Keeping your humanity in an on-demand world


We are living in an era of on-demand, transactional services, where you can have almost anything you want at the push of a button, a swipe of your phone or the click of a remote. It isn’t surprising that with everything so easily accessible, recruitment and hiring have moved away from human interaction and towards more technology-based solutions.

Convenience and cost are huge factors in this move. However, when finding the right fit – the right person for your team or organisation or, as an employee, finding the right organisation for your next career move – human interaction MUST be part of the process to achieve a result that both sides of the table are happy with.

So how do you keep your humanity in this process when everything seems to be aimed at increasing speed and distance? Here are four ways to make sure you retain the all-important human element in an increasingly technological process.


So many of us hesitate to do this, however, whatever side of the hiring process you’re on, you can find out so much by simply talking to someone on the phone. We often default to email conversations during the recruitment and hiring processes, but asking questions directly and getting information straight from the horse’s mouth will help you determine whether a situation is the right fit for all.


Don’t just rely on what is written in a resume or on a company’s website for guidance on an individual’s character or the values, mission and culture of an organisation. Talk to people. Whether it’s calling references or chatting with people who have worked at a particular company, moving off the page or webpage will help you find out what you need to know, and not just what the other side wants you to know.


This may sound strange but with Skype, Zoom and Facetime, to name just a few technological hiring aids, it isn’t unusual for a new employee to shake hands with their manager for the first time on the day they start a new job. This should be the absolutely last resort! Meeting someone face to face, shaking hands and looking them in the eye, is an important part of human connection, and finding a way to make this happen is essential, even if you need to use a stand-in, such as someone from the local office. Video interviewing can never be an adequate substitute for the vital first impressions you get when meeting someone face to face.


Of course it is important to know if someone has the skills to do the job or if a manager leads in a style that suits you. However, learning more about a person – their passions, their interests and their goals – can tell you a lot about how they will fit into your team or you into theirs. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal to better understand who the person sitting across the table from you really is.

Between LinkedIn, Seek, Jora, Indeed and the plethora of social media platforms and apps available for both jobseekers and hiring managers, it isn’t always easy to keep your humanity. This is especially the case when budgets are tight and speed is essential. We’re living in a world where business never slows down and we are always on the clock. However, to find meaningful work for which you are valued and appreciated, and to find team members who add real value and share your goals and visions for your organisation, building and maintaining that personal, human connection is essential.

Branding According to Queer Eye


For those who haven’t binge-watched the most recent season of Netflix’s Queer Eye, the latest iteration of the 00s’ Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, you should know that this show has become so much more than just a makeover show. In many ways it is a show about personal branding.

Branding, whether personal or leadership branding, at its core, is about presenting yourself in an authentic way that gives you confidence and helps you to put your best foot forward. That is what Queer Eye is all about. According to Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye’s grooming specialist, ‘How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you.’ So, we’ve put together some lessons on branding from Season 3.

Queer Eye Branding Advice

1. Be the best version of you.

Presenting your best self to the world doesn’t mean changing who you are. You’re still doing you, but you’re doing it well. One of the things we love about the new Queer Eye is that the experts aren’t trying to mould anyone into something they’re not, for example by putting people who don’t need them in suits that won’t work for their real, everyday lives. Instead, the team takes the time to find out who their subject really is, so they can help draw out the best version of that while keeping to their brand.

2. Clothing can make the woman and man.

As much as we might dislike it, we are judged by our appearance, and clothing is a big part of this. Though on Queer Eye, they do update the subject’s wardrobe, they don’t necessarily go straight for designer or expensive items. Instead, they look at each person’s style and lifestyle and offer suggestions accordingly. Watching how a person’s confidence changes when they feel comfortable in their clothes is amazing. As Tan France, the style expert, says, ‘Style is dressing the way that you feel confident and what’s appropriate for you, your age and your body type.’ Being confident is great for everyone’s brand, whether you’re a leader, just starting out or ready to take your career to the next level.

A little tip, if you would wear it to the beach or a night club, don’t wear it to work!

3. If you want to look approachable, smile more.

Looking authoritative and approachable aren’t mutually exclusive. In one episode, the Queer Eye team works with Joey, a Program Director for a summer camp. He appears hunched over and unsmiling, and dresses like the kids who attend camp in an effort to appear more approachable. In fact, though, it has the opposite effect. A smile opens you up, which is why we always recommend you use a smiling photo for any online or bio picture. No-one wants a leader or manager who never smiles, or even an employee who is serious all the time.

4. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the pack.

This comes with confidence but we know from working in the recruitment industry for more than 15 years that standing out from the crowd can only help you get noticed by potential employers and recruiters. Be yourself, and if that means you’re a little different from everyone else, then embrace it!

5. Someday is today.

We’ve often heard clients say they’ll change their profile photo ‘one day’ or they’ll update their summary ‘soon’. We love the motto: ‘Someday is today’. If you want the career you’ve been dreaming of, if you want that promotion or to take charge of that big project, then make today the day and start sprucing up your brand now.

Your brand whether it is for you personally or as a leader in your organisation is made up of every interaction you have. How you turn up in person and also how you present yourself professionally online; on LinkedIn, your private social media, how you present in emails, as well on the phone, all of this is part of your personal or leadership brand. Quite often people have formed an opinion of you before they have even met you just from how you have represented yourself.

Whatever your career and whatever level your role, if you’re a leader attracting candidates to an organisation or you’re building your career, your branding can make all the difference to how others see you, as well as how you see yourself. Here at Chorus Executive we know from our own experience – and from watching three seasons of Queer Eye – that how you present yourself to the world can increase your confidence, boost your career and improve your life. This doesn’t mean changing who you are. It means doing you, well! In the words of Tan France, ‘You being true to yourself isn’t going to offend anybody. It’s very unlikely that people are going to cause you any issue just because you’re being yourself. And if they’re concerned, that’s on them.’

We might not be able to help you in the style stakes but we can definitely help you present yourself better online. Reach out if you’re ready for an online personal branding makeover!

What women really want


Last week was International Women’s Day and, like us, you probably saw a flurry of articles around pay equity, the glass ceiling and women on boards, among other gender-related workplace issues.

Many of these pieces probably seemed vaguely familiar. The same topics are discussed each year, yet little actual progress seems to be made. Instead of adding yet another voice to the chorus asking for change, we thought this year we’d take a step back. Rather than assuming we know what women want in terms of their working lives, or assuming that all women want the same things, we decided to actually try to find out. We sought out a diverse group of women at various stages of their careers and asked them: ‘When it comes to your working life, what do you really want?’

From business owners to the self-employed, from scientists to HR specialists, these women let us know what they feel is missing from their work lives, what they believe is holding them back from getting what they want and, most importantly, what they are most looking for in terms of their work.

Money, flexibility and purpose – these are all common responses to the question of what people want from their careers. But which is most important? For the women we spoke to,  the first two were the clear priorities, decisively outweighing the importance of salary.

As HR Director Penelope told us, ‘Choice is important. Not everyone wants to do a three-day week but flexibility should mean the opportunity to make different work arrangements that enable you to manage other commitments. Choice is about adapting to the changing circumstances in people’s lives.’

Megan, a marine biologist, concurred. ‘Usually, I would say purpose is my priority. However, having faced health issues over the last two years, flexibility has been the most important thing and a benefit that I’ve been fortunate enough to have in my current job.’

