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10 conversations best avoided at work

10 Conversations Best Avoided at Work. Earlier this year a university student I know, took on a job as a waiter in a hot inner suburban restaurant and bar and made a common mistake. Quite a sweet and innocent mistake really. The team would often finish late and enjoy a bottle of wine (or two) together, perhaps head out for a burger or a movie and soon she saw them as friends not colleagues and then the trouble started. It’s a learning experience but there are things we share with friends and family but should never raise or discuss at work. Sharing the ‘wrong’ things with co-workers can quickly spin out and leave us exposed, vulnerable or ostracized. Certainly some fun and banter with colleagues is great, probably necessary but you need to know where to draw the line. The problem is that a couple of post work drinks can quickly lead to unintended loose lips and anything you tell colleagues will spread faster than news of a secret sex tape showing Prince Harry in bed with Joan Rivers. Remember everyone loves to gossip. What’s more, most people continue to talk and whinge about colleagues when that colleague is absent – it’s human nature. The 10 Topics best avoided is a tough one to narrow down but let’s give it a go: Your Politics – Don’t say: Why would anyone in their right mind vote for David Cameron or Tony Abbott? Not to mention Clive Palmer. Just don’t do it. Politics can divide people and open up a massive can of worms. Your Salary or Financial Position – Avoid all talk about money at work, be it details about your salary or how much your house or flat cost, your car or computer. Talking about money can quickly generate negative feelings such as jealousy, resentment and gossip. Financial Involvement – Never a lender or a borrower be: it will surely end badly. Intimate Details – Keep your private life private don’t discuss fights and tensions at home and never talk about your love or sex life – no matter how awesome or awful your sex life is don’t ever share the detail at work. Drugs & Alcohol – even if you are nursing the hangover from hell or want to share the excesses of your super party weekend, don’t do it at work. It will always look unprofessional. And as for talking about other drugs – don’t even think about it! Medical Details – We all enjoy talking about our illnesses and ailments. The more sickeningly appalling the better the story – we think! Even though other peoples medical details can be interesting definitely draw the line at discussing even your cold let alone fungal toe nails or your hemorrhoids. Work is not the place to share these fascinating stories. Religious & Ethnic views – You know the person…”I’m not racist but…” or have you heard the one about the Jew the Arab and the Irish Setter” Invariably one of your colleagues will have a Jewish mother who loves Irish setters and is married to an Arab. It’s the 21st century  look around and grow up.  Political Correctness – We may not agree with everyone’s agenda but as we develop our emotional intelligence we should start to respect and even think about and consider the views of others. Sure let rip around the dinner table at home or with close friends it’s called healthy discussion. At work it’s just rude. Social Media – Being as friendly and pleasant as possible with colleagues is great but connecting with all colleagues on Facebook is a step too far. For some just a tad creepy and invasive, when they go home they want to forget work. There is also the risk that one may become “over tired” on the way home and post your thoughts on your friends page before waking in the morning to OMG! A New Job – You might feel unhappy in your job and be actively looking for now position, but don’t tell anyone at work. It will very quickly come out and could leave you in a very difficult position. I could keep going and give you the 101 topics to avoid. It’s a subjective area, you will agree with some and not others but its occasionally worth taking stock of who and what we are and how we act within our workplace. An admission before closing the page………………..I think I may have broken every one of those rules but that’s life and learning isn’t it?

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10 jobs that will bring out your creative peak

