Why Every Entrepreneur Needs an Annual Vacation

I just returned from a vacation in wonderful Croatia and as you might be off soon to some nice well-deserved vacation away, thought I’d share a little piece on  the invaluable benefits of holidays. You’ll also find below an interesting read on the necessity of having a real break.

As an entrepreneur, I have always found it hard to really be and feel on vacation and leave work behind. Your business is your precious baby as I like to call it and I’ve been trying over the years to learn how to really do that – leave work behind and be fully present in my holidays. It’s such an incredibly tough exercise to immerge yourself and put yourself on ‘vacation mode’ especially when your business consumes so much of your time, energy and focus all year long.

However, the whole point in having that vacation is to be able to recharge your batteries, regain energy  and come back from your vacation fully energised and ready to take on new challenges. That is only possible when you’ve caught up on sleep and cleared your mind.

So, that has been my challenge to go against my first instincts – ie : thinking about work, deals, strategy, current issues, ways to improve processes etc. while on holiday. And to be honest it’s been hard.

When you run your business, your mind is always racing. Your mind is always on. Your mind is always reflecting, thinking, processing info. That’s the way we, entrepreneurs are wired. That’s the way it keeps us going and making decisions.

Though, I have come to realise that only when your  body and mind are in balance, you become a better decision maker. When you are fully rested, your stress levels dramatically decrease and that has that magical effect of bringing the best out of you.

That gained serenity allows you to step back and see things and problems from a new angle. New solutions come to you naturally. Answers to questions pop up. New ideas come out. Vacation has this incredible effect of transforming you.

As many philosophers and buddhist thinkers put it, if you can’t change external factors, you can only accept the situation as it is but you can still change your attitude and outlook on things. Change comes from within. And vacation allows you to make that inner change happen within you so a new you can emerge ready to take on the world.

Happy holidays to all !

From Elodie Destruel



From Aaron Hoddinott

My wife and I just got back from a week-long getaway to Antigua. It was our first vacation together that we didn’t bring our son, Logan, with us (thank goodness for in-laws). It was an awesome trip, which entailed doing a whole lot of nothing. Our days consisted mostly of lying on the beach, hanging out at the cocktail bar, kayaking in the Atlantic and playing beach volleyball. It was perfect (we stayed at the St. James Resort, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a relaxing, beach vacation). I came back from this vacation recharged and more motivated than ever to get to work…

For obvious reasons, I love vacations. Who doesn’t? Exploring new lands, eating great food and sleeping in are all perks of vacations. But for more than just those reasons, vacations provide tremendous value for my businesses, and I strongly believe that annual getaways should be mandatory for entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur you should never regard a vacation as an expense. You should consider a vacation as a vital investment in yourself, and your business.

Here’s why:

You Deserve It

Being an entrepreneur, never mind just dealing with everything life throws your way, is taxing. I love being an entrepreneur, don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it can be exhausting. Putting in 60 to 70 hours per week is normal for entrepreneurs, and it needs to be rewarded, otherwise what the hell is the point of working so hard?

If you don’t invest in a vacation every year, you’re certain to burn out, which can lead to potential health problems, and at the very least, it will negatively impact your earnings.

Step away from your venture for at least one week per year to go on vacation. Stepping away for a long weekend simply isn’t ‘long’ enough. It takes about three days for most people to settle in to vacation mode and truly start to relax, so a week must be the minimum duration of your vacation.

Vacations are about relaxing and enjoying things you love. For me, golf is one of my favorite past times. Enjoying a round at the exceptional, Riviera Maya Golf Club in Mexico.

Vacations help clear your mind; they allow you to catch up on sleep, and recharge your battery so that when you return from your getaway you are fired up, and hit the ground running again.

Going on a vacation allows to you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and that, my friends, is paramount.



One major reason to get away for a week is to go offline, so to speak. As entrepreneurs we are way too connected in our day-to-day. Whether it be receiving hundreds of emails, phone calls, processing orders online or texting back and forth with employees, always staying connected to one glowing box or another is not good for us.

Now, I know it is vital for us to be connected in this day and age, but you must shut it down, or at least put a limit on it, when on vacation.

If you’re like me, and conduct most of your business online, set a reasonable limit of ‘connected time’ while on vacation. My limit (largely imposed by my wife), is 20 minutes per day. That allows me to make sure the shop isn’t burning down back home, and get back to enjoying my vacation. Don’t use this 20 minutes to email your employees and clients, just use it to make sure everything is okay so you can rest comfortably on the beach with mojito in hand.


