The primary reason for business failure Posted on 16 Jun 12:03 , 0 comments



“Send them thoughts of loving kindness.”

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear when I approached my meditation teacher to ask how I should cope with someone in my life who was causing myself and my colleagues anguish.

I was on one of my regular meditation retreats and was struggling at the time as I was working for a manager who had done some extremely unethical things.

I try to keep things positive so I won’t go into it, but let’s just say I was in no mood to send them “thoughts of loving kindness.”

It would take me years to figure out that my teacher was telling me to forgive this person for my sake and not for theirs. 

There’s a Buddhist quote that teaches us:

“The inability to forgive is like swallowing poison and hoping someone else will die.” 

I now get it. 

As a coach who works with corporations across many different geographies, markets and disciplines let me tell you that, the inability to forgive impacts bottom line results. 

Employees who are unwilling to forgive their managers and colleagues for making mistakes (let’s face it, we all make mistakes) are more likely to be miserable at work. 

Miserable people produce poorer quality work and have a negative impact on culture.  

According to our research there is a correlation between employees who are happy at work and productivity and the ability to achieve personal and professional goals. 

Relationship issues at senior levels can have a severe impact upon results, and by severe, I mean that it can close the doors forever.  

In short, when we can’t forgive, we lose focus and are led by fear.  

We make poor decisions, and stop focusing on the customer and forget that the work we do can make a significant difference to others. 

Consider the following evidence:

  • In our 2015 Productivity Research, we discovered that 70% of Australians are unhappy at work. Employees who said they were unhappy at work were 30% more likely to have relationship issues with their direct manager leading to poor communication and a lack of productivity.  
  • Unhappy employees were also more likely to be distracted by matters that didn’t have an impact on long-term results, to procrastinate and let their time be wasted by small and insignificant issues. 
  • Gallup research tells us that managers who only focus on employee weaknesses are likely to be actively disengaging 2 in 10 employees. Managers who ignore their employees are likely to disengage 4 in 10 employees, whereas, managers who focus on strengths are only likely to disengage 1 in 100 employees. 
  • Holding a grudge produces cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and diminishes oxytocin (the “love hormone”). This leads to higher blood pressure and activates the “fight or flight” stress response of your sympathetic nervous system that causes cortisol levels to spike. 

So, how do you act on this new business-related skill of forgiveness? 

Here are four things that work for me:

1. Question alignment with your goals 

Before you move into “fight” mode, reflect upon the issue at hand. Does it relate to your priorities? 

That old saying, “pick your battles” is a truism.  

Often, we find ourselves arguing over points that don’t impact our high value goals and activities. 

We will find ourselves distracted on a distraction that doesn’t really matter and before we know it, we are invested in issues that we shouldn’t be. 

If the issue you’re facing does relate to your high value goals, take a moment to strategise the best approach before going into battle (refer to points 2 and 3).


2. Ask for the other person’s point of view  

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say something like “if you’ve walked a day in another man’s shoes” and then they go on to say “except my boss, he’s actually evil…”

When I am working with two people to resolve an issue, my first question of each party is “do you understand the other person’s point of view?”  

I recommend reading Steven Covey’s book “The Third Alternative” which suggests that in any negotiation there is always a third solution which meets the needs of both parties. 

Covey argues that when we come into a disagreement’s thinking there are only two solutions, we limit our ability to reach a resolution and of course whatever solution is reached is win/lose.

  • Before reacting to an issue take the time to ask for the other person’s point of view.What are they trying to achieve?
  • Why do they feel their solution is best?
  • What are the reasons for the actions they’ve taken? 
  • What’s their definition of success?  

It’s usually in listening, not talking, that we find win/win solutions and we learn the many challenges our fellow man (and woman) faces. 

3. “I forgive you, I forgive myself”

I repeat this little mantra whenever anyone annoys me.  

What I’ve noticed is that I can get equally annoyed at the person on the tram that doesn’t get off their seat for a pregnant passenger, as I am towards the criminals gracing the morning news.

I have also noticed that every time I identify something someone has done wrong, I can reflect upon my own behaviour and identify how I may have hurt someone else in a similar way. 

So, when someone annoys me I say this silent mantra to recognise that in learning to forgive others I’m really forgiving myself. I’m also learning about parts of myself that I may need to change. 

By learning to be kinder to myself, I can better serve others through kindness.

Yogis’ often say the mantra “Namaste” at the start and end of a yoga session which most people understand to mean: 

“I bow to the light in you which is like the light in me,” 

My yoga teacher always taught me to understand Namaste to mean:

““I bow to the light in you which is like the light in me, and I bow to the darkness in you, which is like the darkness in me.”

None of us are perfect, and when we learn to forgive each other for a lack of perfection, we move forward and achieve greater outcomes. 


4. Try mindfulness

I am offering readers a free mindfulness session next month which will include four techniques that will help you gain a greater focus at work, achieve balance and learn to be more compassionate to yourself and others.

Sign up to the free workshop and receive a complimentary meditation guide.

I am seeing a real change in the business world. We are starting to lead from the heart. We are seeing that we impact not just our small patches of the world, but the world itself.

