I thought I would share with you this recipe by Chef Mattew Butcher as it appeared in ele for a Hot Cross Rum Cocktail. I am now under instruction to make sure we have such a delight available over Easter…
Toasted, buttered hot cross buns are one of life’s little pleasures – add a little rum and Easter just got a whole lot more fun! Chef Matthew Butcher has created a hot cross bun inspired cocktail – the Hot Cross Rum – that will be available at all of his venues across Melbourne and Sydney for a limited time (Yugo, Dive Bar and Estate).Hot Cross Rum Cocktail —
The Hot Cross Rum cocktail boasts hero ingredients of dark rum, ruby port and of course, a couple of hot cross buns. The sugar syrup, which can be made from scratch, tops off this ultimate Easter cocktail. Matt shares his recipe with us below so you can also enjoy this cocktail at home this Easter.
60ml dark rum
10ml Ruby Port
10ml melted butter
1 whole egg
15ml spiced sugar syrup*
2 x hot cross bun (second hot cross bun, to slice and toast for garnish)
1. Add all ingredients, except hot cross bun in shaker to combine and emulsify.
2. Add mixed ingredients and 1 x hot cross bun into blender. Blend on high until hot cross bun is pulverised.
3. Strain and gently press down on sediment to push absorbed liquid out.
4. Shake over ice and strain.
5. Serve with Hot Cross Bun toasted chips. Enjoy!
Spiced Sugar Syrup
1. Add 100g water and 100g sugar to saucepan on medium heat.
2. Add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder, ginger powder, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, or desired amounts, stir until sugar and powders are dissolved.
3. Strain through cheesecloth. The sugar syrup will keep up to 1 week in the fridge.
Have a very Happy Easter 🐰💒🐣
Another experiment in developing free useful resources for you
In a recent post on the KISS principle, I provided an example of a highly effective tool I use regarding reporting on projects in presentation format.
In my line of work I may have to report on up to 30 – 40 projects across a wide range of services and facilities at any given time. So I developed this project reporting template a while ago now to assist with such an eventuality in a very succinct way.
Some may say the template looks a bit dated. That being said, I have used it many times in many different configurations and styles. I know we are all aware of “death by power point.” However, if you want to make an impact across key projects very quickly without multiple slides for each one, then this is the way to do it. The theme you use is up to you, however it should reflect the style of the agency, group or situation.
It can be seen there are five key areas to the project reporting presentation template set out in Figure 1:
- The heading. Commonsense really, but I do see many presentations out there without this key feature.
- Key description box. Use this section to show: when the project is due, who is responsible for the project, how it links to the organisations strategic plan, the relevant KPIs, scope, comments and risks.
- A relevant photo of the project. A picture tells a thousand words!
- A resources quadrant. This is typically the overall costs that can be tracked using budget vs actuals financial data.
- Project timeline or Gantt Chart.
Try It: Here is the Downloadable Project Presentation Reporting Template Just For You!
So, here is a version of the template you can download in one of four formats, for your exploration and use:
Keynote Format (Mac)
The template was developed originally in Keynote, so a breeze for Mac users. Personally, I like using Keynote. I find it suits my creativity and intuitiveness.
Power Point Format (Microsoft Office)
This version is an alternative to Keynote, for those who use Power Point, or are more familiar with this product. I have used Power Point ever since it became available. It has vastly improved over many years. However, I still find it clunky at times.
Word (Microsoft Office)
I have provided a Word version as a point of interest. However, it has issues regarding the resourcing quadrant.
I have provided a PDF, just because it is always nice to see a presentation slide in a format that can be used in a document.
Although, it may go against the suggestion that presentations should be kept minimalistic (no more than six bullet points per slide. This slide allows you to present key data all on one page that you can talk to without needing many subsidiary slides to back up what you are presenting 😊 It also means that you won’t face a room like this one:
As per usual, I welcome any comments or thoughts you have. How effective are you when it comes to reporting on a project or many projects?
At the end of episode 22 from season one of New Amsterdam, Dr Iggy Frome says to a recovering patient:
“because, sometimes the world has light.”