Zoe, a career coach and leadership consultant, agreed that flexibility matters. But for her, it is not as vital as a sense of purpose. ‘The other two will always be important, but feeling that you’re achieving something meaningful is definitely paramount.’

Most of our respondents agreed. Seven out of ten ranked purpose as their number one priority. Claire explained, ‘Feeling a sense of personal connection to your job and loving what you do every day – what more could you ask for?’

Of course, no one’s work life is perfect, no matter how much you might love what you do. We asked the women we interviewed what they felt was missing from their careers, and a clear theme emerged – opportunity.

‘What I need most is a job,’ said HR specialist Elena, who has recently made the move to regional Australia from Sydney. ‘Since moving, my career opportunities have become limited. I’m often deemed overqualified.’  

For Melissa, a senior publisher, it’s a sense of growth that she most misses in her current job.  ‘I love my job and the company I work for,’ she told us, ‘but there is only so far I can go here.’

Like Melissa, Megan also sees growth and career opportunities as the biggest gaps in her career. ‘I’m incredibly passionate about what I do and where I work but unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities to climb the ladder and to take on managerial or leadership roles.’

So what is holding these women back from reaching their career goals? When asked about the biggest barrier to getting what they want in terms of work, the women we spoke to gave a range of responses.

‘Nothing! I have JUST quit my job without a new one to go to – to give myself that time to make a calculated next move, and one that I’m sure will be the right one,’ said Kate, a PR and communications specialist.

Project manager Tess has a similar story. ‘I’m making the change right now, but before we made the decision my main concerns were finance and security. Without a supporting partner, I would've stayed working in my previous job. I also needed someone to kick my ass and say I could do more and deserved to be paid more, so having confidence to make the decision to change was crucial.’

Tess isn’t alone in finding lack of confidence a barrier to change. Melissa agreed. ‘There is a fear of finding myself in a worse rather than a better situation if I make a move. If I’m not unhappy and I like what I do, it feels safer to stay put.’

Penelope is happy in her current position. However, she does acknowledge a potential future problem. ‘A possible barrier to change down the track would be around the ability to maintain a career pathway and growth. At this stage of my career I am not looking to go backwards.’

So what do women want? Clearly, there is no single answer – each of us has unique career goals and needs. However, women are united in the desire for a fulfilling and purposeful career with growth opportunities. In short, what women want is what everyone – male or female – wants from their working lives.

G.R.O.W. Your Business


Sustained business growth is on the list of goals for many small to medium sized business in 2019. Setting yourself up for success is never easy and when you’re juggling teams, stakeholders, clients, customers, product and looking to grow it gets even harder. So where to start? 

This is our G.R.O.W methodology to help you build and grow your team and business this year.


In its simplest form what is the vision for your team, your organisation? What is it you’re trying to achieve?

At this stage you need to:

  • Identify your objectives, whether they are for your team or your entire organisation

  • Write down the goals of your business and the goals for your team.

Once you’ve set your goals you need to work out how to achieve them. Remember it is also important to share your vision with your team. The more they know and buy in to where you are going as an organisation the more engaged your team will be.  

Research & Reality

Think about what resources you have to achieve your goals. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the company need to achieve our goals?

  • Do you have the financial resources to achieve these goals?

  • What do my team need?

  • What are we missing?

  • Do you need more people? If so what roles do they need to fill? List the essentials for the role. 

Be brutally honest with yourself about every aspect of this stage. If you aren’t honest, how can you possibly assess your resources and reality in relation to what you want to achieve.


This is a chance to think out of the box and look for opportunities to innovate. Flexibility can be a game changer, so think creatively about:

  • Can you train your existing team to fill skills gaps?

  • Can you make changes internally to the organisation that will help achieve your goals?

Your options depend very much on your goals, so think through all your options before committing to a strategy.


In business, wouldn’t it be great if every relationship, every transaction was a win-win? We all know that any successful relationship is both give and take. Examine your goals for 2019 and ask yourself:

  • How does this benefit the organisation?

  • What benefits do my customers/clients receive from these goals?

  • Do my team benefit and have the opportunity to grow and further their careers within the organisation?

If you can’t make every situation a win-win, make sure that your plans and goals for growth in 2019 are!

The G.R.O.W process is a great way to start planning and strategizing for meeting your 2019 goals. Take some time to go through the G.R.O.W process to help you define and clarify where you want to take your team and your business this year. After that it’s all in your hands and your ability to follow through for your team and your organisation. 

Need help with planning for your team and your organisation? Check out our Consulting and Recruitment Services for further information on how we can help you achieve your goals this year!

I have been socially weeded - thank you

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What is social weeding? I heard the term many years ago and now I have made it an ongoing ritual. Always once a year, in January usually, but also during the year as required.

Social weeding is about “weeding my social garden”. In other words, de-cluttering and deleting from my networks both online and off line.

My process is simple. Each year I take the time to go through all my social network connections and I ask myself two questions:

1.      Am I adding value to this person?

2.      Are they adding value to me?

If the answer to both of these questions is “No” then the next step is to “defriend” and weed.

We all know that time is precious, and as I move through my 50’s time becomes even more precious. I often feel that I do not have enough time for the people I love and the things I really want to do so it is important for me to use my time wisely. I want to engage with a smaller number of truly connected people rather than a large number of people who I don’t really know.

It is not a brutal or nasty process. Realistically I don’t think people even know when they have been de-friended. After all, if I wasn’t adding value to them I am sure I won’t be missed. 

Admittedly anonymously de-friending is quite an easy thing to do. But I also do this is in real life. We all have friends, colleagues or associates who we know and see who no longer add value to our lives and we don’t add value to theirs. Even worse, some of these relationships can be negative and destructive.   That friend who is angry about life and makes you feel angry, the friend that has that subtle way of making  you feel that you are doing the wrong thing or heading in the wrong direction or maybe they are an old dear colleague who you have known for years and you just don’t have anything in common any more but you see them out of habit and nostalgia.  After seeing these people, you feel upset, angry, drained, sad or just plain bored.   That is 1, 2 or 3 hours of your life you are never going to get back. Is that how you really want to spend you precious time?

Again, weeding does not need to be a nasty process. When there is an event that you are invited to or the classic “we need to catch up” line is said, simply answer “Maybe” or “we should do that”. It is usually forgotten, no follow up happens and you both continue on with your lives. Weeding complete!!!

But when you start this process you will become aware that it may also happen to you. Recently I realised that I had been weeded out of someone’s garden. I remembered that the line “we should do that” had been used on me and that I actually hadn’t seen this person for over 18 months. My first reaction was to feel rejected and then indignant – after all we all like to be the weeder not the weeded. After I got over my own ego I understood that this was the right decision. We were no longer adding value to each other’s lives. We had both taken different directions. It was time. To that person and to all the others who have weeded me in the past – thank you, it was great whilst it lasted and I wish you all the best.

Now are you brave enough to weed your social garden online and offline to make the time and the space for the people and passions that are really important to you and deserve your precious time?

If you might fail at least love the journey

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I’m not a big fan of Jim Carrey as a comedian. Slapstick, funny faces and voices and toilet humour just aren’t my kind of funny. However, when I came across the following clip on YouTube, I discovered a new-found respect for him.

Early on in his career Carrey discovered his purpose in life. He wanted to help people forget their worries and concerns and to make them laugh. He pursued his purpose and despite the ups and downs, detractors, naysayers and people who were just ‘trying to help’ he became very successful.

Jim Carrey, a familiar name in most households, didn’t get where he is because he was wealthy. He is not successful because he is famous. His wealth and fame are biproducts of successfully doing what he loves every day. Every day he fulfils his purpose of making people forget their concerns.

This is the clip that gave me this newfound respect. It’s a long clip but worth investing the time. Jim Carrey Graduation Speech.

There are few things in this clip that particularly stood out to me. Things that apply to all of us, seeking purpose and passion in our careers.

1.      You can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well try to do what you want.

Carrey tells us about his father, who also wanted to be a comedian but thought that this would be impossible. Unlike Carrey, his father he took the practical, sensible option, so that he could provide for his family. He took the safe, boring job to do “the right thing”. His father failed, was fired and couldn’t support his family. He failed at something he didn’t want to do. Carrey says, if you are going to fail at least love the journey.

2.      Don’t put your dreams on hold for anyone

His father put his dreams on hold for his family and Carrey speaks of how heavy a burden it was to carry his father’s unfulfilled dreams. Don’t put your dreams on hold for your family, or for anyone. Your children don’t need overseas holidays, an iPad every year or designer clothes. What they do need is to be raised by happy, fulfilled, and present parents who are following their dreams. It isn’t fair to blame your children or family as an excuse not to chase your dreams.

3.      Know what is real and what is not.

Or as Carrey put it, know the difference between a dog that is about to bite you and the thought that a dog might bite you. One is an imminent threat while the other is just an idea. One is real, and one is not. Too often we live our lives scared of might-bes and maybes, scared of things that aren’t even real. This fear more often than not holds us back from reaching our full potential. Learning to distinguish between reality and the maybes is a lesson worth learning.

4.      To be seen, you need to take a risk.

Your need for approval and acceptance will make you invisible to the world. How many of us do something because that is what everyone else is doing? We think it is the right thing because everyone else is telling us it is. Don’t be a sheep and blend in with the crowd. Do what you think is right, because it fits with your values and beliefs, not because anyone is telling you to do it. Be yourself and own it, because who wants to be average anyway?

5.      Don’t let fear write your story

Fear and insecurity are what write the story titled, ‘I will never be enough.’ We all have our own version of this story, from career paths not taken, businesses not launched, to relationships not pursued and clothes not worn because we don’t feel like we are enough. Would you keep reading a book you don’t enjoy, or listening to a singer that hurts your ears? No! Get rid of your version of the ‘I will never be enough’ song or book. Just throw it away and don’t let fear be the director of your life.

Although his comedy may not be my cup of tea, Jim Carrey’s approach to his career pathway definitely is. We can all fail and so often do. And even if we are competent, good or even great at something aren’t we still failing ourselves by not pursing our passions and our dreams.

Don’t let your expectations, other people’s dreams for you or fear corner you into the safe, practical or boring option. If we are going to fail and remember there is a great chance you will not, why don’t you fail doing something you love and at the very least enjoy the journey.

I'm Coming Out, I want the world to know....

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On Wednesday I went to see Cher and she was amazing. At 72, she owns who she is, no apologises, no shame, fishnets, butt showing and all.  Whilst waiting for her to come out they played the song I'm coming out by Diana Ross and it has been playing in my head ever since.

This morning as I went for my morning and I realised that I need to come out and own myself. I need to stop hiding the real me.

I have been living a lie, I have lied to myself, to my husband, to my clients, to my friends and family and now I need to stop lying and come out.

I, Christine Khor, finally acknowledge that I am not perfect.

1.      I am not the perfect wife. There have been times when I have taken out my bad moods on my husband for no reason and accepted his apology when I know I am the one in the wrong.

2.      I am not the perfect mother. There have been times when I have let TV and iPad be the baby sitter and McDonalds has cooked dinner. I have also left the youngest in the car accidentally twice. The second one always gets less attention!!!

3.      I am not the perfect business woman. Even though I have been a Telstra Business Woman Finalist over the years I have made strategic and tactical mistakes in my business – some small and some not so small.

4.      I am not always perfectly healthy. There are times when I substitute gym and salad for binge watching Netflix. And referring back to imperfection point No 1, it is not “Netflix and Chill”, it is Netflix and a big bag of Honey Soy Chips – although I will always share.

5.      I am not the perfect leader. There have been times when I have made poor decisions and I have not managed situations or people well.

6.      I am not a perfect person. There are times that I get angry, when I get jealous, where I don’t answer the phone because I am too busy focusing on me,  my house is a real mess and sometimes my children even have to wear non-matching socks to school.

Wow, what I relief to get that off my chest. It has been really hard pretending that I am perfect all the time. But what I have realised is that even with all this imperfection I have loyal clients who I have worked with for years, a team of people around me who are passionate about what we are building together, a husband who tells me he loves me every day, children who are kind, adventurous and interesting people and friends and family who will support me in a second if I need them. I am still lovable and deserving even though I am not perfect. I am still a good person.

If I disappoint you, if you are a perfect person and can only associate with perfect people, I apologise but I need to me.

If you, like me, have been living a lie and have been hiding your imperfections take the brave step today to come out. Accept yourself and breathe.

Tell your spouse or partner that you are not perfect – they might have had a hint but who knows. Tell your team that you can sometimes make mistakes, tell your children that mummy or daddy doesn’t know everything, and when you are rushing around cleaning your house to create home beautiful embrace your inner imperfection and Netflix and ………. your choice Chill or bag of Honey Soy Chips.

Have a wonderful imperfect Friday. I know I will. And to get you started listen to this!

Leadership is more than words

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Jan Hargrave reads body language for the CIA, the police, is involved in jury selection and works with many businesses around the world. As leaders most of us focus all a lot of our attention on what we say, rather than how we say it. What is interesting is that content accounts for only 7% of our impact. Our physical presence or body language accounts for approximately 55% whilst 38% comes from our tone and intonation. The saying "it is not what you say, but how you say it" is true - 45% of the time, but what is more important is what is your body saying?

What did I learn?

Making eye contact is important and the more difficult the conversation the more important it is. This one is obvious, but not something we always do as leaders, especially when courageous conversations are required.

Folded arms are not always a sign of disengagement. If you can see the persons fingers this means that they are still open to what you are saying.

Rubbing your nose with your left hand is a sign of lying... watch out if you have a cold.

When people hold their hands in a steeple position, either facing up or down it is a sign of engagement and confidence. This is a great buying sign.

And, if a man pulls up his socks whilst he is talking to you he thinks you are hot!!

Here's a short clip

What women want

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A few weeks ago, I had a crazy busy week. Let’s be honest every week is a busy week for most working mothers but this one was particularly insane.

I started the week flying to Perth to present at the AMP Women in Financial Planning event. Later that same week I hosted The Hunger Project’s Change Maker event. On that stage we had amazing luminaries - Lisa Michael from DecjubaCyan Ta'eed Founder of Envato and Hey Tiger and The Hunger Project’s Victorian board member Chantal Noble.

You might be thinking that the discussions at these two events couldn’t be further from those that we have with the women we work with at The Hunger Project, but you would be wrong.

Perth has the second highest average annual income per individual in Australia at just over $88,000 per year. How do you think this would measure against the countries The Hunger Project works in? In India the per capita annual income is $US 616, making it the 99th poorest country of 131 countries measured. In Africa the average per capita income is estimated between $US556 to $US762, depending on whether you include South Africa in the calculations. These numbers are averages across the population and, in most cases, women would not be earning anything close to the per capita income. In fact, women account for 60% of the world’s poorest people.