Next time someone upsets you, or gets under your goat, consider sending them thoughts of loving kindness.

By learning to forgive we learn how to better serve others. It’s not easy. Actually, it’s a process and something that we practice over and over again. 

The simple fact is that we produce better outcomes when we learn to be forgiving.

We also become better parents, friends, family members and members of the community.

Keep moving forward and let me know how you’re going!

If you'd like to work with myself or one of my coaches to help you with Productivity, Happiness, Leadership Workshops and Executive Coaching send me an email



PS. Many of our clients have expressed an interest in joining an online book club to explore new ideas and thinking. We are kicking off in the new financial year. We'd love you to join us. 

The Mindful Workweek: How to Keep Moving in the Right Direction Posted on 25 Mar 22:43 , 0 comments

Be Happy

Disclaimer: I can be very direct sometimes.

Sometimes I will be working with clients who are self-sabotaging themselves and their career due to fear and I pull them up on it.

We then work out how to move past their fear, and replace their unproductive habits with productive habits. 

Other times I've helped leaders who feel paralysed by stress and won’t or can't make critical decisions. 

Together, we identify why this happens, and agree to a new decision making framework to make efficient and effective decisions. 

It’s important to have someone you trust who will challenge you on your behaviours.

That’s what a great coach can do for you. 

If you're already nodding your head, register for our online coaching program today.

Four Week Productivity Intensive: Optimise Your Personal Performance

A coach helps you move forward.

If you’re not moving forward you’re moving backwards. 

SN Goenka used to say we are always moving in one of four potential directions:

1. Some of us are moving from darkness to light. 

We understand we've been living in fear, or prioritising the wrong things, and have started to realise there is a better way to live.

If this is you, keep going.  Keep putting one foot forward after the other and keep your focus on what’s important.

2. Some of us are moving from light to light. 

We are focused on what’s important, and continue to experiment with improvements we can make in our life. We keep our minds, bodies and actions positive for our own good, the benefit of our work, families and communities.

If this is you, keep going. Inspire others and celebrate your victories.

3. Some of us are moving from light to darkness. 

We may have experienced success, but for various reasons we have lost our way. Perhaps we rested on our laurels, we got lazy, or more often than not, we became fearful and our ego caused us to lose focus on what’s truly important.

If this is you, it’s time to bounce back.  Pause, speak with your coach, mentors, trusted advisers and friends, and bring your focus back to what’s important. 

4. Finally, some of us constantly move from darkness to darkness. 

We are constantly living in fear, focusing on the wrong things, and repeating the same unproductive behaviours. Our careers are on a downward trajectory. 

If this is you, take heart.  We’ve all been there, and there are people and resources around to help you.

Ask for the help you need. Think about creating a team to support you. Talk to your manager, engage a coach, or seek out mentoring. Build up your personal support network outside of work, and spend more time with loved ones to re-calibrate. If necessary, talk to your doctor about anxiety and/or depression. 

It takes courage to ask for help, but when you do, it’s overwhelming to hear how many people have experienced the same issues as you.

I feel honoured to do the work I do because I often have clients coming to me when they’re feeling out of control both personally and professionally.

Together, we identify ways they can be more efficient and effective with their time. Most of all, we talk about how they can prioritise their happiness, which is incredibly important as happiness leads to success.  

We teach you the habits and strategies to help you improve your productivity and happiness at work.

We are running our Online Program again in April, which helps you identify the best habits to focus on so you stop wasting time, start focusing on the right things, maintain balance in your life and achieve great results.

So now you have nearly read this all the way to the end…are you ready to change your life?

 Four Week Productivity Intensive: Optimise Your Personal Performance

We’d love you to join us. 

Our program is designed to help anyone with discretion over how they manage their day. Anyone who has to manage multiple priorities, stakeholders, emails, meetings, deadlines, distractions and interruptions.

We coach CEO’s of large companies, Small Business owners, Financial Planners* and Client Relationship Managers. (*CPD Points Available)

Some of you may be taking a break over the Easter period, and spending time with or thinking about family and friends. What better way to reflect upon the value of time? 

You can either attend the webinar in person, or receive a recording to view at your convenience, with workbooks, diagnostic tools and online support to help you along with way.

If online learning doesn’t appeal, consider signing up for a one-on-one program, or email me about working with your team. 

I look forward to having you join the program and can’t wait to hear about your success.

Keep moving forward. I believe in you


Cholena Orr

Director, Pac Executive Coaching

Greg Kirk on Successful Habits Posted on 25 Mar 22:12 , 0 comments

Late last year I asked Greg Kirk to tell us about his experience of implementing the habits and strategies from Pac Executive Coaching's Productivity Program in his personal and professional life. 

Greg wears many hats in his life including husband, father, manager, business owner, entrepreneur, horse breeder and board member.

I was inspired by the way he and his wife, and fellow powerhouse, Emma manage their personal, professional, couple and team habits.

Watch my interview with Greg

Greg's top tips:

1. Manage your work-life balance via your calendar: Run a shared calendar with your family to ensure business and personal interests are all blocked out and communicated. 

