Thursday, August 2, 2012

On Being Invited to Speak at #TEDxMacUni 2012

For many people, speaking to a large audience is a cause for fear and anxiety. Over the years, I've developed a passion for sharing my thoughts, concepts and experiences through public speaking to anyone willing to listen as I truly believe that I have 'ideas worth spreading'. I was introduced to by a good friend in 2009. I became an instant fan of these "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world" whose mission is simply in spreading ideas. 

You can imagine my delight when I was invited to speak at the TEDx Macquarie University event (#TEDxMacUni) in Sydney in August 2012. As a self-described Connector, the 'No Boundaries' theme is a perfect match for my favorite topic - connection. The challenge of presenting my ideas in a compelling way in under 18 minutes to both a live and online audience can only be described as the most honorable thrill.
The other bonus of attending the event is sharing the stage with a smart and eclectic group of speakers including the vivacious Internet chef, Bridget Davis and the inspirational Tim Noonan. I can't wait.
If you happen to be in Sydney on Saturday, 18th August, the organizers have generously made available an exclusive offer for readers of this blog to purchase tickets to the main event and the cocktail evening post-event, for 14% off the ticket price.
To take advantage of this offer which expires on Friday, 10th August 2012 and limited to 50 tickets, use promotional code TEDXMUBLOG upon registration.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

3 Business lessons learnt from the champion Spanish football team

It's always good to reflect and learn from successful teams. The emphatic victory by the Spanish Football team in the final of the recent European Football Championships was their third major tournament triumph in the last 5 years. So what makes them more successful than others and what can business learn from this success. Here are 3 business lessons I've taken away:

1. The Past Really is History

The conflict and intolerance of differences between the Spanish provinces is well documented and dates back to before the Spanish Civil War in 1936. This ongoing contention is manifested in the sporting rivalry between Spain's top two football clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona every time they play each other. Their fierce clashes are famously known as "El Clasico" (The Classic). 

In 2008, this generation of players said "enough". Under the direction of their management, they decided to put aside the pointless, unresolved dramas of the past and choose TEAM FIRST. They made a conscious decision to adopt a winning style of play that involved every member of the team playing their part, regardless of position or reputation for the sake of the greater glory of winning against the competition. 

Business Lesson #1 - learn from your track record, plan your strategy and make sure everyone on the team knows what they need to do.

2. Value Possession

The style of football that makes Spain different is known as "Possession Football". Put simply, it's continuously retaining the ball through a series of passes between players that not only frustrates the opposition but denies them the ball and the opportunity to score. They are patient with retaining the ball and once an opportunity presents itself to score, they capitalise. In addition, when they lose possession to the other team, they strike swiftly to dispossess the opposition and regain control of the ball so they can orchestrate another opportunity through possession.

Business Lesson #2 - retain your valued customers at all costs, keeping competition at bay and be readily positioned to act quickly on an opportunity.

3. Celebrate Success with Support Group

A perspective that many viewers may have missed in the coverage of the European Championship Final was the immediate post-game celebration by the players. Once the players congratulated each other and the coaching staff, they went straight to their families and embraced them. As professionals, they expect the support of team management. However, they displayed their appreciation publicly to those closest to them - their families - for the unseen support they contributed in their win. There are some fantastic images of the player celebrations with their kids on the field after the game that I've collected in a Pinterest Board called Spain Celebrates

Business Lesson #3 - celebrate success with the people who directly - and indirectly - contributed to you win, especially the next generation of talent. 

I'm sure there are more than 3 lessons that can be learned from this success. I would appreciate your comments and feedback on this one.  


