Breaking A Habit


By Attila Ovari

Do you have habits you would like to change?

Maybe its a change in diet, maybe a change in sleeping habits, maybe it is change in routine or maybe it is around exercise. Whatever the habit, have you noticed how hard it can be?

One definition of a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

So what can you do to change a habit? Here are two suggestions:

  1. Replace the habit with another habit. Instead of trying to stop one habit, which is hard to do, work on replacing it with another…. For myself I like to snack all day, sometimes not having lunch. Instead of stopping the snacking, I have worked on replacing the chocolate and processed food, like muesli bars, with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. In this way I have been able to eat healthier with less effort than just trying to stop snacking.
  2. Reward yourself for breaking a habit. If you don’t have a habit that you can replace your current one with, try rewarding yourself for stopping the habit. For example, I have started getting out of bed early to exercise before work…. I do like my sleep, so I reward myself with some extra time to read most mornings as well. I do like reading books….
  • What habits do you want to change?
  • What habit can you replace the current habit with?
  • What way can you reward yourself for breaking the habit?

Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He loves life and thrives on helping people become better leaders.

Turning Lemons Into Lemon Sorbet With Interim Leadership


We have published a number of posts on Leadership Transition over the year and attempted to argue the case for not for profit Boards to seriously consider following a formal Transition Program when recruiting a new CEO. Here Tara Levy of Greenlights points out that such a Program is of great benefit to an organisation even when the “recruitment phase” is not required.

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I sat in the office of a board chair this week discussing her parting Chief Executive Officer, she shared her frustration that the already-identified successor couldn’t start for another 6 months. In our conversation, I shared my perspective that this was actually a great opportunity for the organisation to make ultimate use of an Interim CEO.

At Greenlights, we embrace the Prepare-Pivot-Thrive framework for executive transitions. This guides an organisation in clarifying its trajectory before bringing a new leader on board and highlights the importance of change management between the outgoing and incoming executive as a time for the organisation to both “detox” from the prior leader and set the new leader up for success. No matter how good or bad the outgoing ED has been, the organization will have been shaped by his style, preferences, and skills, and engaging an interim provides an opportunity to neutralize those adaptations or decisions with a focus on the mission. Because the interim is an objective, external consultant who does not have an eye towards creating processes that suit her personal talents or quirks (because she won’t be the one implementing them for the long-term), she is able to prepare the organisation for the next leader by making decisions that are more mission-centric than a regular CEO often can.

The interim often hears “but that’s not the way [former CEO] did it,” and she can respond by engaging the staff and board in conversations about the organisation’s mission and future, nonprofit best practices, and change management. It’s much easier for this professional in a consultant role to be on the receiving end of these comments because she is prepared to educate the board and staff as part of the transition to focus on the mission.

When an interim reorients an organisation towards its mission and pivot point, the staff and board prepare for the new leader and begin to set the organisation up for that new leader’s success.

I explained to this week’s board chair that having the next leader already identified would relieve some stress for the organisation during the transition but would still provide them the opportunity to bring in an interim to cleanse their palate from the prior leader’s preferences and personality. As it turns out, hiring an Interim CEO is a great way to turn lemons into lemon sorbet.

Article posted on Greenlights Blog – 2nd April 2014.

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Seven New Rules of Marketing



14208259_sBy Patrick McFadden

Over the past few years I’ve had the good fortune to speak and consult with start-ups and established organisations. Through my experience I have come up with the seven new rules of marketing that I think every start-up and small to midsize for profit or not for profit organisation should know. Some are new, some are old but explained in a new way, and some debunk popular myths.

#1. Branding is a Trust Mark

Against popular belief, branding is not about names, logos, or advertising. It’s about an experience. An experience that leaves a trust mark on a prospect or client. Many say the Internet (with it’s unlimited shelf-space for products and services) killed branding, that social media leveled the playing field. That’s a myth. More information and increased competition makes the customer experience even more important.

#2. Differentiate or Die

I always say that, “Pricing only matters when customers and prospects can’t tell the difference between your products and services and a competitor’s.” What if you don’t have any differences? Find some, create some, or develop some. You can choose to differentiate through products, services, processes, packaging, service delivery, methodology, approach, tools etc.

