Tag Archives: Leading

Practise What You Tweet

I read this article yesterday about Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, and how he rarely tweets, sure enough he only has 128 tweets! which was a little surprising, especially as he’s now head of product development… but as he says he uses Twitter for consumption not broadcasting… although he follows just 1,284 users, while he has 1,257,315 followers (that’s almost a 1,000 to 1 ratio).

As the post highlights, a lack of engagement or passion in another of Evan’s earlier startups Odeo, doomed it from day 1, even though he was able to source funding, he just didn’t appear compelled or interested enough in it to keep it going. I have no doubt Twitter will continue to thrive with or without Evan’s tweets, but it is interesting nonetheless.

To build a company you really have to believe in it and use it’s services. The same is true when building your brand, you have to live and breath your ethos. I posted a few days ago, that you have to be authentic, if you’re not, and you can’t convince yourself, how will you ever convince those you connect with or your customers!

I’m in the early stages of building and launching a new company named no paper onto the world, as the name implies, we don’t use paper. I live and breath this ideology, I only purchase eBooks, no paper books, I have Kindles, Sony eReaders, iPads, iPhones, laptops all choc full of eBooks. Our iPads and iPhones are our daily notebooks (FYI there’s a no paper iApp coming soon). We have a no paper office policy, no printer, no fax machines, no paper notepads in meetings or on people’s desks. Paper invoices are ignored and go unpaid until we receive an electronic version, we do not accept cheques only bank transfers for payment, most if not all business is handled electronically. That may sound draconian at first, but when you adhere to the rules not because you have to, but because you want to, you realise they weren’t rules, they were advice. Then a wonderful thing starts to happen, you become emotionally engaged in the ethos, it becomes visceral (more on that by Anne), you start putting forward your own suggestions, it’s no longer just part of your life, you become part of it. This harks back to the definition of leadership

At home I don’t send letters, birthday or xmas cards and my family and friends know not to send them to me either (I’d rather a phone call or text, costs less and I find it’s more engaging and personal), all my utilities, bills and bank statements are electronic or online, I’m converting all my old paper bank statements, utility bills, insurance records etc into electronic versions (and experimenting in the best way to reference and store them, again something we’re working on at no paper), I refuse to have junk mail and freebie newspapers pushed through my letterbox… I could go on, but you get the idea, I live and breath the brand values of my business… as the saying goes, “If you truly want to understand something, try changing it” but that also works in reverse, “If you truly want to change something, try understanding it!” the only way I can truly understand a life with no paper is to live one… if I can do it, then hopefully I can encourage others to do the same, then in turn they will encourage others.

You Lucky Bastard!

Next time you think someone’s lucky, remember there’s no such thing as luck, it doesn’t exist.

Of course there are those that are born into wealth, survive death defying accidents, born with good health etc, but that isn’t luck, that’s good fortune.

If an opportunity arises and you take advantage of it, some will see that as luck, you were in the right place at the right time, but you know that you’ve likely worked very hard to be prepared & be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity when it arose.

So luck is being prepared & being in a position to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, it’s that simple.

Le Roi est Mort

In my Digital Brand Protection days, I had a presentation based around ROI, but it had a twist, as on the last slide I revealed I hadn’t been referring to “Return On Investment” as everybody thought, but “Risk Of Investment” that got their attention!

Upon jumping back & going through the presentation again, the audience understood exactly where I was coming from & the importance of what I was saying. Don’t get seduced by only looking at the high returns, weight up the possible costs of damaging your Brand & reputation, especially if you are aligning yourself with another brand.

There are times you have to take the risk and go with your convictions, that’s where RONI comes in “Risk Of Not Investing”. Seth wrote a great piece this morning that’s entirely about RONI.

Yes, absolutely, you could lose everything if you risk it all and go with your gut feeling, but you could still lose everything if you do nothing. If a competitor is hell bent on pushing forwards when you’re content to sit still, don’t be surprised when they win.

“You can never defeat a man, with nothing to lose”

So go for it! what have you got to lose?

Resigned To The Fact

This post was originally written on the 1st April, but I couldn’t post it until today, and believe me, it’s no April’s Fool.

Today is the 1st of April… the dreaded “R” word raised it’s ugly head today, no not recession, the other one, redundancy. I heard from two more friends, that they were made redundant today, both have been with the companies for a number of years and neither were expecting to be called aside.

Are they taking it badly or personally? thankfully not, both are up beat about it, of course they’ve heard the same thing from everyone, “Oh it’s the best thing that could happen to you” etc, mmmmmmm, no not exactly, winning the bleedin’ lottery would have undoubtedly been a bit of a better day, but then again, it’s only a job for crying out loud, it’s not as if somebody has died. Yes I agree, you have to look at the positives in these situations, the slate is clean, there’s no obstacles, there’s nothing stopping you getting on with all the things you’ve been putting off for ages.

I too realized that things had to change in my office today, but I’m in a different position, I’m a company Founder, so one of those that gets to decide who stays & who goes, (although trust me, that’s no privileged position, it’s not easy making those types of decisions, or nice telling someone), but we’re doing OK at the moment so there’s no redundancies on the cards, but even still someone had to go, and that someone was me!

I’ve too many other things on the boil, I can’t give my all to Cordovan at the present, so it would be unfair to all those that have worked with me the past decade for me to continue in my present capacity, so I’m stepping back. I’m not stepping down, I’m simply stepping back, I’m still sitting on the board & actively helping where I can (or is that interfering where I can), but I’m out of daily operations, it was a hard decision, I’ve spent 10 years building the company, but I’ve also spent the last couple of years ensuring it could function without me… it can, there’s no doubt in my mind there, if there was I wouldn’t step back, they’ll be fine.

It’s not easy letting go, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’s the best thing, my focus has to be somewhere else now, there’s interesting times ahead, but I’m looking forward to the challenges, standing still would be boring, and that’s really not me.

A Balancing Act

In a recent post on Triiibes someone wrote “You Suck” as the title then went into how you shouldn’t be complacent & that there’s always someone out there, bigger, better & faster than you.

This may well be, but beating yourself up and thinking you’re a pile of crap, isn’t a good approach or that productive, although on the flip side, bigging yourself up as the King of the World, ain’t doing you any favours either.

If everyone thought they couldn’t take on those bigger, better & faster, then nothing would ever change for the better. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

Seth Godin London Session

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Seth Godin presentation in London, produced by Mark Muggeridge of Evil Genius. I first heard of the event on Triiibes when Mark announced he’d been in discussions with Seth about putting on an event. Having been involved in live events myself for almost 20 years, I offered Mark my assistance in case he needed another pair of hands, which he gratefully accepted. On the day the whole thing ran like clock work, so I wasn’t really required, but I completely lucked out, as I got to spend all morning talking to Seth in the green room while he prepared his presentation & signed some books. Of course, Seth was on good form & inspirational as always.

The audio of the presentation is available here plus as a transcript

Also here’s an archive of a webcast I did with Seth last September

Photo by Claes Gellerbrink

seth-godin-by-claes-gellerbrink-6677-low

Follow The Leader

If you’re in a position of authority, running a company or a manager etc whenever you ask someone to do something, ask yourself this, “If you weren’t the boss, would your staff still follow your lead or take your advice?”, if the answers are “unlikely” or “no”, then you need to change what you’re doing.

Dwight Eisenhower defined leadership as “Convincing someone, to do what you want, because they want to do it.” Sounds simple when you put it like that, but how do you convince someone, that what you want, is in their best interest plus something they will be willing to do time & time again? See How to be a leader

A key element is trust, of course trust takes time & effort to build, but trust is only the start, it can only achieve so much, the goal is to gain mutual respect. As with trust, respect takes time & effort to achieve, but unlike trust, respect must be a two way street, to earn respect you have to give it.

Anyone can lead, it isn’t about having authority, it’s about gaining trust & respect through the correct behaviour.

Trust Me, I’m a Blogger

While taking a break from my hectic morning schedule of making myself a cup of tea & finding some clean socks to wear I thought I’d check in and see what little bread crumbs my fellow Twits had left for me. Sure enough there were plenty, but one from Jaculynn stood out more than most “For big hearts. Please help. http://is.gd/eKbo Please retweet.” so I followed the link.

Glad I did, here’s a quick synopsis, a guy named David Armano, was asking for help, not for himself, but for a friend, a young woman named Daniela & her three children, whom were staying at his house, as she was going through a separation from her abusive husband. He was asking for $5,000, so Daniela could get her own place for her family and didn’t have to worry about a deposit or rent for a little while. David wasn’t asking for big donations, just whatever you could spare during these hard times, any amount would help & if you couldn’t donate directly then at least pass on the message.

Within 4hrs of posting the request on his blog & Twitter, he’d not only reached his target, he’d doubled it!! I think it’s safe to say that he was blown away by this, but what it shows is how much his followers & readers respect him.

So is this amazing success all down to blogs, twitter & social networks? absolutely not… it’s entirely down to David, and his skill in utilising the technologies to gain trust. He’s been writing his blog for 3 years & he’s amassed 8,000 followers on Twitter, but it’s taken him a long time & a lot of effort, but the payback has been worthwhile, as I’m sure 2009 is looking a much better place for Daniela & her family right now.

And this is all because David decided to make a difference and channel the trust he’s built to good use, or as Amie eloquently puts it in her comment to David’s thank you video “Absolutely incredible – not only have you helped a family in need, but you’ve proven again how powerful it is when just one person stands up to say, I will make a difference. You have. Imagine what else is possible”

exactly!

UPDATE:
Here’s a great blog article by Scott Drummond that expands upon what I said above, so get working on your Relationship Bank Balance! (that’s such a great analogy)

Dirty Laundry

We’ve heard it so many times from clients & suppliers… “we’re customer focused… everything we do is with the customer in mind… we’re number one for our clients… you can trust us to deliver… we won’t let you down… yawn yawn etc” Then they proceed to say “But don’t take our word for it, listen to what our customers have to say” then they role out a series of amazing client testimonials which cover them in glory.

Brilliant idea, that’s what you should do, it’s what everyone else is doing so it must be a good idea, wrong, wrong, wrong! Don’t do it, as you’d be wasting your time.

If you want to encourage or build a new client / customer relationship I’m afraid there’s no quick fix, no matter how good your testimonials make you sound, we know you’ve edited out the mediocre or bad ones, you’re only revealing half the story (in fact probably only a 10%, as you’re unlikely to ask every client for a testimonial, only the ones that you already know are going to write something good about you). So testimonials won’t do it for you.

So how do you build trust, how do you get a customer to use you or trust you? The answers quite simple actually, you have to honest with them, you have to be open, but not just saying you are, you have to be truly transparent!

How? Ever used eBay? If you had two sellers selling exactly the same things, same price etc and one had a 90% “unedited” good hit rate and the other had a 100% “edited” hit rate which would you choose? My point exactly, the “unedited” completely open & honest seller.

So if you say you’re customer focused, and you put your customer first, prove it. Ask every single customer to give you honest & open customer feedback, at the end of every project ask your clients to fill in a satisfaction survey… but don’t ask them, why did you choose our product or how good was the project delivery, ask them why would they choose a competitor, what was wrong with your delivery, how could you improve it next time, what other things would they like you to offer!

But here’s the really good bit, if you’re truly customer focused, then put your money where your mouth is, put it ALL on display, hang your dirty laundry out on your website, the pristine white shirt hanging pride of place alongside your socks with the worn out heels & holes where your toes stick through. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t pretend to be. You’ll soon become focused on getting more of those white shirts on your line, that the holey socks will become a thing of the past, rather just hidden away when visitors come round.

If you can be honest with yourself, then you can truly be honest with your customers, they’ll respect you for it and over time, they’re really trust you!

I hear there’s a recession, but I’ve decided not to take part

At the end of 2007 I sold two of my companies, vision360 & ezpresenter, to the Cordovan Group, with the new company becoming Cordovan Digital (where I’m currently a Board Director). We’ve had a pretty good year, highest turnover & profits of our previous 10 year history, so I can’t say fairer than that. Of course the coming year will be telling, but I feel positive about it, I work with an amazing bunch of guys (& girls!), whom I have complete confidence in, they work incredibly well together & I’m dedicated to ensuring their futures too.

So how have I prepared for the coming year? Probably not as you’d expect… upon selling the two companies last year I retained a third one, named no paper™, which we’re still developing & planning a major launch of in 2009. Then in November this year I registered two entirely new companies (ID Gator™ & F451 Labs™), plus a forum on Identity issues Your Identity Matters™ (to be launched in April-May), plus two non-profit organisations, Your Small Change™ & I Skipped Lunch™, both of which I’m hoping to change to charity status in 2010. So I shall be entering 2009 with 5 companies under my direct control with an ongoing concern with Cordovan.

Am I being ambitious? Yes
Am I over stretching myself? Probably
Can I do it? Absolutely
Would I have it any other way? No
Am I worried about the recession? No
Am I mad? Ask me in a years time!

So don’t bury your head in the sand and wait for the economic downturn to go away, it won’t, there’ll be winners & losers, either way it’s going to be risky in 2009, but it’s your choice… at least doing it my way I can see the risks ahead of me!

And if that’s not a good enough reason then read these:

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be
Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite
Paul Arden

Either way, I hope 2009 is good to you.

Be Effective

As a classic INTJ through and through I hate ineffeciency, it’s a pet hate and I strive to remove it from many aspects of my business, but I’ve just spent a couple of very informative days brain storming & discussing future strategies for the Cordovan Group with the board members along with Prof David Drennan. David said something that really made me stop and think about a few things (To be fair, David said plenty of insightful stuff, but I’m only going to highlight one of them).

To be efficient is “to do things right”
To be effective is “to do the right things”

So while being efficient is all very well, being effective is far more important!

How to be a Leader

Make your passion your goal & be committed to it
Be true to your ideology
Wear your values on your sleeve
Listen with an open mind
Speak from the heart
Be honest, most of all to yourself
Give respect where it’s due
Know when you’re right
Admit when you’re wrong
Give your audience what they want & be generous
and most of all
Be an inspiration & make a difference
Your tribe will gather, and when they do
Empower them to do the same

To read more of the same you can get a free eBook full of case studies the guys on Triiibes contributed.

Are You Ready to Lead?

the-guru

In the morning the disciple would awake before dawn
He would draw water from the well & carry it up the hill
He would clean & sweep the temple
He would pick fresh mangoes, wash, slice & prepare them
He would grind coffee by hand
He would boil the water
He would awake the guru at sun rise
He would wash him
He would dress him
He would prepare the Guru’s seat
He would sit quietly, while the Guru ate
He would clear everything away
He would then sit in silence, listening to the Guru’s words of wisdom

He did this every morning for years, until one day…
He awoke
He collected the water
He picked the fruit
He prepared it
He ground the coffee
He boiled the water
He sat on the veranda and consumed the lot, as he watched the sun come up
He had a pang of guilt for what he had just done
How will the Guru react?
He turned, only to find the Guru standing quietly behind him, smiling from ear to ear
He said to the disciple “so now you’re a Guru”

Only you, can decide when it’s time & when you’re ready to lead

To read more of the same you can get a free eBook full of case studies the guys on Triiibes contributed.