Tag Archives: Leadership Strategy

Leadership in Times of Crisis

Leadership in times of crisis

Hard times are when we need Leadership more than ever. Leadership is not a part time job. It’s about showing up as a leader every day. There are no born leaders, leadership is not about being chosen. Leadership is about choosing to do the right thing that will make a difference in the most amount of lives in the shortest amount of time, that is sustainable and scalable. That’s what great leaders are all about.

Great leaders require three things. The Right Psychology, The Right Methodology, and Flexibility.

Starting with the right psychology

Crisis = opportunity. That is the psychology of a leader. Whenever there’s a problem or a crisis, on the other side of that crisis, there is always opportunity. In order for us to find that opportunity, we have to ask ourselves three questions. First, where is the good in this? Second, what can we learn from this? And finally, the third question is, how can we use this to find opportunities to improve the quality of our lives, our organizations, our families, and our tribes? You’ve got to get your psychology right.

Second, is the right methodology

This is about following a simple five step system that will make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time that is scalable and sustainable. The five simple steps of this methodology are as follows.

Leadership in Times of Crisis
Leadership in times of crisis
  1. A vision that outlives the leader

“Without a vision people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. You need a vision, and not just any vision. But a crystal clear vision that can outlive you. This is the only way for it to be sustainable and scalable. Your vision needs to be set up so your tribe is empowered with the opportunity to also implement the vision forever. Whether it’s within an organization, a government, a family.

How do you know your vision can outlive you? Ask yourself, “Does my product, service or organization stand for something that makes a difference in people’s lives long term?”

This is what leaders need to ask themselves, if their vision incorporates others and makes a difference -not just in their own family or their organization, but the world? Establishing a vision allows people to stand for something and not just fall for anything – especially in tough times.

  1. Communication

The number one skill of all leaders is their ability to influence and persuade. Your ability to communicate is in direct proportion with you turning your vision into a reality. Without the ability to communicate, your vision will never be realized or accomplished. Are you communicating your vision in a way, so your tribe practically buys into it? Or are you dictating — forcing your vision upon your tribe? The second type is the fastest way to stop your vision from ever being realized.

There are two styles of leadership and communicating. There’s a Socratic way and there’s an Autocratic way. Socratic leadership is actually asking questions and enrolling and getting buy in for your vision from your tribe. It’s long term and sustainable. The second style is Autocratic, and it also works. However, it’s basically dictating and telling people what to do, which is not sustainable for the long term if you want to develop other leaders and empower them to maintain your vision.

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  1. Demonstration

In order for any vision or leader to stay on top to continue leading a tribe or an organization, the most important thing is the ability to demonstrate the core values of an organization that represent achieving the vision. Does the leader demonstrate the example of what needs to be done to empower people from the bottom to the top and the top to the bottom of the organization? This is what allows people to step up and become an example and a leader themselves.

  1. Meaningful Education

The number one thing that empowers us to change the world is education. It’s no wonder the word education was derived from the latin word “Educere” which means “to bring forth” the best in others. Are you bringing out the best in others? Do you teach them how to think, and not just what to do? Ultimately, what changes our world more than anything, is our ability to educate and empower our people and teams to learn to think for themselves. This is how you future proof your business or organisation by creating future leaders who will carry on your vision forever.

  1. Implementation

In times of crisis, There are two kinds of companies. The Quick and the Dead. Which one are you? Your ability to implement your vision and be nimble on your feet as a leader, as an organization — will determine how fast that you can pivot and adjust to the marketplace. The crisis or the opportunity tests your organization to sustain growth in good times and in bad. There will always be a winter, spring summer or fall in life and business. Can you weather the storm of the winter? So that in the spring, you can grow again, and in summer, you can reap the benefits and prepare in the good times as well as the bad? Your business needs to be battle tested. The only way to do that is to weather all the seasons.

Finally, the third key for leadership is Flexibility

This is the ability to adapt to the situation to be flexible and continue making a difference by altering strategies to achieve the vision. The law of the universe is “You Either Grow or Die”. and if you are not adapting to the situation, your company is going to suffer. Depending on how big of a business you have, most businesses if not all, are being forced to work on a skeletal workforce right now, during these times of crisis. Your ability to be flexible can be determined by you implementing what I call the Three W’s and the Three S’s so that you can evaluate your business every week.

Ask yourself these three questions, “What’s working, What’s not working, and What can I do differently”? Finally, once you answer those questions, you ask yourself “What should I STOP doing? What should I START doing? and what should I STREAMLINE?”

This is what I call the ultimate leadership system. At the end of the day, the only thing that changes the world is leadership, individuals putting others and the greater good before themselves. With the right psychology, methodology and flexibility. We can all change the world. Help me change the world.

John-Rankins

John Rankins

Business Growth Expert

Workplace loyalty is dead?

Workplace loyalty is dead. Or is it?

Looking around at today’s organisation and it would seem as though employee loyalty to their organisation and organisations’ loyalty to their employees is dead. For many of today’s workforce, the greener grass at the other company or new position is too tempting to pass up. In fact, a recent study by LinkedIn showed that Millennials, those who reach adulthood in the 20th century, will work for nearly twice as many companies in the first five years of their career than their parents did. What’s more, today the average person will have twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime. Is this the nail in the coffin for loyalty?

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Workplace loyalty is dead?

A look at history

In the not-so-distant past, loyalty in the workplace meant remaining at the same company throughout a person’s career. During much of the 20th century, employees would work their entire career for one or two employers and in return, the organisation would give their employees the unspoken promise of lifetime employment and a pension retirement. With the popularity of unionisation throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, collective bargaining agreements and the promise of steady raises and consistent employment held employees to their companies during uncertain economic times where double digit inflation was the norm. However, as the grip of unions began to loosen in the 1990’s in favor of human resource departments and individual performance reviews, employee loyalty began to loosen as well. With the advent of the internet and the expansion of a global economy, suddenly labor costs could be cut dramatically by hiring a less expensive workforce in another country and a company’s loyalty to their workers at home was cast aside in favor of global expansion and rising profits.

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Redefining Loyalty

While it is tempting to assume that in today’s economy, it is impossible for organisations to show loyalty to their employees, it perhaps is more important to redefine what loyalty looks like in the 21st century. Where our parents and grandparents showed loyalty to their company by doing their job tirelessly for 30 or 40 years, today’s worker is more likely to look for ways to use their individual talents on behalf of the organisation. Whether they are looking for innovative ways to solve a problem, creating effective work teams or helping employees reach their own career potential, today’s workers are driven by a need to see how their work relates to the organisational objectives as a whole. Managers who use performance reviews to discuss how an individual’s goals relate to the overall organisational mission will be rewarded with loyalty to that objective. Such loyalty is arguably more productive in today’s fast-paced business environment and contributes to a strong workplace culture.

Loyalty can also be defined as compensating employees fairly for the work they are completing. Too many companies rely on their organisational mission for their compensation strategy, arguing that contributing to their purpose should be enough to combat unfair wages. In reality, organisations who compensate their employees fairly and who have clearly defined objectives for bonuses and raises are more likely to retain their employees.

While it is nice to talk about organisation-wide strategies for both garnering and showing loyalty, applying these principles on a team level may be even more important. While more than 30% of Fortune 500 chief executives have lasted less than three years over the course of the last two decades, research from the Gallup organisation shows that employee engagement, a common indicator of productivity, has declined across industries over the last decade. Since top-down initiatives cannot function if senior leadership is in constant fluctuation, the lot falls to mid-level managers to foster team loyalty:

  1. Identify and reiterate the team’s purpose. Align the team’s short and long-term goals with organisational strategy that will help team members see how their success contributes to the business as a whole.
  2. Encourage open discussion without blame or shame. Creating an environment where ideas, opinions, successes and failures can be shared without fear of negative repercussions fosters a sense of loyalty amongst a team’s members.
  3. Ask more questions than you answer. Casting a wide net throughout the team for feedback and input allows everyone to express their feelings and work toward a consensus.
  4. Openly praise success. Both individual and team-based success should be frequently praised in public when objectives are achieved.

While it is unlikely a person will end their career with the same company they began it with, loyalty to a team or organisation is not dead. Instead, it has a new face that is reflective of a fast-paced, changing economy.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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5 Traits of Confident Leaders in Uncertain Times

5 Traits of Confident Leaders in Uncertain Times

Trump is in the White House, the iPhone 8 isn’t far away, and now we hear robots are planning to take our jobs. Uncertain times indeed.

These days change is inevitable and guaranteed. So how do we take back some semblance of control over our lives and our careers?

The key to it, I think, is confidence.

While confidence is often defined by a self-assurance in one’s own abilities, uncertain times often work to diminish a leader’s confidence in their organisation, in their employees, and in themselves. So how does one keep their confidence when faced with uncertainty?

5 Traits of Confident Leaders in Uncertain Times

1. Confident leaders perceive failure as the beginning, not the end.

Paralysed by fear of uncertainty, many leaders find themselves in endless cycles of the decision making process. These leaders tend to view failure as the end – the end of their success, the end of the company, or perhaps even the end of their career. Confident leaders tend to view failure as a learning opportunity, a part of the discovery process. They do not take unnecessary risks, but rather rely on sound decision making processes to take calculated risks that will springboard them into their next success.

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2. Confident leaders rely on the expertise of others.

We all know of one manager who confused confidence with expertise, eschewing the advice of those that surrounded them. Chances are, their leadership tenure met an untimely demise. Truly confident leaders treat their role in organisations the way a conductor of an orchestra treats his musicians. Understanding that they are not a professional musician in every instrument in an orchestra, conductors provide strategic direction based on the knowledge of how the instruments work together to create the best overall sound. Likewise, confident leaders know they are not experts on every tool, mechanism, process, or skill, but provide strategic direction on how each expert can work together for the overall outcome.

3. Confident leaders own their mistakes.

In a day and age where many people try to take ownership for success while sidestep the blame for their mistakes, confident leaders take responsibility for both. Rather than relying on blame for self-preservation, these leaders instead take responsibility when they are wrong, learn from their mistakes, and move on to greater success. Miraculously, this singular characteristic also inspires subordinates to do the same, creating a culture where fear of failure no longer limits productivity and innovation.

4. Confident leaders communicate purpose.

It is easy to get caught up in the chaos of uncertain times. However, those who lead with confidence also understand and effectively communicate their organisation’s purpose. Part of a healthy psychological reward system, the concept of altruism – behaving for the betterment of others – has been shown to increase job satisfaction and increase workplace cooperation. Confident leaders understand, sometimes intuitively, how their employees’ efforts contribute to the strategic vision of the company at large. Taking this knowledge a step further, they are able to clearly and effectively communicate how the company’s overarching vision translates into action plans at a departmental level. Once their people buy into the purpose, altruism takes over, improving productivity and overall job satisfaction throughout the department.

5. Confident leaders are honest and consistent.

It is tempting to sidestep direct questions about the future of an organisation. Yet truly confident leaders understand that honesty breeds trust and a sense of safety at work. Knowing your boss will give you an honest, direct answer to your question without dancing around the issues gives employees confidence in their leaders. However, honesty must be matched with consistency. If a leader is honest with one group, but betrays that honesty with another, the perception of favouritism arises and employees are left with feelings of uncertainty about their status with their boss. Truly confident leaders are not only honest, but are honest in every situation, every time.

Many people equate confidence with arrogance. While arrogance is wrapped up in ego tied with a ribbon of insecurity, true confidence understands and embraces is fallibility. It sees mistakes as inevitable and failures as learning experiences. It acknowledges the expertise of others and revels in consistent honesty. Perhaps most importantly, confidence does not waver in uncertainty. Those who are truly confident leaders see the chaos of competitive economic times as a way to energise a lagging team and rally them to a common purpose. Uncertainty truly separates the average leaders from the great ones who seem to effortlessly turn uncertainty into opportunity.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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trust-fall

Does Your Boss Have Your Back?

trust-fallLet’s start with a couple of hypothetical scenarios.

  1. You have just been given a large project at work. You are excited at the level of responsibility you have been given and the opportunity to show your manager and colleagues what you can really do. As you begin to dig into the work, you discover just how much you are taking on. Overwhelmed at the possibility of failure, you begin to wonder – did your manager give you this project because they trust you to get the job done, or are they setting you up to fail?
  2. You’ve been asked to lead a change in your department. Try as you might, you can’t seem to get traction. You begin to feel trapped between direct reports who are resistant to your efforts and managers who expect change to come swiftly and seamlessly. What do you do?

Whether you feel like you are being sabotaged in the workplace or you are questioning the authenticity of your managers’ requests, it is important to realize that everyone experiences a certain amount of workplace paranoia from time to time. Today’s competitive economy seems to breed workplaces where managers and employees alike are feeling more pressure than ever to perform at a maximum level, 100 percent of the time.

In reality, our feelings of uncertainty are driving our perceptions of our workplace relationships rather than reality. As a result, the way we handle the situation is likely based on our perception rather than reality as well.


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Let’s take these two scenarios and examine what might really be going on.

SCENARIO 1

Perception: Your manager has placed you in charge of a large project. Overwhelmed by the vastness of what you are being asked to do, you wonder if they are setting you up to fail. Feeling defeated and abandoned, you likely react in one of two ways. Either you attempt to buckle down and do your job, but find yourself on edge or miserable. Or you admit defeat, update your resume, and chalk your experience up to your terrible manager.

Reality: Your manager is terrible at reading your mind. Chances are, they have no idea that you are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about your ability to complete the project or lead the team or do the task. Fortunately, most managers do not want to set their teams up for failure but instead are happy to mentor their employees during particularly difficult projects or transitions. Rather than trying to go it alone or giving up, bring your concerns to them and ask for help regarding next steps.

SCENARIO 2

Perception: As a change agent in your organization, you are caught between employees who are resistant to your ideas and bosses who expect huge changes in a short amount of time. You begin to wonder if you will be able to keep your job or if you will become the latest casualty of the organization.

Reality: If you are undergoing organizational change, chances are your manager is too. It is entirely likely that they’re feeling unsupported by their managers while experiencing resistance from their subordinates. Without realizing it, managers can pass on their own feelings of corporate paranoia, especially during large scale change. Rather than assuming your manager is asking you to do the impossible while leaving you to manage your department’s change on your own, discuss how you can strategically support one another.

If you are still uncertain as to whether your boss has your back, schedule an opportunity to informally discuss your specific situation with them. Go for coffee, ask if they are happy with how your team is functioning. Ask for feedback on whether you should be doing things differently over a casual lunch. Regardless of the setting, be sure you own your perceptions for what they are – your interpretation of the situation. Begin the discussion by asking for clarification, rather than confronting your manager with what you perceive as reality. Not only does this open the lines of communication, it helps you both understand how your personal bias has affected your situation.

You may be surprised to find out that they had your back all along.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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4-leadership-styles

4 Leadership Styles Every Leader Needs to Know

4 leadership topicsHave you ever given feedback to a team member and felt it wasn’t received well? Or communicated the outcome you want, and what’s eventually delivered doesn’t resemble what you asked for?

Giving constructive feedback and direction is a critical skill for all leaders, but it’s not always easy to do. You want to balance the need to achieve outcomes with maintaining a great relationship, knowing it’s inevitable that team members will get it wrong sometimes.

The key is to use the correct leadership style for the person you are leading. A great tool to help you do this is the Competence / Confidence Matrix, adapted from research done way back in the 70’s. But unlike your safari suit, this model has stood the test of time.

1. High commitment / Low competence: Guide and coach

This might a new person on the team – a recent graduate or even an experienced player who isn’t yet familiar with how your team goes about things.

  • Discuss and decide on ways of doing things
  • Identify and provide the training needed
  • Accept early mistakes as important opportunities for coaching
  • Give responsibility and authority for the aspects of tasks the person can do
  • Require frequent updates early in the project, but relax control as progress is shown

2. High commitment, High competence: Delegate & release

These are your proven performers. The worst thing you can do is make them feel micro-managed.

  • Involve the person in decision-making
  • Frequently as the person for opinions
  • Give responsibility and authority because the person is competent and committed
  • Ask for updates at important moments or when the person has questions

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3. Low commitment, Low competence: Direct & tell

You don’t want people in this category for long. You may be able to help them increase their competence or commitment, or it may be time to break up.

  • Discuss what would motivate the person and agree on what’s possible
  • Set clear rules, methods and deadlines
  • Give responsibility and authority for aspects of the task the person can do
  • Plan tasks in such a way that ensures the person has some success quickly
  • Identify & provide the training needed
  • Require frequent updates early in the project, but relax control as progress is shown

4. Low commitment, High competence: Excite & inspire

Your mission is to find out why their commitment is flagging. Are they looking for a new challenge, or are they disengaged with you, the team, or the company?

  • Discuss why the task is important and why the person is the right choice
  • Discuss what would motivate the person and what’s possible
  • Give responsibility and authority because the person is competent
  • Require frequent updates

Thinking back on recent interactions that went well, was there a relationship between the style you used and the competence and confidence of the team member? What about interactions that didn’t go well – might a different style have produced better results?

Delegating, directing and managing performance is something we all struggle with at times. Even highly experienced leaders come across people they just can’t figure out, or regardless of how consciously they try, where any interaction with the person just ends up pushing buttons! But know that engaging and developing the skills of team members is the cornerstone of good leadership and your genuine efforts today are influencing the next generation of leaders who are currently under your mentorship.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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managing-upwords

The Art of Managing Upwards

managing upSometimes, it’s easy to get too comfortable in your career, isn’t it? You come to a time where you can do everything that is expected of you easily, without a lot of stress. But, beware! you can, at this point start to feel a little less satisfaction. You may feel that you are not being challenged. Or, you can worry that you will stagnate in your career and never move up to the heights you are capable of. What you need to do then is this: get good at managing up.Managing up refers to stretching yourself in your job. Instead of focusing on just what needs to get done to fulfill your duties, look at what needs to happen to help your company as a whole and you in your career grow. It means taking on additional tasks that make your manager’s life easier and make you a more valuable part of the enterprise.

Why is Managing Upwards important?

If we just stick to our job descriptions, the people who work around us will never know our full capabilities and potential. It is too easy to get stagnated and stop moving forward in your career. By making managing up part of your philosophy and strategy, you can become more valuable to your department and the company.

It’s also good protection. If there is a down turn in your business, your industry or the economy as a whole, there will be times when cuts may need to be made. By showing that you are valuable and committed, you can increase your chances that you will be there to ride along on the next upswing.

And, more than anything else, it’s good for your mental health at work. When you come in dedicated to being valuable, you will feel more confident and happier about the work that you do. A sense that you are doing valuable work and helping to build something leads to higher job satisfaction. Since most of us spend a significant amount of our time at work, finding value there enhances every part of our lives.


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5 Tips for Succeeding at Managing Up

Once you’ve decided that managing up is part of your strategy, you need to figure out how to succeed at it. If you are going to keep your efforts productive, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Get to know and understand your manager.

You and your manager need to be able to communicate clearly. You need to understand what their priorities are and what they want from the people who work with them. If you do not understand what your manager means, for instance, when they asks for a task to be completed, take the time to learn. And, know what your manager prefers. For instance, many people do not like to hear new ideas unless there is data to back it up. Make sure you give your manager what they need to be able to say ‘yes’.

2. Jump in where you are needed.

Don’t wait to be told that something needs to be done. When you observe a need, find a way to fulfill it. By jumping in, you show your willingness to take chances and your willingness to get things done.

3. Keep your boss informed.

Your manager is not a mind reader. Tell him regularly what you are working on and what you have accomplished. By keeping a running narrative, you can demonstrate your value to the company and begin to move up.

4. Work on building relationships.

Get to know the people in your company and in your industry. By making sure that people know who you are and the work ethic and ingenuity you bring to the job, the more likely they will think of you when new opportunities come up.

5. Keep things positive.

Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can be is someone who is easy and pleasant to work with. Stay out of company politics and drama. Keep complaining to a minimum when things do not go as planned. By making sure that you are easy to be around, you help ensure that you are the person people want to pick for new projects.

Managing up is not just doing a few extra things around the office. It’s a philosophical difference in how you relate at work. You will find that when you start looking at your career through this lens, you will feel happier, more fulfilled and more pleasantly challenged in your work.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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2-roles-manager-should-never-play

Two roles a manager should never play

Two Roles a Manager Should Never PlayPerhaps the main reason leaders get themselves into trouble is they aren’t clear on their role when resolving an employee mental health issue.

There are two roles you should never take on:

Counsellor: It’s not your job to counsel the employee and, in fact, doing so is counterproductive. When you step into the role of counsellor, you blur the lines of responsibility, you inadvertently cast the employee into the role of victim, and you’ll end up being made responsible for anything that goes wrong.

Psychologist: It’s unlikely that you’re qualified to diagnose mental health problems, and arguably, it’s also counterproductive. Even the clinical mental health field is plagued by problems that come from diagnosing people. There is evidence to show that a person’s recovery takes an additional 3 years if there’s a diagnosis because people are naturally inclined to follow social proof – they play the role an ‘expert’ has given them.


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We teach participants at our Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders to respect that the employee’s problems are not their own and show them how to coach employees to problem solve while providing a safe space where solutions can emerge naturally. We show them how to set an example for their team members, such that mental health issues do not escalate beneath the surface.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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