Monday, July 29, 2019

The Powerful Secret Of Elegance

What sets successful leaders apart from the rest?

There are many different surveys and lists on the keys to successful leadership. Some of the lists make intuitive sense. And some feel like someone desperately had to fill just one more column in a glossy magazine. Through our research, we have identified the following keys to success.

Which of these success keys are you currently using?

1. Strong Foundation

Highly successful leaders are absolutely clear about their identity – who they are, what they are here for and where they are going. They have a deep, strong personal foundation and a tremendous trust in life, themselves and their relationships. Out of this trust, they have developed a strong sense of self-worth and self-respect.

2. Healthy Lifestyle

They live a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. They look after themselves and their families well. Highly successful leaders tend to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit and seldom ill. They handle stress and problems well. When problems arise, they usually make sure that they solve them once and for all.

3. Authentic Presence

These leaders are real characters! They have a strong personality and are absolutely authentic. They love what they are doing. They live in the present moment and manifest the achievement of their objectives in the ‘here and now’.

4. Designed Destiny

Highly successful leaders take on full responsibility for their life. They are die-hard optimists with an ‘everything is possible’ attitude. They are constantly moving forward to the next project. They always get up again if they should stumble. They have crystal-clear goals, as well as a huge passion for life.

5. Clean Conscience

Really successful leaders have a clean conscience. They have no skeletons rotting away in their closets. They have got rid of all guilt, forgiven those who may have wronged them, made peace with their past, and celebrate the present. They have clear-channel relationships and have set up their life to be a guilt-free zone.

6. Spiritual Awareness

Highly successful leaders are spiritually aware. They have made peace with life and have learned to go with the flow. They have developed a healthy, trusting relationship with themselves, the world around them and their Creator. Ultimately, many really successful businesspeople say that their deep spirituality is the true source of their success.

7. Maverick Leadership

They are real mavericks and charismatic leaders. At a young age, they were frequently the leaders of the pack. They are frequently at the centre of the action, building strong, cohesive business communities. They truly care for others. The super successful earn the right to lead by exuding a strong personal presence and a natural sense of authority, positively impacting their environment.

8. Focused Energy

Successful leaders focus their energy well and never waste their power. Their hearts, minds and environment are uncluttered. They have learned to manage their state and put themselves into peak form in an instant, if required. They have learned to leverage small efforts and investments into great results. They are usually financially independent and have developed strong business systems that allow them to earn their living elegantly. At the same time, they frequently surprise their environment by ‘going the second mile’, giving more than was expected.

9. Intuitive Insight

Highly successful business people rely on their intuition when making a decision. They know their own needs, values, drivers, resources and thinking patterns well. They are clear about the contextual influences they are active in and are thus quick to decide. Their ability to act based on their intuitive insight, their ‘sixth sense’ or ‘gut feelings’ sets successful leaders apart from the rest.

10. Professional Attitude

The really successful leaders tend to own (a substantial share in) their own businesses. They have moved from compensating jobs to being entrepreneurs. They have switched from consumerism to ownership. They have shifted their approach from selling hours to leveraging their business system. As true professionals, they are highly dedicated, committed and often sticklers for quality, constantly improving themselves and their business.

11. Focused Action

They have a clear focus on what it is they want to achieve. They keep a ‘big picture’ approach to business and don’t lose themselves in the details. Successful leaders consistently take action on their plans and objectives, creating momentum to propel themselves forward towards success. They focus on earning their income elegantly and have fun doing so.

12. Social Activity

Really successful leaders are socially active and well integrated. They have acquaintances in all social spheres and actively nurture healthy relationships. They share their wealth, offer support and get involved in charitable activities. At the same time, it is often true that the really successful leaders do not ‘need’ others, in many ways. They are self-sufficient, even independent of the opinions of others.

Find out more about how you can benefit from the secrets of true elegance:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Secret Of Elegant Business

In the fields of business strategy, information technology, mathematics, science and engineering, elegant solutions provide a surprisingly simple method, which is normally not obvious at first sight, to produce a highly effective result, often solving multiple problems at once - even problems, which may not be inter-related!

Truly elegant business solutions solve multiple, often unrelated problems

The Swiss army knife may provide us with a practical, tangible illustration of such elegance. The simple, straightforward surface design of this tool is actually misleading, for although it is called a knife, it actually provides multi-purpose functionality.

The basic version normally includes:

a couple of knives

a pair of scissors

a cork-screw

a can-opener

a screwdriver

And so on…

Nowadays, many of these Swiss army knives include cool gadgets like an altimeter, a USB-stick, etc.

But as this example clearly illustrates, trying to create too much "added value" may have a detrimental effect. Some designers have included so many different gadgets and functionalities in to their version of the Swiss army knife, that the result is a heavy, cumbersome, impractical tool, lacking the essential elegance of the original design.

Too much of a good thing is the enemy of elegance!
In the process of innovation, true elegance must strike a fine balance between complexity and simplicity to create optimal value. 

To quote the January 2007 edition of Architecture & Design

«Elegance allows for complexity to coincide with a relative reduction of complication by integrating multiple elements into a coherent, comprehensive, continuous and complete system, which can easily be understood. »

As in the example of the Swiss army knife, elegance requires a relative reduction of complexity. 

The key to creating optimal value when creating new tools, methods, models, concepts and solutions, is to strike an ideal balance between simplicity of design and the usefulness of multi-functional complexity. 

If you need to read a user’s manual before you can utilize a tool, product, solution or process, it is probably not truly elegant.

According to my research and experience, true elegance requires no formal explanation.

It speaks for itself.

And this is true for any truly successful business strategy, too!

Find out more about how you can benefit from the secrets of true elegance:

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Relevance Of Elegance In Business

Over the last ten years elegance has emerged as a trend which is quickly picking up speed in the fields of architecture, design, innovation and strategic business leadership, as it provides a powerful key for managing complexity. 

But quite frankly, when I discuss the concept and benefits of elegance with business entrepreneurs and executives, I often get a blank stare as a response.

It seems that for most people, elegance is a relatively meaningless word, which is best left to the creators of fashion and haute couture, as well as their marketing gurus and the editors of glossy magazines.

According to my experience, most business leaders would view elegance as a largely irrelevant concept.

Until lately, that is.

For in the last ten years we have seen more and more disruptive concepts, technologies and products launched into the world markets, which have changed the way in which we live, work, and create value.

The IPhone, with it’s deceptively simple, elegant design and it’s complex, rich sub-structure completely revolutionized the world of mobile phones and hand-held devices.

The Google search engine, with it’s clean, uncluttered design and meaningful search results pretty much blew away most of the potential competitors.

The list of great examples for new, successful, disruptive solutions, products and technologies which make use of the key concepts of elegance is growing quickly.

„So what is  the secret sauce?“ some executives have asked me.

There are several aspects to the power of elegant design, but to paraphrase Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects, one of the key benefits of true elegance is that it allows for complexity to coincide with a relative reduction of complication by means of integrating multiple elements into a coherent system.

Swiss watchmakers can teach us a lesson about elegance in this respect. A really good watch should have a surface structure which is easy to understand, that allows for intuitive navigation. But below the surface, the inner works of a truly great watch will include a grand complication, representing the most complex achievements of haute horlogerie. You and I don’t need to understand the inner works of a watch to be able to use it. If it is elegantly designed, it’s use will require virtually no explanation.

Thus, elegance provides a means of articulating complexity in a way that enables easy comprehension and intuitive navigation.

In an increasingly chaotic, complex economic context, business leaders and entrepreneurs need to manage complexity by mastering such elegant techniques in order to make better decisions and create increased business value.

Elegant business decisions, solutions and innovations combine a simple surface-structure with a rich, complex sub-structure. 

The resulting business-leadership techniques may seem simple and obvious at first sight – but don’t be deceived! 

This type of simplicity is rich, complex and deeply satisfying. 

And as in the cases of Apple, Google and many other elegant innovators, this approach can help you to create disruptive changes to your advantage in the markets you operate in.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Power Of Elegance

Coco Chanel stated that simplicity is the key to any kind of true elegance.

But according to my experience, simplicity is often not very elegant at all.

If we over-simplify our world, it becomes mono-dimensional, monochrome, meaningless and boring.

If we simplify our world-view to an extent where the good cowboys wear white hats, and the bad cowboys black hats, we miss the multi-color richness of experience the real world has to offer.

Instead of trying to manage the complexities we face through black-and-white reductionism, we need to learn to manage our complex reality by gaining an intimate, profound understanding of it. 

According to my experience, truly elegant solutions actually require the presence and richness of a complex context.

If we step back for a moment and take a closer look at the seemingly random, chaotic world we live in, we will find that it consists of layer upon layer of beautifully intricate, symmetrical, fractal patterns.

Fractals are both highly complex and simply elegant.

Upon taking an even closer look below the surface of chaos and complexity, you will find amazingly rhythmic, self-organizing patterns and a deeply satisfying sense of balance, order and purpose that far exceeds the effectiveness and efficiency of the organizational strategies, structures and models most management consultants could ever dream up.  

It is true that elegance doesn’t come easy, as it requires you to delve deeper and engage more fully with your reality, instead of jumping to conclusions. But once you have achieved a state of total immersion in your chosen topic, you may find that elegant solutions suddenly emerge in the most unexpected moments, like a flash of lightning, when inspiration strikes.

The resulting solutions may seem simple at first sight – but don’t be deceived!

This type of simplicity is rich, complex and deeply satisfying.

It provides a profound sense of significance.

It addresses the real root causes of a situation, and it usually has a broad-ranging effect.

In the fields of information technology, mathematics and engineering, elegant solutions provide a surprisingly simple method, which is normally not obvious at first sight, to produce a highly effective result, often solving multiple problems at once - even problems which may not be inter-related! 

Although these solutions may seem simple, their quality has nothing to do with reductionism, austerity, and blinkered ways of thinking.

True elegance combines simplicity with complexity to create beauty!

This type of elegance articulates, mediates and enables complexity, providing precise orientation within a seemingly chaotic context, enabling you to navigate your way toward optimal solutions quickly and effectively. In the business world, it provides a powerful competitive advantage in the process of disruptive innovation and organizational design, by striking a fine balance between complexity and simplicity to create optimal value. 

To quote the January 2007 edition of Architecture& Design:

«Elegance allows for complexity to coincide with a relative reduction of complication by integrating multiple elements into a coherent, comprehensive, continuous and complete system, which can easily be understood.»

To me personally, the real beauty of this approach is that true elegance requires no explanation. It speaks for itself.

Find out more about how you can benefit from the secrets of true elegance:

Friday, December 07, 2018

The Power Of Mental Training In Sales Negotiations

In the world-championship leagues of competitive sports, no serious top athlete would even dream of preparing for an important event without the use of specialized mental training techniques. Peak performers in sports appreciate the competitive edge they get from putting their mind to work first.

But what top athletes regard as a key ingredient of successful competition, many business executives and entrepreneurs seem to view as a taboo topic. It always amazes me to see how business executives still shy away from the use of mental training techniques even when faced with complex, intercultural sales negotiations, preferring to default to their traditional way of doing things instead.

What the most successful sports stars have learned to appreciate as a key ingredient of their ability to produce peak performance in the critical moment of truth, many business professionals still seem to view as a bunch of voodoo.

When I started to investigate exactly why there was so much resistance against using these techniques, a common theme started to emerge:

Many of the people I talked with had actually tried mental strategizing, rehearsal and visualization techniques, but didn’t get the desired results, so they decided that mental training was just a waste of time.

When I asked them to explain to me exactly what visualization techniques they had used, it quickly became obvious why they had failed to experience the desired results.

They had been applying what we call flight of fancy visualization processes, instead of no doubt strategies.

In order to shift from fanciful visualization towards a state in which we fully expect to receive the successful results we want to achieve in a sales or business negotiation, we must first transform the desired outcome into a simple choice we make with clear, unwavering intention.

