Well, It’s Been a While…

Yes, I know, I’ve neglected you.

I’ve been knee deep in business study, going deep and wide, preparing for my Gazelles training in St Louis in Mid October.

Funny thing, is that usually, I learn wide, but not too deep generally.  I try to understand basics, but don’t spend too much time with stuff I previously considered impractical.

However, I’ve been reading guys that drag to down to the bottom of the learning lake, until your last breath…and then they hold you down there for another hour.

I’ve come up, gasping for air, barely surviving, but touched by the depth of what I have learned, blown away at what I now understand, barely able to tolerate my old beloved shallow and broad.

So, hang onto your hats, my posts are going to change.

It’s three weeks today until I fly to St Louis, to hang out and learn from some of the top coaches in the world for 8 days.

I’m so excited.

A new portrait


Business Owners who give a S…T! Number 3: Chong of Town Hall Mr Minute.

You know I love talking about businesses that are pumping, driven by the heart and soul of the business owner.

That’s why I’m writing to you about an amazing owner of a franchise called Mr Minute, who is situated at the Western entrance to Town Hall station, underground in the Pavilion.

I had some engraving work to do and they made the whole process painless, swift and care free at a reasonable cost…and the result was incredible!

I stayed while they were doing it and it was amazing.

Two caring and skillful craftsman working on their jobs create an atmosphere of silence and focus.  It was an absolute pleasure sharing that space with them.  All around us was the busy flow of passing traffic, people oblivious of the oasis of peace at Mr Minute.

Not only that, I discovered that Chong, the owner is a very enterprising young man who has a purpose.  I’ve noticed in my previous interviews in the “Business Owners Who Give a S..T!” series, that each one of these energetic, vital individuals, have a purpose that’s bigger than their business.

Interesting to see this in a franchise – the “buying a job” option, which usually attracts inexperienced business owners who simply are looking for a job.

Certainly Chong is an exceptional young man with big dreams and a generous, big hearted unreasonable approach to customer service.

So, if you are needing inspiration and are getting tired of the sea of business owners who don’t care…and you want to see a business owner who gives a “s..t!”, go and check out this amazing Mr Minute outlet under the ground at Town Hall West.

This guy is full of drive, endless enthusiasm and effortless outstanding service.  It fills you with hope!



Want to know more? email me.

A Business With Community, Style & Soul

You know I love businesses, business models and businesses with clearly defined values and vision.

And I really love businesses that add value to their community.

One business I really love to visit in Sydney is Deus Ex Machina (The God in the Machine)

I was talking to the very knowlegeable and helpful Faidon about business models, motorcycles, Reg Mombassa and how much I loved this place when it opened, mixing art, motorbikes and coffee cultures –  a heady mix at that time!

He mentioned an amazing place for me to visit in Newtown – a business that mixed coffee culture, good food and bikes – but that had a community vision around helping locals maintain and rebuild their bikes – so I sought it out – it was called “The Rising Sun”

If you check out the website, it tells the story of friends coming together to bring their businesses together, using crowdfunding, making a difference to the community, using a club business model – they really have it all going on and are experts at maneuvering in this form of business.

Down  a back lane in Newtown, it’s the sort of place only locals would know about.

Here’s my first impressions:

Then I met Brad.

He’s a highly skilled mechanic who is managing the workshop, freeing up one of the owners to build their family.

He was articulate, reflective, an amazing teacher who oozed patience with both machines…and people.

He knew the business model intimately patiently fielding my questions and gently correcting me any time I generalised or assumed.  Both he and the owners are determined to stay true to their community vision.

On the community side, I couldn’t think of a better person to facilitate this amazing place of learning and fellowship.  This guy knows machinery...and he knows people.

He told the story that he had  motorbike accident recently and put it out to the community that he needed some help in the workshop.  The people came and helped.

This community is alive and well.

You eat fantastic food, you have great coffee, the environment is amazing, there’s an amazing mezzanine floor upstairs – great for meetings and get togethers – it’s  a community hub.

…and through the interior, there are hat tips to the investors and founders, giving credit, where credit is due.  The wall of fame pictured below, features spanners with names of crowd funding individual contributors engraved upon them.  The people who made this happen – all get acknowledged.  Everybody is a part of the community.

(Brad and Me sharing a selfie!)

Go and Check it out!

If you have an idea for your community, who could you partner with to create an inspirational hub like this?


Let me know what you think. email me.

Where we Rate in the Global Digital Competition…

Not that well, apparently…if you live in Australia.

…however, if you are a Kiwi:

Digital Evolution index 2017

As part of a collaboration between the Fletcher School at Tufts University and Mastercard, this study formed a Harvard Business Review Article. Read here.

The article explains the four areas of positioning countries as being:

Stand Out countries are highly digitally advanced and exhibit high momentum. They are leaders in driving innovation, building on their existing advantages in efficient and effective ways. However, sustaining consistently high momentum over time is challenging, as innovation-led expansions are often lumpy phenomena. To stay ahead, these countries need to keep their innovation engines in top gear and generate new demand, failing which they risk stalling out.