1.  Animator The popularity of computers is constantly rising – this is the career you’ll find entertaining and well paid. If you wish to never grow up and have fun your whole life, you should dedicate yourself to creating new stories and characters for games and cartoons that are yet to be created. This job won’t stop testing the limits of your imagination and creativity, so there’ll never be a time when you’ll be in a position to find it boring or monotone. 2.  Photographer The point of life is in capturing the moment – that’s exactly what being a photographer is all about. With some well-based knowledge, a touch of passion, a bit of patience and an insatiable curiosity, you’ll be able to create wonders. Every single photo has its own story, your job is to tell it and pass it onto eternity. But, you’ll need some time to find out how to develop your own style and give it your own recognizable signature and that’s not as easy as it appears to be. 3.  Game designer This is probably the most desired job of any male ever born, and it’s not so just because this job is well paid. Being probably the most popular form of entertainment, games are very demanding when it comes to making them; you need to be up to date with cutting edge technology, like computer engineering, animation, software development, programing and computer animation. But, once you master all of this, you’ll be able to create your own virtual world that’s based on the rules of your imagination. 4.  Nail or make-up artist The world can never get tired of beauty. When you’re a makeup or nail artist, it’s on you to make people more beautiful and work on the aesthetics in general, so you can expect nothing but the constant challenges. This job requires from you to have people skills – you’ll have to dedicate your time to learning about how best to realize your customer’s wishes and do everything to make them feel pleasant during their treatment. 5.  Writer Being a writer is the best way to transform your experience into words. Like every job, this one too requires learning and practice. You need to find a way to discipline your mind, so you don’t lose focus – but once you expand your vocabulary and create a solid value system, everything will fall in its proper place. The constant desire and curiosity should guide you on your way to becoming a witness of your time. 6.  Textile designer Remember how you played dress-up when you were little? Well, there’s a way to do that for the rest of your life, thanks to fashion. All you need is your creativity and some practice to make the perfect clothes that you’ve always wanted to wear. There’s a possibility that you find out that you’re really talented as a textile designer – the next step is a trip to Paris. Like all other jobs, this one too has its disadvantages – you need to get used to a special kind of people in the fashion business, since it’s not easy to get to the top right away. 7.  Chef If you want to completely sink into hedonism, you’ll find this career perfect for you. You’ll undoubtedly meet a lot of different people, travel to many distant locations and learn about various types of food that actually represent the differences in cultures all over the world. But, you need to be prepared to make enough time to turn yourself into a real gourmet – you can’t become a chef overnight. You’ll need a lot of patience and knowledge before you start making first class food. 8.  Interior designer To be a great interior designer, you need to challenge yourself constantly and think outside the box. The tools needed for this career are already inside you – you just need to develop them and learn how to apply them. Once you get all that figured out, it’ll be easier for you to see the bigger picture even before it’s completed. 9.  Professor Is there a greater way to contribute to the world than passing on the knowledge you have to others? It’s not easy to become a good professor because you need to learn how to balance things out, but everything’s possible when you use innovative teaching methods, when you have enough patience and when you are imaginative. Before you know it, you’ll be in love with your job. 10.  Architect It is a powerful feeling, the one you get after you’ve built a master-piece? Being an architect is a responsible job – after all, you’re making a place that people will live or work in – but, once you see that you can change the skyline of a city, you’ll get addicted to it. You’ll also need to spend years in studying really hard and practicing before you actually design a building, but be sure that you’ll find all those years are a great investment.

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10 Tasks a VA Can Do For a Busy Entrepreneur