The socio economic and educational status of the women at these two events versus those we work with in Africa and India couldn’t be further apart. After these events however, I had the opportunity to reflect on the conversations and the insights and I came to a realisation. Even though the background and access to resources for both groups of women are literally, worlds apart, what both groups of women were looking for was exactly the same and possibly what all women seek. What were these women searching for?

Support and mentorship – In Perth, in Melbourne, in Africa and India, women are looking for mentors to help them navigate business, career and industry. They want to learn from someone who will teach, support and sponsor them. They want someone to believe in them and help them create a life bigger than it is today.

Education – These women all want to learn more. Some are looking for practical skills that will help them feed their families, like how to grow better crops. Others seek more intangible skills such as navigating a predominately male industry or breaking through the “glass ceiling.” Every single one of them wants to learn and improve and to be able to provide this education to their families.

Financial security – Whether they are earning a little or a lot these women are all seeking financial independence and security. They want the ability to make a living, that allows them to support themselves, their families and often times, their communities. 

Self-empowerment – Women everywhere, no matter their circumstances want to be in control of their own lives. They don’t want to be at the mercy of men or anyone else. They want to create their own path. Whether this was taking control of their personal brands and careers, or their personal finances and family’s wellbeing or simply their own bodies. They want to empower themselves to create a future of their own determination.

This crazy busy week truly opened my eyes. Though we are all different and our lives may be worlds apart, in the end it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if we live in a mansion, a brick house or a mud hut. It doesn’t matter if we are born in Australia or Uganda or if we are educated or not. As women we are all seeking the same things. 

I met Tony Robbins and I loved him!!!

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Well, maybe that is a little bit of a stretch. I attended one of his seminars and I was part of an intimate gathering of around 2500 people and it was an experience. At one stage I was in spitting distance so I think that counts.

When I say I loved it, that does not mean that I loved every minute of it. The endless cheering and high-fiving, the late nights and expensive food and, of course, the upsell all got frustrating at times.

For those who know me, you know that I am always open to trying something, at least once. So, on a whim I booked my husband and I in for one of Tony Robbins programs – Date with Destiny. Needless to say, my analytical, fact based, IT husband was not impressed and he didn’t seem to believe that this could be a holiday (LOL), but he came along – grudgingly. After a slow start we did contemplate leaving and getting our money back, but by the end of the 6 days, that’s right 6 days and nights, we loved it.

I loved it on a number of levels:

  1. The process of self-reflection and his ability to take you on a journey to really question your underlying beliefs that are impacting your life. Simply, he creates the environment for AHA moments.

  2. As a coach, it was fascinating to watch his approach as he live coached individuals. As we watched you could literally see the spark in people’s eyes as they found their AHA moment and finally

  3. The spectacle of the event. It ran like clockwork, the staff were engaged and totally on brand, the size of it, over 2500 people, and the pure logistics of managing that many people over 6 days and nights 18 hours a day.

There were many insights I gained and I will share them over the next few months but one of the most interesting ones was the concept of The Primary Question.

The premise here is that we all have a primary question that we ask ourselves when we make decisions. This is normally a subconscious question that we ask as a default which impacts the decisions we make. When I realised my primary question it was like a thunderbolt hit me. My husband had the same reaction. When we came home I asked my kids the same question and that was enlightening.

My question is “can I afford this?”. My parents immigrated to Australia, with nothing, in the 1960’s. Like many other immigrants, my parents worked hard to build the Australian dream – buy a house, have children and give your children a good education. We never missed out but growing up we always knew that you have to work hard to survive and pay the bills and that money should never be wasted. The question in our house was often – can we afford this or do we really need this?

Fast forward 40 years and subconsciously I ask this question every time I make a decision about finances or purchases large or small. Some might say this is a good thing as I am “smart” with my money but is also means that I am constantly worrying about security and our future. I approach financial security with a sense of scarcity rather than abundance. With this mindset it doesn’t matter how much I have it will never be enough. I bet you can all think of people like me.

My husbands question was “ Am I doing this right?” I am sure many can relate to this question also. Asking this question creates self-doubt, procrastination and the fear of doing new things.

I asked my children and my eldest son’s response was “Is this going to be fun?” If it is, he is passionate, if not he just doesn’t do it. This means that at school his marks are either 99% or 58% depending on if he likes the subject or not. It also means that his room is always a pigsty as if something is not fun he simply does not do it. This is a great question to have but it might make life difficult in the future if he only applies himself to things that are fun.

I asked a girlfriend and her response was “Will this make you happy?”.  We can all see the trap here – she is always putting others ahead of herself.

As you think about your career, your life and your relationships ask yourself – what is your primary question and how is it affecting the decisions you make both positively and negatively.

Empowering MORE Possibilities


Business is all about changing and adapting to fluctuating markets and the whims of customers. We are no different. Over the years Chorus Executive has changed and adapted when necessary, finding new and innovative ways to empower our clients and candidates. We know that right now, is the right time to mix things up!

As a recruitment business we’ve always endeavoured to empower possibilities for clients and candidates through the hiring process. Creating powerful and profitable connections between great companies and top talent is what we do best. We’re passionate about our work and aren’t going to stop. In fact, we plan to do even more!

Through the recruitment process we have only been able to help the individual and a select group within the hiring organisation. We want to empower more people, help them find roles they love, doing work they’re passionate about and helping them create the career of their dreams. To do this we’re putting our Coaching and Branding services into overdrive, while we continue to connect employers and candidates through our recruitment service.

Coaching and Branding takes us outside of the recruitment process that we’ve been limited to. Allowing us to work with any and all individuals - not just jobseekers or hiring managers. We have the chance to build confidence in individuals before their job interview. We can work to motivate a new team leader or empower the manager taking on a big project. We are not confined by the process any more.

Our Coaching methodology focusses on understanding the key issues that restrict performance or impede career success.

For our Branding service we developed ‘RAISE,’ a methodology to help build the profile of leaders. This in turn drives employer branding, engagement and attracts new opportunities and talent.

Based on 5 key principals 'RAISE' includes:

  1. Research & Reflection – understanding the key attributes that will build your leaders unique profiles.
  2. Amplification – development of tools and processes to build and amplify your brand.
  3. Individual approach – we take a 1:1 approach as everyone’s brand is unique
  4. Strategy – we develop a customised content strategy and personalised content for each individual
  5. Embed - through education we embed behaviours that ensure individuals have the tools to continue building their own brand.

These services aren’t new to Chorus Executive. We know the market is now ready to embrace a company that is more than just a recruitment agency. And our results speak for themselves.

There are exciting times ahead as we grow these areas of the business. And while there may be more changes yet to come, we say bring it on, because can’t you imagine the possibilities?

Ready to be empowered? Contact Chris by email or (03) 9698 8700.

Leadership branding: where marketing meets human resources

Marketing meet HR.jpg

I began my career in marketing more years ago that I care to count. For 15 years I worked with amazing companies such as Hallmark Cards, Kraft Foods (now Mondelēz) and Simplot Australia, owner of brands such as Leggo’s, Edgell and John West.

I loved marketing. I loved building brands and working to develop emotional relationships between these brands and their consumers. I relished the creativity that is integral to the art of marketing. But despite this passion for my work – or perhaps because of it – I continued to nurture a burning desire to start my own business.

