Stoicism and Stephen Covey – You don’t need to worry anymore!

“What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things” The Enchiridion, Epictetus (translation by William R Connolly)

How would you feel if you did not have to worry again? Is this attainable? The Stoics certainly thought so.

More recently, Stephen Covey revisited this theme and provided a mental model to approach about such situations.

It becomes amazing how, sometimes, key tenets of Ancient Philosophy find their way into modern popular handbooks and practical how-to guides.

It is useful to occasionally revisit and embrace the transformative nature of these tenets, in combination with their modern variations, in an effort to lead more meaningful, productive and fulfilling lives (professionally and in the private sphere).

Let’s look at one of these tenets and mental schemes in action.


Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius



Stoicism is a movement that started with Zeno of Citium at the early 3rd BCE. Other major philosophers involved in this movement were Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius (you can find more information here).

The basic tenet of the movement was “apatheia” (equanimity). Stoics posit that one way to attain this state of mind is by recognizing what lies within our power or influence and what is outside. Thereafter, come to terms with this realization.

Meric Casaubon elaborated on this thought in his translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations as follows:

“Two points in the Stoic system deserve special mention. One is a careful distinction between things which are in our power and things which are not. Desire and dislike, opinion and affection, are within the power of the will; whereas health, wealth, honour, and other such are generally not so. The Stoic was called upon to control his desires and affections, and to guide his opinion; to bring his whole being under the sway of the will or leading principle…..” (Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Meric Casaubon)


Stephen Covey



Stephen Covey mentions more or less the same theme but expands on it providing a mental scheme enabling us to better visualize how to go about this basic idea.

His mental scheme consists of concentric circles that portray our circle of influence and our circle of concern (see picture below).


Stephen contends that we should first reflect on “where we focus our time and energy” and then consciously refocus our efforts to what we can influence, in an effort to increase our effectiveness.

Specifically, usually, we tend to worry or be concerned about many things such as, our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. These concerns can and should be separated based on our mental and emotional involvement but also based on those for which we have some real control over and those that we cannot influence at all.

Thereafter, by focusing our time and energy in influencing those that we have some kind of control over we succeed and hence, we may also increase our circle of Influence further. We see people who embrace this behaviour being positive and empowered.


On the other hand, we see others that focus their time and energy on things they have no real influence over. These tend to blame and accuse circumstances or people and use reactive language. Eventually, the Circle of Influence of these people will shrink. I am sure you can think of a few people who embrace the one or the other behaviour and can possibly reflect on the consequences of their stance in life.

Like the ancient Stoics, what Stephen rightly highlighted is that we have to look at our attitude towards these situations and change our perspective so we can be “highly effective” in our lives. This happens if we do not waste time and energy on worrying about things we cannot control or influence but instead focus our energy to influence those that we can.

You can read more about this mental scheme here.



Until recently this could have been described as a feel good and  useful belief. More recent scientific studies though have started to test even such esoteric beliefs.

I have written here about an insightful talk from Kelly McGonical which details a recent study that looks at the link between attitudes and cardiovascular disease.

In particular, this study links the attitude we have against stressful situations to specific responses our body has and the associated risk for development of cardiovascular disease.



People respond to different challenges in a different way and develop their own defense mechanisms to deal with the vicissitudes of life.

Practical philosophy such as the ideas described in this blogpost provides an extremely useful guide to think about things and be-free oneself from behaviours that damage productivity, happiness and the attainment of fulfillment in life.

A great resource to continue this journey with is Alain De Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy (an easy to read and immensely entertaining book or DVD).

Maya Angelou who recently passed away put it succinctly when she said:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”, Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter:

What are the tenets, beliefs or thoughts that help you to get through the day?


Procurious – Behind the scenes – An interview with Chantelle Genovezos

5 months ago Chantelle Genovezos announced to the Australian Procurement community (click here to see full article) that she and her team were working on establishing an “innovative online community called Procurious” by May 2014.

Following the successful launch of the Procurious web community site, I caught up with Chantelle to find out more about this project and the value this aims to deliver to the Procurement community.