Block out important work and priorities in your calendar and stick to it. 

2. Manage Your Energy for Optimal Productivity. Your personal and professional success depends upon your ability to put your health first.

Don't be a martyr! Make the decision to look after your health and you will also be looking after your productivity.

We recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise per week for optimal productivity.

3. Challenge Yourself.  Greg believes that when you manage your career you need to be able to feel safe and capable in an ambiguous world,

"Master vulnerability. [It] will help you master uncertainty in the future."

4. Do what you say you're going to do. If there's a reason why you can't follow through because of certain compromises, have the courage to talk to your manager. 

 "Allow the leader into the situation to help you solve those compromises." 

Put aside time for follow ups after every meeting. Take time to plan to ensure all of your commitments are kept. Communicate with your managers and stakeholders pro-actively. 

We work with individuals and teams to help them change habits which lead to greater productivity and happiness at home and work.

Email me to talk further about how we can help you and your business. 

Let me know your feedback. I love hearing from you.

Keep moving forward,

Cholena Orr

Director- Pac Executive Coaching

How To Inspire Yourself And Others Posted on 25 Mar 22:08 , 0 comments

About three years ago I was told a personal story by someone I consider to be a market leader.

A senior position came up in his company, and he applied for it. While he was encouraged to apply, he was told that the role would likely go to someone else.

He asked why and was provided with critical feedback from the selection panel.

He took the feedback and addressed everything in two ways. Firstly, he looked to develop the skills, experience and behaviours that he was told were lacking and secondly, he reported back to the selection panel on how he had applied their feedback, providing evidence of his success and the impact on the organisation.

He got the job and not only did he get the job but he rocked it and has since been promoted again.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Not long after he told me the story a client of mine was going through a company restructure and had been asked to re-apply for his role.

He was considering not applying for his role, and opting out of the organisation. His thinking was that if his manager had truly wanted him in the role, he wouldn’t have been asked to re-apply.

I told him that wasn’t necessarily true. When companies go through restructure, managers often have no other choice than asking their teams to re-apply for their roles.

Then I shared the story of the first manager, who was told that he wouldn’t receive the promotion he desired, and rather than taking “no” for an answer, he asked for feedback, acted on it, and achieved the result he desired.

The second manager went on to re-apply for his role and was successful.  

These two stories mean a lot to me because they remind me that inspiration comes from many different places. The first manager inspired me through his behaviour and his story, and without knowing it his story went on to inspire someone he’d never met before.

I personally love it that the first manager doesn’t even know that he inspired the career of someone he never met. 

I’m writing this on my first working day of 2017, and as I kick off the new year I’m looking for inspiration. There’s a lot of grinding that goes into my work and I’m reminding myself of the above story because I know inspiration will come in the following ways. By:

  • Repeating positive behaviours;
  • Seeking feedback and acting upon it;
  • Deliberately spending time with people who inspire me;
  • Continuing to learn, listen and read inspiring content; and

Sharing stories and strategies to help others be productive and happy at work.

As you’re kicking off the new year, I’m sure you’re looking for new ways to achieve more with less each day. I’d like to work with you as your coach to help hold you accountable to your new habits and achieve your personal and professional goals.  Email me to talk further, or sign up to my one-on-one productivity programs. 

In the meantime, I’ve put together a Productivity Toolkit. Use your toolkit to make choices around the best habits and strategies to get the most out of each day, week, month, quarter and year.

Let me know your feedback. I love hearing from you.

Keep moving forward. Be kind to yourself. I believe in you.


Cholena Orr

Director- Pac Executive Coaching

Realism and Optimism Posted on 25 Mar 22:07 , 0 comments

The meditation teacher SN Goenka used to tell a story about having a positive work ethic and attitude. 

A long time ago in India, a mother with three sons was cooking dinner and asked her youngest son to take a cup to the local market to buy some oil. (You could buy oil by the cup in those days...)

Being a good and obedient son, he raced to the market and bought the oil.

In his rush to get home to his mother, the young boy tripped and dropped the cup of oil, spilling in onto the ground.

The boy was able to catch the cup before all of the oil had spilt, saving half of the oil.

He went home crying to his mother. Mother”, he said, “I fell and now the cup is half empty.”

The mother was understanding and made do with a half cup of oil,

The next day the mother asked her second oldest child to take a cup to the market and buy some oil for her cooking. 

He was also a good and obedient son and raced to the market to buy the oil.

Like his brother, in the rush home the boy fell, the cup tipped over and the boy also managed to save half of the oil.

He went home smiling with pride and explained what happened to his mother. “Mother,” he said, “I fell and managed to save half of the oil. The cup is half full.”

Again, the mother was understanding and made do with a half full cup of oil.

On the third day the mother asked her eldest son to go to the market and buy oil for her cooking.

The child took the cup, bought the oil and raced home.

On the way home, the third son also fell. 

Again half of the oil spilt out before he could save it.

He went home to his mother smiling and said, “Mother, I fell but I managed to save half of the oil and thus the cup is half full.”

