Liza Pavlakos ( – Adversity Transforms Lives

active CEO Podcast #16 Liza Pavlakos Adversity Transforms Lives

Liza Pavalakos – Founder

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we are blessed to hear a compelling insight into the incredible life of Liza Pavlakos, from being physically and sexually abused, raped, homeless, kidnapped, tortured and human trafficked, to leading highly successful businesses and becoming an acclaimed international speaker, with limited high school education and no business training. We discuss overcoming and coping with adversity, starting a business with no education or business education, selling the service before the product, treating everyone as human beings, being proud to talk about your adversities, first knowing your ‘why’ before you know your ‘how’, and how she leads an active CEO lifestyle. This is one episode of the active CEO Podcast that you do not want to miss.


Liza Pavlakos is a beautiful lady who has emerged from the depths of misery, frustration of powerlessness, humiliation of sexual and physical abuse, heartache of abduction, loneliness as a homeless teenager, hopelessness of being human trafficked and hardships of poverty, to rise up and lead a highly successful life as a businesswomen and international motivational speaker.

Her grit and determination to turn around her life, overcome adversity, understand life is worth living, be exceptional and become a successful entrepreneur, has led her to inspiring and motivating many people around the world.

She broke through barriers and bounded over obstacles, as a young self-taught entrepreneur and philanthropist, to transform Minibar Piccolo into a popular Melbourne café, successfully grow Finest Alterations from a struggling business to a thriving profitable five-outlet franchise, and at the age of 23, plan and stage the Miss India International Pageant generating $100,000 in ticket sales.

This remarkable woman inspires hope, empowers audiences, energises people and transforms lives with her moving story, beautiful soul, lasting imprint and infectious optimism. She shares her story and message around the globe through the Liza Pavlakos Foundation, and with global companies such as CNN, Ritz Carlton, PWC, Qatar Airways, Colonial and ANZ.

Liza talks about:

  • Being exceptional about the way we think about the situations that be fall us and being the best version of yourself that you can be.
  • How we choose to handle adversities, is what defines us.
  • Being physically and sexually abused from the age of six by her uncle and cousin, who she really loved and trusted.
  • Feeling unheard at the age of 15 she developed depression, which led to an addiction to suicide and running away from home at the age of 17.
  • From a very sheltered Malaysian Islamic background, to being homeless and alone on the streets of Melbourne in Australia.
  • Being kidnapped by a stranger while walking home from school, to a destination she did not recognize and tortured for 8 hours till she was a knife edge away from death as she was given her last rights.
  • Feeling the heartbeat of her first child made her feel that she was loved, that she had a sense of purpose and to be the best version of myself.
  • Coming up with her first business idea that resulted in a $100,000 profit, Miss India International beauty pageant, with zero start up and a baby in her hand.
  • Empowering women and girls that have been abused themselves, but who weren’t able to articulate it or come out in the open.
  • Feeling the calmness come over you when tragedy is about to strike you
  • An Uber ride in the Middle East with her cameraman and assistant that led to being held at a prison and the uncovering of a human trafficking ring of over 350 people who had been gagged, murdered and burnt as military intelligence saved their lives.
  • Suffering and coping with Post-traumatic stress syndrome, and now having the courage to make change and talk about it. .
  • Having to ask customers how to make a Latte during her first days at Minibar Piccolo.
  • The product should always be good, but it is always selling the service first before the product.
  • Treating everyone as human beings as everyone has a story.
  • Treating everyone who works with her as family members and they all will have a vested interest in the business.
  • Staying calm, relaxed and focused on the person or people who need you to be strong, during moments of vulnerability.
  • Seeing people from the eyes of love, forgiveness, empathy and understanding that it makes the world of difference.
  • Know your “why” and then you will know your “how”.
  • The purpose of the Liza Pavlakos Foundation.
  • Teaching her children that they don’t need to shy away from anything and they don’t have to worry how people perceive them.
  • Waking up in the morning, preparing food for dinner, going to the gym, doing something for her, listening to music and reading books.
  • When travelling she always ensures that she has arranged a trainer ahead of time.
  • Her soon to be released book – Voiceless No More

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig discuss the importance of getting active in the workplace. Extended periods of time spent sitting can result in chronic back pain, cardiovascular disease, muscle deterioration, decreased productivity and even poor mental health. It supports a sedentary lifestyle that could also lead to weight gain, poor cardiovascular health, weakened muscles, stiff joints, and even diabetes.


“The adversities are the very thing that makes them beautiful, that make them unique, that make them resilient, that make them strong.” Overcoming adversity with Liza Pavlakos on the active CEO Podcast.

“I am proof that a person can prevail against seemingly insurmountable circumstances if they have perseverance and the right mindset.” Liza Pavlakos on being consistent in the pursuit of her dream, on the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Liza Pavlakos LinkedIn

Liza Pavlakos

Liza Pavlakos Facebook

Liza Pavlakos Instagram

Finest Alterations link

Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#15 – Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus Link
#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
#13 – Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
#10 – Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 – Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

December NRGizer Newsletter

IMG_8193The NRGizer by NRG2Perform December newsletter is now available – Be the Best Version of Yourself – In this issue we discuss Changing the Game with Kate Palmer of Sport Australia; quietening the mind before going to sleep; parking the ego in a co-CEO environment with Michael Sewards SkyBus, and take a look at whether you are seeing the big picture.

Ben Gathercole and Craig Johns also delve into disrupting the energy sector with Christopher Dean, you can’t stop rotting wood; leading from the mountain tops with Jamin Heppell and Jen Ziegner on Mountains and Marathons; and are you working out with a purpose.

View the Newsletter

Michael Sewards (SkyBus) – All Aboard the SkyBus

active CEO Podcast #15 Michael Sewards All Aboard the SkyBus

Michael Sewards – CEO SkyBus

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we discuss how Michael’s team are elevating the experience of the SkyBus Passengers, coping with passengers varying stress levels, expanding both nationally and internationally, and solving the congestion problems at airports. We delve into Michael’s leadership style, parking the ego in a co-CEO environment, the growing pains when expanding quickly from 140 to 600 team members, and leading through transparency, energy and purpose, in a practical manner.


Michael Sewards is a CEO that is always on the move, ensuring that customers are placed first and the passenger experience is of the highest quality. His leadership style is a charismatic, but humble, approach that suits being at the heart of a world-class transport service that caters for over 4 million passengers per year. He became Co-CEO of SkyBus in 2014, the company services airport passengers across Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Auckland and Hobart, at no cost to the tax payers.

His efficient nature shines through in his ability to manage multiple site locations, volunteering at various sport organisations, supporting charities, spending time with his family and finding time to ride his bike. Michael is known for his generosity and caring nature, he spends a lot of time with his wife supporting and making a difference with those less fortunate such as starving children and women dealing with Breast Cancer.

Michael talks about:

  • Growing up and dreaming of being a Professional soccer player, and the harsh realities of trialling for Queens Park Rangers and realising that you don’t have enough talent to succeed.
  • The importance of preparation and understanding the environment you are about to enter.
  • How having part-time roles during High School and University allowed him to develop the fundamental skills required to be successful in business.
  • The first 100 days as the new CEO of SkyBus and being handed the keys.
  • Underestimating the strength of the culture in a family business that had been developed over 36 years.
  • Having a co-CEO and the relationship that has been developed for over 20 years.
  • SkyBus being proud to showcase and love the passenger’s destination, and making sure that their first impression is truly amazing.
  • Coping with passengers differing levels of stress, feelings, experience and approach to travelling.
  • Why it is important for the CEO to be clipping tickets at the curb or driving the bus.
  • Understanding the pinch points and degrees of stress in the business because of an event or certain time of the year, and deploying the management team to the curb.
  • The expansion strategy of SkyBus and the most important components for making it successful.
  • Understanding what the market knew and felt about SkyBus. Is there sense of brand equity and passenger ownership of the brand?
  • The greatest limitation to growth at airports is congestion in the forecourt terminal.
  • Partnerships are becoming very important in the growth and development of both business and most importantly the community.
  • SkyBus powered by Vodafone.
  • Wrapping the bus in promoting White Ribbon and Breast Cancer Network, and getting the bus drivers to sign the bus and commit to stopping any violence towards women.
  • The importance of turning off from work, having interests outside of work, riding a bike before work and reading a book per week.
  • Doing something new, every day, for the last four years.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig talk about giving it a rest. It is amazing how many people disregard the most important technique for stress management, productivity, mental health, physical health and performance, GET A GOODS NIGHT SLEEP! People who get less than 6hrs sleep double the likelihood of weight gain and diabetes because of raised cortisol levels and the affects it has on insulin metabolism and blood-sugar control. Getting 8 or more hours sleep a night has a positive affect on your biochemical balance, predisposition to chronic diseases, performance, mood, energy levels, helping you to lose weight, controlling your stress response and vigour. Prioritise the time you go to bed.