The patient suffers from PTSD due to an explosion at a night club and as a result believes there is no good in the world. Sadly, we can find similar thoughts among many young people regarding the future, and a fair cross section of others who experience unhappiness. However, Dr Iggy says the world is a good place and there is much to look forward to. We just need to find it.
There is Much Light to Look for
Like Dr Iggy, I believe there is much light in the world. However, we do need to look for it, to seek it out, and to find it (although, some of us may not have to look too far). Here are some sources of light to move towards and sources of darkness, or distractions, to move away from:
Good Things to Look For:
- Friends, partners, family and colleagues who support us, who do not judge us, are constructive and spend time with us;
- Factual news and information regarding people, organisations and groups, who make a difference;
- People with a positive outlook, who have faith, use an open mind. There are amazing people the world over, in all walks of life;
- How to be healthy: both physically and mentally. We live in a fast paced world, or so it seems. Taking time to stop and smell the roses and eating properly is a must and there is plenty of information out there to help us to get in the right frame of mind before we make that dreaded visit to the doctor or other health professional (Okay, I admit, that is just me);
- Meaningful and fulfilling work, whether as a paid person or as a volunteer. People do need meaning in their life. Feeling useful is key to this;
- Bloggers who enlighten the world. Their knowledge, experiences and support brighten our world each day.
Bad Things That Distract Us
- Sensational news reporting. Much of what is reported feels and reads very much from a negative point of view, and is often repetitive;
- What is happening to the environment. Yes, there are environmental disasters out there, but there is so much good environmental work being done;
- Gossip by others. Gossip for the most part, in my experience, has no basis in truth, or if it does, is so distorted from the facts, it is harmful in the extreme. See my next point that follows;
- Some forms of social media. Perhaps it is not the platform, but how it is used and managed that is the real problem;
- Not resolving wars and conflicts. There are 255 countries in the world today including Taiwan and 60 dependencies. There are just over 40 conflicts happening worldwide at this time (i.e. 15% of countries). These wars and conflicts are terrible, we should help resolve them, albeit peacefully, instead of saying it has nothing to do with me.
Side Bar – Appreciation and Criticism of New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam is a show we enjoy at home. However, it has its critics, including those who say it is unrealistic, and in essence, damaging. Brit Trogen, who works at the Bellevue (the hospital on which New Amsterdam is based and filmed at), in The Atlantic makes this point: New Amsterdam fails both Doctors and Viewers. Her article is well written and I must say, makes many pertinent points. In essence she questions the decisions made by Max and some of the approaches used.
For me though, New Amsterdam is aspirational. There are many leadership, management and board issues put forward. I realise hospitals are complex. However, I have walked into many places like Max has done and wrung the changes, quickly (think Jan Carlzon re The Moments of Truth and inverting or flattening the organisational pyramid). And, so I enjoy watching his daily tousle as he tries to implement new leadership and management strategies. Some work, and some do not. That’s life, afterall.
The lists in this post are far from complete, but remember that light will always triumph over darkness (Just read Lord of the Rings to see how it happens 😊).
A fabulous piece by Sean Gregory at Time regarding looking beyond breaking the glass ceiling through an interview with Kim Ng
Kim Ng took her seat on the chartered jet. As assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, she was joining the team on a road trip in 2008…How Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s First Female GM, Finally Got the Top Job
Kim Ng took her seat on the chartered jet. As assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, she was joining the team on a road trip in 2008.
Soon the Dodgers players started filing onto the plane, and a flight attendant began taking drink orders from staffers. When she reached Ng—pronounced Ang, rhymes with Hang—the flight attendant leaned in close. “So what did you do to get on this plane?” she asked.
After nearly two decades in baseball front offices, Ng had become accustomed to the condescending glances, outright hostility and attempts at intimidation that come with being the only woman in the room. But this was, well, something else entirely. So Ng decided, as she had so many times in her professional life, to have some fun with the situation.
“Do you really want to know?” Ng said conspiratorially, teasing a salacious secret.
“Yeaaah,” the flight attendant replied, barely containing her enthusiasm.
“See all these guys?” Ng said.
“They all work for me,” Ng said.
Speaking during a video interview from a hotel room in Miami where she had been staying for the past month or so, Ng laughs recalling this conversation. “She slinked away,” Ng says. “The point was, Why are you asking me this?”
Ng was named the general manager of the Miami Marlins in November, becoming the first female GM in the history of major North American men’s pro team sports and the first East Asian American to lead a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. She had interviewed for GM positions at least 10 times over the years, only to be passed over for someone else. But her hiring by the Marlins was not just a personal victory—it was widely celebrated as a breakthrough with the potential to place more women in traditionally male power roles, in baseball and beyond.
If you want to know more, read on here
Following your dream is possible 😊
Why the Right Type of Communication is Important To You and Your Employees.
Following on from my last post regarding discussion and dialogue, let’s have a look at how poor communication disengages the people who work with you:
85% of Employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged!
The Gallup organisation in its most recent employee engagement meta-analysis involving 96 countries across the globe consisting of 112,312 business/work units comprising of 2,708,528 employees in 54 industries found that 85% of all employees are still either not engaged or are actively disengaged!
The meta-analysis is an ongoing study by Gallup for the last 50 years, so it does have some amazing data to share on the change of employee engagement during that time.
Working out the cost of disengagement
The Gallup revelation is not new, nor are the many different strategies that have been implemented the world over to try and get more people engaged at work.
Using two of the Gallup metrics, Dr Brit Andreatta detailed how to calculate the cost of disengagement to an organisation. The metrics are: 17.2% of employees are disengaged and an actively disengaged employee costs their organisation $3,400 for every $10,000 or 34% (How to Calculate the Cost of Employee Disengagement – Paul Petrone).
So, what you do first is identify the number of people that you have e.g. 10. Then multiply 10 x the metric re employees disengaged i.e. 0.172 (17.2%) = 1.72.
Next you work out the median salary or wage of your workforce. For example, say it is $60,000 per year. Then apply the cost of disengagement (34%). This comes to $20,400.
Finally, multiply the number of disengaged employees (1.72) by the cost of disengagement ($20,400). This equals $35,088 per year.
So, now imagine the following: if you have 100 employees, the cost is $350,880 each year. If you have 1,000 employees, the cost is $3,508,800 per year and so on.
Is it me? Or, is it you?
So, what is going on?
As it turns out, in most cases, ineffective management is the cause of the disconnect. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom in their article 10 Shocking Workplace Stats You Need To Know tells the story!
The way managers and leaders communicate with their teams causes a perception that alienates the disengaged employee. Some of the perceptions I have had to manage and then change over many years that bears this out includes:
- I am being micro-managed;
- My supervisor is not interested in what I am doing;
- I am not allowed to be involved;
- I have been told no yet again regarding accessing training and development;
- I am not allowed to have tools and equipment that will make my job easier and more interesting;
- No one ever listens to what I have got to say;
- Meetings are a waste of time;
- No one ever tells us what is going on around here.
The Solution – Work Out How to Communicate Effectively!
The bottom line is that the most effective way to commence breaking the communication drought is through keeping those around you informed!
Believe it or not, many leaders, managers, supervisors and team leaders need to learn this skill. You may be a good talker and have an “engaging” personality, but that doesn’t mean you are keeping those around you informed. There is nothing worse than seeing the look in the eyes of your team members that virtually says “I can’t hear you, because it sounds like being on the end of a long distance phone call.”
Contrary to what some may think, those in the frontline know their job very well. However, that doesn’t mean they know what is happening throughout the organisation, let alone how the organisation works. Then on top of this, there is a disconnect occurring between the generations.
There is plenty of good material and courses that a manager can access regarding dealing with difficult people and situations. There are resources on how to delegate effectively. There is even courses on how to undertake an effective presentation or run a worthwhile meeting. There are training programs regarding how the different generations like to do things in the workplace (Oh boy, how this has changed. When I first started work, I did as I was told – thinking for myself wasn’t an option).
The most effective tool I have ever used is a quarterly presentation to all staff regarding how well the organisation is functioning and confirmation of where we are heading, together. My second most effective method: how I run a meeting. In short, I ensure everyone is involved. It takes a huge effort to do this, but it works. Then, of course, there are those meetings I let others run. The third most effective tool: a staff newsletter. The great secret here is working out a format that your team(s) like – it’s simple enough to do – just ask them. Finally, I get out and about and ask questions and I try to listen as best I can. Believe it or not most staff like this.
So next time you begin a conversation, make sure you are not perceived as using one of these:
Understanding the difference between what is discussion and what is dialogue will improve your level of communication. Read on…
In today’s world, even more than ever, we need to start improving our level of communication. I say this, because what I have noticed over a long period of time, is an ever increasing level of uninformed discussion driving outcomes due to meaningful dialogue not occurring in the first place😱
What is the difference between Discussion and Dialogue?
Discussion is often confused with dialogue. They are quite different as we shall see:
Tom Barrett suggests discussion is analysing different points of view.
Discussion should be about the merits of a case, to pull it apart, to present an analysis of different points of view. For example: an agenda, a presentation, a report, a lecture.
Unfortunately, because discussion is one sided, it can be quite divisive. Social media is a case in point. So too, is a person in a position of authority that displays narcissistic behaviour.
However, discussion can also be consensus orientated. Team meetings, project groups, many board meetings and cabinet are more about consensus i.e. as James Madden points out, without going to a formal vote. Consensus avoids the sense of winners and losers. Will informed discussion in this situation, is key.
Many of the models developed on the effective use of dialogue over the last 40 years are generally attributed to prominent philosopher Jürgen Haberman and his theory of communicative action.
As Camille Marquis points out: communicative action assumes the participants are equal in the dialogue and open to the other’s reasons. There is an exchange of reasons and counter-reasons, arguments and counter-arguments.
Or to put it more simply: dialogue is generally constructive. As Kevin Eikenberry suggests, dialogue is a process that allows us to think together.
The bottom line regarding dialogue: it is all about trust.
Dialogue is the language of the diplomat. Workshops also fall into this category as it is collaborative in nature. They are designed to inform (or they should be), promote better understanding and produce a list of potential solutions.
Discussion, for all intents and purposes, is informal debate, or “this is my view on the matter” and is concerned with making a decision. Dialogue on the other hand, is a meeting of the minds to examine a concept or idea, to collaborate through the sharing of information, knowledge, wisdom and experience.
With the local governments I work with, I use dialogue and discussion techniques to help them make better decisions through using the following steps:
- Use dialogue first. Typically, this means exploring issues for consideration through a workshop.
- The outcomes from the workshop then go forward for presentation at a briefing session – this allows for further (or final) clarification.
- The final phase involves the outcomes going to a Council (board) meeting for decision based on formal discussion (debate) or preferably, by consensus.
Good communication allows us to be part of the solution, not part of the problem 😊
For those of you out there who are like me and overthink just about everything, there is a solution. I have no doubt you have heard of the KISS principle. Most of us know it stands for: Keep It Simple Stupid. In fact, the letters KISS do have a number of other meanings such as: Keep It Short and Simple or Keep It Smart and Simple.
Why do we overthink things? David A Clark puts it best: he uses the term “overthink” to refer to an excessive tendency to monitor, evaluate, and attempt to control all types of thought. Overthinkers are not only highly aware of their thoughts, but they also spend a lot of time trying to understand the causes and meaning of their thoughts.
So, it’s almost being like in a causal loop.
Or, in my case, how more times do I have to refine this report until I am happy with it? How many more times do I have to review my draft letter, blog, email etc.
At the heart of KISS is spending the time to simplify the complicated in order to get ahead.
Whenever, I get bogged down and start to regret compiling a particular document it’s because I haven’t planned it out first. I haven’t taken into account what format I will use and what criteria it will contain. It’s at this point I remember to invoke KISS.
Most of the time I use KISS to help me draft a whole range of documents and reports. My KISS principle in this instance is based around being creative. If I’m not bored in preparing the document, then my reader will not be bored either. So, these are my 4 tips:
- Produce your document in a different format.
- As yourself: “Will one page actually do the trick?”
- Draw up a mindmap.
- Find a suitable template!
A document in a different format
This is a technique I picked up from watching Japanese and Korean dramas. Reports and proposals are often shown encapsulated within a presentation e.g. PowerPoint or Keynote.
This in itself makes you keep your document focused and to the point. It works.
Note: This template can also be used for the one page solution, as explained in the next section.
The one page solution
I am sure many of you have been told at work that any document more than a page in length put forward for consideration will be glossed over or even dismissed.
I learn’t very early on this was true.
In essence, what you prepare is a summary that contains the critical information using the following outline:
- Proposal Owner
- One sentence that describes the solution
- Key milestones or touch points
- Two to three sentences outlining how the project will be conducted, the SWOT, other factors.
- Link to Corporate Plan
- This could be the strategic plan, corporate business plan, other plan
- Resources/Financial Impact
- What key resources are required to deliver the project
- What are the measures of success?
- Outline the two or three key risks
How you set out that one page is up to you, but it must make sense to the reader. After all, aren’t one page websites now a thing?
Using a mindmap
A mindmap will help you plan all the elements required for your document. It then acts as a checklist to help make sure you have captured all the necessary information.
Find a template
I am sure many of you do this. There are a number of good resources out there online that have just the “right” template you are looking for.
Templates save on planning out the document and provide good insights on the type of information each section requires.
Templates do not have to be followed as set out. You can modify them to suit you or even just use some of the content.
A final word
Linda often says this to me: your draft is better than most people’s final version. Such a comment always brings me back down to Earth and keeps me grounded. It reminds me that enough is enough and my document is ready to go.
So, what do you overthink?
A Role Model (and A Leader)
Why is The Phantom a Role Model?
The Phantom is, without a doubt, my favourite comic book character. He is neither in the Marvel Universe nor the DC Universe (although both comic houses did publish a handful of Phantom stories along the way). He is human, but has amazing prowess and an incredible ability to deal with criminals. As kids, we all wanted a phantom ring. Even now, I will buy the latest comic book release when I come across one. Linda likes to read them too.
For as long as I can remember, the Phantom has exhibited the following traits and qualities:
- He works hard at improving himself;
- He believes in justice for all and is the secret head of the Jungle Patrol;
- He helps his neighbours whenever they are in trouble (neighbouring districts and kingdoms);
- He protects the weak and downtrodden;
- He looks after his health and cares for his family and friends;
- He is a strong environmentalist and cares deeply for animals and other important elements of nature;
- The Phantom is respected by heads of government the world over.
As a leader he takes charge with s clear purpose and works with others as required. He communicates and keeps those around him informed. He keeps himself up to date and invests in training and development not just for himself, but those who assist him with the very important role that he undertakes every day of his life.
Underneath it all, the Phantom is very human, but not flawed like many superheroes are. Apart from upholding justice, he goes about his life in a very manner of fact way: spends time at home, he studies, keeps an eye on newsworthy items and has a family (eventually). Funnily enough, everyone know he is Mr Kit Walker, but no one has ever seen his face except for his wife. There is an Old Jungle Saying: “He who sees the Phantom’s face, dies a horrible death,” or “In China it is said, man who looks on Phantom’s naked face must surely die.”
The Phantom is also known as The Ghost Who Walks.
So, Who is the Phantom – The Ghost Who Walks?
The Ghost Who Walks is an interesting character. To understand why he is a role model, we need to understand him as a person, his background and family history.
The Phantom is credited as being the first “costumed superhero”, i.e. the first crimefighter to wear the skintight costume attributed to comic book superheroes, and being the first hero to have white eyes behind his mask, a phenomenon very common with superheroes (The Ghost Who Walks Wiki). Although, as I point out in the sidebar below, this may or may not be the case.