Regardless of how savvy and multitasking you are as an entrepreneur, there is simply no way you can manage to do everything on your on while running your business. There are a lot of tasks that are better off assigned to a virtual assistant, for example. And if you happen to find a very talented virtual assistant, you are lucky. If you want to know what the exact benefits of a virtual team look like, simply keep on reading. For today’s entrepreneurs seeking to grow, they need to be thinking and working months in advance, like all big businesses do. This means stepping away from the day-to-day functions in their business that are holding them back, and focusing on their genius creative zones. Too frequently entrepreneurs are getting stressed out because they are trying to do it all in their business, this leaves very little room to creation and seeking potential growth opportunities. If you’re finding yourself swamped, stressed, flooded and overwhelmed with managing your business, leaving no room for creative growth, then it’s time to take charge and make the necessary changes. It’s time to look at outsourcing and growing your virtual team - one of the most fundamental things you should be thinking of. If you’re charging clients e.g.: $200 an hour and spending that time on administration work, then you’re throwing money away. But if you allow yourself to have a team dealing with your day-to-day tasks for $30 to $50 an hour, then you’re giving yourself room to grow and create more revenue for your business, especially when you’re doing the things you do best, while allowing your team to manage the rest for you. It’s important to know that there is no point hiring a virtual team if you don’t have the workflow already happening, don’t hire on a ‘vision’ or ‘potential possibility.’ Sadly I have had many rising entrepreneurs with great goals and visions only to fall on silence, and embarrassingly have nothing to show or offer, perhaps just a small scale of embarrassment that what they expected didn’t take off as expected immediately (not to say it didn’t eventually happen). What to outsource? You want to firstly know your own business before you outsource it all, so you know what you want and need for your business. There should be 2 main reasons why you are outsourcing: It’s not your areas of expertise Don’t spend copious amounts of hours doing things, that a virtual assistance can do for you in 30 minutes. You need to weigh up the cost of your time compared to the expense of having an expert doing it. You don’t have the capacity to do it You should be working in your genius zone and creative business growth. One of the greatest benefits that having a virtual team gives your business is that it gives the ‘projection’ to others that your business is bigger than it really is. Here are 10 areas you can be outsourcing in your business: 1. Customer Enquiries You can hire a virtual receptionist, so when your business receives calls (whether you’re in a meeting or on holidays you’ll have someone answer them on your behalf). This maintains professionalism and prevents the loss of potential customers. 2. Diary & Email Management Diary and email management can be very time consuming, especially when liaising back and forth between parties to arrange meetings or attend to matters. A virtual assistant can attend to all standard emails (such as customer enquiries) or even liaise as your assistant with clients. 3. Project Management Running multiple projects in your business can be extremely demanding, especially when trying to keep on top of team members, suppliers, tasks and updates. A virtual assistant can do all this for you, and then give you the updates/progresses. 4. Social Media For many businesses, Social Media is vital in maintaining customer connection. However, creating content, liaising with enquiries and ensuring social media targets are being meet is yet another time-consuming task. A social media virtual assistant is in the forefront of what happens with social media and makes it their jobs to know what is the latest creative way businesses are utilising platforms to keep growing and connecting with their audience. A social media virtual assistant makes it their role to know your branding and key messages, and communicate this with your audience.  5. Event Organising With every event comeorganising details; sourcing venues, invitation, advertising, registrations, running sheets, suppliers, etc). A virtual assistant can do all this for you. How great would it feel to have the creative brain for your event and your virtual team make it all happen? 6. Graphics Some virtual assistants have desktop publishing skills in their repertoire. For some businesses, once a graphic designer has created their business branding, a virtual assistant can assist with creating all additional content such as social media posts, eBooks, presentations, flyers, and make sure they're all aligned to the branding.   7. Bookkeeping A virtual assistant may not be your accountant but they can assist you with your day-to-day management from; generating invoices, entering expenses, reconciling and debtor management. 8. Website Design and Maintenance Some virtual assistants can build websites. Many entrepreneurs spend good money on getting the perfect website built, however, when they need ongoing maintenance or minor updates made, this is something a virtual assistant can help with. 9. Newsletters Creating and preplanning newsletters to your customers is another function a virtual assistant can assist you with. Some virtual assistants specialise in certain packages, such as MailChimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Ontraport which enables them to also assist with automation setups. 10. Blogs You can have your ghost writing virtual assistant research, draft and finalise your blog. Along with sourcing image, uploading and formatting your blogs on your website, as well as adding in your SEO, your virtual assistant can then take this one step further and add it to your newsletters and social media. Commonly there is a misconception that virtual assistants just type documents or enter data but that is far from the truth. Every virtual assistant is different and for some there are no limitations on what they can offer you, such as; Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, webinars, launches, courses, workshops, and the list goes on. You may be fortunate to find the virtual assistant that can do it all for you, but these can be as rare as finding a leprechaun’s pot of gold. So, don’t be afraid to create a virtual team, this will also enable you to have ‘backup’ team members if one member isn’t available. The most important factor in any successful business relationship is communication. Never expect your virtual assistant to be able to read your mind, especially when starting out. It’s time for you to grow your business and what better way to gain back your entrepreneurial creative space than to start building that virtual team.

