Author: admin

Posted on /by admin/in Kim, Strategy - Vision

How do banks, retailers and insurance companies use storytelling to build success?

How do banks, retailers and insurance companies use storytelling to build success?

338,266 Allied soldiers are trapped on a beach and threatened with total annihilation. Will they survive? Wristwatch salesmen Billy and Nick lose their jobs when the digital world overtakes them. Is this the end of their usefulness?

The Inciting Incident

All great stories begin with an inciting incident. An event that changes everyone’s lives. In a movie like Dunkirk, it’s the moment when you realise 338,266 soldiers are waiting to be rescued – some neck deep in the water – but the Royal Navy is no longer coming to get them.

In the corporate world, it might be the moment you realise Amazon is opening in your country, or when your customers suddenly align with a new technology or when economic events suddenly change your landscape.

‘The Internship’ (2013) is a movie, but it has a business message. Billy and Nick lose their jobs because mobile phones have replaced wrist watches.

Up until the inciting incident, nothing much is happening. It’s just business as usual. But once jobs are lost, soldiers are abandoned, and new technology makes you redundant – each an inciting incident – the major dramatic question of the story emerges.

How will the soldiers get home? How can the retailer survive Amazon’s drones? How can Billy and Nick make themselves relevant again? How will the bank adapt to the arrival of new technologies?

 The Major Dramatic Question

Following the inciting incident, the major dramatic question is the linchpin. It’s what holds the story together, creates a hero and keeps the audience hooked. We stay to watch the movie because we want an answer to that question. How will the soldiers survive? Who will rescue them?

The major dramatic question is relevant to your business as well. It keeps your employees engaged because they’re asking major questions too. Questions like: “How are we going to create a better society?” “How are we going to teach people about money so they can do good things with it?” “How will we use real stories to inspire people?”

Your People are the Heroes

In effect your people, your employees, are the hero of the story.

If a story teller doesn’t manage to communicate the major dramatic question – which demonstrates the purpose of the story – then the story fails; the audience disengages. They’re no longer interested. They turn off the TV. They close the book, and they go to sleep.

Examples of this disengagement at a business level occur every day. Business initiatives flounder. The company seems up to its neck in deep water. No change and no rescue in sight. They stop wondering ‘how?’. Instead, staff disengage. The passion wanes.

Here are three steps to help you discover your dramatic question; your purpose:

Get a blank piece of paper and sit down with a pencil. Now ask yourself:

TIP #1 What’s the inciting incident?

It could be new digital technology is making your business redundant, as it did to Bill and Nick. Perhaps it’s Amazon drones flying over your house, or peer-to-peer lending platforms.

TIP#2 What’s your dramatic question?

For example, how can you adapt? How can you make the world a better place? How can you still be relevant? How will you justify your existence?

Think of the answer to your dramatic question as your organisation’s purpose. Make sure it’s a purpose you care about it. No one reads a book or watches a movie if the protagonist isn’t all in. If the hero isn’t going to give a 110% to achieve the goal of the movie, what would be the point? You can’t tell a good story if the central question – the purpose – isn’t real and compelling.

An armada of small boats set sales to rescue the stranded soldiers. But their mission will face adversity and obstacles, but the cause is worth it. Bill and Nick apply for a job with Google (if you can’t beat ‘em) and must pass the rigorous internship programme, finding themselves up against computer savvy geeks and geniuses.

It isn’t going to be easy resolving your dramatic question. Nothing worthwhile ever is, but you can’t get through thick and thin if you don’t care.

TIP#3 Cometh the hour, cometh the heroes.

Not every hero is suited for every task. Not everybody likes war movies. Some like comedies. Others prefer romance. Not every story appeals to everybody. Your employees are no different. They’re never going to be hooked on a story – or battle heroically through thick and thin – if your purpose doesn’t resonate with them.

There will be people in your organisation, perhaps a lot of them, who just aren’t on-board. However, once you know your purpose, you can begin to recruit with your purpose in mind. Cometh the purpose, cometh the people.

At RealTV, we understand that every good video we produce – whether it’s safety or new products or building a customer service culture – engages and resonates when you communicate what you’re doing (your purpose) ‘why’ you’re doing it (the inciting incident) and ‘how’ you plan to get there (the plan).

It works for corporate videos, and movies and big business propositions too.



Posted on /by admin/in Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision

What Hollywood can teach business about culture, purpose and success

What Hollywood can teach business about culture, purpose and success

Have you ever experienced an organisation where all the employees are motivated? Where they are creative, innovative, problem solvers? Where they are aligned with why they do what they do, and where they get out of bed every day because they’re excited to be a part of it?

Pie in the sky?

