A suggestion or 3 to reduce your emails.

Do you receive far too many emails that do not tell you about anything? Perhaps it is that all too customary cc or bcc that invites you to read about something that may at some time be of value, maybe. Perhaps it could be about that meeting that you are not going too or telling you that an action you asked for had been closed down?

Stephen Covey, in his book “7 habits for highly effective people“, suggested that we consider important and urgent as categories to be aware of and questioned the value of the not urgent not important category. Why then do we continue to get these in our inbox.

For some emails there’s an unsubscribe button,but for the majority of emails received internally, we simply accept the content and do not challenge why we received this email.

Have you stopped and asked a question, why is it that you receive these emails?

From today, I have devised a button that I have placed on the foot of all my emails – simply it says thanks but no thanks. It does not remove people from receiving emails from me, but does flag that the content that I have sent through is not if interest. What a fantastic tech solution to measure the number of emails that people receive from me that they are not interested in receiving. I could look at the read rate, bounce rate, delete rate, uselessness rate, time wasted rate, response rate, bcc rate and cc rate. I could graph these and compare them from day to day, week to week, month to month…..

Noooooo… I am interested in behaviour, not how tech can measure stuff that is not of interest. What we need to consider is root behaviour. What is it that triggered the need for the originator to send through an email that may not be useful to you.

Lencioni introduced us to what makes a team dysfunction. I wonder if part of the cc and bcc behaviour is how the individual feels about the environment that they work in. Some of the elements such as trust and accountability ring out.

  • If we really trusted people to close down actions then why do we need an email to confirm completion?
  • Do we really trust the person to do it?
  • What has our body language or the organisation culture demonstrated that it had the trust of the employee in mind.

I remember working for an organisation where the team I worked in was micro managed. We routinely closed down the tasks by email as we did not feel trusted by the person and organisation – or that is how we felt. Sure, it made the manager feel comfortable but did little to promote a motivated workforce.

I recognise that sometimes closure is essential as part of a compliance process. It could be that there is a mandated legislative requirement, but these are rare.


  • What is the main reason that you receive activity from people?
  • What is it that you are creating or adding to the culture?
  • What could you cease doing, and
  • What something else could you do to promote a better email culture?

It is surprising now that the mobile phone is no longer used to talk to people. It appears to be becoming a secondary function behind the apps that are on offer. The average user looks at their phone 1500 times a week (Source) but rarely uses it to phone. A friend has set themselves a challenge – phone up a new person each day for the next month – perhaps this could be worth a try?

In France last year, a new labour agreement aims to give employees a better work life balance by asking employees to switch off work email after 6pm. How would you cope with this?

Finally, think about those subscriptions that you take out when you are clicking around the web. If important for you, then ask yourself why you subscribed. About every 2 weeks, I have an unsubscribe day. I look through those ‘feels good in the moment’ subscriptions and do an en masse unsubscribe to the resultant effect that my emails go down in volume.

What are you going to do differently to start to take control of your emails?



How to get rid of noise in the head and make sense of it.

Modern business conceptHaving a hyper active mind is a great asset when it comes to generating ideas and solutions to problems. However, with it comes a sense of overwhelm and confusion leading to procrastination and potential paralysis. With so many options, ideas and concepts, our basic programming cannot cope and we become ineffective.

There are many methods available to help to overcome this. One of the most effective is meditation – or using a modern word – mindfulness. By gently focusing and defocusing on different things, mindfulness allows us to let go of noise that is not useful, and bring together thoughts that could lead to something.

Another technique that could work is brain dumping. This method is particularly useful for the visual and kin-aesthetic types. Let me explain how it can work.

Firstly, you will need some props. You will need a big pack of sticky notes (I refrain from using the trademark as cheaper alternatives are plenty available in low cost shops). You will also need a good pen. In choosing your pen, think about how you enjoy using this pen to capture your best work. For the third phase, you perhaps should think about a system of capturing actions that works for you. Some prefer pen and paper for this, although I prefer to use an electronic solution such as Asana, or Outlooks own tasks.

