Or so the saying goes.
I was reading last week that Christmas is the time of year when most people have family arguments.
That’s probably because Christmas is the time of year when most families get together.
If you are lucky enough to have family to be with, decide today what outcome you want from Christmas, a happy or unhappy time?
Not just for you, also for the others in your family.
If you choose happy, celebrate being together, and, presents aside, be generous with yourself, as if it will be the last Christmas you are together – a fact that one year that will be true, and you will never know which one, in advance…
If you choose unhappy then act as if everyone in your family will live forever, and upset as many family members as you can (including and especially yourself).
During the Month of Movember some news may have past you by, unless you are a follower of English football (soccer).
During a month were people look to raise funds to support awareness around men’s health and depression, Gary Speed, a well-respected former player and coach of Wales was found by his wife, hung.
For a man who was by all accounts doing a good job for his country, was well liked and had what seems to be a happy and successful life this has come as a shock for many who knew him.
This is a sad story but no uncommon for those who live with depression and their families. It is a strong reminder, like John Kirwan’s story, that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do life can have its challenges.
Let’s remember to talk about these issues and support people to feel that they can tell someone if they need support and where they can turn.
Read more about Gary Speed in these articles:
The economy goes up and down and politicians and policies come and go. These all have an impact on business but are not always the main factors to business success. To thrive in business often comes down to hard work and learning fast. One of the best rules of business is to learn from others success and mistakes. Here are some words of wisdom from people HisBiz has worked with in the business community around making your business work for you. Wether you’re starting out, in the middle of it all, or a seasoned professional check out these suggestions.
Kevin Barnes | Wise Group CFO
- Understand who is going to buy your product/service.
- Keep overheads to absolute minimum.
- Watch your cashflow very closely – make sure there is some flexibility.
- Get good advice, such as a great accountant.
- Make sure people pay you - avoid bad debts!
Lesley Ann Thomas | People in Mind/Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
- Present yourself and your business well - the way you dress, you speak, the state of your car, your business card and your documentation.
- Clear separation between home and work - even if work the office is the kitchen table dress to go to work, ask your friends to call ahead not just pop in and take planned breaks to attend to the home jobs.
- Search for the right networking connections - this could be HisBiz, a Chamber of Commerce, BNI, another networking organisation or by creating some strategic alliances. Getting connections that work for you will help your business grow!
- Set up two business accounts (operational and savings) and transfer an agreed percentage from every payment to the savings account - meeting your GST and Income Tax payments will be a breeze.
- Even if you don’t make your website operational secure the domain and make use of consistent branding by having an email address with your domain name included.
Murray Beer Director | Ibex Marketing
Make a business plan. This should be a clear, written statement of your product(s), service(s) or business idea.
- It should be brief enough that you refer to it frequently and detailed enough to be effective.
- Buy or borrow recent books on business success relevant to your venture. Read some classics like Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth Revisited” or Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow” and “Tribes”.
- Spend time on your plan alone and then test it with research and advice.
- Adjust it as necessary. Do you want to be right or successful?
Research thoroughly the market segment and geographic location you want to operate in.
- Who else is delivering the same or similar product(s) or service(s)?
- What’s your point of difference?
- How well does your offering compare?
- How big is the demand?
- What are people prepared to pay?
- Do you have the expertise needed or can you hire the expertise needed?
Budget. What do you need to be able to start and operate?
- Fit out costs
- Licensing or Franchise fees
- Professional advice (Lawyer, Accountant, Business Advisor, Bank Fees, Wages, GST, PAYE, Provisional Tax, Terminal Tax…)
- Do you have enough cash reserve to live on until you are profitable?
Business advice from someone who has started and run a successful business of similar size and type. Draw on their experience to:
- critique your idea
- critique your business plan
- coach you in execution
- hold you accountable to your plan and budget.
- Have a close group of people who support you and understand your plan.
- Be realistic about the emotional cost of starting, growing and managing a business.
- Identify your weaknesses and hire staff and advisors with strengths in those areas.
- Be open to all forms of comment and make adjustments as needed.
- Be prepared to learn through mistakes – yours and others
- Roll your sleeves up and stick to it until it’s done.
Thanks to all who contributed their thoughts and pearls of wisdom. Use the comments section below to add more of your own.
Now the World Cup is over – and we won – our attention turns to summer!
New Zealand has some great surf spots and one of the best left-hand breaks in the world. Like any sport, surfing needs training and preparation. There is also the old saying ‘know no fear’ which sums surfing up well when you paddle out to the waves – and possibly the odd shark!
