Suzanne W

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Managers: don’t fake it, be genuine or you’re letting down the side

Published in The Australian:

Everyone has had a conversation at work with a manager who undoubtedly is being fake; perhaps they are faking a skill set, an emotion or agreement.

Most can identify when the manager is being disingenuous, though what the organisation may not be so aware of is that this faking practice is consuming the workforce’s valuable energy. Allowing disingenuous managers is costing organisations money.

While this isn’t supposed to be an article about the bottom line, in reality it is. The real bottom line is that time wasted in being inauthentic ultimately will lose opportunities, fragment relationships, reduce effort and prevent results.

Reports repeatedly show Australians are spending more time at work. The pressure for management to perform and get results is intense, often adopting a philosophy of doing more with less. Yet this hidden issue of disingenuous managers is absorbing productive energy at an alarming rate, energy that could be used more productively, in a way that feels good.

What causes anyone to be disingenuous?

Read the full article:–or-youre-letting-down-the-side/news-story/21ebce4409aad2391f9f6e3ba8b854ea

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3 Signs of Genuine Leadership

Guest post by Suzanne Waldron for 

According to a recent survey by Direct Health Solutions, the cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy now exceeds $32.5 billion per annum in payroll and lost productivity costs. Medibank Private estimates that 34% of that is caused by stress or depression.

Lately, the buzzword “employee engagement” has complicated a well-meaning concept as many organisations struggle to define what this actually means to them and what they need to motivate their workforce.

However, as Google’s Project Artistotle recently revealed, the secret to creating high performing workplaces is not that secret or complicated at all – employees simply want to be around nice people and permission to be themselves. They want to feel “psychologically safe” at work, where they can be open, honest and take risks without fear of recrimination.

Could it be that simple?

Read the full article on AIM’s website here.  

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Leaders who understand their world, can influence their world.

In the majority of interactions at work, you are likely required to influence another person. If you’re in a leadership role you are certainly required to, no doubt, 100%.

Let’s delve into the psychology behind other people and why they would even want to be influenced by you.

Firstly who do you need to influence?

  • Your team
  • Your manager
  • Your peers
  • Your suppliers
  • Your shared services team
  • Your industry
  • Your board
  • Your family

There is a great deal of people, indeed other humans that you are negotiating with, consciously or unconsciously. If you’re communicating with them you want to influence them, whether you realise it or not.

You will be looking for: agreement, idea creation, decisions, validation, commitment, the list goes on. Let’s face it. There’s no point in just rabbiting on for the sake of it. At work you want to be focused, precise, meaningful and effective in your communication to get somewhere, or do something.


As Malcolm Gladwell eloquently states in his book Blink: ‘we experience a basic emotion, and that emotion is automatically expressed by the muscles of the face.’

If you haven’t dealt with your fear, nervousness or any emotions that won’t serve you in your group led meeting, it is very likely to show up on your face. You only have seconds to set an impression and the way you approach the group (no matter how big or small they are) depends on how you feel about yourself and the situation. Spend time on how you feel, before you enter the room.

Get clear about your agenda, and think through how you may emotionally react to that. What are your worst expectations and then how do you need to be in order to let that go before you enter the room?

Being really clear on the reason you are speaking makes the world of difference. Hence the title: leaders who understand their world, can influence their world. Simply winging it just won’t cut it. Prepare practically AND emotionally.

Here are some critical ways that will set the opportunity for you to be heard, be engaged and interacted with and ultimately hold the attention of the people you want to influence.

Which level of influence are you currently – based on the assumptions you make about the model below?

Influence Model

FraScreen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.05.30 PMming gives context.  People are often put offside because they don’t understand why they are listening to the speaker. From stage, in meetings or group work you must provide context. This is the place you must use your words. Use more words than you think you should. Too many leaders rush into content (rather than setting the context). Others may become confused or continually try to catch up with why they are there and potentially get it wrong. Try starting with:


  • I’d like to set the scene for this ‘meeting’ or ‘talk’…
  • The reason we are here is to…
  • Let me give some background as to why I’ve asked for a meeting…

Framing is only one part of the process. It’ll give you some influence for sure, though adding Intention and Outcome components will make your influence stronger. Take a look at the book: The Art of Framing by Gail Fairhurst and Robert Sarr.