There are many things in life that we simply choose, and once we have made our decision, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the desired result is on its way to us. It is like turning on your coffee machine in the morning, filling it up with fresh water and coffee beans, positioning your cup or mug in the right place, pressing the right button, and hey presto – out comes your perfect espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, or whatever type of coffee you prefer.

As long as you go through the right steps, in the right sequence, and make sure that all of the specific requirements are met, you should be pretty sure to get the desired result. That is what we call a no doubt thought strategy.

But how do I actually go about developing such a strategy for my upcoming negotiation, you may ask?

In our coaching practice, we usually guide our clients through the following 5-step process:

1.    To start with, we elicit our client’s individual thought strategy and document it as a script, step-by-step, for situations in which they engage in an activity with NO doubt in their mind about their ability to create a totally successful outcome.

2.    Then we focus on the upcoming sales meeting or business negotiation they want to prepare for, using the SCORE timeline method, and developing a very precise definition of the desired outcome. In doing so we don’t just create SMART objectives, in addition we make sure that we have articulated and understood the underlying personal motives, as well as the business drivers, and their respective hierarchy. And finally we strategize with our client on ways to create a WOW factor that would take the resulting outcome to a significantly higher level than any win-win deal they would normally hope to achieve!

3.    We then walk through their typical way of preparing for such a negotiation and elicit all of the relevant elements of their mental thought strategy, or their default script for such situations (usually this includes many flight of fancy elements).

4.    The comparison of their thought processes for the upcoming negotiation with their no doubt strategies enables us to conduct a quick gap analysis to discern any major differences and understand better why past attempts at using mental training failed.

5.    And finally we change the thought strategy and script for the upcoming negotiation, so that it is perfectly in line with the individual client’s no doubt strategy, including all of the sensory bells, whistles and emotions to render it credible to his or her subconscious mind. We strongly suggest that the client should go through the resulting visualization script at least two or three times with us at the end of the coaching session, followed by repeating the mental training exercise for 5 – 10 minutes per day for at least 3 – 5 days.

Some success gurus say that practice makes perfect. However, when it comes to mental training, we have found that if you don’t practice visualization perfectly, you may end up with very disappointing results.

Learn more about how you can use advanced mental training techniques to improve the results of your sales and business negotiations at

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Power Of Removing Doubt

In order to speed up the process of making better decisions, overcoming doubt or procrastination, and creating more successful results, you must learn to transform any wish, goal or desire you may have into a simple choice you make with clear, unwavering intention.

There are many things in life that we simply choose, and once we have made our decision, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the desired result is on its way to us.

It is like turning on your coffee machine in the morning, filling it up with fresh water and coffee beans, positioning your cup or mug in the right place, pressing the right button, and hey presto – out comes your perfect espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, or whatever type of coffee you prefer.

As long as you go through the right steps, in the right sequence, and make sure that all of the specific requirements are met, you should be pretty sure to get the desired result.

Normally your coffee machine won’t mow your lawn, and it won’t drive you to work either.

I have often seen people trying to visualize and manifest things that are simply way outside of the realm of reason.

More power to them, if they still get the desired results.

However, more often than not, you will probably find that a coffee machine will only do what it is supposed to do. As long as you use the coffee machine in the right way, you should have no doubt, inner resistance or questions in your mind about the chances of getting the desired result.

In such instances, success should be a relatively unsurprising, hassle-free, normal event.

It is important to recognize that our feeling and our state of being are very different in such moments, compared to instances when we feel that we first need to overcome all kinds of obstacles, in order to reach our goal.

When we strongly desire to achieve a certain objective, we are usually heavily invested into the end result.

The problem with this approach is that our strong desire may simply confirm and cement our current state of lack (and yes, I get that you may have the same intense feeling about desperately needing a coffee first thing in the morning, too).

Emotionally fueled objectives, wishes and desires often just aggravate our perception of not being, doing or having what we really want or need.

Cravings, compulsive objective setting, as well as other addictive, driven behavior are often simply signals that our true, fundamental, personal needs are not being met.

We see a gap between where we are, and where we want to be.

We get that strong sense of lack.

And lack attracts lack (sorry, I know that is quite trite).

The more you focus on the gap or the lack, the more powerful your self-sabotage patterns may become in your life.

Now, you may say that cognitive tension is the key to creativity, the fuel of game-changing innovation – and I would tend to agree. However, cognitive tension only seems to produce positive results if you direct your focus towards creating innovative ways of closing or bridging the perceived gap – not cementing it!

Strong negative emotions about the perceived difference between your current and your desired state of being will often just widen and deepen the gap.

On the other hand, if you learn to transform your wish, goal, or desire, into something you positively expect to receive, achieve or manifest (like getting your coffee-fix in the morning),  without the slightest shadow of doubt, your state of being and the related synchronicities will dramatically change for the better.
Learn more about how to remove doubt and create breakthrough results at:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Don't Let Your RAS Mess Up Your Business Negotiations!

Every day, our brain is bombarded with millions of bits of input and data from the complex, chaotic context we live in. Somehow, it needs to organize this massive flow of information and make sense of it, and the Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a key factor in this process. The RAS is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters through the information input, picking out what is important, and eliminating the rest.

The RAS has received a lot of positive press from the self-help industry in recent years, as it enables us to maintain a clear focus and align our perceptions, thoughts, emotions and actions towards the achievement of our goals.

Your RAS identifies what you focus on most and creates a perceptual filter for it – which usually consists of a combination of beliefs, values, emotions and habitual thought patterns. It then seeks information that validates your perceptual filters, sifting through the noise, applying the search parameters your mind has developed over time, optimizing the search results and creating an increasingly intricate map of reality.

Your RAS dictates what you are able to perceive

In many ways, your RAS operates like an internet search engine, which learns about your personal profile and preferences, optimizing the search results to fit your interests better and better, every time you use your browser. This has the neat effect that the search results become more streamlined, personalized and relevant, reinforcing your perceptual filters every time you engage with the world.

But at the same time, your RAS will increasingly eliminate anything that does not fit your pre-set filters, reducing your ability to get a complete and reliable picture of what is really going in your context. This effect is well documented in the context of internet search engines, where clever algorithms effectively create a sort of  information-bubble or cocoon around us over time, reinforcing what we already believe to know, whilst preventing us from being exposed to controversial information that might challenge our world-view, force us to think through and assess reality more comprehensively, and motivate us to adjust our filters.

This is one of the reasons why two individuals conducting the same online search, using their personal browsers and preferred search engines, may get totally different search results.

Your RAS can seriously mess up your sales and business negotiations

By controlling what you are able to see, hear and sense, your RAS directly influences your beliefs, thoughts, emotions and actions. Although this provides us with many significant benefits in everyday life, this effect can have a seriously negative impact in the context of intercultural sales and business negotiations.

When coaching our corporate clients on how to improve their results in global business deals, we often find that the negotiators:

-          default to the tried-and-tested, best-practice ways of doing things they learned in their home-country

-          fail to properly observe the personal and cultural behavioral patterns and preferences of the people they are negotiating with

-          don’t have the means or experience required to interpret these patterns correctly and adapt their interactions accordingly

In many ways, the RAS of these negotiators has created a massive blind spot in their mind, making it practically impossible for them to access the information available in plain sight before them, due to the censoring effect of their perceptual filters.

You can train your RAS to provide better results

In a recent negotiation seminar, one of the course participants told me that in her native language, RAS was the word they used to describe wild, aggressive dogs. Indeed, in many ways, our RAS often behaves like an intelligent, fierce, untamed watchdog.

The more we get involved in intercultural negotiations, the more we need to train our RAS, to check, update or even reprogram the perceptual filters it applies, in order for us to understand the situational dynamics more completely and craft better, more sustainable deals.

As a first practical step in this direction, I teach my clients to activate their inner observer, enabling it to identify, understand and interpret differing patterns of behavior. In our global business world, it is becoming essential for us to proactively manage our RAS.
If we don’t, we may frequently encounter business disaster abroad.