Category Archives: Annual Review


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It’s that time of year again, time to look back reflecting on what last year brought us and time to look forward and plan for the unknown future. Time to be grateful that we are still here to experience and enjoy life, time to carry out the Annual Review.

In the Lean/Continuous Improvement world we carry out ‘Hansei’ which is Japanese (反射) for ‘Self-Reflection’. Hansei allows us to review goals (personal and professional) and reflect on how they went to see what worked so we can build on the successes and see what didn’t work so we can adjust and change direction.

I have been carrying out a ‘Hansei’ or Annual Review for many years now and find it hard to believe this is the 5th year I have published this review online. Time really does go very fast! See Annual Reviews from past years below,

Annual Review 2013  Annual Review 2014  Annual Review 2015  Annual Review 2016

As always Mike, my family and my friends are my reason for everything. By far the most exciting thing that happened to my family this year was my younger brother Declan and his beautiful wife Aoife welcomed my gorgeous niece Ayla Danaher to the world, a wonderful addition to our ever-growing family.

Here goes, in no particular order, my Annual Review for 2017.

2017 was a big year for me in the world of Lean. I continue to work for and enjoy my role with daa. This year saw us implement Hoshin Kanri (Lean Strategy Deployment) for the first time which brought new learnings every day in terms of our Lean journey.

For my personal goals it was also the first year I used the principles and structures of Hoshin Kanri to set and monitor goals and objectives. In terms of planning, organising and changing direction when required this brought the process of goal setting to a whole new level.

One of my goals was to share information and learnings from the world of Lean. I did this by designing, creating and launching my new website ‘‘The Art Of Positive Change’ in March. This took way longer than I had anticipated but it was worth the wait as I now have somewhere dedicated to sharing information on Lean, Simplicity and Positive Change and the immense benefits they bring to our businesses and personal lives.

Another goal was to write and publish a blog post a week (52 in total). I didn’t reach this, completely underestimating how much time it takes to create blog posts and edit them. I did manage to publish 24 blog posts which is more than I have published in any previous year. So while I didn’t reach my goal I’m definitely improving in this space.

Also in March I started working with the brilliant cartoonist Andy Kefford creating a new character called Pinky, aptly named by my 7 year old niece Miah. Pinky is the star of my 26 part blog post series ‘The A-Z of Effective Change’. You can view all of the published blog posts here.

The Complete A-Z of Effective Change

This year I was reminded how much I love Travel Photography and so I will be working more on this in 2018. If you are new to my work you can view my Travel Photography images here on my website ‘’ and read my Travel Photography blog posts on my blog ‘The Photographer’s Guide To Travel’.

In terms of travel near and far, Mike and I enjoyed weekends away in Edinburgh, Killarney and Kilkenny, my parents and I spent a few days in London and later in the year my Mom and I spent 10 days in the amazing city of Dubai. Earlier in the year I dusted off my skiing skills and joined one of my best mates Karin Hennessy for a few days skiing in fabulous Pila in the Italian Alps.

Following a trip to Abu Dhabi with Mike in 2016 I created and published my 8th Travel Photography book ‘The Photographer’s Guide To Abu Dhabi’ in September complimenting the blog post I wrote on this beautiful city ‘The Top 5 things To Do in Abu Dhabi’.

I worked with some of my family and friends on photo shoots this year which I enjoyed immensely. It’s always a joy to shoot images of family and friends,

My Travel Photography Fine Art prints and my Fine Art Catalogue are now displayed at my friend Michelle Quilty’s newly opened business, The Tea Cosy in Ardpatrick. This makes me very proud and gives me itchy feet to do more Travel Photography exhibitions – watch this space!

Social media continues to provide a steep learning curve for me that twists and turns at an exponential rate.

I have been using social media for online marketing for many years, however 2017 was the first year I created a social media strategy as part of Hoshin Kanri (Lean Strategy Deployment). This allowed me to focus on clear goals and objectives and ensured I tracked the correct metrics and used these metrics to change direction when required.

Just like the world of Lean and Continuous Improvement, the only way to definitively know if you are improving is to have ‘fact based’ metrics. I currently track 13 metrics across 9 social media platforms. Each one of these metrics increased in 2017 which means I’m moving in the right direction!!! In saying that, growth is slow –  slow but steady!

