Posts in Executive Coaching
Mindset of Great Achievers

It's often difficult to get much needed space from your busy work schedule to gain a clearer perspective on your career. Yet great achievers find even little moments to review where they’re at and where they aspire to be. They also share one common trait: how they view opportunities and setbacks.  

Your road to SUCCESS in work and in life is greatly determined by your MINDSET.

At least that’s what compelling scientific research by Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, suggests. Examining the effects of praise on children in the ‘90s, Dweck determined that:

·      Students who were praised for their intelligence and the end result developed a FIXED mindset.

·      Students who were praised for the process – their hard work, focus, improvement, and perseverance – developed a GROWTH mindset.

It is the growth mindset, which begins to take shape in our early childhood years, that separates the super-achievers from stagnant individuals. Those that succeed are not necessarily blessed with IQ points or born with superior talents; according to Dweck, their superpower is their mindset.

Do you have a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset?

Growth mindset

If you’re someone with a growth mindset, you most likely thrive in your role and embrace opportunities to further develop your skills and talents. And, if you’re not enjoying your current role, you’re willing to make the necessary changes to reap the rewards of a more fulfilling career.

You prioritise life-learning. You’re not threatened by the thought of challenge or even failure; instead you view them as an inevitable and valuable part of the learning process. Your mindset ignites you to develop your unique talents every single day.

Fixed Mindset

If you believe you were born with a certain amount of intelligence or talent that cannot be improved and you are reluctant to take risks for fear of seeming incapable or less ‘smart’, you have a fixed mindset. According to Dweck, your mindset holds you back, creating endless mental roadblocks on your path to personal and professional success.

Does this sound like you? Do you want more from your career - be it striving for that promotion or grasping new career opportunities - but fear of failure inhibits your professional development?

Don’t be disheartened if you realise you have a fixed mindset. According to Dweck – and from our personal and professional experiences – you can change your mindset from fixed to growth. Also keep in mind that for most of us, we may have a growth mindset about one thing, and fixed about another. For example, we might be growth minded about our tennis, but fixed minded about being a marathon runner. We can learn and grow from these experiences.

In fact, I once had a fixed mindset about presenting. I was convinced I was a terrible presenter and made myself believe that I could never present to large audiences. Through practice and coaching, I learned to be aware of my own negativity bias that any mistake I made dictated my future as a presenter. I then made a concerted effort to see the time I lost my train of thought as an isolated incident and a growth opportunity. I also learned to appreciate the little wins, such as when one client shared some positive comments, rather than dwell on the fact that no one but me noticed my mistake. These steps helped me build my confidence and shift my mindset. With further preparation and coaching support, I was ready to start presenting. I now not only love presenting but I also coach my clients to change their perspective and provide them with the necessary tools to improve their presentation skills.

As Marcus Aurelios once said “Our life is what our thoughts make it” and, with that in mind, here are 5 tools and techniques that will ignite a growth mindset.

1. Be Optimistic. The first step to achieving your aspirations is to believe you are deserving of them. Extensive research by renowned positive psychologist Martin E.P Seligman demonstrates the power of optimism. Naturally, optimism results in you feeling happier in life; it can also alleviate depression, boost your immune system, and empower you to better develop your potential.  For people with a more optimistic outlook, setbacks are temporary, isolated to particular circumstances, and can be overcome with effort and abilities. Thankfully, optimism is something that can be learned. It starts with being realistic and objective.

2. Become aware of your negativity bias. Simply knowing that you have a habit of being negative can put your challenge into perspective. It’s likely that we have much more success than failure in our lives, yet because our minds are hardwired to pay more attention to the negative, it may not always seem that way. 

3. Practice mindfulness. Whenever you experience success or failure, bring your attention to your body, your emotions, and then to your thoughts.  Ask yourself: how are you explaining the event to yourself? How are your thoughts related to your emotions?  Do you feel powerful or helpless? Bring your attention to your breath and awareness of what it means right now to you.

4. Transform. When experiencing success, take conscious note of it and accept credit for it.  This creates the mental habit of paying due attention to your success.  When experiencing failure, focus on realistic evidence suggesting this setback may be temporary. This may sound like denial, but what you’re actually doing is recognizing the negativity bias, questioning it and choosing to respond differently.  

5. Never give up.  Sometimes when our pathway to achieving our goals is bumpy and unsettling, we may want to give up and try something else. The fact is that most people don’t achieve their goals because they’re too quick to give up. It’s important to persevere at the times you’re most tested so you develop grit and resilience no matter life’s circumstances, and you fulfill your aspirations.

Often clients work with a Career Coach as they often feel they need a complete career change. While a change in career can be the right choice for some, we’ve found that a shift in mindset can lead to greater fulfillment for many of our clients in their existing roles. Through coaching, one client was able to change her mindset from saying “I don’t like my work and will never succeed’ to “The challenges I am facing are great learning opportunities to help me develop and become a better leader.” Her new growth mindset drove her through the challenging phase and later she had the opportunity to lead a new and meaningful opportunity that aligned with her personal values and goals.  She stayed with the company for 6 more years and was extremely grateful for the shift in mindset, which allowed her to take ownership of her success.

The super-achievers that walk amongst don’t wait for perfect conditions, they create opportunities. They draw energy and motivation from their challenges, believe they will achieve their goals, and stay on track.

Some questions to consider next time you face a setback or do something you don't think you'll ever be any good at:

1. What is your response to the setback?

2. How might you shift your perspective on this setback?

3. How might you use this setback as an opportunity to grow?

Remember: your WINNING mindset will determine the results you get!.



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Kully Jaswal

Kully Jaswal is a facilitator and Leadership Coach based in New York, U.S. 



You are Your Biggest Critic

Listening to your inner voice is often sage advice. But what happens when it tells you that you're not good enough or that you're going to fail so why bother trying? Our brains try to protect us from harm, but in so doing, we can limit ourselves from growing. Self-compassion, brain retraining, and a little bit of humor can turn a dreaded foe, our Inner Critic, into a friend.


We’ve all heard that inner voice telling us to “wait, stop, you don’t know what you’re doing." Even those we perceive to be the highest of achievers are not immune to the Imposter Syndrome, that phenomenon  whereby we live in fear that everyone is going to find out we're a fake. John Steinbeck confessed, “I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people." The seemingly unshakable Meryl Streep admits to feelings of self-doubt about her ability to act. If these folks have their inner critics telling them they're not good enough, what hope is there left for the rest of us?

The good news is you’re not alone. Psychologist Robert Firestone describes this Critical Inner Voice to be a pattern of thoughts that form an internalized and destructive dialogue that discourages us to act in our best interest. Many of these voices originate from our childhood and formative years where our parents told us ‘no’ to protect us from falling, or from our own unfounded uncertainties as we navigated an ever-complex world. If we do not learn to reframe these thoughts, they can become our default mode of thinking.

When you have a thought, and that thought is repeated, it can create an inner rule in your brain that impacts your actions. A positive thought can stimulate your brain’s reward centers, but a negative one can activate your fear response. These negative thoughts – even if they occur internally – can self-perpetuate. In other words, negative self-thinking activates your fear response, which drives you to behave defensively in order to protect yourself. This, in turn, limits your ability to learn and grow and manage this fear, which in turn leads to more negative self-talk, and... well, you get the picture.

Neuroplasticity suggests our brains can change in its structure and function depending on where we focus our attention. If we focus on the negative, we’ll keep our brains in a more constant state of stress and fear. In a recent New York Times article, Center for Healthy Minds Dr. Richard Davidson noted that self-criticism can “interfere with our productivity, and it can impact our bodies by stimulating inflammatory mechanisms that lead to chronic illness and accelerate aging.” But we aren’t beholden to this cycle. Liberating ourselves from our Inner Critic requires conscious changes in how we relate to it. Because we are in constant self-talk, how we interpret our experience has a profound impact on our subconscious which feeds our Inner Critic or fuels our Inner Champion.

What can we do to quiet that Inner Critic to find our true inner selves, that which believes in us with realism and hope?

1. Pay attention to your body.

Notice what sensations you have in your body when your Inner Critic is speaking. If you’re speaking in front of a large group, does your Inner Critic start to shout? Likely, those sensations won’t feel good. When your Inner Critic is speaking, your body might experience similar sensations as if you lost your best friend or your kindergarten teacher yelled at you for not cleaning up the markers "right." However, when your Inner Champion is speaking, your body likely experiences a sense of fulfillment and contentment. Feel like you’re “on and in the zone” when speaking in front of your kids’ soccer team? By paying attention to what your body is saying, you'll know which Inner Voice is speaking.

2. Show self-compassion.

As psychologist Kristin Neff notes, self-compassion requires a heck of a lot of courage to face ourselves with what is real, but to do so with awareness and kindness. We can be honest with our big golf handicap, but instead of berating our performance and giving up, we can view it with recognition of what doesn’t work and as an opportunity to grow. By being as kind to ourselves as we would be to a friend, we can better appreciate our shortcomings with gentleness; this way, we can act to improve ourselves rather than be paralyzed by fear of being “found out.” Self-compassion also reminds us we’re not alone – our feelings of inadequacies make us human.

3. Refocus and reframe.

Instead of spending energy trying to avoid “being found out,” redirect that energy to what is happening in the moment. For example, after a big promotion, instead of focusing on learning the ropes of your new role, we might focus on worrying that others will discover we "didn't deserve it" (even if we did). But when we refocus our thoughts to what matters, our attention shifts from “me” to "what might be the best way for me to show up for other?". How might you use your strength and talents to be of service? If your Inner Critic is telling you, “you can’t,” shift that perspective as if you’re talking to a friend. Think about how you might see a situation differently to remind yourself “you can".

4. Look for ways to fail.

The more we learn the feeling of failure and the feeling of recovering from failure, the more we build our resilience. Failing doesn’t feel that great, but it teaches us not to be complacent. Complacency actually lets our Inner Critic take over. When we step onto our edges and take risks, we embrace the possibility of failure, knowing it is temporary and a perfect teacher for us to truly grow and learn. Failing smartly can quiet that Inner Critic and empower the Inner Champion through the process, regardless of the outcome.

5. Befriend the fear.

Our Inner Critic doesn’t mean us harm. It has tried protecting us over the years from disappointment, shame, and hurt. Yet it also has prevented us from shining as brightly as we can. Instead of hiding behind our Inner Critic or trying to push it away unsuccessfully, we can acknowledge its presence and honor its misplaced attempt to "help," we can befriend it like a friend needing a long trip away and wish it well.

When we listen to our Inner Critic, we are in fact running away from our Inner Champion, our deepest self. As Marianne Williamson says,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us….. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”



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Belinda Chiu, Ed.D.

Belinda Chiu, Ed.D. is a facilitator and Leadership Coach based in New England, U.S. 



Old Habits Die Hard

The adage ‘Old habits die hard” is exactly why habits such as going to bed late, skipping the gym, or checking emails and messages in bed are so difficult to change. But thanks to neuroplasticity, change is always possible. Whenever you’re ready to make the shift, you can change your neural pathways and create positive habits.


The adage ‘Old habits die hard” is exactly why habits such as going to bed late, skipping the gym, or checking emails and messages in bed are so difficult to change.

From a brain and coaching perspective, habits are old and ingrained neural pathways – ways of thinking and doing -  created over months, years or even decades of repetition. An example might be the all-too-familiar route to work: you use the same road and intersection every single day such that you’re in ‘auto-pilot’ mode.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a good thing we can find our way home on autopilot without having to dissect every aspect of our journey. But what if you discovered there’s a quicker way to get to work? Would you willingly embrace change recognising the benefit to your morning routine? Or, would you resist change and stick with the route you know? What if resistance to change is impacting your body, relationships and happiness levels? When entrenched habits hold us back and undermine our personal resilience; when we do things simply because it’s how we’ve always done things, we are hindered from progressing in life and work.

Letting go of old habits is challenging. It creates discomfort and uncertainty, and requires significant effort and determination.

Fortunately, thanks to neuroplasticity, we can forge new pathways and create new habits that better serve us.

This video on Neuroplasticity from Sentis, available on YouTube, shows us how adaptable our brain is.

What does it take to create new habits

Here are a few powerful ways to retrain the brain, override old pathways and create new and healthier habits:  :

1.     Decide on your goal – Define which new habits you want to create to build your personal resilience.  Do you want to create optimal sleep habits? Or, do you wish to make better nutritional choices? Rather than embracing numerous goals all at once (thus, setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment), go slow and take one step at a time. We don't need to create a full blown mind map but perhaps one branch at a time.


2.     Be accountable –  When best-selling author Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, recognised the need to change her sleep habits, she turned to Cindi Leive, Glamour magazine’s editor-in-chief, for support. As they worked to eradicate their old sleep habits and replace with new, life-enhancing routines, they checked in on each other to see how the other was doing. Studies prove that if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person, you will increase your chances of success by up to 95%!


3.     Consistency and commitment – New pathways require repetition and consistency to be created and ingrained over time. If  your goal is to sleep more hours, for example, putting away blue light emitting devices such as mobiles, computers and TV every day at the same time helps your brain understand when it’s time to stop working and start resting. Every brain needs routine and so does yours.


4.     Celebrate – We often do not celebrate our small wins, perhaps because we fail to see the benefits of our new habits. Reflecting on new habits, the benefits and impact to your life can be rewarding and, in fact, motivate you to continue to create new habits, new neural pathways and the life you want.


Ready when you are.

Thanks to neuroplasticity, change is always possible. Whenever you’re ready to make the shift, you can change your neural pathways and create positive habits.

For real change comes from within. Change can only truly happen when the desire to lead your best life is ignited within you. Change is ready when you are!



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Cristina rodenbeck

Cristina Rodenbeck is an Executive Coach, Holistic Wellness Practitioner, and Facilitator based in Hong Kong. 



Why do leaders practice mindfulness

People take up mindfulness for different reasons. It seems to be a big media buzz word at the moment so it’s natural to ask, ‘What does it mean and why are so many people interested in mindfulness practice?’

Mindfulness works for people in different ways, so we all tend to feel the benefits in a unique way and personal way, and very significantly are able to address deep felt human needs as to:

  • improve our emotional stability;
  • ­manage our stress levels more effectively;
  • have better and healthier connections with others;
  • be fully present and focused in what we’re doing and be able to recall why we’re doing it in the first place.


We all have daily challenges and tough times, but we all have the natural human capability to manage them effectively, it’s part of our survival instincts. Mindfulness is a natural enabler of greater awareness in our daily choices, so we overcome our challenges in a more healthy and productive way.

Mindfulness, a personal journey

We have asked our Clients and our Coaches to share more about why and how they practice Mindfulness and the changes it has bought to their lives. Here are two of them for you:

Our Client

By my 31st birthday, I became aware that how I was pursuing my goals put me in a constant state of anxiety, stress, and disappointment, I was in a constant state of “fight or flight”.

My doctor recommended mindfulness to assist me in changing, noting that it would take time and dedication. Initially, the practice of mindfulness was another task to complete, but I began to notice the effects of training by the third week. The thoughts and emotions that were in disarray, became organized and translatable. I was able objectively assess my thought patterns; which ultimately led to addressing the “cycle” of negative thought patterns.

I continue to improve my ability to organize and articulate my thoughts and feelings, allowing for the dispassionate assessment of my emotions and a paradigm shift in how I assess my goals and their attainment.

Mindfulness is not a quick fix, rather a tool I use to recognize how I can maximize the enjoyment of my life. While every day isn’t perfect, mindfulness has better prepared me to identify, confront, and resolve issues that used to consume me.

The most exciting lesson was understanding the mind is a powerful engine. It needs structure to exercise, learn and progress. With the right care, anything is possible.

– Nicole D’Angelo, Director, Hong Kong –

Our Executive Coach

I came to mindfulness through learning about the neuroscience behind meditative practices. This was important for me: being able to ground the practice scientifically enabled me to engage with mindfulness constructively.

Mindfulness has had a big impact for me in three main areas:

  • More effective emotional regulation supports me in choosing constructive attitudes. This has been critical for me to deal with the day to day challenges of building my own business.
  • As a coach, I can bring mindfulness to my clients with great positive impact for them too.
  • As a more mindful parent, I believe I have more effective ways of engaging with my children!

I have a bit of a monkey mind: my head is always full of thoughts bouncing in from all directions so I find sustained mindful practice hard. One way I get round this is to perform regular “one minute” mindfulness practices throughout my day.

– Jeremy Stunt – Executive Coach and Facilitator, HK and UK –

As you can see, Mindfulness is a very personal and powerful journey and also not a quick fix, but with patience, continual practice we can train our minds to be more present, more aware of how we live our lives, be able to choose our distractions carefully and most importantly live a happy and fulfilled life we all deserve.


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Kully Jaswal

Kully is Ignition Coaching’s founder and an Executive, Career Coach and Facilitator. Kully works with new graduates and senior leaders alike, helping them find
careers they love. She is passionate about assisting individuals and teams to maximise performance, at personal and professional levels. Achieving greater resilience and drive in the workplace, as well as in life, is her main goal. Before changing her own career, Kully worked for over 12 years with Deloitte as a Director in the firm’s London office.

6 Tips on Building Trust

Whether you are looking for new job or developing in your current role, building trust is critical to developing business and maintaining powerful relationships.

How much time do you spend consciously thinking about the relationships you have, how you manage them and even how we remove ourselves from destructive or toxic relationships?

Successful business happens through building trusting relationships, so this is a fundamental aspect, yet at times we don’t consciously spend that much  time thinking about building these important relationships.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplecreated a powerful metaphor called the ‘Emotional Bank Account’, which works in a similar way to a regular bank account. We make deposits, save up money, and when we need that money, we withdraw it. An emotional bank account is an account of trust instead of money. It’s an account based on how safe you feel with that other person.

Dr. Covey identifies 6 ways to make deposits
or reduce withdrawals) to build trusting relationships


1. Understand the individual:

This means listening intently to what the other person is saying and empathizing with how they may feel. It’s important to care for others and act with kindness toward them.

2. Keeping Commitments:

How do you feel when someone arrives right on time when you have a meeting? How about when people simply do what they say they will do? You build up an emotional reserve by keeping your commitments.

3. Clarifying Expectations

We are not mind readers, and yet we consistently expect others to know what we expect of them. Communicating our expectations can help create a higher level of trust. When we ask for what we want, and we get it, we can then trust a little more.

4. Attending to the Little Things:

Don’t you find that the little things tend to become the BIG things when they do not receive our attention?

Doing the little things is how we honour and show respect for others.
Small kindnesses, a smile, a little extra effort, and a hug, doing something you didn’t “have” to: these are the things that build trust.

5. Showing Personal Integrity:

 Integrity is the moral floor upon which trusting relationships are built. When we operate with sound moral character, it makes it so easy for others to trust us.

6. Apologizing When We Make a Withdrawal:

We will make mistakes; it’s part of life. But when you see you have violated a trust, sincerely apologizing is how we make a deposit to counteract the damage we have done.

When your trust level is high, because you’ve made lots of deposits, communication is almost effortless. You can be yourself, and others understand and appreciate you. Then, when you make mistakes or offend someone unexpectedly, you draw on that reserve and the relationship still maintains a solid level of trust.

Conversely, when you are discourteous, disrespect others, interrupt others, speak sarcastically or ignore others, your emotional bank account becomes overdrawn because you have jeopardized the trust level. When the trust level is low, you have to be very careful of what you say; you tend to be more political.

Our most precious relationships (with our spouse, kids, friends, boss and clients) require constant deposits, because those relationships continue to grow and change, and with these changes come new expectations. If you have an important client, you build the deposits so if you do make a mistake, the trust level is still high. As a marriage evolves, your roles and responsibilities may change, and your work and home lives may change over time because of career changes or kids moving out or back in. These relationships require constant investment.

A question to ask yourself is if you had to list your relationships and rate each one in terms of your emotional bank account, where do your investments stand?

Are you making enough deposits for the really important relationships, be it at work or your personal lives?  We encourage you to try this same exercise. It really helps to pinpoint where you should be investing more to build healthy and trusting relationships.



Suzanne Silver and Kully Jaswal

Suzanne is a Career and Executive Coach, as well as a true facilitator, helping people to realise their potential to move towards their desired goals.  Kully is Ignition Coaching’s founder and an Executive, Career Coach and Facilitator. Kully works with new graduates and senior leaders alike, helping them find careers they love. 

How to be a Mindful Leader

We are living in a world that does not switch off – with information overload, increasing demands to perform extraordinary results and practically no time for self.

How can we ignite our leadership skills and be at our best if we are constantly living in such a high-strung state? Stress, high anxiety and feelings of overwhelm are no strangers to high-power jobs and this may take a toll on our productivity, creativity, relationships and teams.

How can mindfulness practice help leaders take control of their everyday challenges, feel more at ease and be more effective at work?

It all starts with the leader’s mindset. If a leader is filled with stress, conflict, anxiety, and negative emotions, it spreads like a virus. On the other hand, a positive leader can be a source of the motivation and encouragement that make teams thrive and excel at what they do.

This study from Jeremy Hunter from Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University broke down five important challenges faced by leaders and how they can practice and benefit from mindfulness.

Study by Jeremy Hunter

Study by Jeremy Hunter


People take up mindfulness for different reasons. It seems to be a big media buzz word at the moment so it’s natural to ask, ‘What does it mean and why people suddenly so interested?’

Mindfulness works for people in different ways, so we all tend to feel the benefits in a unique way and personal way, and very significantly are able to address deep felt human needs as to:

  • improve our emotional stability;
  • manage our stress levels more effectively;
  • increase our sleep quality;
  • have better and healthier connections with others;
  • be fully present and focused in what we’re doing and be able to recall why we’re doing it in the first place.

We all have daily challenges and tough times, but we all have the natural human capability to manage them effectively. It’s part of our survival instincts. Mindfulness is a natural enabler of greater awareness in our daily choices, so we overcome our challenges in a more healthy and productive way.

If leaders are able to work on their mindsets, walk their talk, chances are that the team has more pleasure to work with them, and most likely will even put more thought and effort behind the work they do.

Mindfulness is simple but also takes effort and discipline. It can have a huge impact on the leader’s mindset, leadership traits, and productivity of the business when practiced regularly.


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6. HK Nickolas Wai.jpg

Cristina Rodenbeck and Nicholas Wai

Cristina Rodenbeck is an Executive Coach, Holistic Wellness Practitioner, and Facilitator. Nicholas is an Executive and Career Coach with a masters in Organisational Coaching from Sydney University.


Mindset of Great Achievers

Why is having the right mindset so important to determine your success? How does it shape our world and the results we get?
Do you have the right mindset to achieve your goals for 2018?