They say that the best ideas come from human need and, early on in my career, I noticed a gap in the market. My role at Simplot required me to manage recruitment and, to be frank, I hated it every minute of it! I couldn’t help feeling that the whole process was more difficult than it needed to be. It occurred to me that if sales and marketing people recruited for sales and marketing people, the recruitment process would be more intuitive, more efficient and better informed.

So that’s exactly what I set out to do. I left my job and started my first recruitment agency.

More than 17 years later, I have watched the recruitment industry undergo significant change. There have been many ups and downs over the years but I truly believe that now, more than ever before, I am in my ‘sweet spot’. The last few years have seen the development of the perfect climate in which to combine marketing and human resources. It is a time when leadership and employer branding are more critical to success than ever.

The more things change …

Of course, there are certain fundamental principles that will always underpin success in business. The following will always be true:

  1. Great talent is essential for any business to succeed.
  2. Great talent wants to work for inspiring leaders and strong businesses.
  3. Great talent is hard to find.
  4. A sense of fulfilment at work is not just a ‘nice-to-have’, it is critical to a sense of wellbeing generally.

So what’s new?

While the fundamentals might endure, the changes that have occurred in recruitment have far-reaching consequences. They have altered, and will continue to alter, how marketing and human resources relate to each other. Collaboration between these two disciplines is key to taking today’s organisations on to future success. The opportunity to work together in new ways – and the necessity of it ­– has resulted from the following changes:

  1. Technology now enables companies to have direct access to potential employees via LinkedIn, employment sites and talent communities.
  2. Social media now means that our reputations – including our own personal brands, our organisation’s employer brands and the brands of the product or services we provide – are public. The likes of TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, Google reviews, and LinkedIn endorsements and referrals all communicate to potential employers, suppliers and customers both our strengths and, potentially, our weaknesses. Nothing can remain hidden for long any more.
  3. Talented individuals – in particular, millennials – are more discerning than they used to be. They demand to work for inspiring leaders whose values align with their own.
  4. We are living in a globalised world and talented people are increasingly working across multiple countries and industries. This means that we can no longer afford to think of our profiles solely in terms of a single country or state, or even a single industry. It’s essential that our outlook becomes far broader in order to reach and attract strong talent.
  5. We are changing jobs more often. The most recent research indicates that millennials are now switching jobs roughly every 17 months and that employees today can expect to have six careers in their working life and more than 15 jobs.
  6. We expect more from our work. No longer is a job just a means to a paycheck – we now expect our employment to offer us a sense of purpose and achievement, as well as opportunities for professional development.

Why do you need a personal/leadership brand?

Given all these changes, it’s clear that today’s businesses have no choice but to think carefully about their branding in terms of talent attraction, or risk being left behind. Closer interaction between marketing and human resources enables an organisation to develop a reputation as an employer of choice in several ways:

  1. It’s a busy, noisy world out there. Without a strong profile, your business is apt to get lost among the rest. In order for great talent to find you, you need your branding to stand out from the crowd.
  2. To attract the best, you need to be the best. The strongest talent will naturally gravitate towards those organisations that have excellent reputations for inspiring and nurturing the development of their employees.
  3. Your suppliers and customers are also integral to your success. Your branding has to take into account the need to attract and retain these key players, just as it aims to catch and hold the interest of the best and brightest employees in your industry.

It’s certainly an exciting time to be in recruitment! And it’s a great time for businesses to reassess their branding and their standing to ensure they’re well placed to make their mark in this new landscape of talent attraction and retention.   

We'd love to help you navigate this new landscape. Contact me by email or on (03) 9698 8700 and we can get started!

How bad feedback made me happy...


Yesterday I met with a client who gave me some bad feedback. He has been trialling our new platform and it was truth time. What's working and what's not? I wanted to hear it all.

When he came in he opened his notebook and I could see lines and lines of neat writing. At first, I was impressed - I wish I had neat writing. But then it struck me - this could all be bad!.

Being an entrepreneur is like being a parent. When we are building our businesses, we put our heart and soul into what we are doing. It is personal, it is our passion and it is not just a job - so feedback can be hard to take. After all, no-one wants to be told their child is ugly, right?

I took off my defensive hat and put on my inquisitive, listening hat and it was a joy. Listening without being defensive meant that I learnt many things. Firstly, I learnt about a few annoying things that we could fix quickly, I learnt some things that I hadn't even considered, I learnt some things that we can't and don't want to change and the best thing of all...I learnt that what we are doing is on track.

"I found the exercises hard and they made me think. I found them difficult. Is there a way we can make it easier?". was created to bring affordable coaching to everyone. We all need help, especially in our career, and although the current method of coaching is very effective the "one to one" approach is very expensive and not accessible to everyone. When we created the platform one of our concerns was, "Would the participants still be challenged?", and the answer is yes.

So, although I was told that my child wasn't quite as perfect as I thought, my child was still pretty amazing and has a very bright future. is a human-driven career health and well-being platform which combines interactive online exercises and face to face coaching with Master Coaches (real people!). We are currently in Beta Trials so if you would like to be part of this trial and give me some bad feedback to make me smile please contact me on

Christine Khor and the harmony with people

If playing various roles in society is like directing an orchestra, then Chorus Executive Managing Director and Co-Founder Christine Khor is the conductor. She leads two businesses, chairs the Victorian Development Board of The Hunger Project, and takes care of her family. It’s a tough call for a woman like Christine, but she’s dancing to the music that she has created.

Her decision of taking the entrepreneurial path stemmed from her genuine interest in people and in creating harmony with her clients and the candidates, as she matches people with positions in companies, and coaches them in growing their careers.

That desire to know more about the behaviours of people led Christine to take a degree in psychology and criminology. But it wasn’t her first choice. “I am Chinese. And like every good Chinese person, I was supposed to go into either law or medicine. But I didn’t get the marks to do either of those things. I ended up getting an arts degree at Melbourne University. The closest thing to being a doctor I guess was psychology. I’ve always been interested in people, how people think, what excites people, and motivates them. I think that’s the essence of who I am and what interests me.” That interest and her early introduction to business blended well and provided her with a good foundation for her ventures.

Her parents were immigrants and had always been in business. They had restaurants, a nursing agency, and a supermarket, not to mention that they also bought and sold properties. Hence, Christine was exposed to the business world since she was six years old. At a young age, she witnessed first-hand how people make decisions, push themselves out of their comfort zones, make mistakes, and learn from them. After school, she would help her parents in the restaurant and the supermarket. “I saw how hard it was to make money. But I also saw the pleasure of seeing something grow,” Christine recalled.

Before she embarked on entrepreneurship, Christine first worked for a few companies as a marketing person. Finding the right people for the role was a bit of a difficulty, and she realised how much easier it would be if those who understood marketing and sales would be the ones to recruit for those roles. That insight inspired her to leave her job and start her own business of recruiting potential candidates for marketing positions. It grew substantially, and the opportunity to expand the venture through a merger was too good for Christine to pass. Through a collaboration with another business, their staff grew and had offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

However, she found that bigger does not necessarily mean better. Due to misalignment of values, she went on a demerger and worked on her own. “It’s not that anybody else is wrong or that I’m right. It’s just that it was different,” she clarified. It was tough for everyone involved, particularly for Christine. But the good thing out of that situation was that it gave birth to Chorus Executive.

“My son was very funny. He said to me, ‘Oh, Mum! The chorus! That’s the best part of a song.’ So, there are some reasons why we created that name,” Christine explained as she talked about how she came up with the brand Chorus Executive. Her business keeps the stakeholders in sync with each other.

Still, that interesting journey brought her tons of lessons. Sometimes, she had to hit some wrong notes to find the perfect melody as there were a few bumps she had to go through while starting it out. “I think the first thing that was very difficult was that no one knew me and no one cared,” she quipped. The transition from corporate to entrepreneurship proved to be a huge change of environment that required several adjustments. From a large corporate budget, Christine had to contend with whatever money she has saved up. Nonetheless, she managed to put the proper platform in place at the beginning of her business. From working for a company with a huge staff base to suddenly running her business with only a handful of people was a bit trying as well. As an extrovert, she draws energy from people around her. Finding herself alone in her new environment also took a toll on her at certain times.

“It was a humbling experience. But it was also enriching because it showed me that I have the skills, the drive, and the resilience to do it on my own,” Christine pointed out. While she gets her highs from people, they are as well the reasons for the lows. “If there’s anything I’m going to say about my key learning, it is to be very careful with the people you go into business. Whether it’s a partner, an employee or a supplier, values count. If you are going into partnership, you should take it as seriously as getting married,” the lady entrepreneur shared.

Another mishap she encountered early on her journey was getting embezzled by one of their first employees. Not only was the trust broken, but the incident also impacted their confidence in themselves and the cash flow of the business.

Many people would think how lucky or fun it is to be an entrepreneur. But behind the position, there are loads of work to do to keep a business running. “It’s scary a lot of times. As an entrepreneur, you’re managing cash flow. You’re managing revenue. You’re managing people’s lives. If you’ve got a team, you’re responsible,” Christine remarked. It involved making sure money is there so that her staff can feed their families and children. Although it’s true that she gets to do what she loves to do, she also has to deal with the tax office, IT glitches, and staff problems. Moreover, she may not have any boss above her, but her customers are her bosses. Pleasing the customers entailed more pressure as compared to answering to a boss, who may provide more leeway to an employee, unlike a customer would to an establishment he patronises.

For every hardship, Christine sees an opening to rise above the situation. “The upside of it is that you’re creating what you’re doing. You’re building something, and for me, it’s quite often from scratch. You’re doing it in a way that suits you. It’s the empowerment and autonomy to create your destiny,” she cited.

As she has recently started doing CrossFit, Christine likens the entrepreneurial journey to doing physical exercises. The activities may cause a strain on the body, but the satisfaction is enormous. Along with it are the wonderful results afterwards. “I’m 50 years old, and I’ve started lifting weights. It’s hard to do. You’re sweating, it’s sore, it’s hurting, and you can’t breathe. But you leave there saying, ‘I feel pretty good about this. Look what I did. I squatted 49 kilos or lifted 60 kilos. I’m proud of myself.’ And it doesn’t matter that someone else lifted 100 kilos because for me, every day I’m better. Yesterday, it was 50 kilos. Tomorrow would be 51, and the next would be 52. So, every day I can do it a little bit better. I think about it sometimes like entrepreneurship. It’s hard work,” she said.

Despite the challenges of owning businesses, Christine is fortunate to have friends, staff, a family and a husband that are very supportive of her passion. Although she can’t think of a single person who has guided her on her journey, she has a particular sector in society that has inspired her a great deal. “I take a lot of experience from other people. I think some of the people that I’ve taken a lot from are single moms because those that I’ve worked with are the most amazing, resilient, caring, optimistic people that can juggle to make things happen with very, very little. So, they weren’t only teaching me about business strategy. They were also teaching me about resilience, optimism, creative thinking, seeing things through a different lens, asking for help when needed, those sorts of things.”

She also looks on friends who are entrepreneurs themselves. Two years ago, she joined EO, which has given her tools that she could apply in her endeavours. “What I’ve learned is that entrepreneurs need to show humility and vulnerability and ask for help at that 5% mark. I’ve learned that every business is different, but the essence of the person is the same, such as the drive behind the person. I’ve realised the importance of getting the right team and the right structures in place. Also, as entrepreneurs, we can be the same people that can hold back our businesses because of our behaviours and mindset around what we expect from our teams and employees,” she disclosed. She also picked some functional lessons from the various activities she has attended in EO.

“Entrepreneurs are driven by a cause. They want to be successful. But it’s not about the money. It’s more about wanting to make something, build something, and create something. Entrepreneurs don’t give up. They’re people that get down, get up, get down, get up,” Christine stated.

With the drive and persistence entrepreneurs have, she also injects those qualities in other endeavours she’s involved with like the global organisation, The Hunger Project. Deeming herself blessed with good education and opportunities, which differentiates her from women in Uganda, Christine is bent on a mission of sharing what she has with the world. “It’s just not fair that I have too much food and too much of everything while 25,000 people are dying each day from starvation. That is not okay for me. So, I got involved with the Hunger Project. Our mandate is to end world hunger by 2030.”

Her commitment to helping a charity is rooted in her deep passion and interest in people and the values surrounding them. With all the hardships she has gone through, she hopes to pass along these values and learnings to her children. However, she wants to do things differently from how she grew up taking things too seriously and stressing over the security of her family. “I don’t want my sons to be too driven that they become stressed. Stress is the number one killer. I don’t want my children to be like that. I want my children to have integrity, to try hard, and to do their best. Then when they have done their best, to congratulate themselves on that,” she imparts.

With that in mind, Christine is taking a different tack on how she is approaching life. So as not to put too much pressure on herself, she is excluding her big goals this year. Her thing at the moment is to be better today than yesterday, opening her mind to more opportunities. She still sees herself very much involved in her businesses several years forward, but more in Peeplcoach than in Chorus Executive. She will still be active in The Hunger Project, and still do yoga and CrossFit to keep herself healthy.

Indeed, this dynamic entrepreneur needs all the energy she can get because she is always on the go. As of the time of this interview, Christine was preparing to face 400 people at Telstra to talk about the role of confidence and personal brand. She loves public speaking, and she’s passionate about it. “Everything that I do is about getting to the heart of people, educating and empowering people, and helping people,” Christine remarked. As she found her beat in the business space, she’s happy to give others a voice in the chorale of life through opportunities that can help them blossom and be in harmony with society. Her optimism, resilience and spirit to keep going are the instruments that bring soul to the rhythm of her entrepreneurial journey.

This article was originally published on the EO Melbourne blog as part of a larger series sharing EO member stories. This content has been reprinted here with permission.”

"Mum, you are repugnant!"


Yes, you read that right. On the way to school the other day, my beautiful 10-year-old son innocently says to me, “You are a great mum, you are repugnant.”


A few weeks earlier I had read an article about parenting. The basic gist of the article was that our job as parents is to make ourselves REDUNDANT, not REPUGNANT. I had told the boys about this and obviously, my youngest remembered the concept, even though he couldn’t quite remember the word.

So, what does being made redundant really mean when it comes to parenting? It means we have taught and coached our children to the point where they don’t need us anymore. They are independent, they are resilient and they feel comfortable making their own decisions and choices. To do this successfully we have to learn patience. We have to accept that they will take longer and make more mess when they make their lunch for the first time.  We have to let them learn the lesson the hard way when they forget to take their sports gear to school or forget to submit that homework. 

As a time poor, working mum, trying to do my best, it is hard to wait for them to get things done when I can do it much better and much faster. But how does this help me, or them in the future? Without teaching and empowering them to be independent, they will never be able to make their own lunch, pack their own bag or do their own washing. 

This has prompted me to think about our roles as leaders and managers. Isn’t our role as leaders also to make ourselves redundant? Even though we might know more and be quicker, our role is to allow our teams to learn. As we develop our careers and skills everyone needs the opportunity to try and learn new things and to make mistakes, after all, don’t we learn more from our mistakes.

Business is competitive and complex, and we are all time poor, but we cannot allow our need to get the job done to impact our role as great leaders. Making yourself redundant takes time, patience and giving people the right amount of opportunities and sometimes rope to make mistakes and learn from them. 

And it is a great chance for all those time-poor parents out there to get a little time back. Seize the moment and have your kids clean their own room, do their own laundry and make their own lunch. Become a redundant parent and manager… not a repugnant one.

The Power of Failure and the Power of the Pivot

There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” - Elon Musk


The recruitment world is one driven by high-achievement and competition, much like NASA in the quote above, failure isn’t an option. Those who fail, often don’t survive in the cutthroat environment that is business today. However, this is starting to change. Technology companies, like Elon Musk’s and the plethora of start-ups that thrive on innovation and experimentation, not only accept failure but celebrate it.

As a small business owner, I would have told you that I know all about failing. Anyone is business knows that business is volatile. There are ups and downs, the environment changes, competitors become more aggressive and consumers more discerning and demanding. For small businesses these fluctuations can be even more disruptive and damaging. However, the benefits and power that comes from failing have only truly become apparent as I worked on a startup.

Over the last 2 years, in addition to my role as Managing Director at Chorus Executive, I’ve been working on a startup –  My goal in recruitment has always been to help people find their dream jobs and careers so that they can help businesses be successful.   We all know that great businesses are built by great people who are passionate and aligned to what they are doing.

We created as a recruitment-matching platform that matched candidates based on values, goals and motivations as well as skills.  I have always believed, and research has proved it, that skill without will is useless.  That is, to be successful and productive in a role it takes more than knowing what to do. To be truly successful it takes passionate, motivation and a real commitment to the role.

Well, my passion, my motivation and my commitment didn’t fail me, but my idea did.  We couldn’t get it to work.  All our research groups told us it would. Employers loved the idea and potential candidates loved the process, but it didn’t work in practice.  Nobody bought our service.  (Violin music please)

I then had 3 choices – give up, keep going or pivot. Of course, I pivoted.

My vision has always been clear – to inspire people and help them find the careers and jobs that they will love.  I just had to find another way.

Six months later, with a lot of hard work, a few tears, a lot of soul searching and sleepless nights we have launched – is an online career coaching program that boosts individuals career health and well-being.   Via our interface we coach employees – face to face, via live chat and through interactive and at times, challenging exercises to help individuals understand and then find their dream job. is targeted to both organisations who want to provide true career assistance and succession planning to their employees as well as to individuals what want to take control of their own careers. 

Why would organisations want to help employees with their careers you might ask? Because, believe it or not, may individuals actually want to stay in their current organisations but not in their current role. Everyone wants growth and challenge and opportunity, unfortunately too many of us believe that the only way to get this is to get out. helps employees see that this is not always the case and that they can build their career within the organisation.  Of course, for some it may be time to go.  This give the employee a chance to shine and the organisation the opportunity to find someone who really wants to be there. Win-win for all.

We have all read the statistics that 95% of all start-ups fail. PLEASE help me be one of the 5% of startups who succeed.  Failure isn’t always failure, sometimes it is just the precursor to amazing success.

By being part of this trial, you will not only be helping me, but also improving the career health and well being of your team as well as your long-term bottom line.

If you are interested in being part of our Beta Trial, please contact me or register online.

Overcoming Bias to Create a Powerful & Happy Team

Today celebrate International Women’s Day, a day we reflect on how far we’ve come and what we need to do to reach equality. Gender bias is still a huge issue in business, even after the all the progress that has been made. However, if you ask most people they would claim they don’t see gender, that it doesn’t affect their decision making. When hiring, promoting, assigning projects… gender plays no role. If only this were true. Welcome to unconscious bias! We all have them, and they are affecting our choices and not just about gender. 

It is a proven fact that diverse teams make for better business. Racially diverse teams out perform others by 35%, companies with more women on their boards see a 42% higher return on sales, diversity reduces employee turnover and the costs related to this and a diverse team breeds innovation and creativity. Being able to overcome biases isn’t just the right thing to do it is also the smart thing to do for your business. 

Affinity, conformity, beauty, gender, race, sexuality, religion biases are informed by your own background, history, experiences, stereotypes and the environment/culture you live in. Do they look like you, have the same ideas as you or the rest of your team, are they attractive… these are the thoughts that are informing your choices and when it comes to building a happy and powerful team it just can’t happen. 

So how do you overcome biases that are affecting your judgement without you even knowing about it? Of course, many organisations are looking These are some tips that you can apply to interview potential candidates, assessing promotion opportunities and even when making decisions about who to give a project to. 

  • Be aware of your own biases 

Learning and understanding what your own unconscious biases are is the first step to overcoming them.  

  • Diversify the interview panel 

Have a mix of ages, genders and opinions on the panel. If everyone thinks the same way then they will look for others who also think that way or look that way. If  

  • Incorporate blind applications into the process 

Remove gender, race and age from the mix by asking for blind applications. This only works for the initial application, but you will find that you get a more diverse shortlist if you can’t see their names and age.  

  • Standardise processes 

Interviews, applications, promotions… Having a standardised approach to questions, tasks and assessment criteria will help keep your biases in check. So often free-wheeling leads to choices bases on who you like more and that is usually determined by those pesky biases that you don’t realise are at work. 

  • Set a task 

Whether it is for a promotion, a project or a job set a task for applicants to perform so that you can make decisions based on the outcome of that task rather than the person completing it. 

Unconscious bias doesn’t just affect businesses and teams. Each of us takes these biases into our lives away from the office… our friendship groups, networking groups, family and can extend to our children’s lives. Obviously, the tips above can’t help you interview new friends… blind applications just aren’t possible… but you can take some time to look at yourself and how your unconscious bias affects your choices. Being aware that you are biased and trying to eliminate these biases from your decision making is a great goal to strive towards.  

So, today as we celebrate International Women’s Day, perhaps it is a chance to not just renew a commitment to gender equality but also to equality and diversity across the board. Opening your organisation, your team, your life to a wider group of people invites change, innovation and creativity that can only strengthen your organisation or team and enrich your life. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover


What do you think when you see me? What are the first things that pop into your mind? Asian – she’s probably an accountant. Wears glasses so she must be smart. She’s with her kids I bet she’s a tiger mum. She’s married, her husband’s probably Asian too. Whether you are looking at a photo of me on social media, watching me interviewed or just passing me on the street you are forming opinions and impressions, right and wrong about me.

Yes, I am Asian, Chinese Australian actually, and I am married with kids. However, I am not an accountant or even “book” smart, I am business smart and a businesswoman. My husband is as Australian as they get, and I am not a tiger mum, at least I’d like to think I am not.

We all pass judgement based on first impressions and stereotypes. We all judge books by their covers. We all do it, no matter how much we would like to believe we don’t!

The interviewer running late for the interview… is disorganized.

The interviewee dressed too casually… doesn’t care.

The career woman without kids.... is cold and ambitious.

The overweight colleague having another doughnut… should be eating better.

The swearing colleague… is a bogan.

The girl in the short skirt...

The woman in a hijab…

The Asian woman…

The African man… it can go on and on and unfortunately so often does.

We are all guilty, every single one of us. Sometimes we pass these judgements with our knowledge, sometimes without. Sometimes we can fight against them, other times we are not even aware.

So how do we succeed in a world when a first impression is made in 7 seconds, but we have so little control over how people judge us? How to we get beyond the bias and stereotypes?

Stop holding yourself to the stereotypes

I have a friend whose partner is half Japanese; he often refers to himself as a bad Asian and he is only half joking. He ended up with an Australian girl which his mother hates, didn’t become a doctor or lawyer or engineer which are the appropriate Asian professions and even failed as a piano player and violin player at age 8. He holds himself to the stereotypes by which others judge him. He isn’t alone, I do it, and my friends do it and I am sure as you are reading this, you are realising you do it to.

If you don’t want others to judge you the first step is to stop judging yourself.

Be aware of the judgements you make

Practice self-awareness. Stop yourself when your internal monologue passes judgement. Pause and think of something positive about the person in front of you… instead of the interviewer being disorganised for being late… they’re busy and need help, so I can really make a difference here.

Online matters

We so often think that the impressions that matter are those we make in person. In a world that runs on social media and digital it’s the opposite. What people see about you online matters just as much as in person. In the recruitment game it matters more because if your online presence and digital persona (in the form of a CV and LinkedIn profile) doesn’t make an impression, the chance of a face-to-face meeting is slim. Put your best foot forward and invest time in getting your online profile and CV up to scratch, even if you aren’t looking at changing jobs.

Remember first impressions count but shouldn’t count for everything

Yes, first impressions count but holding people to snap impressions and judgements, often based on looks, is incredibly unfair. Not only are you doing them a disservice you are also potentially missing out on a great person. Whether it is for your team, organisation, as a colleague or friend – don’t hold yourself to your first impressions.

Last and by no means least, be kind. Plato said, “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” It is good to bear this in mind. Judgements and stereotypes always slant towards the negative and can often fall into the category of downright nasty. So, approach your interactions with integrity and kindness because none of us know the story in each of those books we judge.

Need help getting your professional first impression right? Our coaching and personal branding services are here to help you put your best foot forward. Click here for more information.

The Rise & Fall of the Superchicken


Are you a superchicken? Are you a member of a superflock? Someone recently sent me a link to a 2015 TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan… it was about SUPERCHICKENS! What is a superchicken you ask? Here is the short version:

Like most managers and companies, evolutionary biologist William Muir was interested in productivity. His studies were focused on chickens. In his experiment, he selected an average group of chickens and left them alone for six generations. From this group he selected the highest producing chickens “the superchickens” to create a superflock. Each generation he would choose only the superchickens to breed. After another 6 generations he found that the “average” group, the first group, was flourishing and egg production had increased. The superflock however had diminished to 3, all the others had been pecked to death.

Does this sound familiar? Do you work in an environment like this? Are you a superchicken stepping on top of others to succeed or are you being pecked to death?

Heffernan discusses how the “superchicken model” has been used to build teams, organisations and even societies for the last 50 years. By selecting superstars and putting them into a team together we thought we could succeed because these superstars would encourage, inspire and drive each other to be even greater, to shine brighter. We were wrong.

Look, I’m the first to say, “a little bit of competition is healthy.” I’m a competitive person. In the recruitment world it is not only encouraged it is essential. However, studies have proven that not only does the superchicken theory not work, it provides results counter to those desired. The time of the superchicken has come to an end.

Heffernan sites a MIT study that found that the groups that worked best together exhibited the following three things:

  • Social sensitivity (empathy) towards each other
  • Everyone had and gave equal time and contribution
  • There were more women in the successful groups than in the groups that failed

So, what does this mean in the real world, outside of an experiment? What do we need to encourage, build and implement to create teams that work well together and deliver success for an organisation?

1. Support & Safety

n environment where everyone feels connected will foster a safe and supportive environment. As Heffernan mentions social capital compounds so encouraging a social connectedness within your team will allow a free and open flow of ideas and communication. An environment where people not only ask for help but are encouraged to do so to find the best solution and create a great outcome.

2. Equity and equality

We all want to be heard, contribute and feel valued. It’s part of being human. A team where everyone’s voice is equal where no one is more important than anyone else will not only deliver these things but also deliver great ideas. As Heffernan said, “Companies don’t have ideas, people do.” With no superchickens, pecking everyone else into submission a team can encourage and support each other’s contributions, have great ideas and refine them as a team.

3. Diversity

Yes, more women! Studies have shown time and time again that having a gender balance leads to better results for an organisation. But it isn’t just about gender. It's also diversity of age, race, religion and sexuality. Diversity provides a variety of perspectives, ideas and opinions. Establishing a diversity program that creates teams that are more than just one thing will help build success.

Instead of fueling competition which can lead to conflict, we need to start focusing on teams that will work well together, teams that are connected and empowered. People who work well together and can work as a team will deliver results for an organisation.

The rise of the superchicken has come to an end, long live the average chicken!

Here is Margaret Heffernan's TED Talk. 

Purchasing for purpose

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The 2016 Nielsen Australian Millennials Report revealed that Millennials were worth 7% of the Australian retail market. In the US alone, Millennials will spend close to $200 billion this year. With buying power like this, developing consumer loyalty is essential for success. So how do you do this?

Purchasing for profit... 93% of Millennials prefer to buy brands known for giving back to the community. Purchases are made based on the brands' support of charities and causes - be they social, environmental or political. Millennials put their money where their beliefs are. Brands and organisations need to do the same to ensure they can attract Millennial money.

There are so many ways to give back. Some organisations have their own foundation like the Cotton On Foundation. Brands like Decjuba are creating and selling products for a cause. Decjuba sells t-shirts and clutches to support The Hunger Project Australia. Smaller organisations are also following suit. Florist Miei Fiori donates 100% of their net profits from every bunch of flowers. Giving back is no longer a trend, it is a way of doing business. Retail brands are now seeing the power and the profit that purchasing for a purpose can give them.

The creation of organisations like i=Change make it even easier for retailers to partner with charities. Founder, Jeremy Meltzer created i=Change as a tool to helps online retailers turn their brands into a force for good. “We built i=Change to create a new & sustainable funding stream for extraordinary NGO projects, focused on women & girls’ development. We’ve done this by re-imagining for retail a uniquely simple, powerful & transparent way to give back.”

Online customers for brands like Camilla, Pandora and Esther can choose to donate to a charity during the checkout process. This straightforward process is seeing amazing results for the charities and the retailers alike. There has been a significant reduction in abandoned carts and a 6% increase in the average order value. i=Change has helped change the lives of over 100,000 people in 14 different countries… and this is just the beginning.

At Chorus Executive we know business for good is good business. We have a partnership with The Hunger Project Australia. This developed out of my own experience with the organisation. This organisation is close to my heart and has found a place in the hearts of my team and now our clients. This financial year we committed to donating $20,000 for The Hunger Project Australia.

John Mackey, CEO of Wholefoods said, “Earn a share of a customer’s heart and she will gladly offer you a great share of her wallet.” By 2021 Millennials will have a 17% share of the retail market, companies must get on board. Winning over the hearts of their consumers now, will prove to be incredibly profitable for organisations in the long term. Purchasing for a purpose can also make a difference in the world – proving to be a win-win for everyone.

How amazing would it be if every company moved in this direction. Not only could the business world change the world, profits and the economy would boom. Philanthropy is not just good for the community and your soul it is simply good business.