Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Lunch Club

I had the wonderful pleasure of celebrating my birthday in Melbourne and I took the opportunity to catch up with what I call the “lunch club”. And yes I know what some of you are thinking right now – a great excuse for a bunch of girls to get together and have a few bubbles. Well that may be partly right I guess but here are some of the real reasons.

The Lunch Club is simply a bunch of business women, majority of who own their own businesses getting together for lunch and networking. However here is the key difference. We come together as mothers, business women, friends, and sisters; there is no pretence; no judgement; just honesty, trust and the ability to simply be ourselves. We give each other permission to be who we are, to share, and to ask for help, to provide the kick in the butt when needed, to cry to laugh and support each other. We all know that no matter what if one of us was in dire need the rest would be there to help or support.

It is the group that have the permission to pull you aside and dong you on the head with an empty drink bottle (plastic one) because you needed it. (and yes it did happen to me!)

Do you have a lunch club? Why not create one for yourself? How often do you get together with likeminded people, peers from other industries? Are you a member of your institute, chapter or young agents groups?
Networking is not about meeting at the local pub it is also about seeking new opportunities, promoting what you do, learning and sharing.

Too often I see businesses and teams who only really mix amongst themselves with no encouragement from management to expand their horizons.

If you only network within your own businesses or franchise group how are you benchmarking yourself, learning, understanding how the industry is changing, recruiting or marketing your businesses.

Remember if the same bunch of people, from the same organisation meet with each other on a regular basis and tell each other how wonderful they are and how fantastic everything is or in fact the opposite you will not be aware of what changes are occurring in your market place, potentially become complacent, believe in your own babble and be unaware of your competitors until they bite you on the proverbial.

So start up your own lunch club, have a mix of business and pleasure, attend industry events, be involved – it’s the only way you create change and most of all share and learn.

Have a safe and chocolate filled Easter.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Etiquette Lessons

I recently read an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the Tigers Football club getting etiquette lessons on topics such as introducing yourself to clients, dress codes for stylish dressing and how to leave a function properly. The last I suspect being code for do not get drunk and behave inappropriately.

As a Victorian who has recently moved up to Sydney and who is an avid AFL fan you can imagine my mirth.

I attended a recent rugby game in Sydney and it struck me how different the two codes were. There were very few women present and every time a side scored these cheer leaders popped up and waved their pom poms.

Can you imagine a Carlton/Collingwood match with cheer leaders? Need I say

However on a more serious note it is interesting the differences between the codes. There really is no comparison as far as the actual game goes. However the AFL has done very well in marketing the code to women. Many clubs have females on their boards, a number of women commentate on TV, radio or write in the media, there are more women who attend AFL games and the clubs invested a long time ago on player etiquette. There are still issues but clubs and the AFL have certainly been proactive in player education and taking a tough stand on issues.

So although the article was amusing to me well done to the Tigers for taking this positive step and hopefully many other clubs will follow.
Our industry has an increased number of women entering the market as investors, there are a number of investor clubs specifically targeted to this group.

Property is the number one investment choice in comparison to stocks and shares. Women are rapidly becoming a growing force in regards to property investment.

As real estate agents what are you doing to tap into this group? Are you members or potential sponsors? Remember all investors need to buy a property and then rent them out!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This is it – the Michael Jackson Movie

On a recent flight back from Fiji on V Australia we watched the movie - This is it - which was shot during the rehearsals for Michael Jacksons tour prior to his very sudden death.

I have been a fan of Jackson for a very long time, his dancing and music was unique. Whilst I was watching the movie it struck me how much practice he did with his team of dancers and band prior to going on the road. One would assume that a performer of his experience would not necessarily train that hard.

He knew every beat, every move –his and the other dancers – and had a very clear vision of what he wanted the audience to see, feel and hear.
I started to think about our industry and why is it that so many of us don’t feel the need to rehearse. Whether you are in sales, business development or property management when you deal with clients you are on stage every day.

Yet over and over I see our performers – being agents- simply not creating time or having the urgency around ensuring that when they deal with clients they have a very clear picture of what the clients sees, hears and feels.

How many of you:

Know what your skill gaps are?
Have committed to training on these gaps over the next 12 months?
Conduct scripts and dialogue training in your business on a regular basis?
Ask for feedback from your peers on your performance?
Know who your competition is and what they are better than you at?

Top performers don't just happen, it takes time, practise and long term committment.

Michael Jackson knew intuitively what the next moves were of the people around him and what the expectations were from his audience and he delivered.

He delivered because he was a fabulous performer who understood his craft, his audience, practised till his delivery was perfect and as a result wowed and won the heart of fans the world over.

What are you doing to ensure that every time you present to a client you are going to wow and win them over as a client for life.

Michael did not practise on his audience..... Are you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Woman's Day 2010

Today is International Woman’s Day, 8th March 2010. This day is about celebrating our political, social and economic achievements and as we celebrate pause and consider that the measure of success of equal rights is also about health and education.

As women who live in the first world we are provided with many opportunities to be successful and to help other women.

Links Fiji is a not for profit foundation based in Fiji and our aim is to improve health via education. Cervical and breast cancer are the most prevalent forms of cancer in Fiji and there is a real lack of education and awareness. Hospitals constantly run out of drugs, the nurses train themselves on Google and many women are unaware what a pap smear is, how often to have it or how to conduct a breast exam.

Then add to this natural instinct to put care of family first, many cannot afford bus fares to local health centres, are shy or fear discussing “women’s” health issues and as a result when lumps or growths are found it is often too late.

Our foundation is committed to touching as many women as we possibly can from a testing and education prospective. We take doctors and nurses from Australia to work with us in remote areas conducting pap smears, breast exams and other simple health tests such as diabetes and blood pressure. We are working on using local doctors to do the same for us.

The women we work with are often uneducated and completely unaware of terms like equal rights. Every day is a battle for them, life expectancy is low, they put their faith in God and often local/village medicine is what they rely on.

Our foundation runs also runs a program called Bluesky Magic, which is similar to Make a Wish Foundation. I have had the privilege to meet many brave children who are facing certain death and their mothers.

Luisa and Sholene were two such girls. Aged 16 Luisa died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – there is no treatment for this in Fiji. I met her mother who held onto me and begged me to find a cure for her daughter, she did not know how she was going to keep living when Luisa died.

Sholene died of bone cancer, her aim was to get to the age of 15 and meet me, sadly she wasn’t able to achieve either. But her will to fight the disease and live was simply incredible. Sholene’s cancer was detected to late and again there is no treatment for this type of cancer in Fiji.

In both cases the women and young girls who never got to be women were brave in how they faced their biggest battles. To them it wasn’t about political or social rights. It was about their health and their desire to simply LIVE.

Both mothers were devastated, neither have received ongoing counselling. In fact in Sholene’s case her family did not tell anyone their daughter had died of bone cancer due to the issues they would face from family, friends and their village. They were too concerned about how people would talk about them to ask for help and support.

As we celebrate international women’s day pause and think about our sisters who live in countries where because you are unable to afford a bus fare it makes a difference between life and death; cultural and social issues prevent you from asking for support when your child dies, the health system cannot save your child; equal rights is not just about the vote, or equal pay, board representation, promotions... it is about basic human rights, basic health care and simply the opportunity to live your life.

Ask ourselves how can we make a difference? What can I do to make sure that these stories do not become the norm no matter where women live.

Did you celebrate this day in your business? Did you mark it by raising funds and donating it to a charity that helps women in 3rd world counteries? If you didn't dont let this opportunity pass you by next year.

Women world over are resilient, resourceful and extremely courageous, it is up to those of us who have the ability to create change and make a difference to ensure those who don't have a voice.

To land a pap smear kit in Fiji costs around $7.00FJD or $5.00AUD. This can save a woman’s life. Many of us spend this on a daily basis on coffee. If you think you can help us contact Sadhana Smiles on sadhanasmiles@realchange.com.au