So to get ready to surf this summer, here are some of the HisBiz top surf tips from HisBiz surfers. Thanks Kieran, Hemi, Aubrey and Mark.
- Don’t forget your surf board. There is nothing worse than getting to the beach without your gear due to the excitement of a big swell. If you do forget and turn up at your mates asking for a spare… be prepared!
- It is ok to pee in your wet suit, just not while you are still in the car.
On a more serious note…
- Surfing is a sport. You do still need to stretch and warm up to avoid surf related injuries – shoulder strain can be pretty common and most injuries occur in smaller waves.
- A soft tip nose guard on your board can also help prevent some knocks, often to the head and the odd eye gouge (French boards only).
- Get your core strength up and keep it up. It’s easy to lose, and makes it much harder to surf when you’ve got a pudgy middle.
- Surf all conditions – don’t be a wave snob. You learn a lot about position and spotting the best wave from windy conditions – perhaps more than when it’s perfect.
- Get the correct board for your size and weight.
- Respect others in the water. Learn the ‘surfers code’ and try to stick to it.
- Have fun! There are too many angry old men in the water these days – it makes you wonder they bother?!
- Get into the water as much as possible – half the battle is learning about the ocean.
- Embrace the ‘Dawny’ – some of the best waves of my life have been at 5:30am.
- Travel – there is a world of waves out there and New Zealand has some great ones. The reward of finding perfect waves after several hours driving or days flying, or bussing, or boating or hitching is hard to beat.
- Get fit – it makes life easier.
Our top five surfing tips with a Mental Health Foundation twist!
- Keep learning – Get surf lessons from a surfing New Zealand approved surf school or coach. Try before you buy a board and wetsuit to see if it’s for you – they have all the gear and experience to make it a great day out in the water. (There is always something new to learn.
- Take notice – Notice the conditions and be prepared. It’s not just about the surfing. You need to consider the waves, beach, bird and marine life, sun rise on the east coast and sunsets on the west coast which seem to slow time itself, life has chaos and order…so does the surf!
- Be active – Staying fit will help you in the water for sure and whilst it’s great to be sport specific, yoga, stretching, biking, swimming, running and walking all give your lungs a work out. Doing something you enjoy will help keep you motivated. A few press-ups and sit ups won’t go amiss either!
- Connect – Surfing with mates is a great way to touch base, sharing excitement at a new swell and connecting with the ocean is good for the mind, body and soul.
- Give – Take someone else for a surf…it’s a real buzz, especially kids, pushing them into a wave, seeing their faces light up.
Source – Amanda Flemming, Presenter at large (www.amandafleming.co.nz)
We all know knowledge multiplies when you share it. What challenges many businesses today is how to share knowledge effectively, retain industry knowledge, role specific knowledge, and even general experience when many in the workforce move regularly as they advance their careers. Two years in a role seems to feel like a lifetime for some people and we all know the old scenario of 40 or so years in one role is likely gone forever.
Systems and processes need to evolve too. They are the roads staff travel in their day-to-day work. When systems and processes are well thought through and clearly communicated and understood by everyone in the organization, things can run more smoothly, people know where they stand, boundaries are clear and results are optimized. When they are out-of-date or non-existent your business can get haphazard, you end up constantly fire-fighting and time, effort and energy gets wasted, costly mistakes can be made and resentment and dissatisfaction can result.
The challenge in keeping a record of relevant processes and systems in our businesses can become a huge job especially if operations manuals are needed and intranet knowledge storage has to be regularly reviewed. Businesses big enough to need an intranet also usually need a technical expert (or team) to maintain it and often the bottle-necks created by this kind of system frustrates staff because updates don’t happen fast enough or the system itself becomes so complex staff don’t bother with it.
And what about small businesses? How do they capture systems and processes so new staff can learn the ropes fast?
At a business seminar run by Dale Beaumont recently I was introduced to a great little website called Backpack. This site is designed for small businesses that want staff to have easy access to information, process documents and so on – all in one place and accessible to everyone in the organisation. It’s easy to manage and can help ensure you retain all that good industry and business knowledge that accumulates over time because everyone can add to it. If a system is needed, the appropriate person or people clarify it and post it where all staff can access easily.
We all learn differently and giving staff a variety of ways of learning is more engaging than the old school Ops manual that gathers dust on a shelf somewhere – another advantage of ‘Backpack’. The use of mutli-media will speed up induction and training of new staff because a variety of learning styles can be catered for.
Regardless of how you organize your business, clarifying your systems and processes and recording them in some way will save heaps of time and energy in the long run.
- Do you have up-to-date systems and processes in your business/organisation?
- Are they easy to teach others?
- Are your systems and processes truly reflective of your current business needs?
- Are your systems and processes easy to access by all staff?
Many small business owners get too busy to plan even though planning is a ‘must do’ on everyone’s list. Make some dedicated time to review your business systems and processes - what you do, how you do it and why you do it. Spring is the perfect time to refresh things, generate new ideas and get the broom out – it usually feels like a massive undertaking at first glance but if you start in one corner and go from there you will be sparkling in no time!
What would the world look like if all the time people spent online was used to solve the emerging issues of the world? What would happen if the skills of millions of people where focused on a common purpose? Why do gamers often feel more positive in the virtual space than in reality? Is it escapism, or a place where your strengths are positively reinforced and you are judged purely on your abilities and ideas?
There is an emerging school of thought around the value of the world of online gaming – how it can develop skills and problem solving, encourage team work and at times offer a more positive and supportive environment than the real world. The challenge lies in transferring these online strengths to our daily life. As we become more interconnected we can use collective thinking at a massive scale to shape the real world. A billion heads are better than one.
This isn’t just theoretical ‘one day’ type stuff, online collective thinking has recently been used right here in New Zealand. Magnetic South www.magneticsouth.net.nz is an online idea generation game which was used to create ideas for the future of Christchurch. It was designed to give anybody the opportunity to contribute, share and get quick feedback. The game ran for a weekend and generated many ideas.
Of course the web is full of online personal development tools, but how would you feel if you saw someone in your team playing World of Warcraft and selling it to you as personal development? You’d probably think they are using work time to goof off, and you might not be wrong. But some business people are starting to see its potential. In World of Warcraft you get rewarded for problem solving, you “power up” when you develop specific skills and if you fail you get to try again until you get it right – what’s not to like for your own work place? Imagine the environment you could create if you could reward your staff in the same way.
How do you use the virtual world to develop your business and personal skills?
It’s rare that world leaders in fields as diverse as psychology, neuroscience and medicine gather in one room, to discuss happiness.
It’s rarer still for those leaders to all agree on one fundamental truth; that altruism, or the notion of giving, is the one thing that, across all cultures, makes people truly happy.
A Happiness and its Causes Conference was recently held in Brisbane where world-leading researchers shared their thoughts on what makes for a happier life. Speakers included Nobel Peace Prize Laureate His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama; acclaimed primatologist, environmentalist and UN Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall; inspiring French monk, Matthieu Riccard; University of California Professor Emeritus Dr Paul Ekman, and many more.
Dr Jane Goodall was one of many speakers who said she believed very strongly that it was “giving that makes people happy”.
Matthieu Riccard also noted that, because humans are interdependent, “being autonomously happy does not work”.
“To be altruistically happy, is to be truly happy,” he said.
“Happy people are quite simply better workers, more creative, more likely to help others, don’t get sick as often, are more open to new things and are far more likely to use their strengths at work,” said United States-based positive psychologist and researcher, Dr Biswas-Diener.
Many speakers noted the importance of being connected to others – friends, family, and community – in being happy.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to happiness, a number of common themes emerged from the conference. To be truly happy, the experts say, the following are important: giving or altruism; meditating or taking time to reflect; being well connected to a community; having strong familial relationships; exercising regularly; eating healthy food; sleeping well; doing random acts of kindness; expressing gratitude; and forgiving.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama deserves the last word, told to delegates in Brisbane:
“Genuine happiness always comes from within; it can never be taken away. Live a compassionate, benevolent life and you will be happy. Think about what you can bring to the world, what you can give,”
“When we engage in compassionate acts, we benefit more than the other person. Compassion provides a meaningful life; it gives our lives purpose.”
By Hannah Samuel
Whether you’re in business for yourself, or looking for a new job, determining what you’re worth is important in terms of our sense of self-worth.
Whilst it’s tempting to leap ahead and focus on price or a salary figure as the starting point, what’s more important initially are the foundations upon which the dollar value you finally settle on are based. To be paid what you’re worth you need three ‘C’s:
First and foremost, are you happy charging? Can you deliver on your promises, genuinely add value and should you be financially rewarded for doing so? If not, then no amount of price-setting will help. Having confidence in your ability to deliver is critical. Once you’re confident charging, the next step is being confident in the amount you charge. Play around with different dollar amounts and work out which ‘sits’ most comfortably with you. Too little and you’ll feel undervalued. Too high and you’ll feel like a fraud. Test out what feels right for you and ensuring you include large quantities of both the second and third Cs - credibility and currency.
