MonthMarch 2016

Is it Good to always be Happy?

Something I’ve thought about recently, and I’ve spoken about it with a few friends. People strive for happiness. My goal in life is to be happy. But is it good to be in a state where you are always happy, not wanting anything to change? Where life is perfect and you don’t have a care in the world.

It sounds like the ideal life. It’s not unrealistic either. I feel close to this right now and have done for quite some time. I’m extremely happy, however, recently I’ve wondered whether I want that all the time…

I know, it sounds odd, why wouldn’t you want happiness? I can explain, I think….

Have you ever noticed how powerful fear is?

For me, fear has to be one of the most powerful emotions. It can make you act instantly, it over powers emotions such as embarrassment. It can make you plan how to act and give you the drive to see it through.

For me, I fear being stagnant. I fear not improving and reaching higher levels. When that fear kicks in for me, I think about how I can change, what I can improve and I’m given new drive to aim for it.

This isn’t to say I’m not motivated when I’m happy, but the power of fear is second to none for me.

Does sadness put things into perspective?

What does Gary Vaynerchuck do when he hits burnout? He imagines his mum has just been in a car accident – extreme right?! This sadness of losing someone so close to him puts everything into perspective, it re-enforces his priorities for what matter most, this can be lost when going along with ‘perfect days’. You can be very grateful when happy, you can be extremely loving, but when you feel sadness, you feel the pain, you remember what matters and you re-adjust if needed to match your personal morals and beliefs.

So what am I trying to say?

I’m not saying don’t be happy. I think should be 95% of your emotion, you should aim for happiness and align things in your life to encourage it. However, sometimes invite fear and sadness, even if only for a night. Let someone highlights what you fear, let yourself believe it is true and see how your mind-set shifts! Also, think about what matters and how you would feel if something were to break that connection, remember its value and appreciate it more.

 

Whether I’m talking nonsense or not, this is at least some food for thou

Year 2 Term 2

Another term comes to an end, but to be honest, I’m struggling to remember the start of this term! I’m hoping that’s because so much has happened and not that it’s all passed by without an event.

Over the last ten weeks I’ve started a new business venture, won the League and Cup as captain of the badminton team, secured a placement year with 3M, and, as I write this, I have just ended my time as a teenager!

What have I learnt this term?

1 – Don’t underestimate the power of culture

This year I’ve been captain of the men’s first badminton team here at uni. We’ve just ended our league and cup season undefeated! Promotion from the league and a cup title (quarter, semi and final all won on point difference!).

We’ve had an incredible season and a huge improvement on last year, but, I don’t think our team is that much better. It is definitely stronger, however I don’t think that is why we have done so well.

The team (and club as a whole) has an amazing culture and team spirit. Everyone’s committed to train and play, we want to win for each other and I think that is what has carried us through the closest of matches!

So why is this important? It’s taught me to care about culture, to do my best to ensure its going to strengthen the situation, rather than neglect it.

2 – People want to see that you care

A lot of my time at the start of this term was spent looking for, and applying to, placement positions. As expected, some applications were more successful than others, some didn’t pass stage one, obviously 3M passed all stages and a number reached final stages.

Looking back, it’s pretty obvious why I did better with some applications than others. The ones where I actually cared about the company and wanted to work there, were the ones that progressed. The places to which I applied ‘to get the ball rolling’ were quick rejections. My CV was similar, qualifications the same, only my motivations were different. But that is hugely important!

If you can show people how much you care, that can be valued way above skills and qualifications. People want to know that you’re genuinely interested, motivated and passionate. They want to know that you will make the most of opportunities presented and that you aren’t applying just to ‘tick a box’ or make your CV ‘look good’.

3 – Momentum is huge!

I would guess that this term has been my busiest in terms of the number of different things I’ve had going on. A few people have asked me recently how I can do so much. Firstly, yes I’m doing a lot, but I don’t think I’m doing them all very well! There are times when somethings drop down and fall behind, however I try and bring everything back because I enjoy it all and want to carry on.

Is it possible for me to do it all at a higher level? YES! Do I need more hours in the day? NO (well maybe a couple). I find that things only fall behind when I put more focus on something else and ‘forget’ to keep the other area in check. As soon as that momentum is lost, I have to consciously change to work on it.

This is something I want to improve next year, keeping it all going, all the time! Even just 10 minutes a day spent on one of the startups I’m involved in will be a big help. Some people would tell me to do less, but if I enjoy them all, then why should I?

