Technique 1.14 Understanding Oneself



. This is not about trying to change yourself ‐ as you are unlikely to succeed. On the other hand, you can work on ways to improve your performance.

. You are the best person to be in control of your destiny. To do this you need to know yourself, ie your strengths and weaknesses. If you don't control your future, somebody else will!!!!

. Understanding yourself is linked with taking responsibility for and control of your future. This starts with an accurate assessment of your current skills and performance, ie your strengths and weaknesses, etc. This can involve seeking views of people who will be brutally truthful in their specific feedback and to you being receptive to inputs from a wide range of people who know you well.

. Generally there is not much genuine willingness to embrace change that is not rooted in a thorough, often hard‐won knowledge of oneself, one's roles, foibles, strengths and areas of opportunity for further personal development and behavioural changes.

"...Changing organisations begins with changing people, and changing people requires personal awareness......The more you know about yourself, the more you will understand the ways you limit your effectiveness through self‐imposed obstacles, distortions in thinking, and unproductive habits. Information about yourself will also teach you how to make the most of the strengths......Learning about yourself and your situation is directly related to success..." As John Kotter states,

" grab a challenge, act on it, and honestly reflect on why your actions worked or didn't. You learn from it and then move on. The continuous process of life‐long learning helps enormously in a rapidly changing economic environment..."..."

Robert Kriegel et al, 1996

"...The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself. In order to have that and to like yourself, you have to be very honest..."

Diane von Furstenberg as quoted by Marion Hume, 2011

Second self (reputation)

There can be the private and public you; sometimes the latter is called a second self. It is your public reputation that is derived by your behaviour and other people's opinions. Your reputation can influence your decision making.

With the Internet, the
"...second self is encoded in contrails of data: pictures, ratings, clicks, tweets, searches and purchases..."
Ian Leslie 2018

With social media we need to learn how to manage our second self or public reputation; there are 2 types, ie capability and character
"...The first refers to competence in specific task, such as cooking a meal, providing mortgages, or making aircraft engines. The second refers to moral or social qualities......capability reputations are sticky: they take a long time to wash away......character reputations are more flammable, especially in a world of social media which can instantly detonate bad news. When character reputation is destroyed, competence is immaterial..."
David Waller & Rupert Younger as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

Harvey Weinstein is an interesting example. He had a great capability reputation as a very talented movie producer. However, his character reputation was different, ie he was capable of destroying anyone who crossed him and was a womaniser. His capability reputation helped hide the negatives of his character reputation. It was not until his capability reputation was declining, that the negatives of his character reputation come to the fore. In fact, his negative reputation character was an open secret, ie many people knew about it but did not publicise it.
"...reputation is a second order phenomenon. It is not constituted merely by what people know about the person or entity concerned but by what people know about what other people know......reputations are maintained by a circulation of true, or false, opinions about opinions..."
Ian Leslie 2018

Reputations are made up of opinions, but some opinions count more than others...... reputation of formal and informal ingredients. The first category includes official qualifications, institutional imprimatur or endorsement from the powerful. In any system, there are gatekeepers with the power to raise up or pull down reputations; to admit or exclude individuals from the circles of the capable or good......the informal ingredients are reputations: rumour, innuendo and gossip..."
Gloria Origgi as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

Self-awareness is linked with self-management and emotional self-regulation

The situation is described by the following expressions

" better handle my emotions, to be less transparent with emotions, take things less personally, to get more perspective, to better manage my passions and enthusiasms, not to overreact, to achieve a better balance between my emotional and intellectual sides, to get better at maintaining a more professional emotional distance, to stop wearing my emotions on my sleeve..."
Robert Kegan et al, 2009 


The questions below will help to bring significant personal attributes into focus. Answer the questions as an individual and then report your answers to someone who works closely with you so that they act as a reality check on your responses.

1 What are you most passionate about, interested in, and have the energy and time for?

Another way of looking at this is to ask if money was not a barrier to what would you like to do?

Remember: passion is very powerful. It is worth more than determination or commitment. It is linked with intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

Having a passion for something usually suggests that you have the strength to handle personal setbacks, overcome adversity, face and address your weaknesses, and be willing to work long hours.

Passion has 2 very positive emotions (satisfaction and pleasure; with satisfaction being more important). It is not about immediate rewards, ie

"...The experience is characterized by being totally absorbed in the flow of what's happening......more than your technical knowledge, or even your hard work, it is your passion that empowers you......It is the energy that fuels creativity, courage and compassion......its absence leaves you feeling disconnected, dependent and bored..."

Martyn Newman, 2007


"...passionate people are productive, persistent and high‐performance. They look for creative challenges, love learning new things and take great pride in a job well done. They often seem bored with the status quo and display a constant energy for discovering how things can be improved..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

Passionate people are able to visualise what they would like to achieve or produce and thus imagine and attempt the "impossible".

"... it's a psychological truth that you'll become more and more like the people with whom you most identify..." Martyn Newman, 2007

Also, mix with people who will challenge you.

Some questions to help you identify the areas where your passion lies

What do you like doing?

What are your hobbies?

What makes you get out of bed in the morning with "a spring in your step"?

What do you have the determination to do, irrespective of the consequences?

(You will always perform best when you have passion/interest/energy/time for something.)

2 What are your strengths?

Usually your strengths are the areas that you like working in, and when you work in these areas, you perform better. Need to focus on your strengths as it is easier to build your performance on strengths rather than weaknesses.

. Remember: we are hardwired to be alert for things that might mean danger; in current times in the workplace this can as a threat to our job security, our career progression or our relationships with colleagues and managers. Because of this, we remember the tiny criticisms and forget the many compliments, ie

"...It is so ingrained into us to look at the negative, or where we need to improve..."

Gretchen Spreitzer as quoted by Fiona Smith, 2008c

. One way to handle this is to concentrate on our strengths rather than weaknesses by asking colleagues, managers, direct reports, family, friends and others who know you well to describe the times they have seen you at your best.

. Furthermore, the definition of a strength can be contextual and situational. For example, dyslexia is regarded as disadvantage by the general community. Yet many successful people, such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Kerry Packer (Consolidated group of companies), John Chambers (Cisco), Paul Orfalea (Kinko), Walt Disney (Disney Entertainment), Ted Turner (CNN), Charles Schwab (Charles Schwab & Co.), Kerry Stokes (Channel 7 in Australia), Brian Grazer (Film producer ‐ Splash, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind & 8 Mile), Gary Cohn (President of Goldman Sachs), David Boies (famous US trial lawyer), Jackie Stewart (3 time world champion formula one racing driver), Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed), Muhamed Ali (champion boxer and activist), Vincent Fantauzzo (famous Australian artist), etc have exhibited signs of dyslexia. It is claimed that around 1/3 of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

Dyslexic is a brain‐based learning disability where people have a problem hearing & manipulating sounds. Most commonly displayed by poor reading (fluency, comprehension, speed, etc.), writing & spelling ability. It has no impact on memory, numbers, etc

As it can cause feelings of insecurity & humiliation, many sufferers are in prison, ie unable to handle the disorder and exhibit anti‐social behaviours

Sufferer can develop skills to handle & compensate for dyslexia and these skills can be the basis for successful lives and careers. Some of these skills include

‐ as used to failure so they are willing to take risks, ie nothing to lose

as the condition limits reading skills, sufferers

extract only vital information, ie simplify issues to their basics as they are constantly getting right to the point and focussing on the big picture

prefer face‐to‐face meetings (importance of non‐verbals like gestures, tone of voice, etc)

become good listeners

develop good memory skills

learn to delegate as they are forced to trust and rely on others to get things done,

develop resilience & persistence as they are regarded as outsiders, ie rule breakers

think & see things differently (good for creativity)

3 How can you improve your strengths?

Where are the gaps in your strengths? Do you need to improve your skills or acquire new ones?

NB Remember: mastering a new field takes time, ie

"...Much research confirms that it takes up to 10 years to master a new discipline..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

· It is more productive to spend time developing your strengths than correcting your weaknesses

· People who utilise their strengths at work are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and 3+ times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general as those who do not (Tim Baker, 2013)

· Overcoming shortcomings is romanticised to such an extent that is considered an essential part of our western culture

· The key to human development is building on who we already are, ie our strengths

· Sometimes a person's talents and strengths are more applicable to areas outside work like leisure, hobbies, etc?


"... We practise what we prefer and therefore become proficient at it..."

Tim Baker, 2013

· The key questions around strengths and talents are

i) What are the tasks you enjoy doing most in your current job?

ii) Why do you enjoy those sorts of tasks?

iii) In your current role, how can we work together to provide you with the opportunity to do more of this?

· Strategies of job rotation, job enrichment, job enlargement, multi-skilling etc., enhance people's strengths and talents

4 Where are the gaps in your knowledge causing problems?

Identify areas of ignorance and/or gaps in your knowledge that need filling, including areas that you need to work on to acquire skills and expertise so that you fully realise your strengths.


"...Intellectual arrogance causes disabling ignorance..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

Sometimes people who are experts in one discipline are contemptuous of knowledge in other disciplines, or believe that being "bright" is a substitute for knowing

5 What things do you fail to do that inhibits your effectiveness and performance?

For example:

How good are your skills in people‐handling, organising, planning, reflection, implementing, etc?

What are your bad habits?

Does your job allow you every day to do what you are truly best at?

Are you given opportunities to shine at what you do, presented with creative challenges, set clear goals, and do you feel a sense of control and self‐expectancy?

Do you give and receive constructive feedback on performance?

Do you walk the talk, ie do what you say you will do?


"...Who you really are is forged by your actions. Although your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour, it's equally true that your behaviour affects the thoughts and feelings. In other words, what you do determines who you really are..."

Martyn Newman, 2007

6 Are your manners adequate?

Manners are the lubricant for society and honest discourse. Without manners, life is chaos.

"...manners make it possible to disagree within a framework of ritual that the disagreement does not lead to unhealable breaches. They allow you to live much of your life in unthinking patterns, freeing you to revoke your thoughts to matters more pressing than how to greet someone......the idea that good manners required certain behaviour..."
George Friedman, 2017

However, manners can restrain honest expression and therefore deny us our authenticity
"...The shame that is attached to bad manners was seen as dishonesty, and the unrestrained actions as is manners......that create the matrix in which shame can be felt. When we consider public life today, the inflicting of shame has changed from the subtle force of manners, to the ability to intimidate others who disagree with you..."
George Friedman, 2017

"...being well mannered in the highest sense is a personal obligation. It rests on the desire to be well thought of as a human being......Many of us lack that virtue. We lack the ability to be ashamed, as we have convinced ourselves that feeling shame is a weakness.......require a common code of behaviour, not fully rational but fully respected..."
George Friedman, 2017

Linked with manners is the principal of intellectual rectitude, ie the idea that one must be cautious in thought and in speech
"...That we should know what we know, and know what we feel, and draw a sharp line between the two. There is a place for the feelings, but passion can lead to recklessness, and societies crumble over the massive assault of passion......restraint in public life - the life that you live with others - is not a foundation of civilisation, it is civilisation..."
George Friedman, 2017

NB There is a time and place for everything.

