Stepping Out


At Next Step Consulting, we recently had the honor of coaching Anna, a health professional, in her business and her life, over an eight week period. In her very first session, Anna was overwhelmed by self-sabotaging voices in her head, that had stopped her from working and making the income she would usually make and she was desperately seeking clarity around her life and heart’s deep purpose.

The voices in Anna’s head were debilitating. However thanks to Anna’s incredible persistence and growing awareness, she was able by her third coaching session, to completely transcend her negative voices and let them fade into the background.

Once Anna was able to get the voices in her head under control, it became clear that while being a health professional was what she did for a living, it was not her greatest joy.

Anna discovered that songwriting and performing offered her both a more fulfilling and financially rewarding career. Over a two-week period between her third and fourth coaching sessions, Anna committed to songwriting for 1 hour everyday without fail. By the fourth session, Anna had stepped out her normal comfort zone and arrived for her coaching session with guitar in hand and performed amazing original material.

Coaching sessions offered Anna clarity. Anna’s real results came from what she achieved between sessions: namely her persistence, her daily practice to ‘just do it’ and in the end, her willingness to step out her comfort zone again and again.

Do you have clarity but lack results?

If so, maybe a little persistence is in order?

Walt Disney finally landed financing on his 300th attempt!

Do you lack the skill level needed to succeed?

If so, just do it. Practice, practice, practice!

Michael Jordan became better at playing basketball than everyone else by first becoming better at practicing than everyone else. Until the end of his career, Michael was known to be the first person to get to the gym and the last one to leave!

Do you need a hand taking some healthy risks and stepping out of your comfort zone?

If so, lean into your edge more and give us a call on 0407 301 200. Our coaching delivers results or your money back!  That’s our ‘stepping out of our comfort zone’, guarantee to you!

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What is it that allows leaders to cruise at 40,000 feet while others never leave the snake pit?

The answer lies in winning.

But not in the way you might think.

Winning is the result of a peak performance. Yet a Peak Performer is most often the person who watches, listens, learns from everything and asks the best questions.

Two boys in my son’s soccer team came over to their mothers after the weekend game against another regional team. The mothers, who had talked all game and had not seen their sons play at all, asked, “Did you win?“

Our team was a player short all game and the boys worked hard in the first half to defend well. My son, who can play striker or keeper equally, played keeper and saved five goal attempts in the first half. By half time the score was nil all.

Our parent soccer coaching rep then got greedy and moved my son to striker and left defending the goals in charge of a much less experienced player. In the second half, the parent rep yelled continuously and desperately for my son to score. This just drew 2 and 3 opposition defenders to him, which made his task of scoring nearly impossible. Meanwhile, the other team snuck 4 goals past our weaker keeper!

As we all walked from the field, our ‘someday maybe’ leader parent coaching rep kept criticizing the other team and the two mothers said, “maybe you boys had an off day?” and “don’t worry, we’ll win next time!”

As we walked to the car, my son asked, “What did you learn from the game Dad?”

I replied, “Son, our parent rep behaved like a fool and still lives in a snake pit! If you had stayed as keeper for the second half and the game had tied, our team would have had a better chance to score during penalty shootouts, where you could have goal kept and been a scorer at the same time.”

I then asked him what he’d learnt.

He cheerfully piped up, “Dad. If you lose say nothing, if you win say less!”

Real losers focus only on winning. Leaders elevate by learning, not by winning. They become peak performers and let the results speak for themselves.

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Polarity and Proximity


What is the Law of Proximity?

You become like those things around you.

Love breeds love. Contempt breeds contempt. Greed breeds greed. Women in close proximity cycle together. etc. In business, like-minded people tend to attract like-minded people and people working in close proximity become more similar than different. That’s Proximity at work!


What is the Law of Polarity?

Opposite poles are complementary and contained in one another.

We would not know what light was, if there was no dark; the masculine would not exist without the feminine. We would not see the moon if there was no sun. In business, some businesses must fail for others to succeed. In every problem lies the seeds of an opportunity. That’s Polarity.



Can we predict the future?

Not often.  Unless we have psychic abilities and even those with prophetic gifts are not always correct in terms of timing.


Can we build stories about the future?




Because of The Laws of Polarity and Proximity.



The Law of Proximity shows us that most businesses (and most relationships) breed a default story about the future, which we call “THE OFFICIAL FUTURE”. A self-reinforcing (and completely senseless) perception of the way things are and is a projection based on the PAST.

The OFFICIAL FUTURE often has a sort of complacency, sleepiness, eccentricity and entitlement to it and it can be DEADLY!   That’s the bad part!


The Law of Polarity shows us that in all moments, complementary polarities exits. Things can be both ‘better’ and ‘worse’. Circumstances can ‘stay the same’ and be ‘very different’. We can build stories based on these polarities.   That’s the good part!


What do these stories look like?

Let’s consider AUSTRALIA…


1. ‘She’ll be right mate!’

Economy is still good.      


2. ‘Aussie Rules’

Economy booms for 10 more years as even more of our mineral resources are needed by the world.


3. ‘Uncle Sam Dies’

The US stock market collapses and the entire world (including China) experiences a 5 year economic depression.


4. ‘Disneyworld Australia’

As US society gradually collapses, the number of wealthy international ‘baby boomer’ tourists tracking to Australia skyrockets.


5. ‘China Invasion’ 

China buys up even more of our assets and in 15 years starts formally migrating large numbers of its burgeoning population into South East Asia and Australia.


Story telling gives us more than one scenario for the future. 

Story telling like this aims to build ‘memories of the future’. It challenges conventional managers to abandon the one-line or ‘official future’ approach.

