Discussing all the details

Are you struggling to find a solution to an old or difficult problem? Has your wellspring of creativity run dry? Do you feel worn down, tired, or stuck in a rut?

Regardless of the reason why you are stuck, the ability to be innovative, to do something differently, is often the key to becoming unstuck and moving forward. While it’s easier said than done, we must get outside of the square of our old habits and preconceived notions to start thinking differently.

The following are a few tips to help you mentally switch gears and see things in a new light, so that you can find your inspiration, unique ideas and resolutions.

Take a break. If you’ve been spending hours poring over the data and can’t see a way through, don’t be afraid to take a break and walk away from your work for a few minutes and do something unrelated to the task. Sometimes, beginning to think differently is as simple as standing up and walking away for a few minutes.

Challenge your beliefs. Sometimes a situation may seem insolvable because we really don’t understand the issues as well as we believe. Often, if we sit down and think about what we believe that we know about an issue and its key players, and then challenge those beliefs, we will see areas where we formed beliefs based on incorrect or incomplete information. Whether it’s a person, a product, or even your own cultural bias, challenge your beliefs and be open to new possibilities.

Give your left brain a break and reconnect with your right brain. Many difficulties require an analytical, step-by-step, left brain approach to find a solution. Sometimes, however, an inspired, random, emotional right brain approach is needed. To tap the creativeness of your right brain, try taking a break and writing a poem, or drawing a picture that relates to the issue. Even the simple act of listening to music while you work can help you to relax and access your right brain’s creativity.

Flip things upside down and shake things up. Sometimes finding a solution is as simple as looking at the issue from a different perspective or shaking up the status quo. When you have a difficult problem and need to achieve more than one goal, try thinking about how you would proceed if the least important goals were suddenly the most important.

Whether your issue involves your team at work, or your family at home, you can come up with new ideas and solutions by shaking things up a bit and reassigning various tasks and chores to different people. Let them surprise you and one another with their creative approaches and fresh energy.

Of course, there are many ways to think outside of the square to come up with new ideas and solutions. Feel free to let us know in the comments section if you’ve ever tried any of our suggestions or if you have a few of your own that you’d like to share.

iStock_000017251912XSmall (1)

I recently watched a TED Talk by Shawn Achor called “The Happy Secret to Better Work” but it could equally well have been called “The Happy Secret to Life.”

Apart from the fact that he’s a gifted storyteller, he caught my attention when he really got into the nitty gritty of his reasoning.

He says that “…it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”

He argues that our external world is not what makes us happy, otherwise once we have things shaped the way we like them, we would always be happy. Instead, we find things to make us unhappy – the weather, workloads, family demands. He tells us that 90% of our long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way our brains processes the world.

What he is saying is that if we look for the negative, that’s all we see and it colours everything else around us. If we look for the positive, it changes us for the better.

“…dopamine, which floods into your system when you’re positive, has two functions. Not only does it make you happier, it turns on all of the learning centers in your brain allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way.”

Shawn goes on to tell us that we can train our brains to look for the positives and that will open up a new and happier world for us. Watch the clip to find out how to do it.


Although all people are different, there are some things that everyone on earth hates – Mondays, bills, taking out the trash, and, of course, getting up. Things get even worse when you need to get up for work and the whole thing gets twice more despicable if it is winter. Drowsing in the warm soft bed and knowing that you need to get out in the cold and go to work can be quite the demotivator, but you won’t have to worry about it if you read and follow our five ‘get up for work in the winter’ tricks below.

Trick No. 1 – Sleep!
And by ‘Sleep!’ we mean ‘sleep enough!’ If you go to bed earlier, your body will be able to relax and receive all the necessary energy that comes with the right amount of sleep. The best thing you can do is have a regime – go to bed at about the same time every night and try to get up at the same time every day. If your bedtime hour is early enough (8 hours of sleep would be great!), your body will get used to getting up early even in the winter.