What you say about yourself, and what other people say about you, will add hugely to your credibility. Do you have the credentials required? Are clients, colleagues and others willing to put their reputation on the line and lend you their support by way of testimonials and references? Do you have specialist skills or expertise, or are considered the ‘go-to’ person in your field? Providing evidence of your abilities that are relevant and meaningful to those you’re aiming to influence will enhance your personal sense of credibility and self-confidence and make it easier for others to make informed decisions about you.
Being able to articulate why you, and why now, is extremely powerful. Work out what their return on investment (ROI) is likely to be if they engage you and then clearly articulate it. Facts and figures, supported by a range of other persuasive factors, will help you stand out from the crowd and boost your confidence in your willingness and ability to charge. Amongst the body of evidence supporting your credibility make sure you include current, relevant material and references that demonstrate you’re in touch with what’s wanted and needed now, not years ago.
Getting paid what you’re worth is more about confidence, credibility and currency than actual dollars and cents. When you’re able to clearly articulate why you deserve what you’re worth you’ll be in the strongest position possible to negotiate effectively.
Copyright Hannah Samuel. All rights reserved. Originally published in Reputationz News August 2011 by Hannah Samuel. www.hannahsamuel.com
Davede Tito’s short stop motion film was a finalist in the 2011 Like Minds Wellington film competition.
The theme was “Be there. Stay involved with people experiencing mental illness.” Davede titled her short film ‘Whakawhanaungatanga - camaraderie between fellow colleagues’. 95 per cent of the film is in ‘stop motion’. It consists of hundreds of photos put into sequence in order to make a moving film – hence the artistic jerkiness effect.
“Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a ‘loss of contact with reality.’ I believe the film as a whole (and even more so at the start in the tunnel) directly relates to what a person who is having a psychotic episode is feeling,” says Davede. “The flashes with random different photos in this scene all on keywords for effect were relevant to that. I thought it was a powerful message. Separate seconds of life, rather than a fluid flow. It’s a surreal experience.”
This story is about Davede’s friend Adam who at the time was in the Royal New Zealand Navy. The location of the film is HMNZS Philomel, Devonport Naval Base in Auckland. You’ll see HMNZS Endeavour in the background in scene two; the ship Adam was working on when he became unwell.
When Davede and Adam met it was the” beginning of a beautiful friendship,” says Davede. Davede became an on-going source of support for Adam while he was unwell. Adam is now well again and Davede made reference to this in her film. “Adam is well and much better, hence the happy ending after the tough journey. With friends, support from colleagues and understanding, many people have a positive ending to their experiences with mental illness. Adam is one such person,” she says
As a first time film maker, Davede taught herself to do 90 per cent of the film process. She had “a great couple of assistants” to do the bits she couldn’t. Davede chose the music Love is a Radiation by The Black Seeds. “If you listen the words are deep, true and perfect for this film,” she says.
Living in New Zealand, it’s hard to ignore the biggest sporting event to hit our shores – the World Cup.
Already, you can feel the expectation building as the All Blacks build up through the tri-nations and the teams are announced. You will have your own opinion on the new strip – and how tight it is! And whether England should have a black away strip – is it a mind game?
People are buzzing about which games they hope to attend. It’s awesome that people are planning on taking part in this once-in-a-life-time event. It’s especially cool that it’s not just the die-hard rugby fans. Lots of people are just looking to have fun and be part of the atmosphere of the occasion, something we all should think about!
We all know that the psychology of sport is very important for players. Having the right physical approach to the game is critical. What we probably don’t think about enough is that our mind set as spectators is also important.
Watching sport can be a stressful and emotional journey – it’s part of why we enjoy it so much. Research has been carried out on the psychology of sport watching, in particular how it is a form of mass communication. In some countries the national sport is often the second religion.
Fans have huge expectations of their World Cup 2011 teams. As a fan we need to manage our psychological wellbeing and even physical health during the tournament. Having the right approach, enjoying the moment and moving on from losses are all part of it.
As we get closer to the World Cup we will run a few polls via the HiSBiz Facebook page, so make sure you ‘like’ the page and give us your views and picks on the games. You can also check out some of the virtual rugby pick games – we can even create a HisBiz group for that!
