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Former school teacher and fitness model Brian Keane believes his success has been shaped by the ‘Ten Life Lessons’ he follows on a daily basis.

“It’s a mixture of things I have learnt through training, parenthood and the ups and downs of life. These are the values I live by every day and hope to inspire others to do the same,” he says.

Ten Life Lessons:

Wherever you decide to go, go 100%.

One of the life advices I would give to my younger self would be, “Once you know what you want, go after it with all of your heart.” Today, I make all my life decisions on the simple premise that it’s either a ‘Hell, yes’ or it’s a ‘No’. If it doesn’t excite me, I don’t do it. If it does, I’m all in.

Everything and everyone has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

If someone has annoyed or been rude to you, you may perceive them as ‘being rude’. Rudeness, like most things that annoy us, is an action, not a characteristic. Learn to separate the thoughts of what they’re doing as an action and not who they are. They may be just having a bad day and it’s not a reflection on their character – and definitely not a reflection on you.

It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop.

It doesn’t matter how slowly you are moving forward towards the life, mind or body you want, as long as you’re moving in the right direction. You will eventually get to where you want to be.

If you think you have all the answers, you haven’t asked all the questions.

One of the miraculous beauties of life is that we will never know it all. Things change, ideas change, science changes – we are creatures constantly evolving. Remember, people once thought the world was flat.

Life really is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Find the things that make you happy, do more of it. Find the things that make you unhappy, do less of it.

If you hate somebody, that’s on you, not them.

Hate, like every other human emotion, is nothing more than a manifestation of thought – you control it. Hate puts your mind into a negative place, where the mere association of the person you associate this feeling with can destroy you as a person and your underlying happiness.

Don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

As human beings, we have put a man on the moon. Next time you try to ‘get down four dress sizes’ or ‘get abs for the summer’ and wonder if you can do it, remember that as a species, we have put a man on the moon.

Respect yourself and others will respect you.

One of my biggest goals in life is to instil the feeling of self-worth and respect into my daughter. I would trade every single thing in my life to make sure my girl grows up with confidence and self-respect. I truly believe that respecting yourself gives you the confidence to be truly happy in life. How can anybody else respect you if you don’t respect yourself?

What the happy person looks for in themselves, the unhappy person looks for in others.

Happiness comes from within, it’s not a tangible thing. A nice car, a new house, an attractive partner – none of these things in themselves bring true ‘happiness’ or ‘fulfilment’. They’re external sources that can be taken away with a blink of an eye. Learn to find the happiness from within and you will always be happy.

Study the past if you want to define the future.

Learning from other people’s mistakes or triumphs can allow you to create any life that you want. If you want to have more energy, sleep better, have the body you always wanted, or be the person who has the confidence to stand tall in any room, then consume every bit of information that supports that vision.

SOURCE: ResponseSource


Author of new book ‘The Fitness Mindset’Brian Keane is a fitness trainer, former professional fitness model and the owner of Brian Keane Fitness. He has an impressive online following with over 62,800 Instagram followers, 66,500 Facebook fans and hosts one of the top fitness and nutrition podcasts on iTunes.

Customer satisfaction is the key to the long-term success of any business.


But far too many companies annoy and frustrate their customers before they even communicate with them. They do this by not thinking about how their customers want to get in touch – but instead, they focus on how they want their customers to contact them.

Different groups of people will prefer different methods, yet so many companies just focus on the cost to them and not assessing the cost of losing customers as a result.

For example, many suppliers of web text technology are highlighting that the cost of a web text conversation is 20% of a call. However, if your client base is older, then a high proportion may not have access to the internet.


Moving with the times

An example of an organisation that really recognised the needs of its client base was a housing association that added WhatsApp as an option for getting in touch. This was ideal as many of the tenants use the app as it has no cost and can be used when they have run-out of credit on their mobile.

With the growth of social media, it may be that you get enquiries via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook etc. Sometimes, in the case of small businesses we have seen them get enquiries or contacts via their personal Facebook profile. The key is to ensure that you can respond quickly however your customers choose to reach you.

People will often choose the easiest option. So, yes, you can encourage them down certain routes, but by creating barriers (intentionally or otherwise) you might make them pick a certain path, but you may actually prevent them from contacting you at all.

