Category Archives: Life & Style

Staying active and healthy with Jawbone UP24

Fitness trackers are proving big business; if you need proof, just know that the likes of Nike, Sony, Fitbit, and Samsung have already jumped onboard the somewhat profitable activity train.

The Jawbone UP24 is another from this particular stable, in so much as it’s an activity tracker designed to be worn on the wrist.

Jawbone UP24 fitness tracker review

Design and appearance 

The Jawbone UP24’s unobtrusive nature makes it perfect for those just dipping their toe into the activity tracker waters. If you’re scared of making a statement,  and instead are looking to make small, gradual changes to your lifestyle, then this could be the fitness band for you.

For the fashion-conscious among you, the Jawbone UP24 is available in a variety of colours – namely: red, navy blue, lemon lime, onyx, persimmon, and pink coral.

Jawbone UP24 fitness band - reviewed

A selection of sizes (small, medium, and large) ensures you’ll get the best fit – there’s not much of a difference in weight between the models either. The UP24 weighs in at 19g, 22g, and 23g respectively.

The band itself is made out of toughened, textured rubber. And we had no concerns when it came to wearing it for long periods of time, as the rubber happily possesses hypoallergenic qualities (skin irritation be gone – hurrah!)

Charging is achieved via a 2.5mm connector (think headphone jack in all but function) – this isn’t your standard USB charging cable. But you’re only looking at around 80 minutes for a full charge when connected.

How does it work?

What's inside the Jawbone UP24
The innards of the band.

The UP24 couples a Tri-axis accelerometer with some natty algorithms to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, active and idle time.

By taking into account your age, gender, height and weight, the band can also calculate the number of calories burned during a period of activity.

The band itself tracks your movement and sleep, but elsewhere the UP app will keep tabs on your meals and mood.

UP24 app

This is Jawbone’s second activity tracker – the original Jawbone UP lacks the newies’ Bluetooth Smart syncing (useful for viewing your data in real-time).

A lack of built-in screen means you’ll still be reliant on your mobile – but you’ll likely bump into a lamppost if you’re constantly distracted/keep-checking your wrist. Suffice to say, this omission isn’t exactly a deal-breaker. Plus, the band doesn’t rely on an ever-present connection – you can happily go about your business without using your mobile as a crutch. When you get the itch to analyse your movements, simply make sure you’re within reach of your Bluetooth-enabled device and press the button on the band to sync all recent data.

Currently none of the fitness bands in the marketplace offer any form of location-tracking. If you’re after a solution that plots your run/route, a GPS running watch may better serve your needs.

In terms of record-keeping, the app puts in a sterling effort. Your steps (or progress towards the daily goal if you want to think of it that way) are displayed in the form of a helpful chart. Plus you can deep-dive to get a better look at specified time-periods, should you so wish.

Sleep is also displayed in this way – the chart will break your slumber down into heavy/light periods, duration, if you woke at all, and how many sheep you counted before nodding-off…

Gentle encouragement

Jawbone UP24 app

A little encouragement goes a long way… The UP app offers-up daily recommendations to help encourage healthy living. Whether these be around water intake, reminders to go to bed earlier, or you’ve just been inactive for too long. The band can be programmed to deliver vibrating reminders, which is useful for encouraging you to get up from your desk, and give your legs a shake. Coupled with the band, it’s like having your very own motivational speaker on your wrist…

The iOS version of the UP app also allows you to track caffeine.

If you already use apps like RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, etc. you can import data into the UP app and delve into the minutiae of your activity.

Using the Jawbone UP24
The UP24 app allows you to keep a record of your food and drink intake… like this Cava here.

I took the UP24 band along with me to Seville. In such muggy climes it would’ve been foolish to do ‘too much’, but in the gaps between siesta and a hundred mouthfuls of tapas I managed to put in more than my recommended daily average.

During my tenure with the Jawbone UP24, news of a significant update was announced. The update brings with it increased battery life (a full 14 days – up from the 7 days fresh out of the box). Updating the band will erase all current activity mind, so make sure you’ve recently synced your Jawbone before carrying it out.

Like what you’ve heard? Price-wise you can get your hands on the Jawbone UP24 for around the £105 mark in Europe.

What can the Spice Girls teach us about being reasonable?

This is the third article in a fortnightly series from Gordon Donovan in which he ponders ‘is now the time to be reasonable?’