During my 20s, I worked on film sets and it was a constant source of amazement to me that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people would work together so seamlessly. They knew exactly what they were doing and when to do it. They would sweep through a film set – moving, creating, building – in complete silence. It is simply fascinating and mesmerising to watch.

The first time I saw a film crew setting up a café scene, I remember thinking, ‘Wow! If only countries and businesses were run by teams like this! What an amazing world we would live in!’

On that particular day, I was a lowly stand-in (the person who fills in for the lead actor when they go to have their make-up done), but when I sat down at the table and picked up the menu, I was blown away.

Someone had taken the time and care to not only create the menu, but to fill it with delicious food, amazing images and in between the lines of print were little jokes for the reader. It was the most amazing menu I have ever read, and no one would ever read it but me. So, why did some lowly set designer take all the time to do all that detail?

I’ve come to realise that the answer is simple.

A Bigger Mission

Film makers are story tellers and every person employed on a film set believes they are a part of something bigger. They are a part of the story that they are creating.

Most companies will tell me that they don’t do anything as exciting as making movies, but I would beg to differ. I don’t work in the film industry anymore. These days we make corporate transformation, internal communications and training videos because I wanted to bring that storytelling culture to corporate business.

I wanted to help businesses capture something of the culture of being part of a bigger story because I believe it’s through the workplace that we can begin to make not just our lives, but the world, into something better.

Business has the power to do good things like educate people about their finances, change the eating habits of the population and reverse global warming – not Governments, but business.

Storytelling to Inspire

Companies, corporates, SMEs and even the not-for-profit industry can learn a lot from Hollywood. Rather than dismissing story as a medium that ignores the facts and figures, businesses would be well served by looking to the art of storytelling as a way to inspire staff, customers and society as a whole – to see it as a way to connect the business and its people to real purpose, and in so doing give our employees the courage to act, and to set teams up to succeed.

To read more on how purposeful storytelling can help you achieve successful transformation or cultural change within your organisation, download the eGuide



Posted on /by admin/in Article - Vision, Kim, Strategy - Vision

What the desert and a diet of mopane worms and beer taught me about life

They say you can never really grow as a person or learn anything new until you experience something that so profoundly changes the way you view the world that it forces you to start asking questions about your life. The search for those answers takes you on a journey that you would never previously have thought possible.

I was 19 the day I found myself on a rickety, dirty, white bus being driven 550km from Windhoek to Oshakati across the sandy, barren desert landscape of Namibia.

I watched the passing landscape with a mixture of excitement and exhileration. I had never seen such long, straight, empty roads and the mirage created by the blazing sun was something magical to behold. As we drove further north, we passed typical African villages. Small groups of wooden huts set in circles, surrounded by the local tribesman and goats that seemed to survive off eating cardboard boxes. I was in heaven.

Deep down I was yearning for something different. I desperately wanted to discover something that would make life meaningful. I didn’t know what I was looking for but in my naïve mind I felt that as long as I was somewhere different, somewhere far away from where I’d been, I would be closer to it.

And so, I had signed up with 12 others to be a volunteer teacher in Owamboland, the northern most region of Namibia that boarders Angola.

On our arrival at the teacher training centre in Oshakati we were shown to our sleeping quarters, a line of bunk beds in an old make shift gymnasium, and then taken for dinner. We entered a huge room full of teachers from all over the region and sat down at our table – the only group of white faces in the room.

It was my first real experience of Owamboland and our first introduction to what life is like without the privileges of the West. Here we were served our first meal of Oshifima and dry ox meat, staple food for the region. Oshifima is an unpleasant tasting (to me) maize meal that resembles something between mashed potato and semolina, but has a surface texture of something like congealed, cold custard, and the dry Ox meat smelt rank.

I’d always been led to believe that if you were really hungry you would eat anything. Now, I wish that was true. I discovered that there is something worse than being hungry. It is being hungry and being offerred something so unpleasant that you can’t actually stomach it. By the third day I sat at a table in front of a plate of food, and I passed out.

The locals seemed thourougly entertained that we would choose to starve rather than eat and so, they very kindly invited us to a braai (BBQ). The fire was burning, the stars were out and the night was filled with anticpation as we sat down to dinner. A plate of food was served and we went to dig in but stopped almost as abruptly. Picking up a curly piece of meat under the light of the stars and a few candles, we cautiously examined what we were about to put in our mouths. From where I’d come from meat did not normally look like curly, rubbery fries and we were confused by what we were being served.

On further inspection it became clear that what we were about to eat was BBQ grilled intestines, accompanied by bowls of Mopane worms. The intenstines you can imagine. Mopane worms, on the other hand, are highly nutritious and the locals fry them up as a delicacy and serve them up at every pub, rather like peanuts.