For those companies that expect their customers to call them, here are some common mistakes that will almost certainly put your prospects off doing business with you:


Profiting by using 0844 or 0871 numbers

People are now becoming aware that these companies make a profit on every call they receive – even a sales call.  There is a useful website which lists many alternative numbers. Ofcom’s clear calling policy requires companies using these numbers to display the cost of calling them in close proximity to the number wherever and however it is displayed. But unfortunately, to date, they have been slow to enforce this. But hopefully this will change.


Automated menus

Assuming the customer has rung the number, how easy is it for them to now talk to someone? Companies using options such as ‘press 1’, ‘press 2’ etc. to route calls to various departments may not be aware that this will just cause some customers to abandon the call. At best, they’ll get irritated at having to listen to a number of options only to end up being told to go to the website. You can do the maths; if your announcement had three levels of choice and each level has five choices that means there are you are asking customers to effectively make 125 choices. Four levels and it is 625 choices and five levels makes it 3,125 choices.  How much simpler to speak to someone and say, “Can I talk to someone about…”

Equally frustrating are those companies that install systems that prompt users, before they talk to anyone, to enter their account code/customer number etc. and then, having eventually got through to someone, the first thing you are asked is, “Can I have your account number?” You have to ask who advised them on this – suppliers wanting to sell more software?


Please hold

But most irritating of all are the businesses that spend a lot of money playing comforting messages – stressing how important your call is to them. If it were that important why not hire more people to ensure there are enough to answer the calls? Customers are not fooled!

Obviously smaller companies may not be able to afford the more complex options but they still need to consider how they deal with a contact when it is made. For example, should you use an answering service or let a call go to voicemail? Should someone review all incoming emails and send a ‘holder’ saying ‘thank you for your email, ‘x’ will be in touch within 48 hours? Should the person in charge of your social media be tasked with replying to contacts via the various social platforms? Or does this require input from someone more senior?

When considering using an answering service, ask yourself, for example, does the answering service just take a message and pass it on or do they add value? Can they solve or answer some queries?  If they are just passing on a call back message how does that help or add value?


Contact us

In summary, it should be easy for customers to reach you at zero or little cost to them and in a manner that suits them. A great test is to pretend to be a customer and contact your own company through different media – was it a good experience for you?  If not, that is what your customers have to deal with every day. So, put some thought into how you can improve the experience – if you don’t then your customers could end up contacting your competitors.


Dave Millet
About the author:

Dave Millett has over 35 years’ experience in the Telecoms Industry. He has worked in European Director roles for several global companies and now runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm. Dave works with many companies, charities and other organisations and has helped them achieve savings of up to 80%. He also regularly advises telecom suppliers on improving their products and propositions.


Twitter: @equinoxcomms




Almost a third of green-eyed Brits are secretly jealous of a friend who has done better than them in life, according to a new study.

Researchers took an in depth look into how Britons feel about their lives compared to those of their friends and family.

According to the poll, 29% feel resentful, admitting they secretly wish they had the lifestyle and material things that a close friend or family member has.

The Currys PC World study, which surveyed 5,000 Britons, found that 42% said they know someone in their social circle who always has the latest “must have thing”.


It found that:

  • 12% have gone and bought the latest phone as soon as they realised a friend had it
  • 5% have bought the same television as a friend because they were jealous of how it looked in their house
  • 5% have emulated the same hairstyle of a friend they admire
  • 5% have purchased the same car as someone they look up to
  • 2% have even gone as far as purchasing a holiday home, just because a friend or family had one.


According to the data, 55% secretly aspire to have the life of their best friend, while 21% want the life of the next-door neighbour. A further 18% dream of having the life of a work colleague.

Matt Walburn, Brand and Communications Director, Currys PC World said: “It’s only natural that there is some form of rivalry between groups of friends. We all know that one person who is the first to get the latest smartphone or must-have gadget.

“It’s healthy to want to strive for a better lifestyle and to want nice things, It’s never worth falling out with friends, however, it’s flattering if you’re the person everyone is trying to be like.”

However, 68% of Brits admit many of the people they would like to trade lives with are shallow and materialistic.

Ironically, 21% of Brits say it annoys them when friends copy things they have spent their hard-earned cash on.


SOURCE: ResponseSource

A vital part of your mission as a sales presenter is to listen carefully and read your audience.