One of the banes of contract is the term “reasonable”. For many of us the first time we have been introduced to this concept is via Carlill v Carbolic smoke ball when one of the judges (Lord Justice Lindley) suggested that:

Another meaning, and the one which I rather prefer, is that the reward is offered to any person who contracts the epidemic or other disease within a reasonable time after having used the smoke ball”

What can Spice Girls teach us about reasonable endeavours?

Springing into the 21st century we have now got contractual terms that says reasonable or best endeavours, but what does this mean. Recently I came across a couple of decisions and pieces which seek to put some further rigour around it.

First is an article in Supply Management that seeks to understand what a “reasonable “notice period for termination is.

This case states that a reasonable period would be subject to 5 key principles namely:

  • each decision must be made on its own facts;
  • what amounts to “reasonable notice” should be ascertained at the time at which the notice is given;
  • consideration should be given to the general circumstances and practices within the relevant trade;
  • any specific circumstances existing at 
the time of the contract should be taken account of;
  • the degree of formality in the relationship is a relevant factor.

Next was a case in Australia that made it to the high court. The case centred on a gas supply agreement. The agreement obliged the sellers to use “reasonable endeavours” to make available a supplemental maximum daily quantity of gas.

The court outlined three observations about reasonable endeavours clauses in general:

  • they are not an absolute and unconditional obligation.
  • the extent of the obligation is conditioned by what is reasonable in the circumstances.
  • some contracts with a reasonable endeavours clause contain their own standard of what is reasonable

Read more about reasonable endeavours here.

In a couple of recent articles a lawyer friend of mine has written about the differences between nest and reasonable endeavours (in Australia there does not appear to be any practical difference between the meanings of these terms).  

And in this article she goes onto discuss a specific case which gives us the following learnings

  • The words “reasonable commercial endeavours” mean that a party is obliged to take steps reasonably available to it to put it in a position to fulfil the obligation
  • If the party does take steps, but is unable to fulfil the intended outcome of the clause, the clause does not require that the party go any further

So what does all this mean?

You need to be specific rather than relying about the criteria of the obligation and how the clause should be followed (describe an example of the steps required maybe?)

Think about how changes in market conditions or the commercial landscape will be dealt with

If you are going to use best or reasonable then don’t use a ‘reasonable endeavours’ clause AND a ‘best endeavours’ clause within the same contract. Pick one set of terminology and stick with it.

Above all, early engagement with the legal team is important to help in managing the risks that come with this.

In other words you have to know what you want, what you really, really want! And while you’re at it, refer to this article in Supply Management…

As ever you can subscribe directly to the sources I have identified here (nothing is my copyright), and if you wanted to discuss please feel free to contact me via Procurious, or follow me on Twitter.

Hamish Petrie asks ‘can you plan your career?’

In this first part of a two-part article, Hamish Petrie – former VP of People and Communications for resources giant Alcoa – offers advice to professionals at all stages of their career by encouraging the use of ‘career anchors’.

Hamish currently writes for the Business Times in Melbourne. Read more about his story here.

Career planning discussions start at an early age now during high school years as young people struggle with the question about what they want to do with their lives. This is an impossible struggle as no one can conceive how seemingly minor events will change their lives.

When I first started working as a shift metallurgist in a small tin mine on the west coast of Tasmania, I could never have conceived that 32 years and 20 jobs later, I would be sitting in a corner office on Park Avenue in Manhattan as Vice President of the world’s largest metals company. Life is full of twists and turns and chaos, so how can you prepare yourself to manage your career?

Planning your career by Hamish Petrie

Today, there are some generally accepted models for career planning that can be very helpful in starting the thinking process about your career. Generally, these models have four steps that include knowing yourself and your life priorities, exploring alternatives, deciding on a direction and then acting to implement this plan. The very first step in determining your life priorities is the most important, and it can be the most difficult. Aside from thinking about your personal values and strengths, it really forces you to think about what sort of job design and people interactions suit you the most.

While working at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in the 1970’s, Professor Edgar Schein developed the concept of career anchors, where the anchors represented an amalgam of personal values, talents, and preferences. These anchors shape the decisions that you will make about what is most important to you, in both your career and life.

This model has evolved now to define nine career anchor themes including technical or general management competence, autonomy, security, creativity and lifestyle. When I reflect on my career, I lacked the specific technical competence for any of my last fourteen jobs so it is very obvious that my career anchors were creativity and general management competence. Luckily, my family supported me with the frequent relocations necessary to take on each new career opportunity. The key outcomes of analysing your own career anchor is that you are most likely to be happy and satisfied when you can work in a job which is aligned with your personal anchor.