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tell your story then engage your audience - Jaqui Lane

Guest Blogger: Jaqui Lane - Global Stories

I first met Jaqui Lane in 2001 when I was Director of Marketing at IBM Australia & New Zealand. Jaqui led the IBM@70 Book initiative which involved chronicling the rich history of IBM in Australia from 1932 to 2002, through the depiction of stories and pictures from the people and groups who knew the company best - loyal customers, prominent business partners and former & current employees. Jaqui was also instrumental in the development of my book, Connection Generation for which I'm eternally grateful. As she launches her next adventure,  "Global Stories", she agreed to guest post on my blog: 

After 20 plus years in corporate publishing and observing the major transformation of publishing, content and media and the challenges this has created for both the media sector and companies, I believe there is a gap in the media landscape - that of delivering quality content (which I call stories) to the potential customer or client on the platform
that they chose.

My dear friend Iggy Pintado calls this “ the user chooses” model.

The heart of all of this though, to me, has to be the quality of the content. If the content is not of the highest written quality, with relevant and meaningful themes and delivered  through well-constructed writing, no matter what social media or on-line channel you chose it simply won’t be effective. Not all content is created equal and it’s been detrimental, in my view, that so much focus has been on the social media tools to the exclusion of what story is being shared and to what audience.

So, in typically understated fashion, I have formed Global Stories with the aim to change the world of corporate communications or as a I describe it story telling, by starting with the story and then working through the best and most effective channels to tell it. As the father of transmedia storytelling, Harry Jenkins has said, “ If it doesn’t spread, its dead.”  To that I’d add, “Make your story great before its too late.”

By creating content that engages and is in ‘narrative synch’ we can drive and maintain engagement across any audience. And, this applies to large and small companies, brands, products, services, family businesses, community organisations and individuals. If you’re not creating a great story that has meaning and relevance no matter what you do it and where you ‘put it’ it simply won’t resonate.

So, tell me your story, or let me know about a story you’d like to tell. To get you started here’s an example.

I was once commissioned to write the story of a highly successful American family business. They had one issue though, Uncle Chuck. Uncle Chuck was the black sheep of the family whose life of crime and numerous jail terms ended up with his death in the electric chair. ‘Don’t come right out and say this’, my client said. So this is what I wrote after considering my audience - the family and their clients; the delivery channel - a closed circulation book; and the overall theme/objective - that the family company was a strong, secure and reputable business:

Uncle Chuck was a charismatic and arresting member of the family who spent a great deal of time involved in government institutions. His varied and long career in a traditional sector of financial services saw him engage with a wide range of the community and his death came as a real shock.

A quick pointer before you start. Research your audience and understand what they want to know about, care about and want to hear.

Please leave a comment below about your story or one you'd like to tell.

Guest Blog: Jaqui Lane - Global Stories 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can a blog post save a life? by Oscar Trimboli

On Friday, 25th February 2012, my friend Oscar Trimboli asked me to retweet this plea on Twitter to my network. I did so and asked him if there was anything else I could do to help his cause. He agreed to this guest post to put some context to his request. 

What do you look forward to in your life?

Getting married, the birth of your child, seeing your children graduating, seeing your children getting married, running a marathon or climbing a mountain or simply enjoying a meal with your family.

What do you get excited about every day? Imagine the possibilities.

Do you remember when your parents and grandparents said you can fly to the moon, become a prime minister, win a Nobel Prize or become an Olympic champion?

Remember what your parents and friends said to you - anything is possible

I believe the same, I am optimistic that anything is possible and I believe that this blog post can save a life.

Imagine a world where today means there is no tomorrow.

Imagine a world where you need to make arrangements for the family you love for a future that might not include you.

Imagine if your doctor said the only thing that can save your life is a bone marrow donor because all the leukaemia treatments for the last 5 years have been exhausted.

As an optimist and a passionate believer in the power of technology, I believe a blog can save a life.

Not just one life but many - this is a belief I share with YOU.

YOU have the power to save a life and more importantly change the life of a father, a husband, his children and his parent’s so he can live to see his dreams and see the dreams of his family come to life, everyday.

So information is power and here is how you become powerful – this is where you prove that a blog post can save a life.

Visit The Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry fill in the form and donate some blood to see the power you hold to save a life.

- Oscar Trimboli

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Connecting Social Communities FTW - Personal Case Study and 10 Tips

In December last year, my daughter Rachel asked for my help to win a Bride of the Year Facebook contest that required entrants to have their particular picture LIKED on the contest page. As a connector who often gets asked what possible benefit there is in having so many Facebook friends (currently 4,500), Twitter followers (currently 36,000) and Linkedin connections (currently 26,000), I took on the challenge to apply my marketing experience to prove that if utilised effectively, you can derive a benefit from connecting a social community - for the win (FTW).

As you can see from the picture, Rachel won the contest. Her winning picture generated 1,657 likes, taking out the grand prize of an all expenses paid trip to Australia's Hamilton Island for two. She won as a result of a carefully managed marketing campaign that connected individuals in various social communities to take an action that resulted in her win. This isn't the story of the campaign - a good cook doesn't reveal his full recipe. It does provide some tips as to how to connect social communities to achieve a desired result which I hope you find useful!

1. Understand the RULES and OUTCOMES.

The contest rules as defined by MMG Photo + Cinema were very clear: Eligible brides were asked to post a photo on their Facebook contest page. Whoever got more recorded "likes" than all other entrants legitimately by midnight 31st December 2011 would be the winner. The marketing challenge was to get more likes on Rachel's picture than all other 45+ competitive contestant brides in 4 short weeks in December, ensuring her picture was in a winning position a few hours before the contest close time. 

The RULES were very clear. The OUTCOME was simple: She had to win.    

2. Consult the PRACTITIONERS (People in the KNOW, not necessarily the "experts)

As much as you think you might know about social media and communities (myself included), I asked for the advice of some the smartest people who plan, play and experiment in social media. I'm not talking about the people who talk the theory. I'm referring to the people who practice what they preach - daily. I got some great advice and support from Mahei Foliaki, Michael Todd, Keith Keller and Annalisa Holmes. These folks are in the social game every day and provided reality checks that I was grateful to be able to cash. 

3. Marshall your COMMUNITY.

The people who want to assist you directly are usually those close to you - family and good friends - so start compiling that list first. Next are people you relate to regularly - work colleagues and good acquaintances - they may not 'know' you well but they may be willing to take an easy action such as liking a Facebook photo due to your connection. Thirdly, there are interest groups who you have some connection with - school, church, university, clubs, etc - again, if the request is simple and easy, they're likely to support.  

Finally, always apply network theory by asking every simple person to SHARE the request with their own connections at the same time you ask them to take an action. If the action is simple, they'll be more willing to ask their friends to maximise the reach of the request. 

4. Make task easy - LIKE in 2 clicks

The easier the better. The request sent to various individuals and groups was to LIKE Rachel's posted competition picture. The first step was to click on a link to the photo and once there, to click LIKE on her photo - easy as. To make it easier, the request was usually done on Facebook, the platform they were already on. I found it harder to post as links on other social platforms like Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin as they had to switch what they were doing. However, it didn't stop us posting there too!  

5. Ask nicely ... and personally.

I sent a direct Facebook message to many of my Facebook connections as did Rachel. I messaged around 20 connections at a time and sometimes a few more, using their first names in every case. I preferred Facebook messages as it was more personal and direct. Those who chose to opt-out by leaving the message conversation made it easier to send follow-ups to later and prevent potential accusations of spamming. The message was simple and included a direct link:

I was ably supported by the communities of supporters like Tessa Gutierez, Mark Simmering and 124 others who shared my message as a Facebook post. 

6. Monitor performance along the way.

I monitored Rachel's progress daily from day one and hourly in the last 24 hours. When the LIKE rate started to slow down, I would send a mix of follow-up messages and interest group posts to get it moving again. As the contest was open to people in other countries, I sent messages to connections in their time zones to maximise their views of the messages. Also, it was important to avoid holiday dates like Christmas and Boxing Day as there was minimal social activity during these times.