Your Mind is Clear and Creative When Relaxed


It’s a fact; when you are relaxed, your mind thinks clearly and creatively. Many of the best and more profitable ideas/innovations I’ve conjured for my businesses came to me while on vacation, in moments of complete relaxation, when I wasn’t distracted by the everyday hustle and bustle.


“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”

— Alan Alda



Make Great Connections

On this last vacation I met a fellow entrepreneur while playing beach volleyball. Once I learn of someone else being an entrepreneur, I immediately want to find out more about their story, and how they got started. I noticed he had a wedding ring on, but didn’t see his family anywhere, so I asked him what brought him to Antigua. He told me it was a regular spot he and his family went on vacation, and on his last visit to the island he had met a local businessman who was looking to start a rental car company.

This guy owned his own venture capital firm back in Toronto, and funded startups his entire entrepreneurial career. Anyway, from what I gathered, he and this local businessman had hit it off and he was now in Antigua to launch their new rental car business, which would be the only rental car company on the island that provided GPS for free (that is a big deal considering the island had very few street lights and virtually no street signs). He had been the financier of the startup, while the local businessman would be running the operations.

This fellow entrepreneur was in Antigua for the week meeting with some big airliners such as British Airways and Virgin to try and work out marketing deals and travel packages. He and I ended up hanging out quite a bit, and by the end of his trip he had closed a deal with a major airliner. Furthermore, he and I may be working together on a separate venture as it appears we have synergies between two of our businesses.

This example just goes to show that if you keep an open mind, have an eye for opportunity and enjoy meeting new people, vacations can even end up making you a lot of money.


Time to Read

One of my favorite things about beach vacations is that it gives me ample amounts of time to read. I absolutely love to read. It triggers my creativity, and I believe being an avid reader is essential for entrepreneurs. It keeps you up to date with what’s happening in the world, improves your marketing tactics, provides great entertainment, allows you to reflect on what’s important in life, and opens your mind to how other people think (all important for entrepreneurs to improve their businesses).

I work in the publication business. And in order to be a great writer, one must be a great reader. On this last vacation, I finished three books, two of which I highly recommend.



The Health Benefits

Stress can have profound negative effects on our bodies, especially on men. One of the methods doctors use to test healthy testosterone levels in men is in relation to their cortisol levels. If cortisol is high, testosterone can’t be.

Why does this matter?

High natural levels of testosterone have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer in men, as well as disease – like heart disease – while also lowering the likelihood of depression. In short, if you’re stressed, your body isn’t working like it should, and all other areas of your life will be negatively effected, including your ability to focus and work, as a result.

As for women, cortisol also wreaks havoc on their bodies from a hormonal standpoint, as well as their energy. For both sexes, cortisol – a hormone released when we experience stress – needs to be kept in check, and one of the best ways to do this is by taking a vacation, unplugging, and removing yourself from those things that make stress your constant companion.


As entrepreneurs, we tend to throw everything we have at our businesses. It’s just our nature, and it’s not always a bad thing. However, this can negatively impact our personal life and self-improvement. We need to constantly seek balance in our lives. Vacations give us the opportunity to reflect on what’s important, spend time with our loved ones, recharge so that we can be better entrepreneurs, and live a life of fulfillment, not desire. Vacations are a vitally important investment entrepreneurs need to make every year.


Source : http://capitalistcreations.com/why-every-entrepreneur-needs-an-annual-vacation/


Use These 10 Words in Conversation to Get What You Want

When I was at uni and before making my way to a B-school, I studied linguistics. I then realised how powerful each and every word could have. How you could just convince, make a point or make a conflict go away ‘just’ by the appropriate use of well-chosen words. Words can make or break a relationship.

I remember my high school philosophy teacher once even said to the class that words were so powerful they could kill. She was referring to verbal abuse that could lead to depression and eventually death.

That wonderful teacher also  taught us the positive power of words that could put a big smile on the face of someone even a stranger, words that can heal through therapy, words that enable you to be a human connecting with another human. So fascinating when you think about it.

This morning while having breakfast, I just came across this great read about 10 powerful words that can get you what you want. Thought I’d share it with you. Happy reading 🙂 !


From Jayson Demers

The words we use every day shape our realities, whether we realize it or not. Our word choices can make a powerful impression on the people around us, whether they occur in a polite conversation at the grocery store or during a more formal exchange at a significant client meeting.

Different situations and different companions demand different levels of vocabulary and tone, but there are some words that hold power, no matter what the situation.

So, next time you’re pressing for something you want — whether it’s a salary increase or the last pineapple in the produce section — here are 10 words that can help you get it:
1. ‘Because’

“Because” is the conduit you will use to explain your motivations for every element of your request. In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini describes this as a “request + reason” and proves that this combination significantly increases the likelihood that your request will be obliged.

In one case study that I read in college (but, sadly, couldn’t find to link to here), one experiment had people ask if they could cut in line. The study found that people were far more likely to allow others to cut in line when the word “because” was used, as opposed to when it was not used (i.e., “May I cut in line?” vs. “May I cut in line, because I’m very late for an appointment?”). This was true even if the reason given was ridiculous (e.g., “May I please cut in line because I need to get to the front sooner?”). The word “because” seemed to trigger something in people that caused them to oblige the request.
2. ‘Thanks’

A simple thanks is an expression of immediate gratitude, and if you start your conversation with it, you’ll start everything off on a good note. You’ll show that you’re appreciative, which will make people more interested and willing to help you out. Something like “thanks for your time” at the beginning of a meeting (or at the end) is all it takes to establish that positive tone.
3. ‘You’

When extending requests, too many people make it all about themselves. They’ll say things like, “I want this because I need it,” explaining their personal motivations or the logical reasons why they want it. Instead, try framing the conversation in the perspective of the person you’re talking to.

How will your request affect them? For example, something like “I think you’ll see a rise in sales if you implement this,” makes your listener the center of the conversation, which makes for a more positive engagement.
4. ‘If’

“If” holds a ton of power because it gives you the opportunity to break a situation down to its most basic terms by exploring hypothetical outcomes. As long as you’ve done your research (or at least some brainstorming), you’ll come out in a good position. For example, consider: “If we go with option A, we’ll see increases in both cost and productivity, and if we go with option B, everything will remain the same.”

Related: Pastor Joel Osteen Reveals the 2 Words That Can Motivate You to Pursue Your Dreams
5. ‘Could’

Using the word “could” implies openness, unlike the word “won’t” or “never.” This keeps the conversation positive, and further allows you to explore your hypothetical future outcomes, which is especially handy when your conversational partner has a counterargument or request for you. For example, “I could take on the extra work, but I’d prefer it if I had more flexibility on the deadline.”
6. ‘We’

Like the word “you,” “we” takes some of the focus off your own self-interest. As a first-line effect, this makes you seem less ego-centric and more welcoming. As a second-line effect, it implies that the two of you are a single unit, and that any positive benefit for you will be a positive benefit for them.
7. ‘Together’

“Together” works much the same way that “we” does. It implies a degree of familiarity and cooperation, providing a kind of conversational lubricant to make your requests easier to swallow. Anything you can do to make your request (and hypothetical future) seem like a mutual opportunity is going to help you here.
8. ‘Fact’

The word “fact” can help you out significantly in your attempts at persuasion. There’s only one caveat — the facts you claim have to be actual facts, supportable with empirical evidence or research of some kind. Still, using more facts in your dialogue will help you strengthen your position, and secure a more persuasive angle for your discussion.
9. ‘Open’

During the conversation, you won’t agree with everything the other person tells you, and you won’t comply with every request. But shutting these requests down with a “no” or a “never” is negative and counterproductive. Instead, state that you’re “open” to the idea, but further negotiation will be required before you fully agree.
10. ‘Will’

“Will” is the word we use to switch to future tense, and it’s a powerful word because it implies what happens after the conversation is over with a degree of certainty. Stating that you “will” do something as a direct action provides a clear vision and mitigates the possibility of miscommunication.

Related: Your Words Have Impact, So Think Before You Speak

These ten words aren’t magical, nor do they affect listeners at the level of mind control. But, used in the proper context, they can help you open the door to a meaningful and mutual negotiation. You’ll come across as more open, intelligent and persuasive, which means you’ll have an edge when you make your request.


Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276892

The 6 C’s of Effective Leadership


Poor leadership is often magnified in TV shows and comic strips, showing inadequate leaders who take all the credit and are driven entirely by power. Though we recognize that these leaders are entirely fictional, we can also recognize some of those characteristics in thousands of bosses around the world.

It’s true that some people are born leaders and others don’t have that natural talent. But it’s false to believe that people can’t develop the habits of highly effective leaders. With a thorough understanding of the six C’s of effective leadership and a little practice, anyone can learn what it takes to be a leader worth trusting.

