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200 scientific studies on 275,000 people.

It’s been shown.

Happy workers have:

ūüďą Higher levels of productivity
ūüíį Produced higher sales
ūüĎć Performed better at leadership positions
ūü§í Taken less sick days
ūüėä Less tendency to quit

Having the right initiatives to build a happier workplace isn’t only smart.

It’s also great for business growth in the long run.

We are 7!

7

 

I love birthdays and I love the number 7. So today calls for much laughter and joy as Dream Catalyst celebrates our 7th birthday!

As I reflect on this special day, this quote by Charles Bukowski comes to mind. “The Free Soul is rare but you know it when you see it basically because you feel good, very good when you are near or with them.”¬†

When I first came across this quote, my thought was “what if we create more opportunities for souls to be a free soul?”¬†Then surely, we will amplify the magnitude of goodness felt. So that the free soul is no longer rare, but exists in abundance.

I am glad that starting Dream Catalyst provided me with opportunities to do exactly that. To create a better world for all by helping businesses, teams and individuals to build a positive work culture. In so doing, may we continue to be amplifiers of goodness.

Thank you for being a part of our awesome journey!

 

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Please Reply to Your Customers

how-to-keep-the-customer

The client is the foundation of any new and repeated business’ success.

As a consultant and trainer who provides consultancy and training solutions for companies on building positive client experiences as one of our business growth recommendations, I am naturally more aware and attune to the service standards I receive in my daily living.

Because I interact often with service teams, I understand the difficulties and challenges faced by them. As such, I strive to be a good client.

thank-youWhen I experience positive customer experience, I will (1) thank the staff and share my experience with them and (2) make the effort to write in to the management to commend the staff.

And I would like to encourage you to do likewise. We are often quick to complain but truly slow to praise. It can make a difference to that employee who made the effort to provide excellent service. On one occasion, after I wrote in to commend a manager and her team, the business owner gave the whole team an increment in salary. I learnt this when I bumped into that manager and she joyfully related the story. It took me just 20 minutes to craft the email, the outcome (unexpected) was absolutely worth it!

 

In this quiet economy where customers have myriad of choices and are tightening their belts, it pays to pay attention to your customers.

What puzzles me is the companies who do not even bother replying to the commendation emails that I sent. The email address and the intended recipient (either business owner, manager or customer service feedback) will be accurate as I would have checked that with the service staff.

If your customer has made the effort to write in to commend your staff, this is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the relationship and create brand loyalty. It is also an excellent opportunity to recognise your staff member and strengthen employee engagement.

The following is an example of a reply that I recently received.

Dear Bernadette,

Thank you for shopping at Takashimaya and your kind compliment towards our promoter, Ms Liyi, who attended to you on 25 September 2016. We are very glad to learn of your wow experience shopping with us.

We had since, conveyed your appreciation to Ms Liyi and had also share to the Department of your compliment toward her during our morning briefing.

Thank you again for shopping at Takashimaya and we look forward to serving you again soon.

Thank you and regards,
Eugene Chin
Sports Department
Takashimaya Singapore Ltd

 

It felt great when I read the email¬†as I am glad to know that Ms Liyi’s effort was recognised. It is excellent how it was shared with the department as this would be a refresher reminder to the team on providing positive customer experience.

What’s telling is that it also demonstrates the importance that Takashimaya places on customer experience. I was told to write in on¬†the general feedback form found¬†on Takashimaya website. My email¬†was then passed onto the relevant department.

As a customer of Takashimaya, this reply reinforced the positive feelings I have of shopping there. It increases the likelihood of me repeating my experience and recommending the place to others.

In this quiet economy where customers have myriad of choices and are tightening their belts, it pays to pay attention to your customers.

When your customers do write in, please reply toshopping them.

If it is a compliment, you will strengthen the existing relationship. If it is a complaint, you have been given a chance to turn your upset customer into a fan. Either way, it is an opportunity to create a positive moment of truth. Seize it.

For ways to design a positive and engaging customer customer experience, contact us to find out more.

 

 

 

Dislike networking? Here are 3 tips how to start enjoying them!

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When I started Dream Catalyst, the most given piece of advice was “go and network”. So I went for various business networking events.¬† In my head, I knew that it was great advice but I didn’t really enjoy them.

Networking at that time wasn’t fun nor was it meaningful for me. It did not match my values in relation to work (purposeful, engaging and creating value) and so I stopped going.