“The most important thing our team members need to know, is that somebody is there to help.” Gaining an insight into Michael Sewards, CEO of SkyBus, on the active CEO Podcast.

“It is challenging to apply the learning’s from Australia and to pivot and mold in New Zealand. It is just such an incredibly dynamic market because everything that happens in New Zealand is really done for the rest of the world.” Michael Sewards on expanding SkyBus into New Zealand, on the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Michael Sewards LinkedIn


Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book link

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
– Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
– Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Walking the Talk

It is amazing at how often aspects of life come around in cycles. The walking meeting, which is now starting to make more traction in the business world, is no different.

In a recent active CEO Podcast interview with Sport Australia CEO, Kate Palmer, we talked about how she utilises walking meetings and the importance of encouraging her staff to do the same. Kate takes incorporating movement with meetings a step further by sitting on an exercise bike, which she recently placed in her office, and riding while on conference calls. She is also considering putting a second bike in her office, to encourage visitors to join her for a ride when having a face-to-face meeting.


Some of the world’s most influential people, such as Aristotle, Beethoven and Queen Elizabeth I, have used the tool to great effect. Now it is common for CEO’s and leaders of some of the world’s most high profile companies such as LinkedIn and Facebook to make walking meetings a daily habit.

Studies are demonstrating that exercise, including walking, alters our brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells, improving its plasticity and even protecting the brain from cognitive impairment.

rawpixel-274858-unsplash (1)
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Your mind is no different to the muscles in your body. If you stress a muscle, it will become fatigued and therefore lead to a reduction in performance. You then rest or deploy recovery strategies, the muscle recovers and physiological processes occur which allow your performance to improve to a new level. The brain works in the same way when it is stimulated, with new brain cells forming and an increase in cognitive function occurring when you give it a rest, allowing you to think clearer and open up more creative ideas and solutions to come to fruition.

There are the health benefits of fresh air (depending on what location you are in), getting the body moving, and the mental relaxation that tends to occur when we are surrounded by nature and a change in scenery. Walking allows the brain to reduce lingering doubt and procrastination that tends to occur when remaining in a single location while completing work.

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

It has also been shown that positive influences on our mental function and cognitive ability occur when our bodies are moving. Going for a walk has been noted to release beneficial hormones such as endorphins so we feel better and more alert, while also encouraging creativity and inspiration.

A 2017 Stanford University study found that walking encouraged divergent thinking. The increase in divergent thinking occurred no matter whether the exercise occurred prior to or during thinking through a question, problem or puzzle they faced. The activity of walking or other exercise triggers greater creativity, and therefore patterns of ideas that come to mind.

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Anecdotal evidence has found that honest exchanges between people are more productive when walking than when people are sitting. It is believed that walking enables barriers are reduced between supervisors and subordinates, enhancing employee engagement. It is thought that walking side-by-side relates more to peer-to-peer, therefore removing some of the hierarchical barriers than can occur when sitting across from each other, when having discussions.

If you want to enhance the effectiveness of your walking meetings, try incorporating some fun and choosing a change in scenery, stick to small groups of two to four people, avoid going near cafes or food stands, and reduce the element of surprise by giving your colleagues some lead time on having a walking meeting.


Clayton, R., Thomas, C., & Smothers, J. (2015). How to do Walking Meetings Right. Harvard Business Review, August 2015. link

Malleret, T., Maxwell, C. (2018). Enhance Decision Making and Problem Solving by Walking. Wharton Business School, Sep 2018. link

Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142-1152.

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts:



Why Curiosity is so Important

Curiosity leads to breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions. So why do we see companies stifling curiosity in the workplace?


It is normal for humans to seek new information and experiences. By cultivating curiosity and the promotion of exploring novel possibilities throughout a company, employees will think deeper and more rationally about decisions.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. 