Procurious logo


George (GV): Chantelle, First of all, congratulations on the launch of the Procurious beta website. It must have been a very busy and productive 5 months.

Would you first describe what Procurious is in a few words?

Chantelle (CG): Ambitious….savvy….forward thinking……intellectually curious… global. A true reflection of our members!

Procurious is an online business network specifically designed for our global profession. It’s where you’ll find the new generation of procurement and supply chain professionals.

Think of it as a professional network, a learning hub and a career centre.

GV: What inspired you and your team to begin on this journey. What gap in the market did you identify?

CG: I’m still surprised by the lack of awareness about procurement.

It’s the place to get to know how the business operates, be influential and make an impact. But it’s also a profession that has had to deal with some long-held, inaccurate stereotypes that have been difficult to budge.

Like a lot of procurement professionals, we felt it was time to bust some of these myths and create a new identity for the profession. We could also see the face of procurement is changing. It’s younger, more mobile and more diverse.

And that’s really what Tania Seary, Founding Chairman of The Faculty, The Source and now Procurious, wanted to achieve. With more than 15 years working and servicing procurement, Tania is absolutely committed to the development of the profession and its people. Naturally, the idea behind Procurious is focused on achieving this goal.

For the team behind Procurious, and for all our members too, it’s not a question of why – but why not be part of an initiative to positively change and challenge procurement for the better…. and get ahead yourself!

Chantelle Genovezos - Procurious Team

Chantelle Genovezos – Procurious Team

GV: For those that do not know you, can you tell us a bit about your background before Procurious?

CG: I was one of those few who deliberately chose procurement as my profession. Starting as a grad I was thrown into the deep-end of “indirects” and I had a few goals I was steadfast on achieving. During the 4 or so years I worked at Parmalat Australia I took on new challenges and greater responsibilities along the way, including taking up the job of Procurement Manager – Indirects. I had two great team members who I recruited into their roles. Overall, I had unique opportunities to work with every part of the business and at different levels.

So uprooting to London in June of last year was a big decision. I left a good job and great friends and went head first into the unknown. It might sound easy enough, but it’s easier to stay doing what you’re doing and not take the plunge into something else, especially when you don’t even know what that “something else” is going to be.

GV: Who is Procurious for?  How are you reaching your audience?

CG: Procurious is for everyone involved in working or servicing the procurement and supply chain profession – including practitioners, consultants, trainers, recruiters and technology providers.

We have a wide cross-section of content available on a variety of topics, and our members’ needs and interests will be the driving force for new articles and discussions.

We’ve thought carefully about creating a design that is sophisticated and cool. Perhaps that suggests we’re appealing to a younger audience, but we’re not stereotyping. We do believe that this represents the ambitious and savvy nature of modern procurement professionals.

We’re using a combination of social media and face-to-face events to reach our audience but we’re deliberately holding off on any big launch announcements just yet. For the next few months, we’re in beta testing. We want to understand how people want to use the site. This is so we can test out features/functionality and make valuable improvements.

All are welcome to join during this time and we do have plans for a bigger, exciting launch. So watch this space!

GV: There are plenty of Social Media sites out there. How does Procurious differentiate from your competitors?

CG: The key difference between Procurious and other sites like LinkedIn is that it is niche – every function, discussion, event, training module and article is selected with procurement professionals in mind.

Procurious is unique in that it bridges the gap between networking, thought leadership and technical information – no other online platform does all three.

I should add that sites like LinkedIn and Facebook absolutely have their purpose, but this is finally a place in the market which procurement and supply chain professionals can call their own.

GV: Is there a fee for joining? What are the services offered and fees involved?

CG: Procurious membership and all current features on the site – including all our online training modules – are free for the time being. If the community sees value in what we are providing a modest annual membership fee will be introduced in 2015.

Our key areas of focus for procurement professionals are:

  • Expanding your network
  • Raising your profile
  • Developing your skills
  • Being in touch with the global procurement community

We’re doing this via a networking platform, discussion forum, events database and on-demand learning environment.

Our development continues as we explore a number of different avenues in terms of premium offerings, new functionality, team areas and seamless integration across all devices.

Jack Slade (Procurious Team - Product Manager)

Jack Slade (Procurious Team – Product Manager)

GV: What can we expect from Procurious in the next few months?

CG: We’re still in beta, so it’s all about learning from our early adopters at this stage. We’re chasing as much feedback as possible, which will translate into significant product changes and upgrades in the coming months.

Over the coming months, you can expect to see new online learning modules, lots of topical discussions, member profiles, new events and eventually an App to make getting connected even easier.

GV: Where do you see Procurious in 5 years time?

CG: Procurious will be the global hub for the procurement profession with more than 200,000 members.

Whether you’re in procurement, or want to be, or simply need to be in the know, Procurious will be your daily habit. It will be the place you can trust to get real opinions and valuable insights. Where you know you’ll be learning from the best trainers in the world and can find information easily and quickly.

Procurious will have helped to redefine the image of procurement. Members will be recognised for the value they add and procurement will be seen as a smart, attractive career path.

GV: In under 50 words why should a Procurement professional join and be active in this community?

CG: It’s really as simple as ‘Get involved. Get ahead.”

Procurious is for the new generation of leaders in procurement. It’s a hub to advance your career, develop skills and expand your professional network.

Procurement has suffered from an image problem with out-dated stereotypes. By joining forces through Procurious, we are forging a new image for procurement and recognising the very talented people who work in the profession.

GV: I understand that the Procurious team in London-based. Why should a Procurement professional from Australia join?

CG: Procurement is truly a global profession with a global network of professionals – as demonstrated by the very international office at Procurious HQ!

Although we first launched in Australia to utilise our existing networks, the intention is definitely to keep growing worldwide.

We already have members joining us from all around the world – in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada, India, France, Singapore, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Brazil, UAE, Ireland, Peru, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan.. and more!

That’s the beauty of the online network – you can join the conversation, learn from your peers, expand your opportunities, regardless of where you are based.

GV: How can the readers join up and/or interact with the Procurious community?

CG: It’s very easy – simply join up at, create a profile and start connecting with your peers!

Once you’re set up, some great ways to start interacting with the community include:

Contribute to the discussion forum
Post a question you want answers on and vice versa – share your knowledge and help your peers by answering their questions.

Register for events
We’re building up a global events database so that members can connect before and after events take place. We want conversations to continue well beyond the day out of the office. So find out what’s on and who’s going, and stay connected!

Complete a learning class
Our learning environment gives you bite-sized, on-demand knowledge. Take advantage of this while there is no cost to access. And of course, if you can’t find the class you’re looking for, tell us what you want to learn.

GV: Thanks for your time.

CG: Thanks George, we hope to see you on Procurious!

GV: Looking forward to it.


Well, this was Chantelle Genovezos on the new multifaceted online community tool for procurement professionals, Procurious.

Interested, curious, have a look on the Procurious website.


Images courtesy of Procurious



How to develop a winning organisation today! (An inspiring talk)

“The real battle is not against competitors. The real battle is against ourselves. Against our bureaucracy, against our complicatedness” – Yves Morieux

Sometimes you come across a talk that really resonates.

I have read a few books, essays and articles on organizational behavior and have explored the issue of Team Development and Team Engagement here and here.

Yves Morieux

Yves Morieux

Yves Morieux’s speech was remarkable in the way that he consolidates ideas and concepts and comes up with a new approach that focuses both on Organizational Performance whilst at the same time achieving Employee Satisfaction.

Yves Morieux gave this speech at the popular TED talks’ forum and posited that the two pillars of Management i.e.

i) the hard approach of structures, processes, systems etc and

ii) the soft approach of interpersonal relationships, feelings, traits etc,

which are the mainstream ways we use to engage our employees and succeed as organizations, are obsolete.


He then provided a different way to look at a winning organization focusing on what he called the SMART SIMPLICITY system. He contends that, based on this system, winning organizations can be built in today’s hyper-competitive world.

The system’s main focus is to remove complexity using six basic rules.

These are:

1) Understand what your people do.

2) Reinforce Integrators

3) Increase Total Quantity of Power

4) Extend the Shadow of the Future.

5) Increase Reciprocity and

6) Reward Those who Cooperate.

The examples used during the talk and the overall concept is well thought out.

Hope you enjoy the talk:



Image courtesy of


Procurement as a differentiator – Part 3 (what kind of differentiation?)

In a previous post (Part 1) I explored an expanded definition of what Procurement is becoming and then how it can become the link between Customer Demand and Supplier Innovation.

Then (Part 2), how Procurement’s potential could reinforce the basic Strategies of Organizational differentiation.

In this post I will explore in more detail what this differentiation could look like.

Innovation Anna betts


The argument that Procurement can become a key Differentiator is supported by the fact that Innovation is a key contributor of business growth and that Procurement can be a great curator and creator of Innovation.

Jimmy Anklesaria in his great book “Supply Chain Cost Management” posits that Procurement should:

“leverage [the] collective intelligence of the extended enterprise (your customers and their customers, your suppliers and their suppliers), and generate substantial results”.

and also that

the next generation of cost management is: “breakthrough solutions”.


Jimmy Anklesaria also highlights the fact that genuine cost management is different from cost cutting.

Indeed, genuine Cost Management does look at the business as a whole and asks questions like:

-Do we really need this service?

-What is the value this service provides to the business?

-Is there a better way of doing this?

Moreover, he stresses the importance for Procurement to move towards embracing a Strategic perspective as, according to him, successful Cost Management will be the key differentiator in the future:

“So, here we are in the twenty-first century. What will differentiate your firm from its competition? Will it be technology? Or maybe it’ll be quality and reliability? Perhaps speed of delivery? Or excellent customer service? Or do you think your firm is the onoly one in the industry doing e-business? The answer,…, is that nowadays, frequent technological breakthroughs, high quality, reliability, on time delivery, top customer service, and e-business are merely the prerequisites for being in the global race for market share. Today’s customer expects this from a supplier; rather, demands it. And there are enough firms around the world that have overcome the “preliminary rounds” of technology, quality, reliability, delivery, service and e-business.

So, why should they choose your firm?

In a few years the only differentiation will be cost. Companies that best manage their costs through the entire supply chain to bring you the latest technology, best quality with on-time delivery at a price lower than the others will take home the prize-your check. There is no prize for coming second”.


Now, reflecting on the power of Innovation to drive growth we find evidence in Kate Vitasek’s reminder of Solow’s Law that states that business growth is driven by innovation.


“The population and the labour supply grow at a constant rate and capital intensity (or capital per employee) can be regulated. But without technological progress, Solow continued, growth rates for capital, labour and total production would all be about the same. As a result, technological development would be the motor for economic growth over the long haul. In Solow’s model, if continuous technological progress can be assumed, growth in real incomes will be determined by technological progress”. (Kate Vitasek, outsourcemagazine)

But probably the most important contribution Solow demonstrated was that only a small proportion of annual growth could be explained by increased inputs of labour and capital. Just how small? Thirteen percent.

In other words technological growth makes the crucial difference when it comes to economic growth – a whopping 87 percent. Now keep in mind technological growth happens in two ways: product and process improvements.

For both these ways, Procurement can play a pivotal role.

This notion is also reinforced by the view of Cavinato and Kauffman when they detail Technology Advancement (e.g. Product and/or Process Improvement) and Supply Chain Synchronization (e.g. Process Improvement) among the four key trends that will most likely fundamentally shape tomorrow’s procurement practices (here). The other two key trends being Globalisation and Industry Consolidation.



I think that the above amounts to a strong argument for Procurement to be one of the primary differentiators for the organisations of tomorrow. Utilizing the Procurement function towards clever Cost Management and stimulating Innovation will mean that organizations will empower a yet not fully explored source of creativity and immense potential.


Where do you think Procurement will be and should be by 2020?




Image courtesy of Anna Betts/