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Likeable

Some people are more likeable than others.  It would seem they are just born lucky - a fluke of personality, good looks and charm.

Likeable people have an easier time in life; they make friends easily, cruise through school, have fun at uni, nail the post-uni interview, land the plum job etc.  Well maybe not quite, but being likeable does open doors, provide friendships, allows networking and an easier time at work.

So if you are not born likeable is there no hope for you?  I don't think so - everyone can develop the characteristics of being more likeable.

Likeable people:

  • are genuine – no one likes a fake
  • listen well without passing judgment
  • are not attention seeking but are humble, friendly and easy going
  • smile – that's an easy one to do often.  We are often reminded in the office that, "We don't smile because we are happy, we smile to make us happy"
  • greet people by name.  Everyone likes to feel they matter and when we use people's names we recognise them as individuals who do matter
  • are consistent as opposed to moody
  • know how to have fun!

For more ideas, refer to Dr Travis Bradberry's book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.


Why Are We All So Busy?

Here at Overells we strive to provide a good work/life balance but ultimately all of our staff are juggling a combination of work, study, parental (or grand-parental) duties, wedding planning, health/fitness, house-moving, relationships and/or social activities.  Everyone is always busy and it seems that in today's world many people feel overwhelmed with how much they have on their to-do list.

You would think that people feel this way as they have more to do than before, but studies have shown this to be false.  The total time people are working (whether paid or otherwise) has not increased in recent decades, there has been a shift in the balance of paid and unpaid work between men and women but no overall difference.  So what's causing us to feel so busy?

Part of the answer (as always) comes down to technology.  Back in the good-old-days work was limited by certain factors; for example crops can't be harvested before they are ready, you can't make more product than the materials available allow and you can't respond instantly when the postal service takes time.  But now, we live in an 'infinite world', there are always more emails, texts, meetings, articles, blogs and posts to read.  Digital technology means you can take work home, and don't have the excuse of not being able to access work information while you're away as it's right there on your mobile/tablet/laptop.  The result: social pressure to do everything all the time.  This mindset spreads to our leisure as well so we feel like that time should also be spent 'productively'.

Last week I was in the Solomon Islands.  To get internet you had to sit in a certain spot in the hotel and even then it was as slow as dial-up.  To avoid this "problem", I turned off my phone.  For the whole week.  I usually check the news, my emails and Facebook daily, and that's the out-of-hours stuff!  Upon returning to home soil and turning on my phone, I found nothing of relevance had been missed, I had enjoyed a lovely relaxing week in the real world (as opposed to the digital one) and it felt great.

Oddly enough the ultimate symbol of superiority used to be that you had the freedom and wealth not to have to work but now busyness has become the indicator of importance, "Of course I'm busy, I'm an important person!"

To see how absurd this is, consider this story about a locksmith from behavioural economist in the UK:

Early in his career, the locksmith "was just not that good at it: it would take him a really long time to open the door, and he would often break the lock."  Still, people were happy to pay his fee and throw in a tip.  As he got better and faster, though, they complained about the fee, and stopped tipping.  You'd think they would value regaining access to their house or car more swiftly, but what they really wanted was to see the locksmith putting in the time and effort – even if it meant a longer wait.

Too often, we take a similar attitude and measure worth not by the results achieved but by how busy we are, busyness seems to make us feel good about ourselves but this makes no sense.  Perhaps, if we weren't so busy, we would pause long enough to consider this.


    

In case you weren't aware, there are some quality sources of free assistance for businesses that are available to all who want to benefit!  These include up to date information and help from both government and non-government organisations.  Some examples of the sources available include:

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland

(www.cciq.com.au)

They provide regular podcasts, events and webinars on topics including how to grow your business, innovation, marketing, productivity, motivation and mentoring.

They also provide online and hands-on training in areas such as finance and leadership, and host regular forums in different locations around the state.

The Queensland Government Business and Industry Portal

(www.business.qld.gov.au)

Here you can access free information on establishing and starting a business, all aspects of business operations, growing your business, Government support available (grants, services etc), employing people and exiting a business.

There are also quick links to all Queensland Government services and departments to access any other information needed and feature articles on the latest government business initiatives and the recent changes in Government regulation areas.

The Brisbane City Council Business Forums and Workshops Program

(www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/governance-strategy/business-brisbane/business-events-awards/business-forums-workshops)

The Council hosts free business excellence forums and workshops several times a year in different suburbs of Brisbane to provide free assistance for people in business.

The workshops have experts speaking on topics such as developing effective business strategies and plans, leadership and management and intellectual property.  You can also get free assistance from them at any time in relation to digital marketing strategy and information regarding new business opportunities and economic development updates.

