The famous Aspirin Business Shortbread

April 25, 2016

by Heath Waring, Support Crew Director at Aspirin Business Solutions

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Aspirin Business Shortbread

I have been asked a lot for the recipe for the Aspirin Business Shortbread which I bake on a regular basis for our business meetings or just as a treat for our clients. This is such an easy biscuit to make that once you have done it once, you will never want to buy another shop bought Shortbread again!

Ingredients are very simple

340g of good quality plain flour
250g of good quality butter (I use Beurre d’Isigny, it has nice salt crystals in which add to the flavour)
110g of caster sugar

Add your favourite flavourings, mine are Fudge, Choc Chip, Opies Stem Ginger or Ground Ginger and Chopped Almonds. 

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees centigrade
2. Mix together by hand or a food processor the butter and caster sugar until smooth 
3. Add the flour to the sugar and butter and rub together until it starts to form into a dough and then knead until it is smooth and elastic.
4. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes
5. Take the dough out of the fridge into a bowl and add any goodies you want like stem ginger, choc, chip, fudge and mix in well.
6. Put the dough onto a floured worktop and roll out to about 5mm thick, make sure the rolling pin is floured as well to prevent sticking.
7. Use a pastry cutter, shape to your choice, and press out the biscuits.
8. Get a baking tray and line with Teflon or grease proof paper, sprinkle some caster sugar on top and the lay the biscuits onto the tray evenly.
9. Sprinkle more caster sugar over the top of the biscuits.
10. Put the tray of biscuits into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, then remove and allow them to cool.
11. Finally sprinkle with more caster sugar or get a shaker with icing sugar and shake over the top when cold.

ENJOY!!!

Watch Heath in this time-lapse video – just 27 seconds to shortbread heaven https://vimeo.com/114559276

The Truth about motivation and Motivational Maps

April 25, 2016

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

I’m usually up for a challenge, and so I particularly enjoyed being challenged by both a Managing Director and a Chairman about the Maps recently.  And good for them!  I’m all for doing your homework first – after all my passion for growing sustainable businesses started when I was a Finance Director.girl-429020_1280

The truth is I knew that I didn’t know what motivated my team AND furthermore, I’m not convinced that I was particularly interested in engaging people in other teams.  After all, I was having too much fun trying out my own ideas to invite others to contribute.

It was too good to last… by which I mean, that strategy worked brilliantly in my own team where we worked closely to deliver results.  However, it limited the impact of the business improvements I was creating when I struggled to engage some key people.  In all honesty, I don’t think anyone else noticed – but I know, and would have loved to have seen just how much we could have increased Net Profit!

Now I’ve been advised not to speak about my own weaknesses – but I’m a bit old school.  I think the best teachers are those who’ve experienced it for themselves, have invested time, effort and money into finding a better way and then want to share that learning.  After all, we have a bit of a moan about politicians who haven’t experienced real life.  And all good leaders know you can’t learn management from a text book – people just aren’t that predictable.  And when I moved from Nottinghamshire to Poole (yes that’s where part of my accent is from), and found Motivational Maps – I immediately joined as a Business Practitioner (the highest level at the time).

And I spent another 2 years testing out the tool before I was trusted the tool to be able to recommend it without reservation.  That was 3½ years ago and a few hundred clients, so that’s why I enjoyed being challenged about the Maps.

I’ve kept you hanging on for long enough, so what is the truth about Motivational Maps?

Question:  Isn’t everyone motivated primarily by money?

Brief answer:  No – money (the Builder motivator) is just one of nine motivators, and rarely makes the top 3 somewhat surprisingly.  Of course people don’t know that, so they’re tempted by money because they think they’re supposed to be motivated by it (it’s more like they’re motivated by feeling valued) – but for most people, once they’ve got enough, it simply stops motivating them.  NB:  Builder is a great motivator for sales people as they’re motivated by winning, targets and commissions.  But there are no rights and wrongs – see ‘same behaviour – different motivator’ below.

Question:  Do the Maps reflect how someone’s feeling on the day, so tomorrow’s results could be completely different?

