Sheryl Sandberg: favourite quote

“You can never hire the right people too early. And too often you hire them too late.”

This is such a true quote from an inspirational leader, Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and founder of Lean In.



7 steps to productive meetings

If you ask people what they think about meetings, some would say they start late or run over, they are inefficient, nothing is ever agreed and sometimes they waste the company’s’ time.

The problem isn’t that we schedule meetings in the first place, it’s how we run them. Most companies tell me their meetings are just not productive.

But they don’t have to be like this.

Meetings can be a good forum for healthy conflict and lively debate, a time to crowdsource the best ideas, build consensus and agreement, and move the company forward with solutions.


Meetings can be a fantastic way to unite your team around your vision and to communicate what’s going on and move forward on the most important issues.

After all, one of the biggest complaints most employees have about their workplace is that they don’t know what is going on. And it can cause problems if they are making decisions in a vacuum.

If you structure them well, you will find you will have more productive meetings – you will improve communication, resolve problems more easily and move your business forward, using the wisdom of your team.

The structure used by the Entrepreneurial Operating System® is known as Level 10 Meetings.

The idea is that your leadership team meets weekly – which creates a discipline, helps you stay focused and identifies and solves issues quickly.

Level 10 meetings

To have productive meetings, you need to make sure they always:

  • are held on the same day of the week
  • are held at the same time of the day
  • start on time and end on time
  • use the same structure and have a printed agenda

They’re called “Level 10” as a rating for how productive and useful they are. They always last 90 minutes, with one member of the leadership team running them to make sure they stay on track. A second manages the agenda, which is always the same.

The meetings go ahead every week, even if people are on holiday (which might mean calling in on video conference) and everyone uses the Level 10 agenda, which should be one page and include the company’s To Dos and Issues List (more on this later)

  1. Segue

The first five minutes is called the “segue” because it is when the team moves from working in the business to working on it. This is the time when good news is shared with the team, both personal and professional.

  1. Scorecard

In the next five minutes, you review the “scorecard” – the most important numbers for your organisation – to make sure they are on track. Reviewing these numbers highlights any problem areas, the challenge is to not start talking about them yet. Instead add them to the Issues List to be discussed later.  It is far more productive to discuss and solve issues all at once.

  1. Rock Review

Next for five minutes, discuss your “Rocks” or priorities. First the company Rocks then each team members’ individual Rocks.

These will either be “on track” or “off track”. If they are “on track”, they can be achieved by the end of that quarter, if they are “off track” there is a problem or challenge. Again don’t get drawn into a discussion, but add them to the Issues List.

  1. Customer/employee headlines

During this section, which takes five minutes, people share both good and bad news about clients, employees or suppliers. Good news can be celebrated and bad news is added to the Issues list.

  1. To Do list

In the next five minutes, you quickly review the To Do list from the last meeting and remove all the items that have been done. Aim to remove 90% of items each week and no item should stay on the list for more than two weeks.

If everyone has to report weekly on whether they have fulfilled their commitments it is remarkable how much gets done. The To Do list is a great way to hold your team accountable.

  1. Issues list – IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve)

And now it is time to tackle the Issues list, and discuss how you are going to solve the problems which have been identified at the previous meeting and any new issues which have arisen.

Of the 90 minute meeting, typically allow 45-60 minutes.

It often makes sense to write all the existing and new issues on a flip chart or white board so they are in front of everyone.

Next, prioritise the top three items and work on those first, in order of importance. Even if you only have time to solve the most pressing problem, you’ll be dealing with the company’s biggest obstacle.

Once you have a solution, decide on a plan of attack and add the items to the To Do lists so they are captured and actioned in the next week, and the team can report on progress at the next week’s meeting.

The great thing is once you have solved the most important issue, other items on your list may also automatically be resolved.

    7. Conclude

With five minutes left, the person running the meeting calls time to conclude. The conclusion includes three things:

  • Each person recaps out loud their To Do list which commits them to act.
  • Discuss whether and how any messages need to be communicated to the rest of the team
  • Everyone rates the meeting on a scale of 1-10

When you follow this simple seven item agenda, your team will be more informed, you will have better communication between departments, and you will be identifying, discussing and debating the most important issues that the business faces, solving them and moving the business forward.

Your meetings will go from a “waste of time” to the most important and productive time your leadership team spends … working on the business.

I use this model for all my meetings – and as a result meetings are more enjoyable – and we have become more productive.

Jim Collins: inspirational business guru


I was lucky enough to have the unique opportunity to see the business guru Jim Collins speak at an industry event in Miami, so I would like to share some of his wisdom.

On people …

“Who first, what second – find the people you want to work with then create what you want them to do.”

“Get great young people, give them something big to do.”

“The best performers come up with something big to do.”

“Who should be on the bus, who should be off the bus, get the right people in the key seats, then determine where.”

“Reframe every question as who. Who do I want to be with me, who do I want to live with, who do I want to help me write – it’s all about help me get the right who.”

On entrepreneurship & business philosophy …

“Be rigorous not ruthless.”

“Size doesn’t make a company great.”

“What are the facts? The brutal facts. If you don’t confront the brutal facts, they will confront you.

“Do what you love, the money will follow.”

“Get the flywheel turning – overnight successes are 20 years in the making. “

“What are you passionate about.”

“Do what I do, what you are made to do and commit to a life in pursuit of excellence. Find your BEHAG (big hairy audacious goal). Focus all your energy onto it, one big thing, it’s what I am, what I do.”

“Are you like a restaurant, so exquisite, so exclusive, so good – that’s a powerful economic engine.”

On leadership …

“Personality is not leadership, celebrity is not leadership.”

“Some people confuse leadership and power.”

“What are you doing distinctively?”

And finally …

“Retire from worry, but not from work”

“Life mantra: life is people.  Time spent with people we love, doing things with people with love.”

Jim Collins: a truly inspiring and entrepreneurial man, who we can all learn from.

The secrets of successful negotiations

win-post-itsFor any business to grow and thrive, whatever your sector, product or service, it is vital to master the art of negotiating.

I love negotiating and being a smart negotiator has been a big part of making me successful in business.

For me, creativity and fairness are fundamental to success, so aim for a deal that is a win-win. If your negotiation result is “I win-you lose” you may not keep your customer or supplier for very long.

Whatever deal is under discussion, using these six techniques will show you how to negotiate smarter:

  1. Build a relationship

The process of negotiation will be smoother and lead to more favourable terms when you can relate to the other party on a personal level.

Keeping track of their lives, both professionally and personally, remembering where they went on holiday and details about their family, will all help develop a good ongoing relationship.

Using these details to build a personal bond will help when you are negotiating a term or condition, because you will have built credibility and they know you on a personal level and vice versa.

  1. Open at your maximum

Start at your highest price for your product or service and be willing to negotiate down. Once you state a low price, it is very difficult to negotiate this upwards.

People expect to pay for value, so you must be able to logically argue why your product or service is a particular price – as an example, the size, the quality, the number of uses, longevity.

You could even consider doubling the price if you think the other party wants to negotiate, and if they believe it has good perceived value, you may be able to close at the higher price.   Ask with confidence.

  1. Use silence

Silence can be very powerful and if you can become comfortable using it, this will make you a better negotiator.

Once you have made your presentation, stop, let your point sink in, and wait for the other party to respond. Give them time to think about your offer. Don’t be concerned if they don’t instantly reply.

During the silence, keep your facial expressions and body language neutral so you don’t reveal any nerves or doubt.

  1. Offer better terms

Be flexible with the terms you offer. Will options like cash payment, payment up front, or an advance payment in instalments be so attractive they help close the deal?

Consider when you are selling a property – a cash offer is always more attractive than a purchaser with a mortgage and a chain.

How can you make your offer more attractive to the other party – or what can you ask for from them that will make it more attractive to you?