The comic strip legend goes that during the sixteenth century, a man named Christopher Walker was sailing on the seas off Africa with his father, when they fell prey to a pirates’ attack. The pirates slaughtered the ship’s crew and blew up the ship. The only survivor was young Christopher. He was washed up onto the Bangallan Beach. He then took his father’s skull and swore an oath upon it, “I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice! And my sons, and their sons, shall follow me!“
Thus originated the first Phantom. He became friends with the various local tribes and dedicated his life to fighting injustice and cruelty. The violet costume was standardized by this Christopher ‘Kit‘ Walker (Comicvine).
The legend in the jungles of Bangall is that he can never die. He lives in the Skull Cave within The Deep Woods. As International Hero points out, the Phantom is both more, and less, than his legend. Instead of a single, undying apparition, the Phantom is a dynasty of crimefighters who have sworn down the years to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, and if necessary, to lay down their lives in the service of justice. Directly descended from Christopher Standish, Columbus’ cabin boy, the current Phantom, Kit Walker, is the 21st of the line. Since the 1930s, when he took over after the death of his father, Kit has fought the good fight. In 1977, after decades of courtship, he married his love Diana Palmer, and they now have two children, Christopher (Kit) and Heloise.
The future looks interesting for the Phantom as Christopher (Kit) an Heloise may be the 22 and 23 phantoms respectively.
The Phantom is forged so strongly by his past, that it becomes his destiny to do what he does. The struggle of such a burden is played out through his children when they become of age including whether they want to become phantoms or not. Ominous events step in and the emotional elastic band pulls the children towards their fate.
Sidebar – A Long Lost Comic Collection and Favourite Anime Superhero
Once upon a time I had my dad’s comic collection and many of those in his collection were Phantom comics. The earliest edition I can remember in the collection was No. 7. On Comics Price Guide, Issue No 7 (Australia) in mint condition is worth $2,500 (Aus). The copy I had was probably worth somewhere between $150 – $450. So, overall, I had quite a valuable collection. The only problem was my mum, I think, threw them all out when I was away at boarding school many years ago and I didn’t realise this for a number of years.
My all time favourite cartoon (anime) superhero is Golden-bat (Phantoma) and was very popular in Australia. Golden Bat (or Ogon Bat) is of Japanese origin. Ōgon Bat made his debut in a kamishibai in 1930/31, a traveling show in which a sequence of pictures is narrated by a storyteller. The character was popular enough to survive the decline of kamishibai following World War II and was eventually translated into manga and anime form (Public Domain Super Heroes). He was the first illustrated superhero, and the first with many of the superpowers we see in our super heroes today. He pre-dates Superman by 8 years and The Phantom by six years. Due to his popularity in Japan, Golden Bat was essentially the Trope Maker for Japanese superheroes (TV Tropes).
The anime of Golden-bat was produced in Japan in 1967. There were also live action films made.
So, I hope your weekend is going well, and for those who observe Valentine’s Day I hope it is everything you wish it to be 🌹
Do you have a favourite superhero that is also a role model?
Inspired by other creative bloggers out there, I have commenced the development of useful resources based on posts within the Strategic Teams Blog and from my book: Engage, Communicate and Act 😊
So, my first attempt is: Reclaim Your Space. This booklet is based on a short post, from a little while back regarding the importance of decluttering your work area. Whether you have a defined work space, an office (if you still use one), or access to shared office space, clutter is a key issue.
The version I have published for your perusal is a flip book. Although it is quite short, it gives you an idea of the potential regarding converting posts, Word documents and other formatted documents using ePublication software and apps.
You should be able to download the flip book as a PDF as well. There is no guarantee this resource will be a successful experience for you, but it has worked well for me so far and I am happy with the result.
The other great thing about such software and apps is being able to create snazzy looking videos. Which has got me thinking about what would be of most value to those who need such resources …
So, here is to the ongoing experimentation regarding the development of useful resources! Any thoughts or comments you have are most welcome 😊