We are all born with unique talents. However why is that some people labelled as being ‘less talented’ become more successful than their ‘more talented peers’. This question has puzzled many coaches over the years and Carol Dweck a professor from Standford University believes the answer is down to Mindset. After researching the topic extensively Dweck believes there are 2 different Mindsets: the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset.

Individuals with a Fixed Mindset believe they are born with a certain amount of intelligence or talent, and these abilities cannot be improved. This creates a constant urge to try and look better than other people but it does not mean you are interested in learning or bettering yourself, the only thing that matters is looking better than others. It holds them back, it limits them.

People that possess a Growth Mindset believe their abilities and skills can be improved through hard work and persistence. People with a Growth Mindset generate a capacity for life long learning and constantly strive to improve. When presented with an obstacle, those possessing a Growth Mindset tend to rise to the challenge, and generally do not fear failure; instead, they view it as a chance to improve themselves. They ignite their performance.

This tells us that the Mindset is crucial for all things we do in life, be them professional or personal. It is the Mindset that determines our thinking and our thinking determines our beliefs, our emotions, our behaviours and our actions in life. It is the actions we take can unlock our true potential and support us to only achieving our goals but to thrive. It is our Mindset that ignites our success.

As Marcus Aurelios once said “Our life is what our thoughts make it”, and with that in mind we want to share our 3 tips to Ignite your Winning Mindset

1. Be optimistic

The first step to getting the things you want is believing you deserve them. Martin E.P. Seligman’s extensive research demonstrates how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it. Being optimistic can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential, and make you happier in life.

2. Embrace Challenges

Challenges make you learn and develop, allowing your talents to blossom. Forbes magazine’s published an article on traits that will give executives long-term job success pointed out that one of the things people want most in their careers is the opportunity for “mastery” – for getting better at things.  Mastery arises from challenge: you get better at things when you put yourself into situations where you have to stretch.

3. Never give up

Our pathway to achieving our goals at time may not be nice and smooth but instead pose big hindrances and we may want to give up, move on, try something else. The fact is that the reason most people never achieve their dreams is because they simply give up. Remember that the times when it’s most important to persevere are the times that you will be most tested, so staying strong and staying optimistic will make you thrive no matter the circumstances.

In moving forward, start with a self-assessment, is your Mindset in the right place? Which Mindset do you have?

Successful people don’t wait for perfect conditions, they create opportunities. They draw energy and motivation from their challenges, believe they will achieve what they want, and keep on track.

Our questions to you?

1. Are you feeling positive about achieving your goals?

2. Do you feel you are ready for the challenges that may come your way?

3.  Are you flexible to adapt?

Remember; your winning mindset will determine the results you get.


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Kully Jaswal & Cristina Rodenbeck 

Kully is Ignition Coaching’s founder and an Executive, Career Coach and Facilitator. Kully works with new graduates and senior leaders alike, helping them find careers they love. Cristina Rodenbeck is an Executive Coach, Holistic Wellness Practitioner, and Facilitator.


Five Resume Design Tips for Non-designers

When refreshing your resume, content is king.
No matter how beautiful it looks, securing an interview will be difficult without the right content.

In addition, when you upload a resume online, robots scan it for specific keywords — especially when applying for bigger corporations. Without these keywords, your resume won’t even make it to the HR department.

Thus, before diving into a few practical tips on resume design, I assume that you

1. identify the key focus areas of your future position,

2. cherry-pick relevant past experiences and

3. quantify your successes. This ensures your content is concise
and aligned with your future role. You’re proud of your  accomplishments and want your resume to reflect that confidence.

A well-balanced resume design will maximize its impact. It increases legibility and credibility. On top of that, you will be able to inject personality into the final result. It shows future employers you’re worth noticing and meeting for an interview.


#1—Maximize space

Work with two columns to fit all content on one page. Studies show that people read in F-shaped patterns, so your design should follow suit. Place important information near the top and less important information near the bottom.

The columns should not be the same width. Your work experience column, whether it’s left or right, should be wider (around 75% of the total width). According to studies, recruiters spend about 6 seconds scanning a resume.
When you make you make your documents easy to scan, you improve your chances of being noticed.  

#2—Fonts matter: family, style & size

Selecting the right font family will make or break your design. Your font should be legible and scalable. There are two types of font families: serif and sans-serif. Serifs are the little extensions at the end of each stroke. Serif fonts (e.g. Bodoni MT) are more traditional, while Sans-serif fonts (e.g. Gill Sans MT) are more modern. You could combine both if it makes your content stand out. 

You can find some more examples here.

It’s important to note that non-traditional fonts only work on the devices that have the font style installed. Save your documents as a .PDF instead of a .DOC, to guarantee your reader gets the full experience.

Use bold to make your titles stand out. Don’t use underline or italic font styles.

Font sizes matter as well. Depending on your font selection, 12pt for the body text and 14pt for the titles seems to work pretty well for most font styles.

Never use Comic Sans. Never.

#3—Avoid silly line breaks

If a recruiter decides to read your resume in more detail, make sure to respect natural eye movements. The optimal number of characters per line is 50-75. It eases the reader into reading and it follows the natural movement of the eyes. Avoid one-word-lines.

Also, if you notice a lonely word, try rewriting the sentence so it becomes longer or shorter.

#4—Layout matters too

Remember #1 Maximize space? Don’t push it. If you have too much content for one page and you’re unable to cut it down, use two pages. Allowing for white (blank) space helps to structure information and convey confidence. 

Human brains prefer structure. White space creates invisible lines between different chunks of information. Hence, our brains will process this information in a more structured way. A structure will invoke a sense of balance in the reader. It will improve legibility, understanding and the desire to continue reading.


Before you send out your resume, print it. If you used color, check if the black and white version looks good too. Share it with friends and family and ask what they remember after six seconds. Improve your design until you hear the correct keywords.

Extra #6—Avoid bias

As a rule of thumb, don’t include a date of birth, gender, marital status, exact address or pictures. You want recruiters to focus on your professional achievements. If you must include a picture, don’t use a selfie you took during your holiday in Thailand.

Extra #7—Online consistency

Take some extra time to align your LinkedIn profile with your resume. Recruiters will cross-check this information and you will avoid embarrassing questions dates, titles or companies.

Final thought

When professionals design resumes, they use Adobe InDesign or even Adobe Illustrator. If you’re not familiar with the software, Microsoft Word still allows you to apply most of the
above tips.

Ignition Career Coaching: Resume Building Example

Ignition Career Coaching: Resume Building Example

Ignition Career Coaching  Resume Content Example

Ignition Career Coaching  Resume Content Example

Ignition Career Coaching : Resume F-Shaped Pattern of Reading 

Ignition Career Coaching : Resume F-Shaped Pattern of Reading 

Ignition Career Coaching  Resume Content Structure Example

Ignition Career Coaching  Resume Content Structure Example



Michiel Den Haerynck

Michiel is the managing director of Club Soda, a Hong Kong-based digital marketing agency. Ignition Coaching partners with Club Soda to provide CV and resume design services.


Does Your Job Stress or Energize You

This quote by Simon Sinek, author of the popular business strategy book “Start with Why” and its related TED talk, showed up on my facebook page this morning and it resonated with me so much that I felt compelled to share my thoughts. Why did I react to it so much?

Looking back at my career, I can recall a long period of time when I was under constant stress that it felt normal to be working in such conditions. I even told myself that I needed the stress to perform, to play the game. Although I was doing well and getting promotions and recognitions, I was always tired and didn’t sleep well.

Since switching career into coaching and training four years ago, even though I am as busy if not more than before, I can feel a source of energy from deep within me that sustains and propels me forward. Compared with before, I feel more alive, more able to handle pressure and more confident in taking up challenges. Although I have also made some lifestyle changes that contributed to my better well-being, such as being more disciplined about my rest time, doing regular exercise, and eating more healthily, I believe my willingness to change and sustain my new lifestyle has a lot to do with the fact that I want to be physically and mentally strong so I can be more ready and equipped to do the work I love.


Graphic from:

You may ask, is doing what you love enough? And what can you do if you are not ready to jump into a completely different career? Regarding the first question, I would like to refer to a model I used in a recent talk about finding your dream job I did at a local university. So, is just doing what you love enough? Probably not, because you would also need to do it well, meaning you will need to have the knowledge, skills and experience the work requires. And on top of this, a dream job would not be a dream job if it does not at least pay you well enough to sustain you financially, let alone really well. Understanding the 3 component parts will help you find your sweet spot that is your dream job.

How do we help our clients find and work towards this sweet spot, you might ask?

A suggestion, is to first, use techniques like the one I described in our first newsletter to help the clients find their important values and motivations. Then, ask the question – what problems are you good at solving for others, or what problems are you passionate in helping others solve? With these component parts brought to awareness, we can then help our clients identify any knowledge/ skill/ experience gaps that need to be developed, or meaningful work that the clients could change to or expand into by recrafting their jobs if they are not ready to take the jump.  By this stage, the client will be able to more confidently and precisely come up with action steps that lead them towards their sweet spots. By breaking down a question that at first seems impossible into more manageable steps, the clients will not only have the motivation but also the pathways to their ultimate dream job.

