A TED.com talk. If you haven’t checked these out before they are worth a look.
What makes you, you? Is it how you think of yourself, how others think of you, or something else entirely? At TEDxYouth@Manchester, Julian Baggini draws from philosophy and neuroscience to give a surprising answer.
You can choose your friends, you can’t choose your… family
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
Confidence 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.
Credibility 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.
Currency 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Self-employment 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.
Where do new ideas come from? How do we create the right environment for a ‘eureka’ moment? And how do we make sure we act on new ideas? The process of creating and testing new ideas can be frustrating – but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s important to question whether our work environment and day-by-day business demands give us the opportunities we need to create ‘the next big thing’. As the old saying goes: “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” Ideas can come from all kinds of places. We need to create opportunities to push our idea boundaries, share our thoughts and take time to really think about things that are all around us.
One approach used to foster creativity and innovation is to go somewhere that gives you a chance to think without distractions. Some companies send staff on retreats to do this. Others send staff to an environment off-site to encourage creativity and ideas to ‘just happen’. Often even just one day out of our usual environment – and away from the work that consumes our time – can make a real difference, allowing us to bring our ‘big ideas’ out of our heads and into the light of day.
Once we have all these great ideas out in the open, the challenge is to filter out those worth investing time in – and then make them happen. This is where things get tricky: making the transition from idea to reality isn’t always an easy task. But until the process begins, nothing can really change. Many businesses move things along by having dedicated ‘business incubators’ in-house to foster new ideas and business concepts. These environments allow people to grow ideas and gain support to implement them. For businesses without this capacity, there are a number of organisations – such as Soda Inc. – that specialise in supporting businesses to turn dreams into business reality.
Ideas can be risky and can be hard to share for the fear of them not being understood or easy to action. But in both our business and personal environments, ideas need to be tried if anything is to change. The challenge is to have the confidence to voice your ideas and do something about them.
How do you take time out to create new ideas and then make sure the good ones are put into action?
‘Wellbeing’ is a word everyone can have a different understanding of. To some, it can even feel a little ‘new age’. But it may be simpler than we think…
A bit like the term ‘work/life balance’, wellbeing doesn’t have to be about always having things in a neat 50/50 split. The focus should be more about finding a balance that works for you right now.
The term wellbeing is often used when talking about health – whether that’s your physical or mental health. But it’s not just about personal health. Wellbeing is a term also used in business and is the topic of a range of business books. The Gallup Management Journalprovides some interesting reading about the essential elements of wellbeing and the business case for it.
So what is wellbeing?
According to the international best-selling book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, there are five key elements that contribute to wellbeing over a lifetime.
Career – how you occupy your time. Or simply liking what you do every day.
Social – having strong relationships and love in your life.
Financial – effectively managing your economic life.
Physical – having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis.
Community – the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live and your culture.
Essentially, this still boils down to balance. It’s about what you connect with and include in your own life to make sure you are feeling happy and balanced. It’s about doing things you like and being comfortable with them. It’s about remembering that sometimes, because of our personal situation or the economic climate we live in, we have to work hard or do things we don’t love…but that doesn’t mean the other elements can’t happen in the background, or that time cannot be found for them, at least in short bursts.
Do you have any tools or approaches you use to include the mix of wellbeing elements into your own life?
Food and cooking has undertaken a renaissance in recent years and is becoming the hobby of choice for many people, but the question still seems to be asked: can men cook?
If you watch the plethora of ‘reality’ cooking programmes, you’ll see they feature a lot of men, as judges, contestants and celebrity chefs. This really puts pay to the argument that men can’t cook. In fact, men can cook and many enjoy it.
Men in New Zealand have always cooked, albeit the method of choice was often the barbeque or fish smoker. For many men there is great satisfaction in hunting and fishing and then preparing the food they have sourced for their families and friends. After all, sharing food can be a strong bonding moment (if we take time to enjoy it) and being able to be the direct provider of this food is steeped in male tradition.
It has often been said that “Food is the way to a man’s heart” but it seems it works both ways with many men now cooking to seduce women, thanks in part to celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. It is now okay for men to be found in the kitchen and to have an appreciation for recipe books. There’s even a large number of recipe books targeted at men.
Understanding food and enjoying the experience of preparing a meal with family or friends has also become a social activity again. Preparing the meal can offer people the time to spend with each other, work in partnership or just chat - time that may be hard to come by in other ways. So even if the results are not always as expected…the recreational and social opportunities offered by cooking should be appreciated.
One recent celeb chef, Donna Hay, is even saying that the kitchen is becoming the new men’s shed.
“A lot of guys now don’t have a tinkering shed so they go out and buy lots of expensive cook wear and knives – the kitchen is their new tinkering shed.” Just think of all the new kitchen gadgets and gizmos you can now buy now. It is also pretty impressive to cook up a storm in the kitchen, with the right tools.
So if one of your hobbies is now spending time in your ‘new shed’ let us know what recipes work for you.
The hit TV show, The Biggest Loser, has inspired many groups of people to start their own versions of the competition to lose weight and get in shape. Mark Donovan, from Donavan’s Chocolates in Hamilton, talks about his experience of taking part in a Biggest Loser competition and the lessons he learned along the way…
Last year, some mates and I decided we needed to take some action towards helping to achieve a longer life. It started out as a conversation over a few beers (and salty/fattening snacks) and quickly developed into a challenge. Our wives and partners encouraged us to take it as seriously as we could.
A week later a flyer from the TLC Health and Fitness Centre in Flagstaff, Hamilton turned up in my letter box. Talk about the irony of timing! Without a second thought I let the lads know and we booked in for a tour of the gym. We quickly followed that up with an assessment of our current physical shape.
Six of us formed the gym group. We gave ourselves an initial 12-week timeframe to set about change. It’s been over six months since we started and we all still attend the gym regularly. It really helps having wives and partners who care, mates that motivate you through positive peer pressure and a strong sense of self-motivation.
There’s a countless amount of literature out there that will tell you the benefits of regular exercise, so I won’t go into the details. I will say there’s been a bit of a spin-off! Our friends who saw the physical and mental changes in us are now also motivated to train. We often rib each other about how the training is going or the type of food or beverages we’re consuming. I face the added difficulty of owning a chocolate factory where sampling is a part of my job! I do love chocolate but I have learned that less is better and that high cocoa dark chocolate, with few inclusions, can be complementary to a healthy lifestyle.
