Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Life its a game.

I received this from a face book friend while taking a small break, first week away for over 12 months.
I have had a horrible couple of years ending with some huge challenges in my business and working career.

Now all this bad stuff is getting behind me and I have time to reflect on where I am at and the paths I have walk on to get here - more importantly the new paths I am creating for the future, I can see some exciting things again.

The creation of visions are assisted by important things around you and the most important things I have found is not money or the other "things" that people see are important - but friends and family.

These are the important things like the soil type, whether it will rain and what minerals and goodies are in the soil - without them you cannot grow anything.

Can have the best seed and it is possible to spend a lot of money on some of these things, but the outcomes are poor, unless you have the foundations for that growth.

Friends and family I have found are the foundations for life - your life and you only get one go at it, appreciate them and make sure you spend time to engage and enjoy them, to give you the strength and focus to develop what you want out of life.

Spending all your time at the office or at work does not create your life - you need to take breaks to reflect on where you are at, are you still on your business path and plan and more importantly are you still on your own life path.

Its like the old story of two wood cutters, they both started cutting a load of wood, but one had a break every hour and seemed to go inside for a rest. However at the end of the day he had cut much more wood than the wood cutter who had not had a break and he did not know why, he worked harder than the other chap, did not have a break and was focussed on cutting the wood. This went on for days until finally he could not stand it any more and asked him what his secret was. The other wood cutter said was simple, when he went to have a break he sharpened up his axe.

That is what you can when you have a break you resharpen your assets, refocus back to your personal and business plans and at the end you can achieve so much more.

So your life game is the only game, you need to ensure that you are on track with your game, every now and again refocus by having a break and using the vision back tot he main game and most of all enjoy it - its the only life game you will have.

Till next time
Tony Park

Head Gardener at the Business Gardener

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Don't forget to weed

So you have prepared your garden, looked at why you want to grow things, and even planted the seeds for the crop you are after and the shoots have started to come through - now don't forget to weed.

What you are starting to see is weeds coming through and if you are inexperienced in Gardening, you may take out the wrong plant or even worse you don't weed at all and the crop dies out as the resources are taken away.

Business is the same, you get excited on your business, it seems to be going okay, sales are good, profit seems to be going okay and the team members seem to be happy.

So you start to look at other things and you mind gets taken off your business.

Then things start to go wrong, sales stop coming in, expenses start to increase and team members become dissatisfied.

If you cannot get back on track your business could fail and you need to continually monitor this process.

Its like a juggler who has spinning plates on sticks, they spin one, then another then another etc..., but if you don't go back and monitor the first one, it will stop and fall over.

It's the same in business and same in the garden.

At one time I was involved on 22 Boards and Committees all over the world, mainly for Not For profits and I felt really good as I was changing the world and doing my bit to create a positive future for many people.

However I had delegated the the operation and development of my businesses to others in the understanding that they had the same drive and vision as myself.

I had lost control, these other things had become the focus rather than my business and it affected adversely my business.

Others I have seen start to buy the big car, boat or shack and spend more time away from the business, others take higher wages, employ ineffective family members and take long expensive holidays.

Thats when your business plan is so important, review it and where you are and continually see and understand what the end goal is.

I have had a great crop of early grapes in my vineyard, but towards the end when we would harvest the crop, it was reduced because of a lack of water or to much rain and mildewed .

Don't get excited about the harvest when partially grown - time enough after harvest when you can enjoy it.

So while you think you have created an end goal - you are not there yet and need to weed the business to make sure other things are not sucking out resources from the business.

Tony Park
Head Gardener

PS   I can help you to develop your business plan and you can engage us to continually review your business and if need to help you weed along the way.
       We can stand next to you, on your business garden path.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

If it is to be - its up to me.

