Archive for the ‘Mindset’ Category

Practise Being a Possibility Thinker

 24th July 2018 by gihan

When I show a picture of a self-driving car to a child, their first reaction is usually, “Cute!” or “Cool”. But when I show the same picture to adults in my conference presentations, their first reaction is usually “Scary!”

Of course, that’s partly because adults anticipate some of the risks and dangers. But it’s also because children are often more open to possibilities than adults.

If your initial reaction to self-driving cars is more at the Scary end (in other words, you immediately think of problems, difficulties, challenges, risks, or threats), you will struggle more when driverless cars hit our roads. Not to mention 3-D printing body parts, the dismantling of the education system, embedding chips in newborn babies, the end of offices, and Australia becoming an Asian country.

On the other hand, if you start by thinking “Cool!” – or even “Hmmm … Interesting!” – then you’re a possibility thinker, and you’ll be better able to adapt, embrace and even lead these changes.

Credit: smoothgroover22

Of course, neither of these reactions – “Scary!” or “Cool!” – tells the full story. But practise thinking about what’s possible rather than what could go wrong. Don’t worry – there are plenty of people who can tell you why something won’t work! But the people who will be most valuable in the future are the possibility thinkers.

Here’s a short video I recorded about being a possibility thinker:

Exercise: Yes, And …

Choose any new technology or trend – such as self-driving cars, Snapchat, or same-sex marriage – and brainstorm as many ideas as possible about how it could have a positive impact on your career, your business, and your life.

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Your #1 Threat: Your Own Brain

 15th January 2018 by gihan

Obviously we all use our brains, and one thing we do especially well is pattern matching. We’re great at seeing, recognising and acting on patterns in the world – and that gives us valuable insights, judgement, and wisdom.

A lot of what we call intuition comes from pattern matching – even if it’s subconscious. For example, you get a routine e-mail from a landlord about their property. It looks like a fairly simple e-mail, just reporting on an interaction with one of your team members. But you know she’s upset. There’s nothing obvious in the e-mail, but subconsciously you spot something there that’s different from her normal e-mails – in other words, something that doesn’t match her usual pattern.

Or you’re making a presentation to your team, and you stop for questions. You look around the room, and even before somebody raises their hand, you know they’re going to ask a question. You call on them, and they are amazed – because perhaps they hadn’t even decided yet to ask the question! But you spotted something in their posture, a micro-expression on their face, or a tiny change that crossed your subconscious mind and registered as a pattern.

Pattern matching is valuable because it fast-tracks our decision making. If we drive a different car for the first time, we get the hang of it quickly because most of the features are exactly the same. If we eat at a new restaurant, we broadly recognise most of the items on the menu, even if we’ve never seen exactly those items before. When we get a new client and start managing their property, we have a pretty good idea what they need to know about working with us.

Read the full article here

This is an extract from an article I published in Elite Property Manager, the leading magazine for property managers in Australia.

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Property Managers: How Smart Are You, Really?

 18th April 2017 by gihan

Experience is useful, but it can also get in the way – especially in a fast-changing world where the old solutions don’t necessarily work anymore.

Think about situations in your business where you might be acting on auto-pilot because you’re just responding to familiar patterns. For example:

  • When you make a management listing presentation to a new client, do you just make a standard presentation every time, or do you really listen to what this specific owner needs for their property and the way they deal with you?
  • If a tenant causes a minor problem, do you automatically react based on other tenants you have known, or do you take the time to discover their unique situation before you respond?
  • If your most junior team member suggests an idea in a team meeting, do you reject it because “We tried that before and it didn’t work”, or treat it (and her!) with respect and consider it seriously?
  • When somebody posts a negative comment about you on your Facebook page, do you hit back immediately because it raises long-held personal beliefs and emotions, or do you stop and take the time to push those patterns aside so you can respond more appropriately?
  • Do you lump all your agency’s salespeople into the same group because “They are in Sales, and don’t understand Property Management”, or do you treat each of them as skilled, talented, and motivated individuals who can help you build your business as well?
  • Do your processes, systems, policies, and procedures force everybody (tenants, owners, and your team) to fit into one way of doing things, or are they flexible enough to accommodate individual needs?

I wrote about this in an article “Is your own brain your number one threat?” for Elite Property Manager magazine. If you would like to read more about the dangers of operating on auto-pilot, you can download and read the full article here.

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Think Sharp: Great Minds Don’t Think Alike

 29th March 2017 by gihan

Every month, I host a “business book club” at my house for a group of 15 people. Each month, we choose a business book – the most recent was Daniel Coyle’s book “The Talent Code” – and discuss it, accompanied by catered food and a few bottles of red wine.

It works extremely well, for two reasons.

First, we have people from diverse professional backgrounds – including mining, aged care, education, the arts, marketing, financial planning, accounting, and IT. We also have diversity in other areas: both men and women, different ages and generations, and from different cultures. We didn’t design it that way, but it’s a big advantage.

Second, we have a clear focus (the book of the month). Our conversation always extends beyond the book itself, but it’s a common starting point for everybody.

The group always generates a variety of interesting insights and new ideas. I always walk away with something new I can apply to my life, and I hope the other participants feel the same way.

I facilitate the meeting, and we capture our thinking in different ways. Last month, we used sticky notes on a whiteboard, like this:

Even if you can’t read the details, I’m sure you can see the variety and breadth of ideas.

This is the core secret to sharp thinking.

Our recipe for success has two ingredients: Diverse backgrounds and a clear focus. That’s the ideal combination for sharp thinking, which leads to innovation.

Combining diversity and focus in this way gives us four options:

All of them have their purpose and use, so let’s explore them in turn …

Similar Backgrounds + Vague Goal = Fixed Thinking

This is the default mode in most workplaces, where people mostly do routine work (and – if you’re lucky – with occasional flashes of brilliance). It would be harsh to say they are “plodding along”, but they are definitely not innovative. They bond through their similarities, and might not have specific goals, so there’s no need to stretch or think differently.

That doesn’t sound very inspiring – and it’s not – but most people aren’t doing inspiring work all the time. Fixed thinking and routine work are important. Fixed thinking only becomes a problem if it’s the only kind of thinking you have.

Similar Backgrounds + Clear Focus = Narrow Thinking

Many leaders try to break people out of fixed thinking by giving them a clear focus – at an individual, team or organisational level. That will definitely narrow their thinking, and this often creates positive results. In fact, that’s the way most projects work: You set a goal, share that goal, and then work towards it.

Narrow thinking is useful for project work. But it’s not so good for innovation, because it can lead to groupthink, where you end up with bad ideas just because everybody agrees. Innovation is not a popularity contest!

Diverse Backgrounds + Vague Goal = Wide Thinking

Alternatively, instead of narrowing their focus, you might try breaking out of fixed thinking by increasing the diversity of thinking in your team. You can do this from natural sources (diversity in age, gender, culture, and so on) or by artificial means (creativity exercises, off-site retreats, flexible workplaces, and the like).

This widens the thinking of the group, and can be extremely useful for generating new ideas. But it runs the risk of just creating a talkfest, where you get lots of ideas but not many results.

Diverse Backgrounds + Clear Focus = Sharp Thinking

Finally, we get to the best option for innovation, which combines the previous two areas. To get the best ideas, take a diverse group of thinkers and give them a clear focus. That’s sharp thinking: The diversity generates more ideas, and the focus means you narrow them and sharpen them towards specific goals.

Ideally, you will build a diverse team and continue to encourage diverse thinking, so that innovation becomes a natural part of your workplace. If you’re not there yet (and most teams aren’t), work on those two areas:

  1. Encourage more diverse thinking in your team.
  2. Channel their ideas into clearly-defined goals and projects.

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Future Brain

 6th May 2016 by gihan

Future Brain

Staying ahead of the game is not about inventing something new. The most successful people will be those who can see the potential in picking pieces from different areas, and combining them in clever ways. This needs a new kind of thinking – one that’s nimble and flexible, and ready to thrive in our fast-changing world. In this episode, Dr. Jenny Brockis talks about the Future Brain – what it is, how to develop it, and how to make it work for you in your personal and professional life.

Listen To the Episode

More Resources

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

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Great Minds Don’t Think Alike

 14th April 2016 by gihan


Einstein said we can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. I’m no Einstein, but it’s obvious that is a key insight into becoming fit for the future. Many organisations, leaders, and teams are still stuck in old ways of thinking – sometimes BECAUSE they have worked so well in the past. Learn how to think differently so you gain a competitive edge and stay ahead of the game.

I conducted a webinar about this today, and you can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers (If you want to understand the reference to rockets and spaceships, watch the video!):

“To embrace change and step outside my comfort zone”

“Different way of thinking”

“Not waiting for next rocket. Don’t make judgements on what you see.”

“Seeing the invisible!”

“The idea that the more experienced one is, the more one has to let go on occasions”

“I need to get on with embracing some changes I’ve been ignoring”

“Understanding that I don’t know everything and things can change. Need to test my assumptions. Also, great reminder not to wait for the next spaceship.”

“Look beyond my own horizons before making a decision. Don’t just rely on my observations”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future – what’s ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I’ll cover an important topic about the future – for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I’ll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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Are You a Possibility Thinker?

 9th December 2015 by gihan

If you know any children 10 years old or younger, there’s a good chance they will never get a driver’s licence. Why? Because in 10 years from now, we will probably all have driverless cars. It will probably be illegal to drive on regular roads, and car driving will be as rare as horse riding is today.

When I talk to people about this idea, I get two contrasting reactions: some see the problems, and others see the possibilities.

In fact, when I show kids – especially young kids – a picture of Google’s driverless car, their first reaction is “Cute!” or “Cool!”:

(Image credit: smoothgroover22 on Flickr)

On the other hand, when I talk to some adults about it, their first reaction is “Scary!”

Are you a possibility thinker?