If you are in small to medium business these all represent a great opportunity to access quality information FREE of charge!

At the very least this may provide a no-cost initial source of information from which to identify particular areas to target going forward.


Kicking Goals at the Olympics

Well it is certainly my favourite time of every four years!  Suddenly my television becomes more of a priority so that I can watch my much-loved athletes take on the world's best.   One thing I enjoy about the Olympics is hearing the stories of the athletes; how they got to be standing on the world's stage for their sport, the struggles they have faced and challenges they have had to overcome to be the best, as well as the stories of teamwork and sportsmanship.   

I was lucky enough to train alongside some of the Australian women's water polo team for a few years and I have seen first hand the one thing that impresses me the most about the athletes competing at the Olympics – their motivation.  For years, athletes juggle work or study commitments with rigorous training schedules; waking up at the crack of dawn, training for hours and hours each day and sometimes not getting to bed before midnight.  No matter how much pain they are in or how exhausted they are, when their alarms go off before the sun has come up they are there, ready to go.

What motivates and gives them the drive to keep going?  Their dream to represent their country at the pinnacle of their chosen sport - an opportunity that only comes once every four years.  While being an Olympic athlete is probably an extreme goal for every person to have, something to take from their passion and drive is the importance to set goals and to keep motivated.

At Overells, goal setting is something that we regularly do and is a big driver in keeping us motivated to do well and succeed for our clients and our firm.  No matter how big a job is, we start with the end goal in mind and break this down into smaller, more manageable tasks.  Each time a task within the job is completed, we can see our progress on track to completing the bigger goal.  This really helps us stay focused on motivated on the end-game, rather than being overwhelmed by the big job in front of us.  We also set ourselves team goals where we are rewarded if the target is met.  No matter how big or small, having some sort of reward or acknowledgment for meeting a target/goal/deadline gives us that bit of extra motivation to really excel and get things done efficiently.

While our reward may not be a gold medal, the lessons learned from our Olympians can be taken away and applied in many different aspects of anyone's life.  Whether it be in the workplace; setting achievable goals, or rewards for hard work that keep everyone focused, or taking steps to achieve a particular personal goal, don't underestimate the importance of efficient goal-setting and ensuring that you provide incentives for yourself to stay motivated.

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." – Lou Holtz



As a 20-year old girl, I must confess, I am a part of the anti-social generation.  My phone has taken permanent residence in my left hand, I simply cannot peel my eyes from it.  Social media has taken over my life and it seems that I'm not the only one it's happened to.  Last week, one of our very own cadets was so engrossed in her phone that she missed her train station stop.  We love our social media so much that we will Instagram all the way past the Indooroopilly station and find ourselves over the bridge in Chelmer.

My family has lived where they do for 14 years.  In January, a new café opened up at the end of the street.  We have seen many different restaurants open and close rather quickly in the space, however when this café opened it really caught my eye.  It was a granola bar that knew the power of its appeal.  Now as the cool, trendy, hip girl that I am, I just had to check it out.  And when I say check it out, I mean that I HAD to take a photo of my 'make your own granola' and post it on Instagram so that all my friends could be envious of my new discovery.  And envious they were.  Over the next few weeks I began to see more of my friends posting their photos from the new café with enough filters and hash tags to last a lifetime.

Fast forward a few months to the end of May and it has been announced that the little granola bar has been voted as the Number 1 Breakfast on the Gold Coast by the popular Instagram account, Crave Gold Coast.  This really shocked me.  How could a café that has only been around since the beginning of the year be voted by thousands of people to be the best out of all the cafes on the Gold Coast?  Intrigued, I looked at their Instagram page to find that they had nearly 500 followers, 400 posts tagged at their location and a 5 star rating on their Facebook page.  That is what is known as reach.  Reach is how many people see your social media posts.

This really got me thinking about how social media is a very powerful tool for small businesses.  Instagram and Facebook transformed that granola bar from being virtually unknown to The Place to get your breakfast on the Gold Coast.  It gives a lot of lead generation, at little cost to the business.  Social media allows businesses to get their name and brand recognised without needing to constantly revamp or upgrade their websites. 

I've collated a few social media tips for how to effectively use social media for small businesses:

  1. Define your goals – this will most likely be to create brand awareness
  2. Define your audience – this will help you to figure out which social media platforms are best for you and the type of content you'll share
  3. Research your platforms – for example Zomato (previously known as UrbanSpoon) and Instagram are great for restaurants and cafes but will have limited application for a plumber, who may find benefits in Facebook
  4. Track your numbers – we keep track of our Facebook page likes, post reach and engagement month to month to see if we are achieving our goals
  5. Revaluate your goals – social media is constantly changing so you need to make sure that you are also changing your goals

It might be time for your business to revaluate your social media goals and perhaps start experimenting with different content on new platforms!

 


That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling

It seems wherever we go people want our money.  While this can quickly lead to donor fatigue, donating money is a nice tax deduction!  However, as I have found out recently, giving up something more valuable can be particularly rewarding - our ever-precious time.

I have recently become a foster carer with the RSPCA, caring for those that are either too young to enter a shelter environment or will need longer term rehabilitation.  We are coming to the end of our first foster and already the experience has been as rewarding for us as it has been for our wonderful (if somewhat large) puppy. 

Our foster came to us needing medical care, and certainly didn't look like a happy, playful puppy should.  In only two months we have watched her grow, and had the pleasure of knowing that we have changed her life for the better.  That joy is something we had definitely underestimated (as were the holes in the flyscreen and scratches on the door, but hey, there's no such thing as a free lunch).

There are so many ways you can volunteer your time and there is something out there for all of us; whether it be helping out at the school canteen, peeling potatoes at the local meals on wheels or being a part of the local rural fire brigade.  Each and every one of us has skills that are needed within our community, even when we think we have nothing to offer.  The satisfaction earned in return is far greater than any tax deduction will ever be.



Big Brother is Looking After You

Do you ever get the feeling that we are a little over regulated?

I ask as we are about to send a Newsletter advising of a new withholding tax that will apply to all property transactions over $2m.  The aim is to catch some tax from those sneaky non-residents who sell Australian property.  But like so many of these rules, they impact everyone.  So now you have to prove that you are a resident to avoid the tax, and that will involve completing a form with the ATO to get a clearance.  We all know how well that will work – the poor old ATO is already under-staffed and over-worked so there will be delays, which has the potential for 10% of the sale price to go to the ATO to (hopefully) be retrieved later.  This could mean a $200,000 tax on the sale of your home!

I then start to reflect on the principles that create laws such as the above.

It seems that wherever one person faces a risk or finds a loophole, the principle is that we need to legislate and regulate EVERYBODY.  So one person's misfortune becomes everyone's regulatory nightmare.

Recent news contained a story of a poor tourist taken by a crocodile in North Queensland, and immediate demands for more protection to avoid this occurring again.  The fact that there were signs at the location and the tourist was swimming at 10.30 pm did not seem to mitigate the need for more "protection".

We can imagine that there will be another level of regulation, another inquiry and more bureaucracy to deal with what some might consider a one-off issue. 

There are so many examples of this phenomenon.  I struggle to believe that we really are better off when Big Brother is attempting to regulate all our activities in place of applying some common sense.


How Secure are your Passwords?

Passwords provide the first line of defence against unauthorised access to your computer – but just how secure is your password?  A recent discussion in our office caused us to review the security of our passwords and whether or not it's ok to use the same password across multiple programs.  It has become easier for computer hackers to guess your passwords so it seems that a secure one is usually very hard to remember.  Below are some tricks for creating a memorable, secure password.

A good password

  • Has 12 characters, minimum
  • Includes numbers, symbols, capital letters and lower-case letters

What not to include in your password

  • Don't use your loved ones names, a common phrase, numbers in a sequence or words relating to the site that you use the password for 
  • Don't use a dictionary word or combination of dictionary words – any combination of a few words, especially if they're obvious, is also bad.  For example, "house" is a terrible password.  "Red house" is also very bad
  • Don't always rely on obvious substitutions – for example "H0use" isn't strong just because you've replaces an o with a zero.  Hackers run the dictionaries with various capitalisations and common substitutions such as "$" for "s" and "@" for "a".  This guessing strategy quickly breaks about two-thirds of all passwords

Tricks for creating memorable passwords

Unusual capitalisation

  • e.g.  wherESwaLLy

Two words interconnected

  • such as cat & dog, kitten & dog e.g.  cdaotg, kitdogten

The first letter of each word of a line of a song or book

  • e.g.  "I left my heart to the sappers 'round Khe Sahn" would be "IlmhttsrKS"

A sentence or an event in your life

  • e.g.  the first house I ever lived in was "613 Fake Street and rent was $400 per month".  You can then turn that into a password by using the first digits of each word, so your password would become "613FS&rw$4pm".   You just need a simple sentence, so it's easy to remember.

The last most important steps for a secure password

Never reuse the same password

  • it's not all about password strength.   If you re-use the password at multiple locations, it may be leaked or hacked and people may use that password to access your other accounts

Test the strength of your password on How Secure Is My Password?  The site will even tell you how long the average PC would take to crack it.

Don't allow your password to be 'saved' by your browsers

if you use Firefox you can test to see what information is available to anyone who accesses your computer.
  • Go to tools > options > security > saved passwords
  • Click the show passwords button

Voila – a list of passwords is available to whoever has control of your computer – no password needed!  Select the "use a master password" option to create a password to access all your saved passwords. 

To keep your information secure, it's a good idea to consider using a password tool such as LastPass and 1Password which are designed to help users create and manage unique, secure passwords.



Take a Break

"There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest.  Use both and overlook neither." – Alan Cohen

It's never easy for the self-employed to take reasonable holidays during the year, and it's generally even harder for the small business owner.  If you're a hoarder and agonise over decisions like I do, it's also somewhat hard for employees to part with annual leave and even to decide where to go!  No matter how hard it may be though, it's extremely important to take a break from work and everyday life at least a couple of times a year.  If you're trying hard to persuade a loved one or perhaps yourself to take a holiday, here are some convincing reasons to do just that:

Stress is a killer

It might be cliché but it's 100% true.  You owe it to yourself, your family and your workplace to destress, unwind and stop thinking about work.  It's hard with technology these days to turn off but it's invaluable to do so.  Do what helps you relax, whether it's laying by a beach in Hawaii, speeding down ski slopes in Japan or shopping up a storm in Dubai.

Holidays are good for your body

Be it a stroll on a beach, around a resort or through a colossal mall, it is common for people to exercise more during the day on holidays as they aren't sitting at a desk.  You fill your days with activities and wear yourself out physically, then sleep better through the nights.  Not to mention all the vitamin D from the sun and fresh air from being outside – it's a no-brainer, holidays are good for your body!

Quality time with your family

In an average week you spend more time at work with colleagues than at home with your family.  It's an essential part of any good relationship to spend quality time together – not time sitting on a couch next to each other, glued to the TV or phones, but actually talking and laughing and creating memories together.  On holiday is a great time to do all these things, to experience a new culture together and have no distractions other than people on the street trying to get you to eat a grasshopper or buy a t-shirt that's 'same same but different'.

Inspiration and broadening your mind

If you own your own business, travel can be priceless in the way it opens your mind to hundreds of new and creative ideas to bring back home and to the office.  It has a way of putting everything into perspective, and may convince you that working fifty hour weeks are doing nothing but wearing you down and putting strain on your health and relationships. 

Health and happiness are two of the most important things in life.  You need to nurture them, and a break is the perfect way to begin - so start planning!


Domino's has piqued my interest.  It started a few months ago after talking to a colleague who had attended a function at which the marketing manager of Domino's spoke.  You may or may not be aware that the company has a Pizza Tracker App which allows you to see the progress of your pizza from order to oven to delivery.

The real reason behind Domino's Pizza Tracker apparently is not to make the pizza delivery drop off quicker and thereby decrease Domino's operating costs, but rather to educate consumers for when robots deliver pizzas.  Robots delivering pizza is closer than I thought. as recently Domino's released DRU, short for Domino's Robotic Unit, to the streets of Sydney.  The design is really cute and reminds me of a Steven Spielberg inspired movie such as ET.  If I knew DRU would deliver my pizza I'd order one just for the novelty of it.

In 2013, Domino's successfully delivered two pizzas by commercial drone which they named the DomiCopter.  The DomiCopter has not been commercialised at this stage.

It would appear however that Amazon are closer to drone delivery with an announcement in November last year that they will be using drones to deliver packages in the not too distant future.

The video in this link is really fascinating – Amazon Prime Air

While talking about the recent developments my colleague and I reflected on the ways businesses over the years have changed consumer behaviour and expectation.  Fuelling up at the petrol station came to mind.  When I was a child no one pumped their own fuel.  It was expected that the driver sat in the car while the petrol was pumped by the attendant, the windscreen cleaned and payment made in cash.  Progressively some fuel stations offered a discount to fuel up yourself.  Now everyone fuels up themselves and no discount is provided.

Internet banking is another example.  My parents were late adopters and persisted in using a cheque book and the bank branch long after most people converted to the convenience of online banking, an ATM and credit cards.  Eventually though my parents succumbed due to the increased costs of doing business the old way.

Some people adopt changes more readily than others but it would seem eventually we all transition whether we like it or not.

I personally am looking forward to when my late night online shopping is delivered by drone and cute little robots are sharing the footpath delivering my lunch.


3 Core Measurements for Success

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