Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some things that make soldiers good

Adelaide born singer songwriter Becky Cole

Went to Iraq to entertain the soldiers in Iraq in 2006, and in response to criticism from her fans came up with this one:

"and if unlike me you feel no pride at all
Then go ahead and take me off your wall
Cos I'd prefer to be a poster girl
On the wrong side of the world"

But I heard her talk to Felicity Urquhart last Sunday (filling in for Macca, what a delight) and they spoke about what they liked about the soldiers. In particular they liked

The way they were really organised and how they treated each other with such respect

My very limited dealings with military people have me agreeing. A chief instructor at a drop zone was one, another was I guy I walked Kokoda with the second time. The guy on the track was a true professional. We were all exhausted - he was ill - but this guy was the one who took the time to talk to the kids in the villages. It was easy to see that the training and the culture promotes some strong personal qualities.

I know it's a marines thing, but the spirit of Sempre Fi does not seem too far from our military people, too.

So when I met Shane I came to feel that we were being well represented over there and so, it seems, does Becky Cole.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Leatherbound 26: Don't blindly follow

Advice from 14 years ago about the dangers of blindly following. The only caveat I'd make these days is one about how it probably makes you unpopular.

Oh and I probably would try not to sound so much like an angry young man. Probably a good plan for always..

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why it's still "Cullen of Adelaide"

Yesterday a close friend asked me if with my change in circumstances I'd have to change the title of my blog, or Twitter handle. Ahem, that's one thing I don't think I'll lose, but we'll see.

Back in 1991, a larger than life Norwood Football Club identity started referring to me - the humble bar manager - with the grandiose title "Cullen of Adelaide". I would reply "Michael of Norwood". I think he liked me. Btw does anybody know where Greg Fisher is now?

I still didn't feel locked in, but I was only a year married into my Adelaide based Italian family. When legendary bosses Rod Davis and John Mitton recruited me to Cryovac in 1993, even their newspaper ad stated "must be prepared to move interstate for career advancement". I admire honesty.

As I danced around the topic in the job interview we all knew what was going on. After seven years in what I consider the best ever sales job we parted ways, and I went to work for a university. Nobody was too surprised. I knew by then that even if I was collecting shopping trolleys, I would remain "of Adelaide".

As well as a huge network of business friends I would not leave my extended family.

So, Cullen of Adelaide it shall be. And I can be the black swan, or resilient cockroach.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My first day as a ronin in twenty years

I think it may have been September 1991 that I was last out of contract. It's a funny feeling of sorts. I've always liked to be on somebody's team, even if I make them nervous.

I am still listed to do a lot of teaching, but on a piece-by-piece basis. Late last year the people I work for openly advertised the fixed term contract I'd been working on for four years (2+2) and I was not the successful applicant. Nobody should own a job, and any employer has the right to say who works for them and in what manner. It's a pillar of the free market system.

But it does put me in the unfamiliar territory of being out of contract. It seems unlikely, given the amount I've been asked to do, "rainy day" funds and my innate earning power, that the bank will foreclose on us. But I do like the (even mirage like) idea that an employer is as interested in me as I am in them, so I will keep my eyes open for that type of employer.

I have a few things presenting themselves to me at the moment. But I will make haste slowly. So for now, it's business as usual. I am a (now adjunct) lecturer at a South Australian university. I am teaching Brand Management to both postgrads and undergrads, MBA marketing management in both Adelaide and Singapore and developing an online version of the highly successful market research course as well as supervising two student interns. In my own time I am co-supervising three PhD students. And my dealings with the students have always been the best part of my work in academia. And the students seem to like being taught by me.

It's a great way to pay the bills and keep myself busy, for now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Buy by the tonne sell by the unit: that's good business if you can get it

An great old friend of mine from the Cryovac days - Neville Davies - once told me "you've missed the boat, 12 months ago it was done". The year was about 1996 and my idea was to buy pig's ears (by the tonne) get Chapman's (where Neville was the production manager) to smoke them and then sell them to people who love their dogs.

