Roy's Blog: December 2018

December 31, 2018

The one deadly mistake leaders make

One of the benefits of leading many different types of organizations over my 30+ year career was having a window to observe and study other leaders.

Let’s face it, honing your leadership skills is not a one-of event; it’s a process of learning new skills that are required in the role and practising them day in and day out.

Deadly mistake

I found that looking across at how other leaders practised their craft was an excellent source of learning material; I saw what worked and didn’t work and was able to pick and choose to enhance my own repertoire of skills accordingly.

Most of what I saw in others was quite pedantic. They typically followed the “leader book” prescribed by the experts in the field and by academics who wrote papers on the subject.
It was a rare occurrence to witness a truly different approach to what the crowd of other leaders was following.

But every once in a while I would see a leader who turned their back on traditional practices; someone who was non-compliant with what everyone believed to be a requisite for effective leadership.

They “loved” the frontline

And they were amazing.

What I saw was a leader who was always with their frontline employees — service reps, salespeople, receptionists and call center reps; the people who were on the organization’s line of execution dealing with customers.

A leader who valued the frontline more than any other group.

They stood out because very few leaders see people down deep in the organization as a priority demanding of their time.

Honouring the frontline provides these 5 benefits that enable leaders to perform head and shoulders above their peers.

Dumb rules and stupid stuff

They learn what is preventing flawless execution of the organization’s strategy; systems and process issues and other barriers that get in the way of achieving expected results.

Being face-to-face with those who have to work in the internal “laws” governing the customer transaction gives them the ability to identify the grunge and dumb rules that must be eliminated to make jobs easier and performance better.

In addition, this insight generally doesn’t readily come from direct reports who either don’t know what’s going on or who want to protect their turf.
Knowledge gained from skip level leader — frontline actions is invaluable and should be expected of any leader. But only the special ones get it.

Strategy flaws

Competitive secrets

They discover the flaws in the strategy; those elements of the strategic intent of the organization that aren’t working because there are barriers and practicalities that prevent it from being implemented in the precise way it was designed.
On paper the strategy may have looked perfect but in the naked light of day where people are involved and competitors prey, it is not possible to stay then course.

The frontline are often brutally honest about your strategy; they don’t hesitate to tell you what won’t work and the challenge for leaders is to listen to their feedback.
Listen to them and tweak the strategy to reflect the realities of execution in the field.

Old school leaders have difficulty moving off the tabled strategy and they often live to regret it.

Competitive activity and secrets

They learn what the competition is doing in real time fashion, creating the ability to take whatever evasive action might be required and to spot and attack their weakness.

Most leaders rely on traditional methods to obtain competitive intelligence. Periodic studies are conducted, findings are analyzed and action taken as appropriate.
But the process takes time; there is a lag between when the intelligence is gained and when action is taken, often nullifying its effectiveness.

Being with the frontline gives the leader a continuous stream of information on what is going on in the moment. This ability yields faster action and better results; lag time is replaced with real time response.

Movers and shakers

Leaders who are with the frontline constantly are able to identify people with high potential for future opportunities in the organization.

They get to see with their own eyes — as opposed to receiving reports from their direct managers or human resource folks — how certain individuals perform, their attitudes and their capabilities to offer further value.
They get to develop relationships with these people in the workplace and provide the mentoring so many need but don’t receive from leaders.

And the leader increases their personal currency and strengthens their brand as someone who is competent at spotting and developing high achievers for the benefit of the entire organization.

Mover and shaker

Employee engagement

By being “in the face” of the frontline, this leader is able to get a front row seat on what is necessary to enhance employee commitment and engagement on the goals of the organization.

They don’t rely on, as their peers are forced to do, reports by specialists and other third parties in the field to advise them on what is needed to reach a higher level in employee buy-in. They learn first hand what is needed to capture the hearts and minds of those charged with delivering results; they see what is needed; they feel what works and what doesn’t.

And they learn what works to engage one employee doesn’t necessarily work to engage another. Every person is different; everyone respond differently to motivational methods.

This leader knows that personalized methods of engagement are required for each employee, not a shrink wrapped corporate program applied to all.

The biggest mistake a leader can make is not commit themselves to the frontline where successful organizational performance is either created or destroyed.

To serve the frontline is to step out of the textbook leader herd and make an amazing contribution to their organization while those who choose to follow common leader doctrine are lost in the crowd.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 12.31.18 at 05:16 am by Roy Osing
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December 28, 2018

How what you eat can make you standout in a crowd — guest post


Essentially, we are all special but have a hard time expressing our uniqueness.

That is why many people, no matter how talented they are, simply fall into the crowd and become average. The battle to be different is a constant one and the best weapon for self-awareness is being in a good mood.

This sounds simple enough but it is really hard to be in the radiant mood all the time. This takes a lot of time and effort that would be unimaginable without some extra help.
The support from your friends and family is welcoming but there are more physical, or physiological ways you can boost your mood and really stand out from the crowd.

“We are what we eat” is an adage that could not be truer in the case of our daily mood. It is true that there are certain types of food that influence our mood.
By consuming them regularly we can actively influence the way we feel.
The right diet could help us smile more, lead a better life, and stay healthy, so there is no reason not to discover the wonderful world of mood-boosting foods.


Cereals are an important part of any diet and they are something that children love to eat for breakfast with milk.
This should not come as a surprise as oats and other cereals constitute a healthy and organic breakfast option.

When it comes to making us smile more, oats, in particular, contain the right ingredients. They have a low glycemic index which means that they release energy slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable at all times.

Since sugar intake is to be blamed for hyperactive behavior, this means that our mood will gradually become better in a matter of seconds.

Anyone who gets a rush from a chocolate candy bar might want to consider switching to sweets with oats in them.

To top it all, oats are rich in selenium as well. If you dislike the taste cereals have, besides milk, you can always add honey, nuts, yogurt or fruits to add to the flavor and further boost the protein intake.


The popular myth that spinach is rich in iron has been proven false but does not mean that spinach isn’t nutritious — quite the contrary.

It is rich in vitamin B, the deficiency of which has been linked to depression.
Since vitamin B3, B6, and B12 can be found in spinach, its regular consumption has the potential to slow the development of depression and in combination with other foods listed here, it can even stop it altogether.


The best thing about spinach is that there are several ways to eat it since it is not the main course. It can be a salad if eaten raw and seasoned with olive oil and garlic. However, most frequently it is served as a side dish to meat.

Regardless of how you decide to consume it, spinach, alongside its counterpart broccoli, can have a tangible effect on your mood, so don’t skip it next time it is on the table, literally.

Whey protein

Staying hydrated is an important aspect of working out.

We see bodybuilders constantly carrying bottles around the gym but they are not always filled with water.
In many cases, they contain whey protein, which is a mixture of 80% casein and 20% whey. Essentially, whey is the results of dairy processing that is grinded into a powder low in lactose that contains nine amino acids.
It is not just a great source of protein ideal for athletes but it is rich in minerals like calcium and vitamins such as B12.
As mentioned earlier, this vitamin, in particular, is effective in fighting depression, so all gym-goers can use whey protein to feel more relaxed while exercising.

Unfortunately, many beginners are put off by the fact that they do not know how to properly introduce whey protein to their diet, despite numerous online guides providing information on how to get True Protein the right way.
In fact, this is true for many food types listed here, so you must inform yourself well before you include oats or spinach in your diet as well.


This life-giving liquid on our list is perhaps the most unexpected item. You are probably wondering: how can plain water contribute to my radiant smile?

Well, the answer is quite simple. Staying hydrated all the time is essential for our health. Once even the mildest form of dehydration sets in, there can be no talk of a good mood or any other mood for that matter. That is why it is important to stick to the recommended daily water intake amount of some two liters, which sums up to some eight glasses a day.

This may seem excessive, but this is the amount that we need to function properly, both physically and mentally.  Remember, even the fruit you eat is rich in water, so this counts in our daily goal.


If you are finding it difficult to hydrate sufficiently, try getting a recyclable water bottle and carrying it at your person everywhere you go. This way, you could take a sip every time you have nothing better to do, like waiting at the dentist’s office.

Needless to say, don’t take too much water at once, like gulping down an entire liter. Like with many things in life, overkilling it is not the answer.

Finally, never let it slip your mind that positive mood should be consistent. This is why any change in your diet, regardless of which item or items from this list you decide to include, should essentially be a long-term change.
The radiant mood you are aiming for can only come as the result of a painstaking process that will have to include a lot of self-discipline.

However, do not fall into despair, because persistence is exactly what the crowd lacks. And plus, you’ve got a secret weapon up your sleeve to help you succeed: mood-boosting food.

Mia Johnson is a freelance writer with a ten-year long career in journalism. She has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle. A native to Melbourn, she now lives in Sidney with her 3 dogs where she spends her days writing and taking care of her 900 square feet garden.

Mia Johnson

  • Posted 12.28.18 at 05:00 am by Roy Osing
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December 24, 2018

How you can get a breakthrough in your career

For those of you who remember your philosophy courses, here’s a syllogism which is undeniably true.

— People who don’t comply with the rules — the “should do’s” of society; the accepted principles promulgated by academia; the standard ways of doing things as practiced by individuals and organizations — get noticed;
— And people who get noticed typically have more opportunities than those who are invisible to those around and above them;
— Ergo if you don’t follow the rule system of the day, you will get more chances to succeed.


Breaking the law is extreme

In the extreme case, breaking the law will definitely get you noticed, but incarceration is not likely to be defined as success. But there is a safe spot for breaking the rules of the day and separating yourself from the trends of the crowd where winners are borne. 

The challenge for any person in society to get their ideas heard by decision makers is to find a way to break through the masses, hence the reason for the myriad of self interest groups that exist today. They organize themselves, create a message and push it out to people, hoping it will resonate and garner support.

It’s no different for an individual in an organization who is trying to break through the mass of employees all trying to rise to the top. They have to determine a path through the barrage of self interest messages directed at leadership to get their ideas and point of view listened to.

The competition for mind share of leadership is intense; everyone is looking for the career “fast break” that could come from getting recognized by the top guys.

How do you break through the clutter created by so many people chasing so few opportunities?

One thing is for certain: it’s not by looking like everyone else around you in terms of what you do and how you do it. These are the people who live in a world of compliance and conformity; they follow the rules, copy best practices and perform their responsibilities by following the ways of the established crowd — “experts” and academics who declare the right way to do things and convince others to follow them.

Following the crowd will bury you in it

Follow the crowd

Following the actions of any crowd won’t get you noticed; it has the opposite effect. It reinforces that you ARE a member of the crowd and that you have no personal unique identity.
Imagine yourself in the crowd of candidates applying for an entry position in a company. Out of the 100 or so people who have declared their interest, how do you intend to get your name on the short list of 10 high potential individuals who will earn a face-to-face interview?
Do you really think you’re route to the short list is looking like the other 99 applicants; by following a boilerplate résumé everyone uses?

Trust me. Having been in the position of having to hire so many people for so many positions — from junior analysts to vice-presidents — my eyes glaze over when I read most people’s job applications whether they were in written form or on a job website.
Most looked the same, offered nothing unique; I ignored them.

I regularly counsel young professionals, and my conclusion thus far at least is that “doing what you’re told” has been so driven into their skulls from their early years and during their academic life that it subconsciously defines their modus operandi when they are pursuing a career.

In school, they are taught the principles on such subjects as preparing a résumé, developing an effective business or marketing plan, motivating people, managing conflict, recruiting high performing individuals, leadership, generating new ideas and good team play.

The authors of the rule book for each subject tend to be academics or theoreticians who advocate a specific theory or approach on their subject of expertise; those who have several papers published on a topic tend to be chosen by the curriculum designers as the voice for that particular topic.

Colouring inside the lines is expected

Inside the lines

Young professionals are taught to colour inside the lines — apply the principles they are taught — perfectly.

Unfortunately, this sets up the false expectation that one’s success is determined by how well they conform; by how accurately they remember and apply the scriptures of the experts.

But exactly the opposite is true.

My personal experience as an IT analyst, marketing product manager, marketing director, vice president, CMO and president taught me to look for opportunities to do things differently even if it meant breaking with tradition.
Even if it meant taking a contrary point of view and swimming upstream to current thinking.

Even if it meant startling the crowd of traditionalists who were mortified that unbelievable results could be achieved by not conforming to best practices or by not following exactly what the pundits prescribed.

They were horrified because there was mounting evidence to support the view that amazing results could be achieved by breaking with tradition; by denying common practices.

Leaders notice when you step out to step up.

They ask about you.

And if they like what they hear, they pull you from the herd and give you a chance the herd rarely gets.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

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  • Posted 12.24.18 at 05:04 am by Roy Osing
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December 21, 2018

How to use power words to stand out from the crowd — guest post

Power words
Image Credit

Word are persuasive. They can cajole, convince, and compel people to act.

They are the backbone of successful marketing. Selecting the right words that resonate with your audience can be an arcane art — but it doesn’t have to be.

By choosing power words that impact your customers’ emotions, you can lift your copy to dizzy new heights. Here’s how.

Recommended reading: If you can’t reason with people attack their heart

The psychology behind words

As humans, we are unconsciously predisposed to act on words that convey emotions: fear, uncertainty, pleasure, desire, and so on. The words you use tap into unconscious emotions (, which in turn compel your audience to act.

For instance, if you ask your friend to call you, you could expect a call tomorrow, the day after, or in a week’s time. But ask your friend to call you now, and you can expect a call instantly.

These words are known as power words, words that elicit a strong emotional response. This could be a positive one, such as happiness or excitement. But it could equally be a negative response, such as fear or anger.

Emotional states can be leveraged to compel people to act, with each emotion driving your own desired outcome.

Take your blog, for example. Your headline is the most crucial element in urging readers to click through and read.

And when readers see dozens of headlines everyday as they trawl the web, power words make yours stand out. “7 Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts” is fine. But “7 Secret Tips For Writing Inspiring Blog Posts” has that little extra pizzazz that makes it shine.

Different power words will evoke different emotional states that will compel the audience not just to click on your blog post, but to dig deeper into what the blog says.

But it’s not just clicks and views that you can get with power words. Ecommerce stores too can benefit from power word-laden product description that drive sales and boost profits.

Consider chocolate stores for example. Confectionery especially lends itself to sensual, powerful words such as “gooey” or “gourmet”, which evokes the senses and makes the customer’s mouth water.

So using power words in your product descriptions don’t just help you sell products — they even help you sell your business itself, giving it deeper intrinsic value.

Exclusivity is everything

I don’t need to tell you that temptation is a powerful thing. Power words that tease with the promise of value or reward are irresistible to your audience.

Some examples include:

What They Don’t Want You to Know
Behind the Scenes

Each of the above evokes feelings of intrigue and desire in the reader.

“Controversial”in particular is used regularly by gossip magazines to compel the reader to read on. It promises scandal and shock, urging people to buy their publications for more of the same.

Look at the example from Vogue below:

Image Vogue

The use of “controversy” and “reveal” tantalize the reader, offering a glimpse into something no-one else has seen. Of course, this isn’t the case, but by using these power words, Vogue urges the reader to click through and read each piece.

Takeaway tip: your makeup tutorial isn’t just a makeup tutorial. It’s an “elite makeup tutorial from industry insiders”. Add value to your content by giving it exclusivity and tempting your audience into reading on.

The art of anticipation

Inspiring words can be that one thing that drives someone to do something to better themselves or lend a helping hand.

There will always be difficulties in life, but those problems are not what controls us as individuals or the world. These words can make your readers feel the same way.

Some examples of words that inspire and encourage include:

Sacrifice (in the proper context)

These words speak to our desire to better ourselves, to lift ourselves out of our current situation and into something better. By articulating these words, you stir these same emotions in your reader.

Takeaway tip: rather than selecting “useful writing quotes”, provide “inspiring writing quotes that will galvanize your writing today”.

The power of “free”

Nothing compels action more than the offer of something for nothing. Whether it’s a free product or a discount code, we can’t get enough of freebies.

Everyone could use a little more money, and even those rare few who don’t feel that way still take their finances seriously.

Giving people easy ways to earn or save money is a great way to build a readership. And it’s perfect for sales too. Adding a freebie or discount to a purchase will drive sales and engagement with ease.

Add these words to your website, online store, or blog:


Takeaway tip: the words above are perfect for building email lists or boosting clicks. Offer a free downloadable ebook (in return for signing up) or the promise of increasing their sales (when they read your guide) to enhance your blog.

Fear is a powerful thing

Making people afraid will get their attention. We see this in the news all the time, as stories get conflated to apocalyptic proportions on a daily basis.

Sometimes, like with severe weather, this sort of fear-mongering is necessary to get people to listen and possibly save their own lives. Other times, it’s used to trick us into buying unnecessary amounts antibacterial soap.

Still, if you’re going to do it, here are some scary words.


Takeaway tip: while fear power words have their place, use them sparingly. Excessive usage will ultimately repel your readers rather than compel.

Your blog’s audience are people, and while people in any given demographic can have similarities, they are individuals. Words used in one way will have a different effect on different audiences.

Pay attention to which words and phrases get the most engagement and reaction from your readers, and use them accordingly.

Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and brand consultant. She writes over at VictoriaEcommerce. Here, she likes to share tips for wannabe thought leaders looking to make an impact online.

Victoria Greene

  • Posted 12.21.18 at 03:14 am by Roy Osing
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