If you are on the flip side of this process, where you are making decisions about candidates for a job, then it is well worth exploring each candidate’s career anchors. Technical competence is very important in some jobs, like brain surgery, but for many jobs, it is not the most important factor, so taking a risk with a candidate can be very rewarding. Luckily, I had many bosses who were prepared to take a risk with me although I lacked specific knowledge about their job.

Why anchoring matters in negotiation

Welcome to the second article in a monthly series from John Viner-Smith.

Have you ever looked at all the perfectly good, almost brand new cars on the forecourt at a car dealership and wondered where they came from? If you haven’t noticed what I mean, let me give you an example. If you search a certain Prestige manufacturer’s website for an “Approved Used” example of their best-selling model you’ll find you can have a choice of around 200 cars, all under six months old with around five thousand miles up, priced 15-20 per cent lower than the cost of an identically specified brand new car. So who are all these people who buy brand new cars and return them before the first service is due? Someone has to be losing money here, right? Or is something else happening?

Negotiating a used car deal

A friend of mine used to work for a company that had a particularly odd company car policy. He had, at any given time, two brand new premium brand cars on his drive. He would keep them for three months or six thousand miles and, when either of those milestones was reached, drop the car off at the dealer and pick up another one. Coincidentally, my friend’s employer was a wholly owned subsidiary of the car manufacturer whose products he drove. See where this is going?

So here’s a question; why would a car manufacturer build cars to just to run them themselves for a few months and sell them at a big discount?

The answer, if you haven’t guessed, is to maximize the margins they can make on all the cars. The manufacturer makes a decent margin selling the car at the “nearly new” price. If they didn’t, they stop making so many cars. But they need to sell cars at the “brand new” price point for two reasons. Firstly, because there are people who will pay it (this is particularly perverse when you consider that those people typically have to wait for the car they ordered to be built rather than drive a car away from stock). Secondly, the existence of the “brand new” price point gives the “nearly new” buyer the satisfaction of feeling they got a great deal. If the narrative in the buyer’s head is something like “Wow! This car is basically brand new and I’m getting 17 per cent”, they will be satisfied. If that buyer doesn’t believe that they are getting a great deal, they will push harder for even deeper discounts. The price of the new car acts as an anchor – setting the expectation of the buyer and offering them the satisfaction of a deal if they secure a discount on that price.

Why does this matter to us procurement folk? Well, it turns out that anchoring is one of the oldest and most effective techniques in negotiation and the processes, technologies and strategies we have adopted have made us extremely vulnerable to it. To understand how, it helps to revisit the basics.

Even the simplest negotiation has a range of possible outcomes. The buyer comes to the table with a maximum price that they are prepared to pay. The seller comes to the table with a minimum price that they are prepared to accept. These are their respective walk away points. Be clear on this; your walk away point is your worst case scenario deal. You would do that deal, but it represents a bad day at the office. What you really want to do is get the best possible outcome, which, in a simple price negotiation is the deal as close as possible to the other person’s walk away point. Too many buyers lose sight of this, and one of the reasons for that is the extent to which they become anchored on the seller’s price. When that happens, the buyer stops thinking about how they are going to get to seller to accept the lowest possible price and starts thinking instead about how they are going to get the Seller to come down to a price they, the buyer, can live with. Instead of focusing on getting more, they’re relieved to get just enough.

Procurement’s reliance on the tender process makes us particularly vulnerable to this. We offer the seller the opportunity to put their price on the table first and they gladly accept it. When the proposals come in they’re typically more than the Buyer wants to or can pay. So the buyer’s goal becomes to secure the best supplier at a price they can live with.

Procurement people do a lot of benchmarking. Again, this process can be extremely damaging if you fall into the trap of benchmarking un-negotiated prices. If you assume that all bidders open with a price that is inflated to give themselves room to move and offer you “deal satisfaction”, then the “benchmark” price may merely be least ambitious opening position. I know plenty of buyers who have been happy with “saving” 5 per cent by getting the highest quality bidder to contract at the price of the lowest quality bidder. I’ve seen that change in price described as a cost avoidance saving of 5 per cent. But if, as is perfectly possible, the successful bidder’s walk away point was 10 per cent lower than their opening bid, then the truth is that the buyer overpaid.

How, then, do we combat this? Here are three simple steps;

  1. Get them anchored on YOUR price.

Put your price on the table first. You will get more from your negotiations if your vendor is lying awake at night wondering how they’re going to move you from a place where they can’t close the deal to a place where they’re getting just enough to do a deal.

Some buyers will feel that, by opening the negotiation and putting the lowest price they can imagine the seller taking on the table first they will make themselves vulnerable and they are right. If you open your negotiation at the lowest price you think the seller will accept, you will probably end up paying more. Firstly because your assumptions will probably be wrong. Typically, negotiators (on both sides of the table) underestimate how much room the other party has to move before they reach their walk away point. Go with your best guess and you’ll probably open at a price that is better for them than their walk away point, and any concession you make from that opening will move you closer to your walk away. The answer is to open your negotiation at a position you know they can’t do. But that’s another post.

2.  If they open first, don’t anchor on their price.

Their opening position typically has nothing to do with their walk away point. If they are any good; they have chosen their opening position based on their understanding of your walk away point. They should put a price on the table that they do not believe you can do, because they want you to be relieved when they offer you a deal that represents just enough for you. So ignore their first offer and make your extreme opening proposal. Anchor them on your best outcome.

3.  Play a different game.

Negotiation academics call this style of negotiation “positional” negotiation. In a single variable negotiation (e.g. when you’re only talking about price), the only strategy available to you is to negotiate this way. You have nothing to trade but the other party’s satisfaction. If you want to negotiate differently, accept that you will need to find other things to trade.

In an interest-based or collaborative negotiation, you prepare by figuring out both parties’ interests in the deal and use this information to consider the full range of negotiable variables that could be brought to the table and traded. Identify the things you believe they value that cost you, comparatively, less. Identify the things you value highly that you believe cost them, comparatively, less. Finally, identify the things that are of equal cost and value to both parties. For example, if you know that your counterparty needs to book a big deal before their year-end, you may choose to make timely contract signature and (depending on how they choose to account for deals). Contract duration variables in the negotiation because they are things that cost you nothing, but are key to the deal meeting their interests.

Preparing and executing an interest-based negotiation is not something you can do ad hoc. If you believe that this is going to be the appropriate strategy to help you get the most from the deal, you need to consider how you position, open and leave room to trade on all the conceivable variables in your sourcing process. There are four distinct negotiating strategies available to you. The details of each, and the framework for assessing which is appropriate and when, will be the subject of a subsequent post.

Finally, what good is this going to do you next time you go shopping for a premium branded German automobile? Think about preparing differently.

Start by checking out the prices of almost new, ultra low mileage examples of the car you want to buy on the dealer forecourt and use those as the benchmark price for a new car. You may not get the new car at that price, but you will get more than you thought possible.

The logistics behind Zurich 2014 European Athletics Championships

This guest post was penned by Sarah Robey. Sarah represents a UK-based logistics finding service.

22nd European Athletics Championships - Day Three

Making the magic happen

The 22nd European Athletics Championships in Zürich last month was a splendid success, both in terms of attendance and their overall social goals. The CEO of Zürich 2014, Patrick Magyar, said that in the final analysis they managed to increase children’s and young people’s interest and participation in athletics. Equally important, at least from a financial perspective, the games were an excellent opportunity to increase the visibility of Zürich in general, and assist in the marketing of the 2000 year old financial centre as a tourist destination and as a place of business.

As you surely know, staging an event such as this with world-wide aims and aspirations is no small feat of logistics. Six large evening and afternoon events, ten stadium sessions (and just shy of 81 per cent of sold out at that), six-figure crowds at the road races and a City Festival with nearly a quarter million attendees – Zürich 2014 was no small exploit, and the organisers should be proud.

CEO Magyar thanked his volunteer team for the hard work they did rising to the logistical challenge, as well as the local police, the City and Canton of Zürich, the Protection and Rescue Service and the Swiss Armed Forces. A few very important organisations were left out of the spotlight though. An event of this size could not take place without thousands of hard working logistics specialists and dozens of 3PLs and other logistics organisations. I’d like to give just one example of a company that helped make this event happen.

Organisation of one particular logistics company 

Conceptum Sports Logistics, a German logistics company, was Zürich 2014’s official logistics partner. Over the course of the games, more than 1400 athletes and thousands more coaches and personal support personnel converged on Zürich. Conceptum was there to get participants, coaches, gear and equipment where they needed to be and when they needed to be there. Organising chaos is a logistics organisation’s bread and butter, and Conceptum Sports Logistics performed at least as well as the winning athletes. Maybe CEO Magyar could have spared a bit of praise for them?

