Archive for June, 2008

Don’t wait until you are lonely at the top of the world

June 30, 2008

At The Top

At the top of the tallest building in the world
Sat the saddest man in the world
And inside the man
Was the loneliest heart in the world
And inside the heart
Was the deepest pit in the world

And at the bottom of the pit
Was the blackest mud in the world
And in the mud lay the lightest, loveliest, tenderist,
Most beautiful, happy angel in the universe

By Michael Leunig

I read this poem and it made me think of those people who work all their lives to get to the top office, or the biggest salary, or the best title, or the most direct reports. They may end up rich and powerful, but is this success? Is this happiness?

Find your angel at the bottom of the pit, and follow it to your dreams. Start now.
Don’t wait until you are lonely at the top of the world.  

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How to Enjoy Your Job Video by the author, Joanna Penn

June 29, 2008

This is a short video of me discussing my book, “How to Enjoy Your Job”. It explains why I wrote it and why I think it is important for people to enjoy work. I am passionate about helping people change their working lives, and this video gives you an insight into how to book can help that.

You can get a free chapter and e-workbook
You can also buy the book from my website or from or

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Just Means: Jobs for people who create change

June 26, 2008


In order to make change happen in the workplace, companies and individuals need to shift their ideas about what work is, and what a job entails.

One company that is trying to enable this change is


Why is Just Means important?

The goal of JustMeans is to question the assumptions behind how we have traditionally thought of value.  Both how organizations create value and also what we value in our lives.  Our goal is to showcase the organizations, ideas, people, and collaborations that are shaping the future of business.  In providing a platform where thousands of individuals and companies trade knowledge, we hope to exponentially lower the transaction cost of doing business in the world of social responsibility.  Only then will we be able to create the sustainable future and lives that so many of us want.

We call JustMeans the trading floor for social responsibility.  In the old days, trading floors were established to drive down the transaction costs of trading commodities and equities.  Lower transaction costs meant that more deals could be done, more goods traded.  Back then, value was defined by a price.  Today, it is as well, but there is much behind that price.  If you create a $0.79 pork burrito, does that price accurately reflect the externalities on the environment, labor, or our health care system?  In our own neighborhood in Harlem, 125th street is lined with every fast food restaurant where a full meal can be bought for $5.    As Amartya Sen has pointed out, the average longevity of a resident of certain poor neighborhoods in New York is lower than that of an average citizen in Bangladesh.


What are the main types of jobs on your site?

JustMeans is different from other platform in that we believe that you can create change in all three sectors (non-profit, for-profit and government).   Companies that use JustMeans to find talent include entrepreneurial non-profit organizations, clean technology firms, socially responsible venture capital firms, Fortune 100 companies, small to medium growing businesses, and development project management positions.   Most people that use JustMeans have a real skillset, like marketing, finance, or engineering and are looking to implement that skillset to help grow a business or department.


Why did you start Just Means? 

After studying economics at the University of Chicago, I was concerned about the lack of focus on externalities/public goods in the curriculum.   Value was defined by short term financial gain and this definition shaped my colleagues perception on the role of business in society.  A successful business was one that created short term financial value at all costs, a successful career was defined by the size of your paycheck. 

As a result, I created StartingBloc, a non-profit organization that educates, empowers and connects emerging leaders to drive positive social change across sectors.  The organization started with a $1,000 grant from the University of Chicago and I continued work on it for over four years.  The idea was to create a competitive leadership development program for undergraduates and young professionals.  In partnership with leading business schools, we showcased the people, organizations and models of change that were driving the fields of social enterprise and sustainability forward.    Running the organization was tremendously rewarding but I felt that we needed a place where these ideas could be showcased to many more people.


The companies that use your site include Timbaland, Jumpstart and MBAs without Borders. What do companies like these have in common? 

They all share an understanding that there are many groups that companies/organizations should be accountable to beyond just investors/donors.  These groups include current and potential employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, communities, journalists (both old and new), and the environment.


Do people who work for a meaningful purpose enjoy their jobs more than other people?

Yes.  I think this is just human nature.  People are inherently good.  If you are working on something that you are passionate about and also has a positive impact on the world, you are going to feel like you are an active participant in shaping your reality.  Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, discusses how the lack of meaningful work is one form of oppression.  Through work, people become active participants in creating their world.  If you do not enjoy your work or find freedom through it, you are essentially oppressing yourself.


What is your number one tip for being fulfilled in your job?

Figure out what you are passionate about.  The money will follow.


If you are interested in finding out more, check out






Multitasking: Essential…or Not?

June 24, 2008

Are you a multi-tasker?

I am – and I can’t see myself being any other way as I enjoy the stimulation. But my partner is single-minded and highly focussed on one thing at a time, and this works for him.

I don’t think this is a gender thing – it is based on the way an individual’s mind works.


Multi-tasking is considered a positive attribute in the workplace. In fact, it is demanded of the modern office worker.

You will be interrupted every few minutes by new emails, phone calls, meetings, demands on your time. On top of this, you actually need to perform your job.

Many of my colleagues have two screens at their desk, so they can simultaneously monitor email and work.

If you are not a natural multi-tasker, how do you cope with all these demands on your attention?


A number of books extol the virtues of slowing down, of focussing on quality tasks instead of the constant stream of interruption.

Studies have shown that multi-tasking can be dangerous. If we can’t drive and speak on the phone, how can we email and do the same thing?

If we are constantly moving on from a task, how can we accomplish anything at all?


Should companies encourage multi-tasking or is there a different way?


An alternative would be to have focussed periods of time without interruption that would enable periods of constructive work.


Some suggestions would be:

          Only enable the email servers between 8 – 10am and 3-5pm so people have specific periods of time to respond to email

          Turn on the mobile phone jammer during specific periods so that people are not distracted

          Schedule meetings only in the mornings when people have the most energy

          Have focus rooms where people can go and not be disturbed. Ensure that people get access to these several times a week.


Even these simple ideas are blasphemous in today’s corporate society, but perhaps more “work” would get done this way?


This is a great article on multi-tasking that goes into greater detail on this topic:

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Jack Canfield “The Success Principles”

June 22, 2008

“Formal education will earn you a living. Self education will earn you a fortune.” Jim Rohn

I am a huge believer in self-development and continuing education.
This is the first in the series of video reviews for books I recommend in “How To Enjoy Your Job”. 
These are books that have been important for my own development, and I also believe you will gain a lot from them.  
Let me know what you think – or if there is a specific book you want reviewed…

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Solstice: Revisit your goals in the middle of the year

June 21, 2008

Today is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. Solstices occur twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is oriented directly towards or away from the Sun, causing the Sun to reach its northernmost and southernmost extremes . It marks approximately the middle of the year and is a time to reflect on what we have achieved so far, and the time we have left in 2008 to achieve everything we wanted to.

Did you set goals in January?
Did you say you would change your job, lose more weight, be nicer to your partner and your family? Did you promise to save and not to spend?

Whether you have already set goals or not, now is a great time to review and set some more. There are a number of important principles to use in your goal setting process, and I have used examples around work, but you can substitute for other areas.

·         Write your Main Goal and your smaller goals in simple language that are easy to understand and remember. Word it in a positive way e.g. “I will be….” Or “I will have …” 



·         Your goal must be measurable so you know when you have achieved it. For example, “I will have a better job” is not measurable. Compare this to “I will work for The X Firm as a Level 2 manager” which is measurable.



·         Your goal must have a time limit that you state clearly, for example, “I will be promoted to manager at X Company by 1 February 2010”. This gives your mind a defined limit and also means you will pay attention to how far you are getting as time passes.



·         Speak your Main Goal and the specific goal you are working on right now either out loud or in your head every day. Speak with confidence. This confidence is important even if you don’t feel it at first, because the more you get used to the words and the ideas, the more you will feel that it will happen.



·         Be thankful for the achievement of your goal before you have even achieved it. Know that you will achieve it. Be grateful for the opportunities it will give you and feel the excitement of having achieved it already. This may sound strange but it helps you to grow a confidence you might not have otherwise. 

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Losing weight if you are at a desk all day

June 19, 2008

Vertical deskThursday is safety cake day. We have a meeting about health and safety and then we get cake. I can resist if it is the orange one, or even the carrot cake – but the chocolate one is too much. So I go to a spinning class beforehand (45 minutes of extreme stationary cycling) to assuage my guilt.

On this topic, it might be a while until we get the vertical desk – so here are some ways to lose weight at work.

·         Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day.

·         Use any opportunity to get moving. Walk over to co-workers for a brief chat at their desks rather than messaging them via your computer.

·         Log your food intake – studies show that you lose more weight if you monitor what you eat

·         Stop drinking soda and fizzy drinks – they are packed with sugar

·         Stop having sugar in tea and coffee

·         Leave your shoes at work and wear trainers to encourage walking

·         Walk at lunchtime

·         Start an exercise group for support.

·         Have a health and fitness competition at work with some decent prizes

·         Find a local gym and go before or after work

·         Be encouraging, support others and they will support you

·         Take your own lunch and healthy snacks

·         Drink more water so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst

·         Campaign to get fresh fruit in the office instead of a chocolate machine (or safety cake!)

·         Use chewing gum to get you through the difficult moments

None of this is rocket science, but it is hard to do. I know as I have been avoiding these things for years! I am a member of the 3.30pm sugar high club! I am now tackling this with a Chupa Chup or chewing gum. That little bit of sugar is just enough and keeps me away from the chocolate machine (unless it’s Thursday). You can do it too!

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Does your job affect your sex life?

June 18, 2008

Yes, it does, in the following ways. This is social comment, not judgement….

• People meet their partners at work – both life partners and sexual partners so it is an important place for relationships. Do you work somewhere you think you could meet this person?

• Extra-marital affairs often start at work, happen at work and end at work

• Online dating website RSVP has shown that 23% of people surveyed have lied about their jobs online. 48% of people believed what job they do makes a difference on a date. Women wanted CEOs, tradespeople, musicians or pro-sportsmen. Men wanted actresses, nurses, musicians or personal trainers.

• Job anxiety can affect your sex life – this study in Italy links job stress to premature ejaculation 

• Self confidence and a positive attitude are attractive to everyone. If you love your job and are enthusiastic about it, people will find you more attractive and enjoy being with you. Do you talk enthusiastically about your job?
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Did you just “fall” into your job?

June 18, 2008

A new survey by Galaxy Research in Australia shows that over 50% of workers “fell into” their jobs, and only 1 in 4 (25%) actively planned their career.

This is not just in Australia – it is a common theme across most Western countries.

How do you “fall into” a job?

I fell into business consulting as I needed a summer job that paid the most money to pay off my student loan. After that summer they offered me a fulltime position after I finished University. I woke up a few years later wondering how on earth I ended up doing it. I have a degree in Theology and yet I am a business and IT consultant through experience!

Can you get out of the job once you have years of experience in it?

Yes, you can!

It is a matter of changing your mindset and believing that you can be more than the job you are in now. One in three people in the Galaxy survey felt that their job didn’t accurately reflect who they are as a person. These people need to actively plan the next step in order to find work that does represent who they are. It takes time as you are likely to be reliant on the pay-cheque from your existing job, but you can escape your job and do something you love. You may have to volunteer for a while, or retrain, or do the work part time for free – but you can change what you do.People underestimate what they can achieve in 5 years. You may set a plan for a year but not for 5 – but think where you were 5 years ago? Haven’t you come a long way?

Set a goal now for 5 years time. Are you doing your ideal job then? What are you doing? Write it down. Dream it. Then set goals to achieve it.


‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. Napoleon Hill

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Pets at work: there are benefits!

June 16, 2008

My cat Shmi helps me workAnimals are great – I love my cat Shmi and he makes working at my desk a joy. He comes and sits on my lap while I am typing and loves the printer.

It turns out there are actually benefits to having pets in the workplace.

An American Pet Products Manufacturers Association survey of businesses allowing pets in the workplace confirmed the benefits

·         73% of the companies surveyed said pets create a more productive work environment.

·         27% reported a decrease in employee absenteeism.

·         73% indicated pets led to a more productive work environment.

·         96 % said pets created positive work relations.

·         58% of employees stayed late with pets in the office.

This site also outlines “petiquette” (for dogs) including:

·         Make sure your dog is socialized to people and other dogs before he goes to work.

·         Make sure your personal workspace can comfortably accommodate your dog.

·         Avoid squeaky toys and collars that jangle.

·         Keep your dog clean and well-groomed.

If you can’t take your pet to work, they can lower your stress levels at home by:

·         Pets improve your mood and make you smile

·         Pet owners have lower blood pressure

·         Dogs encourage you to exercise

·         Watching fish swim can be a form of meditation and help you sleep

·         Having a pet gives you something to talk about with like-minded people so can help build social networks

·         Pets are great listeners and some are very empathetic. Crying will usually elicit a lot of sympathy from your pet.
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