FRIEND OR FOE TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Does our obsession with Social Media messaging mean the end of good writing? Such a great question from Emphasis that I used it to kick start this article. 

Communication is key in life. Not only within our personal relationships, but definitely within a business environment. It is safe to say that the way we communicate with each other has changed drastically over the years. Long, very long gone are the sending a pigeon and following short on its footsteps we can even count writing a letter as something that is beginning to disappear. 

Nowadays, we live in an (mostly) electronic world. Apart from our personal lives being organised via an electronic device, a very big part of our work are conducted electronically via a keyboard. It is this last mentioned task that, in my opinion, is becoming a talking point to take notice of.

TALK THE TALK

So many of people around the world go about their every day duties with an electronic device in their hands - or pockets/bags at least. It is therefore much easier to get or keep in touch with others than ages ago. More so, it can be done almost instantly, as you all know by now.  “What is the issue?” you may ask. Well, it is not that we can respond easily, it is how we respond that is my focus point.

Being regularly on social media platforms it has become obvious to me that many individuals tap or type away without taking much care of how they write. What matters to them is the fact that they do communicate and not how they do it. Time and time again one will stumble across social media posts that harbours incorrect spelling or incorrect grammatical usage. 

SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

Digging deep into some research, it has become clear that there are many educating institutions that have already talked of late about the writing element while we are speaking to each other. Teachers and Educators seem to address this issue which means they are questioning the way we are moving forward on an educational level. Amen to that!

At this point, let’s look at some of the outcomes from a study of 800+ teachers released by Dictionary.com:

  • 32% notices students struggle with grammar

  • 64% focusses more on skills like meaning and comprehension 

  • 73% find that social media and texting negatively affects students' grammar and spelling skills

  • 75% are troubled by students using popular slang or text speak in their schoolwork

  • 88% are concerned of students’ improper use of basic words and phrases 

As a strong believer in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, it has been more than frustrating on many occasions to see online posts not adhering to the correct usage of words - whether that is in sentences or on-word responses. Along with this kind of behaviour, one also has to put up with grammatical errors. There is an age-old saying: read between the lines, however, struggling to figure out what someone is telling you via the lines is (personally) a waste of time - in particular within the world of social media. After all, social media communication is suppose to be in the KISS form (Keep It Short & Simple), right? 

TOO MUCH TO ASK

Not only is it easy to draw a different conclusion to what the writer intended, it also can easily give the reader the wrong impression of the personality on the other end of the phone. This observation can quickly be pushed aside by saying that we are friends so he/she knows what I mean. Rightly so, but what about those who do read your work and is not at all a friend in real life? 

Furthermore, when it comes to those who are shouting from the rooftops about their milestones, their achievements and mostly (even if it’s indirectly) about what great influencers they are, is it really such an enormous task to make sure your content is grammatically correct when published?

Take for instance an Educator (i.e. a person who provides instruction or education; a teacher - via dictionary.com)... surely this person has a responsibility (at least) towards his/her students. Around 50% of teachers admit they reach out to social media to have a better understanding of their students’ culture.  Has it ever occurred to you as a tutor, that the reverse can happen? If your students take on board your irked grammar behaviour, are you really succeeding as an upstanding pilar of society?

At the end of the day, my question is: as a Leader, how much do you respect the language you are using to communicate with others?

THE FUTURE IS OUT THERE

We all know that once it is published, it’s basically out there forever. We can delete here, there and anywhere we can find, but somehow somewhere someone will find our original post. 

We all have a native tongue. Personally, this language I communicate in 100% of my everyday is not the one I was born with. And there are millions of us around the world in a similar situation. However, living in a society that is becoming more and more global it has become the norm to talk to each other in a universal language. Nothing wrong with that at all, but do we honestly have to walk around showing little respect for the language that is bringing us all together? 

What if the English language is the glue that keeps the world go round? The manner in which the English language is being used over the last few decades, is a true indication of how long it is been here and most probably how long it is going to be around for. 

Far is it for me to be such a stern critic, but if us humans, and in particular those who count themselves as upstanding citizens, cannot adhere to a simple task of delivering their words in mint condition, then where is this all going to end.

CONCLUSION

None of us are perfect. That is a common fact. We are all human and we make mistakes. That said, I personally don’t believe we can use that as an excuse to set a bad example. My point is that it is so easy nowadays to distribute content electronically. All we need to do is take good care of how we put it out there for all to see and read.

