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A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Top of Mind from marketing editor, Nickie Bartels.

Among the first dream jobs I remember having in my childhood were classics like artist, scientist, architect, and marine biologist (which somehow inevitably ends up in the top five on the dream-job list of every 10-year-old girl in America). But of all my future dream jobs, the one that’s stuck with me is writer.

So naturally, when Influence & Co. CEO John Hall stepped into one of our marketing meetings in January 2016 with an idea for a book to write, I jumped at the opportunity to play as big a role in its creation as I could.

And because I’d basically spent my entire childhood mentally preparing for such a writing opportunity, I instinctively knew what to do: I grabbed my finest Moleskine notebook, a felt-tip pen, and a laptop, and I tucked myself away in a beautiful house with lots of windows overlooking the ocean so I could see the waves crashing on the beach in an inspirational way that would move me to write, edit, and otherwise help my team develop this book.

At least, that’s how it began in my head.

In reality, the Influence & Co. marketing team’s process for creating, publishing, and now promoting John’s business and leadership book, Top of Mind, looks more like our process for content creation than any romantic ideas you (OK, I) might have about writing books.

Why Write a Book?

Before you begin writing anything — a book, an article, even (especially) a Facebook status — you should have an idea of why you’re doing it.

John didn’t walk into that marketing meeting nearly a year and a half ago with an idea, a working title, and a direction for his book for the sole purpose of seeing my eyes light up at the chance to help write it. Like every other part of our content marketing strategy, this book serves a purpose — multiple purposes, in fact.

Your individual reasons and goals for writing a book are as uniquely yours as your finished book. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious universal benefits to writing a book and doing it well:

  • It cements your expertise. Who do you trust more as the expert on a topic: the woman who wrote an article on your favorite online publication or the woman who literally wrote the book on it? Writing a book gives an impressive boost to your credibility as a thought leader.
  • It’s a natural extension of your other content efforts. When you’re already consistently creating content, writing a book is a natural extension of your efforts. It ties your ideas together in one place.
  • It opens the door to opportunity. Books give you the chance to share your best, most formative stories, ideas, strategies, and tactics — and deliver unprecedented value to your audience. That value can help you knock down trust barriers, build better relationships, secure speaking engagements, and create opportunity for yourself and your company.

These overarching benefits were major motivating factors for the Influence & Co. team, but the book-writing process as a whole served another important purpose: testing a potential future service offering.

Because book writing is such a natural extension of thought leadership content creation, it made sense for us to consider offering it to clients who were ready to take that next step in building industry influence. But without testing it on one of our own thought leaders first, we really didn’t have a system for helping them.

So we tested it, and Top of Mind was published by McGraw-Hill and officially released this month. Our test, for all intents and purposes, was a success. But what exactly made it work so well for us?

Content Marketing: The Secret Ingredient to a Successful Book Process

In addition to being a cool and fun way to confuse your family and friends about what it is you do for work every day, content marketing can also make the entire book process — from ideation to publication to promotion — a much simpler one.

Here’s how content prepared us to write a book:

1. A portfolio of published content is the perfect fuel for brainstorming and outlining a compelling book

If you sit at your laptop and stare at a blinking cursor in Microsoft Word, simply figuring out where to start your book is going to feel overwhelming. But if you’ve been regularly writing and publishing content to online publications — and you have a system for tracking content performance — you have a solid jumping-off point to begin your brainstorm.

Obviously, you can’t run through your highlight reel, pull all your best work, and string each article together into a book. But you can use some of your favorite, highest-performing pieces and ideas to supplement chapter outlines and guide you and your team.

2. You’re already familiar with your unique content creation process

Experience in content marketing means you’re probably familiar with what it takes to turn an idea into a piece of published content that drives results — and you know where your strengths and preferences fit into that process. Essentially, you understand the value of a good editorial workflow, and you’ve spent the time developing one that works for you personally.

If you’re a great idea person but lack the technical expertise to actually craft and edit those ideas, you know right from the beginning that surrounding yourself with partners to fill in those gaps will make the process easier, more enjoyable, and more effective.

3. Consistent content helps you build an engaged audience, a network of advocates, and industry authority — all of which make your book launch more successful

Grabbing attention

I know what you’re thinking: Yes, it’s true that you can build all of this by authoring a book. But you’ll be at a significant advantage if you can begin your journey with some kind of audience, network, and authority of your own.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is for all of us to see friends, family, and Influence & Co. clients and partners send in pictures of themselves (and their sweet pups) with their copies of Top of Mind just because they were so jazzed about its release that they pre-ordered it right away.

A network of advocates like this is incredibly valuable for spreading the word about your book, driving sales, connecting you to PR opportunities, and more. And if you’ve spent time building and nurturing that audience with engaging content, they’ll be ready to help you when the time comes.

Whether you’re someone with an incredible story to tell, a thought leader who’s ready to take her next step, or even a young adult with a childhood dream of becoming a writer to fulfill, creating a book can be a rewarding experience — and it doesn’t have to be an overly complicated, intimidating one.

