You rarely get the chance to get the basics right. Mostly you rush right into doing the bits you feel most comfortable with. Getting the sales flow going - after all no business / no cash / no sleep. We all need to sleep right.
Trouble is after you have called all those prospects and told them about your availability, after you have re-quoted a couple of times and shaved your pricing down to the wire often you are still left scratching your head and wondering where all the business is?
So you hunt around for another way forward - you try to beat your competition - you take a look at their customers, their products, their ideas and you start the snatch and grab phase. Copy that, undercut the other. Yuk.
Of course sales is critical - a strong sales process is fundamental to anyone's business...but it's only part of the story.
You have to have a brand to deliver in today's world. Not just a lot of customers. You have to stand for something. You have to be able to entertain, educate, fascinate the world with you and your services, with your backstory and your future vision.
I watched the Finale of Madmen (SPOILERS ALERT) which was set in 1971. Back then Coca Cola was already ruling the waves, the airwaves, with its brand - and in some ways it was their heyday - when people took notice of them and believed in them.
This is only going to become more important as the Millennials take over - they want meaning even more - there's too much choice in every sector - meaning is what sets us apart.
One man's meat is another's man's poison - so who am I to say what I think about a lot of the media and current culture. But say something I must. We are in a world where terrible atrocities are occurring - t'was ever thus - except we know better - or if we don't then a mountain of research / studies / education / literature is utterly worthless...we know children need certain surroundings for healthy minds and bodies - and that doesn't include an excess of money - money spent and directed badly is worse in so many ways than limited means that are focused well...it's not Kim Kardashian's fault - it's ours - it's mine, it's yours - for letting our jaws drop and our minds wander so far away from the plot that it and we seem so lost now.
I love current culture - I watch trash TV / I snoop at trash magazines on the shelves and occasionally download something rubbish for a brief respite - but it's trash - I always feel worse having read it - whether it's rubbish about Jennifer Aniston's non-marriage, junk about George and Amal, garbage about Gwyneth or any number of A,B,C,D listers...it's tripe. Utter tripe. Now I have watched Posh People it's the same level of complete nonsense - laughing at old men who paint their castles, or silly girls walking aimlessly around Poundland on high heels - smirking at high jinks with toffs snogging on sofas captured by some hapless photographer, well thought of in totally neurotic circles.
Stop watching or reading it - but I can't - it's everywhere and it's rot. It's rotten. It's rotting everything.
Someone once said 'to the fly in horse manure the whole world is ...' and Anais Nin said, 'we are what surrounds us'...so we need to rise above this stuff - this drivel.
We got trouble, we got big trouble - the world is at a crossroads - the party is over - the bankers lost - they screwed up the system because we let them - for our vanity, for our greed and for our denial of the basic laws of nature. We don't need rubbish, junk, trash, garbage - we don't need to watch it, read it or buy it - we can do the less is more way of life and we will feel better and be better.
It's coming up to Christmas and all I want is less which will be far more in the end.
I have been spending some time looking into and at the children's charity sector. I have been looking at our (grown ups) relationship with them (children), which is in effect, our relationship with ourselves, our former selves.
We tend to tell ourselves two overlapping stories about our children. One is that 'they are our future' and the other is that 'they have rights'.
If you look at these stories and feel inside - we have set up a kind of transaction - an us and them. In the first we look at them taking over from us and carrying our torch on into our future...(inspiring a generation comes to mind) in the second we stand up for them turning ourselves into a kind of hero figure - with duties and responsibilities to them.
This construct feels outmoded when children understand technology better than we do (check out the access to understanding we will have with big data in the future) - when children have different horizons to ours and when the world needs a liberal dose of fresh radical thinking...
As we age we gain experience and hopefully wisdom. The wiser ones are beginning to realise that in the new world we don't have all the answers, there are things we do not know at all. Perhaps it is right to now re-think our social contract with our young people?
Perhaps we can explore the new terrain with them, perhaps we can be less afraid they will 'come to nothing', perhaps we can look at the new work arenas - now the old ones are drying up so rapidly for them...perhaps we can live 'together' in the world that is appearing around us. Perhaps we can 'share' in this miraculous time and learn in tandem. Perhaps we can look at the world through younger eyes?
The same is true of our relationship with the older generation - they again are not a burden to be borne but rather a joy to behold. We are ageing differently now. We are living differently in old age now. What can this new extended lifespan create and illuminate?
We are experiencing something fundamentally different than any other human generation before us. We have more of a shared future - more of a genuine kinship with our former selves and our future selves - with our children and our elders...this is no longer a relay race but rather a marathon - where we spend far more time on the journey together supporting each other as we move through our experiences...
As we think differently about the world around us - so the world around us comes into our lives differently...it will not be easy to re-organise our collective stories - they are deep rooted - but one by one we can each begin to tell a different tale and imagine a different ending - perhaps one where we really do all live 'happily ever after...'
I took to social media fairly quickly. That's because as a marketing 'bod' I clearly saw social media was the next big thing. I also took to it because as a student of psychology I knew that it was part of the next stage of human progress where increasingly we 'actualise'. It wasn't going to be a 'flash in the pan'. It was a longterm trend, so better get onboard.
Social media is a force, a train that's not stopping any time soon. Sure it will change, adapt, grow and shape-shift but, unless we go dark and run out of electricity, it will continue onwards and upwards way out there into the future as our vehicle for expression and shared knowledge.
Part of my work involves encouraging people to adopt marketing ways for their businesses. To adopt the skills and drive to present their work and talents to their wider community in order to thrive. Therefore I often discuss social media.
Generally there are three positions regarding social media - the fans - they love it and live online, the uninitiated - those who have not yet taken to it in any meaningful way and the resistors - those who build arguments to show it is not for them.
For fans generally the work is about direction and strategy. Fans tend to create a lot of content, and have variable levels of professionalism. Fans also tend to adopt every new platform but can leave some quickly and end up looking a little ragged. Fans also can find it difficult to hold back and to edit their stuff. Also fans can feel run dry sometimes as they have so many conversations on the go at any one time. Time management can also be an issue.
"Just because you can doesn't mean you should" is the thought here.
For the uninitiated, it's a slow process of induction. Social media is pretty overwhelming to those who haven't yet got involved. It's everywhere and it can feel a little bit daunting. So this is a gentle introduction to the basic do's and don'ts and then the practical set ups and links and creating the routines and the inspiration for content.
"the sooner, the better" is the thought here - it takes a while to adopt the behaviours and to really understand the platforms.
For the resistors there is another part to the work. To really understand what is driving the resistance, what is preventing the adoption. There are obvious barriers such as 'lack of time' or 'what's the point?' and then there are more subtle issues, such as 'perfection' - the need to present something so perfect. The strictness of what's right and wrong in social media. The judgement and critic of how it should be done perfectly. The fear of failure, the fear of being seen to fail on an epic scale. The fear of looking stupid. Of sounding like a t***. Resistors can be super successful and talented. They can have a wonderful contribution to make, but they lock themselves out because they don't want to trial something new. In this case my work is to simply keep shining the light on social media. Helping resistors to see the real benefits to being in a world where they can connect with some of the brightest, kindest, most helpful human beings on the planet freely and fluently. To understand that it's OK to fail, to fall down occasionally, that doing anything new involves the willingness to fail.
How would any of us survive if we couldn't tolerate lapses in success sometimes?
If ultimately social media is not for you, good on you. Go your own way, certainly don't conform. That's not the way at all. Don't do it because someone tells you for goodness sake. Heart and intention is everything in social media. If you go to social media just to fit in with what's expected and to perform functionally you really will miss the mark. Then you will have failed no matter how many tweets, pins, posts or likes you create on a daily basis.
Social media demands so much more from you than that. And it's my job to help you deliver.
When you read something or view something on a screen today chances are you'll be getting one or more of the following Big Four:
Entertainment - laughter / gossip / game challenge
News - up to the minute information
Knowledge - trends, insight, commentary, how to's
Inspiration - motivation to get going and do stuff
When you embark on your 'digital strategy' start thinking what's your primary reason for writing or sharing? Are you a newswire, a commentator or an entertainer? Sometimes it's best to create a hybrid - putting out knowledge in an entertaining way or providing inspiration backed by science.
Then how involved do I want to get?
You can get involved easily, comment, engage in discussion if you want. Or stay out as an observer.
There have always been players and spectators - and so it is today. I can just read an article or I can dive in and 'add my experience and perspective' and comment or start a twitter conversation. What's your take?
This is a watershed moment and all the 'i don't have time' arguments in the world are of no value - this is the time to take your digital strategy as seriously as any other strategy in your business. Sure it's a time commitment - so make time from somewhere you're currently spending it unwisely.
There is now a definite social divide - those aversed to the whole social movement who want to stay out and those who are for it and all it can offer - decide carefully which you are and why. Realise that by deciding it's not for you - that is a big decision - possibly one of those crossroads moments when you decide to go along another path. Perfectly fine, but check it's not just a knee jerk reaction - really take the decision properly to stay out. The pace of change and new worlds opening up are kaleidoscopic now and if you don't build up the skills and habits and behaviours soon there will be a time when you will be too far behind to catch up.
The social movement is at a pivotal point - there are now so many different platforms and reasons to share - so many new kids on the block - so much talent - it's a sea change.
I am now moving from my laptop to my iPad. The number of documents I write and emails I send and receive will start to diminish - changing instead to a constant flow of tweets and blogs, retweets and pins, iCloud computing and with one app after another creating a different way of working and communicating.
Many have already made the move over - they live and work social and mobile - the brave new world is with us.
Get your digital strategy sorted then you can get on with life in the new fashioned way.
Hey this is a first. A return to an original post that I wrote over two years ago and as it keeps getting hits I thought I would re-post it now.
A little update first. The quote below was written over 12 years ago and it sums up 'the now' accurately. People scoffed 12 years ago. Where are they now? None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but we can know that staying alert, staying well connected and staying up to date is key. The old ship of capitalism is being battered and torn apart, just like the battleship of communism before her. Any of us sailing in her or even alongside had better be on the front at the helm rather than stuck in the hull or caught re-arranging the deckchairs. It's very likely now that the whole system is going to re-boot sooner rather than later and reorganise itself. Be flexible, be ready, be steady, get set to 'go'.
And now to the Tesarac.
David Lewis first noted the term coined by Silverstein in his book The Soul of The New Consumer. Here is the quote, "Silverstein believes that the changes taking place as society travels through the Tesarac are so profound that nobody born one side of this 'wrinkle in time' will ever be able to understand fully what life was like before it occurred. Peter Drucker says that 'every few centuries, western society crosses a 'divide'. Within a few short decades, society rearranges itself, its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later there is a New World. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born." David Lewis noted in 2000 that we are still passing through a Tesarac and cannot accurately predict what the outcome will be. What is already apparent, however, is that manufacturers and suppliers trapped on the wrong side of this wrinkle in time will find themselves increasingly overwhelmed by the vastness of the changes it portends. Their more flexible, better informed and astute competitors who have moved through the Tesarac and understand the nature of the New Economy will be able to tap into the change and sweep onward to undreamed-of levels of success.
Have a great weekend, rest up, there's so much to be done next week.
When I grew up in East London I had a small circle of friends and family. I spent all my time with about 6 friends. I played with the other children in the street because we all knew each other. If someone moved away, like Gina Rowlands for example, well after about 2 letters, the friendship dried up. I watched maybe 5 TV programmes regularly. I listened to Radio One. We went away on holiday for two weeks, otherwise all weekends were at home. I didn't sleepover anywhere. Shops were shut on Sundays. Shops shut early one day in the week. We ate the same menu occasionally rejigged. I learnt from books from the library and school text books. I didn't question what I was told. How could I? I didn't have any other reference points.
Today my life would be very different. I would keep in touch with friends in several different ways. Even the ones I saw regularly I would Facebook to keep them posted. I would text any time of day or night. I would have a TV in my bedroom with a stash of DVD's. I would amuse myself with internet games or mobile games any time I wanted. I would enjoy a few favourite blockbuster TV programmes that all my friends were watching. I would keep up with friends who had travelled away through Skype and Facebook. I'd sleepover nearly every other weekend and even visit friends abroad if I could. I could read up on any subject from any angle and see films and question what I was learning. I could see what people were saying in other countries. I could challenge my worldview all the time.
In the same way, my working life is very different to the one I started over 20 years ago. Then it was a fixed, analogue world. Now it is fluid and digital. Now I can build my working life, connections and products globally for virtually no investment. Just a bit of savvy and hours of application building. It is still time intensive and it is still subject to market demand and interest. But fundamentally everything is different because it's global and on a 24 hour basis. There is no fixed point in time and space in cyberworld, everything is everywhere and nowhere, all the time.
For anyone flummoxed by the point of blogging or tweeting or linking in or facebooking it's the same as people would have been when the telephone was introduced. What was the point of the telephone? Why would you call someone, what would you say? Who would pick up the call anyway? No one knew at the beginning.
Building a digital estate is certainly key to a business and also, in my view, to an individual. Post capitalism, none of us knows how we will make our work any more. We will need all the tools and techniques, all the skills and understanding to be ready for what the new world is about to throw at us.
Don't hold back, get going, be ready for when the tide begins to turn. Get your digital estate underway.
Resources, both natural and manufactured, are becoming scarcer so we all have to find new ways of earning a living. A whole lot of Armed Force personnel are about to lose their livelihoods and will be looking for new ways to earn a living. Graduates are flooding out. People are coming from all different sectors that have been stable for the last 20 years and looking to discover new ways to get a crust.
This means that there will be more competition for jobs and for work. Pricing will become more competitive and that means less for more. Pensions are going down and age expectations are going up. There are gaps in the weave everywhere you look. The government in the UK is rolling back and trying to get out of the way as well as cutting its cloth to match its income. Times are tough.
So now then, what to do?
1 Realise that things are expanding rather than falling. Old systems are giving way to new ones. Every time something fails, something new is born. Voids are full of opportunities. Adjust your focus and look at all the new things that are happening. Look at the areas of growth. TED is a great resource for inspiring people who are making new things happen all the time.
2 Take a fresh look at everything you have taken for granted over the past 25 years. Is homeownership the only way or can renting a property be an alternative? Does a struggling family business really need to be handed on to the next generation? Or can it be laid to rest in a dignified way? Do you have to own a car or could you carshare? Take a look at the trend of 'collaborative consumption' and realise ownership is not the be all and end all anymore. Now relax your shoulders. New times deserve new perspective.
3 Change a few habits. Thinking is often a reaction to something. If you read the same newspapers or watch the same programmes or meet the same people then your thinking is going to get into the same grooves. New stimulus forces us to change our reactions and our thinking. Find one new magazine to read - perhaps New Scientist or Prospect? Connect with three new people from different walks of life. Turn the TV over or buy a different DVD. We all get very comfortable in familiar surroundings. The times call for us to get out of those comfort zones and reach new heights.
4 Stop for a moment before you jump to a conclusion. If you pause BEFORE you allow your thoughts to become automatic you will allow space for alternatives to appear. Get quiet regularly and your thinking will go to a deeper level and some of the quieter thoughts will get a chance to be heard. These will be valuable thoughts.
5 Get creative. Don't just consume creative stuff, actually think about it. Look at the Royal Opera House's website - you don't have to like opera - or the Victoria & Albert Museum or Jotta and look at what they are doing. Get stimulated. Write something automatically, just sit and write for 3 pages about anything. Take some photographs. All these will get your creativity fired up and this will mean your mind will be ready to make new connections and become more active.
6 Get fitter. Dull minds are housed in dull bodies. Any sort of physical activity will support your mind becoming more active. As your mind becomes fresher so your thinking will become fresher. So you will be able to think differently and think more creatively as well as more productively.
Of course we are facing up to unprecedented changes in society today both locally and globally. Of course there's lots to be done. Life's like that. Every generation has its stuff to deal with.
The one thing that doesn't change is those people best able to adapt and embrace the new can both thrive and enjoy the ride. Don't look back, the past is gone.
As film and video increasingly becomes the way to present information, as infographics help us all to see complex ideas and systems more easily, as we speed through our work and our lives at an ever faster pace so we will all need to become actors, producers and designers in our working lives.
The other side of the tesarac, in the old world, only a few people took to the stage. Only a few were experts with all the knowledge. They gave it out sparingly, charged for it accordingly. This side, we're all masters of the universe hoping to be the next big thing.
So clearly you need to do a little bit of thinking about your style. Not just your dress sense, but the style you want to present yourself in. Here are six film clips which are very different set ups and give very different impressions of the 'actors'.
In this clip (has a lot of swear words by the way) where comedians discuss the act of comedy, we see a conversation taking place and each person comes over differently. Which one are you? And why?
In this clip we see a craftsman which is a very different sort of film. How do you relate to this? Why?
What about this one where an architect discusses his work?
In this next clip we see a deep dive into the subject of commercial happiness. How does this feel when you watch it? How does this connect for you?
How about this one? The Iron Man? Is this more like it?
Or this moving TED conversation with José Abreu on music?
Film exposes you like no other medium really...it's a magnificent triumph to speak on film and connect with others truthfully, richly, deeply...
Spend time on your style in this way and you can become who you are ready to be.
The old saying goes 'follow the crowd'. But that doesn't work for me. Most of the time the crowd isn't really thinking that much. They are going along with the flow. They are conforming to the course of least resistance. We can't all be experts in everything, we don't have the time to check everything out in detail. In some cases I am part of that crowd. It makes my life easier.
However, if you do a small amount of homework and find a few people who make sense to you in whatever walk of life then follow them a little and see where it leads. Trust them a little to help you navigate the overwhelming level of choice we're facing today.
Just because something is the most popular doesn't make it the best choice for you. Ask advice from your chosen few and then, follow it, until you discover something better or more effective. Twitter makes this easier than ever. Perhaps we should all start to check out who we're following and why. Less is more.
I have just finished reading Paul Gilbert's great book on The Compassionate Mind. It's great because he writes complex ideas in a very simple style for a psychologist in mental health. It's great because I understand myself and others better for reading it. To save you a little time if you don't get around to reading the book here's a small take out.
The brain has three systems. One is a system around threat and self-protection and that's a very powerful part of the brain to ensure we stay safe. Another is a system around achievement and searching and that's powerful to ensure we stay fed, get a mate etc. Another is a system of self-soothing and calming ourselves. This area of the brain is where our kindness and compassion lives. This third area isn't so well developed or used unless you are in a caring profession or situation.