Sorry to those of you who have vegetarian dogs.

At around $1.50 each, somebody will be making money. And it reminds me, my lovely late auntie Yvonne as early as the 1980s had told me the same thing worked with importing cheap watches too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gillard's finest moment

I've been a bit meh about our PM. But i want to say that whatever the events are, around the melee, the way she conducted herself in that restaurant was pretty good.

She was told "we're getting you out of here" and her instinctive response was "what about Mr Abbott? We should get him out too."

I don't really want to discuss the particular events other than to say I'm a little sad. I think this is the chance for Australia to show how mature it is in the way it deals with this today.

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A reason Google may be a dream job?

Just a little one, but Bob Sutton had a little look at Google recently:

Google: "A place where it simply isn't efficient to act like an asshole."

The second reason, as senior executive Shona Brown told me in 2006 or so (she was #4 in those days, and now heads Google.org), is that Google appears to be a place where it simply isn't efficient to act like an asshole. When The No Asshole Rule first came out, I did a talk at Google and asked the crowd if Shona was telling the truth. The general sentiment was she was right, but more telling was, afterwards, a young woman came up to talk to me. She patiently waited for everyone else to leave. Then she seemed rather nervous as she started talking about Shona's words. This woman admitted that she really wasn't a very nice person. But after a few months at Google, she learned that she had to be nice to everyone, because otherwise, she couldn't get anything done! Now that is a sign that an organizational norm is working.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia Day, Paul Kelly, the Beach and Boof

When I heard "How to make Gravy" on the radio just then it conjured this image in my mind and reminded me how good it all is.

and it does resonate - here's Jonah and Mia from a couple of weeks ago

Just a quiet happiness of living here. And this piece of brilliance that speaks of the complexities of family, failure, regret, love, friendship and hope. Paul Kelly says he never ever tires of playing it, even at the end of a five show week where he can barely stand up.

How to make gravy

Hello Dan, it's Joe here
I hope you're keeping well
Its the 21st of December
now theyre ringing the last bell
if I get good behaviour
I'll be out of here by July
Won't you kiss my kids on Christmas day

Pleeeease don't let them cry for me

I guess the brothers are driving down from Queensland and Stella's
flying in from the coast
They say it's gonna be a hundred degrees, even more maybe, but that
won't stop the roast

Who's gonna make the gravy now?
I bet it won't taste the same

Just add flour, salt, a little red wine and don't forget a dollop of
tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang

And give my love to Angus and to Frank and Dolly,
Tell 'em all I'm sorry I screwed up this time
And look after Rita, I'll be thinking of her early Christmas morning
When I'm standing in line

I hear Mary's got a new boyfriend, I hope he can hold his own
Do you remember the last one? What was his name again?
(Just a little too much cologne)

And Roger, you know I'm even gonna miss Roger
'Cause there's sure as hell no one in here I want to fight

Oh praise the Baby Jesus, have a Merry Christmas,
I'm really gonna miss it, all the treasure and the trash
And later in the evening, I can just imagine,
You'll put on Junior Murvin and push the tables back
And you'll dance with Rita, I know you really like her,
Just don't hold her too close, oh brother please don't stab me in the

I didn't mean to say that, it's just my mind it plays up,
Multiplies each matter, turns imagination into fact
You know I love her badly, she's the one to save me,
I'm gonna make some gravy, I'm gonna taste the fat
Tell her that I'm sorry, yeah I love her badly, tell 'em all I'm
And kiss the sleepy children for me
You know one of these days, I'll be making gravy,
I'll be making plenty, I'm gonna pay 'em all back.

and just quietly, finally, I'm delighted that our much undervalued Darren Lehmann got a mark of respect at Adelaide oval:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good bosses guard against stupidity from above?

Bob Sutton says that the best leaders protect their people from stupidity from above. To run interference, and let them get on with doing their jobs.