Top of Mind is just one example, and every experience will be different. But with a portfolio of
published content to guide you and an experienced content marketing team to support you, writing a book can be accomplished faster and easier than you think.

Nickie Bartel is Marketing editor at Influence & Co.Top of Mind by John Hall

Visit for more info about the book.

An app designed to put its users one step ahead of stress, anxiety, worry and depression has been launched to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

Taking place from 8th to 14th May, the week aims to raise awareness of mental health problems, but also the absence of good mental health. This year’s theme looks at this from the perspective of surviving or thriving.

The Recover app addresses just this, and encourages users to take steps to #changehowyoufeel. It fights flight with information, giving users the tools to overcome fear and improve their mental health.

Fight or flight

Cutting to the chase with a cognizant approach to garden-variety stressors and severe mental challenges alike, the app gives evolution a one-two punch. How so? It sidesteps debilitating symptoms and goes right to the root of the issue. Providing users with the information necessary to build resilience, the app takes a different route. It makes a place in line for stressors and then asks them to move aside for sustainable wellbeing via 19 happiness habits.

Armed with knowledge like how worry works, the app is an action-based resource. Turning negative emotions into benefits, Recover shows its users how to turn triggers into mere signals for manageability. Apparently, it’s all in the doing. It gives tools via an action planner, armed with reminders to stay centered on what’s actually true about any situation. Teaching the art of mindfulness, it strategically implies that fear is only as alive as one’s habits. Habits such as pondering things too much in the future and entertaining limiting beliefs.

Universal support

Derek Garriock, Founder, Recover App said: “Stress affects everyone, either directly or indirectly, across the UK, so, this app serves a universal cause. It provides a comprehensive overview of why stress is happening, what your emotions are telling you, and how you can ‘change how you feel’. It’s as simple as following some daily activities supported by new knowledge acquired from the app. It also provides tools to deal with realtime issues as you go through your daily life. And it’s always available on your phone. How convenient is that?”

Recover is useful for users facing the mental challenge of serious illness, work stressors, or the emotional turmoil teenagers face. Crossing all age brackets, the Recover app also provides employers with ways to support the mental health of their workforce.

Garriock adds: “Feedback has been very positive. I met one lady who had been supported through her childhood by health services (NHS) for autism but had been cut loose at 18 as they did not support adults. Now in her early 30s, she spoke of feeling the best she had felt in over ten years after using the app for only three weeks. It helped her get her anxiety under control.”

The stress reduction app is available for download through the Apple App Store and sells for a one-time fee of £1.99, the cost of a packet of headache tablets.

For more information visit

When asked whether they’re happy in their job, few people would claim that they are happy every moment of every day. The daily stresses of work, such as last-minute deadlines, difficult projects, and challenges with co-workers can all test our emotions.

But an employee who is frustrated by such things can also be happy in their job, provided that this dissatisfaction doesn’t become overwhelming.

So is happiness at work simply an emotion that occurs naturally while employees are juggling the responsibilities of daily life? Or is it something that a company’s leadership can actively cultivate? And, if so, what are the factors that can influence workplace happiness?

Defining happiness

First of all, it helps to know what happiness actually means in the context of the workplace. Is it that feeling we experience when a project is successfully completed and we get praise from our manager? Or does it run deeper, to underlying factors that drive morale, productivity and engagement?

According to Dr. Christine Carter, senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, people often confuse happiness at work with fleeting moments of gratification. She says that happiness actually involves the ability to access “a wide range of positive emotions”. These include hope, optimism, confidence, gratitude, inspiration and awe.

Nic Marks, CEO of Happiness Works, says it boils down to three positive emotions:

  • Enthusiasm: A high-energy state that helps people create and seize opportunities. It can also work to mobilise the efforts of ourselves and others.
  • Interest: This is a ‘focusing energy’ that helps us commit to tasks that may be challenging in the short term, but which have medium-term or long-term benefits.
  • Contentment: This relates to the ‘glow’ that comes from having achieved something. This can lead to being more motivated to perform the actions that will repeat that success in the future.
The importance of happiness

According to a study commissioned by Robert Half, research indicates that successful companies have happy employees who are more engaged, loyal and creative than their less-satisfied counterparts.

It also plays a significant role in productivity and work quality. Nearly two-thirds of happy employees report consistently putting in extra effort at work, according to a Horizons Workforce Consulting study. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that employees with high levels of on-the-job satisfaction are more cooperative and likely to help others. Importantly, happiness is simply good for health – when there’s less burnout and chronic frustration, illness and absenteeism also go down.

Still, many companies see happiness at work as an intangible ‘nice to have’, rather than an important organisational priority. You can’t force employees to be happy, or control every factor that contributes to happiness. But, it’s possible to create conditions that will help promote happiness and positivity at work.

Six factors that influence happiness at work

There are some universal factors that have been found to directly affect employee happiness, according to Robert Half’s It’s Time We All Work Happy report.

