Thursday, 28 January 2010

Rediscover Your Spark With A Fresh Perspective

This week a taxi driver was telling me now he’d done the job for 20 years, he’d lost his initial ‘spark’. He just doesn’t enjoy it anymore.

And it’s not just taxi drivers; many of us get stale doing the same role for too long. So if you don’t have the courage to actually quit your job, how about reframing it to get that spark back?

- Try new ways of doing things. Don’t default to ‘auto’ mode for everything; try a different perspective or a fresh approach to tasks, meetings and projects.

- Reinvigorate your working environment. Moving offices, changing desks, decorating the walls - even putting some flowers in a vase - can improve your outlook and motivation.

- Go outside your comfort zone. Meet new people, lunch with co-workers you never hung out with before, extend your role, add new responsibilities.

- Think and Reflect. Keep a journal; define some goals and make notes on your desires and achievements.

- Be authentic. Incorporate more of the real you into your working day, don’t leave your personality at the door.

Okay, so it might be easier in some jobs than others. But even for my bored taxi driver, a clean of his car, listening to a new radio station, trying some new routes around town and keeping a journal of interesting passengers *could* make a world of difference and give him back that spark.

You’ve just got to try it.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Creating Rapid Opportunities From Random Ideas

Being enterprising is about creating opportunities, often out of nothing. These are the opportunities that don’t appear on any plan; they’re more likely to arise from a chance mention in a lift or from an idea you had in the shower.

You just need to be tuned in to what your client’s needs are, and good at reacting fast.

I emailed a client congratulating her on an industry award and suggesting an announcement out to their clients. We’d need to be quick. I assembled a copywriter and designers, got a print firm on stand by and a few days later, a special edition newsletter landed in the in-trays of their clients. It was a great success. Then last week another client mentioned – in passing - an upcoming conference where the management team needed to communicate key messages to staff. “Why don’t you do something on video?” I suggested. We came up with some ideas, filmed and edited this week and the results are now sitting on dvd, just 10 days after that notion.

There was no brief for these projects, they were unplanned (and unbudgeted). But if your ideas are good enough and you can be quick at execution, there’s a stack of unforeseen opportunities out there.

It’ll take innovation on your part, flexibility and vision on your client’s - and sweat from everyone. But it’s always satisfying to come up with a random idea and see it come to fruition just days later.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Create Your Viral Moment

Last month I visited the offices of Rebel Virals in Bristol where the team were putting the finishing touches to a video for their e-Christmas card. It featured some scenes from the series '24' very cleverly cut with shots of Santa Claus they’d created themselves. The resulting video 'Jack Bauer interrogates Santa Claus' was uploaded a few days later and by January had got 500,000 views and been featured on MSNBC and the Huffington Post.

It came from nowhere into the video viral charts in a flash. The result of a carefully plotted strategy? The return from an ad campaign? Of course not. It was a success because it was original, it was funny and most that saw it decided to spread it to their friends. And of course, randomness, serendipity and luck played as much a part as the creativity of the idea.

The simplicity of a great viral reminds me that's what we all aspire to: whether we are an artist, writer, politician, designer, a CEO, whoever. We want to create the viral effect with our brand, product or talent.

So that’s the question. How can you create your viral moment for your start-up idea, blog, video, iphone app or book? You may only need 5 people to see your work, not 500,000 but make it original and get it talked about. Go viral!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

From A Random Email To A Roof Top In London: Meeting Martijn Sjoorda

I know it's only early days, but this year I'm really enjoying extending my network and meeting new people. One of those has been Martijn Sjoorda. Martijn is a smart guy who helps people and businesses change. He’s a Partner in Dialogic Leadership and Fresh Orange in the Netherlands and we ‘met’ in April 2008 via the website of Tim Ferriss’ '4 Hour Work Week' where I saw a comment he’d posted. I got in touch and sent him some propaganda about my own book; I’m not sure what he thought about my unsolicited email, but fortunately he happened to like my website. We started a dialogue. 20 months later - and after one aborted attempt in Amsterdam - we finally met last week. I love random connections coming to fruition like this; too many people try to contrive 'networking', forgetting the importance of serendipity and coincidence.

Martijn's over-riding passion is to make organisations nicer and healthier places to be in; he despairs at people who leave 70% of who they really are at home. Martijn’s got a great take on people and business so I took some time to grab a short interview with him.

 If the video above is not displayed properly, you can see it on YouTube here

Friday, 8 January 2010

Preethi Nair, Storyteller & Juggler

10 years ago Preethi Nair was working as a management consultant. But she had really always wanted to be a novelist so decided to take the leap to write full time. She self-published her first novel Gypsy Masala and was then faced with the challenge of getting it promoted. Unable to afford a publicist, Preethi came up with the great idea of promoting herself, but under an alias, Pru Menon. She set up separate email addresses, ‘phone and fax numbers and started leading a ‘double life’ as Preethi and Pru that resulted in her securing a 3 book deal with Harper Collins. You can read more about this amazing story on her website.

Preethi has now become a real evangelist for the power of storytelling within business. Her company Kiss The Frog helps business leaders discover their message and through storytelling manage change, inspire teams and communicate more effectively. Clients include Lego, Deutsche Bank and MTV. She juggles running the business alongside writing projects.

I met up with her this week and talked to her about her story.

If you can't see the video above, you can watch it on YouTube here

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Don’t Do 'Shopping List' Marketing

I passed the window of a small business yesterday; as I understand it, a two-person operation. Across the windows it had a list of all the services on offer. And when I say ‘a list’ I mean a long list. The first three or four services were conceivably within their core expertise but I would guess that the next 10 or 15 were ones that would be outsourced and sub contracted. Now if you’re a bigger company that’s fine, but for a two person business is it wise advertising such a diverse breadth of services?

I think their likely business model of being enterprising in maximising their revenue streams is okay but my question is over their marketing and market perception. If you’re starting out and trying to get a reputation of expertise – especially for a very small business - it’s more effective to shout about the three or four things that you live and breathe, the talents that are genuinely part of your dna. Avoid positioning yourself as a ‘we do everything’ company; don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Success will more likely be about authenticity and genuine talents rather than offering a shopping list of everything a client might want.

Monday, 4 January 2010

The Idea Moment

More and more of us are trading – and competing - on ideas. From ad agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi to one person companies, we’re all in the ideas business.

But of course ideas aren’t an easily-produced commodity; there is no proven production line for churning out genius game-changing thoughts.

You can spend a whole day, a whole week - or even longer -searching for ‘that’ solution, for the clarity of vision on a project. And still, you might get nowhere, sitting frustrated, manacled to your desk, laptop or notepad, scratching your head.

But all it takes is for one single, simple, short moment of clarity to get *it*. Not always a ‘eureka’/ light bulb moment, not always that jaw-dropping but nonetheless you’ll get it. That solution, a wow product idea or instant solution to a problem will suddenly appear with the instant realisation that this can make a significant difference to your business or career.

The Idea Moment is difficult to define. It’s like scanning the screen or searching across a landscape and not seeing anything. And then suddenly… like a silver lining to a cloud, a glimpse of late sunlight on a cloud-filled afternoon, you get ‘it’; that return of investment, that moment of clarity as all becomes clear. Not even a minute, just a split second of the recognition that it’s a good idea, is enough.

If ideas are important in your business, know what currency of ideas-generation gets results. Know what makes a good idea and do whatever it takes to create and sustain more and more of them.

Think about it.