Then again, the perfect logistics professional is a bit like the perfect butler – out of sight and out of mind, managing events behind the scenes and only visible when they are needed. Perhaps the fact that Conceptum didn’t feature is another testament to their skill. If so, I have no doubts that their performance at Zürich this year will keep them in clients for some time to come.

So what about your logistics needs? Perhaps you won’t be spending £23 million putting on a sports festival this year. Perhaps you only need to find a better LTL carrier for the extra orders you expect this Christmas. Perhaps you need a better place to store inventory. Britain boasts thousands of 3PLs and logistics companies that would be thrilled to help.

Sarah Robey represents www.whichwarehouse.com. Whichwarehouse offers a logistics finding service that carries listings of many logistics providers from all over the UK.

Social network faux pas

If you’ve got even a smidgen of a presence on social media then you’re in the public spotlight. Don’t damage your carefully constructed image by falling foul of these common faux pas.

Social networking faux pas

Inappropriate material

When we refer to inappropriate material, we’re not just talking about the sort of content that caused upset for Hollywood’s superstars… Insensitive opinions, jokes in bad taste, photos from that party, in-fact anything that makes you look the opposite of ‘ha ha’ silly should be pretty much avoided.

Don’t ever post anything that could harm your image, or cause major embarrassment. You never know who’s watching. Your career might thank you for it later. The Internet never forgets you know…

Changing your name

It’s all very well to hide behind a clever alter ego, but when you replace your surname with nonsense it really goes beyond the pail…

Matt ‘Twinkletoes’ Jones doesn’t imply a healthy sense of humour, it makes you look a twerp.

Game invites

This one only really applies to Facebook but it’s a humdinger… If we want to play a life-sucking, cutesy (yet mildly addictive) online game then we’ll do it of our own accord. We don’t want spurious invites and intrusive notifications cajoling us to join your sad existence.

Oh it has cute fluffy cats? OK, maybe just for a few minutes…

The written word

Are your social networking accounts wanted for crimes against the English language?

Do you flout a flagrant disregard for sentence structure, needlessly employ CamelCase in the Very Middle of Sentences, make serious spelling errors, or babble in incomprehensible text-speak? These are just some of the offenders on our list.

To all those that answered ‘yes’ – just stop it. Stop it now.

Laziness

Social networks are communication tools, let’s not forget this… But there are times when you can’t help but wonder whether this is really the right platform for your verbal diarrhoea.  It really comes to something when you’re holding conversations with your nearest and dearest when they’re in the same room.

By all means like a photo, or share an amusing anecdote but don’t use social media as an alternative to meaningful, real life interactions. Far-fetched? Nope, we’ve seen it play out on Facebook and the results made us reach for the ‘hide’ button.

Hashtags

Ah the humble hashtag (#). Hashtags have their uses, but in the wrong hands they can turn into weapons of mass annoyance. Don’t litter your status updates with the things, instead employ a shred of common sense. A general rule of thumb is stick to a maximum of 2-3 in one Tweet. Plus, stop using them on Facebook (although the social network added support for them, the experience remains mediocre at best). Stick to Twitter and Google+ for your hashtag fix.

Arguing in public

Don’t air your dirty laundry in public. All of the major social networking platforms offer private or direct messaging functionality – use them instead of causing a social media storm. It also looks wholly unprofessional, so keep your diatribe private.

Social networks

Validation services

We all need validation… Twitter validation services however are a trifle unneeded if you’re anything but a large company trying to weed out armies of zombie accounts.

If you’re on social media you should be fully aware of who’s following you, liking your pages, and interacting with your ‘brand’. Therefore leaving it to an automated tool like TrueTwit or TweetDeck (for instance) almost feels like missing the point. You shouldn’t be doing it.

Saying that, there is nothing wrong with TrueTwit  (and others of its ilk) but if you’re just starting out on social media we’d encourage you to cultivate personal connections first.

LinkedIn embarrassment

Ever receive those emails from LinkedIn telling you to ‘congratulate’ Bob Mills on his work anniversary?

In this fast-paced modern world, roles and functions change all the time, so there’s every likelihood the poor sap you’re being told to shower with glad tidings has been moved on. Maybe send condolences to Bob in the form of flowers instead?

Commitment

If your heart’s not in it then it soon becomes blindingly obvious to the people sitting at the other end. No matter your social network of choice, people ultimately choose to follow you for a reason – so don’t let them down. Post often, be friendly, engaging, and show some personality will you? A dormant account is a waste of everyone’s time and network.

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Negotiation is no game… but here’s how to win at it (anyway)

Welcome to the first blog in a monthly series from John Viner-Smith.

I have spent my career negotiating. I’m guessing that you have too. I’ve worked in procurement as a buyer, a manager and consultant for over ten years but it was only when I left procurement and worked as a consultant and trainer working with procurement and sales people and focused solely on negotiation that I really came to appreciate negotiation as the core commercial skill.

Children negotiating marbles
Negotiate hard (like these children – over marbles…)

People have some funny ideas about what negotiation is. Let’s start by talking about what it’s not;

1.    Negotiation is not the price discussion that happens at the end of a sourcing process.

  • The entire sourcing process is the negotiation. Every conceivable variable (what are we buying? To what spec? Under what terms? Delivered where? When? How? Etc.) is negotiable.
  • If you park all of those early and plan to negotiate the price at the end, you’re either going to sleepwalk into a very competitive haggle or (assuming you’re negotiating with someone who knows what they’re doing), maybe you’ll just get the deal they wanted to give you all along.

2.    Negotiation is not comfortable

  • Negotiation is a tool for resolving conflict. It is therefore rooted in conflict, which is inherently uncomfortable.
  • If you fail to acknowledge and embrace that discomfort, you may find it becomes a factor in the outcomes you achieve. Ever held back from pushing for a little more in a deal because you didn’t want to be that person? That was your discomfort. And your failure to manage it costs you. Macchiavelli said “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times”. Become comfortable with assessing and doing what is necessary.
  • As buyers, we have developed techniques and technologies that serve to insulate us from the discomfort of direct, face-to-face confrontation. The assumption that this is a good thing is deeply flawed.

3.    Negotiation is not compromise

  • The task of every negotiator is to get the most they possibly can get from each negotiation for themselves and their employers.
  • Compromise is what happens in the absence of effective negotiation.
  • Your goal is not to give the counterparty anything. Gifts are a sign of generosity.
  • If you are perceived as being generous, your counterparties won’t reciprocate with gratitude. They will become greedy. They will want more from you the next time.
  • Instead of conditioning people to expect free gifts, condition them to expect positive outcomes only if they earn them.

4.    Negotiation is not about securing a win-win outcome

  • Negotiation is about you getting everything you can get, not to be fair to the other party.
  • Win-win is a myth. If you assume you negotiate with rational, competent people, you must further assume that they won’t do a deal that has zero or negative value to them.
  • Therefore, they won’t do deals where they “lose”.  If your counterparty criticizes you for acting in a “win-lose” fashion, they are trying to influence how you feel about the deal. They may be genuinely aggrieved, or they may want you to think they are (it’s a backhanded compliment, designed to make you feel good about your “prowess”). If you have genuinely taken everything they could give you well, they still did the deal. So they’re winning something.
  • Conversely when your counterparty exhorts you to do a deal because “It’s a win-win”, one thing is clear; they’re winning something and want to close the deal. You may be doing ok, but could you do better?

5. Money never gets left on the table

  • I have heard countless negotiators tell me about the times they left money on the table.
  • No money ever stays on the table. If you didn’t take it, the other person did.
  • If the value is there to be had, your job is to get it. In a simple, one dimensional negotiation (typically price), that means you take everything and leave them just enough to close the deal and leave the table. In a complex, multi-variable negotiation that means you identify every conceivable source of value to them and to you and ensure you trade them to create a deal that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

6.    Negotiation is not a game and it is not optional.

  • I meet (and negotiate with) people who’ll say “I’m not going to play games with you, the price is X”
  • If you have all the power in the world, and the counterparty has zero option but to do the deal with you on those terms, they will do it. But they will devote time and energy to clawing back some satisfaction in the deal. If and when the balance of power swings their way, you will be punished.
  • What if you’re counterparty was willing to settle for a price of X – Y? You just overpaid by Y, at least. Chances are that the counterparty will get you to move on your price, so you’ll pay more than X.
  • Negotiation is a necessary and important ritual to help you gauge and attain the best possible outcome every time.
  • Fail to negotiate and you just fail. If you closed a deal without negotiation you either created a risk for yourself down the line, or you got exactly the deal they wanted to give you.

I consult for and train procurement teams and sales forces. Effective negotiation training is not cheap, but it is also essential and an investment in people that delivers great returns in short order.

Useful websites and apps to improve your life

Best time-saving websites and apps to simplify your busy life.

Increase your productivity – spend less time on life admin and more on living your life to the fullest.

Best time-saving apps

About.me – sell yourself quickly and easily

What’s better than writing about yourself on Procurious? How about your own little corner of the Web (that can be put-together in under two minutes flat)…

The folks behind About.me know that a little bit of self-promotion can do you the world of good.  Just add photo, sprinkle some words, and connect the social networks of your choosing to your spangly new page.
Best time-saving apps

Trackthisforme – activity tracker that looks as good as you

For the body-conscious out there we’ve got a Procurious guide to health and fitness gadgets in the pipeline, but in the meantime put down that donut and check out trackthisforme.

This lightweight app ably keeps track of mood, weight, hours slept, pushups, and more. Data junkies will also appreciate the resulting tables and graphs that plot your activities.

It’s available for free on both iOS and Android platforms.
Best time-saving apps

Routehappy – flight comparison tool that thinks of everything

You’d be forgiven for thinking Routehappy is just another flight comparison website, but when its mantra reads “all flights are not created equal”, you’ll soon realise your mistake…

Routehappy not only serves as a flight checker, it also allows passengers to search for flights on nicer planes, roomier seats, in-seat power options and quality of entertainment on board. Each flight and airline is awarded a happiness factor so passengers can get a real sense of the experience.

Hipmunk is also worthy of a mention here.
Best time-saving apps

Things – task manager that keeps track of life so you don’t have to

If the very thought of a task manager app fills you with dread, we think you’ll appreciate Things fresh perspective on the mundane. What do you want to do Today? What are the tasks you want to get to Next? And what do you want to Schedule for a later day? Everything has its place.

When entering new to-dos you can quickly add all important information: enter the title, notes, and due date. You can also tag to-dos so you can find them more easily later.

It’s all very intuitive and the app is attractive to boot. Things stores your to-dos and keeps them updated across your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch so you’ll never suffer from lack of organisation ever again.

Best time-saving apps

Circa – instant access to the latest news stories

News-curation services are seemingly on the up and up. Circa is available purely in app-form and been designed to make it easier to keep tabs on breaking news stories.

Circa editors distil news down into only the essential points so the user doesn’t feel as though they’re being bogged down with details. With Reuters’ social media editor on board too, it should go from strength to strength. Interested? It’s currently available for both iOS and Android

Want more news? Yahoo! has just released its own version – the News Digest app. Plus there’s similar offerings from Romanian-based MediaServista too, which is currently in demo mode.
Best time-saving apps

Xmarks – take your favourite websites with you

Xmarks does an impressive job of seamlessly backing up and syncing bookmarks for your favourite websites across all of your devices. You can also rely on it to remember your passwords and any open browser tabs too. Especially useful when you’ve found a good website at work but can’t remember it come home time.

Xmarks will keep a copy of everything you’ve synced for up to three months, but should you require longer a premium version is available.

Best time-saving apps

Handybook – like having your own housekeeper

It’s been described as the “Uber” of household services.  Handybook provides a web app enabling people to book cleaners, plumbers, handymen and other household service providers. Airbnb also offer their services to those hosts who opt for discounted cleaning after every booking.

At the time of writing Handybook has stretched its calloused, hardworking fingers to Canada, United States, and the UK.

In the UK? If you’re just after some good old-fashioned cleaning, we’ve heard great things about Hassle.com too. Go check them out and use ref841matt for a fiver off.

Best time-saving apps

Freckle – track the time you (and your team) spend doing things

“Your business runs on time. It’s the fuel your team uses to start, create, finish projects for yourselves and your clients. You’ve got to make sure every minute counts… and can be counted” – so says Freckle’s website, and it’s true.

Freckle takes care of this otherwise boring administrative task, giving you some time back to concentrate on more important business decisions.

It’s accessible via a web interface and offers a 30-day free trial for those wanting to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool. Prices then start at $39 per month for a small team.

That’s our lot for now, but if you want to add your suggestions just leave a comment below.

Don’t sell yourself short – stand out from the crowd

Celebrities like Richard Branson & Lady Gaga have carved-out strong personal brands...
Celebrities like Richard Branson & Lady Gaga have carved-out strong personal brands…

Personal branding can make a huge impact on your ability to do your job in the procurement industry.

Personal branding experts suggest that leveraging your online presence, considering who’s in your network and assessing your dress sense can all make an impact on your personal brand.

Kate O’Reilly is the principal of Sydney’s Optimiss Consulting, which advises corporate firms on gender equality, organisational change, business, communications, human capital, corporate governance and personal branding.

Your personal brand as what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.

We’re all familiar with the personal brands of celebrities such as Richard Branson or Lady Gaga, but we need to learn that personal branding is essential for our success too, O’Reilly says.

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s about what people say when they’re endorsing you or putting you forward for a new role or a new project.”

A lot of people don’t realise that it takes a lot of time to think about personal branding, or that it is something you can construct yourself. “It’s not that it’s artificial. Best branding is authentic, but it’s calculated and planned.”

Developing and delivering a personal brand can be achieved by having an up-to-date CV and LinkedIn profile, being on message and consistent in what you say, considering your look and style, being nice to other people and making connections and delivering on a quality experience to everyone who deals with you.

“Consistency is key in your message, in your look in how you treat people. It’s about being professional in everything you do, getting back to people when you say you will, and delivering on time.

“Is your elevator pitch compelling and memorable? You need to consider why you stand out and what you stand for.”

O’Reilly says there’s nothing fake about manufacturing your personal brand.

“Rather, what you’re doing is deciding how you want to be remembered and having a really good consistent message in absolutely everything you do, and every contact everyone has with you. It’s like any good brand – they pick two or three things, and they repeat them over and over again.”

Consistency is key, she says.

CEO of Brisbane personal branding firm Jump the Q, Rachel Quilty says the number of professionals wanting to develop a specific strategic style has grown. Personal branding affords you more mobility within your industry, she says.

“Consider yourself a brand. Image management is vital in today’s business world. Improving your image and personal brand is an investment in building your personal profile, reputation and the results you will achieve.”

5 brilliant brand new apps for your mobile and tablet

A selection of interesting and useful apps for your everyday use.

Buoyed by Procurious member Georgia Brandi’s discussion topic on productivity tools, we’ve come up with a few ideas of our own. Every day numerous apps are released into app stores the world over, but how do you know which ones are really worth your while?

My Destination app

My Destination
iPhone and iPad (from free)

While My Destination isn’t the newest name on the block (owing to an already successful iPad iteration) – the iPhone version has just been released into the wild.

My Destination offers tips and insights from over 300 local experts around the globe. 100+ destination travel guides, an interactive map, and travel planner all number among its features. It will also save you from racking-up extortionate roaming charges because the premium version works offline too.  The developer tells us that an Android version is coming soon.

It’s like having your own personal travel guide in your pocket…

Word Lens

Word Lens
iOS and Android (from free)

You may have seen Word Lens in the news recently – owing to its makers, Quest Visual, being acquired by Google.

Word Lens comes to the aid of the tongue-tied traveller, knocking down language barriers with ease, and providing you with a greater understanding of the locale at large.

The app works by translating printing words using your device’s in-built camera. Plus with in-app purchases you translate anything from Russian to Portuguese.

You’ll soon be talking like a local!

Foursquare Swarm
Swarm
iOS and Android (free)

The arrival of Swarm follows Foursquare’s decision to unbundle its services into two separate apps.

Swarm bills itself as ‘the fastest way to keep up and meet up with your friends’ – it takes Foursquare’s location-aware kahunas and uses it to notify you if anyone is nearby. Perfect if you’re attending a conference in a strange city and want to find like-minded individuals. It’s also a doddle to share a status, and let everybody know what you’re up to.

It’s currently available on both iOS and Android devices, but Windows Phone users will have to wait a little while yet…

TechSmith Fuse
TechSmith Fuse
iOS (free)

If you’ve ever struggled to get photos or videos off your Apple device, then TechSmith Fuse might just be your saviour…

Gone are the days of clumsily emailing those holiday photos to yourself, Fuse utilizes QR barcodes to pair your PC/Mac with your favourite iThing. Thus enabling an easy import into apps like Snagit and Camtasia. All this is done via the wonders of WiFi, so your data allowance won’t take a hit – happy days!

The app requires iOS 7.0 to be running on your iPhone/iPad.

OmniFocus 2
OmniFocus 2
Mac ($39.99)

OmniFocus 2 understands the pressures of the astute business professional… We’ve all got stuff to do, and balancing a healthy work life with home and play often takes a laser-like focus.

This app has been specially designed for the Mac user, and turns all those yellow post-it notes into one seriously organised workflow. It’s got a whole heap of features that can break your tasks/goals down into manageable actions and projects.

At $39.99 it’s not cheap, but what price can you really put on productivity?