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11 Ways to Boost Your Focus and Concentration

Why do we sometimes have such trouble concentrating? The ability to focus is a skill – it is not innate. Here are 11 ways to strengthen concentration, even under difficult circumstances: 1.  Connect emotionally to the task. Tightrope walkers and lion tamers have no trouble concentrating. That is because their lives are at stake. But it’s easy for the mind to wander when it lacks passion for what we are doing. Of course, life’s realities often require us to focus on tasks we don’t like. In those cases, ask yourself, “What aspect of this task do I care about most deeply?” 2.  Chart your energy level throughout the day. Most of us have certain times of day when we are clearheaded and energetic. Use those times for tasks that require the most concentration.3.  Remove items that regularly break your focus – family photos, magazines, and any material that is not relevant to your task; even the icon on your computer that alerts you to email. 4.  Train yourself not to give in to distractions. When someone enters the room, or when a door slams, consciously keep your concentration on what is in front of you. When someone talks to you, don’t let your mind wander. Listen as if you were going to be required to repeat what is said back to the speaker. 5.  Decide how long you intend to work, and what you plan to accomplish. Set strict time limits to complete subtasks. Ask your spouse or a co-worker to monitor your progress, and to apply gentle pressure when necessary.6.  Remember the big picture – but focus on the task at hand. If you keep mulling over the large, long-term consequences of your actions, your mind will shut down to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.7.  Use caffeine and sugar sparingly. True, they stimulate concentration, but their effects last only 30 to 60 minutes. The more caffeine or sugar you consume, the more you will eventually need in order to achieve the desired effects. Instead, try five minutes of light exercise, which will perk you up with no side effects.8.  Meditate. It strengthens your ability to control your thoughts. Try focusing solely on your breath going in and out. Start with five minutes per day. Build up to 20 minutes. When your mind wanders, observe the distracting thought rather than trying to force it out of your mind. After a few minutes, refocus your attention.9.  Take breaks. You should be able to concentrate on one task for about 40 minutes. Then take a five to ten minute break. Periodically shift your sitting position at your desk. This helps keep you alert by promoting circulation and sending more oxygen to your brain.10.  Ask yourself where the block is. If you are chronically unable to concentrate on a specific task, perhaps something about what you have taken on is not right for you. In that case, consider whether you are being fair to yourself by forcing yourself to continue with it.11.  Reward yourself for completing particularly difficult tasks.

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15 Cost-Effective Employee Appreciation Ideas