1. Critical thinking

This skill is defined by an ability to look past the first tidbit of information you receive, verify assumptions and use triangulated research and reasoning to find the best possible solution to a problem.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it can be very complicated. Critical thinking takes practice, but it’s one of the most important aspects of being a leader. Those who are able to develop this skill can discern between decent ideas and great ideas, delegate tasks to the best participant, set an example for problem solving and achieve the desired outcome.

Everybody can improve their critical thinking skills to some measure. It involves going back to the main goal, gathering evidence, seeking out all possible sources, listening to team insights, pooling resources and getting creative on occasion. Mastering this skill set will get you on your way to effective team building and relationships.

2. Communication

As one of the most important aspects of leadership, sound communication is the difference between an effective leader and a tyrant. You may know exactly what you want to have accomplished in your mind, but you must remind yourself that your team can’t read your mind. Likewise, if you try to explain your vision and your team doesn’t seem to be getting it, the fault does not lie with them but you.

To improve your leadership, work from the beginning to establish healthy lines of communication. Explain what your preferred method of communication is, and then establish an open-door policy in which you let your team know that they can ask for clarification on anything without ridicule.

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is defined as a business process that requires individuals to work together to achieve a common goal. For team members, this means taking full responsibility for their designated tasks and working effectively with their teammates. For leaders, it means learning how to delegate properly.

As you use effective delegation, you’ll be able to create a close-knit team that’s happy and willing to work together to achieve the end goal. This requires placing significant trust in your team and working closely with each member to create a vision that everyone can agree upon.

The key to successful collaboration is taking stock of your team and their skills. Consider their strengths and capitalize on them to build a team that can work well together and face challenges head on as they come.

4. Creativity

The difference between a leader who goes entirely by the textbook and a leader who takes a few creative liberties is the difference between someone who stays stagnant in her position and someone who moves up the corporate ladder. Businesses are run on new and creative ideas that draw in more consumers and set you apart from competitors, and your team can easily be behind some of those creative liberties.

Thinking creatively is largely about considering every possible option and using those that make the most sense. Think outside the box to find actionable solutions when your team might not have the necessary resources to complete a task. Sometimes that means going by the book but other times, it may lead to a change in current business processes that will revolutionize your company.

5. Commitment

Leaders can expect their teammates to work hard and produce top notch content if they aren’t willing to work hard themselves. Being a strong leader means leading by example, especially when it comes to committing to the end goal. Team members are incredibly motivated by a leader who spends long hours working alongside exhausted teammates, rather than someone who only does only the bare minimum.

To prove that you’re truly committed to the mission you should lead by example. If you ask your team to work overtime, you better be there too — working twice as hard. People will respect your dedication, which will create a unified team committed to producing a fantastic end product.

6. Compassion

Compassion is one of the most important strengths that will garner respect and encourage your team to seek your counsel. Sometimes life throws a curveball and your employees need you to give them a break and not expect perfection from them. Likewise, when they fail, yelling at them and threatening their job will not help. Treating team members like human beings is what a real leader does.

Now, it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between having compassion and being a pushover. If you project is down to the wire and your team member calls in sick because of a light sniffle or call in sick for three days in a row without a doctor’s note, it’s best to call them out.

Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246680

Want to Raise Your IQ? Neuroscience Says to Take Up This Easy Habit


It’s probably not what you think, but it’s scientifically demonstrated to improve how you think.

Most of us think of IQ as a fixed thing, like an SAT score. You take a test, they tell you how smart you are, and that’s that.

Turns out that’s wrong.

Neuroscience is demonstrating that brain functioning is actually far more fluid than previously believed.

For example, research out of the University of Zurich shows that doing one simple thing can actually raise a person’s IQ. And we’re not just talking about children, whose brains are usually considered more pliable than those of adults. This works for both kids and adults – even those of advanced age.

So what’s the trick? Is it using flash cards to learn more advanced words?

No. It’s also not meditation, solving a Rubik’s Cube, or taking ginkgo biloba (though none of those could hurt).

It’s learning to play a musical instrument.

That’s right — playing music significantly improves brain functioning, and can raise your IQ by seven or more points.

According to psychologist Lutz Jäncke, “even in people over the age of 65, after four or five months of playing an instrument for an hour a week, there were strong changes in the brain.” Jäncke went on to list memory, hearing, and motor function centers (specifically related to the hands) as parts of the brain that became more active.

“Essentially,” Jäncke concluded, “the architecture of the brain changes.”

That’s significant. It means that not only did participants enjoy physical improvements, they actually changed the structure of their brains.

Thus not only are we wrong about intelligence being fixed, but we have the power to change our own brains for the better. And playing an instrument is one of the best ways to do so.

