Friday, March 4, 2011

Golden Key Asia-Pacific Conference 2011

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Golden Key Asia-Pacific Conference 2011. Golden Key is an international honour society that focuses on promoting literacy and developing leadership skills. This year the event took place at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The conference had various guest speakers and workshops to attend. There were also some fun activities such as a treasure hunt and eating dinner at the Ettamogah Pub.

Guest Speakers

A common thread between the guest speakers was to achieve your dreams.Ÿ

  • Steven Bradbury: A former speed skater who is best know for winning a gold medal at the 2002 winter Olympics in Utah after his opponents fell over just before the finish line. Many people joke that he got the medal easily but this is not true. He explained that he had already won medals in 3 previous Olympics. Also, in order to win the gold medal, he had to come first in the 4 preceding rounds of the event. He nearly did not attend the 2002 winter Olympics because of serious accident during one of the competitions. He was thinking of retiring before the accident but then decided to continue in order to prove that he had overcome his injuries. After telling his story, he decided to lighten up the mood by getting some of the audience to participate in demonstration of some of his training exercises.
  • Bronwyn Sheehan: She is the founder of the Pyjama Foundation, an organisation that aims to improve literacy of the disadvantaged by using volunteers to read stories to children. Apparently the more a parent reads to a child, the easier it will be for the child to learn to read. The younger the better. Unfortunately children from broken homes don’t get this opportunity, which is when the volunteers provide their service.
  • Riaan Manser: He is known as a solo adventurer. He is the first person to travel around the coast of Africa riding a bike. The journey was very dangerous with many countries in Africa being in civil war. Once, he was captured a group of youths and beaten for hours. Just as he was about to be executed, one of the elders of the village came and said to let him go. Some parts of the journey got lonely for Riaan. He ended up keeping a pet rat to talk to, similar to the ball called Wilson in the movie Castaway. After talking about Africa, Riaan then showed parts of documentary that was about him travelling around the coast of Madagascar in a kayak. This journey was equally as dangerous because of the rough seas. He had to catch fish to eat and got the fishhooks stuck in his feet and hands while the fish kept tugging. Another problem was that many of the times he went ashore to rest; the police would arrest him and put him in jail for crimes such as terrorism. This made Riaan very frustrated.
  • Tony Jones: He is a reporter who currently hosts the show Question and Answer on the ABC. Tony gave a talk about his childhood and how he came to be a reporter. He then had his own mini Q&A show at the conference.

Workshop: Find Hidden Jobs

  • Ÿ There is a difference between qualities and skills. You should tell the interviewer measurable skills such as communication and time management. Give examples of times you used those skills.
  • Ÿ In a resume, list key skills before you list work experience.
  • Ÿ Write a script for each interview to suit the circumstances. Then practice it.

Workshop: Presenting with Impact

  • Ÿ Methods of learning are “Imitation”, “Reflection” and “Experience”.
  • Ÿ Learning Cycle: “Innovate”, “Experiment” and “Analyse”.
  • Ÿ Don’t repeat the same action or tone over and over.
  • Ÿ Use a rightly timed pause, watch your pace and control breathing.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Entrepreneurship Despite Learning Difficulties

There are many people that have overcome their learning difficulties and impediments to become very successful. Examples include Dick Smith and Richard Branson.

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith is best known for the Dick Smith electronics store but also is known for his brand of Australian made produce. As a child, he was considered different by others and thought to never finish school. He also had a speech impairment which once resulted in him being humiliated in the front of the class by the teacher. In 1968, Dick Smith opened his first electrical store with just with just $610. He later sold the store to Woolworths for $25 million.

Some famous people with speech impediments:

  • Bruce Willis
  • Tiger Woods
  • Julia Roberts
  • Rowan Atkinson
  • Sam Neill
  • Elton John
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • James Stewart

Richard Branson from the UK is best known for his Virgin branded businesses. He has dyslexia. Just like Dick Smith, Richard Branson had difficulty at school and was embarrassed in front of the other students. His success in life began when he started a magazine for students with a friend. They then used the magazine to advertise their mail order record business. Richard Branson is now a billionaire controlling 150 different businesses.

Some famous people with Dyslexia are:

  • Pablo Picasso
  • Tom Cruise
  • Leonard Da Vinci
  • Thomas Edison
  • Jay Leno
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Hans Christian Anderson
  • Albert Einstein
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Erin Brockovich
  • Cher
  • Jamie Oliver
  • Steve Jobs
  • Henry Ford

A common thread for successful entrepreneurs is that their skills were not recognised by others who instead focused on the impairment. This means that some people are thought by others to be dumb but really are smart. Entrepreneurs are able to get past obstacles through determination, taking risks and being innovative.

References (And More Info):

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Appearance is Important

I have recently read two books that have made me realise:
Appearance is Important!

The first book I read is called "Life is a Pitch" (Written by Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity). As the title suggests, through out your life you have to do many pitches. Most people would think of a pitch as being something that is done for an investor to get them interested in your idea. That is true but you don't just pitch to investors. There are many examples of pitches. For example, job interviews and presentations are a pitch. Even in your personal lives there will be pitches (the book gives the example of going on the first date). Basically any time that you need to ask someone a favour, or convince them to do something, it is a pitch.

As mentioned earlier, job interviews are pitches. The second book I read was called "The Secrets to Getting a Job" (Written by Philip Garside). The book's entire focus is on doing well in interviews. This is because the author believes that the way you present yourself in the interview is important. If the employer has asked you to come for an interview, they already think you have enough experience and qualifications. The interview is where the employer sees if they like you. They will be looking at your behavior and personality to see if you will fit in with their workplace culture and will be liked by the other employees.

From reading the two books there are some tips:
  • Prepare and practice what you are going to say at least a week ahead.
  • Show you are passionate about the item being pitched.
  • Be as honest as possible without revealing everything
  • If asked about weaknesses, admit there are weaknesses but then mention a strength that solves the weakness or allows the weakness to be ignored.
  • Make your pitch simple but make sure you have the extra details available if they are asked for.
  • Watch your body language, this is what makes what you are saying believable. Even the way you shake hands can make people decide if they like you within a couple of seconds of meeting them. Also show you are paying attention to others.
  • Dress appropriately.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One Year of My Unique Entreprenuer!

This month celebrates a year of this blog. The old saying "Time Flies By" is true in this case as many things have happened over the year. Including a trip to the US were I met a popular restaurant owner and got into some adventures. Hopefully some of my experiences can be used in this blog.

During the year I cancelled the blog UniqueNewsQuad because I felt it was not the right time for me to do it. Maybe it will come back in the future. Meanwhile my other blog MyUniqueQuad still exists if you are interested in some light entertainment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Below the Surface

For the past month I have been learning about Strategy. The main point the lecturer wants to get across is the concept of Icebergs. It is the centre point of the course.

Most people would of heard of the metaphor of the icebergs: Only 10% of the iceberg is above water. The rest of the iceberg is under the water and is not seen. This is the point that the lecturer is trying to get across. When looking at the facts of a particular situation to see how to plan a strategy it is important to look under the surface. A strategist needs to look at what is not immediately obvious.

I think (and I assume the lecturer does too) that many people fail at business because they don't look below the surface. For example, there would be many times where a person has had product selling well in a country. They think to themselves that another country has double or triple the population so their product will be very successful over there. Unfortunately when they try to sell their product overseas they end up losing their money. Why did they fail? They did not look under the surface.

Under the surface a strategist would of seen that there were differences between cultures that would stop people from wanting to buy the product. Maybe having that product is not "cool" or is embarrassing to talk about. Maybe there is a history of cargo going "missing".

The strategist may not be able to find what they are looking for just by reading books. Below the surface are things that people know but do not talk about or have not written down. The strategist may have to talk to people to find out the truth. Even then they might not get the whole truth.

So remember : Look under the surface! Even if it is just going past the first page of results in Google.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Organising Trips

This post related to another post

It has been a while since I've made a post. Looking at the Google Analytics I can see that people have been reading my blogs from multiple countries. It is about time that I gave them something new to read.

I have been busy since the last time I made a post. I organised a trip for a group of international students. I took the group to see the power plant and mine that supplies electricity to most of the state. I had not organised a trip before and so I learnt many lessons that will help me become a better leader.

Ensure that you get commitment
Send out the invitations well in advance so that people can have time to respond and also be able cancel other activities that they may have planned that day. Also make it clear that a person needs to let you know if they have changed their mind and won't be coming. On this trip some people were polite enough to notify me a week in advance they were no longer able to come. Unfortunately the group were delayed waiting for latecomers who did not show. This not only meant that people had less time for activities. The people who came on the trip had to pay extra to cover the cost of the people who did not turn up. It is recommended that the organiser collects a non-refundable deposit to cover costs.

Plan, Plan and Plan!
Planning is very important. It took about a month to plan the trip. Make sure that the destination will open on the day, double check the prices and estimate the travel time required. It is also important to ensure to plan the best ways to get to the destination, and have an alternate route. From the Navigational aspect, I already knew how to get to the destinations of the trips so focused more on getting transportation.

Check for hidden fees when hiring a minibus
Hiring a minibus and driving was the best option in this situation. Public transport options were limited for the area and hiring a tour bus with driver would of cost several thousands of dollars. When hiring a minibus it is important to shop around and look for the hidden costs. Each company has their own rates and hidden fees. You will have to pay extra for insurance if you are under the age of 25 years. Also, remember it is part of the contract to fill up the fuel tank before returning the bus. I paid $1.06 per litre for fuel by filling up at an independently owned petrol station. It would of cost $2.60 per litre if I were to fill up the bus with the fuel supplied by the hire company. It is also important to mention that there will be a processing fee added to cost of speeding fines and for not paying for the tollway.

Get to know people
At the beginning of the trip make sure you know all the people and then make sure everyone knows each other. I forgot that, even though I knew most of the people, half the people on the trip never met the other half so I did not introduce people to each other. Fortunately everyone introduced themselves and got along well.

Overall, the most important components of the trip are planning and communication. Ensure that you know what all the costs are and that everyone else also knows the costs so that there is no argument. Also remember to notify the group about any changes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tech Site Gives Entrepreneur Advice

I finished my IT degree last year. During the time of studying the degree I had subscribed to receive newsletters from Sitepoint ( I subscribed so that I could keep up to date with the latest IT news. Now that I am studying Leadership I have found a new purpose for the newsletters: Entrepreneur Advice!

How could a tech site provide entrepreneur advice? They probably realised that people in the IT industry have brains wired for technology, not entrepreneurship. A developer could make the best website ever but have no idea on how to get someone to buy it (or buy products from it). Technologically minded people also have the habit of building what they think is best and not what the customer really needs. Sitepoint helps the developer with issues by providing marketing tips and techniques for drawing in customers and getting the right price.

Not only does Sitepoint have free articles on their website and free newsletters, they also write books. You can get samples of their books for free if you subscribe to their newsletters. They also maintain a database of HTML and CSS codes that developers can use. They also have a twitter site that is followed by the Prime Minister of Australia! That is a good recommendation.