Apparently you can't use two systems at once or at least it's very unlikely.
So then, if someone threatens you or you even think they are, then your brain starts creating emotions such as anger to counteract the challenge. If you haven't developed your self-soothing area then you can stay angry for hours, months, a lifetime in fact. You can ruminate on the issue and feel those angry emotions all over again. And again. And again.
Same with achievement - when you are getting competitive and beating the other person to the job, to the top of the league tables, to the front of the queue it's very hard to feel any sense of warmth or compassion - everything is focused on the goal.
With this knowledge you can start to see more clearly how you are reacting in the moment. When anger arises you can start to look for why and how you have been threatened. You can then realise that it's a mirage, just because someone has said something that has 'pushed a button' doesn't mean they threatened you. You can just 'calm yourself' and get back to being you.
Just because you have a tight deadline and someone interrupts doesn't mean they are threatening you, just switch on your calmer in the brain and keep focused.
In fact, in most day to day lives very few of us are really threatened. Our ego is threatened, we want to save face, we worry that we're not good enough. None of these are real threats and so if we keep facing forwards we can soothe our frazzled minds and stay safe.
We learn our soothing habits from our parents in early life. If our parents were placid and gentle we will probably have great skills. If they were anxious and angry our skills will possibly be less well developed. The great news is we can still develop them later in life. The brain's plastic...so we can change our minds after all.
This information is really exciting as it explains us and our lives so well. We don't have to be at the mercy of our brains. We can learn to develop our minds and therefore our lives and those around us.
I think this has implications for many different professions including nurseries, schools, colleges, workplaces and the police.
Depending on our early experiences we will discover the world very differently. In one household we will grow up to see the world as a safe place; in another it will be a dangerous one. If we are brought up in an angry and threatening household we will go out into the world believing we have to be tough and fight to stay safe.
I am very interested in Kenneth Clarke's stance on prison and very interested in the idea of 'restorative justice' rather than 'retributive justice'. To me, this is all linked. Many people are in prison because they acted out their violent and angry emotions. They lacked the ability to soothe themselves and see things clearly.
As adults we can take charge of our minds and our threat systems. As parents we can make time to soothe our young people to ensure they see the world as a safe place and don't emerge with a need to fight everyone around them. To ensure they develop their mindskills. As citizens we can begin to think about what makes us human and how our brains make us who we are. How we can change our minds to be who we really do want to be.
I saw this quote last week on Twitter. It appeals to me. Tip - always hang on to things that appeal to you, at least until you understand why. To millions of people this Moorish quote will fly past unnoticed. To me it stops and waits to be noticed. To be considered.
I guess this quote is just so packed full of potential. Of hopefulness. Of mystery and power. It seems to me that to do anything of worth takes time. Years, generations perhaps. Also as I work in planning and strategy my daily thinking is about seeing as far forward as possible, which is the horizon. No-one can 'see' past their own horizon.
Of course with satellites now I suppose things have changed and we can 'see' further via electronic means. But that sort of 'seeing' is far too literal. That sort of seeing impedes the imagination. The horizon is full of imagination.
In business and even life we often just do what's in front of us and then spend our own hours wondering 'what if', and wishing away time looking at celebrity lifestyles. So here's a question for us all, 'what if...we lived on the horizon'.
How would your work look then? What's over the horizon for you?
For me it looks like this...
Human intelligence is just about to soar. It started eons ago, when cavemen started to paint and is now accelerating with the technologies we are all becoming familiar with. Once we have got over the initial buzz of being able to entertain ourselves for hours in any which way we want, some of us will use it for great good. Some of us already are.
What is great good? This is where a human experience can achieve its full potential for itself and perhaps for its fellow mankind. It is where healing and beauty and grace lives. Perhaps Utopia has been wasted as a word previously, brought out too soon...perhaps there is a time and place on the horizon where each person can make their home, can see themselves clearly as they are. Great good will come from that. Great good is on its way.
Funny how a blog turns out. I never really know where it's going when I start. The rules say I should. But I don't, so there.
If you've seen the blog headline and now think you'll get some titillating ideas around spicing up your love life, move right along. I am talking about how we link food and love together and when that's good for us and maybe when it's not so good.
Jamie Oliver has won worldwide recognition for his work with food by reminding us all that fast food and a fast food culture kills. His focus on school nutrition has been both awe inspiring and shocking too. Shocking that it got as bad as it did with no-one noticing, awesome that his passion and determination know no bounds.
If any of you have watched Jamie's earliest TV programmes he has never been a 'great' cook. The Michelin food assessors are not going to be listing him anytime soon. However what he has managed to do brilliantly is evoke the mood of cooking. The love that is shared through eating home-prepared meals with people you love. That's what we enjoy watching. His mates and family 'digging' into his meals. There's no time for standing on ceremony, it's all just about enjoying the time together to eat, share ideas, conversations, laughter. It's very natural even though so many of us don't actually live that way all the time.
So in his way Jamie is making love with food. Creating an atmosphere of love and affection through sharing food, breaking bread together.
However I also see that families with food obsessions and disorders have been sharing love in their own way too. Mothers feed up their sons and daughters and grandchildren. Fathers share the hotdogs, fries and burgers at the football with their families. So how do we ensure we don't harm the people we really love with our food and our attention? Here are 3 do's and 3 don'ts. Feel free to add some more to the list.
1 Spend time preparing food - love is built into food that way. Share the love of preparation and actually tidying up can be very relaxing, as much as eating the food itself.
2 Spend time learning about food and how it is grown. Go out to explore farmer's markets and real farms and the countryside or urban gardens. The mood is nutritious just as much as the food.
3 Spend time choosing menus and recipes together with your families and children. The creative expression and curiosity is a feast in and of itself.
1 Habitually treat a child or a friend using food as a reward. This is a habit that will be extremely difficult to break later.
2 See food as good or bad. It is neither. The more you do this the more you will be tempted by the bad foods and see the good foods as dull and boring.
3 Over indulge constantly as a way to give yourself love. True love is there all the time, surrounding you. True love doesn't need to be fried or iced or spooned to be experienced daily.
Obesity is a trend that is costing lives and creating misery for millions around the planet. Man evolved in a world of scarcity, so we are now finding it hard to handle the abundance that the developed worlds today can enjoy.
Thank you Jamie for reminding us of the opportunity to love each other that food can provide. It's now time to remember not to mistakenly kill the ones we love in the same way.
Often we lose our way...we are busy and harried but we are somewhat off the path towards success or whatever other measurement we may like to make. How do we know, because our little signal system knows, deep down we know. It may be shown obviously by lack of money, friends, customers, all three...
When I look at others I see myself. I know how hard it is to stay on track, to keep connected to the right path. Not just doing things right but doing the right things too.
A particular case at the moment is where a market has lost touch with modern consumers. They haven't kept pace and now they are feeling isolated, confused and this is being shown through inconsistent sales and an ageing client base.
There are many things this market has to do to make progress. The simplest and most profound is to be the change, as Gandhi said. Be the change you want to see in the world. If you want customers to be fascinated by what you do, be fascinated by them.
Too many outdated industries and organisations blame the world for their problems. It isn't the world's fault it changes and progresses. There is no blame to be laid at the door of a technology generation when you are an analogue order. Simon Cowell is not the problem.
The questions are how to remain relevant and exciting and current...not how to take the world back to a former time to suit yourself?
In the modern age there are many more opportunities to express individuality, to get audiences, to make an impact. The only person who can change is you.
As I say when I look at others I see myself. I see all the stubbornness, all the determination, all the grit to succeed. But when 'you are the change' you don't need so much of those qualities, you need more of the humility, more of the openness, more of the shared experiences and wonder qualities.
Stop struggling start pathfinding, it's more fun and it's more rewarding too.
I just noticed on my tweetdeck a tweet from @rpm which linked me to this you tube video from Adidas...which prompted my thoughts for my blog this morning. I have been working since about 8. Well not exactly working but more I have been connected since about 8am. From a café, then in my office. By connected, I have been watching twitter, tweeting, emailing, telephoning, updating a client website and now blogging. I am designing my forthcoming marketing programme for art / antiques dealers and so am considering the various elements that need to be included and what needs to be excluded. The adidas clip is rather disconcerting, disorienting, thought provoking...the technology and time and human investment in the virtual product wall is eye watering. Nike could match it and a whole host of global brands will be doing similar things both now and in the future. All good, all fascinating. My wondering is how do more analogue businesses and organisations keep pace? Because keep pace they must. The customer, who is apparently pretty dissatisfied in general according to a recent study that I have now misplaced amongst all my twitter favourites, doesn't care that the small guy can't imagine creating a virtual product of this magnitude, even if he could begin to fund it.(Just found it) So how do the smaller retailers really perform against this onslaught? I think creativity and collaboration must be the answer. Watching the video from adidas it occurs to me that our relationship with technology is fascinating. I imagine that the involvement of people in a retail space will change significantly. I already prefer to check myself out at Marks and Spencer foodstores. Why? Because the exchange with the till clerk is pretty void of value. Many of us watching the X Factor know that Mary? didn't like being on the checkout at Tesco. The exchange with many retail staff is devoid of value. Often now at shops like Office, no one even attempts to 'fit' a shoe. I fit it myself. If there is no value in a relationship it will wither. It's law, a natural law. It's not good or bad, just inevitable. So when I am reviewing marketing for the art and antiques dealers is this a point of review? What is their relationship with customers like? If there is no real relationship then this needs discussing. Think will tweet to Mary Portas see what she thinks.
