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For Health, Wealth and Creativity

Stress management toolkit: tools, tips and techniques to manage your stress for better productivity.

Richard Hawkey




We are coming to the end of this particular series of columns and if you haven’t taken the free, confidential online stress survey yet please do so (go to and enter entrepreneur as the ‘employer code’). We will be closing that survey soon, aggregating the results and providing feedback in the next column. For now, one last visit to the toolkit.

Exercise We know that exercise mops up many of the ‘stress’ hormones and releases others that lift our mood. There are myriad health benefits we all know about and it’s also a socially-acceptable manner for releasing frustrations physically (‘Jo’burg traffic finger’ is NOT a legitimate sport!).

Legendary American columnist Erma Bombeck said: “the only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again”. Indeed, the grimacing and pained expressions that adorn many a jogger’s face are possibly not the best advert for this method of keep-fit.

Exercise should be taken in forms and quantities that are agreeable rather than abhorrent. Each of us inhabit a shape that is better suited to certain kinds of activity – watching the recent Olympics brought that home to me so clearly; some people are just ‘designed’ to run like the wind.

The key is to do things you enjoy – exercise must not be a chore. I was clearly designed for reading, however, I have grown to enjoy extreme dog-walking, mountain biking with my children, gardening and other prosaic low-impact activities. A couple of ideas that may help you:

  • Consider a training-buddy – the additional motivation that comes with not wanting to let someone else down can help keep you going on those days when you are feeling a bit ‘flat’;
  • Little and often – it’s like the old joke ‘how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’. Don’t over face yourself – trying to go from coach potato to celebrated athlete in a few short months is unrealistic and frankly dangerous.

In summary, we are just not designed for the sedentary lifestyle cars, computers and urban commerce force us into. We should be running across the veld with pointy sticks chasing our dinner not sitting in a box, staring at a box, eating from a box. Take every second opportunity to walk up the stairs, park far away from the shop entrance, walk to pick up milk and bread, wash your car yourself.

Logging off increasingly our ‘to do’ lists merely act as reminders of what we didn’t achieve in a day. There are more and more demands on our time and energy – emails, smartphones, advertising billboards, radio, TV, sms, people – and far too often taking care of ourselves has been bumped off the list altogether.

Diet, sleep, exercise all need to be on that list, but so too does ‘logging off’. Finding some quiet time every day to just be still, and calm the riot of emotions and thoughts is hugely beneficial:

  • It promotes health – learning to be still calms your heart rate, slows your breathing and invokes the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for the ‘resting and digesting’ functions in our bodies)
  • True creativity comes unbidden, when you can still all your thoughts. Thinking about stuff is not being creative – it is merely juggling with the knowns.
  • It promotes listening – calming the clamour of external and internal noise allows us to hear things that are beyond the normal range of our attention.

Some call this meditation, others call it prayer. I don’t know about that – I just call it sitting quietly and being in the moment, not asking for or expecting any particular outcome. I do it selfishly and often as I have felt the physical benefits and experienced the cognitive and emotional boost too often for it to be fluke.

Remember: small changes can add up to make significant positive impacts. Slow and steady wins the race.

**The final column in this series will present an aggregated view of the Vitals© stress self-awareness survey**

Richard Hawkey is an anti-stress evangelist, author, speaker and productivity consultant. Having suffered from a stress-related breakdown himself, he has since combined this general management and leadership experience with the profound lessons he learnt from mismanaging stress and subsequently burning out. He is the author of Life Less Lived and the founder of equilibriumsolutions – which has developed the first online stress management tool aimed at both employees an employers. Richard can be contacted at

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rudi

    Sep 22, 2012 at 11:57

    To expand on the sleep aspect, it is critical to entrepreneurial success that you have a few good hours of sleep every day. In my personal case, this was achieved by monitoring foods and other matters that disturbed sleep.
    The most critical finding was that eating too many carbohydrates for your evening meal inevitably leads to poor sleep.

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Self Development

How To Be Positive (Willpower Not Required)

‘Just be positive’ is bad advice.

Ben Angel




When you’re struggling to find a positive thought, Entrepreneur Network partner Ben Angel challenges you to look deeper than just your attitude.

You can listen to all the motivational speeches you like, but if your body is in a state of nutritional deficiency, you don’t have the energy you need for your neurons to do the required psychological work to hold a positive outlook.

Related: Mi Casa Es Su Casa: Achieving Positive Corporate Culture

This article was originally posted here on

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Self Development

Why Your Professional Persona Matters

You don’t have to become a different person to succeed in business.

Timothy Sykes




For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday entrepreneur, however, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona.

Your professional persona is your personal branding in the workplace. It refers to the way that you conduct yourself publicly in a business setting, and the image you project to coworkers and colleagues. Far from contrived or inauthentic, it’s simply the polished-up way that you present yourself professionally.

How do I develop a professional persona?

It’s actually extremely easy to develop a professional persona. All you have to decide is who you want to be in the workplace, and then take efforts with your attitude, dress, and conduct to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.

Now that you understand what a professional persona is, let’s talk about why you should work on cultivating one and what you stand to gain.

Create a self fulfilling prophecy

Success is typically hard-earned and slow in the making. However, if you take the time to develop a professional persona, it can help bring success sooner. If you conduct yourself casually and informally in the workplace, you’re less likely to be taken seriously and might spend far longer in the career trenches.

But if you make a concerted effort to conduct yourself with the professionalism of a manager or CEO, you’ll make yourself a more desirable candidate for advancement. Since you’ve already demonstrated the appropriate attitude for higher level positions, you’re more likely to be thought of when opportunities arise.

Related: 25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

Focus on what’s important

When you establish a professional persona, you put yourself in the right state of mind for work. This can help you attain your career goals.

Say, for instance, that one of your big career goals is to become a leading authority in your field so that you can become the next TED Talk celebrity. With this specific goal in mind, you can tailor your professional persona so that it can help advance you toward this goal. For instance, you might begin speaking at local networking events or starting a topical podcast. Doing things like this will help you establish a professional persona of being an expert in your niche.

Make yourself indispensable

One of the best ways to create job security is to make yourself indispensable in your position. A professional persona can help by letting you establish recognisable and dependable hallmarks in your working style.

For instance, perhaps part of your persona is that you are the person who always meets his or her deadlines on time. In time, this will become part of your professional identity and will be part of how people see you in your office or field. When others know and trust that they can depend on you, you’ll make yourself indispensable. Over time, this can have a powerful and positive effect on your career.

Be taken more seriously

A casual attitude is fine when you’re hanging out with friends. But in a professional setting, it may be holding you back. When you present yourself with a more polished professional persona in work settings, you’ll be taken more seriously. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work, of course. But it does mean that you should conduct yourself with an air of professionalism and should never engage in bad habits like gossip or use language that might come back to haunt you later.

Remember: You get what you give. When you act respectfully in the workplace, you’re more likely to be treated with the same respect.

You’ll get more followers

More and more, entrepreneurs are using social media to attain a higher professional status or to attract more business.

When you take the time to develop a professional persona, you adopt a personal style, a way of articulating, and potentially even an aesthetic. These things add up to more clear and compelling personal/professional branding. This can help you maintain a consistency on social media platforms that makes your posts recognisable. Over time, this can lead to additional followers, which can mean more opportunities for selling, career advancement, and more.

Develop a thicker skin

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take things personally in the professional sphere. But anyone who has ever experienced rejection or criticism in their career knows that this is much easier said than done.

Your professional persona can help give you some personal armour. When you have a professional persona, it can be easier to separate your personal life from your work to a greater degree. No, this doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any pain when things go wrong, but it will allow you to compartmentalise in a positive way, so that an issue at work doesn’t impact your personal life quite as much.

This article was originally posted here on

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Company Posts

6 Steps To Cultivate A Success Mindset

What does a winning mindset mean to you? It’s what has separated the likes of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather from fellow professional athletes. Adopting a similar approach could help you achieve massive success in 2019 and beyond.






A winning mindset is the trait that allows you to persist even when defeat looks like the most probable outcome. People with a winning mindset are much clearer about the process to attain their goals. They are not afraid of failure as long as they believe that they’re doing the right thing. That’s the difference between winners and losers.

1. Persist and understand that you must put in the work before you see results

The most successful people embody the principle of a winning mindset, because very few people in the world, be it in sports or business, can succeed without having to overcome obstacles. It’s seldom that talent is all one needs to succeed in any endeavour, otherwise most people would be successful.

A good way to understand this principle is to observe professional athletes before and during tournaments. Anybody competing in professional sports, such as the Olympics, has the talent but not all professional athletes are winners. A number of their memorable victories were achieved when they came from behind, when it looked like they were losing.

2. Press the reset button for the new year

The new year is notorious for long lists of resolutions that are not honoured and ultimately remain wishes. That said, the dawn of a new year tends to bring with it positive energy and a commitment to do things differently.

Entrepreneurs need to approach the New Year with a simple goal to do better than the prior year in whatever endeavour they are undertaking. It is important to build on current success or failure, and then commit to go one up. That way, the goal won’t seem unattainable.

Related: Many SMEs Start With Great Plans But Fail To Take The Big Leap

3. Take small incremental steps

The first step is to be clear about the goal and to write it down where you can see it every day. The second thing is to map the process of how you will get there, broken into small steps. From there onwards, focus on the process and not the goal as this allows one to achieve small but important victories. This needs to be backed up by an appropriate support system, associating with like-minded people.

4. Don’t stop upskilling yourself

Success in business is about creating shared value and solving real-world challenges that customers grapple with. Skills are therefore necessary to achieve success, so upskilling oneself is never a bad investment. It’s good to know something about everything, but ultimately one needs to know everything about something.

Some skills will be brought in through hiring staff, others through outsourcing and in some cases through strategic alliances.

5. Remember that no goal is static

One of the most important things to always remember is the goal, and that the goal is dynamic; it will have to be adjusted along the way. Business leaders can therefore celebrate the small victories fully aware that there is more work to be done. Achieving temporary success is easy, especially with all the tenders around, but building a sustainable business and staying on top requires persistence and hard work.

Related: Organisational Design Disruptions Do Not Occur In A Vacuum: Future Business Models

6. Your top tool is in your head

It’s all in the mind, backed by passion and a strong desire to succeed. If anything, business leaders need to train themselves to be uncomfortable with the status quo, not to get too comfortable with the present.

Why Not Consider The Acca Qualification For 2019?

ACCA professionals are more than accountants. They think holistically, consider challenges in the context of business and have strong strategic and leadership skills. Visit for more information.

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