The process is simple to follow and could form part of a daily routine.

1065252_161722661. With your pen in hand, and your pile of sticky notes in front of you, start thinking about the stuff that is going through your head. On each sticky note write a brief heading of what this is about and move on. Resist the temptation to develop a solution for what you are writing and resist trying to write too detailed a description. Move on to the next sticky label, and the next, and the next. Keep going until you run dry (The first time I did this, this first phase took in excess of 45 minutes).

2. Phase 2 is now the organising part. As you have what was going through your head (with no limitations), you can now start re-arranging the pile of sticky labels into categories and sub categories. I found that I came up with a list of blog titles, so I put these together in a pile. Go by gut instinct – put sticky labels together based on what feels right.

3. Phase 3 is now about capturing your thoughts. As you work through your category piles, start capturing the detail in a central task list (remember, this is a system that works for you). If a deadline feels appropriate, it probably is important for you to complete soon. Perhaps you will end up with a pile of ideas that do not fit with where you are at the moment. This is fine but as opposed to discarding them, place these in a separate place to review later.

iStock_000016383694XSmallFor me, the benefits of completing this quick and easy exercise was inspiring. I completed this exercise over a period of a week. The structure of the exercise introduced structure to my thoughts and allowed me to prioritise in a way that I felt was correct. The important aspects were scheduled into my diary and prioritised, whilst the non important were noted for a future day. It is now not a 45 minute per day exercise but perhaps a 10 minute one that helps manage time appropriately for the rest of the day.

Enjoy playing with this and please let us know how it works for you!


Cultural Ice Age approaching fast.

Last week, I wrote about the dangers of super and artificial intelligence. This week it is about the overload that is happening between the ginormous web and us meagre humans.

An article in the middle of 2014 suggested that Google had only indexed 0.004% of the Internet but this still amassed to 200Tb of information.

I cannot help noticing how much social media has taken over our lives.

I cannot fail to notice how much information there is being thrust onto us by this ever consuming web. With 16 years of video being uploaded to the Internet every day we are being faced with a real challenge.

We are driven by being part of something, a community. Whilst information continues to grow at this phenomenal rate, and developers strive to give us something new, our impact in feeling part of something is decreasing. Our activities are diluted and we cannot keep up. We become unsatisfied with our presence and spend more more time getting tech stress.

We become more ineffective at what we do and cower behind the screen waiting for the next ping, like, retweet, repost, share, or repin to hit us to provide our dopamine hit (the happy drug).

Steve Jobs banned his children from using his technology. What foresight and oxymoron that he created devices that are hailed as a necessity in today’s world, but something that decreases creativity.

Jobs cites

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules… That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

So to the question – with such a reliance on devices and internet driven by commodity, status and speed, how can we remain human true to our genes – or are evolving towards another ice age frozen by the new virtual surroundings we now find ourselves in?

Thoughts, Uncategorized

Crowded, Super Intelligence and our demise

The web is getting more and more crowded and

due to its ‘infinite’ nature, the web infrastructure can cope with this.

Bill Gates noted his concerns on where super intelligence may lead us and the human race. He declared

“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First, the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern.”

Our understanding of technological processes is increasing.

Only last week did the  UK Parliament vote in favour of a three person baby fertility technique. Many have expressed significant concern at the start of a designer baby craze whilst others are celebrating the “good news for progressive medicine”.

Stephen Hawkins suggests that due to the slower biological evolution phases in humans, we will not be able to compete with the fast moving capabilities that artificial intelligence can evolve.

We have probably all seen science fiction where good intelligence compliments our living, but also that this intelligence can become distorted and threatens our living. We have seen the super intelligence shaped in the form of humans, but this need not be the future. On one hand we have the ‘collective’ Borg as harnessed in Star Trek or the less scary iRobot.

We are approaching a turning point in our evolution when decisions and care need to be taken as to how we can harness our capabilities and understandings of new processes.





Projects, Thoughts

This months challenge – fix the car – DONE!

I have been having a few issues with a car over the past month. The car is a complex menagerie of electronical circuits and mechanical bits that move or should do. My basic understanding is fuel in gets you propulsion.