A mixture of hysteria and exctiement, turned to giggles as we dared each other to eat them. Well, it was starve or eat something. Almost immediately on biting into the Mopane worm it turned to a horrid tasting dust that stuck to our mouths. Somehow after frying them they dry out and become powdery. It’s not something I will easily forget and I have never been more pleased for the beer at the table. It was the only way to get rid of the taste. In fact it was the first thing with any caolries I’d put into my body in days and so I was seriously hoping I could live off it.

This is when our supervisor laughed and announced that there was a KFC down the road and asked us if we would like to go there for some food! I’ve never liked KFC, but that night it was the best food I have ever eaten – despite the fact that the restaurant was covered in flying bugs the size of a fist.

Fully acquainted with local teaching practices, and where to find junk food and beer, we were ready to be despatched to the schools. The principal of a local school, Andima, came to collect myself and another volunteer, Lynn. We drove 80km north on the one tarmac road until we got to Ohangwena. Ohangwena was a little bigger than the villages we’d passed on our trip north, but it was still a baren landscape of sand, palm trees and the odd dried shrub.

The town had a few houses and a few stores, including a post office and the school, but essentially these were makeshift shacks. The main centre of the town was an open area where meat, covered in flies, was hung up in the blazing sun. Second hand clothing, that looked like rejects from an oxfam store, were sold at tables. Kids ran around playing and babies were strapped to their mothers, or sister’s backs. This was to be my new home, and I was excited.

At the school I was introduced to the teachers in the staff room and informed that they still hadn’t found an Agriculture teacher for the year and would I be OK teaching Agriculture. I’d had no farming experience. I’d never studied the subject but an Australian volunteer, Liam laughed and threw me a book saying, “don’t worry, here’s the text book”.

For the next 9 months, I taught Biology and Agriculture to a group of students aged between 18 and 25. My classes were very enthusiastic and patient with my teaching and together we made our way through contour ploughing even though none of my students had ever seen a hill (we actually had to spend a morning making one out of sand so that they could try to imagine what a hill looked like, this was flat desert) but I did struggle with animal husbandry and artificial insemination. That got a little bit confusing and there were a lot of giggles.

At the time, it had been six years since Namibia had gained it’s independence. Most of the teachers were Namibians, some who’d been sent overseas during the troubled years to be trained to return as teachers once they’d won the war. The final six of us were volunteers like myself. Everyone of the Namibians I met over those months had been through more than I could ever imagine. The students in my class told stories of abuse, of hiding under their beds with their faces buried in the sand as bombs exploded around them. Every week there were mines still being cleared and exploded outside the school grounds. There were posters on the wall that said, ‘Don’t touch it. Report it’. Accompanied by a series of pictures of childrens toys (these are what the landmines looked like). The teachers talked about what it was like to be seperated as a child and sent off to far reached places across the world to be educated for a life and career that they hadn’t chosen for themselves and yet there wasn’t a day that went by that wasn’t fun. There wasn’t a day when I saw anyone feeling sorry for themselves or down about life. Life was to be enjoyed and celebrated and if something went wrong other people were always on stand by to help you out.

It was in Namibia, despite a diet of beer and chips or, on special occasions, pasta with tinned pilchards. I learned that life wasn’t about money or power or material posessions.

The people had a vision that they dedicated themselves to. For a brief moment in my life, I got to be a part of that vision and I learned to understand the power it gives people; the sense of fulfilment they experience as they achieve each milestone, and the joy they have working together as a community to make that vision a reality.

For the first time in my life, the world slowed down. We’d lie out on the sand of the desert floor and look at the stars. With no lights for hundreds of kilometres, the night sky was spectacular. In the evenings, the students in the school would sing. One classroom would start up while they were doing their homework, and others would join in. Hundrends of voices singing together in perfect harmony. It’s an experience I will never forget and one of the greatest priviledges of my life.

I learned to be grateful for everything I had. To seize any opportunity. And to remember that the most important things in life are about being loving, kind and accepting.

When people come together and support each other to create a better future, nothing much else matters because no matter what your current situation is, a powerful vision inspires people with hope. It gives them the motivation to overcome the challenges in front of them, and bonds them in a way that leaves them fulfilled and happy.

It was something that was missing from my life back home and I learned there that I wanted to create a life for myself that embodied that. Later I would learn that my real purpose would be to inspire others to live life with vision.

I’ve written a short e-guide on ‘Vision’ for companies. 🙂 Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.






Posted on /by admin/in Kim, Purpose, Strategy - Vision

What Rugby School’s ‘visionary’ taught the world (and business) about leadership

Take it from an Old Rugbeian, this is how Rugby School can help you become a visionary leader

Last week as an Old Rugbeian – I attended Rugby School in the UK, to which the game of rugby owes its name – I was asked to take part in a celebration of Rugby School’s 450th year by ‘passing a Rugby ball’ that is being passed around the world by Old Rugbeians and a variety of sporting celebrities including Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Ben Ainslie. Putting aside the ‘Global Pass’ – imagine that, 450 years! Rugby School is effectively a business that has been around for 450 years.

