Disconnect To Reconnect

You are at your most creative in the early part of the day.

You are fresh, full of ideas and clear-headed enough to create and to plan, (well that’s what should happen if you have a good night’s sleep!). Our bodies conveniently run on a natural circadian rhythm, thanks to your hypothalamus, that dictates your natural rise and fall in energy and creativity.

Yet many of us do all we can to sabotage our body’s natural rhythms by overloading our senses with digital input.


Does the following timeline sound familiar to you?

6.00am : We wake.  Our body tells us when it’s good to be creative and when it’s time to rest. Waking from a good night’s sleep we are naturally READY TO CREATE…..

6.01am: Many of us sleep with our phones next to our bed and the first thing we do on waking is bombard our sensitive brains with the latest updates or notifications on our immediately locatable digital device. Add this digital addiction to our body’s natural rhythms and creativity starts to fade into obscurity. CREATIVITY DIMMED…..

8.00am: Many of us head to work or to our desks with great ideas and plans for the day. We then open our email accounts and magically, within an hour or so, our enthusiasm is dulled or side-lined by other’s queries, issues or demands. CREATVITY FADING…..

1.00pm: In the afternoon, we often become tired and the environmental influences around us (heating, office equipment, staff) start to wear down our natural enthusiasm. It is a common phenomenon after lunch that our body clocks will tell us in no uncertain terms it is time to snooze. And in some countries of course they do! CREATIVITY NIL…..

I think many of us can identify with all or part of the above pattern. And yet when we first wake every morning, our body’s biological rhythm is predisposed to creative output.

Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs are well known for being early risers and for meditating, exercising, writing or creating before most of us have even thought about that first cuppa. 21 Successful People Who Wake Up Early

When you are at your most creative you are inspired, intelligent, clear and full of productivity. It is when real change can happen, when new ideas are hatched and when great, life-changing decisions are often made.

So we have gathered the latest research, added a touch of common sense and logic, and developed a plan to see you through this second quarter of the business year with great results.

Our Top Tips For Creativity

On Waking:

  • Leave your phone! Tell your family and close friends to use the landline in an absolute emergency. There will be no reason, therefore to check your phone.
  • Stretch and take some time to be mindful of where you are and how you feel. Try journaling your intentions for the day.
  • Instead of reaching for your phone, listen to music. Music is a great tool for unlocking your creativity. It helps to stimulate the part of the brain that controls motor actions, emotions and creativity. According to Don Campbell’s book The Mozart Effect, listening to Mozart can increase creativity, concentration and other cognitive functions.
  • Get outside. The neuroscientist David Strayer advocates walking, hiking or running for high-level creative thinking. “You let the prefrontal cortex rest, and all of a sudden these flashes of insight come to you. It supports creativity, positive wellbeing [and] reductions in stress. There are all kinds of reasons why it’s helpful.”
  • Allocate a timeframe to respond to messages and catch up on the news before or after breakfast, then get on with your day.

At Work

  • If you’re in an office space or team make it clear that you are not to be distracted between 9 and 11am. Don’t look at your emails, put your phone on silent and focus on OUTPUT not INPUT.
  • Be totally strict, no exceptions, unless emergencies. Everything can wait. If you are in an environment where immediate answers are often sought, narrow your timeframe or scatter 30 minutes of ‘disconnection’ throughout your morning.
  • Schedule all meetings and phone calls for later in the morning or afternoon.
  • Recruit the assistance of others to support your plans. Or make it a company policy.
  • Go back to pen and paper. Turn your back on digital for a few hours and use those old-fashioned tools of creativity and communication.

It really is about choice. You can choose to do the same thing and expect the same results. Or you can change up your morning routine and try a different approach.

To get your morning off to an explosive start, disconnect. Leave your phone, laptop or emails and just work. Do the work you’d do if you weren’t answering questions from others. Do the work that is aligned with getting your visions and plans off the ground. Do the work that is creative and will drive your business forward. And leave the digital distractions behind so they don’t cloud your productivity, or at least learn to make digital work FOR you and not AGAINST you!

Which Wolf Are You?

You will have seen this photo before I’m sure.

The interpretation that goes with the image goes along these lines:

The three wolves in front are old and sick, walking in front to set the pace of the group lest they get left behind. The next five are the strongest and fittest, tasked with the role of protecting the whole group. The largest pack in the middle are always protected from any attack. The last group are also among the strongest and fittest; positioned to protect the group from the back side in an attack.

The last wolf is the leader. He ensures no one is left behind. He keeps the pack unified and on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect and serves as bodyguard to the whole group. Symbolic of the theory that true leadership is not about being out in front and being the visible leader.

It means taking care of the team.

