Happiness and purpose in the new year

January seems to be the preferred month for resolutions and new beginnings. I couldn’t have come across a better article for starting the new year than this one, entitled How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. It gives you pointers around how to be happy in your career, how to ensure that you maintain a happy family-life, and how to live with integrity. It’s an interesting twist because it applies management principles to strategies for enhancing our personal lives. I pulled out 17 ways to approach the new year. Reminding yourself of these things – and doing them – will make you and me into better people, and that I think is what making resolutions is all about.

  1. Don’t tell other people what you think they should think. Teach people how to think something through so they can derive their own answers.
  2. Learn how to think for yourself.
  3. Know that money isn’t the driver for happiness.
  4. Having intimate, loving relationships is the most powerful and enduring source of happiness. Invest in relationships that matter most to you.
  5. We can have a profound impact on everyone. Act accordingly. Touch people’s lives in positive ways
  6. Finding ways to learn, grow and contribute to others in ways that are meaningful to you is a powerful motivator for personal satisfaction and growth. Do what you love in life.
  7. Get clear about what the purpose of your life is and keep that front and centre in everything you do.
  8. Recognize that your decisions about how you allocate your time, energy and talent shape your life path. Approach the journey mindfully.
  9. Make explicit decisions about how invest your time, talents and energy and where you deploy it so your life turns out the way you intended.
  10. Make your meaning. Build and create consciously and with intention as opposed to evolving inadvertently.
  11. Do things that are hard. Create capacity and capability for the future.
  12. Define what you stand for. Draw a line. Hold to your principles. Resist temptation. Know that ‘just this once’ is never just once.
  13. Hold others in high esteem.
  14. Be humble and eager to learn something from everyone not just the smart, learned, famous, and extroverted. Everyone.
  15. Worry about whether you’ve helped others become better people, not about your prominence.
  16. Nurture your own self-esteem. Be with people who feel good about themselves and who make you feel good about you.
  17. Resolve to live everyday so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.



A gift of curated content

With interests spanning the intersection of business strategy, marketing, communications, and organizational behaviour; branding, how to convert data into insights and actionable business strategy; market segmentation, opportunity selection and performance management; governance and corporate social responsibility; small business, social entrepreneurship and not-for-profit / for-profit-cause; community economic development; arts, education, mental health, and workplace wellness… just for starters… Exploring these topics seems to be a natural pull in my life. The content curated here unearths endless discoveries, and connections between concepts and ideas that are important to me. If you find even one item here of value, do let me know! With gratitude to all of those whose efforts made these resources available, thus this list possible, best wishes for the holiday season and the new year. G

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Starting with Why?

So August and September sort of flew by. Why? Summer is far too short, but the sailing was… splendid. And yes, I do count September as summer. I’m cold-weather resistive.

Gwen Hayes Sailing TorontoGwen Hayes _Summer Sailing





But we’re back to reality here and in the past two months I’ve been learning plenty (as always), writing proposals, negotiating, failing in good ways, and experiencing some brilliant successes on my own terms. Feels rather fantastic.


Things are developing organically

I seem to be into all things organic beauty related these days thanks to a newfound acquaintance with Shahin Kalantari, President of d’Avicenna, manufacturers of the eaurganic product range. Nice to see Read more

Gwen Hayes Flower Photographs_2356

July Job Searches, Assessments, Little Assignments & Website Redesign

It’s a Full Time Job (and some of it’s actually fun)

These days job searches that last several months or even extend to a year or more are becoming increasingly common, particularly for those who are more advanced in their careers. There’s an article on BNet by Suzanne Lucas, the “Evil HR Lady” summing up five barriers to getting hired. These range from companies that stipulate an MBA requirement and employers that have a bias for hiring only people who already have a job, to hiring managers who hold stereotypes about why people are unemployed and how long that’s acceptable, or hold a view that because someone is unemployed their skills are not being used and thus deteriorate rapidly over time. Read more

In June I was thinking about…

Content Strategies

This article about making mistakes and losing control of your message – or more like how to avoid losing control of it. I like the idea of spelling out the “voice” that you want to resonate with your audience because I recently came across a couple of associations that have no clear “voice” because there are so many people providing content. Actually, that’s probably no worse than finding an association where I couldn’t describe their brand personality in a project brief because there were too few visual clues on their website as to who they “are” as human beings behind the organization.

Why Sales Proposals Fizzle Out

A good Bnet article on reasons why sales proposals fizzle out, but an annoying design feature in that you have to click, click, click to get all six reasons. They’re good enough to share, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a measuring device for email click-throughs, if that’s what this is actually about. They’ll have more people bouncing away because it’s totally irritating.


Mood Disorders – Disabling or Enabling

I have a keen interest in mental health issues because I have family members who have mental health illnesses. Somewhere in my web-wanderings this month I came across Emily Maguire (interesting because the main character in the book I’ve been writing in fits and starts is named Janie Maguire and she lives with the effects of a manic-depressive (bipolar) parent). Anyway, the real person Emily Maguire has bipolar disorder, but “rather than allowing it to disable her, she has chosen to see it as enabling her to be who she really is, even though it means she has to start over again after every breakdown.”

Emily is also a musician and she’s produced a lovely video speaking to how she perseveres. It struck me as incredibly courageous of Emily to share her story because more often than not, despite the best efforts of associations such as CAMH and the Mood Disorders Association, here in Canada, people simply don’t feel free to speak about mental health issues – their own or those of family members – often because they fear that putting voice to their disorder may somehow create a limiting factor in a career, friendship or even a community. From time to time that we all need to decide to make a conscious choice about whether we will see something that happens to us as disabling – or enabling. It’s a good thing to remember that often, despite our afflictions, we have the power to choose.   

Online Test Resources

Shl.com offers test preparation and test-taking tips. And you can take a free trial test – some interesting ones – verbal or numerical reasoning, situational judgement tests, inductive reasoning and more. Check out  

Amby.com Features deductive games and thinking-skill enhancers.

Mensa Workout offers 30-minute quiz that allows you to practice a timed test with a broad variety of questions.


Content Marketing Institute

They have some amazing… content! Their article: ‘Marketing Quant: Are You Still Qualified to be a Marketer? ‘ was particularly interesting. I first heard the “quant” phrase from Michael Seaton when I was doing the CMA Digital Marketing Certificate. But what a great question given the astonishing rate of change in the marcom industry – and the world. If you’re not asking, you’re probably not qualified!

Seeds of Bureaucracy

I enjoyed this article about parochial managers and how businesses grow and expand and the hierarchies develop. The authors paint a picture of how, when functional leaders create rules and policies to bring order to the chaos, they start thinking in terms of “my department “ not “our company” and, to quote, “Their world becomes defined by the piece, rather than the puzzle.” And how all of that comes back to fear of loss. The book (Breaking the FEAR Barrier) when it comes out might be an interesting read.

Month of May and Multiple Priorities

Well, it’s been an interesting month of May. And I’m experiencing, first hand, what I have often discussed with clients and colleagues – you must have an editorial publishing schedule to have a successful business blog. It’s almost impossible to consistently produce blog content when you have multiple priorities running in your life. So far, consolidating seems to be the best way for me to do it. Here’s what’s been on my mind:


Nice little article here from the Centre for Creative Leadership (which I adore) about strategic thinking, strategic acting and strategic influencing. This whole “pressure to make short-term numbers and show immediate wins” was something that was driving me crazy for a while, and I wholeheartedly support the premise of this article, which is that “pressure to meet short-term targets and solve functional problems is creating a leadership pipeline with limited strategic leadership capacity.” If you’ve ever worked in an environment like that, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a tough task to encourage a broader, longer term view when operational leadership rules the day and so often short-term focus is short sighted.

Korngold: Not for Profit and Board Resources Worth Their Weight in Gold. I came across Korngold Consulting resources through the Philanthropy Network on Linked In. Of interest because I’ve been mulling over where and how I can best ‘give back’ and reflecting on recent and not so recent exposure to boards of directors – what makes them successful – and what makes them a potential detriment to an organization’s growth and development. Korngold has a great board assessment tool (Board Vector) and some wonderful articles about on-board matching, models for board governance, corporate social responsibility and for business executives serving on non-profit boards. 

I seem to be looking at all things ‘not for profit’ at the moment and have recently provided copywriting services to Thinkhouse Design for a new website for Prison Fellowship Canada. New site launches mid to end of June 2011. Do have a look. A lovely little project that has reminded me how much I love to write.

Digital-Social-Marketing. Wrote the CMA Digital Marketing Certificate exam on May 11. During the course I read a couple of the recommended books – Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel and The Longer Long Tail by Chris Anderson, which is really interesting. Also visited a huge number of websites for research and evaluation. Before choosing the CMA course I came across a demo for an online digital marketing course via Institute of Direct Marketing – not for me but could be useful for you. Nice example of online learning. And I found a cool quiz at the Sempo Institute where you can test your SEO knowledge. They offer courses as well. Here are some reandom resources from experts in the digital realm.

I revisited some of the slide presentations on social media that I received from attending the February 2010 Acuity Forums Social Media Conference. Why? We seemed to be covering a lot of similar ground at the CMA course. I revisited presentations by Tamera Kremer, Partner – Wildfire Strategic Consulting and David Alston @ Radian 6 (recently sold to salesforce.com) and Michael O’Connor Clarke. One of the photos used Michael’s presentation A Roadmap for your Social Media Strategy caught my eye. Nice that he attributed most of his photos, so I clicked on a link that took me to a Flickr site with a whole bunch of bugs and flowers photos, and the comments were interesting, so I clicked on the photographer’s site aussiegall which took me to her blog, and one of her posts, November 23 2009 was entitled ‘Amazing Talent and Only 18’ highlighted an amazing photo. So I figured that if aussiegall was endorsing someone else’s photos, healzo, theirs must be interesting too. Worth looking at. Totally side-tracked! Isn’t that the way – but by the way – all photos for the headers of this website were taken by… you guessed it — me.

Change: I just love this YouTube video about RSS and how quickly things are able to change in the digital realm.

Are you a trouble-maker? Check out Josh Bernoff’s post from April 2011 entitled On innovation: How to make trouble productively and then click on the HEROes link and read about “Highly empowered and resourceful operatives.” The article highlights how to productively “make trouble” in your job, should you decide to press ahead with innovation and change. Point #10 in the article advises “Don’t be afraid to put your job on the line… people rarely get fired for trying something new and failing.” Actually, I think people do get fired for trying new things and failing – or trying new things and succeeding, particularly if it’s success make others intensely uncomfortable.

From what I’ve seen, there is a tempo and pace to organisational change and in most places, if you want to keep your job you will need to figure out how to push forward and make change without butting heads with those who may have a vested interest in keeping things the way they’ve “always been.” And you will probably need to rethink your strengths and weaknesses as an innovator, communicator, relationship-builder and conflict manager, or minimizer. As the article says, “you can develop a reputation for excellence” but if your boss feels threatened by you and thus doesn’t like you, and is uncomfortable with a rapid pace of change – you’ve got a problem no matter how much you have to contribute. The other day someone said to me “we decided not to die on the battlefield over that.” Nice twist on that old saying, “pick your battles.” To that I’d append: know other people’s comfort levels and understand all the “agendas” – the ones that are obvious and the ones that are less so. Good article.

This video United Breaks Guitars has been around for a few years now, but I still like it because it highlights exactly why you need to empower employees to solve customer problems – and why you need to be monitoring social media.

Pink Spoon Marketing. Haven’t heard much from Andrea J. Lee lately as I intentionally chose to be a little less active in the coaching community for a few years, but if you’re a coach and a sole proprietor,Andrea J. Lee and Tina Forsyth cover all aspects of building a multiple streams business – niches, target markets, websites, marketing, generating traffic with integrity, affiliate programs, joint ventures and more.

I last saw Andrea in Mount Albert, Ontario right after she’d just published the beta copy of her 2004 book Multiple Streams of Coaching Income. She graciously spent an afternoon with several coaches from the GTA area. Inspirational, yes, and while Andrea signed my book with the message “Stay on the path girl, they are waiting…” reading her book was actually what made me feel totally okay about abandoning self-employment (at least for a while) and taking a “real job” again. I’ve been grateful for a rewarding career path that has included time on both sides of the fence(s) – that would be the employee vs self-employed fence and the client-side vs agency side fence and the for-profit vs not-for-profit sides as well. Love them all for various reasons!  

Kramer vs Cramer x 4 When I hear the name “Cramer” several things come to mind.

  • First it’s Kramer vs Kramer that (1979) movie where a divorced couple argue about custody of their son, starring Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman (they look so young!).
  • Then it was the Kramer neighbor of Jerry Seinfeld on the Jerry Seinfeld show.  
  • Then, it was the nerve-jarring Jim Cramer from CNBC’s Mad Moneyshow (think bobble-head figurines, irritating ring tone, growling bears, lots of shouting about Stock Picks)
  • Fortunately, there’s another Cramer!  This one is Kathryn D. Cramer Ph.D., practicing psychologist, consultant and speaker who with Hank Wasiak has written a book designed to help us decrease our focus on what’s wrong (deficit-based thinking) and increase our focus on what is right (asset-based thinking). Read about her book at tompeters.com – because his blog roll alone provides a mindboggling wealth of information.

Authenticity Consulting LLC This site offers a free management library and provides a vast amount of high quality, free, useful resources about everything from creativity and innovation to strategic planning, leadership to customer satisfaction, crisis management to e-commerce, ethics & Social responsibility to capacity building.

David Maister’s Blog Thought you might like the resources on this site. Got there through the CMC (Canadian Association of Management Consultants), I think. David writes articles on strategy, careers, and he has a blog – all definitely worth reading, alas he’s retired and no longer consulting, speaking or writing, but for as long as this content is posted, it’s well worth accessing.  

Book Club This site has author event listings for GTA and across Canada, contests to win books if you’re into things like that, and book club suggestions – how to set one up, choose books, get started, keep it going. My friend and I set up a bookclub in our neighbourhood in about 2000 – first it was three of us; now there are 13. Attendance waxes and wanes but we’re still going strong – we’ve read some wonderful fiction and made brilliant friendships.

Health Wellness Beauty Balance

I’m liking Workplace Strategies for Mental Health from Great West Life. They say they’re “dedicated to helping all Canadian employers who wish to address mental health issues in the workplace and this site is loaded with free public resources including strategies, tools and support for research and initiatives aimed at improving workplace mental health for all Canadians. Nice to see such a fantastic corporate commitment to enriching the health and well-being of communities across Canada. Why was I there? Very interested finding ways to make a personal contribution to all things mental-health, workplace wellness, leadership and communications – oriented.

Web Wanderings & Article Alley Updates

Good article about finding freelance work

Are your high end customers the first to flee? Check out this HBR article about how incumbents fare in face of increased service competition

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology is the scientific study of the workplace, applying psychology to issues such as talent management, coaching, assessment, selection, training, organizational development, performance, and work-life balance.

The Canadian Society for Training and Development. CSTD is Canada’s professional association focused on training, learning and performance in the workplace.

Human Factors International website has some awesome information about website usability, cross cultural design, and design for accessibility, and offers several ROI (return on investment) calculators. Page on website accessibility.

Business Plans Canada. This site offers a free online tool called Interactive Business Planner. Users can log in, take the online training for free, read sample business plans, get information on how to write and develop a plan. Good resource for micro-biz.  

DDI World: Thought Leadership – White Papers on HR Topics

Good article from useit.com on how we read online

Management Decision Making Are you comfortable stretching the rules? This article from HBR provides a few useful insights about what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur and how entrepreneurs need to approach the decision-making process.  

Choices If you are a coach or therapist or just curious about coaching, you may want to check out Choice Magazine–a magazine for the coaching profession to find articles offering advice on building your practice, and highlighting new tools and technology, certification programs and more.  

And to finish up… a couple of inspirational quotes

Before you build a better mousetrap, it helps to know if there are any mice out there. — Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. — Samuel Johnson

We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn. — Mary Catherine

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. — Anne Frank

Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all. — Arthur C. Clark

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain