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While being professional entails knowing how to manage our emotions to allow us to work despite pressure, studies have also shown that emotions influence productivity. Happy employees are more likely to be professional.

In this video, I explore what determines an organisation’s emotional culture and how this impacts team performance and team productivity. I further discuss what team leaders can do to nurture a positive emotional culture.

One of the pillars of professionalism is self-regulation. This means that we need to have the ability to work under pressure. However, the flip side of this coin involves what experts now call psychological safety and the need to take care of our mental health.

A recent study by Google concludes one key factor that differentiates mediocre teams from high-performing teams is psychological safety. These findings suggest that emotional culture play an important role in organisational performance as emotions affect team productivity and performance.

What is emotional culture?

There are many facets of workplace culture. The most recognised facet is organisational culture, which defines a set of understanding on how to do things to achieve a goal.

But there is also emotional culture which “predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.”

What determines emotional culture?

Emotional culture is contagious—and it trickles from the top. How managers behave and react to different circumstances sets the tone for the team’s emotional culture.

How does emotional culture affect productivity?

Imagine what could happen if you have a manager who consistently reacts negatively to mistakes. Or, what if this manager is prone to blame members of the team for mistakes caused primarily by circumstances out of their control? What if this manager focuses on putting blame rather than using mistakes as opportunities for team members to learn and improve? How do you think the team will react?

  • Team members will be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. This instantly “kills” the growth mindset.
  • Team members will be more focused on doing what they think the manager thinks is right and appropriate, rather than what is good for the team. They will afraid of disappointing their manage. When things go wrong and team members are afraid, it sets off their fight-or-flight response, which instantly “kills” their ability to be creative or innovative.
  • When team members are focused on “not making a mistake,” they’re likely to only focus on just the job or task at hand, and not finding new ways to improve the process. This kills productivity right away.
  • There is no psychological safety because no team member will feel safe in taking risks and making mistakes and doing things differently. If team members are not allowed to learn, grow, and be innovative, there is no incentive for anyone to perform well.

If you have a team leader who consistently focuses on mistakes and putting blame, you are unlikely to build and nurture a high-performing team. What you have is a team of robots or “yes” people who will do only what they are told and nothing else.

And when the environment becomes even more unbearable, team members are likely to jump ship and find work somewhere else. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose the best people in the organisation.

How do you nurture a positive emotional culture?

  • As a leader, keep your emotions in check. Observe how you react and see how your own employees react.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. In my video on How to Build High-Performing Teams, one of the key things to change is mindsets—and one that redirects the focus on issues and root problems, rather than on people.
  • Take a step back and take care of yourself, the leader. Perhaps you are stressed, which is affecting everyone else in the team. In the video, Maximising The Best Asset in Your Business, I discuss how rest is important to encourage creativity and problem solving in the long run.
  • Ask for help. When we have been doing the same things for a long time, it is easy to develop blind spots. Because of this, we tend to think that how we do things is “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps they are, but there may be things that are not as acceptable or maybe some things that need improvement. It’s hard to see beyond our blind spots, so we may need someone—a person looking from the outside in—to show us what we don’t see. This someone can be a mentor, a trusted colleague, or a business coach.

Do not let your pride limit you on what you can do in your business. I personally seen successful businesses be ruined by the business owner due to the individual’s perception that only he knows what is best for the business. I have seen his team members leave the organisation, and yet he stubbornly refuses to change his mindset about the business. The result? He is now working alone on his business and struggles to make ends meet. Please do not make the same mistakes as he did—ask for help.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, Daymond John of Shark Tank urges everyone to "take the time to reinvest in yourself" while working from home. In this video, I explore what you can do at home to reinvest in yourself.

In the beginning of the global pandemic, governments around the world introduced community quarantines and lockdowns to help contain the spread. Activities were limited to just essentials: picking up supplies, outdoor exercising with stringent social distancing rules, essential work and operations, and emergencies. In some places, the spread has been largely contained, and this has led to the easing of quarantine and lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, things seem far from normal. In fact, many experts claim that the pandemic has introduced a “new” normal that we are likely to live within at least the next year or so.

With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, we have found an abundance of time. Time saved from fetching our children from school, commuting to and from work, even from going out for social events. Some of us have utilised this time to sleep in, to rediscover what cooking is like in the kitchen, and some of us have discovered the joy of Netflix.

However, I would like to encourage you to explore what you can do at home to invest in yourself. There are many good reasons to explore learning at this time. In the short term, and particularly during this time, learning may help our mental health.

As discussed in a previous video, exercising your brain puts you in a position of being in control and lessens feelings of helplessness. In the long term, lifelong learning helps you be a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall, as I discuss in a previous video on how being committed to lifelong learning makes you a better business leader.

Before I begin the discussion on ways that you can invest in yourself, I’d like to introduce a caveat. Productivity experts say that this is a good time to explore learning options when you can. The pandemic is a good time to explore learning options when you can. Let’s acknowledge that some people are weathering the pandemic better than others—and self-investment has many forms. This is why this discussion about investing in yourself is not limited to just learning options.

So how can we invest in ourselves during this pandemic? Here are three things that you can start with today:

(1) Take online classes or read books

There are several being offered online. Other workshops and seminars have also been converted into online classes. There are also courses that are offered for free, such as those offered here and here. Many of these courses are also offered by Ivy League School professors in the United States.

If you can’t take classes right now, maybe you can start reading a book. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are all voracious readers—and they all associate reading to their success in business. This is the perfect time to read a book or books that you’ve always wanted to but never had the time for. If you need more books to read, here’s a link to some free ebooks.

One of the leading advantages of online learning is how it benefits careers and businesses. Many of those who have taken certification courses online have enjoyed career advantages and professional benefits as a result of taking these courses. Online courses improve knowledge and develop technical skills—and because many of these online courses provide certification at the end and gives the impression that you are committed to learning and development.

The upside is that you take these online courses at your own pace and right in the comfort of your home. No commutes, no fixed schedules, and all at your convenience. Many of these are short enough to only take up a couple of weeks at a time, with a time investment of an hour or so per week.

If you’re worried about the cost, many courses online can be accessed for free, but the downside is that sometimes you don’t get the certification. However, if you find the online course to be relevant and of great interest to you, you can always upgrade to a paid access at any point of the course. This gives you the full experience and certification at the end. All that is required from you to begin is go online and sign up.

Personally, I have found that by paying for courses, I tend to be more committed to completing it as I have invested my own funds into it. It also forces me to choose the courses I take carefully. And who benefits from this? I do! You, too, can benefit from following this strategy, too.

(2) Connect with your community

Most events, including networking events, have been cancelled or postponed. Many of them are moving online. Maybe your community has already organised one—or perhaps you can create one and build your own community.

You can set up a Facebook Group and invite the people you know to join—and then maybe, you can also ask them to invite people in their own network to join. Let’s use technology to network and connect with people.

Remember, in business, it’s not just what you know but who you know that matters. The people you meet in these virtual groups may eventually become your suppliers, your clients, or even your partners. They may be people who can provide you with assistance and support—and vice versa.

If you are interested to know more about online networking groups, send me an email, and I’ll share with you what I have.

We don’t know how this new normal will pan out in the next few months or years—anything is possible, and so we take every opportunity that we can to adapt and move ahead.

(3) Invest in your well-being

Remember, when I said that there are many ways of investing in yourself? This is what I mean.

You do not have to push yourself when you feel overwhelmed during this period. While it may seem like a very conducive time to learn a new skill for many, your own circumstances may be different from others. We are in a global pandemic. Maybe you've been working hard all of these years, and you never had the time to focus on yourself. Reinvesting in yourself may mean something else—such as taking this time to rest and focus on your own health, physical, mental, or otherwise.

Quarantine rules encourage exercising--so maybe stepping out for a quick walk or run will do wonders for your health. Many successful entrepreneurs put a priority on their health and block time for exercise in their daily schedules. A healthy body nurtures a healthy and sound mind.

Some people have also started journaling. Journaling has been proven to be beneficial for your mental health as you start to describe how you feel in words, and many experts have said that journaling helps manage our worries and anxieties during crises. From a pragmatic point of view, journaling allows us to put our ideas down. Who knows, maybe you'll find inspiration for your next entrepreneurial venture by journaling and putting ideas down to paper.

Many have said that this pandemic has allowed people to focus more on what matters, because it has taken away the many distractions that would normally clutter our day. Maybe it is time for many of us to focus on ourselves, whether that means investing our time to educate ourselves, connect with the people that matter, or to take care of our physical and mental health. Maybe we need to do just that.

Thank you and keep safe.

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Zig Ziglar famously said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.” How do you keep yourself motivated, day in and day out, no matter your mood, no matter what comes your way?

In this video, I explore how you, a business owner or entrepreneur, can keep your drive and push on.

What is motivation?

Motivation is defined as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Put simply; motivation determines WHY you do things that you do.

Why does the business owner start on the business in the first place? What is the business for? Many of you will say that the business is there to provide the owner with something.  What that something is the what motivates you to get up each morning and work on your business. In business speak, your motivation is your WHY.

How do I keep myself motivated every single day?

Point 1: Have a North Star.

Simon Sinek says that motivation starts with your WHY. Sara Blakely also starts with WHY, and advises to continue leading with WHY.

Your WHY is your North Star. When things don’t work out or when you need to make important decisions for your business, remember and hold on to your North Star. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

In my video, Understanding your WHY—and why that matters (URL link forthcoming), I discuss why it matters for business owners and entrepreneurs to recognise their why. I also explore what determines our why and give examples of the more common whys that many business owners and entrepreneurs share.

Point 2: Be clear about what you want to achieve.

Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Once you establish your WHY, figure out how to translate that into a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

A SMART goal can sufficiently answer this question: How do I know that I have achieved what I want to achieve? In one of my videos, I discuss why SMART goals are important—in fact, the absence of SMART goals is one of the reasons why many business plans fail.

Point 3: Establish a routine.

Studies have shown that routines help everyone become more efficient, feel more in control, and supports overall well-being. More importantly, it helps keep one motivated by focusing on the things that you can change or have control. Routines are very important that many of the

world’s successful entrepreneurs and business executives have established morning routines and even evening rituals.

Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his mornings at 3:45 a.m., and Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Indra Nooyi have been known to rise at the crack of dawn. Some entrepreneurs, like Warren Buffett, start their morning by reading.

Many successful entrepreneurs also have established evening routines. Bill Gates reads an hour before turning in at night, while Sheryl Sandberg turns off her mobile phone.

Establishing a routine also ensures that you make time to take care of yourself and recover from exhaustion, which is common among entrepreneurs. In my video, Overcome entrepreneurial exhaustion, I discuss the many ways that entrepreneurs and business owners can take care of themselves and recover from exhaustion to help them stay motivated.

So, in summary, what should we do to keep ourselves motivated?

Know why you do what you do. Have a North Star. Know what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. Then establish a routine that will not only improve yourself but will bring you step-by-step closer to your SMART goal.

Just as Zig Ziglar said—just as we shower everyday to make sure that we don’t stink—we wake up with our purpose in mind, and we use that purpose to guide us throughout the day. 

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The global pandemic is set to affect not just public health but also the economy. As business owners scramble to do what they can to keep their businesses afloat, provide support to their employees, and cater to their clientele during these challenging times, it is very easy to focus on others that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves.

In this video, I explore practical things that we can do to take care of our mental health while working to overcome the challenges we are facing during this health crisis.

How are you doing? I hope that this video finds you well, and despite what’s going on today, that you are taking care of yourself. As a business owner, it is easy to put others ahead of yourselves, especially the team that works in your business.

However, your business cannot survive without its most important asset—and that’s you. I have discussed the importance of taking care of yourself in a previous video, calling attention to the need to rest and recover, because doing so makes you a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall.

While the advice in this previous video still applies, I would like to provide specific examples on how you can take care of your mental health during this crisis. It is also important to focus on ourselves—because we cannot help others if we don’t help ourselves first.

Here are a few practical tips that we can do to take care of our mental health.

  • Find a supportive community

It is important to remember that we are all in this together and that, if we work together during this crisis, we can prevail over its negative impact. This means looking for and reaching out to likeminded individuals who may share our worries and, more importantly, the resolve to find ways to make a positive impact in spite of current circumstances.

This is the time to surround ourselves with people who have a positive outlook and who are motivated to not just survive but also to succeed and even make a positive contribution to others. This is especially important if we get easily affected by negativity that we find around us, especially in social media.

  • Exercise our brain

If your current circumstances allow you some downtime, maybe it’s time to use this gift of time to exercise your brain. If there’s an online course you’ve always wanted to take or a book (or books) that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the time for, this is the time to go for it.

Perhaps this is the best time to reinvest time for ourselves. Also, focusing on learning puts us in a position of being in control at a time when many of us feel insecure or may have feelings of helplessness. During these times, it is best to redirect our energy into something that can produce positive results, such as reading or learning. Most of all, and best of all, it puts you in a position of being in control.

  • Remember self-care

On the flipside, some of us may be pre-occupied with many challenges in our business. Maybe our customers or even our employees are looking to us for more support, which means we work more hours to address these concerns. Perhaps the problem is that we do not have time to spare at all.

Whatever the case, please remember to find the time for yourself and practice self-care. It is tempting to focus on our productivity during this pandemic—it seems like we are given more time than usual as the world slows down and many industries come to a halt. But mental health professionals warn that this is not always healthy—and that it is perfectly fine to be unproductive.

These are exceptional times. It’s OK to not expect too much of ourselves and instead focus on being kind to ourselves. Take a walk. Meditate. Find a new hobby—or pick up an old one. Listen to soothing music. Maybe skip work altogether in the middle of the week if you need to.

  • Separate work from home

As governments around the world call on its citizens to stay home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this move has introduced the largest experiment on working from home. And it has also introduced a lot of disruptions and challenges, especially to those who consider their home a place to rest, relax, and decompress.

The first rule of working from home is to establish physical, emotional, and mental boundaries. Set up a routine—and if you can, follow your usual routine. Wake up, eat, and sleep at the same time. Work the same hours if you can. Don’t work if it’s time to rest. Put those phones and laptops down at the end of the work day.

I recognise that this becomes a challenge when you have a family and have kids. This is why routines matter. At the same time, we also need to leave space for flexibility and accept that things won’t always go as planned—this is something new, after all. We didn’t expect this and we couldn’t have planned for this. It’s OK if things aren’t perfect. Do NOT expect them to be. Like in your business planning, be flexible as you work from home to get things done.

  • Help out: volunteer or donate

There is a lot of research that show how volunteering and helping others promote psychological well-being. It helps relieve stress and anxiety. Volunteering and helping out has also shown to help people find purpose and meaning, which brings them feelings of optimism.

And if all else fails, perhaps it is time to reach out and seek help from people who have the experience and expertise in managing mental health. These are extraordinary times—and some issues may need extraordinary measures.

Thank you and keep safe.

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Many around the world and in our country are experiencing the effects of this public health crisis. Economic experts are sounding a grim warning of how this pandemic can affect all businesses.

What can we do, as a small business, to counter the impact of this crisis on the economy? In this video, I explore how we can proactively respond to the impending effects of this crisis. My goal is to encourage everyone to start having this conversation today and begin finding answers to the question: How can a small business owner respond to the effects of this crisis and support each other in these uncertain times?

As of this video’s recording, there are hundreds of thousands of reported cases of COVID-19. Many health experts are comparing this crisis to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003. At that time, Australia was not severely affected as we only had 6 reported cases and no fatalities. Many of us have not experienced a crisis of this scale in our lifetime, and we, as Australian businesses, are treading unchartered waters.

We’re feeling the impact of the coronavirus in the world economy, as many nations are closing or have closed their borders to mitigate contagion risks. Businesses have shut down by order of the government and hundreds of thousands of people are now unemployed seemingly overnight. Even if many of these businesses have shut down, quite a few of them have chosen to retain their presence online.

If your business is still trading, you still have the opportunity to adapt to the current environment. That, in turn, puts you in a position to prepare for recovery once this crisis is over. Just as it did in 2003 during the SARS crisis, this crisis will also pass. Your business just needs to be in a position to take advantage of that.

If this is the time to be proactive, what can we start doing today?

Communicate with your clients

Everyone is likely to be feeling the effects of this health crisis—some more than others. This is the best time to get in touch with your clients to see how they are faring today. Acknowledge that times are tough and empathise with their current situation.

Let them know what you are doing today to help mitigate or minimise the risks. For example, if you run a restaurant or any food-related business, show your customers how you are protecting your own staff and what new measures you’re putting in place to stop the spread of the virus. Show them how you are adapting to do home delivery and how you can assist those in isolation by preparing meals for them over the next two weeks. Give them options on how, by purchasing from you, can introduce a variety in their lives by providing food options.

Communicate to your clients if you need to limit your operations or if stock becomes low in supply. How can they get in touch with you? Did you change your operating hours? What services and products are you still offering? Reassure your customers by consistently and  constantly communicating, especially when there are changes that will affect them significantly.

Use technology, explore alternatives

They call this the age of social distancing. Social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. A recommended space of a meter or more between individuals is recommended to stop the spread of the virus. This is the reason why, in many parts of the world, large events like concerts, conferences, and shows are being cancelled to discourage the mass gathering of people.

The current recommendation is to stay home and avoid crowds—to practice self-quarantine at home and socially distance yourself from others. This means not participating in face-to-face meetings or events.

If you need to meet with someone or work with a group of people, what can you do? It’s time to use technology and explore the alternatives. There’s always email. There’s also video conferencing applications for messaging and voice calls. If you have to call off a face-to-face meeting, you can set up a video conference call through Skype, Google Hangout, or Zoom. If in case you need to work from home, you can still track team tasks and projects virtually through productivity tools such as Monday, Asana, and Trello.

There are many apps available in the market today—some have free features, while other features are available at a fee. If you’ve always wanted to learn something new and explore these apps—now is the time to do so.

Here are some examples of what people are doing across the globe in response to the call for social distancing:

  • In some places like the United States, governments are partially shutting down restaurants to discourage people gathering in large groups in a single dining space. Restaurants are keeping their kitchens open by encouraging people to order for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery.
  • Many international conferences have also been cancelled. Organisers are instead holding virtual conferences, where people can still participate by logging in online.
  • Many companies are encouraging staff to work from home and are using many communication and productivity apps that I have mentioned to catch up and keep track of progress.
  • The entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many concerts and music festivals have been called off. As an alternative, many artists have gone to social media, such as Instagram and Facebook to hold live virtual concerts.
  • Other professionals—chefs, marketing professionals—are offering free virtual workshops.

Necessity is the mother of invention. There is a need today to rethink traditional business models to fit the conditions of this crisis. Those who can adapt are in a better position to overcome the challenges. This is the time to get those creative juices going and to revisit your business plans. Who knows? Your creativity might lead you to a business model that will bring you and propel your business to growth after this crisis is over.

Explore what loans and benefits are being made available to you

The government has just announced a stimulus package for the Australian economy, which provides support for small businesses, amongst many others who will be or are already being affected by the pandemic. Contact your accountant and explore what is being made available to your company and how that would impact you directly.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

As business owners, we understand risks and that we should always be prepared for what is inevitable. Now is the time to think about what you should do for your business to survive. If what other people are doing is any indication of what we can do, there is a LOT that we can do today to prepare our business for the future.

I will share with you a series of questions that will likely take some time for you to think about. The answers that you come up with may be the answer that allows your business to survive and put you in a position for growth once this crisis is over.

  • What can I do now so that I can reach my customers and touch base with them?
  • What alternatives do I have so that I can continue to offer the products and services to my customers?
  • What do my customers need now?
  • Has the crisis developed new pain points for my customers?
  • What changes can I do today to support my customers’ needs and address their new pain points?

The last question is particularly important because this is how you strengthen your relationship with your customers in this time of need. For example, some grocery and supermarket chains in Australia have come up with special shopping hours to a niche market—in this case, a Senior-Only shopping hour to help older shoppers.

These are uncharted waters. We will possibly feel the economic effects of the coronavirus in the months to come. But I urge everyone to keep calm, stay safe, and focus on the things that you can change or control.

When this crisis is over, I anticipate that more business will be more open to using video conferencing and that it will be widely accepted as the main way of doing business than ever before. How will that affect your business? Let’s focus on what changes we can make and find ways to support one another.

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