Breaking down digital boundaries which limit human connection and authentic communication, is a the best way to standout in a sea of faceless start-ups. Old fashioned etiquette is a smart strategy for success and as we discover, the new armour for digital entrepreneurs.

Michaela Launerts, has extensive experience in Secondary Education as an English teacher and pastoral coordinator. Passionate about equipping others with the interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the Digital Age, she founded Etiquette & Co., a bespoke consulting service that empowers others to be confident across an array of social and professional situations. In her new book #Girlcode (New Holland Publishers, RRP $24.99), Launerts explores the forgotten art of etiquette and how to use it as a secret weapon for success.

The book speaks to emerging entrepreneurs, mostly Miss Millennials (but we found the content equally applicable to Mr Millennials) everywhere—the switched on social media generation who are lacking essential social skills for the real world. Helping develop the confidence needed to become the best version of yourself, providing the tools to interact with all sorts of people without the anxiety and awkwardness that seems to prevent us from achieving our personal goals.

In this technological age, competition for employment is fierce. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to be personable. Ironically, the social media phenomenon has led to a rapid decline in people’s social skills. We live in a time where face-to-face contact has been replaced with cyberspace presence and connecting with friends means disconnecting from reality. Now, more than ever, the need to learn how to behave in contemporary social and professional settings in order to be able to thrive within them is critical. If social skills are the building blocks of confidence and character, then the ability to communicate effectively is the VIP ticket to personal success.

What does etiquette for digital entrepreneurs look like?

While the new breed of digital entrepreneurs are often highly skilled in the digital landscape they are accustomed to, an absence of authentic, face to face interactions can result in a lack of understanding when it comes to the power of interpersonal skills. It’s those real life interactions that build confidence, character and the ability to successfully connect with people regardless of the platform. From networking to effective management and customer relations, soft skills are crucial when it comes to building a thriving business.

Successful entrepreneurship requires the ability to create a climate that promotes customer loyalty and ensures employees are inspired to work to their potential. Best performance, culture, shared vision and customer rapport can only be built on a foundation of strong interpersonal skills. In good news, once a person gains an understanding of the way we perceive certain behaviour, it becomes relatively easy to develop the soft skills needed to empower the savviest of techsperts in reaching their personal and professional goals.

Polished communication skills are a must across all interactions with employees and clients. Being courteous and well mannered promotes a culture of respect and productivity. Humans are social by nature, we subconsciously use our intuition to make our way through the world. The way we feel about certain situations, particular people and the way we make others feel impacts significantly on our experience, in turn, affecting our behaviour. It’s not surprising that the latest statistics point to customer experience, or CX, as being the cornerstone of success for digital entrepreneurs; as the saying goes, the way you make others feel after having had an interaction with you, becomes your trademark—online or otherwise.

Professional Etiquette

Basic manners and etiquette are the ‘filters’ we use in real life to make ourselves look good. Simply put, conveying a positive attitude makes us attractive to others—you need to be approachable. This puts people, your people, at ease, which is a key factor in creating a productive culture and reputable brand. Ultimately you need to be able to make a confident, authentic impact in real life by utilizing what we already know about human interaction. It’s time to make friends with Decorum and Deportment.

While decorum (the way we behave) and deportment (the way we present ourselves) may be terms that have become lost in contemporary vernacular, as long as we remain in control of the technology, they are far from obsolete. By synthesizing our understanding of heritage skills with our ability to use technology to our advantage, building a professional image or brand becomes easy.

Implementing the Basics

First impressions are everything. Learn how to make a good one by perfecting your handshake, a powerful symbol of sincerity, confidence and character.

Don’t be afraid to sharpen your image if required. Does your appearance reflect the high standards and quality that are synonymous with your brand? If not, take into account the basic principles of professional dress and opt for a more conservative look if appropriate. If you want to be taken seriously, self respect always comes first. Stand out for the right reasons. If in doubt, go for clean, polished and pressed.

Ensure your people have a thorough understanding of good old-fashioned customer service skills and use them in their daily interactions including all face-to-face, email and phone correspondence. Set the standard by modelling high quality interactions.

Broaden your horizons. Become familiar with the principles of international business and dining etiquette so that your interactions aren’t limited (or thwarted) by conduct that could be deemed inappropriate by your international peers.

Across all your professional correspondence, be exactly that, direct, grammatically correct, clear and courteous. Don’t waste others’ time by sending or forwarding any content that is irrelevant and ensure your responses are prompt and informative. Address every point or concern raised to avoid communication lag.

Keep your personal life and your professional life completely separate across all social media and professional networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. A clean digital footprint is a must when it comes to reputation, so save the selfies for your personal account and ensure maximum privacy settings are in place.

The content you post on online is public and permanent. Ensure you have a good command of formal English so that your expression reflects the quality of your brand.