I remember a few years ago, somebody pointed me in the direction of the Haines manual – queue a large online book store and the relevant manual landed in my letterbox.

PEOPLE JUMPINGMy neighbours must have been sniggering at the curtains as I spent hours with the bonnet up, staring blankly at the engine trying to understand what bits were what. You can imagine the conversation, fuel comes in there – ah, thats the engine, battery connects to the starter …..

What was happening was that on high revs when driving, the car cut the revs down to what the experts call limp home mode. To me this indicated something in the fuel system. It couldn’t be the fuel lines as I was fine below 3000rpm, but when I needed more fuel, it wasnt getting through.

I was now down to fuel filter or fuel pump.

Having visited a local autofactors, I purchased the right fuel filter (the cheapest option) and fitted it, but the car would not start. I was so out of my comfort zone.

A call to the local garage suggested filling the filter with diesel, this would then pull through the engine. They were spot on and the car started.

The reason for sharing this story is that the feeling of elation and success that doing this gave me. I had fixed my car. It was not about the cash I was going to save by not taking into the dealer, but it was the satisfaction that I had fixed it. It was the increase in knowledge that I had got from putting myself out of my comfort zone with a little help from a friendly garage.

Thinking about business, I wonder how this story can inspire others to give something a go. I wonder what it will take you to build together your advisors, your advocates and attempt something.

The risks to me was that my car was going to have to be towed to a garage, but I was not going to let this happened. I read around the subject, sought advice from experts and did it.

I leave you with one question –

What is there that is facing you right now,

that with a bit of dedicated thinking time, and

a conversation with friendly and trusted advisor,

you could attempt, achieve and overcome

with an outcome of building a better you?





The human mind is best when it is asleep

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the power of the human mind. Many times when I am struggling to come up with an idea, I find that I need time to think about it. However, active thinking very rarely comes up with something, so to the concept of sleeping about it.

The Human Mind needs external reminders when it is asleep.A story I heard the other day was about a man who was trying to think about a company name for his new business. He could not get break through. A good friend suggested that he thought about this just before he went to bed and instructed him to have a pen and paper beside his bed. To pacify his mad friend, then man did this.

He awoke in the middle of the night with 2 words and wrote them down on the pad by the side of his bed. When he woke in the morning, he could not remember what he had written, but when he looked on the pad, the idea resonated so much that the company was called this.

An idea, regardless how small, or insignificant, or mad, is worth giving a go. Just think about how much more at ease this business owner is.

He now knows that his company name really means something and resonates with his desires for the business.

Media, Pictures

A new experience

A few years ago I visited the Tate Modern in London. I had an amazing experience but first a bit of a background.

I am full of creative ideas, I love working with concepts, I love music but I don’t ‘do art’. I consider that I think in abstract, but not in a tactile way.

So to the Tate Modern – I had heard that this was a good exhibition, and it had been on my list for a few months. I had also heard that the works of Miro were being displayed. Miro could be best described as the surrealist using a canvas, and later construction to explore his mind and experiences. Rooted in culture, Miro experienced significant challenges in his life including living through 2 world wars and then post war period in Spain.

Love or Fear Change - Do You Embrace Different ThingsMy initial impressions – what was this about – why had I wasted 2 hours looking at this. I then started to look at the intrigue and fascination that other visitors had when they were admiring his work. The calm serenity of thinking as they deciphered what was going on in there.

As I walked around the exhibition, I suddenly realised that in fact it was the initial shock to a new form, a style of painting that I had not experienced that I was in fact reacting to. Once over this shock though, I started to really enjoy the art. I started to see pictures and experience the sheer genius that Miro exhibited. Please don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get it all, but the experience took me to a different place. It allowed me to push further out of my comfort zone into a space where there could be adjacent innovation.

Motto of the story : when was the last time you did something different to push yourself out of your zone?

Target : 1 new experience per week, and explore with an open mind.


For coaches : A new way to log your hours

I have been trying to find a system that I could use to keep track of and log my coaching hours, CPD and supervision.