Personally, I’m thankful and grateful for having a good bunch of mates. It’s guys who ‘get you’ and who enjoy your success that you want to have close by. I also want to mention my incredible and very supportive wife Vivienne. Her background in the fitness industry and understanding of the real benefits of having a good diet are a godsend. Vivienne prepares the majority of our meals which are always a good combination of lean meats and well controlled portion sizes of the right sorts of vegetables. Naturally dessert is lovely piece of high cocoa dark chocolate (Chilli & Lime is my current favourite), or when I am really lucky some healthy homemade baking.
Dropping a few inches off the waist line has made clothes shopping more fun – and taking my shirt off at the beach this year felt good too! Feeling good inside radiates a good glow on the exterior. I use the inspirational feeling about myself as the motivation to keep going. The endorphin release from completing a tough Blitz class or smashing a workout is a feeling I love!
Using the internet as a source of information about health has become popular - but it comes with both pro’s and con’s. The need for good quality information is important. We need to remember the internet isn’t a replacement for getting yourself checked out by your GP – but it might give you the confidence to go.
There are more ways to access online health information than ever before. Smartphones, tablet computers and laptop use is increasing. The Bupa Health Pulse 2010 survey questioned more than 12,000 people in Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the United States. It found 81 per cent of those with internet access use it to search for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions.
According to a UK Men’s Health Forum survey, nearly three-quarters of Britons use the internet for gathering health information. The same survey found more than half of the men (58 per cent) use the information they find online to self-diagnose. Yet, only a quarter of men say they check where their online advice has come from! Cause to worry? Relying on inaccurate or dodgy information can easily lead to more worry, unnecessary tests and even added health risks. The UK Men’s Health Forum CEO Peter Baker expressed concern at these worrying trends and what followed was a focus on new technology as the theme for the UK’s Men’s Health Week 2011. The ‘Get A Man Online’ campaign will encourage men to use online technology, but to access good quality information. After all, smart phones and tablet computers are expected to outsell personal computers by 2012.
So, what’s happening here in New Zealand? According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Southern Cross Medical Society by TNS Conversa in 2009, an increasing proportion of New Zealanders are also using the internet to find out about medical conditions. But in New Zealand we seem to be a little more wary about relying on the information we find online… So it seems new technology and increased use of the World Wide Web is certainly helping many people find information and make informed decisions. In doing so we need to ensure we are finding good information.
Are you using the internet to access health information? What are the best sites?
The 6.3 magnitude Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011 has left us all shaken. In our small country we all have a connection to the region somehow. To those in Christchurch and those who have loved ones there – we have your backs. Our thoughts and good wishes are with you, and we’ll be right beside you supporting you to rebuild your lives and city.
There are many resources available for those affected, directly and indirectly, by the Christchurch earthquake. We’ve listed some of those under the tools and resources column on the left hand side. Most of these resources are aimed at people’s immediate wellbeing; however following traumatic events people experience strong reactions. This wellbeing support factsheet developed by the Wise Group looks at some ways of dealing with how you feel, how to support others and when to seek help. It’s a drop in the ocean given what you’re facing, but we hope you find it helpful.
For those of us outside the quake zone, it’s important to understand the trauma of major disasters like this earthquake extends beyond those directly affected - especially in a small country like New Zealand. It’s very common for people with no direct connection with the event to feel helpless, stressed and upset. Many of us are feeling like this right now!
Glen Simblett is national clinical support for Pathways – New Zealand’s largest non-government provider of community-based mental health and wellness support services. He believes the people of Christchurch are going to need our love, support and resources not just for the next few days – but for months to come. Because of this, it’s important we look after ourselves and each other, so that we can be better helpers when help is needed.
Here are some simple tips for looking after yourself, and those around you, following the Christchurch earthquake and any traumatic event.
Many people have found their feeling of helplessness is increased by watching the endless stream of footage from Christchurch. Is this really helping your personal wellbeing? Try talking to people and sharing your own stories instead.
Think about what you need to do to look after yourself today – then do it.
Be aware of people around you who may be distressed and worried about loved ones in Christchurch. Make sure they know you are there to support them if needed.
Listen and be there for each other.
At work, be a good team member – cover for others where needed.
Be constructive and restore a sense of normality where possible.
Go home at the end of each day and appreciate what we have.
Hug your children and spend time with your family.
Look after yourself and those around you.
Of course, if you’re finding that your reaction to the Christchurch quake is overwhelming, there are many ways to access professional help. Talking to your doctor or a health professional may be a good start. You can also access support through the telephone helplines and support websites listed on the left hand column of this page.
Let’s not underestimate the impact of what’s happened. Please remember to look after yourself: and let’s make sure we all look after each other so that we may be well placed to support the people of Christchurch over the weeks and months to come.
Again, our thoughts and best wishes are with you, Christchurch.
What is it with men and their sheds? Why the longstanding love of a place that is so often cluttered with household castoffs, unheated, drafty – and, usually, plonked at the shady end of the yard!? Is it because the shed has been a place to escape daily life? Is it because sheds are the place of Kiwi innovation and creation, producing world record-beaters such as the ‘World’s Fastest Indian’? Or is it because the shed is a place where men can go to share their stories and the skills they have learned over a lifetime?
Whatever the reason, men love their sheds – but somewhere along the way a lot of men lost them. In many ways the shed is becoming a casualty of modern life. We have a more disposable lifestyle, where things are often cheaper to replace than they are to fix. So skills are lost – and male role models with them. The sheds themselves are also disappearing. As property prices have skyrocketed and the way in which we live our lives has changed, less houses have sheds, which means less men have their own space to ‘potter around’ and build things.
This is where the Men’s Shed movement has come in. Over the last year HisBiz has had some insight into the current Men’s Shed movement. When HisBiz presented at the ‘Towards the Future’ seminar series at Waikato University, there was also a presentation from the Hamilton Shed. Their presentation showed that the Men’s Shed concept is fantastic, providing a place for men to spend their recreational hours simply doing something practical with other blokes.
There are Men’s Sheds around New Zealand, with new sheds popping up every day. While each shed is slightly different, they have common themes. They all involve a place where men can go to socialise/have a yarn, be creative, share ideas, share skills and spend time with other men while working.
Men’s Sheds offer men a place to talk to other men, reducing the isolation that can sometimes be experienced by men especially when they retire: when they can feel that the skills they have are no longer needed.