This might be what it looks like from behind closed doors. And with the best bosses the sad thing is you don't ever learn how much of it they did for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brave Lleyton

By all accounts he didn't disgrace himself. He lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic:

Nothing rhymes with failure like Australia. As with Gallipoli, so many of our great moments come in what are considered failures. As with Breaker Morant in the Boer war, these moments often come from people that are disliked, even despised.

"I have to give credit to my opponent, to Lleyton. He never gives up. He is a great competitor and he obviously made me play an extra shot,"

Impressive two days ago, defeated today. Brave.

Today's rooster, tomorrow's feather duster. But it depends on whose scoreboard you're looking at as to whether you can be considered a winner.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leatherbound 25: Love many trust few...

I assure you these are all just rolling out from my journal in chronological order. This was on a Levis poster that I got from the menswear days (1992) and still had on my wall in 1996. And they were my calligraphy days. Urgh. Apparently it's an old American proverb, or from an old song.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Prakky on social media to an ABC audience

Good on you, Michelle. The first of (I hope) mnay spots on 891 talking about social media.

This is a recent interview that Prakky did last week. The vision (because I had to supply some) is from a recent 'tiser srrticle.

If you're looking for something to read while you're listenting here's the text from one of Prakky's most recent blogs.

When you use social media for business, there are a lot of benefits.
But one of those benefits is often overlooked. And that drives me nuts.
And that’s the benefit to yourself, as an individual.

Take one of my clients as an example. Last year I worked with a government health body to deliver a social media strategy. And as we worked through  the plan, as so often happens, the team I worked with learned more about social media and became bolder in how they used it.
I taught them how to use Twitter. I encouraged them to connect with others. We found hashtags they were interested in, and we found trustworthy tweeters from their sector that they could learn from.

We also looked at similar government bodies who were using social media, and in fact we ended up having a face to face meeting with one. The professionals around the table found they were working on a lot of similar projects, and there were opportunities for them to share resources. They are now working more closely together.

Now, as a result of knowing more about social media, those clients are:
  • Using Twitter to find and share industry news
  • Finding different ways of doing things, through conversations with peers they trust
  • Following conference proceedings via Twitter hashtags
  • Raising their own profiles within their sector and building a name for themselves
So remember, when others may be bagging social media when it isn’t achieving overnight sales or building a brand, there are many other uses for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. And a lot of those will be at an individual level, benefitting employees and employers (and eventually clients and customers).

I’m sure you have a few stories to share, in terms of how social media has helped your workplace learning and connections.

I'll hit the "monetize" button soon

Not because I think that running a blog will make me too much money. I estimate maybe $10 per month at current activity levels. Not a wealth creation plan. I'd sort of promised myself that I wouldn't try to earn money from a blog until I hit 20k pageviews a month. I'm miles away from that but I want to learn about monetising. Not a wealth creation plan.

I might leave it until after my current contract terminates with this employer. That makes sense.

But I understand blogging an social media pretty well. I feel confident to advise on it. I only really learnt that by doing - and TBH making the odd disastrous mistake.

But I don't feel confident to advise on monetising, as I haven't done it. I consider that a barrier to giving advice. I've just been reading a page on "five ways to monetize your blog". Please feel free to contact me and tell me what you know. I'm learning.

So, to you, my reader, it won't mean much. You'll see a few banners and sidebars. I'll keep it small. If you want to tip me a few cents, hit the ad then the back button. That's the sneaky underground of blog advertising - we can give some advertisers' money to our friends. We're being shown the ads anyway, why not make the advertiser pay for it?

And I will find it interesting to see the sorts of ads that Google Adsense will think belong on my blog pages.

I might do a cpm, a few cents per page. Somebody (Adbrite I think) does that, but I can't see what's in it for them. We'll see.

I don't think I'll do the CPA - cost per action. That's where - say - Amazon pays me if you buy an advertised book. I'll post an update here if I go that route.