I went to the Capital Radio Jingle Bell Ball last night with some family and friends, all quite young. Me at heart, at least. It was 'rockin'' as 'they' say. I was swamped by the latest the culture has to offer and I was surrounded by thousands willing to give a huge amount of time and money to the pleasure dome. And on a Sunday!
In my line of work I can't just watch and enjoy something as big as this, I have to analyse and comment too. It's a pity but there it is.
About 16,000 people watching about 12 acts sing, dance, shout and mesmerise us by visual graphics. Quite a lot of pyrotechnics and sparklers. Flo Rider took a tour of the arena on the shoulders of some man mountain. Kylie strutted her minimal stuff and the Saturday's gave us large rubber balls to bounce around the auditorium. JLS had paper streamers, several acts used confetti to make their points and all in all it was fun. Lots of fun.
So from a brand point of view you couldn't really do much more than give over 30,000 people over a weekend a story to tell about you. You couldn't do much more than give a focus to about 3 weeks of your radio play. You couldn't do much more to give your 'suppliers' eg JLS, Kylie etc a real opportunity to connect with their fans. O2 couldn't get more chance to show off their venue and then Windows 7 dominated us over 5 hours. Try putting that on TV? Oh and Cadbury's managed to send us home with chocolate on the tube.
Events are catnip to brands. They are the epicentre that can create streams and streams of ideas, thoughts, conversations.
Congratulations Capital Radio for staying so current even though you are nearly 40 years old. In a radio media landscape that is exhaustingly competitive and frenzied they really do know how to lead the pack.
Jamie Oliver has been interviewed in The Guardian today and is tired. He says that no one understands him. He's tired of being the bad guy for doing what any normal adult should do, which is to stand up for our children's rights when it comes to food. He's tired of pushing against the tides of poor nutritionist education and an illiterate food culture that we, the grown ups, have allowed to emerge over the past 30 years.
He is not misunderstood by everyone, not by me at least. I know so many people that want a return to sensible attitudes. That doesn't mean stopping all the fun. It's no fun to wear size 24 trousers or be the outcast at school. No fun at all. He mentions one mother feeding her baby a 'milk' bottle filled with coca cola. That's abuse. We're all involved in these issues, and the fact that Jamie Oliver feels so alone and so vilified is terrible evidence of a culture that needs to fix itself fast. Jamie is tired. So he is bound to feel a bit frayed around the edges. Jamie also needs help to change gear. Sometimes if you are 'campaigning' you can get stuck in first or second gear on the hill and eventually the engine whines badly. Jamie needs to feel able to hand some of the reins over to other people to help him. He needs to feel it's not all his problem, that others care as passionately as he does. If Jamie Oliver wants a hand, I've got one to give. I've got a whole bunch of friend's hands too that I'd help raise to stop this nonsense. What can we do to help Jamie get into third gear and fourth and then cruise for a while in fifth?
A colleague has a client who is getting more and more difficult. The relationship is under strain. What has changed? The client expectations have become higher, more urgent. The money is running low and the results are getting thinner on the ground. The recession is having this effect on a great many people and organisations. What was tolerable suddenly is intolerable. What was reasonable suddenly is unreasonable. In strained relationships no-one does their best work, ever. Trust is an invisible force that supports us all. It can make Da Vinci's of everyone. Without trust, I would suggest, it is impossible to thrive. 'Keep the faith' is a phrase which asks us to push past the real world into the invisible and remain a believer. Giving trust to another person who is entangled with you is a whole different quality. People earn trust of course. But which comes first? Trust or Performance? Women may have greater need in this area. Having someone to believe in them before they can perform to their best.
Later today I am meeting Paul of Mentorwell, a new mentoring initiative which I am going to support within a community project I am designing. Mentoring can be a wonderful way to give structured 'trust' to someone who hopes to fulfil their potential.
My jaw dropped when I saw the ad. What! Chocolate Weetabix! That's like seeing the Pope in Ray Bans and a thong. Just not right. It undermines everything most sane parents are trying to instil in their young children's minds. Worldwide obesity is robbing people of their life, it's causing unhappy children who, it has been shown, have fewer friends if they are overweight. I would happily debate that to overfeed a child is one of the worst and most widespread forms of abuse we have in modern times.
Get off your high horse madame, you may reasonably say...'when was the last time you ate Weetabix'? 'Never,' is my answer. Not as a child, not as an adult and hopefully not as a dementia patient later on in life. Do I offer them to my family? No. I have tried their little brothers, Shreddies. They are both a no go zone no matter who 'knitted' them.
So stay out of the discussion. I can't. As a marketer it sums up all that is **** about marketing and marketers. The team goes out and gets the 'insight'. They find that families have difficulty in getting children to eat breakfast. So what's the clever new big idea? Add chocolate??! It defies belief. Then go with the oh-so-shallow justification that 'we're doing it better than the other chocolate cereal providers'. That's like a burglar defending his profession by saying, 'well, at least we don't ever use violence'.
To add insult to injury they go all social and send samples to some Mother bloggers and get them in on the act by saying their children loved it. Aaargh!
I do hope Jamie Oliver sits on the sofa with Adrian Chiles and gets Daybreak going on this utter stupidity.
OK eating Weetabix original is like eating Arthur Scargill's hair with milk every morning.
So let's just try it with fruit, with yoghurt, with honey, with any number of tasty alternatives. Let's add it to milkshakes or do something to make it more palatable. Turn them into fun shapes, put some competitions going etc etc. But don't add chocolate. And please don't say you've triumphed when you've sold a load. You haven't triumphed, as Jack Nicholson said in a Few Good Men 'you've just weakened a country'. A nation marches on its stomach and in this case the nation won't be able to raise its stomach off the sofa to march anywhere.
OK so now Coleen joins the throngs of wronged women. It's no coincidence that Victoria and Tanya (Beckham and Ramsay) seen below are so close...
Photo courtesy of Zimbio
...both able to understand how it feels to be betrayed by their fabulous men, both able to be strong enough to overcome their husbands' misdemeanours.
It's becoming a regular thing now. Clinton, about to be portrayed in a new drama, The Special Relationship, with Tony Blair also fell on his all powerful .... sword.
We're all swooning over Don Draper. The magnificent ideal of a complicated man in Mad Men. Yet a serial philanderer. Michael Douglas went into rehab for it. So too, Tiger, now legally free, although considerably poorer, to pursue his next best hobby after a round of golf. In fact, the sporting language is full of innuendos, 'playing a round' (golf), 'playing away' (football).
It seems like it's impossible to reach the very top without risking everything either through drink, drugs or sex. Sexual exploits of the rich and famous often get explained away as due to 'the feelings of supreme power' that being at the top of your game gives you. Apparently it distorts your self image and boundaries. It was ever thus. JFK. Frank Sinatra.
Napoleon Hill, in his famous book written in the 50's, has a whole chapter on the subject, The Mystery of Sex Transmutation. This is not a guide to sex change. This is a guide to controlling the sexual urges that success brings and channelling them into creative expression. He makes the point that nearly all very successful men have high sex drives. It goes with the territory. However the greater ones have mastered this drive and channelled it into other achievements, rather than becoming a slave to it. He says, in fact, that a man who successfully transmutes his sex energy often goes on to become a genius in his field, and a truly great man.
Napoleon Hill also, rather quaintly, suggests that all men want to please their ' preferred woman'. That their 'preferred woman' is the source of their original power and that to lose that woman's support undermines their very essence and weakens them significantly. Ashley, now adrift without Cheryl, will need to look for the love of another good woman.
And boys, there's more bad news...according to fashion pundits, 'breasts are back in fashion', the hourglass figure is back in Vogue...so we can either look forward to more fallen heroes in the months to come or you've got to find another way to slake your physical thirst...the world could certainly do with a few more heroic geniuses (genii) and truly great men right now.
I don't play computer games. But, as I like technology, I thought I should take a look. Recently I was introduced to a game that was easy and I started to play it. It was easy but difficult. Addictive. Fooled into thinking I could do it I embarked on the simple task of getting a red ball to cross a variety of assault courses. Only it takes skill which I don't have. So I have to try and try and try again. Normally I give up this sort of pursuit, can't be bothered, stupid waste of a human life sort of thinking. This time I didn't.
This time I kept going. I kept trying. Day after day.
A fascinating insight for me was that, over time, my determination 'relaxed' into perseverance. My frustration transmuted into persistence. I knew it was possible to get this little red ball across. I knew others younger than me had mastered it. I knew it was only a question of time and focus. Each time I managed to progress through a level I found the same pattern of experience emerged. After a lot of failed attempts and a sense of panic at making the jump, finding the path in just the right way at just the right time...things slowed down. My senses heightened. I was in the game. I could relax and make the jump when I wanted...I could find my pace. Level after level this same new sensory awareness appeared.
'You have to trust the process', said a coach in a reality programme I watched where people are changing their lives. The words resonated.
I realised I was learning to trust the process where the game was concerned. I could trust that over time I would get the skills needed both with my hands and my eyes and then in sync.
I agree, 'you have to trust the process.'