  1. Right fit for the job and company: When you hire people who mesh well with your workplace culture, they assimilate with greater ease and begin making substantive contributions quickly. Conversely, a poor fit can dampen the morale of the entire team.
  2. A sense of empowerment: Empowering staff to make their own decisions improves happiness at work in several ways. It can build confidence, make them feel more invested in their job, and help develop critical skills they can use to advance their careers. All the while making more meaningful contributions to the company.
  3. Feeling appreciated: When you show your staff that you appreciate their hard work and dedication, you instil loyalty and create a positive working environment. For maximum effect, Dr. Christine Carter recommends making your praise sincere, specific, and given as soon as possible.
  4. Interesting and meaningful work: Employees who see their work as worthwhile are nearly 2.5 times happier than others – particularly for people in the marketing and creative fields. An important part of this is a shared vision that helps employees stay focused on their goals, in good times and bad.
  5. A sense of fairness: Always strive for fairness and transparency in your decision making. That means clear policies around pay, promotions and projects. Make sure employees feel heard, and have a chance to speak out when they feel a sense of inequity.
  6. Positive workplace relationships: A sense of camaraderie at work improves employee communication, cooperation and collaboration, and feeds innovation. According to Dr. Aymee Coget, founder of Happiness for HumanKIND, it starts with better leadership. “When a manager embodies positivity, their influence touches their team, clients and even their clients’ customers.”

While it will never be possible for employers to control all the factors that contribute to happiness at work, you can certainly help to create the right conditions for it. Ultimately, happiness is a choice, and a positive, healthy workplace environment is a good starting point. The benefits will be seen in better quality work, and significant improvements in recruitment and retention.

Phil Sheridan, workplace happinessBy Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK

Just one bad night of sleep makes it more likely that employees who already displayed unwanted behaviour one day at work will display a similar type of behaviour the following day, according to a study at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

Once an employee engages in unwanted behaviour in the workplace, such as taking longer breaks than allowed, leaving early without permission, or even stealing, it might be hard to step away from it. And that is a costly affair: such behaviour is estimated to cause companies up to $200 billion per year in the USA alone.

“Unwanted behaviour in the workplace often stems from selfish impulses that are not kept in check by self-control,” says researcher Laura M. Giurge. This negative effect of impaired sleep quality is especially strong among people with a so-called ‘low moral identity’, she discovered.

Giurge went on to say: “Going home early without telling the boss is an urge most people will feel occasionally, but do not give into every time. And when people do, they often feel remorse afterwards and try to do better next time. It is known that this ability to regulate our impulses can be undermined by having had a bad night – not necessarily just by the amount of sleep, but also by impaired sleep quality.”

Sleep studies

For this study, a group of working professionals was asked to indicate how well they had slept each day for ten consecutive working days. They were also invited to rate the extent to which they engaged in unwanted behaviour. For example, had they taken a longer lunch break than allowed that day, or had they been rude towards a co-worker?

Analyses showed that, in general, the quality of sleep the night before can indeed influence the next day’s behaviour. Those who had engaged in unwanted behaviour one day were more likely to engage in unwanted behaviour again the next day, particularly if they slept badly during the night connecting the two days.

“This study shows that the display of unwanted behaviour is not a fixed character trait,” says Giurge. “It can vary from day to day, even within the same person. Whatever the reason for starting it, a night of poor sleep can make it harder for someone to stop doing it, especially among people with a low moral identity.”

She added: “Tiredness apparently can make it harder for people to overcome the feeling that they have failed at being a good and moral person and, as a result, do not try again the next day. This can lead into a possibly destructive cycle that could help explain why unethical behaviour is so persistent in some organisations.”




We are desperate to become more effective.

The clarion call for effectiveness and efficiency is wherever we look: do more, be more, see more, earn more, enjoy more, love more.

Everything we are told is about giving, taking and doing more. This is partly as a consequence of, and also caused by, the personal effectiveness and personal development industry; people making money from telling people to how to live better lives.

The conundrum is obvious to anyone who spends time helping executives to be more effective.

• About 50% of execs are pretty good at running their lives and their diaries. And, even if they’re not productivity ninjas, they have been on more silver-bullet courses than they care to mention and/or they are stuck in their ways and not about to try yet another five-step process as used by business celebrities and business school stars.

• At the other end of the spectrum, the bottom 25% are people who have never and probably will never ‘get’ how to prioritise, run a diary and consistently turn up to meetings and deadlines on time. They have also been on numerous time management courses and prided themselves on arriving late and having no sense of how they get things done.

• This leaves what I would approximate as about 25% of the workforce who could, theoretically, benefit from some kind of help in managing their time and productivity better.

I am not convinced that the HR department sending someone on a course is the right answer. I have never responded well to being sent on a course. It just doesn’t set up the right environment to make you want to learn and understand and apply what you are shown. When I sign up of my own accord, however, my commitment and enthusiasm is entirely different.

So, there’s the problem for the ambitious HR or Learning Development manager or director. They want their people to become more effective yet most don’t respond well to being put on such a program. So, how do they resolve this issue: carrot or stick?

Cause and effect

Clearly, when the motivation comes from the individual there is a greater likelihood of the teaching sticking. Maybe it needs to be encouraged or nudged by the organisation. Or maybe an environment and culture of self-improvement will do the trick. But I am still not convinced that the compulsory course is the way forward.

My conversations with HR managers tell me that they are committed to make their people more effective. It is good for the morale and, of course, it is good for the morale of the workforce. Is there really a time management or productivity system out there that can be rolled out and taken on board in a wholesale manner? I don’t think so. But that’s not to say that we should give up on encouraging people to be more effective.

What we can do is share and offer tools that we feel might work. We just mustn’t force them on people like pâté de foie gras.

Prepare to plan

All the research shows that high performers use some form of time management or productivity system, either explicitly or implicitly. They do not live a life of randomly picking things up and putting them down. They have processes and systems for everything from how they start off their days to how they prioritise and arrange their time and activities. That’s how they get so much done. The list of frequently (but not always) used activities include: journaling, meditating, prioritising, listing, goal-setting, and so forth.

To become more effective, there is a series of activities that need to take place in a certain order. These activities are the starting point for getting more productive. Agreeing goals and pursuing them gives a sense of meaning and purpose.

In essence, there are basic questions that need to be answered. A simple ‘ology’ asks:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where are you going?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • How are you going to measure and evaluate progress?

The next step would be to look at the whole picture of your life: how do you rate your current performance level (on a score of 1 to 10) in terms of the following:

  • Finance
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fun
  • Faith
  • Business
  • Health

To develop a process that helps you articulate your goals and priorities you can then identify your key roles in life (say eight) eg father, manager, teacher, husband…

Next, list up to eight goals for each role.

Then, order your roles in order of priority, from the most important to the least important.

The next step is to circle what you believe to be the eight most important goals on the big list.

Finally, for each of the eight goals, identify how you know it will have been achieved, how much resource it will take, and create a timetable for activity.

Once the plan is sorted then a journal-type device can get you to review recent activity and preview forthcoming activity, day by day, week by week, month by month and quarter by quarter.

Clearly this is a very quick and dirty simplification of how to set and create goals. However, I am sure that you get the gist of what I am saying.

A new order

Many feel that such an exercise is overwhelming. I disagree. What is overwhelming is having countless big and small projects and tasks all vying for your attention and not having some kind of framework to prioritise. The result is that everything is equally important and as a consequence you start failing or under-performing. An hour with a pen and paper allows you to get a sense of order and priority to the nightmare of trying to do everything and constantly feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of demands on your time.


Robert Craven on time managementRobert Craven (@robert_craven) is an international keynote business speaker, author, consultant and owner of The Directors’ Centre, a consulting and training company which helps owner-directors run the business they want to run.

His latest book (co-authored with Adam Harris) is the Check-In Strategy Journal: Your daily tracker for business and personal development.

Robert Woodruff, former chair of The Coca-Cola Company set out a vision in 1923 that Coca-Cola should always be ‘within an arm’s reach of desire’.

In the following decades, and even throughout the Second World War, Coke became ubiquitous across most of this little planet of ours. However, there were still places the brand couldn’t and didn’t reach.

And the walls came tumbling down

On November 9 1989, a new territory was added to the Coke world, as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Among the thousands of pictures taken in the following hours and days, there is one that shows two men heaving cartons of Coca-Cola bottles over the wall.

One of the men pictured was Paul-Gerhard Ritter. He was managing director of the Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde.

It was a particularly poignant moment for Ritter. He had originally come from the East. He attended a school in the GDR until he was eight, moving with his family to West Berlin in 1957, four years before construction of the wall began.

Whether he just wanted to celebrate the momentous occasion, to take advantage of a wonderful PR opportunity or to combine the two is not known. But, he clearly realised that the Cold War was coming to an end and a new era was starting.

As soon as he heard that the wall was coming down, he ordered three trucks to be filled with Coca-Cola and driven to Kudamm where the East Berliners were now crossing the border.

Within two hours of their arrival, the three trucks were empty and many new arrivals duly refreshed.
In the first week after the fall of the Wall, two million people drank a toast to freedom with a Coke. By March 1990 Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke GmbH was set up as a separate company in East Germany.

SOURCE: Giles Lury

Author of How Coca-Cola Took Over The World

Mindfulness isn’t a box ticking exercise to be done each morning for 10 minutes or so, or something experienced on an ‘away day’ and then forgotten. It is a pragmatic philosophy and way to be which makes our lives easier and more rewarding.  

While mindfulness meditation is a personal undertaking, adoption of some of the principles of mindfulness in the workplace allows us to run a smarter business. What’s more, we become able to achieve more with less effort.

Here’s five examples of simple things you can do today that will make your business more abundant, in all senses of the word.

1: Give Stuff Away

This is one of the easiest tips to implement and it is the best way to share your intention, wisdom and business tips with clients.

