Advance Communication es una compañía sólida, con más de 10 años de experiencia en España y Europa, especializada en la enseñanza de inglés a distancia.

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La filosofía de Advance Communication consiste en emular la forma natural de aprender idiomas aprovechando las ventajas que ofrecen las nuevas tecnologías. Durante nuestros más de 30 años de experiencia hemos identificado dos aspectos fundamentales al aprender idiomas:

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People: Talent and engagement

Dave Ulrich is well known in the US in the field of HR. In his videos he speaks relatively slowly and very clearly. For my readers who are non-native English speakers, you can practice your English as well as learn a new acronym and its implications via the link to Dave’s video below.

The acronym is VOIICCE. This is what he and his colleagues believe describes what is happening in those workplaces where the talented people are clearly engaged people too. Achieving engagement from your talented people can be difficult. Perhaps Dave’s acronym can help you to help managers with talented people in their teams, but who are not engaged, talented people.

Part of being a leader is also being a talent manager. According to Dave, a talent manager makes sure talented people are committed and engaged, not just satisfied. Engaged employees in general produce more goods and services, more quickly and of better quality. Engaged talent can leverage that.

Here is what VOICCE means, along with some of the vocabulary that Dave uses and that you can hear in the video:

Vision: Have I created a vision that people are proud to be a part of?

Opportunities: Do I create opportunities for people to learn and grow, to get feedback so they can develop their gifts and talents?

Incentive: Am I building financial incentives so that people are rewarded for the work they do?

Impact: Do people do work that they sense has an impact on things that they care about?

Community: Am I encouraging a community to grow? Do my people work effectively in teams?

Communication: Do people know what is going on and why?

Entrepreneurship: or flexibility. Do we build flexibility into our work processes.

Watch Dave here.

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Humour: The right man for the job

A while ago there was a job opportunity in the CIA: Assassin.

As you can imagine, jobs like this are hard for HR to fill. There is a lot of testing and background checks that have to be made before an agent can be considered.

The HR department sent hundreds of applicants through the process of testing, training and background checks. Finally they had a short list of 3 potential candidates: two men and a woman. However, only one position was open.

The day came for the final tests to see who would get this very special job. The special CIA agents charged with conducting the test took one of the men towards a large metal door and gave him a gun.

“We have to be sure that you will follow your instructions to the letter, no matter what the circumstances.” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your wife, sitting on a couch. Take this gun and kill her.”

The applicant’s face turned white and he angrily said “You can’t serious! I could never shoot my own wife!”

“Well,” said the testing agent, “You’re definitely not the man for the job!”

After some minutes, they bring the second man to the door and give him a gun too. “We must be sure that you will follow your instructions to the letter, no matter what the circumstances.” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your wife, sitting on a couch. Take this gun and kill her.”

The second man looked more than shocked, however he took the gun and went into the room. There was silence for 5 long minutes and then the door opened.

The man came out with tears flowing down his face. “I tried to do it, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger and shoot my own wife. I guess I am not the man for the job.”

“No.” replied an agent. “You don’t have what it takes. Get your wife and go home.”

The last candidate, the woman, is waiting patiently. Another agent takes her to the same door and gives her the same gun.

“We have to be sure that you will follow your instructions to the letter, no matter what the circumstances.” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your husband, sitting on a couch. Take this gun and kill him.”

The woman took the gun and entered the room. Before the agent had fully closed the door the CIA men heard the first shot. And then another and another. 13 shots in total. Then they heard loud noises, crashing, screaming, banging on the wall for several minutes. Then silence.

The door opened slowly. The woman stood, wiping sweat from her face and said to the agents “That gun was loaded with blanks! I had to beat him to death with a chair!”

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Nokia – Lessons learned

Remember Nokia? Nokia has gone from number 1 to… well, have you noticed Nokia in the news recently? Me neither. In this video, the former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is being interviewed by Quy Huy and speaks about the difficulties he faced. Listen to two non- native English speakers.  Read the summary below, both before and after watching the video. It will help you.

He centres his conversation around 3 themes:

  • rapid change
  • strategy and execution
  • tying remuneration to clear, measurable targets

The period 2006/7/8 was difficult and volatile for everyone. Nokia seemed to get more that its fair share. There were strong competitors: Apple, Google, Samsung, Blackberry. Olli-Pekka points out that in the space of 2 or 3 years, Apple and Google moved from not even being in the mobile phone industry, to becoming market leaders. This had never happened before for a company from outside an industry of that size and complexity to  become leaders so quickly.