Tracking and evaluating metrics may sound like a lot of work but just like metrics in business, when you get used to setting, tracking and using valuable information from the metrics, they can become quiet addictive and it really is the only way to measure improvement accurately!

If you’re not using metrics to measure performance in your business maybe 2018 is the year that you start, they really are a game changer!

Throughout most of 2017 I continued to post daily inspirational quotes to various social media platforms which helped me learn more about posting, scheduling and outsourcing on social media.

Like most things in life, the more I learn about social media and online marketing the more I realise I don’t know. Social media changes each and every day and so there is always much to learn.

In terms of health I welcomed 2017 with open arms as 2016 saw my Dad go through his second heart surgery. As I wrote in my annual review last year – there is no greater pain than watching someone you love and adore battling an illness. My Dad’s surgery and subsequent recovery has made me intensely aware of and grateful for every breath I take and every day my family and I spend illness free.

I take both my physical and mental health very seriously as I firmly believe the popular Irish saying ‘your health is your wealth’.

Knowing what nurtures my mental health and knowing what challenges it allows me to make decisions to protect it.

To keep my mind and spirit active and healthy I read as much as I can (see my Top 10 Books of 2017 here), meditate (not as much as I would like) and journal (again not as much as I would like).

I try to eat healthy but do have a rubber arm that can be twisted quiet easily when it comes to biscuits and savoury treats. Exercise has always been part of my life but I find I need to work much harder as the years go by. With this comes an immense respect for what the human body can achieve when we put the work in! This has always been a work in progress area for me and will continue to be a focus for 2018. 

Every year my goals include understanding more about personal finance.  In this quest, I re-read Tony Robbins book ‘Money Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps To Financial Freedom’. Tony is a master when it comes to finance and in this book he not only shares his own wisdom but also leverages the wisdom of many of the world’s finest financial advisors to share their advice, insights and experience. Tony’s book is written in an easy to understand format for all levels of wealth which is why I liked it so much.

I have always known this but 2016 made me more acutely aware that no matter how much you earn or how much is in your bank account it doesn’t make you happy, make you a good person or heal you when you are ill and I continued to be very aware of th throughout 2017.

Just like my social media stats I monitored income, spending and savings much more than I have done in any previous years. Like many people I am not what you would call ‘good with money’ and I need to work much harder on this than I had previously anticipated.

It’s nice to give back. I have been supporting various charities for many years and year on year I try to give more to each charity whether this is monetary support or volunteering my time. I continued to support these charities in 2017 and also found new charities to support. This is something I will continue with and build on in 2018.

That’s it, 2017 was like most years, full of ups and downs, twists and turns.

Thank you to everyone who shares this journey with me, each and every one of you have a made a positive impact on my life. A special and heartfelt thank you to my boyfriend Mike, my family and my friends for making each year better than the last, you are the reason for it all.

May 2018 bring you health, happiness and prosperity,

With love,


x x x

Note: The system I use for my annual review is still a work in progress and evolves year on year as my own life evolves. When I first carried out my annual review I started with a template shared and used by Chris Guillebeau. If you are interested in starting your own annual review, here is Chris Guillebeau’s How To Conduct your own Annual Review. This is a great read and highlights how powerful planning and reviewing can be.

Chris’s updated annual review template can be found here – Annual Review Template, I used this initially then changed and modified it over the years.  Chris is a very inspirational guy which is why I follow him on social media and I travelled all the way to Oslo a few years ago to attend his celebration of visiting every country in the world.

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My Top 10 Books of 2017

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 Photo Credit – Thanks to Janko Ferlič from Unsplash

Reading is one of my favourite things to do and one of my goals for 2017 was to read/listen to a book every 2 weeks – 26 books in total for the year. I have set this same goal for the past few years and have yet to meet it!!!  With all great goals, it’s a matter of ploughing on and trying harder next year. In saying that I did manage to read/listen to 22 books and enjoyed each and every one immensely.

Extreme Ownership  (How U.S Navy SEALs Lead and Win) – Jocko Willink and Lieber Babin

This was by far my favourite book of 2017 and the best book on leadership I have read in a long time.

This is a story about how war can teach us the most valuable leadership lessons and how these leadership lessons can be used in all areas of our personal and professional lives.

Most of us don’t work in the extreme conditions of war in Iraq where this book is based and so we may think that what Jocko and Leif learned on the battlefield wouldn’t apply to our daily lives. This is so far from the truth.

