Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wisdom of Weindorfer

Of all the places I have been to in the world, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and that view across Dove Lake to the jagged, white dolerite peak is special.

Its name, legend has it, is derived from the mountain's resemblance to a miner's cradle.

The region has been extensively shaped by glacial erosion and deposition over the past 2 million years and its unique plants and animals have links back to the ancient super-continent Pangea and Gondwanaland.

But it's the history of the region's early pioneers and their vision, energy and strategy that interest me from a business perspective.

It particular, an early naturalist and conservationist from Austria, called Gustav Weindorfer.

According to online sources; "Weindorfer was born in 1874 in Austria and migrated to Australia, arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1900. Gustav's first impressions of the Australian bush were less than complimentary. "The country looks dreadful. The gum trees, at all times wretched creatures, stood sadly in the drought-stricken country...", he wrote in a letter home following a trip into the bushlands near Fremantle.

Naturalized in 1905, he married and moved to Tasmania in 1906.

In 1910 Weindorfer, wife Kate and friends Ronald Smith and Walter Black climbed Cradle Mountain - Kate thus becoming the first white woman to climb Cradle Mountain.

In 1982 the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park became a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which today encompasses 21 per cent of the land area of Tasmania.

So what are the business insights we can learn from the Wisdom of Weindorfer?

**1: Vision**

A great leader has the ability to see the potential and communicate a strong vision.

When resting on the summit of Cradle Mountain for the first time, Weindorfer proclaimed "This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it."

**2. Bring A Product or Service to Market**

Weindorfer believed that by making the area accessible to visitors his vision would be realised.

On that day on the summit of Cradle he determined to "build a chalet and get a road and then people will come from everywhere to see this place".

In the following days Gustav and Kate explored the surrounding country and selected a site on a rocky rise on the edge of a pine forest for the chalet.

The chalet was opened to visitors at Christmas 1912, who enjoyed the rustic simplicity of the draughty, incomplete building. The following summer, Waldheim had 25 guests.

**3. Capital Investment**

In 1910 Kate and Gustav each purchased 200 acres (81 ha) of land near Cradle Mountain.

**4. Use Local Resources and Bring In Expertise**

In 1912 Weindorfer began to build Waldheim, meaning "Forest home" using King Billy pine from the site and relying on the bush carpentry skills he had acquired from a short-term appointment of an experienced timber worker.

**5: Hard Work and Be Innovative**

As a horse and cart could approach no closer than 14 km to Waldheim, Weindorfer carried baths and stoves on his back.

**6: Use PR**

Weindorfer named local features, wrote articles on the project in the __Launceston Weekly Courier__ and in the __Victorian Naturalist__, and urged the government to build a road to the area.

By 1919, after long campaigning by Gustav, the road had reached within one and a half kilometres of Waldheim.

**7. Use Public Speaking**

Weindorfer campaigned tirelessly to see the Cradle Mountain area reserved. He conducted a series of lecture tours and lobbied tourism and government officials and gained influential support from the Director of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau, Evelyn Emmett and the Curator of Natural History with the Tasmanian Museum, Clive Lord. The three men approached the Minister for Lands, who was supportive of the proposal.

On 16 May 1922, an area of 158,000 acres (63,943 ha) from Cradle Mountain down to Lake St Clair was proclaimed a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary under the Scenery Preservation Act 1915.

(Source: Adapted from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife website)

Need to be a better leader, influencer or campaigner like Weindorfer? Please consider our next public speaking course.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Are You LinkedIn? Top 10 Reasons To Network Online

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

LinkedIn is the way busy professionals connect online.
It’s like speed networking via the Internet.
And it’s great for finding lost friends, former classmates, or your dream job.
If you are not a member of LinkedIn, you are missing out on some great opportunities.

There are 35 million registered users and the list keeps growing.
Not only can you ask questions, search for people, connect with people and get testimonials, you can also connect with like minded others.
The "gated-access approach" builds trust because contact with other professionals requires either a pre-existing relationship, or a recommendation or introduction from another.
This avoids being spammed constantly.
I even found out about requests for social media articles like this through LinkedIn!
Here are the Top 10 Reasons To Network Online via LinkedIn.