Olli-Pekka recognises that although the strategy was good, execution was not so good. Skills and talents were missing. Execution is eventually key.

Sometimes you can manage with great execution, even if your strategy is flawed (imperfect). But even a good strategy is worthless (of no value) if the skills and talents are not there; if the execution is not there.

He also feels that urgency and hunger were missing for some people. They focused on protecting their positions, internally and the company’s external positions. He affirms that change is slow in big organisations. People tend (move towards, favour) towards the feeling of “Change might hurt me or my department.” To shake this resistance, unfortunately, sometimes a real crisis is needed before people truly listen and make changes.

Ollie-Pekka’s advice?

  • Be sure you have people with the skills and talent to implement your strategy.
  • Link financial rewards to targets that are clear, measurable, quantifiable in real terms, not opinion based “soft” targets.

Before you look back, try this quiz. See if you can remember some useful words, type your answer into the box and then press “Submit”:

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New Job? Start your onboarding early

When does your new job really start? Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, your new job starts well before the official start date that you agree for your new job. That new job can be a move up with your current company or with a new employer. The moment that you reach an agreed date for Day One, you can get to work on your new job.

What I mean is that you should get to work on your new job straight away. Don’t wait for Day One. Why? Because things are already happening close to your new job. Those events, conversations, speculations, fears, hopes, expectations… will all have a strong impact on how well you are able manage your crucial first three months.

To increase your ability to do that managing, you need to be in on those conversations so that you are more in-the-know than if you just arrive on Day One and spend time “getting up to speed”.

While you think you are “getting up to speed” on Day One, everyone around you is getting up to speed on you. You are on the receiving end of all that has been going on, without any influence from you. It’s a much better idea to have been able to positively influence how people view you, how they speak with you and how they speak about you, before you “clock on” for Day One and “get down to business”.

This is called the “fuzzy end” of on boarding for your new job. It means identifying who you should speak to before Day One: up, down and lateral stakeholders. You need to think about how you should speak to them and about what. It probably means making phone calls to them and could also involve setting up meetings or even lunch.

“The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan” by George Bradt, Jayme Check and Jorge Pedraza is the best resource I have seen. It’s the one I use when I work with Spanish executives who are moving into a new role, be it in their current company or with a new employer.

It’s good because it is practical. The book contains real world examples as well as a range of tools to choose from. You will need those tools in order to start off on the right foot and establish yourself during those first, crucial three months.

Here is their web site:

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Recruitment: Understanding what is needed for the job

Lou Adler has written very good books on the theme of hiring people. He recently posted a piece on LinkedIn that struck me (me llamó la atención) as being really obvious, and yet clearly it is not.

Lou is not happy with the fact that we don’t distinguish between a job description and a person description.

Usually when HR is asked to recruit someone they ask for, or they are given, what he calls a “person description” that specifies the required qualifications, experience, skills and traits (rasgos).

Two things can happen here:

You don’t attract candidates who can do the job of work that the position requires.

You attract a proportion of people who may tick all the boxes (marque todas las Casillas = cumpla todas las expectativas/necesidades), but they have no idea about how to successfully do the job of work that the position requires.

The recommendation is to focus on the actual work that needs to be achieved in order to successfully fill the position. Lou suggests that you ask yourself, or the person asking you to recruit candidates for a position, some simple questions, such as:

“What are some of the big performance objectives for the job?”

For project type jobs: “What will the person have to do in the first few months and over the course of the project in order to give you confidence that they will be successful?

“What do people in this job position spend most of their time doing and what do the best people do differently from the average person?”

Here is one example of the gap (la brecha) between what people think they need to say and what actually happens in the job. This is an example of valuable information that is not used in the recruitment process:

At a large call center selling Yellow Page renewals, the job ad included in the job description, “Contact 30-40 customers per day and achieve a minimum of 65% renewals.” The hiring manager who ran the 300+ person call center for 20 years thought candidates needed to have detailed product knowledge and strong persuasive skills. They didn’t.

The reality was that the best agents hit a 90% renewal rate by engaging in small talk (charlar) for 2-3 minutes before asking for the renewal.

You can read the full piece via this Google sort URL:

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John Paul DeJoria and self belief

John Paul DeJoria speaks with passion and belief about… about believing in oneself. He says some pretty simple things are required for a business leader to be successful, things that seem obvious. As you look around, the successful businesses that you see have generally done what he is talking about.


His ideas are striking, simple and obvious. Yet they are not at all common nor easy to achieve. They are:

  • Have a good product, the best you can do in your category
  • Tell people about your product
  • Refuse rejection
  • Do what you do so well that you are in the re-ordering business, not one-time selling
  • Care for your clients
  • Educate your clients about your product and how they can use it better and in different ways
  • Enjoying what you do every day, who you are working with and who you are working for
This is easy to say and, in one form or another, is in many of the books and courses about building successful businesses. The trick seems to be getting them all in the mix and all in balance, day after day, week after week and year after year. “Business success” may come quickly or may take some time, even a long time! However, an entrepreneur with John Paul’s attitude will succeed… because they believe in themselves and because they have something to believe in.
Our client, Bacardi, distributes John Paul’s Patron tequila. And that’s how we got to know about him and his infectious attitude.
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English Central – See Hawaii

We use English Central as a tool to help people to build their vocabulary, improve their pronunciation and make real progress in understanding different accents. It’s like YouTube, engineered for learning English.

Below, you can take a look at a typical video among over 9,000! This one is for lower levels. There are 4 steps:

  • Watch
  • Learn
  • Speak
  • Quiz

Begin with Watch when the video appears. Watch is on the left, click on Start. Then move on through the steps. You should do each step several times. Click on the image below.

Register here to have access to a “lite” version:

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Commodity or value?

Stefan Michel of IMD business school in Fontainebleau says that 4 capabilities are needed to be able to implement a value based pricing strategy:

  • Better customer insight
  • Better understanding of economics in your market
  • Ability to execute your price
  • Better understanding of pricing psychology

You can hear a summary of his thoughts on the video below:

Correctly pricing your company’s services or products is key to avoiding what is called “commoditization”. Being a “commodity” means your sales are based only on price. It is usually a bad place to be. Value based pricing is more sustainable.
In general, being a commodity means working on thinner and thinner margins and not having the resources to invest in the future of your business.
To avoid your company commoditizing its offer, it needs to think in terms of “value pricing”.

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Why are honey bees disappearing?

Maybe you know or maybe you don’t, but honey bee populations are being decimated. That is bad for honey lovers, of course. It’s also bad for farmers and flower growers, because of reduced and less diverse pollination. Pesticides have taken a lot of the blame, but the problem is also present in areas where pesticide use is very low indeed, Scotland and Switzerland are two examples.

Again. the finger of blame is often pointed at insecticides, but diverse investigations show that they are not involved in all bee losses in Spain. This does not mean that in some parts of the country uncontrolled use of insecticides cannot cause bee losses, but they are not behind widespread loss of bees.

The main culprit appears to be inefficient control of the varroa mite. What is needed is the targeted use of appropriate mite controls, that much is certain. We also need products to control Nosema ceranae.

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Business, society and the future – Paul Polman CEO Unilever

As we begin to leave the recession, some companies are learning from lessons of the last 10 or more years. Some are lessons that came before the recession but which weren’t exactly clear or pressing. The recession has helped to focus minds and give a deeper understanding to the concept of value.

Paul set in train a positive change in mind set with 2 things:

  1. An ambitious business goal – doubling sales
  2. An emotional, altruistic vision about how to do that and simultaneously be “good people”

Two executives I’ve coached recently have been able to re-engage employees who were disaffected, even antagonistic. They did this  by focusing their company’s attention on positive, transformational and concrete projects to build a new future. In one case it was a complete re-branding exercise that required input, opinion and support from the whole company, not just senior management or marketing. In the other case, it was to find ways to engage and defeat the market leader in a country unit suffering from disaffected employees, with the help and support of colleagues from the Spanish Head Office. Less ambitious than saving the planet and Capitalism, maybe; but attitudes certainly changed!

Below is an extract from the McKinsey article by Paul Polman. There is a short quiz at the end.

“We actually had a ten-year period of no growth, and that forces you to make your numbers or you’re under pressure from your shareholders. You end up under investing in IT systems and training your people; your capital base erodes. And bit by bit, you become internally focused, think in the shorter term, and undertake activities that don’t create long-term value. So how do you change that?

The first thing is mind-set. When I became chief executive, in 2009, I said, “We’re going to double our turnover.” People hadn’t heard that message for a long time, and it helped them get back what I call their “growth mind-set.” You simply cannot save your way to prosperity. The second thing was about the way we should grow. We made it very clear that we needed to think differently about the use of resources and to develop a more inclusive growth model. So we created the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which basically says that we will double our turnover, reduce our absolute environmental impact, and increase our positive social impact.”

You can read the full article here: McKinsey Insights and Publications – Business, society, and the future of capitalism Try this quick quiz:


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