The sheds are also a place where men can talk about other issues, in a place where they feel safe and supported. They provide an escape from economic worries and offer a renewed sense of purpose, as men work together on projects and share skills with others across all ages and walks of life.
The sheds often offer direct practical benefits to their local communities, by making items for other community groups or people in need of support.
If you want to find out more about sheds in your areas, check out the links on the left. The sheds are always happy to have new members and ideas for projects – plus, if you happen to be clearing out your own shed, Men’s Sheds appreciate donations of tools or materials.
We live in the digital age and technology has made us work faster, more efficiently and more productively than ever before. Yet somehow, we’re more stressed than ever before.
So wouldn’t it be nice – and only fair! – if we could use advances in technology to relieve a little of the stress?
There are a gazillion products waiting to be sampled by the stressed businessman, from beds of nails and giant stress balls, to ergonomic workstations and zero gravity recliners.
But which ones, if any, actually work?
The StressEraser is essentially a high-tech breathing regulator. It will set you back around AU$220 but it seems to be money well spent, having received endorsements from well-known institutions including Wired.com and the lesser-known American Institute of Stress.
The emWave Personal Stress Reliever works on a similar premise, synchronising your breathing and heart rate to reduce stress. It is likewise well-endorsed and has had an appearance on Dr. Phil.
Even choosing a different alarm clock like the Philips Wake-Up Light can get your day off to a stress-free start. It simulates nature’s way of waking you up instead of jarring you awake like most alarms. The folk at Health.com like it.
And if these don’t work, you can always try the MindSpa, now into its sixth generation. It has a wealth of customer testimonials which may prove more valuable than those from recognised ‘experts’!
If you like your stress relief on a smaller budget, you’ll find an endless supply of cheaper products ready to add some high-tech help to your wellbeing.
The traditional stress ball has been updated with USB so now when you squeeze it, the images on your computer monitor are pulverised with reckless abandon.
Those with softer hearts (and a few more dollars) could try the Beating Heart Stress Relief Pillow. At the time of writing, this was out of stock – may be an indication of its popularity…
If you’re not relaxed after trying all these, you can google up a whole heap more – but it might also be time to turn off the tech and just get a cat!
Shopping, family, finding car parks, end-of year drinks, kids on holidays, still at work, another beer, more shopping, packing for holidays, credit cards, animals to the kennels, rich food – and where’s all our money?!
Sound familiar? If it does, maybe you need to move from the accelerator to the brake and just chill the Christmas craziness out a little. A number of websites have offered brilliant tips for taking some of the stress and strain out of Christmas. Here are some of the best…
Relationship Services has developed some great tips for enjoying the festive season – everything from making time to relax with those you love, to lightening the financial pressure on your relationship by setting a dollar limit for gifts and food. Read more.
Hubpages – a great source of everyday wisdom from a range of authors – suggests finding meaning in the season, contributing and even giving yourself a ‘vacation’ by pulling the duvet over your head and going back to sleep! Read more.
The Mental Health Foundation suggests celebrating the successes of 2010 and promoting positive messages among friends and family. They also have some great tips on beating the ‘back to work blues’ once the holidays are over. Read more.
Please remember that there is help available if the stress is getting on top of you – or your loved ones. You can talk to:
Depression Support line 0800 111 757
Lifeline 0800 543 354
Youthline 0800 376 633
Mental Health Crisis Assessment Team 0800 505050
On behalf of HisBiz, have a wonderful, safe, happy and relaxed festive season. See you in 2011!
Wayne Walford, Waikato Chamber of Commerce CEO, talks about leadership, business and making the most of all 12 months of the year.
The following article is from the Waikato Chamber of Commerce newsletter published 30 November 2010.
Are you making your year work for you or are you not productive for 20 per cent of it? I was a little alarmed when I heard someone say that they couldn’t meet in December and of course January is a waste of time – meaning they lose 20 per cent of their working year! Some may say it’s no problem if you are working harder over 10 months but I see it as an opportunity to maximise what you do and assist the management of your cash flow.
I am aware some organisations are extending closing periods to minimise the value of annual leave on their books. This is good if you have the cash flow and it suits your business model. As always, it’s about balance, conversation and leadership.
Leadership has got to be one of the most defined yet undefined concepts. We talk about it so often but do we practice it effectively? I often reflect back to a conversation I recall vividly despite it being some years ago. It was a conversation trying to put me into a box, and for those who know me, pigeon holing me is something you do at your peril. Anyway, the person asked me as part of a personality test what my leadership style was – they not only wanted to label me with a particular leadership style but they needed to find out my style to get a result. I couldn’t help but ask the question – “Why does leadership need to be one particular style when the people you work with are varied and vary sometimes daily?” I offered the concept that a leader has to be flexible in his or her style to get the best from his or her team. It was a conversation that was a little fruitless, hence the vivid memory, but it is still a conversation that sometimes appears due to one of the past definitions for leadership.
At a recent regional Chambers meeting, Michael Barnett, CEO of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce connected leadership with enabling. More than empowering, enabling. Michael says, ‘Effective leaders are enablers. They are effective leaders because they can discover or unlock ways to enable solutions to problems and issues to be found. Enabling leaders make things happen – they enable positive change. They have confidence in their ability coupled with trust, respect and self-awareness in terms of knowing what motivates people. They find the most effective way to interact with different people, to unlock resources and networks that enable a solution to a problem or issue to be found.’
The opportunity sunny days by the pool or beach do offer is the chance to reflect on the past year and enable creative inspiration for the next. Learning from missed opportunities and preparing for ‘intentional victories’, to use the words of Lance Armstrong’s right-hand-man Dr Jeff Spencer.
Dr Jeff says his recipe for success is a mix of agreement within the team, innovation, reality and flexibility. The idea is not to strive for perfection – this is a myth according to Dr Jeff – it’s to train hard, do your homework, trust in your preparation, and the test will be easy.
The most important part is to enjoy the ride so you can really enjoy the victory
Upgrading your mobile phone can be a big decision. There are so many products to choose from! The three biggest players in the telecommunication market, Android (Google), Windows and iPhone (Apple) are all battling it out for your hard earned dollar. And it seems no sooner that you’ve purchased your new phone and there is a newer version or upgrade available.
Brand loyalty is one of the biggest influencers on which mobile phone you choose. Many of the mobile phone brands have very loyal customers who buy their phones based on personal preference and not necessarily on performance. Who could imagine ten years ago that people would queue overnight for a phone?
Selecting a new mobile phone can be an important business decision. While all the phone operating systems allow you to make calls, access your emails and the internet, some phones can even help you increase your productivity and complete business tasks. For example, new features such as GPS tracking have made it easier for logistics companies to plan and track deliveries in transit.
There are many factors to consider in your mobile phone purchase. How often will you need to upgrade? What is the best value for money? What applications or functions do I want on my phone? Which is the best operating system? Reviews can be a great way to learn about the pros and cons of a product and often provide a different perspective.
So what’s your view? Give us your review on the best ‘phone or operating system in the comments section below and we’ll provide a prize for the review we judge the best! Remember to leave your contact details so we can contact you if you are the winner!
Taking it on the gloves for charity, by Graeme a.k.a. ‘The Hitman’
In 2010, I did something rather scary and challenging for myself: I entered the Canteen Fight for Life, which is a charity fundraising boxing event. After many weeks of hard graft, sweat and poundings through sparring practice, I finally made it to the event. It was a huge occasion with over 1200 people packing out the event centre, plus entertainers, film crews, charity auctions – and then there was this floodlit boxing ring dominating the packed scene…
There was a long wait between bouts, which certainly didn’t calm the nerves for some boxers, but I felt relatively calm and quietly excited. Later in the night I caught sight of my opponent, who was a heavily built individual weighing in at a massive 118 kilograms. He was broad and stocky and went by the name of ‘Sid Vicious’. To up the psychology game I wore a tall cowboy hat and an elegant flowing Hawaiian shirt which gave the appearance that I was taller than I really was. Having fixed my bead on Sid Vicious I walked passed him giving the impression that I was six foot five. In the corner of my eye I could see him look up at me – I think my perceived height took him back a bit…
(This was a tactic that I learnt from the readings of the ancient Samurai Warrior Myo Moto Musashi, who was renowned for his employment of psychological warfare before he would engage in combat.)
We both came into the arena with our respective songs stereo-blasted to the excited and somewhat drunkard crowds… The whole occasion started to take on the appearance of some gladiatorial joust in ancient Rome. Each of us were introduced by our fight names: ’Sid Vicious’ and ‘The Hitman’. Supporters for each fighter were parked in their respective places. Vicious Sid’s people cheered long and loudly and their noise seemed to take an eternity to die down. I think my people booed me when I was introduced. They are truly the best friends that money can buy!
Anyway the bell rang and we both came out, eyes glazed and nostrils flared, circling and feinting, feinting and circling… This continued for the entire first round without a single shot being fired. When the bell rang to end the round the intensity increased as we each exchanged harsh expletives and shook gloves at each other before making our way to the corners.
“For God’s sake ‘Hitman’ this is a boxing match not a dance!” bellowed my trainer. “See if you can hit the bugger in this round!”
The second round started much the same as the first, full of nostrils and eyes. We were both nearing exhaustion and started to lean on each other. Contact had finally been made, the crowd began to stir! But before things became interesting the bell rang to end the second round.
This time we were on notice by the referee. “If you guys don’t start throwing punches I’ll disqualify you both,” he grumbled. We nodded, agreed and resolved to make this round significant.
This time the gloves really did fly and we managed to hit each other on the gloves with amazing frequency. The crowd responded accordingly – with gales of laughter!
The bell rang, the ref ran between us and we glared over at each other one more time. Within a matter of a few seconds the ref lifted my arm high in the air: the fight was awarded to me.
I thought the fight was too close to call but according to the judges I had managed to hit him on the gloves more times than hit me on the gloves.
Later I learnt that Vicious Sid was close to retiring before the third round due to being slugged in the ear by his own trainer.
There you have it: my story as a boxer. Something out of the ordinary for me. According to one ‘helpful’ critic, it was the sort of bout that would remain memorable for things other than boxing.
Most of us could benefit from being more active, and now the Royal College of Psychaitrists has given us another reason! A recent report from the group of United Kingdom psychiatrists links mental illness with a greater risk of physical illness… and shows that physical illness in turn increases the risk of mental illness.
New Zealand is a country that provides many opportunities for getting active – especially in the summer months. With easy access to cycle ways and mountain bike trails in New Zealand, cycling is a great and, once you have a bike, relatively low cost way to get active. Check out Trade Me for some potetntially great deals on bikes. You may even be inspired to take part in the Bike Wise challenge in February 2011.
One HisBiz member has started his own cycling group via Facebook. Called ‘On ya Bike’ the group is is all about encouraging social mountain biking opportunities. The group founder, Nik Andre, is based in Rotorua – home to many fantastic mountain biking tracks!
Nik has found cycling to be a great tool for supporting his own wellbeing and managing the stress and strain of every day life. “Not only does it provide a great social connection, but On ya bike also encourages people to have some fun and use exercise to help manage stress, anxiety and depression. Getting your body moving helps create energy and improves your mood. Obviously, if you’re feeling stressed, depressed or generally frazzled exercise probably seems like the last thing you want to do, but once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference!”
Nik is keen to expand the group and is trying to source some bikes to loan to people so they can try out the sport. Afterall, Rotorua has some of the world’s best mountain biking trails in the world!
So if you think you are up to the challenge check the On ya bike Facebook page, which can be accessed via the HisBiz Facebook page. You can also check out Nik on the HisBiz YouTube Channel.
Let us know of any cycling activities that you may be completing over the summer via the comments section below. Has anyone tried out the new cycle track between Cambridge and Lake Karapiro?
The ‘silly season’ is almost upon us! The shops, malls and streets are starting to be adorned with Christmas decorations and the radio stations are dusting off their Christmas jingles. In the busy lives many of us lead the year flies by and we don’t notice until Christmas is almost here.
Every year at this time there is discussion and even debate about the meaning of Christmas. For some of us Christmas is no longer a time of joy and happiness. The time pressures and additional financial demands mean that for some Christmas is actually a time of great stress and strain.
It’s important to remember often the biggest gift you can give at this time of year is your focus on and time with the people you love. Slow down, stop and as John Kirwan recently said at his book launch “enjoy the little things”.
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.
Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.
The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
So you had ‘the great idea’ – the big business idea that would set you free into a life of flexible self-employment. No more employment contract, boss or daily grind for you…
Six months down the track and you’re discovering the hard way that no employment contract means no sick pay, no holiday pay and, sometimes, no holidays full stop. Down time is a distant memory and achieving any work-life balance at all looks impossible. How do you cope? How do you manage the stress of being the place where the buck stops? What do you do if the cash stops flowing?
This can be the dark side of running your own business. Not to go all doom on gloom on people, but there is often conflict when you manage yourself – and it can be hard to know who to turn to when times are tough. If your business and personal support networks are the same, it’s likely both you and those networks might be getting overloaded and stressed.
Surprisingly, as a starting point, you might want to look at the issue from the perspective of an employee. A recent online survey found that four out of five New Zealand employees felt that work-life balance was achievable. But 44 per cent of those felt that it was up to them to make it work. They said that they had to be the ones who instigated or made the most of any flexible working arrangements or wellbeing initiatives their employers provided.
Those who are self-employed – either as a sole trader or as a business owner employing others – need to take the same proactive approach to achieving work-life balance.
Start by removing any sense of isolation. This is critical, especially in the current economic environment where confidence is fluctuating. People need to know you; and you need to know what’s happening outside the immediate sphere of your business. Hook into your local Chamber of Commerce networks, which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and connect with other business people.
It’s also a great idea to find and engage a business mentor. This doesn’t have to be a paid arrangement (it could be just regularly having coffee with an older, wiser, more experienced friend) but it should be an accountable one.
At HisBiz we believe if you’re to achieve work-life balance, it’s critical to be able to connect with how your business makes you feel on all levels and talk about the personal side of business.
You can also check out the web for a heap of great ideas – start with the links on the left side of this page then Google some more!
However you do it, don’t just mind your own business: also be aware of your mind. It’s the most important business asset you have.
Does this topic ring some bells with you? Post a comment! We’d all welcome tips, tricks and discussions on how to achieve work/life balance as a self-employed business person.
The hours you spend at work are possibly the highest stress point of your day but the workday commute can come a very close second.
Whether you spend a significant amount of time driving to and from work, or travel a lot during the day, time in the car is singularly unproductive – other than getting you from A to B.
The radio can provide a comfortable accompaniment to your driving, but whether it’s top 10 or talkback, the benefits to your wellbeing are limited.
Which is why more people are turning to audiobooks.
Audiobooks are nothing new – the term ‘books on tape’ has been around for a long time – but have become more and more popular with advances in digital audio technology.
Since a CD can only hold around 80 minutes of uncompressed audio, books like the Harry Potter series can require around 20 disks which can be a bit unwieldy.
The advent of compressed audio formats like MP3, OGG and WMA has meant audio books can now be made sufficiently small to download, or for a whole series to fit on a single CD.
Finding time to relax and read a good book is a luxury that often eludes us, with the busy lifestyles of today — finding enough time to sleep is difficult enough sometimes!
So that unproductive time behind the wheel could be put to better use - breezing through a best-seller, getting some perspective on your work life with a business book or improving your wellbeing with a personal development tome.
Audiobooks are available from a variety of sources – check your local library for starters. The internet is a gold mine of audiobooks, free and paid, and ipod owners will find an audiobook section in iTunes.
The benefits are evident – wasted time becomes productive time, it helps you to multi-task, hearing the words can be a great way to get through material that is difficult to read, and the improvements to your wellbeing that come from having finished a great book!
Johnny-Angel Eneliko Laulu, Pathways mobile support worker
Johnny-Angel knows what it’s like to deal with the curve balls that life can throw. With personal experience of mental illness, Johnny’s an excellent role model to the many people who use Pathways’ services and in fact, the community. He’s a man that has faced adversity, but with support, friends and family…and a love of art and drama, he’s come through it flourishing!
Born in New Zealand and from a family of seven, Johnny describes himself as New Zealand/Samoan/Chinese. He was raised in Grey Lynn, Auckland and throughout his teenage years he was involved in many extra-curricular activities. From church choirs and musical dramas through to youth outreach programmes and outdoor sports, Johnny was significantly a part of his community.
In his third year of study at teacher’s training college, Johnny became mentally ill and retreated from the community he’d been such a big part of. “I didn’t know what was happening to me,” he says. “I remember I could not sleep and it was the first time I stayed up overnight and watched the sun come up.” Johnny had many more months of not sleeping. “I looked like a zombie. I didn’t shower or brush my teeth. I gained weight then I lost weight. I quit teachers college. I left my church. I didn’t want to see my friends or even my close family anymore.”
Johnny went through some pretty hard times and started talking negatively to himself. “I blamed everything and everyone for being like this. I became suicidal…that’s when my sister rang Auckland District Health Board’s Crisis Team.”
Under 24-hour supervision, Johnny began to feel safe again. “I was monitored and given routine, medication and support in my sleeping patterns,” he says. Johnny was diagnosed as having manic depression or bipolar affective disorder. A time he describes as the “most horrific time of my life”.
It was the support of Johnny’s family and friends that made a big difference to his recovery. “While in hospital my sisters and brothers came and talked to me about how much they loved and missed me – the old happy, singing Johnny,” he says. Johnny’s elder sister gave him a place to live, cooked his meals and took him to his clinical appointments. “The psychiatrist and occupational therapists were helpful,” says Johnny, “I was able to love my life again and appreciate who I was.”
In fact, it was the significance of this support Johnny received during his wellness journey that sparked one of his highlights of 2010. Johnny has been a large part of the Like Minds, Like Mine antidiscrimination television campaign. “The focus is on the importance of family and friends to be there and stay involved,” says Johnny. It’s something he knows only too well.
During this time of being unwell Johnny was also supported by Pathways’ peer support programme where he was introduced to Workwise Employment Agency. “I told him [Workwise employment consultant] I was an artist/actor/singer,” says Johnny. “He didn’t put me down, tell me to be realistic or that acting wasn’t a real job. I had the courage to tell him I had bi-polar…he encouraged me and told me I had done a lot in life and had good skills.”
With the support of his family and both Pathways and Workwise Johnny went on to create a comic book - The Adventures of Afi the First Samoan Superhero, as a way of creating a role model for young children and encouraging them to make good decisions. He was also selected to perform in the TV2 Stars in their Eyes singing competition, he’s been involved in animation of the Bro Town television series, and he’s had acting roles on Shortland Street, Sione’s Wedding and Underworld 3!
Soon he was working with a Workwise employment consultant to find employment.
In 2005 Johnny trained and graduated as a Pathways peer support specialist and in 2008 he was offered his now full-time role as a mobile support worker. “I was unemployed for 13 years. I used to say I was happy, but I never knew the happiness employment gives…poverty happiness I know, employment happiness I live,” says Johnny.
Now Johnny is supporting others through their journeys – and art, singing and acting continues to play a big part. Johnny has been key in forming a Pathways band called the Open Music Group and has supported many people to achieve their dreams including recording albums or doing training “Listening and creating music with people who have a gift in music is something I love doing. It’s so rewarding seeing a person share their dream,” he says.
Knowing he’s been in the shoes of the people he’s supporting makes a real difference too. “The highs are seeing the persons face after I have supported them, and the smile and handshake when they say thank you for being with me today,” says Johnny. “Because I have helped myself, it’s great to give back and support another person in the community.”
Johnny has been through a lot, and he’s supported others through a lot too. He doesn’t do things in halves and makes the most of every day. “I’m glad to be alive. I live life to the fullest and enjoy my family and friends,” he says. “I’ve heard a saying that tomorrow never comes, but I have learnt that tomorrow does come. I enjoy today and look forward to what tomorrow will bring.”
Different forms of alcohol have been around since humans mixed water with grain and trod on grapes. Many of us like to enjoy a beer or two after work, or at the end of the week. In fact, it’s not uncommon for alcohol to be a preferred method of relaxation and a way of ‘de-stressing’. In moderation it’s not a bad thing and can even have some positive effects.
Beer continues to be a preferred drink for men. The trouble is as we get less active and the beer drinking catches up with us…so does the problem ‘beer gut’. As we often hear, it’s not what we’re drinking but how (more alcohol, less activity) that can often lead to its occurrence.
Like many drinks we consume, many of us generally don’t read the label – even though the information is there. Apart from the alcohol level, we often don’t know what impact the drink has on our bodies. There are no obvious labels on beer warning of the impacts if over consumed!
Low carb, low alcohol and ‘light’ beers have become popular during the last few years. These are aimed at those of us conscious of maintaining our shape, or at least trying to, whilst still enjoying a drink. It may be a trend, but it’s a small change that could help keep things in check.
So what do the terms ‘light’ and ‘low carb’ really refer to?
Low alcohol and light beer The term ‘light’ has no relationship to the weight of the beer! It’s all about the amount of alcohol. A ‘light’ beer contains less than three per cent alcohol. Low alcohol beer contains less than 1.15 per cent. Remember….just because each beer contains less alcohol, doesn’t mean you should drink more!
Low carb There is not currently a standard measurement for low carbohydrate beer. Most beers have around seven grams of carbs per standard can/bottle (330ml). ‘Low carb’ beer has less than seven grams of carbs - usually around four grams. There is no difference to the alcohol content. Some people say it tastes different, but often they get used to the taste over time.
If you or someone you know is drinking too much you may like to check out www.likeadrink.org.nz. This new Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand website is aimed at helping people who have experienced issues with the amount they drink. On this site you can access the real life stories of young New Zealanders as they talk about their experiences with alcohol – funny, gruesome, sad and hopeful stories that will hopefully be of some help to others who are worried about their alcohol drinking habits.
Have you found yourself under pressure to provide a multitude of products and services to a vast array of clients? Feeling run-ragged as you try to deliver? Trying to be ‘all things to all men’ is fruitless and you may be doing yourself and your clients an injustice.
Reputation advisor and author Hannah Samuel explains you’re far better to develop a laser-focus on the one or two things you are outstanding at, and exceed the needs and wants of a smaller number of clients or customers. This will keep coming back for more and recommending others to you.
Although you may be reluctant initially to narrow your options for fear of missing opportunities, the benefits of being niche are tremendous.
You become expert at what you do because that’s all you do.
You may enjoy yourself more as your depth of knowledge deepens and you become more highly skilled.
You become more memorable and ‘top of mind’ when needed.
Your products, services, messages and positioning are more clearly defined and better understood.
You are able to differentiate yourself more clearly from supposed competitors.
You are less likely to be distracted by ‘opportunities’ that consume time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.
Your perceived value and worth increases and you’re likely to be able to charge higher prices for proven greater value.
If you haven’t identified your niche yet - it’s worth doing. Niches may be industry or sector specific; product, service or expertise specific; location, demographic or activity specific for example.
It’s tempting to think the broader the offering(s) you provide the more clients and customers you’ll attract, but the reverse is true. The more niche you are the more attractive, and valuable, you become.
'Generalists' face more competition than niche providers and often find themselves being compared with others fairly or unfairly. Niche providers rarely have these challenges. Business and opportunity comes to them because of their reputation for being the best in their field. Of course it goes without saying that you have to deliver high-value, high-quality products or services that meet or exceed your client or customer’s expectations on time, every time. If you don’t customers will be unlikely to use you again, or recommend you, and it won’t matter how niche you are, they'll simply find another provider.
Trying to be all things to everyone is a recipe for disaster. Be known for being outstanding at what you do and you’ll have people queuing up to tap you on the shoulder and engage with you. So, what’s your niche?
Copyright Hannah Samuel. All rights reserved. Originally published in Reputationz Newsletter October 2010 by Hannah Samuel, The Reputation Champion. www.hannahsamuel.com
With the current situation in Christchurch we must recognise that the results of this event will remain for years in many ways, including potential post-traumatic stress. Tony is a man with experience of the trauma of a natural disaster: one year on from the tsunami in Samoa, he tells his story of survival and the longer-term impact of the event.
“It’s a year since our narrow escape from the tsunami that struck Samoa Sept 29 2009. After the quake that rocked the beach fales, it was seeing and hearing the thunderous roar of the approaching wall of water that kicked us in to action. We grabbed the kids (girls 12 and 14) from their beds and ran across the village and up the steep rocky hill, just ahead of the surging wave.
I responded as a father and partner desperate to protect my family and myself. We made it okay, with a few cuts and bruises. Many didn’t.
During that long day, I remember moving from stunned shock, to finding ways to help, to needing to talk, needing to listen to others’ stories, experiencing waves of fear and panic when distant rumbling traffic passed. I remember being unable to sleep while I strained to hear whether the noises beyond the quiet of the night could be trusted.
Not long back in the routines of home and work, New Zealand had warnings of a tsunami. We very quickly packed bags and pulled the family together. I felt a bit silly at times – being so ready to head for high ground.
Most people wanted to hear our story, and I developed different versions; the full colour version complete with acting-it-out and sound effects (a kind of catharsis that was good for me!); the selected highlights story (shorter and longer versions available); and the “earthquake – big wave – ran like hell up the hill – survived!” version. Some people wanted lots of details, others used it as an opportunity to tell their own (or other’s) survivor stories. At times it was good to talk; at times I was over it.
We were looked after by a local family for two nights after the event, and then flew home. It was weird not being able to see the place where it happened, talk to the people who would carry on living in Saleapaga, not being able to help directly. We kept in contact with our kind hosts and sent money back. This helped us feel a bit connected – and that we were doing something.
There was another family that we ‘survived’ with, from Auckland, and we’ve kept in touch, and visited with each other. It’s strange, but good to have friends like this.”
There’s no P in Hamilton. This is just one of the messages that groups gathering at a P Free Hamilton workshop came up with on Friday.
The workshop organised by The People’s Project was designed to bring together community groups, people and organisations to take a real stand against P in our community. “This is not a problem that one person or one group can solve alone” says Nicki Martin facilitator of the P Free Hamilton workshop. “Only working together, sharing our skills, knowledge and resources can we really make a difference for our community.”
P is a highly addictive drug that is impacting on all sections of our society. It has increased crime rates, destroyed relationships, careers and families. Those at the forefront of community services see the devastating impact it has on lives every day.
Friday’s workshop saw representatives from health and mental health providers, police, Hamilton City Council, the Ministry of Social Development, Housing NZ, students, pharmacy groups, education providers, community and business groups all working together to develop ideas and strategies to make Hamilton P Free.
Attendees at the workshop were given the story of three different people’s experience of P. In teams they defined the underlying problems that had led to P addiction. The groups then developed ideas and strategies about how as a community we could help people become P free.
The responses from attendees have been overwhelmingly positive. Amanda MacGillycuddy from Anglican Action said she found it great. “I could really see how the ideas generated could work in the community.” Mike Holloway from MSSAT enjoyed the relaxing but fast moving workshop and says he “felt that it came out with good results”.
The next step for P Free Hamilton is to take these ideas and turn them into a plan of action. “For P Free Hamilton to be a success we all have to be committed to action, to do our part, however small to make it a reality for our community” says Nicki Martin.
If you would like to join the fight against P with ideas, services or people power then contact The People’s Project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purpose. It’s a pretty simple word, but it’s one that packs a serious punch when you think about it.
What is your purpose? What gets you out of bed each day and excited about what you do? And if what you do doesn’t get you excited, why are you doing it?
Consider your purpose. Consider the purpose of your business or workplace. Do you and your staff, or you and your employer share the same purpose?
Not all businesses have the purpose of just making money or being slightly better than the competition. What about having the purpose of changing how your business operates within the boundaries of your industry?
Just think about some of the businesses, people or ideas that have really changed the way things are done. Google, Cranium, Trade Me and films like Avatar to name a few.
People buy into purpose on many different levels, but arguably without some form of purpose it’s difficult to achieve business or personal satisfaction.
This short video looks at the importance of purpose in the workplace.
If you run a business with more than five people the likelihood is that someone will have experience of a mental illness. It could even be you!
Depression affects one in five New Zealanders. It doesn’t discriminate against race, religion, sex, rich or poor. While men are more likely than women to recognise the physical symptoms, such as being overtired, we’re less likely to think of these symptoms as depression. We’re also less likely to ask for help.
Many famous New Zealand men have now publicly disclosed their struggle with depression. They’ve talked about how they’ve learned to not only accept it – but celebrate this as part of who they are. People such as John Kirwan (www.depression.org.nz), Mike King, Dave Gibson (www.thelowdown.co.nz) and Sir Richard Hadley have all openly talked about their personal experiences.
It’s becoming more and more ok, but still many people choose not to talk about their experiences with depression or mental illness because of the attitudes and stigma they may face. What will my family, friends, staff, customers, suppliers think? How will they react? What will my employer say? What if they turn me away? What if they laugh? These are all questions that may run through a person’s mind as they consider asking for support.
If a family member, colleague, business partner, customer or friend tells you they’re depressed or unwell, how will you react?
We should all remember that most people will go through periods of feeling sad or even depressed. It’s completely normal. If these feelings are intense or persistent, it may be time to look for help - and that can be a difficult thing for us blokes to do. For more information about depression, the signs and symptoms and where to find help visit www.depression.org.nz. To talk to a trained counsellor you can call the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757.
Time. There’s never enough of it. We’ve all felt like that before.
Research shows one of the main barriers to taking part in regular sport or a recreation activity is time. This was recently highlighted by SPARC’s Obstacles to Action.
The research showed the biggest perceived barrier (or excuse…) to regularly getting active was lack of time - usually due to work. This was followed by a lack of encouragement and health problems.
As adults and fathers we often spend a lot of time supporting others, such as our children, to be involved in sport and don’t focus ourselves – even though we know there are benefits to our physical and mental health in doing so.
So, is it that we’re really lacking in time, or is that just our perception? Many gyms are now open 24 hours a day and there is no time limit on the walkways and pavements. Do we need to think about whether time is the real issue after all? Should we, in fact, be simply making a commitment to ourselves to change our routines.
The SPARC study found that key motivators for keeping fit include a belief that physical activity is good for your health and therefore a desire to keep in shape, and importantly, encouragement from others. So why not join a sports team, club or group? Joining others like this can make keeping our commitment to ourselves easier. If others are relying on us it’s harder to say no. The beauty of peer pressure! Try it…you might enjoy the change.
If you’re still not keen to move away from your computer and onto the sports field just yet, check out www.activesmart.co.nz – a great tool to create your very own personalised training programme. It’s free and it will even give you a weather update so you won’t melt if it rains!
Sleep. Many of us don’t get enough of it. And we all know life gets a little harder when we don’t. According to the 2009 HisBiz survey 63 per cent of respondents said they sometimes have broken sleep patterns - 15% regularly.