Examples of what you can give away:

  • A report or white paper
  • A sample chapter of a book
  • An audio recording e.g. podcast, meditation, music track
  • A video tutorial e.g. access to a webinar

The obvious reason you would think to do this is to grab peoples’ emails so you can upsell them some stuff. This should not be the prime motivation. When we share freely, we find that we end up with ‘stuff’ coming back from other unexpected sources to us as ‘what goes around, comes around’.

2: Shout Quietly

It’s not a good idea to market your products and services by being disparaging about your competitors. Neither is it a good strategy to push your products in peoples’ faces. A much better way is to share valuable content that others can use and then to only mention your own products and services in passing and in context. So my way of ‘shouting quietly’ is by posting content on my blog and also by interviewing like-minded people on my podcast. These days it is my main marketing tool and it seems to generate all the business I need.

Examples of how you can shout quietly:

  • Start a blog
  • Write and syndicate content for other sites
  • Start a podcast
  • Launch a video channel

In addition, when posting on social media, my policy is to only be positive and to share good advice, successes and celebrations. Avoid gossip, nay saying and denigrating others.

3: Share Your Wisdom

Writing books has not only opened many doors for me but also the hearts and minds of many readers. As an unexpected spin off, it also lead to a career I didn’t plan as an author’s mentor. As an author, you find it becomes relatively easy to get interviewed by the press and the media.

These days print on demand technology means you only have to publish as many books as you need. At less than £5 a book, they make great giveaways to clients too. As many books are read on ereaders while commuting, books don’t have to be big these days and short concise chapters are more easily digested. Often less is more.

4: Live Timefully

It is not exactly true that the only time we have real control over is each moment, right now.

We can also reminisce about the past and draw on past learning and mistakes. We can also imagine something in the future, right now, such that it arrives at our doorstep, just in time.

The key to living timefully lies in being mindful, at all times, about where in time your thoughts are focused. The key to being super-creative and super-productive is to focus your thoughts and attention on ‘The Now’. When you get more done in less time, your bottom line improves instantly.

The key to doing this is to remain in the meditative state with your eyes open, especially when you are engaged on a creative project. You then enter EMT, or Extended Me Time, where interruptions reduce and the task seems to get done in the time available. This is what is referred to as ‘being in the zone’.

5: Give and Take

Just around the time I wrote my book on Practical Mindfulness, I was having both my cataracts removed. As I left the operating room, the surgeon said, “No more eyes to do, that’s you sorted for life”.

I realised in a flash that we do have another eye and that can become clouded, our metaphorical Third Eye. It dawned on me that I could easily donate a percentage of sales to help clear cataracts for people in the developing world. I discovered that it only costs £40 (around $70) to clear cataracts in both eyes via a charity called the IMPACT Foundation.

At the time of writing, the campaign has been running three months and raised enough funds to restore the sight in both eyes for 30 people.

Examples of how you can give and take:

  • Align sales of a product or service to a charitable cause
  • Donate a percentage of net profits
  • Give pro bono services for the unwaged
  • Donate stock that isn’t moving or old equipment not in use
Start Yesterday

Like planting a tree, the best time to start these initiatives is yesterday and the second best time is today. The observant reader will notice how there is little or no cost to implement them and only gain. The good will fostered in clients and suppliers alone makes any investment worthwhile.

By Tom Evans, author of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness.

Tom EvansTom Evans is a prolific author, podcast host, meditation guide and the creator of Mindfulness-based Time Management.

As an ex-BBC engineer, he was fascinated by the magic of television. Nowadays, he is intrigued by the magic of the mind and the hidden potential we can all tap into as humans. To find out more about his books, meditations and courses, go to

feedbackThis blog is all about feedback and managing people well, this includes you getting feedback from your team. Yes, Dear Reader, you need to get it as well as give it. And you need to be able to do that without seeming creepy or needy, whining, “but why doesn’t anyone on my team give me feedback, WHY?”

There could be all kinds of reasons why they don’t:
  • They’re really, really scared of how you might respond
  • Where they come from (previous employer, nationality, ethnicity, family upbringing, you name it) it’s just not done
  • They think that feedback is only about criticism and feel uncomfortable about criticising you
  • They’d like to give you positive feedback but don’t want to seem like a total creep
  • They haven’t got a clue what to say and how to say it
  • They fear that if they give you feedback, a series of comments they don’t want to hear may be headed their way in reply
  • They’re your peer and feel it’s not their place to do so

You need to help them get over their reluctance, whatever the cause may be.

Why receive feedback?

If you’re only receiving it from those more senior than you, you’re getting less than a quarter of the picture. What’s more, if it only comes from those higher up in the organisation than you, chances are it’s a lot less frequent than you need – typically annually – and retrospective. You need to hear it from those at or around the same level as you, such as colleagues you work with from other departments and disciplines. You need feedback from stakeholders such as suppliers and clients. And you most certainly need feedback from those you manage. In real time.

Now it may be that your working culture doesn’t really believe that it’s right and good for ‘underlings’ to give feedback to their managers. If so, that’s a pity – and a missed opportunity (and don’t be surprised if comments pop up in exit interviews as those who are heading out the door point out that they didn’t dare give their boss feedback). But if you want to create a motivating environment for your team, where people know how they’re doing and what they need to do to improve, they need to hear it from you. And you need to hear it from them.

Next time you’re having a conversation with one of your team, try one or a combination of these questions:

“What do I need to know about you for us to work really well together?”

“What’s the most important thing I can do to support your progress?”

“How might I be holding you back without realising it?”

“What opportunity do you need me to give (or create with) you to for you to be more fulfilled?”

“When it comes to managing your performance, what do you need me to do more/less of?”

“How will you know I’m doing all the right things for the team to be motivated?”

“What one thing will make the biggest difference?”

Give your team member fair hearing (they may feel a little put on the spot, even reluctant, so give them time) and stay open to their suggestions.

Source: Dawn SillettDawn Sillett

Author of: The Feedback Book


If you’re not going to this year’s Glastonbury festival don’t despair, as there are a wealth of top-notch alternatives on the European festival scene.

Swap British weather and muddy fields for sunny beach festival or combine your festival holiday with a city break to one of Europe’s cultural hotspots. Here are some of the best alternatives for the ultimate festival getaway!

The global festival scene is thriving, with a diverse array of unique festival escapes in exciting new destinations. There’s wallet friendly Eastern European hotspots on the River Danube, being at one with nature with festivals set in beautiful woodland and amazing city festivals to combine with long weekends of culture, gastronomic delights and sightseeing. There’s something for every festival adventurer.

Need some inspiration? Here’s some unforgettable festival escapes for 2017…

Exit Festival – Party in a fortress overlooking the River Danube in Serbia

6-9 July 2017

Just a short ride away from the Serbian capital Belgrade, the magical Petrovaradin Fortress set high on the banks of the river Danube in Novi Sad provides the perfect setting for the EXIT Festival. Started as a student protest in 2000 fighting for political change and freedom, EXIT continues to spread positive vibes, promoting change and positive education, supporting many community and humanitarian missions, while throwing a damn good party.

The award winning festival has something for music lovers of all genres, with a diverse mix of artists performing on numerous stages connected by cobbled streets, ramparts and tunnels. Also renowned for it’s amazing atmosphere the Dance Arena champions the who’s who in the electronic music world. It’s that special moment when the sun’s rays shine over the fortress walls and your favorite tune is belting through the sound system and into your soul!

EXIT continues to deliver the most adventurous and value for money festival experiences in Europe so keep your eyes peeled for the first acts to be announced soon. EXIT. Where hedonism meets activism.

Line Up: The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Years & Years, Hardwell, Rag’n’Bone Man, Jake Bugg, Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun b2b Dixon, Alan Walker, Black Coffee, Duke Dumont, Faithless Dj Set, Hot Since 82, Jamie Jones, Lost Frequencies, Noisia “OUTER EDGES”, Recondite, Robin Schulz, RÜFÜS, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Antigone B2B Francois X, Charlotte de Witte, Dax J, Function, Princess Nokia, Voiski, Foreign Beggars, Kungs, The Damned, Behzad & Amarou, Ben Vedren, Forest People b2b kLaus, Leo pol, Pierre, Sweely, Arkona, Destruction, Discharge, Samael, Angelic Upstarts, The Black Dahlia Murder + many more.

Positivus Festival – enjoy the picturesque woodland setting in Lativia

14-16 July 2017

Taking place in the picturesque coastal town of Salacgriva in Latvia, Positivus is the largest music and arts festival in the Baltic States, transporting chart-topping headliners, underground emerging talent and exciting art and dance stages to their unspoilt atmospheric coastal setting amid stunning woodland. Festival goers can dip their toes in the Baltic sea or take in the atmosphere in a hammock beneath the trees while enjoying a rich diversity of international chart toppers and underground emerging talent in this idyllic holiday location.

Positivus also offers art and dance stages giving festival-goers a variety of activities and stalls selling locally made designer clothing and accessories, giving festival goers plenty to see and do during the 3 day event. Positivus was also recognised in the 2013, 2015 and 2016 European Festival Awards being a finalist in the ‘Best Medium Sized Festival’ category and also for ‘Best Festival Line Up’ in 2013.

Line up: Maximo Park, The Lumineers, The Pixies, Ellie Goulding, Alt-J, Rae Sremmurd, Kamasi Washington, L.A. Salami, José González, Mew, Austra, JP Cooper, Cigarettes After Sex, Dagamba, Dzelzs Vilks, Pienvedēja Piedzīvojumi. Ray Blk, Eska, Nothing but Thieves, Julia Jacklin, Margaret Glaspy, Bandmaster + many more.

Sea Dance – party on the beach at this award winning festival in Montenegro

13-15 July 2017

Recently listed by Skyscanner as the number one cheapest holiday destination for 2017, Montenegro is well worth checking out. With towering mountains perfect for hiking and mountain biking as well as some of the world’s best unspoiled beaches on the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro also featured in the James Bond Film Casino Royale and, if it’s good enough for Bond, it’s good enough for us!

Award winning Sea Dance festival gathers each year fans from over 50 countries from all over the world, and impressive line up of more than 100 hottest international music stars. This year, the fourth edition of the festival, will be held in Budva, Montenegro. Voted best European medium-sized festival, Sea Dance has proven much within just three short years. Stunning location, world-renowned artists and outstanding productions make this festival a must see. Save the date and experience Sea Dance festival on Europe’s hottest summer destination.

Line Up: Sean Paul, Fatboy Slim, John Newman, Amelie Lewis, Denis Horvat, South London Ordnance, Space Dimension Controller, Bad Copy, Filip Xavi, Insolate, Tkno, Who See and many more

OFF festival – discover the best alternative music in Katowice

4-6 August 2017

OFF is a festival for the discerning music fan and the place to discover the best alternative acts from around the world. A truly unique boutique music festival, OFF Festival takes place in ‘Three Lake Valley’, Katowice – a beautiful green oasis in the heart of industrial Silesia.

OFF is a way of life, one that flies in the face of current trends and stays true to itself, and the ethos of organiser Artur Rojek is firmly aimed at supporting art and music with the festival bringing many acts to Poland for the first time.

OFF Festival’s reputation is growing year on year driven by the festivals forward–thinking, eclectic music policy and it’s bold and eclectic lineups. From the greatest alternative music stars from around the world to the increasingly strong Polish scene, OFF festival has inspiring music in abundance and the organisers and crowd have one serious finger on the pulse when it comes to music.

Line Up: Anna Meredith, Anna Von Hausswolff, Arab Strap, Batushka, BEAK>, Boris Graja “Pink”, Carla Bozulich, Circuit des Yeux, Conor Oberst with Band, Daniel Johnston, Duzy Jack, Feist, Group A, Helando Negro, Jessy Lanza, Kikagaku Moyo, Kwadrofonik I Artur Rojek, Lvl Up, Made in Poland “Martwy Kabaret”, Michael Gira, Moor Mother, PJ Harvey, Preoccupations, PRO8L3M, Royal Trux, Shame, Sheer Mag, Shellac, SIKSA, Silver Apples, Spoiwo, Swans, Taleb Kweli Live, The Black Madonna, The Oh Sees, Ulrika Spacek, Wolves in the Throne Room, Wrekmeister Harmonies and many more.

Sziget festival – a week long festival holiday on the island of freedom in Budapest

9-16 August 2017

Proud winner of the ‘Best Major European Festival’ award in 2015 and 2011, and ‘Best Festival Line Up’ in 2016, Sziget Festival is one of the biggest multicultural events of Europe. Taking place on the picturesque Óbuda Island in Budapest, Sziget welcomes over 490,000 visitors from over 100 countries to express themselves on their self-proclaimed Island of Freedom.

Sziget is not just about music, with more than 50 program venues offering festival goers the chance to experience many different things including; circus, theatre and dance, art and installations, yoga and sports and a huge variety of food. There is also has a beach area where fans can truly enjoy the summer and the Danube. With so much on offer in the heart of Budapest, Sziget provides a complete festival-holiday experience with a week long party, great live concerts and all the attractions the city has to offer such as beautiful historic buildings, thermal spas and special ’ruin pubs’.

Line up: Alex Clare, Allah-Las, Alt-J, Andy C, Anne-Marie, Bad Religion, Bakermat, Bassjackers, Bear’s Den, Biffy Clyro, Billy Talent, Birdy, Breaking Benjamin, Cashmere Cat, Charli XCX, Chef’Special, Clean Bandit, Crystal Fighters, Danny Brown, De Staat, Dimenson, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, DJ Shadow, Don Diablo, Dubioza Kollektiv, Flume, Fritz Kalkbrenner, George Ezra, GTA, GusGus, HVOB, Interpol, Jagwar Ma, Jamie Cullum, Kasabian, Kensington, Leningrad, Leon, Mac Demarco, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Major Lazer, Mando Diao, Materia, Maurice West, Metronomy, Nervo, Nothing but Thieves, OH Wonder, Oliver Heldens, PiNK, Paul Van Dyk, PJ Harvey, Rita Ora, Rone, Rudimental live, Steve Aoki, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, The Courteeners, The Kills, The Naked and Famous, The Pretty Reckless, The Strypes, The Vaccines, Tom Odell, Two Door Cinema Club, Tycho, Valentino Khan, Vince Staples, W&W, Watsky, Weval, White Lies, Wiz Khalifa + many more.

Lowlands – join the 25th anniversary edition of Holland’s biggest festival

18 – 20 August 2017

Get ready for A Camping flight to Lowlands Paradise 2017, as the festival prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Taking place next to the Walib Fairgrounds, Biddinghuizen Lowlands is the Dutch answer to Reading and Leeds, but with impressive installations including the renowned red and white chimney stacks, plus unique covers for all stages so you can enjoy all the music rain or shine. Just over an hours drive from Amsterdam you can easily mix your festival trip with a few days city break in Amsterdam.