  1. Give – Get

This is all part of developing a win-win strategy.

When you are preparing for the meeting, consider all the small concessions or incentives you could give and those you might want in return to help to seal the deal.

Is there something you could offer which would be valuable to them and wouldn’t cost you very much?

For example, once when I checked in late (10.30pm) to the Doubletree Hilton in Amsterdam, I asked for a room upgrade, mentioning I would be checking out at 7am. They offered me a suite with a beautiful view. It didn’t cost them because the suite would have been empty otherwise, and it created goodwill and turned me into a Hilton fan.

  1. Closing

How you close a deal is really important.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. Many people do such a good job throughout the negotiation process then forget to ask for the close.

When you plan your meeting, prepare answers to all the objections you might need to overcome, and consider how long it might take the other party to agree.

It is often helpful to have an additional incentive to offer to close of the deal.

Hopefully these tips will help make your negotiations a win-win for both parties.

What other tips to you have on how to negotiate smarter?


Recently, I gave a keynote speech at the 2015 conference of Anytime Fitness.

It was entitled “How to grow your Anytime business” and I talked about networking, risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit and growth.

It is really exciting to see how fast the company is expanding  and it was great to meet so many of the company’s franchisees.

Here are some of the highlights of my speech – I hope I provided some inspiration and practical advice to help that process.

The benefits of having a coach and a mentor

If you are a female entrepreneur, having access to support and advice is particularly important.

Having a mentor and a coach who have provided both for me has been one key factor in my success.

When the founders of Live Lighter asked me to talk about my experiences of working with a coach and a mentor, I was pleased to help out.

Live Lighter is a revolutionary new approach to helping individuals and businesses realise their potential.

Here is the video they produced.

The video was filed by the production team at The Big Sky, and Migrant Woman magazine cover was taken by Rinaldo Sata.

Book Review: Traction by Gino Wickman

EOS Traction

I have hundreds of business books on my shelf. This one stands out.

My friend Todd gave me a copy three years ago and it stayed with me because it was so simple and easy.

This book is ideal for entrepreneurs and someone who runs a privately held business and has hit the ceiling.

The author Gino Wickman quotes five common frustrations:

  1. Lack of control … instead of controlling the business, the business is controlling you
  2. People … they don’t seem to listen, understand you or follow through with their actions
  3. Profit … simply put, there is not enough of it
  4. The ceiling … you feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next
  5. Nothing’s working … you’re spinning your wheels and you need traction to move again

Traction, Get a Grip on Your Business, is not a flavour of the month business book. It is based on real world experience, practical wisdom and timeless truths.

No theories, no fancy words or magic pills, just simple tools and best practices that work.

The book describes a system called the Entrepreneurial Operating System, or EOS.

EOS makes it really simple to run a business. It identifies six key components that business owners need to focus on strengthening: vision, people, data, issues, process and traction.

What Gino Wickman describes is a complete system to help a business owner do three things.

  1. Vision: get your leadership team 100% on the same page with where the business is going and how it is going to get there
  2. Traction: help your leadership team to become more disciplined and accountable, executing every part of the vision
  3. Healthy: help them become a healthy, functional, cohesive leadership team, because unfortunately, leaders don’t always function well as a team

With the EOS system, your entire organisation becomes crystal clear on your vision, more disciplined and accountable, gains traction and advances as a healthy team.

There are three ways to implement the EOS system in your business. The first, “Self Implementation”, is to do it yourself by selecting one of your most capable leaders to teach and facilitate it. The second is “Supported Self-Implementation”, where you join the EOS community for a small monthly fee. Finally, you can engage a “Professional EOS Implementer” to lead your team through the journey and hold you accountable.

I have been so impressed with the EOS system that I decided to become a Professional EOS Implementer myself so I can help businesses grow.

I am convinced that by reading this book and applying its core principals, you can eliminate all of your business related frustrations.

It will help you get more of what you want from your business.