Your employees are a great part of your business's success regardless of the size or expertise of it. And for that reason you need to show your appreciation to them as often as you can. There are quite many ways to show your employees that you value what they're doing and motivate them to work even harder. If you want to find out what those ways are, take a look at these 15 personalised ideas to show appreciation to your employees. Showing your employees how much you value them and appreciate the hard work that they do for the company is critical. After all, you need to retain top talent, and you also want to promote productivity with your team. According to Glassdoor, more than 50 percent of employees would stay at their jobs longer if they received some kind of reward for their work. However, employee appreciation gestures can seem expensive. You want to enjoy the incredible return on investment that comes from acknowledging productivity, but you also want to save money in the process. Here are some affordable employee reward ideas that will bolster your team's productivity and help you increase business outcome in the process. 1. Food If you need to show gratitude to a group of individuals or to an entire department, treating the team to food is a wonderful idea. This could be something as simple as having a basket of sweet treats delivered or catering lunch for a business meeting. You may also order pizza at the spur of the moment when your team is working exceptionally hard. For a more individualised gesture, deliver a basket to the worker’s home or give a gift card to a restaurant with a handwritten "thank you" note. 2. Car Cleaning A more unique way to say thanks is to have their car professionally cleaned and detailed. Some car detailing companies can travel to your location, and all you need is the employee to unlock his or her car door and grant access to the vehicle. 3. On-site Massage Bringing a masseuse or even a chiropractor into your office to give neck or chair massages is a smart idea for a team appreciation. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, while nearly 50 percent say they need help in learning how to manage stress. A massage can help your team relax while also feeling pampered and appreciated. 4. Event or Movie Tickets For special situations that require a very personalised gesture of thanks, giving one or several individuals who have made a stellar contribution to the company event tickets is a great idea. This may be tickets to a favourite sports team match, concert, art exhibit or a movie they might enjoy.  5. A Handwritten "Thank You" Note Simply saying a word of thanks may not seem sufficient, but you may be surprised how far this can go. According to a study by Cicero Group, 50 percent of employees believe that being thanked by managers improved their relationship and built trust with them. It will even be more meaningful to your employees if you take the time to write a "thank you" note that is personalised specifically to them. You may place this note on the employee’s desk while they are out for lunch or on a break. This does not need to be an elaborate message, but it should be authentic and personal. 6. Flowers Flowers are a popular go-to option when you need to say thanks. If you want to personalise your gift of flowers, add a handwritten note or even a small box of the person’s favourite candy. 7. Extended Breaks If you cannot afford to make a big gesture to say thank you, you could offer the incentive of extra free time. This may be a lunch break that is double the length for a week. It may even include a day or two of extra paid time off to be taken at any time during the year. 8. Employee Reward Box If you are not creative at thinking about great gift ideas or if you are not certain which gifts may be well-received, you can ask your employees to place reward ideas into a box. You can then let those who are being honored for their efforts select the reward that they want. An alternative is to ask them to reach blindly into the box to be surprised by their reward. 9. Remote Work Allowing some members of your team to work remotely is a great way to treat them to something special while also benefiting the business. When your team works remotely, you can reduce overhead, and you may see productivity increase. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options. This is a treat that allows your team to find an improved work-life balance as well. Letting your team work from home periodically as a reward will be well-received by most of your employees. 10. Performance Coupon When individuals work exceptionally long hours, it makes sense to reward them with extra free time during slower periods. A performance coupon can be handed to each employee when they show signs of greatness. Coupons can be redeemed when individuals want to run a few errands during the workday, leave work early without reason and more. 11. Personal Desk Gift Another type of personal gesture may be to give a special employee a unique and meaningful desk gift. This could be something practical, or it could be something related to their unique interest or hobby. You may know what this person likes or needs first-hand, or you may have to make subtle inquiries. 12. Flexible Work Day If your office does not already allow for flex time, you can individually offer flex time as a benefit. When the employee has earned it, you can let that individual arrive late or leave work early. If your entire team has earned a special reward, you can work shortened hours on a specific, planned day. 13. Celebration of Personal Accomplishments Your team may have milestones outside of work that are worthy of acknowledgement. For example, one of your employees may have just run his or her first marathon. Celebrating these types of personal accomplishments at work can create a more personalised work experience. 14. New Office Necessity You could also give a new office necessity to a deserving employee that encourages continued hard work. For example, buying the individual a more comfortable desk chair may be an excellent idea. Even buying something small and affordable such as a new mouse could be a wonderful gift that will be well received. 15. Great Parking Spot Honoring a top employee with a premium parking spot for a month is a great reward to consider. It acknowledges the individual and gives him or her a special reward that improves their life for a specified period of time. While it is important to think about a thoughtful gift or reward for a hardworking individual or department, it is also important to express gratitude in a personalised and sincere way. The gift or reward that you provide will be much more meaningful when you make the extra effort to verbalise your gratitude as well. 

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3 Signs of a Dysfunctional Company

