Inspiring Rare Birds Guest Blog: How do you do it all?

For all guest blogs on Inspiring Rare Birds go here. #ifshecanican

Yesterday I was stopped in the elevator on my way down from the Brisbane Book launch by a lady who asked me “Do you have a child, and if so… how do you do it all?”

Wow – can you believe that this is something I never really thought about?

To answer her questions:

1) Yes – I have a 14 year old son Frank whom I adore. I just love watching him grow up and being a part of his life every step along the way. Being an entrepreneur supports me in being a mum. I can go to school recitals, performances etc. as I simply plan around them when I can. (doesn’t always work out that way though, especially with interstate and overseas client obligations).

2) How do I do it all? The honest answer is: I don’t.

I don’t do it all.. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in many ways. We are a great team in running our companies together and we are a great team at home. His role in the business has been designed in such a way that he can work from home, so he can pick up the kids from the bus in the afternoon. He loves to cook so that’s what he does as well. Grocery shopping is either done online with home delivery or Gerard does it when he’s doing a school run. I look after the animals and I love to bake. A lot of the other stuff we do together.

Frank has been making his school lunches independently since he was 8 and he is responsible for his own school bag, laptop etc. We don’t have time to run after him all the time to do his jobs for him and he know that. His morning ritual happens without us having to manage his time which makes life so much easier!

We outsource or automate as much as possible: our iRobot Roomba is a fabulous little vaccuum cleaner for the daily top up floor clean for example. We also have fantastic gardeners who look after our property, making sure it doesn’t turn into a jungle.

Underpinning all this is the fact that both Gerard and I have a very clear understanding of our priorities. For example: Our windows don’t get cleaned every day or every week, probably more likely once a year, and we’re OK with that.

Cloud Computing educational resource

Every day is a school day and I can’t think of a reason to stop reading and stop learning. Career driven IT Professionals soak up information like oxygen, and it is important to keep reading so you understand what is going on in your industry. Reading is also important to keep your brain active and challenged because you’re “connecting the dots” between this new information and the knowledge that you already have. Successful business people apparently read 24 books or more each year.

Granted, reading and learning is not limited to reading books. Some people enjoy reading articles online and subscribe to blogs via RSS feeds, while other people prefer to read on their Kindle or paperback book.

My passion is to help people learn, and I love the fact that I can point people to content and educational materials that they may not have been able to find (due to lack of time). That is the reason why I created this book with a collection of articles -and my blog posts of course 😉 – around Cloud Computing.

You can start reading today as the book is available in a number of formats to cater for all reading needs and requirements:

When you are a person who prefers to read your book in a physical format – you can get it from Amazon.

If you want to read it on your Kindle device – you can purchase it in the Kindle Store for instant download

Or if you prefer to have the book as a PDF file so you can read it and print it at your convenience – you can purchase it from The Art of Service’s online store

Happy reading and I look forward to start a conversation with some of you about the subject, the content of the book, or simply about the future of the IT industry and how IT Service Management helps the IT Service Providers to stay relevant with the uptake of Cloud Based Technology and services.


Originally posted 2011-08-12 23:56:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

My top 4 mistakes of Self Publishing

The top 4 mistakes of self publishing

In the past 14 years I’ve personally been involved with the publishing of hundreds of books and publications. Some of these books I wrote and others were a team effort. Looking back I can see now that I’ve made the mistakes many self publishing authors have made – and will continue to make -:

Not recognising the work involved

As a consultant and trainer I write for a living. I write course materials, textbooks, exercises, white-papers, proposals etc. Turning this information in a book should be easy right? Oh, how wrong I was!

Writing a book may not be difficult, but to turn this into a published book that looks professional and  that people actually want to purchase is a complete different experience. I have since learnt that publishing involves proofing, editing, correcting and improving the text, as well as the creation of a cover page with back page and the marketing text that goes with it.

And what about all the technical specifications? Each distribution platform requires slightly different file types, technical specifications and file setup. It takes quite a bit of work to figure out the different settings for each channel.

2. Trying to do everything alone (and re-inventing the wheel)

Although I had many years of experience in IT consultancy and the delivery of training courses, I am no professional editor and proofreading your own work is next to impossible. You are too close to the text to see the issues with punctuation, grammar or general flow of the overall story.

Initially I also tried to create my own cover designs but luckily soon discovered that I really don’t have a good creative eye for book covers. I recognise a good one when I see it, but I find it extremely difficult to design one from scratch.

Rather than doing everything alone, I started looking for professionals who can help me in the process. This took a very long time and a lot of money, weeding through many mediocre employees and freelancers until I found somebody with a style that suited my books.

3. Using the wrong software and tools

My first “book” I wrote in MS word, and MS Publisher. This mistake took me days (if not weeks) to fix up. There is not ONE professional publishing platform that accepts documents created in MS Publisher.

Most professional books are created in Quark or Adobe inDesign. Eventually we chose to work with Adobe inDesign and although the constant updates to the software are frustrating and expensive, the end result is so much better than anything I could make with a simple wordprocessor like MS Word.

4. Only focusing on

Amazon has been ground breaking in the book industry. First as a book seller, and later as a publishing platform. Although expensive, amazon offers a fantastic publishing platform with their Createspace services.

However we all know that it is never a solid business decision to put all your eggs in one basket, so rather than just focusing on it is a good practice to have your book available at different sales channels.

I spent many hours researching online trying to find the other self publishing platforms, and setting up author pages everywhere to be able to upload my book(-s) in the various websites.

This process meant duplication of efforts and also a piecemeal approach to trying to find sales data.

How to avoid these mistakes?

If I had to do it again, I would use a service like Complete Publishing offers. It is called ‘Guided Self Publishing’ and it helps authors to self publish their books without making these costly mistakes.

As a professional and entrepreneur I don’t have time to re-invent the wheel and now I don’t have to. Complete Publishing helps busy professionals to create and publish their book.

(Full disclosure: I am invested in this company to help authors speed up their journey to a successful publishing experience)

Guided Self publishing means that the author retains control over their book but the process of self publishing is outsourced to Complete Publishing. The book is created professionally in inDesign and turned into an ePub after it has been checked and edited by professionals. The author can choose from multiple cover designs. The added bonus of this service is that the book is generated with an ISBN and marketing text and is distributed both as print publication and ebook to 38,000 retailers and 220,000 libraries. All sales data is collated in a central place and you will receive a single monthly overview of the sales of your book globally in all these different sales channels.

For more information:

Originally posted 2014-09-16 11:51:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009

You probably noticed that I am not as active with my blogs these days… the reason for that is simple: after 51 weeks of IT Service Management, ITIL and Cloud Computing – I am now spending 2 weeks fully focused on my family… Long lazy days at the pool sipping cocktails and glasses of champagne!

Please join me in enjoying the final days of 2008 and I wish you all a fantastic, successful and amazing 2009! May all your dreams come true… in business and personal.

As you can see this is a pretty old post but the idea is still the same: 51 weeks of the year we serve our customers, clients and students, but the week between Christmas and New Year is the middle of summer here in Australia so we take a well deserved break.

Personally I think it’s good business practice to balance the amount of time you spend with the business and your team with the amount of time you spend with your family.

Spending time with family is so important – you must not forget to pay attention to the people who really matter… not saying that our clients don’t matter but, well you know what I mean. 😉

Of course I’ll still be monitoring the training portal to make sure everything is going OK. I don’t want any of our students to feel uncomfortable or fear that they are left on their own devices.. it’s just that I’m not 100% focussed on the business in these 2 weeks.

Update: in 2016 our office will be closed for the Christmas break from Friday the 23rd of December until Monday the 2nd of January 2017


PS – how are you managing your career or your business? Are you able to take time off to really disconnect and relax? Do you have a mechanism to unwind and recharge? If you don’t … think about the reason why and what you need to do to improve this part of your career and life

Originally posted 2008-12-29 11:07:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What happened to Service Validation and testing in ITIL V3 Foundation Syllabus?

Today was a very exciting but also very sad day for me… Our development team showed us the alpha version of the new ITIL V3 Foundation course material which is developed based on the new APMG/EXIN syllabus. This new course and the new exam is going to be launched on the first of May 2009 – so that is less than 15 days away!!

The material looks amazing! Very clear and easy to follow, with new diagrams and new illustrations. It is not just a ‘tweaked’ program, but basically an entire new course. We used the updated syllabus, but also input from our accredited trainers, partners and students to create this new material. So that was the exciting part of it. I think it will be a lot better for our students as a lot of the controversial material has been scrapped to make more room for discussion, debate and exercises.

But the sad part is that I will no longer experience the joy of discussing Service Validation and Testing during the Foundation program! I think I am going to be rebellious and discuss the V-model for service testing anyway.. HA!
To me the process of Service Validation and Testing together with the V-model is one of the most valuable additions to ITIL V3 in comparison to ITIL V2. Should there ever be an ITIL V4 I would really like to see even more of a stronger emphasis on testing and general Quality assurance and Quality control mechanisms in the framework.

I really enjoyed discussing the reasons for testing and validating your Service Design packages as part of this process… to give people at a Foundation level a sneak preview of the amazing value that this process gives to the overall framework. But I guess that cutting it from the syllabus will make the follow up training (like the intermediate program for ‘Release Control and Validation’ ) more  desirable. 

Why would APMG have made the choice to delete the process of ‘Service Validation and Testing’ from the syllabus? I really don’t know, but would love to find out!

Originally posted 2009-04-15 18:28:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Want to feel depressed? Go see your doctor!

As I wasn’t going to the office today, I thought that this might be a good opportunity to go to see my doctor for a generic checkup. After all – I’m not 21 anymore…!

Well – that was an interesting experience! The reason why I went in was because I had some niggly things happening and I wanted to check if it was physical or a simple case of “too-much-to-do-and-the-body-tells-you-to-slow-down-a-bit” Pretty simple service request: is it A or B?

Well, I must have opened a can or worms because for the next 20 minutes my GP gave me a complete lesson on why the economy is going down, that when I put $100 in my bank account the bank uses it to loan approx. $1000 against it and that I should feel depressed when the interest rates go up with another 2% as the bank won’t be able to pay me back the $100 I put in in the first place!


All I want to know is: is it A or B? I definitely didn’t want to be told that I am not to blame for the bad economy (of course not! I keep supporting it… bought shoes yesterday and spent $500 at Bunnings today.. but that is a different story altogether).

The weird thing is –  at first I got angry at the doctor. I felt as if he was talking me into feeling depressed (I’m not BTW) but than later on I realised that he probably prepared this entire speech for everybody who comes into his practice with symptoms that might slightly resemble stress type symptoms.
And I realised that I sometimes do the same – when I talk to clients about the services we offer I try to listen a lot and ask a lot of questions. But I can’t help myself – sometimes I just hear myself give the same ‘spiel’ to different people in different scenarios. Is this a prepared speech? Is this answer even valid for this specific situation or client?

So I have made a few decisions today:

  1. Be an even better listener and ask more questions to get to the source of what the client is saying
  2. Verify if my understanding is line with what the client is saying
  3. Verify if my answer is going to be in line with their expectations
  4. Adjust my answer based on 1,2 and 3
  5. And lastly… when I want to feel depressed I will make another appointment to see my Doctor!


Originally posted 2008-08-22 02:35:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The ITIL pyramid scheme

One of the entries in our ITIL Experience Book talks about the “Pyramid Scheme” for the ITIL V3 Certifications.

He probably referred to the way the certification scheme is illustrated

ITIL qualification scheme

APMG probably didn’t mean to have people talk about this qualification scheme as a ‘pyramid scheme’ but a lot of discussion is happening in offices around the world about the investment required to do the certification Programs.

This has been one of the drivers for The Art of Service to develop the entire qualification pathway as eLearning Programs. You go through fully accredited course materials, supported by ITIL Expert Trainers, at a fraction of the classroom price.

You can achieve your entire ITIL Expert qualification through our eLearning programs, which are accredited by EXIN.

Originally posted 2009-09-20 08:05:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Too busy for doom and gloom

No – I am not sticking my head in the sand. I know that there is a change in the global economy and that this is changing the way businesses do business.

But to be honest: we have never been so busy as we are today! So in the office we regularly say to each other: “too busy for doom and gloom”. No matter what the economy does, we still have clients who have needs demands and wishes. They still would like to attend our educational programs. 

Now that I think of it… our clients are really smart! Now is THE time to attend our educational programs. The education we offer is to create and manage processes, procedures and workinstructions to streamline business processes in the IT groups. To create visibility of IT activities, the value that IT brings to the business and the return on investment.

Now more than ever our clients need help achieving these goals…

So: no time for doom and gloom – we have people to educate. And the education starts internally. As the leader of our team I am very aware of what is happening outside and how this may impact our activities, our sales and ultimately our financial results. But I don’t accept the freeze approach – we are NOT like the deer stuck in the headlights of the oncoming truck. We continue to motivate each other with all the fantastic results we achieve. The fan-mail we receive daily from our clients (we stuck them up on our wall of fame) and to continue to push ourself to the next limit…

So there you have it: no time to linger on negative things… we are too busy for doom and gloom!



Originally posted 2008-08-14 09:57:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In times of recession – how does ITIL Service Management help to keep your good employees?

Today I was interviewed by somebody from the itSMF about trends in the ITSM education and training industry. Inevitably the questions go the the current economic climate and the position of education in all this.

To me this is really easy – but then again: I run an education company so I am slightly biased –  ITSM education really helps organisations to make a difference. Note that I don’t say ‘training’ as I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about organisations who only focus on the training aspect.. teaching monkeys tricks…  Of course there is a training aspect in each educational program but there is so much more to it! Being an educator means that you know your subject as well as have the ability to make people understand what this new theory means for them – in their working environment. You need to understand that it is NOT about you but about the students. Educating is more than presenting, it is about focusing on the needs and requirements of the students… constantly.

Anyway, stepping down from my soap box for a second here, I strongly feel that ITSM education can make the difference between an IT organisation that is subject to outsourcing or an IT group that adds value to the overall corporate goals. ITSM education make the difference to the individual wanting to get that new job, and helps to get passed by when the redundancies are handed out.

Like I said to the interviewer today; I am constantly looking for new staff. We filled 2 vacancies in March and are currently advertising for 2 additional vacancies. So I see my fair share of applications and resumes across my desk. In comparison to 12 months ago, we receive about 10x the amount of applicants but I can’t say that the overall quality of the applicants has risen. Mind you, there are still gems out there – and they stand out! But what I expected to see as a result of all these job cuts and redundancies was that a lot of highly skilled people with fantastic experience and backgrounds would be applying for jobs.. and I don’t see that at the moment. Not in Australia that is…

Why do I say this? Well, for highly competent – qualified and experienced ITSM staff members the jobs are still out there and it is easy to stand out among the other candidates. So adding ITSM certification to your resume could be a good thing for individual IT professionals.

On the other side – IT organisations can use ITSM education as a differentiator to maintain their high performing employees. Offering educational opportunities to them will make them highly productive in the work place – making sure the IT group can cope with the new requirements and added work pressures – but also happier employees as they know they are valued and continue to improve their skills and qualifications. This seems to be a way to retain your good employees. High performers want to be challenged, and constantly learning new things or improving current processes. ITSM education gives them the opportunity to do this. This ultimately saves you money through retention of your high performers and not having to look for new staff as well as an improved IT Service delivery mechanism.

Benefits no matter where you look! So, what’s keeping you from educating your staff?!

Originally posted 2009-04-14 21:27:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Why do IT professionals attend conferences?

IT Professionals are an interesting breed – and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study the ‘species’ last week at the FUSION11 conference in Washington.

Of the 2000 attendees there was a group of people who clearly enjoyed the personal interaction and social aspects of attending a conference, but there was another group (probably even larger!) who appeared to be very single focused: attend the sessions, take notes and go back to the hotelroom to work a bit more. You didn’t see them at the social events, they didn’t attend the networking sessions. You didn’t even see them at the motivational keynote events… they showed up at the breakout sessions which were specific to their current job role.

It made me wonder… if attending a conference is only to gain more knowledge aren’t there better options for you? There are some really great webinars around, many of which are free to attend. And most vendors that have a booth at the conference have all the information available at their websites or corporate information portals. Or you can enrol in online learning classes to quickly increase your knowledge and skill level for a specific subject. You can even do this outside of work hours so your peers don’t know how you got to this new level of knowledge and understanding.

Direct learning is not the main reason for attending a conference, that is not where the value add lies…

So what is the value add of attending a conference? And where is the Return on Investment?

  • Is it the schedule of industry specific learning interlaced with motivational keynote speakers?
  • Is it the fact that you can distance yourself from the daily ‘grind’ in the office?
  • Is the value more at a personal level to build trust between people, a relationship that can’t easily be forged through email, blogs and tweets?

Or is it simply that you don’t have to think about who to approach for new information and knowledge around your subject matter of choice? To get close to the thought leaders of your industry even when you are too shy to contact people directly or speak with them face to face.

Personally, I think the main value for attending conference is the connections you make. Not just the personal connections (although they are very important), but the links between various items discussed that are specific to your industry. You attend three to four breakout sessions during a day and each speaker has a slightly different point of view to the same or similar topic. You ask questions to speaker nr. 2 based on the information you received from speaker nr. 1. This way you are able to assemble your own viewpoints and approaches to various issues and topics you run into in your role at the company.

The magic of a conference is that after you attend these breakout sessions you can test your theories and hypotheses by discussing it with other attendees! Do they feel the same way? Do they support your theories, and if not – why not? That is the value you get from attending conferences. Instant feedback from other people in your industry in a non-threatening way. Yes, it does mean you’ll have to attend the networking sessions and get social during the week… but you get so much back in return: a guilt free and consequence free way to solidify your thoughts and ideas. (let’s cal this INDIRECT learning, as apposed to the direct learning mentioned before) You’ll get back to your place of work a lot stronger and wiser and people will notice!

And if all else fails, at least you’ve had a nice break from work… and you get to see Doug Tedder do a Hoola Hoop demonstration at 9 o’clock in the morning 😉

Originally posted 2011-10-03 14:26:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter