Hi, I'm Alan and thanks for visiting - So what's it all about? I'm the author of 4 books, with the most recent one 'FANTASTIC' reaching No 2 in the best seller charts. I believe that whatever you do, whether its in work or life, just being 'good' is simply not enough anymore. Good is the new 'nice'! I don't want to be a good parent, husband, friend - I want to be a fantastic one. In business it's not even about 'want' - you NEED to BE Fantastic to stand out from the crowd today.

PS. The reason I always put 'BE' in caps is because that's the secret - people are setting goals to be Fantastic, dreaming of it every day, writing it down, planning it - even sending it out to the universe - but the key to it all is ACTION! Don't just talk Fantastic, BE Fantastic!!
Alan Austin-Smith


I saw a tweet from Vala Afshar which just highlighted something I keep saying to anyone who sits in my audience.

Do you look like a business 5 years in the future or one 5 years in the past.

The world moves so fast today we have to be creative and innovative all the time - what's next - has to be a key focus of your business strategy

It's no good just having a strategy or plan today - it has to be a REVOLUTIONARY strategy!

So what was in this tweet that motivated me to write this post?

Stuff that didn't exist over 10 years ago...! I've added a few to the original list - can you? Add them in the comments!

iPad Kindle 4G Uber Airbnb Android Spotify Pinterest Instagram Snapchat WhatsApp
Touch screen phones
Apple Store
LCD Flatscreens

and one not quite in the 10 year list but only misses by 18 months amazingly...

You Tube!!

A bit of fun but - WOW - that's how fast the world is moving today - look at our own industry - Sophia Hilton's business - Not Another Salon is less than 2 years old!!

However what I love about how she is growing her business is that she isn't just an Instagram sensation - the strategy and structure she has in place is the reason why she is rocking it.

As always so many look at people like Sophia and assume it's easy - it never is!

Hard work, passion, innovation, creativity, strategy and structure unfortunately can't guarantee success, but I can guarantee that without them any success you might have will not have longevity.

We DO live in a world where you can have your 15 minutes fame quite easily (boy did Andy Warhol know what he was talking about all those years ago!) but to turn it into anything worthwhile needs you to operate very differently.

I call it the loose/tight paradox - in this loose, creative, fast moving world we have to have have structure - albeit different to what we had in the past - great leadership, and a committed passionate team around us - none of that happens by accident!!

So, if you want to start thinking about how to reshape your business to look like a business 5 years in the future, then it starts with getting the foundations right - then the innovation and creativity will flourish.

Have fun, Alan x

PS: Sophia and I are sharing a stage in July - Stand Out From The Crowd in Dublin - 18th July 2017

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Alan Austin-Smith


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Alan Austin-Smith



If it’s to be – it’s up to me

This is such a cliché – I normally try and avoid the more obvious ones but this one is so true it made it’s way into my book.There are so many people who are not achieving what they want and have every excuse or reason under the sun why. But how many times do we feel humbled by people who are starting off with less than us, or with greater challenges than we have, but are still achieving great things.

To be fantastic, we have to start looking at ourselves. It’s the foundation of the success pyramid – take responsibility. It is important that you understand the difference between responsibility and blame, or fault. Of course sometimes you are taking responsibility for the blame – “it was my fault.” But there is a difference between the two.

Many people say to me that their ‘boss’ doesn’t respect them, doesn't communicate well, or doesn’t have any time for them. Or I hear that their partner in life doesn't give them the love and affection that they would like. Often these people are saying it’s not my fault. Maybe it isn't but my question is always the same: “Do you want it to change?” If the answer is yes, then it is your responsibility to do something about it, even if it’s not your fault.

If you want change, change something.

The fly test

Picture a sunny day. You’re in the kitchen and the back door is open. A fly flies into your kitchen and as it buzzes around, it sees through the window – blue sky, trees and grass. That’s what I'm looking for it thinks, and heads straight for it.

Now you may be surprised to know that flies have no perception of glass! SMACK! It must be quite a shock. However, the fly seems to recover quite well and continues buzzing around until again, it sees through the window – blue sky, trees and grass and SMACK! They don’t learn too well these flies. In fact it will carry on doing this for hours if you let it.

The fly keeps repeating the behaviour that is getting it nowhere. If only it would just go in a different direction, it would achieve the desired result – the back door is open!

So that’s the fly test – repeating a behaviour that is getting us nowhere, over and over and over again. We all need to take a fly test sometimes in our life. How many people do you know that want changes in their life but are not prepared to change anything? People who want to stop smoking, but continue to put cigarettes in their mouth.

People who want to lose weight, but continue to eat too much. People who want to get fit, but don’t go to the gym. People who want to save money, but continue to spend more than they earn. If you want change, change something. Fantastic people understand that they have to take responsibility.

There are people standing beside the road of life with their thumb out waiting to be taken to where they want to go, whilst others are already driving there!
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Alan Austin-Smith


Who motivates you, who inspires you, who do you want to be like? It might be a famous person, a company or someone you know, but we all have people that we can look at and say "I wish I was more like that". However that's where most of us stop - just wishing!

Stop wishing start acting - identify 3 people/businesses that you admire and then ask yourself why you chose them, because that is what you want more of. Then you can start to identify how they operate differently to what you are doing and then start to develop yourself to be the same. (click to read more)

For example you might know someone who seems to pack so much more into their life than you do. Study them, ask them how they manage their time and I guarantee you will learn something that you can do to get more control of your own time.

Or is there someone at work who seems to be more successful than you - don't be jealous, learn from them! They are doing something different from you which might help you to have more success if you learnt it.

If it's a famous person then look for biographies or interviews on line, but look specifically for knowledge, skills and attitudes that you can adopt to be more like them.

I learnt from Richard Branson to surround myself with people who are good at the stuff that I'm not.

Finally look at the companies that you love, why do you love them and what are they doing that makes them different?

If you are an Apple fan, ask yourself why and then ask yourself if you can bring any of that stuff into your own business or yourself.

Have Fun and BE Fantastic!
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Alan Austin-Smith


When you look at many of the new companies that are success stories today, you see a very loose leadership style. Lots of empowerment, self responsibility, teamwork etc. Apple, Google, 37 Signals, Innocents Smoothies and so on, are all companies where you will see this 'new' way of working.

However I wonder if there is a missed message sometimes. I have watched small business try to copy this 'loose' style and in many cases seen it fail because of the hidden part of the 'loose' strategy. the bit you rarely see or hear from the companies that advocate this approach in the workplace.

I know I have suffered from not fully understanding this in this past in my own business.

I call it the loose/tight paradox - simply that for a loose strategy to work, it actually has to be really tight! If you don't have the systems and procedures nailed (please still keep them simple - I am not talking about huge manuals that no one looks at) then all you have is 'loose' and that won't work.

A tight strategy where nothing happens without 5 meetings just isn't viable in this fast moving world, however just having a loose strategy will end up with no action being taken - we need both!

A loose/tight strategy!!
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Alan Austin-Smith


Change whether you like it or not

Here is a fact no one can dispute – we live in a rapidly changing world that shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, all the indicators point to an ever-increasing speed of change.

It’s happening whether you like it or not. I do understand and share some of the concerns many people have about this, however – there is nothing we can do to stop it. Therefore we had better start to work out how to operate in this environment.

We have to be creative, and if you think you are not a creative person, then you had better start learning – quickly, because it’s the only future I can see. Individuals and companies have to have the ability to react to change fast, to have innovative and creative solutions as well as be creatively leading the field.

This isn’t just about the work place – relationships are changing, parenting is changing – everything about the way we live our lives is changing – we all have to learn to love change as much as we might have hated it in the past.
I call it the creative revolution.

Focus on solutions not problems. If you only see barriers then you won’t achieve anything – Is the problem that there isn’t enough money to do what you want, or that you haven’t yet come up with a more cost effective solution? It’s more ideas you need, not more money.

Listen – listen to your customers, your team, your friends, your kids – listen to everybody and everything. You need information – you need it to learn but you also need it to inspire your creativity. Your brain works with connections. One thought triggers another and so on. The more information you devour the more creative you will be as you spark off different things.

If you are in business, you must listen to your customers – become ‘buy’ focused not sales focused. Think a bit more about what people want to buy, rather than just what we want to sell them!

Be open minded, practice Naive Listening - I love that term. Listen naively – without knowledge or
experience because both those things, as valuable as they can be, will tend to give you a closed mind to new ideas.

Develop creative techniques that work for you to find solutions to what isn't working.

Engage people – you need others – this new world is not one that you can survive on your own – collaboration not competition is the key – find people to help you, people who understand and share your passion.

Take action – all the creativity in the world is worth nothing if you don’t have the courage to take action – remember the success/failure paradox – the more you fear failure the more likely you are to fail because you won’t take action.

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Alan Austin-Smith


'Catch People Doing Things Right' has always been one my favourite leadership messages. I first heard it in the best selling leadership book; The One Minute Manager.

However this article in my Flipboard magazine helped me understand it even more. The key word in that message is 'doing'!

Have a read of the article and you will see how praising results can have a negative effect and that it is the effort and work put into the achievement that we should be praising.

SO... "Catch People DOING Things Right!!"

The article is headed: Want to Be An Exceptional Leader?  Check it out here in my BE Fantastic Flipboard Magazine...

View my Flipboard Magazine.
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Alan Austin-Smith


Engage people
This is not just some ‘be nice to people’ campaign here, although as a Londoner I do sometimes love saying good morning to people on the tube, just to see their reaction! It’s just a fact that if you make people smile they will be more helpful to you in general (not always on the London Underground though!)
Coming home from work to a smile rather than a list of things you haven’t done; being genuinely interested in a teenagers’ life rather than seeing them as some sort of alien; being greeted warmly at a meeting; making a customer feel fantastic about themselves; commenting positively on a colleagues’ work – all those things and more must surely make a difference!
I feel that communication is one of – if not the – most important skills in life.
Well listening is the most important communication skill.
Which makes listening pretty important in the whole scheme of things!!
If you want to engage people, you have to start by listening to them.

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Alan Austin-Smith


I have always believed that we can all do it right! We can all be fantastic at whatever it is we want to do – the difference between the successful people and everyone else is that they do it right – they are fantastic – CONSISTENTLY.

But how? Are they sub-human – somehow different to the rest of us?

Maybe they don’t get sick, feel tired, have hangovers, relationship problems or bad moods?
Or, are they exactly they same as everyone else, having the same stuff happening in their lives as everyone else, but just dealing with it differently?

Successful people take ‘fantastic’ action consistently by performing. They understand that the world is a stage and they need to be performers on it. We all have off days, but when you understand the importance of consistency, you quickly learn to perform – to act. This is not living a lie, it’s simply making a decision to get on with it. We all have a choice – I can decide to spend the day with a hangover, or decide not to have it. I’m human like anybody and sometimes I decide to have it! But, only if it doesn’t affect me being fantastic at work or as a dad, husband or friend.

That’s when I have to ‘act’ – but the amazing thing is that when I make the decision to act better – I start to feel better!

Do people trust you?

You need people to trust you – your customers, colleagues, friends and family. Why? Because whatever you may think, you can’t do it on your own – we all need people, but to get help, support and respect from people, they need to trust you.

How do we earn that trust? By acting consistently!

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Alan Austin-Smith


Just knowing where you are going is not enough though - you have to understand why you are going there too.

You need two things to achieve the results you want - focus and desire. The desire comes from the 'why'. Another word you might use would be passion - when you are passionate at something it is easy to keep going when the going gets tough because you know why you are doing it. This applies to everything you do at work in life.

Understand the difference between ‘what’ you do every day and ‘why’you do it.

Imagine you met me at a party and asked me what I do? I wouldn’t – but I could answer like this.
“I drive up and down motorways – sit in traffic jams, stand in queues at airport security, spend time away from my family in lonely hotel rooms that all look the same, stand in conference rooms that are often too small, too big, too warm, too cold and talk to people – some of whom don’t even want to listen to me, make phone calls, send e-mails...”

Of course you wouldn’t let me get that far – you would interrupt and say “No – what’s your job?”

“Oh, my job, sorry, you asked me what I do!”

I am very clear about what my job is – my job is to communicate to people in such a way as to motivate them to fly – to be fantastic. I love my job, but of course I don’t always love some of the things I have to do!

I really don’t enjoy queuing in airports, taking half my clothes off to get through security and then finding out that my flight has been delayed – but if that is what I have to do, to do what I love – then I can do it!

The passion comes from why you do things – not just what you do – of course we are passionate about some of the things that we do, however we all have things that we don’t enjoy doing.

Let’s face it – who can honestly say they like changing a nappy? But you will happily do it because of the reason why you do it – the happiness and comfort of your child!

If you have got to the point where you know where you are going, it's now time to start thing about why you are going there. Have Fun!
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