#3. Right Direction Is More Important

Strategy is everything. Make sure you have a strategy for the areas of your business where you want to see excellence. Wikipedia defines “strategy” as a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. How you strategically position your business and products is everything. And yes, you have to execute.

#4. Change Feelings

The ultimate goal of customer service is to change feelings, not the facts. Don’t build your business around stall, deny, begrudge and finally, to the few who persist on asking for refunds. The new marketing rules measures customer service on the basis of after the interaction, would the customer recommend you to a friend.

#5. Communication Is The Economy

Communication is a powerful tool for any business that can make or break a product launch or an entire company. Communication is the key factor in determining:

  • whether a customer is retained,
  • whether the customer spends more time with you, and
  • whether you outsell the competition.

Communication (which in the end is what this digital era and media is all about) is not just a sector of the economy. Communication is the economy.

#6. Tap Your Weak Ties

Your best new ideas, and most breakthrough innovations, will come when you tap your weak ties by interacting with the disciplines you know less about, or the experts you rarely consult, or the people you associate with less frequently. By contrast, the surest way NOT to have a creative breakthrough is to rely on all the experts you already know, and all the disciplines you’re already familiar with.

#7. Innovation is Not Invention

Innovation isn’t necessarily coming up with a novel idea, but coming up with a product or service people can use. My rule of thumb is that you only have to do something 10% better or provide added value to be successful.

Bottom line, marketing is key to a sustainable organisation. Business is all about marketing.

Patrick is a Cause & Effective Associate who specialises in a strategy-first and business approach to marketing. He helps organisations get real results from implementing and executing today’s marketing methods, tactics, strategies and action plans. To learn more from Patrick download his free eBook: 7 Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

Who’s Talking Amalgamation?


By Steve Dixon

Highlights from the AICD 2014 NFP Governance and Performance Study confirmed that “merger” is on the agenda for 30% of boards. Intuitively this feels right and reflects our current operating environment. So it’s probably worth talking much more about mergers & amalgamations.

And one of the things that most deserves more talk is how you go about identifying your likely amalgamee.…because the more I am involved in these transactions the greater the value I see in getting this question right so you don’t get it wrong.

Having a vision for your end game goes a long way towards helping find potential amalgamees. There are lots of challenges to consider – some generic, others need to be tailored to your Organisation – but if you understand the answers that best suit your Organisation then you are going to be far closer to identifying the right potential amalgamee. Usual suspects include:-

  • Where does governance sit; who retains sovereignty?
  • Who will be the boss? Our CEO, theirs, or do we go to market …
  • Why talk amalgamation and what do we want to get out of it?
  • What does the amalgamating process look like, how long will it take, how do we operate in the meantime and is it worth it?
  • What happens if we get it wrong? What are the real consequences?
  • What is the scenario if we stop talking amalgamation?
  • How do the Organisations resource the transaction, integrate smoothly and optimise the benefits to all stakeholders?

Strategic Business Development is all about doing what needs to be done to know the right answers before you talk amalgamation.

Steve is a Cause & Effective Associate and a Strategic Business Development Expert. If you think Amalgamation may be on your NFP’s radar in 2015 it is well worth having a preliminary discussion with Steve. He can be contacted here

Listen Up! (If You Want to Succeed in Social Media)


 By Dennis Fischman

The secret to social media success isn’t in talking – it’s in listening.

That’s what Dave Kerpen, the author of Likeable Social Media, wants us to know.  Dave tells the story of the time he arrived in Las Vegas after a six-hour flight only to wait another hour at his hotel, just to check in.

“Frustrated, I did what any social media nerd would do – I pulled out my phone, and tweeted the following: ‘No Vegas hotel could be worth this long wait. Over an hour to check in at the Aria #fail'”

He goes on to  say, “The Rio Las Vegas tweeted the following to me: ‘Sorry about your bad experience, Dave. Hope the rest of your stay in Vegas goes well.’ Guess where I ended up staying the next time I went to Las Vegas?”

Listening for Not for Profits

Now, if you work at a not for profit organisation, you might be thinking: “How does this apply to me?  I don’t run a hotel.  I don’t even have customers. Why should I spend time listening on social media?”

  • You may not have customers, but do you have donors?  Listen to social media to find out what interests them and what bothers them.  Then, when you’re thinking what to say in your newsletter and your funding appeals–and yes, your social media–you’ll have a much better idea what donors will read.
  • Do you have clients?  Suppose you’re an organisation provides employment services to young people with a disability. On Facebook, a parent agonizes because their daughter with special needs is about to leave school. You give her a list of providers who can arrange work experience options. Will the word get around that your organisation is a great place to go?  What do you think?
  • Do you have programs?  Maybe you’re an art museum (like the Portland Museum of Art) that offers teachers the chance to bring art into the classroom–and students to exhibit their own art at the museum. Wouldn’t it be great to know what the teachers are posting about you on Facebook or Twitter, and see the pictures the students are putting up on Instagram?  If you thank them online, you will be like the Rio Las Vegas in Dave’s story.  You won’t be doing outreach to get people into your programs: they’ll be reaching out to you.

Don’t just post, tweet, blog, email, snap photos, or distribute videos.  Make sure someone at your organisation is on social media listening.  Then, listen to what they find out.

Dennis is a Cause & Effective Associate. Is your not for profit or small business looking for better ways to communicate?  Dennis can show you how and, in the process, help your organisation win friends and get the support it needs.


How a Departing CEO Should Gracefully Exit Stage Right

Exit Stage Right (2)

By Chris Gandy

The departure of a CEO, for whatever reason, can be disruptive for an organisation.

No matter what the relationship was with the Board and Staff, a departing CEO has a responsibility to remain loyal to the organisation and its Cause and to leave with as much grace and positivity as possible.

Exiting in this way isn’t as easy as it sounds even when the relationship has been a cordial and constructive one and a common trap many departing CEO’s fall into, especially long serving ones, is to anoint a successor.

Tom Adams has researched this matter widely and his findings show that internal successors rarely work out for a number of reasons.

First, because the board has the right and responsibility to hire the new CEO, a successor hand-picked by the former CEO, seldom has the full support of the board.

Second, a good 2IC or deputy doesn’t necessarily have the skills to be a good leader. Also, it takes an exceptional person to step out of the shadow of a former leader and put their distinctive stamp on the culture of an organisation.  For this reason, we often find good 2ICs make good CEOs – but in other organisations.

The third and probably most compelling reason is that organisations invariably benefit from a fresh perspective and the new ideas brought to the table by an external candidate.

Another hole a departing CEO can fall into is to devote their notice period to a farewell tour – saying their goodbyes to staff, stakeholders, funding bodies, community members etc.  While these activities have a place, they shouldn’t take precedence over diligently ensuring the organisation is left in the best place possible for the new CEO.

Rather than waving goodbye, focus should be on capacity building activities that can be accomplished prior to leaving. Also a comprehensive “welcome brief” should be assembled for the incoming person covering such matters as where the organisation sits in terms of the business plan, a list of stakeholders and contacts, an executive calendar of key organisational dates, short and long-term goals, and a status report on any outstanding organisational and people issues.

The final point to made here, and one which is emphasised by those with far more experience with successful leadership transitions than I, is that you can’t have a beginning without an ending. And as Tim Wolfred points out:  “The quality of the new beginning is dependent to a large measure on the quality and completeness of the ending”.

By delivering a quality ending, a departing CEO is contributing to a quality new beginning. And that is something to feel satisfied about!

Chris is the Principal and Managing Director at Cause & Effective – an organisation focused on successfully guiding Boards through leadership transitions.

But I Only Want One


By Joe Moore

It was a unique demonstration of the art of making a set of matryoshka dolls from the one block of wood. You may be familiar with this Russian nesting doll or babushka. A set of, typically five, wooden dolls. Each doll may be taken apart to reveal another one – except the smallest doll in the series.

We were a mixed group of a dozen or so and impressed. Most of us bought a set, or two, and were moving away as the artist gathered the tools and swept up the shavings.

Then we heard: “But I only want one”. “Madam – it’s a set”. “But I only want the smallest one.” The verbal wrestle got louder because volume always helps, and repetitive – another winning tactic.