Stall Out countries enjoy a high state of digital advancement while exhibiting slowing momentum. The five top scoring countries in the DEI 2017 ranking — Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and Finland — are all in the Stall Out zone, reflecting the challenges of sustaining growth. Moving past these “digital plateaus” will require a conscious effort by these countries to reinvent themselves, to bet on a rising digital technology in which it has leadership, and to eliminate impediments to innovation. Stall Out countries may look to Stand Out countries for lessons in sustaining innovation-led growth. Countries in the Stall Out zone can put their maturity, scale, and network effects to use to reinvent themselves and grow.

Break Out countries are low-scoring in their current states of digitalization but are evolving rapidly. The high momentum of Break Out countries and their significant headroom for growth would make them highly attractive to investors. Often held back by relatively weak infrastructure and poor institutional quality, Break Out countries would do well to foster better institutions that can help nurture and sustain innovation. Break Out countries have the potential to become the Stand Out countries of the future, with China, Malaysia, Bolivia, Kenya, and Russia leading the pack.

Watch Out countries face significant challenges with their low state of digitalization and low momentum; in some cases, these countries are moving backward in their pace of digitalization. Some of these countries demonstrate remarkable creativity in the face of severe infrastructural gaps, institutional constraints, and low sophistication of consumer demand. The surest way for these countries to move the needle on momentum would be to improve internet access by closing the mobile internet gap — that is, the difference between the number of mobile phones and the number of mobile phones with internet access.


Trust you found this useful.


Being a Professional Leader facing Tall Poppy Public Humiliation.

Returning to Sydney at Auckland airport, I was browsing for a book, I saw an advertisement for a book I’d heard about, written by the CEO of the CPA, the premium professional body for Accountants. My wife saw me looking and she went up to buy it. We didn’t understand at the time, but they’d taken it off the shelf and the shop assistant had to go down to their store room to bring us back a copy.

It was called “The Naked CEO” by Alex Malley.

It was a good read. It was full of useful insights and advice for accounting graduates who wanted to succeed. Yes, he sounded like an accountant…but these are the people he was representing in a time of huge change, uncertainty and disruption. His job simply is to maintain the credibility and standards of the profession.

And it appears he has been doing it. In the last 7 years, CPA, under his leadership, has expanded their membership from 30,000 to 160,000 in seven years, record surpluses as well as a presence in 19 countries.

However, when I returned to Sydney, I shared with a colleague about my latest read and he told me that Alex is under media and legal scrutiny.

I googled his name and found a full blown argument online, with some outlandish, sarcastic and poison penmanship coming from the print media and there it was: a media crisis, public humiliation and character assassination of another one of our successful leaders, playing itself out like a Shakespearian drama…or a good old Aussie tall poppy lynching.

I love living in a democratic society, with the luxury of free speech. However, as part of this right, we get to see our leaders in parliament trading insults and engaging in character assassination, cheap shots and red herrings. I saw this on my return to Sydney – it appeared there were several brawls going on in town…and in the country.

We live in a society where all the complex muck and filth of our minds, our emotional knee jerk decisions manipulated by spin doctors and the rhetoric of conflicting agendas all need to be aired and heard before we make our decisions.

Clearly, democracy is a messy process.

Our courts are the place where truth is sought out with objective evidence, rhetoric and logical consideration according to a strict set of rules.

On the internet, trolls spew threats, filth and gore. Terrorists kill people randomly on the streets, our leaders postulate impotently with divided teams and this is the world we live in.

If you want to be a leader now, you have to be thick skinned, brave and able to come to terms with your fears for your own safety in this environment.

These are the times of Brexit and Donald Trump – voted for by a society sick of the status quo, willing to give rank outsiders and wild cards a go for a change.

And here is Alex Malley, standing tall, not capitulating, being calm under pressure, Hard timesinviting further scrutiny…looking and being professional. He might have written a whole book of good advice…but now we are seeing the character in action, of the man under scrutiny.


From what I see, he’s doing a good job of it. Right or wrong, (we shall see…the jury is out) he is being a composed, focused determined leader facing his present circumstances. That in itself is admirable. He is walking the talk of leadership…under pressure.

As professionals, we are all leaders and our credibility is paramount. You have to fight for and defend your reputation at all costs. When you are under scrutiny in the public arena, it’s gloves off, no holds barred. There is no fairness, no logic in it…common sense and common decency do not prevail.

And news is not just in the papers, on the radio or TV – it’s all over the internet! All of it is out of your control. You need to be strong and smart, bringing out your inner street fighter in this arena.

What will you be like on the day when the mob is banging on your door, the trolls crying for your head on a plate and the tall poppy madness is demanding mob “justice” for you?

You know, it’s probably part of the job, an occupational hazard of being a leader in Australia…or anywhere for that matter.

Tough times twoMaybe Alex Malley’s biggest lesson to teach us is happening now – how to handle the heat of media frenzy.


Watch and learn.

Digital Disruption: Mid-2017.

It’s here, it’s picking up pace and leaving the past behind in it’s wakeIt's already happened..