Never underestimate the power you have over the way you are perceived by others. You are always in complete control. Up-skill if you need to. Bespoke etiquette training programs such as those offered by Etiquette & Co. can be used to train or retrain your people in order that they continue to reflect the high standards of your brand.

Oh and remember, the neo-luddites and digital exiles aren’t against you, they’re cheering you on from the sidelines. Harness the power of charisma and you’ll not only bridge the gap that exists but completely remove the lid that may be tightly screwed on your potential for growth.

Created by Ray Dalio this simple but not simplistic and easy to follow 30 minute, animated video answers the question, “How does the economy really work?” Based on Dalio’s practical template for understanding the economy, which he developed over the course of his career, the video breaks down economic concepts like credit, deficits and interest rates, allowing viewers to learn the basic driving forces behind the economy, how economic policies work and why economic cycles occur.

To learn more about Economic Principles visit:

In early September 2016, the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), together with Panthera, held a workshop to consider future initiatives to conserve the African lion. The topic is urgent because numbers of lions have plummeted over the last century from an oft quoted figure of around 200,000 to nowadays closer to 20,000 and falling. The workshop, prompted by global attention given to the death of Cecil the Lion, who had been tracked for years by WildCRU, is the Cecil Summit. The Summit culminated with an open session offering the opportunity to hear the views of top lion experts and also a variety of innovative thinkers from fields such as economics, development, international relations and ethics.

About WildCRU: David Macdonald founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in 1986 at the University of Oxford. Now the foremost University-based centre for biodiversity conservation, the mission of the WildCRU is to achieve practical solutions to conservation problems through original research. WildCRU is particularly renowned for its work with wild carnivores, especially wild cats, including its long-running studies on lion and clouded leopard. Its training centre for early-career conservationists, so far from 32 countries, produces experts and future leaders in global conservation.

About Panthera: founded in 2006, Panthera is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats—securing their future, and ours.

Natasha Milne has been a professional photographer for over 20 years. She is the co-editor of the acclaimed environmental book One Hundred and One Reasons To Get Out of Bed, and the creator of the new My Home Planet podcast. She has a bachelor’s degree and when not working, volunteers with her local wildlife rescue organization in Sydney, Australia, where she’s rescued everything from lizards and possums, to birds and bandicoots.

In this guest piece, Nat shares the inspiration and central theme behind her new podcast; which focuses on the potential of individuals to create a culture for conservation, to find their voice, to lead by action—to be Planet Heroes!


Heroes. While there are certainly those who are worthy of the title, it seems that these days, the word ‘hero’ has been appropriated by Hollywood blockbusters and over-enthusiastic sports commentators.

Of course that’s not really true. There are plenty of people out there in the real world to whom the term hero would apply-those who go out of their way to do something courageous, or noble or brave. Many people have their own ideas of what a hero looks like-and when asked, most could name at least one person who embodies their definition of one.

Without really being aware of it, over the past few years, I’ve found myself searching out stories of hope to counter all those headlines of our planet in crisis. So, by default I’ve really become a seeker of heroes. And what I’ve discovered is that the world is actually full of them, millions in fact. And the ones who interest me the most are those who wake up each day and put our planet and those we share it with first.

Some of my heroes are familiar: Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Rick O’Barry, Rosalie Kunoth Monks. They’re people I turn to, for inspiration and to remind me that humanity is in fact capable of compassion, selflessness, courage and bravery. But what about those who are less known?

Last year I decided to share the insights of some of these everyday planet heroes in a book that I produced with my friend Dr. Barbara Royal. So while some, like Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle, are in the book, they are joined by ninety-nine others. A boy with a lemonade stand raising money for orangutans, an ex-ranger providing critical equipment and help to wildlife rangers in Africa, a race car driver using her global reach to highlight species extinction and who offsets her own carbon footprint, a conservationist creating a wildlife corridor from the Yukon to Yellowstone-just to name a few. Each explaining the one thing they are passionate about and sharing their reasons for getting out of bed to nurture and preserve our beautiful earth.

As an extension of that book I recently began a podcast called My Home Planet-a place for seekers of planet heroes like me to meet and listen to some of those incredible environmental and animal advocates, and to bridge a gap between preaching to the converted and those who are comfortably unaware.

What is it that drives these people to do what they do? is it simply circumstance or choice? These are the questions I ask in the podcast. And what I’ve realized is that while many of their well known achievements are certainly interesting, it is in asking questions about their childhoods, memories and passions which garner the best responses. By allowing each guest to tell their story without interruption or confrontation they feel comfortable in sharing their greatest insights.

For instance, Audrey Peterman shares the inconceivable fact that up until the late 1950’s many people of colour were still being lynched in some U.S National Parks, and it is for this reason that she strives each day to make sure that the beauty of nature is accessible to all people. The lyrical way in which Audrey Peterman describes her first trip to the Grand Canyon caused one listener to declare “I think if Mother Earth had a human voice, it would resemble very closely to hers”.

As Lola Webber heartbreakingly describes the horrors of a South Korean dog meat market, she whispers out a promise she made to those dogs six years ago. As she speaks of her daily commitment to abolishing the illegal dog meat trade, she also shares a surprising fact that not one of the hundreds of dog farmers she meets actually wants to do this as a job.

And while environmentalist, entrepreneur and best selling author Paul Hawken kicked off the first episode with musings on why there are no mocking birds left in his neighborhood, he also challenges us to rethink climate change as happening for us, not to us.

Along with each guest’s individual insights, a common thread emerges: they do what they do, because they understand that every action counts, big or small. And while it’s easy for many of us to feel that our actions don’t make a difference, these people are out there everyday showing us nothing is ever black and white and that everyone can do something. Paul Hawken sums it up nicely when asked why he does what he. He simply replies “because we’re here”

So hero? Well I actually think it should be used more often, more appropriately, beyond film and sports, to describe the millions upon millions of people who just pick their one thing, whatever it is, and take those small world steps to inadvertently become big planet heroes.

Learn more about the podcast, book and Natasha at:

The Cecil Summit, hosted this week by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, has outlined an emboldened commitment and path forward to address the conservation crisis facing Africa’s lions.

Honoring the global outpouring of outrage and recognition that accompanied the death of the now legendary lion known as Cecil, the Summit assembled some of the world’s leading lion biologists alongside influential experts from the fields of international policy, law enforcement, economics, ethics, law and other sectors.

Together, this brain trust of conservation specialists explored the complex and varied issues affecting the international mosaic of lion conservation, and the innovative solutions required to secure a future for both lions and their landscapes, as well as the people of Africa.

WildCRU Director David Macdonald stated, “Lion conservation has the world’s attention as never before. The Cecil Summit is a continuation of an evolving discussion with members of Africa’s nation states who must be part of the solution to save our global heritage.”

Cecil Summit participants produced a five-point declaration, with the goal of forming the foundation of a renewed path forward for lion conservation.

Restoring Lionscapes: Reinstating the economic and social value of lions across their African landscapes in perpetuity.

Inspiring National Communities: Increasing the pride of local people for their lions and establishing fairness in conservation practices.

Inspiring a Global Community: Increasing international interest in lion conservation and mobilizing financial resources on its behalf.

Enacting the Robin Hood Model: Harnessing members of the global community with the greatest interest and financial resources to support conservation in lion range states.

Financing Lion Conservation: Accelerating the governmental and multi-national engines of financial support required to assist African nations to save the lion.

On behalf of WildCRU and Panthera, WildCRU Director David Macdonald addressed members of the Cecil Summit, media and general public at the closing Summit panel Wednesday to share this declaration. View the recorded session here.

Former editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, moderated a discussion amongst panel participants on the complexities of the international conservation frontier. Contributors included Director General of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner, leading lion biologist Craig Packer, UK Minister of State at the Department for International Development Rory Stewart and Panthera founder and historic WildCRU benefactor, Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan. The panel was launched with a message from Edmond Moukala, UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s Africa Unit Chief.

Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Luke Hunter, shared, “The Cecil Summit underscores the fact that compelling solutions and enormous opportunities to save the lion are within our grasp. Over 1 million square kilometers of lion range are already legally protected but those areas need massive support to truly thrive. Equally, the people that live with lions need to enjoy more benefits from protected areas and have access to new incentives that foster conservation on their own lands.”

Hunter continued, “Conservation and human prosperity are inter-twined in Africa. If we can secure these parks and reserves, we ensure not only the lion’s future but also the future of local people whose livelihoods are directly linked to tourism and other economic opportunities that result.”

Now famous the world over, Cecil the lion was studied through the Hwange Lion Project in Zimbabwe for eight years before his tragic death in 2015 outside of Hwange National Park. Today, the project lives on under the operation of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), with support from Panthera.

Emboldened by the urgency of the African lion conservation crisis, WildCRU and Panthera resolved to utilize the momentum from the death of Cecil to arouse a Cecil Movement. As the world has learned, the lion is in need of conservation attention now more than ever, with an estimated 20,000 individuals remaining across the entire African continent, a number which represents a decline of 90% over the last century.

Panthera Founder and WildCRU benefactor, Dr. Thomas Kaplan, shared, “The Summit holds the potential to mark an extraordinary turning point for lion conservation. As the participants showed, the land and people are there to save lions. What is needed is will…and commitment. By combining the insights of the broadest array of thinkers and stakeholders in the field, from practitioners on the ground in Africa to government figures, there’s hope that the voice that was given to Cecil and his species may yet turn into a roar.”

Preceding the Cecil Summit, Panthera, WildAid and WildCRU released a new lion report outlining the ongoing threats contributing to the conservation crisis facing lions. Read the report, entitled Beyond Cecil: Africa’s Lions in Crisis, and learn about the #LetLionsLive campaign at

Panthera’s Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more.