Letting go of the H’office dream.

Ahhhh working from the home office. Dreamy. Wake up a little later. Make yourself a flat white. Swan about in your fave leisure wear, munching on your home-made muesli and sitting down at your beautifully adorned desk to write screeds of extremely professional emails, locking down 4 new deals and clearing the to do list by 1130am.

When I worked in the corporate world, my employers were fairly lenient with a ‘WFH’ (working from home) day here and there. I was so thrilled not to be sitting in my cubicle or ‘hot desk’, I twiddled away on the couch/rug/balcony with minimal distractions and was fairly efficient. Unsurprisingly with employers eager to keep workers loyal & the growth in entrepreneurship research shows one in 12 workers (769k) in Australia (ABS 2013) and 169k in New Zealand (NZS 2016) choosing to base themselves down the hallway. However, after 3 years away from a cubicle and working on my own business I’ve decided to pull the pin on living the h’office phenomenon full time.

orange chairSure I get it. WFH is pretty rad. You have flexibility. There’s no nasty commute and there’s plenty of tax benefits.  If you have little ones this can work in well with pick ups/ drop offs and you can easily slink off for an afternoon nana nap where required. And wow! How spotless does the house look whenever you encounter a business problem? However here are several reasons why I think it’s worth ditching your sweats and h’office and getting back to ‘work world‘.

Being social vs lonely. Hot DesksA survey of 250 ‘work-from-home’ workers by McCrindle Research in Australia last year found 58 per cent are craving more social interaction and face-to-face contact. WFH is lonely and while the office dramas can drag us down we underestimate the power of being surrounded by others to push us, share ideas and build our confidence. Find a space to work with like-minded folk where you can interact, network, join group learning sessions and potentially do a better job of of ‘co-lab’ than Justin Bieber on exciting  projects with new colleagues.

Self-discipline. The struggle is real. Respondents from the same survey also admitted to eating more food, spending more on office expenses, being unable to relax at home after work and struggling to muster enough self-motivation to do a decent job. The housework all seemed to take top priority for me all of a sudden when I didn’t have to ‘be’ anywhere. If you’re an Olympic qualified procrastinator your h’office is likely your enemy. Move away & fast.

Professionalism in an ug boot? Honestly how much of a success story do you feel in your slippers? Even when coaching on Skype I know what’s going on under the desk and it makes me feel sloppy. Even when you’re WFH it’s always advised to dress as if you were meeting clients in order to convey to yourself & others you mean business.

Work/life balance. Pffft. leaves and window coffeeFrom the same McCrindle research only 25% of people said the WFH offered better work/ life balance. Remember – you can NEVER escape the h’office. Saturday & Sundays blend into a slippery slope of working hours because you were too busy attending to your herb garden on Monday & the computer’s standby light is beckoning you every time you walk past.

The Buzz. Home & Away omnibus playing in the background does not make up for the atmospheric buzz of people kicking goals and the uplifting energy you can literally feel being surrounded by others. The banter may drop off but the sounds of others getting sh*t done is enough to motivate the snooziest of us.

high shotThe alternatives. Many of my clients are ‘solpreneurs’ and if budget is a little tight they choose to hit up cafes or libraries – though NZ seriously lags Australia on free wifi spots. The only annoyance is the occasional café office hogger loudly completing personal admin on their headset purchasing just two mocha-chinos for a days free rent.

For those of us who don’t have to go into a company office I am a big fan of co-share spaces. I’ve visited many inspiring hubs in Sydney and NZ over the last 3 years & I’m excited to finally commit to a space called The Collect and see how my productivity levels accelerate, network grows and routine falls into place. I believe it will be the best of both worlds but I’m very aware at the end of the day my  determination to have my own successful business will always be the driver to get up motivated everyday whether I’m in an office, h’office or co-share space.IMG_5177 A

Enough from me. The dryer just ‘dinged’ and it’s time to get folding.

Check out some co-share #inspo from around the globe.

Need some motivation? King or queen of procrastination? Sign up to our mailing list and receive your free Kickstarter Guide from The You Project. A quick simple guide to get you focused on what’s important and how to get there.

 

Get your connector self on this summer.

Schmooze, hobnob, mingle, rub elbows with are all synonyms for networking. No wonder many of us avoid anything with the word network like the plague. But isn’t it simply about making purposeful connections with people? As we enter the festive season and our opportunity to connect increases five-fold I wanted to offer some useful pointers on how to make growing your network an enjoyable experience.

Network

Recently I found myself falling back to old habits at a launch of a new network in Sydney. On arrival, I took a quick panoramic scan of the room & noted many millennial ‘mover & shaker’ types. I then observed myself lurking behind a palm tree, obsessively checking my emails, accosting the waiter for hors d’eovres and ultimately appearing far too busy to start a conversation. Now, before you scoff I know for a fact I am not the only one who can fall into this trap. I certainly have extroverted acquaintances who bounce into a room with a ‘who will I play with?’ approach however I am constantly receiving feedback from colleagues and clients about how uncomfortable putting yourself out there can be. Susan Cain, the acclaimed introvert expert wrote in her blog on networking “I’ve come to realize that the problem with “networking” is not talking to strangers but rather making small talk with strangers—a subtle but crucial difference”. Universally we don’t enjoy the small talk however once we’ve made a connection the conversation becomes so much easier.

So here’s some tips to make networking or my preferred term connecting, a much less painful experience and ultimately very useful skill.

Before an event.

  • Your personal brand. Who are you being? A quick 1 minute check in pep talk to ensure your inner critic isn’t running riot & producing a million reasons why you shouldn’t approach new people. Do you feel confident? If not, recognise your inner critic at play and use the Thanks mind, but I’ve got this covered tactic.
  • Consider your wardrobe. What story does it tell about you? You may want to wear one memorable, albeit suitable piece of clothing.
  • Prepare your chat and do your research on your potential audience. Also having a unique spin on a topic is useful when entering new conversations. Listen to relevant podcasts or read an article which you can contribute to small talk where appropriate.

At the event. 

  • On arrival approach people on their own or groups of 3 – interrupting two people can be uncomfortable. In this video the speaker goes further to suggest open groups of three with at least one women are ideal as generally they are more inclusive.
  • Always obtain a new connection’s business card – dishing our your card is beneficial however you want to be in control of the follow up.
  • Use the exchange of business cards as a way to move on from a conversation which only needs to be five minutes.
  • Shyness can occasionally be interpreted by other people as a lack of professional confidence or experience – if all else fails, keep eye contact, keep your head high and posture confident even if you aren’t feeling it.
  • Obviously body language is important for everyone with research suggesting up to 55% of all communication comes from body language, 38% from tone and 7% from literal words.  How are you holding yourself? Are you open or closed off?
  • Approach each conversation without attachment – don’t put pressure on it to ‘be’ a life changing conversation but still be an investigator – you’ll either learn something about a new person or yourself.
  • Be present and an active listener. Refrain from thinking of how you’ll contribute when they stop speaking. Listen intently. Your connection will be stronger.
  • Authenticity is paramount. People can sniff out in-authenticity very quickly. Be confident, humble and focused without coming across as a ‘that’ pushy salesperson.
  • Be mindful of your story. When you’re on your energy bus, passionate and open the reaction from new connections is completely different to when your story is all about how business is slow or you’re out of control with too much on.

Post an event.

Connecting promptly after an event is essential however refrain from requesting a standard half hour coffee catch up. Show you respect your contact’s time. Be specific about what you would like to speak with them about, how long it will take & what you want to get from the conversation. A phone call within a week of meeting may be enough.

Building your network.

Connecting smarter is just as much about developing a network over time as it is attending events.

Be strategic about who you network with. Rather than a spray and prey approach, be mindful and seek out the key connectors and influencers in your area of interest.

Thank you

  • If you’re after an introduction find a link through someone you already know as an alternative to going direct.
  • Your current network is invaluable. How can you reward those who have provided referrals or linked you to key contacts?

A big thank you to my key connectors Andy Lark, Alice Moros, Mark MacSmith and Nikki Gravning for sharing your top tips on connecting smartly.  

Time for a 15 min mid-year check in with YOU?

I’m a straight shooter. And I’m not afraid to point out the glaringly obvious. It’s 1 July today. We’re half way through 2015. Around about now you start procrastinating about tax or filling in your automated yet clunky KPI Internal Comms system ‘demonstrating’ what a terrific year you’ve had so far for your manager to rush through to meet internal deadlines.  But here’s something outrageous. How about putting some time aside to actually reflect on your year so far?

Here’s some key questions to kick start your own personal mid-year review.

  1. Source your goals, be they in your head or on paper. How are you tracking? What have been your wins? Where do you need to focus your efforts to keep winning? What has slowed you down & how will you look to solve these challenges?
  2. Your approach. Rather than being attached to a set outcome as you begin each action, consider your strategic approach for each goal especially around who you are being. Do you need to adjust your openness to improve a relationship? Can you find more joy in the everyday, seemingly mundane things?
  3. Your support crew. Who are you going to recruit/ keep on board to assist you to make the rest of 2015 a stellar year? Equally who will you offer support and advice to you – remembering contribution is a key attribute to achieving greater happiness in your life.
  4. Imagine it’s the Christmas party season of 2015. You’re making the rounds. When people ask you how your year was what do you tell them? Make a list with all the areas important to you e.g happiness, health, fitness, love, career, finance, relationships, travel, family, hobbies, home, etc
  5.  What are three actions you will commit to completing this week to get you on your way to achieving your big ticket items and small every day wins?  Email them to a trusted friend who will hold you accountable or feel free to send them my way.

Ideally set aside 1-2 hours to reflect, refocus and refresh your outlook for 2015 but if you can only find 15 minutes just do it! You’re well ahead of the game already by even reading this.

I have a few places left at my women’s workshop The Direction Momentum in Bondi on 12th of July. A great opportunity if you or anyone you know is drifting along or needs some motivation!

mtnsI noted recently how many metaphors and language there is around focus and goal setting with roads and travelling. Journeys, direction,  path, momentum, wheels in mud, road map, stuck at a fork in the road, the road less travelled, crossroads, life intersections the list goes on. So I thought the image I took en route to Mt Hutt , Canterbury, N.Z. on Saturday was apt for today’s blog.

Where’s the road taking you for the rest of 2015?