Can I scale mentorship?

So I’ve recently left my role as a director in a recruitment firm to pursue multiple ideas and channel my energy into a problem I see all too often. Leadership is at an all time low. We live in fast paced world where time seems constantly against us. Managers are being asked to find profit where it doesn’t exist and cutting corners and beating the stick seems like the quick fix drug of choice.

I don’t want to blame these people however…in fact they’re only doing what they’ve been shown. Instead I would rather think about how I can help. Have you ever had a mentor? Are you lucky to have a few? Mentors have shown me a lot of time and patience over the years and inspired me to take brave decisions. Myth buster…my mentors have never offered nor have I asked for career advice. I find that is my decision to make. However the inspiration to see what they have been able to do and the way they have achieved the result is inspiring.

That is the part the mentor must play. Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerburg and Mark wrote an emotional message of thanks when he passed, for showing him that what you can build can change the world. Carl Jung was of course mentored by Sigmund Freud a friendship which was later to turn sour, but at the time when he required inspiration, knowledge and an open mind it was there. Oprah Winfrey has openly discussed her relationship with Maya Angelo. The two have shared a close relationship for years where Oprah has said she helped her through some of the most important years of her life.

Former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Army General, Colin Powell considered his father, Luther Powell a powerful mentor. Powell puts it well, he believes that all Americans should make a commitment to mentoring.  “All… of us have the ability to serve as a mentor – to step forward and say, ‘I’m going to be a mentor, because I want this next generation to take America to a higher level, a better place.” And that’s the point…we are here to improve and leave.

However to do so you have to have someone believe in you and then the work ethic and passion to act upon that belief because you will go places you never thought possible. Tony Robbins attributes his ex drama teacher from school. He told Tony that he had a gift, that every time he spoke to a group or audience they were captivated…he didn’t do too badly after that I guess.

So the road map is there, proof is abundant, technology can be scaled…yet we still don’t have a solution…how do give the opportunity to everyone? That’s my big hairy goal and I will get there.


Inspiration over Manipulation

Reading the Saturday papers in the business section, the first 3 stories are all of how companies have chosen manipulation over inspiration to find cunning ways to entice shoppers into their store, get rich and make shareholders happy.

The reality is that price being one of the easiest tools for manipulation whilst enticing…is like a big dose of heroine…the more you have of it…the more you want and you end up a like a junky not knowing which way is up and needing consultants telling you how to run your business.

For Coles & Woolworths this creates an interesting situation, Wal-Mart in the US did exactly the same and found law suits and a race to the bottom a significant issue. Why do we continue to see the same tactics…why isn’t there some inspiration to enable both their workers and the customer some rest bite from the constant barrage of down, down prices are down.

We know prices are down, we know volume is up and we know you’re still making stacks of profit. How about you tell us something we don’t know…and I don’t mean there isn’t any ‘added hormones’ in your beef…because I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t put them in anyway?!

Here’s a suggestion, why don’t you get some farmers that supply your fruit to come in and talk to children about where the fruit and vegetables come from and why its so important to eat healthy? Maybe you might make the front page of The Age for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

So it brings me to the point of this rant. If you’re just starting your career or a business, you will no doubt be intending to inspire people and not manipulate however when times get tough or investors come in and you’re faced with the strategic direction required for growth…what ever you do…ensure your north start always has the right intent. If you find yourself taking short-cuts or reducing prices, discounting, 2 for 1s or rebating…ask yourself…how could I get the desired outcome inspiring my customers not manipulating them.


Long pause between posts…I feel terrible as I haven’t kept up with my weekly blogging during an amazing December getaway to New Zealand. I know, I know there are things called automated posts that you can set whilst you’re otherwise engaged or too busy to post etc..but I didn’t. To be honest I wasn’t in the mood at all, I had no creative bones in me over Christmas.

However, I’m back and the pink emu inside me is once again moving forward at a rate of 50kmph and has no intention of slowing down. In fact I’m strongly considering blogging everyday and will take that leap over the coming days as  I align my goals for this year.

I trust you all had an awesome break and hopefully feel pumped about the future ahead. I want this blog to go out to some of you who don’t feel pumped about this year and are struggling to see the light from the tunnel. I’m here for you in blog form and will continue to be your mentor through the tough career times and situations where you may feel alone.