Eric Light, managing director of Gravity Computing Limited, recently had the opportunity to attend NetHui 2011. NetHui was a three day conference in Auckland organised by InternetNZ – the delegated administrators of the .nz internet country code. Eric writes about his experience and some of the highlights of the event.
The theme of the conference was ‘Shaping the Future Together’, and was run in an unconventional ‘bar camp’ style.
Each day started with a 40-minute keynote presentation by a leader (Rod Drury, founder and CEO of Xero; Rod Oram of the NZ Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig). After the keynote, we split into streams. Each stream consisted of a central topic, and was a facilitated discussion between members of the audience, rather than simply being a speech by a central speaker.
The conference attendees were particularly notable. We had Bill English, Steven Joyce, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, Internal Affairs’ CEO Brendan Boyle, and many other parliamentarians, ministers, CEO’s, CIO’s, and the like. Five hundred of them all up!
Takeaway points for me:
- Witnessing three of our country’s MP’s joining forces at NetHui. During the event, they formed a cross-party group representing three political entities to guide the move towards open government and open data.
- Hearing Judge David Harvey, New Zealand’s pre-eminent judge on IT and technological issues, eloquently and powerfully describe how access to the Internet has become a human right within the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
- Being in the room when discussions around open data and open government were taking place; surrounded by delegates from IRD, DOC, Ministry of Education, Corrections, central and local government — the discussion was great!
- Meeting Lynne Pope, one of the many heroes after Hurricane Katrina, who saved thousands of lives with DisasterRecovery.org (now closed down). Six months unpaid she worked solely on the service, fielding attacks from the US government who didn’t appreciate her help, and paying for it all ($30k) out of her own pocket by mortgaging her house.
The biggest takeaway point for me though, was the realisation that so many aspects of our industry are still really in their infancy. This was particularly true in a couple of the streams, where every sentence spoken by a participant was wholly deserving of a full hour. How can you thoroughly examine the effects of smartphones in the office, when there are so many aspects to it? Ownership, security, work-from-home, work-from-car, legal rights, legal obligations - the list is boggling, but it just reflects the reality that the issue is so new.
What will we be doing differently as a result of NetHui? I’m not sure just yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Did you attend NetHui 2011? Let us know your thoughts on it below.
As the temperature cools and the frost begins, our minds are turning to winter sports. Here in New Zealand we’re pretty lucky to have the surf and snow culture of all-year-round outdoor activities on our door step.
Most of us may not all be able to build snowmen in our front garden but if you’re willing to travel, New Zealand is certainly a winter wonderland for those keen on skiing and snowboarding.
But unlike team sports it’s not always front of mind to train for a skiing or snowboarding session – the drive to National Park is not considered training! Snow sport is a pretty tough hobby and can take quite a toll on your body. Your knees act as shock absorbers, if you’re good, or else you spend a lot of time on your backside.
Flexibility, strength and endurance are all important factors. Being in shape makes snow sport much more enjoyable and injuries less likely too. You need to be doing moderate exercise for several weeks before you hit the slopes. Check out this article by ABC of Skiing for some general fitness tips to help keep you on your feet.
Skiing and snowboarding are also very social activities making it an ideal sport for families to take part in. There are a lot of child-friendly ski resorts and fields throughout the country; here is a list of a few of them.
If you haven’t yet got your ski pass sorted or your transport and accommodation booked down south, now is the time to consider it. It’s important to refresh and recharge over the long winter months. A planned week in the snow, with an aim to hit the more difficult runs than the year before, gives the chance to keep our fitness levels up and be active over the chilly months. Winter this year has been a little delayed and unfortunately some of our popular ski fields including Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and Snowpark have all had to delay their opening dates!
Interestingly, Snowpark is the only Wanaka ski and snowboard area that can open entirely with man-made snow, so once snow making operations are in full swing a new opening date will be announced.
If you are thinking of hitting the slops this season, stay fit, keep warm and have fun! Let us know your winter sports stories or best tips for the snow season.
When Aaron Fleming stands at the front of the room, speaking about his experience of life to a room of 50 people, he oozes the confidence you’d expect from a New Zealand sporting ambassador. Aaron’s an athlete, professional speaker, author, model, presenter and does a lot of work with young people through the Hamilton City Council. Looking strong, fit and athletic, you would never believe he was once bedridden in hospital, struggling for the will to live and diagnosed with severe depression.
