Reading Corner Incredible U

August Book of the Month from Leidy Alvarado

Quiet Leadership by David Rock


David Rock has been studying for years about how the brain works and its link to leadership. Consequently, in his book Quiet Leadership, he uses a brain-based approach to explain in detail one very simple question:  As a leader, what is the most efficient way to help someone improve their performance at work?

When a leader enters a conversation with the intent of managing someone better at work, they tend to focus on the performance itself and rarely discuss which habits might be driving the employee’s performance and even less often have a conversation about the person’s feelings or thinking. As a result, they keep going in circles with no sign of progress or better performance at work.

A practical six-step guide is presented in this book on how to have an effective conversation in a few minutes with a person who needs to change in a way. If the “effective” conversation is managed as detailed in the book, an improvement on their performance could be certainly expected.

How does it happen? Leaders do not assume that people come to them for a solution. A quiet leader improve people’s thinking around them–literally by developing the way their brains process information–without telling anyone what to do.

In summary, it is proven that as leaders we need to become masters at helping people create new insights for themselves, new habits they could develop to bring solutions closer when facing a challenge at work. Once people have new insights for themselves, our job as quiet leaders is to provide the encouragement, ongoing support and belief in people, over time, to ensure that the new habits they developed are there to stay.

I was sceptical of a new leadership approach given the several articles and books about this topic in the market. Nonetheless, I can truly say from personal experience that David’s brain-based methodology saves time, creates more energy and transforms performance. Moreover, I have become more effective at inspiring high-quality thinking in my project team. Enjoy your reading!

04 Jun 14

Brene Brown TED Talk

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.Read More

28 Apr 14
April Book of  the Month from Paulette Kolarz

April Book of the Month from Paulette Kolarz

Life In Half a Second by Adelaide based Matthew Michalewicz is not only an inspiring short read but is also a practical tool kit that provides a step by step guide to success, great personal stories to assist create the ‘aha’ moments and practical action exercises after each chapter to well and truly put you on the path to success (if you choose to follow them). This book is definitely a must have addition to your favourites on the shelf so you can access whenever you are in need of a bit of extra encouragement and direction.

Using science and research as a base, Matthew highlights how little time we have on this planet and how most people are spending it ‘doing what we have to’ rather than ‘what we want to’. He poses the question – “Why not live life like it is a dream?”

While there are a lot of books out there on success and goal setting, Matthew has not necessarily recreated any new information however he has distilled, sequenced, personalised and simplified the journey to success down into 5 doors. While I am sharing an overview of the 5 doors, I am not spoiling the read as each chapter delves in much deeper into how to do these steps.

5 Doors to Success

  1. Clarity – Define what you want, make your goals precise, visualize your goals and share them with family and friends.
  2. Desire – How much do you want it? Align your goals with your desire.
  3. Belief – What do you believe?  What are your belief barriers and evaluate your environment.
  4. Knowledge – Discover how others have achieved what you want, create a goal pyramid and invest in yourself.
  5. Action – Act, consider your milestones and replace ‘cant’ with ‘don’t want to’.

The Goal Pyramid is one of my favourite parts of the book as for me, it is the point where you can turn wishful thinking into something tangible as it highlights the path to take and also assists in connecting your big goals to your daily activities.

This book is not only appropriate for anyone wanting to be successful… is also a great read to provide your children (if you can get them to read it). There is a great story on page 96-98 about a guest speaker who speaks to his school and starts off with “If you’re not going to college, then quit school today!…….because McDonald’s need you” which may hit some chords.

I have had the privilege of working with Matthew. His extraordinary background of achievement and the fact that he is ‘living his dream’ is a great testament to the fact that he follows his own advice provided in the book and I cannot recommend it more highly.

25 Mar 14
March Book of the Month from Amy Nazar

March Book of the Month from Amy Nazar

At Home by Bill Bryson

This is one of the most enthralling books I have read in a long time.  The book isn’t a drama nor is it a cliff hanger, but rather, it contains so many interesting facts.  Information that you didn’t even know you wanted to know…until you did, that’s what makes it such a page turner.

