Category Archives: Professionals

Passion and Success


Passion is the first principle that underpins the Yes For Success Platform. Several years ago Denis Smith held a high pressure sales job, was drinking too much and suffering from depression.

His life lacked passion despite all the trimmings of a successful sales career.

Published with permission

Fortunately he knew ‘something’ was missing from his life and he went on a search to discover his passion. He quickly found photography and realised that he was somewhat of a natural with the camera. Upon uploading his photos to sites he discovered that his ‘good’ photos were the same as everyone else’s. But he didn’t want to be the same as everyone else.

So his evolving passion took him on a journey of discovery where he came across the concept of ‘light drawings’ through photography. With passion comes innovation and he decided to ‘play’ with the concept, creating surreal ‘Ball of Light‘ images in his photographs.

Today Denis has turned his passion into a business. More importantly he is living a life full of positivity and energy. View this short video to learn more about Denis’ story.

Personally I feel energised when I hear about stories such as Denis’ and I thank my good friend Andrew Scott (an amateur photographer himself and a friend of Denis’) for sharing the story with me.

How present is passion in your life?

Learn about the Yes For Success Platform here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented people to move Beyond Being Good.

Re-discovering the ‘non-virtual’ world

You may find the title of this article intriguing, “Re-entering the ‘non-virtual world.”

What is the ‘non-virtual’ world?

For me it is the present world, the real world. Early this week I was walking across a bridge over the Yarra River. The early morning sun was rising in the east to a back drop of a beautiful clear sky in various hues of blue. The Melbourne city skyline looked magnificent.

At first I continued walking. After all I still had a bit of a walk ahead of me before I reached the building in Melbourne’s financial district where I was to meet my client. As I walked I had been going over my preparation for my meeting.

The view I saw was so stunning that I stopped. I remember thinking, “Gary, this is beautiful. Why don’t you stop and just take it in.”

You know the energy that you get when you see something beautiful. That’s how I felt viewing what was before me.

Then I noticed that everyone was rushing past me, seemingly unaware of the beauty before them. At a closer look I noticed the ear plugs. A very high percentage of people had them in their ears. Then I noticed something else. Despite the high number of people passing me, I didn’t hear a word of conversation.

I decided to take a photo of this beautiful scene using the camera in my phone. As I’m not a photographer my photo doesn’t do the view justice, but it is not too bad just the same.

As I reflected on this scene I began to wonder about the percentage of our lives that we live in the ‘non-virtual’ world. In other words, how much of our time is actually spent in the present? The present is a place where the world is alive right now. There is literally no past and no future. Just now, just this moment.

In terms of work this relates to our awareness of what is happening right now. How engaged are people with this meeting right now? How honest are people right now? What is the ‘energy’ within our office space like right now? How are staff treating each other right now?

As a fairly high user of the virtual world myself I am not advocating abandoning it. On the contrary I believe it has a valuable place in our lives and social media is just one example.

What I am talking about is balance. Sometimes I run with my iPod, but most often I don’t. I want to be in the present when I’m running, and I want to be able to use all my senses when I’m in it.

Being in the present means that I increase my chances of seeing and then being a part of beauty.

It was amazing how the energy that I received from the view from the bridge that morning sustained me through the day.

What are your experiences of re-discovering the ‘non-virtual’ world’?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

The Thankful List

For many people around the world we have just finished giving and receiving gifts. Of course upon receiving gifts we have given thanks in appreciation of what we have just received.

A day later it is worth slowing down and reflecting on all the things for which we are thankful.

The Dalai Lama has shared that western people, despite their wealth spend most of their life suffering. The suffering comes from wanting something they don’t have and not appreciating what they do have.

The Festive Season often results in people receiving some of the things they have wanted. Unfortunately it is not long before western people then want something different, or better than they currently have. So the suffering starts again! It is for this reason that this time of year provides an opportunity to stop, reflect and to consider all the things for which you are thankful.

The act of writing your list seems to make it real. As you write down each item you automatically reflect on why you are thankful for that item.

To create your Thankful List I encourage you to be as specific as possible. Think of all the things from all aspects of your life for which you are thankful. For example name the people for which you are thankful.

You will be amazed at both the length of your list and what you have included on it. Interestingly, it is a list that, once started, seems to keep growing.

Once started, place your list where you can see it regularly. You’ll be amazed at the tension in your life that is reduced from running your eye over your list on a regular basis.

What’s on your Thankful List?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Awareness matters!

The scene
I had been asked to attend a late afternoon meeting with a client in a different part of the city to which my office is located. I decided to drive to the meeting so that I could drive home. As luck would have it, a one hour metered carpark was available immediately outside the client’s building.

Upon arrival the receptionist asked where I had parked. I informed her that I had parked in the one hour zone out the front of the building.

I was shown to the meeting room and some cool, fresh water was provided. I was informed that the person I was meeting had been held up in another meeting off-site and was on his way, possibly being 30 minutes late.

The moment that mattered

Prior to the arrival of my client, the receptionist popped her head back into the meeting room and asked whether it would be okay for her to pop downstairs to ‘feed the meter’ for me.

I had started to wonder how I was going to manage the parking situation given that a large period of my 60 minutes had been ‘chewed up’ waiting for my client to arrive. The awareness of the receptionist, Crystal, to help me was just terrific. Crystal realised that I might be starting to worry about my car and that the parking issue could end up being a problem for me should the meeting last longer than the now available 30 minutes.

To me Crystal’s actions highlight the importance of awareness and how it is directly linked to service excellence. Crystal could not control whether my client’s availability, but she was able to control her awareness to relieve a problem before it occurred.

That is exactly what awareness does. It ‘heads problems off at the pass’, before they have a chance to take effect.

What are your examples of how awareness has both enhanced service excellence and resolved a problem before it occurred?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Why workplace trust is a challenge

The challenge with workplace trust, whether from leaders to employees or employees to leaders or employees to employees is that to trust another person you must be willing to be vulnerable. That is, the act of trusting someone means that you are openning yourself up to the ‘risk’ that whoever you are trusting could ‘break’ your trust.

You see, trust cannot be broken unless it is given in the first place.

This is one of the factors that makes trust within an organisation so hard.

Whether this be from leader to employees, or from employees to leaders. The same is true.

In this context leaders must be able to demonstrate that they are willing to be vulnerable by trusting employees, and employees need to demonstrate that they too are willing to be vulnerable by trusting their leaders.

I’m suggesting that trust is built by demonstrating trust and being open to the vulnerabilities that come with trusting others.

What are your experiences of organisational trust?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

How great service attracts requests for a broader range of products/services

In much the same way that great service attracts new customers, it also attracts existing customers to enquire about new services/products that may be provided by the organisation. Consulting firms in particular are familiar with this phenomenon. Satisfied clients will request if new services can be provided before seeking another consulting firm to supply the service. This can help an organisation grow.

A word of warning.

Just because a customer asks your organisation to provide a new service or product doesn’t mean you should do it. As long as the new service or product fits with your organisational purpose and will continue to take the organisation towards its desired future and the organisation has the capacity to provide the new service, then it should do it. Otherwise it should refer the customer elsewhere. This too is great service.

How is delivering great service increase resulting in requests for ‘more’ from your clients/customers?

Client quote
Because of the great job that you did with our leadership training I was wondering if you could assist with improving our inter-departmental relationships? I thought that I’d check with you first before trying out some of our other suppliers.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Service enables us to identify our customers

Your customers can be colleagues, your supervisor, the staff who report to you, the people and/or organisations to whom you provide services, the people who pay for your services or products even though others may use them. Often your service or product will have multiple layers of customers. The customers who actually use your service or product may be different from the customers who purchase your service or product. A service focus helps both you and your organisation to identify and differentiate the expectations of these different customer segments. If you don’t get this right, you may be left with no customers at all.

Understand your customers across the multiple levels of service you provide. Do you understand yours?

Quote from a research participant
“I first thought that this service training stuff was a load of, well, you know! But it got me thinking. Who are my customers? Funnily the first person who’s head popped in my mind was my boss’s. I’d never really thought of my boss as a customer. Yet, she probably is.”

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

AFL Grand Final Draw Calls For Simple Leadership

As a guest of the AFL Coaches Association for their annual Awards Dinner during the week, little did I realise that I would hear some fateful words of advice for the 2010 AFL Grand Finalists.

Legendary coach Ron Barassi was being inducted into the AFL Coaches Association Hall of Fame. As part of his induction, premiership player (and later a coach in his own right) Stan Alves was delivering a speech regarding the special characteristics of his former coach.

Part of Alves’ speech focussed on the 1977 drawn Grand Final. Alves shared the absolute confusion that swept the players and officials immediately after the final siren sounded.

“We were spent. I was spent. None of us knew what we were supposed to do. It was absolute mayhem.”

Alves shared that when the players, officials and supporters made their way into their rooms, the confusion seemed more intense than out on the ground. Then Ron Barassi did what he did best. He focussed everyone on what needed to be done.

First Barassi asked the players to go into the meeting room and to sit in the order in which they had played.

“Henshaw, you were in the back pocket so you sit here, now everyone else sit in your playing positions.”

Club officials were then invited into the room and Barassi instructed that the meeting room door be left open so that all the supporters who had entered the rooms could hear what he was about to say.

Alves reported that this is what Barassi instructed his players to do.

“If you do the two things that I am about to tell you, and then you turn up to training in the morning, we will win the premiership. Number one, turn up to the club function tonight. Number two, go home at 10pm. Do these two things and we will win the premiership.”

Alves reported that immediately upon Barassi finishing his short speech, the sense of confusion evaporated.

Barassi was able to get everyone, players, officials and supporters to focus on some simple actions. Doing this enabled everyone to have clarity about what they needed to do. In many ways the simplicity of the actions enabled everyone to say to themselves, “Yeah, I can do those two things.”

Barassi’s actions highlight that keeping things simple and helping people to focus on what is doable are magnificent leadership traits in the face of confusion and uncertainty.

For those of you who don’t know, Barassi’s North Melbourne went on to win the Grand Final Replay the following week.

I wonder how St Kilda and Collingwood are coping with their current situation? Will similar leadership to Barassi’s example be present?

What are your examples of leadership that enabled people to focus on simple actions that helped them to cut through complexity and confusion?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Why low risk projects are a smart leadership tool

As a People Leader/Manager do you have more ideas than you can implement? Are you frustrated by not achieving as much as you would like?

My experience shows that one of the Top Ten motivators for employees is ‘opportunities for improvement’. Imagine if you joined these twofactors together; your frustration with not getting as much done as you know needs to get done, with your team members desire for opportunities for improvement.

Below is a four step process for creating low risk successes from this situation.

Step 1
List all your ideas/actions for things that you believe need to be done.

Step 2
‘Chunk’ these ideas/actions into groups – these groups of ideas/actions form the basis of possible projects.

Step 3

Using the attached matrix, identify whether or not your projects are:

  1. High Risk – Hard Implementation
  2. Low Risk – Hard Implementation
  3. High Risk – Easy Implementation
  4. Low Risk – Easy Implementation

High Risk means that if the project fails there will be a significant and negative impact on the organisation.

Low Risk means that if the project fails there will be no major negative impact on the organisation.

Hard Implementation means that the resources required to implement the project involve both a lot of people and a lot of money/assets to successfully complete the project.

Easy Implementation means that existing resources with minimal budgetary impact can be used to successfully complete the project.

Step 4
Low Risk – Easy Implementation projects are your gold. These are the projects that you can easily provide to your team members. Should the project be a success then the organisations benefits (because it gets something useful that otherwise may not have existed), the staff member benefits (because they have implemented something that didn’t previously exist) and you benefit because a number of the ideas/actions that you had on your original list will now have been implemented.

The beauty of creating low risk projects is that they generate opportunities for people to shine. If you have never tried a system like this before, try it out and please let us know how you go.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Beyond a One Page Plan For Personal Success

Have you completed a One Page Plan for Personal Success? If so, follow the steps below to take your plan to the next level.

When completing your Plan for Personal Success it is critical that you take each of the main strategies in your Prime Chart and create a Support Chart for them. Support Chart timeframes tend to be less than your prime Chart timeframe. So, if your prime Chart is for ten years, your Support Chart may be for three to five years.

Support Charts follow the same structure as your Prime Chart.

Step 1
Complete the Title for your chart. This is the name that you have given the strategy in your Prime Chart. Next identify which one of the Six Vital Strategy areas the strategy directly supports, and write that in brackets next to the name of the strategy. This helps to ensure that when you review all your strategies, you can quickly determine if you have at least one strategy for each of the Six Vital Strategies.

Step 2
Complete your Desired Outcome specific to this strategy. Be clear and as specific as possible. As you did for your Prime Chart Vision, keep asking yourself why you want what you are writing. This helps to uncover your real reason for wanting to achieve this Desired Outcome and usually helps to clarify exactly what it is that you are aiming to achieve.

Step 3
Complete your Starting Point/Current Reality section of your chart. Provide as much information as possible that specifically relates to the Desired Outcome that you are striving to achieve. What is positive about your present reality, and what is currently a challenge.

Step 4
Determine your actions that will move you from your Starting Point to your Desired Outcome. Upon brain-storming actions, review your list and identify which actions will provide the greatest leverage. These become the most critical actions to complete because all the actions will tend to fall into place.

Complete this process for each of your Prime Chart strategies and you will take your Plan for Personal Success to the next level.

If you would like to know more about creating a Plan For Personal Success, or would like to be individually coached through this process, please contact .

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at