Brief answer:  No.  The Maps do reflect significant changes in someone’s life, e.g. a new job, a promotion or change in role, a first child, saving for a bigger house or first car, retirement and the death of a loved one.  We’ve seen all of these, and it’s always a relief for the individual to see how those changes are impacting what’s important to them.  For example – a bigger house, first car or retirement usually create a greater motivation for money (Builder), whilst a first child or death of a loved one usually increases the need for certainty (Defender).

Question:  Wouldn’t doing these frequently be a great way for you to make money?

Brief answer:  No – as it’s not in our interest or the clients.  We recommend repeating the Maps annually at most – unless there’s been a significant change (for the reasons described above).  The whole point of Motivational Maps is to measure and improve motivation – so demotivating people through over-testing and not using the information undermines both their organisation and the Maps.  It’s a matter of integrity.

Question:  Can I use the motivators to manipulate people?

Brief answer:  You can try – but that will only decrease your team’s trust in you, and they’ll work around you or leave.  So what’s the point?  You’ve a golden opportunity here – step up, or step out.

Question:  If someone’s 35% motivated (or even less!), does that mean they’re not performing their job well?

Brief answer:  Surprising no.  We’ve got clients who’ve been astounded to learn that people they perceived to be highly motivated, aren’t.  The individual wasn’t surprised and said they were bored by the job.  Performance, and feedback from clients, for these individuals can be very good – it’s just not sustainable as their ‘batteries’ are nearly empty.

In our experience there are 3 typical reasons for a score that’s in the Action Zone, i.e. 35% or less.

  1. They want to make a statement (not common, but it does happen).
  2. They genuinely don’t find their job fulfilling at a deep (soul, if you like) level, but they’re generally okay.
  3. They have significant challenges in their whole lives (including their personal lives).

Question:  My report shows my ‘Creator’ motivator is very low – but how can that be true when I’m really innovative?

Brief answer:  So this is where the motivators get interesting.  You see many of us believe that other people are motivated by the same things as us, particularly if they’re interested in the same things.  That’s not true.  One of our favourite sayings is “same behaviour – different motivators”.  In this case, the individual was correct – evidence proves he’s extremely innovative, but it’s not driven by his Creator motivator.  It’s driven by his top motivators of Searcher (need to make a difference) and Spirit (need to break free and not conform), and with Creator low in his motivators he struggles to come up with a completely novel idea and doesn’t like change being imposed upon him.

Question:  Can we fake the answers?  I’d love to show I’m more customer focussed.

Brief answer:  Somewhat disappointingly (from a personal point of view) – no!  Let me explain that.  I keep trying to be excited about motivators which are low in my profile – in particular Star (public recognition which is great for PR) and Director (which is great for managing teams), but I just want other things more (like making a difference), darn it.  So if someone’s being honest, then it can’t be faked.  And if they’re trying to create a better impression of themselves, it comes out in the feedback – as they won’t be able to explain what the motivators mean to them personally.  I have experienced individuals ‘faking’ their motivation score, but they often go round telling people – so that doesn’t work either, and people in the Optimum Zone (80% or more) exude passion and that’s not easy to sustain if faked.

There’s SO much more I could share with you – like how can we get motivated by something we’re not motivated by, or how do the different motivators interact, or what’s the average motivation score for a team (60% in my experience), and why are leaders more motivated than their teams, will poorly motivated people leave and what are Organisational Maps and Change Index Scores ….  but for now, I’ll sign off with probably the most important lesson I’ve learned:

“Work with someone’s motivation rather than with what motivates you. And not everyone wants to be rescued – sometimes they’re just going for a swim.”

Motivational Maps reach ‘Full Potential’

April 25, 2016

Full Potential New Accreditees - resized for website

Recently Aspirin Business were engaged by The Full Potential Group (FPG) in High Wycombe to accredit 9 of their coaches in the Motivational Map tool – including the Managing Director – with a view to using it with their clients across the UK.

Motivational Maps are a tool that identifies core motivators within individuals & teams and determines whether they are being met and are a significant aid in helping, organisations with Career Management, Recruitment and Selection, Talent and Performance Management.

The Accreditation Workshop involved the FPG team learning how to read Individual & Team maps and to give feedback as to how the results can be used to raise motivation levels and thus help improve performance

With hundreds of practitioners across the globe helping individuals & businesses to really understand what motivates their employees & teams, Aspirin Business are one of only five Senior Practitioners in the world, licensed to train & accredit individuals to use the Motivational Map diagnostic within their companies.

Sue Brade-Waring, MD of Aspirin Business observed

“Time after time, I’ve seen & experienced the difference Motivational Maps make in helping individuals and teams understand themselves and each other better.  We’re delighted the Maps have been adopted so wholeheartedly by the Full Potential Group because together, we can help more people and more businesses through this transformational tool.”

Motivational Maps were created by Dorset’s James Sale who’s recently published book ‘Mapping Motivation’ features an Aspirin Business case study. Additionally Aspirin have accredited 24 Motivational Map Practitioners as either Internal Motivation Champions or Licensed Practitioners of coaching organisations, recognising the importance of effectively motivating individuals & teams

Carole Gaskill, MD of Full Potential Group was full of praise for the Aspirin accreditation. She said

“Thanks very much for an amazing day – everyone got loads of value.  We came away buzzing and excited about making a difference using the maps. You made the learning very clear, easy to understand and apply.”

 

35% motivated or less! Take action.

April 16, 2016

Q&As for our Accredited Motivational Map Practitioners

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

Map Action Zone

Q:  How do I provide feedback to someone with a very low Motivation Score, and how do I manage that within a Team Debrief?

A: Firstly – take heart.  Each time we’ve encountered this (which is about 2% of the time), the individual has confirmed the score accurately reflects their feelings.  So it’s not a surprise to them.  However, it can be a surprise to their manager, “If you’d asked us beforehand, we’d have said she was highly motivated.  She’s so bubbly and chatty.”

 

Let’s close out the Team De-brief first

We choose not to disclose personal Motivation details during team de-briefs.  We NEVER reveal an individual’s score, although they may choose to do so.  We only reveal an individual’s motivators (and de-motivators) with their permission.

So – what do we reveal?  The most common objective of a Team Motivational Maps Workshop is team-building, i.e. to increase the trust and understanding between team members.  Therefore, we:

  • reveal the motivators and de-motivators of the whole team,
  • (if it’s appropriate) their Motivation Score, and
  • their Change Index score (i.e. how change friendly or averse they are).

Then we discuss with the team how they can improve their own motivation, support each others’ motivation and how the motivators help and hinder achievement of their Team Objectives.

Keeping the Manager on-board

Sometimes it’s useful to state the obvious, just to reinforce or remind ourselves.  At the end of the day, it’s the manager’s team – so it’s our duty as coaches and trainers to keep the manager informed and on-board.

We always agree the way forward with the manager.  This is particularly important with someone’s whose motivation level is 35% or less (known in Motivational Map terms as ‘the Action Zone’), as it’s less easy to predict outcomes.

Finally, providing feedback to the individual

In our experience there are 3 typical reasons for a score that’s in the Action Zone, i.e. someone whose energy battery is only one-third full.

  1. They want to make a statement (not common, but it does happen).
  2. They genuinely don’t find their job fulfilling at a deep (soul, if you like) level, but they’re generally okay.
  3. They have significant challenges in their whole lives (including their personal lives) and, possibly, some level of depression.

In all 3 cases, the individual knows they’re not particularly happy.  As with all coaching, we know the answer lies within the individual, so we ask.  We ask if they’re surprised.  We ask what it means, or what’s happening?  And they tell us.

Our absolute Golden Rule, especially with Motivational Maps, is to be very respectful of the insight we’re privileged to have.  There are no rights or wrongs with the Motivational Maps (just one of the reasons we love them).  They are an accurate reflection of how the person is feeling, and we can help them to work WITH their motivators.  So, given the respect we show, the individuals open up and share what’s going on.  Now depending on how much they share and how quickly, will give you a rough indication of whether their reason is 1, 2 or 3.

  • Reason 1s will usually tell you straight away as they’re either looking for action, or they’re in the process of taking it.
  • Reason 2s will often offer to explain, and
  • Reason 3s will often talk around the subject, at least initially.

