December 2016

A Dash of Inspiration

At the end of last month, I attended a conference called Percolate in Melbourne. It was definitely a couple of days of thoughtful provocation for me! The venue and the branding of the event set a fantastic scene for the event. And the key speakers - an eclectic mix of enterprise leaders, thought leaders, authors and artists - delivered an inspiring programme on how to make meaningful progress. Three of these speakers stood out for me and I thought it would be valuable to share my key insights with you. So here goes: 

Dr Jason Fox

Dr Jason Fox, the host of Percolate, introduced a concept he calls ‘choosing One word’. Fox believes that by choosing one word for the whole year we can create something to guide and rally ourselves through any upcoming projects or endeavours that matter.

The words that work best usually fall within one of the following categories:
  • Abstract words, such as balance, style, mindful
  • Active words, such as ignite, consolidate, invigorate
  • Aspects/Archetype words, such as tiger, explorer, wizard, or king
Here are a few quick tips from Fox to help you find your right word:

  • Don’t rush it
  • Don’t anchor it to outcomes
  • Don’t care too much about what other people think
  • Do test it out
  • Do choose a word that makes you a bit uncomfortable
  • Do make it fun for your friends
Good luck finding your word for 2017!

Rohan Gunatillake 

Rohan Gunatillake designed a meditation app five years ago, and talked about a manifesto he calls Designing Mindfulness. Designing Mindfulness is focused on how we can make technology that takes care of the wellbeing of the people who use it. Interest in mindfulness is growing exponentially, but in relation to the landscape of mobile technology mindfulness products are relatively tiny. As a possible solution to this situation, Gunatillake posited the following question: What if the principles and practices of mindfulness and wellbeing were built into absolutely everything?

The common narrative that mobile technology is bad for us has led to the idea of a digital detox. This solution may have short-term benefits, but long term it is unsustainable and virtually impossible to achieve in our ever more technologically dependent lives. Another possible solution is to learn how to use our technologies ‘mindfully’. This approach centres each of us, the addicted user, as the problem. However, the truth is not so simple; we live in an attention economy and capturing our attention is big business.

In a world where our attention is so valuable, Designing Mindfulness has a number of practical ways that all makers, designers and organisations can build more mindfulness into their products and services.

Oscar Trimboli

Oscar Trimboli believes that the lack of hearing is one of the main contributors to ineffective teams and unproductive products. Whether its people, teams or organisations, we routinely do not comprehend what the other party needs.

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” 

~ M. Scott Peck

In our millions-miles-a-minute society there is a constant rush to get to an outcome as fast as possible. In the process, many of us do not take the time required to listening carefully, completely and thoroughly. There is a huge gap of difference between listening to what someone is saying and hearing what they mean.

Trimboli’s mission is to help people, teams and organisations move from listening to hearing. Subtle shifts in the questions we ask can make a powerful difference in our conversations and the meanings we draw from them. These shifts may slow down some of our communications with others, but they will ultimately reward both parties with greater productivity. Here are a couple of examples to help you become better at hearing:
  •  “Are you asking questions to deepen your understanding or are you simply answering the question you thought they asked?”
  • “Do you ask questions to clarify your understanding or do you ask questions to help them understand their thinking better?”

Ask Dr Tom

Given the time of year, we thought it would be useful to choose one of the reader questions we received recently that relates to gift giving:

I am travelling to East Asia early next year, how important is it to have gifts to give to colleagues or associates?

Dr Tom’s thoughts:
There are fundamental cultural differences in values, behaviours and attitudes that are culturally bound. These differences contribute to various perceptions of what is appropriate when it comes to gift giving in the business world. Gift giving is not typically the norm in Australia, and Western culture in general, and may often carry negative connotations associated with bribery. However, gift giving is often expected elsewhere in the world.

In many Eastern cultures, including China, Korea and Japan, gifts are used to build and maintain relationships, to show respect and appreciation, or to enhance the image or reputation of a company. Giving your foreign colleagues or associates company-branded gifts or gifts specific to your home country is a great place to start. These gifts need only be small and relatively inexpensive ‘tokens’ of appreciation insofar that they are both sufficient for the purposes of your business dealings, and also do not carry any risk of being in contradiction of your own company’s policies.

In general, when giving a gift be mindful of your colleague or associate’s particular culture and take into consideration their cultural differences. For example, different cultures celebrate different events throughout the year. Don’t assume that everyone celebrates Christmas. Another example is that alcohol is strictly prohibited amongst some cultural groups. The manner in which a gift is present is also important. Most East Asians countries tend to offer and accept gifts with both hands. It is easy to see how a lack of cross-cultural understanding can lead to misunderstandings in these situations. It is not uncommon for these misunderstandings to result in offense, and ultimately cause complications in your business dealings.

Book Reviews

Instead of a book review this month, I wanted to continue with the Percolate inspiration and share with you the books that each of the three key speakers I mentioned above has written. Some of you may be after a gift idea or two as well! 


The Game Changer - Dr Jason Fox 

Combining the best elements of three distinct fields—motivational science, game design, and agile management—this book shows you how to positively influence behaviour through better work and project design. It is the perfect resource for forward-thinking leaders in organisations and teams focused on crafting a work culture that gets the best out of their people.

This is Happening - Rohan Gunatillake 

This book argues that to lead more mindful, calm and happy lives, switching off is the last thing we need to do. It provides the ideas, principles and techniques to bring awareness, composure and kindness to wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Filled with over sixty practical exercises that you can plug into your life straight away, the book's mobile mindfulness approach presents a way to get the benefits from meditation however busy your life is.

Breakthroughs: How to Confront Assumptions - Oscar Trimboli 

This book explores how our thinking creates our reality. Throughout the book, you will explore how to quickly become aware of your assumptions and understand whether they are serving you or holding you back. With a focus on assumptions, perspective and gaining clarity, this book motivates the reader to find alignment – personally, for your team, your organisation and the world around you.

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