The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuck’s favourite, yet lowest selling, of his 3 (now 4) books.

What is ‘The Thank You Economy’? It’s ‘the humanisation of marketing’. It’s ‘manner’s marketing’. (Both alternate titles).

Gary uses this book to explain just why businesses need to pay attention to social media. Not just to promote their brand and get the word out about their products, but to listen to customers, to react and talk.

He argues that your great-grandparents probably understood the value of nurturing personal relationships with their customers, but their wisdom vanished when big corporations grew and managers found it more cost-effective to ignore customer concerns. Social media has changed all that, giving marketers the welcomed opportunity to connect with current and potential customers in a manner unseen for several generations. If your customers like you, they’ll use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to sing your praises. If they don’t like you, they’ll spread that news just as quickly.

What’s the underlining principle of the thank you economy?

You should care what your customers think. You should value the longevity of your customers, rather than maximising all initial sales and you should not control what is said about your company, only react to it.

Caring what your customers think

This should be pretty obvious.

If your customers like your products, find out why. If they don’t, do the same. It’s a great way to improve your products and customer service to maximise enjoyment for the customer.

But in the age of social media, it’s not just about caring, it’s about finding what your customers think. People are willing to tweet all sorts of opinions, both good and bad, without directing it to the company in question. Just think, if you got a new pair of Nike shoes and the laces broke within a week, some people might complain, others might tweet their frustration along with a picture, without ‘tagging’ Nike. Does this make their opinion invalid, of course not, so it is up to the community managers of Nike to find these tweets and respond appropriately. If they really want to take advantage of the thank you economy, this could be buy giving the customer a replacement pair and a second pair for good will. Chances are, this customer will then post a tweet (or maybe several) exclaiming how much they love Nike and their shoes… success for Nike? I think so!

Value the longevity

Don’t try to maximise the first sale with a customer. Don’t push too many items, don’t save on costs. Instead, maximise their experience, even if you make little, or no, profit.

Your aim with a new customer should be to turn them into a customer for life. Not to increase that months numbers.

How can you do this? Give them a thank you gift or discount after their first purchase or even for their first purchase. Go out of your way to make sure they get what is best for them, not the product with the highest profit margin. You want them to come back, you want them to talk about you on facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Want an example? Here’s what Gary says….

React to what is said

Many companies try to control what is said about them online. They want bad comments remove, or they try and crowd them out. It’s true, bad publicity can create a bad reputation. However, there are two issues here; what happens when the criticism is on a large scale and you can’t hide it, and bad comments are made for a reason, hiding these does not address the underlying issue.

What do you do if a public newspaper slates your company? It’s no longer just on paper, its online, on social media, on google search results. You have to know how to respond, that comes from practice and from caring. By treating every single customer in the same way, you will know how to respond, how to change people’s opinions and you can dampen any negative criticism.

There is a reason people are posting bad things, if you ignore them, you don’t know what to improve. Everyone could be having issues with delivery time, reads comments to learn that and solve the issue, suddenly people like shopping with you again, they tell their friends that you deliver service is better and they shop with you. The multiplier effect of caring can be huge.

 

Businesses’ know about the value of social media, but few still understand how to utilise it to show that they care, to add humanisation to their brand and to increase customer loyalty.

WhatNext? Conference 2016

Last Saturday I attended Manchester Entrepreneur’s annual WhatNext? Conference.

A day full of guest speakers, workshops and networking (of course followed by a night out in Manchester).

You could probably find a different event to go to every weekend if you really wanted to. But would it be worth it? What’s the point in attending these events?

I have a couple of reasons.

1 – Immerse yourself

Events like this are a great way to be part of the community. Spend a day surrounded by like-minded people, talking about your passion.

You will truly discover if it’s something you like; if you get bored, it’s not for you.

When your business is your ‘side project’, it’s a great way to commit some time to it and get away from your day-to-day routine.

2 – Listen, learn and question

Many people might think that events can become repetitive, hearing the same thing over and over. Personally, I don’t agree. Yes, people might talk about the same topic, but they won’t always agree and you won’t always agree. The more you listen, the more you will form your own opinions and soon you will reach the point where you are able to challenge people or suggest alternatives.

3 – It’s fun

Let’s face it, I have fun at these events! I don’t necessarily go just to meet new people or learn new things, I also go just to enjoy myself.

 

I had a great time in Manchester and will be sure to return again, maybe one day as a speaker 😉

(Too see what happened, check this out! http://www.playbyplay.io/whatnext16/)

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