At Home – a short history of private life is one of the more recent novels by Bill Bryson.   Bryson’s ability to impart information whilst remaining relevant, engaging and entertaining is second to none and this book is a true example of that.

The setting for Bryson’s novel is his family home in Norfolk which was built in 1850.  Room by room he takes us on a journey of what life was like, how people used to live, interesting stories and information on everyday items that we take for granted.   For example, do you know why a fork has four prongs?  Bill does, and now, so do I!

This book highlighted for me how far we have come as a society.  The way that women were treated back then, the everyday decisions they were not allowed to make, and the sheer amount of labour required to undertake simple tasks.  Although there is still a lot of room for improvement, I feel lucky that I live in the time that I do.

I implore you to read this book, it is a fascinating journey into the past and is a real insight into why we live the way we do today.

19 Feb 14
February Book of the Month from Nicole Swaine

February Book of the Month from Nicole Swaine

Eat That Frog By Brian Tracy

Mark Twaine once said that if the first thing you do each day is to eat a live frog you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Mark Twaine’s saying is at the core of the international best seller “Eat That Frog!”

The book by Brian Tracy, offers many gems that are wonderful in their simplicity to help you stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Who would not want a slice of that formula?

Tracy officers 21 strategies to help you eat that frog – the frog being your biggest, most important task.

I truly believe that success in life and work will be determined by the kind of habits you develop over time, and this book is a perfect addition to your toolkit of positive and successful habits.

If you are like me, you will find the start of a new year is the ideal time to reflect on the year that was, to celebrate success and to learn from the challenges as well as to set goals for the year ahead. Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement however only 3% of adults have clear written goals. A Harvard study in 2010 found that those of us with written goals accomplish 5 to 10 times more than people with equal or better education but with no written goals.

In this short read, you will gain the skills to set the table for goal development. I love a book with practical takeaways and this one provided me with 21! To give you a taste, I have listed the 21 points covered however it is well worth investing the time to review the detail that sits behind them.

The book led me to reflect on my attitude to time and my behavioural choices in long and short term decision making. The book is a valuable reminder that there is never enough time to do everything, but always enough time to do the most important thing.

  1. Set the Table – set your goals and objectives with clarity. Decide what you want.
  2.  Plan every day in advance – prior planning prevents poor performance.
  3.  Apply the 80:20 Rule to everything – focus on activities not accomplishments and resist the temptation to clear up small things first.
  4. Consider the consequences – long term perspective is the most accurate, single predictor of upward social and economic mobility.
  5. Practice creative procrastination -one of the very worst uses of time is to do something well that ended up not needing to be done at all.
  6. Use the ABCDE Method continually – rate your tasks by value and priority.
  7. Focus on key result areas – what skill, if I developed it and did it excellently, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?
  8. . Apply the law of three – do what you can, with what you can, where you are. Define the three key tasks you do incredibly well and focus on them most of the time.
  9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin – create a comfortable working space that has everything you need.
  10. Take it one oil barrel at a time – by the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.
  11. Upgrade your key skills – anytime you stop striving to get better you’re bound to get worse. Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.
  12. Leverage your special talents – successful people are those who have taken time to identify what they do well and most enjoy.
  13. Identify your key constraints – the sun’s rays do not bite until they are bought into focus.
  14. Put the pressure on yourself. The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary – Thomas Edison.
  15. Maximise your personal powers – overworking can mean under productive.
  16. Motivate yourself into action – be a complete optimist; control your inner dialogue. Don’t share your problems; 80% don’t care and 20% are glad you have them!
  17. Get out of technological time sinks – you have a choice; learn to turn things off. There is more to life than just increasing its speed – Gandhi
  18. Slice and dice the task – develop a compulsion to closure.
  19. Create large chunks of time – schedule blocks of time to focus on the task and make every minute count.
  20. Develop a sense of urgency – trigger this with a sense of bias for action. The faster you move the more energy you have. Do it now!
  21. Single handle every task – once you get going, keep going until the job is complete.