Not having had much to do with the school since I left, this actually got me thinking. What are the elements that surround an establishment that lasts 450 years and how is it still steaming full speed ahead?

I’ve always felt a little embarrassed about the associations with private boarding schools and that I was given such a privileged start in life. That my parents sacrificed so much to give me the education they did. I know they chose it because they believed unequivocally that the best thing they could give their children was an education that would develop our minds, teach us to ask questions, look for answers and that we would use those skills to contribute.

Are values the reason for Rugby School’s longevity and success?

Are those values what the school was about? Is that why it has lasted?

As a business, does Rugby School actually provide real, tangible benefits to their ‘customers’ and the world at large? Or is it really just about the old school boy network, as I so often hear? Can a business survive for 450 years if it is simply about making profit and networking with the elite?

So, for the first time in my life I decided to explore some of its history. What I discovered I found fascinating.

Rugby School was established in 1567 by Lawrence Sheriff and is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain. To be honest its first 100 years seem pretty fraught with a variety of disputes so there’s hope for some of us. Clearly strong forces don’t always get going right from the start, but it started to get on track from about 1667 when the structure of the school appears to have stabilised. However, it clearly wasn’t always smooth sailing from here.

“Before the 18th century was out, the School saw its Great Rebellion. Across the Close from School House stands a Bronze Age burial mound formerly known as the Island, surrounded until 1847 by a six-metre wide moat. It was here in 1797 that certain pupils, having blown the door off the Head Master’s classroom and burned their books on the Close, retreated and drew up the drawbridge behind them. Only when the local militia closed in with pikes and muskets did they yield. The Riot Act was read and some boys were expelled – some later to become renowned military leaders.”

I can’t find out why the boys rebelled with such force but it’s something of a dramatic story.

The game of rugby is actually a story about change

However, there was also good news, most relevant to New Zealanders. In 1823, a local lad William Webb Ellis, was attributed with the following act, “with a fine disregard for the rules of football, took the ball in his arms and ran with it, originating the game of rugby football”.

While this isn’t exactly based on fact, it was Rugby school that first established the official rules to the game and the game owes its name to Rugby’s version of Football. Rugby Football.

What I love about this story is that no one seems to have had an issue with Webb Ellis’ “fine disregard for the rules”. Rather they seem to have accepted the new rules, accommodated them into their rule book and moved on.

How readily do we accept change and take a good idea and run with it? How often do our leaders allow their people to change the rules of the game, leading to innovation? Or do we hold them back and say, “No, that’s not how it’s done”. Without this acceptance for a change in the way the game was played, New Zealand might be playing soccer and not Rugby.

It takes personal vision to inspire change

However, the school really came into its own when Dr. Thomas Arnold became the headmaster (1828-1842) Arnold was an idealist, but he was also very practical. What intrigues me about him is that he was following the principles of business that we talk about today.

He had a vision that he wanted to achieve, which was to create the ‘Christian Gentleman.’ He upheld three principles/values, by which he expected things to be done. They were ‘religious and moral’, ‘gentlemanly conduct’ and ‘academic performance’. What he knew was that education was about transforming lives. He was guided by purpose, and not profit.

In Stephen’s Fry’s role of Thomas Arnold in the movie adaptation of, ‘Tom Browns School Days,’ he addresses the longest serving masters of the school (the equivalent of his leadership team) and tells them of his vision to turn the boys from their gambling, bullying, racing horses and alcohol brewing into ‘Christian Gentleman’.

Confronting the masters, he makes it clear, “the Rugby Way will have to change” and declares that “it will no longer be a world where only the strongest and cruellest survive”. One of the master’s objects, “but they are the riotous natives and we are the occupying force!” To which he replies, “little is taught by dispute but everything is taught by sympathy and love”.

It may be nearly 200 years later but has anything changed? How many leaders have a true vision? How many see their people as riotous natives? How many leaders don’t think it is their responsibility to nurture the development of their people? To strive for something worthwhile? And how many realise that the only way to achieve these results is though sympathy and love?

Rugby and the modern Olympic Games share common origins

“Much of what we know about Arnold’s ideas stem from Thomas Hughes’ version of them in his book, ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ – out of which Arnold became something of a legend. Pierre de Coubertin first encountered the book when he was twelve years old. Inspired by what he had read, de Coubertin visited Rugby School several times during the 1880s and concluded that “organised sport could be used to raise the aspirations and improve the behaviour of young people”. This idea fuelled his vision for universal amateur athletics which culminated, in 1896, in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens.

