Roy's Blog: Leadership

November 12, 2018

How to start your journey to be different

It has been 9 years since I wrote the original book BE DiFFERENT or be dead; since then, at the request of my readers, I have written a number of ebooks taking a “deep dive” on several of the specific topics in my original work with particular emphasis on how to implement my ideas.

Being different; standing out from the crowd has amazing long lasting value. It attracts attention — people are generally used to blandness where everyone and everything blends in and conforms to accepted norms.
And when attention is garnered, magic can happen if mixed with what is relevant to people and what they care about.

Being different in a relevant way is truly the way to achieve sustainable advantage in whatever theatre you are in — life, career or in an organization.

The most common question I’m asked is “How do I get started?”


A basic precept: accept that there are no silver bullets in the journey to be distinctive and unique; no one single action that will carve you out of the herd and confer upon you the specialness that will last forever.
It’s a journey; a series of acts that collectively over time will slowly give you the centrifugal force needed to move you away from others who find comfort in compliance and plurality.

DiFFERENT in your life

If you want to be different in your life, your challenge is to pick something you value — your life brand — and separate yourself from everyone else.

It starts with an intimate understanding of who you are and what you value the most in your personal life.
— Are you a lover of animals?
— A passionate advocate of protecting the environment?
— A fiscally prudent aficionado who insists that budgets must be balanced?
— A grandparent who wants themselves to be indelibly etched into the memories of their grandkids?
— A world traveler who thinks about their foreign-place bucket list more than anything else?
— An immigration zealot who believes further influxes of people should be curtailed?

Being different in life doesn’t necessarily mean that you take an extreme or “pole” position on your life view; that you choose a contrarian 180-degree view to the commonly held perspective.

The pole position on any topic is often a difficult place to be as your personal ideals and beliefs can easily be seen to be extremely negative to many. The risk of being in this position is that, in your attempt or be different in a valued way, you are seen as a crusader of a minority cause which attracts only extremist attention.


And so you get people who advocate radical immigration or environmental policies viewed as a bit out of touch and insensitive by a large portion of the population.
It’s not likely that if you chose to be different as a “save the environment at any expense” person you would be seen as someone special to look closely at — as a matter of fact you would only identify yourself with the left environmental herd.

Rather than picking a pole position, being different means that you address your passion in a way no one else does; your angle is like no other so it is noticed by those around you.
Your different narrative is the result of having a broad and deep understanding of your life topic; you have studied and thought about it extensively and therefore have a unique perspective on the matter — your views on what it takes to be an amazing grandparent, for example, are based on years of practical experience creating memories for your treasures.

Decide what’s important to you. Create a compelling narrative that stands out because it is skillfully crafted from a deep understanding of your topic. Have a unique perspective. Don’t get sucked into the poles but avoid complying with the blandness of the herd.

DiFFERENT in your career

If you want to be different in your career, the first thing you have to do is have a career game plan that is highly tuned to execution in the short term.
Aspiring to be a sales executive — full stop! — doesn’t really provide a call to action that will move you relentlessly towards your goal. With this type of objective you can meander for years without knowing whether or not you are taking the actions that will (might) yield success.

Your game plan must be much more precise if it is to define the steps you need to take to move in the right direction.
“I intend to be the sales VP of XYZ company in 36 months” is a declaration that is much more meaningful; it will open up the specific steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. 
It is targeted — the VP position in the XYZ organization — and it is time bound — a 36 month window. These three variables provide the focus necessary to create an action plan that can me measured and tweaked along the way.

The final element of your game plan is to decide on what your personal brand should be — and it must be unique to make any difference.
Without defining how you are unique and incomparable in the crowd, your career path will be an uphill climb.
“Why should you be given the opportunities for the VP sales position over everyone else who want the same opportunity?” is the question your brand must answer and if you can’t define your persona so that you separate yourself you won’t be able to answer the question.

Unique person

Have a short term game plan that defines your distinctiveness and is granular enough to drive you to execute. Don’t get sucked in to lofty helium-filled goal setting.

DiFFERENT in your job

If you want to be different in the role you have been assigned, challenge yourself every moment of every day to be different — you must look at everything in front of you through a BE DiFFERENT lens.
“How can I do this differently?” must dominate your mindset and guide your actions, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Stopping to ask yourself this question is a great way to start applying the concept. It keeps the desire to be different first and foremost in your mind and deeds and will become automatic once you get into the rhythm.

This approach REALLY worked for me! Every project I did, every presentation I gave and every leadership act I took was premeditated; I designed everything I did to be different than the way the herd approached things.
It’s not difficult to do; most people tend to adopt a common approach employed by the masses — a best practise or a principle espoused by academia or a subject matter expert.  And, people tend to do the minimum amount required to get the job done.
Knowing this, I first, focused on the practise I thought others would use and then decide on another way to do it with overkill as my guide (

Ask your self the “different” question every moment of your day to embed it in your thinking and actions. Don’t get sucked into copying best practices or a herd mentality.

There’s no end point in this journey; it’s a process of doing stuff; learning from the actions you took and adjusting your way forward.

But it won’t happen unless you take steps NOW to start.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

Recent articles you might like
Leaders: your audacious goal could actually hurt people
9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”
Ideas come easy but can you really pull it off?

  • Posted 11.12.18 at 04:43 am by Roy Osing
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November 8, 2018

What deep-sea diving can teach you about trust — guest post

Trust is a fundamental part of life. It’s one of the most important values to have both in your personal life and in your work endeavours.
To gain the most insight from certain life experiences, you must be willing to entrust your skills, time and potentially your life in the hands of other people.

We all have a choice about which people we put our trust in. Choosing the right individuals to trust can be illustrated with a person learning how to scuba dive for the first time.
When you put yourself in seemingly ‘risky’ situations such as this – where you can only breathe with the aid of oxygen tanks and diving equipment – you learn first-hand about the importance of trusting the right people.

Sea diving

Trusting your diving instructor

So, what exactly does scuba diving teach you about trust?
Scuba diving is one of the most thrilling activities you can do. There’s nothing quite like diving deep underwater for the first time and discovering awe-inspiring marine life of all shapes, colours and sizes.
But the very act of going deep beneath the ocean’s surface can be terrifying for many people. The fear of the unknown or something going wrong discourages many people from the idea. But after a few minutes of breathing underwater, most first-time divers find that it’s not nearly as scary as it seems.

This is where trust comes in. Only those who place trust in other people will be brave enough to take the plunge and have an enjoyable diving experience.
After all, when you take a real diving course in the open ocean, you are entrusting your life in the care of certified professionals. You are trusting them to teach you the proper skills needed to survive.
You are trusting them to guide you and keep you safe. If you don’t put your trust in people this way, you may end up missing out on an experience of a lifetime.

By the time you have finished your first open water dive, you would have conquered your fears and overcome obstacles that you could have never imagined. You’ll feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.
The same philosophy applies to work and other personal opportunities too. You need to take a dive at some point – no matter how scary it is – to grow, learn about yourself and others, and broaden your comfort zone to enjoy new experiences.


Trusting your diving buddy

When you join a guided scuba diving course, your divemaster will usually set you up with a diving buddy.
This way, if you get lost, stressed, or have an accident, your buddy will be there to help and support you. Whether you’re diving with your best friend or set up with a complete stranger, you will naturally learn to work with your diving buddy while underwater, trusting them to look out for your safety and well-being, and vice versa.
The unique trust you build with your diving buddy has the capability of forming an extraordinary bond. In fact, many regular diving buddies have become lifelong friends because of the connection established through trust.

A new perspective

In addition to the invaluable life skills you learn through scuba diving, you also gain a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the underwater world.
You can’t discover the full potential of the fantastic world underneath the waves when you’re stuck on the shore.

Not until you explore the ocean’s breathtaking beauty do you gain a real connection to the underwater world.
Scuba diving is truly an experience like no other, where you will gain a newfound respect for the ocean and its lethal power.
At the same time, you will comprehend the fragility of life and how important it is to stay confident yet humble in your relationships with other people.

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who grew up in a very tight-knit family. She is extremely close with her Mum – her greatest role model. You can discover more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.


  • Posted 11.8.18 at 04:06 am by Roy Osing
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November 5, 2018

Leaders: how your audacious goal can actually hurt people

The “grand plan” is typically developed by trying to maximize the value created for shareholders. Among a number of options to consider; the one that, for example, produces — on paper — the greatest net present value (NPV) typically gets the nod. Revenues less expenses discounted by the cost of money generally controls the decision making outcome.

There are other factors, however, that should be given serious consideration in the chosen direction. A paper result is simply that; it depends completely on the assumptions being met.

If projected customer sales are achieved and if cost of sales targets are hit and if period expenses are controlled, the expected results are plan achieved.


A lot of if’s

The if’s are, of course, controlled by how employees behave as they try to execute the plan. If they behave exactly as defined in the plan, the expected results are delivered.
And you can pay yourself on the back for having a brilliant goal.

But how often does that happen? How often do people do what you expect them to?

I’ve never seen it in over 33 years as an executive leader.

People NEVER behave the way you expect; if their needs, wants and desires are not incorporated into the grand plan, the plan is doomed to failure.

The paper planning exercise may be a meaningful beginning but it only describes a theoretical possibility and nothing more.

The question every single person asks is “How does the grand plan affect me?”
They rarely have difficulty understanding the need for the plan — decreasing market share requires pricing action; eroding margins required cost reductions; additional revenue requires entering new markets — but at the end of the day it all comes down to how they will be personally affected by it.

Impact me

What does it mean to their job — will they still have one? Will they have to change location and move to another city? What specific impact will it have on their daily work conditions — will they have new hours or will they have a new work station?

A working draft

Given the very real concern employees have over change, it is absolutely critical for a leader to socialize their plan with the people who are expected to act on it and deliver. And position the plan as a working draft to people to show that you are open to wanting to share its intent and more importantly obtain their input on will it will work and if not, what has to change so that it will.

Surprisingly, you might discover that your plan is perceived to hurt the very people you need to support and implement it. It is an unattended consequence, of course, — no leader willingly introduces change to intentionally hurt their employees — but it is a tipping point that must be dealt with.

If people feel they are being put at risk they will shut down and do whatever they can to NOT execute it.

And it will fail notwithstanding its intent.

So, after various internal stakeholder teams have declared what must change, the plan must be revised PERIOD!

As a leader you really only have two choices: one, to NOT accept the input received and stay with the original plan — and not only fall short of the plan’s purpose but also turn off employees who believed that since you asked for their comments you would actually listen to them.
Or two, modify the plan as a compromise given the input provided — and achieve the results of your imperfect version of the plan.


I know that many leaders would say that their job is to define expected outcomes and then “hand it down” to the organization to do it.
It’s great in theory, but if people who have to pour their heart and soul into delivery don’t believe in it because they spot barriers to its success, why try and force it?

A worthless plan

Quite frankly I could care less about a plan that can’t be executed regardless how brilliant the planners think it is; it has zero value to any stakeholder.

I have seen plans to consolidate multiple call centers — back in the day when we believed them to be vital to our growth agenda and refused to outsource them to remote parts of the world where labour costs were lower — fail miserably because employees’ concerns were not addressed to their satisfaction.

In this case many people had to change work locations while others lost their role and had to be trained for other positions.
Little surprise that the consolidation plan was not fully supported; implementation fell short of expectations and customer satisfaction fell.

Of course there are times when, despite the fact that a plan is modified to minimize the adverse impacts it has on people, some individuals still get hurt.
And for “the greater good” the plan proceeds without unanimous support — it’s virtually impossible to get 100% buy-in on anything.


Honesty and support

In such instances the leader should:
—  make as much information available on the plan as possible: what the change is and why the action is being taken.
— provide lifeline support for those individuals negatively impacted.
— prioritize training efforts for any people displaced by the plan.
— provide personal services to anyone deciding to exit the company.

Standout leaders aren’t completely infatuated with a plan to enhance the value of their organization; they are equally concerned with how the plan affects people.

Their challenge is to balance the needs of all stakeholders to optimize the benefits for all.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

Recent articles you might like
9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”
Ideas come easy but can you really pull it off?
If you can’t reason with people attack their heart





  • Posted 11.5.18 at 03:41 am by Roy Osing
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October 15, 2018

If you can’t reason with people attack their heart

Every leader has to deal with one of their employees who is a challenge; who is a high spirited “stallion” who pushes all our buttons — after all that’s one of the reasons we hired them.

I had the opportunity to work with such an individual who taxed me at every turn. Although I captured a glimpse of his “dark side” during the hiring process, I had no idea how dark it was.

From the moment I appointed him to his general manager role, every interaction was painful. Every conversation with him was a conflict moment; strained and extremely tense.


Every issue resulted in a protracted argument which left me exhausted and frustrated.

Our interactions constituted a battle zone

He was was literally un-coachable; choosing to go toe-to-toe rather than engage, collaborate and let me add value to help him. Everything was a battle.

He was extremely arrogant, choosing to not listen and do his own thing. In fact the situation worsened to the point he was upwardly condescending and demonstrated the same behaviour to my boss and my fellow executive colleagues.

On the positive side, he was an extremely bright individual with all the credentials and competencies that could enable him to move ahead in the organization. He was strong in finance and had an amazing grasp of technology and the capabilities it could provide from a marketing perspective.

He was passionate about his ideas and wanted to play a significant role in the company’s future — he was as upwardly mobile as they come.

As time passed, matters tanked. His colleagues and direct report team complained to me about his actions and even threatened not to work with him. And our relationship continued on a downward spiral.

I wanted to avoid collateral damage

Left unbridled, he was surely going to crash and burn and leave road kill along the way.


I thought long and hard about the intervention I had to make.

In the end, I decided to NOT follow the more traditional approach of calling him into my office, reviewing his misdemeanours, and putting him on a “measured mile” to allow him to either get with the program or face the ultimate consequence of his actions.

I chose to simply tell him how I FELT about our relationship and how his behaviour impacted me personally. My strategy was not to ask him to do anything with the information I gave him; rather to just take it in and think about my what I had to say.

My logic was that he would be naturally inclined to debate the facts with me, but he could never debate my FEELINGS. They were mine and mine alone and could not be judged by anyone else as being either right or wrong.

I told him that I felt that he didn’t like me or respect me.

I appealed to his emotions

I told him that I felt disappointed that he was unwilling to accept my help as his coach.

I told him that I felt that we had no positive relationship at all, which saddened and disappointed me.

And I also told him that I expected nothing of him as a result of our conversation; that it was up to him to act on what I had to say or not.

My feelings declaration did more than knock the wind out of him, it crushed him emotionally. He had no idea how his style impacted me.

Sharing my feelings with him had an amazing impact on our relationship.


Overnight he turned from the dark side to the bright side not just for me but also for everyone around him. He had no idea that he affected others the way he had affected me.

He was happier, more productive and began making the contribution he was capable of making.

Sharing feelings. Appealing to the heart; not the mind.

Give it a shot.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
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  • Posted 10.15.18 at 02:22 am by Roy Osing
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