Be inspired. Take the first step. Eat That Frog.



January Books of the Month from Bec Pannell

The question book coverThe decsion book cover

The Decision Book: Fifty models for strategic thinking and The Question Book: What makes you tick? by Michael Krogerous and Roman Tschäppeler

 Nibble sized nuggets of knowledge – tuck in.

These pint sized best sellers are the curious woman’s best friend. A combination like a pocket MBA and a good mentor, you will be armed with more effective decision making and be challenged to tease-out and to gaze-in.

The Decision Book offers over 50 succinct and stimulating methods for reviewing and making decisions, thinking through problems and working towards continuous improvement– both personal and professional.

You will find the usual suspects: the Pareto Principle; SWOT analysis; and the Maslow pyramids, but you will also be introduced to socio-cultural thinking on “belonging” and “identity”, musts for those wishing to understand their markets. Topics range from conflict resolution; crossroads decision-making; how to be creative un-creatively; goal setting; and cognitive dissonance.

I really like this book. It provides simple, relevant images and diagrams and offers loads of options for solving that sticky issue. There are great ideas for team reinvigoration and strategic planning days. The book ends in lessons in how to doodle – vindication for what others might see as distraction!!

This book will be attractive to people who like to challenge their thinking and who appreciate a new perspective. In summary: A buffet of bits to chew on.

The Question Book is the follow-up to The Decision Book and is a great companion piece. It works on the notion that values and self-knowledge help to inform our decisions, the roads we take and the relationships we have.

The Question Book is terrific for anyone about to change careers, countries, partners or political parties! The premise of the book is simple – answer the questions quickly and reflect on them at leisure and often. There is no such thing as a wrong answer and unlike an exam, you can return to the questions, change your answers and even ignore whole sections.

Ponder questions ranging from: “who is your favourite staff member and why?” to “what are you sitting next to right now?” Even confess: “something you know absolutely nothing about”; “something that makes you cry”, “something that is sacred to you” and “something you spend too much money on”. Of course BIG TOPICS such as sex, siblings and death are all there too.

I worked through large sections of this book with my team in preparation for the year ahead, and we were all surprised by how much we hadn’t thought about some of the really important questions about life.   It made us more aware of the people around us and we agreed that the reasons we do what we do were embedded in our answers.

So, if you are curious to find out how you and others tick, what underpins your decision-making, and why you might be feeling uncomfortable/happy in your current job/relationship, then these little gems are for you.

And for those who like to read about their vices on devices, the books are available on itunes. You can even work through those tricky decisions from The Decision Book online at

Happy reading and thinking!


06 Dec 13
December Book of the Month from Kylie Bishop

December Book of the Month from Kylie Bishop

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

This book has rightly commanded a huge readership and much commentary. It is one of my favourite “business” books for a long time, not the least because I have seen it drive people to action.

It served as a reminder to me to seize the day and start Incredible U; I have gifted it to female staff and know a number of fellow CEOs who have done the same and I was proud to be at a meeting where a good friend of mine requested that the guest speaker’s assistant sit up at the table with us rather than at the side of the room.

Sheryl reminds us of the many things that can influence whether a woman will reach her full potential or not. Some of them happen to us but many of them come out of habits we have formed ourselves. From leaning away from an opportunity rather than leaning in to it; to leaving a position before we’ve actually left; from down playing our successes to up scaling our potential failures; from accepting inequality to not taking fellow women to the top with us.

It is full of real and sometimes humorous anecdotes with her points supported by data and research.

You will feel yourself nodding along and collecting tips on how we could unite to create workplaces where men and women all reach professional achievement and personal fulfilment. Now that’s a movement I am proud to be part of!