So, as with most things I do, this little exercise will be about me learning something. And as always I'm very thankful to the people who choose to click around my blog. Even the unfriendlies.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Impressive Lleyton

For me there's a lot of things not to like about Lleyton. I got into a fist fight (to my embarrassment) with a Hewitt clone once, me the "seen it too many times guy" and the clone was the puerile "what's right for me is right". Still a little bent about it and still hadn't learnt that engaging with a bonehead is equally damaging to oneself, even if one's fighting on the good side.

And I've heard stories from local tennis up n comers at the time, where the 15 year old boy was furiously heckled by "team Hewitt" at memorial drive.

But as with Kieren Perkins at Atlanta, Hewitt had been written off for last night's match. I wish I'd watched it. But the writeup tells the story well.

When Raonic's smash sailed long to give up the critical break, that first brick hd been prized loose.

From there Hewitt simply turned the screws as baby-faced Raonic grew more apprehensive, and the Australian more emboldened.

What followed was a lesson in sheer execution, Hewitt ruthless as he closed out the match.

So many had dared to pen Hewitt's tennis obituary, which ignored his best attribute: he is a born competitor.

He turns 31 late in February - old for a tennis player but not geriatric - which is why the push to retire him is mystifying.

And at the same time, Amber Halliday's recovery I see as an equally great achievement. Equal achievement doesn't bring equal accolades.

So I can forgive Lleyton, as I bow to his "never say die" attitude. Even with the peanut I scuffled with almost ten years ago, a relentless aggression is a curiously attractive thing.

LleyLley of course has the added benefit of having succeeded.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Leatherbound 24: "Many rivers to cross" is a song of truth

Okey. Hungry for content I dragged out the old leatherbound diary from over a decade ago and found a late night "post" where I'd been inspired by Tony Childs' version of a song. And the prospect of my offspring on the way:
Strangely enough, this is not histrionics on my part. It really is the very next post that came up as I was going through the book.

Preferred correction: On reflection I would have said the last sentence differently. How can I speak for "a parent"? Still if these are the worst cringes I have, fifteen years after I've written something then I can live with it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coordinating the rescue from a lifeboat

Who knows what we'd do until we're faced with it, but I do find this a little stomach turning.

Four hours before the ship went down, the captain was seen on the shore, wrapped in a blanket. The coastguard had repeatedly ordered the captain back onto the ship.

"where are you?"
"I'm in a lifeboat"
"What are you doing there"
"I'm coordinating the rescue"

"see that ladder on the bow? Go over to it, and climb up it. Go in the other direction to the people who are evacuating. Reboard the ship"

I only hope that, faced with the same situation, I wouldn't be in the position to need to be told that. That I'd still be on the boat, getting people off.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yesterday's Tiser on Tweeting

Here's a little piece I wrote for the Australian Marketing Institute late last year.

I'm overshadowed by a big, beautiful photo of Prakky which is - I feel - how it should be.

And the piece I wrote was interesting enough although abridged in the paper. Here's the original: -

Tweeting so the boss stays happy too

On a training session I ran the other week I put up a picture of Donald Trump and asked what the catchphrase was. One of the newest ways to fall out of favour with your employer is through the misuse of your own social media. It may not end in “you’re fired”, but it can get uncomfortable.
We are all broadcasters now. Emma Rusciano tweeted how she didn’t wish to move her family to Adelaide and ended up in the local press. For a few days, Emma’s publicist and SAFM were playing “catch-up”.
There’s no such thing as a private tweet – even if you’re running your accounts anonymously. One keystroke can open the window and anything you’ve ever written is there for scrutiny.

It can be exhilarating but it can be risky. The trick is to enjoy the process while enhancing both your own personal brand and your employers. The first thing to do is get a hold of your employer’s social media policy. More and more employers have them now. Knowing the standing orders is your first step.

Consider the relationship between your personal brand and that of your employers. Are you a line extension, brand extension, or a co-brand?

In consumer goods marketing, Tic-Tac spearmint was a line extension. Employers such as Dell use this approach. Interested employees do a two day social media training course, use company endorsed avatars and operate according to strict guidelines. In “line extension” mode you still need to remain mindful of your private activities but at least a clear line is drawn.

When Virgin entered the air travel business in the 1980s they were doing a brand extension. If you’re writing a blog about cricket, gardening or politics and letting your audience know who you work for you’re acting – in some ways – as a brand extension.

Only some employers (and employees) are suited to the “co-brand” approach. Adelaide social media consultant Michelle Prak has done with Hughes PR – from where I watched. Michelle remained mindful of who her audience was, and her employer’s audience and stayed “on message”.

Congratulations on the recent launch of prakky.com.

Even if it’s just Facebook status updates, it’s important to remember that it says something about both you and your employer. Note to self.

Dr Cullen Habel is an Australian Marketing Institute state councillor and teaches Marketing at the University of Adelaide.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Carpe Diem told another way

Brody Boatwood is back with a story of intrigue around a stolen lottery ticket:

It takes a few times watching to get the story but the message comes through cleanly, especially with that final shot of the lottery ticket.

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand
Life is good today, life is good today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some control over you doesn't mean total control

On a little list I have that I call "things I believe" there was this one:

"It's a big mistake to think that a person who has some control over you has control over everything you see them caught up in, around you"

Have a look at the AFF (Accelerated Freefall) student above. BTW you can do that at Lower Light or Langhorne Creek for $450 with 8 hours training.

The two jumpmasters - they're in freefall too. Sure, they've got at least 600 more jumps than the student - normally thousands - but they're in the same environment with essentially the same equipment. The jumpmasters are still falling to the earth at 200km/h with two parachutes on their back. They're flying with you and will help you but essentially they've got their own skydive to do.

I first saw this 22 years ago when Chubb took over a company called Fire Fighting Enterprises. The FFE state manager had to talk his staff through a bunch of redundancies and uncertainty, all in the full knowledge that he was probably on the block too. I think he was. Rodney is fine now, owns his own safety business with 20 employees.

20 years ago, a guy called Gary Parsons look me in the eye and say "you won't be talking yourself out of this one, this time, Cullen.

The people who have control of you are in the mix too. If they've survived, it's because they have been pragmatic in the fights they've taken on. I still think of Gary with great fondness. I hope he did eventually secure his dream of setting up a Swan River cruise business. But he might still be selling shoes.

I was once a store manager with a staff of one where senior management had said "get rid of her. I don't care how, but she's finished." They essentially wanted me to walk through the process of "first warning, second warning, dismiss" - standard retail process for sacking in its day. Long story but the upshot was that I was the one who left, and it took me a while to get unbent about that one.

But a little closer to home.

Recent employment has had me as a lecturer to a lot of students. I'm getting a lot of requests for LinkedIn endorsement and to act as a referee. I love to do it. Just remember that I'm in the mix too. I happen to have been the lecturer with the responsibility for putting your mark into the system. I've been in freefall a few more times than you, maybe, but I'm still just on a skydive with you. There are about three people with whom you'd best avoid the mention of Cullen Habel. It's unlikely you'll be meeting them.

As my father in law says "I'll be the boss today, you be the boss tomorrow". Nothing is static. I'll be your reference now, you be mine tomorrow. The lion and the mouse is real.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hated and getting results or loved and spinning your wheels?

Possibly both as bad as each other. Bob Sutton has had to write a new chapter because he got so much feedback about bosses who were lovely people, but useless. "Why Bosses Who are Civilized and Caring, But Incompetent, can be Really Horrible"

Kevin Rudd appears to be a unique combination of both; hated, and not getting much done. Maybe, we'll never know.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

JPY Yesterday's Hero: Another Easybeats classic

After their great success with the Easybeats, Harry Vanda and George Young just kept serving it up with John Paul Young:

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Being the biggest voice in the room is one way

Seth Godin says you might work to be heard, as a way of getting on.

That reminds me of Plato's statement:

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something."

But there are times where being heard is important, an I certainly play the game. I suppose it's just just a matter of having something to say when you're speaking.

One of the wisest people I know responded to my "you're quiet" with the understated "I don't have anything to say".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Science: The ability to say "I was wrong"

Just a quick read of a freakonomics post where Dubner was advocating that we say "I don't know" more often reminds me of the two least uttered terms IMO in the English lexicon.