Of course, neither of these reactions – “Scary!” or “Cool!” – tells the full story. And your reaction might be somewhere in the middle. But think carefully about where you fit on the Cool-Scary spectrum:

Cool Or Scary?

If your initial reaction is more at the Scary end (in other words, you immediately think of problems, difficulties, challenges, risks, or threats), I reckon you will struggle more when driverless cars hit our roads. Not to mention 3-D printing body parts, the dismantling of the education system, embedding chips in new-born babies, the end of offices, and Australia becoming an Asian country.

On the other hand, if you start by thinking “Cool!” – or even “Hmmm … Interesting!” – then you’re a possibility thinker, and you’ll be better able to adapt, embrace and even lead these changes.

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The Future of Private Hospital Healthcare in our Fast, Flat and Free World

 8th May 2015 by gihan

Private hospitals in Australia face increasing pressure and challenges, and need to constantly change, grow and innovate to remain viable. This presentation shows some of the biggest challenges private hospitals face, what’s happening elsewhere in the world, and what they can do to stay ahead.

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The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, by Chris Brogan

 8th August 2014 by gihan

The Freaks Shall Inherit the EarthChris Brogan’s latest book is a call to action for people who want to turn their back on the idea of working in a traditional job and launch their own business. It addresses one of the biggest challenges of the new business owner: suddenly having all this freedom and flexibility, and not knowing how to handle it effectively.

In that sense, I see this more as a personal productivity book than a business success book. Of course, for individual business owners, those two concepts are tightly connected anyway. But I think you will get the greatest value from this book if you read it as a book about you, not your business.

For example, the word “Freaks” in the title is way off the mark. This is not just a book for freaks (or “weirdos, misfits, and world dominators”, as the subtitle states). Brogan just says that to get attention. You won’t find any wild, outrageous ideas or strategies for changing the world or disrupting your industry. No, the content of this book is far more prosaic: time management, defining personal success, being disciplined, facing fear, setting income goals, and so on.

There’s nothing wrong with all of that, of course! Just don’t expect an earth-shattering book about business success.

I found it a bit difficult to read the book from start to finish. But when I returned to the Table of Contents and clicked on specific things that looked interesting, it was much more useful to me.

The other insight for me was that a lot of the book is about Chris Brogan’s own practices, and they don’t necessarily apply to me. However, they serve as a useful starting point to ask how I could make them work. So even if his specific advice isn’t useful for you, it can serve as a checklist of things to consider. That said, if you’re just starting out in business and do want some initial advice, you could do a lot worse than just following Brogan’s advice.

My friend and colleague Terry Brock has created a video book review here:

Order Now.

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Get Smart – Immerse Yourself in Online Courses

 11th November 2013 by gihan

Little Girl ReadingThere’s been a huge growth in online learning in the last few years, fuelled by faster broadband, better Web technology, and ease of publishing. If you want to brush up your skills in your area of expertise – or want to learn something new – take an online course or two. This is especially relevant and useful if you’re a teacher, speaker, trainer, coach, consultant or some other form of educator. Enrol in online courses yourself as a student, and you’ll see the standard expected of you when it comes to providing online education.

Coursera is the best-known provider.

There are many universities, colleges, and independent organisations offering online education. Probably the best known is, which offers online education in the form of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). When you enrol in a Coursera course, don’t be surprised to be one of thousands doing the course at the same time. You can interact with other students through discussion forums, marking their assignments, and even meeting up in person at a local cafe.

The Coursera material is presented by experienced lecturers, often associated with well-known academic institutions. You’ll get videos, written material, assignments and other resources during the course. The courses run over a number of weeks, and you’ll be expected to do 3-5 hours of work each week.

A better starting point is Open2Study.

That last point – the time commitment – is the biggest drawback to Coursera, especially if you’re doing the course to experience the process rather than necessarily learning the content. So if you’re just getting started with online courses, I recommend you start with Open2Study, which is backed by leading Australian and New Zealand academic institutions.

Over the last couple of months, I experimented by taking three online courses:

I chose them with particular goals in mind:

  1. The first was Financial Literacy, which was pretty basic stuff about budgeting, handling a credit card, good and bad debt, etc. I knew the content would be easy for me, so I could focus on the process – in other words, how they delivered the course.
  2. The second was Big Data for Better Performance, which was about the new buzzword “big data”. I knew some of the content would be familiar, but it’s also such a new topic that I knew I would have to concentrate more on the material. So I did this one to test both the process and the content.
  3. Finally, I did Food, Nutrition & Your Health, a topic I didn’t know well and genuinely wanted to know better. So this one was definitely more about the content.

You’ve got to try this yourself!

I could share with you the lessons I learned from this experience, but that wouldn’t be very useful. I would much rather encourage you to do one of these courses yourself, so you can immerse yourself in the learning experience. If you’re thinking about providing your own online courses, I think you’ll be surprised at some of the things that are already available (free of charge, no less!). I’m sure you will also see some things that you will do better in your own courses. Either way, it’s well worth the effort.

Enrolments for the next round of courses start next Monday (18th November), so sign up now – it’s free!

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