When expressing a point of view, one should do it diplomatically and tactfully bearing in mind what the receiver of the words will think and feel. One should also show respect for someone else's point of view, especially when it is different from yours.

Manners, consideration and courtesies like smiling, saying "please" and "thank you", and knowing a person's name or asking about his/her family comprise the lubricating oil of an organisation. It is the law of nature that 2 moving bodies in contact with each other create friction ‐ this is true for humans!

Alternatively rudeness reduces performance on all tasks (creative and routine). Furthermore, rudeness decreases other people's willingness to help. Generally rudeness occurs in 1 of 3 ways:

i) instigated by a direct authority figure

ii) delivered by a third party

iii) imagined rudeness

Manners and civility/rudeness are linked. With the increasing use of Internet, especially emails, it is suggested that the amount of rudeness and uncivility has increased. This is causing lower productivity and an increase in staff turn‐over (Monica Crouch, 2012). Civility is much more than political correctness; it is about respect.

Need to be careful of assuming that the "I was only joking" defence will suffice after overt sexism, racism, etc. This is not an acceptable defence.

With the use of social media, there is evidence that manners and politeness are declining as people are not using face-to-face contact. The latter encourages manners and increases the chance of people being polite and civil to each other. 

7 How do you rate on the elements of happiness? (tick where appropriate columns below?)

"...Happiness comes from balancing what you love, what you're good at and what the world needs..."

Oliver Segovia, 2012.

This means do what you have a passion for; have the skills and expertise to handle; especially if it is a worthy cause.

Which of the 10 keys to happiness/well‐being do you have?

Elements of happiness






i. Healthy family relationship


ii. Adequate money


iii. Interesting work


iv. Live in good community


v. Wide range of interesting friends


vi. Good health


vii. Personal freedom


viii. Good personal values


ix. Good philosophy of life


x. Respected by your peers



i) The more "yes" answers the better

. "Authentic happiness" is about positive emotions, engagement, optimism and meaning plus serving others (civil engagement, spiritual connectedness and physical fitness) rather than accumulating material goods. It is about focusing, understanding and applying your signature strengths, ie the things that you enjoy doing. Happy people work harder and live longer.

. Jobs are not just about money anymore. Workplace studies show that pay is not the major reason people are working so hard or so long and/or changing jobs. Despite well‐being still being equated with consumption, it has failed to deliver high levels of personal happiness. It is called the happiness paradox. Key factors contributing to happiness are

"...the environment in which they work, the community of colleagues, autonomy and a sense of value the work gives is highly rated. This is reflected in broader research that showed community, friends and family relationships, and a sense of purpose is all essential ingredients in the happiness formula..." Catherine Fox, 2006j

. It is of interest to note that research has shown that economic growth, as shown by increased choice and increased material affluence, have not increased happiness in affluent societies. For example

" the GDP more than doubled in the last 30 years, the proportions of Americans describing themselves as 'very happy' declined by around 5 percent, or by 14 million people..."

Karl‐Erik Sveiby et al, 2006


" doesn't buy happiness, it gives you freedom to choose. So choose well..."

Subjective well-being/happiness/satisfaction

These are related to different situations like financial (income, wealth, etc), home life (married, single, family, children, etc); work conditions (full-time work, part-time work, type of work, etc), health (illness, etc), etc

Happiness is very much a moment-to-moment situation while satisfaction is more a long-term attitude, ie a person can be happy now but dissatisfied in general.

Distinguish between evaluation wellness (reflecting people's general evaluation) and experienced well-being (reflecting people's assessments of their experiences as they actually live them). Unmarried women report lower life satisfaction than married women, but their experience of well-being is about the same. - this is linked with eudaimonic wellbeing (a person's perception of meaningfulness, sense of purpose and the value of his or her life)

Guilty pleasure, ie you have done something that makes you happy but not necessarily satisfied, eg watched an episode of your favourite TV series that you enjoyed, but you might not feel satisfied as you could have done other things more worthwhile with your time

Need to measure people's feelings about their experiences, ie experiencing self and broaden definition of happiness to include qualitative feelings like joy, serenity, exhilaration, fulfilment, excitement and delight. People might be unhappy because they feel humiliated, hopeless, fearful or agonised

Do people maximise pleasure and minimise pain?

Linked with understanding happiness is how people allocate their attention, ie focusing illusion. In other words, people can exaggerate how things might affect their happiness, only because they focus on them. The amount of attention we give to the weather, materialistic goods, family life, job, ideals, personal issues, conformity, power, activities, etc can affect our level of happiness.

", that most complex being, is a very simple one in his own eyes..."

John Stuart Mills (philosopher) as quoted by Cass Sunstein, 2015

Need to understand the difference between aroused and not aroused states, ie you might count yourself as happy when you feel energised and engaged; similarly when you are content and calm. Alternatively you might be unhappy when you are angry or anxious, sad or depressed

In many areas,  both pleasure and purpose are by-products of different activities that we pursue. But, there can be a difference between pleasure and purposes, ie some activities give you pleasure yet are essentially pointless; other activities feel worthwhile and full of meaning but they are not as enjoyable.

This evaluation of value and pleasure is linked with the amount of attention we use. We need to measure people's feelings about their various experiences, rather than focusing on overall life satisfaction.

It is claimed to be truly happy you need to experience both pleasure and purpose, eg some research suggests that having children seems to reduce both life satisfaction and experienced happiness of the parents; on the other hand, they add significantly to their parent's sense of purpose. Also people subjective well-being increases when they are employed, have short commuting distances, are religious and are either young or old (Cass Sunstein, 2015).

Another consideration is the claim that money can buy happiness, especially when you are poor; having additional income increases people's reported life satisfaction, but above a certain threshold, it doesn't seem to affect their enjoyment of their lives.

Having a purpose can be very important, eg helping others.

"...many people believe it matters to pursue high ideals (patriotism, religion, the creation of works of art, political causes, etc) not because their happiness matters but because those ideals matter..."

Cass Sunstein, 2015

The human capacity to adapt to adversity is much underestimated; many setbacks, including disabilities (loss of limb, etc), etc, tend to have only short-term impacts with most people getting on with their everyday lives. On the other hand, noise, chronic pain and mental illness have enduring impacts as all these make incessant claims on your attention

Need to be prepared to experience new things or try to see familiar things with fresh eyes to maintain happiness.

Tracking experiences and expectations are more important than their desires or beliefs

"...the most important thing is to try and enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters..."

Audrey Hepburn (actress) as quoted by Cass Sunstein, 2015

When people answer questions about their life satisfaction, they could be identifying their deepest values and concerns; when people's experiences, we could be capturing what motivates them and what they most cherish.

Mid-life Crisis 

With people staying longer at work there is a need to revisit and understand the midlife crisis that is becoming a chasm. The midlife crisis refers to the gap between the substantial support people need in middle age and the meagre support society gives them. 

Increasing evidence has emerged from fields like economics, psychology and neuroscience showing that humans tend to go through a kind of emotional reboot around midlife

"...It is often experienced as a period of malaise and dissatisfaction, but normally it is not - contrary to stereotype - a crisis. Rather it's a transition. During this period, our values, our priorities, now brains tend to shift away from competition and social striving and toward connecting and giving to others..." 

Jonathan Rauch 2018 

Ageing has a U-shaped impact on life satisfaction. The excitement and high expectations of our 20s and 30s are followed by a period of readjustment in middle age. This equips us with a surprising rebirth of positivity and wisdom in late adulthood. That is why activities like life-long learning are important, rather than the focus on education in the first two decades, then work in the middle decades and followed by idleness in retirement. The latter paradigm suitable for the industrial society where people held one kind of job for life and died around 65. 

Some of the questions that mid-lifers need answers for include 

- how do I change what I've been doing the last few decades?

- what do I really want?

- who wants me?

- how can I reinvent my life while meeting responsibilities and making ends meet, etc?

"...relaunchers need guide rails to change course safely. They need institutions and programs and examples that provide support and structure. They need employers who will accommodate and hire mature workers who may want to work part-time, undertake not-so-big jobs, and apply old skills to new ventures. They need universities and financial help to retooling in midlife; pensions and retirement saving plans flexible enough to cope with "retired but working"; career counselling and job fairs and internships......They also need society's permission to experiment and grow and err..." 

Jonathan Rauch 2018

Need to check whether people's answers are relative or absolute!!!


(source: Sylia Duckworth, 2017)


(source: Sylia Duckworth, 2017)

8 What are your weaknesses?

Generally, we waste too much time on trying to improve our areas of low competency and weaknesses, and it may be more prudent to "hire" staff or outsource to fill this gap. In other words,

"...Be yourself. Play off your strengths and make sure you understand your weaknesses. You need people around you who complement you..."

Richard Goyder, 2008

It is interesting to note that many famous and successful partnerships have involved people with complementary strengths and weaknesses. For example, Anita Roddick's assessment of her business partnership in Body Shop with her husband Gordon

"...I am good up front, dealing with the public and the customers......Gordon is a fantastic behind‐the‐scenes organiser. His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa; that is why we are a good partnership..."

Anita Roddick as quoted by Emily Ross et al, 2004

For the Body Shop: Anita Roddick is the "face" of the Body Shop and Gordon Roddick is the strategist

Other examples of "perfect match" include

Accor: Gerard Plisson (engineer) & Paul Dubrule (accountant) started the Accor hotel group in France (1967). Since then the group has grown to own, operate and franchise 3,600 hotels in 92 countries in 5 continents. It represents several diverse brands which range from budget and economy lodgings to luxurious accommodation.

Microsoft: Bill Gates ‐ the nerd/entrepreneur and Steve Ballmer ‐ the numbers man/the "head kicker"

- US President: John Kennedy was the public face and leader while his brother Robert, US Attorney General, was more the implementer and fixer.