You need to understand their drivers, the problem they want help solving and the constraints they feel. Sometimes you can even help your audience understand their own problem. If all goes well the problem will turn out to be the challenge of living without your product or service, in which case the solution will be obvious.

So, how do you do this? Sales guru Zig Ziglar said if you get people to like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you.

Here are eight ways to gain your audience’s trust:


Demonstrate your personal credibility

Know the product or service, and your company, inside out. And also be knowledgeable about your industry and relevant news.

Trust depends on your personal credibility. As we know the “small talk” before a meeting starts gives you an opportunity both to demonstrate your interest by listening to your client and also to show your broad industry knowledge as you contribute to the conversation. You need to be able to talk about your company beyond your immediate remit so you personally can be seen as a trusted business partner.


Start as you mean to go on

Help your audience to build the feeling of trust in you. One way to do this is to start your presentation with a question. This will show you are ready to handle whatever answers you get and that you know you have the skill to smoothly carry on to the first part of your presentation.

If you are introducing an innovative new product you may want to begin with a short interactive exercise. This will show that your style of presenting matches the innovative nature of the product.

If you are at an early stage with a potential customer you may want to ask questions that relate to the desired change the audience is seeking – knowing that your product or service is the solution. These should be bulleted on a flip chart and returned to at the end in order to create a link to the service/product you are offering.


Put your audience’s needs first

Focus on the audience and demonstrate your understanding of their challenges as they relate to the solutions offered by your product or service.

Throughout your presentation always showcase the value of the product in relation to your audience’s needs. This will mean your audience gains an understanding of the value with respect to cost, speed of solution, guarantees etc. and see the relevance to their specific situation.

Early in your presentation, it is important to give your credential statement. This is when you state your mission for them. You tell your audience what your product will do and how it is going to benefit them, in not more than two sentences.

If you can, end your statement with a twist that serves as a memorable word or phrase for your audience. Remember Steve Job’s brilliant introduction of the ipod? 1000 songs in your pocket.


Create a connection between your product/service and the audience

For example, give a live demonstration to show how the product works.

For services, very short video clips and testimonials showing results are very powerful. There is also nothing better than using real examples and any transformations you have witnessed.

Your audience will develop more trust in a product they’ve seen working or if they’ve heard credible testimonials from high-quality, believable sources.


Plan your visual aids carefully

As a rule, I do not like using Power Point slides. I prefer to use images and video clips rather than wordy bullet points. This is because psychologically they help to make a more immediate and strong connection. They also help your audience retain the information

However, you need to take account of the culture of the audience to whom you are presenting. If you are presenting a complex product to expert buyers you will need to have detailed slides available. Even in this situation some simple, strong visuals can make a memorable impact when used judiciously.


Keep your audience interested

Be animated. Use your voice effectively by varying your modulation. Without this a presentation can make the audience feel bored – even if the content is relevant and important. If you are using slides there is always a danger of reading them which tends to make your voice monotonous.

Avoid filler words such as ‘um, uh, so, like, you know, actually, literally’ etc. Too many filler words will create distraction, and compromise your credibility by suggesting a lack of preparation, knowledge and passion.

Rehearsing your presentation will help you to use your voice and words to best effect. Ideally watch yourself on video so you notice where you can improve. Your aim is to pronounce your words clearly, keep your focus on your audience not your slides, and demonstrate appropriate levels of enthusiasm and energy throughout the presentation.


Handle Questions & Answers assertively

Any good sales presenter will continuously build or maintain trust through the way he or she handles questions. Keep the answers brief. Answer the question that has been asked and don’t be tempted to go off on a tangent. That way you’ll maintain the energy of this vital part of your sales presentation.

If you genuinely do not know the answer to a question then promise to get back to them (and remember to do so).

You may have agreed that you will answer questions at the end of the presentation but it’s good to be flexible. If, part way through, you can see that a key decision maker is looking quizzical stop and ask if s/he has a question.


Close with care

How you end your presentation is very important. Your choice should be based on your understanding of your audience and where they are in their decision making process.

If you are one of several suppliers they are seeing, your aim is to get them to ask you back for a more detailed discussion. In this situation briefly summarise what you have understood from them and the positive way you can solve their problem.