Trick No. 2 – Drink!
Before you go to bed at night, drink a good amount of water so when it is time to get up, you will feel the need to use the toilet and won’t feel comfortable enough to sleep. When your alarm goes off in the morning, immediately drink some water to get your body processes going. Speaking of water, you can splash some on your face to chase off the remains of sleep. A good idea is to go straight in the shower (but don’t go back in bed with your gown afterwards, or you risk being late for work). If you are a coffee drinker, make sure to get your coffee as soon as possible after the alarm goes off. You can try using these new coffee machines that get the coffee ready for you – the smell of it drifting through the room along with the alarm clock ring will surely motivate you.

Trick No. 3 – Don’t look for excuses!
When you are sleepy, especially in the winter morning and before work, you will find thousands of reasons why you don’t have to get up. You may even convince yourself that you shouldn’t get up and it will be for the best to keep on sleeping. Just ignore this reasoning and get up when you hear the alarm clock. If, however, you reach the point of arguing with yourself, try to convince your drowsy self that you have important things to do that cannot wait!

Trick No.  4 – Use some additional motivation!
You will be able to get up for work in the winter more easily if there is something you are looking forward to. For example, 20 minutes in front of the TV or on Facebook, a chapter of your book, a donut on the way to work – anything that you enjoy doing will help you motivate yourself out of the bed. Think about it before you go to bed – this will make you look forward to doing it in the morning.

Trick No. 5 – Use a special mobile alarm app!
If the above 4 tips don’t help then you will just have to be more creative. Fortunately, there are a lot of apps for people who don’t feel like getting up (especially in the winter). For example, there is an alarm that requires you to take a picture of something while you are setting it – it can be the bathroom door knob, your shoe or something in the attic; when it goes off the next morning, you need to take the same picture again to switch it off. Another app asks you to solve puzzles or math problems, play chess, etc. – things that are sure to wake you up. Afterwards, it will be easier to get up, just remember that if you can’t perform the required action, you will have to stop the device in order to switch the alarm off. In other words, your significant other, the kids and the neighbours may get up and switch it off before you!

We recommend implementing these five ‘get up for work in the winter’ tricks as soon as possible so you can get back into a routine that will motivate you and benefit you both personally and professionally.

filing(from the clean desk of a former clutter hugger)

Has your brain been feeling foggy or confused lately? It could be due to the clutter on your desk and in your workspace. Recently I did a huge clear out in my workspace and it was amazing the impact it actually had on my ability to work.

Clutter ruins any chance that you will be productive or focussed. From tripping over things to being unable to find an important document, your work rate slows down and so does your thinking ability. Once my space was clear, I even felt as though there was more air to breathe. Incredible, but true.

Here are the steps I went through to clear my space.

1. Ditch what you don’t need or use.
When you’re busy, clutter has a way of sneakily building up around you while you’re not looking. Monday’s lovely, clean desk is lost by Friday afternoon. If you sort through the pile on your desk, you’ll find papers and items that you don’t need to keep or that you don’t use any more. Clear them out. Put them in the bin or give them away.

2. Toss what you don’t like.
This one is more about making your space look more inviting. If you hate the poster on the wall, take it down. If you don’t like the ugly, grey hole-punch, toss it. Replace them with things that you like the look and feel of. It’s your space, so personalise it.

3. File loose papers.
This is an obvious one but I hate filing, so I tend to leave things in a “must file one day” pile and they sit there while the pile gets bigger and bigger. I also used to have information on scraps of paper that floated off the desk, never to be found again. First I bought a big diary and learnt to write all those scraps of information into the book. I don’t lose them anymore. Next, I tackled the filing. It didn’t take as long to do as I thought it would. If you can set aside a specific time each week to file all your loose papers, it won’t take long and you will be amazed at the difference it makes. (Friday afternoon is a great time to do this!)

When you can walk into your office and see clear desk surface shining up at you, everything seems to be more manageable. You feel more in control and your brain doesn’t have to fight it’s way through the clutter to grab the information you need.

Go on. Try it.

Homework with Morning Coffee

In the course of growing your business, have you developed a great training program that could help train employees at other companies? Do you have a special skill or unique talent that you would like to share with others? If either of these statements is true, then you might benefit by creating and sharing your training courses online.

