July 30, 2011

Make Time for Think Time

The content will never end

Don’t follow rules, follow rules, be on every channel, be selective, watch this video, buy my program, read my blog, see this new thing.We are constantly trying to find ways to filter through the stuff and find what's important. But how do we shut out the noise from out there and inside our own minds?

Take Digital Time Off
The Internet will be here tomorrow. Shut off your computer and your phone. Try it for 24 hours. It's okay, we'll be here when you get back.

Keep Things Simple
I start less and finish more. It’s not easy and it takes daily practice. Squirrel.

Listen to Your Voice
It’s fascinating how much weight we give others' opinions. Take the time to listen to your voice more often. It knows you better than they do.

Find Your Focus
This is like adopting a new exercise regimen. The treadmill in my basement has yet to get me in shape on its own. Weird.

Memes Can Be Dangerous
The human mind is a miraculous machine that can create whatever reality we wish and for some strange reason negative thought can infiltrate faster than positive. Our thoughts are just our thoughts and we can work on turning self-doubt moments into action items.

Give Yourself a Break
Take some time by yourself and list all of your strengths. No one needs to see the list, so be completely honest with yourself.

Step Away. Enjoy the Silence.

Kneale Mann

image credit: wickednox
Original post: Aug 2010

July 27, 2011

The Product is You

You're the Boss

I used to be one of those people who admired others who worked for themselves because of their perceived freedom. They could choose who they worked with and their hours were flexible. They had business expense write-offs and could take time off whenever they wanted. Of course, that was all too innocent of me.

Any  self-employed person will tell you that you don't know what it's like to work for yourself until you work for yourself. That doesn't let you off the hook if you work for someone or own a large enterprise.

Selling You is Hard Work

Developing your own brand, offering or services can be tough if you don’t have a team to lean on or a established company to back you up. Scaling your expertise can be as difficult as deciding what you will offer in the first place. But we need to remember we still have a team which comprises of our network of helpful humans. The business model is expanding far past any building walls.

One may think that selling a product is easier than a service and it’s not. There are millions of brilliant people developing necessary products who can confirm the hill is just as steep. I’m often asked “what do you do?” and I prefer to say “here’s how I can help”.

B2B meets B2C meets C2C

We portray a strong image through profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more. The keyboard can make us brave but earning business is hard work. You not only have to prove you can provide the services you promise but you must give a prospect a reason to hire you and work with you.

If you work for yourself, be proud of your accomplishments. There are good, bad, scary and busy days. None of us escapes them, including those who started large enterprise. From Henry Ford to Carol Bartz, Oprah Winfrey to Michael Dell, they all had to start somewhere. We reside on both sides of the counter, so we all work for someone.

So How Can You Help?

Kneale Mann

image credit: performancerules

July 24, 2011

Our Ideas Need to Meet

Imagination is what separates us from any other species.

This past weekend marked the first anniversary of Social Capital Ottawa which was a resounding success. Big props to Lara Wellman, Vicky Bisson, Sara McConnell, Rebecca Stanisic, Andrea Tomkins and Karen Wilson. It was an outstanding event, great sponsors, fabulous content and they nailed every detail. And thanks to Dennis Van Staalduinen who rocked the joint during our session and if you get the chance, ask him if he's going to double down.

During my portion, I touched on this talk from British author and speaker Matt Ridley who has been studying and writing about genetics, society and evolution for decades. He outlines in this fascinating TEDTalk that trading ideas is essential to our survival.

Ridley's website is the Rational Optimist and this is his TEDTalk from 2010 where explains why our ideas have sex.

Kneale Mann

July 21, 2011

There Are No Rules

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled Lord of the Flies: The Business Model. Since then, I have recounted my theory on this countless times. It's the story of kids left on a deserted island to fend for themselves. At first, they are celebratory. There are no rules. And then anarchy ensues. We like rules yet we live in a time where some claim they own the rule book.

The premise is simple. The social web is a place where there are no rules or guidelines. Anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection – and there are now over two billion of us – can publish online content.

No, you don’t need to use Blogger, TypePad or WordPress. Comments do not have to be activated. You don’t even have to be on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, you don’t have to read another word of this post. You can just go do whatever you want to do.

The Choice is Yours

You can post content on your company’s website or send emails to anyone you want. It is completely up to you. Google+ will go on with or without you. You don’t need to listen to anyone. It doesn't mean anyone will listen to you but that's okay.

It is rather curious how much online time some people spend trying to tell us the way to do things. This is especially tricky inside a larger organization where the evangelists are screaming (not literally) down the hall for the company to embrace all these cool channels and tools.

People are Listening

Then you have the advocates who are beginning to listen to all this screaming. And somewhere up the ladder you will meet a wallet. This is where the toy may or may not be taken away. These are the people who may or may not agree this activity is valid but will ask very succinctly, why and how long. They want a return on this investment.

Business is not charity. Work is not free. Time is not endless. So in order for ideas, concepts and interactions to accelerate, you may want (not have) to build in some rules – your rules. It is strongly suggested (do what you want) that you create even a rough outline of your company’s digital engagement policy and a set of guidelines for stakeholders to uphold.

Company Rules

After all, you do have schedules and meetings, dress codes and client deliverables to manage. No matter if you are a kitchen table company or running a worldwide enterprise, you have to be accountable to someone. So it stands to reason, your deserted island may need some parameters.

Your rules may not be right for me and mine may not work for you. So instead of telling each other what to do, let's share best practices and see if we can both improve.

Does that sound like a plan?

Kneale Mann

image credit: loarules

July 19, 2011

Media are in the Hands of the Beholder

Stay Tuned. News at 11. Coming Up Next.

I was at a dinner recently with some friends in media I’ve known for years. As it often happens at one of these types of events, we talked shop. The landscape is changing, what traditional media outlets are doing and could do better, the continued infiltration of the social web, mobile and more. If this had been twenty years ago, one may claim it was conversation filled with opinion. But now many of us have actually been working in marketing and media for that long and those opinions have become rather educated.

During the dinner, I recounted a meeting I had a few months ago with someone in the mobile space. He is a bright guy with a growing company but it struck me how much he felt his world was the world. He couldn’t fathom the fact that some people actually aren’t on the cutting edge of technology or living on every word coming from the mind of Steve Jobs. As astonishing as it may be to believe, there are people who actually don’t have a LinkedIn profile. And get this, some don’t blog or listen to podcasts either.

Forecast after this. Stick around for more details. 

As much as we instinctively know it’s not the case, we tend to still think others think like we think and others grasp what we have experienced. Proof of this happens every minute of the day. An event will happen and some will go to YouTube for more information while others will check the Twitter stream. Yet the news agencies will hope we wait for the 11 O’clock news. And millions still do wait for the news report. Those who don't hop on social media claim they may not "get it" while others who are constantly wired up can't grasp why anyone would do it any other way.

Information is fragmented and live. It is inaccurate and opinionated. The speed of content being shared will only increase. While the challenge for anyone creating content is to understand that the audience isn’t waiting by their device to receive it.

Desire and Technology Converge

Mitch Joel once pondered how the world would be without traditional media – television, radio, outdoor and print. I would add mobile devices and the Internet to that list because each is getting as big as the big four. So I think it's a more complex question. As millions flock to the social channels, traditional channels remain alive. There is no one way of navigating all this stuff.

We reside on both sides of the counter - we are both providers and clients - and the noise can often be deafening as we attempt to resonate with others while we try to decipher what we need from each other. I have clients who have found great success with a radio component or print imitative. Television, though expensive, still receives billions in annual ad revenue and they haven't stopped the printing presses just yet.

How do you reach your customer who has so many choices?

Kneale Mann

image credit: lifeonpurpose

July 15, 2011

Making Decisions

Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.
Peter Drucker

Every single moment of our brief time in this world is filled with decisions. Should I go to bed or watch the rest of the movie? Is that business venture something I should move forward on? Are there any more cookies in the cupboard? Is this the time I’ll finally tell the boss what we think of her?

Many people set rules to keep from making decisions.
Mike Krzyzewski

In team environments such as your work space or with clientele, you are making constant decisions while the busy brains of others are doing the same. Collaboration is one of my favorite words but it can often cause stress in relationships if it is not executed with openness and clarity.

