Keep your edge

I asked my youngest daughter (age 6) last evening what she was up to, she had a snail in one hand and a windfall pear in the other. “I’m being a being” she responded. “Fantastic”, I replied and off she skipped.
MensSlalom
It reminded me of a CEO that I work with who is actively encouraging everyone in his organisation to do nothing or just be, for 5 minutes every day. ‘Simple’, I hear you say, well yes, but surprisingly hard to actually effect. The way we live, work and play today is all about doing. He is leading the way and finding it hard. What he espouses to his team and organization is just being; watching, listening, observing, looking, tasting, touching, even smelling ( the roses or the coffee!) . Indulging those senses, letting the mind wander and then bringing it back to the here and now.

‘Just being’ is a form of mindfulness, becoming more present and in the here and now.

The interesting upside of just ‘being’ for a moment or two is that you will ultimately become more productive and likely less stressed. This is because the brain gets to a place called homeostasis – calm yet alert and energetic and we have greater access to our knowledge and experience. Stanford professors have proven that mindfulness does indeed have the ability to rewire the brain, it has a positive impact upon health as well as productivity. Happiness is a by-product too!

Now, far from being a soft touch, you can be mindfully cross or even mindfully angry but what it will potentially enable is a more conscious and thoughtful response to whichever anger prompting event or action has (or hasn’t) occurred.

Try it;
If possible find a nice space for you, inside or outside
Focus on your breathing, the in and out of your breath, your mind will wander, let it, and then bring it back to the present and the in and out of your breath.
Indulge your senses: What can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you taste? What can you smell?
Enjoy.
Businesses from Apple, Google, General Mills and Chase to the NHS, that have embraced mindfulness are experiencing increases in productivity, absenteeism plummeting and noticeable business improvement.

This weekend I was honoured to jetty marshall at the Mapple 35+ European Waterski Championships. I couldn’t help but notice in the moments before the competitors allocated slot, they would just be, admittedly with nerves, face in the sun (or the wind or rain), some mentally practicing and visualizing but very much in the moment and the present here and now. As they left the jetty, the concentration and focus kicked in when it mattered the most.
The late Andy Mapple OBE, one of the greatest water-skiers of our time, was known for saying ‘ leave nothing on the dock’. When those world-class skiers left the dock (jetty) nothing was left behind and they absolutely had their edge – literally – when they needed it.

Are you allowing yourself to ‘just be’ for a few moments each day so that when the time comes and you need your clarity, focus and edge – it’s all there, poised and ready?

We are, after all, human beings!

If you would like to speak with us about Executive Coaching, nurturing and developing your people or introducing mindfulness to your organization, do contact us for a preliminary session.

Be bold and have a fabulous Autumn.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

The Art of Possible – new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action is out now on Amazon in hardback and eBook, or on iBooks for iOS devices.

Books
Kate Tojeiro is an executive coach and facilitator to senior executives and teams at some of the world’s largest global organisations and some of the most cutting edge start-ups. She is a regular on BBC radio and a voice in the media.
Find her at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

On the run….

Is there something of a feeling of being constantly on the run…..? Leading, tweeting, speaking, emailing, reading, exercising, building, posting (new age not postman styley), inspiring, eating, drinking, socializing, friends, family, travelling, ticks off the list, YOLO of course and then there’s sleeping…. Unless we physically turn stuff (technical term) off, it will happily buzz, bleat & chirrup news, info and more stuff ad infinitum….

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We’ve heard recently about people attending ‘digital detox’ programs, however is this perhaps missing the point. For all the distractions and disadvantages to our time from the digital world, the advantages and new ways of living, communicating, helping others and running businesses are extraordinary. Is it perhaps as it ever was, just different?

Carving out time to just ‘be’ has perhaps always been tricky in a busy life.

Not for nothing did WH Davies write the poem Leisure…..’What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’……..in 1911.

I’m working in collaboration with a neuroscientist and I discussed with her that there appeared to be greater need for people to stop and pause even if just for a few moments. With a wry smile, she looked at me and said, no, for the brain to truly reinvigorate not a pause or a stop, after all our brains don’t stop or pause, unless of course something wholly terrible has occurred, just observe, take time to just look, observe and notice. It clarifies thinking and gives the brain a ‘rest’ – layman’s (my) term.

