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The GROW model – Coaching

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I’ve been contemplating doing a Management or Coaching course the past few months and the first thing I did to investigate a good leadership course was taking myself to Google. Once there, I typed “Leadership Training” where you’ll find over 100 million results, academic papers, programs, management training series, white papers, leadership “gurus”, articles, resources and more. It was hard to judge through all the sparkly new approaches to understanding leadership, and teaching and training leaders today.

I had my own views about what goes into the making of a truly great leader, in my opinion it’s someone who is capable of articulating a powerful, positive and compelling vision for organisational and individual growth, and who can generate the trust and support needed to execute on their vision.

I spoke to a colleague, who has been working in the EDU sector for HubSpot who recommended UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business, which partners with clients to create world-class leadership development solutions for managers at all levels in global organisations and Public Sectors.

From this, I also talked to the course co-ordinators at Smurfit, I zoned in on “Leading for High Impact and Results“, with a vision to learn from not only the Professors and Lecturers but also from others attending. I was joined on the course by 3 colleagues, and others from the likes of Salesforce, IDA, The Dept. of Finance, VHI Healthcare, etc., in a range of Leadership roles, from Managing Director, Funds Manager, Renewals Manager, etc.

The GROW model is based around the theory that using questions rather than instructions in an organisation will help nurture change more readily. The acronym GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward. It provides a relatively simple framework for structuring a coaching session, and has been adopted by many of the world’s major organisations.

  • Goal: After discussion, a target to be reached in the session should be developed.
  • Reality: It is important that this session is grounded in reality. The person being coached should be able to assess their present situation, and give concrete examples of their performance to date. Feedback should be provided at this point.
  • Options: This stage offers the opportunity for the person being coached to suggest possible courses of action, and together with any that the coach puts forward, these should be evaluated and a choice arrived at.
  • Way forward: The final part of the process involves the person being coached making decisions and having the willpower to commit to them. Future steps to be taken should be confirmed and the coach should agree with the client how they will be supported through the ongoing development process.

the grow model

Here are some sample questions that you can ask at each stage to structure your conversations better and become a more effective Manager/Coach:


  • Where would you like to be in …………..?
  • What outcome do you want from this process?
  • What would be the best outcome from your perspective?
  • What would it take for this process to be a success?
  • What would you like to achieve?
  • What is it that you would like to talk about?
  • What would you like to have happen that is not happening now?


  • What’s happening for you?
  • How are you feeling about what is happening?
  • What effect dos this have?
  • What is being affected by your feelings about what is happening?
  • What would you change about yourself?
  • What other factors are relevant?
  • Who else is involved?
  • What is their perception of the situation?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • What would you change about the environment?


  • How could the situation change?
  • What could you do to change the situation?
  • What alternatives are there to that approach?
  • What approaches have you used in similar situations?
  • Who might be able to help?
  • How could you improve the situation?
  • Do you have any ideas about actions you could take?
  • What might happen if you took these options?
  • How would you feel after taking these options?
  • Is there any other option that you can think of?
  • Which of these suggested options would you like to try?
  • Which options do you like the best?
  • What might be your next steps?
  • How can I support you in your actions?
  • What would happen if you did nothing?

Will and way forward:

  • How can you put these options into action?
  • What would be your first step?
  • Are you aware of any obstacles to these actions?
  • How do you think you might overcome them?
  • What further support do you need?
  • Can you think of people who could support you?
  • When will you take this first step?
  • How will you know you are successful?


It is important to be aware that at all times in this process the person that you are speaking to is gently being nudged towards developing their own action plan rather than you jumping to a conclusion and coming up with the solution yourself or them being ordered along a certain route to a solution.

Craig EllisThe GROW model – Coaching
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Generosity Burnout

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Generosity Burnout – Selflessness Exhaustion

The act of selflessness at work leads to exhaustion,  it also often hurts the very people you want to help. I’ve put together a few ways in which you can share your time and expertise more effectively to avoid generosity burnout.

Craig EllisGenerosity Burnout
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Freelancer the rise of a new generation

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The freelancer is changing the playbook

Being a freelancer is not just doing your 9-5 job from home, there is a lot more to it. Your standard 9-5 job is falling in percentage as the most common type of job schedule. As the new breed of tech-savvy individuals emerge from universities and into the workforce. This new breed of worker is rising as a strong force in the talent pool, and they are willing to work from whenever and wherever they are needed.

There obviously has been a few industry changes and technological advancements that were required for this change to happen. Technology has changed relationships, between colleagues and managers, to families and friends, a virtual relationship is now possible. Companies and startups are beginning to realize that this arrangement offered significantly more benefits than the traditional employee. Now, terms like “gig economy,” “mobile economy” and “freelance economy” are being thrown around to describe the new way of working.

Why freelancers are on the rise

As more companies turn to freelancers for content, graphic design, programming and more, workers are starting to sign up for these growing opportunities. Previously, one of the major barriers to becoming a freelancer was the concern over steady work. However, with so many startups and bigger companies offering jobs on sites like Freelancer, Guru and Upwork, it doesn’t take much to stay busier than ever. In fact, many freelancers now state that they make more than they did when holding down a “regular” job.

With the increasing demand has come an ever-advancing army of freelancers that is a little shy of 54 million workers strong — and growing.

In 2015, it was estimated that nearly one-third of all U.S. workers had participated in some type of freelance or temporary project.By 2020, it is estimated that nearly half of the entire U.S. labor force will be in some type of freelance position or take on side projects that fit the definition of freelance.

While nearly 33% of the current freelance workforce falls into the millennial demographic, the rest are primarily middle-age workers who have discovered the benefits of working for themselves in order to effectively juggle other activities that have proven difficult or stressful in dual-income families.

freelancer from anywhere

How being a freelancer is changing workflows and processes

It’s difficult to say which came first — the entrepreneur (chicken) or the freelancer (egg). However, the two have reached a point where a significant change has occurred. Entrepreneurs have gradually stopped working a 40-hour week and instead, are putting in however many hours it takes to get their businesses up and running. In turn, they have sought out like-minded individuals willing to work on a similar schedule.

The one caveat here is that the entrepreneur may not be able to hire this person as a regular employee because of benefits’ expenses and potentially even office space costs in order to give an employee a place to work.

That’s where the “age of the freelancer” becomes a win-win scenario. Both the freelancer and the company receive heightened benefits. The freelancer is perfectly happy not having to report to an office; he has the freedom to work with companies around the world and the opportunity to maintain a large portfolio of clients rather than pledging allegiance to just one employer.

Freelancers also enjoy being able to potentially set their own hours, as long as they can meet their deadlines. They are also okay with not getting benefits because either a spouse or external source can help provide coverage. The fact that they can create their own work schedule around their personal life is worth the trade-off.

In return, the entrepreneur gets access to some of the best talent available who is willing — and able — to work on demand and in line with the available budget. This line of talent does not necessarily need to be trained because they most likely already know what they are doing, having worked as a writer, designer or programmer for a number of years. While there may be some small things to tell them related to your personal preferences and the way you work,

Another perk is that freelance talent often stays with the business when they see its potential and recognize the possibility that it could scale up and provide a steady stream of revenue. Some entrepreneurs have even found talent who understands what it’s like to start a business and wear many hats, so advantageously, they are both doing the same thing.

Keeping those benefits in your business

For entrepreneurs, it is critical to ensure you have a retention strategy to keep those freelancers who serve you well just like you would if they were regular employees. This is especially the case in light of the aforementioned statistics that show freelancers will become a nearly dominant force in the labor pool, potentially dictating their own demands and preferences like customers have begun to do in the digital age. To do this requires knowing what concerns they have and what might impact their relationship with you.

For example, many freelancers often list themselves as self-employed and end up with higher taxes and insurance costs. They also have concerns about saving for retirement. While entrepreneurs are not responsible for these costs, it is still important to understand the position of freelancers and listen carefully when they propose an increase in their rates over time.

become a freelancer

These independent workers are now starting to come together to address their concerns through organizations like the Freelancers Union, which has started offering access to group health plans for better rates. These types of associations also provide information on political issues that impact freelance status and encourage collaboration, networking and the exchange of ideas to help raise the standards of this new workforce.

Imagine what could change if 54 million voices joined together and took a stand. No other type of workforce could do that because of differences in industry and business niches. However, despite freelancing in diverse areas, these workers share common goals, issues and desires. That’s a force to be reckoned with and one that more entrepreneurs should listen to and assist in any way they can.