Too often, business owners fail to realise of toxic work environments with high levels of distrust and a dysfunctional culture. You can change the toxic workplace for the long term by starting from yourself or the CEO and then fixing poor leadership Watch out for leaders who lack respect, like to shift the blame or don’t have set priorities.​ Here are 3 Signs of a Dysfunctional Company you need to be aware of. Like a car with an engine that can't fire on all cylinders, a business that's dysfunctional may move forward for a while. But eventually it stops running.  Companies don't start out maladjusted, of course. It just tends to happen over time. "The hallmark of a dysfunctional organization is a gap between reality and rhetoric," says Ben Dattner, a New York organizational psychologist. When resources are not used effectively or fairly, when plans are heavy on talk but weak on action or when barriers to communication cripple performance, you're dealing with a dysfunctional company. Once diagnosed, the corrosive effects of such problems can be corrected. But make no mistake: It's neither easy nor immediate. You need to be tough-minded about identifying the source, particularly because it often starts at the top, where the power resides. Here are three telltale signs that a company is unhealthy and some possible ways to get it well again.  1. You've got leaders who fake it.      Recently, management consultant Linda Hanson of Dallas-based LLH Enterprises was called in to help turn around a Houston construction company that had about 50 employees, annual gross revenues of $160 million and senior managers who were at each other's throats. "People were snarly and mean," Hanson says. "There was in-fighting and lots of yelling. They had lost respect for one another and weren't working as a team." A prime example was the information technology (IT) manager. Although every department depended on him, the other managers complained that he "didn't care about their problems, didn't have time, didn't listen, didn't support them and marched to his own drum," Hanson says. The atmosphere got really heated when the chief executive officer, in an attempt to change the culture, hired a new, buttoned-down sales manager who began instituting very different policies and rules. The hiring drew such fire from the other managers that Hanson was tapped to address the company's ailments. She began with exercises in "process mapping." At a meeting of the managers that included the CEO and president, she asked everyone to look at work flow and operations, focusing on inbound orders, external sales, delivery and so on. She asked each manager to stick up a Post-It note whenever he saw a glitch or something wrong, without finger-pointing, of course. "That caused great excitement," Hanson says. "They began to see the duplications and the weaknesses." More importantly, the CEO and president, who were usually removed from such details, had their eyes opened to what was going on. Later, she confidentially asked each manager to evaluate himself and all the other managers. Then she went back to each to report: "Here's how you see yourself and here's how the other managers see you." That stopped a lot of the backbiting. Hanson also required the managers to meet one-on-one for lunch, for a golf game or the like, every month. Each executive was given specific and corny assignments for such meetings, such as being told to talk about a hobby or an interest — anything but work. The idea, of course, was to build relationships. Within four months, she says, managers set up meetings to discuss business scenarios rather than to fulfil assignments, which was the result she intended. Still, the real problem stayed at the top. The CEO and his friend of 10 years, the president, "were both volatile people and they weren't changing," Hanson says. Even though they were asking senior managers to evaluate their work habits and improve peer relationships, the chief executives themselves were unwilling to do the assignments or to work at transformation. "Within four to six months, the company was functioning much better," Hanson says. But it needed another nine months to a year to really come together. And that didn't happen. "You need to set a picture at the top of what the company should look like. It's very hard to say to the CEO, 'You're the problem.' " Lesson: The discrepancy between what leaders say they want and what they really want often causes company dysfunction. You can't ask employees to do anything you're not willing to do yourself. 2. You've got bosses who like to point fingers. No company can flourish in an environment that penalizes experimentation or trust. While that sounds obvious, on a day-to-day basis the nature of risk-taking inevitably means a great number of dead ends before any breakthrough. Very few managers remain calm after hitting the wall. But how you handle those crashes — and how you encourage employees to pick up the pieces and start anew — makes all the difference between a company that encourages innovation and one that stagnates. "When you see a pattern of blaming and people trying to protect themselves and their particular turf, something is wrong," says Ross Moserowitz of Franchise Insights, a Bedminster, N.J., consulting company. Lesson: The remedy is to put your trust in the people you hire and give every employee sincere responsibility. Hands-on, my-way-or-the-highway entrepreneurs won't find this easy. But that's how the business gets better. 3. You've got a CEO who doesn't set priorities. Fast-growing companies are often so intensely focused on moving to the next level that no one is actually in charge. That's how dysfunction creeps in and takes hold. Paul Glen, an IT management consultant in Marina del Rey, Calif., tells about a 20-year-old software company that hired him to create a new product management department. The business had released several successful products and grown to 100 employees with 13 departments, each headed by a different executive. Every one of the managers reported directly to the CEO, so no one had to talk to anyone else about his department's work. When Glen asked each executive what the new department would do, he got 13 different answers. It turned out that the company didn't need a new division at all. What it needed was someone to coordinate the company agenda and get the managers to share information. The idea for a product management department was how the executives expressed their need for better coordination. "The product development department didn't take direction," Glen says. That meant the group simply created products and released them without checking with any other department. So sales didn't know about the features of the new products, or when to sell them. Support and consulting were also in the dark. They couldn't help customers implement products or fix any problems. And so it went. "Each department flew off on its own, trying to do what was right." Priorities were constantly shifting. Decisions were continually made and unmade. "The CEO assumed the executives had the authority to make product decisions and it wasn't her job to tell them what to do," Glen says. While everyone had the very best of intentions, chaos reigned. Lesson: Company leaders must set the mission and the agenda. A hands-off policy can only go so far. Epilogue: Time for a checkup Smaller businesses are both more susceptible and harder hit by the ripple effects of dysfunction. With a close-knit staff, it's easy to make allowances for people's tempers or bad moods or refusal to take responsibility. But, sooner or later, that kind of thinking can catch up with you and the business. Lesson: Take the time now to check the health of your workplace. And make the course corrections you need avoiding 3 Signs of a Dysfunctional Company . Starting now. Take care, take action and be relentless...  Regards,   John Millar Managing Director More Profit Less Time Pty Ltd Profit facilitator, Author, Business and Executive Consultant, Trainer, Professional Speaker Certified Business Trainer, Certified NLP Practitioner, Certified Guerrilla Marketing Practitioner Diploma of Management, Diploma of Human Resources Management John Millar  

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3 things you need to make a mastermind group work

The mastermind group was a concept first presented by Napoleon Hill in the best selling book Think and grow rich. It defined a mastermind group as being a: “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” This was inspired by the successful wealthy steel mogul Andrew Carnegie. Napoleon Hill wrote: “Mr. Carnegie’s Master Mind group consisted of a staff of approximately fifty men, with whom he surrounded himself, for the DEFINITE PURPOSE of manufacturing and marketing steel. He attributed his entire fortune to the POWER he accumulated through this ‘Master Mind.’”  This worked really well for him because everyone was invested in executing the ONE vision. These days mastermind groups have been formed around the world with many people complaining that it is a waste of time or it was not as effective as it previously was. Most of these mastermind group are ones that are there to help each individual with their own visions - this dilutes the "definite purpose" by the number of people in the group, but there are 3 things that can be done to ensure success. 1. Leadership I can't emphasise how important a good leader is. The leader of the mastermind group will greatly determine its success and effectiveness. The leader needs to be organised, accountable and be able to influence the members. Most people may not have enough time to do all this so an assistant or a supporting figure is essential. The leader needs to uphold the groups rules and responsibilities and ensure accountability between all members be kept. This leads to the next element. 2. Agenda A set agenda for each meeting is important, especially when you are trying to help everyone in the group. This means that time needs to be allocated evenly between helping each member, and the topic needs to be well adhered to. The leader will play a key role in controlling conversation at this point as it is more common than not to have idle conversation or off topic chatter when large groups meet. Each meeting should be outlined with the agenda communicated prior to meeting so that all members may prepare their part in the conversation and bring something of value to the table. The agenda should be carried out with little time wasted on off topic conversations which can waste time. To make up fo this allocate a chat session prior or after the meeting is held so people have a chance to socialise without interrupting the meeting. 3. Accountability Especially when it comes to business owners, time is something that we all don't have a lot of. However a lot of problems can occur when members stop showing up. Being present is important as it strengthens the bond between the members and also shows respect to the people that do turn up. Tolerating tardiness or no shows is a surefire way to end your mastermind group. Make it clear that it is a commitment they need to keep and present clear guidelines and processes before members join as to what is expected of them. Reprimand accordingly when members don't follow the guidelines and make it clear there needs to be accountability on all levels. Members that float in and out of the group are detrimental to the groups commitment as it will soon be viewed ok to not be present. Success is not easy and requires hard work and dedication and the same rules should be applied when you wish to join or create a mastermind group. The success of it's members will depend largely on how disciplined they are with sticking to their "definite purpose". You may have other tips to share as well so please leave them in the comments section!