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.06.40 PMWhen talking about intention setting, I mean both internally and externally. Make it a habit to always be aware of your own personal intention for a group communication. If you get lost, thrown off track, miss a beat, or need to remember what the point is or why it’s important you’re doing this – come back to your intention. Whilst that may not be shared publically it’s a great tool to keep on track.


External intention setting creates trust. It eliminates hidden agendas and allows the group to settle in and be receptive to the messages. It’s important that your points are considered by others, why else talk? Starting your meetings, stage presentations and talks with an overt intention helps people understand what you expect and gives them information about where you’re going. They get to stay on track with you!


Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.07.28 PMNever, ever, enter a group scenario as a leader or speaker without an outcome in mind. Of course, outcomes change when more information is gathered, however it’s imperative to know what you want from the interaction. Do you want agreement, challenge, decisions, thought changing inspiration, emotional transformation? Understand what you are working towards and do that constantly.

Outcomes get reached when they start with specificity. Ask yourself, how will you know the outcome is being reached? What will you see, hear, what will the audience be doing to show you you’re reaching the outcome? Gather the information, change course if needed to keep on track, and be flexible in your approach.

Can you see that influence significantly increases when all three areas of the model are in play?


Just imagine being the receiver of information from a leader who frames the meeting or talk, sets intentions to increase trust and focuses on an outcome to ensure success with no wastage of time. WOW. Now that’s what I call a positive results booster.

Happy influencing.

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Have you Seen Yourself Lately?

Written by Claire Vanderplank of Slow Project and Inner Leadership Retreat

Self-awareness is one of those fundamental capabilities that helps you achieve whatever it is that you are striving for. Self-awareness has been on my radar a lot recently. It has been a topic of recent workshops and has been a theme for the Inner leadership Retreat breakfast seminar.

I also feel like it is the right time for me to bring more subtlety to my own self-awareness. Through doing my own retreats and semi-regular daily practice I have developed more self-awareness but without much thought as to exactly how I wish to be using it (the realisation of which is an achievement of self-awareness in itself!).

What I have noticed in this current time of high pressure and responsibilities, is that self-awareness has been kicking in instinctively to help me look after myself – knowing when I need to not have that third coffee, when I need to cancel that plan and go to bed early or when I need to take a moment to observe my own thought patterns and check if stress is negatively influencing how I am perceiving situations.

As humans, we always have some level of self-awareness (and some other animals such as elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees, apes and magpies!). Self-awareness is about learning to better understand what you feel, why you feel it and why you behave the way you do. It is not a uni-dimensional concept; you are not either self-aware or not, there are levels of increasing depth and subtlety. Self-awareness becomes a defining capability when you develop it to enough of an extent that you can use it intentionally.

It is impossible to change in a purposeful way if you are unclear on who you are presently.

Give this a go.

Try describing yourself without mentioning the who your friends and family are, the various roles you play, your job, what you do etc, using only the inner qualities, thoughts, feelings and behaviours that make you who you are.

Self-awareness is fundamental to personal growth, self-control and emotional intelligence and hence crucial to success in any area of life.

The original framework for Emotional Intelligence posed by Daniel Goleman has self-awareness as one of the four pillars of emotional intelligence. Knowing your own tendencies allows you to predict and prepare for situations that may elicit emotional reactions. Self-awareness in the moment (being mindful of self) allows you to actively calm yourself or put in place strategies for self-control.

The value of self-control cannot be underestimated.

Your ability to delay gratification and think “long-term” directly affects your ability to succeed personally and professionally. A famous longitudinal study on self-control was carried out in Dunedin, New Zealand. They took all children born in one year and tested their ability as preschoolers to resist temptation in the form of a marshmallow. They left the children alone in a room, telling them they could have the marshmallow but if they waited until the experimenter got back they could have two. The children were followed up as adults. They found that childhood self-control predicts success and failure in adult life in a number of measures such as financial wealth, relationships, physical health and drug dependence. The effect of self-control was above and beyond IQ and the socio-economic status of the family they grew up in.