What I loved most about this book is the fact that the leadership lessons that Jocko and Leif share through their incredible experiences are so simple. With all the complications, complexities and dangers of war, the lessons shared are ones we can all learn from and apply.

The leadership basics of solid, clear and consistent communication, keeping everything simple, effective teamwork, planning, planning and more planning, prioritisation, accountability and courage are woven into all of the fascinating true-life stories that Jocko and Leif tell.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and if you’re a fan of audiobooks it’s narrated by the authors which is always a treat!


I Had To Survive (How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives) – Roberto Canessa

An incredible true story of survival, leadership, the strength of the human spirit and the will to live in the most difficult circumstances. A plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team with friends and family crashes in the Andes in 1972. After living for  two months in the wreckage of the plane the only hope of survival is to cross the Andes to find help. This story is told by Roberto Canessa, one of the rugby players who trekked for 10 days across the Andes to raise the alarm, saving himself, his trekking partner Nando Parrado and 14 of their friends. Roberto Canessa went on to become a paediatric cardiologist saving the lives of newborns with heart complications throughout his esteemed career. A true hero, an incredible story and a magnificent read.  

The film documenting this incredible story and book of the same name ‘Alive’ are equally as enjoyable as Roberto’s book. 

Start with Why (How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action) – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of my favourite thought leaders. Simon’s Ted Talk is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. This book is an excellent follow on from this video as it dives deeper into the necessity and benefits from knowing your ‘WHY’ and starting with your ‘WHY. You can watch the video here,

The Personal MBA (Master The Art Of Business) – Josh Kaufman

In his remarkable book, Josh outlines everything you need to know to succeed in life and business in an easy to understand, simplistic approach. Josh’s understanding of business, psychology and systems ensures you have a lot more than the basics required to succeed on completing this book. 

 If you’re looking for more books of a similar calibre, here is Josh’s personal recommendation of the best 99 business books.

The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List: The 99 Best Business Books

The Remedy (Bringing Lean Thinking Out of the Factory to Transform the Entire Organization) – Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis is one of my favourite Lean authors and Lean thought leaders.

Having read and loved the other 2 books in Pascal’s trilogy ‘Andy and Me’ and ‘Andy and me and the Hospital’ I knew I was in for a treat on reading ‘The Remedy’ and was not disappointed.

Keeping the two much loved characters of the other 2 books, Tom Pappas and Andy Saito and introducing us to Rachel Armstrong, this book tells an excellent story of how Lean can be implemented across an entire business and not just on the manufacturing floor.

A must read (as is ‘Andy and Me’ and ‘Andy and me and the Hospital’) for anyone in business and interested in Lean.


 Real Magic, The Power Of Intention, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Dr Wayne Dyer (RIP)







I know this is 3 books but I have counted them as one as they are all from the same author. I am a huge fan of the late great Wayne Dyer and every single one of his books are as enjoyable as they are unique.

The following books also made it to my Top 10 in previous years, I have a habit of reading some great books time and time again, each reading bringing a deeper understanding of what the author is teaching,

Platform (Get Noticed In A Noisy World) – Michael Hyatt

I read ‘Platform’ a few times this year as I created, launched and marketed this new website. Platform is an extremely well written book on building and sustaining an audience online and jam packed with excellent advice from a man who really knows what he is talking about. Michael Hyatt has spent most of his career in the publishing world and now runs his highly successful blog where he shares his knowledge and wisdom generously.

If you are a blogger, writer or any type of business owner and want to know more about growing your blog, readership and business through social media, I highly recommend this book. It’s easy to read and the wisdom shared is easy to implement.

Money Master the Game (7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom) – Tony Robbins

Tony is a master when it comes to finance and in this book he not only shares his own wisdom but also leverages the wisdom of many of the world’s finest financial advisors to share their advice, insights and experience. Tony’s book is written in an easy to understand format for all levels of wealth which is why I liked it so much.  The spectrum of financial guidance goes from the simple advice of ‘spend less, save more’ to investment advice in stocks and shares and hiring a fiduciary to help you with same.

For anyone like me who doesn’t know much about stocks and shares, the steps to assist with ‘spending less and saving more’ are reason enough to buy and read this book.


10% Happier (How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story) – Dan Harris  This is an insightful, uplifting and really funny book. In this book Dan Harris takes us through his journey to the top of his game in television and journalism which culminated in a nationally televised panic attack. The lifestyle changes Dan makes after this panic attack take him on a different journey, a more inward journey that leads him to a much happier place. Dan’s upbeat, honest and humorous personality is what makes this book such a pleasure to read.