At age 16, when Aaron was on the verge of a promising future in gymnastics, his right lung suffered a series of collapses. After numerous operations he was told he would never be capable of physically over-exerting himself again. He subsequently became addicted to painkillers and things became so tough he was even contemplating opting out of life.
Having always been a goal-driven person, Aaron got a real fright when he realised he was prepared to throw everything away. Right then he decided to turn his life around. “I flushed the drugs down the toilet and put up with the pain cold turkey,” he says.
His recuperation was long and painful but eventually Aaron was able to live relatively pain free. He came across a documentary about Tracey Richardson, a New Zealand mother of four who had been dealing with issues of weight, depression and lung disease. Her goal was to do an Ironman to fundraise for children with cystic fibrosis. After some further research, Aaron saw there was an opportunity to help and got in touch with her. Aaron’s surgeons told him he wouldn’t be able to do it but he set himself a goal to complete the 2006 Ironman to help Tracey raise more funds.
Aaron was weak. He had no muscles and wasn’t carrying a lot of weight. He began training for this giant feat and kept getting injured. But he was determined to prove his surgeons wrong and achieve his goal. Slowly Aaron began improving. “The good thing about an Ironman is it’s a pace race,” he says. “I didn’t have to put my lungs under too much pressure.” After 12 months of dedicated training, Aaron was ready and determined to complete an Ironman.
Aaron had control over his training and progress all year but when the day came, there was one thing he had no control over – the weather. There was a huge storm. The event organisers cancelled the swim, reduced the 180 kilometre bike ride to 90 kilometres and the 42 kilometre run down to 21 kilometres. Aaron felt his dream had been dragged away from him. He completed the modified Ironman but he felt like a fraud.
Suddenly Aaron’s one-year goal became a two-year goal. He went back the next year to complete the Ironman race properly. “Ironman day is my favourite day of the year,” he says. “It’s the only sport in the world where Joe Bloggs starts at the same time as the professionals. It’s an incredible feeling.” Aaron completed the race in non-stop 15 hours, 46 minutes and 44 seconds. He raised $23,000 for cystic fibrosis and created more awareness for the cause. He also proved his surgeons wrong. He realised that he could achieve these goals if he was sensible – and he felt so much better for it.
Because of his fundraising efforts, Aaron was offered an opportunity to represent New Zealand in the United States Ironman at Lake Placid, New York 20 weeks later. This was his chance to wear the silver fern. So six weeks after the New Zealand Ironman Aaron began training again – and was hit by a car.
Suffering moderate injuries he thought he’d have to say goodbye to his trip. But despite his condition, Aaron knew it was too good an opportunity to pass up. He hadn’t trained but he decided to wing it. As the only competing Kiwi, Aaron joined 2000 other athletes in New York. He believed he could do it and knew he had overwhelming support back home. After a long and gruelling 16 hour, 47 minute and 58 second race, combined with two flat bike tyres, terrible stomach pain and a strong desire to just give up, Aaron thought about his promise to the children with cystic fibrosis back in New Zealand and made himself complete the course. At the finish line he was met by an ambulance, given a drip and driven straight to hospital to be treated for severe dehydration.
Returning to New Zealand, Aaron was named a New Zealand community hero. He was selected as the New Zealand Ambassador to carry the Olympic Torch in Canberra for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It was like holding the whole world in your hand,” says Aaron.
Aaron really believes in encouraging kids to believe in themselves. He spent the next 12 months writing a book about his experiences to help get young people inspired. He’s since heard from a number of people, both young and old, about how his story has affected and made a positive difference to their lives. He’s spoken to a lot of school groups and also writes a column for the Hamilton Press about goal setting, motivation and dealing with depression.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Aaron hasn’t stopped there. He recently completed the 2011 New Zealand Ironman raising $27,500 for Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand. What’s next in store for Aaron? With his drive, determination and positive attitude anything is possible – so watch this space!
Who remembers Pong? Astro Wars? Pacman? And who would have thought that these humble little bleepers would morph into today’s Wii Fit or even Avatar Kinect?
From their very first incarnations, computer games have enthralled us, engaged us and frustrated us. Over the last 30 years gaming has become a huge force in global technological development, with games crossing time zones, cultures and geographical borders, creating their own sub-cultures and rules of engagement along the way. The future of gaming is bright but the question remains: is gaming good for us?
Plenty of gamers would say yes. There have been many advances in technology which have gotten people off the couch, created new social interaction opportunities and basically wowed us with its ability to provide realistic experiences. From the very first documented computer game “Noughts and Crosses” created for a doctorate dissertation in 1952 through to today’s Brain Computer Interface gaming devise that claims to have mastered thought control, it’s fair to say the world of gaming has grown at an intense speed.
The PlayStation2 Eye Toy in 2003 was one of the first games to enable players to interact with their games using motion, colour detection and sound. Nintendo went on to release the best-selling video game of all time, Wii Sports, in 2006 and Wii Fit in 2007. Using motion sensing capability these games were designed to get families socialising and exercising together with activities ranging from baseball and tennis to yoga and strength training. Today there are even more options in the market including PlayStation Move, and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, which doesn’t even require a controller at all.
The speed at which mobile gaming is becoming popular is also worth a mention. With smartphone technology, mobile phones today are hugely feature focussed and that trend is accelerating. They started with the 1997 Nokia handset – when games like ‘Snake’, involving black pixels moving on green pixels, were popular. Speed forward 14 years and Android has recently released the Sony Eriocson Xperia Play, the world’s first PlayStation certified smartphone. Mainstream gaming has expanded as we have the ability to do it wherever we wish, whenever we wish.
There are, however, those who take an ‘approach with caution’ stance on gaming. ABC news has reported on the addictive nature of gaming and the affect it has on people’s lives. The well-known game, World of Warcraft, is renowned for this issue. In fact, a study by Mary Schlimme goes so far to ask do we need a Video Gamers Anonymous? There have been a number of studies on gaming and its link to social exclusion and depression. Studies such as the Pathologal video game use amongst youths add important information to the discussion. The New York Times ran a blog article early this year looking into teenage mental health related to the amount of time spent playing video games because it doesn’t look promising.
Most of us have gamed at some point or another. How does it work for you? Is it social connection time, a chance to unwind or the opportunity to get your 30 minutes a day that makes you reach for the controller? Does the advancement of gaming technology excite you or concern you when you hear of the ‘latest gaming release’? Feel free to comment below or on the HisBiz Facebook page.
By Wayne Walford
Congratulations to the Supercars Team, and the Hamilton team that supported them, for a great weekend in the ‘Tron’ last month. It was great to see not only a New Zealander win the race but a Hamiltonian to boot! The fact that there is a misalignment with the type of car is beside the point. Call me fickle if you like but it is great to be able to recognise a local hero despite the car choice.
Honouring our heroes is good for our external profile to the world, but it is also great for our internal profile. By lifting the perception of our capability as a country we signal positive movements forward.
When I read Gill South’s management column in the Business Herald 18 April, I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between what Gill wrote about ‘boosting your promotional prospects’ and the development of people, businesses and countries. Gill profiles John Beeson, a New York consultant who was recently in New Zealand. John specialises in succession planning and top talent development. The points he notes with regard to the development of self can easily be applied to business and to countries. The following comes from John Beeson’s book, The Unwritten Rules.
- Increase your visibility within the company.
- Build your external network.
- Consider a lateral move.
- Engineer a development assignment.
- Demonstrate your learning ability.
- Identify the right stretch assignment.
- Find creative ways to develop in your current job.
Increase your visibility as a person, a business or a country – the Chamber offers a range of events to assist you with this. What you do when you are at Chamber events is up to you and we often talk about making yourself memorable as part of your business marketing.
Build your external network – again the Chamber offers a range of ways to assist you with this – but your success in this area depends on your being part of the game.
Consider a lateral move – whether it is collaboration on a project, extending your product range or how you manage your productivity, getting out of the engine room and up to the bridge is important for the sustainable future of your business.
Engineer a development assignment – a view that is clearer from the bridge rather than the engine room.
Demonstrate your learning ability – what are you doing to keep up-to-date or to stimulate thought leadership? Do you have development plans for your team members? The world changes so fast – standing still is moving backwards.
Identify the right stretch assignment – something that will encapsulate many of the points above that gets you noticed and demonstrates your ability to learn and grow your business.
Find creative ways to develop in your current role – you, your team, your market and your community.
The challenge with all of these is that action cannot happen without your desire and commitment to explore possibilities.
Cold temperatures, wet weather and shorter days can make it hard to find the energy to do the things we enjoy.
For most people, not wanting to do anything, having decreased energy, decreased concentration and losing interest in work or other activities is a temporary situation – but if it lasts for longer than a week it should be treated as serious. For some people, this temporary lethargy can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depression caused by a biochemical imbalance due to short daylight hours and lack of sunshine during the winter months. It affects an estimated half a million people, particularly during the months of June, July and August.
To avoid SAD, it’s important not to let yourself hibernate throughout the colder months and instead continue doing the things that make you happy. It’s also a good idea to make sure you get out into the sunshine whenever you get the opportunity. Perhaps wrap up warm and take a walk during your lunch break or exercise with friends over the weekend. By keeping active, social and stress free you’ll help keep the blues at bay.
A good way to make the effort to do what you enjoy is to write a list of things that make you happy – maybe even stick it to the fridge! If you write them down you can commit to them. You might not get the time to do all of them every day but by reminding yourself of the things you love to do, you’re more likely to continue doing them.
Here are 10 things scientifically proven to make you happy – why not give them a go? Check out only-positive-news.com for more details.
- Savour everyday moments
- Avoid comparing yourself to others
- Put money low on the list
- Have meaningful goals
- Take initiative at work
- Make friends and treasure family
- Smile, even when you don’t feel like it
- Say thank you like you mean it
- Get out and exercise
- Give it away – give it away now!
And the HisBiz top 10?
- Watch a great film or TV show that you really enjoy
- Listen to your favourite piece of music
- Have a conversation with someone you have not talked to for a while, or someone new
- Write a postcard – it is a lost art
- Do some exercise
- Do something for others
- Be grateful for what you have
- Say yes to something you might normally say no to
- Spend time with loved ones
- Laugh out loud!
So what will you do this week to keep you feeling happy? Feel free to share your own tips for beating the winter blues in our comments section below.
By Malcolm Hart
A while back I was asked to write an article on music and mental health for HisBiz. Seemed like an easy ask, given that I’m a guitar teacher who sees first-hand the sheer fun that people get from making music – whether they’re good at it or not!
Now I could talk about how making music makes you happy and detail the studies that show brainwaves and ‘happy hormones’ respond positively to music. Or I could tell you about how learning guitar gives the boys I teach a ‘cool’ way to engage with their creative side. It would also be fun to recount some of the crazy jam sessions I’ve been in and how playing with other guys in a band can be like playing in a sports team.
But I can’t talk about any of that. Because from my experience, the greatest advance in the music and mental health field over the last five years has been…the sudden and totally improbable coolness of ukuleles.
You’ve probably noticed that everyone is suddenly playing uke. Bret McKenzie from the Flight of the Conchords has made a new career out of ukulele and tickets to shows by international ukulele orchestras cost as much as getting to a U2 gig. The Big Muffin Serious Band – a group of uber-talented Waikato guys who have been extolling the joys of uke for years – recently did a good-natured online eye-roll, commenting that suddenly their longtime favourite instrument is ‘the new black’.
There’s a reason for this. Ukes are 20 inches of sheer fun. I discovered uke about six months ago and have barely picked up a guitar in the evenings since. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my guitars, but ukes have this astounding ability to just cheer you up as you play. (Not bad for an instrument with only 1.5 octaves and four strings to work with!) And you don’t need to be proficient: pick up three or four easy chords on a uke and suddenly you can play about 800 songs, sounding halfway decent. (Try doing that on guitar after one night of tinkering…)
Ukes are also incredibly social instruments. You won’t have to look far to find a ukulele ensemble where you can test out your new uke skills in good company – and go out for a beer afterwards.
So: is music good for your mental health? You bet. Can you experience the benefits by just listening to it? Sure. But my tip: buy a uke and tinker about on it. Best investment in your mental health you’ll ever make.
When we take the time to listen, we find that everyday people have amazing stories to share. Some are stories of excitement, some of inspiration – and some are stories of people who have been scared half to death and made some changes as a result.
HisBiz actively encourages conversations and telling authentic stories. Sharing men’s real-life experiences is important.
Below are three men’s inspirational ‘in the moment’ stories that have been captured on video. They speak of various things that make these guys tick, have changed their lives and have taught them life lessons along the way.
If you’re a guy with a story to share, please let HisBiz know. You can email us, send us a video or we can even come out and do a quick video interview with you.
In the meantime, check out stories from Nik, Ian and Mark.
On ya bike
HisBiz talks to Nik about one of his passions – ‘On ya bike’ – as well as the physical and mental benefits of mountain biking.
Ian talks about self-employment, including some of the most challenging things about working for yourself – and tips on how to deal with them.
Being a new dad
Mark talks about being a new father, what it means to him and some of the things he’s learning along the way.