I don't know

I was wrong

And that reminds me of the gift of science. True science dwells in a world of "I don't know" with an attitude of "this is my best guess". Science (although rarely the individuals involved) seeks for opportunities to say "I was wrong"

I now find there are many more planets in the Milky Way than the "almost none" I was taught in school.

Gravitational lensing is a technique that allows us to see planets that are a/ less massive and b/ further from their parent star. The result: science now believes there are more planets.

For sure, the guy who built his whole academic career saying there were no planets - well he/she will be resisting it - but science is happy to say "I was wrong"

Similarly I was taught that an electron was the smallest particle, then watched science think about quarks and now, again, dwell in the "I don't know" world of string theory. Of course once "atom" had the literal meaning of "smallest, indivisible piece of matter"

And just a note on the big bang. I was distressed to hear an affiliated theist I respect (I am an unaffiliated theist who likes Jesus) speak about how "well some people believe God created the world and science speaks of the big bang".


Accepting (for now) the current theory of the big bang does not mean tossing God out of the mix.

But back to science. I like the way it is happy to say "I was wrong"

UPDATE Sat Jan 13

Freakonomics radio just put a podcast up, speaking about a similar thing:

"What I’ve found in business is that almost no one will ever admit to not knowing the answer to a question. So even if they absolutely have no idea what the answer is, if it’s within their realm of expertise, faking is just an important part. I really have come to believe teaching MBAs that one of the most important things you learn as an MBA is how to pretend you know the answer to any question even though you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And I’ve found it’s really one of the most destructive factors in business — is that everyone masquerades like they know the answer and no one will ever admit they don’t know the answer, and it makes it almost impossible to learn."

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Klout, I don't understand you..

This black box of influence measure has lost my respect. I dropped from 47 to 37 late last year and couldn't understand it. And then there's this:

All a bit confusing. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Candid letter to a new graduate who's looking for a job

A student sent me an email with the standard "as a new graduate, getting a job is hard do you have any suggestions?". I get these pretty regularly and here's a bit of my thinking in the answer:

Hi. I remember you as a very good, student as lecturers do. Not that I'd know you by sight, which is a key shortcoming of this job. I hear you, and it's a challenge we all get.
Generalist Degree

You have with a generalist degree from a well branded, highly regarded provider of these degrees. A generalist degree differs from a specialist (ie accounting law) degree in that there are low (no) barriers to entry in the employment game.

Sell the specialist skills
So one play is to trade on the specialist skills a marketing program gives us.
  • "I can look at a problem, develop a research plan and give you answers that will make you money or reduce your risk"
  • "I 'get' social media and can deliver thousands of dollars of communications results for you, and make you visible in that space"
  • "I understand brand positioning and brand performance measurement - not just conceptually but in terms of hard numbers."
Sell the fact it's made you a faster learner, a better catch
With a generalist degree one is often competing with 40+ year olds (often with no formal quals) who are well skilled, good at their work, connected and experienced. These people trade on their connections and experience, and can often say that formal schooling is irrelevant. I feel the best play for a graduate of a generalist program is to turn the tables and sell the value of the formal schooling as making you a better catch.

I'll put forward a couple of positions I'd take if I was hitting out right now. Take these very carefully as they come off wrong if one is not respectful of the employer, the job, or the people one's competing with:
  • "OK the elephant in the room is experience. I can show you a bunch of real life projects I've done but they're often viewed with suspicion. But I can promise you I've felt the heat of a demanding client and meeting impossible deadlines" 
  • "My degree instilled in me that my job is all about providing net cash flow inwards (current and future). It's a responsibility I take very seriously and if I was working for you I can assure you that that would occupy most of my thinking" 
  • "I know that I am up against people who have been doing this job for 20 years. But my training has taught me to learn quickly. For instance there's this thing called the Ansoff matrix that tells you it's safer to grow by selling existing product into existing markets and more dangerous to sell new products into new markets. My whole thinking is saturated with this knowledge. Sure, I need you to take a chance on me but I won't spend years making the same mistakes over and over." 
  • "Most importantly I'm fresh, have plenty of years left in me, know I have a lot to learn and am anxious to start. The company who gives me that chance will be repaid many times over"
  - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Carpet bomb the comfort zone?