In doing so, Rachel jumped from 31st place in the first week of the contest to 9th place by the start of the third week. She was in the top 5 with a week to go and hit the lead two days before the contest end time. 

7. Get ready for plot twists.

The contest organisers were also clear that they could change the rules along the way. With two weeks to go, they culled the number of contestants to the top 10. In another twist, they allowed 35+ brides who didn't make the final cut to allocate their LIKES to anyone in the top 10. Fortunately, Rachel was always pleasant and friendly with all the contestants throughout. It helped that she LIKED all the other contestants pictures and added them as friends on Facebook prior to their elimination. The plan now called for a closer monitoring of LIKE allocations by the other contestants and the real possibility of having to get more LIKES than planned.

8. Keep an eye on the competition (but don't let it obsess you)

Due to the plot twist, closer monitoring of the final 10 competitors was required. In week three, I started a simple spreadsheet recording LIKES every few hours by finalists PLUS allocations from the other 35+ brides. By tracking performance, you could assess what tactics they were using via comments left on their posts.  

9. Stay awake until the very end.

The contest deadline was midnight on 31st December 2011, New Years Eve. Although there was little one could do if there were any massive LIKES or LIKE allocations made in the last few hours, there were some tactics planned as contingencies just in case. It's a little like watching final bidding on an eBay item - you must watch until the very end. 

10. Say THANK YOU.

The day after she won the contest (New Years Day), I personally messaged all the people I knew who LIKED her photo. I posted my thanks on all my social platforms to maximise the message. I re-posted her thank you picture at the top of this post. So many people were grateful for the thanks and delighted by the part they played in being part of the success. 

So again, I'd like to thank EVERY ONE of the 1,657 people who took the time to be part of Rachel's success and for validating that you can connect social communities for benefit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Follow My Lead - Guest Post by Carol Quinn

I met Carol Quinn on Twitter two years ago. She is a cross-platform strategic planner and author of the book 

She is the former SVP of Marketing/Creative Director for entertainment advertising agency Air Creative Group  and co-founder of Angel Entertainment, a new media group involved in content creation for television, gaming, and publishing. As an advertising executive and creative director, Carol created television, radio, print and online campaigns for CBS Television, Paramount Television, Warner Bros. Online, Radio Disney, Disney Channel and has worked with numerous new media digital startups. 

She graciously agreed to guest blog about what she's learned about leadership here. 

You’d think that by the title of my book, I know something about leadership.  But if you read it, you’ll quickly see that the story is a process of becoming a leader—not of my dogs or in my professional life or even in my family - but of myself.

To become my own leader, I first had to fully understand who I was, and what I was capable of. This may seem like an easy task, but in my case, I’d spent a good deal of my personal life trying hard to fit in with situations or relationships that didn’t dovetail with my nature. Like assigning an artistic task to a computer scientist or a job that requires fine motor skills to a guy who wields a sledgehammer for a living, I consistently placed myself in conflict. Why? The simple answer is, I like a challenge. The more complex answer has to do with my personal beliefs about perfecting myself, striving to be better, kinder, wiser, and more creative. My theory was that conflict created the right condition for me to grow stronger.

It turns out, I was very wrong about this theory of mine.  As I trained my two Rhodesian Ridgebacks in dog agility, it was immediately apparent to me that dogs succeed in tasks when they are happy, and rewarded—and when the tasks suit their nature and physical capabilities. As my trainer once said, “You can’t ask a small dog with short legs to take a high jump. He’ll just get frustrated.”

And you can’t ask a hot-headed, emotional person to behave analytically nor can you demand that a shy person become loud and bubbly.  We are who we are.
Understanding my own limitations was liberating; I finally let go of an unhappy love relationship, and discovered a new appreciation of my leadership skills, and an ability to find - and embrace - happiness. It sounds simple, but believe me, it wasn’t.

If you’d like to read the book hardcopy or via Kindle, you can order it on Amazon .