As one world expert on Olympic history says, “Thomas Arnold was the single most important influence on the life and thought of Pierre de Coubertin”.

As such, it’s possible to say that this great man’s ideas lay the foundation for the modern Olympic Games. I haven’t read enough on the subject, but it would seem that Thomas Arnold’s pursuit of the ‘Christian Gentleman’ led him to realise that organised sport was a critical part of that development and, as such, it was treated with utmost importance. He didn’t just focus on academic results. He believed in the creation of a complete man and as a result his focus on organised sport led others to see the benefits that resulted in the Olympic Games.

“He also treated his senior boys as gentlemen, increasing their power and duties so that they shared responsibility for moral tone and discipline with him.”

His aim was to create men of power and character and not just intellect. Men that would go out into the world and change it for the better. And it is a system that most schools follow today. What is critical about this too, is that he didn’t just tell people what to do. He listened to them and he included them in the change.

As far as I can tell the man had a dream and he knew how he wanted to achieve it, which created the bases for a very strong framework. People adapted to change. They accepted new ideas when they aligned with the core vision. He listened to his people and included them in the decision making, and they often led the way in new ideas.

The first boys public school to hire a woman

In 1888, Rugby School was the first English Boys Public school to appoint a female teacher.

And as early as 1976 they started to take on a few brave girls. By 1994, when I arrived at the school, I was one of 30 odd girls to be introduced to a year of over 100 boys. And in 2017, it’s on its way to becoming the leading co-educational boarding school in the UK with a 50/50 mix.

A far cry from where it started in 1567 and yet the vision of the school is still guided by Thomas Arnold. On the home page of the Rugby School website it reads. “If we have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Thomas Arnold”.

Nearly 200 years ago he knew that education was about transforming lives. And the school has since sought to hold onto the conviction that education is much more than the sum of educational results. Could the secret to the school’s success all stem from one man who changed the course of the school with a vision that was about something more than just profit. And nearly 200 years later, his legacy lives on through the stories told about his endeavours.

Is this the secret to a successful business?

I would like to add that Rugby School is a very successful business, the result of following purpose over profit; being guided by key values, adapting to change along the way, but always staying true to the vision?

Vision is at the root of strong growth

What I have never known until today is that my parents core vision and values for their children aligned with Thomas Arnold’s vision for the school. It’s why my parents invested an enormous amount of money into the school. It is the vision I uphold for my own children today and now –a terrifying and daunting thought – I might need to find the strength to live up to it!



“To be a woman of strength and character with the intellectual capability to make the world a better place.”

That vision is one of the reason’s that we founded Real-TV, a unique video production company in the business of helping business leaders and CEOs bring about change and transformation.

We call ourselves an Inspiration and Communications Agency, because we use real stories to inspire your people through video, consulting and workshops – but vision and the conviction to lead the change?

Well, that starts with you.

I’ve written a short e-guide on ‘Vision’ for companies. 🙂 Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.


Posted on /by admin/in Kim, Purpose

What my daughter ‘the imposter’ and the pointlessness of maths taught me about purpose

What my daughter ‘the imposter’ and the pointlessness of maths taught me about purpose

At 11.30pm last week I found my 10-year-old-daughter awake in bed sobbing into her pillow. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she couldn’t sleep because she felt like an imposter.

I finally discovered that the reason she was anxious was because she’d been enrolled in the maths extension class at school, but had discovered that all the other kids in the maths extension class knew more than she did. She was also worried that the other kids didn’t think that she deserved to be there.

She also could not see why she should do maths extension because it wasn’t something she thought would be useful in her life as an adult. The obvious solution was to quit.

Essentially there were two issues she was wrestling with: Imposter syndrome and the fact that she couldn’t see any practical use for maths

My daughter had gone from the top of the class to the bottom, and she wasn’t enjoying the experience.

Banishing the imposter feeling

 I sat with her and we talked.

We talked about how, even if one day she was the smartest person in the world at one thing, there would be other people that were smarter than her at other things, and why that was OK.

We talked about how there would always be taller people than her in the world, and there would always be shorter people than her in the world. And that being at the top or the bottom of any particular group doesn’t matter.

In fact it might be a good thing to be at the bottom because there is a life lesson that states that if you find that you’re the smartest person in the room, you should find another room because you will only learn and grow if you surround yourself with people who know more than you.

We talked about how it isn’t about knowing all the answers. The real secret is being prepared to be in a room where you don’t know the answers, and the goal is to apply yourself to challenges so that you grow.

The purpose of maths

 As for why she should do maths? This was actually the all-important purpose question.

We discussed what she wanted to do when she grows up and how, even if she became a world famous pop star, she’d need to look after her bank accounts and invest her money.