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3 ways to find outsourced staff

Outsourcing is a great way for small businesses and start ups to remain competitive. Companies have been outsourcing departments and services for a very long time, however this hasn't been affordable for small businesses until the introduction of global and virtual outsourcing. Today there are many ways to find outsourced staff from all over the world, and using our currency advantage you can hire highly skilled and affordable outsource staff to take care of anything you need from admin to marketing and website development. However even thought it seems very easy to find contractors, its also hard to find good contractors and for tips on managing outsourced staff please read this article. Here are ways on where you can find outsourced staff: 1. OUTSOURCING WEBSITES Outsourcing websites are the most direct way to find outsourced staff, it's simple to use and the websites generally make it easy for you to post job ads and hire contractors. oDesk oDesk is a great freelancing website where you can find the right worker for your work. You can select the contractor based on ratings and reviews. You can review the work and pay the contractor with ease. Pros: Large network of developers, tools for tracking employees (keyboard, mouse activity, screenshots), no limit on bids so you can find cheap work  Cons: No limit on bids so jobs often reduce to pricing wars and quality can fall by the wayside, no escrow system, users can game profile ratings by hiding negative reviews and having friends provide reviews, etc.  Elance You can find top skilled workers on Elance in almost all fields such as writing, web designing, programming, software development, graphic design, medical transcription, legal and finance. You can post your work on Elance and get proposals instantly. This site has more than 1,300,000 professionals ready to be hired. Pros: Geared towards fixed-bid work (hire-by-hour or by-project), minimum bid ($50) keeps out some lower-quality programmers (also requires payment to start account)  Cons: This applies to ODesk too but sometimes contractors will try to sell your projects or solutions to other employers, pricier than ODesk, dispute system incurs fee for both parties, buyers sometimes avoid giving bad feedback b/c they find that it becomes more difficult to find bidders if they do  Freelancer It's a great outsourcing market place where you can outsource anything you can think of. You can find hundreds of skilled programmers, web designers, content writers and ghost writers at highly competitive rates. You can pay your freelancers only if you are fully satisfied with their work. You can also post your first work for free over there. Pros: Pay through milestone complete, suited to smaller jobs, good for project-based work  Cons: Similar to many of the above i.e. game able ratings, lack of talent in pool  Getacoder This is a popular global services market place that is doing business in more than 200 countries. You can find great talents in all fields at very competitive rates. Pros: Has a reasonable dispute resolution policy.  Cons: Harder to navigate than other sites and offers fewer features. Can be more expensive for freelancers to use this site  Guru This freelancing site has over a million registered users. You can find the right freelancer for your work at affordable prices. You can post your job for free. You can pay after the satisfactory completion of your project. Pros: Lots of US-based workers, pay for completed work via escrow system  Cons: Costly if non-member (10+%), otherwise monthly fee  2. OUTSOURCING AGENCIES Outsourcing agencies have the benefit of having people on board to help you manage your contract staff, in addition if your staff is sick or unable to work, they will usually have extra resources on hand to replace and retrain without you having to do it yourself. You are essentially hiring a manager. This is great if you are not experienced with handling outsourced staff and don't have the time to manage an extra resource. You will usually be paying a bit more to agencies, but you are guaranteed quality staff that have already been trained. In addition these agencies usually have offices that your contractor works from as opposed to working from home arrangements and this usually improves accountability and reliability of your staff member. 3. HIRING A PERSON TO CONNECT YOU TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE This is essentially like a recruiter for outsourced contractors. You can hire a skilled recruiter to find you a list of candidates, usually a good arrangement is a bonus if you hire a candidate that they send to you and an extra bonus if you are still happy with the candidate at 6 months or 1 year. Having this tier arrangement allows you to ensure the recruiter is kept accountable to give you a candidate that is good enough to keep for the long term. Outsourcing parts of your business can be a challenge at first, but once you find the right people and have the right processes in place it can be a very efficient and cost efficient way to run your business.

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