8 Key Business Insights from ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

Business insights from How to Win Friends and Influence People

Is it possible for a business book first published in 1937 to still be relevant in 2021?

Well, in this video I answer this question and provide 8 business insights I took from reading the classic book written by Dale Carnegie:

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’:

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How to Expand Your Leadership Conversations

How to expanding leadership conversations

Expanding Leadership Conversations

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

One of the most difficult and yet most inspiring leadership skills to develop is effective communication.

I think most people know when they have talked with a leader who communicates well: They feel inspired and perhaps more importantly – they feel listened to.

Most of my working life has been in the information technology sector where things tend move fast – including conversations!

Over many years I have witnessed conversations where leaders have demonstrated excellent communication skills and also conversations that made people cringe!

So, how do we become better communicators and improve the quality of our business conversations?

Well, I like to use strategies that are quick and easy to implement as life is complex enough already! So, in this article I’ll share three communication strategies that have been helpful for me and for my clients:

Get Curious

My partner knows when I’m not listening to her. She’ll be talking to me and occasionally in the middle of our conversation my mind may wander – she has become an expert at interrupting my wandering mind by saying “What?!” in the middle of the silence.

It gets me every-time and brings me back to the conversation!

Although she teases me about this, it raises an important point that when our mind wanders in the middle of a conversation and we stop listening to what the other person has to say – it says a LOT to them.

This behaviour communicates that what they have to say is not important to you and that you choose not to listen to them.

In coaching, the coach listens at different levels to hear what the client is saying but also (just as importantly) what they are NOT saying.

When we ‘tune out’ of a conversation we can miss important information.

Clearing your mind of those wandering thoughts through breathing can help you stayed tuned and focused on what is being said. However, one of the most effective ways to listen to other people is to be curious and remain curious about what they have to say.

When you have a curious mindset in a conversation you ask different questions, you listen more to their responses and in turn you both get more out of the conversation.

A great way to create curiosity is to say the word: “curious” in your mind as you start the conversation.

Don’t do all the thinking 

Back in my IT business I developed a habit of trying to solve problems for other people by doing the thinking for them, by telling them what to do next.

A member of staff would come to see me, describe their problem, and ask me what to do. Back then I thought that telling them what to do would provide the best solution to the problem.

However, soon after I started my coach training, I learnt that this was counter-productive for the member of staff that was asking for my advice.

Telling them what to do didn’t help them to develop their skills or problem-solving capabilities. So, once I learnt this, when a member of staff asked me what to do, I created the habit of asking: “What do you think we should do?”. Typically, the solution they came up with would have been the one I would have suggested. But many times, their solution was much better than mine!

Remember that the person in front of you is resourceful and creative – they may not demonstrate it at times, but your conversation is an excellent opportunity for them to practice that! They do have a solution to the problem, it’s just that you may need to tease it out of them!

Create and give time to others

I remember many years ago when I was an Electronic Engineer for a U.S IT company called Welch Allyn (Data Collection Division); I visited their head-office in up-state New York for annual product training. One day we had a tour of the Medical Division head-office a few miles away. It was a large state-of-the-art facility surrounded by beautiful gardens.

I was impressed.

However, I was even more impressed when the owner of the business – Bill Allyn took the time to show me and my fellow engineers around the facility.

Here was a multi-millionaire that employed 1000s of people showing a bunch of junior engineers around the factory.

That memory has remained with me for decades. It reminds me of the importance to create and make time for others in conversations, no matter what level they are in the business.

So, the next time you have a conversation with a member of your team – make time for them – don’t rush the conversation.

As a side note, I remember asking Bill: “How many people work here?”. He responded: “Hopefully all of them!”.

Conclusion

I believe the importance of effective communication in leadership cannot be understated. It can make the difference between a good leader and a great leader.

In this article we have learned three easy to use strategies that can help to bring more awareness to our business conversations. But of course, these strategies can be used in all types of conversations outside of the business as well:

  • Get curious – Bringing a curious mindset to conversations will help you to listen at a deeper level to the other person. So rather than thinking about what you want to say next, you’ll be focused on what the other person has to say. They’ll know that you’re listening to them – and they’ll remember that.
  • Don’t do all the thinking – Although you may know the solution to the problem that the person in front of you has just described, try to resist the temptation to tell them what to do. Remember, this is an opportunity for the other person to think, learn and grow. Try asking “What do you think we should do?”. Their solution may be something that you didn’t think of!
  • Create and give time to others – For me, this is one of the most inspiring traits of an excellent leader. Time is a gift that you can create and give to others. I know your schedule will be busy – the other person will know that as well. But if you schedule time for them to chat with you, you’ll be sending them an important message that they are important and that you value what they have to say.

As with all strategies it will take practice to master these skills. But the rewards for the other people that you will be talking to can be unlimited.

One day they could be in a leadership position just like you are. The chances are that they’ll remember their conversations with you and be inspired by you – just like I was from my meeting with Bill Allyn.

I hope you found this article helpful.

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Creating Courageous Leadership

How to create Courageous Leadership

Creating Courageous Leadership

[Time to read: 7 minutes]

The title: ‘Creating Courageous Leadership’ may suggest that this article is about how to be a strong and determined leader. Well in a way it is, but not in the traditional sense of strength and leadership.

There is a plethora of leadership books available that describe how to be a confident leader, how to inspire people and how to manage teams.

In this article I will introduce you to a way of ‘being’ as a leader: A way that can help you to see situations differently, think differently, run your business differently and engage your intelligence fully as a leader.

Having worked in the Technology market for over 30 years, I’ve experienced many situations where leaders have demonstrated courageous leadership and other situations where there was a clear lack of leadership.

Witnessing those situations made me curious to find out what mindset creates courageous leadership and what mindset causes the leadership to fall apart.

Neuroscience

Recent Neuroscience research has shown that humans have three centres of intelligence: the Head brain (‘Cephalic brain’), the Heart brain (‘Cardiac brain’) and the Gut brain (‘Enteric brain’).

Each of these centres of intelligence is a complex and sophisticated system of sensory neurons, motor neurons, neurotransmitters, and ganglia.

The head brain, heart and gut can process information, store it, and access it again when required.

Each can: sense, learn, remember, communicate, and change.

Here’s a quick overview of each:

Cephalic Brain (Head)

  • No. of Neurons: 86 billion
  • Functions: Language, thinking, cognition, consciousness, creativity
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “I think” “I get it” “I understand”

Cardiac Brain (Heart)

  • No. of Neurons: 40,000 (that can operate independently from the head brain)
  • Functions: Emotional processing, values, Passion, Compassion, Connection with others
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “I feel” “My heart says” “I have a heavy heart”, “I am light-hearted”

Enteric Brain (Gut)

  • No. of Neurons: 100 million
  • Functions: Sense of self, self-preservation, courage
  • What we say when using this intelligence: “This takes guts”, “My gut is telling me”

So, knowing, that we have more than just our head-brain intelligence, how do we engage our head, heart, and gut to create Courageous Leadership?

Well, read on and I’ll share an easy to use strategy:

Engaging our three intelligences

Clearing your head

When our head-brain is full of questions, judgements, fear and anger it clouds our perception. This ‘mind clutter’ biases what we think about the situations that are presented to us. The head brain also tends to look for evidence that the current situation is the same as a previous situation so we may jump to a conclusion that the outcome will be the same as before. None of this helps us to see things differently.

So, the first step is to make space for new thinking by freeing our mind.

Luckily, it’s not hard to do. It starts with our physiology – specifically deep breathing.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply – in through the nose and out slowly through the mouth. Continue breathing deeply for a minute or so. You should start to feel calmer and more ‘centred’.