 The Power of Now (A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment) – Eckhart Tolle

I have lost count of the number of times I have read ‘The Power Of Now’. The first time I read this book I didn’t really understand it, however what I did understand was that there was a very powerful message in the book. Each subsequent reading has brought a deeper understanding of the simple principle that Eckhart teaches. There is only the ‘Now’, there never was and never will be anything other than the ‘Now’. A deep and powerful book – if this book sounds interesting to you, be prepared to give it the time it deserves. One of the best and most powerful books I have ever read.

Other books I read/listened to and thoroughly enjoyed in 2017 are,

 Linchpin – Seth Godin

Tribes – Seth Godin

The Dip – Seth Godin

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin

Life’s Golden Ticket – Brendon Burchard

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey

The Third Alternative – Steven Covey

In Bound Marketing – Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee

What were your favourite books of 2017?

What is on your reading list for 2018?

Keeping it Simple,


x x x


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My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

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It’s hard to be believe I have been blogging for over 5 years! My first blog ‘The Photographer’s Guide To Travel’ was born in August 2012 at the ‘Book Passage’ bookstore, Corte Madera (slightly north of San Francisco) at the Travel Writer’s and Photographer’s Conference.

Back then I wasn’t exactly sure what a blog was, the purpose of a blog or how to manage a blog. 5 years later and I’m not sure if I’m any the wiser! You would think I would know a good bit about blogging by now however every year I find blogging and writing in general a steeper learning curve than the year before. With everything I learn I find there is even more to learn just around the corner. Maybe this is what draws me to blogging/writing, the insatiable, ever steep and never ending learning that is an integral part of the writing and sharing process.

In 2017 I wrote and published 24 blog posts which is more posts than I have published in any previous year.  I am definitely getting more disciplined at writing, but still have a long way to go to my goal of writing and publishing a post every week!   

Here are my 5 most viewed blog posts of 2017.

14 Steps To Create A Website

Thanks to Michael Hyatt’s amazing book ‘Platform’, I learned more about growing a social media presence this year than I have learned in the previous 5 years since launching my first blog. If you are a blogger, writer or business owner of any type and want to know more about growing your blog, readership and business through social media, I highly recommend this book. It’s easy to read and the wisdom shared is really easy to implement.

It is thanks to ‘Platform’ and the huge amount of resources that Michael Hyatt shares on his blog that I was able to design and create my own new website ‘The Art Of Positive Change’ earlier this year.

This blog post takes you through the 14 step process I used to design and create my website.

Continue reading….

Meeting Art and Understanding Lean

In 2013 I was humbled and immensely grateful to meet Art Byrne. Art, author of ‘The Lean Turnaround’ is a living legend in the world of Lean and is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that he is more than happy to share.  Art gave the keynote speech at the 2103 Lean Enterprise Academy Summit  – the video is embedded in this post.

This video is a must see for anyone interested in or implementing Lean.

Art says it as it is and his no nonsense, deeply wise approach to Lean is what we need more of in the world.

Continue reading….

Awareness and Action

This was the first post in my 26 part blog series ‘The Art Of Positive Change’. This blog series introduces my audience to ‘Pinky’ the Positive Pig created by the brilliant cartoonist Andy Kefford and brought to life through my blog posts. The blog posts series features and A to Z of the elements required to bring change into your life and business and there is no better place to start than ‘Awareness’ that change is required and ‘Action’ to implement change.

Continue reading….

The Complete A-Z Of Effective Change

This is the Central Page for my 26 part blog series ‘The Art Of Positive Change’ containing links to all of the published posts in the series.

So far I have published posts on Awareness, Bravery, Confidence, Dedication, Energy, Faith, Gratitude, Honesty, Imagination and Journey – all of the blog posts can be read by clicking on the links/images on this Central Page.

Continue reading…..


Another blog post in my 26 part blog series ‘The Art Of Positive Change’. This is my 3rd post on the subject of Gratitude and I’m sure this will not be the last. Gratitude is the single most effective way of bringing peace and acceptance to a situation. Gratitude when expressed is a very powerful force.

Continue reading….

To each and every one of my readers, thank you for being here.

Without you, it’s just words on a computer screen!

Keeping it simple,


x x x



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