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Have you ever suddenly realized that you’ve spent much longer than you intended browsing your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter feed, or any other such feed you are prone to disappearing into?


Perhaps this happens so often that you are beginning to get annoyed with yourself?

It has definitely happened to me. But not anymore.


Following Alice’s lead

I am definitely the first to praise new technology – and I do thoroughly enjoy the posts, pictures and reflections that others share ­– but I have definitely found myself spending too much time on these ‘rabbit-hole-apps’. We happen to catch a glimpse of them and before we know it we have ended up in a place where time seems to stand still. And, yet, when we finally do return to reality, the minutes have in some strange way gone by quite quickly.


Technology on our own terms

Tristan Harris was, until recently, the ‘product philosopher’ at Google, where he initiated the movement he referred to as ‘Time Well Spent’: An attempt to align technology with humanity and enjoy it without being distracted by it.

He recently shared seven tricks for distraction-free use of phones that narrows down what the initiative is all about. His first trick made a difference to how I use my devices, so I want to share it with you as well.


We see it, we do it

One crucial reason we fall into rabbit-hole-apps is simply that we see them on our phone’s home screen. This simple conclusion is in line with the results Suri and Gross found after a study presented in the article “The Role of Attention in Motivated Behavior” in 2015, namely that what we choose to do is heavily influenced by what we happen to lay our eyes on. Something reminds us of an alternative to what we are doing, such as a sign, an icon, or a text.

The simple solution, therefore, is to move the apps we want to stay clear of out of sight, so that we only see them when we really, consciously want to.


Do this

If you want to do something about this particular phenomenon, then try this:

Have a look at your phone’s home screen, meaning the screen you usually see when unlocking the telephone. What apps do you then see that you wish you spent less time leisurely browsing?

Move these apps onto the next screen, so that they are no longer visible on the ‘main’ home screen.

Try this for a week or two and ask yourself if it made any difference.

If you want more ideas along these lines, read the rest of Tristan Harris’ article.


Time for the right things

If by performing this simple operation you avoid falling deep into certain apps, you will inevitably instead spend more time doing what you actually wish to invest your time in. Rather than wasting your time on quite pointless things, you will have more focus for the tasks that you will later thank yourself for having done. Time well spent, to quote a modern philosopher.

Allow me to emphasize that this tip is by no means a moralizing on the usage of certain apps. We are all free to do whatever we choose, even things that are supposedly ‘useless’, but I would rather consciously decide when I delve into the more unproductive apps and programs, instead of accidentally opening and being devoured by them when the timing isn’t perfect.


About the author

David StiernholmSUPER STRUCTUREDDavid 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.

He is also the author of Super Structured.

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too much 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.




Photo courtesy of Shutterstock: Lviv, Ukraine – Dec 04, 2013: Graffiti depicting the White Rabbit


More than one in seven young Britons (14%) would be willing to buy a house with a total stranger – in a desperate bid to get on the property ladder.


The HSBC study of 2,000 Brits aged 18–40 revealed the true extent to which buying a property now feels completely out of reach for the younger generation.

A staggering 83% claimed they will probably never be able to afford to buy their own property.

According to the report, 80% would co-own and share a property with someone who is not their partner. A further 59% said they would be ‘open to the idea’ of buying with a stranger – if they ticked all the boxes.

A desperate 4% said they would be prepared to move in with ‘a mate from the pub’, while just under one in 20 are so desperate to get on the property ladder, they would even be prepared to buy with an ex.

The study also revealed modern Brits have a clear idea of the top traits the perfect housemate or should have, with odour free, and clean and tidy in the top five.

The list of attributes also includes being able to cook a cracking roast, earning over 50k a year, having a penchant for a good BBC drama, having a good credit rating – and (in an ideal world) not being a vegetarian or vegan.

While clean, serene and someone who is a financial dream were topping the list of priorities for co-ownership, people said their pet peeves include extreme mess, irritating behavior, someone bringing undesirable people home, and not paying their share of household bills.


It’s all about the money

The study found 27% of people said their annual salary would not get them a big enough mortgage to but a property where they would like to live, while 25% said it would be nice to split the bills with someone else.

Overwhelmingly, 75% of young Brits said that if they get the chance they will buy a house purely to live in, rather than as a buy to let, while 9% said they will rent out a room to help with the mortgage.

“We understand the challenges that young buyers are facing today and that they are willing to think outside the box to get on the property ladder – even contemplating the idea of buying with a stranger,” comments HSBC mortgages expert Chris Pearson.

