A few thoughts as the 2016 EOFY approaches.

A few thoughts as the 2016 EOFY approaches by Carla Thomas

Keep going – Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school 3 times.

In the first year Coca-Cola creator John Pemberton sold an average of just nine glasses a day. The company now sells 1.4 billion beverage servings every day.

Struggles and criticism are prerequisites for greatness. There is no over time or rewind in life – all we have is now. Change your ‘’should do’’, to ‘’must do’’. Raise your standards – don’t sell yourself short.

Remember your personal brand and what you stand for – your values define who you are – do not compromise that. Your ability is not a fixed entity – keep learning, adapting and persevering.

Don’t ALMOST get what you want – GET WHAT YOU WANT. There is no reset, update, upgrade button in life – you are solely responsible for the choices you make.

If asked in life what things do you regret, would it be the things you did do, or the risks you didn’t take.

Don’t settle.The average person spends 4 years of their life looking down at the screen of a phone – look up and don’t forget to have real conversations. Connect in person.

Be kind.

Do not let today’s disappointments cast a shadow over tomorrow’s dreams – doubt killed more dreams than failure ever did.

Finally, studies have shown that the attention span of an average adult (8 seconds) today is 1 second lower than that of a goldfish (9 seconds). So if you finished reading this article…






If you haven’t heard of TED talks you must have been living on another planet. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) started as a one-off event in 1984 and is now a world wide phenomenon, covering topics as diverse as brain science, sleep, art, education and leadership.

Speakers have a maximum of 18 minutes within which to speak, entertain and educate the audience. Some have been watched millions of times and have turned the speakers into world-renowned experts.

I like to think of TED talks as the perfect thing to listen to or watch when exercising. If running you can just listen (although sometimes you miss a good power point slide) or watch on the treadmill. You could say it is called a TEDmill.

Here are some of my all time favourite TED talks:


Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy

This TED talk has now been watched over 31 million times. You read that right.   Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s theory, backed by science, is that over time, our body language not just impacts how others see us, but also changes how we view ourselves. “Power Posing” is the new way for building confidence when you don’t feel it. When I first saw this I was an early adopter – it had only been viewed 2 million times


How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal

Viewed 10 million times. What an underachiever!

We are all told that stress is bad for us. But psychologist Kelly McGonigal has done new research that suggests that stress may only be bad for us if we think of it that way – if we train ourselves to think of stress as positive, it has fewer harmful effects.


Why good leaders make you feel safe – Simon Sinek

Viewed almost 5 million times.

What makes a great leader? Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests, it’s someone who makes their employees feel secure, who draws staffers into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility.


How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek

Viewed 25 million times. This is another great Simon Sinek talk and another favourite. He has a simple message for leadership – start with ‘why’. The what and the how will follow when you are clear about why you are doing what you do.


The danger of silence – Clint Smith

Viewed 3 million times. I would like to see this short inspirational talk by teacher and poet Clint Smith get a few more views– it is about having the courage to speak up against ignorance and injustice. One of my favourite quotes “Silence is the residue of fear”.

So here you have less than 90 minutes of inspiration ready for you to watch. What is your favourite TED talk?

Women Have Ambition – Don’t Wear It Out!

In what will come as no surprise for the many women aspiring to leadership or partnership in the organisations for which they work, Professor Michelle Ryan, a professor of social and organisational psychology at the University of Exeter in the UK, has found that battling structural barriers amongst other things just leaves women tiring of the battle.

Professor Ryan has researched why women are under-represented in leadership roles and report to have lower ambition.

She found that at the beginning of their careers, ambition for men and women were largely the same – but that over time, and across multiple professions, the level of ambition for women decreases.

She states one of the reasons, is that women become simply tired of fighting against multiple barriers – including structural and experiential, that their ambition wanes. I would add fighting against unconscious bias to this list.

Of most interest from her research, it is not the desire to have children, or the need to stay home and care for them or the desire for work/life balance that causes this drop in ambition. It is, she says, the simple fact that they lack mentors and role models to enable them to make it to the top.

If the only role models you see are males, it is hard to see yourself in that position. Combined with a lack of mentors and champions, it is much more difficult for women to make it to the top, which often leads them to making the choices they do about their careers, contributing to the unconscious bias – and making it not so unconscious.

As in, “see, I knew she would just leave and have babies”.

Ms Ryan’s advice is to find a sponsor, whether that be male or female, and to be “resilient in the face of the uphill battle, to be aware of the unconscious biases and the lack of support, and not internalise it by saying ‘it’s because I’m not good enough”.

Ms Ryan coined the phrase ‘the glass cliff’ which refers to the fact that many women are appointed to leadership roles just before a business fails.

You can read more of Ms Ryan’s work in this article, which also references her research on ‘the glass cliff’.

Do you have a mentor or sponsor?

Make your priorities the big rocks in our life

A story circulates on the Internet of a time management expert sharing a story with a group of students.  The origin of this story is unknown but in it, the expert talks about priorities and how to actually make the priorities in your life happen.  And it’s a really important message.  The professor stood in front of his university class with a large glass jar and some rocks.  He started putting the rocks into the jar up to the top and then asked the students if it was full.  The students said that it was.

There are different variations of the story as to what came next, pebbles or rice, but let’s say rice. He picked up a cup of rice and tipped them in the jar, shook the jar and everyone watched as the rice filled in the spaces around the rocks.  He again asked the students if the jar was full and they agreed that yes, it definitely was full this time.

He then picked up a cup of sand and put sand into the jar, shook the jar again and the sand filled even more spaces inside the jar.  Once again he asked if the jar was full.  By now the class was curious as to know what was next but agreed that the jar was full.  Then he took a glass of water and poured water into the jar and of course the water poured in, filled up any remaining spaces between the rocks, rice and sand and filled the jar to the brim.

The class agreed that now the jar was indeed full.

On asking the students what they thought the purpose of this illustration was, one member of the class said no matter how full your schedule or life is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something else into it.  The teacher replied that that wasn’t the point at all – the point was that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you wouldn’t be able to fit everything in.  If the rice, sand and water went in first, you would not be able to fit as many rocks into the jar.

The demonstration illustrates that the big rocks represent the things that are important in your life whether that is exercise, spending time with family, getting further education, yoga, doing community work, or reading a book etc.  If you don’t put the big rocks in your diary first, other things will come along and fill up all the space.

The rice, sand and water represent all the things that you have to do in life, for example work, client meetings, and other obligations, but if we applied this theory to our life and pay attention to the things that really are a priority to us, we will make sure they get done.

So to have good work‑life balance and achieve the things you need to do for yourself, in order to build resilience, schedule your exercise, your medical visits, massages, time‑out in your diary as if they are client appointments.  Everything else will still happen.

What are the big rocks in your life?

The importance of sleep

The phrase ‘work/life balance’ is one that is regularly bandied around in media and the work place, often in respect to the balance between our professional life and leisure time.

We have always had to work, but the character of our work has changed dramatically since our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. Although their lives were undoubtedly hard and short, their workloads were relatively low. It is approximated it would have taken around 20 hours per week to acquire and prepare food, and to make tools, clothing, and shelter!

We now live in a drastically different society. While work is still essential to the ability to live a successful life it is now, in the main, focused on employment outside the home. The minimum ‘full time hours’ in Australia are 35 and often with long commute times to factor in as well there is no denying that we have significantly less time for leisure and rest.importance of sleep

Whilst the focus on work/life balance has often reiterated the importance of ‘wind down’, family or leisure time one essential factor that is often over looked in this equation is the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Simply put, not getting enough sleep can lead to a whole number of negative outcomes which can make it hard to effectively juggle work and life and can even affect your performance in the workplace.

Lack of sleep can lead to;

  • Feeling irritable and moody.
  • Forgetting things that you need to do and taking a long time to complete tasks.
  • Falling into micro-sleeps where you experience a lapse in attention.
  • In extreme cases it can even cause hallucinations and anxiety.

It has been shown that by sleeping for less than 5 hours for more than a couple of nights in a row, can lead to similar levels of impairment as somebody who is over the drink drive limit. Also by going without sleep for just one night you can cause a similar effect to your brain as a knock to the head!

So if you wouldn’t consider going to work with concussion or after one too many, maybe it’s time to look at how much sleep you are getting too!

An adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night and anything less than 6 has been shown to impact on productivity. On the flip side, getting a good night’s sleep can keep you on the right track to being successful, happy and focused!

So here are our top tips to a good night’s sleep;

  • Have a clear bedtime routine just like we do with babies – your brain picks up that this is what happens before sleep and begins to prepare itself for a good night’s sleep.
  • Make sure to eliminate all sources of light and turn off your screens before you actually make it to bed. The glow from TV, computer and phone screens is thought to delay the release of melatonin, making it harder to get to sleep.
  • Exercise and move more during the day – this reduces cortisol, which can cause insomnia, and increases serotonin which is a sleep regulator. Plus the more you move the more energy you’ll have in the daytime too!
  • Make sleep a priority. While it may not seem as important as work or as enjoyable as your leisure time it is an essential part of the equation and deserves to be given the focus it deserves!

So here’s to a better night’s sleep and more effective work-life balance!

Block out your time

Are you a slave to your calendar? Do you always tell people ‘I’m so busy’ or ‘I’m so stressed’. You have deadlines. Things to do. Emails to deal with. People to see.calendar

How do you manage large reports or drafting, or big jobs.? DO you start and then pause to answer the email notification you received, or the phone call that came in?

Our brains are learning to be distracted more easily, and lose focus. Modern life and the pressures of being available to answer phone calls and emails while doing other things, is not just creating the expectation that we will do these things; it is teaching our brains that we don’t have to concentrate on one thing at a time. If we stop concentrating on a task it can take up to 25 minutes to regain focus when we return to the task (Pearse and Sheehan, One Moment Please). While we think we are very clever multi-tasking, we are, in fact, taking longer to do all of those things.

If you use your calendar for your client appointments, you wouldn’t interrupt your client meeting to tell the client that you have to take a call from another client; or that you need to go to the drink machine to get a diet coke; or that your supervising partner wants you to email a document.

Get smart about your calendar and use it to block out uninterrupted time to complete those big projects.   This means people will see that you are unavailable for meetings. To do this effectively:

  • look at what you need to do in the day, and what is most important
  • block out the time you need to focus on the most important task
  • let people know what you are doing and that you need this time (remember communication solves most problems)
  • Turn your phone onto silent
  • turn off email notifications
  • shut your door if necessary or go somewhere quiet where you can get on with it and not be disturbed
  • if needs be, ask permission to work from home and get up early and, in the words of Nike, “just do it

I guarantee this will work for you if you focus on what you need to get done, and re-train your brain to concentrate.

And if it works for your work life, just imagine what you could achieve with your health and fitness goals.

Career Motivating Quotes – Part 2

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential” – Winston Churchill

Your ability is not set in stone – keep learning, adapting, and trying.


“Don’t let today’s disappointment cast a shadow over tomorrow’s dream” – Unknown22792-dont-let-todays-disappointments-cast-a-shadow-on-tomorrows

Disappointment is part of life – get back on the horse and try again. Work out what the setback means and what you need to do to overcome it.


“If you want to bring an end to long-standing conflict, you have to be prepared to compromise.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

Workplace conflict if normal – but just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you are right. Look at things from the other person’s perspective and compromise to reduce conflict.


We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”― Sheryl Sandberg

Self awareness is an important skill to develop and help your career – learn about your strengths and weaknesses and remember that in the shadow of your strength lies your weakness. =


“Feedback is the breakfast of champions” – Ken Blanchard

You cannot improve and develop your skills without responding to and acting on feedback


“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” – Confucius

 If you make a commitment, follow through.

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul Meyer

Talk to people. Let your views be known in an appropriate way. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Career Motivating Quotes – Part 1

Here at empire careers we love an inspiring or motivational quote.

Every now and then one comes along that seems to be the perfect quote for the time and place. Here are some of our favourites in relation to career development:


“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Karim Seddiki

Failure is something we can all learn from, but not taking a risk means that we may never fail and never get that lesson.


It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more on a man than he can bear. But worry is rust upon the blade. It is not movement that destroys the machinery, but friction.– Henry Ward Beecher

 Worrying unnecessarily is a waste of time. Working hard at a job you enjoy will not cause stress. But worrying will!


 “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Remember your personal brand and what you stand for – your values define who you are. Don’t mess that up.


 “There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

Do your best, and be the person you are capable of being. Don’t settle in terms of your career.


Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too can become great.” – Mark Twain

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your ambitions. Mentors are invaluable.


“A team is not a group of people who work together.  A team is a group of people who trust each other” – Simon Sinek

Lack of trust can destroy workplaces – you don’t have to like the people you work with, but you have to work with them and trust each other to do the right thing.

Mothers and The Lean in Movement

We were all saddened to hear of the sudden death of David Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, author of ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’.  The reason so many people around the world mourned his death was that he became famous, not just through his own achievements, but by being the very supportive spouse of a very successful and highly paid woman.Mothers Day

In her now famous book, which has launched a global ‘Lean In’ movement, Sheryl Sandberg devotes a whole chapter to the need for women with a desire to lead and lean in to their careers, to have a supportive partner, should they have a family as well.  She credits David Goldberg with being a significant part of her success.  David had been a very vocal supporter of women making their voices heard, even before he met Sheryl. The New York Times recently published an article about his commitment to women’s issues.

Sheryl and David have two children together, and in the book Sheryl explains how, even with the privilege of being able to afford exceptional child care,  they both worked with their diaries to make sure they were both sharing the parenting responsibilities equally.  They sat down at the beginning of every week, diaries out, to work out who was taking the children to school, and made sure, as much as possible, that if one was away from home, the other wasn’t.

They both, even as leaders with multi million dollar salaries, regularly left the office at 5.30 in the afternoon, ate dinner with their children, and then if needed, went back to work, from home, after their children were in bed.

They were a team.  Debora L Spar, president of Barnard College, at which Ms Sandberg gave a speech said:

“They were very much the role models for what this next generation wants to grapple with”

So many times women professionals who have children watch their careers suddenly stall.  Margaret Jolly, HR Consultant with a long history working with law firms advises women going on parental leave to not become what she calls the ‘default parent’ – the one who has to stay home when the child is sick, or the one to pick the child up from care and do the myriad of other things that happen over the course of the week as a parent.  Unless you are in a single parent situation there are two parents – and having a set of car keys and a telephone is more important in organizing kids than auterus.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote:

‘I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is.  I don’t know one woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully – and I mean fully- supportive of her career. No exceptions.’

This means doing the laundry!

So on this Mother’s Day – ask yourself if you want to ‘Lean In’ to your career are you able to do so without your partner ‘Leaning In’ on the domestic front?

RIP David Goldberg

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person

There is never a guaranteed path to success, but there are certain habits that will make us become more effective in the workplace (and perhaps also in our personal lives). As we are constantly on the quest to improve ourselves, here are some tips which will help make your worklife more productive and successful.Effective people

  1. A “To-Do List”

Always start your day with a “to-do list”. Writing down what needs to be done and what you wish to accomplish by the end of the day helps you to prioritise the most important tasks. Start the list with the most important, more urgent tasks.

  1. It’s all about priorities

It is not always possible to complete everything on your “to-do list”, we are only human after all. Always prioritize the tasks that you need to accomplish in the day so that you always make sure you are completing the most important tasks.

  1. Don’t Procrastinate

Never, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Effective and successful people do not procrastinate in completing their tasks, even the less glamorous tasks.

  1. “Go and clean your room”

A messy desk is not always a sign of creativity. It’s probably more a sign of a lazy person and is never conducive to being productive. Having an organised desk, a clean working environment (as well as a clean living environment) means you are never wasting time searching for ‘lost items’ and procrastinating in completing your “to-do list”.

  1. Visualisation is not just for the ‘new age’

Visualisation is a mental technique that uses the imagination to make dreams come true. Highly successful people use visualisation to attract prosperity and make their career goals come true. Each day, visualise what you want to accomplish that day, and then think of the steps that are necessary to achieve those tasks. Repeat this every day.

  1. Never stop networking

In today’s social media world, connecting with people has never been more easier. For highly successful people, connecting and networking is as important as eating and drinking. It’s necessary for business survival. Networking can open many doors. Do not be discouraged if the results are not immediate, networking takes time and we all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  1. Breathe and Recharge

To be effective and successful, every-one needs to fit in some time to recharge the batteries and boost their energy levels. A life of all work and no play is not sustainable long-term. Whether it be exercise, meditation, cooking, photography, always make time for relaxation and hobbies.

Conversely, bad habits that make us ineffective set us up for failure. Here are my top 3 ineffective habits to get rid of sooner rather than later.

  1. Not setting goals

It is important to establish goals, think about what you want and the direction your life is taking.

  1. Refusing Advice

You should always be appreciative of sound advice from experts, family or friends. Highly ineffective people rarely do. Even though in the end you may not follow their advice, thinking of as many pros and cons means your decision making would have been a well thought out process and you will be comfortable with the decision. Highly ineffective people ignore sound advice at their own peril.

  1. Overanalysing Everything

Highly effective people are doers. Highly ineffective people spend too much time thinking and overanalysing and not enough time doing. Always take time to plan, prepare and set goals. Then put the plan into action. Don’t worry about what others may think of your goals. Don’t overanalyse. Just put your goals into action.