Opening your heart 

The heart is the source of our passion. It’s also the source of our compassion. When our heart is closed, it’s difficult to be compassionate. Bringing compassion into our mindset dramatically changes the way that we see situations that we experience. Compassion helps us to see situations through the eyes of others which gives us a different perspective. We gather more data when using our compassion because we get to experience what other people could be feeling and experiencing. This new perspective can help us to make a decision that includes compassion.

To open your heart, continue the deep breathing with your eyes closed as in the previous step but now think about someone that you love or care for deeply. Try to visualize that person in front of you, smiling. Feel their love – their connection to you. Continue for a few moments – when you open your heart fully you should feel a sensation of love or warmth.

Engaging your gut 

The gut is a huge resource for us. It provides us with our ‘gut instinct’, and it is our source of courage. It’s also a place that creates the strength for us to be vulnerable. When we integrate the wisdom of a free mind and an open, compassionate heart with our courage we create true courageous leadership. A leadership that is mindful, compassionate, and strong.

To engage courage, continue with the deep breathing from the previous step with your eyes closed. Now think of a time when you were truly courageous. Perhaps a time when you demonstrated both compassion and courage despite the challenge that you faced. Try to visualize it. Continue to breathe deeply for a few moments. You may start to feel a sense of strength or energy. Now slowly open your eyes and breath normally.

Engaging the three intelligences can take practice before it becomes a habit. However, it’s possible that after practice just deep breathing will trigger this three-step pattern for you so that you don’t even need to close your eyes. This can be incredibly beneficial if you are in a meeting as you’ll be able to engage your three intelligences easily and quickly.

Conclusion

So, perhaps courageous leadership is not just about being strong, daring, and forthright?

Perhaps courageous leadership is deeper than that?

I prefer to believe that it’s not about how much we ‘roar’, it’s about having the courage to be more present; to be our true self; it’s about showing up fully and using all of our resources by engaging all three intelligences – a free mind, a compassionate heart, and a courageous gut.

From my experience a lack of leadership and poor decision making tends to occur when leaders rely only on their head brain, where they are disconnected from the intelligence of their heart and gut.

Engaging all three intelligences helps us to:

  • Create space – where we free our mind from judgement and create space for something more powerful to appear within us.
  • Receive more – we receive information not just through our eyes and ears but also through our heart.
  • See things differently – we get a new perspective on the situations we experience.
  • Do things differently – we respond to situations differently because we are more mindful.
  • Tap into our intuition – where our three intelligences are in alignment to provide us with intuition.
  • Have different conversations – we communicate differently when we are both compassionate and courageous.
  • Make better decisions – we evaluate and make more informed decisions because we have more data and a greater insight about what’s in front of us.
  • Create different outcomes – this creates new possibilities and of course new outcomes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this and hope that this has given you new insights into creating courageous leadership.

If you have a few minutes to respond – I’d be interested to know your experience of courageous leadership.

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Slowing Down to Grow Faster in Business

Slow down to go faster in business

Slowing Down to Grow Faster in Business

[Time to read: 6 minutes]

Do you feel like your weeks just fly by? Do you wish you just had more time? Do you ever feel overwhelmed in your business?

Well, in this article we’ll learn about that precious commodity – TIME. We’ll learn how slowing down can help you to relax more, focus more and be more effective in your Business and Life. We’ll also learn how (Ironically) slowing down can  help you to grow faster in Business.

Going Too Fast

I want to share an experience that I had last year when I realized that I was going too fast:

I’m passionate about coaching – I love helping Business Leaders discover and breakthrough what’s holding them back from making a greater impact in their business and life.

Last year, as I started to develop and grow my business. I was working on a lot of projects, posting on social media daily, meeting with my clients, studying, and regularly updating my website and blog. I had a to-do list as long as my arm!

I was excited to move forward and see my business grow. However, I started to notice a feeling, almost like a ‘rushing’ sensation, like I was on a ‘runaway train’ thinking about everything that I wanted to work on.

