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Great leaders motivate people. What do great leaders do repeatedly and consistently to motivate their team?

As leaders, we want motivated people to work in our teams because they’re productive and perform at their best.

Everyone is motivated by their ‘WHY’. Our ‘WHY’ explains why we do what we do. In a previous video (Understanding our WHY—and why that matters), I explored why entrepreneurs and business owners need to know and understand their ‘why’. The answer is because our purpose as business owners guides us on what we should do and how we should do it by providing a very good reason on why we should do it.

Employees are also motivated by their WHYs. The common advice is to lead employees in a way that aligns with their WHYs. This is important—because if we miss out in understanding what that WHY is, we run the risk of rolling out policies that, although well-intentioned, will run contrary to motivating people.

Let’s take a very well-intentioned attendance reward program that recognised and rewarded employees who came to work on time every single day for oneentire month, which I discussed in a previous video. On the flipside of this program was that if anyone came in tardy at any time during the month, they will not be eligible for this reward. At the end of the program, the company found that the policy became counterproductive. In fact, the company discovered that they lost 1.4% of daily productivity!

The problem with this program is that it tried to motivate people through an external motivating factor, like money, which they found out does not effectively motivate people. What gets people motivated instead are internal factors—which is essentially our WHYs or our PURPOSE.

So what should you do instead?

In another video, I discussed examples of policies designed to align with employees’ internal motivating factors. One company focused on providing employees with a reasonable amount of autonomy through reducing working hours. This, in turn, gave employees a greater sense of responsibility. Another policy focused on continually providing opportunities for professional development. It aligned with the employees’ desire to develop their skills.

These policies were designed through a significant course in time and suited the kind of business that the companies were involved in. These certainly require long-term planning prior to execution.

Perhaps the more pressing question for you is: what can I do consistently and repeatedly starting today so that I can build and nurture a team of motivated individuals?

Here are some practical tips to motivating people in your team that you can do on a regular basis.

  1. Be more engaged with people.

People, in general, appreciate it when other people take an interest in their well-being. They particularly appreciate it when they know that their bosses care for them and are working to provide support. Schedule time with your employees to check in on them regularly, whether weekly, fortnigthly or quarterly. Check on them—how are they doing? Do they have any issues that you need to address? In some organisations, top bosses schedule 15-minute catch up meetings with their subordinates at the end of the week to check up on their progress and general well-being.

  • Make it a habit to ask when an employee is facing a problem or challenge at work: what do you need to help you do your job better?

Often, the people who cause problems have the knowledge and ability to solve them. Many times, too, these problems can be resolved more quickly when employees are provided with some level of support by the organisation--perhaps tweaks in the process, provisions of additional resources, or designing better policies. But we can’t find solutions if we don’t understand the problem, and so it is always a good idea to ask.

  • Help employees find meaning and purpose in their work.

Not everyone will have the privilege of knowing and understanding their WHY—or even find meaning in their work. This is more common with people who perform repetitive tasks. To me, one of the best ways of motivating them is to make them understand how important their tasks are in the whole scheme of things.

Let’s say you have an employee who is responsible for filing boring paperwork. The task itself can be tedious, and repetition can make it boring. For some, menial tasks can be disheartening, and this can cause people to make mistakes. One of the best ways to motivate people to do this task is to make them understand the repercussions of sloppy work. What happens if he or she files an important document in the incorrect folder? What if that document is important and required by, say an important regulatory agency or a key client? And what if the document was urgently needed but could not be found merely because it was filed incorrectly?

When people understand how important their job is, it will be easier for them to understand how important it is for them to do it well.

  • Train! Training comes in many forms: formal training, mentoring, shadowing, or even cross-training in different departments. Find opportunities where employees are allowed to train and be trained.
  • Praise publicly, criticise privately.