Getting results is about trusting the process...business is about trusting the process, life is about trusting the process.
To knit a scarf you have to keep making the stitches. You have to trust that each line of woollen stitches will add up to a wonderfully warm scarf.
Photo courtesy of knittingepiphany
To build a business you have to trust that each satisfied customer will lead to another, that each call made will build a greater chance for new business, that each mailer will lead to greater contact with your clients. As a writer you have to trust that each word written will add up to a story told.
As a blogger I am trusting the process of blogging to create a line of thinking and insights that will lead to greater support for my clients.
Confucius said 'it doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you don't stop'. I heard Bill Clinton repeat Abraham Lincoln's words 'we're all stumbling, hopefully we're stumbling in the right direction'.
To me these all hint at the same idea. You have to trust the process. Whatever you are attempting to get done, whichever area of business or personal life needs thought, trust the process.
I find I am getting more and more recommendations from people I respect. Recommendations for films, books, websites, destinations, restaurants, networks, other people, services, products. I need a recommendation app just to keep up. I find myself forgetting the recommendations and then buying something unrecommended or going somewhere unrecommended. No matter, if it's good I can recommend it and 'be the first'.
Sometimes people ask my opinion or what I would do in certain situations. Sometimes I am happy to give advice and sometimes I continually qualify my advice...concerned that something I like might not suit someone else. Sometimes I want to keep some things just for me.
I just recommended someone who is fantastic on many levels and OK on others. For me the fantastic virtues outweigh the average ones, but how to be sure that would be the same for someone else?
So the currency of recommendations needs to be considered. One person's meat is another's poison. Perhaps one way is to qualify the recommendation thoroughly, but who's listening?
When I go on Trip Advisor or a restaurant review site I take an overview of the comments and make a decision based on best overall. Then I am better prepared and can decide if I mind overpriced small portions or surly, pretentious service.
The chance of perfect fit every time is low. We're all different. Some of the emotional buzz comes from 'finding' a diamond in the raw for oneself.
So don't be too hard on people if their recommendations don't work out and don't be too hard on yourself when giving a recommendation.
The interconnected world means we'll be consuming more and more recommendations, it's supposed to make our life simpler not more complex.
Yesterday I read Chris Brogan's blog on mapping technology, where Chris was making the point that there wasn't enough in it for him. How naïve of me, I didn't even know why they were asking where I was. I thought there was something in it for me. So I just blindly said 'yes, use my location.'
I found myself then asking the question that Chris posed, 'what's my take?' And I find I have two contrasting takes. The first take is pretty straightforward which says 'nosey, I'm not sharing my location'. Bear in mind I was annoyed about Oyster knowing every trip I make, where, when etc on public transport. I don't like being pinned down by people I know yet alone faceless bureaucrats...then my alternative take is, 'so what?, this whole social media thing is a huge experiment. We don't know what may come out of knowing where people are on a moment by moment basis...look at the mood map of America that has just been produced, who knew?
So my take at the moment is one of optimism. If some clever technotypes can find valuable information or stories because they know where I am when I use their app, OK I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Taking a macro view that 'there's something in it for me' today, even if none of us know what it is just yet. So I am cutting them a little slack, giving them some latitude on their mapping technology.
Social media is not over there. It's where you are. It's right where you stand. The latest example of this is Old Spice's new You Tube campaign where they have created a character Old Spice Man or Dude and have made You Tube films of him. He's attractive and masculine. Deep voice, dark skin. He is connected on Twitter, Face Book natch. Now he's responding to individual tweets and posts. He's personalising the social part of the media. How long is it before we get the first wedding between a celeb and a fan via social media. This is feeling like a 21st century pen pal thing on a global stage. It's fan relationships amplified. Remember when you see footage of girls next to the stages of heart throb popstars and they get a kiss or a smile or a wave and they...faint, swoon, scream? This is a bigger version of that.
These online developments trigger new styles of behaviour and new ideas for using the medium. Some will be awful and put more people off something they have already decided is grave for the human race and some will be wonderful and encourage more people to paddle in the shallows.
The only point I am really making is that social media is coming to you wherever you are. There are an infinite number of ways to get involved and to control your relationships, just like there are in the real world.
One day it will be like having a telephone number. Remember the old films where people said, 'I'm not on the phone yet', that's what having no social media ID's will be like in the future. If you're weren't on the phone you couldn't make calls or get calls. Soon people moved on because they didn't have time to call round or write to ask you something. If you're not on social media the same will be true in the not too distant future. You almost won't exist except to real life friends and family.
Much of my work is invisible. It is pulling together strategies for people who know roughly where they want to go but don't really know how to get there. It is focusing people on what's important and motivating them to know why and how they can get to the next stage. Much of my work involves bringing different groups of people together and unifying their ideas into one bigger idea that more people will be excited by.
If my work was a picnic I could be sure of exactly what was needed. A basket to carry everything in. Sandwiches, lemonade, napkins, champagne, a red gingham table cloth, a meadow by a river, friends and time to enjoy. There is a set format for picnics. Everyone knows what to bring and what to expect.
Nowadays the picnic businesses are getting fewer. Most businesses can't get by any more on the tried and trusted formats that everyone knows. So most businesses need to learn how to change their picnic formulas and create different, adaptable ways to feed themselves and their families.
Adaptive businesses, such as mine, can be part of that shift away from formula to creative expression and freedom. Businesses that can move and flow into the 21st Century will have more opportunities than ever before imagined. Businesses that cling to the riverbanks or refuse to flow will struggle and eventually perish.
All You Need Is Love, the Beatles knew it, the Dalai Lama knows it, your Mother knows it and now scientists can link it to social media. A new study published by Fast Company links the feelings of love with people actively engaging with social media. The studies' author says, 'In a world of social networks, then, this much seems clear: Companies that can connect with us and raise our oxytocin levels should prosper. Those that can't, won't. Love Marks understands and gives illustration after illustration of what it takes to build a business, a brand, a world full of love. More proof is available from Beckwith & Partners where they show the brain chemistry changes depending on the brand involvement. Advertising, branding and marketing is entering a new age. I hope a meaningful age where we can really do some special work. Where the cynics will fail, those that want to exploit the needy and vulnerable will change and those who can really connect with hearts and minds will prosper. All You Need is Love, click here to enjoy.
So the fourth version of iPhone is on its way. I must admit I was sceptical about the last version. Until I got it. The phone enables. Previously I'd stuck to the Blackberry like glue. I was loyal to their groundbreaking device. Until I wasn't. Until their brand values and mine parted ways and said our little goodbyes. Just like the Sony Vaio before it.
I watched as they both took a wrong turn along my highway of interest and exited towards Corporation Hill. I watched as they started to copy instead of lead, started to break promises instead of break ground.
It is highly possible apple can't sustain this hyper-hedonic brand position, but until that day I can remain connected to their ideas and values. I can continue to enjoy unwrapping their products and queueing at their Genius Bar. I didn't understand why people behaved in such an odd way around their products and had such meaningless conversations about them. But perhaps they've taken the place of the car? Where men used to talk for hours around their new car, perhaps now it's all around their new apple.
If you use a computer to get from a to b or a mobile to make calls you're probably not reading this.
Branded Content? What's that then? The Wikipedia entry for BC started in Feb 2007 and states it's the short form for all marketing activity that has content and has a brand embedded within. It's content that is funded by the brand. So think V Festival, think BMW Films, think Vodafone's The Big Idea. Think Red Bull's Flugtag work.The BCMA exists to bring the market together and give it a voice and to give it values. Now, with a bespoke research product Bces, they can offer a way to measure this type of marketing activity.
In a way research gives marketing people permission to try something. If you know it can be measured then you can start to explore and trial activity. If it can't be measured how will you know?
There are two styles of marketing heroes: the up-front-breaking-the-rules marketing guys (pioneers) - these folks don't expect to measure at first, they expect to behave and create waves, then there's the follow-on-guys (settlers), those who watch and wait and then jump in.
You can't be different to who you are or the type of organisation you work for. So if you're already right up front, pioneering great content with your brand embedded, now, with Bces, you have something to show for your instinct, your creativity, and if you're part of the 'follow-on-crowd', you have some basic rules of the road. Some guidance as to what works and why. You also have some tried and tested methods to give your FD, showing you were right to start making your own branded content. Game on.
Now that science has seen we are all atoms flying around in clusters which the eye sees as objects and people, animals and insects etc perhaps we can rethink personality as well. Perhaps personality is not as solid as we've always thought. Perhaps the different sides to our 'natures' need to fly around more freely.
Perhaps the Chief Exec needs to be allowed to show his musical spirit more freely. Perhaps artists need to show their buttoned down moments? We're not as we seem. We are much more fluid and more complex and more balanced than we first appear.
This turns branding upside down. Brands then are more fluid and more complex and more balanced than they first appear. Brands can't stay stuck to one voice, one point of view. Nuanced brands will be stronger and more real as will nuanced people. Drop the solid state, get with the bigger version of your 'nature'.
I am very interested in how you monetise online activity. Of course I am. So are most other people of working age at the moment.
I think that online will drive the world of the future, it will be the norm and offline will be a welcome relief and have an elevated position. So in the future, online conferences will be the norm and the great real world conferences will be the aspirational environments. As long as they are TED like in quality and not mediocre of course.