But, he didn’t stop there, “Unfortunately though, the cup is also half empty”

Again, he didn’t stop there, “So, what I’m going to do is go out and work hard to earn the money I need to buy more oil so that I can replace the oil that spilt.”

The Moral of the Story

I tell myself this story fairly frequently because nothing is perfect. 

As a coach, I work with clients who have to deal with organisational inefficiencies, unproductive cultures, and difficult markets. Some of my clients have to deal with gender, cultural, age and other biases. 

Rather than letting negative circumstances define them, I encourage my clients to rise to such challenges by being:

1. Realistic: We should always accept our reality as it is. “The glass is half empty”

2. Optimistic and Grateful: We should be grateful for and leverage what we have. “The glass is half full”

3. Hard Working: We should be clear on our goals and work for what we want. “I’m going to work hard and fill the rest of the glass up.”

How to Shift Your Mindset from Negative to Positive

Try this process next time you have a problem and you feel the negativity of circumstances weighing you down:

Step 1: Write down the negative and stressful problem.

Step 2: Focus on negative facts first. Gather the "negative" facts relating to the problem you’re facing. Make sure you’re focusing on facts and not emotions.

Step 3: Look for positive facts. Look for other facts which are more positive and assume the positive intent of all concerned; and

Step 4: Identify an appropriate, balanced and positive solution based on all the facts.

Negative facts tend to be the first that come to mind when we face any problem and if we react to them without considering other angles, we're less likely to identify an optimal solution. We can also be discouraged from trying at all if circumstances are particularly negative. 

When we take time to assume that everyone we're dealing with has good intentions (or we are at least able to consider their point of view) and look for positive facts, we're usually able to come up with more creative win/win solutions. 

It's important that we are realistic and we don't "stick our heads in the sand", however optimism helps us to identify what's possible so we can keep moving forward. 

Let me know how you go... I always enjoy hearing from readers.

Thank you for reading my blog this year. 

2016 has been a great year. I've had the opportunity to coach some exceptional individuals and have loved seeing my clients grow.

I'm looking forward to 2017.

Keep moving forward! You deserve to be happy and productive.

See you next year!

Cholena Orr


Pac Executive Coaching

D +61 3 9602 9890

PS. I have a favour to ask.

If you like the content I share, help me get the word out. Share this blog and invite your friends to subscribe to my newsletter.

New subscribers can sign up here.


  • SN Goenka passed away in 2013, however you can access information about the technique he taught (Vipassana) here
  • Michelle Gielan has a great book called Broadcasting Happiness which I really enjoyed reading this year. In her book she discusses a similar process to the above called "Fact Checking" which is about looking at problems from different perspectives. Check it out.
  • My favourite book about mindfulness is Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan. Check it out.

Keystone Habits Posted on 07 Oct 15:39 , 0 comments

Did you make your bed this morning? 
I’m serious.

Research has found a correlation between making your bed each day and happiness.

Check out this article from Psychology Today which cites research which found:

  • 71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy;
  • 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy.
Research also finds that bed makers are more likely to enjoy their work, own a home, exercise regularly and feel well rested.

The article goes on to say that non-bed-makers are more likely to dislike their jobs, avoid the gym and wake up tired.

It's amazing what one small habit can do to change your life.

Admiral William McRaven gave this tip at his 2014 commencement speech for the University of Texas.  Check out McRaven’s excellent speech here. (It's worth the 20 minutes!)
Making your bed is a keystone habit.
Keystone habits are what I like to call the secret sauce. 
A keystone habit is a habit that sets off a series of small wins. 

They are the habits that pull the rest of your life in order by bringing other habits, processes, and systems together.

Like a lot of people, my morning routine is a keystone habit for me. 
Each morning, I hear my husband wake up and start the shower in our en-suite. 

This is my trigger to wake up and meditate for around 20 minutes before getting up, showering and heading to the gym. (Some mornings my son even joins us... check him out)

After we exercise, we eat a healthy breakfast and then I walk to work. 
When I arrive at work, I’m alert, and I am in a good mood from having front-loaded my day with activities that make me happy.
Because I am in a good mood, I kick off the day with high value and often difficult tasks. 

I avoid email for at least the first 90 minutes of my day.
Every now and then I break this habit and can't get out of bed.  Perhaps I'm sick or have had a bad night's sleep.

This will usually lead to a less than healthy breakfast as I eat on the run, and I feel rushed by the time I get to work.  On these days I usually lack focus and may even be in a bad mood.

When I feel rushed the adrenaline kicks in and it takes me a while to gather my thoughts.  

Creative work is beyond me.  

I might as well just work on my inbox and tick off low value tasks until my head clears.  
What are your keystone habits?  What are the small habits that make a huge difference to your life and indeed your work?

Here are five ways to identify and leverage keystone habits:


1. Identify the habits which lead to other great habits 
The trick to identifying keystone habits is to keep asking yourself questions to understand the impacts small actions have on other areas of your life. 
It’s about experimenting and looking for small wins that lead to other wins.  Here are some examples:

  • Writing a ‘to-do’ list at the end of the day before going home is a great habit.   It clears your head so that you can feel in control and focus on your personal life once you get home.  
  • For one of my clients, her keystone habit is getting everything her family needs prepared for the next day done before she goes to bed.  This may include making school lunches, signing permission slips, getting out clothes and packing bags.

    That way, as soon as she gets up she can can get ready for work knowing everything is in control. (Well, as much as possible!)

  • Eating breakfast with his family every morning helps one of my clients feel good about his day. During this time he leaves his iPhone in his briefcase and talks to his family about their plans for the day.  That way, he feels good on his drive to work and his family enjoys "Daddy time." 
  • Regular scrum meetings help agile project teams stay on track every day.  Scrum leaders determine what everyone is working on for the day, what they achieved the day before and any obstacles that may be in their way.  

    It keeps moving things forward with a sense of urgency.  
Unfortunately, many people give up on their keystone habits when they get busy with life.  (For instance, when you start a family, or your job gets super busy).

When you realise that keystone habits encourage you to be a better performer at work (and often nicer to be around) you can carve out time for these habits without guilt.

 2. Front-load your day with a great morning routine  

Our research has found that over 70% of us are most productive in the morning.  Set yourself up for success by saving your mornings for high value work that requires optimal levels of concentration.
Mornings are also often the best time of day for you to carve out time for yourself for exercise, meditation, breakfast with loved ones and other “me time”.  These activities set you up for success each day and help you maintain balance. 

Consider setting your alarm clock 30-60 minutes earlier and creating some "me time" for yourself.  (This probably means you need to go to bed a little earlier!)

3. End well  

The end of each day is the perfect opportunity to take time for reflection.  Ask yourself:

  • What went well today?
  • What didn’t go well today?
  • What will I do differently next time?
  • What am I grateful for? 

Create a gratitude practice.  

Take time to think about, and ideally write down, everything you are grateful for from the day you've just had.

Research has found that people who practice gratitude consistently: 
  • Have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • Experience higher levels of positive emotions;
  • Report more joy, optimism and happiness;
  • Behave in a more generous and compassionate way; and
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.
When my clients adopt this habit it changes their mindset and indeed their life.

It allows you to celebrate small wins, overcome any negativity you have have experienced during the day, and identify people you should say "thank you" to for the support they may have given you.  

Gratitude helps you balance your constant drive for achievement. 
A client recently told me this habit is key to his success: 

“Even when great things happen, I find myself caught up thinking about the losses I’ve had or the mistakes I’ve made. 

My gratitude practice ensures that I don’t forget to focus on everything great that happens to me, and all of the support my wife, team, and friends give me.

It puts me in a good mood to end the day well.”

4. Identify Team Keystone Habits  

Along with individual keystone habits, we have team and company keystone habits which encourage high performing cultures.
What are the habits in your business that lead to success across your team? 
In our business we celebrate wins by calling out the great things team members do that align with our values, or when we go the extra mile over and above our normal duties.  

Every day you’ll see group wide emails sent to call out great behaviours. 

These emails come from everyone- not just the leaders in the business. They remind us to strive to be better and add more value to our colleagues, clients and our market.  
5. There is such a thing as unproductive keystone habits


Keystone habits are not all good news stories. 

There are habits that lead to other bad habits that you should avoid.
For instance:

  • Many people say they only smoke cigarettes when they drink. 
  • Within teams, you may notice that keystone habits have developed whereby team members cover up mistakes for fear of retribution because of internal cultural issues. 
  • You may notice that when you get together with certain colleagues you always end up gossiping and talking negatively about others.

Look for the inter-dependency between habits, how you may be triggered by a small bad habit to act out a worse one. 

Replace your unproductive keystone habits with productive keystone habits and see your life change.  

Start with your morning routine. What's the best way to start your day so that you hit your desk feeling great, and ready to tackle any challenge?
Front-load your day with happiness, because remember:

Happiness leads to success twice as much as success leads to happiness. (Here's an article I wrote about Happiness for the rich list)

Keep moving forward.  I believe in you.


PS.  I have a favour to ask.

If you like the content we share, help us get the word out.  Invite your friends to subscribe.

New subscribers can sign up here.

Additional Resources

Psychology Today article: Make Your Bed Change Your Life 

The Rich List article I wrote about Why Happy People Are More Successful

Admiral William McRaven's University of Texas Commencement Speech is well worth watching here

Charles Duhigg has two excellent books about Habit Change that I constantly refer to:


How to change habits and supercharge your performance Posted on 07 Oct 12:55 , 0 comments

Habit Loop

I love chocolate.

And I’m not picky about it.  I love white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. 

Chocolate used to be my favourite reward for hard work.

When I moved to Melbourne to open our office two and a half years ago I used chocolate to reward myself for completing challenging tasks.  I’d set myself a target and once completed would walk to Haigh's.  (For non-Australian readers Haigh's is a local chocolate shop you have to try when you visit)

I put on 15 kg.  (I’m a productivity expert after all). 

I’ve since learned to reward myself in healthier ways.  I've also learned about portion control!

My chocolate addiction taught me about habit change. 

My habit starts with a trigger.  I eat savoury food and I crave something sweet.

I eat chocolate and am rewarded with the satisfaction of having fulfilled my craving but…

...after I eat chocolate I then start craving savory food!  (You can see how I gained 15 kg)

How did I get over this?  I identified my trigger (eating savoury food) and replaced the bad habit (chocolate) with a good habit (fruit).

Around 45% of the decisions we make each day are due to habit.  

That's why changing a few key habits supercharges your performance.

We can dramatically improve our performance simply by changing one habit at a time.  Here’s how:

1. Identify your triggers

Do you check email constantly?  Email notifications are a likely trigger- turn them off. 

Do you accept too many meetings?  Invitations are probably a trigger for you- start asking yourself, “is this meeting really necessary?”

How about positive triggers?  What are the good habits you have each day that you don’t want to change? 

For me it’s exercise, and I also make my bed every day, get on a tram every week day, and walk to the gym at lunchtime.  Use good habits and things that happen to you every day as triggers for new habits.

Replace your bad habits with good habits, or use good habits to start more good habits.

2. Start small

If you try and go from “zero to hero” you’re more likely to fail than if you start slowly and work your way up to a regular habit. 

For instance, if you want to exercise six days per week, don’t start by exercising six days this week as you’ll likely injure yourself or burn yourself out and never go back to the gym again. 

Just go to the gym once this week, and then twice next week…

Make habit change sustainable. 

3. Find someone to hold you accountable

Every time I meet with the clients I coach they tell me what they’ve done since we last met.  

We set goals together for the next period of time before we meet again.

Sometimes that means people complete the goals we’ve set the day before we meet and that doesn’t matter. 

If no one was holding them accountable they may not have done them at all!

Not everyone can afford a coach and that’s okay.  We all have people around us who would be happy to hold us accountable.  

Ask your manager, your teammates, your friends or your partner. 

Proclaim your new habit to your Facebook friends and let them know how you’re going each week. 

Every time you talk about your goals with others you are strengthening your chances of success. 

If you would like to hire a coach call me or email me.  

For more great tips read the articles on our LinkedIn page



Financial Planning Recruitment Techniques Posted on 29 Sep 08:35 , 0 comments


Tom Brown and I attended the FPA's AFL Grand Final Luncheon on Monday. It was great to hear from current and previous AFL players about how they approach their career.

I have to admit that I'm not an AFL expert. My husband and I once went out to dinner with friends who were also friends with Brisbane Lions Player, Simon Black and his beautiful wife Catherine.

We had no idea who he was.  (And wondered why he was asked for autographs during dinner).

We actually asked him, "What do you do?"

And when he told us he played for the Brisbane Lions for some reason I thought he was a soccer player. I hope he thought it was refreshing not to be swooned over. 

I googled him later and learned all about the awards he'd won- including the Brownlow Medal. 

When I moved to Melbourne a few years ago I was given business advice from someone I respect. "Learn about AFL," she said.  

It's one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given.

Now, I am still no expert in AFL. I'll admit that I took the cue from the crowd on when to laugh at certain jokes and stories told at lunch. 

I still managed to take inspiration from the event.

What was clear to me was that AFL is all about getting the right people on the team, providing them with support and encouraging team work.

Just like in Financial Planning. 

When it comes to recruiting new team members to your team, you should look for a combination of three factors:

  • Motivation;
  • Personal Characteristics; and
  • Skills and Background. 

The greatest risk in recruitment is hiring someone who has the right skills and background, but the wrong attitude and personal characteristics to fit in with your team.

Here are techniques to help you identify the right candidate fit for your business:

1. Motivation, Commitment and Attitude

An ideal candidate will be someone:

  • Whose goals are achievable within your environment; and
  • Who enjoys the kind of work you do, the clients you work with, and the culture you offer. 

Before you start your recruitment process, take time to ask high performers in your business what they love about their job. This will include the work itself, your client base, the team and culture.

Also take time to understand the downside of the role. It's important to be transparent about these things in the recruitment process to avoid turnover within the first six months of employment. 

Look for alignment in the interview process between the role and candidate motivators by asking:

  • What are the features you're looking for in your next role?
  • What are your long term goals?
  • What did you like most about your previous role/s?
  • What did you like least about your previous role/s?
  • Why did you leave your previous role/s?

These questions will help you determine motivational fit. 

2. Personal characteristics

Like motivation, personal characteristics are intrinsic. They are difficult to coach and as such should be identified as part of your selection process.

Personal characteristics are observable as you liaise with candidates in a process:

  • How do they communicate over the phone? 
  • How do they build rapport in the process? 
  • How do they speak to your receptionist?
  • How do they present themselves in the interview process?

Give candidates the opportunity to get to know you and your team as part of the process. This may mean you involve a few different team members in the interview process, or that you walk them through the office to make introductions.

Personality profiles are also excellent tools to identify personal characteristics and help you assess team fit. 

Behavioural questions allow you to assess how candidates have reacted to problems and situations in the past and resolved situations as they came up. Questions about difficult situations and frustrations are also excellent to help gain an understanding of what candidates value, and how they respond to difficult situations. 

Questions to ask include behavioural questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time you've been frustrated with a work problem?
  • Tell me about a difficult customer you've dealt with?
  • What's something that really annoys you?
  • Tell me about difficult feedback you've received previously, and how you responded to it?

Remember that the key to behavioural questions is probing. Ask at least two follow up questions and guide the candidate to answer behavioural questions by using the STAR formula:

Situation/Task: What was the situation you were in or the task that you had to complete?

Action: What specific action did you take?

Result: What was the result of your action.

Pro tip: When asking these questions you can assess a candidates ability to reflect by asking:

  • In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently?


3. Skills and Background

Be clear on the skills and background you're looking for prior to the process. 

Assess skills and background in three ways:

  • Go through the candidate's resume role by role and ask the candidate to explain the responsibilities they had in each job. Alternatively, work through your role requirements, and ask the candidate for examples to demonstrate their experience as it relates to each selection criterion. 
  • Have the candidate complete a work sample or role play to demonstrate what they've done in the past. 
  • Complete background and work history checks to ensure the candidate has accurately represented themselves during the process. 

Want further assistance?

Contact our team to help you with your recruitment needs. Email Tom Brown to arrange a confidential discussion.

Achieve greater profitability by signing up team members to one of our Accredited Financial Planning Programs. 

Our October online program closes 4th of October. Register here.

Work on a one-on-one basis with one of our coaches. Register here.

This activity has been accredited for continuing professional development by the Financial Planning Association of Australia but does not constitute FPA’s endorsement of the activity. Accreditation number 008456 for 6 hours:

  • Attributes and Performance (3 points/hours)
  • Reflective Practice (3 points/hours) 

We welcome referrals. If you feel someone in your network would benefit from our insights, please invite them to subscribe to our newsletter.

Thanks as always for your support. I look forward to chatting further. 

Kind Regards,

Cholena Orr

Director- pac executive 

(03) 9602 9801

Gain CPD points fast while also learning how to be more productive. Posted on 22 Sep 10:53 , 0 comments

Most people have never been taught how to work.

The impact on financial planning practices is the accumulation of unproductive habits which lead to:

  • 30% fewer conversions due to delays in SOA production;
  • 3 x as many errors and compliance issues;
  • 2+ hours per day wasted due to interruptions and distractions;
  • Lower profit and EBIT due to efficiency issues.

Profusion Group’s coaching brand Pac Executive coaching is here to help. 

Our productivity programs enable you to develop efficient and effective personal and team habits, which means you can achieve better results in less time. This leads to greater staff and client satisfaction, higher profit and lower compliance issues. 

Gain CPD points fast while also learning how to be more productive.

Our productivity program has been accredited by the FPA and is the first of its kind to offer advisers a customised productivity toolkit to drive greater performance outcomes.

After completing the program, Advisers, Practice Managers, Associates and Paraplanners report:

  • An immediate revenue and profit increase (averaging 20% in the first quarter);
  • Better work-life balance leading to greater happiness at home and work (win back an extra day per week);
  • Better compliance outcomes due to reduced errors and greater efficacy (error rates dramatically reduced); and
  • Improved client and talent acquisition and retention (happy staff = happy clients = profit).

Places are limited. 

Sign up for our Online Program which kicks off in October here.

Or for our One-on-One coaching Program here.

Are you easily distracted? Posted on 29 Aug 09:04 , 0 comments

Are you easily distracted?

I conducted two experiments to write this newsletter. The results are a little embarrassing.
Last newsletter I wrote about interruption, the partner in crime to distraction.
There is a distinct difference between how these best friends destroy your productivity:
Interruptions are created by others.  Distractions are created by you.
My first experiment was designed to assess my phone addiction. (Yes, we’re all a little addicted- even me.)
On Saturday, I put my phone in the drawer and left the house without it.
Instead, I carried a small notebook which was about the same size as my phone.
Every time I reached for my phone I took note of why I wanted it.
Here are my notes:

  • The attendant at the bakery was over-familiar so I wanted to look at my phone to pretend I had something more important to do than answer her unwanted questions.

  • I was bored when I was stopped at a red pedestrian crossing sign and wanted stimulus.

  • I wanted to drop into the nearest Bunnings and had photos on my phone of something I wanted advice on fixing.

  • I wanted to sms my friend Meredith to ask her a question (which I forgot by the time I wrote the note about it a minute later).

  • I wanted to look up lyrics for the Bangles song “Hazy Shade of Winter” as my husband and I spontaneously started singing it walking through a park and couldn’t remember all the words.

  • I wanted to post something witty I’d thought of to social media.

  • I found a delicious new restaurant and wanted to brag about it to my Facebook friends. 

As you can imagine, I got by without my phone just fine. 

Even better, without my phone I found that I enjoyed more of what was going on around me. 
On my next workday I continued with my note pad.  This time, during a period of high concentration, I wrote myself a note every time I was distracted by something that wanted to take my attention away.
Here’s what I wrote over the course of an hour:

  • Hungry- want to fry up some halloumi.

  • Hungry- want to toast multi-grain sour dough and put honey on it.

  • Hungry- want some Greek yogurt.

  • Email (clients name) to see how they are doing.