If we step back in time, when we were a child, we had an insatiable need to explore and understand the world around us. We were not afraid to challenge the status quo by asking lots of questions, tasting things we probably shouldn’t or doing something for the first time, without the worry of whether we were wrong or offending anyone.

As we grew older we become more self-conscious, try to appear more confident and show that we know what we are doing. By the time we arrive as adults, our curiosity is quite suppressed as fear of being judged and not living up to other people’s expectations creeps in.

The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”


Curiosity leads to creativity and innovation, which is important for you and your company to adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures. It creates an environment that inspires employees to improve their collaborative relationships, trust and more respect of their leader.

Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that curiosity will increase risk and inefficiency. They stumble with the conundrum faced between the now and the future. How do we meet budget, sales targets, membership numbers and deadlines, when we know that we need to allow time where employees have the freedom to create new products, services, processes and business lines?

“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive with those who are merely going through the motions. 


Finding the balance of exploration versus efficiency is an important component of a leader. Employees, who are under pressure to complete tasks quickly, tend to avoid asking questions about how they can improve their output and enhance the possible outcomes. When we question the status quo, we may not always produce useful information or solutions, but we also may prevent a decision being made that is catastrophic for your role and your company.

We perform better when we are curious because we view the tough situations more creatively. High performing employees, who are curious, seek more information from their colleagues, which helps improve the work that they do. They perform better because information is openly shared and they listen more carefully. New ideas are created, job satisfaction is improved, motivation increases and innovation flourishes as curiosity leads to a high performance environment.

“Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths. 


The power of solving problems together and looking at suitable alternatives, brings teams closer together. It allows employees to step into another employees shoes, look at it from another perspective and allows them to work together in a more effective manner.

In the next active CEO article we will look at ways in which leaders can enhance curiosity in their workplace.

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts:

Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

active CEO Podcast #10 Ndidi Nnoli Edozien Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

PCB Vol 10- Dr. Ndidi Nnoli
Dr. Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien – Founder & President Growing Businesses Foundation

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns and Ben Gathercole speak with Dr. Ndidi Nnoli Edozien, a remarkable lady who has provided direction, hope, inspiration and a gift to thousands of female and youth entrepreneurs, from rural areas in Nigeria and across Africa. Ndidi has worked with many of the world’s largest multinationals such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Unilever. We discuss her journey from lending to leading, why it is important to invest in the poor, the magic of vulnerability, how every moment is enough, connecting with your inner gut, embracing failure, understanding people who are unhappy, and embracing failure.

Dr. Ndidi Nnoli Edozien

Dr. Ndidi Nnoli Edozien is the founder and President of Growing Businesses Foundation, since 1999, and the President of Rising Tide Africa. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany to a Nigerian father and German mother. She found her purpose in life to be a catalyst for social change through focusing on social entrepreneurship, corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR), and is a leading advocate on Bottom of the Pyramid empowerment.

Her education includes attending the United World College and a PhD from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in the area of “ownership and management structures”. She is an Alumnus of Wharton Business School, and has also completed executive programmes at INSEAD and Cambridge Judge Business School.

She speaks with passion, pride and humility as she delivers powerful, inspiring and emotionally connecting words of wisdom to encourage the next generation to be bold and make a difference in their life and the community around them.


Ndidi talks about:

  • The contrast between Germany and Nigeria and how that influenced her upbringing.
  • How one can harness the huge potential in Lagos, and how the world sees the huge potential and economic power.
  • United World College’s focus on transforming the world, transforming the space with which you live, and being an ambassador for your country and your people.
  • Considering the other side and how much richer that makes your perspective
  • What inspired Ndidi to start Growing Businesses Foundation.
  • Building sustainable economies around big businesses.
  • How Growing Businesses Foundation program contributed 4% of Unilever’s revenues.
  • Providing a paradigm shift in the way that big business looks at their social responsibility.
  • The incredible ripple effect of micro-financing women and youth
  • Rural telephone project
  • Less than 20% of the Nigerian population are formally employed.
  • The purpose of Rising Tide Africa.
  • Guiding businesses to succeed and even to exit at the appropriate time.
  • Learning to be satisfied with little victories.
  • Why successful people tend to have a humble and quiet confidence that keeps them going.
  • Embracing failure and what happens when you don’t deal with it.
  • “You must never be willing to die for anything. You must be willing to give it your best shot. If it fails, you must walk away from it like you never even cared.”
  • How she responded to a potential investor saying “I think you have made a bad career move”.
  • How the Wharton Business School Advanced Management Program opened up peoples vulnerabilities so intensely, allowing them to grow from their ability to be humble and honest.
  • The discipline of creating time for you is one of the things we neglect the most and need the most.
  • How she responds to people who are unhappy and not all right.
  • There is no job or anything that is more important than our personal wellbeing.
  • Her love of working with interns.
  • Why her two daughters have had the greatest impact on her career.


“It taught me that poverty wasn’t so much the lack of financial capital, but was the lack of dignity and self-confidence”. Listen to Ndidi Nnoli Edozien on the active CEO Podcast

“Don’t give charity to the poor, the poorest people who need ‘help’, look at them as potential, economic potential and socioeconomic potential, and invest.” Listen to the active CEO Podcast as Ndidi Nnoli Edozien explains how she empowers 100,000’s of women.

“Create a movement where everyone decides to do their little bit, that’s where transformation really happens.” Learn more amazing business tips with Ndidi Nnoli Edozien on the active CEO Podcast

“Love what you do. When you are able and willing to do it even when no one is looking or no one will pay you for it, you gain an inner strength and momentum to sustain and it gives you the ability to tap into that inner intuitive knowing. To be great at business its actually not the thinking or the feeling, it is the knowing.” On being an entrepreneur with Ndidi Nnoli Edozien on the active CEO Podcast


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Growing Businesses Foundation link

Rising Tide Africa link

Ndidi LinkedIn link

Ndidi Wikipedia link

Ndidi Interview Wharton Business School video

Wharton Business School


Johann Wolfgang Goethe University link

Cambridge Judge Business School link



Exxon Mobil

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Have You Ever Misread a Customers Emotional State?

IMG_7857Exceptional customer service has a profound affect on retaining customers and increasing your customer base.

  • Does your staff treat customers, colleagues and stakeholders with respect?
  • How effective is your staff at following up on feedback?
  • Are your complaints and returns handled gracefully?
  • What do exceeding customer expectations look like in your company?
  • Is going out of your way to help customers, colleagues and stakeholders part of your culture?
  • Have you checked whether all your staff understands your customers’ needs and wants?

This is the first article of a four-part series focusing on how the fundamentals of customer service are crucial to staff interaction, stakeholder management and the growth of every staff member, including yourself. Each article will cover six core components of customer service, that are pivotal to the success of your company or organisation.

1. Patience is the Virtue

Patience is not just about waiting for something; it is about your attitude and the way you wait. You don’t want to waste the customers time, but you need to take the time to allow them to express their concerns and for you to listen carefully so you can figure out what they are looking for. People want you to understand their needs and wants, and don’t like to be rushed out the door. It is important to remember that great service beats fast service every single time!

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”


2. Cool as a Cucumber

Have you got what it takes to stay cool, calm and collected, when it all gets a bit hairy and out of control? Having the ability to hold your nerve and remain composed when the conversation or situation gets a bit hectic is an invaluable skill. If you can take it up a notch and be able to influence, as well as stay calm, when the heat is on, you are in a powerful position when servicing customers. Whatever happens, you need to take it upon yourself to do whatever it takes to keep the peace and ensure the world doesn’t fall down around the customer.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” 


3. Power of Positivity

The language you use when speaking with customers, has a major effect on how they perceive and hear your response. Using words such as can’t, won’t or unavailable are likely to have a negative on the customer’s views of the staff and the company or organization. Creating happy customers should be your number one goal. Be in control of your conversational patterns so the language you use creates positive perceptions. The tone of your language can have a noticeable effect on your ability to persuade and influence your customers.

“Life is all about perception. Positive versus negative. Whichever you choose will affect and more than likely reflect your outcomes.”


4. Ability to Read Customers

Being able to create a personal experience for your customers is an important part of making a long-term connection. With communication extending from visual, to listening and now even more common, written, you have to be effective in reading their current emotional state. You need to ask yourself, how well do I know the customer? If you misread a customer’s emotional state, your response, or lack-of, may lead to confusion and miscommunication. This essential skill requires you to look, listen and quickly comprehend subtle cues and clues about their current mood, personality, patience, and desired outcome.

“I never teach until I have spoken to the student. I have to first determine their emotional state, understand their background, find out what I have to do, how many layers I have to keep peeling off so that I get to the core of the person so that they can recognise, as well as I, what is there.” 


5. Attention

You have to be on your toes, as customers may not necessarily spell out what they are looking for, right from the start. Your ability to listen carefully and effectively is pivotal to providing exceptional service. Being mindful and attentive to what they are saying, the way they are saying it, when they are saying it and how they are saying it provides valuable information for deciding how to respond. You may need to ask questions that clarify what you think they have said or written, as you pay attention to customer interactions.

“When I think about great service, it’s about how you take every interaction you have with the customer and use that as a way to improve their perception of your organisation.” 


6. Be Empathetic

Do you have the ability to understand and share the feelings of your customer? Empathy is an important character trait, which can be learned and developed over time. Your ability to emphathise with your customers and develop a message that leads to a positive outcome is an invaluable craft. Sometimes you wont be in a position to provide the news they are looking for, so you need to show compassion, understanding, care and concern when you speak with them.

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”


Customer service wont develop on its own. It is constantly evolving as your company or organisation grows and develops. You need to be constantly enhancing both your customer service as well as the company or organisation you work with. What customer service improvement strategies are you employing?

Customer Service part 2 is now available with the Going the Extra Mile article. This article covers clear communication, using your acting skills, knowing your products, managing time, being ready for surprises and the tenacity to go above and beyond for your customers.

Looking for More?

Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts:

active CEO Podcast Suzie Hoitink Clear Complexions

active CEO Podcast #5 Suzie Hoitink Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One

PCB Vol 5- Suzie Hoitink
Suzie Hoitink – Founder Clear Complexions

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, Craig Johns and Ben Gathercole speak with Suzie Hoitink, enjoying an insightful and thought-provoking discussion about leading an active and healthy lifestyle by example, successfully taking a new idea to market, the impact Rob de Castella has recently had on her life, finding the confidence to step out of a comfortable life, managing a successful partnership with her husband and how she leads an active CEO lifestyle.

Suzie Hoitink

Suzie Hoitink is a wonderful mother, leader, business owner and someone who really cares about people. She founded Clear Complexions, the undisputed leader in the skin rejuvenation industry, in 2005 and has gone on to build it into a multimillion-dollar business. Suzie was recognised as the 2012 Telstra Business Women of the Year. As a teenager she was shy and had low self-esteem. You wouldn’t recognise that now, as she is alive with charisma, belief, authenticity and the desire to positively change people’s lives.

Suzie talks about:

  • Exercise being crucial to keeping the balance
  • Needing something to terrify her to get out of bed in the morning
  • How her family brought out a competitive spirit in her
  • Why she adores triathlon and loves the structure of having a coach
  • Exercise being a non-negotiable in the mornings
  • Her role being an emotionally giving role to her staff and especially the clients
  • Being a corporate runner for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation and running the New York Marathon being one of the most significant events of her life
  • How leading an active and healthy lifestyle, by example, has had a positive impact on her staff
  • To bring an active CEO lifestyle into an organisation you need to be an inspirational leader sharing the achievements and most importantly the journey
  • Correlation between exercise, and self-esteem and confidence
  • “The enemy of a great life is a good one.”
  • A problem that I had that wasn’t being solved
  • Why nurses have the advantage in the skin care industry
  • Finding confidence in herself and leaving a comfortable life
  • The challenges of being acquired by a publicly listed company in 2017
  • Building something like a sculpture
  • Taking on a new CEO
  • Standing outside the square rather than in it
  • The importance of a mentor
  • Leading by example, being inclusive, setting high standards and sharing the vision
  • Dealing with travelling on a weekly basis
  • Why her mum and dad have had such a major influence on her life


The enemy of a great life is a good one with Suzie Hoitink. You can listen here

When you start a new business, you only see forward, you see no barriers, so focused on your great idea. Listen to Suzie Hoitink and gain an insight into leading by example on the active CEO Podcast.

Resources Mentioned in this show:

Suzie Hoitink LinkedIn

Suzie Hoitink Website

Clear Complexions

Indigenous Marathon Foundation

Robert de Castella

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

Secret to Success – People Are Our Greatest Asset

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

There is nothing more beautiful than teaching and coaching people. The immense pride and enjoyment you get out of seeing someone grow is supported by the benefits you receive by teaching and coaching. You learn more about yourself, you tend to reflect on your own habits and routines, and you provide an opportunity to learn new ways of doing things.

“People learn the most when teaching others.”


As a CEO or leader you have a huge responsibility to not only prepare your people for their work, but also prepare them for life. More than just teaching skills, you have an obligation to teach them to find and understand their purpose. Once people understand their purpose, you then have to work with them to connect it with the purpose of the company and the work they are completing.

People are the only sustainable thing in an organization or a team. The New Zealand All Black Rugby Team’s win-rate over the last 100 years is over 75 per cent. It’s a phenomenal record, and an achievement matched by no other elite team, in any code, around the globe. However, in 2004 the All Blacks weren’t in a great place with team culture issues, low morale, disjointed purpose and declining performance.

“Better people make better All Blacks – but they also make better doctors and lawyers, bankers and businessmen, fathers, brothers, and friends.”


The team management and senior players came together and decided that they needed a fresh culture, where individual character and personal leadership were emphasized. They developed a new mantra, ‘Better People Make Better All Blacks’. This resulted in a remarkable turnaround with the team achieving a win-rate of just over 90%, and two Rugby World Cup’s, since 2004. They literally ‘swept the sheds’ and turned the focus to ‘leaving the jersey in a better place’.

There is nothing more rewarding than teaching people to become better than ourselves. Many CEO’s and leaders are afraid of the people they work with becoming better skilled, better leaders and better people than they are. It’s all about ego, and they need to realize that way of thinking is hindering the progress of both the company and themselves. As a CEO and leader, you need to learn how to create a mindset where you are proud of people growing above you, rather than being afraid of it.

“Understanding this responsibility creates a compelling sense of higher purpose. It’s a good lesson for us all: if we play a bigger game, we play a more effective game.”


When people are buying a product, they are looking for an emotional connection, rather than a material connection. Your people are at the heart of creating the emotional connection the buyers crave. It is important that you create an environment where your people are passionate about selling an experience, a new way of doing something, a feeling or a dream. As they say, ‘people sell, not products’.

People are more interested in the ‘why you are doing’ rather than ‘what you are doing’ when it comes to joining your community, purchasing a product or doing a deal with you. Why did the company begin, why does it act and interact in the way it does, and why do your people turn up every day? Your people need to be aligned in the collective purpose of the company, be passionate about the purpose, and live and breathe it every day.

“Give a man a fish; feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish; feed him for a lifetime.”


Enjoyment and happiness are the number one retention tools in the world. For people to enjoy their work and be happy in the workplace, they need positive relationships, purposeful work, opportunities to learn and grow, and have some ‘skin in the game’. Forget a tunnel-vision focus on the bottom line and profit aligned productivity, and begin focusing on creating an enjoyable and happy place, that people love turning up to every day.


Appreciation and recognition drive the human spirit. Confidence and self-esteem are some of the most vulnerable human characteristics. We often look for the negative things, those that aren’t going right and focus on them, rather than emphasizing the great things people are doing. If you are always focusing on the negative aspects of your companies or peoples work, you are not going to develop trust and the loyalty of your people.

“Tell me and I forget,
teach me and I will remember,
involve me and I will learn.”


Look at ways you can reward and recognize the efforts of your people, more often. This helps to build confidence and self-esteem, especially if you can create an environment where people feel appreciated for their work, while also learning how to improve in areas that need attention. Remember, without confidence it is impossible for people to perform at their best. Just watch a tennis tournament.

Your people are your greatest asset. Take the time to communicate with your people, listen to them, and ask questions that improve their understanding, and bring them closer to the purpose of the company and what they want to achieve in life. Find ways to reflect on how you interact with your people and seek new ways to communicate more effectively. You have a great responsibility!

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed;
If in terms of ten years, plant trees;
If in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”


Looking for More?

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Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles:

Pitching a Winner

By Craig Johns

This week, while discussing why Triathlon ACT has achieved record participation and membership this season, I was curiously asked how I pitch triathlon to an adult who isn’t already involved the sport. I was excited to be asked that question (You ask why?), because I love being able to sell an emotional connection.

What you will read below showcases the basic fundamentals of selling in a way that is non-threatening, captivates through an emotional connection and builds a memorable relationship.

I will provide you with the four key basic selling fundamentals at the end of this article, but for now, here is how the conversation went:

Curious George: You have achieved record membership this season, how do you sell triathlon, a sport that we see for the fitness freaks, to people not involved in the sport?

Me: Do you have children?

Curious George: Yes, two

Me: How old are they?

Curious George: 7 & 10

Me: What was it like, for you as a parent, the first time your children were awarded their first certificate at school?

Curious George: My wife and I were so excited. I felt like the world’s coolest dad. I was so proud and couldn’t stop smiling. 

Me: That was a very special moment for you, wasn’t it?

Curious George: Yes, I have never felt so proud in my life, it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Me: What did you notice about your children as they received the certificate?

Curious George: My child was the happiest child in the world. He couldn’t stop smiling, was so energetic and couldn’t come and wait to show me his certificate. 

Me: You can’t stop smiling and is that a tear I see in your eye?

Curious George: Seeing your children achieve something is a an amazing feeling as a parent. It is quite hard to fully explain the emotions you experience. It brings back great memories when I was a child

Me: When you first take the step to sign up for a triathlon, you feel the same apprehension, excitement and nervousness as you did when you getting ready to start your first day of school. The first few weeks of training are like the first few weeks of school where you are trying to establish a routine, make new friends and understand all the new information. This is mixed with lots of fun, smiles and praise that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. But, it all also seems a bit daunting, overwhelming and there maybe a couple of tears at time. When you cross the line it is that same feeling of accomplishment and rush of adrenaline when you hear your name called in assembly, you walk to the stage in front of all your school mates, you get a handshake, receive the certificate from the Principal and a “well done George, we are so proud of you”.

Curious George: I remember that feeling as it was just yesterday.

Me: When you cross the finish line in a triathlon, hear your name over the loud speaker, then someone hands you a finishers medal and your children and wife give you a big hug, that same feeling of emotion you had as a school kid comes flooding back and it is the most amazing feeling.

Curious George: Wow, I never thought of it like that.

Me: Do you know what is even better than the feeling the emotion of getting the certificate?

Curious George: No

Me: You can be a part of an amazing community who are there to support, teach and coach you to achieve something you first thought wasn’t possible. Let me show you how easy it is to sign up for your first event and join one of our amazing triathlon clubs.

………. (The deal is now being closed)


What many people don’t understand is that being successful in any organisation is all about being an outstanding salesperson, entertainer and positive influencer. You need to be able to tell a story and create an engaging and emotional connection with a wonderful feeling that people have experienced before. You need to be able to paint an authentic picture and sell the real thing. Taking a used-car-salesman approach, selling something that people don’t want or need, will leave you stranded in the long-term.

So what are the four key basic selling fundamentals to help you secure more participants, members and consumers:

  1. Find the CONNECTION (gather)
    • “finding out whether they have experienced a similar feeling to the journey when preparing for, doing and crossing the finish line”
  2. Create an EMOTION (respond)
    • “emphasise the euphoria experienced when crossing the finish line and achieving something”
  3. Paint the PICTURE (deliver) 
    • “the picture you paint and how it connects emotionally” 
  4. Seal of APPROVAL – (complete)
    • “take them through the first step of signing up for the triathlon”

I always focus on building an emotional connection, painting a picture of enjoyment, reaffirming the positive emotions, reducing any perceived barriers and showing them that you care.

Remember to “never ask a question, you don’t wont an answer to”. This will leave you with your back up against the wall as you have placed a mental barrier in front of the person you are speaking with.

An example is asking an unfit person who doesn’t lead a healthy lifestyle, “Do you think triathlon is difficult and for the super fit person?”. The answer is 99 times out of 100 going to be “Yes”. You have already painted a negative image in their mind and you will find it very difficult to delete that image and replace it with a positive triathlon experience that entices them to want to sign up for a triathlon and complete a race.

How are you going to approach your next conversation to ensure that you increase your chances of making that important sale?


Keep up-to-date on the latest membership information, research and ideas by signing up the the NRGizer Newsletter. SIGN UP NOW

Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles by Craig Johns: