Spirit of an Entrepreneur – Chantäl Patruno

I never had a master plan for my career. I didn’t have a clear view of ‘What I wanted to be when I grew up’, and therefore how I would need to skill myself up for that.  I was awarded a bursary at the end of school which took me into the world of education, which I loved.  After university I literally fell into the variety of opportunities that presented themselves.

My career hasn’t been all about skills and capability, because I’ve never really been focussed on that.  I’ve only ever been focused on being awake and curious.  And really open.  And I think my openness and curiosity is what attracted and presented the doors that have opened in my career.  I would step through those doors that opened, and things would happen.

I always felt I’ve carried an entrepreneurial spirit, but I wouldn’t have called it that.  I was focused on exploring, improving and reinventing.  As a result, I’ve had a variety of careers in my working life, and now I am running my own business, Blue Seed Consulting. The skills I have today have been building blocks, expanding and extending on one another throughout my career.

blog imageMy venture into my own business was a bit of a push and pull. I didn’t have a blueprint in mind of what I was planning to do, but I knew I wanted to be open to other opportunities, and to grow and play more, in the creative sense.  I knew it was time for me to do something different and so I just backed myself and I focused on taking off and soaring.  The push came from finding myself in a place where I had less energy and enthusiasm, and I knew I wanted to change that.   So I wasn’t ambitious in the traditional sense, where I had a set dream and ambition, and would do anything to get there.  It was more of a fluid emergence and creative breakthrough… with determination to create something great, and shiny eyes that could only see possibility.

I am grateful for every one of the landscapes that I stepped into throughout my career.  There were times where I felt completely unprepared because I did not have the specific skills base or experience, but I’ve always managed to make it work.  I can only put that down to how I showed up as a person.  I’ve always been unapologetically open about what I don’t know, so I guess it is something in my character not to pretend to be something I’m not.

blog image quoteI have a propensity for trying new things and a determination to make them work, and doors seem to open for me because of this mind-set. My Mum always said about me that I’d jump (or be thrown) into the deep end and before long I’d be synchronised swimming.  She was right.  I would step into the open door and say, “I don’t have this credential, but I do have these other skills and I know how to work with them as my strengths. Let’s have a go!”

Over time I grew to realised that I had developed quite a diverse skillset. And key people saw things in me that propelled me forward.  A great example is when I was sought out to be Marketing Manager for Nando’s UK, just as it was expanding into the UK market.  I had never been a marketing expert, nor had I studies anything in that space beyond a short PR post-grad course. But the CEO saw something in me and backed me, so I was able to back myself.  That’s what we need to see more of in business today – I always look for opportunities to harness the spark and magic in people (and my coaching works serves into that too!).

Untitled design copy copy copyWith Blue Seed Consulting, I’ve enjoyed the ability to create something from nothing.  It really does feel incredible.  It has been a lot of hard work and learning along the way, and when you see the results it’s very rewarding.  We have a team of 20+ Blue Seeders now, our growth has been steady with really purposeful work – it’s been quite exciting.

I am constantly reinventing and I wouldn’t change that for the world.  Throw in the parenting juggling act and I have my arms full of messy magic but I wouldn’t swap any of it.

If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change what I have done, but I would seek out support earlier than I always have (that bullish and determined South African work ethic can be a curse!) and I’d back myself more from a younger age … but I think that comes, genuinely, when you’ve sprouted a few grey hairs!


Key Insights: Openness, curiosity, exploring, trying new things and reinventing can open doors in your career.  Back yourself, focus on your dreams and be open to creative breakthroughs.  Be constantly learning, and playing to your strengths.  The skills you are developing will build upon one another.  Never stop exploring and keep on reinventing!


Chantal Photo suppliedChantäl Patruno 

Chantäl’s passion is enabling change to happen really intelligently.  Her passion for making a difference has propelled her through more than 18 years in Change Consulting.  She is a seasoned and well regarded practitioner in the field of human potential – as a change management practitioner, a master facilitator and educator in change and a qualified leadership coach, helping leaders face into uncertain times and create readiness for change.

She is co-Managing Director of her own Change Management Consultancy, Blue Seed Consulting, which was listed on the top 100 fastest growing businesses in late 2015.

For the Global CMI Board she is the Thought Leadership Ambassador.

And as a practitioner, she is both strategic and practical – she helps shape sensible strategies and loves the nitty gritty of making change happen with entirely fit-for-purpose approaches, and is obsessed with sustainable business change outcomes.

Her approach has morphed from the early days of ‘doing and teaching’ to her current approach which is ‘questioning and enabling’.  She tells me the latter is much more challenging and requires ‘change intelligence’, which she practices and talks about in her keynote presentations.  Chantäl juggles being a working Mum, business owner, consultant and coach, which in itself requires full throttle change intelligence!

What I’ve heard about Chantäl is that she cares deeply about living with kindness and courage, especially in the corporate environment!  Her life’s purpose is affecting change – not only at organisation and team levels but also at individual and personal levels.

About Blue Seed Consulting  

Blue Seed Logo from ChantalThe Blue Seed team is deeply experienced and passionate in change. As a boutique Change Management consultancy we care most about sustainable business outcomes during changing times.  We thrive on partnering shoulder-to-shoulder with your teams to co-design and help embed integrated change programs that consider your whole system, and deliver business returns through people.

We do things differently and we call this ‘change intelligence’ – a blend of wisdom, curiosity, creativity and speed. We don’t have ‘one we prepared earlier’ and you won’t find us managing change from behind a computer screen. Rather, we use our deep expertise to assess what’s needed and apply fit-for-purpose approaches, delivering them flawlessly.

brw top 100 from chantalBlue seed offerings

Launch of the Ignition Room

The power of questions is what often triggers reinvention.  Questioning ourselves, and questions from others can spark a moment of reflection where we stop in our tracks and move below the surface of our current life patterns, and ask, “Why?”, “How?”or “When?”  We believe that is where reinvention lies, in that moment of consideration, and then a commitment, to do something right now, even the smallest thing to move in the direction of your full potential and aspirations.

We hope the Ignition Room sparks your imagination and opens you to consider “What if I…” and “What can I do in the next 24 hours to move towards this?”  Big or small, these first steps are important.

 

Being Your Authentic Self – Chantäl Patruno

Most of my work comes from the heart – that light inside my ‘wise’ self that has been developing since I was a child, fuelled by passion and determination to somehow make a difference in the world.

What I do and how I do it doesn’t rely on external validation anymore, rather I turn inward, checking and aligning with my internal compass to confirm direction. So my head and heart are in constant dialogue and guide my daily steps. And I’m really grateful for how these ‘parts’ of myself have shaped who I am today.

This compass has led me to work with people, the human condition, in meaningful ways while trying to make a difference within the corporate landscape and the teams and individuals working within that landscape.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be my authentic self, and work from a place of truth which is one of my top personal values. I couldn’t possible show up to a day of work (or to any aspect of my life for that matter) without being who I really am (not pretending), being honest with what I see and don’t see (from a consulting perspective) and being able to hold space for others to transform in self-directed ways (from a coaching perspective).

Life has shown me that success is directly connected with how you show up, and it’s less contingent on what you know.

This quote from Vishen Lakhiani, describes what I hope for my life’s work,

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I am a big believer that the future of business will be driven by these principles.  The way we show up to form small, collaborative and focused task teams to get amazing things done will supersede hierarchies and credentials.  We need to foster creative thought, value vulnerability and authenticity, make failure an important part of learning … all of which can only lead to meaningful and often rapid outcomes for teams and businesses.

quote Brene Brown

Being authentic is really about reflecting on your core values.  At the heart of that is truth. Absolute truth. And I believe the world needs more of that. We need authenticity at every level, in teams, in companies, in countries and in economies.  It is possible to be grounded in our true selves, and be able to achieve our personal goals and ambitions.

One area that has helped me in my career has been my propensity to be bold – I call a spade, a spade.  That has worked well for me as I am often in situations where I am able to say the unsayable.  The background to this is that I am genuinely curious and interested in why, and how things could be done differently.  As a result, I am not afraid to ask questions, but I do it from a position of curiosity and seeking understanding.  I put myself in the position of the person and look at the situation from their perspective.  I’m not afraid to go there.

Rather than influence people and forcing a point or issue, I try to influence outcomes.  I focus on creating space for discussion to happen.  It is quite a different entry point.  The intent is to create a space that is open and inviting, where people are able to speak more freely.  This way you can share understanding, and help guide the conversation by asking questions such as, “How is that working for you?”, “In what ways could you see it working differently?”, “What’s the best of that?”, and so on.

At Blue Seed Consulting we talk about Change Intelligence – creating space for conversation to flow, for questioning and curiosity. It’s a creative process that allows many minds to come together, and to collectively come to new and better ways, allowing people to be their authentic selves in a safe way.

Being authentic also becomes very real in the face of a setback, but I’m definitely wired to see the more positive side. I will, of course, have the same and similar reactions as others such as frustration and disappointment, but I focus on how quickly I am able to bounce back from the situations.  This may sound quite flippant, but I think about a setback as an opportunity to really question why it occurred.  I do this from two angles, self-reflection and seeking feedback from others.  I ask others, “Hey what do you think about that? Or how do you think I responded to that?”  I definitely stay collaborative, open and humble when it comes to feedback.

To me, being authentic, is about being myself, and really showing up – being curious, open and reinventing myself through self-discovery.  That takes courage, and makes me feel alive!


Key Insights: Being authentic is about your core values.  Truth and honesty about who you are, are paramount.  Being curious and interested in others, leads to open conversations and shared resolutions (Change Intelligence).  When experiencing setbacks, self-reflection and input from others is key.  Being open to self-discovery and turning inward, is the pathway to authenticity.

To find out more on finding your calling check out this article


Chantal Photo suppliedChantäl Patruno 

Chantäl’s passion is enabling change to happen really intelligently.  Her passion for making a difference has propelled her through more than 18 years in Change Consulting.  She is a seasoned and well regarded practitioner in the field of human potential – as a change management practitioner, a master facilitator and educator in change and a qualified leadership coach, helping leaders face into uncertain times and create readiness for change.

She is co-Managing Director of her own Change Management Consultancy, Blue Seed Consulting, which was listed on the top 100 fastest growing businesses in late 2015.

For the Global CMI Board she is the Thought Leadership Ambassador.

And as a practitioner, she is both strategic and practical – she helps shape sensible strategies and loves the nitty gritty of making change happen with entirely fit-for-purpose approaches, and is obsessed with sustainable business change outcomes.

Her approach has morphed from the early days of ‘doing and teaching’ to her current approach which is ‘questioning and enabling’.  She tells me the latter is much more challenging and requires ‘change intelligence’, which she practices and talks about in her keynote presentations.  Chantäl juggles being a working Mum, business owner, consultant and coach, which in itself requires full throttle change intelligence!

What I’ve heard about Chantäl is that she cares deeply about living with kindness and courage, especially in the corporate environment!  Her life’s purpose is affecting change – not only at organisation and team levels but also at individual and personal levels.

About Blue Seed Consulting    

Blue Seed Logo from ChantalThe Blue Seed team is deeply experienced and passionate in change. As a boutique Change Management consultancy we care most about sustainable business outcomes during changing times.  We thrive on partnering shoulder-to-shoulder with your teams to co-design and help embed integrated change programs that consider your whole system, and deliver business returns through people.

We do things differently and we call this ‘change intelligence’ – a blend of wisdom, curiosity, creativity and speed. We don’t have ‘one we prepared earlier’ and you won’t find us managing change from behind a computer screen. Rather, we use our deep expertise to assess what’s needed and apply fit-for-purpose approaches, delivering them flawlessly.

brw top 100 from chantal Blue seed offerings

The Pathway to Promotion – Chris Williams

Managing your career, and your next promotion requires positioning across a variety of dimensions.  Those that are looking to advance their careers, tend to have distinct traits.  They are focused on results and have the following characteristics:

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Your ability to acquire these characteristics will influence your career trajectory, and your effectiveness as a leader. 
  1. Client Focus – High performers are tuned into their client’s needs.  They understand client concerns, anticipate what’s next and advise them appropriately. High performers look out for opportunities to make their clients successful, in the immediate term and future.
  2. Relationship Building – Your ability to be effective is largely based on your ability to influence outcomes, and people. Being able to initiate, build and develop relationships will help you shape results. Internal relationships are important, and so too are your external contacts.  You should aim to build relationships and identify synergies across your network, including those outside your organisation such as alliance partners, and other organisations.      
  3. Making the Complex Simple – High performers find ways to aggregate and synthesise thoughts, ideas, variables and concepts, in a meaningful way.  They take the complex, and make it simple.  Your ability to crystallise thinking will become more important as your career progresses, as you face increasingly complex situations to manage.
  4. Taking Initiative – High performers take a situation, shape a solution and turn it into action. To find out how to become an initiative taker – click Taking Initiative – Chris Williams
  5. Harnessing Ambition – High performers have a drive to succeed, and to go beyond expectations. They layout a compelling vision, and a path to achieve that vision in a way that is clear, understandable and engaging.  They are then able to motivate those around them to achieve that ambition/goal/vision – with impact.
  6. Being Trusted – High performers operate independently, with less oversight and direction. They are relied upon to deliver results.  You’ll know you are in this position when your boss says, “Just keep me updated on the results, I trust your judgement.”
  7. Strong Leadership – Effective leaders engage their teams and inspire high performance. They motivate people to achieve more and overcome challenging circumstances.  Leaders keep teams focused on the end result, and recognise valued contributions from others. 

Promotion is an important part of career progression, and the pace you move is based on your ability to acquire new skills and capabilities.  That said, moving up too quickly can hamper your career.  It is important to build a strong foundation of skills and experiences at your current level, so you can be successful at the next level.  Use the feedback you receive as an opportunity to understand the areas you need to hone in on, so you are ready to take on bigger challenges in future.


Key Insights: High performers have a mix of traits that position them well for succeeding at the next level.  These traits include: Client focus, Relationship Building, Making the Complex Simple, Taking Initiative, Harnessing Ambition, Being Trusted and being a Strong Leader.  Career moves need to be managed carefully, so you are well positioned to take on the new challenges.


Chris Williams Pic

Chris Williams – Financial Services Consulting, Senior Client Account Executive – Managing Director

Chris Williams is a leader with over 20+ years of experience in core banking transformation, merger integration and divestiture programmes in Financial Services consulting.  He is the Senior Client Account Lead for one of the firm’s Diamond client in the US, and consults with numerous banks globally.

 

How To Constructively Challenge – Chris Williams

Every day we are faced with situations where our point of view can be challenged.  Being able to present your ideas, and work with others with opposing views is a critical leadership skill.  It takes confidence to challenge others, and the intelligence to balance this with showing respect for, and listening to others. 

When challenging others constructively, it is important to:

snappa_1460773934Respect Others: First of all, you have to be respectful of the person you are speaking with.  Show that you value different viewpoints, and their right to challenge your perspectives. 

Acknowledge Prior Knowledge or Experience: When you are being challenged, you have to acknowledge that the person challenging your position may have more information, and indeed may know more about the issue than you do.  So listen, especially when they are saying: “Let me tell you why that won’t work here.”  Wrapped up in that statement is valuable information and further context to the problem.  They are giving you an opportunity to understand their constraints or environment. 

Ask Questions:  Seek first to understand, then seek to be heard.  As you explore an issue, learn to ask questions such as, “Have you thought about this… or have you considered that…?  Put some suggestions on the table, in a considered way.    

A colleague of mine had a good technique to introduce concepts or ideas when thinking was constrained.  He would ask the question, ‘What If…’.  This type of questioning broadens the conversation and opens up dialogue to focus on solutions. 

If you practice asking questions, over time you will learn to enquire in a very subtle, powerful way that gets others to think about the situation differently.

Paraphrase Messages: Paraphrasing helps to position the idea in a new way.  You can replay the message to the person, using their words and some of your thoughts.  This can be useful to introduce a slight twist on their idea.    

Blending these techniques leads to better outcomes, and an approach that builds relationships over time.


Key Insights: Constructively challenging others requires being respectful of others, while being confident in your views.  You need to balance listening skills with questioning, and paraphrasing.  If done well, challenging discussions can help you foster a better understanding of the situation and stronger relationships.


Chris Williams PicChris Williams – Financial Services Consulting, Senior Client Account Executive – Managing Director

Chris Williams is a leader with over 20+ years of experience in core banking transformation, merger integration and divestiture programmes in Financial Services consulting.  He is the Senior Client Account Lead for one of the firm’s Diamond client in the US, and consults with numerous banks globally.

Taking Initiative – Chris Williams

When you take initiative you are signalling to your Manager you care about your clients, and the service you provide.  Taking the first step may place you out of your comfort zone, but your Manager will usually welcome it. 

Why?  Leaders are often presented with issues to solve by their team members, without being given alternatives, and a recommended solution.  By being a ‘problem solver’, you can position yourself as a valuable contributor to your team, and someone who can be trusted. 

There are Three Steps to Taking Initiative:

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  1. Identify What’s Needed: You need to look to what your client or your team requires to be more successful. Look at the situation from your client’s or line manager’s perspective.  What do they focus on the most?  What is important to them?  Where are the potential gaps?  Pinpoint critical issues, and why they are important.
  2. “Start somewhere, go anywhere.” Most leaders like their teams to come to them with ‘something’.  Leaders don’t have all of the answers – oftentimes, they are as or more effective based on the quality of the people they surround themselves with.  I like people who come to me with ideas/options.  I find it easier to provide direction when I have something to start with.  I am not as effective if I have to start with a blank sheet of paper.
  3. Approach ‘problems’ with a ‘What If’ mindset. Oftentimes, we rationalize why something cannot, or will not work.  Sometimes we should approach difficult problems with a mindset of ‘What if we did this…’, ‘What if we tried that…’, ‘What if…’. 

Taking initiative will help you to think critically, be more adaptable and solution-focussed. 


 

Key Insights: Taking initiative positions you effectively in your team.  There are 3 key steps: Identify what’s needed, put forward ideas, and approach problems with a ‘What If…’ mindset.


 

Chris Williams PicChris Williams – Financial Services Consulting, Senior Client Account Executive – Managing Director

Chris Williams is a leader with over 20+ years of experience in core banking transformation, merger integration and divestiture programmes in Financial Services consulting.  He is the Senior Client Account Lead for one of the firm’s Diamond client in the US, and consults with numerous banks globally.

Carol Purtell – Express Yourself

On International Women’s Day, it is important to reflect on the contribution of women across the world, and those who are unable to speak up, for fear of persecution.  For many of us, we are privileged to live in a society where we have the ability to openly express our views, and enact change.  But even in our comparatively safe situation, at times, a lack of self-confidence can get in the way of us speaking up and reaching our goals. 

If we want to move towards gender equality, we need to have women who are willing to step up, and that requires confidence not only in oneself, but also in those who we collaborate and work with. 

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As leaders, we have to be willing to ‘lean in’ and express our beliefs and opinions, even when it can be difficult.  This is something that each of us has to learn in our career.  Self-expression is vital if you want to enact change.

I’ve worked with women and men who are masters at sharing their perspectives.  It’s important to find people who do it well, then observe what they do and try it yourself.

It is also about mindset. To be more confident you have to be willing to take a risk, because not everyone will like what you say.  Sharing ideas is an important part of driving change, even if we may not always get what we want. In my view, it is important to try, and sometimes it is a judgement call based on the situation, but if you never express your honest views, you won’t reach your goals.

So start with small steps, and easier topics, and work your way up from there.  If we want to move towards gender equality, we all have a role to play.  Being willing to express yourself and encouraging others to do so, is the way we’ll make a significant difference.


Carol Purtell – Senior Executive, Mental Health

I’m committed to ensuring excellence in mental health services and delivering high-quality, innovative and evidence-based services.

 

 

Brid Russell: High Performers

In my experience, being a high performer is based on being a value adding, hardworking, dependable contributor to the company.  To do this, you need to understand your organisation, the people in it, your clients and what they value.  This takes some analysis,  assessment, and you need to draw insights, but once you do this you can find the pathway to high performance.

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By understanding your leaders, peers and client’s agenda and preferred engagement style, you can start to understand what is important to them. This is essential.  With this, you can start to get a better feel for what people want to see, and experience.

Knowing this helps you determine what is valued.  Then you can start to align your work to their goals.  In that way, you can be recognised for adding value, and that is where high performance is found.

 


Brid Russell  – Senior Manager, Financial Services, Consulting

I’m a problem solver, stakeholder manager and strategic thinker.  I work with start-up companies and on large scale programs with established organisations. I enjoy innovating with teams facing complex challenges.

Brid Russell: Facilitator or Disruptor – You Choose

“It was a conscious choice I made, to take on the role of a facilitator.  I have a straight-up style, and I was finding that the typical strategies I used, didn’t suit every situation.  It was becoming clear to me that if I wasn’t the facilitator, I could end up being the disruptor in the room.  I had to find another way.

I observed my mentor and realised he could inspire confidence, and help clients achieve their goals, without disrupting the structure or gains of others.  He had a more subtle, stealth-like way, and that appealed to me.

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My decision to play the role of a facilitator, was a conscious one.  I told myself, “The day may not go as quickly as you want, but you are here to help everyone else.  How can you best achieve it?”

The decision to be the facilitator was a real game changer for me.  It shifted my focus to helping the entire team move forward, not just individuals.

 I had to learn how to listen, really listen.  It’s the basics, but I began replying to people in a way that kept discussion open, focussed and constructive.  I began asking more questions and found that playing back perspectives often helped individuals crystallise their thoughts and objectives.

 It’s like being a UN ambassador – inviting discussion, being more attentive and opening up conversations by saying things like, “that’s a good point, now let’s look at it another way” and inviting participants with different perspectives to give their views. Being a facilitator has turned out to be much more personally rewarding and my meetings are more productive.” 

 


Brid Russell  – Senior Manager, Financial Services, Consulting

I’m a problem solver, stakeholder manager and strategic thinker.  I work with start-up companies and on large scale programs with established organisations. I enjoy working with innovative functions and thrive in ambiguity and working in a fluid organization.