All posts by Georgia Brandi

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Career

We are obsessed by the prospect of achieving a healthy balance between work and life. But is balance what we should aim for?

healthy body healthy mind

The concept of ‘work-life balance’ frequently pops up in discussion at conferences, articles (here’s another one), and in the workplace.  Our insatiable curiosity on how to feel balanced is nothing new.

The philosophical notion of being the ‘ideal individual’ was discussed by Socrates and Plato, among other philosophers. However, given the self-help book market is still growing, is it that we are we not convinced, or not listening?

In lieu of reading your library catalogue of self-help books, here are some considerations about reaching a health trifecta of healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy career.

1. Balance is fleeting, not the goal

First things first – please forget about ‘work-life balance’.  The definition of balance involves evenness, which is not practical or realistic.

A healthy lifestyle is more like a Venn diagram crossbred with a bubble chart. All elements overlap and one will always take priority over the others. The objective shouldn’t be to balance, rather to maintain your desired outcomes, measured over a period of time determined by your circumstances.

For example, Australia’s Kim Brennan won the gold in the women’s single scull rowing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  She is also a practising lawyer and reportedly, due to training, had not seen her husband for over three months leading up to the gold-medal performance.

Her physical performance took priority over family and career – but measured over the course of four years she has maintained her lifestyle and a successful career.

We’re not all going to be gold medallists.  But we can focus on keeping momentum to maintain our desired outcomes for a healthy body, mind, and career.

2. Know your flow

‘Mindfulness’ is another buzzword doing the rounds sold to us as meditation apps and adult colouring books. Ultimately most of us do this without crayons or sitting in silence, and it’s by achieving flow.

Flow is getting into your zone before you swing the golf club, piping detailed icing decorations on a gingerbread house, and running 10k when you thought you ran 5k.  Flow is where you become fully immersed in an activity for intrinsic purposes.

Finding flow in our personal lives and in the workplace can play an important role is strengthening our mind and body and increasing productivity – whether that’s brain storming a procurement strategy, or knitting a Norwegian sweater.  Knowing what activity you do to achieve flow can make you more mindful about how you’re contributing to a healthy lifestyle.

Note that watching TV is not considered flow.  That’s just time-out, and we all need some of that too.

3. Take control

Most pop-psychology books are trying to promote changes in your life to better yourself.  The pursuit is never-ending if we’re not motivated to do something differently, or our current environment is not conducive of change.

Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is step away and make a conscious effort on controlling your own outcomes.

For example, having a successful career may mean postponing a catch-up with friends, and being mindful may mean trying meditation, instead of watching Law & Order repeats.

At worst you’ll be seen as anti-social for skipping team drinks and declaring that you’d prefer to go to the gym. If it’s what you want, is that so bad?

4. Prioritise. And wear socks

Finally, here’s a hot tip that has stuck with me for years and served well. When we’re faced with work, family, and staying healthy, sometimes we need to forget about the chores and just accept feeling the dirt on the floorboards.

But as we progress in our careers our salaries inevitably will increase and it may be more feasible to outsource the cleaning.  Alternatively…just wear socks.

Everyone’s measure to achieve healthy mind, body, and career is going to differ – so there’s no need to compare yourself and feel the need to run a marathon, study a PhD, or aspire to be CEO. Sometimes it’s as easy as leaving your desk to go for a walk at lunch.

As long as you’re in control, keeping the momentum, and satisfied overall – you’re doing fine.

The Procurious Boot Camp will increase your stamina, get you in the best career shape of your life and help you to punch above your weight.

It’s not too late to sign up. Enlist here and get access to our 15 free podcasts from some of the best career coaches around. Don’t miss out – your career will thank you for it!

How to Make Your Professional Development Budget Friendly

In a cost-conscious organisation, ensuring that your professional development opportunities are budget friendly is key.

Budget Friendly Professional Development

The time has come around again, at least in my organisation, to set development plans for the year ahead. I’ve come across objectives from becoming more knowledgeable about a topic to completing a formal qualification.

Budget Friendly Development

Whatever you decide to set in your development plan, I want to share with you some ideas about sources of development activities.  In particular, budget friendly, free activities.

As some background, many (if not all) professional careers require Continuous Professional Development (CDP), counted by CPD hours, units or points. Depending on the profession you may gain hours by attending seminars, self-education, presenting at conferences, or even reading a book.

CIPS, for example, suggest 30 CPD hours a year for procurement professionals. By comparison, Australian lawyers are required to obtain 10 CPD ‘units’ – however the criteria is stricter.

Without further ado, here are six ideas for low cost CPD activities.

  1. Learn from other areas of your organisation

Step into another team for a meeting, a day, or longer.  As a procurement professional this is a great way to better understand your stakeholders and their needs, and build the relationship.  Conversely, you may seek to second a stakeholder from the business to support a procurement activity or category management.

  1. Public seminars and lectures (attend in person)

Usually accompanied by complimentary breakfast in the AM and drinks in the PM, many universities and service organisations host free seminars and lectures to update the audience on case studies and industry updates.

To stay updated, subscribe to the mailing lists (for Universities) and let your service provider know you’re interested in attending information events.

Needless to say it’s a great way to network, as well as an information gathering exercise to support your category management.

  1. Learning communities – online courses

Along the same lines, there are free online courses hosted by universities though websites such as ‘Future Learn’.  Some upcoming courses include ‘Management & Leadership: Leading a Team’ and ‘Business Process Management: an introduction to process thinking’ – both from Queensland University of Technology.

Other institutions hosting courses include University of Aberdeen, Cardiff University, and the University of Auckland. Program topics span across management, medical, social enterprise – the courses are constantly updated.

Sign up, give it a go. Most courses provide a certificate of participation to wave in the face of your development plan checklist.

  1. YouTube It

YouTube is riddled with hilarious cat videos and fluffy pink unicorns jumping on rainbows. It’s also a great source of inspirational and educational videos – Procurious even has a YouTube channel!  It’s free and not time intensive.

Ted-Ed videos are usually 3-5 minutes, however they are highly addictive. We can also learn new skills to make our work more effective, get technology tips, and learn how make ‘Word’ number formatting cooperate. Remember to reward yourself with another cute cat video. 

  1. Library isn’t just for books

When was the last time you stepped foot – physically – in a library?  You’ll be please to know that you don’t need to leave the comfort of you couch to benefit from your local library these days.  Libraries are technology hubs and, generally speaking, you should be able to access e-books from your local council library.

If you are keen on that rewarding feeling of turning a page, you can find a whole selection of top books here, recommended by Procurious members.

  1. Stand in the spotlight

A friend recently told me that out of the YouTube viewing population, only 0.1 per cent produce the content.

I can’t validate the statistic but let’s consider a procurement conference with 10 presenters and 100 delegates. That means we’re learning from 10 per cent of the population.

Surely you have something great to share! Nominate yourself to present at a conference, write an article – choose a method to tell us what you know.

Depending in the rules you follow, these activities may contribute to your CPD hours and/or your development plan. So go forth and be better than before.

Let the Procurious community know below if you have more ideas to achieve CPD hours and achieve your professional development plan in a fun, budget friendly way.

Five Tips For Effective Dispute Resolution

FIVE TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

“If the dispute negotiation fails then we can always litigate, right?”

As courts are backlogged there is an increasing trend for matters to be referred to alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR’). However, your commercial contract may commit parties to engage in several steps of ADR. Georgia Brandi provides insights to effective application of dispute resolution with five tips she hopes you’ll never need.

1. Include a dispute resolution clause in contracts

First, check whether your company’s contracts have a dispute resolution clause and become familiar with its elements. Multi-tiered dispute resolution clauses are popular setting out timing for each stage of the process as each party’s obligations increase. Examples can be found at the International Chamber of Commerce and local dispute resolution bodies.

Multi-tiered dispute resolution clauses typically require senior individuals in the organisation to meet. If that is not successful then the matter is referred to mediation. If unresolved the matter is referred to arbitration. Only if that fails can the matter be referred to litigation. Each step is a pre-condition for the next.

2. Know the difference between methods of alternative dispute resolution

Two popular ADR methods are mediation and arbitration so it’s prudent to know how they differ.

Mediation uses an impartial third party to facilitate an interests based discussion. The mediator does not provide advice or determine an outcome. The discussion is confidential and the parties reach their own agreement and it is self-enforced.

Arbitration is however determinative and may not be confidential, subject to the relevant body’s arbitration rules. For cross border disputes, also note whether the country is party to the New York Convention for enforcement of arbitral awards.

3. Know when a dispute is a dispute and track time

Usually receiving a letter with ‘DISPUTE NOTICE’ stamped on it is a good indicator. It may not be that obvious as another party may assume their communication is a dispute notice by its content. Does the supplier think a late invoice demand notice satisfied criteria for a dispute notice? Seek clarification if you’re unsure because once a dispute notice is received time will start ticking, so know when you need to respond. Also know who needs to be advised e.g., legal counsel, CPO.

4. Agree on the basics

It would be awful to trigger further debate on who pays the mediator/arbitrator fees or what language the process will be conducted. Draw your mind to the basics such as allocation of costs, location, dispute resolution body and language of proceedings within the contract. Courts may sever elements of a dispute resolution clause for uncertainty.

5. Understand dispute resolution trends in the jurisdiction selected

If your clause elects a dispute resolution body, look at their rules. There may be provisions for a combined method of mediation and arbitration such as ‘arb-med-arb’ in Singapore and ‘med-arb’ which is trending in Hong Kong and China. Although both parties need to consent, understand the reason for the trend and what benefits are available. For example, mediation in Japan offers the benefit of confidentiality where there is otherwise no without prejudice privilege.[1]

Many disputes can be diffused with an interests based discussion[2] and practically may not be suitable for litigation where the core issue is commercial. However I encourage you to become familiar your company’s dispute resolution clause and approach to managing disputes. And ensure your company’s legal counsel is always consulted.

[1] The Japan Commercial Arbitration Association International Commercial Mediation Rules, Rule 12.

[2] See e.g., Fisher and Ury “Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”.