A lot of people don't want to make their own decisions
They're too scared. It's much easier to be told what to do.
Marilyn Manson

Life is a team sport but we have to make those decisions that will improve our situation. My career has been interesting in the last few years. Perhaps you can relate. I have not always made the best decisions. In fact, there have been times I didn’t make a quick enough decision and others when I didn’t give it enough consideration.

The basis of computer work is predicated on the idea that the brain makes decisions and the index finger does the work.
Brian Eno

A friend was recounting a Richard Branson biography recently. His work day is not unlike those shared by most people. He works, has meetings, does tasks but for five minutes every day he has a choice to make a decision that separates the average company from one good ones.

The more decisions that you are forced to make alone, the more you are aware of your freedom to choose.
Thornton Wilder

The digital landscape is filled with commentary about Facebook and Google+, Twitter and Apple computers while a company like IBM chugs along without making a huge splash and makes profit while providing careers for over 300,000 stakeholders.

Bad behavior and irrational decisions are almost always caused by fear. If you want to change the behavior, address the fear. Seth Godin

Godin says, we must be remarkable. That doesn't mean we have to climb a mountain or build a bridge. Simply do things that others feel it necessary to remark about. Don't just be an employee, don't be a cog in the machine, be bold and make decisions that will change things for the better.

You have to have a compelling reason why. A why so strong that you are willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. Once you do, you will be truly unstoppable. Jay Platt

We don’t need to make wide sweeping changes to our daily lives to make a difference. We just have to pay closer attention to those decisions – especially the ones we fail to make. And this has nothing to do with our position in the company because leadership is not a job title. I'll get back to work.

What is your decision?

Kneale Mann

image credit: bestbins

July 14, 2011

38 Strategic Business Ideas

Never stop learning
Write every day
You can’t do it all
Coach well
Make a Plan
Ask for what you want
Trust yourself
Meet strangers
Accept help
Read outside of your expertise
Find your weaknesses and delegate them
Work smart not hard. Then work hard
Walk away once in a while
Tell your friends and family then get back to work
It's your business, take it personally
Eliminate activities that will not grow your business
Follow through on what you promise
The customer is not always right, they need your help
Schedule regular think time
Others’ opinions are their opinions, that’s all
Find smarter people than you and hire or work with them
Don’t confuse activity with progress
Allow talent to grow
Identify your strengths and exploit them
Remember you are allowed a life
Welcome surprises
Covering your butt is not a strategy
Provide superior customer service
Read every day
Know you don’t know what you don’t know
Stick to your Plan
Panic rarely solves anything
Do one or two things really well
Luck will occur if the focus remains
Get an outside unbiased opinion of your company
It’s hard work, pace yourself
Hire well
Act with evidence, not emotion
Meet five new people every week

I hope this list gives you some ideas for your business growth.

Kneale Mann

image credit: taexalia
original posted: September 2010

July 13, 2011

All Media Are Not Created Equal

What Worked? What Didn't? Where To Go Next?

You have a product or service that needs exposure. For the purpose of this exercise, we will assume that it is fantastic and there's a need for it.

We will also make the leap that your creative messages are well focused and all the other parts are in place.

The Future Is Now

Let’s deal with where most business owners unfortunately reside. It’s where the pain is most intense – today. There is no time to look at long term plans; you need to make your next quarter. But if you do the same things hoping they will work this time, well you know the cliché.

Should you do a television campaign or a microsite? Perhaps it’s time for you to increase your social networking activities or buy radio? Has the money you spent on print become a dead end or perhaps an outdoor campaign will work?

It is dicey to change strategy without sound reasons yet dangerous to stay with a bad plan. Whether you run a large, medium or small organization, you have budget constraints. It’s effortless to look at Starbucks or Wal-Mart and have an opinion on how you would spend their marketing budget.

A quick checklist 

• Find people who can give you honest feedback and perspective.
• Stop watching the competition (for now).
• Remember that Facebook and Twitter are tactics, not your strategy.
• Pay no attention to those who say they have all the answers.
• Keep in mind that the media sales person is compensated on commission.
• Firing people to save money is not a good enough reason.
• Ask your customers what resonated with them.
• Carefully analyze what media has worked for you and what has not.
• Get out of your office, turn off your phone and think.
• Examine all of our current business activities. All of them.
• Cutting your marketing budget to save money is not the answer.
• Educate yourself on all media options and metrics.

Perhaps some items to add to your list.

Kneale Mann

image credit: alternativenews
original post: July 2010

July 11, 2011

How Do We Provide Value?

Try the value menu. Take a value home today. Your friendship is valuable to me. We value your opinion. Your local choice for value. We stand for real value.

We hear and see the word value used all day.

Every offering, every product, every company offers us value. The word is used like it's some magically field leveler. Yet it feels like a discarded gum wrapper.

The exchange of money or goods or services that is considered to be a fair equivalent for something else.

We marketing strategists often try and find clients’ value proposition. It looks great when you write it up in a proposal or internal collateral. But is value not similar to branding where the decision is up to the customer?

An ideal accepted by some individual or group.
Homemade, all natural, locally grown, owned and operated, quality assured,
new and improved, limited time offer.

These are extraneous words we all may be guilty in using to not necessary fool people but rather to enhance the offer.

One way to differentiate is to remember the core of our unique selling proposition is our abilities that no one else can offer.

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock
original post: December 2010

July 8, 2011

What Do You Do With a Hunch?

This video has been circulating for a while. In fact, it has close to 900,000 views so there is a chance you’ve seen it. If not, it’s worth four minutes of your time.

In this video, Stephen Johnson discusses how ideas are born, incubated and ultimately acted upon. Stephen studies how we think about ideas and then actually execute them.

Talking a Big Game

This is about how we harness those ideas, those hunches, then share them with others and collaborate with their ideas and hunches and things become reality. We can lock ourselves in theory and ideas, we have no shortage of them. But as Seth Godin puts it - is what we need more action, more shipping.

What happens to your great ideas?

Kneale Mann

video credit: stephen johnson

July 6, 2011

Are We Too Connected?

Check For Messages

I have a colleague I've known for years. Usually when we get together, we book something through email or Twitter direct message. I realized the other day I don't have his cell number but it's never been a barrier. We are in a world where the message is the medium and that represents a myriad choices. It's like any content we publish. It can go anywhere and we can't dictate where our clients, friends, colleagues or prospects will hang out.

I normally continue with whatever medium the original connection occurred. So if someone sends an email, the response is in an email etc. But how often have you crossed platforms during the same conversation? It starts with a DM, then moves to a call on your mobile device and then a Facebook email and finally to a text to confirm. We often just use whatever interface is handy at the moment we want to connect.

Never Ending Content

Estimates vary, but there are about 3 million emails sent every second and just over a trillion text messages each year in the U.S. alone. We have moved from a want-it-now environment to over-there-is-more-important-than-here world. If you own a smartphone, you may check it constantly. It has become the new bad habit.

You rarely see people walking out of a long meeting and not checking their device for emails and messages. We are checking at stoplights, on the sidelines at kids’ sporting events, during those five free minutes between meetings, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, we are constantly trying to connect. We might miss something.

This Just In...

You may be of the age that email has always been there. I am not. I remember the first time I started venturing online and having electronic mail. I also remember the first time I got a smartphone with the warnings from others that I would be addicted in about five minutes. It took three.

We are petrified to miss something that we take our connections on vacations. I saw someone checking email in the church at a wedding ceremony. We want to be in touch, respond to notes, set up meetings, share important information, get back to that guy.

How do we stay connected yet make better connections?

Kneale Mann

image credit: guardian.co.uk

July 3, 2011

Google Plus or Minus?

Last week saw the launch of Google+. Like many early adopters or experimenters, I joined right away. As with the first few days on Twitter or Facebook or Empire Avenue or countless other spaces, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it.

Google+ received seven million sign-ups in the first 24 hours and now the race begins on trying to attract attention and have conversations on another interface. If it lasts that long, we are a year away from business caring about this channel. In the meantime, the cool kids will race to add numbers to then claim it's not about the numbers.

Will this be another Google Buzz? Time, as they say, will tell.

Kneale Mann

image credits: Google

July 2, 2011

Hierarchy of Business Needs

From Start-Up to Actualization

If you manage a company, you know it takes more than products or services to be successful. Without strong people, you will struggle to make it. It is much more than having a slick mantra claiming your people are your strongest resource.

There are zetabytes of data available on the topics of social networking and building audience, finding your trust agents and being authentic, having patience and giving more than receiving. But so what if you aren’t or won’t execute on any of it.

Complaining Won't Make a Difference

Bars and homes are filled nightly with people commiserating about their work space. We live in a time where we can create our own online and retail experience. It is a buyers’ market and we're all buyers. Treating people fairly can be the single biggest way to positively affect your bottom line. The five pillars of any business are people, operations, finances, marketing and media. Business is not daycare but people are not robots. We have feelings and dreams and goals. If you can mesh the two, you can take on any formidable foe. The single biggest area where most companies falter is with their people.

As superstars rise up the ranks, they are often promoted based on numbers but as more responsibility is heaped on them, the pressure increases for higher performance. But often they are shoved into the new gig with not nearly enough management training and asked to manage people who will help improve that performance.

Important Questions for Any Manager

• How is the health of our overall operation?
• Can you be honest with yourself about your organization?
• Do you have strong financial leadership?
• Is your business plan clear, concise and executable?
• Are you aware of all marketing opportunities and the realistic outcomes of each?
• Do you spend more time in meetings than doing the work?
• Do you have a strong sense of your people
• Is each member of your team working more than 80% of their time on strengths?

Have a look at your to-be-done list and see how many of these items you can make a priority.

Kneale Mann

image credit: istock
Encore post from November 2010

July 1, 2011

Canada Day Fun Facts

In keeping with the multitude of celebrations today, here are some items you may not know.

The Dominion of Canada was established on July 1st, 1867 and officialy became a country April 17, 1882. So today is Canada’s birthday and she’s 144 years young. Like our American pals’ Independence Day we spend at BBQs and parades or just enjoying the extra long weekend.

The average life expectancy is 8th in the world at 81.16 years while the United States is 46th at 78.14. Butter tarts, poutine and ketchup chips are among the long list of snacks native to Canada. Our national anthem, originally entitled “Chant National” was first performed in 1880 and Canadian Parliament approved it as the unofficial anthem and renamed it O Canada in 1967 and it became the official anthem on July 1, 1980.

Over 18 million Canadians on Facebook

Though delicious, maple syrup is not our official beverage. 22% of Canadians name French as their first language. The longest border between two countries in the world is between Canada and the U.S. stretching 5,525 miles or 8,891 kilometres and known as the International Boundary. Three quarters of Canadians are online which ranks the country 4th in the world.

Canada is 3,855,103 square miles which makes it the second largest nation by land mass on earth. Remarks such as “please”, “thank-you” and “you’re welcome” are alive and well in Canada. Ice hockey is the country’s official sport. There is evidence of hockey being played in this part of the world dating back to the 10th century. The rules of the game were first published in 1877 in the newspaper The Montreal Gazette.

Loonies and Twoonies

Canada is the 9th in population density and has the 14th largest Gross National Product in the world. Besides being home to animals such as moose and grizzly bears, Canada has over 50,000 species of insects and more than 10,000 species of spiders and mites. Newfoundland was the first area of the country visited by European explorers but the last to become an official province.

23% of Canadians search LinkedIn for job opportunities. We say a-bout not a-boot. Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 151,600 miles or 243,976 kilometers. The population of Canada just over 34 million.

Beer and Basketball

Although symbolic, the regent of England, Queen Elizabeth II, is the Canadian head of state. The Moosehead Brewery of Saint John, New Brunswick produces over 1,600 bottles a minute. James Naismith, born in Almonte, Ontario just outside of the capital city of Ottawa invented basketball to give his YMCA students more exercise in 1892. At 74, Naismith attended the 1936 Olympic Games to witness the first time basketball was in the competition.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were formed in 1873. Today there are over 28,000 members. We eat more than 350,000 tons of cheese every year. That’s close to 24 pounds each. Canada has universal health care. From its opening in 1976 until being eclipsed in 2007, the CN Tower in Toronto was the worlds largest free standing structure. Canada is the most multi-cultural country on earth.

Happy Canada Day!

Kneale Mann

image credit: lancasteronline
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