Can we learn from a wooden doll?

Has a customer or client of your business wanted only a part or a variation, of a package of merchandise or professional services?     “I’d like the one day workshop done in two hours.”

Do you look after customers who want the flexibility to choose their unique solution rather than buy your pre-packaged offer?

As consumers of goods and professional services we are getting used to just buying one. iTunes – one song not the album. Some magazine publishers – one article and not the complete edition.

Do your customers want that kind of freedom to choose? And would you sell them the one doll?

Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact him here


Glass Half Full or Half Empty?


By Attila Ovari

Are you the type of person that believes in the glass being half full or half empty?
Do you see the bright side of a situation?
What do you do when things go wrong?

You may have noticed in this world that some people seem to always see the bright side of life, while others seem to always see the worst in a situation. Some people say that we are born either positive or negative, while others say that it is something that we can develop. I tend to live on the bright side of life; however I also believe we can choose our outlook.

So what can we do to improve our outlook? After all, we all have bad days, weeks or even months. I tend to need time alone to think and  fill my mind with positive thoughts. I do this through affirmations, reading and listening to positive material. Though we are all different, I find that positive material to support oneself is a good first step.

I am not saying it is easy to keep up a positive outlook, especially when things are going wrong. There may be times that you also need to talk to professionals and seek treatment if there is a deeper issue. These can be all steps to move towards a better outlook.

So why do we want to have a positive outlook? What is the benefit?

I find that when in a positive zone, my mind tends to go to solutions when I hit a snag. By having a positive outlook my mind operates in a more creative space. I also find myself happier in general through having a positive outlook. Try it, you will notice a difference.

What do you do to improve your outlook of life?
Do you find solutions when faced with a snag?
What gives you a lift in energy?

Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He is passionate about life and thrives on helping people become better leaders.

There Is Nothing New Under The Leadership Sun


By Chris Gandy

My sheep farming friend Alf has many favourite sayings and one he repeats continually is:

“Farming is a lifelong learning experience and the core subject is you”

My frequent conversations with Alf sprang to mind recently when I read The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership by Michael Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas (M&P).  They have reviewed the writings of the Classical philosophers and have come up with a set of “Leadership Rules” that they argue have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were when they were written.

Here is a quick summary of their “10 Rules” and I could see Alf standing there when I read #1

1. “Know Thyself.” –Thales
To M&P this in many ways is an overarching rule. They argue we innately have a “powerful tendency to obscure, distort, and fictionalize on behalf of a fabricated reality” and we need to bring “a fresh transparency to our hidden motives and identities.” Based on these observations they recommend that a would-be leader commit to “an agenda of spirited self-indictment.”

2. “Office Shows the Person.” –Pittacus
“Specifically, power discloses whether or not a person has disposed of the psychological deficiencies that negate the possibility of real leadership.”

3. “Nurture Community at the Workplace.” –Plato
“There is no greater evil than discord and faction and no greater good than the bonds of communal sentiment.” The bottom line here is that if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.

4. “Do Not Waste Energy on Things You Cannot Change.” –Aristophanes
Aristophanes wrote in his play titled Peace, “Never will you make the crab to walk straight.” Some things we cannot change. “Leaders must assume a posture of flexible response.”

5. “Always Embrace the Truth.” –Antisthenes
Antisthenes wrote, “There are only two people who will tell you the truth about yourself—an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.” M&P say …. “Honest assessment is an essential requirement of effective leadership….The problem is that the higher up the ladder you go, the less likely you will receive complete and accurate information.”

6. “Let Competition Reveal Talent.” –Hesiod
Hesiod suggested that competition that releases selfishness is destructive, but competition that releases ingenuity and creative is a constructive use of competition.

7. “Live Life by a Higher Code.” –Aristotle
Aristotle wrote of the “magnanimous man” or the “great-souled” person. He is referring to a person that lives by a higher or more rigorous code than the average person. But not in an egotistical way. “When it comes to the great-souled individual, personal honor, not ego, is the ultimate priority and concern” according to M&P

8. “Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye.” –The Skeptics
“Leaders should never assume that the information they receive is unsoiled by hidden agendas or political agendas.”