The main issue with not taking care of how we communicate with words is about to whom we aim our knowledge / points of view / insights etc. towards. It is quite possible for a big majority of your readers to be of a younger age than yourself. This is great, because we would like to advise and help others by sharing our wisdom with them - especially if one is in an environment of mentoring or coaching and teaching. Not much give more satisfaction than assisting others with reaching their potential

If we feel so strongly about how much value we want to bring to others’ lives, then why not feel strongly about the manner in which way we will give value to them. For those who will end up in a professional working environment one day, it is definitely a sure thing that they will not get away with using inappropriate language when engaging with fellow colleagues and/or clients. No company will put up with the use of slang or abbreviations in emails, incorrect usage of grammar in presentations and definitely not if you have a bad telephone manner. 

Those of us out here that wants to share with the world what we’ve learned so far in life, has a responsibility to do it correctly. After all, a Leader should be someone who Knows the Way, Goes the Way and Shows the Way. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

WHAT IS AN INTEGRATED BRAND PARTNERSHIP?

‘How can our company increases our revenue?’ is a question that often raises its head. Making money, also known as creating revenue, is after all what businesses are all about. The answer maybe simple, as in sell more, however that is often far more difficult than said. Particularly in today’s world that is saturated with businesses left, right and centre.

Solutions to overcome the difficulty in reaching that yearly target is order of the day. In other words, how can a Brand withstand pressure yet flourish and end up with a better ROI (return on investment) than 12 months ago? 

WHAT CAN BE DONE

Within the worlds of Brands and Brand Identities there lies an answer.  One word comes to mind: collaboration. One question though is, what does that mean? 

Fact of the matter is that trading on various platforms is becoming more and more popular and effective in today’s world. Therefore it is imperative to be visible and active on- and offline. This mean any platform where services and/or products are presented, explained and offered to customers.  It will be rather unintelligent not to make use of this opportunity to get more bang for your buck

To be more specific, the solution is Integrated Brand Partnerships. In short: When Brands Join Forces. 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Reading an article on the Econsultancy website made me put my thinking cap on and put thoughts to paper. The writer James Cristal explores 5 examples of where significant brands collaborated in order to not only increases customer retention, but also to increases revenue. 

Having a renown Brand is one thing, but having the insight to incorporate another renown Brand with your own is a great idea. Not only is a company going to maintain their popularity they are also going to enhance sales and create a magnificent user experience for their customers. And that, ultimately, is what differentiate a good company from a great company. 

WHEN DOES IT WORK BEST

Now that it has become more clear as to what such a Partnership is about, the challenge is to figure out a way of making it happen. It isn’t a matter of putting any 2 together either. There is no point in joining 2 Brands where one is like oil and the other like water - we all know that doesn’t mix! 

Coming from a Brand Partnership environment, I have on many occasions been presented with the task of blending 2 Brands that compliment each other and work well together. The difficulty isn’t in finding the two components, but it can be very tricky to find the right solution for the process to work. At the end of the day the relationship has to work very well so that both parties benefit. 

Therefore the major part in a Partnership campaign is finding the right creative solution. Working closely with both sides the main point is to find the reason for such an integration. Mostly it will be around exposure and presentation to customers hence finding a visual element that does the trick. After all, the task at hand is to grab the customer’s attention and supply an opportunity for them to participate and experience a great service. 

Let’s explore 3 different platforms and their different methods:

  • Broadcasting - Television Programme

    • placing the sponsorship element right up against the start and end of a programme part, but not within the commercial break 

  • Online - Website

    • placing the sponsorship application at a point within the site where it is most likely the customers would want to add to their booking/purchase

  • Print - Magazine

    • placing the sponsorship creative within the written article to draw attention to a reader with advice on how to proceed to obtain the additional product/service/information

In short, catch the attention of your customer at their most vulnerable moment. 

CONCLUSION 

At the end of the day, the purpose of any Partnership is to add further value to the customer’s journey. The best way to facilitate this feature is to offer a way for your customer to be exposed to another partner’s facilities, but without running the risk of customers leaving or forgetting about you as the host. Ultimately, offering them another service, but all within one place - Your Environment.

We have to remember that even though the aim is to provide equal traction for both sides, there will always be a primary and secondary entity taking part in any campaign. It is understandable that one platform will provide the main attraction where the second player will obviously be happy to participate because of the strong, possible winning end result. 

It is not a situation of one being better or more efficient than the other, but rather that of both realising that together they can reach a much higher level of success. For the best results it is imperative that these campaigns are executed seamless so that the customer are almost unaware of it happening. If this can be achieved, then you walk away with a win-win moment. It will also mean that there is a big chance the two players will partner again. Once it has become apparent that a collaboration works well, many occasions will be created to do it again.

Having quite a few successes under my belt within this field, I can say that it brings a great amount of satisfaction to all involved in a successful campaign. The exposure for clients’ products/services has been, is and will always be a plus factor. Many sales teams will be patted on the shoulders for instigating such a great win. Creative gurus will receive kudos for an excellent format and those who host the campaign will realise how important it is to work with others. Revenue of course plays a massive part, however the relationships built will persevere for time to come. 

Taking on the role of the one-stop-shop between all of the different parties that partake in such an exercise, causes me great pleasure. It is amazing to be able to coordinate various departments and bring a campaign together. Without my extensive knowledge I built up during many years, I reckon none of this will be possible. Needles to say, I thrive within the world of Brand Partnerships. Apart from anything else, it places me in a situation where I can upheld both Brands and their key messages. May it long, long lasts.

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

HOW DID YOU DO THIS YEAR?

It’s upon us. Yes, we’re about to wave ta-ta to 2018. 

As we sleigh (!) towards the end of another year, some very important action should be imposed on oneself. This is the time to take stock of our development during the past 12 months. It is also the time to be brutally honest with oneself when assessing the dos and don’ts of the past year. Well, I’m happy to share with you how I did…

WERE MY GOALS REALISTIC?

Setting goals for the immediate 12 months to come is an exercise I categorically do ever year. It actually is a very exciting activity that happens within the first week of the new year. The start of 2018 was no exception. Now with the end in sight it is time to evaluate those milestones.

The overall conclusion is that the goals set out were realistic and probable. In hindsight, to be honest, the odd one was a bit too conservative. Then again, it cancels out the one here and there that was over ambitious. All in all, the general consensus is that my 12-month vision was pragmatic and reasonable

All in all, many more similar goals with a few spanners thrown for next year. 

WERE MY ACTIONS PLAUSIBLE?

Even though ones goals can easily be realistic, the next step in the process is crucial. This is the next move within your path of reaching a goal.  Manoeuvring forward is, can be and most certainly will be, difficult. 

First, and foremost, the question jumping out is… were the limits pushed out all the way? Did you really put shoulder against the wheel and dig your heels in deep? As with every step of reconsolidating your goals, one has to be brutally honest with oneself.

Personally and to the point, the answer is: Yes, but Could’ve Been Better. The pushing was mostly intense, the dedication was there, but there were moments when dealings with goals were way too conservative. Even though I am in general a very positive person, motivation seemed to drift away from time to time. The desire to get back on track needed an efficient amount of energy to get ones’ mojo back. That time spent could’ve been put much more towards chasing and following up on possibilities. 

Lesson learned that focus on time management should be taken far more seriously in the new year. 

WERE MY PROGRESS ACCEPTABLE?

Step 3 within goal setting is the actual physical part of it all. This is where the action really takes place. Milestones is what it is all about. When you pen your vision for the months to come it is very important to add dates of when a goal should be completed. Yes, it’s tough, but without it a goal is only a dream without a plan. 

Luckily, most important goals were hit at the right time due to my action steps being thoroughly in place. One such a step was to sign up a client from the USA which materialised within the timeframe set out.  Hitting the right target moment is incredible. It causes much happiness and drives ones desire to go forth and be more productive. 

I also believe in the saying… trust the timing of your life. This quote is not to be dismissed as being lazy or show a lacklustre attitude.  Some goals did seem to become out of reach throughout the months. However, just as I thought I may not complete those, they were achieved - albeit at a much later stage as originally set out. Best is they came together fairly out of the blue.  So remember… Magic happens when you do not give up, even if you want to. The Universe always falls in love with a Stubborn Heart. 

Let’s remember that Patience is a Virtue. 

WERE MY OUTCOMES SATISFACTORY?

The last section of your yearly, very important exercise, should be the most exciting part. To get to that level of euphoria you need to have been committed to having a fierce mindset. Your mindset must be driven by your desires at the start of penning your goals. Focus is a crucial part of not only getting things done, but being in command of your thought process. 

My outcomes at this stage of the year are both acceptable and surprising. I am happy that the element of surprise raised its head. It often does, so one must not ignore the possibility of the odd thing coming along without any warning. 