No, that's Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now:

I know that every time (within my constraints) that I've been presented with a safe or a risk option, I've taken the latter. But I've never put it as forcefully as this guy: Stop playing it safe: #14 on a list of 25 from Chuck Wendig  

"Let 2012 be the year of the risk. Nobody knows what’s going on in the publishing industry, but we can be damn sure that what’s going on with authors is that we’re finding new ways to be empowered in this New Media Future, Motherfuckers (hereby known as NMFMF). What that means is, it’s time to forget the old rules. Time to start questioning preconceived notions and established conventions. It’s time to start taking some risks both in your career and in your storytelling. Throw open the doors. Kick down the walls of your uncomfortable box. Carpet bomb the Comfort Zone so that none other may dwell there."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feeding the right wolf: the battle inside

I can't take credit for it, but am happy to retell the story. Google Panda won't be happy, but it's a good story.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Your email is an invitation for me to pay attention

The attention of a person is the rarest commodity around. In the world of advertising its known implicitly. It's the whole reason for putting TV shows on, for instance. If you're watching a show and your attention is on it, the ads get some wash off, and that's what they pay for.

And we see plenty of companies working very hard to get ones attention. Almost everyone worth sending an email to will get at least a hundred per day. Your message is competing for attention with all of them. Your recipient will probably have seen your message come in, and needs to make a split second decision as to how much energy they spend on it. Off the top of my head, here's a set of tips:

Make the subject header informative
Get your grammar and punctuation right, all through. You instantly become disrespected if your email is poorly written.
Make the tone respectful of the other person's time
Make the email as short as possible, with small paragraphs
Try to only make one request
Make it a request that can be instantly actioned by the receiver - busy people can be happy to do something for you, but not enter a stream of correspondence.

Many people - I find - fail at this last point. Your reader has got all through your message but then gets:

"Can we get together to chat? I am in China at the moment"

Now what should I do with that? It's a little unfair to get bent out of shape due to being ignored when you make it hard to efficiently deal with your email.

When you send a mangled, confused email, chances are somebody else's email won the managers attention, and effort of response.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 2, 2012

Plato might not have had many friends

When I mentioned this to my 14yo boy I thought I was being clever:

"you know, 600 years before Jesus was around, a guy called Plato said this:

'Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.'"

To which Edan replied:

"Gee I bet he had a lot of friends"

Which brings to mind a recent reflection of a prominent person (who doesn't know I heard of him saying this):

"it's better to be a likeable idiot [around some places] than an intelligent a*hole"

I'm sure that somewhere in between there is a way that works.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gelateria closed on a 39 degree new year's eve?

I respect anybody's right to open their business on the hours that suit them. If you run a retail shop and can get by with a half a day a week trading, all power to you. Retail is a grueling business and I have huge respect for those who choose to be in it.

So "Pistacchio Gelateria" on the Norwood Parade must be doing fine. Yesterday on a 39degree day at noon, they were closed. Alrighty then.

But I did notice a few other things. My wife said "Meet me at Pistachio on the Parade" The Italian spelling made my google search return no results for "Pistachio Norwood", no biggie but there are ways to get Google to show you up, even if the spelling is wrong.

It just doesn't seem to make sense, making it hard for customers to find you or buy from you. And one little personal thing. No web presence. For free, one can set up a blog, put some logos and photos in there and at least look like you're trying.

In this case "Pistacchio" have let - the council?- catch the loose ball and at least get a google return.

My thoughts. From the comfort zone of a person who doesn't work retail. I sincerely hope that the owners of Pistacchio have been able to make their own choice not to trade. People in retail deserve all the time away from the shop that they can get.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad