Sunday, August 16, 2015

A career job with a purpose

I started with HELP Enterprises on the 9th June 2015, and I guess today marks 2 months with this fabulous organisation.

HELP Enterprises marks a first for me ... the first employer I've worked for who hasn't been seeking profit for profit's sake, profit to line the shareholders' back pockets, or profit to keep the board well funded.

In a nutshell, HELP Enterprises' drive for profit is all about "enhancing the lifestyle and independence of people with disabilities", pure and simple.

I've never experienced anything quite like it, and relishing the environment within the organisation I work for.

Let's be clear though, HELP Enterprises' various divisions are there to make profit for sure, but it's what the profit is used for makes all the difference ... "enhancing the lifestyle and independence of people with disabilities".

Now, if you slightly alter HELP Enterprises' mantra to "enhancing the lifestyles and independence of people with disadvantages", it makes perfect sense to me, why HELP Enterprises won 3 jobactive contracts (Brisbane North (Somerset), Brisbane South East and Gold Coast), leveraging from & building on the experience in Disability Employment Services.  A logical step forward.

To support our 3 jobactive contracts, HELP Enterprises now has 37 jobactive sites throughout South East Queensland, and 3 Business Development Managers (one for each contract's region). As the BDM for Brisbane South East, Employment and Training, my role is to introduce HELP Enterprises to the medium to large enterprises / corporates / organisations and have a conversation.

There are no specific pre-conceived outcomes sought in having these conversations, just an intent to keep it open and honest.  Of course, as you would expect from my job title, Employment and Training are a key part of the conversation I bring to the table, but there are some amazing divisions of HELP Enterprises, underpinning what we do, that are also introduced:
  • Manufacturing (including MailSafe, BinSafe, Traditional Awnings)
  • Training (Qualifications, unaccredited programs and short courses, VET in Schools)
  • Schools: Hospitality, Technical Studies, Community Services & Business
  • Fison Food Factory
  • Wholesale Nursery
  •  Logistics
  • Packaging & Assembly Services
HELP Enterprises has been referred to in the past as "Brisbane's best kept secret" and that's changing, one conversation at a time.

I am proud to be a part of the HELP Enterprises' family and assist with the growth and recognition of a fabulous organisation, that since 1968, has been "enhancing the lifestyle and independence of people with disabilities".

I am open to a conversation .... are you?


homas Skennerton, Business Development Manager, Brisbane South, Employment & Training, HELP Enterprises

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two ears and one mouth ....

(This is a re-release post from this blog .....TferThomas, from January 2009, and for me, both personally and professionally, remains very relevant today).
Recently this old saying has surfaced in a number of conversations and presentations that I have been privileged to be a part of. I thought I should share my thoughts here, and share the love of this age old saying.
You have two ears and one mouth, and that's the proportion you should use them.
How many times in the past have you been in an important meeting, and when concluded, only to find that you appear to have missed some key, critical information? It has certainly happened to me on a number of occasions. Until, that is, someone shared the love of this old saying to me.
If you can actually resist opening your mouth, and therefore not talk, but more importantly, concentrate on what the other party is discussing, the chances of you absorbing what they are trying to say (whether directly, or indirectly) increases exponentially... to your favour.
And this is the point, by gaining the direct and indirect insights (ie. the world according to the other party), you are leaps and bounds of someone else (perhaps your competitor).
But this doesn't just apply to business dealings.... again, how many times have you had a conversation with your loved one, and later, could not recall what he / she was really drilling down to from within the conversation? Its happened to us all, and will continue to do so, if you don't zip it.
Of course, verbal acknowledgments do assist the non verbal signs, confirming the simple fact you are listening, but that's just the point.... two ears and one mouth.
So the next time you are sitting with someone (business or pleasure), give it a go, and let me know what the outcomes were.
My thoughts,

Follow Thomas @TferThomas

What my Beagle can teach me about recruitment

So it is now almost the end of my 5th week in my new career path as a Recruitment Consultant with a niche recruitment consultancy, Electus Recruitment, and it got me thinking as to what my Beagle Rahi can teach me about recruitment. After all, he has given me some valuable lessons around networking (see: What my Beagle can teach me about networking), so let's see what the little fellow with the big nose and floppy ears has to add here.
Greet (happy to talk): no matter what type of day you're having (busy, frustrating, problematic), greet someone in a warm and friendly manner, and focus just on them, and not on whatever else is happening in your little part of the world. Rahi is always eagerly friendly with greeting friends; new or old, and everyone needs to be greeted.
Pay attention: don't just hear, listen, really listen and take in as much as you can. A dog handler once told me not to bother speaking to Rahi as he won't understand the spoken word ... ah, wrong. Rahi knows "walk", "drive", "bathroom", "sit", "bed", "dog park", plus a few more. Someone's been paying attention, big time!
Get to know you: okay, a Beagle uses his big black nose (normally wet) to really get to know you, and once he knows you, he never seems to forget. While I don't condone the use of a wet nose and smell, do take the time to get to know the person you are speaking to, and find out how you may be able to assist them.
Be positive: always interact in a positive manner, regardless what sort of day you're having, or what sort of news you have to deliver. If it is bad news, stand in the other person's shoes and work out how you would like to receive the news (especially if it is bad news). Rahi is pretty adept now at judging moods, and he leans in and cuddles in a bit closer, if he senses your day has gone to pot.
Feedback: Rahi thrives on feedback, and learns from it. He cannot read your mind, and relies on body language and other signals. Same with me ... if you don't tell me, and we are not sitting face to face, chances are I'll miss something important (and I cannot mind read). But, if you tell me, like Rahi, I can work on the feedback; good, bad, indifferent ... it's all very important to me.
Follow up: My Beagle is really rather clever at remembering people, places and things, and isn't backwards in coming forwards to follow up on these opportunities when he has the chance to (although it must be said, there are other things that he should not be doing (sitting on a bed perhaps?) and he blissfully chooses to be ignorant. And so it is with recruitment ... when a course of action is taken, follow up is an integral part of the work flow. I have been complimented on my follow up processes in the past, and it's one skill I was pleased to bring with me to the recruitment industry.
Be persistent: Beagles are known in the dog world as one of the most stubborn breeds, and a breed that doesn't normally just take "no" for an answer. Rahi is certainly no different. But thinking about it, neither do I, and I am known to be patient and persistent, when there is a task that I know has a conclusion that just has to be reached, and more importantly, I know it will add value to the other party, I will be persistent and follow through (Rahi on the other only thinks of himself with some of his wants *wink*).
Now to print this article off and tape it to the wall near my desk, so I am continually reminded of my Beagle's lesson about recruitment.
I hope you have a productive week.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bring on 2015 .... goodbye to 2014

On the personal front, it has been both a positive year (never been fitter) and a challenging year, with a number of health scares towards the latter part of the year. Thank goodness I was fitter and healthier, which allowed me to recover better than I would ever have done previously.
Career wise ..... a number of lessons learnt and a number of principles I keep close to myself:
  1. I found out I could no longer trust a couple of "dependable" colleagues / clients, who had also become friends. And while I had been there for them during their times of need, when it came time to support me, the old saying rang true "fair weather friends" ..... (Urban Dictionary: " A friend who is only a friend when circumstances are pleasant or profitable. At the first sign of trouble, these capricious, disloyal friends will drop their relationship with you.")
  2. On the upside though, the fair weather friends were replaced by a couple of very solid and dependable people who were previously clients of mine, but now I would class as friends. They gave me honest feedback and advice, when it mattered, and have made time to listen to me. I hope there is an opportunity for me to repay their kindness and consideration, but for now, I am honoured to be in their circle.
  3. Don't take things for granted. Just because you are very clear as to the direction you are taking, what you believe and know the outcomes to be, and that you back yourself ... is not enough. Make sure you have management onboard for the ride as well, ensuring they understand and agree with your plan. Have the honest conversation with each of them, making sure any/all uncertainties that are present, but perhaps lying just under the surface, are unearthed, discussed, and resolved to mutual agreement.
  4. Know when the company is not the right fit for you. You may have been head hunted by the company, and that in itself is a wonderful feeling, but it's not enough. Be aware, and decide for yourself ... can you work for a company that talks the talk, but does not walk the talk? If the answer is no, be honest with yourself, and find a company better suited to you, and do it proactively, right foot forward (or perhaps that should be left, given I am left handed), before the opportunity is taken away from you. At the end of the day, it is your career, and yours alone, and its up to you to manage it.
  5. Respect all those you meet. I've met some truly fascinating people during the course of 2014, and for me, it is always a highlight to meet new people. Why? Simple really ... I learn from each and every person I meet, and learning for me is part of my non stop growth. Have I gotten on with everyone I have met? No, not really, but that is not the point. I learnt something from everyone I've met, and I believe I have treated everyone with the respect they deserved.
  6. Honest and open book policy. I haven't shied away from any question that has been asked of me during 2014 ..... whether it was the little 4 year old toddler from yesterday (asking me why I was mowing his Mum's lawn (I was volunteering with the Salvation Army)), to recruiters asking me about little facets of my 28 year career, and finally, having a deep and meaningful with one of my clients. I've tried to answer as completely and as honestly as I can. Why? Get to know me, and you'll understand me more and be more comfortable working with me, and trust me with what is important to you.
So as I round out 2014, looking for my next career path, I reflect back on 2014, in readiness for a cracking 2015, which I intend on grabbing by the scruff of the neck, and making it my year!
To everyone who reads this, I wish you a Happy New Year, and wish you good fortune, happiness and meaningful relationships (both personally and professionally).

Monday, November 10, 2014

First week with my BlackBerry Passport

Upfront, I am a little biased to the BlackBerry smartphone (anyone who follows me on twitter (@TferThomas) would clearly know this), but having used a variety of BlackBerry devices since 2004 (7100g - 8100 - 8300 - 9000 - 9700 - 9780 - 9810 - 9900 - 9790 - Z10 - Z30 - Q10), now I feel it the time to give my thoughts on the new Passport.
Now that's out of the way, onto the review.
(Image courtesy of
My Passport arrived on Monday last week, not through a local Carrier (my preferred Australian Carrier is not stocking the Passport at the moment ... although hopefully that will change @Telstra) but brought in from overseas. I'm afraid I've had to do this a number of times over the years for certain technology items, and living in Australia.
The first thing I did was to place an Amzer Pudding Case over it chassis (yes, even though the Passport has gorilla glass and seems to have been sturdily built, I am clumsy, and no tech company can compensate for my clumsiness).
(Image courtesy of
The Passport is wide, and at 90.3mm it only just fit my existing car cradle a squeeze. I think I will be sourcing a tablet cradle though to fit to the existing rig, but so far so good.
Operating System:
The Passport runs a version of the proprietary BlackBerry 10 operating system (a derivative of QNX) and currently sits at 10.3 (my current Z30 and Q10 were running leaked versions of 10.3.1 so I am very familiar with 10.3).
Ah yes, the old story of apps:
Not only does the BlackBerry World come preloaded, but also the Amazon Appstore, giving you immediate access to a large proportion of Android apps.
What I have noticed is the Amazon Appstore does lack a few of my favourite Android apps, so I also side-loaded Snap, which is a third party Google Play app, and from there, I have no app deficiencies (to cover my own personal/professional usage). You can also download 1Mobile Market which also does the same / similar job to Snap.
How do Android aps present on the the Passport's screen (quite unique in the current market, being 4.5" diagonal in size)? .... simple answer is all of the ones I use have so far fit the bill. You do have an option with some apps to resize (slide down from the top bezel from within the app) which can make an improvement, but I have only had to do this for two apps.
Some of the Android apps I use on my Passport:
  • Feedly (RSS Reader and sharer)
  • LinkedIn Pulse
  • Facebook Pages Manager
  • Pinterest
  • Udemy
  • Our Groceries
  • Tweetspie
  • Hootsuite
  • CommBank
  • Todoist
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Seek
  • Airtasker
  • Nespresso
  • Shazam
Technical specifications (nope, not going to bore you here):
What I can say is the Passport is the smoothest operating BlackBerry I have used yet, and the difference between it and the Z30 (the previous flagship) is marked. Everything is quicker, smoother and more responsive. Nice one.
Battery life is good, and better than the previous benchmark, that being the Z30. Battery, like that of the Z30, is fixed and non-removable, but I can easily get through a day of heavy social media, email, and call usage, without needing to find external power.
Physical dimensions and "that" keyboard:
Yes, the name relates to a Travel Passport, and the size is essentially the same .... and that makes it an interesting device to get used to.
The Passport is a screen and 3 rows of physical keys. If you were to compare the Passport to a legacy BlackBerry device, you would quickly note the lack of the 4th row of keys (containing the space bar and some speciality keys), where as the Passport has squeezed the space bar into the 3rd row.
But where are the numbers and speciality keys? Simple really .... but it does require a little getting used to. Slide your thumb down the physical keyboard brings up the numbers and speciality keys / symbols in the form of a virtual workspace, with a downward accent to retract (alternatively, you can also press the virtual @123 key which will bring up the virtual workspace).
You do need two hands to be most efficient when using the Passport. With the earlier legacy BlackBerry devices, you cupped your hands together and thumbed out messages very rapidly (on a BlackBerry Bold 9900, I believe I was quicker at thumbing out emails, than from my laptop). With the wider device, your two hands cradle the Passport and your thumbs are positioned well productivity and reach wise. As I said, it does require a wee bit of practice, but at the end of day 1, my thumbs were starting to intuitively find each key, with a high success rate ... soon, back to typing without looking if need be.
But if you are in a hurry, looking at the keyboard brings you an added productivity angle ..... predictive words. Again, whatever has been done here has improved the quality and accuracy from previous BlackBerry 10 devices. It also learns from your typing. You can, after a few days, literally type out a sentence (or mostly thereof) by just using predictive texts and a few key selections.
The accident:
I am accident prone, and last Friday it came home to roost .... gashing my left hand in a clumsy styled accident in the laundry (the front loader won), requiring 5 stitches ....and I am left handed! While I was waiting at the Doctors, I had to message a couple of people, and by only using my right thumb, and predictive text, I was able to accomplish this reasonably quickly .... although, I could not cradle the Passport with just one hand.
The keyboard is more than just physical:
The keyboard also can become your mouse for accurate text copying (think back to the track pad on the legacy BlackBerry and how simple it was to copy large volumes of text ..... with this keyboard, the same is just as easy and just as accurate). Thank you BlackBerry for one of the legacy features I was missing (much better than copying using the touch screen).
When reading web pages, it is suggested, and I concur, tip the Passport onto its side, and use the keyboard to scroll through the website by running your finger from bottom to top over the keyboard). This same function works in all apps, including the Hub.
I felt the Passport would be top heavy, with the keyboard mounted so low, but was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't the case. The Passport easily fits into my suit jacket pockets, and a little snug in my pants pockets. Cargo shorts however, appear to have been custom made for the Passport.
A mate and I went to the Cinema on night 1 with the Passport (we see the movies that our wives aren't interested in) and when I passed the Passport over so that the barcode could be scanned from the booking email, the Attendant (lass of around 17 - 18 years of age) remarked "what a sick looking BlackBerry .... wow!"
Never. Expected. That.
There doesn't seem to be too many Passports out in the wild in Australia currently, and each time I pull mine out to work wide ..... invariably, someone asks a question about the device, and normally hones into the physical dimensions.
BlackBerry Blend:
For anyone who remembers the BlackBerry Playbook, would remember Bridge. Bridge was a way of getting your emails, contacts, tasks, calendar etc from your legacy BlackBerry to the Playbook. It enable you to work from a much bigger device on your projects, tasks as required. When the two devices were disconnected, no information was left on the Playbook.
Blend is the 2014 version of Bridge, but much better. It will connect your Passport or Porsche P'9983 (coming soon to more devices) to an Apple (Mac OSX 10.7+ or iOS 7+ Tablet), Windows (7+) or Android Tablet (4.4+). While the Passport's screen is a great size for delving deeper into more intricate tasks, sometimes a bigger screen is more welcome.
Things you can do with Blend:
  • Access your photos and documents and view them on a much larger screen.
  • Access your emails, texts and BBMs
  • Access your calendar, contacts and tasks
  • Access between devices via Wi-Fi, Mobile network or USB connection.
And like Bridge, once you disconnect, nothing is left behind. Smart and secure.
A Blend dashboard demo is here:
I've been using Blend between my Passport and my Google Nexus 7 over the past week .... very handy.
Now that one week has passed, I can definitely say the BlackBerry Passport is the best BlackBerry that I have used across 10 years, and there isn't really anything I found to be lacking, and in fact, the dimensions, design, access to Android apps (and BlackBerry apps), and the legacy features so sorely missed until now, of the Passport have added significantly to the BlackBerry 10 proposition. To quote one of my favourite movie titles ..... a case of "Back to the Future".

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What my Beagle can teach me about networking

For anyone who owns, or has owned (do they own you?) a Beagle, I am sure you'll twig to this right away.

Generally speaking, Beagles have a number of key traits that are very useful for networking purposes, and my Rahi (essentially Hindi for "traveler": yes, this is Rahi in the photo) displays these manners daily, especially when he is networking (ie. going for a walk, or playing in a leash-free dog park):
  • Boldness: Rahi is not afraid to walk up to you, as a complete stranger, and say "hi";
  • Size (or read: importance) does not matter: It simply doesn't matter about your apparent size, or importance, Rahi will still want to walk on over and say "hi";
  • Open to meeting new people (or dogs): Life for Rahi is interspersed with daily walks, where he encounters new people and dogs regularly, and he always wants to say "hi" to each and every one;
  • Pleasantly happy: Even if Rahi's day was a forgettable one (and who hasn't had one of those?), he will still greet me (or anyone visiting), or anyone out walking for that matter, with a happy face, positive body language, and a tail that is madly wagging;
  • Remembers you: Once Rahi has met you once, he doesn't seem to forget anyone;
  • Appreciative and well-mannered: Whether it is presenting him with a flash new soft toy (like his bunny), or a simple scruff around his floppy ears, he always responds in the same way .... happily appreciative;
  • He's got your back: Rahi always keeps an eye out on his friends, whenever he is around them: you can trust him.
It's amazing what my little Rahi has taught me, and I hope it has helped someone else.

I hope you have a productive week.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

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