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Sink or Swim? How to Bring out the Best in People

Eilidh Milnes


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Make Problems Delicious

Eilidh Milnes

I interviewed a young and highly successful executive in the German IT sector recently. I asked him outline a few of his thoughts on leadership, because having seen this man in action, it is clear that his team are truly fond of him. He's held in high regard. The owner of the company explained that his CTO had a secret magic formula of making every person feel valued. "I swear the guys would come in to work for free, just because of how he makes them feel," Dietmar added. In short, he makes every single one of them feel special."


"I aim to lead by doing; to be like plasticine," the young leader explained. "Sometimes, I'm amongst the desks and in the dust plugging things in if needs be, then in the helicopter leading the company, or maybe in silent mediation."(Was he inspired by Tony Hart's plasticine hero, Morph?)  

Make problems delicious!

"I like to supply enough information that a problem is not solved, yet not too little information that it is like climbing Mount Everest. I look to make problems delicious; to create the right balance for the right problem and ego. I don't treat anyone differently. My aim is to allow the team to self-manage. We put the work into the pipeline and they figure out how to deliver it. They ask for help along the way. If it needs a course correct, we jump in. We have daily check-points. They push. We tune. 

In the middle of the office there is a centre piece, a huge 450 x 600 cm whiteboard on the wall. It belongs to the team. They manage it. On the left side is incoming, the middle is for things that are moving along and the right side is stuff that's done. All around are little constellations of interest or discussion. For this tooling is very important and without prejudice (within reason) the team will always get the best tools for the job. 

If an employee goes out of their way to do an extra shift or put in extra hours, I like to take him and his partner out for a meal. I look to find little ways to say thank you."

He went on explain his methods of recruitment, why his team is like United Nations, and to extol the virtues of autonomy, mastery and purpose in a fresh and engaging way. I don't know about you, I'd enjoy working on this guy's team. I love his perspective. I was attracted to his self-confidence yet his humility was disarming. He was eager to share the credit with others. Perhaps we can all learn from him. How do you make people feel? Some people light up a room as they enter; others when they leave...

Read more on balance in Don't Taunt Elephants.

More Mount Everest...

Tune into this Podcast on flexibility. It's a direct cousin to plasticine :) Expert mountaineer Cathy O'Dowd expands her theories and experience of being the only woman to climb the mountain from both sides. 

Stephen Law-Lyons shared "27 Things Truly Exceptional Bosses Do Every Day"

Think of the best boss you've ever known. Here are 27 things he or she probably never stopped doing. To the list I'd add:

28. Be like plasticine 

29. Make problems delicious.

My speaker buddy, John Murphy emailed me this item. "Saw this article and I thought you would find it interesting Eilidh. Here's the link: Stop Chasing the Wrong Kind of Growth

Finally, why have one Ted Talk suggestions when you can have five? Check out: 

TedTalks Issue 1 - Eilidh's Viewing List TedTalks Issue 1 - Eilidh's Viewing List (1038 KB) 

Okaydokee that's me signing off for today. Enjoy a couple productive weeks playing with delicious plasticine! #EverPositive Eilidh

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Don't Taunt Elephants

Eilidh Milnes

Success in business (and life in general) is about making the right connections. Quality relationships are the key to success, and while building business is the objective, the means are very much to do with emotions at a very human level of contact. 

This means that connecting people; with colleagues, customers and clients on the right level requires a lot of confidence alongside a willingness to be open and to listen. It also requires a degree of resilience, because it can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle. This content is taken from an interview with my associates at Business Aspects Magazine in October 2016.

The Confidence Cornerstone

Confidence alone is not enough when it comes to relationships. Resilience is as vital a quality, if not more important in many situations. For many it is going to be a job of chipping away gradually and taking time to secure relationships. Resilience means adapting where necessary to changing circumstances and developing the necessary self-belief to succeed. As such it is the cornerstone for relationship-building.

Be Mindful of Others 

If resilience draws on inner reserves of strength, then empathy is about how you outwardly communicate with others. The ability to listen to people and understand their concerns is vital, as is being curious about them, showing an interest.  This thoughtfulness is paid back in the form of friendships, repeat business, referrals introductions, increased job satisfaction and happy families.

When I talk to sales teams and other professional groups, I stress the importance of making clients happy and developing friendships. Share a little about you to help them tell you more about themselves, is my advice. Listen out for details that you can pick up to act on later. People love if you recall their special occasions and celebration dates. Read more on this new blog post: "Little things make a BIG Difference." 

Maintain Balance

A successful team is competitive but also mutually supportive. Helping people work together is also a huge part of relationship development. Just as businesses need their people to be responsive to clients and customers, so they need their teams to be responsive to one another. Leaders must learn to look, listen and speak in a way that reflects this. The rewards will come in creating tight teams that are built to last while creating successful business activity.

Don't Taunt Elephants!

It’s important from the very beginning to understand what the measure of success will be. What it will look like for the individuals and teams involved? Keep objectives in balance. It's perfectly normal to feel annoyed or aggrieved at times. There are many variables that can cause an imbalance. The majority of them come down to how one person views or judges the other. If one perceives themselves to be more capable or experienced, or if he/she feels a need to prove or defend their actions then one or the other is going to feel unfairly treated. 

If this happens to you, I suggest to take a time out for review. Life is a balancing act! There's no room for blame or acrimony. Here are Sergeant Schlock's simple rules which are great advice if or when you feel like upsetting the balance.

  1. Don't taunt elephants 
  2. Don't stand next to anybody who taunts elephants 

If you think that happiness is merely linked to hard work, then perhaps it's time to tune into Shawn Achor; The Happy Secret to Better Work.

Okaydokee that's us for today. See you back here in a couple of weeks. #EverPositive Eilidh

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Your Life, Your Pace, Your Way!

Eilidh Milnes

Your life, your pace, your way... what a great 'modus operandi' for a care provider... indeed for us all. Now we love to personalise and brand materials for our customers. So we've created this image using my client's tag-line for their upcoming training event. And the company's phrase, got me to thinking... does this not encapsulate happiness? Is it not up to each and everyone of us to decide what to do in the future?

1. Do I want to fly a kite?

2. If so, how high?

3. When, where and how?


Which segues seamlessly to my new CCG Podcast. If your life, your pace, your way falls in line with your goals and how you see life how do you ensure success? Tune in to my new interview with goal-setting expert David Hyner. 

How to Set and Achieve Massive Goals?

During the Podcast, David explains, "Most people will do the easy stuff first and therefore the big stuff that scares them is at the end when their time, energy, motivation and resources are at their least so if we attack the big scary blocks at the beginning, the things we don’t understand the research, overcoming hurdles, picking up the phone if we don’t like picking up the phone, doing the horrible things first, if we get all of those out of the way while our time, energy, motivation and resources are at their greatest, our goal can only therefore get easier.

EM: That makes jolly good sense. I know where I’m coming from on this but I’m going to ask you a question and then tell you my tuppence worth. Do you still focus on the to-do list?

DH: I pulled this off my wall. This is a pyramid for a project I’m doing. I put a to-do list into what I call a pyramid or a triangle and I put each task on my list, the hardest things into the bottom rows and blocks. That way if you cross the scariest things off first you’re crossing off the foundation blocks and then the least important towards the top. Now, I’ve got about three or four pyramids on the go. One is my daily or weekly list and then I’ve got others for very specific large goals I’m working on. I’ve got this visual reference to my goals stuck to the wall, shrunk down on my phone, my laptop, even on the sun visor of my car sometimes if it is a personal goal and if I’ve got a spare moment, instead of wasting my time playing Candy Crush or Solitaire like I used to do, now I will look at the pyramid and go, is there something I could do right now that will help me cross off that block?" Here's full interview transcription.

Every day if you can do just one thing that will take you closer to your goal you will be more effective than most people walking this earth.


Here's a range of materials for you to save for later. First up is Simon Sinek on The Millennial Question. Then for fun, the delightful robot assistant PEEQO by Abhishek Singh. If you're feeling philosopical, check out Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot and finally I've created this brand new Pdf with links to 7 Ted Talks which explore the topic of success esp. when applied to goal-setting.  

7 Ted Talks to Help You Achieve Your Goals 7 Ted Talks to Help You Achieve Your Goals (1467 KB) 

OK that's it for this edition. Want to read more? Then check out The Confidence Blog or Back Copies of Confidence Strategies. Thank you, as always, Eilidh

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9 ways to start... and finish your day...

Eilidh Milnes

Take a second -Apple watch image

Take a Second

In the quiet of the moment, before you leap out bed saying, “Hello Gorgeous!” savour the peace of the morning and let your subconscious mind play. As you waken up, your brain is producing highly receptive and creative alpha waves. Learn to harness them. The bonus is that when you start your day with this kind of focused intention; positively reflecting on your plans, you feel much more happy and productive at the end of it. 

Snooze Your Lose!

Set your alarm and stick to it. Aim to set up to a regular rhythm to your sleep cycle. Studies reveal that the process of using a snooze button and prolonging your wake up time actually makes you more tired and irritable. 


Everyone benefits from a cat-like stretch. To feel even better at the start of each day add a short muscle-stretching sequence of exercises to your morning schedule. I practise a yoga salute to the sun routine. Sun salutation video. Consistent stretching in the morning will increase flexibility, improve circulation, reduce feelings of stress throughout your day. It also improves posture and general wellbeing.


Start your day with a smile! Grin at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Smiling has a positive effect on your overall attitude and well-being, even when it starts out as a little forced. Smiling also makes you more approachable, and appear more trustworthy. In fact, studies have discovered that smiling makes you a more effective leader too. A great smile is the hallmark of super client care. Read more on “World Smile Day!” I challenge you to make every day world smile day!

Power Naps

However as you go about your day, factor in a 20-minute power snooze to your schedule. Allow yourself to tend to any fire-fighting that may arise. Pad out your schedule with blocks of brain space or downtime to give you a better chance of achieving your goals. Power naps help you to be more resilient. So it is not surprising that highly effective famous people harnessed this habit e.g.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Thomas Edison
  • Stonewall Jackson
  • Salvador Dali
  • Ronald Reagan

Winston Churchill said. “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes...”

Ditch Your Doubts

Keep doing whatever it is that you love to do! Stop worrying about things that don’t matter or things over which you have no control - such as the person who broke your heart - the loss of a job - or the sad passing of a loved one. Even if you aren’t ecstatically happy, you can at least be contented. Aim for this frame of mind and build on the emotion. You are then able to navigate problems with a clearer mind. Be content with what you have while you strive for what you want. More on Live Each Day Like It Is Your Last!

Clear Your Clutter

Life for many people is busy and morning routines can be crazy. It is very tempting when you are running behind time to leave your clothes on the floor, plates in the sink or files on the kitchen table. Instead discipline yourself to put things away! Just do it! Procrastination around tidying up prevents you from being fully productive. This is something I've struggled with in the past. However when I realised how much my husband hated finding dirty crockery, I changed my ways. He appreciates a clean working environment and now I do too. The reward is that you avoid arguments and fully relax when you get home. 

Keep your bedroom for sleeping and avoid the allure of electronic devices. My personal goal is to switch my gadgets to aircraft mode by 20.30 This action is considerate to your personal wellbeing and that of others.


Close your working day by noting down things you want to forget. Dismiss them as you let things slide into your mental shredder. Box them off and focus on your successes. Arrive home with a smile; ready to greet loved ones and pets. How to stay happy in tough times.

Consider a Confidence Calendar

Log each day one thing that you have done really well, something you have excelled at. The bonus is that at end of the year you will have 365 highlights to look back on with pride and happiness. Start by keeping this journal for a week and then build it up to a month and before you know it the habit will be established. 

Need more ideas, motivation and inspiration? Tune into my YouTube Channeland Confidence Videos

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How will you touch the life of another today?

Eilidh Milnes

The 7.17 to London is always a busy train and ten days ago the trip was no exception. I planned to overnight in the capital, so had a larger suitcase than usual. I struggled to get it between the seats and sat down in frustration with the case under the table. A few moments later my future travelling companion came along and offered to stow the awkward item.  

What did he do? 

Well believe it or not, Chris merely turned it on its side and hey presto the case was tucked away. As he sat down, I declared "Spatial awareness is not my strong suit." We laughed! And went on to share an entertaining breakfast. Chris as it turned out, is an orthopaedic surgeon and a fascinating man to listen to. We have since connected on LinkedIn. Learn how to do likewise on my networking courses

What's the moral of the story?

  1. Acknowledge your weaknesses while you play to your strengths 
  2. Be willing to seek and accept help
  3. Simple solutions are often obvious to others even if not to you
  4. Be the first to go the extra mile; it's not a busy road
  5. Offer your skills to assist others

What do you know that I should know?

Learning to think, see and do things differently impacts in many aspects of life. Are you open to fresh ideas and eager to learn better ways of doing things? I certainly am. Last year I was engaged to help settle a difference of opinion between two managers. I asked each of them in turn, "What do you know that I should know?" This searching question shows that you are interested in the other person's point of view; that you are prepared to listen without prejudice. Consider this approach next time you have to settle a disagreement. Incidentally it also helps with luggage issues. Chris knew things I didn't and vice versa.


People bring their whole-selves to work

Loving your job does not mean you like it every day. Perhaps you don’t like your children every day (insert pets or family if you prefer) but you still love them don't you? Remember people don't need to like you to be influenced by you. The fact is people bring their whole selves to work. Sometimes you will have to have to reframe conversions and surround yourself with facts, opinions and information you never expected to be exposed to. That's when great managers are there for their people - unconditionally. They create an environment of respect and trust. 

Returning to London

As the horrendous, tragic terror attacks in London and Manchester unfolded recently, the culture of love triumphed over evil. The groundswell of hope, strength and peace was tangible. Total strangers reached out to each other with a depth of humanity that is hard for onlookers to truly comprehend. They bonded like family. There were many unsuspecting and unsung heroes such as the homeless man who rushed to help the injured. These people touched the lives of others. Such acts renew your faith in humanity.

ISMA UK Friday 16th June

Next week I'm back in London at the ISMA conference. If you are available, please drop me a line as I may be able to organise a free ticket; especially if you involved in stress management, promoting stress prevention and wellbeing? ISMA UK I'd love to meet up with you at the event. 

Tune in to this fun teamwork video that proves the power and value of working together. Long-term success does not come when you work by yourself, it comes when you work together. There's an African proverb that says, "to go fast go alone…. to go far go together.” 

Can you guess your age by your music tastes? Take the quiz.

Read more on Cookies Crumble and Not Confidence... on both offering and accepting help .

Finally you'll find my regular Ted Talk recommendation on the Cookies Crumble link above.

Look to find ways help and find the good in others. More on: "How will you touch the life of another today?" 

#EverPositive Eilidh


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Find your Inner Tigger

Eilidh Milnes

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