Craig EllisFreelancer the rise of a new generation
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Access Earth re-creates Google Maps

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Access Earth Irish Start-Up goes live

Access Earth to change the lives of people with disabilities, for the travel, food and hotel industries.

Matt McCann went to London hearing all the great stories from his friends of the people and the areas to visit etc. Upon arrival, his hotel that he booked was not exactly adequate.

People search for best location and best price, but Matt also needed a hotel he was able to easily access. Matt has cerebral palsy and requires a walker to get around and he thought he had found a place that seemed to meet his needs. The hotel had marked themselves as accessible, but it was only until Matt arrived at his destination that it was anything but.

Firstly, there was 3 steps up to the entrance, meaning anyone with a wheelchair or walker could not access the building easily or at all. After overcoming this hurdle, Matt then had to compete with fitting his walker through his hotel room door. Getting to his bed, he asked himself, how can they call themselves accessible.

Matt McCann is an Irish graduate from the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), and he has decided to help people just like him from encountering these issues. He went on to create his start-up Access Earth, a web platform and app that crowdsources data on accessible buildings and locations to help people with disabilities.

Access Earth for people with disabilities

Access Earth User Interface

Craig EllisAccess Earth re-creates Google Maps
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6 Ways to improve your Content Strategy

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What is it that makes a great content strategy?

Before you launch your next campaign, this is very likely a question you will ask yourself. You must first consider the larger aspects of content strategy, even before you begin to type, research the topics and let it be your guide. In the digital world today we strive to create honest and authentic content, but there is now new research/data pointing you to the specifics of what really makes your content more authentic, honest and credible. This will help you to break through the digital noise and drive the results you’re looking for with your own content.

There are ways that can help you prove the value of certain distribution models, bring to light the need for new tools, and show the value of content marketing over a longer time frame. When you sit down in the next coming months, trying to break through your writer’s block, have a think about these these six data-driven points to help you create better content, distribute it more effectively, and be better able to prove the lifetime value of your content marketing efforts.

1. Trusted data – Primary is key

Craig Ellis6 Ways to improve your Content Strategy
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Google Tone – Share the Way you Speak

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Google Tone – Sharing through Sound

Google has always had a cool persona, and it’s latest experiment might be the coolest Google Chrome extension anyone has seen yet. By using the power of sound, Google Tone, the company’s newest homegrown browser add-on, quickly shares URLs with anyone else nearby. The extension is available now to download in Chrome’s web store and can be used by any Google Chrome user, regardless of what type of computer they have.

For the extension to work, it must be installed on at least two computers that are in close proximity or within “earshot” of each other and each machine must have its volume turned on. Once the tab you want to share with your friend, colleague or stranger is open, click on the extension in your browser’s toolbar, wait for the series of beeps, and the link will be shared to all nearby computers via a Google Chrome notification.

Craig EllisGoogle Tone – Share the Way you Speak
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WordPress Update Rollout – Update Now

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Attention all WordPress users: I recommend that right now is a great time to setup the wordpress update.

WordPress the content management system rolled out an wordpress update this Thursday that was used to address a major security flaw that affected millions of websites. Sucuri, the security researchers were the first to find this vulnerability, that leaves affected websites susceptible to an attack that could allow others to take control of the sites.

The error all comes from a bad file within Genericons, by default this is preloaded into many WordPress sites, including the default TwentyFifteen theme and the JetPack plugin, according to the researchers. The technology behind this leaves the affected websites open to a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability, which could potentially allow attackers/hackers a way to gain control of a website.

A quote from WordPress: “Any WordPress plugin or theme that includes this file is open to an attack,” “Any WordPress plugin or theme that includes this file is open to an attack,” written in a post on its VaultPress blog addressing the issue.

The Sucuri researchers note that though the flaw is far-reaching, it would be a “bit harder to exploit” compared with other flaws, though the effects of an attack can be severe. For its part, WordPress says its latest patch removed the problematic files from its themes and plugins.

“Between the update and the very simple action that web hosts can take to protect we estimate that there are not too many vulnerable sites in the wild,” a WordPress spokesperson said, adding that “staying up to date on the latest and greatest version of WordPress is the single best thing you can do to stay secure.”

Users can get the WordPress update from the updates menu in their main dashboard. The patch has already started rolling out to those with automatic updates enabled.

Craig EllisWordPress Update Rollout – Update Now
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