Then we rely on our skill and experience as coaches.

A few key points:

  1. The lowest possible Motivation Score on Motivational Maps is 10%.  So 35% or less, is very significant.
  2. People with this level of motivation have ‘allowed’ their motivation to get this low, indicating they don’t have the energy, the motivation or the strategies to know how to improve this.
  3. In our experience, Reason 2 and 3 individuals tend to stay with their current organisation.  It may be because they’re comfortable in their current roles, they like the organisation or have friends, or sometimes it’s because they don’t feel the need to be motivated at work – “It’s a job”, “I’m doing okay”, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need to be.”
  4. Small changes – tweaks in job roles, extra support etc… don’t improve motivation at this level.  As one individual told her manager, “It’s not your job to motivate me.”  This came as a surprise, but a relief to him, as he really wanted to help.  She was basically saying, “There’s a bigger challenge here, and it’s mine to deal with.”  Helping these individuals to find their own solution, e.g. believing they can, is often the only way their motivation scores will improve.  Hence the requirement for highly-skilled coaching.

SIGNIFICANTLY, these individuals can be productive – hence why their managers are often surprised.  They can be delivering on their role and loved by their customers.  It’s just unlikely to last (because they can’t sustain the energy requirement), they’re more likely to have extended time off (because of their low energy and therefore resilience) AND they have so much more potential – if only they had more motivation.

For more information, or to talk through specific Motivational Maps in confidence, please get in touch.

Creating Strong Bonds through Employee Engagement

April 12, 2016

Employee Engagement

If you’ve been in business in the past 15 years then the phrase ‘employee engagement’ has been as ubiquitous as the phrase ‘X- Factor’. Over the years there have been strategies, consultations, symposiums, innovations and exhortations as to the importance and implementation of ‘employee engagement’.

However, over the years, the top drivers of employee engagement have remained constant, and common across most of the globe. This has been recently reinforced through an excellent survey from Quantum Workplace in the US.

Even though it’s been around for what seems like forever, the concept of employee engagement remains critical to business success.  So just how seriously do you & your organisation take it? Maybe the following statistics & findings from Quantum’s survey will provide either a confirmation of your people strategy or a stimulus to do more…

The Top 6 Drivers of Employee Engagement

The staff of the organisation trust & believe …

  1.  that the leaders of the organisation are committed to making it a great place to work.
  2. the leaders of the organisation to set the right course.
  3. the organisation will be successful in the future.
  4. that the leaders of the organisation value people as their most important resource.
  5. that there is professional growth and career development opportunities for themselves in the organisation.
  6. the senior leadership team to lead the company to future success.

The challenge for us as leaders is how we deliver on those six key drivers consistently, authentically and in a meaningful way for our people. The following graphs clearly indicate the benefits of doing so, in terms of improvements in retention, sales & profitability.

If you wish to receive a full electronic copy of the survey then contact supportcrew@aspirinbusiness.com

Employee Engagement graphic 1

Employee Engagement graphic 2 - change in profit

Employee Engagement graphic 3 - change in sales

Avoiding confrontations?

April 12, 2016

Susannah Brade-Waring, MD & Business Growth Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

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Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil – it’s the easiest way to avoid having to address an uncomfortable situation.

In our role as business growth coaches and facilitators, we hear a recurring theme …

“He/she is not comfortable with confronting or dealing with difficult situations……”

Our clients are, in our words, commercially driven business leaders with big hearts –  a combination that can create conflict around addressing undesirable behaviour.

Frankly, if our clients didn’t care quite so much – either about their business or their people, it wouldn’t be an issue.  After all, most of us have experienced managers who either let poor behaviour slide or ‘motivate’ through fear and pain.

Here at Aspirin we work with Motivational Maps and virtually every day we’re helping people understand themselves and others through their motivators.

One of these motivators is Friend.  It’s an intriguing one as people with this motivator at a high level view friendships & relationships as highly important. However, senior roles often rank it as their lowest motivator because they’re uncomfortable getting too close to their teams.  Additionally, they find it easier to make business decisions when less emotionally attached to the people their decisions affect.

