Within his book, The Virgin Way, Richard Branson shares a letter written by his mother, Eve Branson. He says he was a child full of curiosity, determination and a thirst for exploration, and in his mother’s words, “utterly determined to do his own thing”. Most parents would want to protect their child from the hurt that’s associated with failure, but Richard Branson’s parents gave him the scope to explore his crazy business ideas. Many ended in disaster, but he learnt by his mistakes. His parents were there to help him pick up the pieces, and encourage him to soldier on. It turned out these were just “the growing pains of a budding entrepreneur”.
Author Archives: Wendy McAuliffe
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
Who are we to argue with the wise words of Albert Einstein? Certainly not me! On some days, usually when I’m up against a big writing deadline, it’s hard to tell if there’s really a desk under my mountain of paperwork, notebooks and mugs. A former journalist colleague of mine once discovered a six-month old mouldy, half-eaten pasty on his desk when he was ordered to give it a clean up!
The Google campus in Mountain View, California, has the perfect solution to that well known energy slump which many of us experience in the afternoon, usually right around 2:30pm. It’s called a nap pod! When the innovation gets too much, employees are encouraged to take themselves off for a five to 15 minute power nap, to help recharge their batteries.
LinkedIn is so much more than a business networking tool. While it’s great for forging new business connections, and strengthening existing ones, its content can often be a source of motivation and learning. Submitted by business leaders around the world, it’s not uncommon for articles to be authored by revered business figures such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as highly successful published writers and speakers.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll know that at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, an enchanted ‘sorting hat’ is used to decide which house each pupil should be in. If only us muggles had such an easy way of judging personality! But with the absence of a sorting hat in the business world, companies have for years relied on psychometric testing. It’s big business, and in the US alone more than 2,500 personality tests exist on the market.
A study carried out by ROI research found that people are 44% more likely to engage with a brand if an image is involved. On Facebook, a post that includes an album or picture receives 120% to 180% more engagement from fans than a text-based post. According to 3M Corp, our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Suffice to say, images are often the perfect way to bring a piece of content to life, in order to attract the highest levels of engagement.
Web conferences aren’t always the most natural of situations which can sometimes lead to some common pitfalls and awkwardness, as well as some pretty annoying phrases!
If you’re a regular to web conferencing, you’ve most likely come across some or more of these phrases at some point. Very often the problems arrive when you’re being asked to use an online meeting platform which is unfamiliar to you. I’ve learnt that it certainly pays to be prepared, allowing plenty of time to set-up the technology beforehand, run an audio check, and still be on time for the meeting. Investing in a good quality headset is another ‘must’, if virtual meetings are a regular thing for you.
It’s tempting, I have to admit! A life without email would undoubtedly make a huge difference to my productivity. Throughout my career, the roles and positions I’ve held have always been heavily reliant on email, and although it’s been essential for communications, in many ways, it has also been a big distraction. Despite best efforts to restrict email related tasks to particular times of day, the reality is that people often expect faster response times. When an important email comes through which needs urgent attention, it can be tricky to ignore. But this can really disrupt the creative process and work flow.
There is only one place to begin a round-up of the coolest offices in the world: Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California. People find Google’s HQ so comfortable, that a number of employees decided to make the ‘Googleplex’ campus their permanent address for more than a year. With perks like free meals, nap chairs, haircuts and a laundrette, it’s easy to see why they thought they’d save on rent and other personal costs for a while.
Brainstorming was invented in 1941 by New York advertising executive Alex Osbourne, who found that conventional business meetings were inhibiting the creation of new ideas. He proposed a set of rules that he believed would give people the freedom to think creatively and bypass any inhibitions or tensions. They were:
When you type the phrase ‘inspiring leaders’ into Google, the results are most likely what you’d expect — images of Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. But have you ever stopped to consider why these usual suspects show up time and time again in conversations about inspiring leadership, and what they might have in common, in terms of the way they think, act and communicate?
If you have a weakness for gadgets, you might want to look away now!
We’ve compiled our roundup of some of the most fun and quirky office gadgets to brighten up your workspace in 2015. While some may not be essential business tools, we think they may help to make the time you spend in the office each day more enjoyable and even help reduce your stress.
Let’s be honest…web conferencing can be a wonderful business tool for teams who are geographically dispersed or working remotely. But even the most experienced web conference user will have surely experienced some of the common awkward situations that are part and parcel to getting a group of co-workers to communicate virtually. It’s not always the most natural of situations, and unless web conferencing is a regular occurrence in your business schedule, it can be easy to fall down some of the technology crevices.
Many of us like to make New Year’s resolutions, such as keeping on top of our ‘to do’ lists, but very often they fall by the wayside when our old habits begin to creep back in. How lovely would it be if we could rewire our brains to a new, productive and efficient way of working, so that we can truly take control over the way we work, rather than letting our work take control of us?
Secret Santa is meant to be a little bit of light-hearted fun, to help spread some festive cheer around the office. It’s a nice way of making sure that everyone receives a gift, with no one being excluded. Nowadays most companies advise on a budget of around £5, and while that doesn’t buy an awful lot, with some thought and preparation it can be enough to cause a giggle or two.
The CBI is calling for businesses to take flexible working more seriously, following the publishing of a YouGov poll yesterday which showed that around 42% of workers would feel uncomfortable asking their employer if they could work more flexibly.
If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they invariably will say teacher, footballer, nurse or ballerina. But in the entire history of time, I don’t expect many children have answered project manager! It’s one of those vocations that creeps up on you, and suddenly you’re managing multiple global projects with six figure budgets attached, potentially with little formal training in the area.
Earlier this year the UK government put new legislation into effect giving all employees the right to request flexible work. So for those who have always fancied working from home, dropping down to a four-day week or fitting working hours around school drop-offs and pick-ups, now’s the time to ask! Your employer is required to say yes or no. If they cannot say yes, they have a legal obligation to provide you with a valid reason why.
In his TED talk “The happy secret to better work,” psychologist Shawn Achor claims, “It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.” According to Achor, we can change that lens so that not only can we change our happiness, but “we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time”.
‘Team-building’ is one of those business topics that will set eyes rolling. It can conjure up all sorts of images where colleagues are flung together into awkward scenarios which they would have rather avoided.
Research from Citrix has shown that 31 percent of office workers say that they can’t stand team-building activities. So why do team-building activities remain a staple of offices everywhere? Despite employee perception, there is plenty of research supporting the benefits of activities that foster healthy team culture and group dynamics.