I could also start to see that I was ‘spreading myself too thin’!

I’ve always liked reading inspirational quotes, especially at the start of each working day. I find that they give me a mindset boost that lasts all day long.

I read the following quote about time that changed everything:

“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.”
Eckhart Tolle

In that moment I thought “I don’t want to rush through my life. I want to fully experience it and enjoy it. How can I do that if I’m constantly rushing?”.

So, I made a conscious decision to slow down.

Since making that decision my business has improved, I feel more relaxed and I appreciate life more.

So, how did I slow down?

Well, before I share how I did that, it’s important to know when you are going too fast. So, let’s answer the following question first:

How Do You Know If You’re Going Too Fast?

From working with my coaching clients, the tell-tale signs that you’re going too fast varies from person to person. Here are a few typical signs of going too fast:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed
  • Having a to-do list that you never get through
  • Rushing conversations
  • Making simple mistakes again and again
  • Constantly working long hours

So, let’s move on and learn 5 ways to help us slow down.

Slowing Down to grow Faster in Business

Each of these activities don’t take long to do and on top of that they’re easy to implement!

Deep Breathing

We breathe 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but how many of us think about how we breathe?

When we rush around and feel overwhelm our breathing rate increases, as does our heart rate. Slowing down breathing by taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, regularly each day slows down the mind. It can help us to think more clearly. We are more likely to come up with more effective solutions when we are calm, rather than making a ‘snap’ decision when rushing around.

Slowing Down Conversations

When we rush conversations, we could miss an opportunity to make a stronger connection with the other person. We increase our chances of misunderstanding what is being said as well as missing potentially important information. Rushing can also have the effect of making the other person feel de-valued.

Try consciously slowing down conversations. Listen like you’ve never listened before. Most people don’t listen actively – they think of what to say next whilst the other person is talking.

Be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying.

Meditation

Many studies have shown that meditation can help to calm an over stimulated mind. In fact in the article “How Meditation Calms Your Mind and Makes You Feel More Alive” by Luke Glowaki, Luke explains how meditation can help you to create inner peace, improve your concentration and feel more alive amongst other benefits.

Setting aside a few minutes daily during your working day to meditate is a wonderful way to reduce stress, calm the mind and help to think more freely and effectively.

Take Breaks

I remember when I used to work in my IT business, I rarely took lunchbreaks. However, in my final year I started to take regular lunchtime walks with my Business Partner and it really helped me to clear my mind. It was good to get some fresh air and step back from the work I had been doing in the morning so that I was refreshed and re-focused for my work in the afternoon.

Try taking regular breaks during your workday and perhaps go for a lunchtime walk. You’ll be glad you did!

Open Your Eyes

I’m interested in Astronomy and most days I learn something new about our planet, solar system, Milky Way, or the universe. The more I learn the more I realise how lucky we are to be alive. Humanity exists through an incredibly ‘lucky’ series of events during the 4.5 Billion years since it was created. There were so many opportunities for life never to exist or our planet to be destroyed since its creation.  I recommend that you watch ‘The Planets’ by Professor Brian Cox if you’d like to learn more.

It’s an incredible ‘eye-opening’ documentary series that takes you though the history of the planets in our solar system. It provides a new perspective on life and how precious and special we all are!

Conclusion

So, in conclusion we’ve learnt that there are many ways that we can slow down, and I’ve shared five of them:

  • Deep Breathing
  • Slow Down Conversations
  • Meditate
  • Take Breaks
  • Open Your Eyes

Slowing down can help to speed up personal development and can help you to be more present and more effective in your business and life.

Slowing down can also help you to:

  • Have better conversations and create stronger relationships in your business and personal life
  • Relax more
  • Look at problems and challenges in a new light
  • Appreciate people and the world around you
  • Create a ‘growth’ mindset

Ultimately, it’s a personal choice on how you want to be in your life. In my experience I’ve come to appreciate life more and grow my business faster once I started to slow down.

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