I will leave this with you…don’t put expectation on yourself to be someone you think others desire, your true self is never disappointed.

The 18 month mark…how to tell he’s not the one!

Knowing which job or path to take is a tricky business. Mainly because we either get lost in the hype of the interview process and think everything will be amazing or simply because we just don’t know what the future holds and it’s a leap of faith for all involved.

I picked up some good advice recently which I wanted to share. Visualise what your role will look like at the 18 month mark. Discuss with your future boss / leader what they expect you to be doing by that stage. Why is the 18 month mark so important? Like any relationship, it’s when you start to realise if this thing is going to last the distance!

I’ve taken most of my jobs over the past 10 years on very short sighted here and now thoughts. I’ve been fixed on trying to solve a short-term financial or emotional issue. I’ve been lucky that by the most part the roles have worked out (2 major stints 8 years in total at 2 companies). However there have also been a couple of very short ones too.

I will cut to the chase. If you look ahead to the point where the current role or objective you’re being employed for is fulfilled or that point where it becomes tedious because you’ve mastered the craft, and there isn’t an obvious learning curve to keep you stimulated, then you need to question if the decision to join has longevity.

Far too many people are short-term thinkers, far too many don’t look for the growth, learning and purpose in the role and company as a guide to career satisfaction. If you’re just starting out and have a decision to make on the next role, look ahead to the 18 month mark and ask yourself…what will I be doing? What will be my challenge? What will keep me motivated for another 18 months? Be tough on yourself, remove the hysteria from getting the job and be very objective (you may need someone else at this point to bounce off).

Once you’ve done this exercise and see no obvious path then you may need to re-think and look for another job!

Are we offering enough of ourselves?

Mentorship is underrated. The world can be a lonely place. People are super busy.

Your knowledge is vital. You may think you need to learn more stuff…but there are lots of people, young people, who are thirsty for your experience.

Some of it, is life experience. Some of it, is work experience. But mostly it’s just experience. Experience that takes time, perseverance and failure.

Take some time out of your busy schedule and find a way to connect with people who need your knowledge. These ‘people’ is anyone who seems like they may need help. It may be obvious or it may not.

If you prioritise caring, those people in need will find you.

Why self-awareness taught me to follow my heart

With the explosion of tertiary education and now the online learning market growing at a rapid rate, working has become something you do when you’re ‘ready’. The gap has become wider between education and work and it’s not getting closer. Over time it’s gradually expanded, we have all heard our great grandparents tell us that they started work when they were 11 in the coal mine and that we’ve never had it so easy. So it begs the question…if the average age of entry into the workforce is increasing are we reluctant to give the next generation ‘a go’ or are they just reluctant to have ‘a go’?

At 18 I was left with a big decision, go to University or start working. I jumped into a job as a Real Estate Agent in London’s unforgiving cut throat market and needless to say I never looked back. It wasn’t that straight forward however. It took me 26 applications and 9 interviews before someone took a chance on me. I thought about University once or twice in the first month but as I tasted the sweet scent of success I didn’t look back.

I doubt a Uni degree or an online course would’ve taught me the execution required to deliver in the real world. I knew in my heart that I wanted to join the workforce and 3 years of study and thousands of dollars worth of debt didn’t interest me. Getting my chance was a life changing moment for me.

I will never forget Steve (Regional Director) looking at me and saying, “I’m sorry Luke, you look fantastic in that suit but we don’t have any vacancies in this office…” my heart sank…then I hear…but…I think you would be perfect for our Southfields branch…I will call the Manager now. He asked if I would drive the other side of London to interview that evening…ummm…of course…why wouldn’t I? I now know how rare it is for someone to put that type of effort in at short notice…I literally have to influence, cajole and arm wrestle people to interview at short-notice…the entitlement is extraordinary. Anyway, I drove over there, nailed the interview and started on the Monday.