Bricks and mortar retail is slowly dying, Uber is growing, AirB&B is being embraced…

Everyone’s way of making a living is under threat…

…and yet there are still people saying that things won’t change…

…but our accepted ways of doing things are being shaken to the core.

Here’s the results from a Price Waterhouse survey.

and here’s how even buying a Harley has AI in the background, calling the shots.

…and if you think phishing and spear phishing is what you do on beach holidays, then check out what Cyber Criminals can do…and what you can do to protect yourself.

There’s no Machine University (yet), but here’s how machine learning helps companies sell you more…and more often.

Better educate yourself now, so you can understand what’s going on and make some changes yourself.

You see, the winners of today…are the failures of yesterday.  Check out Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba:

You know, you really need to get your head around this.

Claudia Batten

Claudia Batten is a nice Kiwi girl, whose role is the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise Regional Director for North America, supporting New Zealand businesses as they grow internationallyClaudia-Batten into the market. She oversees key relationships across the US, Canada and Mexico, and is responsible for operations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Vancouver and Mexico City.

Claudia has spent over 15 years in the technology sector and was part of the founding team of Massive, a first of its kind network for advertising in video games which was sold to Microsoft in 2006. In 2009, she co-founded Victors & Spoils, the first advertising agency built on the principles of crowdsourcing. French company Havas bought a majority interest in the agency in 2012. In 2014 Claudia co-founded Broadli to redefine how we use digital connectivity to power networking.

She has this amazing concept called “Squiggles” and I really like this quote of hers describing what I call “the Iterative Process”:

“A series of mistakes that helps us figure out how to make it all work”

…and another quote from one of her professors that describes the process of scaling up, where he says: “Its just like when you are drunk, you are at your front door and you try to put your key in the door…and you miss…”

“It’s the constant re-calibration to make the key fit into the keyhole”


Want to know more?  email me.

Words you should know about- that will Help you Approach your Future…

New Zealander Claudia Batten’s talk in the Antarctic this year was a stunner.

It brought together Peter Diamendis’s “Six D’s of Disruption”, Agile and Lean methodologies and the individualised discipline of Scaling Up.…(this is another Claudia Batten Audio Interview starting at 14 minutes in the interview)

Exponential Organisations Salim Ismail

It’s the reason I started Exponentials Downunder, 16 months ago, out of seeing all of this coming after reading “Exponential Organisations” and hearing what the Singularity University was all about.

This is what we face now, we have already started down this track…and most of us don’t even know what’s going on.

The future 2

Maybe that’s how it should be.

…but I’m sure glad I know about it, moving forward.

I’m moving back to New Zealand soon, looking to support people who will be creating the employment opportunities of the future.

If you want to get a better handle on what is coming, please watch the videos and listen to the podcasts on this post.  It might just give you some ideas!


Want to scale up your business?  email me.

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Maori Tech Business Success!

Grant StrakerFrom high-school dropout, to paratrooper, then a chief executive reinventing the $40 billion translation industry, Grant Straker’s journey to the business world has been anything but conventional.

And, with the NZ culture of “I can pick up anything – I’ll figure it out”, Grant’s tale is an inspiration for anyone wanting to achieve something extraordinGrant Straker 2ary.

Most of the big successful innovations and Blue Ocean king hits come from blokes in a garage, working on a shoestring and bending number 8 wire, not men in white overcoats, backed up with big budgets and well resourced laboratories.

So, whadaya have to lose?  C’mon – give it a go!

Here’s a man who comes up through his culture, the armed forces and a return to NZ, not knowing what to do…and comes up with an amazing innovation that he drives with relentless focus building his dream with his eyes wide open.

Check out his NZ Herald video.


Want to focus on building your sustainable growing business? email me.

Making Decisions, Jeff Bezos Style.

Every Day for Amazon’s Jeff BezosJeff Bezos is Day 1.

This amazing company culture manages to maintain the energy, focus and drive of a company launch…every day.

Jeff writes an annual letter, read it here, and he talks about making decisions, helping maintain momentum and intensity.

I think you’ll find this excerpt useful:

High-Velocity Decision Making

Day 2 companies make high-quality decisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business – plus a high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too. We don’t know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter.

Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.” Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.

Note what this example is not: it’s not me thinking to myself “well, these guys are wrong and missing the point, but this isn’t worth me chasing.” It’s a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way. And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!

Fourth, recognize true misalignment issues early and escalate them immediately. Sometimes teams have different objectives and fundamentally different views. They are not aligned. No amount of discussion, no number of meetings will resolve that deep misalignment. Without escalation, the default dispute resolution mechanism for this scenario is exhaustion. Whoever has more stamina carries the decision.

I’ve seen many examples of sincere misalignment at Amazon over the years. When we decided to invite third party sellers to compete directly against us on our own product detail pages – that was a big one. Many smart, well-intentioned Amazonians were simply not at all aligned with the direction. The big decision set up hundreds of smaller decisions, many of which needed to be escalated to the senior team.

“You’ve worn me down” is an awful decision-making process. It’s slow and de-energizing. Go for quick escalation instead – it’s better.

So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too?


Amazing excerpt!  

Do you want to build an amazing company culture? email me.

Jeff and I have the same hairdresser!

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