Here are three advantages to learning to play:

1. It conserves gray matter.

Gray matter helps preserve the structural integrity of the brain, especially as it pertains to executive functioning (self-control and decision making), as well as memory, emotion, speech, muscle control, and seeing and hearing.

Harvard neurologist Gottfried Schlaug showed that the brains of musicians have more gray matter than those who don’t play an instrument. Significantly, he also demonstrated that participants who practiced as little as a few hours a week showed significant increases in memory capacity after just four months.

In other words, you could improve your brain by summer’s end, simply by practicing an instrument a few hours a week.

2. It reduces stress.

Everyone knows stress is terrible for you. Among other things, research links it to increased blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and a heightened risk of stroke.

Playing music relaxes both the body and the brain, as attention becomes focused on one single, right-brained activity. It also releases dopamine in the brain, the same chemical released during sex, drug use, and eating delicious food.

Imagine coming home from a stressful day at work and instead of zoning out with Netflix, doing something that’s not just fun and creative but effortlessly flexes and enhances your brain.

3. It improves your language abilities.

When you play an instrument, you improve your ability to “keep the beat,” which facilitates your capacity to process auditory information. This is why those who take music lessons are better at learning foreign languages.

Again, research shows that results are age-independent. A study by USF’s Jennifer Bugos showed that after six months of taking piano lessons, people 60 to 85 years old demonstrated significant advances in executive functioning like planning and information processing, memory recall, and verbal acuity — language skills.

When it comes to the brain, there’s no such thing as too little or too late.

In our left-brain-obsessed culture, we tend to associate learning, growth, and increased intelligence with school. Yet neuroscience suggests just the opposite: that what we actually need more of isn’t work, it’s play.

So go ahead — buy that keyboard you’ve been thinking about for years.

Try out the fiddle.

Take up guitar.

And if your loved ones complain about your newfound love of the drums, just tell them you’re “engaging in neuroplasticity.”

As Bono once said, “music can change the world because it can change people.”

Source : http://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/want-to-raise-your-iq-neuroscience-says-to-take-up-this-easy-habit.html?cid=sf01002&sr_share=facebook


Dalai Lama’s guide to happiness

As our world seems to be getting increasingly chaotic and stressful, I wanted to find a little video to give us all hope and warm our hearts. Whether you are religious or not, I truly believe the words of wisdom and peace of  his Holiness the Dalai Lama are universal and the ultimate guide to finding happiness.
Happy Sunday to all !
Published on Oct 8, 2013

This video looks at ‘Buddhism and Happiness’. This eight minute epic reveals some incredible insights into human behaviour and values that impact our happiness, particularly in this materialistic Western life so many are living, or reaching for.

The multigenerational workplace

multigenerational workforce

Why a better understanding of the multigenerational workplace is a no-brainer.

The co-existence of different generations in the workplace is the reality of today’s workplace and has been a topic of interest and debates for several decades. A significant amount of research has been conducted by academics, researchers, practitioners and consultants to analyze this phenomenon. Much attention has been received on this particular topic as a multigenerational workplace is not only inevitable but comes with its many challenges and opportunities. In most Western economies, four generations are working side by side. Soon, there will be five generations sharing the workspace with a fifth generation entering the workforce in the near future. Various generations working together have created numerous conflicts but also new opportunities have emerged.

Different generations appear to have unique characteristics, sets of unique values and beliefs, different expectations and those differences impact every aspect of the workplace as a result of shared events and experiences. Hence it is key to first understand the essence of each generation: who they are, what their needs and wants are, and what motivates them. Getting a deep insight into each specific generation will allow managers to overcome issues related to a multigenerational workforce and seize opportunities to create a better, happier and sustainable workplace.

The impact of a multigenerational workforce is tremendous as it can impact on the performance and success of organizations. Failing to understand generational differences may affect an organization on many levels: lower performance, decreased motivation and job satisfaction, higher turnover rates or intentions to leave the company, loss of key human capital and the negative effects of conflicts. The task for Human Resources management will be increasingly complex as they will need to implement appropriate policies to attract, retain, motivate, and reward staff ensuring that they select the right incentives to target and interest the workers from each different generation.Generational differences may cause misunderstandings which can lead to conflicts among employees or with managers which may result in impacting the performance, productivity and job satisfaction of the workforce, as well as the performance of the organization.

However, different generations in a workforce can also bring new ideas and perspectives to an organization. This diversity has the potential to infuse creativity and result in the generation of innovative solutions to organizational issues and decision situations. Generational differences in the workplace can thus bring positives and negatives depending on how organizations acknowledge, understand and integrate these generational differences into their corporate policies and practices to bridge apparent generation gaps and create a workforce which enables the organization to perform successfully. A better understanding of each generation, its workplace needs and how each generation can effectively interact in the workplace can minimize some of the negative impacts on organizational performance. Whilst generational diversity in an organization presents management challenges, it can also equip the organisation with the capacity to address the generational diversity and range of preferences for each generation present in the organization’s customers and clients.

Finding ways that assist employees to understand and effectively communicate with other employees from different generations within the organization can provide benefits such as workplace commitment, harmony and loyalty.

This topic has gained further interest recently as the “war for talent” encourages companies to nurture their human capital by better understanding their workforce’s desires, needs, motivators, and expectations to make sure they don’t lose their human assets to competition and to ensure they continuously manage to attract and retain the best talents. As Tulgan (2004, p4) put it, as the workforce will shrink “every skilled worker of every age will be needed”. In addition, with declining birth rates and longer life expectancy in most industrialized nations, employees are remaining in the workplace longer: more generations are and will be sharing the workspace in the future. This is not a short-term phenomenon (Yu and Miller, 2005). Hence, the importance of examining thoroughly the multigenerational workplace, its characteristics and implications for employees and their interactions and its possible impact on organizational performance. This view is also supported by Mc Guire et al. (2007).

Although there has been discussion in the management literature on the general topic of the multigenerational workforce, its management challenges and its expected effect on organizational performance, the relationship between generational values and work related outcomes has not been fully established. The focus of existing literature is on describing the differences in values, beliefs and meanings for each generation in society and assuming that such differences with have similar effects when encountered in the workplace.

In order to effectively and strategically manage the performance of organizations there needs to be increased understanding of the differences in values, beliefs and meanings for each generation in an organizational workplace. A detailed understanding of the differences in values, beliefs and meanings for each generation in an organizational workplace through research and analysis should then provide a sound basis for the formulation of multigenerational management strategies and initiatives that address the needs of each generation in the workplace and contribute to organizational performance.

By Elodie Destruel

Bibliography :

Mc Guire, D., By, R., and Hutchings, K. (2007). Towards a Model of Human Resources Solutions for Achieving Intergenerational Interaction in Organisations, Journal of European Industrial Training, 31, 8, 592-608.

Tulgan, B. (2004). Trends point to a dramatic generational shift in the future workforce, Employment Relations Today, 30, 4, 23-31.

How Ethical Are You ?

Henry Ford said “a business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business”. I would add business without ethics is a poor kind of business.

I’m taking the opportunity of the Panama Papers scandal to sit and reflect on the notions of Ethics and Morals. You’ll find below a good introduction of the basic concepts of Ethics. What is Ethics? What does it mean to do the right thing? Is it a universal concept?

Barbara Etter speaking at the AELC Innovation Club in the video (so good to hear the Aussie accent!), gives us a simple definition and defines Integrity as being ” what you do when nobody is looking”. Yes, acting ethically whether in your private life or in business is what you do and how you behave in line with your set of moral standards and values that you stand for whatever the circumstances, whether somebody is watching or not.

On paper, that looks good and we would all consider ourselves ethical. But read the little case below, and answer honestly what you would do faced with this ethical dilemma :

John is the captain of a submarine. An explosion has caused the sub to lose most of its oxygen supply and has injured a crewman who is bleeding badly and is going to die from his wound no matter what happens. The remaining oxygen is not sufficient for the entire crew to make it to the surface. The only way to save the other crew members is for John to shoot dead the injured crewman now. Then there will be just enough oxygen for the rest of the crew to survive. Is it morally acceptable for John to shoot the injured crewman?

There is no incontestably right answer here. Is taking one life morally right to save many ? The Utilitarian approach would justify this choice.

More cases on ethics :


Urgency vs. Importance Matrix to Get Stuff Done

While I was doing my MBA, I came cross this matrix that changed my life forever. It is not an overstatement. Understanding the fine distinction between these two simple candid words URGENT and IMPORTANT  has been such an eye-opening experience.

I had never realised that urgent and important were two different terms that I had been interchangeably using  my whole life. I also got to understand that working more didn’t mean working better or being more successful.

Rather my aim has become to work smarter not more. Thought I would share that matrix as a reminder that we should only focus our full attention on urgent AND important matters and delegate or get rid of  all non-urgent & non-important ones. This has been a life changer as this matrix is applicable both in your work and personal areas of your life.


Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle

Using Time Effectively, Not Just Efficiently

Imagine that your boss has asked you to prepare an important presentation for the next board meeting.

You only have a few days to put it together, your workload is already high, and you have many other urgent tasks on your To-Do List. Because of this, you’re anxious, you can’t concentrate, and everything seems to distract you.

Time stressors are some of the most pervasive sources of pressure in the workplace, and they happen as a result of having too much to do, in too little time. So, how can you beat this stress, and deliver the things that are essential to doing a good job?

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle helps you think about your priorities, and determine which of your activities are important and which are, essentially, distractions.

What Are “Urgent” and “Important” Activities?

In a 1954 speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was quoting Dr J. Roscoe Miller, president of Northwestern University, said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This “Eisenhower Principle” is said to be how he organized his workload and priorities.

He recognized that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. In other words, we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, we need to understand this distinction:

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are usually associated with achieving someone else’s goals. They are often the ones we concentrate on and they demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.

When we know which activities are important and which are urgent, we can overcome the natural tendency to focus on unimportant urgent activities, so that we can clear enough time to do what’s essential for our success. This is the way we move from “firefighting” into a position where we can grow our businesses and our careers.

How to Use Eisenhower’s Principle

To use this principle, list all of the activities and projects that you feel you have to do. Try to include everything that takes up your time at work, however unimportant. (If you manage your time using a To-Do List or Action Program, you will have done this already.)

Next, think about each activity and put it into one of four categories, as shown in Figure 1, below:

Figure 1 – Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle

Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle

Then use the strategies described below to schedule your activities.

1. Important and Urgent

There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you’ve left until the last minute.

You can eliminate last-minute activities by planning ahead and avoiding procrastination .

However, you can’t always predict or avoid some issues and crises. Here, the best approach is to leave some time in your schedule to handle unexpected issues and unplanned important activities. (If a major crisis arises, then you’ll need to reschedule other tasks.)

If you have a lot of urgent and important activities, identify which of these you could have foreseen, and think about how you could schedule similar activities ahead of time, so that they don’t become urgent.

2. Important but not Urgent

These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals, and complete important work.

Make sure that you have plenty of time to do these things properly, so that they do not become urgent. Also, remember to leave enough time in your schedule to deal with unforeseen problems. This will maximize your chances of keeping on track, and help you avoid the stress of work becoming more urgent than necessary.

3. Not Important but Urgent

Urgent but not important tasks are things that prevent you from achieving your goals. Ask yourself whether you can reschedule or delegate them.

A common source of such activities is other people. Sometimes it’s appropriate to say “no” to people politely, or to encourage them to solve the problem themselves. (Our article “‘Yes’ to the Person, ‘No’ to the Task” will help here.)

Alternatively, try to have time slots when you are available, so that people know they can speak with you then. A good way to do this is to arrange regular meetings with those who interrupt you often, so that you can deal with all their issues at once. You’ll then be able to concentrate on your important activities for longer.

4. Not Important and not Urgent

These activities are just a distraction – avoid them if possible.

You can simply ignore or cancel many of them. However, some may be activities that other people want you to do, even though they don’t contribute to your own desired outcomes. Again, say “no” politely, if you can, and explain why you cannot do it.

If people see that you are clear about your objectives and boundaries , they will often avoid asking you to do “not important” activities in the future.

Key Points

Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle helps you quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you should ignore.

When you use this tool to prioritize your time, you can deal with truly urgent issues, at the same time as you work towards important, longer-term goals.

To use the tool, list all of your tasks and activities, and put each into one of the following categories:

  • Important and urgent.
  • Important but not urgent.
  • Not important but urgent.
  • Not important and not urgent.

Then schedule tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency.

Source : https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_91.htm


10 ways to have a better conversation

I love this Ted Talk. First Celeste Headlee is plain hilarious in it. Second she gives easy tips to become a better conversationalist. A must-see for those who struggle to engage in small talk or meaningful conversations during networking events or even with friends. ‘Everybody is an expert in something’ and to get the most out of any conversation, let’s assume we have something to learn. That seems basic but when we think about it, oftentimes in a conversation, we tend to do the talking and showcase our expertise or knowledge.

Well, by assuming we have something to learn, it puts us in the position of listener. It might be the secret after all of a great conversation, that is being able to stay in the back seat and truly listen even if what you are hearing is not in line with your beliefs, your political opinions, what you have always thought to be the truth.

That’s what is so enriching about communication, that moment you set aside your own thoughts, beliefs, views to just listen and maybe, challenge your way of thinking. It leaves the room to a more complete understanding of an issue or situation and it makes you see things from all perspectives not just yours. Isn’t it what life is all about, keep learning ?

Let’s see every conversation as a fantastic opportunity to know more. That way we also happen to become a more tolerant person along the way.

The 6 Top Languages Global-Minded CEOs Should Know

I have recently started learning Italian. It has always been a dream. French is my mother tongue and I studied both English and German at school. I have to admit my German is now rotten and I will need a proper immersion to be able to speak the way I used to back in high school ! Though Italian is not part of the 6 top languages for global – minded CEOs as per the article below, I am very keen on mastering that language.

Learning a new language from scratch teaches you 3 amazing things.

1 – Humility. You are a beginner again in something and you sound at times quite dumb when you mispronounce words and confuse some expressions. But you keep going because the more you learn, the better you become, the more confident you are and eventually you will get there.

2- Persistence. It teaches you not to give up and keep going. As I said the more you learn, the better you become. It is as simple as that.Hard work and personal belief get you wherever you want.

3 – Cultural awareness. Learning a new language opens a door to invaluable knowledge of a particular country, customs, ways of thinking and seeing the world. So what are you waiting for to take up  a foreign language class?

The 6 Top Languages Global-Minded CEOs Should Know


During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session earlier this year, Microsoft founder and prolific philanthropist Bill Gates said his biggest regret in life is that he speaks only English.

Not exactly what one would expect to hear from the billionaire founder of one of the largest tech corporations in the world.

Gates’s insightful admission comes on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg’s impressive demonstration of semi-fluent Chinese during a Q&A with Tsinghua University students in Beijing last October. By learning Chinese, Zuckerberg clearly demonstrated that mastering a local language is a key step toward developing deeper business relationships and winning the hearts and minds of target markets — and he’s right.

Here, the languages global-minded CEOs should be learning.

Related: The 3 Essentials of Expanding Into Other Countries
1. Spanish

Of all the languages in the world, Spanish is the language our online translation agency works with the most, reflecting an enormous market the world over. Aside from the huge potential of almost all of South and Central America with emerging economic powerhouses such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela — not to mention the significant market in Spain itself — learning Spanish is worth it if only to reach the Hispanic speaking community in the U.S., whose purchasing power is already more than a trillion dollars and growing.

As opposed to its spoken dialects, Spanish written forms are more uniform than other languages which makes them simpler to learn. As a Romance language, with the same letters and roots as English, you’ll probably twist your tongue a lot less than when learning Chinese.
2. Portuguese

Portuguese has already become the fourth most-translated language at our company, reflecting an exponential rise in recent years. It’s obviously not Portugal we’ve got our eyes on here, but rather Brazil, which is quickly transforming from emerging market to one of the world’s richest nations. With a huge population, tons of natural resources and a growing tech community, learning Portuguese will go a long way to penetrating the intricacies of the local business culture. Plus, imagine the fun speaking the local tongue come Carnival time.
3. Chinese

There are dozens of different languages and dialects spoken in China, and while Mandarin is by far the most widely spoken — in fact, it’s the most prevalent language in the world with 1.1 billion native speakers — other Chinese dialects are spoken by hundreds of millions of people.

Wu, for example, used in the financial hub of Shanghai, is spoken by more than 80 million people — that’s a potential market the size of Germany! Depending on what area of China you’re targeting and the fact that written dialects in the country are basically uniform, learning Wu, Jin, Min or Yue will certainly be worth the effort.
4. Russian

Russia has a market nearly 150 million strong, seemingly endless natural resources and a burgeoning IT sector. Plus, the language is also spoken to varying degrees in post-Soviet states (for almost 300 million speakers in all) — many important emerging economies themselves — making it number nine on our most-translated list. Knowing Russian will go a long way toward winning the trust of local business leaders. And you can read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky in the original.
5. Arabic

Hundreds of millions of people around the world speak Arabic — the fifth most-spoken language in the world — so it comes as no surprise that Arabic is number 10 on our list. The Arab world, with a growing online culture, doesn’t have its own Amazon or Alibaba, making it a market with huge potential, not to mention the deep petro-economies of the region. Executives who speak their language are going to have a leg up in this cross-continental market. The drawback? With dozens of distinct varieties of spoken Arabic, choosing the right one will be a daunting process.
6. German

German is the second most-translated language at our agency, reflecting the country’s status as Europe’s largest economy and one of strongest economies in the world. Enough said.

Learning a foreign language may be a major investment of time and energy, but speaking even a rudimentary level of a country’s native tongue goes a long way to breaking down walls.

Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244233