The Coach Zone Activity LogSimply put, I could not find a system so I built one.

This is now accessible and free for my fellow coaches to use. Simply drop across to The Coach Zone and register for your free account.

Once you have registered, you can access this valuable resource through the top menu bar to add and view your activity.

This will be the first of many such tools on this site so please come and join us there for conversation, banter and ongoing coaching development.



Coaching in the Professions

Many professions have expectations about ensuring regular professional development (CPD) is undertaken to maintain an accredited status.

This CPD generally is focussed around the technical aspects of that role (Eg. to fill knowledge gaps in new legislation and reflect on how this will impact clients, or changes in tax law that impact the way you handle company accounts etc.). This technical aspect can be fulfilled by technical reading, being part of a learning environment, conferences etc.

There are other more personal elements that generally fall outside of the technical CPD. These personal elements carry enough power to derail a leader, partner, or manager and are often overlooked. The impact may also not be enough to derail, but could impact the retention of staff, motivation of environment and how the organisation copes with a changing landscape.

A few of these elements and examples are

  • Confidence – how do you cope when you are continually challenged? How resilient are you really?
  • Effectiveness – what habits have got in the way of doing the stuff that you should really be doing?
  • Change – how do you deal with change, both in terms of personal and organisation level? How do your staff feel when you are in a period of change? What performance impact does this have on their motivation?
  • Work/Life balance – do you have one? If this is an issue, what methods can you adopt to get this back in control? What impact is your attitude to work/life balance having on those close to you?
  • Your values – how do you deal with something that challenges your values? Sure, you can detach yourself but how do you deal with those lingering thoughts?
  • Conversations – do you have difficult conversations? how do you deal with them effectively and professionally? What lingering thoughts distract you before, during and after that affect your professionalism? What about how you deal with difficult and demanding people? Are you difficult and / or demanding?
  • Awareness – what insight do you have into your team when you are working hard? What strategies could you adopt to help become better at this?

Obviously, these are just canned questions designed to provoke response. However, building up a trusting and challenging relationship with a coach that is external to your organisation can assist in pushing through some of these difficult areas.

Do these resonate with you? If so, perhaps an initial conversation could be a starting point so we can see if we can assist you overcome some of these more personal and familiar elements. Your first step is to have an initial conversation with us – book this here.


The Coach Zone and the best use of your time!

Do you find that the time that you have available for doing things is quite limited?

Do you find yourself drifting between tasks?

By: John Loo

This morning, I sat listening to an inspiring talk by Louis Barnett. Louis is an exceptional entrepreneur who started making chocolates at the age of 12, and started to supply mainstream supermarkets at the age of 14. He managed to combine a favourite of mine (chocolate) with an inspiring and amazing tale for a 23 year old. He has experienced rapid growth, near failure, successful exporting to Mexico and UAE, and wears a loud shirt.

The important take out for me was combined with a question “So, what is the best use of my time now?”

I could have stayed and listened to a morning of talks, and perhaps I should if I was conventional and conformist. But – I had an urge to get back to base and do something. I had an urge to get something out of my head and plant it in one of my businesses.

I had been toying with ideas for “The Coach Zone” for a few months and what it would look and feel like.

  • I want to grow a community of great coaches, CoachZone-Logo-Full-v1mentors and supervisors that could work together to help drive the services profession to new levels.
  • I wanted to help provide some basic tools that people might find interesting. From day one, there is an activity log and a to do list that can help you keep track of those really important activities.
  • I wanted to provide a place where people can interact, where they can talk freely and encourage their contacts to do same.

So here we go – The Coach Zone is now Live. Come and join us free and start growing the conversation as coach, coaching supervisor or mentor


So, what is the best use of your time now?

When you move from task to task – what is it that makes you go to that particular next task.

Is it convention?

Is it next on the list?

Or are you going to challenge yourself and do the thing that you really need to do? The thing that could make a different, that could deliver you to the next level in what you dream?

No excuses, go for the passion!

DM us on Twitter to let us know what you are doing – @wheresmylunch or @thecoachzone



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