Thinking - it doesn't just come naturally.

Thinking is a natural part of living. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all differ in what we think about and how we think about it. Take an apple, for example. Some look at an apple, and think of food. Some look at an apple and are drawn into the biology of how it grows, the types of apples, their impact on the food chain. Some others look at apples and make that momentous leap to defining gravity.

You may think you're stuck with the kind of thinking you have. Some people say, "Oh, I am not very creative. You should ask Bob for help in your brainstorming session." Other people say, "I cannot believe how you connected those ideas!" Agile thinking and critical thinking, however, are all skills that can be learned, and here at Excel Thru Learning, we are please to announce that they can be taught (by us)!

Three sparkling new programs have been developed, by demand, to help you develop different thinking skills and apply them to your decision making processes. Are you ready to challenge your old thinking habits?

 

Critical Thinking

Typically, when presented with any form of information, we think about it in a very subjective way, and often not for any prolonged and/or conscious period of time.  This program will help participants to recognize the essential components of critical thinking, and apply critical thinking skills to relevant information, decisions, and problems.

Click here to see the full feature sheet.

 

The Agile Thinker

Being agile in business is your ability to quickly react, adapt, and thrive, despite any obstacles, surprises, or sudden change in external demands. This program will help participants recognize the traits of agile thinking, and how it can positively impact their roles in a variety of ways.

 

 

High Impact Decision Making

You make decisions of varying importance every day. In some cases, you can plan your decision with care. In others, you may find yourself making a decision quickly and on short notice without much time to systematically go through proper actions and thinking steps. The difficult part with any decision is choosing the solution where the positive outcomes outweigh possible losses. This program will help participants make decisions with impact.

Click here to see the full feature sheet.

embed Block
Add an embed URL or code. Learn more.

HRPA Annual Conference Just Around the Corner!

It's that time of year again when we hit the booths and meet new faces at the annual 2012 HRPA Tradeshow and Conference. Now, there is much to see and learn here, but of course your utmost concern is coming by to visit us! Naturally!  Well, to make it easy for you, here is where you can find us.

Just be sure you register for your free tradeshow badge, so you can enter the conference hassle-free.

We'll see you there.

The Excel Thru Learning Team

 

Finding Spirit

Fun, laughter, signs of happiness; where have these gone?  Sometimes we get so focused on results we forget to enjoy the pathway that gets us there.  ETL has always had fun at work.  We laugh a lot, share personal stories, bring our pets to work and in general enjoy what we do.  We work hard for our customers, for each other and regularly give back to our community.  But even we have, in the past couple of years, been dragged into thinking it’s all about the results.  We know this isn’t true, and once again it has just been proven.

While reminiscing, Laurie in our office remembered when we used to wear Santa hats when we delivered our homemade cookies.  (Yes, our best clients receive a small tin of homemade cookies that I personally bake).  In those days we looked forward to doing the deliveries and everyone participated.  This December we fell into the trap of individuals doing the deliveries alone and feeling very much isolated and frustrated.  That’s about to change!  Santa hats are being purchased today and starting tomorrow teams will be delivering cookies wearing them.  Christmas music will be playing on the radios and everyone will have a chance to get out and bring cheer to our clients.

Fun, laughter and signs of happiness are all returning to ETL.  What about at your organization?

 

- Pat DeMers, President


 

News and Events Has Been Missing...

Time can be managed, and priorities can be set, but in the end, if you don't sit down to do something, it just never gets done. And accomplishments (or lack thereof) are as simple as that.

That is why, in my simple confession, this section has fallen poorly out of date. I did not set out and accomplish what I had wanted to when we began this ongoing news and events section. Today, on November 21, 2011, I will remedy the situation. Here is the first post of many to come.

Stay tuned! ETL has a lot up its sleeve.

 

Thank you for your patience

Michelle

 

 

 

 

HRPA Conference, Feb 2 -4, 2011

 

We are back once again exhibiting at the HRPA annual conference. This year we can be found at booth 705.

  

 

This is a wonderful opportunity for both those who already know us, and those we have yet to meet to stop by and chat with the entire ETL Team! We are looking forward to answering any and all training and development questions you may have.

Don't Miss This!

We will once again be playing our dice game with a change to win a free Time Management Self Study Guide (all you have to do is roll a 7, 11, or doubles - yes it's that easy!).

We'll be seeing you there - The ETL Team

ETL is Hosting a Round Table Discussion on Leadership Today.

Don't miss out on this unique event hosted by Patricia DeMers, our President, on March 2nd, 2011.

To register for this event, held from 8am - 11am at the Boulevard club in Toronto, please following this link to the Registration Form. Once filled out, please fax it to Excel Thru Learning at (905) 789-0595 or emails it to Michelle DeVerno at mdeverno@excelthrulearning.com.

Hope to see you there!

CSTD Conference - 2010 in Review

This post has been a long time coming! Last year – yes, way back in November 2010 – esteemed members of the ETL team left for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to participate in the annual CSTD Conference. We were booth #511.

I posed some questions to our team to determine the value of the conference for us and for attendees.  For those of you who attended, and those of you who are thinking of attending, here is what ETL had to say.

 

What was the biggest benefit of attending the conference?  

Overwhelmingly, the biggest benefit of the conference was meeting both new and existing contacts face to face. This may seem like a no-brainer answer, but this really affirmed for us that the right people are attending the conferences, and that the value of face-to-face communication cannot be overstated. Phone conversations are a great way to connect and stay in contact with others, but there is something fundamentally different when you meet a person face to face. There is a whole gamut of communication that occurs which otherwise you may miss – a smile, a nod, a hug. Phones don’t hug people, but ETL team members do!

In summary – the biggest benefit of the conference was the ability to move relationships forward into 2011.

What could be better? 

If the world didn’t improve, it would stay the same – and how dull is that. When discussing 2010’s conference, there were two points of critique, and neither one directly about the conference!

Firstly, we need more attendees. A conference is only as good as the people who attend. However, consider this – if you are thinking ‘I think the conference is a bit small, I am not sure if the people I would like to meet are going to be there – why would I attend?”, you can bet others are thinking that as well! Now, consider this – what if you all decided to attend. Can you imagine all of the people are personalities that would be there? It is no longer a time for excuses, but a time for action. Let’s get out there and meet each other.

Secondly, we had to give ourselves a small smack on the wrist. We need more ETL signage and branding. When you were wandering the halls of the conference, did you see us? If you didn’t, unfortunately that is our own fault. You can be next year we will be there with bells and whistles (not literally, that would be noisy), but you can bet you won’t miss us!

What was the most fun thing of the conference?  

Well of course WE (both you and us at ETL) were the most fun thing of the conference. At booth #511 we had giant yellow dice, small squishy elephants, and Time Management Self-Study Guides as prizes. And then, to top it off, we had Evan, Shelley, Jim, Maggie, James and Pat there to interact with. For Maggie and James both, this was their first exposure to HR conference events. It was a fabulous introduction for them as the atmosphere and visitors to our booth were fun, easy-going and engaging. Many visitors to the booth engaged in conversation and really began to build rapport with the ETL team.

Who did you meet

In short, we met old clients and new contacts, referrals from friends and never-before-seen new faces, and also young students and senior leaders. Regardless of who they were though, the CSTD conference was full of the right people. Maybe we will all see each other again next year. 

What the most awesome thing about our booth? 

This is where no member of the ETL Team could agree. Here are their responses:

  • Pat DeMers - The location. We were on the corner where everyone was walking by.
  • Jim West – The elephant classroom display. When delegates would ask what is this bizarre display we,  we would ask them “What is your interpretation of what’s going on.” Everyone had very creative ideas about what was happening in the elephant training camp.
  • James Wills - The atmosphere. We stood out because we were all smiling, having fun and confident that our services are the best in the market segment we are targeting – at ETL we have confidence in our product and pride in our abilities. The dice game and elephants didn't hurt either
  • Maggie Cruz – Location, location, location – the food/coffee station was right behind us
  • Shelley Kralik-Vella – The ability to draw people in without the glitz and glamour that other booths had.
  • Evan Badura – In one word; me. For real though – the whole team working together with a common purpose; that's what made it great.

Thank you for taking the time to become our friends.
- Michelle DeVerno


 

Happy New Year!

In 2012 the Mayans predict a major shift in the world. Some interpret this shift as a cataclismic, world-wide catastrophe, others view this as a peaceful shift into a new world way of thinking.

Might I suggest that we use 2011 as a time of positive change. Let's create the year we want and the future will fall into place.

Happy new year! There won't ever be another 2011 like this, so let's make the most of it.

Customer Service (or lack thereof)

This is a customer service story, where to organization is thinking of neither the customer, nor the service. Please bear with me.

So, this holiday season I will be leaving on a trip to Tofino, BC. This requires flying from Toronto to Vancouver, renting a car, taking a ferry, and driving over a small mountain to the far side of Vancouver Island. This customer service story relates to the car rental portion of the trip.

Since we will be driving over mountains, I thought it would be prudent to ensure our rental car was equipped with winter tires. So I called our car rental company to ask that our vehicle come with snow tires. This is how the conversation rolled out.

 

* HQ tells me they can only put in a request. 

* I call headquarters and ask about our reservation and to get snow tires. 

* I tell them this is not a request – I NEED these tires to legally drive through the mountains.

* HQ calls the location to see if they even have any tires available, but even then, they won’t guarantee I can get them.

* I am informed that the location (the airport location) doesn’t even carry them, ever.

* I ask if the rental company feels perfectly fine sending off their passengers all willy-nilly into the wilderness with ill-equipped cars.

* She tells me, and this is a direct quote “you can bring your own if you want”

 

So…am I to pack four winter tires as carry-on? This was their suggestion. I’ll let you all come up with your own moral to this story.

 

Michelle DeVerno

The Cab Drivers of Portland Oregon

a lesson on how to take your job and love it

How you feel about what you do comes across in the quality of your work and the perception that your customers have of your service or product. Even if what you are doing right now isn’t your dream job, become exceptional at what you do and your dream job can’t be too far behind.

What has inspired this post? Cab drivers, but not just any cab driver. If I was wearing a hat, I’d take it off to the cab drivers of Portland, Oregon. My taxi experiences, while not many, usually consist of getting into the back of a cab and staring silently out the window while the city passes me by. The conversation with the driver includes only the bare minimum – where I’m going, how much it’ll cost, and how long will it take. Occasionally they’ll point out some interesting landmarks, but not often.

But then, in less than 12 hours I get into two different cabs in Portland, and was blown away by the personalities of the drivers. Gone was the dread of awkward silences and feeling like I (the customer of all people!) was inconveniencing the driver when I only had a short distance to go.

In terms of business, here are the actions that the first cab driver took which exuded professionalism, individualism, and courtesy all in less than 5 minutes.

* The driver actually got off her phone, mentioning to whomever that she will call back in a few minutes when she would be free.
* She was playing music that reflected who she was, which provided us the opportunity to talk to her about her profession and find out more about the person who is providing us with this service.
* When we apologized for the short drive, she genuinely made us feel like we shouldn’t be apologizing.

In short, I felt comfortable for the first time in a cab. And then I met my second cab driver of Portland. What really made an impact with me was when he asked if I had had the time to see the city during my visit. When I mentioned that honestly, not really, he gives me options! I had a choice to fly by on the expressway to get to the airport (quickest time) or he’d take me through the back roads to see more of Portland. I opted for seeing the sights. In under 20 minutes, this is what I learned of Portland.

* Mount St. Helens is not so very far away, and erupted not so long ago. However, there are also two other dormant volcanoes in the area which have the potential to erupt any day.
* The state has actually dug out part of one of those volcanoes to make walking and sight-seeing paths, despite the fact that the volcano has religious significance to natives of the area.
* The transit system is changing in one area, and the kinks haven’t quite worked themselves out yet.
* There used to be a very strong German presence in Portland, but that all changed with World War 2.
* Le Pigeon is perhaps one of the most interesting restaurants to visit (which means I’ll have to go back to Portland)
* The Americans used to sell what they thought were used-up mines to the Chinese, but then became quite upset and violent when it turned out there was still gold in the hills.

And I could keep going on! While maybe these facts aren’t all entirely accurate, they certainly were engaging to hear. To this driver, his job description wasn’t merely driving from point A to point B. He was genuinely interested in his work environment, and was enthusiastic to share that with the people he encountered. As a customer, I was excited to be a part of that environment and am also excited to go back and visit.

The beauty of my experiences is that they are not limited to the sphere of cab drivers. Everyone has the ability to take their job and love it. Seek out opportunities to stand separate from mediocre. How can you do this, regardless of your profession?

  1. Know the history of your business and become passionate about it
  2. Learn about your work environment, and how it impacts your customer experience
  3. Bring energy, enthusiasm and interest to your role
  4. Pass Steps 1-3 on to your customers

Make your job everything you want it to be.

-Michelle

Aidan's Quest

In 2009 ETL began a relationship with a new charity, a mourning family and a little boy that had lost his life. Here is an abbreviated version of Aidan’s story:

Aidan Benoit was a happy, loving 2-1/2 year old boy who loved to play and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his new baby brother or sister when he suddenly became ill. After many visits to doctors over about three weeks, he was sent to SickKids and was diagnosed with a very rare and deadly form of children’s cancer, Neuroblastoma.

Treatment began very quickly after diagnosis and it was very aggressive. Aidan underwent very intense chemotherapy treatment, had a g-tube to aid with his nutrition, countless CT scans, MIGB scans, blood transfusions, needles, ultrasounds, x-rays, bone scans an 8 hour surgery to remove his tumour, a bone marrow transplant and radiation therapy. He spent the majority of 9 months in SickKids hospital with few short visits home.

He loved being home. It gave him time to spend with his baby brother Nathan, who was born 1 month after Aidan was diagnosed. He loved the movie Cars and collected all things cars related. He loved Sponge Bob and Doodlebops and wanted to sing and dance and entertain us with his toy instruments. He loved Keith Urban and wanted to be a singer just like him. He also wanted to be a hockey player just like his daddy and to one-day play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a normal little boy who had to fight a terrible disease and did so with such strength and courage.

After his bone marrow transplant all signs were pointing to a complete and full recovery. We were all so happy to see him gaining his strength and feeling good again. The doctors were so pleased with his success and began to take steps to wean him off of treatment. His central line was removed and there was a plan to remove his g-tube when a routine, follow-up CT scan brought everything to a crashing halt. New tumours had appeared. We were told that through chemotherapy his life could be prolonged for a few years but there was no cure. He would have to have chemo every three weeks for the rest of his life. Aidan was once again hospitalized and after two more rounds of chemo the tumours proved to be too aggressive and there was nothing that could be done.

Aidan was given the opportunity to go to a Toronto Maple Leaf practice and then meet the players in the dressing room thanks to a good family friend, Jamal Mayers, now of the Calgary Flames. This was an incredible experience for him and he lost his courageous battle only 5 days later.

At ETL we are doing what we can to help children like Aidan fight to live and have hope for the future. Tomorrow we will be at the Caledon Golf and Country Club, participating in the fundraising event. You can find the ETL Team hosting the Putting Contest!

All of the proceeds from Aidan’s Quest Fund will go to help the research efforts in the James Birrell Lab at the Hospital for Sick Children to finally put an end to this disease. If you are interested in reading more on Aidan’s story, learning more about Neuroblastoma, or donating towards a worthy cause, please visit www.aidansfund.com/

Bill 168 Training Deadline is TODAY!

The June 15th deadline for Bill 168 compliance is today!

Still unsure about what Bill 168 actually is and why you and your staff need training? Here is a quick breakdown of employer obligations

Employers will be required to implement:
* Workplace violence and harassment policies
* Assessments designed to measure the risk of workplace violence
* Programs to implement such policies
* Staff training on policies


POLICIES:
Employers must prepare a policy with respect to workplace violence and harassment. The policies must be reviewed annually and those with more than five employees would be required to post the policies in the workplace.


PROGRAMS:
Employers are required to develop and maintain a program to implement the workplace violence and workplace harassment policies, including reporting and investigation procedures.


TRAINING:
Workers must be trained on the workplace violence and harassment policies, in all forms including bullying, violence in the workplace, and domestic violence. Excel Thru Learning can help you meet these training needs.


ASSESSMENTS:
Employers would have to prepare a workplace violence assessment which would be based on the nature of the workplace, the type of work, and the conditions of work. Thereafter, employers would have to advise the workers of the results of the assessment.

 

Do you have your policies, procedures and training in place?

If not, no need to worry. At ETL we can help your organization understand their role in the new violence and harassment legislation.  We have developed compliance training on Bill 168 - Violence and Harassment in the Workplace - and are flexible in our deliveries to you, with:

* 1 hour training session for managers (overview)

* 2 hour training session for managers (detailed)

* 1 hour training session for non-management

 

Call us today if you have any questions about this new legislation or need help fulfilling any of its requirements at (905) 789-1467.

Sincerely,

The ETL Team

 

Bill 168 Training - Beat the Compliance Deadline

It's not too late! Book a Bill 168 classroom awareness session for your organization. Excel Thru Learning will deliver a two hour session on site using a senior facilitator at your location to ensure minimum impact on your employee's schedules and maximum return for your expectations.

The two hour session will cover:

  • Bill 168 – What is It?
  • Policy on Workplace Harassment and Bill 168
    • Your Policies
  • Bill 168 – Road Map to Prevention
  • Handling a Complaint
    • Investigate
    • Evaluate
    • Take Action
    • Follow Up
  • Other Factors to Consider
    • Recruitment
    • Pay Equity
    • C-6 Privacy
  • Creating a Respectful Workplace
    • Act as a Force for Change

 

Call us now to beat the June 15th deadline!

Toronto Head Office: (905) 789-1467

Sarnia: (519) 383-6002

 

Summer Special - $500 Off Full Day Training

ETL loves the summer, and what better way to celebrate then offering our most important people, you, a deal!

Book any full day training session to run between now and August 31st 2010, and receive $500 off.

It is that easy. There are no restrictions on topic (visit our classroom training pages for an idea of what is available), you benefit from customized content delivered by our experienced senior facilitators, and best, of all, you are investing in yourself and your people.

We look forward to helping you.

The Challenge of Learning New Skills

When I first undertook the project of revamping the Excel Thru Learning website, I felt confident that I could manage the process, especially since I had those around me who were willing to help out and lend their knowledge. Two things happened which I didn’t anticipate (but probably should have!):

  1. Those who offered help also had their own jobs, projects and time commitments. This meant that my fountains of knowledge were really more of a sporadic trickle that I had to catch at the right time, or I was out of luck.
  2. I don’t speak website domain transfer tech lingo (which is vastly different from everyday language), which really inhibited my ability to push the final stages of website creation forward.

As you can see, the new site is up, which means I did manage to overcome my challenge – the challenge of learning new skills. What makes this the most difficult challenge to overcome? Not only did I need to learn new skills, which is fine as I am always open to learning, but I had to learn new skills that I wasn’t even aware of. It comes down to the proverbial “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

I am sure you have found yourself in this position before. It can be the most frustrating experience in your life. You recognize that something isn’t right, but you have no idea what, no way to explain it to others, and you aren’t even sure who to try to explain it to. Here is what I learned.

Just start anywhere.

It may not be the ideal spot to start, you may not be talking to the right person, but if you start you are at least putting yourself on the right path. It may be a long, winding, confusing path, or you may find your path is shorter and simpler than you thought. Either way, you started and every beginning ends somewhere.

Here is what I learned:

  • How to build a website from scratch – add pictures, links, text, pages, contacts forms – the whole shebang.
  • Who our domain name is registered with, which, as it turns out, is vastly different from who hosts our domain.
  • Who I should really, in the future, call on for help.
  • This last one is the most important – I learned that I can do something I didn’t think I could. It was a bit of a struggle, but the pride I feel in knowing that I can start a project that is so completely foreign to me, learn the new skills needed to make it work, and see it through to the end is awesome.

Michelle DeVerno

Simon Say'z - Moving Forward

Simon Update!

I recently graduated from Puppy School Level 2. I thought Level 1 was just fine as I learned to fetch, sit, lay down, heel, roll over and stay; but apparently learning needs to be ongoing (at least in Pat's mind). So off I went to Level 2 where I learned a few more skills that I could potentially need in the future.

During this learning the one thing I did discover are the rewards you get when you do something well. When I sit and stay, I get a treat. When I heel and don't pull on the leash I get a treat and when I lie down and roll over I usually get a couple of treats. Learning seems to come with rewards and I really like that. Keep in mind I am an eight month old puppy and my idea of a reward and yours may be slightly different.

Pat has been back in school now for a few months and she tells me she has seen some rewards of her own and not even in the form of dog bones! The financial portion of her program was helpful because it reinforced what her accountant had been telling her and helped her to get a better grasp of accounting language. She apparently does not want to speak "accountant" or for that matter "dog" as both of these languages have limited use for her. But she does like the fact that when the accountant gives her advice she can relate it to her business and make financial decisions based on her knowledge and not just the knowledge of others. For the record, I kind of like that she doesn't speak "dog" because then she would know all of my secrets!

According to Pat and something called research, we need to keep learning to stay healthy, satisfied and energized. I learn by seeing, doing, repeating and getting rewards. Adults learn this way too. What's on your learning agenda for this year? If you are looking to do some self-guided learning check out ETL's Self-Study Guides on the website. If you want classes call the ETL team for information. If you want a coach call Pat and she will set something up. I've already been advised that my learning is not over and neither is Pat's; what about yours?

Signing Off - Simon

Simon Say'z - Change Is Tough

Simon here.

So, I recently received hands-on experience with change and believe me when I tell you it was rough! One minute I'm at home shamelessly lounging on Pat's couch (or even better, her bed) and the next minute I am shipped off to my Aunt Shelley's. Okay, so that wasn't so bad. As a very young pup I had already spent a week there, so I knew the routine. No bed lounging , but I have a backyard to romp in, food to eat, people to scratch my ears and a couch to sleep on.

After three days of getting back into my beloved routine, don't I get packed up and shipped off again, and this time to people I know but a house I have never seen. Not only that, they have four-legged funny looking animals that think they are the bosses of the house (and as you know, that is definitely my job!). Now, you might think this is all no big deal but remember, I am a dog. A very big, very spoiled dog. Also, since I am only 6 months old, I am not all that familiar with change.

Alright, so I'm with my Auntie Jen and Uncle Evan and that was cool. They are good people and Evan really likes to play - even when I would prefer to sleep. I did try to keep him happy by going along with all of that fetching and walking stuff. It was nighttime that was the problem. I had gone through so much change that I just couldn't get comfortable anymore. I don't like being separated from people, and I actually sleep best when I am curled up against someone. I can't believe they put me in a crate and expected me to sleep there! To give them credit, the crate is very large and very comfortable with an incredible doggie mattress that is good for a growing back, but come on...a crate? They were doing their best to make this change as comfortable on me as possible, but still this was hard for me. The first night was pretty rough, I couldn't sleep, I wanted to escape from the crate, and I kept crying at them to let me out and sleep with them! (Sometimes people just don't get puppy-speak). The second night I proceeded once again to let them know that I wasn't happy and, amazingly, I was invited into bed. The third night there was no talk of the crate, and well all got into bed together.

So, you might be thinking that I am really awful with change and you would be right; but, then again, I'm a dog. Pat tells me that to make change successful, there needs to be a transition stage - an opportunity for whomever is going through change to understand why it is happening and what is in it for them to change in the first place. It's easy to fall back into old habits and it's only through practice that the change becomes the norm. People will respond in a very similar manner to how I responded when an abrupt change is pushed on them. When possible, allow time from when the change is announced until when it is occurring so that people have time to get used to it. No matter how comfortable you think they are with the change, it takes time to adapt. Also, offer people the opportunity to tell others how they feel, even if the change is going to happen no matter what. Lastly, respect the past but don't live in it. As I rapidly learned, things can change really quickly! If you don't adapt, you make the people around you unhappy and you probably aren't going to be very happy either.

Signing off - Simon


 

Simon Say'z - Thinking Inside of the Box

Simon here.

It's funny how often I hear the words "think outside of the box." I just don't understand why people can't think while they are in the box. I certainly can. Please see my attached picture for proof. Don't I look like I am doing some serious reflecting on life? (and on the edibility of the box?)

Okay, to get back on topic. Sometimes there are restrictions on what can be done. Sometimes outside of the box is not possible due to resource limitations such as time and money. This doesn't mean that things don't get done or even that you can't be creative. What it does mean is that you have to be even more creative and work within the limits that have been set.

I had a chance to view the Johnny the Bagger video and was very impressed by his creativity and customer service mindset. (Yes, I know it's surprising but dogs love to watch television, especially good news stories.) It's amazing how something as small as a thought of the day in a grocery bag can greatly impact customer loyalty. Sometimes it's the small things that make the greatest difference.

So, what can you do? What little something can have a huge impact on your customers' reactions or level of satisfaction? Pat tells me that being real is very important. Don't lose yourself in bureaucracy or policies. (I'm not sure what bureaucracy means but apparently it's something to do with politics and red tape.) She also says to treat others the way you want to be treated. She believes in honesty and integrity. I guess that's why she has no problem telling me when I am doing something I am not supposed to do - like chew on her office stool legs. The integrity piece is simple - do what you say you are going to do, and do it well.

Now, take it to the next level. Be yourself and then be better than you currently are. Be honest and then add kindness. Do what you say you will and then do it better, faster and even in a more cost effective way. When someone is doing something you don't believe in, don't compete with them; set yourself apart by maintaining your ethics and telling people that you won't bend on them. Care about your customers and tell them you care. Open yourself to feedback and accept that you won't always be the best at something - growth and improvement is important. Think inside the box but do it better than anyone else!

Signing Off - Simon