Poor sleep can be caused by many factors, but often it’s an indicator of what else is happening in our lives such as stress, snoring, anxiety, pain or prostate problems. If sleep problems are ongoing it can be important to think more about what’s causing the issue. You can find out more about sleeping disorders including daytime sleepiness and sleep apnoea via the following websites:
Everyone has heard of the 3 R’s – of one kind or another. At school there was reading, writing and arithmetic. The customer service code of practice talks about retention, related sales and referrals; or there’s the alternative for the non-commercial and public sector - responsive, reliable and respectful.
Now, there’s – recognise, relate, respond. This is the catch cry of a new programme called MH101 which aims to give people the confidence to recognise, relate and respond to people experiencing mental illness.
For those in customer service, or frontline staff working with people from a wide variety of backgrounds on a day-to-day basis the workshop could be extremely valuable. After all, mental illness is extremely common. About half of the people living in New Zealand will experience mental illness at some time in their lives. Generally, people want to help but don’t know how.
MH101 has been developed by Blueprint for Learning – one of New Zealand’s leading inspirational training providers in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors. It teaches participants what to do and when in order to support clients, colleagues, family and friends with mental illness. During the workshop learners:
gain an understanding of the experience of mental illness
learn strategies and get tools for maintaining your own mental health, as well as the wellbeing of others
learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness
develop an understanding of how your reactions can impact on the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of others
learn how to respond wisely in any given situation, including the risk of suicide
learn where and when to get professional help.
Blueprint for Learning is holding a HisBiz MH101 workshop on 30 July 2010. Places are limited so register now with email@example.com
You’ve paid upwards of $1000 for a productivity tool you can hold in your hand – phone, internet, ipod all in one - but it’s the apps that make the iPhone the best handheld entertainment device since the Gameboy.
And there’s plenty available, at last count there were around 150,000 apps available for download, most for the bargain price of 99 US cents or better still, for free!
The Top 148 Free iPhone Applications website is the first result in Google, so you can be reasonably confident of their sources - although why a ‘shut up’ button would be sitting at number 1 is anyone’s guess. The site also lists the going up / going down statistics for each app so is certainly not a static list.
If all that downloading doesn’t flatten your battery, the next place to visit is Free App Alert – a website that has a daily list of paid apps that have been made free for a limited period. Sign up to get email alerts and you can spend that time waiting for your latte each morning to check and download the latest collection.
And if you’re looking for a way to improve your workplace wellbeing, there’s a plethora of apps at your fingertips – first up has to be the stress-relieving Bubblewrap app (made in NZ) which offers great prizes in addition to popping away the stress.
Iamhappy provides positive affirmations at every shake, while SavySoda’s vibrating massager may be the five minute massage you need between meetings.
A police detective, he’d just retired with a comfortable pension, was happily married with four high achieving adult children and a grandchild. His extended family were a social and supportive group that always found a reason to gather for a weekend or two each year.
Mike had a strong interest in coaching young people and had been a mentor to many of the young staff at the police station. He was involved in his local church, athletics, football, golf, swimming, badminton and other community organisations.
Earlier in the year before his death Mike had taken some time off with depression; but had returned to work. When it came time for his retirement celebration dozens of people from the community and police force turned out to honour him.
The week Mike died he played golf with his brothers. They noticed he’d only speak when spoken to and were concerned when he left the golf club unannounced after the game. His older brother followed him to their father’s home, but again Mike left suddenly and his brother decided to respectfully leave him alone for a bit.
The next night, Friday, Mike confirmed with his wife they would take his father away for a holiday the following week. On Saturday morning he discussed the family plans for the day, before heading to the police station to finalise some paperwork. He had a cuppa with the lads then excused himself saying he had work to complete in an office. Instead Mike picked up a firearm from the police armoury and shot himself.
His colleagues were shocked. Mike had worked at the same police station for 30 years. The only clues to his thoughts of suicide were his earlier bout of depression and his quiet demeanour when playing golf with his brothers.
The shopping area of Mike’s town closed for the two hours of his funeral. A third of the town – more than one-thousand people came to pay their respects to a man the media described as a “mainstay of the local community.”
Mike leaves a stunned and confused family. A family who are continually searching for answers and questioning what more they could have done. They grieve deeply for the future they expected to share with Mike that has so tragically changed. Forever.
Some businesses just seem to create incredible growth with no obvious signs. What’s their secret?
If there is a silver bullet to business, it is the way you treat your customers and the value they perceive from interacting with you. Little or no capital outlay is required – all you need is a great attitude that runs through the whole of your business. It’s about meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations. With a great attitude and a smile, you will be amazed how easy it is.
The following are a few easy tips to help you provide the ultimate customer experience.
A workplace that is having fun is a workplace that is achieving higher productivity, has lower sick leave and is a draw card to customers.
Customers are your biggest advocate. If they perceive they have had an extraordinary customer experience with you and your team, they will tell others about it.
Appreciate your staff before they add job-hunting websites to their internet favourites. Let them know you notice what they do and celebrate their successes.
Loyal staff who feel valued are mobile sign boards for your business. You have no idea who they are socialising with - it could lead to the next big contract or a connection enabling you to exceed the goals in your business plan.
All it takes is for you to drive a strong customer experience culture through your organisation, from CEO up, down and throughout, to achieve a more positive difference between budget and actual
The Waikato Chamber of Commerce is actively supporting the celebration of organisations that generate excellent customer experience. Go to the Chamber website (www.waikatochamber.co.nz) for a link to the Awesome Service Awards. Here you’ll read read more about companies already experiencing the benefits of treating their customers well. Of course you can also learn more about the value of being a Waikato Chamber of Commerce member.
New initiative sees business and wellbeing worlds collide!
…from October 2009
An idea sparked by discussions around the impact of the current recession on businessmen in the Waikato is gaining traction.
We’ve all heard the media reports. People have not only felt the recession pinch financially, but they’ve experienced the health and psychological effects – either on themselves, their families, friends or colleagues.
Now, a group of Waikato businesses, including Workwise and the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, have started HisBiz. The group aims to explore the wider impacts of the recession and issues facing men today, looking at ways of creating better networks and supporting local business to be more successful.
The HisBiz group are currently hosting a round of ‘Bloke’s Breakfast’ events and running an online survey to gather ideas and thoughts about what men want from a business network.
From this valuable information HisBiz aims to establish a series of exciting events and create a website targeted at Kiwi businessmen. The website is expected to be a valuable networking tool as well as provide information and discussion around business health, personal wellbeing and a range of other topics from sport to technology!
We all know time is in high demand, so don’t worry – the survey is quick and painless!