Yes.  It's embarrassing.  I think about food a lot.  Even when I'm not really hungry.  
And no.  There was nothing distracting me that couldn’t wait until after I’d finished my high value task.
Try these experiments yourself.   You’ll end up with a list of triggers for the bad habit of distracting yourself from your priorities.
Here are my top 5 strategies to help you overcome distractions:
1. Identify your priorities

When you know your priorities and you find yourself distracted you can simply take your attention back to what you need to focus on. 
In our productivity program, we encourage people to clearly define their top three priorities every quarter. 
Do you know your priorities?  Answer this question:

What are the two to three most important projects, tasks or focus areas that, if you did those three things and nothing else, you’d move yourself, your company and your team forward towards your goals?
When you find yourself distracted by all of the things your monkey mind throws at you, you can recognise them for what they are.  Distractions from your priorities. 
Once recognised, you can bring your attention back to your priorities.  And take the next necessary action to move yourself forward.
Tell yourself:
“I’m focused on product development, client acquisition and retention.”
Likewise, identify your personal priorities such as:
“My health, my partner, my family and my passions.”
2. Plan and block out time for your priorities

Make sure you have time in your diary each week to plan.  Use this appointment to block out time for your priorities in the weeks that follow.
When you’re at your desk putting in the time you’ve blocked out for strategic work, you can fight off distractions until your allotted end time.
It’s easier to maintain concentration in blocks of time.  Manage your energy well by understanding the optimal length of time for you.  For some people this is an hour, for others it’s 45 minutes. 

What’s yours?  That is, the ideal length of time that you can focus on a task before you need to restore your energy?

Likewise, most of us have an optimal time of day to complete certain work.  I prefer mornings for creative tasks like writing.  I prefer afternoons for team meetings.  I’m usually brain dead from 3:30 pm on-wards so save short tasks that don’t require creative thinking for this time of day. 
Determine the optimal rhythm for your day and schedule accordingly.  

And remember, make your weekly planning time sacred.
3. Optimise your environment 

Everything on your desk is a distraction.
The post it notes reminding you to do something.  The emails you’ve printed to remind yourself to do them later.  The piles of paperwork you’re amassing for no apparent reason.  The empty coffee cups…
Clear out the clutter.  Most of us keep more information (and stuff in general) than we need. It hinders your productivity.  (Be brutal).
Develop a better task management system than your desk.   Post it notes in the corner of your eye while you’re working are just another distraction. (Try the task function of outlook instead).
Develop the habit of putting work away before you move on to a new task. (Scan it, file it, shred it).
You’ll find that when your working space is inviting and clutter free you’re more likely to want to spend time there and to do good work. 
4. Workout your brain

Overcoming distractions is about learning to gain mastery over your mind. 
Like any muscle the brain gets better- faster, stronger and more flexible- with exercise. The three best techniques to help you gain mastery over your mind are meditation, exercise, and journal writing.  
I meditate every morning before I rise. 
By doing this, I practice techniques that I can immediately apply as I need to during the day. 

Perhaps someone has annoyed me- I’ll take my attention to my breath before I say something unproductive.  Or, I’ll lose concentration in a meeting and use a mindful technique to bring my attention back to the room. 
Research tells us that we can benefit from as little as five minutes of meditation per day. 

When you press snooze tomorrow morning, try meditating for five minutes instead of simply going back to sleep.

Exercise is great for the body but what it does for the mind may be more important.  
You push yourself a little further than you want to.  You get out of bed early in winter.  You gain incremental improvements in your running, weights, or yoga.  All of these achievements and lessons translate back to your work.

You're teaching your mind focus and discipline.  
Journal writing gives you an opportunity to script your life.  
I will write more about this soon.  Let’s just say for now that it’s a great habit to use at the start and/or end of each day as a:

  • Gratitude practice;
  • Tool to problem solve:
  • Way to script your setbacks;
  • Creative brainstorming technique;
  • Way to dig out your real motivations and fears;
  • Way to commit to your priorities; and
  • Strategy to re-frame a negative situation or conflict you are ruminating on.

5. Avoid internal politics

Internal politics are just another distraction. 

We waste an enormous amount of discretionary energy getting involved in drama that doesn’t need our input.  
Refer back to rule one.  If getting involved in internal politics doesn’t align with your priorities back off.
When I find myself getting distracted by internal politics I tell myself to:
“Get back in your box” or “Toughen up, princess”   
Refocus on your priorities.  Go for a run if you need to but don’t let the wrong things distract you.
Surround yourself with people who are making things happen rather than gossiping about others. They’re also more likely to tell you to disengage when you find yourself getting distracted by politics. They’re the people who tell you to:
“Let it go,” “Don’t take it personally” or “Don’t get involved”. 
Probably the best advice you’ll hear all day.
Stay focused on your priorities.  Keep them in sight and pay attention to them.  Everything else is a distraction.
Keep moving forward- I believe in you.

Are you easily distracted? Do distractions impact on your ability to get high value tasks done? We love helping professionals to be productive at work and at home. Join our April Online Optimising Your Personal Performance Program and learn strategies to overcome distractions.