However, every now and again, it does emerge as a top motivator and hereby comes the mystery. How do managers who enjoy feeling closely connected to their team deal with undesirable behaviour?

The reality is effective managers learn to do both.  They’re not afraid of demanding high performance, or making tough, unpopular decisions whilst recognising that remaining ‘connected’ to their team is a must. It’s the reality of the oft quoted manager’s phrase “It’s better to be respected than liked”.

Sometimes it requires a ‘bit of a bust up’ to clear the air and agree a way forward.  But, as one client said, ‘being punched in the face doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think’ – i.e. the fear is often greater than the reality.

So here are our 3 top tips for handling confrontations:

  1. Ensure there’s a common understanding of what acceptable job performance looks like. What does ‘acceptable’ mean? You can even ask the individual ‘How will we both know when you’re performing your job well?’  Once defined & communicated, anything that falls below that level must be addressed.

There are two parts to this – competence and behaviour.  Behaviour is the ‘trickiest’ to deal with as it is often inconsistent (with good days and bad days).

However it’s made much easier if there’s a culture charter which clearly states what the desired behaviour looks like.  Even better is a voiced-over Powerpoint describing what this behaviour looks like.  Consistent reinforcement is key here – the charter needs to be discussed during interviews and regularly referred to e.g. when rewarding outstanding examples of it.  As an example, our own ‘charter’ includes

“……open & honest conversations, clear agreed plans, everyone to play their part, pull together and be reliable”

Sound like hard work?  We know leaders who’ve avoided ‘confronting’ a member of staff about inappropriate behaviour for years.  It’s become a bit of a joke but here’s the sting – not addressing it diminishes confidence in the leader. As leaders what we allow, we condone!

Defining acceptable job performance should, then, be easier.  However in reality – how often do our team have key performance indicators or measures that relate fundamentally to the performance required? Do they exist at all? If they do, have they changed in line with current & future business requirements?

Tackling this will involve hard work, consultation and yes – more paperwork – but it makes a real difference. You can start with something very simple, such as a single KPI, if it will help you address the poor performance……

One of our clients is the Maintenance Department of John Lewis.  We helped them improve job performance and ownership by designing a set of business objectives.  For the first time the managers were able to measure non-financial performance across all of the branches.  They could see what was possible, which branches were performing best and identify and share areas of best practice.  And, in terms of this article, this helped them to comfortably address & improve poor performance and to make those difficult decisions quicker and easier when it became clear certain team members would be unable to attain the required standards.

So, a common understanding of what acceptable behaviour looks like means that when the individual sees for themselves that they are not performing, there’s the possibility of reduced resistance to having that difficult conversation.  In fact, they often welcome it – because they’re already uncomfortable.

 

  1. Create bonds that pull the group together.  Strong bonds require trust.  However, trust is only built through experience of not being let down or undermined! i.e. it’s only under testing conditions that we really know we can trust someone.

As an exercise write down 7 quick examples of when you’ve proven you can be trusted – if you’re struggling with that, go and look for opportunities to prove it!!  E.g. I apologise quickly when I make mistakes.

Successful groups needs a purpose (a reason to be together) and there is a difference between a ‘team’ and a ‘group’ – particularly in whether each individual believes they are part of a team, with everything that means.  As we say at Aspirin Business ‘At the heart of a FASTER team is a common goal that motivates and unites’.

Do you have a common goal like that?  When you do, it often means the team ‘self regulate’ and deal with unacceptable behaviour themselves!

 

  1. Practice makes perfect. Instead of avoiding those confrontations, nip them in the bud. Having regular team and 1:1 meetings using an agenda depersonalises it & keeps it focused on the business.  For example, our own agenda has four components:
    • 3 achievements
    • Updates on KPIs and/ or key news
    • Top 5 priorities for the week ahead
    • Concerns

Yes – concerns are on our agenda as a standard item.  By expecting everyone to have concerns, people don’t bottle them up.  In fact we often find that our concerns are the same and airing them means we reduce the number of confrontations.

Never be afraid to have that difficult conversation.  If it’s an employment issue then get the facts.  Understand exactly what you should and shouldn’t do – knowing you’re legally right will give you the confidence to follow the process, until you’re comfortable developing your own.

Crucially – it should never be a surprise.  If you’re dealing with an issue, the individual should be aware that it’s a potential problem first.  That way the conversation is, at least, not unexpected.

 

Worth a conversation?  Here at Aspirin Business we strongly believe a ‘culture charter’ and key performance indicators are critical to business and individual success.  They form part of the glue that align individuals with their team, leaders, organisation and their performance.

Our preferred style is to work with the Senior Team to develop these, engaging further staff members as appropriate.  If this is something you’d like to explore, then get in touch and let’s have a conversation.

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Dorset micro business punches above its weight……

April 12, 2016

 

Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Waitrose Head Offices, Bracknell

Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Waitrose Head Offices, Bracknell

2016 marks the 6th successive year of Dorset based Aspirin Business Solutions working with the John Lewis Partnership on a variety of strategic and team development projects.

Aspirin is leading the way as a micro-business working in partnership with a nationally recognised, respected & successful business. As a shining example of a Dorset business ‘consistently punching above its weight’, Aspirin’s working relationship with the John Lewis Partnership proves that true & successful business partnerships are about what each partner brings to the table regardless of organisational size.

During 2016, Aspirin will continue supporting the Waitrose Maintenance Department as it  operates ‘behind the scenes’ nationwide to ensure all Waitrose branches, distribution units and offices are operational, safe and compliant and create a better everyday experience for the Customers and Partners.

“The Maintenance Department’s unwavering dedication to customer service and safety, whilst creating worthwhile and satisfying employment, provides a challenging context for developing a strategy that’s also cost-effective to deliver. It requires true teamwork and stakeholder engagement, and an unswerving belief that it can all be achieved. It’s been a real joy & privilege to work with this household name and challenge, support, inform AND learn from them over the years” said, Susannah Brade-Waring, MD of Aspirin Business Solutions.

Key areas that Aspirin have worked on with the team have been on strategy, goals & objectives, employee engagement, team development, presentation skills & motivation.

Mick Mcleavey, Manager of Maintenance for Waitrose, said “Our team here at Waitrose really value the external perspective, skill and support that Aspirin Business provide.  Their ability to understand exactly where we are and how we need to develop, both as a team and as individuals, is making a significant contribution to the step changes we’re making as a department in this fast changing retail environment. Our leadership and management teams are stronger and more self-aware as a result of Aspirin Business’ work.  That’s enabling us to be more strategic and agile, whilst ensuring we continue to provide a high level of service to our customers. By providing high quality material that is bespoke to our needs, Aspirin Business really stand out and a pleasure to work with on all professional levels!”

 

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Aspirin Business help “March For Men” to march onward & upward

April 12, 2016

March for Men temp

 

Royal Bournemouth Hospital Charity’s March for Men event returned to Bournemouth Seafront on 20 March with Aspirin’s Business Coach & Facilitator Paul Kinvig hosting the event for the second year running.

Money raised from the event which, encouraged over 200 men, women and children to walk, run or march 1km, 5km, or 10km walk, along Bournemouth seafront and lower gardens will be used to fund men’s health projects at the hospital including the purchase of a new Olympus image management hub that will benefit men with prostate cancer at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Paul’s role was to help warm up the crowd & start the event with Fiona Castle, widow of Roy Castle & patron of Royal Bournemouth Hospital Charity. He also interviewed key people and spoke to the participants as they completed the course.

Barry Wilson, Community & Fundraising Officer at RBHC said “We were really pleased to have Paul on board for March for Men. He has become a great addition to our events and as always he created a fun & relaxed atmosphere with great interaction with the participants & spectators”

Paul Kinvig commented “As men we’re notoriously reticent about discussing health issues. This event not only raised awareness about prostate cancer but also vital funds in the fight against this vicious disease. It was a privilege to host the event – talking to the entrants (many of whom have fought & beaten cancer) was both humbling & uplifting.

Aspirin take an active part in supporting the community in which they serve, including work with other charities & organisations within the Dorset area such as Lewis Manning Hospice, Diverse Abilities and Broadstone FC.

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