If you are selling a product and an immediate sales is on the cards I like to use the

Indirect Close. For example, we could deliver the goods on Wednesday or Friday – which would you prefer? Confidence is contagious. Start by reminding your audience of the pain they will continue to suffer until they use your products. If possible offer an added bonus if they buy today.

Your knowledge of the audience will guide you to the appropriate close.

This fin

al part of the presentation is crucial to your goal – so if you want to make a sale, then practice your close in advance. On the day use your personal credibility and build on the trust you have established.


Essie Rewane-Adjare

About the author:

Essie Rewane-Adjare is from Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club visit:



Although we’re (supposedly) moving towards a culture that understands and implements the virtues of regular, real-time feedback, annual performance reviews still dominate for most of us.

And it’s about 11.5 months ahead of their upcoming (!) performance review, that I ask my clients about their preparation and planning.

Because a stellar annual review takes a year to create.

Not a handful of hurried and disorganised weeks ahead of that meeting. A year of concerted and aligned effort towards well-defined goals and career-advancing objectives.

So whether you’re looking ahead to your review, securing a raise or winning a promotion, here are 12 ways to start laying the groundwork:

1. Imagine the conversation

Imagine the conversation you want to have, a year from now. What do you want (and need!) to be saying? What achievements do you want to point to? What differentiators do you want to highlight? What needs to be true for you to get the things you want? Write down your target vision, based on this conversation.

2. Talk to your boss

Don’t wait until review time to talk to your boss. Do it now. Have a conversation about what’s important – to the business as a whole, to your shared department, and (importantly!) to them. Where do they see the business going? What are their goals in that? What would help them out? What would make them look good? What are their expectations of you? And then write it down! Time moves on and conversation details get forgotten.

3. Schedule ongoing catch-ups

Talking to your boss about the higher-level stuff is not a once-a-year conversation, but an ongoing dialogue. Things change and evolve – and business priorities with them. So make your touchpoints a regular appointment.

4. Quantify everything you can

What gets measured gets done. And what gets measured gets better. Not only will quantifying your objectives help with your goal pursuit throughout the year. Come review time: it’ll be very convincing to have that treasure chest full of quantifiably-evidenced contributions.

5. Plan-in your development now

When we take a mental step back, we all know the importance of working on ourselves. But all-too-quickly, we’re into the hustle and bustle of the year and personal dev gets demoted behind the day-to-day. These goals and objectives you’re planning for the year will be big and career advancing – and you need the skills and support to achieve them. Build your dev into the plan now.

6. Pencil-in your holidays

We need to take time away from work if we expect to be on top of our game at work. And like personal dev, holidays can get forgotten. Avoid compromising decisions between wellbeing and career objectives and sketch-out your breaks now.

7. Spend time getting your environment right

To achieve your year-long goals and objectives, you need the support of an environment that’s aligned to you and your goals. That’s essentially setup for success. So take a look at your environment and ask: What’s supporting me? What’s holding me back? What quick changes can I make now to improve things? What longer-term changes do I need to incorporate into my mid-term plans?

8. Set non-work goals

Momentum in one area of life positively impacts and complements other areas. So have non-work goals. Something to focus on and get motivated about other than work.

9. Set milestones

We only overestimate what we can achieve when we think in terms of “a year”, rather than “12 months” or “52 weeks”. Breakdown your annual review goals and set markers for yourself throughout the year. Complement your 12-month “End Goal” with “Process Goals” and “Work Goals”. And if those are goal-types you’re not familiar with, take a look at this article: From Goal Setting to Goal Achieving.

10. Work on your brand

Whatever the detail of your goals and objectives, be working on your personal and professional brand, week-in, week-out, and wherever you show up. The things you’ll achieve this year will be done with the collaboration of others. The review you want to enjoy at the end of the year will be given by your leadership. When these people buy into you, they’re buying into your brand. Work on it consistently, throughout the year. Here are some ideas to reinvigorate your personal brand.

11. Work on your promotable differentiators

Great performance in your current role is only half the story for those that get stellar reviews, raises and promotions. There’s that whole collection of ingredients beyond job-description-defined performance that makes a huge difference when it comes to review time. (If this sounds like something worth exploring further, take a look at my Winning Promotion Worksheet.

12. Think beyond this year

Just when we thought our year-ahead thinking and planning put us well-ahead of the game, we need to extend our thinking ever further and ask: how does this year fit into the bigger picture? What are the 3-year and 5-year plans? And how will what you’re doing this year make a complementary contribution to those longer-term objectives?

It’s never too early to prep your review

It’s an all-too-common mistake for us to complete our annual review – and then stick it all in a drawer for 11 months. Get to work laying the foundations now for the review you really want to receive.

SOURCE: Dan Beverly

Dan BeverlyDan Beverly is a leadership and performance coach, helping high-achieving professional women embrace the pivotal career moments.


Happiness at work falls after the age of 35, according to research by Happiness Works.


Underappreciation, stress and work/life balance were cited as the main factors behind employee discontent.

Conducted on behalf of Robert Half UK, the research revealed that almost one fifth (17%) of people over the age of 55 are unhappy at work.

Those in Generation X don’t fare much better with 16% of 35-54 year olds admitting they are also unhappy in their roles.

This is double the number of Millennials that said the same. In stark contrast to the older generations, less than one in ten (8%) of those aged 18-34 claimed to be unhappy in their jobs.


Signs of aging

The report showed that one third (34%) of those aged over 35 found their job stressful. This figure is significantly lower for 18-35 year olds where only a quarter (25%) said they suffered from stress.

Complaints about work-life balance also come into play the older you are. In total, 12% of those aged 35-54 and 17% of those aged over 55 struggle to juggle work with other aspects of their life. In comparison, just one in 10 Millenials feel the same.

Overall, 68% of 18-34 year olds felt more free to be themselves at work, with more than half (55%) of this generation, saying that they were able to be creative at work. This compared to 38% of Generation X and 31% of 55+ year olds, who said they were able to be creative.

As employees get older, they are also far less likely to view their colleagues as friends. In fact, 14% of those aged 35-54 years old and 16% of those aged over 55 said they don’t have good friends at work, clearly keeping their work and social lives separate. By comparison, three in five (62%) 18-34 year olds said that they had good friends at work.

For those aged over 35, a little appreciation could go a long way. Overall, 60% of those aged 18-35 feel appreciated and just 15% feel undervalued. In comparison, a quarter (25%) of 35-54 year olds feel underappreciated, with this figure rising to 29% for those aged over 55.


Boosting morale

“Employees that are aged over 35 have valuable experience that the whole organisation can learn and benefit from,” explained Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK.

“It’s important that their happiness is not neglected, so businesses need to take the time to invest in their staff at all levels. Simple things like conducting regular performance reviews, offering new opportunities for learning and setting ambitious career goals are all steps that can ensure more tenured workers feel appreciated and that career goals don’t become static.”


SOURCE: Robert Half

Robert Half is aspecialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals. For more than 15 years, Robert Half has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” and offers workplace and job seeker resources at and

How do you know when it’s right to franchise your business?


Simply put, franchising is a business model that looks to expand a business idea and its goodwill by licensing the right to use its trademarks (IP) and brand to an independent entity, while also providing an operating system and support.

There are many benefits to franchising but what is involved and is it the right option for you?


Why would you franchise your business?

It can be an effective way to grow your business brand when you do not have the capital or personnel to expand yourself. Accordingly, a franchisor can indirectly invest in its business and spread the financial risk, but share the gains and knowledge of a successful commercial idea. As such franchising can be a very cost-effective route for scaling-up a business, provided that you can demonstrate that your business is successful and that it can be replicated and effectively managed in different locations.


What makes a good franchise business idea?

You need to show a proven track record; that the model and brand can be successful in more than one site or geographical area. Of course some businesses may thrive in one country and not another due to socio-economic or cultural differences so you must be able to reproduce the business and make money.

A hall mark of a good franchise idea is something that offers a unique selling point. There is likely to be some or a lot of competition in the marketplace. You will stand yourself in good stead if your franchise provides a new or different product or service, especially if that unique quality can be maintained or even better, evolved, over the years. That ties into the importance of product or service flexibility in that particular trade. Can your idea be adapted to meet the needs of different customers?


How to franchise your business

So you have an established business with good financial health and a strong brand. You have a tried and tested operating system in place which works and can be cloned. Through market research you have identified a territory, country or region, which is perfect for your franchise.

Now it is time to get organised and drill down the process of exactly how your business operates in the shape of a written manual as your franchisees will need to reproduce this in order to establish their own enterprise.

You will also need to compile financial information or a pack to advertise the virtues of why a franchisee should invest in your franchise and not another more established brand.

You then enter into a franchise agreement whereby you licence your IP and provide the structure, whilst protecting your reputation with indemnities, governing terms and monitoring processes.


Seek legal advice

You will need to discuss the terms of the franchise and carefully document these in a contract ‘The Master Franchise Agreement’. What will you be offering and for how long? For example, will you permit assignments, do you need an option to purchase back the franchise under certain circumstances and will you be offer any help in sourcing retail space? It is useful to go through your liabilities and obligations with a specialist franchise solicitor from the outset to avoid the pitfalls that many franchisors encounter.

If you are discussing and providing confidential information such as client data, inventions or new ideas you should make sure that potential franchisees sign a non-disclosure agreement, which should help prevent leaks that would damage your valuable business.

Assuming that you own the intellectual property related to the brand or have the rights to use and licence the use of them, you should discuss with your solicitor how to preserve your brand through copyright or trademarks before you embark on this route.

Remember the brand is a crucial part of any franchise and its image and reputation must be protected. If you have your IP registered in the UK where you operate do not forget to extend this to Europe or further afield if you are going to franchise abroad, check the IP is available in that country and class, before progressing too far.

Other documents that you may need for which you will require a specialist solicitor for include deposit agreements, heads of terms, side letters, leases, employment contracts and policies.


What makes a good franchisor?


  • One who offers a strong brand that is easily identifiable and a willingness to do anything to protect and develop it.
  • A good franchisor recognises that time and money are required to ensure that the operating system remains relevant and efficient, after all this is essentially what the franchisee is ‘buying’ other than the right to use the brand.
  • An understanding that the interests of a franchisor and a franchisee are aligned. There is no point making life difficult for a franchisee or promoting an agreement which solely serves the interests of the franchisor as this does nothing for the brand and ultimately little to help a franchisor increase profits in the long term as the franchisee business is likely to fold.
  • A big effort is made to keep investment or buy-in low enough to ensure that the franchisee business is competitive
  • A supportive environment and comprehensive training and marketing programmes to ensure that franchisees hit the ground running and continue to thrive
  • A careful and selective approach to choosing their franchisees. It is important to seek out the right fit for a franchisee. The franchisee must believe in the brand. Franchises, like companies and firms often have a ‘culture’ associated with them. It is crucial that a franchisee is the ‘right fit’ and vice versa.


What makes a good franchisee?


  • One who displays confidence in the system by faithfully sticking to the processes set out in the manual and a willingness to follow directions
  • Is enthusiastic and believes in the brand
  • Aware that people buy from people and that personality plays a big role in winning customers so our transparent and engaging in the process and development
  • Realises that their staff are their most important asset and that treating staff appropriately helps to pave the way to success


Any other tips?

Don’t force growth at any cost and don’t take on franchisees who don’t have sufficient working capital to see them through. Be selective as to who you take on as a franchisee.

Consider what your long-term plans are and whether you would like to eventually sell the franchise, as it helps to structure contracts and agreements in a particular way to facilitate this.

Careful planning from the outset will also make seeking investment in your brand easier when the time comes and you look to expand further.

Above all, make sure you have a good lawyer and accountant to support you on this journey.


About the author:

Karen Holden is the founder of A City Law Firm.





Here we go again.

It may still be summer (just about) but fall is on the way and before we know it, it will be Christmas.

For some of us, the autumn usually goes by fast and contains intense periods of work. More often than we would like, we realize that it is October already, the deadline is next week and the holidays seems to be approaching unusually fast this year.

And, when it comes down to it, it is during these hectic and stressful times when multiple deadlines are approaching simultaneously that both the quality of what we need to deliver and our energy levels suffer.


Now is the time

If we want to be ahead of ourselves and on top of our game, then this is the time to make sure we get to work with better foresight throughout the autumn – at least in terms of events, tasks and deadlines we are able to predict.

I assume you also have a number of activities, due dates and deadlines throughout the next few months that ‘stick out’. These may be in addition to your normal day-to-day, and which you need to spend a bit of extra energy on. They can therefore be regarded as mini milestones leading up to the holidays.