9: “Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity.” –Sophocles
The ends doesn’t justify the means. In the play Philoctetes by Sophocles, one of the main character, Neoptolemus, says “I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.”

10: “Character Is Destiny.” –Heraclitus
Our character or our moral compass determines the course of our lives. M&P say that while we can’t control the world around us, “Heraclitus was correct to insist that we are, to a very great extent, the authors of both our own blessings and our own burdens.” “A well formed character, is the priceless reward paid to those who have done the hard work of coming to know themselves.”

Rather soberingly M&P conclude by saying….“Achieving the rank of genuine leader is a daunting task that most will find prohibitively challenging…. leadership requires a special form of courage: the courage to fashion a code of conduct governed by principled conviction.”

All good thought provoking and, hopefully, behaviour changing insights. As with farming or any other pursuit,  being a good effective leader comes down to self-understanding, self-discipline and long term thinking. But I couldn’t help but think that for the cost of a couple of beers M&P could have gleaned all this wisdom from Alf in an afternoon. And they would have walked away with one of Alf’s other sayings ringing in their ears …..

“There is nothing new under the sun”

Chris is the Principal and Managing Director at Cause & Effective. Our cause is to help cause-based organisations effectively deliver on theirs.

A Not-For-Profit Thriving on Remote Work


By Nina Sochon

In days gone past, not-for-profits saw flexible work as a cost to the organisation – a nice-to-have.

In today’s tight economy, clever not-for-profits are reinventing the way they work by using technology to enable flexibility. This in turn helps organisations get the right people for the job and deliver fantastic service outcomes.

I am in the fortunate position of having worked alongside some of Australia’s most successful flexible working companies. I’ve noticed that many smaller organisations are also successfully utilising technologies to deliver the working arrangement that many skilled people are looking for, while achieving great results for the organisation and its clients.

Are you curious about how remote work could contribute to delivering a fantastic service?

I spoke to Jon Dee who runs a thriving not-for-profit that uses a remote, distributed work style.

Jon is the co-Founder and Managing Director of DoSomething! – a national charity that builds alliances between businesses, government and the community to solve environmental and community problems. Jon also co-owns a company that’s developing personal organiser software on the iPad for small business owners.

Six months ago, Jon moved the charity to a distributed work model. After finding that his large Sydney office was often empty, he moved to a smaller office in Katoomba near to where he lives and now mainly uses freelancers.

I asked Jon whether remote work helps his organisations to thrive.

Do Something! recently scored a big media partnership deal with NewsCorp, which Jon puts down to the flexible way they do business:

“Telling people how differently and cheaply we’re operating has been good for business – people want to know, what are the alternatives? We no longer have to be tied to major cities to get our work done. We can get a better balance between work and family time.”

But getting a better work-life balance has not been the only advantage for the way Jon does business.

“The fact that my charity doesn’t have a Sydney office does not impede us in any way – reducing our office overheads now allows us to get the best people for the job, regardless of where they are located. We have great systems and use Skype a lot – as a result the work becomes more outcomes-based,” said Jon.

“The office overheads for our charity are now a third of what they once were,” said Jon. “With my iPad software company, my business partner is based in Russia and we’ve not had a conventional office for that set up, so the overhead costs there are minimal too.”

Would Jon make the change again to a remote working arrangement with his staff?

“Definitely. Everything has turned out far better than I expected. ”

Jon Dee knows that flexible work is anything but a cost to his organisation. His success is due in no small part to recognising the huge demand for flexible work and seeing it as an unparalleled opportunity – a strategic tool for delivering great results while giving staff the working environment they are looking for.

Nina Sochon is a Cause & Effective Associate. She established and led the team that delivered the Federal Government’s national work from home (‘telework’) initiatives between 2011 and 2013. Nina now assists organisations to cut through the confusion around flexible and remote work so they set up a clear strategic direction and establish the right management style and systems. The result is successful, cost-saving flexible and remote work programs that give back to the business. You can receive Nina’s checklist here: 7 Ways to Prepare your Organisation for Productive, Cost-Effective New Work Patterns


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