No one is perfect and we’re all prone to make mistakes. Feedback is crucial so that we know whether we’re doing a good job or a bad one. The key to motivating employees is knowing how to provide feedback. Recognising employees publicly results in two things: (1) it provides feedback to that employee that the bosses see the good work, which motivates the employee to continue doing good work, and (2) it provides other employees with behaviour that they can model so that they, too, can be recognised.

On the other hand, providing negative feedback privately is also important because it provides the employee with an opportunity and a game plan to rectify his or her mistake. It is also an opportunity for you, as leader and business owner, to understand certain issues and concerns that contributed to this mistake—and provides you with an opportunity to correct it. It’s also a learning opportunity for both you and the employee to learn from this.

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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While the global pandemic has disrupted economies and industries around the world, many small businesses are fighting back by pivoting and creating disruptions in their own market. What emerges are inspirational and admirable examples of how businesses can respond to challenges that are outside of their control.

In this video, I talk about three small businesses, how they pivoted and adjusted their businesses, and how they took advantage of the changing needs in their respective markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global health crisis has brought about sweeping changes in how we work, where we eat, where we go, and how we go about our daily lives. While many have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, there are some businesses who have been able to turn things around and make the best out of this situation.

This is exactly what three businesses—Single O, Walks, and Education Perfect—did. In what is now known as a #covidpivot, these businesses have been able to create a new business model, a new product, and a new market for their business, respectively.

New business model: Single O

Founded in 2003, this café based in Sydney serves customers with ethically sourced coffee. Before the global pandemic, they operated three cafes, a stall at a local farmer’s market, an overseas branch in Tokyo, and also a thriving wholesale business.

When social distancing restrictions were imposed, they immediately switched to a takeaway model. More notably, within 48 hours, they created a special blend they called “Stimulus,” which was meant to give people a “caffeine hit and a boost in productivity” because they wanted to bring something uplifting to an otherwise difficult situation.

They didn’t stop there. They added a pantry that sells like butter, eggs, and flour because they knew that supply of these essentials would become an issue. They also started making restaurant-quality ready-made meals; vacuum packed for people to enjoy at home.

They also partnered with their wholesale customers in a program they called “Kickback,” where their customers earned 30% in coffee credit if they ordered directly from them, thereby creating an incentive for customers to come back and order from them again and again. They also launched “Parachutes,” ready-to-go, single use bag of coffee grounds. They’ve also partnered with new businesses and hosted brewing masterclasses on Instagram.

They are still innovating. They are redesigning the café customer experience for the post-covid new normal. This includes, among others in their pipeline, the world’s first self-service batch brew tap system.

New product: Walk’s Tours from Home

Founded in 2009, Walks is a tour company that offers walking tours of cities in Europe and the USA.

The travel and tourism industry is one of the worst-hit industries in the world. To support Walk’s guides, to keep their customer base engaged, and to nurture brand awareness, the company launched Tours from Home, a virtual city walking tour where guides, chefs, and storytellers engage their customers in the comfort of their homes.

According to their website, these special “Tours from Home” feature limited time only content covering topical, provocative, and fascinating subjects not generally covered on existing Walks tours. While these tours provide an entirely different experience, these provide measures to help keep the company afloat, support their partners, and continue to engage their customers.

New market: Education Perfect

Based in New Zealand and with offices in Australia, United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore, Education Perfect is an education platform that claims to “enable transformative learning and learning experiences for lifelong learners.” They offer education platforms for home, school, and work.

As schools physically shut down across the world and learning moved to the home, Education Perfect grabbed the opportunity to push its platform to new markets. They offered free licenses for institutions in Asia at the beginning of the outbreak, which they allowed  schools to use until May. They expanded their offering worldwide as more countries were forced to lockdown and keep people home.

In the process, they were able to sign up more than half a million users in over 100 countries.

Single O Café, Walk’s Tours from Home, and Education Perfect are just some of the many businesses around the world that have adapted in response to measures introduced during the pandemic. This is by no means an exhaustive list of business models that have emerged. Do you know of other businesses who have successfully pivoted? I would love to hear these stories, send me an email, and let’s chat.

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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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