is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant that improves blood circulation in the brain. It can reduce the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s. Cranberry juice, berries, grapes and peanuts contain resveratrol.
  • Spirulina:  the last, but not the least. My neighbor, out of concern, gave me a brochure on spirulina and she urged me to get some for my family and me. My two girls and I are vegetarian and my husband has significantly cut back on meat. We are all taking spirulina on a daily basis and we feel great.  Spirulina is a blue-green algae and is 100% natural. It is often described as the most complete food source. Spirulina comes in capsules, powder or flakes. It can be dissolved in juices or sprinkled on food. It is very high in protein, minerals and vitamins, including B complex vitamins. It is a source of iron, folic acid, magnesium and calcium. It is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant vitamin important for your eyes. There is increasing evidence that spirulina prevents cognitive diseases and maintains brain health.

What foods or supplements have helped you unleash your brainpower?

Feed your brain with these recipes: 

Last month, I asked my email subscribers a question:  What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (and wish you did).  Imagine you are having a coffee with a younger version of yourself. What would you say?  (If you still feel that you are the younger self… what would you ask the future you?)

I will be publishing a couple of the answers as I have really benefitted from the wonderful answers over the last 6 weeks.

I am interested in these answers because I am in the process of preparing a speech to 1,600 undergraduates who are on the point of transition between the world of university and the world of work and building a career.

Lesley’s Answer: What An Independent Consultant Would Say

Your question stimulated a rather interesting ponder over a glass of wine listening to the waves in Cartagena! This is what I’d tell my younger self, but it definitely wouldn’t apply to everyone…

  1. People (clients, bosses etc) are more influenced by what you say about yourself than you might think so learn the art of self-promotion as quickly as possible and don’t rely on the quality of your work to speak for you.
  2. View feedback as potentially interesting information about yourself and the person giving it (not personal criticism).
  3. Individual differences between people are even greater than you think so learn some tools to help you make sense of those differences as quickly as possible (especially MBTI) so you can handle people as they need/want to be handled.
  4. Perfection is unnecessary and unattainable.
  5. It’s not cheating to play to your strengths and delegate/pass on the other stuff to people who are better at it. There are actually people who enjoy the routine stuff and they’re worth their weight in gold!. Be in ‘the flow’ as much as possible (ref Csikszentmihalyi).
  6. But the devil IS often in the detail, so you’re right not to try to wing it!
  7. Trust your intuition even if it’s hard to put into words how you know and you can’t back it up with hard evidence.

Years ago I went to see John Harvey-Jones speak and someone asked him the same question. I loved his surprising reply: “The shits always get theirs”. I’ve seen quite a few bullies rise up through corporate structures and unscrupulous individuals riding rough shod over people but sooner or later they have generally been derailed. So I’m delighted to say that I agree with him.

Sadly, I’m not sure any of the foregoing will help get any young Catalans/Spaniards into work. What I’d say to them is “Learn good English, think more about delighting customers and before trying to get funding for a big idea, get hands-on experience in a small business that makes and/or sells things to learn about business basics like cash flow, margins and understanding the customer.” Working in my Mum’s greasy spoon as a teenager was a great preparation for running my own consultancy!

About Lesley Cannell, C. Psychol. AFBPsS 

lesleycannellLesley is a business psychologist who established her consultancy business, the Change Team, in the UK in 1993, with the mission of using psychology to enable people to change their behaviour and organisations to change their culture. Her clients are mainly multinational FMCG companies.  Lesley has lived in Barcelona since 2007. Like the birds she flies south to escape the cold… spending the winter months in Cartagena, Colombia.