1. Increase Your Credibility.
You can list your past jobs, current role, qualifications, awards and other achievements.
Its like having an online CV or Statement of Capabilities.
But best of all, people can say nice things about you via testimonials and references.
PS: Don't ruin your credibility by accepting connections from people you don't know.

2. Increase Your Visibility.
You can increase your visibility by just becoming a registered user.
It is simple and easy to use. But best of all it is free.
You can post articles, links and questions to other people.

3. Increase Your Connections.
It is a social business networking site and the best way to connect with everyone you know.
The best part is you can measure how many connections you have and view the connections of others in your network. You can measure who has viewed your profile and how many contacts you have.
For example, here are my recent statistics:
You are at the center of your network. Your connections can introduce you to 5,482,100+ professionals — here’s how your network breaks down:
Your Connections
Your trusted friends and colleagues 269

Two degrees away
Friends of friends; each connected to one of your connections 113,400+
Three degrees away
Reach these users through a friend and one of their friends 5,368,400+
Total users you can contact through an Introduction 5,482,100+
It also gives breakdowns for geographical areas and industries.
A true example of the concept of six degrees of separation at work.

4. Increase Your Testimonials.
It is easy and simple to ask for and give testimonials from people in your network.
Don't blindly forward requests though.

5. Categorise Your Contacts.
It is very easy to track and categorise your contacts.
I suggest you keep it simple to three areas:
- Casual acquaintances - friends - highly recommended

6. Increase Your Google Rankings.
Just by registering, you can increase your rankings on search engines like Google.
This helps people find you via the Internet at no cost to you.
I call this "the gravity effect of a strong reputation".

7. Increase Your Links To Your Website.
Link back from your LinkedIn page back to your own website, blog or MySpace page where people can access more detail.

8. Increase Your Expertise.
You can categorise your expertise via interests, industry, job title or country.
You can also link back to your blog, with posts being automatically updated, show with others what your reading and even post PowerPoint slides from recent presentations.
You can also set up your own group.

9. Research Others.
The great aspect about LinkedIn is that you can research potential prospects, clients, partners, job offers or competition.
One of the most powerful tools is the advanced search where you can search by keyword, postcode location or company name.
The Groups tool is also useful for linking with other like minded experts.
I strongly suggest you join the PRIA group.

10. Increase Your Network.
You can increase your network by asking others to join.
I invite you to sign up to LinkedIn, join the PRIA group and link with other like minded people.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Brand Reputation Impact of not Passing on Interest Rate Cuts For Major Australian Banks: Classic Pay-Off Matrix Logic

So consumers and businesses are unlikely to benefit from the 0.25per cent interest rate cut ordered by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Banks say they cannot afford to pass on the benefit.

For example, The National Australia Bank declared it would not change its standard variable mortgage rate, the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ will only lower rates by only 0.1 percentage points.

Interest rates on standard variable mortgages offered by Australia’s big four banks now stand at 5.64 per cent for Commonwealth Bank, 5.74 per cent for NAB, and 5.81 per cent at both Westpac and ANZ. The lowest in 60 years.

The move has been criticised by the Australian Government for not passing on the full rate cuts.

So what does all this mean to the corporate reputations of the banks?

Do you pass on the full rate cut and build your brand and reputation?

Or is it all about business, margins and return to shareholders?

Can interest rates be a differentiator for banks?

Well, my view is that banks are in a no-win situation. Bank bashing is a common approach.

From a reputational point of view, from a PR perspective and from a marketing and differentiation point of view, the business case of staying profitable wins out.

This is my reasoning:

1. The reductions are small and not likely to have a major impact on an average home loan. Therefore the PR, branding and marketing opportunity is minimal in the minds of stakeholders.
2. The small impact does make a big difference to the profitability of the banks.