That set the tone for my next 12 years…I’ve just ‘done’ and I’m still ‘doing’, I’ve never stopped and thought too long and hard about why or what could have been. As you may know if you follow my Instagram and see the reading list, I’ve started consuming audible books like they’re going extinct but that is a recent change for me as I look to the next decade of my career. For the past decade, I haven’t come up for breath, study hasn’t been on the radar as I’ve spent 10,000 hours listening to people who have been in my shoes, in executive positions and experienced an MBA on the job! I’m starting to consume specific knowledge now however, as I will need plenty of armoury for the next decade of ‘doing’. Interestingly, due to experience I’ve gained, the books and study make a lot more sense and create tangible context, particularly in the start-up environment I’m currently in. I’m not sure that would’ve been the case if I had studied at 18!

Ask yourself when you’re thinking about your future…what excites me right now? Do I have a burning desire, skill set and opportunity to make a career of something or start a business? If yes…it could be the right decision.

OR am I better off consuming, studying, gaining further self-awareness from people and situations around me during a degree or online course? If yes perhaps you should take your time and study.

You also need to be extremely self-aware and that takes honesty, brutal honesty. Ask yourself, am I presenting as someone who knows the value they can add to an organisation or am I presenting as a sponge who is purely looking at work to take from and not give?

The punchline is…if you’re the latter…you probably aren’t ready and you may need to keep consuming until you hit that point you can generously give. However if you’re the former…what are you waiting for? Get going…just do…go!

The road is full of endless paths hence there is no one set path. Enjoy and embrace the decisions you make and be sure to listen to your intuition.

Could passion contribute to ego and blindside success?

Stoicism is becoming a source of counsel and guidance for me as I combat a world of materialism, technology and social media that at times leaves me feeling anxious, a little bit frustrated and a sense I should be travelling at lightening speeds, following every fad. We are taught from a young age that ‘passion’ is something positive, something you follow into a folly or potentially further. A naturally occurring biological feeling we get which provides a compass on what we should do when we grow up and the energy we pour into ‘projects’.

You probably don’t have to think too long and hard about the friend, colleague or family member that followed their passion. They had this awesome idea that everyone needs a ‘Jet Ski’ based solely on their love of water sports. If only everyone tasted the feeling you get cruising a lake at 70kph it would replace the need for cars. That venture lasted all of about two years before they were back to the corporate job. Just think for a moment, what if they took this passion, sat back, thought about the future technology trends which may affect the category and worked on a product that made the Jet Ski smaller, lighter, used renewable energy and connected like minded water sports lovers, in a way they could share the price and enjoy the experience of escapism together.

The passion in this instance has been left on the table. Ego has been put to one side. Stoic mentality allows you to step back without emotion, think deeply for utility, trend, need, relevance, innovation and price. These elements have now incorporated your idea to create a blue ocean of opportunity to the non-Jet Ski market and thus create a business with scale…I think you just might get me on the back of one!

Elon Musk isn’t passionate about electric cars, he cares deeply about safety and creating a sustainable world. Steve Jobs wasn’t passionate about computers, he was determined to empower everyone with the opportunity to change the world one MAC at a time. Every great idea has an initial viable product with a longer term game changer in mind…Gary Vee calls this the north star. Passion doesn’t do your north star any favours…sure it creates momentum but that lasts all of a week until you realise you actually have to work beyond your great idea to achieve the desired goal.

Being part of a start-up executive search firm over the last 14 months has been 99% grunt work, 1% innovation. Perhaps we may have got that ratio wrong but its meant we are operating in BAU far quicker than most would have thought. Hiring 5 people and having regular clients has been the bi-product of taking the passion out, moving into the practical and pushing the notion of ‘entrepreneurship’ & ‘start-up’ w*nk factor to that back of our minds. We live in a country where we feel entitled and my aim over the next 10 years is to ensure I’m working hard on my self-awareness to address that personally and to unlock how we can enable our kids to see the reality of the world from an early age and not sugar coat it with a safety net that keeps expanding.

Leadership Requires Consciousness

Just keep your head down and don’t say anything.

Only speak when you know that answer, otherwise you will stupid.

Just pick up your pay cheque each month, it’s not going to make a difference if you speak up, besides you could get sacked.

I was going to say something in the meeting…but we moved on.

I just agreed with her and told her what she wanted to hear, she loves hearing positive results.

360 feedback is a joke…you never say what you really think.

I had my exit interview…I didn’t tell them everything…they say it’s anonymous but I know my line manager will read it and probably call me.

I don’t agree with the direction but if it gets too much I will just quit.

Shareholders? I don’t care about the shareholders…I get out of bed for me, my family and my team.

I love how the Principal talks about WE but has never stepped inside the classroom.


Sound familiar?


Leadership and business requires consciousness. Humans can thrive alongside technology but only if we live harmoniously and say what we think. We have to identify gaps, issues, weaknesses, patterns and then speak up, be heard and act accordingly. Remarkable people are CONSCIOUS people and they create VALUABLE companies.

For further in depth analysis on the importance of and practical advice on consciousness read: Conscious Business by Fred Kaufman.

Continuous learning separates the brown emus from the PINK ONES!!!!

School is an odd place to begin to learn. Hey kid, see that building with 2000 people inside…yeh? Go spend 5 days a week for the next 7 years there and once you have a ticket to say you’re ‘clever’ we can see if you can qualify for the real world.

I know…I’m a bit odd…always have been…plenty of people will back me up. I didn’t get school, I hate saying that because I know how privileged I was having the choice to go and the freedom to be taught. The problem was the teaching was taught in a certain way, the same way for everyone…it was like McDonalds for schools. The more efficient it was the better it was. Its odd right…you spend 18 years at school and you didn’t sign up for it. I think we are at the start of that journey evolving as the path to purpose is made up of many roads.

It blows my mind. I left school with a loathing of learning, I was the anti-book guy and a total jock. I left knowing that those 7 years of high school was a complete waste of time. That sucks to think about it in that way but its true. I then jumped into a job after a year of travelling across Europe. I loved it. I was learning. For the first time in my life, I was living. My pulse was going nuts…I would sit there in the office of the Real Estate agency in London on the edge of my chair waiting for the next person to ring the phone or enter the shop. I would do a leap frog over the desk to beat any of my colleagues to the deal.

I didn’t know at the time that I was actually learning. I thought I was selling. It’s only now I look back 10 years on and realise why I loved it so much. It’s difficult to continue to find steep learning curves like the one I was on back then as you move through your career. There are periods where you feel completely out of your depth and other times almost overnight where you feel the water is lapping up on your toes it’s that shallow.

In the shallow times, I ensure I read at least one book a week sometimes two…I have four on the go right now but it’s a period of intense self-development. I don’t advise this for long periods. A lot like exercise, you can binge learn, binge exercise for short periods and see massive gains. As a PinkEmu you need to move forward and be on a continuous learning path. Take the lead on your learning through downloading audible and consuming as much content as possible on topics related to your passion and purpose. Go hard on this learning, make notes and write…write a lot. Enjoy the experience and talk about your new learnings with people to gain further insights and make deep connections.

I’ve been amazed at the Tribe I’ve been able to assemble through talking about the books I’ve read and the learning I’ve experienced. It’s a sort of learning compass that guides me into people who I can feel I will have a deep connection with. It’s amazing how you mention a few authors, one or two quotes and you can see the other person light up. That light shines bright. It makes me hungry to learn more and see how awesome the tribe can become…not how big…but how awesome.

Why we should believe in others?

I doubt many of you have flown a plane so it may come as some surprise that to get from destination A to destination B, the pilot is required to fly the plane off course. This is to ensure she accounts for meteorological conditions such as winds that may push the plane further south. Therefore she aims for a northerly position accounting for this variance and finally end at the destination required.

This is much like our individual journeys, if we set out with a destination in mind that is within reach and achievable we will most likely end south of the desired goal. Likewise if we put others down and re-inforce that the goal is impossible or hard to reach they too will fall short. Much like the plane, we need to believe in others, we need to believe in ourselves and we need to aim higher than the planned destination. In our personal equations, if we account for human error, life’s obstacles and the natural instincts that throw us off course, we will have set out a route allowing for this and be far more likely to achieve and reach our destiny.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, he knows a thing or two about believing in one self and others and wrote a fascinating book on the search for meaning. Viktor was a great believer in this theory, he found too often people wouldn’t plan for the eventuality of failure and obstacles and therefore would find themselves much further south of the goal that was set out. This week as you plan out October and we move into the final quarter of 2016…set yourself goals and plot a course much higher than your required destination and sit back on Christmas day knowing you landing exactly where you aimed.