Category Archives: What Really Matters For Young Professionals

Positive Self Talk Is Not Enough

Throughout your career there are many times when you will doubt yourself. Am I worthy of a promotion? Will my boss laugh at me when I ask for a pay rise? Can I really do this project that I have never done before? Will the audience really want to listen to what I have to say? Can I manage people who are older and more experienced than me?

For over 12 years I have coached leaders and developing leaders about the power of positive self talk. In simple terms, the words that you say to yourself in your head promote an image of success or failure in your mind. This image influences your performance.

Imagine that you were asked to do a presentation to senior management on a project that you had worked on. Throughout your university degree and career you have done your best to avoid presentations because you think that you ‘suck‘ at them.

In this example you are cornered. You can’t ‘run away‘ from this presentation. You have to do it. Imagine your self talk. “I’m going to be terrible doing this presentation. The senior management team are all going to know that I’m a terrible presenter. My future here is going to be damaged. Oh my god why did this have to happen to me!“.

No matter how much practice you did, if you maintained this type of self talk you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Moments in to your presentation your mind will go blank. Then it will fill with the words, “See, I knew I wasn’t any good at presenting and now look at what has happened! My mind has gone blank and the senior management team now thinks that I am useless!

When your performance matches your self talk it re-enforces it which in turn re-enforces the image that you have of yourself either succeeding or failing. This can result in either a virtuous or vicious cycle that affects your performance.

The point of leverage is your self talk. You don’t have to create ‘fake‘ self talk. This is the type of self talk that even you don’t really believe. In the above example, ‘fake‘ self talk would be something like, “I’m going to be the best presenter the senior management team have ever experienced. I’m going to have them eating out of the palm of my hands.

You might have this type of self talk if you were already an accomplished presenter, but if you were coming off a low base then this type of self talk will be ‘fake’ and actually won’t help you (because you won’t really believe it!).

A more effective form of self talk is something like, “I’ll be the best presenter that I can be today. Period.” This type of self talk is believable and gives you the opportunity to see yourself as a ‘learner‘ rather than an expert. When you see yourself as a learner and you make a mistake it is far easier to recover than if you have used ‘fake‘ self talk.

However, self talk is not enough. It must be balanced with doing the right work and focus. The right work in this example relates to learning how to do an effective presentation and putting what you learn in to practice before you do your presentation to the senior management team. Focus refers to the skills and structure that support the action that you are taking. In this example your focus would relate to the core message that you want to convey, the key supporting arguments that you have for your message and the call to action that you want the senior management team to adopt.

These self talk principles can be applied to any situation.

If you aren’t doing the right work and don’t have focus, then all the positive self talk in the world will amount to nought.

How do you manage your self talk?

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

Kindle version of ‘What Really Matters For Young Professionals!’ released today

Today I have some exciting news to share with you.

A Second Edition of What Really Matters For Young Professionals! How to master 15 practices to accelerate your career has just been released on Amazon Kindle.

In the book you will discover:

  • How to capture your stories that reflect your employability
  • How to identify your personal values
  • Why behaving in an aligned manner with your organisation’s values matters
  • How to communicate effectively with email
  • Why Dee Hock, the founder of VISA International recommends developing Servant Leadership skills
  • Why having mentors in your life is crucial for personal and career success and how to find them
  • How to stop yourself from jumping to conclusions so that you communicate effectively in the workplace
  • What Systems Thinking is and how to use it throughout your career
  • And much, much more!

Even more exciting is the price – just US$4.97.
The timing is perfect for anyone who has just finished their university year or degree.

However, the book isn’t just for people who are at the start of their career – seasoned professionals have found the content of the book extremely useful for helping them to do the little things that help them to continue their success.

The book isn’t just for Kindle Readers either – if you have an iPad or other tablet you will easily access apps that will allow you to read your Kindle books on those devices.

You can access your own Kindle version of What Really Matters For Young Professionals! here.

More information regarding the book, including a short video can be accessed here.

I am confident that you will find this version of the book even more value than the first. Enjoy!

Til next time, please keep learning and be the best leader that you can be!

Gary Ryan Founder – Organisations That Matter

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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Business Success Podcast Interview with Annemarie Cross

Listen to a short interview on the Business Success Podcast hosted by Annemarie Cross.

Annemarie is a Branding Specialist and Business Coach and recently requested if I would be happy to be interviewed on her Business Success Podcast show.

In this interview I talk about:

  • The importance of organisational values
  • How to hire the right staff, and
  • How to build a top performing team, and much more!

Please take the time to listen to the short interview here.

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

Options For The What Really Matters For Young Professionals! Online Course

The What Really Matters For Young Professionals! Online Course is a 16 lesson program that takes the content of the book to the next level. Each lesson is designed to take between 10 to 30 minutes to complete and is delivered directly to your email inbox.
Links to materials that can be then downloaded and used over and over again, as well as presentations and short videos are included in the lessons.

I recommend that you create a special email folder for the course so that you can refer to the lessons again and again.

While the content for the course is exactly the same, three different course durations are on offer. You simply choose the duration that best fits your situation. You can even purchase the course for a family member or friend – I bet that you have never thought that personal and professional development could be offered as a gift! Who knows, with Xmas around the corner this might be the perfect and unique gift that you could give someone. More information regarding the course is available here.

The three course options are:

  1. 16 lessons in 16 days – click here to order
  2. 16 lessons in 48 days (just under seven days with each course delivered every third day) – click here to order
  3. 16 lessons in 16 weeks – click here to order

In summary you get:

  • An online course delivered directly to your email inbox
  • A free ebook version of What Really Matters For Young professionals!
  • Choice over the timeframes for the course
  • Information in various forms of media to take your understanding of the book’s contents to the next level
  • Access to a range of exclusive downloadable forms, presentations and videos that are only available through the course
  • Ability to revisit the course materials as many times as you wish

All of this for just AUS$99.

Please feel free to email me at if you require more information.

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

Leadership Insights Series – Cecilia Chan The LiTMUS Group

In the second of our Leadership Insights Series webinar recordings, Gary Ryan interviews Cecilia Chan, a young professional experienced in providing consulting services related to business process management, process design and analysis, process simulation and enterprise architecture.

In this 30 minute webinar you will learn about Cecilia’s strategies to progress her career throughout her first five years of employment. You will also learn about the benefits that volunteering provided Cecilia in enabling her to initially break into the workforce, as well as the benefits that can be gained from being a pro-active networker.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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Secrets of Young Achievers Exposed – Two Free Chapters from Best Selling Author Dale Beaumont

Secrets of Young Achievers Exposed is a book featuring 12 of Australia’s brightest young talent. This free ebook includes two chapters of the book and features Amy Wilkins creator of Active Kidz and Hugh Evans, founder of the Oaktree Foundation.

Learn about the success secrets of these two inspiring young Australians.

Download your free copy of this ebook here.

Dale Beaumont, one of Australia’s most successful author’s is one of my mentors (even though I’m ten years older than him!). Dale provided direction and guidance in helping me to publish my first book What Really Matters For Young Professionals!

Please enjoy this free gift that Dale has allowed me to pass on to you.

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

Understanding employability skills

In this webinar recording Gary Ryan explains the research that underpins employability skills, what each employability skill actually means, and how to capture your own stories for each of the skills.
Duration 45 minutes.

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

Are you prepared to be vulnerable?

Over the past few weeks I have conducted a number of teamwork programs. One of the activities that I enjoy facilitating is asking the participants to form small groups and to identify the characteristics of the effective and ineffective teams of which they have been members.

Examples can from from any team experience and I encourage participants to broader their thinking about their definition of a ‘team’. Some examples of this definition include:

  • A workplace
  • A family
  • A university study group
  • A sporting team
  • A community group
  • Travelling with friends or family

After providing the participants with enough time to share their stories, I collect the results.

An interesting characteristic that always comes up for effective teams is trust. Similarly, a lack of trust is always raised as a characteristic of ineffective teams.

Trust. Easy to say. Hard to give.

Why? It is my view that trust involves a willingness to be vulnerable. In a team concept, to trust your team members means that you have faith that they will do what they say they will do to the best of their ability. When I ask program participants to describe what it was like to be trusted, they say things like:

“He never looked over my shoulder. Even though it was the first time I was doing this task, he asked if I needed any further help and I said that I didn’t. He told me that I could contact him at any stage if my circumstances changed. If I were him I’m not sure that I could have trusted me like he did. And that was special. I think I actually did the job better because I was trusted. I found it really motivating.”

“She was the leader, there was no question about that. But when we allocated tasks and she was clear that we understood what needed to be done, she let us ‘go for it’. Her door was always open and we knew that, and from time to time we would go to her for assistance, either physically or via email or on the phone. She was always available when we needed her. But she never, ever behaved like she didn’t trust us. It never felt like she was looking over our shoulder making sure we did it exactly how she would. And this was an important project. And we knew that, and we respected that. That’s why we created such a wonderful result. We were a real team and she trusted us!”

You can’t fake trust. It is either genuine, or it isn’t. In today’s complex world it is nearly impossible to ‘go it alone’. Leaders have to trust their team members to do their job, even if the leader could do parts of the job ‘better’ on their own.

To trust, however, requires the leader to be okay with being vulnerable. Trust can’t be broken if it isn’t given. So, by nature genuinely trusting someone means that you are prepared for the possibility that they might break your trust, which in turn makes you vulnerable.

In our world of accountability and responsibility, trust can become very hard to ‘give’. If I’m the leader, the ‘buck stops with me.’ If this project fails, then it’s my fault. It’s complex, isn’t it.

I doubt there is any golden rule with regard to trust. I am a trusting person, but I am not prepared to trust ‘just anyone’. I use all my ‘three brains’ (I’ll explain what that term means in a future blog) to determine whether I will trust someone or not.

Each time I trust someone I am conscious of the choice that I have just made. Trust is behavioural, so saying, “I trust you” means nothing, if (in a work example) all I do is look over your shoulder every step of the way. Being prepared to be vulnerable is a tension leaders have to grapple with.

Are you prepared top be vulnerable?

What are your experiences of trust both as a team member and as a leader?

How have you managed the ‘vulnerability’ tension?

The chances are that if trust is not present then high performance will be a long way away. So what is the bigger risk, the preparedness to be vulnerable or the preparedness to under-perform?

Please share your experiences, thoughts and comments.

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

Discover the five service ‘gaps’

Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry introduced the SERVQUAL framework in 1985. It is essentially a process that describes five potential service gaps that organisations should minimise if they want to be known for consistently delivering service excellence. Minimising each gap contributes to an organisation’s capacity to meet or exceed the expectations of its customers.

The gaps are described below with an examples provided to help you to understand what each gap ‘looks like’.

Gap 1 The Management Perception Gap
A gap can exist between managements understanding of customer expectations and the actual expectations of customers. If management get this wrong, everything else they do will be wrong and the service gap is likely to grow exponentially. Organisations must do everything in their power to minimise the chances that Gap 1 exists.

Cocac Cola has dominated the soda drink market for decades. yet, in the early 1980s Coca-Cola decided to introduce ‘New Coke’ (some of you will remember, many of you won’t.) The tatse for ‘New Coke’ was supposed to be a modern taste that the ‘consumers wanted.’ Nothing could have been further from the truth. Coke sales plummetted. Management had clearly misunderstood their market and had made a series of poor decisions as a result of their misunderstanding.

If you create Gap 1 then everything else you do as an organisation will take you further away from providing what your customers want. It is for this reason that Jack Welch, former CEO of GE said:

“Service. If you haven’t got it, don’t even bother getting out of bed if you want to be a senior leader. It’s such an entry level requirement it isn’t even worth talking about it.” (Jack Welch, ex GE CEO)

Gap 2 The Quality Service Standards Gap
It is one thing to be able to understand the expectations of those you serve. A gap can then emerge if your translation of those expectations into service standards is inaccurate. Service standards are effectively the systems and processes that you put into place to ensure that you can consistently meet the expectations of your customers. This is very easy to get wrong and requires a high understanding of the expectations of your customers, as well as a high level of understanding of how your organisations works if you are to minimise this gap.

An example of Gap 2 in action is provided by a quote from a research participant. The person was a fitness centre manager. In this example, niotice how it connects to the concept of Structure Drives Behaviour.

Quote (Research participant)
The members said that they wanted the gymnasium to open at 6am. So I employed the staff to start their shift at 6am. The members were still not happy. I was confused. When I asked them again why they weren’t happy they said, “We told you that we wanted the gym open at 6am, not ‘opening’ at 6am. There’s a difference!” Finally I understood. The staff would be paid to start at 5:45am so that the gym would be truly open as had been requested. I had been wrong. I had misinterpreted the expectations of the members.

Gap 3 The Service Delivery Gap
After all the systems and processes have been created, both the automated and human elements of the system must do what they are supposed to do. System errors or breakdowns and humans not doing what they are supposed to do can create immediate service gaps. No system or human is perfect or infallible. As such your organisation must consider what it will do if a Service Delivery Gap does occur.

A retail operation requires staff to work from a start time to a finish time. Usually there will be a staff member who is responsible for opening the retail outlet at a certain time. If that staff member is late then the retail outlet may not be open when customers expect it to be open. In this example, human error is responsible for creating a service gap.

Quote (Research participant)
Ultimately your staff have to do the right thing. It’s important to have the best systems and processes that you can, but ultimately your staff have to do the right thing. They have to properly implement what they are supposed to do.

Gap 4 The Market Communication Gap
If you say that you will respond to online customer feedback within 24 hours and you consistently take 48 hours to do it, then you have created a Market Communication Gap.

The local barber who cuts my hair has two signs out the front of his barber’s shop. One sign says that the shop will be open at 8:30am. The second says 8:45am. The barber is rarely there before 9am. He has no idea how many people have looked in his window when he wasn’t open when he advertised that he would be. My expectations are consistently not met. One day a new barber will move into an empty shop in the shopping strip. What do you think I will do?

Sorry mate. I know that I said sorry the last couple of times but my car broke down and I had to wait for my wife. Sorry mate.

Gap 5 The Perceived Service Quality Gap
The final gap is the perceived service quality that the customer has of their total experience in relation to their original expectation of the product or service. Ideally there is no gap here or, if there is a gap, it is in the context that the perceived service level is higher than original expectations. Unfortunately, the four previous gaps can create a significant negative gap at Gap 5.

I describe this gap like this because service providers are often unaware that this gap exists. As such they don’t do anything to close this gap. This leaves them exposed to a competitior or new service provider from appearing to ‘steal’ their customers ‘overnight’. The reality is that their customers were simply waiting for a better alternative to ‘pop up’, so when it did they ‘defected’ as quickly as they could. Do you think my barber (Gap 4 above) is at risk of this occuring?

A similar gap can exist for internal service providers. I am aware of teams of internal staff who have failed to provide high service standards to others within their organisation. When their service has been ‘outsourced’ those staff and team members have become indignant. “How dare they outsource our department!”. Yet they had not been prepared to ‘see’ other staff as their ‘customers’ and treat them accordingly.

Quote (Research participant)
You know they don’t really have to do all that much. If they just met my expectations I’d be happy. But they really don’t seem to care. And as soon as I get a chance to go somewhere else I will. And they won’t even know what happened to me. It’s a shame, really. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Your challenge is to be aware of these five gaps and to be pro-active in managing them. This is a never-ending activity because customer expectations can change ‘overnight’.

Please share your experiences with relation to how you have managed the five service gaps.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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Powerful questions for mentors

Mentoring is experiencing a resurgence as more and more people are recognising its benefits, from both mentor and protege perspectives.

Recently I facilitated a mentoring workshop for one of Australia’s largest universities. Part of the workshop included a Strategic Conversation. The purpose of which was to generate some resources for the 60 mentors present.

One of the most powerful resources for a mentor is to be able to access questions that can be used within a mentoring session. In this context, the Strategic Conversation that I hosted included the following question:

“As mentors or proteges, the most powerful and effective questions that we have asked or have been asked are…?”.

I have received permission to be able to share the output of the Strategic Conversation with you. Please click here to download the file.

I would like to be able to continually add to this list. In this context, please share the most powerful questions that you have been asked or have asked in the context of a mentoring relationship.

PS My first book What Really Matters For Young Professionals! is due for release on July 30th, 2010. In this context I have a pre-release Special Offer available. Over my journey a number of mentors provided me with books as gifts to assist me with my development. If you are a mentor then this may be the perfect gift for your proteges, especially if they are in the first ten years of their career. You might like to consider an even more powerful gift which is the Online Course that supports the book.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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