In the everyday humdrum of all those little, quick tasks we need to do regularly, it is easy to postpone those larger and more extraordinary tasks for later. Until after that one urgent thing that just fell into your lap, and we keep thinking “I still have plenty of time” – until we no longer do.


Mark the milestones

Clarify the milestones you know are coming your way in the next few months and get an overview of when they will occur right now, at the beginning of the season, giving yourself better foresight. You will be better prepared for them (and less surprised as they approach) because you then can make sure to regularly define what next steps and tasks you need to take and do in working towards accomplishing them.


Do this

If you want to give yourself a head start and better foresight throughout the autumn, then do this:


  • Look through your calendar for those major events or tasks you might regard as milestones coming up between now and Christmas.
  • Make note of them somehow (I made a list in an empty document just to make it as simple as possible).
  • If you haven’t already, enter these milestones as projects on your overview of projects and more extensive tasks.
  • Write the first step of each and every project as a task and add it to your to-do-list.
  • Write up any other steps you can think of that you will need to take. You do not have to give them due dates if you either do not want to or do not know when they need to be done, but if you still want to be certain of what steps to take throughout the process you might as well create the tasks now.
  • You will now either decide on when you will do every first step you just defined, or you can trust that you will spot any uncompleted tasks as you are browsing through your projects every week, looking for tasks to activate, meaning giving it a due date to ensure that it gets done.


Make small steps often

You have now prepared yourself a bit more for what’s to come, and you can get started on doing those larger tasks due later this fall now and feel great knowing that you are well ahead of schedule.

You are more likely to get stuff done on time or with time to spare, since you have made it possible to at frequent intervals remind yourself to take small, concrete steps in the right direction.


Source: David Stiernholm, author or Super Structured

David StiernholmDavid Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.

Super Structured

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too SUPER STRUCTUREDmuch on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips

Digital transformation is expected to impact multiple businesses and recruitment strategies, according to a new report from Robert Half.


Digital transformation and the future of hiring found that, within the next three years, digital processes will be extended to manual, data entry tasks such as:

  • financial modelling (41%)
  • generating financial reports (40%)
  • project management and reporting (38%) within the next three years.


As a result, the following roles are expected to be impacted by automation by 2022:

  • payroll (37%)
  • financial planning (33%)
  • accounts payable (38%)
  • accounts receivable (32%)


All change

Digitalisation has already emerged as a business priority and is set to impact the future of business by offering new technologies to address threats and opportunities for a competitive advantage. Overall, 87% of executives have recognised the positive impact that the growing reliance on technology holds for organisations.

“Digitalisation will offer a new approach where labour and time-intensive processes can be shifted to allow for more value-added work to take place,” explained Matt Weston, Director at Robert Half UK. “Automation is impacting traditional business functions in a big way. Finance is no exception and professionals will need to be prepared to hold a more prominent and integrated influence on the wider business, gaining new skills that will see them through the technological shift.”


Business with benefits

The main benefits that businesses are expecting, or already achieving from digital transformation include: improved efficiency and productivity, better decision-making and employees taking on more value add work leading to more fulfilling careers in the long-term.

Overall, finance executives believe digitalisation will:

  • increase the productivity of each individual (59%)
  • enable employees to focus less on data entry and more on the execution of tasks (53%)
  • provide opportunities to learn new capabilities (51%)

“While a technical understanding will remain the core competence that provides professional credibility, it will need to be enhanced with soft skills,” added Peter Simons, head of future of finance, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. “We are already seeing this move occur within the finance department with the shift from technical to commercial skills. In the future, financial insights won’t just come from financial analysis but collaborating with other areas of the business. Traditionally labelled ‘professional services’ executives will need to engage with people, ask questions, have empathy and communicate in a compelling way to make informed business decisions.”


SOURCE: Robert Half 

Robert Half is a specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 325 offices worldwide providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and administrative professionals.


You’ve written your speech.

You’ve edited, re-edited and re-edited.

Your speech has a clear structure and message.

Now for the crucial opening words and their delivery.

Research has shown that the first 90 seconds of any speech have the most impact and are the most memorable. Thought, time and effort spent on your opening is a worthwhile investment.

Often your audience has already listened to several other presentations. This means you are in competition with what they’ve already heard, with work issues, personal issues, and the big question: what am I having for dinner tonight? With the added distraction of mobile devices maybe they just appear attentive and interested.

You need to stand out from other speakers. This starts before you’ve even uttered your first word. Expectations shape reality. If your audience expects you to be good, they’ll perceive you as just that. So dress the part and never admit to feeling anxious, unsure or unwell.


Strong impact

Make an impact on your audience before you attempt to inform, persuade or inspire

The opening of your speech needs to provide them with a compelling reason to park all competing thoughts and give you their full attention for the duration of your speech. Don’t waste the opening seconds with platitudes, such as thank you for inviting me, what an honour, etc. Friendly, but boring and predictable.

In the words of Darren LaCroix, “Beware death by sameness.”

If every speaker stands up and opens with, “Thank you Mr Chairman, valued colleagues and guests”, you will stand out if you have an opening that is different and inclusive. For instance, “Mr Chairman, valued colleagues and everyone who has ever felt the pressure of hitting a mega sales target …” This will immediately signal something different and interesting is about to happen.

First impressions

After the formalities you have a few seconds to reinforce the initial expectations you’ve set. Make a direct, dramatic opening which seizes your audience’s interest: It can be compelling, humorous, shocking, challenging or imaginative. Try using:


  • A rhetorical or a survey question. Cue the response you are looking for. For instance, one hand raised in the air tells the audience you’re interested in a show of hands, not a verbal response. Look expectant, with open body language if you want people to shout out answers.


Questions are even more effective when they are ‘you’ focused:


  • Using the language of one-to-one conversation feels personal, that ‘speaking-just-to-me’ feeling
  • ‘You’ speaks to one, but includes everyone, eg “Are you having fun?”
  • Use “Have you ever …?” questions to achieve an emotional connection. Avoid “How many …?” questions. They can be distracting as people search for information in their memories.
  • A statement in the form of a startling statistic or a bold claim can set the scene effectively for an informational or educational talk. “Did you know that …”
  • Paint a picture. This can start with “Imagine …” or “It was 2.30pm on a rainy Monday …”. The aim is to get your audience to visualise a scene in their minds. Make it broad-brush. The audience will fill in the detail from their own experiences and memories. This will make it more powerful
  • Anecdote – a personal, amusing, short story that relates directly to your overall message. One that the audience can relate to
  • A recent quotation from a respected industry expert. The expert gives added credibility and, if it’s recent, you sound on the ball.


Whichever approach you adopt, appeal to their senses – what people see, hear, feel, smell, taste. This will give your speech opening more emotional resonance and invites the audience in.

For example, if you are talking about restructuring your company, invite the audience to “Imagine an organisation where your colleagues are your friends, your office looks efficient yet feels welcoming, like home, the smell of coffee fills the air …” Then continue with your story: “I don’t feel like that when I walk into our office. Do you?” In this way, you have tapped into the audience’s imagination and they’ll see themselves in your opening, using their frame of reference.

You can then bring them along on a journey as you continue your speech.


Keep it active

Always speak in the active, not the passive, voice. Don’t say “Our business needs to be restructured for growth …” which leaves the listener not sure who will be doing what by when. Say “We need to restructure our business for growth … These are the next steps … who will … by when …”

Sentences in the active voice are shorter, have energy and directness. Speaking in the here and now gives you and your opening message immediacy and presence.


Introduce an anchor phrase early on

Top speakers use anchor phrases. A good anchor phrase should encapsulate the feeling and message of your speech. For Martin Luther King it was “I have a dream”. It’s a few words your audience will associate with you and your message. When your phrase pops into their mind, the rest of your speech will be reactivated. If you can make it rhythmic so much the better.


Practise the delivery of your opening

Practise your opening until it flows naturally and effortlessly. On the day, take centre stage and ooze confidence with a solid posture and a smile. The stability of your opening stance will support the credibility of your message. Look briefly around your audience. This gives you time to calm your nerves and the audience time to settle down, and focus on you. The pause will pique their curiosity – they will be eager to hear your opening words.

Used well, your powerful opening will prevent the audience thinking, “So what?”, or “What’s in it for me?” With a memorable opening, they are with you, wanting to know more.


Lyn RoseamanAbout the author:

Lyn Roseaman is from Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: Follow @Toastmasters @ToastmastersUKI on Twitter.