I’ve discovered the secret to success – connection and communication

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to lead a charmed life? Success in everything they do seems to come to them with little or no effort. It’s almost as if everything they touch turns to gold, and their communication with others is effortless.

I’ve certainly wondered why this happens to some people and not to others, especially me. However, I think I’ve just discovered the secret to their success. It’s the way they connect with others in their communication.

In his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John C Maxwell says that people who seem to live a charmed life are usually those who have learned to connect with others. He goes on to say:

“When you connect with others, you position yourself to make the most of your skills and talents. When you don’t connect, you have a lot to overcome just to get to average, a neutral starting position.”

When I read this, I stopped to think about some of the successful people in my life – my cousin, who gets any job she applies for in any country; my school friend who, with no tertiary education, has never been without a well-paying job; and my business colleague who is so successful in her business that she can afford to live her life between 2 countries, despite only being in her 20’s. I thought about these people, and realised that the one thing they have in common is their extraordinary ability to connect with others.

John C Maxwell says that one way to connect with others is to make everything about them. Thinking back to the people I mentioned above, they all do this. They genuinely care for people, and always make the conversation about the person they’re talking to rather than about themselves. When I’m with any of them I always feel specially cared for, and that I’m the centre of their attention.

I’ve always felt that I’ve had to struggle for my successes in life. I rarely got promoted during my Government career, particularly when I was competing against people with equal qualifications. Also, I’m not someone who has ever been good at making, and keeping, friends.

I’ve come to realise that this is because I’m not particularly good at connecting with people. I can certainly talk, but I’m ashamed to say that I’m usually the topic of the conversation, or the conversation is about something that interests me. This has probably stemmed from being an only child, and having a disability. as a child, I’ was usually the centre of everyone else’s attention, and I don’t think I’ve ever really grown out of taking this for granted.

Recently, I attended a book launch and decided, as an experiment, to make every conversation I had focus entirely on the person I was talking to. I decided not to volunteer any information about myself unless I was asked, and to make a particular effort to find out as much as I could about each person I met. It was quite hard work, but ended up being a lot of fun! I met a number of really interesting people, and really enjoyed finding out all about them. This is something I’m definitely going to do a lot more of in my communication with others in the future. My aim is to become like the 3 people mentioned earlier in this post, and become a great connector.

Has anyone ever really connected with you? how did that make you feel? Please let me know in the comments section, or if you prefer, contact me directly.

Facing Redundancy – Where To Go For Help

Moving from Corporate to Business

In my previous post, I started to tell you about what happened to me when I found out that I may be made redundant. In this post, I want to recommend to you the best sources of help and advice when facing redundancy, particularly if you want to keep your job.

Firstly, I would highly recommend that you join your union. they were an immense source of support and advice to me. Believe me, they won’t hold it against you if you join at this stage, and can be an excellent source of legal, financial, and other advice, including assisting you in interpreting the redundancy provisions of your workplace agreement.

Secondly, even if you’ve decided to take a package, it is essential to seek financial advice, preferably from a qualified financial adviser who is an expert in tax and superannuation. If your adviser is not an expert in superannuation, there are agencies who provide unbiased advice on superannuation, as they are not linked with any superannuation schemes. The agency that provided very good advice to me was StatePlus. Your employer may even pay for you to obtain this advice.

Thirdly, the Employee Assistance Program can also provide free counselling, which can help a great deal in coping with the emotional response to what is happening. This is confidential and free, and your employer doesn’t need to know where you are going, just that you have an EAP appointment. I had one of these sessions, and found it very beneficial.

Lastly, look closely at your workplace agreement, as there may be provisions referring to other assistance your employer will provide you with when facing redundancy, such as retraining, and career counselling. I was able to do a couple of online courses on technical writing, and starting a business, and also worked with a great career counsellor.

Finally, I recommend that you take up everything that is offered to you that you think may help you make a decision whether or not to take a package, or which will help you keep your current job or get another job in your chosen field. This is your chance, so make the most of it!

If I can help in any way, please let me know in the comments section or, if you prefer, contact me directly.

Editor’s Note: this blog post was updated on 15 July 2016 to add a reference and link to StatePlus.

The Value of Serving Others

Leadership Development with Amanda Heal

When I was going through the redundancy process in early 2013, a friend told me about an organisation called Project Starfish, saying that it was an organisation that employed blind people to work from home. He said that the founder was interested in growing this organisation outside the US and that I should contact him.

Intrigued, I called the founder Subhashish Acharya and found that, in fact, Project Starfish is an organisation that teaches people with vision impairments, and other disabilities, basic business skills, so that they can then work on projects with businesses, and become more employable. (see their website here) After a long discussion with Subhashish (or Subs as we like to call him), I said that I would be very interested in becoming involved with Project Starfish, as I would like to see the organisation grow.

I spent the next few months on conference calls with the other Project Starfish members, learning about how businesses work, and hearing about their opportunities and challenges. It was something I’d never been exposed to before, and fitted in very nicely with the work I was doing in setting up my own business.

Some of the Project Starfish members had a lot of experience in areas such as Microsoft applications, sales and business analysis, so we decided to put together a formal training program for the other members. I expressed an interest in learning to manage a team, so was appointed training Manager. As our membership grew, we added trainers to our group, and ended up providing our training to members in 8 different countries. It was great!

I learned a lot about training, scheduling, dealing with people from different cultures, and managing conflicts. It was wonderful to feel valued and needed again, and to see others growing and flourishing as they gained skills and confidence.

When I joined the John Maxwell team, and started my training, Subs was kind enough to let me try out my new coaching, training and speaking skills on the project Starfish members. It was not only a wonderful chance to practice, but also to see what value John Maxwell’s material could bring to others. Even now, I have a new mastermind I want to add to my collection, and have been given permission to try it out on Project Starfish.

In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell states that “Leaders add value by serving others” (The Law of Addition). I learned this lesson very practically through my work with Project Starfish. But little did I know how much they would give back to me. I am very grateful to Subs and Project Starfish for helping me become the person I am today.

If you know anyone with a vision impairment, or other disability, who is unemployed and willing to learn some extra skills, please visit or contact or call Nasreen on +1 781 262 0520.


Applying for Promotions and Not Getting Them?

Moving from Corporate to Business

When I first started working in the Public Service, I was in a legal job in which the classifications were broadbanded. This meant that the first 7 classifications were banded together into one. It also meant that I didn’t have to do anything to get a promotion. All I had to do was do my job well, and I would progress up through the pay classifications.

Later in my career, I held jobs that didn’t have broadbanded classifications, and I had to apply for every promotion I received.

Because I had spent so long in jobs with broadbanded classifications, I had real trouble gaining promotions, and only got them by changing jobs.

In this post, I want to share with you the traps I fell into. Think of them as my “promotion pitfalls”. If you avoid these, you will have a much greater chance of gaining that promotion that you seek.

Wrong Motivation
In almost every case, I applied for promotions because I wanted the money. I didn’t really think too hard about the extra duties and responsibilities, and so didn’t prepare myself accordingly.

Thankfully though, I also wanted to learn and grow, but this was not my primary focus most of the time.

Poor Self-belief
Whenever I walked into an interview for a job at a higher level, hoping I would get the job, I never got it. But the two most successful job interviews I had were those in which I walked in with the attitude that the job was mine, and if I didn’t convince the panel
accordingly, it was my fault! I really believed that I was the best person for the job.

Unwillingness to Step Up
In the final years of my career, I had become very disillusioned with my job. I thought that I would be happier if I was earning more, so I applied for many promotions.

However, I didn’t realise that, in order to demonstrate my capability to do my job at a higher level, I had to actually step up and work at that level while still being paid at my current level. When I did come to that realisation, I was unwilling to do this, as I felt that I shouldn’t have to do work for which I wasn’t being paid.

Lack of Intentional Relationship Building
While I didn’t have bad relationships with my colleagues, I didn’t go out of my way to build relationships with, or add value to, others who weren’t my friends. One of John C Maxwell’s most often used quotes is: “people don’t care how much you know until they
know how much you care”. Perhaps if I had applied this to my relationships with all my colleagues, they may have been more willing to share advice and information that would have helped advance my career.

Underselling Myself
Another reason why I had difficulty in gaining promotions was that I often undersold myself in job applications and interviews. As I mentioned before, this was probably due to my mistaken belief that I didn’t have to work above my current level prior to promotion, which meant that I had no concrete examples that I could actually do the
I shouldn’t have to do work for which I wasn’t being paid.

Lack of Personal Growth
Like many people, I concentrated on growing my capabilities to do my job, and paid little attention to growing myself as a person.

Through personal growth, it is possible to increase many skills such as self-belief, self-awareness, leadership skills, and influence. If I had paid more attention to developing these skills, I have no doubt that I would have been more successful in applying for, and gaining promotions.


So, if you are seeking a promotion:

  • Make sure you are applying for the promotion because you want to do the job, not just because you want the money;
  • Build your belief in yourself that you really are the best person for the job;
  • Before applying for the promotion, do everything you can to demonstrate your ability to do the job;
  • Intentionally, and authentically, build good relationships with your colleagues at all levels;
  • Prepare, prepare prepare, and sell sell sell – go into the application process with your eyes open, and don’t leave the panel guessing about your abilities; and
  • Take every opportunity you can to grow yourself

Good luck!


If I can help in any way, please let me know in the comments section or, if you prefer, contact me directly.