Wobbling and whying

A little bump in the road threw me yesterday. Someone I respect suggested that part of what we do around here sounds….negative. Specifically, the ‘Stop Doing Dumb Things’ part. As a cyclist I’m used to the odd wobble and even the occasional crash! What to do when someone throws a stick in the spokes? I had some time to pause on my journey so I put a question out to Twitter.

Which do you prefer, ‘stop doing dumb things’ or ‘better engagement for better service’ – couple of folk saying the first is too negative?

The responses were rapid and very useful.

Hackofalltrades I really dig the 1st, but can see it could be off-putting to those who do dumb things to customers. But stands out a lot more. 2nd is more bland, but safer. What’s more important (to you): initial interest, or not ruffling feathers (at first)?

Martincouzins I like the first one – shorter, sharper, direct. I know exactly what it means. No 2 is more ambiguous IMHO. The positive sounds a bit mealy mouthed. Take point about negativity, but maybe those words work well for what you do?

Inthecompanyof 1st one. More powerful, more direct.

Claireboyles Depends what you want it to achieve. For marketing purposes, getting your brand well known & talked about #1 wins hands down.  And it’s apt, because it’s true, so many people doing so many dumb things, even if they don’t realise they are dumb things!

Changecontinuum Personally the first – loud and proud will always defeat mediocrity. #whatdoiknow What does your gut say? Have you read Simon Sinek on “why”?

Jasonlauritsen I like the first. That probably means it’s appealing to a narrow audience. 🙂

Sarahjsargent Dumb things is straight talking – 2nd one is a bit corporate speak

Theatreacle Late reply – things always better expressed in the positive – how about “start doing great things”….

Stirthesource the first. I have spoken about you and your work to many. They ADORE the name. PS – I have to stop and think about the 2nd. The first is instant and makes you smile/has you nodding in agreement. Genius! PPS – I talk about it in its full name too, so my vote would be to stay with that (i.e. continue to include ‘customers’)

All great stuff coming in from all directions. Then things took another turn.

Bridge101 (aka Bridget Greenwood) Better engagement for better service sounds like corporate speak. I have to run it through my brain more than once to get it… they say keep marketing lit to level of an 8 year old. They say people engage more with what not to do than with what to do. So: “Stop doing dumb things to Your customers Your people, and start…..*fill in the benefit….” Then I’d keep reading… creating a movement, stand out, be strong on your vision, don’t fluff, do shock – you want a movement right? Let passion show. This considered and passionate input was followed by a text message containing more useful insight. Yep, Bridget went to the trouble to find my number and text me, so I called her back and we had a great chat about marketing, about purpose, about a whole bunch of exciting things. And Bridget also pointed me towards Why? By Simon Sinek. I checked out this very interesting talk by Simon on TED and I’m happy to repost it here, it’s worth a look if you are interested in self-definition, in ‘what’s it all about’?

Later in the day I read this great blog post on HBR by Lucy P Marcus. It’s all about being connected and she cites Twitter as a great place to throw out a question and get great thinking back in return. Couldn’t agree more!

So the bump was hit, the wobble had, the why whyed and with some minor adjustments we’re back on track. Truth is it would have been easy for me to just ride on past this one, but sometimes it’s worth taking a break and checking in with folks, I think I’m all the better for it.

What has the world of social media helped you with lately? I’d love to learn even more.

PS – two final thoughts on this. Jason popped back to say ‘different is awesome!’ and the wonderful jrkuhns simply adds – ‘Unconferences rule!’ thanks guys.

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

The A Team

Truth be told I did not plan everything that I’m about to tell you, but enough was planned to warrant trotting out the famous A Team saying. The past week has been overwhelmingly excellent.

It exploded into life last Friday as Ailsa, Jose and I sat on the 12.06 train as it slid out of Paddington. The prosecco cork popped and we were on our way to a camping weekend near Croyde to which we and many others had been invited through connections made on Twitter. The camp was a blast and I suggest you read Mel’s blog post about how she came to be involved.

Everyone who went contributed to the fun, the food and the fooling about – it felt like a real community gathering. Lots of high quality goings on happened and I want to tell you about two things which people said to me about me that were truly uplifting. I’m not going to mention names but I’m so motivated by these two things I can’t resist sharing them.

On the Friday evening I got my guitar out and tuned it then played for a while. I just fiddled with a few tunes then someone stuck an Ipod on so I stashed the guitar. I lack confidence at times and this was one of those times. The following day one of my fellow campers referred to my playing the night before and he used the word magical. I’m grinning as I type. His feedback was magical and helped motivate me to lead a good 90 minute singalong later that evening.

Shortly after camp closed I dropped a line to a fellow camper to say thanks for the fun, great to meet you and all that. I got a lovely reply:

It was lovely to meet you and I found your willingness to just have a go and learn new skills quite inspirational!

This was in part a reference to my latest experiment where I’m teaching myself how to paint. These two moments stood out for me in an aready outstanding weekend.

On Monday I had a bit of a whinge about a poor customer experience. What’s so excellent about that? The company involved picked up on it via Twitter and engaged and went above and beyond the call of duty to fix things. As a direct result they now have a happy customer, me, at least one more new customer, and hopefully a bunch of curious people keen to find out more about them. Read all about it here. Well done Naked Wine.

On Tuesday my laptop went pop. What’s so excellent about that? Well not much but a lack of readily available technology got me talking on the phone with folks and scribbling instead of typing. It’s easy to forget the art of conversation and writing, this minor bump in the road steered me in enjoyable directions (though if you’re reading this mister repair dude I’d really like it back soon, thanks).

On Wednesday I met Rob for lunch. We had a great conversation that focussed largely on how to grow my business. It was fabulous to get such constructive, useful straight talking from someone I know and respect. Cheers Rob, you are a super star.

On Thursday Alex sent me a box of brownies. Delicious chocolate brownies. What a fabulous surprise. Go here, buy some, enjoy. Later that day I collected Keira from school which is always a real pleasure. We concluded our time together that evening with a storming game of Super Mario Bros on the Wii – what a laugh!

Today is Friday. I’m heading into town to meet Flora for lunch. Trust me that is an exciting and motivating treat in itself. Then, after lunch I’m off to Never Records to take part in the Merge Festival. I’m going to record the wonderful Human Resource and it wil be pressed onto vinyl. No need to panic about me storming the charts there will only be two copies pressed. One for me, one for Never Records. I am superexcitednervous about this – I hope it will be enormous fun.

So there you have it. A somewhat indulgent post about a somewhat excellent week. All made possible through high quality relationships and practice. The more we practice the luckier we get folks. Have a stunning weekend, I couldn’t have done this without you.

Countryphile

As many of you know, I dashed off to the New Forest for summer camp after last weeks singing appearance at the Social Recruiting Conference. This camp is organised by a couple of friends for around 250 friends and family. It’s an amazing, friendly, wonderful event. The only fly in the ointment is that I get asked to kick off the entertainment on the Friday night. I’ve previously found this a hugely nerve racking, almost vomit inducing fright. And as a result my nerves have affected my performances. This time – it was going to be different. I decided that if people were going to watch me I owed it to them and me to have a good time. I’d also met up with Natasha Stallard earlier in the week and she’d spoken enthusiastically to me about challenging emotions more productively. So I gave it a go.

I think I did much better this year (and before you say it yep – there is still loads of room for improvement, and I’m motivated by that) and there are a few short video clips on this post for you to look at and listen to if you like. Oh – and the picture at the top of the post is me and two good buddies in a short play called The Dukes of Has-Beens, in case y’all are interested.

I plan to use this fantastic experience to think more carefully about how we integrate a sense of community into other places too. A great example of community crossing into the workplace for me is ConnectingHR. If you have any examples of workplaces behaving like a community I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Being a part of a community is the best!