Story telling gives us more than one scenario for the future and puts us in a stronger and more aware place to take advantage of changes in the business environment.

The ‘Official Future’ approach is invariably risky. There is a dangerous lag between external change and internal perception.

“I think there is a world market for about five computers”

Thomas J Watson, IBM Chairman (1943)

Each scenario is simply an imaginative story about the future – a sketch of ‘life’ as it could develop from the present moment into the future. Well developed stories about each possibility, help you see emerging possibilities first:

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”

John Scully Former CEO of Pepsi and Apple Computer




At Next Step Consulting, we are experts in Scenario Planning and Strategy. If you engage us to help with your Strategy, we won’t guarantee you that we will always be right about the future, but better still, we’ll help you drop the downside risks, so that you are almost never wrong about the future.

Why not call us on +61 407 301 200.  We’ll gently remind you that failing to anticipate for multiple possibilities is a plan for long-term failure.


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Living the Culture

I came across these ‘Seven Lessons from The Founders’ of Australia’s most successful start-ups, in a Boss Magazine article on a recent flight.

Upon reflection…

Good leaders ‘talk the talk’. They articulate a consistent and deliberate message.

Great leaders ‘walk their talk’. What they say and what they do are consistent.

Outstanding leaders lead by ‘walking about’ and connecting authentically with every member of their team on regular basis. They commit to ‘living the culture’.

Even with a workforce of 100 employees, leaders who live the culture, spend 1-2 minutes every day or every two days with every single employee.

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Winning Big Deals

Often a CEO is required to make big deals; deals that can potentially make or break a company.

Raising capital at the start of a venture, requires the CEO or company owners to secure funding deals, with a return on investment that satisfies ‘the money’, without surrendering significant amounts of equity. e.g. avoid TV ‘Shark Tank’ hosts.

Once a business is mature, with a significant product development and manufacturing workforce, the CEO is often called in to ‘do deals’ with pushy employee unions.

In either case, if you want to ‘do a great deal’, take time, lots of time. Step back and consider at least the following:

  • Make time to write everything that is said verbally and send regular written confirmation to all parties, to make sure that all the players are on the same page.
  • Know and build your BATNAs. Your Best Alternatives to The Negotiated Agreement allow you to walk away, when the other player is being greedy and propels them towards agreement, when you first start communicating that you have other options.
  • Minimise the downside risks first. Don’t be mesmerized by a promising upside, if you also risk losing your shirt. Richard Branson only says, “Screw it, let’s do it!” after he has the downside risk minimised.
  • Call on your team. Call on your Executive Coach, Accountant, Strategist, IP lawyer and Commercial Lawyer. Make sure you have a checklist and mark it off. Don’t leave any stones unturned.

Early this year, a long-standing client engaged me to turnaround an average deal, with a payout figure from a ten-year joint venture of $360,000.

Three months later, after developing a series of BANTAs with her, an agreement was reached at $680,000.

If you want help ‘doing a great deal’, perhaps give us a call.

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Strategy Review Offer


It is your business environment, not you, that ultimately dictates your approach to strategy.

If you agree, please take a moment to consider these four environmental situations…

(i)  I can predict what is going to happen in my business environment and I can change it.

(ii)  I can predict what is going to happen in my business environment and I can’t change it.

(iii)  I can’t predict what is going to happen in my business environment and I can’t change it.

(iv)  I can’t predict what is going to happen in my business environment and I can change it.

Which situation best describes your business?

If you are like most traditional businesses, you would have probably answered (ii). And from (ii), the classical way to succeed is to increase your market share by positioning yourself in favourable market locations.

However, if your number of competitors is increasing and you are losing market share, it’s time to get some advice and get it quickly.

Next Step Consulting specialises in advising clients, whatever situation they are in, to build multiple stories about the future of their business environment, create open-ended options and shift their business strategy at the right time.

If you would like some timely trusted advice and an expert look at the crystal ball in your business environment, please contact us before the end of June 2015 to claim your free 1 hour Strategy Review Consultation. Contact John on 0407 301 200 or send us an email to with ‘Strategy Review Offer’ in the subject line.

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Crafting Strategy

Strategy is not a ‘set and forget’ process.

Strategy is a craft and more akin to a work of art than a scientific process.

Scientia in Latin means “knowledge” and scientists organise knowledge in the form of proofs and predictions about the nature of things.

Ars in Latin means skill or “craft” and artists develop skilful means and techniques to create.

As your business environment becomes less and less predictable, it will be handy to have a craftsperson on hand, who can paint you a series of strategy options.

Some options might be:

  1.  Adapting your approach. Take what you do to a new market place or market space. e.g. move your bookstore or bikestore online.

  2. Shaping your market. Promote what you do to existing markets in a way that increases your level of attraction. e.g. McDonalds now sells healthier meals, juices and wraps.

  3. Renewing your strategy.  It may be time to “kill your darlings” and develop new products and offerings based on a new or visionary approach, such as deciding to cannibalise your greatest, but now out of date product. e.g. When Apple introduced the more feature-rich iPhones and iTouches, they ate up sales for their lower-end iPods, including the nano, shuffle and classic series.


Harshness, Unpredictability and Options

There is a wonderful richness in crafting strategy, which is exciting to us at Next Step Consulting and empowering for our clients. We challenge and help our clients to create new open-ended options, when the harshness and unpredictability of their markets starts to change.

By helping clients paint new futures, they become more aware, agile and responsible and they ultimately learn the art of crafting strategy for themselves.

Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy (the harshness and unpredictability) and know yourself (your new open-ended opinions) you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

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