Brain Food

5 Books Leaders should read these holidays



Ready to strategise your leadership goals next year?

Whether your preference is with a quiet cup of tea, or kicking back on the beach with a cocktail – here are our 5 picks to read while you’re getting some well deserved R&R to make 2018 your best year yet.

  1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu: This book helps you set goals and build strategies.
  2. Blue Ocean Strategy, by W.Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne: Learn how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.
  3. Onward, by Howard Schultz: The Starbucks CEO explains how he helped restore the company during the recession.
  4. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh: Learn how Zappos’ CEO builds a happy and positive workplace.
  5. Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg: Read about the issues facing modern women and learn negotiation techniques.



Six things you can do to run your business over the festive season



It’s that wonderful time of  year when you can almost touch the holidays, they are so close….but as busy business owners the worry of ‘closing’ over Christmas can be daunting for some.

It’s important to remember that the world will keep turning if your business is not open for the festive period, though it’s understandable if you want to keep things ticking over while the workplace is shut. As such, striking a balance is necessary. Read on for some ideas.

1. Be clear with your priorities

If work keeps getting in the way of your festive downtime, try to shift it forward where possible. Try to gauge how important or urgent it is; chances are, it can wait until you’re back at work full-time before it needs to be picked up.

This is an important attitude in the time leading up to the break as much as it is during – at least a couple of weeks before, decide what absolutely does need ticking off your list and what can be handled later down the line. Giving yourself time to consider these things will save a frantic rush to wrap everything up on Christmas Eve.

2. Think customer first

Whether you’re retail, service based or production, it’s likely your opening hours will change over the festive period. Think early on about how you can best communicate that to your customers (and potential customers) to let them know when you’ll be back at the office full-time.

If you’re operating on reduced hours over Christmas, you can post your temporary hours on your social media channels. Keep these pinned to the top of your stream or page so that anyone checking your channels sees them first.

Alternatively, if your business is completely closed throughout the festive period, having your out-of-office email response on will let people know when you’re back open for business.

3. But keep staff high on your list, too

If you have a team, remember that they need a break just as much as you. When it comes to annual leave, try to coordinate time-off early so everyone gets their fair break with advanced notice so they can make personal plans with family or friends.

Consider a gesture to say thanks and spread some good-will amongst your team at a time when all hands are on deck (the good news is that your Christmas party is probably tax deductible).

4. Tactically shut down some channels (temporarily)

Give yourself the chance to decompress over the Christmas and New Year period, too. While you may want to keep an eye on your social media channels and emails, you don’t want to be glued to them. Try limiting yourself to a window to check and chase things (for example, 7am-9am) and then give yourself the rest of the day free of distractions.

Alternatively, if you have a team, arrange a shift system. Perhaps you take one for the team and keep your phone on during Christmas Day, but somebody else takes Boxing Day – or you divvy up mornings and afternoons.

But the best way to switch off is to set a precedent and only respond to urgent queries or requests. For those which aren’t time-sensitive, have a couple of polite stock phrases ready for email and social media requests so you can respond with ease without giving your customers an ‘out of office’ reply. Your emails will still be in the inbox come 2nd January, and you can revert to work mode then.

5.  Automate your email marketing, invoicing, blog posts and social media

Effective email marketing is based on three principles – sending the right message, at the right time, to the right person. Thanks to an abundance of wonderful apps these factors can be automated with surprising precision.

Email automation systems can be as simple or complex as your business needs. Many small companies will simply schedule an email newsletter over the holidays. More advanced email marketers will segment their entire customer base into groups, and send different sequences of emails according to triggers, actions, geographic locations or even more specific audience data.

Likewise you invoicing, help desk, blog posts and social media can all be pre-scheduled with marketing tools that leave you to just capture leads while you are at the beach.

6. Remember it’s your holiday too

Most importantly, try to enjoy the downtime. Once you’ve sorted your customers, suppliers and team members, it’s time to turn the focus to yourself. The holidays only come around once a year, and the daily grind will start back up again soon enough. Enjoy your hard-earned time off!