Self-awareness is crucial to your most important goals. It enables you to make decisions that are not shaped by biases, assumptions or emotional reactions.

You can develop self-awareness with mindfulness practice. I recommend practicing both selective attention, where you focus on just one aspect of yourself, and open attention where you let whatever is arising inside come and then dissolve away. As you become aware of aspects of yourself, it is important that you accept those aspects simply as ‘what is’ rather than judging them as good or bad. Practicing being non-judgemental is an important part of the practice of mindfulness. Once you master that, it can become quite intriguing and entertaining observing yourself!

In the long run, the value really of self-awareness becomes exponential if you engage in reflection and enable second-order learning. “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.” But I guess that’s another blog post…

Claire Vanderplank

Claire VDP

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CASE STUDY: Peter Merrett ‘Speaking with Impact’

There are moments in life that are especially precious. Meeting Suzanne was my moment.

I had the most wonderful opportunity earlier this year to travel from Australia to speak in Los Angeles.

Suzanne provided me with fresh encouragement, guidance and warmly welcomed critique on the intricate detail of my keynote. We thoroughly deliberated my content and script, all the way through to reviewing my intended delivery and stage presence. All of this via the simplicity of a series of video calls.

The new pair of eyes; free-flowing reassurances and the biggest bag full of subtle tips and suggestions from Suzanne not only provided me with a renewed perspective and personal belief, but also a great turning point in my speaking career.

But it doesn¹t stop here. Suzanne also travelled to LA with me, personally introduced me to the stage and sat in the front row of my keynote! We then sat together afterwards and reviewed the whole thing, step by step; piece by piece; blow by blow with yet more tips and feedback.

Suzanne is a delight. Her positivity and enthusiasm for her area of complete expertise is seriously infectious! My moment was precious and I am so very humbled by what has been quite a life-changing experience.

Peter Merrett

Head of Customer Experience

Property and Asset Management – JLL Australia

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How Choice is Changing Us

We as a human race, particularly in the western world, have evolved so much that we are no longer solely focused on survival in the physical way we used to be. Our genes however, are still playing out the fight or flight aspects in our day-to-day circumstances. Think of times where you have defended a position that really didn’t need the amount of grunt you gave it (driving on the freeway for example).

In fact we have begun to focus on ourselves. Alain de Botton explains this eloquently in his TED talk ‘A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success.’ where he explores the notion that as we believe less and less in a higher being compared to centuries of worshipping a greater existence, we have increased the worship of ourselves. Life has become more emotionally fraught in this day and age, less simple, indeed more complex.

I personally feel and see much more choice being offered, options and different pathways in all walks of life. We have access to so much more. We can start a business in one day and change our minds in an instant, moving rapidly onto the next big idea.

This access to information can seem overwhelming especially as we grow the sense of responsibility in ourselves and therefore we tend to take success and failure, very personally. When we succeed we celebrate and feel like a king or queen. Conversely when we fail we attach that failure at times to our self-worth and identity. An abundance of choice can be a hurdle, something that paralyses us. This majorly affects our work and family life, and the stability of how we act and feel.

A reminder that we can…

  1.  Separate ourselves from the emotion of the situation and problem that needs solving. Overwhelm occurs when our brain is overloaded and cannot sort the information in a resourceful way. Looking at the situation with a separate box for emotions and another box for the facts or issues can help make parts of the problem smaller and more manageable.
  2. Focus on our ability to flex, our agility in experiencing emotions. Feeling fully all ranges of emotions and understanding there is a bigger eco system at play. We certainly have massive ability to affect and control, change and influence, just not in an ‘absolute’ way. Life is bigger than that.
  3. Recognise that our speed of connecting, and increase in emotional awareness is relatively new for our species. Our evolution has taken us on a path that is unknown. We are all working with the new world, even though it’s been evolving whilst we ourselves were right there! Be gentle and slow down. Alain de Botton mentions in his talk that we are looking to nature more as a way to sense something bigger than us. To ease the burden of our sole responsibility. So take time to connect with the bigger picture. A picture that is indeed bigger than us as an individual.

A point to bear in mind when information and responsibility overload is in play, is that there is more than ‘just us’ and our own choices to consider. There are some circumstances outside of our control. The trick is when to know to take responsibility and when to dissociate ourselves.

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The Unknown is a Good Thing – 3 Tips To Get Going Even When You Have No Clue

It occurs to me as I fly, that I’m going to a country I’ve never to before (USA), I’ll be immersing myself in a culture never experienced, with people I’ve never met before.

On my 20 hour flight, I consider that this may not be something some people would find exciting or at least an activity to look forward to. From my experience in human behavioural change, I come across many people who feel held back, uncertain and therefore prevent themselves from experiencing deeply. I’m not talking about procrastination, well perhaps partly. I mean more fear, fear of the unknown, paralysing preventative thinking.

Perhaps this applies to you in some degree, whether it’s at work, new travel experiences, relationships – whatever the situation – I believe our lives on this earth is too short to not experience the rich tapestry of what is on offer in this incredible world.

In the following points I share some specific thinking and emotional techniques that when used, open possibilities – as author Susan Jeffreys promotes ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’

Being OK with the unknown.

Not having prior knowledge can mean to be at the mercy of the experience. It’s a control thing, you probably have heard of the internal locus of control vs. the external locus of control (what’s in our control = internal locus, what’s out of our control = external locus – Julian B.Rotter 1954). Knowing how a circumstance is likely to pan out makes us feel in control. We can feel comfortable, and hold our expectations in high regard, confidently moving towards a thought through and safe experience.

Whilst this is a great way to act, and certainly energy conserving from an emotional perspective, it can mean we follow rigid pathways that won’t always take us to new found meaning in our lives professionally or personally.

Here are some tips when embarking into the unknown – they sure work for me.

1. Understand that there are bigger things happening right now.

Natural disasters, political conflict, domestic violence, people working to solve world issues (the list goes on). Those people are working their way through tough decisions. Thinking this way enables the situation to feel smaller. It’s a way of reframing the situation. Looking at it from a different view. This helps us get perspective.

2. Ask someone.

This may seem like a simple tip, though it’s huge in my eyes. There are so many people with knowledge we don’t have and it is right at our fingertips should we simply ask. Many people won’t ask for fear of looking stupid, feeling inadequate, not wanting to intrude, among many other reasons. The fact is, we can’t possibly know everything. Also most people love to help, to share, and be a part of an experience with us. So let them! How do you act when asked a question? Exactly. You’re helpful.

3. We always make the decision we need to make at the time we make it, using the resources and knowledge we have available at the time.

There is no such concept as the right way, when we are embarking on the unknown! Thinking we can get ‘it’ right whatever that may be when the experience is new, is simply futile. Viewing our experiences as iterative, emergent and is about growing our knowledge, helps experience the situation with flexibility and patience.

However these tips apply to you, I urge you to use them every day. Especially when you are in need of experiencing a circumstance that cartwheels you toward the unknown.

Whilst being totally fearless may feel unreachable, give yourself permission and allow yourself to feel your feelings fully, and propel yourself forward anyway. You never know what you will uncover.

LA & Vegas here I come! I wonder what it’ll be like?

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Have you cleared your cache?

OK so I’m not talking about your computer. I am talking about your mind.

We often clear the data from our computers to allow more room, though how many of us do that for our mind? Here are a few ways to clear your cache-mind.

Get some quality thinking time each day.

Often we are so fast and busy, that our subconscious is trying to filter, file and manage the information coming into our brain and gets overloaded. Sometimes this busy subconscious work starts to happen when we are sleeping and can get in the way of some good zzzz’s. Imagine the wheel of death on your computer happening in your brain! Give your subconscious some time to ‘think’ without action, deadlines or attachment to thoughts. Spend ten minutes before bedtime where you think anything and everything to allow the last bits of filing to happen in the ‘back end!’

Close your eyes.

70% of people predominately use their visual representational system to take in information. So seeing can take up a lot of brain space. Closing your eyes will help to hone in on the other senses (hearing, feeling, touch, taste) to give the seeing function a break. This can be like a mini rest and again only needs to be for 10 minutes.

Breathe more deeply.

No need to suck in the air to make yourself dizzy! We’ve all done that. Breathing regularly and deeply (at your pace and rhythm) will help to regulate and give constant flow to the oxygen you’re inhaling. Another 10-minute activity that’s perfect for high stress or difficult moments in the day.

Remove or excuse yourself.

Some people take on lots even if they are full to bursting. If you are like this, and you feel chocker block, excuse yourself from work, meeting, social activity and give yourself some alone time for – you guessed it – 10 minutes! Stepping away can be a great chance to regroup, hear your own thoughts and give you enough space to make a decent decision. Often we get caught up and before we know it we have MORE to do. Take a moment to pause. Think. Decide on all the factors with time to process all that you need to.

Best wishes for clearing your cache! You can download videos that help you get direction in life and work at We’ve got you covered!

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The 12 Minute Success

It’s safe to say that planning, thinking things through, reading the market and being agood researcher is all-important for releasing a new product, service or idea.

I must admit. I don’t always do any of that. In fact, in 12 minutes recently I created a program that was 90% sold in 4 weeks. I didn’t think about it too much. I created the outline, decided the price point, put it on the web and let people know.

Now, I am quite aware the program is well within my experience. I am known for this work. It’s not as if I’ve started selling diving lessons (I don’t swim well, so don’t make me!)

The point of this article is that we can often over-think, ponder too much – so much so, we often dive into confusion and overwhelm. Here are some common barriers to quick success:

Not willing to experiment

  • You think that you have to know everything before you press go
  • You need ALL the details first – in detail – yep lots of detail
  • You don’t believe people will get on board
  • You don’t believe you’re good enough

I can wholeheartedly tell you – I’ve launched projects that flop (it’s just the market telling me it’s not the right time, need or I didn’t explain it well). I’ve learned to get in tune with what customers are telling me – overtly and unconsciously. I’ve learned that if you don’t ask or don’t tell everyone, it’s certain, you won’t progress your idea/project/product.

If I could tell you ONE thing to increase your success and quickly, it is to act. Just choose and go. Indecision kills progress. It wastes time. At the end of the day, we will learn and grow from all we do, whether it worked or not. So please, I beg of you, just do something.

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Agitation of the Mind

Distractions are sneaky little mind tricks that permeate the brain, causing much destruction in their path!

Focusing on someone or something requires connection, in fact an emotional connection. Our neurology provides us the opportunity to be logical as well as emotional. We often break our emotional connection, which in turn causes us to let other activities or people take our attention, leaving the poor original activity half done or abandoned.

Let’s think this through. When were you last distracted?

Were you doing something that was once important to you? And then, with a little time slipping away or perhaps other more important circumstances screaming louder, the original activity just got way laid and perhaps transitioned in something less important?

That’s the point. It’s likely your emotion was lessened and therefore your connection to the task or activity waned. We are so busy and hyper stimulated that our fleeting connection to things or people can move and shift so quickly, leaving us with many half completed activities.

How to keep important tasks on track.

Really, this isn’t actually a problem unless you’re supposed to actually be ‘doing’ or finishing something!

If you keep getting distracted and seriously need to get moving, realise your emotional need and connection to the task and reconnect to that.

  • Remember why you first started it.
  • Remember why it’s important other than a deadline or because someone else needs it.
  • Get to the core of the reason the task will actually help others, or make a case or get dollars in the door.
  • Go deeper than just ticking a box on your to do list.


Your brain is yours to control. Agitation of the mind is your creation! Get connected to your emotion and keep moving. Your logical brain will thank you for it when you get the results from completing your work!

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