Real world experiences like wind surfing, driving and walking will continue to be part of our world- experience born out of necessity, desire or both. Many people will stay 'real-worlders' and there will be 'real-world movements'. Our current world experience will turn upside down. Parents will tell their children of times before phones, email and the internet as every generation has done before in its own way.
Back to money and the internet. I have recently signed up for The Third Tribe and Chris Guillebeau's online business guides. I have put my money where my mouth is. These are not cheap and they're not expensive, except in the face of 'free'. As a marketing person I want to understand how these monetised systems work and to be part of something new. I blog, am linked in, on facebook, twitter, on triiibes and other ning style networks and will continually play at the new world. I have an iPhone and buy iTunes and apps. I join in online conversations and Skype with people I have never met from countries I have never visited.
I will be buying an iPad soon. Why? Because it's about to change us again. Murdoch wants us to pay for his content. The Times is going iPad. I want to see what they can do with news online in this format. I want to see what it feels like to read a book in this format. I may love it, I may not, but I will have a point of view. That's what is important to me. I am not following or leading. I am discovering.
I am going to the London Linchpin Meet Up in June with over 100 other people that may be similar to me and yet, I hope, still with a unique finger print and experience.
New age is here. I am discovering it, following, leading, discovering. I urge you to paddle at the edges, even if you don't want to get on a board and ride the waves...yet.
Ted Baker is producing men's ties in the style of Nina Campbell, the interior designer. Keihls skincare is holding a Chelsea shop opening in aid of Chelsea Pensioners. They are also creating a unique product, Creme du Corps in support of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Margaret Howell, the clothes designer, is holding an exhibition of art by Peter Yates. Each one of these and the many more brands, businesses and organisations that are finding new ways of connecting with their customers and markets show us how mixing it up makes an impact and creates innovation. Innovation is the lifeblood of business and society. Are you mixing it up enough?
I love the new world of the mash up. It's everywhere. Take the Elephant Parade in central London. A big charity trying to get attention for the plight of elephants, talks to a whole host of artists, creates unique and interesting symbolic elephants, puts them in different areas and has them adopted by businesses and then auctions them to raise money for the cause. Take the Cutty Sark and Don't Panic campaign where they use art to create new ideas and context for the whisky brand. Take Becks beer 'music inspires art' programme, again using creativity and engagement to drive interest and difference to the brand.
In today's open world there are many more possibilities. Yet there are still minds to be opened. Opening your mind is the first step to discovering relationships, partnerships and connections that can re-invigorate and refresh what you do, what you sell, what you buy and how you work.
Even the previously reticent people I know now say to me, 'I am thinking about starting a blog'. This is because the general media exposure of blogging has widened to show that having a blog is not something weird but rather something curious. From weird to curious is a good move. Weird evokes feelings of fear and loathing. Curious is much more engaging. Curiosity offers possibilities. Added to that, mainstream media increasingly shows the value of the top bloggers in terms of audience and respect and it's not surprising many more people are thinking, 'I could do that'.
In reality I am not sure everyone will do that. Not everyone will make the time, nor will find the content to write. But the more people understand the flexibility of the medium, the lack of rules, the freedom of expression, the more people may experiment.
Looking at the blogs that were highlighted by the Sunday Times last week as the ones that work there seems to be a combination of approaches. The first represented by Mashable is a one stop shop variety, a quick access for readers to be 'in the know'. Then there are the gossip blogs represented by Perez Hilton, great fun and entertaining, the knowledge ones such as the one from Niamh Shields for foodies, or Tech Crunch for techies, news ones such as The Huffington Post or the celebrity blog from David Byrne.
Speaking of celebrity blogs P Diddy is just about to enter the fray take a look at his launch video shown on Mashable (see how it all interlinks). How bold is that? P Diddy presumably will have a team of writers just itching to give us access to his world. Which leads neatly into style.
Different people have different styles. Some personal and some stylised professional.
To blog successfully you need to see what works and why it works and then figure out how you can express yourself as fully or with the same quality of focus. Then you will have to make time to do it. There is nothing as bad as an empty or old blog. It sits out there in space like driftwood, evidence of lack of follow through, lack of discipline, lack of interest.
Blogs definitely don't work for everyone. Blogs definitely don't guarantee success. Blogs are a commitment to your belief in free expression, shared ideas, fun and learning. Out of that commitment some, like those noted above, will become significant channels in their own right, most will not.
Which leads to my final question. Is an unread blog worth doing? If you don't get instant readership engaging with you and hanging on your every word should you quit?
As a non-corporate blogger I'd say if it's worth blogging about then blog. As a brand specialist I'd say if it's worth blogging about then blog. As a private individual I'd say if it's worth blogging about then blog.
Bloggers know who they are. If you aren't a blogger then don't.
Do something else in social media that interests you. Create 'you tube' films, engage in big discussions online, create a special network on ning, twitter, flickr, make your own radio station on blip. Getting involved as a brand, as an individual in social media doesn't necessarily mean blogging. Explore the space, have fun, play. Social media is a playground of possibility. Don't panic, you've got all the time in the world, it's not going anywhere.
I seem to be talking about being fresh a lot at the moment. Fresh is a good word. It sounds like its meaning. It's hard to say that word without getting a zing. So what does it mean for you and your world?
First what it doesn't mean...
Fresh doesn't mean crazy, wacko
Fresh doesn't mean safe
Fresh means interesting, light, clean, unusual, modern, up to date, fun.
If you apply these other words instead to your business or even your life let's see what happens...
How can your business be more interesting? For you...for your staff...for your customers...for your industry?
How can you treat what you do more lightly, with less seriousness? How can your staff do this? Your customers...
How can you see yourself more cleanly, more clearly, how can you dust off your outdated image?
Unusual...look in the mirror, what is unusual about you? What is unusual about what you do? Ask others to tell you what they find interesting.
How modern are you? Look at those wacky people right up front, how near to them are you? How do you dress, what's your language, what's your image like? Is it modern, up to date? What's your point of view around technology, education, the environment?
How much fun are you having? Why? Where are you getting your fun? What is fun about your business and what you do? Are you making more of that? Are you amplifying the fun part of your work?
These questions are the sorts you should be asking yourself about what you do and what you bring to your work today. If you are not fresh you probably are past your sell by date and we all know what happens then.
In marketing we come up with all sorts of angles, all sorts of insights and all sorts of commentary on each other's work. 'I wouldn't have done that', 'that's wrong', 'that works', 'that's great', 'that's not'. I wonder if the whole time all we are really trying to do is 'avoid boring people'. If people are interested and become fascinated then actually much of the rest of the marketing dialogue is out of date.
Obviously we all have fascination for different stuff at different times of our life. Babies fail to fascinate when they are not yours or you don't want one. Loans don't fascinate when you are flush with cash. Luxury handbags don't fascinate when you have them all, in all the different colours and skins they make.
So we need to understand how to fascinate, how to intrigue and equally, how not to bore.
Tomorrow I am going to look at boredom in more detail, before we look deeper into the art of fascination.
This is a term meaning give me a bit of latitude. Wait for a moment before you pass judgement on me. This term makes the point that we can't always be so fleet of word as TV presenters or film stars. We have reached the point now when there is so little time that people have lost the habit of listening and hearing and 'experiencing' what people are saying. The Prime Ministerial Debate epitomises this. We are asked to judge a leader's skill by how quick he is to fend off the dogs.
Blogs, in a way, slow things down. You can't stop me making my point here. I have time to develop my point. You can stop reading me...but I do get a chance to make my point. As I get better at writing and develop my skills so I can more quickly, more fluently make my point and you can decide if it's valuable or not.
Humour is something we would all do well to develop more of; both the funny ha-ha sort and the patience and tolerance sort. There's a lot of people in the world, with a lot of experience. Not everyone has been schooled in a University to win an argument or to present their 3 key ways or 5 hot tips. Many people are normal and speak in normal ways, their brains firing on all cylinders perfectly well. I agree, it is a nuisance when people won't get to the point, especially when you are late for the bus, but there are a lot of people with a lot of great points to make that don't conform to our narrow 'timebound' ideas.
In an entirely different fictional style Mrs Miniver's expresses a similar point of view (in the wartime 1940's) when she finds herself frustrated by the poor quality of conversation surrounding her. Enjoy!
'Besides, Mrs Miniver was beginning to feel more than a little weary of
exchanging ideas (especially political ones) and of hearing other people
exchange theirs. It's all very well, she reflected, when ideas have had
time to flower, or at least to bud, so that we can pick them
judiciously, present them with a bow, watch them unfold in the warmth of
each other's understanding; but there is far too much nowadays of
pulling up the wretched little things just to see how they are growing.
Half the verbal sprigs we hand each other are nothing but up-ended
rootlets, earthy and immature: left longer in the ground they might have
come to something, but once they are exposed we seldom manage to replant
them. It is largely the fault of the times we live in. Things happen too
quickly, crisis follows crisis, the soil of our minds is perpetually
disturbed. Each of us, to relieve his feelings, broadcasts his own
running commentary on the preposterous and bewildering events of the
hour: and this, nowadays, is what passes for conversation.'
The current world situation means we are revisiting morals, judgements and ethics. In the aftermath of the economic crisis, in the environmental shift, in the technological shake up, as the West ages faster than the East, we are reviewing ourselves on an enormous scale. We are checking ourselves in the mirror, do we like what we see?
One of the problems as we begin to take a new view on ethics and morals is we fall into the very difficult territory of deciding on each other's ethics and morals and creating a collective viewpoint. This inevitably leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Although we tend to look back at the old days with nostalgia they do not have a good record for morals and judgments. People lacking faith in God burnt in Hell, literally and metaphorically. Women with child, lacking a husband, were ostracised from family and friends or left searching for a knitting needle and a bottle of gin. Men who found they loved other men were imprisoned or forced to live a lie. People were judged by the colour of their skin. Morals work for and against an enlightened society. I am not a historian but in my gut I know we are entering a new age where we have to re-write what we find acceptable. These are intricate decisions, not black and white, but many shades in between.
The banking crisis is leading to a new set of business ethics, standards and laws as well as a new mood and attitudes, both public and private. Technological shake ups are leading to new business models, new skills, new partnerships and collaborations. The ageing demographic in the West is leading to new thoughts about social care, medical intervention, attitudes to death and quality of life.
As we work our way through these times morals, judgements and ethics will be top of mind. Personal moral values often differ to society's value systems. Business ethics struggle in a free economy spanning the globe. Systems are created for the majority not for minorities. Creating systems for minorities causes discomfort for the majority. Creating systems which punish bad behaviour punish honest people and organisations too, even if it's only in the form filling mountains that emerge.
So what is the answer? There is no one answer, there are many.
Leaders can take the opportunity to open meaningful discussion on these topics.
The Media can take a responsible attitude to supporting these dialogues we all need to have.
Brand Leaders and Brand Guardians can consider how their values fit within the overall scheme of things.
We can broaden the notion of leadership to include leadership at home for mothers and fathers, siblings as well as guardians.
We can offer a more grown up response to how we want to be and how we want to work and how we want to live our lives.
We can look for a more responsible way to take into account the variety of perspectives that need to be aired.
We can find the humility required to create societies and businesses we can be proud to own, work in and buy from; to create homes we can be proud to own, to share and to live in.
The Chinese were right these certainly are interesting times, ones that will leave a mark on history. What that mark is depends on our collective wisdom and our shared intelligence.
The media this, the media that, they this, they that. Blame, blame, blame. No wonder most of us are tuning out and turning down. It's all so boring, so expected, so dull. The Huffington Post is a beacon. The Huff is well regarded, enjoyed and respected. We surely have more choices than two. Fun, fun, fun...po faced, po faced, po faced. Sure I can read Prospect, and sometimes do. Sure I can only listen to Radio 4.
Can't we create new, improved tabloids and monthlies and other formats that better reflect our situation and what we need from the press and related media. In fact I now listen to CBBC news for children. It is great to listen to the way they script the stories. Balanced, non patronising, informative, sharing, explanatory. In fact I really like the way Blue Peter is handling social issues. Someone needs to design a channel that has a responsible attitude to the way it tells us what's going on. I don't mean change the facts or dumb down. I mean responsible, taking responsibility for the precious gift they have, the gift of sharing our world and what's going on within it. I think media reviews need to be more public and have more involvement. I think we need to be more adult and see our complicity in this. Being more adult doesn't mean being more graphic, more violent, more intrusive. It means being more responsible.
I grew up in East London. My Mother knew Ken Russell's mother-in-law, Vera. Vera said I would make a good Alice for a BBC production by Jonathan Miller. I had the hairband. A small girl's imagination flew at the idea. Alice In Wonderland. Childhoods are amazing places for us to play and pretend and make believe. We can be whomsoever we may choose, based on a book character or a line in Dr Who, or a squeeze of our little hand. A small signal that hints at all the possibilities in front of our tiny little eyes.
Growing up today my eyes are still like saucers almost every day at the true wonder of what is possible and what is available to us. Of course I still cry like a little girl, or little boy even, when I see the injustices. Of course I wonder at why this can possibly be happening when we know so much and have learnt from so many historical mistakes.
But I also have a small child's trust in our ability to pull back from the brink, to understand the truth and to feel connected to others. In fact as the scales fall from my eyes, I can see the role that I can play in my real life. How to create my very own Wonderland, where the leading lady is Sarah. Not Alice after all.
On 8th March we are called to celebrate and to mark International Women's Day. We are called to consider what impact and effect women can have on our daily lives and the world at large. This is timely in a world at war with itself, where few ideologies give us the answers to the mire of questions we ask.
I have just found a blog The Art of Manliness which again seems a timely reminder of all the stuff that is good about men. In many projects I have run, in many friendships I have formed, I am surprised, delighted and amused by men at their very best.
In a world of separateness where our daily lives are assaulted by images of men at war in the streets and in the battle zones overseas; where our images of women are reduced to faked curves and smiles, it's time to take another road. We are days away from International Women's Day and UK Mother's Day, have a cup of tea and reflect on how you see our relationships today. If you feel ready to talk, go to the New Player's Theatre and book tickets to join our conversation and watch out for the date for our online conversation, coming soon.
Curiosity is a very 'pull' emotion. What do I mean by that? Curiosity pulls you towards finding out, pulls you towards finding answers, it's an imaginative urge.
Telling, persuading, advertising is a very push activity. What do I mean by that? Telling, persuading, and much advertising pushes you to find out, to understand. It's a rational urge.
We don't like being pushed. We do like being pulled.
Creating curiosity amongst others is a gentler way to receive some well-deserved attention.
Become curiosity-seeking, rather than attention-seeking.
This feels counter to what we've been told over the past few decades. We've been told to push ourselves forward, to say what we want, to be clear...crystal clear.
That was fine fifty years ago when everyone was modest and fearful of stepping forward. It's less attractive nowadays when the crush at the front is dangerously fierce.
Times change and pendulums swing... back and forth, back and forth. The celebrity fuelled media craze has swung and the pendulum is now swinging back towards the centre. We've watched it swing as far as it can, we hope, in the female form of Katie Price. Jordan, Katie...Peter, Alex...their media presentation is either a pendulum or a roundabout, either way it's making most of us feel dizzy and somewhat sick.
If you are running a business, a brand or just your own personal life take a fresh look at how to remain a little enigmatic, slightly curious, quirky, different. Take a step back, not two steps forward. Be more Coco Chanel and less Katie Price. More Vivienne Westwood, less Amy Winehouse. Be more social media and less mass media.
Culture itself is a curious phenomenon, it twists and turns, ebbs and flows. To stay culturally in tune is more an intuitive skill than a scientific one. That's the fascination.
Culture pulls and media pushes. Be of the moment, of the culture, not enslaved to the media circus. Social media is a cultural phenomenon. Take part. Go where you want, stay where you please, be who you are.
Where are we right now? Culturally, commercially, morally, physically, mentally?
I would suggest we're staring the effects of the 'low/high self esteem revolution' right in the face. And as is self-esteem's way, it's staring right back at us and saying, 'what!?...what!?'
Over the past decade, we've learnt more and more about ourselves. We've written more about the personality, how it's constructed and how it unravels. We've analysed success, upside down, back to front and inside out.
The human genome has been cracked as well. The codebook is open and theorists suggest it's possible and even probable that we will, one day, live forever. Or perhaps just a thousand years.
Freddy Mercury, plaintively asked, 'who wants to live forever?' and I think it's a good question. Quality of life will increasingly become a discussion about quality of mind. Your mental wealth.
The more we understand about 'having a life', the more we need to understand. Think about it like this. We now know it's entirely possible to grow up in Chingford, play football and live in LA whilst 'having a life' called David Beckham. We know it's absolutely feasible to grow up in Newcastle, paint our faces, sing songs and 'have a life' called Cheryl Cole. We now know that 'having a life' called the Queen is a bit limiting.
How do we know so much about 'having a life?' We've seen them advertised in our 'life catalogues', Heat, OK and Now. We set out to get the full kit, clothes, cars, makeup. Something's wrong. Get the manual back out, double check. It must be the setting on our self-esteem. Pump it up a bit. Again. Again.
The world is full of people battling their self-esteem and waiting for the doors of their life to open so they can enter the world of Beckham and Cole.
Esteem, high or low is only one half of the bargain. One part of the cocktail. One brick in the wall. The other is humility. Check yours. For Heaven's sake do it quietly, privately without letting anyone know. ;)
That's a phrase often affixed to a shop window to advertise a position of shop assistant or suchlike. Like all advertising, it gives you a signal...if you like the look of the post and you'd like to find out more, you 'enquire within'. So you go inside and ask for more information. You learn a bit about the offer, the pay, the expectations. You make judgements on the person you ask, the way they handle your enquiry. The same is true of them. You take it forward or you walk out. Simple's'. Marketing communications is a simple process really, a series of hurdles, when crossed successfully that take you to the finish line. Marketing a pair of sneakers, a book, a bag, a way of thinking, a piece of art...does the communication take you to the finish line? Does it take your customers to the finish line?
When talking with your customers in your marketing communications how well are you hurdling and how well are they? If you fall at the first hurdle you'll find it more difficult to reach the finishing line...Simple's'.
Designing a piece of marketing today is an extended conversation, a dialogue. That's harder than it sounds, in a world where we're used to 'sound bites' and quick fixes. Where we're used to being right or wrong. Making an argument. Winning.