This year, I decided to give it a go again at the firm encouragement of friends. But this time round, it is a totally different story. I am absolutely enjoying my networking experience and have been encouraging others to do likewise.

For those who dislike networking, here are 3 tips on how to start enjoying networking:

Tip 1: Follow Your Heart

I enjoy fun and so I decided to look for networking events that were possibly fun too. Likewise, you have to decide on what type of networking events work best for you. The following are some events I have attended in the past months which were enjoyable.

I stumbled onto LadyBoss through facebook and decided to sign up for the panel discussion. I like the relaxed feel of the event and enjoyed meeting fellow women entrepreneurs and leaders.  The conversations were light and engaging. There were also opportunities to chat about work. Perfect mix.

ladyboss-panel
“Marketing to Women”, the panel discussion at the last Ladyboss event

Jackie Yeo, the co-founder of Ladyboss,¬†shares “In the past, many networking events which I have been to have been mostly dominated by men and it was difficult to find other women entrepreneurs to talk to. So the idea for LadyBoss events was to have events where women entrepreneurs know that most of the other attendees will be women entrepreneurs as well! It will be a place where we can find comfort in knowing we are similar in so many ways, build new relationships, collaborate and more. LadyBoss Asia though is part of a much larger vision where LadyBoss would signify a movement, one that empowers and inspires women through entrepreneurship. The LadyBoss movement would comprise of media, community, events and more throughout Asia.”

When you follow your heart and attend events that you resonate with, often times you will connect with other like-minded individuals. Such was the case with Christine whom I met at my first Ladyboss event. We hit it off so well that we met up separately for lunch.

With Christine at LadybossAsia
With Christine Liao from Meggnify

Through her, I learnt about¬†Flow and absolutely love the positive vibes. Chatted with Jonathan from Meggnify who shared that he started Flow to be a support group for Entrepreneurs and like minded individuals to gather and provide support for each other through the journey. “The Journey of Entrepreneurship is often tough and lonely and others often do not find it easy to understand why we are doing it. Having benefited from a support group like Flow ourselves many years back, we at Meggnify therefore decided to pay¬†it forward and try to benefit the many other startups out there as well.”

shriJoining a professional body is another way to network. I recently joined Singapore Human Resources Institute as an associate member and attended its #SocialHR. Love the positive vibes and the sharing by the invited speakers.

Another way that I follow my heart to networking is signing up for seminars and talks. Am enthusiastic about ongoing learning and so, I decided to marry the both. So far, it has worked out positively. New learnings and new business opportunities have emerged.

 

 

Tip 2: Go With A Friend

whatsapp-group
Some members of my WhatsApp Group had so much fun attending a networking event that we decided to continue the conversations over supper!

During my journey to rediscover and enjoy networking, I realised that some of my friends shared similar concerns about networking. So I decided to start a WhatsApp group amongst my friends so that (1) we could share information on upcoming networking events, (2) to attend the events together for those who are keen and (3) to share resources.

One of my friends Karen Pang who offers¬†personal concierge to help you regain the luxury of time, has found the WhatsApp group to be useful. ¬†“Building a business, let alone a successful business takes a lot of time and drive. It’s so important to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep me going. By surrounding myself with people who share a similar drive and ambition, we are more likely to move forward as a group. Being in the WhatsApp group gives me the opportunity to instantaneously share information and even cross-sell our service and product, it also allows me to get a ‘booster shot’ of assurance and positivity whenever and wherever I needed one.”

PS: do remember to mingle and not just stick to your friend(s) the whole night. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of signing up for that event.

Tip 3: Create Value

Like attract like.create-value

If you intend the networking session to be meaningful, then be someone who creates value for others.

When you meet someone at an event, engage them in conversations. And be generous with information or sharing that is useful for them. The key words being useful to¬†them, not just focus on pitching your business or products which you think is useful. ūüôā

Creating value for others makes the networking experience a human- and heart-centred experience.

I found that creating value for others makes the networking experience a human- and heart-centred experience. It allows us to flow back into fundamentals of being human – to connect, engage and help each other.

 

Is your work culture attracting your dream team?

teamwork

 

Before I graduated from my diploma course in 1994, I secured two job interviews.

One was with a bank as a PR executive, prestigious location with nice looking workstations plus excellent career path. I had shared with the PR manager who interviewed me that my goal was to be in her role in a few years.