Sorry to destroy the myth, but this story is just a modern fabrication of one theory of animal behaviour. No-one knows the source and, likely, there is some truth to the theory. Animals have innate behaviours developed to protect the whole pack. Like tribal behaviour in many ancient cultures, and some modern, this team mentality is not just an attitude, it is platform upon which all other actions and behaviours are developed.

Drawing parallels to modern day business, where do you place yourself in the line of wolves? In large businesses, the front running team are often the directors, management and investors; older, slower, less in touch with modern technologies, removed from what is actually happening at other levels. These people feel like leaders, behave like the leaders their icons and predecessors did and rarely look back.

The second group could be likened to middle management, tasked with following the leaders closely whilst also trying to manage the group behind. This group are often too busy to develop their own skills or find time to train, learn and develop new ideas as they feel pressure from the leaders to implement their policies.

The largest group comprises the workforce, the main hub of activity in terms of productivity; heads down, meeting deadlines and fulfilling projects, this group of employees IS the business.

The last group are the disenfranchised members of the business. Those who once ran fast to try to catch up to the first pack to share ideas and offer new ways of doing things but were told to ‘get back in their box’. The last group are the ones who are looking for an exit; tired of not being valued or appreciated.

Are you a leader running out in front, pulling the team along without looking back? Are you the leader who runs with the team or the middle management? Or are you at the back of the pack keeping the last group included and valued?

Is it time to rethink your version of leadership?

Being a great leader is not always measurable. You can Google the top ten traits of great leaders and easily arrive at the usual lists. But being an AMAZING leader is more than that – it is being different, being relatable and tuning in to the unique circumstances that make up your own individual business.

Our One Recommendation For A Leadership Check

There is one simple rule when it comes to checking that you are developing into a great leader; ASK others. Ask your team, ask your clients, ask your peers. You will be on a networking group or business development group, of course, so ask your peers.

Do a survey with your whole team and ask for honest, anonymous feedback.

If you do not ask for feedback, how can you know what people really think? Do not assume, if you have been in your role for a while, that you know what you are doing and that you are right. Do not be deluded by ego or ignorance.

True leaders have one thing in common – the ability to reflect. It is only by asking questions, of yourself, of procedures and of industry, that you can improve and find success.

Which wolf are you then? And is your place in the pack valued and effective? Ask the question and be prepared to change. You may be surprised at the response.

How Does Your Team Feel?

February is the month of love. 

Whether you embrace the whole Valentine’s Day spectacle or scorn the mushy outpouring of sentiment, one thing is evident……. there is a definitely a market for love!

In the shortest, but bleakest month of the year, who can blame people for getting excited about a few red hearts and an opportunity to be nice? February is grey and cold, trees are bare and the signs of spring are not yet abundant enough to hint at hope. Whilst most months have some sort of excuse for celebration, February’s only real joy is that it is a short month!

So, a little love can go a long way in February. On the business front you are probably still suffering from reduced footfall or customer interaction, unless you’re in the heating trade, so it’s a great time to set the groundwork for your next peak period and take stock of what is happening within your own team.

Successful businesses are constantly monitoring their biggest asset; their team of employees. Unless you are a one-person business, you will be placing your trust in team members to represent your business and maintain the same standards that you, yourself, hold.

So when was the last time you asked your team how they felt about your business? As your greatest ambassadors, you can be sure that their attitudes and views will be apparent to your customers. A demotivated, aggrieved and negative team member will hardly be transmitting positive, cheery signals.

In our experience, the best way to ascertain how your team FEEL about working for you is that very basic, but very effective, tool – a staff survey.

It is simply impossible to make any productive changes within your business if you have no idea as to how your team members FEEL. If your goal is to increase your turnover and profits this year, you need your team to be just as motivated as you are. And not just your customer-facing team, but everyone who has a role in your business.

Research shows that when an individual works with a positive mindset, performance on nearly every level – productivity, creativity, engagement – improves considerably.

There are hundreds of ways to create positive feelings within your team and you should obviously implement schemes of reward based on your own business.

Here are five of our favourites:

  1. Achievement and recognition are high motivators for employees. If they do something well, reward them. Present them with a voucher to go out for dinner, an extra day off, tickets to a show, etc. The small things adds up.
  2. Create spaces where employees can easily communicate and share ideas. Casual conversations in the staff room can become collaborative conversations. Make it inviting and effective, with nice furniture, tables, and snacks and beverages, if possible.
  3. Have a monthly team prize for the best performer. Make the team WANT to strive for more.
  4. Create a career pathway – make your team WANT to stay with you. Create opportunities within the business and listen to them often, so you can help retain them long term.
  5. Supplement salary by assisting employees in other areas of their lives. You can offer an extra level of life insurance or disability insurance for employees to protect their incomes. Other ancillary benefits, such as dental and optical care or gym memberships, are all well received by employees. It is important to offer benefits of some kind so your employees know that you truly care about them and their families.