5 ideas to have a different conversation
1 How are you? - do you really care? are you really interested? are you too quick to jump to tell them your story...perhaps for a shoe company - if I were to walk in your shoes, what would I do differently? What would make you walk taller? What would put pleasure into walking for you? Or dancing...?
2 What can I do to help you? - why do you care? are you so self centred that you are really bored by the answers...perhaps for a consultancy - allowing the client the luxury of feeling like they are not alone in their difficulties, that these are easy to work out
3 What's that all about? creating a space for people to think more deeply about themselves...perhaps for a beauty product - why does mascara make you feel powerful, why does blue mascara make you feel decadent? - allowing a more thought provoking fun take on something that women and even some men just take for granted, considering the rituals and excitement of everyday life
4 Where's the fun? creating a playful conversation, encouraging flirtation and fun...to distract or reconnect with a more hopeful discussion...perhaps for a hearing aid company...you don't want to be the deaf old aunt in the corner, do you? or a playful dialogue of 'I didn't say that...' showing how deafness affects conversation
5 See you again?...a sense of longterm relationship, an idea that we'll meet again...how's your sign off do say goodbye gracefully...or is it a basic thanks for visiting, see you again next year sign off. How do you say goodbye to people that mean something to you? So perhaps for a electronics firm...don't forget to write now...tell us more about you and ideas you have for TV, drying your hair, washing your clothes, saving the planet...
Natural marketers see the world as fluid and flowing. If you're getting boxed into difficult customer connections or becoming too tangled in the web. Drop in and see a friend, get back to having conversations that mean something that open up and create different thinking.
Oh and the other thing is not everyone wants a meaningful conversation, sometimes they just want a lightbulb, they don't want you to switch it on...a 'light touch conversation' is also essential as part of your repertoire.
Because they organise thinking. Because they give a focus. Because they create a set of common words and ideas. Because they encourage emotion. Because they are memorable and you don't have to keep explaining them. Because they use our imagination. Because they are a start. Because they give some material signals to a concept or an idea. Because they have been successful. Because they give us confidence. Because they create debate. Because they can be fun. Because they can reward us. Because they are evolving. Because people make them and desire them. Because they allow things to have personality. Because they give momentum. Because the graphics arts industries, the copywriters, the photographers really want to make art that is meaningful and is loved.
The problem comes only when tired, cynical people become weary of treating others as 'targets', drained by being treated as a 'target' themselves lose their sense of aliveness... when people, already uncomfortably full, are tempted beyond their means to consume too much, too often...when we believe our own publicity, take ourselves too seriously.
Brands are evolving, people are evolving, systems are evolving. Keep it light, keep it playful.
I have been drawing up a positioning piece on women and comparing different typologies of women for some current work. The map is simply based on power and gender. Taking a simplistic viewpoint that men have had all the power and prestige over time and women have not. So then projecting what that leads to and where we are today.
We now know women are the 'influencers' in the world. Faith Popcorn noticed this with Eve-olution many years ago. Her ideas were spread much later by the highly successful business guru, Tom Peters, and, ironically, the idea spread a lot more quickly than when Faith first observed it all those years earlier.
I know from this work, and my work in trends generally that women will be listened too far more in the next few decades than we have been before. Brands will adopt a more female focused tone.
Women are good communicators and great networkers, so social networks play to our strengths. Female values will continue to come to the fore, they are sustainable.
But I am worried. I have just watched a video of inspiring women, to the soundtrack of 'sisters are doing it for themselves'. We will naturally be inspired by other women who can lead the way and we will want to cheer them on. However, men are also inspiring and interesting and exciting.
Many men are hardworking, family sharing, kindhearted souls. Some women are hard-nosed, hardhearted bitches. So these grown up conversations cannot be defined by the sexual biology of us alone.
How will we move through the next decade talking about feminine values, changing the major systems, without tripping ourselves up when there are so many amazing men to learn from? What new language can we develop around shared values?
About five years ago I spoke at a marketing conference about the trend towards co-creation.
This trend is now in full swing and this blog itself and the millions coming on every year demonstrate it. So do reality shows, talent shows and many other activities where people want to get involved. Twitter, at its best, is all about co-creation. Tweeting bits and pieces to others, to consider and share.
For most of our time on Earth we have lived in highly structured systems. For cavemen where the day to day life was about hunting and gathering, there were clear structures. Survival depended on being brave enough and strong enough to hunt, (this took up the men's time), and smart enough to build a community that could protect the offspring at home, (this took up the women's time).
As we progressed, so did structures, although men still hunted and women still looked after the home front. The World Wars disrupted people's lives. Without men at home, women had to multi-task, get involved in matters that previously were not their concern. With a taste for work and the camaraderie that it can bring, the women didn't go back to the kitchens so readily after the wars. Progress demanded that more of us put our shoulders to the wheel and rebuild worlds.
As computers came in and did away with typing pools, factory work, and suchlike...As machinery continued to take away menial tasks, more of us had more time, so we filled it with more. More information, more entertainment. Mankind is a curious beast, always searching for new ideas and new ways. Co-creation fulfils that human need to be part of the action. To be heard, to count for something, to share, and even the possibility to control and possess.
Co-creation is an essential part of evolution. When an organism has enough awareness, intelligence and the right environment it can evolve. It can make a leap from one state to another, from one stage to another. Time is the only question. How long will it take? How long will it take for co-creation to move from the 'toe in the water', comment or opinion style behaviours of today to 'full immersion', full participation in the world and real issues? How long will it take to go from opinion to involvement, from observation to participation? It won't be long, I still remember when people were afraid to buy online. That seems ridiculous now.
By 2012 blogging will be seen as normal, full immersion in world issues will be usual, action groups, participation and all kinds of involvement with online / offline interests will be natural. We're on the cusp of a major evolution, beyond our wildest imaginations. Beyond anything the human race has ever seen before or could have even imagined. New styles of hero will emerge, new knowledge transfers will be made possible, a new reality born.
Alive Going out doing things gives us a true sense of aliveness
Anticipation The excitement of looking forward to something adds a positive dimension to our lives
Business Working well gives people a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. Highly productive and successful people have a strong belief in what they do, a clear understanding of how to progress and a desire to make things happen. They listen and learn and perform at every level. Live business activities stimulate this and support well connected, highly networked confident companies and organisations.
Challenging Norms Many live performances challenge stereotypes and current thinking, offering new solutions to age old problems or just a new viewpoint which stimulates debate
Chemistry A physical chemical that is released when we are close up and personal with others that we find exciting. This is not just a sexual thing it can be released being around people in platonic settings too
Closeness Often you see couples holding hands or families holding hands when they are at events this is part of the essential glue that binds us
Confidence Getting out doing things builds confidence
Connection When we go out and do things we are around other people who are likeminded and enthusiastic this gives us a feeling of connection, an idea we are not alone
Curiosity Being curious is a healthy state of mind - it means you are open to possibility, alive
Discussion By doing different things you can join in conversations with friends and families and even passing strangers and tell them things you are up to
Distraction The mind needs distraction from worries and anxieties, events and live stuff offers a positive distraction from the daily grind
Energy We get energy from everything that surrounds us, live activities generate energy for everyone taking part
Fascination Seeing what people are doing, crafts and skills they exhibit we are taken into a satisfying state of fascination
Grace Looking at fine art takes us into a state of grace as we contemplate the human skill that has gone into the work and the story being told
Happiness A feeling of being alive creates chemicals in the brain which we experience as happiness, getting out and taking part, learning and discovering creates oodles of happiness
Inspiration We find other people inspiring, their talent and determination helps us to see that things are possible, that things are happening, when we experience these close up it makes them real to us and gives us the idea we could do that too
Joy Another great mood to experience, being around friends, sharing ideas and being creative gives us joyful times
Knowledge It's not about power, it's about wisdom. As you build knowledge and apply that knowledge so your life opens up wider
Laughter Going out and doing interesting things gives us a good mood which makes it easier to find things to laugh about. Laughter adds to the wellbeing we feel
Learning We find we are slowly and surely learning new things and growing this leads to a sense of meaning in our life
Memories Memories give us meaning. We remember who we are often through what we've done.
Mood Great experiences alter our mood, which help us feel better and change the way our brains work. They make us more positive about our lives.
Neo The word for new, our brain loves new things and new ideas, get out and discover your curiosity gene
Open When we are open to each other and to other cultures we find our world expands and becomes exciting and inspiring
Promise We all have so much promise. Take yourself out and about and you will experience different sights and sounds, meet new people and enjoy new insights.
Quiet Reflecting on what's going on in the world gives us a welcome break from multi-screen stimulus
Relaxation Enjoying a day out fishing or pursuing any special interest can offer a fab way to relax and to recharge
Roam Too much of our lives are dictated by the clock, make time to roam again, without an agenda or a to do list
Stray Stray from the norm, find places you don't normally visit and drop by, stand and stare for a while, notice what's all around you
Togetherness Is a warm feeling that comes from sharing a day out with family and friends
Understanding When we watch another and listen and learn we understand a little more about ourselves and those around us
Victory Whether it's ours or another's there is a rush of euphoria that we feel when we experience triumph
Willingness Willingness to go beyond our usual habits and routines breathes new life into our world
Youthful That's how we feel when we refresh our world through real life experiences on a moment by moment, basis
Zest The life force that runs through us when we are excited by our place in the world