In the past, there were significant hurdles to developing and sharing a course online. Now, there are several sites available that make it easy to create your own training course. Many of these sites do charge a small fee for hosting your course, but these same sites also often offer a convenient way for others to learn about your classes as well as enroll in a specific course and pay for your knowledge.

Consider posting your next training online at one of the following sites to gain exposure that can increase your company’s reputation while providing another potential revenue stream for your business.

Digital Chalk is used by the prestigious Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a host of other well respected businesses and institutions to offer top quality training courses. The company offers a wide variety of plans that help users create their own online course that is then easily shared with others. The company’s platform does most of the work for you and allows users to easily customise their clients’ eLearning experience. The set-up fee is just $399, and then pre-registration per course is just $4.95

SkyPrep provides users several easy to use tools to take their ideas and skillset turn them into an online course. Users can then license their courses to use as they like, or offer them for sale through SkyPrep’s own marketplace. If you elect to sell them through the marketplace, it’s just $9 per month per course, plus 10% commission on sales of your course. Kikkoman, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, and the State of Colorado are just a few of the many groups and brands that successfully use the site to share their courses online.

Udemy makes it easy for users to assemble all of their various teaching aids, such as videos, slides, PowerPoint presentations, YouTube clips and more and turn them into an organised, cohesive eLearning experience. The great thing about Udemy is that it’s completely free for the instructor and creator of the course, with the company simply taking 30% of the profit from sales of the course.

Of course, there are several additional sites that make it easy to create, share and sell your own training courses. You can learn about twelve additional venues for creating and selling your own training content by reading this article at The Learning Revolution’s Blog.

attractive and ambitious businesswomanDoes this ever happen to you?

I’d be surprised if it hasn’t.

There you are, filled with excitement because you’ve had a brainwave that will get your team out of the mess it’s in. You share it with your team, only to have your idea dismissed with the old “it can’t be done” statements.

Why do they do that?

Well, your idea could be flawed, but that’s not likely. Perhaps they don’t take you seriously. Perhaps they lack your vision and imagination.

Perhaps they are just plain scared of change.

Here are a few tips on how to present your idea so that it has more chance of surviving the “it can’t be done” sentence.

  1. Don’t be too passionate when you present your idea. You can come across like a mad professor and one look at your excited face will be enough to stop them listening past the first few words.
  2. Present the facts. You can probably anticipate the questions or criticisms your team might have. Have you done your research? Include supporting data where you can.
  3. Plan what you are going to say so that it explains what your solution is, how it works and what the benefits are.

But what happens if they still refuse to listen?

You can give up or you can keep working away at your idea. Do you think Andy Murray will listen to those who tell him not to have a female coach if he really believes the best coach for his playing needs is a woman? No way. He will do what he needs to do to get the results he wants.

It won’t be easy to keep plugging away at your idea when everyone else thinks you’re nuts. You’ll need courage and concentration.

But won’t it be a great feeling when you can turn around and show them the proof that your idea is valid?

Who says it can’t be done and why are you listening to them, anyway?

media pitchThe media has the power to spread your message far and wide but to tap into that power, you need to catch their attention.

One of the ways to do that is to pitch a story to them, and there’s more to that than simply shooting off an email.

If your NFP wants to harness the power of the media, take a look at these tips on how to create an attention grabbing media pitch.

  1. Think about your message or story.  Will it appeal to the general public?  If the answer is no, don’t bother making the pitch.  Journalists are only interested in newsworthy stories.
  2. Which section of the general public will be interested in what you have to say?  The more specific you can be, the better picture you will have regarding the TV programs they watch or the magazines they read.  Immediately you know which journalists or editors you need to pitch to.
  3. Be topical.  If your story is strong it will stand on its own.  If it is not, try to tie it in with a story which is currently grabbing media attention.  For example, if your NFP supports a children’s sports team and the media is currently full of childhood obesity stories, you can build on those and angle your story to catch the attention of the same journalists.
  4. Now you have your angle, back it up with the real stories of your people.  Case studies, true tales and comments “from the field” all add real weight to your pitch.  Remember that the journalist will be looking for an interesting story to share.  Give it to her.

By putting some thought and effort into your media pitch. you give yourself a better chance of achieving the results you want.


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