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How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

How to Avoid Communication Problems and Be Inspired

My subscribers receive their 4th gift today, a very visual guide on how to avoid communication problems.  Tomorrow they will receive a very special gift of inspiration for work and life.  You’re welcome to join them and get the remaining of the 12 gifts.  These are not available anywhere else, and are absolutely without charge or obligation.  Click now to benefit in your work and business life, with my compliments.

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From the “I wish I’d thought of that” file –

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Most of my business mail is, frankly, quite boring.  Same old brochures. Same old advertising.  But now and again someone comes up with something really different, creative and intriguing.  Something I want to read, and due to it’s novelty value, I am highly likely to remember.  Today I received some mail like that from the progressive team at Zeald.

When I opened their envelope, the card inside, made from light brown paper, featured the words ‘Plant the Seed.  Harvest the Result.’  It wasn’t the accompanying picture of the plant that was so clever it was what was inside – a small pot shaped paper embedded with basil seeds.  The instructions told me to plant under a thin layer of soil, water and soon the seedlings will emerge.  The card was a thank you to all the clients of Zeald for the referrals they’ve received during the year, with instructions on how to make future referrals and receive a 5% commission on any resulting sales.

I have to congratulate the team at Zeald.  It’s a novel idea and definitely goes in my “I wish I’d thought of that” file.  Not only have I read all the messages but there’s a high chance I will remember them too.  So there’s a high chance I will talk about it (and here I am doing just that) and actually make referrals.

 

 

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In Labour?

Labour Day – we still celebrate it, that fight our great grandparents won for the eight hour working day.  I thought it odd yesterday though, that it seems to have mostly eroded, and many of us apparently now work almost constantly on one or more of our shiny new mobile gadgets.  Defeated by technology, Great Granddad!  You wouldn’t have seen it coming, of course.  Imagine if you dropped back in today for a visit – what would you think?

I expect you would think we have a pretty cushy life.  That most of us don’t actually ‘work’ at all.  Not like you and Great Grandma did.  There’s not many physical jobs left – either at work or at home.  Machines do most of it.  So to keep fit, we pay to join the gym or something similar.  Then we have to fit that in outside of work of course!  I think you would also think we don’t spend much ‘family’ time.  Most of us sit around looking at screens, rather than talking to each other.  We’re rushing here, there and everywhere.  Some spend more time with friends on Facebook than in their actual company.  In your day, the family would gather around the piano, someone would pick out a tune and you’d all sing.   Or you would read aloud, taking turns and sharing the enjoyment of the story.  Then there were the family sessions, gathered around the radio, either being entertained or catching up on the news.

You’d also probably think that we don’t have much sense of community.  In your day everyone would actually rest  on Sunday, not keep working, and meet at the local church.  There’d be shared lunches after the service, more piano playing and singing.  People really helped each other and genuinely knew their neighbours.  On days off paid work, you worked hard around your own home, or helping the neighbours with theirs.

So I wonder how many people actually took a break on Labour day this year?  And how many still cleared email, or caught up on work.  Here’s some suggestions for how we could celebrate Labour Day in future:

  • Make it a technology free day and spend it with people
  • Have an extended family or neighbourhood gathering and find someone who can play the piano so you can have a sing-a-long
  • Get a group of friends or family together and donate your day to charity or to a neighbour who needs help

Celebrating Labour Day in one of these ways might better honour our ancestors who fought hard for the forty hour working week.  Switching off the technology regularly and giving our time and attention to our friends and family wouldn’t hurt either.

 

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Since when was making a loss a good thing?

If making money was ever considered an inappropriate goal, it was probably never as strong an opinion as it is now.  With a huge focus on issues like environmental sustainability, and social and ethical obligations – business owners could be forgiven for thinking that making a profit is very much an incidental bonus of being in business – if not a rather evil outcome!   And yet, how practical is that really?  Should profit be a key goal?

I have just finished a ‘community sponsorship’ project for a not-for-profit.  They are much more concerned with member development and creative achievement than making money.  However, even in this type of organization, there is an understanding that if there is no monetary surplus at the end of a project, the ability to finance the next one is severely at risk.   Their activities in the community are likely to cease if they are unable to make a ‘profit’.  Some not-for-profits recognize this by referring to themselves as ‘not-for-loss’.

So if the not-for-profit sector understand the need to make a financial surplus, isn’t that need just as great, if not greater, for businesses?  Proponents of the environmental sustainability cause are quick to point out that businesses will save money and gain more clients by implementing sustainability measures.  But that is in fact, not always the case.  Sometimes to be ‘green’ actually requires significant investment, and the increase in clients may not eventuate, or may take a long time to recover that investment.  And if a business is investing in ‘green’ initiatives, sponsoring community events/organizations and providing development beyond the actual role requirements for their staff – and as a result they lose money and are unable to continue – there is a different sustainability issue.  The issue of sustainability of the business.

In reality, few entrepreneurs and business owners establish or buy a business purely to make money.  Most have an interest or even passion for the industry.  Many have seen a gap in the market they are excited to fill.  Most are involved in businesses closely related to their skillsets and professional training.  Many are happy to contribute and support their local communities.  In fact, a recent BNZ survey showed that nearly 60% of SMEs currently support local community groups or charities.  That support is likely to directly reduce their profits.

Any organization that cannot regularly create cash surpluses or profits of some kind, is going to struggle to survive in the medium to long term.  Does that mean though, that businesses should have profit as a long-term goal?  Absolutely.  Does that mean it should be at any cost?  Definitely not.  When the concept of the triple bottom line was first marketed many years ago now, the whole point of that reporting process was to balance out a number of business or organizational outcomes, including financial sustainability.  Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard is another method of analysis and reporting that endeavours to look at a range of goals.

For most SMEs, a profit level should be identified as a key goal, in my opinion.  Most of the other issues will be factored in to how that profit is achieved.  And most SME owners will understand the medium to long term implications of community support, developing staff and impacting the environment.  Their ability to do it all at once may be less than they, and the proponents of these issues, might like.  Having ‘small steps’ goals can balance out these worthy initiatives with the need to remain financially viable.

Large businesses and organizations sometimes face a greater pressure, with shareholder or stakeholder pressure to perform financially on the one hand, and public backlash to high profits at the perceived cost of the environment, people and community on the other.  The issues aren’t very different, but the scale is.  That’s a balance that Governments, Boards and CEOs must grapple with.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s tax week – strategy is out the window!

I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, writing and talking about strategic thinking. That’s what happens when you become an expert in something, isn’t it? You spend more time than most other people on that topic, therefore you know more about it. It’s not rocket science. Everything I read about experts suggests that you also must role-model your topic. So for instance, if you are advising others about wealth creation, it adds significantly to your credibility if you are actually wealthy yourself. If you are an expert in organic food, there’s an expectation that you personally buy and eat organic food. You get the picture?

So as I specialise in strategic thinking, it is reasonable to suggest I ought to think strategically myself. By and large, I naturally do – though that’s not to say I don’t notice detail, nor that I always spot opportunities or risks. However I normally do better than this week.

This week is tax week. GST and Income tax all due together! This week strategic thinking has gone out the window. I raced into my bank account and robbed the savings account to pay the tax. Yes, I have an account especially for tax that is supposed to cover it, but it never does quite. Especially when two lots are due at once! So this week there’s no future view, it’s just find the money and pay up. This must be why they say ‘Cashflow is King’.

Does that mean strategic thinking is no use when there’s a short-term crisis? Well yes, actually – in the midst of the crisis is not the time to be doing your strategic thinking, even if you specialise in it. At that stage, it’s survival mode and the focus is very much short-term. However, if there’s been some decent strategic thinking and planning going on, much will be planned for and there will be responses ready. The point of strategic thinking and planning is to help minimise the knee-jerk reactions.

So back to my tax account – guess I better up the automatic payment…..

Categories: Uncategorized

I am SO over video

Maybe it’s just me  – I am so OVER trying to get information from videos.  Sorry marketers, but I just don’t have time to be forced to sit through all the blah-blah-blah at the beginning and wait many minutes until I get the piece I want.  Give me an article anyday.  I can skim read, find the piece I need, and move on. 

I’ve debated a long time, if and how, to include video in my marketing and training offering.  So far I’ve stalled, mainly because I just don’t like it myself.  But maybe I am out of step here – maybe everyone else LOVES video.  Certainly YouTube has more than proven itself – although I suspect its biggest uptake is people watching funny stuff rather than people trying to get a specific piece of information in a business context.

But maybe the tide is changing.  Yesterday I received an e-mail from an internet marketer who has been doing everything on video (so I have no idea what the products are because I haven’t watched any!).  I noted with interest he had added after the subject  – ‘Article’ –  in brackets.  I’m just guessing – but I suspect his open rates are down.

How about you?  Are you more or less inclined to click through if you know it’s a video?

Categories: Uncategorized

Eggs, rabbits and thinking

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, it gives another opportunity – during what is for most of us, a hectic schedule – to slow down for a bit and take some time out to think.  It’s only thinking that allows us to see the trends emerging, notice patterns and formulate ideas.  It’s only thinking that allows us to work out how to properly implement those ideas, see problems clearly and develop proper solutions.  Of course much of this thinking is also effective when done with others – more so if you are more inclined to be an extrovert.  But for everyone, and introverts in particular, a chance to think quietly is precious and productive.

So this Easter, allow yourself some time to just think. If the Easter bunny visits you – enjoy!  And if you celebrate Easter, may it be a spiritually reflective and ultimately joyful time.

Jenni specializes in strategic thinking for better decisions and business success.  She offers a free report about how to be a strategic thinker, and other resources, at www.strategies-direct.com

Categories: Uncategorized
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