A quick course on personal long term planning.

A plan, a map, a course

Happy New Year!

It’s an excellent time to sit, relax and ponder the future. What do you want to be, where do you want to go, and what is critical? As a coach, I am often asked for some quick tips or an immediate plan to help people gather all their ideas and put a little structure around their goal setting.

With that in mind, I have put together a mini-course for you on personal long term planning. I think the investment of less than an hour is well worthwhile.


You might already be familiar with parts of it, but I think that it creates a nice overall background. Let me know what you think.


I’m going to borrow from Stephen Covey because much of what he did is so fundamental to personal success.


First, watch this classic video about Big Rocks. The image quality is poor, but stick with it:



Then this short one from Idris Elba



Some more Covey:


(Read through all 7)


Then, I think this is the best article to read:



Next step –

Start! See where it takes you!I hope you have an excellent 2017!

Why I Love Founder Institute (And You Should, Too!)


And, just like that, I’ve graduated from Founder Institute.

In the middle of September this year I, along with 24 hopeful entrepreneurs, attended orientation for the Melbourne 2016 Founder Institute course. Founder Institute “is the world’s premier startup launch program for talented entrepreneurs”.

Essentially it’s a 3-month course taking people who want to be entrepreneurs through all the steps they may fudge around in over a period of three years. Instead of directionless faffing about, attendees undertake a directed program through stages such as “vision and ideas” and “product development” through to “bootstrapping and fundraising.

The goal of the program is to take the Silicon Valley philosophy and networks and distribute them around the world.

Entrepreneurs need to work hard

There is a lot of work each week, and it’s supposed to be a hard slog. When a course is promising to launch success-ready startups, the participants can’t be of the misguided belief that entrepreneurialism is easy.

Doing coursework 50 to 60 hours a week while holding down a regular gig, as well as attempting to allocate sufficient energy to family, friends and health dispelled any thoughts that starting something significant from scratch is for everyone.

Of the 25 who started, there were nine left at the end. Better odds than most Alien movies, but an illustration that, despite the best-laid plans, things can still go wrong. Founder Institute offers participants who drop out the opportunity to come back at a later semester, so dropping out is better referred to as “deferment”.

It’s all about the team

A highlight of the course was the other participants. We were allocated workgroups at the beginning, and our workgroup (TeamBlack) quickly bonded and became a huge source of support, encouragement and ideas. The benefits to having people who were going through exactly what I was going through were immeasurable and I came to look forward to the twice-weekly Skype chats.

It was while working with my workgroup that I learned a valuable startup lesson – People Like To Help.

You need to understand that I have just spent 20 years in the freight industry. Unfortunately, at least in Australia, the industry is not the model of trust, honesty and collaboration. I believe this is due to the red ocean philosophy predominant in logistics that the only source of new business is to take it from competitors.

Startups, on the other hand, are swimming in the blue ocean. There are unlimited opportunities to expand and develop new projects. In fact, competitors are beneficial as they validate a business model or industry segment.

Another benefit of Founder Institute was the access to a whole network of mentors and advisors.

Entrepreneurs like to help people

There is a strong Australian network of entrepreneurs, startup advisors and people with enormous experience in, and understanding of, the difference between starting a small business and launching a startup. Amazingly, they make themselves available to guys like me – just a middle-aged man with an idea.

For the price of coffee, it is possible to get thousands of dollars of advice. No strings attached. However, if (when?) people ask my advice, I will be ready and willing to give freely of my own time.

And now it begins

The next step is all up to me. Founder Institute, or any launch program, can only take one so far. The real work starts now. My startup, Passel, has received some seed investment, and I’ve got a couple of months to go and find some customers and suppliers, integrate a little tech and start delivering on my promise!

If you want to follow the journey, I do have a mailing list you can subscribe to here.

If you’ve been thinking about making the jump from worker to entrepreneur, you can learn more about the Founder Institute here.

Enjoy 2017,


Passel helps retailers gain more sales by providing cheap, convenient and friendly same-day home deliveries for online orders.

Using a flexible crowd-sourcing platform, Passel manages local deliveries by people living and working in the local community.

Passel – same day online deliveries.

For more information, please visit www.passeldelivery.com or call Marshall Hughes on +61419134461.

My running story – how to get moving

Can I tell you a quick story?

I used to run a lot. Then I stopped. After awhile I decided to start running again.

I’d put all my running gear out the night before and go to bed with the alarms (545am, 547am, 550am) on my watch set and all excited about running 10km!

I can run 10km, I’ve run a marathon!

Then I would wake up in the morning and think:

  • I don’t feel 100%.
  • I don’t think I can run 10km.
  • I don’t want to run 10km.
  • It’s too cold, and it might rain.
  • I had too much creme caramel last night.

I’d kill the alarms and stay in bed for another hour.

This wasn’t an ideal thought process.

So I changed the plan. I decided that I would run 5km. I can run 5km quite quickly, even as unfit as I am.

I started getting up, and I ran a few 5kms. The running habit began to kick in. Running became part of my routine.

I structured my run, so there is a turning point. If I turned left, I would complete a 5km circuit. However, if I turned right, that opened up an 8km course or even 10km.

Some mornings I felt great and, even though I had set out only to run 5km, I’d turn right and run 8km. Sometimes (okay, rarely) 10km.

No matter what, my goal each morning was to get up and run 5km.

I was running again and that was the key.

Cool story, but how is it relevant to you?

Is there something you should do, but don’t? A task or project so big, it seems insurmountable? Or maybe you do need to exercise?

Maybe tomorrow, you could set aside 25 minutes doing something. Just start with 25 minutes.

You can find 25 minutes, right? And, surely, nothing is so distasteful that you can’t do it for 25 minutes.

So on your marks, get set, set a timer for 25 minutes, and go!

When the timer goes off, your worst case scenario is that you have accomplished 25 minutes of something. Even if you don’t do any more of that thing today, you’ve still got 25 minutes under your belt.

Then, tomorrow set yourself another 25 minutes of that task or project. C’mon. It’s only 25 minutes!

The next step is up to you. You can turn left or right, but at least you’re already running.

Quick help to get back on the productivity waggon

the productivity wagon
Sometimes, the coach needs coaching.

I had an unproductive day yesterday. I decided to work from home instead of going into my co-working space. A client call was cancelled, so I had an extra hour.

Instead of using it, I ended up watching John Butler play Ocean. More than once.

Hey, so maybe 3 or 4 different versions. It’s a beautiful piece of music. Then my morning drifted. I did finish my pitch deck, but that was probably 2 hours or real work that took 4 hours.

What I should have done was rebooted, reset, and re-energised. But I didn’t. I simply continued idling along. We all have these days. At work, we might find ourselves reading emails or checking job ads on LinkedIn. At home, we might spend a whole morning fussing over the best font for a blog post.

We all have these days. At work, we might find ourselves reading emails or checking job ads on LinkedIn. At home, we might spend a whole morning fussing over the best font for a blog post.

I asked my clients to share with me their tactics for when they realise they’ve fallen off the productivity waggon? What do they do when you need to get back to work?

I go for the low-hanging fruit. Work that doesn’t take a lot of commitment or brainpower, to build the momentum back up. Maybe it’s a quick email, or a project that I know will take less than 30 minutes. Better yet if that task is plucked from my backlog. The gratification of completing a low-stakes task shifts my mindset back to work. – Jason

I call an Ace. An ace for me is someone I know gives me business. Even though I know I got the biz, I pretend it’s a cold call even if we talked yesterday. Boom. Connection. I’m back. – Rob

2 things that work for me – one is to go for a walk or do some exercise. The other is if I’m stuck on something I’ll mindmap my thoughts – that often unblocks me really quickly. – Tim

A walk with my dogs is always great for clearing my head and I always feel refreshed and blessed afterwards.  – Dan
My mental state after blowing a few hours when I know I should have been doing something is that the whole day is a wash. My best hit rate with breaking that loop is to go running. Run, take a shower, feel good, go back to work. The whole process to reboot takes 1-2 hours in of itself, which is annoying, but I haven’t found anything else that works consistently. – Jon


I force myself to start with something small; like a quick email reply. A small victory that will generate traction to keep working. After this, you beat that initial inertia it gets easier to increase your output for the day.  – Phil


My prescription for retrieving productivity is a change of scene. If I can get as far as a cafe and just be around people, that usually re-focuses my attention. – Claudia

All good tips. I think the things that will best suit me are to pack up my gear and walk to my co-working space. That’s why I signed up to The Frankston Foundry in the first place?

What about you? Any tips or tricks to help get back on the Productivity Waggon?




When people ask what’s next after Myfreight

My Productivity Coach - Identify Simplify Amplify

Since announcing I am leaving Myfreight on June 30, I have been asked numerous times about my plans for the future.

Truth is, I don’t really have a concrete plan at the moment.

Most likely I’ll be doing a mix of the following:


1) emailhandyman – corporate email coaching. Some companies are burning thousands of hours a year with staff wasting time managing email. We aim to fix that through a simple system of triage, habits and folders.


2) My Productivity Coach – in person, online via coach.me, personal and business coaching. I’ve been doing this in my spare time for about 18 months and I’m interested in seeing where this goes.
Would you believe myproductivitycoach.com was available?


3) Consulting back to Myfreight from time to time.


4) Logistics/freight and IT consulting – as long as it doesn’t contravene the Myfreight non-compete agreement. There are no grey areas here!


5) Restaurant pockets – a solution to the lack of space on cafe tables and the overwhelming incidence of people not connecting with one another in cafes.


6) Beachies – kids onesies for the beach.


7) I’ve applied to Founder’s Institute for their August intake. I have about 50 ideas for tech startups. i enjoyed playing in this space with the development of Myfreight. I think I can repeat that success in new areas.


8) Drinking lots of coffee. I may switch to half decaf.


9) Other things I am unaware of.
Ideally, I’ll do 20-30 hours a week consulting and coaching while everything else ramps up over the next 6 months. I plan on being busy!

3 quick questions to help decide daily priorities


“But how do I decide what to do right now?”

In my role as a Productivity coach at coach.me , I work with energised, high achieving individuals and the organisations they run. The biggest problem most of my clients face is maintaining focus and deciding which task is the most important out of the thousands of things that must be done immediately.

These unstoppable people don’t have reverse. They are full steam ahead on whatever task is in front of them. They’ll go without food and sleep to beat a deadline, launch a project or secure a deal.

But, what do they choose? How do they decide what to work on, right now?

I have been trying to simplify a system of prioritising, either for daily tasks or individual projects. The question is – can we distill all the productivity information flying around into something basic, fast and effective?

My clients don’t have time to spend an hour a day prioritising and sifting through the work in front of them. Shifting goalposts in their market and new developments mean they have to be agile and they need to be able to get to work on their most important tasks as soon as possible.

As a coach, being able to help these people achieve their goals is hugely satisfying. So I need a solution for them that at least starts to address the question:

“When I have 20 things I have to do right now, which one do I start with?”
I’m not sure I have the answer yet, but I think the following shows promise.

There are three key cornerstone concepts to Productivity:


1) This quote:
“Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
Lin Yutang, 1895 – 1976


Essentially, most of your output is the result of a small amount of input. Most people spend too much time on things that don’t matter.


3) Batching.
Quite simply, doing similar things sequentially. For example, if you have 5 phone calls to make, then make them one after the other. Check email twice a day instead of every hour.


Don’t confuse batching with multi-tasking. Attempting to multi-task ensures work takes longer and is of a potentially sub-optimal standard.  Science proves this.


To summarise:

Focus on the important/discard the non-important, apply Pareto’s rule and batch work.


Which brings us to three quick questions when deciding what gets done:

1) What can I leave undone?
2) What one thing will have the biggest impact?

3) When is the best time to do that?


As I said, it’s a start.


Feedback, questions, comments and criticism are all welcome.

The Tao of Coaching – highlights

Tao of Coaching

The Tao of Coaching – highlights

The Tao of Coaching – by Max Landsberg

First published in 1996, The Tao of Coaching is a terrific read. Not often I take notes when reading, but for some reason chose to in this case. And, here they are. Of course, if you think the notes are interesting, buy the book! The book is better than my notes.

Let me be clear, this is not a review. If I were to write a review, it would say “Buy this book if you want to coach anyone in anything”. It’s my notes, and they’re not neccessarily in any logical order.

Tao (pronounced “dow”). Everything is connected and influenced by everything else.

Coaching – aims to enhance the performance and the learning ability of others.

20 Golden Rules of Coaching

  1. You can’t be a leader without having a following.
  2. Ask questions when helping others develop their skills.
  3. Receiving feedback means active listening.
  4. Coaching also benefits the coach.
  5. Guide – don’t judge – when coaching.
  6. Organise your coaching sessions well – start in the correct direction.
  7. Great teams overcome differences in styles of coaching.
  8. Overcome your coaching blocks – or you will never delegate.
  9. Instant payoff coaching can work – though only if delivered well.
  10. Diagnose your coachee’s will – not just skill.
  11. With a reluctant coachee – first build trust.
  12. You can’t motivate others if they can’t see you.
  13. Take the time to anticipate cultural differences.
  14. Know how to set up teams well.
  15. Use the power of questions to reframe.
  16. Coaches work with observable facts, not just gut feel.
  17. Providing upward feedback to the boss can have its benefits.
  18. Become eloquent in the language of setting goals.
  19. Mentor someone, and be mentored.
  20. The effects of your coaching can be even more powerful than you imagine.


  1. Overall, the coach is aiming for the coachee to help themselves.
  2. Ask questions, and paraphrase.
  3. Make suggestions.
  4. Trust and honesty are recurring themes throughout the book.
  5. Should all clients do the Myers-Briggs test?




Desired Outcome

Actions – The things the coachee is doing well, or poorly in the area under review.

Impact – The effect these actions are having.

Desired Outcome – The ways in which the coachee could do things more effectively.

The GROW coaching model


GOAL – Agree on a specific topic and objective.

REALITY – Self-assessment, specific examples.

OPTIONS – Suggestions offered, choices made.

WRAP UP – Commit to Action. Define a timeframe. Identify how to overcome obstacles.

Instant payoff coaching

  1. Problem. Coachee defined.
  2. Ideal Outcome. Coachee to specifically define.
  3. Blocks with coachee, blocks with others, blocks with the situation.
  4. Brainstorm together. Agree on an approach, actions and timing.

Skill / Will Matrix

Skill = Experience, training, understanding.

Will = Desire to achieve, incentives, security, confidence.

High Will / Low Skill – GUIDE

High Will / High Skill – DELEGATE

Low Will / Low Skill – DIRECT

Low Will / High Skill – EXCITE

Reluctant Coachee

“Intrinsic Reluctance”

Unwillingness to admit room for improvement

  • Diagnose barriers
  • Emphasise factual evidence illustrating need to improve (“Push” strategy).
  • Build trust.
  • Postpone to a specific session.
  • Disarm – coaching is “non-evaluative” and “non-judgemental”.

Rules of Motivation

  1. Know where the coachee is in the “Cycle of Motivation” –
    1. Lack of confidence vs. confidence.
    2. Hesitant vs. aspiring.
    3. Poor results vs. Strong results.
    4. Negative feedback vs. praise.
  2. Work on their confidence if they are positive.
  3. Work on praise if they are negative.
  4. Identify needs for support and training.
  5. Learn what motivates the coachee.

Be aware of cultural differences

Directness – “Get to the point”, or “imply”.

Hierarchy – “Follow instructions”, or “debate options”.

Consensus – “Is dissent okay?”, or “unanimity is needed”.

Individualism – “Individual winners”, or “team effectiveness”.

I found The Tao of Coaching very easy to read, and relevant to face to face, online, text and chat coaching. It’s a worthwhile addition to any coaching library.

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