She replied that said she would hire an accountant.

I eventually got her over the line by telling her that she would still need to understand what her accountants and financial advisors were suggesting. Not only that, her career aspirations might change over time and there were many different areas where maths is useful and many ways it might help her later on in life.

In the end though, I gave her the choice to continue or quit.

It’s a big decision to leave in the hands of a ten-year-old, but the motivation that’s needed to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones has to come from within. The one proviso was that we talked to her teacher about it first.

What the teacher said

Her teacher explained that it wasn’t good to go through life as the smartest person in the room because then we would struggle to cope with challenges later on in life. If we haven’t learned to be OK with that, then things were going to be tough.

Her teacher explained to her that she was indeed smart enough to be in maths extension, it was just that she was being exposed to challenges that she had never encountered before – which is the whole purpose of maths extension.

Her teacher promised to support her and help her adapt to this new environment; to take on the challenges and grow as a result.

The moment my daughter understood that she had the capability to apply herself, and that it was OK to not know all the answers (that the end result would be learning from the experience) she relaxed and decided to continue with maths extension.

She even seemed excited by the prospect.

Had I tried to force her to stay in maths extension, I’d never have seen the excitement and determination she now has for maths extension

The moral of the story

 When people understand why they are doing something, they are prepared to face many challenges.

As Nietzsche says: “He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any how”.

Understanding ‘why’ gives us the courage to face the challenges that lead to growth.

Motivation has to come from within. By connecting with our purpose – personally or as a business – we have the potential to become the best version of ourselves as we face the challenges we need to experience the joy of achieving our goals.

If you’ve made it this far in my blog, I think you’ll find the short e-guide I put together interesting and helpful. 🙂

Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.

Posted on /by admin/in Kim, Purpose

Is too much focus on the competition making you run at half pace?

A company that is too focused on what others are doing, hampers its own growth. For a company to achieve its true potential, it must be intrinsically motivated.

Recently, my partner Steve was looking through my mobile running results on the Strava App, when he said: “You know you actually run faster when you run on your own than when you run with me.” He then said it didn’t surprise him because, when he runs with his friends that are faster and better runners than he is, he struggles.

Comparing myself, I panic

Thinking about it, I realised that the issue I have is that when I run with him I compare myself to him. I know he’s finding it easy and so I immediately start to focus on how much harder it is for me. I then think I’m running faster than I usually am because I know he runs faster than me, and I panic that I can’t keep up.

Once I panic, I become more aware of the pain in my body and everything feels harder. The irony is that I’m actually running slower than I usually would.

When I run on my own I let go of all that. I’m not a great runner but I run because I want to. I run because I want to be fit and I like to know I can. I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. I have some goals in my head – I know the distance I want to achieve and the speed I would like to be able to do it at.

When I approach my goals I stretch them out because, as soon as I get close, I realise that I can achieve more. This is how I approach everything in life. I give it the best I can each and every day.

On my own, I go within

Out on the road, I’ll ‘go’ inwards and feel how my body is that day. When I’m running on my own, I have a constant awareness of how my body actually feels and I push it to my limits. I’m not comparing myself to anyone other than myself. Once I’m on the edge of my limit I run a check through how every part of my body feels and make a decision, ‘can I push myself further?’ ‘Do I have more to give?’ and if the answer is ‘Yes’, then I pick up the pace.

I’ll focus on my breathing and the positioning of my body to feel where is most comfortable. If I feel pain I have a mantra that repeats “Let it go”. The more I ‘let go’ the more relaxed I feel. I reach a place that feels like flying. It feels really good. It doesn’t last for the rest of the run. It comes and then goes and I have to recreate it, repeating the patterns above.

I have no idea if this is how you should do it. I’ve never had a running coach. I would probably benefit hugely from one. But it’s my way, and it works because the end result is that I continue to get better and faster.

The power of intrinsic motivation

I believe that this is the power of intrinsic motivation. When I’m on my own I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. I’m not distracted by what they’re doing. No one is telling me to do it. I do it because I want to, and because I want to, I give it everything I’ve got.

I believe that this is what purpose give us and it applies to how we approach work.

The research backs it up to. A study of more than 11,000 West Point military cadets by Amy Wrzesniewski, Barry Schwartz and their team of Yale University researchers found that those who were internally motivated (I want to be a better leader) were more likely to graduate, receive promotions and stay on in the military, compared to those who entered because of external motivations (I want to earn more money).

“Helping people focus on the meaning and impact of their work, rather than on, say, the financial returns it will bring, may be the best way to improve not only the quality of their work but also – counterintuitive though it may seem – their financial success,” said Wrzesniewski and Schwartz.