So, with permission from the pinnacle of current neuroscience to be nosy, I mean curious, perhaps we could all do with a little ‘time to stand and stare’.

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After all, a key component of the vast majority of successful businesses is watching, listening and learning about customer, employee and client activity and then doing something about it. Hard to do if we don’t know what ‘it’ is.

Have a wonderful summer.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

And if you have time for the whole poem, here it is….

Leisure by W.H. Davies:-

 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

 

My first boss was fond of saying “it’s the little things that make big things happen”. 

More specifically noticing the little things, the details, and also intuitively spotting how others feel. 

 

In the course of the last few months I have interviewed some extraordinary people for my forthcoming book; a young lady who, from a very hard childhood indeed, now has an apprenticeship and is studying for a degree and is possibly one of the most uplifting people I’ve ever met, the CEOs of several Fortune 100 companies, and some elite sportsmen and sportswomen from netball to racetrack.  I have felt humbled, awestruck, slight terror and excitement, as the passenger of a well-known former racing champion on a track. And huge inspiration. 



2013 BTCC Media Day. #5 Rob Collard (GBR). E-Bay Motors. BMW 125i MSport.These people all notice, they notice lots (or have learned to). One trait they all shared almost palpably was the sheer ruthlessness around attention to detail.  Be it personal fitness, technical excellence, product detail or superb team communication, nothing was left to chance.  Nothing that is, that was within their control.  It was the racing driver who articulated it most powerfully. Listening to him, it was evident that he went to incredible lengths to ensure that everything that was within his control was exactly that, under his control.  Can’t control the weather, track conditions or what other drivers are doing but you can know exactly what’s going on with you and with your car. 
 


Nasty Gal is a $100m, 7 year old, online vintage retail company with more than 350 employees.  Sophie Amoruso, the straight-talking, irreverent and fabulous CEO and founder, talks compellingly about attention to detail, the painstaking attention that goes into styling, sourcing and curating outfits.  Most importantly noticing the customer, ‘ignore your customer, at your peril’.  If an item sells – they stock more items that are similar, if it doesn’t or a customer complains, that’s it – they don’t go near it ever again. 


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There are countless examples of organizations that haven’t listened to the customer and certainly not minded the little things so that the big things take care of themselves. 
 


As Giorgio Armani succinctly put it ‘to create something exceptional, your mind must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail’.
 


Do you need to pay attention to any little things today? 
 


My warmest wishes,
 


Kate Tojeiro

 

Having built up a string of prestigious FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 clients over the last 15 years, Kate Tojeiro works as an executive coach with the boards, senior leaders and teams of some of the world’s most illustrious organisations and some of the most cutting edge, organically-grown start ups.

Contact her at www.the-x-fusion.co.uk. 
 

 

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

When the going gets tough……

When the going gets tough ….
My eldest daughter was recently somewhat embarrassed to hear that I love “When the going gets tough…” by Billy Ocean and the occasional power ballad! It wasn’t just the admission, it was that I happened to air this guilty pleasure while being interviewed on the radio.

She then went on to say, musing a little, ‘It’s cool to say what you like though’. And that, was that.

I couldn’t help but ponder later: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is something of a mantra for the best leaders out there. Their words, of course, might be very different. The fine line between successful leaders and less successful one’s, is nearly always evident when the going gets tough. The same can be said of great sportsmen and women who, under great physical and mental stress make things look effortless. But you know for sure that a massive amount of hard work, energy and effort has gone into honing that ability, even if it’s on a foundation of natural skill. They practice daily!

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For many of the banks, the going appears to be getting even tougher, and the proposed PFIZER takeover of Astra Zeneca is proving challenging for many, at industry, city and even government level.

‘Getting going’ when it’s hard, navigating a path through uncertainty, challenge and difficulty, means taking into consideration all those involved around you. I recently discovered through a fascinating discussion with a neuroscientist, that through rigorous research it is understood that ‘successful people’ do indeed have a very high level of self-awareness and that of others.

Whilst dealing with complex technical scenarios, compliance, product issues, markets, the press et al, they are also very aware of the impact a challenge is having on the individuals involved. And they subsequently take the actions and interventions needed to make it easier for them. Sometimes, just admitting that it’s tough goes a very long way too.

Some years ago, I was at a company meeting with the CEO of a tech company that was six months from running out of cash. They were only just making payroll each month. The CEO got the team together every single morning, in person/ via teleconference call/ Skype and candidly told everyone what was happening and what needed to be achieved in order to turn the company around. He also told them how much he believed in them. He shared a document weekly that quite clearly stated how much money the company had, or didn’t have, too!

Six months later, with a few new deals and an investor on the horizon, things were looking better. He now lives in Boston, MA and the company thrives, they still fondly remember the engine room, as it was called, over a shop on Oxford Street in London when the company nearly went to the wall.

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When the going gets tough or even when it doesn’t, do you know what your strengths are? And do you practice for whatever it is that you want to achieve daily?

As Yogi Berra eloquently put it: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is….. Successful people practice….. a lot.

And of course, if you’d like some support and assistance through the tough ‘stuff’, you know where we are.
My warmest wishes,
Kate

Kate Tojeiro is Managing Director and Executive Performance Coach at X fusion.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out

 Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

Having spent some of the weekend with nieces, nephews and assorted friends under eleven, Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ is still playing in my head. I can’t claim to know the words, as the kids all had slight variations to Pharrell’s original lyrics. The ‘ Happy, Happy, Happy……’ was a consistent and a constant though.ImageWhen life is throwing various shades of excitement and challenge sometimes the ‘happy’ bit seems a bit hard to find. Whether you’re the CEO of a global business with hundreds of thousands of employees or running a neat charity full of volunteers, one thing I’ve observed clearly is that the most content and comfortable in their own skin perhaps, are more often than not being ‘themselves’.

What I mean to say is; they say what they think, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and maybe, in fact often, put themselves out on a limb, so to speak. This can take bravery and courage and of course, we are all bound by certain processes, systems and rules however those that work the rules so that they can be themselves rather than be or do or say what they think others wish them to be are generally happier and achieve whatever it is that they’ve set out to achieve. Do we really ever know what others think anyways?

I met with the founder and CEO of a well-known fashion label a few weeks back, the company had just been offered a significant amount of growth funding. ‘I can’t take the investment, Kate’ he said, ‘it would suck out our soul and we wouldn’t be who we are’. It just didn’t feel right. So, they didn’t take it and whilst to some, that might seem a harder path, it’s their path and it works for them and innovation and creativity (without pots of cash) is thriving.

Divine Chocolate is a brilliant brand known for standing for what it believes, once awarded for “its courageous and creative marketing stance in favour of fair trade in the highly competitive chocolate confectionery market”. Way to go!

An amazing lady, Steph Jeavons left the Ace Café in West London yesterday to travel around the world on her 250cc motorbike with £5 a day to spend on food. The challenge; living, learning and enjoying by circumnavigating 42 countries across at least 6 continents and following her dream. Just fantastic!

She’s being herself . When we do the thing that is utterly what we believe and syncs with our purpose (even if we don’t know it on a conscious level) but it just feels right, the results speak for themselves.

As Sir Martin Sorrell, of WPP once said, ‘impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible’.

And as As Dr Seuss beautifully put it ’why fit in when you were born to stand out’.

ImageHave a fantastic Spring and if you need a little help putting a little bounce in your stride, you know where we are.

If you were truly being yourself today, what would you do differently, now?

Alternatively……a little bit of ‘Happy, happy, happy…..’ goes a long way…….

My warmest wishes,

Kate

 

Clarity, feedback, football ….and the lure of a V8.

‘Epic! But what was your Mum doing there?’ exclaimed a friend of my daughter’s in barely disguised shock.  ‘She knows nothing about football!’