The additional (surprising) achievement came in the way of a request to appear as a guest on a well known podcast. This was most certainly not on the cards - and, honestly, I didn’t even thought of it at the start of the year. However, luckily the forces to be dealt me this amazing card. Best of all is that I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and successfully stepped into a brand new world. The reactions of people via social media and in person were fantastic. It didn’t end there though… I am already booked (for mid January 2019) to record another appearance on a different show.

The end result of some goals that was less satisfactory is not the end of the world. I don’t consider I failed my goals because I didn’t travel as much as I wanted to or didn’t do as many courses as I thought I could. The same is to be said for attending local networking events and adding another tattoo to my collection. Saying that, I did however attend courses, webinars and online discussions efficiently. My travel was sufficient and I have met and connected with a few most incredible people that is now firmly part of my community. For not getting the tattoo… well, the closure of my favourite tattoo parlour in Minorca was totally out of my hands. 

A golden rule is to be Prepared for the moment Opportunity knocks. 

CONCLUSION

Drawing a line under one set of goals is great - and opens up the door to set another lot of possible achievements. Looking back and realising that the outlook for the year gone by was on par with ones’ desires is very motivating. And that is where you want to be at the end of a year. Let your motivation for doing even more and even better next year drive you forwards. Precisely what I will be doing within a few weeks. 

Now is also the right time to get the ball rolling for next year. Don’t wait until you hit January to get your ducks in a row for what your goals are going to be. Start your thought process before you hit the Christmas Season (that way you can enjoy the festivities with family, loved ones and friends guilt free). Bullet point your initial thoughts now. Make a start rather sooner than later. And that is exactly where I am now. 

I am taking the lessons I learned from 2018 and applying them to my outlook for 2019. Since I mentioned the issue with motivation, it is obvious that it will be seriously addressed. Time management is another part that I will look at and be far more bold about. One other aspect that I will need to work on is that of being far, far too hard on myself. A certain amount of toughness is desirable, but going over the top with demands on yourself is not good. 

To be realistic was again a good move this year, so more of that to come. Basically, if I could (for example) achieve building relationships as I did this past year, nothing is stopping me from forming even more ones next year. Adding great people to my list of acquaintances will be inspirational to say the least. I will also keep a much more open mind when it comes to surprises. 

I am looking very much forward to 2019. Kicking off a New Year with a Clean Sheet. My mind is already set to achieve a lot, even though I have no idea what the new year will bring. But that’s the beauty of it all. If we knew what was coming our way, life will be quite boring and easy. And who wants that? Most definitely not me and I’m sure You don’t want it either. 

Here’s wishing you an Incredible Festive Season! Have a Very Merry Christmas and take time out and spend it with all the wonderful people in your life. If your loved ones are unfortunately not near, don’t forget to call, text/SMS or even send a card. 

Most of all… Let’s hit 2019 with roller blades on! See you on the other side of December 31.

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

BEING A MENTOR

Have you ever been stuck in a situation not knowing which way to turn? Or maybe you tried various ways already, but still not moving forward much? My guess is the answer is probably yes. Most of us, if not all, have experienced the proverbial brick wall at some point in time.

A recent read from Jeffrey Hayzlett, Top 3 Traits of a Good Mentor, sparked writing this post. He makes a great point, or three, about what it is and should be like to have someone guide you along your way to move forward.

SEEK

It took me around 20 years of grinding behind a desk for someone/some company to realise that the 9 to 5 culture isn’t satisfying anymore. It made me realise though that I was extremely lucky to gain an enormous amount of experience along the way. Moving from one position to another over the years I was able to take with me any new found learnings and enhance the next position.

Therefore when I finally left the building for the last time at the end of May on a sunny day in London, I knew that it will be a huge mistake to just sit on the information I have within me. Something had to be done about it hence Mentoring became a focus point. To quote Jeffrey: “Good mentors are always willing to share what they know - with anyone who asks". Moving forward a couple of years and I am blessed to be in a situation where I am being given great opportunities to lend a hand and help others

SHARE 

My bible of experience covers a fair amount of different topics related to being in a business environment. Therefore it is not that difficult to assist mentees with various issues they’re experiencing.  As a person who constantly broaden his horizons regarding new aspects of what makes the world go round, all questions can be tackled and answers can be delivered. 

For instance. of late Social Media Management is a hot topic. For the generation that did not grow up with it, it is overwhelming. There are quite a lot of people that have little understanding of how it works. They also are amazed by the fact that online platforms can be used as a great marketing tool. This may sound strange to many, but as I always do, looking at it from my clients’ perspective, it makes total sense. 