The other was for a position as an events executive with a local SME located in an industrial area. There was no clear training pathways or career progression.

Both offered me the job. I chose the latter because the people I bumped into at the company were warm and friendly. Whereas, the environment at the bank felt sterile.

That was my first taste of an aspect of “work culture” as I now understand it.

A positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Work culture refers to the beliefs, thought processes, attitudes of the employees, ideologies, and principles of the organisation. The culture determines the way employees interact with each other and how an organisation functions.

To a large extent, management sets the tone for how the culture is and evolves. For example, if the management has a fixed mindset and extols virtues of competiveness, then the culture will be one where individuals and teams put their personal survival and gain as priority instead of synergising with others. In the past, good employees often stay on in spite of culture, for the sake of their rice bowl.

It is now a different landscape.

If a company does not keep up with increasingly loud call for a positive work culture, then business owners will have difficulty attracting the dream team he or she desires. A talented high performing individual will naturally choose a company that is aligned to his or her values. If she or he places teamwork and supportive colleagues high on the values list, then a company known for its positive work culture would be the top choice.

download team spirit

As a business owner, how would having a positive work culture benefits you?

A large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology shows that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

In a Harvard Business Review article, the authors wrote about how positive work cultures are more productive. It shared about a research article published in the Journal of Applied Behavioural Science in which Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan found that a workplace characterized by positive and virtuous practices excels in a number of domains.

Positive and virtuous practices include:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others¬†are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.

Cameron and his colleagues explain that there are three reasons these practices benefit the company. Positive practices:

  • Increase positive emotions¬†which broaden employees‚Äô¬†resources and abilities¬†by improving people‚Äôs relationships with each other¬†and amplifying¬†their¬†creativity and ability to¬†think¬†creatively.
  • Buffer against negative events like stress, improving employees ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties.
  • Attract and bolster employees, making them more¬†loyal¬†and bringing out the best in them.

There are bottom-line benefits as well. Summarizing the findings, Cameron explains that: ‚ÄúWhen organizations institute positive, virtuous practices they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness ‚ÄĒ including financial performance, customer satisfaction, and productivity”.

There are many small steps you¬†can take to start building one that is vibrant and positive – where employees¬†feel valued, engaged and are proud to be your company’s ambassadors. They will become¬†the dream team that you have envisioned.

successBut first, it starts with you making the decision on culture. That will set the stage for what follows next.

For ways to build a positive work culture, contact us to find out more about our Positivity at Work programmes.

 

No Natural Talent? Grow your Ability. It’s more lasting.

The Heart 11 Sept 2012

 

Read “Mindset, the new psychology of success” by Carol S Dweck recently. Wished I had read this in 2006 but hey,¬†awesome to have read it now. ūüėä

Mindset BookThe author Carol Dweck, a Standford University psychologist, shared how having a growth mindset as leaders, teachers, parents, coaches etc can motivate people to reach their goals and success. That by praising effort rather than talent has long term positive effects.

I like to share about my art teacher Diana who demonstrates this growth mindset when teaching her students and the immense impact it has.

I was terrible in art in secondary school and believed that I had no talent. Then in 2012, a friend connected me with Diana as I was interested to learn how to paint.

The Heart (main picture) was completed at my first lesson. It was only possible because Diana shared that everyone can learn how to paint. So I focused on picking up the techniques required rather than on my past experiences of scoring low marks on art.

Through the subsequent lessons, I discovered that the times when I could be immersed in the learning process was when I enjoyed it the most. During the moments when I focused on whether the painting was pretty or not, was when I became stressed and felt like giving up (fixed mindset came to play).

The more I became interested in the painting process rather than questioning myself¬†if I’ve talent or not, the more ‘in flow” I became. I would choose a different focus each time in order to learn different techniques eg painting koi fish, the sea or lace curtains.

The fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static which leads to a desire to look smart and therefore, a tendency to:

  • avoid challenges
  • gets defensive or give up easily when faced with obstacles
  • sees effort as fruitless or worse
  • ignore useful negative feedback
  • feels threatened by the success of others

As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.

On the other hand, the growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed which leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to:

  • embrace challenges
  • persist in the face of obstacles
  • see effort as the path to mastery
  • learn from criticism
  • find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

As a result, people with growth mindset reach ever-higher levels of achievements.

And we may have a growth mindset for one aspect of our lives, and a fixed mindset in another. For example, we may have a growth mindset as a manager but a fixed mindset when it comes to our relationship with our spouse.

Twin babiesTo me, the most important information is that we were all born with a growth mindset! Babies do not stop learning to crawl, to stand and to walk because they decide it is too hard and not worth the effort. They fall, they get up and barge forward.

As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart.

Carol studied thousands of people and in one of them, she and her researchers offered 4 years old a choice: they could redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or they could try a harder one. They found that even at this tender age, children with the fixed mindset – the ones who believe in fixed traits – stuck with the safe ones. “Kids who are born smart don’t do mistakes” they shared with the researchers. They want to make sure they succeed. Smart people should always succeed.

Children with the growth mindset¬† – the ones who believe you could get smarter – chose one hard one after another. They thought it was strange that why anyone would want to keep doing the same puzzle over and over again. Success is about stretching themselves. It’s about becoming smarter.

Understanding about the growth mindset has many useful applications for us both on a personal and professional level.

The way we self-talk/ self-coach, handle situations and relate to people will be totally different depending on the choice of our mindset. The way we motivate ourselves and others will also be entirely different.

Much food for thought and great insights for moving forward.

One Critical Mistake Many Business Owners Make

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After spending huge amount of time and money on business plan, branding, hiring, set up, marketing, sales and all that is necessary, a company is ready to rock and roll. Let the big bucks roll in.

But often, there’s¬†one critical mistake that¬†many businesses make. They forget about the customers.

They forget about designing a positive customer experience, to provide wow moments of truth. They forget about ensuring that their teams are positive ambassadors for the brand.

No customers = No business

Bad customer experience = giving the customer to others

Long gone are the days when one single company will continue to¬†have a monopoly on services or products. Customers have choice. And when there’s choice, then¬†every single customer interaction is a precious opportunity to create a fan for your business.

Example 1, imagine spending money on digital marketing to create leads. When someone finally calls your company with an enquiry, what would be his or her first impression of your company?  Tip: make a call to your own hotline to assess the customer experience.

Example 2, think of your recent experience at a retail or F&B outlet. What was the experience like? It blows my mind that business owners would invest in $$$$$$$$$ to open shop but can totally forget about the ingredients for creating positive customer experience. Nice looking shop with lousy food/ products and/or surly staff = another new shop taking over the place in time.  Tip: conducting well-designed mystery customer/ shopper audits is a powerful way to affirm or wake up your team.

All successful entrepreneurs will share that placing customers at the core of their business strategy is what makes them successful. happy customer

What about you?

If you are your brand’s customer, would you be a fan?

 

 

 

Celebrating Values on World Values Day

World Values Day

World Values Day (WVD) will be celebrated around the world on the first truly international World Values Day to be held on 20th October, 2016. The purpose of WVD will be to raise and deepen awareness and practice of values all around the world ‚Äď highlighting the crucial role of values in the well-being of individuals, families, schools, organisations and society as a whole.‚ÄĚ

Awesome!

It was in 2005 that I had my first reflective session on values hierarchy work. It made me realize how deeply values impacted both the conscious and unconscious decisions that we make and actions that we take in our lives. Some of the wise and not so clever decisions I have made were all driven by values. And when I understood them better, it helped transformed my life and relationships. It also benefitted my business.

For example, making a difference and fun are two top values for me. That’s why starting and running Dream Catalyst is fulfilling because it allows me to enjoy multiple roles (consultant, trainer, coach and mentor, author and artist)  working with diverse clients (businesses, teams, non profit organisations and individuals) and making a positive difference in their lives.

Since the personal ‚Äúaha‚ÄĚ transformation, I‚Äôve actively included values work in my coaching sessions with individuals and also in my consultancy and training journey with businesses.

Helping businesses, teams and individuals to align values in order to enjoy positivity in their lives and workplaces reap so much benefits.

World Values Day 2That’s why it made me smile big time when I read an FB post about the first world values day.  The more awareness is raised on the crucial role of values in the well-being of individuals, families, schools, organisations and society as a whole, the brighter our world will be.

To find out more on how you can support World Values Day initiative: http://www.worldvaluesday.com/

To better engage your team through understanding of values, contact us to find out more about ‚ÄúThe Cultural Transformation Tools‚ÄĚ programme which you can use to¬†map your values to measure and manage your culture.¬† What you measure, you can manage.