And so it was, a few weeks backs, I was pinching myself at the UK launch of a long-awaited supercar surrounded by those at the very heart, one might say, of football, past and present and from sport, and the motor industry.  Whilst I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate this until after some stealthy googling, I was indeed in the company of greats; players, managers, coaches, fans and the inimitable Jose Mourinho himself, the new UK ambassador for Jaguar. Image

Having a discussion with the former CEO of a Premier League football club was in itself fascinating and an honour, and a conversation ensued about leadership.  That much discussed topic of leadership in sport and leadership in business. He was telling me about a football coach whose particular modus operandi was of two guiding principles; clarity & feedback. Clarity; what are our goals and aims for the next match and the season, and feedback: in the moment and definitely on the same day.
I’ll be surprised if anyone reading this doesn’t fully agree to being clear and giving clarity and focus at all times, especially when in a position of leadership.  Most recognise the power of feedback and that it works exceptionally well both in sport and business. However, only a minority of companies do this really well, where feedback is a genuine part of their culture and the results speak for themselves in the business, and on the bottom line.

Feedback is often the once a year review (incidentally that’s not feedback),  or it is feared , clumsy and ill-delivered, especially if it’s a difficult message.

With a modicum of practice, feedback can be one of the easiest, least complex and potentially game changing (forgive the pun) tools in your kit as a leader or indeed friend, partner, colleague or team mate.  In this world of complexity, changing markets and an ever-developing customer and consumer, something easy and that works, is surely a good thing.

Feedback at best is clear, honest and specific. It is also frequent.  The aforementioned CEO asked his coach why he always gave his players feedback on the bus on the way back from a game, even if it was difficult. His response, I like to start each day on a high and if that means challenging feedback at the end of the day that the action occurs, so be it.

‘Tis currently the season for company results and if this isn’t a good time for greater clarity and feedback to either grow and learn, or improve and vitalise performance, I don’t know when is.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, as Ken Blanchard once said, and in the world of football I can see testament to that and perhaps the bridge between leadership in sport and business is closer than we think.

The V8, the stunning F-type R Coupe, metaphorically spoke for itself.  Jose Mourinho, very much his own man, said “I know what I like and I know what I don’t. I like this.”

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Enough said. Clear as day.

And if you’d like a little help with clarity for 2014, you know where we are. If, on the other hand it’s football advice you’re after, I know a man who can!

See you soon.

Warmest regards,

Kate

Be bold. Be brave. Be you.

I had the privilege of meeting aviator Tracey Curtis Taylor this week. She has just returned from an epic trip, flying solo in her beautiful open cockpit vintage Boeing Stearman plane  ‘The Spirit of Artemis’ across Africa.
Tracey was recreating this pioneering journey first made by Lady Mary Heath in 1928.  She is an inspirational, courageous and driven aviator with an indomitable spirit and talks enthrallingly about the sheer joy of flying, the odd drama, and risk.

We talked about doing what you believe in and that sometimes you just have to get out there and ‘do it’, whatever ‘it’ is in your world.  Many times fear of whatever ‘it’ is stops us or as Tracey confirms, on occasion it’s the fear of the fear.  Finding one’s true purpose, if you will, which syncs comfortably with your values can sometimes appear hard, but when we do, invariably everything comes together and it feels easier.

I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt that said, ‘do one thing everyday that scares you’. And of course the upside beyond the ‘ scary bit’ is that we learn something and that’s almost always a good thing.  Kids do this every day be it swimming out of their depth, riding a bike, asking for help or as a little boy I spotted half way up a tree the other day yelling ‘Mummy I’m scared’. He was talked/ helped down and promptly went straight up said tree again but higher! 

The organization Netflix has a very clear and strong set of values; how they operate, how they treat their people and a very clear sense of what works for them. They most certainly don’t fear the hard decisions, such as informing people that they don’t fit, removing products that don’t work and the success of the company is testament to that.  Great values and standing by them invariably works.

Overcoming the little hurdles or indeed the big ones broken into chunks, takes steps towards overcoming the fear.

In the words of author of The Alchemist, Paul Coelho “ there is only one thing that makes a dream impossible; the fear of failure”.

Francesca Simon, the author of the multi-million selling Horrid Henry books talks of the getting started bit of writing a book, taking that first step.  She says she ‘tricks’ herself by starting in the middle; a few notes here, a few ideas there and voila, a new chapter, literally and metaphorically, has begun.

Whatever it is that you want to do; take a baby step, trick yourself, be bold, be courageous, believe in you and have a fabulous 2014.

And if you’d like a little help, you know where we are.