On the other side of the scale, the younger generation of mentees struggle with a marketing strategy or even their online reputation even though they fully know how to handle social media platforms on a personal level. Again, a topic that can easily be explained and a strategy can be put in place. Being on social media as yourself differs from being there as your business brand. 

SUPPORT 

All aspects of Mentoring is exciting, but one part that stands out is the initial research or investigation surrounding a new mentee prior to the first meeting. Looking around the web for their social visibility gives one a great insight into how they think. That is, if they have an online persona. Contrary to popular belief there are people around who shy away from being electronically social

The starting point usually is around what is (or not) already out there for all to see. Starting with each existing section from visual presence (avatars, videos, photos, etc.) right through to the writing of posts or captions. As an outsider it is easy to pick out spelling mistakes or layout issues - not to mention the phycological effect colours can have on readers.  

Feedback is easy to give - however, it is completely useless without any valuable input. Again, Jeffrey is 100% correct: “A good mentor is further willing to provide concrete and constructive feedback”.

As always, looking at the evidence should be from the mentee’s point of view. After all, the website or social feed is not yours so it should not be about you and how you want it, but what will work best for the mentee’s brand. Mentoring is about helping and giving advice. If there is the need for introducing new learning curves, the Coach in me will take over - but let’s leave that aside for another post.

Continued support is most of the time wanted by my mentees. A request that fill one with excitement and warmth. And appreciation. 

CONCLUSION

To be able to distribute what one has learned can only be described as one of the best satisfying aspects of life. 

On a personal level it:

  • broaden insights 
  • cultivate relationships
  • awoke mutual feelings of respect
  • create being seen as an expert 
  • makes one an influencer
  • allows one be a contributor 

Giving branding and/or marketing advice it most certainly doesn’t matter that much which niche/field in the market the mentee is in. What matters is to master their needs to better themselves and their brand. At the end of the day, one is not expected to know their market inside out - one is required to guide and lend a helping hand. 

Mentoring has opened so many doors for me and the believe is that it honestly will open many more in the future. This part of being an Entrepreneur is what drives one forward. The only downside, if one can call it that, is always saying yes when a potential mentee knocks on your door and asks for help. Then again, one always has time. There is no such thing as being too busy - prioritize your workload is all it takes to have a full, productive business and life.

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading.

VALUE. IT'S IMPORTANT. WORTH IT AND USEFUL.

How was that project eventually perceived? Was that feedback you got sufficient? Or have you ever felt some criticism wasn’t really constructive? We’ve all been there. One way or another.

There is the age-old ‘exercise’ of debriefing. Which, if done correctly, can be worth it’s weight in gold. There is such a lot to learn from a great debrief session. However, it can also leave us feeling dissatisfied and frustrated since it was more about the praises (and let’s face it, lots of time to those whom doesn’t entirely deserve it…) than dissecting the process, delivery and outcome. 

Most of the time such meetings take place with the team/s that endlessly ploughed through and made the project happen. This is good, since the need is there to know what was going right and what went wrong. The point being that hopefully lessons will be learned and improvements will be evident infuture workflows. Rarely one comes across a situation where the client actually put together a case study showing us how it all look from there point of view. 

As if reading Moving Brands’ side of the the rebrand story for Asana wasn’t already great, there is a whole other section where Asana themselves put together a case study about the process from their POV. Now this is truly an interesting and exciting read. It gives us a great insight into what they went through from start to finish. 

Although it all is great to read, what was most intriguing was the value brought to the table. It was clearly a team effort from an incredible, talented bunch of people on both sides of this coin. Value within collaborations is utterly important. It’s more that the hours you put into the project… the many meetings scheduled… massive email-trials… endless messages… etc.. This small word has such a huge meaning. Sometimes it’s overlooked and shadowed by the big things talked about. 

It is all well and fine to come up with a striking design - or find that part of the process that smooth over some irritating issues. To be noted in the so-manyeth-meeting is great - and always something that push someone to put even more shoulder to the wheel. However, at the end of the day it is the value that ended up on the proverbial table that scratch that itch well and truly. It is that moment one looks back and realise the whole process/project was worth every single moment spend on it. 

It maybe perceived as something small, but trust me, this tiny word has a massive impact. If one can walk away knowing that an enormous amount of value was laid firmly during this project than that is amazing. Hardly ever will anyone forget about the value brought by individuals or companies. A project maybe done and dusted quite some time ago, but every now and then someone will mentions and remembers the value that was involved from start to finish. 

If you want to make an impact with the next project on your list, deliver some good, ol’ honest value. That will make them remember your name!