Tickets are available from and include festival entry, camping and shuttle bus from / to railway station or Dronten Lelystad. More acts will be announced soon with over 250 acts in total performing at this year’s event.

Line Up: Mumford & Sons, The xx, Editors, alt-J, Bastille, Cypress Hill, Elbow, Flume, Iggy Pop, Kovacs, London Grammar, Michael Kiwanuka, Migos, Moderat, Skepta, Architects, At The Drive-In, Ben Klock, Billy Talent, Black Sun Empire, Carl Craig Presents Synthesizer Ensemble, Cashmere Cat, CLARK – Death Peak Live, Death Grips, Dixon, First Aid Kit, Future Islands, Glass Animals, Job Jobse, Jonna Fraser, Konstantin, LÉON, Mac DeMarco, MHD, Midland, Mura Masa, Nina Kraviz, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Nothing But Thieves, PVRIS, Robert Hood (DJ-set), Sampha, Talaboman, The Pretty Reckless, Ty Segall, Tove Lo, Abra, Aurora Halal, Bonzai, Colin Benders, Cubicolor Live, Baloji, Canshaker Pi, Denzel Curry, DJ Deeon, DJ Firmeza, Giegling Showcase (Ateq Live, Dustin, Edward.Live, Map.Ache) Haus, Jeangu Macrooy, John Moreland, Marie Davidson Live, Palace, Parcels, Romare Full Live Band, Shame, Shovels and Rope, SMIB and many more.


Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton psychologist Adam Grant, shows how we can build the strength to overcome life’s challenges and support loved ones coping with loss, illness, and other adversity.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

The book combines Sandberg’s personal insights after her husband died unexpectedly with Grant’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity.

It turns out that people are not born with a fixed amount of resilience; it is like a muscle that everyone can build. Sandberg and Grant offer concrete steps we can take to recover and rebound from adversity and explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. They also address how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can also be applied to everyday struggles.

The title of the book was inspired by an exchange Sandberg had with a close friend shortly after losing her husband, Dave Goldberg. As she was preparing for a father-child activity, she lamented that she still wanted Dave to go. “Option A is not available,” her friend replied. “So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.”

Personal Experience

“Nothing prepared me for suddenly losing Dave, and in the days and weeks after he died I struggled to get through the fog,” Sandberg said. “Option B is my attempt to share what I learned from my own experience and from people who have studied resilience and faced all kinds of adversity. If this book can help anyone else, even a little, then I will have found some meaning through all of this and honored Dave’s life.”

“We can’t control what happens to us, but we do have influence over how we respond to the events in our lives,” Grant said. “This book is about the capacity of the human spirit to persevere. Sheryl and I wrote it to help people build their own resilience and support friends and loved ones who are in pain.”

Sandberg has also launched OptionB.Org, an initiative to connect people around their shared experiences and break the silence and isolation that too often accompany our struggles.

At OptionB.Org, people facing adversity—and their friends and loved ones—can read and share personal stories, join groups for solidarity and support, and find information from experts that will help them build resilience.


The site is launching with more than sixty stories from people who have been through adversity of all kinds, from Vernon Turner, who overcame a family history of drug abuse and trauma to become an NFL star, to Kathy Andersen, a survivor of sexual abuse who now helps female survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. Visitors are encouraged to add their own story. They can also show their support for others’ stories with custom reactions, such as “I feel the same way,” “Thanks for sharing,” and “Stay strong”—similar to “Liking” a post on Facebook.


Research shows that coming together around shared experiences can be a source of strength and hope. Because it can be hard for people to find a group focused on the specific challenge they’re facing, OptionB.Org has created Facebook groups to help community members receive and offer support to one another. People can also find and join groups run by organizations and individuals on other online platforms and in person. For example, they can find out how to attend a dinner for people coping with loss run by an organization called the Dinner Party or join a group for women with disabilities run by Easterseals.

Information and Resources

OptionB.Org has co-developed or curated materials from a broad range of experts and released the first three videos in a series of Sandberg and Grant talking about key ideas in the book.

The site also lists organizations with hands-on expertise in OptionB.Org’s topic areas, including the National Alliance for Grieving Children, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and RAINN, the United States’ largest anti-sexual-violence organization. In addition, contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line are featured prominently on the resource page and in the site’s universal footer.

“We all face challenges. Some of them are big and traumatic, and some are small and more everyday. But we need resilience to deal with all of them,” said Rachel Thomas, president and co-founder of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation. “We’re committed to helping our community do just that—and to learning and growing together.”

OptionB.Org is focusing on seven topics at launch—Abuse & Sexual Assault; Divorce & Family Challenges; Grief & Loss; Hate & Violence; Health, Illness & Injury; Incarceration; and Raising Resilient Kids—and will add new ones based on member input.

The initiative is guided by an advisory board with expertise in its different areas of focus. Members helped shape the development of the website and education materials and recommended many of its partners.

OptionB.Org is an initiative of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation. Sandberg is donating all of her income from the book and providing additional funding to OptionB.Org.