Your expression of love and interest in your team doesn’t necessarily have to cost money or be extravagant. A simple plate of homemade biscuits or maybe an extra 15 minutes at lunch time says a lot.

A staff survey is a quick, easy and extremely transparent way of capturing the feelings amongst your team. The results of a survey can indicate gaping holes within your business that you, yourself, simply do not see. At the very least, implementing a staff survey shows that you CARE what your team thinks. How you use that information is up to you, but it is a great way of initiating a more positive and cohesive feel amongst your most important asset.

Call us for more information about how to easily set up a staff survey for your business.

PS Speaking of Valentine’s Day, whether you’re male or female, please avoid the “I don’t need Valentine’s Day to show my partner I love her/him – every day is a day of love in our house”. It’s an overstated cliché and an obvious sign that you’re too cheap to shell out on some flowers or chocolates! Go on, indulge in some romance.

Why Thought Leaders Are Worth Thinking About

Whatever your services or product, it is no longer enough to be a business name in the background with a catalogue of items that you hope will jump off the shelf, or the web page, into the hands of your customers. In our blog, Let’s Get Engaged, we talk about the importance of creating a relationship with your customers and of offering more than just a ‘product’ and, unfortunately, it’s a concept that some businesses are still struggling with.

What differentiates you from your competitors? Great price? Reliable service or product? Customer-focused attitudes? Possibly.

Customers are seeking more. They want a relationship, and they want to feel that you are working hard to earn their respect.

One way to elevate your business and truly engage with customers is to become a ‘thought leader’. Thought leaders are informed and knowledgeable experts in their field; the go-to people who offer reliable and current information, who seem successful and innovative and who are ready to engage customers rather than just sell.

It is possible to work on becoming a thought leader, whatever industry you are in. For example, opticians have an opportunity to become experts or thought leaders on eye health, farm shops could frequently publish about sustainable living and legal firms might become the font of knowledge for wills. The whole idea of setting yourself up as a thought leader is that your name becomes associated with a particular area of expertise. When your customer, or potential customer, needs the services or product you provide, your name is the first name they think of as they already TRUST you.

Sadly, earning the status of a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long term goal that requires constant nurturing. So how do become a thought leader…..?

How Do You Become A Thought Leader?

Generally speaking, thought leadership means having an informed point of view and broad knowledge about your industry and the issues that affect it. Thought leaders rely on content marketing to elevate their status to ‘experts in their field’ and regularly provide content on their speciality topic through digital channels, customer communications and seminars, conventions, exhibitions, etc. Content may include blogs, published articles on LinkedIn, newsletters, workshops or vlogs.

es, increased customer loyalty as well as more initial enquiries which can be converted to sales and greater lifetime value.

Thought leadership helps your content stand out among your competitors and if you’re social media savvy, or employ someone who is, you need to publish or promote your content frequently on a variety of channels.

Becoming a thought leader will not happen overnight. Indeed, it may never happen if you don’t have the confidence or clarity to speak about your passion (your business) in an authoritative way.

How To Use Thought Leadership For Success

Our five tips on how to become, and then promote yourself as, a thought leader:

  1. Identify a topic that is closely associated with your brand. Actively present yourself as being an expert on that topic (make sure you are, of course!). Publish often, on a variety of platforms and ask for feedback.
  2. Do some research and take note of any competitors who publish content in your space. Observe their habits and ideas. Follow experts in other countries and expand your reading.
  3. Identify the questions your customers are asking. Provide answers or solutions to those questions across multiple platforms in a way that adds value to your audience. Ensure your content is relevant to your audience. Go further and identify the questions your customers aren’t asking YET!
  4. Be innovative and varied in delivering your content; use all available channels of social media and try different methods of spreading your knowledge such as seminars, workshops, downloadable booklets, etc. Use humour and be very ‘relatable’.
  5. Ask for feedback and encourage conversations or discussions on your content. Be responsive and check in regularly to update or add to any ongoing discussion. Your aim is to educate your customer but remember they won’t always see things from your perspective. Viral comedy videos might be your idea of humour, but they won’t appeal to everyone.

You cannot simply pop up as a thought leader overnight. Building credibility and trust takes time and effort. But don’t underestimate your potential as a thought leader. If you know your skill or product well, consider yourself an expert and want to engage with customers, start promoting yourself. You may reap the rewards in a year or so and find yourself elevated to a far greater soapbox than you had anticipated.