“That’s why we’ve run this research on the perfect homebuying partner and are holding Home Bae, the UK’s first-ever speed dating event for co-buyers.”

“Buying a home is a life-changing financial commitment and there’s no doubt this is an unorthodox way of doing it. People who are considering this step need to not only find someone responsible and compatible – they also need to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ to avoid a difficult situation in the future, especially when it comes to selling. It’s important to have a clear agreement in place from day one so you both know what’s expected of you.”

Home Bae took place in February and saw young people brought together in a unique speed-dating style event to meet someone they could potentially co-buy with.

The study is part of HSBC’s annual Beyond the Bricks report, which looks at home-buying habits and attitudes across the world.


The perfect housemate according to Brits:
  1. Pays the bills on time – 80%
  2. Is clean and tidy – 70%
  3. Keeps the bathroom clean – 56%
  4. Does NOT have body odour – 51%
  5. Is open to compromise – 48%
  6. Is calm under pressure – 42%
  7. Can do DIY – 39%
  8. Has savings in the bank – 38%
  9. Loves pets – 37%
  10. Is fun loving – 36%
  11. Does not play loud music – 35%
  12. Has a good credit rating – 31%
  13. Is a good listener – 28%
  14. Keeps the fridge well stocked – 26%
  15. Is a meat-eater – 24%
  16. Does NOT talk too much about themselves – 23%
  17. Lets you borrow their things – 23%
  18. Will deal with all the household admin – 22%
  19. Lends you books and movies – 20%
  20. Loves a good BBC drama – 19%
  21. Has monthly savings targets – 19%
  22. Earns over 50k a year – 18%
  23. Cooks a cracking roast – 18%
  24. Does a ‘chemist run’ when you’re ill – 17%
  25. Likes to be in bed by 11pm – 17%
  26. Has a Netflix account – 16%
  27. Has a family holiday home somewhere warm and sunny – 16%
  28. Does not snore – 16%
  29. Owns a car – 15%
  30. Is stylish – 13%


SOURCE: GingerComms


There is a near-infinite number of leadership models out there.


Some good; some great; some not-so.

In the coaching space, I’m often asked for a recommendation. Which model should I adopt and align with – for best results? And in my mind, the answer is always clear: your own.

With everything you’ve ever learnt, experienced, experimented with, employed and enjoyed, what is YOUR model of leadership? What ingredients are required for you to step into your highest possible leadership potential?

Your answers will be insightful, inspiration and motivational. High energy, practical and, in particular, authentic.


Choose your words carefully

What’s also helpful in defining your own model of leadership is the choice of language. It gives us clues into our drivers and motivators, and into our blockers and issues.

Words carry emotional charge. So, it’s important to choose carefully. But equally important to remind ourselves: those emotionally-charged words are still just words. And they can be changed.

If choice of words around leadership are pressure, isolation, burden, responsibility, then perhaps we’re not as good a leader as we might be if our words for leadership were creativity, inspiration, transformation, ownership.

Don’t like your word associations? Change them.


Fuelling a model of leadership

What props-up your model of leadership? Again, I encourage you to reflect on what has successfully fuelled you and your previous projects. Here are five commonly-named foundations of the most successful leaders I’ve worked with:

  1. Energy
    I cannot give what I do not have. I must look after self. And, in particular, I want to focus on, generate, and optimise my positive energy. To do that, I’ll set an energy goal. I’ll be intentional about the energy I want to carry into every day, every activity.
  2. Focus
    What we focus on, we get. More than that, what we focus on (and how) changes the make-up of our brain. So, I choose what I focus on. And I choose what I want to move towards, not away from. More than all of that, I focus on the present moment.
  3. Commitment
    I have to make a promise to myself. A personal internal commitment. Otherwise I lack the grit and determination to see the plan through.
  4. Environment
    Look at your environment. Think of your leadership agenda and all it entails. Is your environment setup for success? What, in your environment, is supporting you? What is holding you back? What needs to stay? And what needs to go?
  5. Courage
    No high-performance behaviour exists over the long-term without courage. So, I choose to foster this virtue before all others. The #1 Blocker to our highest leadership potential? Fear of expressing who we really are. Meet this with courage by revelling in the challenge, playing big – and finding someone to advocate for. We always do more for others than we ever do for ourselves.


SOURCE: Dan Beverly

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


Negotiation is a skill that lies at the heart of our daily lives.


Wherever we go we are presented between choices and these choices tend to polarise.

Left or right?

In or Out?

Hot or Cold?

It can feel like a pair of taps facing us in a bathroom of which we can only choose one. Do we want the scalding warmth of the hot tap or the frigid chill of cold? We are often left thinking that one option has to be right and the other therefore wrong.

The joy of negotiation is that we can go beyond the limits of having to be any one thing or the other.

In our daily experiences in the world, there is no definitive right or wrong. Both are viewpoints and judgements of individuals with their own reasoning.

When we negotiate, our job is to understand that reasoning so that can we mix the base ingredients differently. Instead of having to take sides and to fight for one position or another our ideal is to find out the best of both and integrate these aspects into something entirely new.


Sharing culture

This ability has never been more critical than it is now. That is because we live in a complex world of ideas. George Bernard Shaw came up with the idea of you and I each having an apple and exchanging these apples between us. In the world of physical objects we each still only have one apple. But, Shaw goes on, if you and I each have an idea and exchange those ideas, we each now have two ideas. In the world of ideas, this infinite loop of creative possibility is a very different dynamic where we are no longer limited by pure physicality. As what we are doing gets more complex, the old models, of fighting over a single thing or even cutting it up in some way, break down.

It is odd therefore that, even today, negotiation itself has a polarity problem. In business, society and in politics we see this endless debate between ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ approaches. Should we be tough and strong or kind and giving? On the one hand, we might see the value of a trusted relationship driven approach but once the pressure comes on we also get bombarded with rather masculine images of ‘tough guy’ negotiators who hold no truck with the ‘softly softly’ approach and want us to “send the boys in”. Should we be tough or are soft skills what really matter?


Hitting a brick wall

When I first led a negotiation I was a rookie lawyer and made just about all the mistakes one can. My training led me to be hard and logical. In a series of crash-landings and the odd epiphany I quickly learnt that this ‘alpha male’ approach didn’t work for my organisation or for me. I changed and became more relationship driven but I also realised that some things really mattered. I wrote The Power of Soft when I left corporate life because I realised that nobody was clear what to be hard or soft about.

In business, it is true that if you are simply soft you will get walked over. So what matters is how we integrate the hard and soft factors. I realised that even in our biggest deals we were operating in a haphazard fashion and loosing business and value as a result. We tended to put up a hard aggressive front to show strength. Then when we got challenged we yielded, because we didn’t know or hadn’t agreed what we really needed. We’d also failed to appreciate the power we had, or didn’t have, in the situation. Behind our ‘tanks on the lawn’ strong front, we were soft, unclear and uncertain.


Core strength

My breakthrough moment was to realise that a better approach was to turn these two elements around. Instead of waving sticks when we negotiated, our strength needed to go into the core. The softness could then be expressed out front; in the way we behaved with our clients. If you have a ‘Strong Core’ then it allows you to reap the relational benefit of a ‘Soft Front’.

At the heart of this Strong Core lies a better understanding of what we really need. This often differs from what we might think we want. It involves a peeling back from the solutions we might have chosen and a stronger understanding of our actual personal or corporate needs. Doing this also equips us to challenge the other side to do the same.

It is only when we really understand what each of us need and are open to solving our challenges differently that we can find creative solutions together. A rebooted understanding of our power is the other component of a Strong Core. Instead of being based on bravado, pure dominance or coercion we look at how we maximise our power in the situation.

Having built this Strong Core we can then release the relational power of a Soft Front. Here, instead of starting with rational arguments from the head, we acknowledge that we are working with fellow humans. We focus on building trust first and foremost. Without trust as a base, no negotiation can deliver real value. Once we have trust, we can build understanding which will in turn supports our ability to create new solutions. This is how we get the hard and soft factors to work together in everything we do.


Mastering the art

We may think that negotiation is an art that has already been mastered but my belief, just like Shaw’s is that in the world of ideas and with today’s rapid change and shifts in power, we are only just getting started. To be a great leader in today’s world one has to master the subtle art of negotiation and a big part of that is working out how to handle these hard and soft factors.


About the author

Hilary GalloHilary Gallo is the author of The Power of Soft; a guide to getting what you want without being a ****. He started his career as a lawyer but then became an executive in IT and a negotiator of deals for organisations like Accenture and Capgemini. He moved on again and now enables creative leaders as a coach and facilitator. He is also working on his next book which is about how we get power without needing to have any.

For most people, their idea of an alcoholic is someone who drinks far too much and whose life is falling apart at the seams.


However, some people with an alcohol use disorder may seem just fine, even though they are abusing alcohol. They still have great profession, car, house, beautiful family and great relationships in and out of work.

These individuals are defined as high-functioning alcoholics. If they are drinking at least three to four drinks per day they are at risk.

Regardless of how well they are presenting themselves on the outside, no one can drink heavily and maintain major responsibilities over long periods of time. It will catch up at some stage and bite hard.

It could be making mistakes at work, bad decisions leading to financial losses for the business, not representing a client properly or losing clients. It’s also possible that their relationships and home will deteriorate.

When recovered functioning alcoholics look back in their lives they have pinpointed major errors at work that could have been avoided if they had been sober.

So how can you tell if a member of your team is a high-functioning alcoholic? And, once identified, what can you do to help them?


Spot the signs
  1. Changes in routine, such as frequently turning up late, leaving early, taking longer lunch breaks, disappearing for lengths of time and spending more time working alone.
  1. Physical appearance, watch out for sallow skin, bloodshot eyes, profuse sweating, tremors, unexplained bruising, slurred speech and rapid weight gain or loss.
  1. Secretive behaviour, if they’re using mouthwash, breath mints, breath spray, perfume, aftershave, etc., when it’s something they wouldn’t normally do, this could be a red flag. 
  1. Behavioural changes: mood swings, being defensive, starting arguments, talking too quickly or slowly, no volume control or staying silent for long periods. 
  1. Strained relationships, which could be caused by failing to commit to attending meetings, being late for important appointments, forgetting to complete tasks and missing deadlines. 
  1. Lacking concentration, or being easily confused. Alcohol causes sleep disturbances, so it affects day-to-day concentration, energy levels and productivity.
  1. Joking about drinking: Making jokes like “rehab is for quitters” or “we can’t let these drinks go to waste, it’s criminal” could be a sign that they are deep in denial.


It’s important to mention that drinking problems appear on a wide spectrum, from binging to dependency, so not all of the following signs may apply to everyone. Also, 50% of high-functioning alcoholics won’t show ANY of the above-mentioned signs.

So how can you identify the secret 50%?

You may have to dig a little deeper and pay even closer attention. Look out for:


  • High tolerance to alcohol (keeps on drinking at events and rarely appears ‘drunk’)
  • Overachieving at work to use this as a ‘convincer’ that there isn’t a problem
  • Easily compartmentalizes work, play and personal life
  • Won’t drink more than everyone else at a work party, but may drink excessively before or after…or even in the toilets during the party
  • Has tried to quit alcohol in the past, but masquerades it as ‘for charity’ or as part of ‘Dry January.’
  • Fits right into the existing drinking culture at the firm (if applicable)
  • Will always finish a drink; will never waste a drop.


How to help an employee get sober

It’s essential to be very careful about how you approach someone you suspect to have a drinking problem. It’s a sensitive issue and needs to be addressed with sincerity.

The first step to helping them is indirectly. This largely includes cultivating a positive, healthy culture in your workplace:


  • Hold a seminar hosted by an addictions expert to do a talk on the signs that someone could have a problem with alcohol
  • Ensure most of the firm’s events (meetings, parties) are non-alcoholic
  • Prohibit the use of alcohol in the office
  • Prohibit the giving of alcohol as gifts for birthdays, etc.
  • Incorporate team activities such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, etc.
  • Enforce a strict “no contact except in dire emergencies” policy when an employee takes time off
  • If an employee has already received rehab treatment, ensure you have a proper back-to-work plan in place.


Sometimes you’ll need to get directly involved in helping an employee. How can you approach an employee about their drinking problem?


  • Make it private: In a secure, safe space away from others
  • Prepare for denial: The chances are they are in denial and might be defensive
  • The nurturing approach: Emphasise that they’re not in trouble – you’re simply concerned
  • Be factual: Name times and dates where possible without being accusatory.
  • Show the consequences: Demonstrate how their behaviour has affected their work
  • Empathise: Demonstrate that you know alcohol issues are an illness and they can be treated
  • Recommend: Suggest your employee makes an appointment with their GP and provide them with contact details for people who can help them, such as addiction counselors or Sober Coaches
  • Accommodate: Make time for them during working hours to go to any necessary appointments, support groups or therapies.
  • Cover them financially: Offer to pay for therapy, counselling, etc. You’re investing in your employee’s wellbeing after all.


Don’t ignore it if you think one of your employees or colleagues might have a drinking problem. You could be the starting point for their new, sober lifestyle.


About the author

Bunmi AboabaDr Bunmi Aboaba a Sobriety Companion and Coach and founder of the Sober Advantage. She is dedicated to helping professionals overcome drinking problems. Her combination of holistic therapies is used to prepare a bespoke plan designed to fit around busy schedules. Bunmi helps people battling a variety of addictions to get control of their lives and beat their addiction – for good. Bunmi uses a variety of techniques to help her clients, all of which she has used herself to help her gain her sobriety and remain sober for 10 years. See: and

As a recovering perfectionist (I’ll keep trying until I’ve perfected it), I can honestly say I’ve been on both sides of this experience.


As the employee, I’ve felt the dejection when something I’ve worked hard at gets the ‘red pen treatment’ – i.e. nothing but fault-finding and criticism; ‘must try harder’.

Yet as a manager, I’ve also felt the frustration at having to explain something again – and again. And maybe again.

As frustrating as it might be, it seems that perfectionist bosses are still very much a fact of working life.

So how can you manage them?

First of all, take a reality check. Is your boss a perfectionist with everyone, including him or herself? If so, you need first to take a deep breath and know that the person they are hardest on is the one they see in the mirror each morning. They really, really, really want to get things right. And that includes how they manage you, as well as how you perform.

Of course you have a choice: you can find another boss – or you can decide that you are going to make this important professional relationship work for both of you. The second option requires you to adjust your behaviour to get your boss on your side.


Check how often they want to be given updates

It may be more often than you imagined, in minute detail; or less often, with all the information chunked together. If they want regular catch-ups, put them in your calendar and set a reminder so you’re good and ready. When you spot that deadlines or quality are slipping, give them fair warning and seek their advice. Ask ‘what would you do?’ and they will tell you.


Negotiate with them constructively

If you’re flat-out, resist the urge to respond to your manager’s demands with  a long, groaning list of everything else you have to do. Instead, try asking ‘does X take priority over Y? or ‘do we need to push something back?’ They will of course expect everything, now and perfectly, but asking for their input rather than just resisting will help them see that everything / now / perfect isn’t possible.


Ask yourself if they have a point

Some perfectionist bosses can burn out their team by expecting them to constantly ‘go the extra mile’ and ‘give 110 per cent’. You may need to be assertive and have a conversation with them about the impact of their demands on you. But first, a word of caution: what if it’s just you who gets this treatment? What if your perfectionist boss is pretty pleased with your colleagues, but less impressed with you? Watch out. They just might have a point. Don’t give them shoddy work or half the job. Ask questions to clarify upfront what’s expected and whenever practical, get them to give you an example (examples rock: so helpful yet so underused). Show you’re learning from mistakes. When they tell you that something is wrong, ask them to show you the steps to get it right.


Help them to give you clear feedback

Make it clear that you really want to get this right – and to do that you need their feedback. If necessary point out that “It’s just not good enough” isn’t… good enough, as you still don’t know what you need to do to get good. What action do you need to take? What do they suggest you stop and start doing to hit the required standard?


Agree systems and processes

Perfectionists love a checklist, so if you can draft one to discuss with your picky manager, ask for their input (they’ll most likely be pleased). Make sure you use the checklist and be assertive if your boss starts asking for things that aren’t in the checklist; ask them if it now needs to be updated.

About the author

Dawn SillettDawn Sillett has been designing and delivering training workshops and executive coaching for over 15 years.


Author of: The Feedback Book

THE FEEDBACK BOOKMaintaining performance today is no longer simply about having an annual appraisal and telling employees “you must try harder”. Research demonstrates that regular discussions about performance and providing feedback to the people you manage is a more effective way to motivate them and keep them on track. Distilled into this single, handy-sized volume are 50 tips, advice and techniques to help any manager become quickly skilled at regularly discussing performance, setting goals and objectives and providing the necessary feedback to ensure individuals and teams thrive in the company. Structured into five key parts, each of the 50 concise chapters also contains a practical exercise to help the reader understand and implement the concepts and ideas of this book.

Occasionally we have a deadline before which the workload seems to do nothing but increase, and our working speed certainly does.


As the due day looms closer (or the hour, for that matter), we work with increasing intensity. We answer emails and questions regarding what we are due to deliver quickly, and we attend to tasks that have nothing to do with the important deadline before us halfheartedly (if at all).

For a few moments here and there we realize how much tunnel-vision we have obtained with our laser-like focus on this important deadline.

And so the day of delivery passes. We made it!

This is when some collapse utterly exhausted as they push the breaks and slow down after having accomplished what they had to.

Others have gotten into a high gear and have pushed the pedal to the metal all the way to the finish line, and now having passed it, have trouble slowing down, so they continue working in the same high tempo – only now with other things and tasks, such as those neglected whilst focusing on the big deadline.


Fast and probably faulty
When the tempo is high we risk doing things too fast to notice the errors we might make simply due to our working speed. Click To Tweet

We make more arbitrary choices, and might do whatever comes our way without pausing to reflect on whether this is the right thing to do now or not.

We would “cast fewer pearls before swine” and prioritize more accurately if we just lowered our tempo now when we are not actually in a hurry anymore, and thought twice about what we are doing and why before taking action.

If the intensity of our work and tempo does not decrease by itself after meeting a big, important deadline, then we are wise to take measures to actively bring it down a notch.


Do this

If you tend to continue full steam ahead even after deadline, and if you would want to set your priorities more consciously and soberly after it is done, then do this:


Take a look in your calendar and find the next suitable deadline on which you will practice this new strategy.

Schedule reflection-time with yourself the day after your have met your deadline. Are you able to reserve the entire day for doing something completely different from what you usually work with (such as a walk in the forest, a day at the spa, freely reflecting ‘off site’ or something else)? Can you at least set aside a few hours? 30 minutes? 15 minutes? Anything is better than no time at all to stop and reflect on what your next move ought to be.

When you reflect, empty out all your thoughts regarding what you have going on at the moment. What things should have the highest priority for the next while to come, given the situation and your current circumstances? What tasks delegated from who and regarding what should you definitely not prioritize at the moment – regardless how much they complain or try to get your attention. In other words, don’t let the squeaky wheel get the grease.


Or, do this:


Describe the tendency to a colleague or friend who you know is much better than you at slowing down and keep track of their tempo. Ask them to kindly remind you to take a breather and reflect for a moment on what to do next and at what pace once the deadline has passed. You already know when the next deadline will be, so perhaps you can even set a date right now for meeting up some time soon after the deadline.

Perhaps this way of reminding yourself to calm down will come more naturally if you schedule a lunch date for the day after the deadline, since lunches are far easier to stick to and follow through with than an ambiguous “can you remind me?”-date.

Or, find your own way of making yourself aware of that it is now alright to take it down a notch or two, since the deadline is done.


More consciously

If you take your tempo down a bit when you do not necessarily need it to be high, you will with time become more present and thus make more conscious decisions in terms of setting priorities. Instead of hitting the balls as they come flying at you, you will focus on the right balls and hit with greater power and accuracy, which will definitely be to your advantage in the long-run.


How do you slow down?

What’s your best way of getting a grip on yourself and getting some perspective on your situation after having raced towards the finish line? Do you have some other trick than those described above? Write to me at and tell me. I sometimes meet people who really struggle with pacing themselves, and your tip could really come in handy for them. I am all ears.


About the author

David StiernholmSUPER STRUCTUREDDavid 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.

He is also the author of Super Structured.

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too much 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.


The key concept of sustainable negotiation is that negotiation is a never-ending process and, as such, it evolves constantly.


The vision of the process of negotiation stopping whenever a deal is signed is a shortsighted one. It is an artificial milestone established by people who then hand it down to executors.

One of the reasons why negotiators feel uncomfortable when working in intercultural settings is the need of dealing with duality. Being able to deal with duality is paramount because the universe is governed by two sets of laws.

The laws of Newton, stated four centuries ago, still explain behaviors of matters that are our size and that we can see, while the laws of quantum physics govern everything we can’t see but make possible the existence of everything we see, that is, atoms and subatomic particles.

There are a lot of nonverbal and unseen factors, people and behaviors that rule negotiations. Failing to identify and understand their impact is failing to design the appropriate negotiating strategy. Einstein was the first scientist to draw our attention to the fact that what is not seen outnumbers what is seen.

In addition, when you work with other people there is the phenomenon of entanglement, which in physics means that two particles can communicate in real time independently on the distance between them. What you do to an electron happens to its twin even if it is very far away. In negotiation this means interdependence.

In our relationships with others, every action, every word that has an impact on us has an impact on them. Perhaps not the same one, because of different perceptions and cultural differences, but an impact nonetheless. This is our world of abstract thought.


Working well together


Sustainable negotiation integrates all phases of the process including the enforcement of the deal, which is the most delicate part of the whole process. A contract is just theory. Laying down clauses in a contract doesn’t ensure a fruitful cooperation.

Sustainable negotiation understands that parties collaborate while negotiating the deal they want to sign and should co-operate once the contract is enforced and when all partners need to get down to work together.

This is when difficulties arise. If the partners share the same vision of future, they will be able to overcome difficulties and find solutions to any issues. But if all they envisaged during negotiation was the deal, then any problems they face together might lead to blaming each other, to neglecting their respective obligations, to renegotiating clauses and eventually ending the partnership.

As a result, each side will need to look for other opportunities and partners and start over with new negotiations. This is a costly endeavor in terms of time, effort and money.

Those practicing sustainable negotiation experience exponential growth because all their focus is on future development. They don’t waste their resources with mediation and arbitration or looking for other opportunities. Rather, they invest in constant growth.

That is why sustainable negotiation makes companies more profitable. By focusing on growth along with their partners. Companies face challenges and take opportunities together. This means sharing risks and resources and securing a sustainable position in their target markets.

Sustainable negotiations require a common vision of future and this is the very first thing you should be able to measure when you start any business collaboration.


Become a talented sustainable negotiator


Make sure that you share a common vision of future with the people you are negotiating with. Ideas can change, and they do change, but your deep and shared vision of future should remain the same. This is the real bond with your partners.

Don’t always use the same negotiating strategy. Sustainable negotiation is about tailor-made strategies. Design the one that fits best for the people you want to do business with.

Understand that conflicting ideas and situations lead to tough decision-making, and sustainable negotiation is effective because it goes far beyond ideas’ compatibility. It focuses on deep and shared goals for the future.

Be curious, open-minded, and creative. There is a lot you still don’t know.


Avoid conflict by all means even if they push you

Be the solution finder to their issues. You become a valuable sustainable resource for the people you are negotiating with


Keep in constant touch

Never minimize their complaints – instead, show them how easy it is to solve their problems with your help


Be their advisor without arrogance

Know their market as well as you know yours


Never think about winning

This is not a competition. Win over your competitors, not over your partners.


About the author

Eliane Karsaklian, Ph.D., is a big picture thinker, academic and practical businessperson. She has lived and worked in a number of countries during her career and mastered five languages, giving her extensive knowledge and experience in negotiation techniques and intercultural relationships.

As an internationally known speaker and award-winning researcher, Dr. Karsaklian is the Director of the trilingual Master Program in International Negotiation at Sorbonne and is invited as speaker at a number of universities around the world. She is currently visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her more recent book – Sustainable Negotiation. What Physics Can Teach Us About International Negotiation – introduces a new perspective on international negotiation, providing practical, field-tested examples, experiments and guidance to enable readers to implement sustainable negotiation in the real world. The book borrows from the field of physics to make the case that negotiators need to know what is not visible so they can explain what is visible.


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If you run your own business, it’s likely you’ll be looking for ways to reward and retain key staff.

Equally, if you are a top executive in a promising business, you may be wondering whether your future lies here or elsewhere.

Either way, there are a number of approaches to getting the most out of a team by making them feel wanted and valued.


Securing invested employees makes sense for the company

To to feel really wanted, people need ‘skin in the game’ – or, looking at the flipside, the risk or potential of losing something.

To do this, many businesses default to offering bonuses.

While these can offer a short-term target incentive for the team, it can be difficult to structure a bonus scheme to work effectively over the long term without seeing much of it swallowed up by income tax and NI.

For a reward mechanism that really works, it needs to tick the following boxes:

  • Makes employees feel important and included
  • Is for the long(ish) term
  • Drives the right behaviors
  • Feels tangible – now
  • Is tax efficient
  • Is flexible


A more compelling approach than a simple bonus scheme (and a mechanism which achieves all of the above bullets) is to offer share options under Enterprise Management Incentives (EMIs) to key team members – those who the business simply cannot afford to risk losing.

While some business owners may want keep their equity closely guarded and undiluted, EMIs offers a much higher level of motivation, buy-in and commitment from the team with little or no cash cost to the business.

As a business owner, giving your key people access to shares – be it directly or via options – is the ultimate way of saying:

“You are important to me and this business; I value what you are doing and I’d like you to share in the profits we stand to make.”

Additionally, those looking to grow their business and at some point make an exit (be it trade sale, management buy-out, private equity buy-in or maybe floatation) will need a highly committed and motivated team.  No entrepreneur can make a successful journey to exit on their own.


Becoming a stakeholder in the business makes sense for the team members

If correctly structured this is a win:win mechanism – team members stand to benefit in the same way as the business owner. Granting of options gives team members the legal right to buy a company’s shares in the future – but at a price that has been fixed now.

It also gives employees the opportunity to be a stakeholder in the business and benefit from the growth of the business – so a rare opportunity in the world of employment where they are directly able to influence a capital return they will receive. This is a powerful motivation.

Team members have the opportunity to make a significant profit when they exercise options and sell shares – something which is very attractive to early stage (often tech) companies, which means they can employ the most talented staff.

Being ‘just’ an option, there is no initial cash outlay for the team member on grant of the option. And it gets better because the later exercising of the option and the immediate sale of shares also requires no outlay for the team member.

It is also very tax efficient as there is no income tax or National Insurance to pay either when the options are granted (provided they were granted at market value) or when they are exercised to buy the shares. Also, any gain on the option is subject to only 10% Capital Gains Tax if the option has been held for 12 months – if you are a higher rate taxpayer you would pay 20% Capital Gains Tax.


About the author

Mark NichollsMark Nicholss is managing director at Tectona Partnership. Tectona helps business owners sleep at night by having one of its 15 commercially savvy, finance directors embedded in your management team – a part time solution is usually the most effective for the smaller business. Tectona makes sure you have the management information and strategic insight and will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it.




 Are you as good as you think you are? How accurate is your ability to self-evaluate?


Research published in 1999 resulted in the eponymous phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. The research revealed the existence of a cognitive bias of illusory superiority, where people judge themselves as better than others in all manner of areas, e.g. leadership, skills, performance.

The satirical book ‘The Peter Principle’, by Laurence J. Peter states that people in organisations rise to their level of incomåpetence. Imagine Peter, performing well in his current role. So well in fact that he’s rewarded with a promotion. This pattern continues until he’s promoted out of his depth. At this point he gets stuck on that level of the hierarchy. The business, rather than remove him, works around him.

The work on the ‘Confidence Gap’ – demonstrating that men are more self-assured than women – would suggest that lads are more vulnerable to the Peter Principle than lasses, with the men over-estimating both their abilities and performance.


A lack of confidence

Tom Schuller’s more recent work is a mirror image of Peter. In his book, amusingly titled: “The Paula Principle”, he shows how women today work below their competence levels.

Schuller explains that there are five main reasons why working women tend to stay at a level below their full competence, only one of which is the lack of self-confidence. The other four are: Discrimination; Structural (absence of childcare/eldercare); Lack of senior network connections; and Positive choice, meaning that Paula knows she can do the next job but is content where she is.

Of course, nothing is as simple as sweeping generalisations that assert men do X and women do Y. Yet, regardless of gender, the opportunity is there for each of us to bridge the gap between our unreliable self-assessment and any external measure of our performance, no matter how slight or gaping the gap may be. Here’s how:


1. Ask for feedback regularly

Regular input on your performance helps you to more accurately calibrate how you’re doing. Research from the Neuroleadership Institute reveals that those who actively seek feedback are typically high performers. Ask people questions like: “What one thing should I do much more of?”, “What do I need to start doing to increase my effectiveness?”, “What should I dial down?”


2. Deliberately ask for feedback from people where you have more challenging relationships

You may find you reap the additional benefits of an improved relationship as you continue your feedback dialogue with them.


3. Listen to the feedback

We have two ears and one mouth. We’re designed to receive information more than we are to transmit it. If you ask for feedback, create the space to listen, hear, and absorb the information. Resist the temptation to discount or refute the gift you’ve been given. And don’t waste time justifying your position. It’s insulting to the person you’ve requested feedback from and you appear insincere.


4. Be open about your gaps and ask for help to keep you honest

Revealing your shortcomings can be very productive in working relationships. Saying: “This is an area I’m working on and I’d value your help” is a straightforward way to access the expertise of others and to demonstrate how committed you are to your development.


5. Keep learning

Look for how you can learn from the day-to-day. For example, who’s a star performer? What is it that s/he does? Where are the new opportunities for you to learn? Where are new relationships to be developed? Reflect on what you’ve done and ask yourself: “How could I have done this even better?” or “With the benefit of hindsight, what would I change?”. Search out the set-piece learning events too – online, in the classroom, seminars, conferences – and be sure to share your learning with your colleagues and discuss where and how it can benefit your business. Finally, read. We have so much information available to us via web pages and the printed word that there’s ample opportunity for anytime, anyplace learning.


6. Measure and recognise improvement

Having set yourself some development goals, use the feedback you receive to help you track your progress. Celebrate your successes. And when you achieve your goals, ask: ‘What next?” After all, none of us is the finished product.


Take the opportunity now to be an even better you, closing the gap between what you think of your performance and the reality.


About the author

Ally Yates

Ally Yates is author of ‘Utter Confidence: How what you say and do influences your effectiveness in business’ and an expert on Behaviour Analysis and the interactions that define us. She combines a deep understanding of people and how to achieve results, based on her many years’ experience working with large corporate clients around the world.

Since 2000 Ally has been working as an independent consultant, facilitator, trainer and coach. She has collaborated with international business schools and has received national and international training awards.