So it is a classic case of using a pay-off matrix to analyse the costs and rewards of passing on the interest rate cuts.

The rewards for the bank don't justify the costs in passing on the full cuts.

What is your view?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf Described By Brilliant Metaphor

How do you describe a 40 kilometre ice wall in far away Antarctica that has just collapsed due to global warming? Scientists, geologists, climate change experts and glaciologists are not known for their communication skills.

The best way to describe something that is complex, intangible and difficult to comprehend is to use a metaphor.

This one is a beauty:

"Now it looks like a laminated windscreen hit by a stone."

Well done to Dr Neal Young, glaciologist with the Antartic Climate and Ecossytems Co-operative Research Centre in Hobart.

Want to know more about using metaphors in human communication? Consider our next speechwriting, media release writing and media skills courses.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Leadership Lessons From the AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

Can you combine sport and academic scholarship?

Well, the Chairman of the Australian Football League has one of the most impressive CV's around.

Here's a quick rundown according to Melbourne's The Age newspaper:

FOOTBALL STAR Best known for captaining Carlton football club to its 1981 and '82 premierships. Has had equally spectacular success in business and government.

OXFORD SCHOLAR A Rhodes Scholar, studied at Oxford University, returning to work for the predecessor of Telstra and to play for Carlton in 1979.

GOVERNMENT ADVISER Lured to work for the Cain government Treasury Department soon after its election in 1982, looking after overseas loans and leases.

MERCHANT BANKER Head-hunted to New York by investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston in 1985. Returned to Melbourne in 1988 to become a director of the bank's Australian arm.

BUSINESSMAN Increasingly involved in privatisations, he took advantage of the growth of superannuation funds and set up Hastings Funds Management in 1994. Sold 51 per cent of the company to Westpac in 2002.

Now you can add AFL Chairman to the impressive CV of Mike Fitzpatrick (pictured above).

The AFL has been on a huge growth curve. Consider its just released results:

- Record revenue of $302m in 2008 – up by $17.3 million or six per cent on the previous year. This is the first time that AFL revenue has exceeded $300 million in a financial year.
- A record operating surplus before grants and distributions of $204 million.
- Record grants and distributions of $187.9 million to community football and AFL clubs with record distributions to AFL clubs of $131.8 million.

So what are the lessons on leadership from AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick?

1: Alignment

A great leader has the ability to align the goals and aspirations of everyone within an organisation or team.

2. Get Good People

Attracting, recruiting and retaining top talent is essential in both business and sport.

Move people on quickly who are not performing.

3. Strategic Growth During Uncertainty

"We are entering a tough period where we face a downturn in the economy, which will put pressure on the AFL and its Clubs. The AFL is addressing this with strict cost control. The issue of securing better financial returns from stadium deals, particularly at Docklands and the MCG, along with satisfactory progress with the Gold Coast and Western Sydney expansion, will be a key focus of executive success in 2009," according to a public statement by Fitzpatrick.

4. Engage With Stakeholders

One of the critical success factors of the AFL is to keep stakeholders engaged.

The focus has been to keep the sport exciting and rules to keep the ball in play as much as possible.

5. Media Management

With such a high profile sport, dealing with the media is critical.

The media roles of the AFL CEO and Chairman are clearly defined.

The CEO is the regular spokesperson and the Chairman is only used for announcements on big issues.

Please consider our next media training course on March 24th.

Media Skills Masterclass: Winning The Media Game - Tuesday, June 16th 2009, Subiaco Arts Centre, Perth. Book here.

Media Skills Training Perth March 24th 2009

Comments from delegates:

"I liked the opportunity to practice the interviews and try out the techniques we had discussed." Stephen Boylen, Manager Strategic Policy, Department of Attorney General, Perth

"Personal, relaxed, tackled difficult topics, feedback constructive." David Oliver, CEO, SolarisCare Foundation, Shenton Park

"Small intimate group." Peter Tyndall, Business Coach, Acuity Coaching and Consulting, Subiaco

Please consider our next course on June 16th 2009. Book here.