When you are managing your garden, you need to manage it and not just hope that things will happen.
  • If it does not rain - you need to water it.
  • If weeds grow - you need to weed.
  • If pests are looking to eat your crop, you need to manage this.
If not then your garden will die.
When you are managing your business, you have to be the leader.
Same as in the garden you have to look manage those things that could adversely affect your business and ACT to fix them.
I found this information from the CEO of Intuit in the USA as he looked at four major lessons that are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago, during the historical battle of Gettysburg.
1) Commanders Intent
In a V-U-C-A world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), a leader must provide clarity, while avoiding intellectual certainty. In our company, we describe this as being clear about the “what”, but delegating and empowering teams to figure out the “how.” A commander’s intent serves as the grand challenge, to inspire the hearts and minds of the team and to catalyse their best thinking. It defines the goal, or definition of success to be delivered.
In the famous battle for Little Roundtop, Joshua Chamberlain and his 20 Maine was simply told that he represented the left flank of the Union army. His orders were to avoid moving backwards (e.g., retreat), or the entire Union army would be swarmed. How he chose to achieve that objective was his for the making.
If you've read the book (Killer Angels) or watched the movie (Gettysburg), you know that Chamberlain initially succeeded in repelling the charging Alabamans as they attacked multiple times, but than his ammunition ran out. Faced with this situation, he gave the command to “fix bayonets” and charge in a manner that had never been tested before. It worked. Chamberlain and his team understood the commander’s intent, and innovated in the heat of the moment to make it a reality.
For leaders, the lesson is simple: clearly state what the desired outcome should be, and then empower the team to deliver in the best way possible. It worked 150 years ago, and it still works today!
2) Situational Leadership
This long-held truism was never more apparent than walking the field of Gettysburg. As you learn more about the track record and skills of the respective leaders, you come to appreciate that even the most gifted of leaders can be felled if they do not adjust their style to the players involved, or the situation at hand.
One specific example was the differing approaches of the two commanders at Gettysburg, General George Meade for the Union and General Robert E. Lee for the Confederates. Meade had taken command a few days prior to the battle, was not a popular leader, and was disliked by many of his direct reports. Instead of developing a single master plan for the Union army, Meade convened regular check-ins of his leadership group, sought their best ideas and developed a shared vision for how to react to the new information. Throughout the day, Meade would ride up and down the front, asking his leaders if there was anything they needed, and worked to remove barriers that could prevent their success. In this situation, he chose to “lead through his men.”
Lee was a living legend, loved by his men, and acknowledged as a military genius by both sides. Lee had proven to be wily, resilient and instinctive in his decision-making. Yet he had grown accustomed to having his two strong commanders: Stonewall Jackson, of whom Lee once said “I need only to conceive it, and Jackson will make it so;” and James Longstreet, a realist and progressive thinker who thought of the battlefield in the context of chess, and not checkers. These two war horse generals enabled Lee to design a plan, and then delegate the successful execution to their doing. Unfortunately, Jackson had died in the weeks preceding Gettysburg, and his replacements were not as seasoned or aligned with Lee’s intent. Lee was also accustomed to seizing the best ground upon which to fight (the high ground), which was not the case at Gettysburg as the Union army seized the best positions on day one.
In an uncharacteristic manner (some would say born out of desperation), it is said that Lee did not adjust his leadership approach to this new reality. He issued only two orders over the course of the three day battle, and without the benefit of his cavalry (as Jeb Stuart strayed from his primary duty of being the eyes and ears of the army), the Confederate army was defeated at the battle of Gettysburg.
Now for those who know the history, there is much more to what occurred than this simple synopsis, but historians agree that Meade, the less known of the two generals, did a better job of adapting to the changing battlefield. Leaders must adjust their leadership approach to the situation at hand, and the individuals they are leading. One size does not fit all.
3) Discovery Driven Planning
In the military, it is often stated that a plan is only valid until the enemy is engaged, at which point you must begin to improvise and adjust. A companion to this principle is “the map is not the terrain” (or said in business terms – the spreadsheet or the Power Point slide is not a guarantee a plan will work).
At Gettysburg, there were multiple aspects to Pickett’s Charge that had to work in unison for the South to have prevailed. Two simultaneous flanking attacks (that ended up occurring hours apart), a surprise attack of Stuart’s cavalry from the rear (which was thwarted by a young Union officer by the name of George Armstrong Custer), and a pounding of the Union artillery by a Confederate bombardment (most of which over-shot and missed the target), all planned to take place before Pickett led his men across an open field. None of these other elements of the attack worked as planned, but without real-time feedback and adjustment the South continued forward as planned.
To complicate the scenario even further, the view of the terrain for Pickett's Charge from the
Confederate’s perspective leaves you feeling the task is doable. Yet as you walk the actual path these men took for one mile in the sweltering heat up a gradually inclining terrain, you realise in hindsight that it was quite the opposite. In the end, over 12,000 men advanced in Pickett’s Charge, and roughly 300 made it to the other side.
The leadership lesson: a plan is a hypothesis that must be adjusted as new information is learned, commonly referred to as discovery-driven planning.
4) Seeking to Build Durable Advantage
At Gettysburg, two key elements – seizing the high ground and superior technology – presented sizable durable advantages that neither great leadership nor valiant effort could offset.
John Buford and his few hundred Union cavalry men arrived early and secured the high ground at Gettysburg. Through the advantage of their elevated position, they were able to successfully hold off superior forces. They were helped by their new breach-loading rifles that fired a half dozen rounds a minute, contrasted with the Confederate muskets that fired only two rounds per minute. These two advantages mitigated superior forces, and allowed them to hold the crucial high ground until more Union forces could arrive.
In business, it is important to seek a source of durable competitive advantage. These sources are so strong that even great execution from your best competitors cannot offset their advantage. Powerful examples include the presence of a network effect; fixed cost leverage; a fundamental business process advantage; or access to a scarce resource, just to name a few. What matters is seeking and cultivating these advantages as you develop your business plans.
Gettysburg served as a powerful reminder of the valuable lessons that should be understood and applied for today’s leaders, look to see how these lessons from the past can assist you in the development of your skills and your business.

At the final count it is up to you as the leader - to lead.

 It will not come out of the clouds, your mother will not hold your hand - its down to you, and its scary.

At times you may need some help - at these times call out for support, that is you being a leader as well.

Tony Park
Head Gardener
Business Gardener

PS    Contact me to assist you to develop your leadership style. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Money is not a main motivator.

Money is not the main motivator for your team members.

To further develop your business over a sole owner/worker size, you need to motivate your team members to assist that growth and development.

In the past owners thought that you just paid people more money as a carrot and they would be loyal and work harder, even others scared team members that they would lose jobs and a huge big stick attitude.

Research has shown that these do not increase loyalty or gain any extra outcomes in the majority of cases.

Below are 9 other methods of motivation of the most important part of your business - your people.

They have been proven to be much more effective in the outcomes, especially long term for the business, creating a culture and synergy of the team that can take the business a lot lot further  than a focus on you as the leader.

Here are 9 things that work about employee motivation, and most come from a culture based on ;

"People don't care how much I know, until they know how much I care."

1. Praise frequently. Everyone wants praise. Plus, it’s one of the easiest (and most inexpensive!) things to dole out. Not to mention, praise from the CEO goes a lot farther than you might think. Find a way to recognise every improvement you see your team members make.
Once you’re comfortable delivering praise one-on-one to an employee, try praising them in front of others.  

2. Get rid of the managers. Yes, it’s possible to take care of projects without managers. By removing the project lead or supervisor, you will empower your staff to work together as a team, rather than everyone reporting to one individual.
Think about it. There’s only one thing worse than letting your supervisor down: letting your entire team down! Allowing your employees to work together as a team, on an equal level with their co-workers, produces better projects faster.
People will come in early, stay late, and devote more of their energy to solving problems.  

3. Ask questions. No one likes being told what to do and how to do it. Instead of commanding your employees to do things, ask them a question to plant the idea. For example, don’t say, “I’d like you to do it this way,” say, “Do you think it’s a good idea if we do it this way?” This encourages your employees to take matters into their own hands.

4. Never directly criticise or correct. No one enjoys hearing that they’ve done something wrong. In fact, if you’re looking for a de-motivator, this may be it. Switch up the way you correct your employees by trying an indirect approach to get people to improve, learn from their mistakes, and fix them. Ask, “Was that the best way to approach the problem? Why not? Have any ideas on what you could have done differently?”
This creates a solution-driven conversation, without pointing a finger.   

5. Inspire everyone to be a leader. Highlight your top performing employees’ strengths, and let them know that because of their excellence, you want them to be the example for others.
Setting the bar high will inspire their motivation to live up to their reputation as a leader.  

6. Take an employee to lunch once a week. Make this a surprise rather than announcing it as a new policy. Literally walk up to one of your employees, and invite them to lunch with you.
It’s an easy way to remind them that you notice and appreciate their work.  

7. Give small rewards. Rewards don’t need to be larger or strictly monetary to leave a mark. Try giving a shout out to someone in a company meeting for what she has accomplished. You could also try running contests or internal games and keep track of the results on a whiteboard everyone can see.

8. Throw company parties. Doing things as a group can go a long way. This can be anything from a company picnic to a birthday monthly birthday celebration. There is no reason to wait until the holidays to get your entire company together.
Organise events throughout the year, like happy hours, to remind your employees that you’re all in it together.  

9. Share the good times and the bad. When your company does well, celebrate as a team. This is the best time to let everyone know that you’re thankful for their hard work. Go out of your way to show how far you will go when people help your company succeed.
But it’s also important to share the disappointments. Be honest and transparent when you expect high performance.
Motivating your employees doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, why not take money off the table altogether?

How do you motivate your employees?

See what the Business Gardener can do to assist your business at and contact me - Head Gardener Tony Park at 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

It's lonely in business

Hi my friends,
So you are in business for yourself.

You have the right reasons, you have the vision to achieve and you have the business that you are working in to make all this happen.

You may even have a great team around you, working together on shared outcomes but you are starting to find that along with the excitement of running your own business comes the challenge of making all the decisions.
  • Making sure there are funds each quarter to pay your tax and other payments, is up to you. 
  • Ensuring that the funds are there each month to pay the accounts is up to you.
  • Weekly payments for wages is up to you.

And when things are going okay and cash flow is great, then being in business is positive and exciting, however when its starts to go poorly, when cash flow reduces and you have tried everything to keep it going, then it still is up to you.

Some employee's could help, even your spouse and friends think they are helping - but at the end of the day its you that has to look in the mirror and have to face up to it.

Most people bottle all this stress up, try to fix it and some do, however a lot don't and bad bankruptcies, marriage break ups and even suicides then could happen.

I have been through it a number of times, I was able to manage things through hassles with support from my wife, my Mum and Dad, friends and some great team members - until unfortunately one thing did not work and things tumbled down. I had poor health, poor sleep patterns and working 7 days a week trying to fix things.

Things I learnt from all these challenges was that you have to set life priorities - family, yourself and friends. Business is a tool for these and that you need to work more ON your business than IN your business.

When you are also caught up IN the business, when its up to you to clean the toilets, to hammer the nail or make the bed, then the needs of someone working IN the business tend to get put on the back burner until its too late.

So when you are in this bind, what you need is a set of outside eyes to help you - a Mentor, a Guide someone who is not involved IN the business.

You are not alone in this, people can try to help and they may just assist in the winding up of the business - but at least you will have someone to bounce ideas off and the right person may be able to come up with solutions of know people who may help.

We at the Business Gardener may be able to help, we have the experiences - positive and negative to have a chat with to see what may be done.

Contact me at tony@businessgardener to see what we can do for you or see the full menu at ;

Tony Park
Business Gardener.

PS      You don't have to do it alone.