- Claire McGregor: (marketing and product skills) and Stuart Hall (technical skills) for app titled Appbot (helps understand customers' needs and how they are perceived in the market)

Disney: Walter ‐ creator of characters like Mickey Mouse, etc and Roy (Walter's brother ‐ accountant/figures man)

Google: Larry Page and Sergey Brin ‐ the nerds/entrepreneurs, while Eric Schmidt is the manager who runs the firm on a daily basis as he is familiar with technology plus financial matters and the investment community

Dell: Michael Dell ‐ the visionary entrepreneur and Kevin Rollins ‐ handles the daily operations of the company

Sony: Akio Morita ‐ marketing, and Masaru Ibuka ‐ technology development

HP: Bill Hewlett ‐ the technical leader, and David Packard ‐ the business leader

Nutrimetics: Bill Roche ‐ best in planning, backroom management and Imelda Roche ‐ people and personal issues

Lonely Planet: Tony Wheeler ‐ creative side, ie writing and research, and Maureen Wheeler ‐ business strategy and implementer

Coca‐Cola: John Pemberton ‐ the inventor (the formula for the drink), and Asa Candler ‐ sales and marketing strategy

Avon: David McConnell ‐ inventor (developed affordable fragrances), and Mrs Albee ‐ selling through a network of representatives rather than stores

McDonald's: Richard and Maurice McDonald ‐ the entrepreneurs (develop the products and systems to produce standardised products), and Ray Kroc ‐ salesman who developed the way to expand the concept

Harvey Norman: Gerry Harvey ‐ the "face" of Harvey Norman, and Katie Page ‐ the "power behind the throne"

Nolan Meats: Three brothers are in control, ie Terry ‐ marketing/sales and PR; Michael ‐ production; Tony ‐ technological development

eBay: Pierre Omidyar ‐ the innovator (a website where people could post things for sale and others could bid for them) and Jeff Skoll ‐ strategic planning and analysis

Blackberry: Mike Lazaridis ‐ the entrepreneur (access to your emails anywhere) and Jim Balsillie ‐ figures man, ie Chartered Accountant

Nike: Bill Bowerman ‐ entrepreneur (modified sports shoes so that they became fashion items) and Phil Knights ‐ implementer

Levi's: Jacob Davis ‐ inventor (idea to rivet the pockets on pants to give extra strength) and Levi Straus ‐ marketing/distribution

Esprit: Susie Russell ‐ creator (clothes) and Doug Tompkins ‐ marketing

Tupperware: Earl Silas Tupper ‐ inventor (plastic, made from polyethylene that was not smelly or brittle, was used to produce food‐storage containers that were air tight) and Brownie Wise ‐ marketing and sales (Tupperware saleswomen)

Apple: Even though Apple was founded (1976) by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, it was Steve Jobs (salesman & entrepreneur), Steve Wozniak (technician) and Jony Ive (designer) that were behind its phenomenal success

id Software: John Carmack ‐ inventor (computer gaming) and John Romera (designer extraordinaire)

Zimmermann (fashion): ‐ involves 2 sisters: Nicky (creative talent) and Simone (business brain)

FarFetch (using technology called API - application programming interface - to handle the backroom activities in the fashion industry), Its founder (Jose Neves) is the technician while his partner (Natalie Massenet) is a journalist/editor who knows how to tell the story and build a brand

- eToro:- 2 brothers (Ronen & Yoni Assia) created a social trading platform called eToro (2007); with 4.5 m. traders from 170+ countries (2015). Yoni is the marketing/people man while his brother Ronen is the implementer, eg building and working on the details of product.

- Westfield: the initial success of the Westfield Corporation (now a A$70 b. empire in 2015) was based on the partnership of Frank Lowy (structure and discipline) and John Saunders (entrepreneurial flair).

- SEEK: in 1997 Paul and Andrew Bassett plus Mark Rockman started the online recruitment organisation called SEEK (world's largest online employment business by market capitalisation, eg around A$5 b. in early 2016 which is 40 times what it was valued at the height of the dot com bubble in 1999). Andrew's skills were in strategy; Paul's were in operation and intuition; Mark was the "peacemaker".

- FiscalNote: started in 2013 and was worth around US$ 18 m. in late 2015. There are 3 founders, ie Jonathan Chen (engineer with software experience), Gerard Yao (the strategist who thinks about pricing, market share, product strategy, core competencies, etc ) and Tim Hwang (driver, visionary, ie what will the organisation be doing in 5 years' time).

- Stone and Wood Brewery (a successful Australian craft, boutique brewer) is owned and operated by Ross Jurisich (sales), Jamie Cook (marketing) & Brad Rogers (operations - brewing)

- Manhattan Project (1942 to 1946) involved successful building of the first atomic bomb that was dropped on Japan to end the WW2. It was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves (US Army Corps of Engineers) and physicist Robert Oppenheimer (director of Los Alamos Labatory). Oppenheimer was a respected scientist and communicator (leader) while Groves was the administrator, doer and implementer (manager). (Wikipedia, 2016c)

- Blackmore (successful Australian vitamin and supplement supplier, eg shares rose from around A$18 in September 2008 to peak at A$165 in March 2016). Marcus Blackmore is the founder and chairman; with Christine Holgate as the CEO. Blackmore is the visionary leader while Holgate is the manager/implementer, ie gets things done.

11 Madison Park (EMP), Madison Avenue, Manhattan, USA (the success of this fine-dining, upmarket restaurant is based on the complimentary skills and personalities of its co-owners, ie Daniale Humm (chef who is food-focused) and Will Guidara (manager who is people-focused). 

"...a restaurant run by a chef will always make decisions based on what's best for the food and restaurant run by a restauranteur will always make decisions based on what's best for the service. But when a restaurant is truly run by both sides of the wall, you end up making decisions based on what is best for the restaurant as a whole..." 

Will Guidara as quoted by Dan Stapleton 2018) 

Rolls-Royce (iconic luxury brand associated with motor vehicles and aeroplane engines). Henry Royce was the mechanic/engineer who designed and developed the cars, engines, etc, while Charles Rolls was the salesman, PR, marketing person who sold the product. '

- India (Prime Minister Narendra Modi (politician) and Amit Shah (organisational genius) combined to take Indian BJP political party from a relative minor party in 2014 to dominating Indian governments at the national, state and territory levels)

- Bill and Hillary Clinton (Bill was US President (1993 - 2001); together they were a powerful and successful political team with Bill Clinton (communicator) and Hillary (policy formulator and implementer). However, when Hillary attempted to reverse the roles and run for President herself, she was unsuccessful, eg

- not winning the Democratic party's candidate for the US President in 2008 (Barack Obama was successful)

- her defeat by Donald Trump for the US President in 2016.

This highlights how complimentary expertise is a winner but if the roles are reversed, success can be evasive).

Vittoria (espresso coffee - it roasts the equivalent of 2 m. cups of coffee a day). It is run by a father (Leo Schirato) and son (Rolando). Leo works on strategic issues. He is a visionary who is a careful and cautious planner with a focus on details. Rolando focuses on marketing (especially refreshing the brand) and expanding the firm both geographically, like in USA, etc and product wise, like caffeinated pods, gourmet coffee brands, etc. However, they have many traits in common
"...Inate business acumen, a deep-seated belief in the brand and its employees and a sense of humour. Their relationship is based on mutual respect and acknowledgement of their individual strengths..."
Brian Long as quoted by George Epanminondas, 2016a)

NB Even though all these combinations complement each other in expertise, personality, etc, the right chemistry also needs to be present, ie they still have to "click". In fact, they do not have to be friends but need to respect and value each other's opinion.

Furthermore, even though they may have different expertise and strengths, they will need to share the same set of values to be successful.

9 How do you learn and perform best?

In which of these 5 modes do you perform/learn best?

i) Visual, ie reading/watching (I see/imagine/picture where you are coming from)

ii) Auditory, ie listening/talking (I hear where you are coming from or That sounds great)

iii) Kinaesthetic, ie writing/doing/touch/feel (It's just hit me; I figured it out; I feel it; I want to touch on a couple of points)

iv) Gustatory, ie taste (I can taste it)

v) Olfactory, ie smell (I can smell it)

Most taste is linked with smell. There are 5 tastes that our tongues differentiate: bitter (by far the most sensitive one), salty, sweet, sour and umami (savoury taste that is given off by foods rich in amino acids, such as glutamates)

Unless you are in the food or wine industry, the auditory, visual and kinaesthetic are the most important in working life.

More information on smell (olfactory sense)

. Humans are low on the animal kingdom totem pole for scent sensitivity but it is still important, ie

"...Humans take about 30,000 breaths every day and are able to identify more than 10,000 different smells..."

Claire Stewart, 2013

. It switches off while we are asleep, ie we wake up and smell the coffee and not the other way around.

"...Research suggested that in the short term, we recall 35% of what we smell but only 5% of what we see, 2% of what we hear and 1% of what we touch..."

Claire Stewart, 2013

. Smell is processed in the part of the brain that deals with emotions, decision‐making & memory (limbic system), while other senses are processed in the medulla (handles analytical responses). The brain's power to instantaneously trigger an emotional response to smell makes it very important, eg hotel guests are more likely to comment on the smell than music or dor. The first smell is the critical one as smell is the most delicate of all senses and fatigue sets in very quickly, ie you have seconds, not minutes.

. Smell targets the one sense you cannot ignore as you cannot stop breathing!!!!!

. It has been found that a simple aroma with 1 or 2 characteristics is more potent than more complex fragrances. It puts the brain in a good mood, ie more likely to make positive judgments, and reduces negative factors like stress, apathy & depression.

"...having children in a classroom solve problems. When there was no scent, their performance was average; when there was a complicated scent they did worse than average; but when there was a simple scent they performed better than average..."

Claire Stewart, 2013

Apparently a complicated scent can overwhelm the brain, while a simple scent allows other senses to become involved, ie it directly affects the way we perceive other experiences

Three simple ways to ascertain someone's preferred mode include

i) request a recitation of the alphabet: the visual people will stare as if now looking at a blackboard on which the alphabet appears; auditory people will sing the alphabet; kinaesthetic people will tap out the letters.

ii) when talking to someone, watch his/her eye movement. If the eyes move upwards, he/she prefers visual mode; if eyes move laterally (left or right), he/she prefers auditory; if eyes move downwards, he/she prefers kinaesthetic.

iii) see how a person responds when talking to him/her and at the same time placing your hands at different parts of your body, ie

‐ when placing your hands at eye level and the person responds, he/she is more comfortable in the visual mode;

‐ when placing your hands at ear level and the person responds, he/she is more comfortable in the with the auditory mode;

‐ when placing your hands in front of your hips and the person responds, he/she is more comfortable in the kinaesthetic mode.

The preferred mode is often intertwined with personality, and if you apply cultural stereotypes, the British are auditory, Americans are visual and Australians are kinaesthetic!

Furthermore, this is linked with what activates people. A useful tool is the following typology

. Thinking types are activated by an idea

. Intuitive types are activated by a vision

. Sensate types need a plan

. Feeling types need everyone to have a part in the undertaking)

10 What are your core values (list the most important ones)?

Core values are the few critical values that you must live by. Values are principles, the standards, the actions that the people represent, and which are considered inherently worthwhile and of utmost importance. Remember: behaviours demonstrate the values.