If we are focused on our vision, and our journey and we are only competing with ourselves then we are focused on being the best we can be, doing the best that we can do. Nothing else matters and so all of our energy is focused in the right direction.

Keeping an eye on the competition can drain us

The end result is that we get better than if we are trying to keep up with someone else, or following in someone else’s footsteps, or in competition with other people. All of these mean that we’re channelling energy that could better be used to push ourselves forward to something else.

For an organisation and its leadership, those ‘internal motivators’ can be found in the company’s vision, and the more aspirational the reason for being in business, the better you, your team and your business are likely to do.

Anyhow, we’ve written a short e-guide (yes I know, very professional!) and if you’ve made it this far in my blog, I think you’ll find it interesting and helpful. 🙂

Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.

Posted on /by admin/in Reuben

Love is a verb: Work Your Love. Using stories to celebrate your people.

Love is a verb: Work Your Love.

James Carville, was the Campaign Manager and the brains behind Bill Clintons 1992 election campaign. In what they called the War Room he had a huge banner hung up. Famously it proclaimed, “It’s the Economy, Stupid” – meaning, stay focused on that issue, and we’ll win. And they did. But it’s a lesser-known statement that he made to his team, that he attributed to his Grandmother that I’ve always thought was the real key to his teams success, and Clintons election victory. He told them, “Love is a verb. To work, is an act of love.” That speech, and that idea, galvanised the team.

That attitude is a choice. It’s not determined by your choice of work. It’s an attitude that can be brought to any job. It’s the attitude I try to capture in people within the companies I film. To celebrate and shine a light on something that many people don’t realize is a heroic act – to work, and to work well.

Whether its documentaries or videos for business’ the best part of my job is listening – with a camera. Actively listening, not just to the spoken remarks, but to what people would love to say, but perhaps cant articulate, or are not even aware of themselves – to truly see the person behind the job. And to see the synthesis of the person with the job as an incredibly important end in itself. Something to be noticed and celebrated. When we are noticed and celebrated, we excel.

Stories must make the universal personal. Otherwise you are left with statistics on a spreadsheet. Private Ryan represents all soldiers. Batman represents everyone wrestling with ethical issues and justice. Its no different in the world of corporate stories. One person doing a job well is a surrogate for every team member. Seeing love as a verb can reverberate throughout an entire organization. But it starts with a person. And its told through storytelling.

At the end of a shoot day, my hope is that that person feels noticed and appreciated – that she feels her acts within the company are truly seen and heard. More and more the images we see on screen are of vacuous celebrities, captured by cameras, airbrushed, and foisted upon us at the supermarket check out. In the face of this, it’s incredibly affirming for a real person and her team to see themselves and their stories told well, celebrated and influencing others for the better.

At the end of filming, we can all be pretty tired. But it’s the right kind of tired, because everyone’s worked hard. We’ve done our best to serve and do justice to another’s story.

So what do you do? What work do your people do? Can it be elevated to an act of love? It might be far closer to home, and look, at first sight more prosaic than fantastic or glamorous. But if we look closer, and listen harder, we can find ways to showcase and celebrate those simple acts of work. Because work is precious. Work is love. And love is a verb. Follow that, amplify it, and your team, like James Carvilles will win.





Posted on /by admin/in Strategy - Vision

How the signs of the times can help motivate your team

How the signs of the times can help motivate your team

If you’re a CEO whose bumping your head over how to get your staff united and motivated behind your company vision, it may pay to take note of the recent furore around the news that some of New Zealand’s top banks had KiwiSaver funds invested in cluster bombs and other weapons.

There’s a song by Gentleman & Ky-Mani Marley called ‘Signs of the Times’ with these words:

These are the signs of the times
Who is marching on, who resign
Who will accept, who decline (who will accept, who will accept)

The ability to recognise the signs of the times determines who marches on, and who declines. Words made for business?

The ethical investment controversy embroiling KiwiSaver are a sign of the times.

Having a Social Conscience is Key to Survival

We live in a country, and a world, where causes like preserving our environment and alleviating poverty are not dismissed as ‘just politically correct thinking’ anymore. Having a social conscience is mainstream here in New Zealand in 2017, and is a major influence not just on buying decisions but can also impact employee attitudes, behaviour and aspirations.

If you’re a CEO you may have already realised that doing business with a conscience is integral to competitiveness and may soon even be integral to survival, but for the moment a hidden benefit is how uncovering your cause or social purpose – the way your company can make a positive difference – is also key to motivating your staff and getting them behind the vision.

The shift is happening because people finally believe that their actions can actually help to change the world.

Doing business with a conscience, and having a vision that encompasses that social cause, is now a massive factor that influences staff performance, productivity, retention and even resilience – the power to keep going through tough times.

A Vision Statement that Inspires

An inspiring vision statement gives your team something they can believe in; something they can work towards and make a tangible difference, rather than just collecting a pay cheque. It also gives the business shape and direction.

Uncover, create, re-discover an inspiring conscience driven vision and mission for your business and you’ll find getting the team behind the vision is a lot easier than you ever envisaged.

Here’s some examples of what that vision may look like:

  • “Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.” – Microsoft
  • “To make people happy.” – Disney
  • “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” – Tesla
  • “We use real stories to inspire your people, change behaviours and deliver better business results.” – Real TV.

To discover your company vision, go back to your company roots to discover reasons behind why the company was formed.

For more inspiration and guidance, click here to download our free eGuide: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.



Posted on /by admin/in Strategy - Vision

What makes an inspiring company vision?

What makes an inspiring company vision?

Sir Peter Blake’s famous strategy “Will it make the boat go faster?” and US based Southwest airline’s “Will this make us the low cost airline?” are powerful statements that epitomise what can be achieved when a leader keeps things simple.

If you’re a business leader wrestling with how to inspire your staff with your vision, simplify it. Albert Einstein’s first rule was, “Out of clutter, find simplicity”.

Leader of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, kept it simple with, “Peace, land and bread” and Kickstarter found its legs with, “To help bring creative projects to life”.

They all understood that complexity is hard to process. It’s also boring, lifeless, and uninspiring.

If you want a vision your people can understand and embrace, begin by reducing it to the core essence of your company’s existence, or in the words of Dr. Seuss: “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads”.

  1. Begin with a reason why
  • If your reason why is about ‘doing good’ or ‘making a difference’, use that, and only that – rather than introducing lots of goals and other fluff. For example: “Teach 10 million kids, end poverty and make money doing it.” – Bridge International Academies
  • If your reason why is to be customer centric, use that e.g. “To make people happy.” – Disney.
  1. End with your ultimate objective

Ending with your ultimate objective gives you and your team something to aim for. As American poet Bill Copeland wrote: ““The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score”.

Bridge International Academies plans to end poverty and make money doing it, Sir Peter Blake’s ultimate goal was to go faster and Southwest airlines at that time would settle for nothing less than ‘being the cheapest’ airline.

We leave the final word to Isaac Newton: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things”.

Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.


Posted on /by admin/in Strategy - Vision

Companies that do good, do better

Companies that do good, do better

People followed Adolf Hitler, it’s said, because he restored national pride and uplifted Germany economically. People followed Martin Luther King, it’s said, because he gave them a cause, a noble purpose – no points for guessing whose legacy is more enduring.

A more cynical person may say that there is a considerable gap between political leaders (and the aspirations of their followers), and business leaders who employ people to help them make more money.

90% of Executives…

However, the cynic’s view is not one that the majority of the world’s executives would agree with. A survey by EY Beacon Institute and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals that 90% of executives recognise the importance of “an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation…and provides benefit to society”.

Another study by The Alternative Board (TAB), shows that companies which are socially driven (have a noble purpose) have more optimistic employees and outperform their competitors.

“A clear personal vision is an excellent motivator for success – especially when shared with others. By aligning their vision with their people, socially-driven business owners are held further accountable to their goals,” says TAB vice president David Scarola.

Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.

 Give people a purpose and watch sales increase

In essence, this means that companies which create and communicate a vision that goes beyond making sales, which instead gives employees a reason and a purpose that benefits other people (or the planet), will make more sales.

At first glance, your business many not appear to have anything aspirational or worthwhile about it, and you may think that presenting it as anything else is like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but that would be selling yourself and your business short.

On the surface, you may not think there’s any noble purpose in selling tools or hardware. Mitre10, however, improved the company’s customer service culture by showing their employees that there is good in selling tools and hardware. For example, in equipping and advising a dad on how to make a great treehouse for his daughter, they’re helping bring families closer together, as well as strengthening feelings of accomplishment, pride, satisfaction and joy.

Customers buy Mitre10s products because they want to make or create something that’s useful or beautiful or fun, and employees can help them do that through the way they interact with their customers – the way employees interact with customers is key here because it’s the staff interaction that speaks to a noble purpose more so than the products.

Spend time uncovering your noble purpose

Giving money to charity is a good thing to do, but it’s not the same thing as creating a noble purpose and an empowering vision for your staff to get behind. Spending some time and money in uncovering exactly what that noble purpose may be will go a long way to positively impacting your bottom line.

Begin by asking yourself: What, ultimately, do our customers want to achieve when they buy our products or services?

Remember, part of Mitre10’s noble purpose is not so much about the products that they sell, but the results and, more importantly, the people interaction that solves very real human needs and problems.

Click here to download: “How to inspire your employees and get them excited by your company vision”.