So my questions to you:

1. What are the problems you are good at solving at your job right now?

2. What problems are you passionate in help others solve?

3. How motivated are you in finding and living your dream life?

6. HK Nickolas Wai.jpg

Nicholas Wai

Nicholas is Executive Coach and Corporate Trainer and passionate about bringing out the best in people and their organisations – in tapping into the under-utilised knowledge and resources often lay under the radar in individuals and teams, and recovering and connecting them to individual vision and organisational goals. Nicholas has more than ten years of experience in various management positions and also as Finance Director at his family textile and garment business in Indonesia. He has recently published his first book “Much Ado about Coaching” with fellow coaches in the UK and Canada to present the views of coaches of his generation

Feeling stuck in your career? Take action!

Do you enjoy your current job?

Do you feel like you are progressing?

Do you feel satisfied and fulfilled in your professional life?

If your answer is a clear “no”, then it may be time to take that first step and explore your options. However, this can be easier said than done and at times may even feel impossible.

If you are feeling stuck and still trying to figure out why, there is most likely one of four possible reasons that is stopping you and we have summarised the crucial steps to help you overcome these challenges.

1: You don’t think you have the skills or capacity to make a career change

The first step: Change your mindset

Changing your career may seem like an insurmountable obstacle, especially if you have spent many years gaining the skills, experience and network needed to become successful in your current role. However if you are going to take on this challenge, your mindset will be absolutely crucial as it is our mindset that will ignite our success. Mindsets are beliefs—beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. 

Carol Dweck a Stanford University Psychologist, believes there are 2 mindsets, a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

People with a “fixed mindset” assume that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.

So if you believe you have a fixed mindset, start to focus on the  things you can do as opposed to the things you can’t do.  Write down all the great things you have achieved, the skills and experience you have gained, the things you would like to learn and what you would like to achieve in your next career.


2: You think it might get better with time

The first step: Accept how you feel

While changing your mindset can be powerful, it won’t eliminate the underlying problems you face. You may be thinking that if you just hold out in your role a bit longer something will shift. Perhaps you are close to receiving a raise or promotion, or a new team member is about to start that might shake things up. The truth is, successful people don’t wait for perfect conditions, they create opportunities. They draw energy and motivation from their challenges, believe they will achieve what they want, and keep on track. If we take a ‘wait and see’ approach, we can spiral down and potentially reach burnout point. Pay attention to and trust how you are feeling now.

It’s also important to consider all the factors at play, what if the job is making you feel this way and things are unlikely to change, ask yourself the following questions. Do you enjoy the actual work? Is the company culture the right fit?  Are your values aligned with the companies values?  Do you like the people you work with?

Be true to yourself and ask if these things are likely to change.  If not take the first step.


3: You feel heavily invested in your current role

The first step: Identify what is transferrable and create a career narrative to fit your ideal career

One thing we often help our career coaching clients with is how to translate their current skills and experience to a new field. When we start exploring and writing everything down on paper, it’s easy to create links and build a career narrative that identifies our core skills and how these can be transferred to different roles or industries. While you may need some additional training or experience, a strong story can make a big impact when you are ready to start your search.

This is also a good time to reflect on exactly what is working and not working for you in your current role. Then, you can figure out if you want to make a big change or small side step as often the idea roles are within our current companies.   The criteria for your ideal career might be closer to what you have now than you think and with some negotiation (additional training, more support, working from home one day a week) you might begin to gain a deeper sense of satisfaction. 


4. You are afraid to make the wrong choice

The first step: Try something

Perhaps you know why you’re stuck, you’ve identified what you need to change, but fear is holding you back. If you don’t know what the perfect things is, you can’t change anything at all. This false choice can be paralysing, leaving us stalled in the middle of an intersection. However, we cannot realise our fullest potential in the intersection. So, take control! Pick a direction and get moving. Shadow someone working in a field you are considering or register for a class to see if it is a good fit. You may have to turn around at some point, but that is ok.

Also, consider that you may have unknowingly already made the wrong choice. Staying in the wrong job doesn’t just affect you. If you are in a leadership position, your attitude and mindset will trickle down. If a leader is filled with stress, conflict, anxiety, and negative emotions, it spreads like a virus. On the other hand, a positive leader can be a source of motivation, encouragement that make teams thrive and excel in what they do. So taking care of yourself will translate to happier, more productive teams as well.

What is one thing you can do this week to help you take the first step? If you are still unsure, take this free quizto help you identify your key strengths and possibly ideal career


Kully Jaswal

Kully is Ignition Coaching’s founder and an Executive, Career Coach and Facilitator. Kully works with new graduates and senior leaders alike, helping them find
careers they love. She is passionate about assisting individuals and teams to maximise performance, at personal and professional levels.