These values can fall into one or more of 3 categories

i) personal (related to your own life, ie friends, family, interests, etc ‐ such as honesty, respect, treat others as you want to be treated, fairness, etc)

ii) interpersonal (things that define your group and relations between members of the group ‐ such as loyalty and trust, selection on merit, etc)

iii) transpersonal values (values that transcend your own personal and group values, ie universal values such as sanctity of life, protecting the world for future generations, justice, etc)

11 What is Your Purpose of Life?

Some questions linked with the purpose of our lives are

i) How can I be sure that I will be happy in my career?

ii) How can I be sure that my relationship with my partner/spouse and family, and community, will become an enduring source of happiness?

iii) How can I stay out of jail?

Some comments on purpose‐of‐our‐lives challenges

i) Too many people are not happy in their careers if the emphasis is on a short‐term focus on financial rewards and immediate career success. These are very shallow rewards when compared with helping to develop people and having time with family.

"...powerful motivator in their lives isn't money; it's the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognised for achievements..."

Frederick Herzberg as quoted in Clayton M. Christensen, 2010

"... Money doesn't buy happiness but gives you freedom..."

Australian Financial Review Magazine, 2014

"... Greatest happiness one gets is out of one's own achievements..."

Australian Financial Review Magazine, 2014

ii) People spend too much time at work and neglect their families, ie under‐invest in their families and over‐invest in their work. As a result, many senior managers' family lives are dysfunctional with toxic family relationships, such as separations, divorces, etc

iii) As people focus on the short‐term gains (mainly financial), they are willing to break laws, etc to achieve this. Need to find ways to live life with integrity, humility and respect for others. People who have integrity, etc have high levels of self‐esteem; they know who they are and feel good about themselves. Good behaviour flows from this.

"...Management is the most noble profession is if it is well practiced. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognised for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team..."

Clayton M. Christensen, 2010

The purpose of our lives should determine how we spend our time, talents, resources, energy, etc.

"...If you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited. Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself ‐ and you want to help those around you...... When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or demeaning manner towards others, their behaviour almost always is a symptom of their lack of self‐esteem..."

Clayton M. Christensen, 2010

12 Are your values compatible with those practised by the organisation you work for?

To be effective in an organisation, a person's values must be compatible, and able to co‐exist, with the organisation's values. Ethics are a part of this.

A person's strengths and the way a person performs rarely conflict, ie the two are complementary. But do not confuse your strengths with values. If there are conflicts between your values and strengths, the values will prevail.

Values and character are linked. One of the measures of character is the degree to which you put the interest of your organisation and colleagues ahead of you own. This means doing things for others without regard to self‐interest, ie

"...they have the mindset of an owner and figure out what they would do if they were the ultimate decision maker. They are willing to make a recommendation that would benefit the organisation's overall performance, possibly to the detriment of their own. They have the courage to trust that they will eventually be rewarded, even if their actions may not be in their short‐term interest..."

Robert Kaplan, 2008

13 What type of working relationship with other people do you prefer?

Some people work best as subordinates, some people operate best as team members, others alone, while others are good coaches and mentors

14 Do you produce optimum results as a decision‐maker or as an adviser?

Many people perform best as advisers, as they cannot take the burden and pressure of making decisions; others need an adviser to force them to think before making decisions. This is a reason a "2 IC" often fails when promoted to the top position

15 Do you perform best as a planner/thinker or as an implementer/doer?

It is very rare that one person is both a planner and implementer; usually you are one or the other. Are you a planner or implementer/doer, leader or follower?

16 Do you perform well under pressure/stress or do you need a highly structured and predictable environment?

Some people like the adrenaline rush of pressure/stress, while others prefer the safer environment of structure

17 Do you work best in a big organisation or a small one?

Very few people work well in all kinds of environments/cultures/mindsets, ie hands‐on management v. delegation, specialist v. generalist, etc.

Some general differences between what a big organisation offers compared to a small one:

Big Organisation

Small Organisation

Healthy work/life balance

Staff feel more valued

Job security

Opportunity for exercising responsibility

Effective pay packaging

Opportunity to express creativity

Greater likelihood of avoiding personality conflict

Opportunity to work in a team/collegial environment

Recognized brand or image

Job autonomy

Formal policies (childcare, health plans, etc)

Minimal bureaucracy

Corporate citizenship


Job specialization

Opportunity to own part of business

Opportunity to work overseas


Opportunity to travel


18 Do you perform more effectively in commodity‐type organisations (generally low‐margin but high‐volume) or in highly‐differentiated product and/or service‐based organisations (generally high‐margin but low‐volume)?

The people in the commodity‐type organisations have a more short‐termed focus on the "nuts and bolts" of management, they tend to discuss operating margins and cash flow, and investigate ways to squeeze efficiencies out of every process. On the other hand, people in the highly‐differentiated product and/or service‐based organisations are more long‐termed in focus, ie larger investments with longer periods until pay‐off.

19 What should your contribution be and where do you belong?

To answer this, one needs to address 3 distinct elements:

i) What does the situation require and how would you do it?

ii) Given you strengths, the way you perform best and your values, how can you make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done and know where you belong?

iii) What results have to be achieved to make a difference? Ideally the results should be hard to achieve, ie "stretching", and should be meaningful, visible and measurable.

"...Yes, I'll do that. But this is the way I should be doing it. This is the way it should be structured. This is the way my relationships should be. These are the kinds of results you should expect from me, and in this time frame, because this is who I am..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

20 What are the strengths, learning methods and values of your co‐workers (including your boss)?

This is linked with understanding what others are doing, how they work, what contribution they make and the expected results. As most people work with others, we need to accept that

Other people are also individuals: like you, they have strengths, perform/learn in a certain way and possess values

Additional comments

‐ remember: it is very difficult to succeed if you don't have the required expertise that is central for your chosen activities.


‐ you need to identify the 3 or 4 most important elements that lead to success in your particular business/position, eg developing close relationships with your top customers, selecting the right staff, being innovative, etc.

‐ you need to enjoy implementing these most important elements.

. The existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean they like one another. It means that they understand one another

. Relationship responsibility is linked with communications; effective relationships require effective communications. Usually personality clashes/conflicts arise between people who do not understand each other's strengths, how others best perform/learn and each other's values. In other words, most conflict arises when people do not know what other people are doing and how they do their work, or what contribution the other people are concentrating on and what results they expect. And the reason they do not know is that they have not asked and therefore have not been told. It is important to demonstrate or explain to your co‐workers what you are good at, how you prefer to work and what you value highly.

This technique provides a good starting point for people to start talking to each other about their perceptions of themselves and others' perceptions of them

. Successful people invariably demonstrate most or all of these elements:

enjoy their work;

have a positive attitude and plenty of confidence;

know their strengths and weaknesses;

learn from mistakes/negative experiences;

are decisive, set goals and have the discipline to achieve them;

have integrity; are persistent, ie do not give up easily; know how to prioritise;

willing to delegate;

develop good communication and problem‐solving skills;

are willing to delegate; take intelligent risks;

surround themselves with competent, responsible and supportive people;

are willing to hire or associate with people who are more competent than themselves;

are willing to mentor others;

have high energy levels with a healthy lifestyle;

are willing to improve their expertise, ie life‐long learning;

willing to face reality, ie willing to change, if required;

have a sense of spirituality;

have a sense of purpose and commitment to make society a "better place to live", ie a purpose beyond self‐interest (not selfish);

have a good sense of humour

Magic appears to happen very successful people


(source: Sylia Duckworth, 2017)

. Remember: successful people make the best of their opportunities. Furthermore, it has been suggested that

"...they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns on our achievements in ways we cannot begin to imagine..."

Malcolm Gladwell, 2008

. If by answering the above does result in a career/lifestyle change, handling expectations of others can be a challenge. Generally, we live our lives through the prism of how others perceive us. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to go deviate from this perception!!!!!

. Self‐awareness may also be enhanced via exposure to classic literature, which has

"...a fundamental truth to teach in regards to change: change always arises out of something unexpected......By reading great imaginative literature, you can prepare yourself for surprise and even get a kind of strength that welcomes and exploits the unexpected.......move away from the passive state of surprise to an active one in which one can exploit the wonder of surprise and be able to surprise others. In other words, I believe that literature can increase the capacity for mastering change..."

Harold Bloom as quoted by AFRBoss, June 2001


"...What is it about William Shakespeare that makes him such a genius? There is little doubt that the key to understanding his greatness is that he, more than any other writer in English, understood the workings of the human mind. From time to time, other writers from this and other countries, such as Chaucer, Montaigne and Dostoevsky, are cited as men who come closest to this aspect of Shakespeare's gift, but I suspect there is no one who so consistently betrays the full range of human consciousness......none of Shakespeare's near contemporaries......had this extraordinary understanding and involvement with the breadth and range of human mind......the understanding of so many inner selves is what gives Shakespeare his towering reputation for intellect..."

Robert Winston, 2003

Research suggests

"...Mainstream fiction, high‐brow literary works do more to improve our ability to understand the thoughts, emotions and motivations of those around the reader a lot more responsibility. Its imaginary worlds are full of characters with confusing or unexplained motivations. There are no reliable instructions about whom to trust or how to feel..."

Kelly Servick, 2013

The evidence is based on correlations, ie self‐reported readers those familiar with fiction also tend to perform better on certain tests of empathy.

It is thought that the skills we use to navigate these ambiguous fictional worlds serve us well in real‐life, ie the ability to intuit someone else's mental state. It is closely related to empathy, ie the ability to recognise and share the feelings of others. This reduces the likelihood that social misunderstandings could occur.

(sources: Peter Drucker, 1999a & 2001; Robert Kriegel et al, 1996; AFRBoss, June 2001; Carl Jung, 1996; Karyn Schluter‐White, 2002; Rosie Fitzgerald, 2001; Alan Pease et al, 2002; Joe Mar, 2004; Jack Welch et al, 2005; Fiona Smith, 2005; Bertram Wolfe, 1966; Schein, 2004; Robert Winston, 2003; Emily Ross et al, 2004; Katrina O'Brien, 2006; Michael Hanley, 2006; Mike Hanley, 2006d; Catherine Fox, 2006j; Brad Hatch, 2006 & 2006e; Martin Seligman, 2002; Karl‐Erik Sveiby et al, 2006; Martyn Newman, 2007; Fiona Smith, 2008c; Richard Goyder, 2008; Robert Kaplan, 2008; Adam Cox, 2008; Christine Porathet al, 2007; Richard Branson, 2008; Malcolm Gladwell, 2008; Oliver Segovia, 2012; Clayton M. Christensen, 2010; Monica Crouch, 2012; Claire Stewart, 2013; Kelly Servick, 2013)


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