Friday, 26 September 2008

The wonderful world of web 2.0

Last week I was mostly to be found in Vienna at SIBOS; a huge convention for the great and good (as far as we know) of the banking and financial services world. As you can imagine, it was a very interesting week to be there, with the melt downs of various financial institutions happening on a daily basis. But this light hearted post isn't about that.

The key note speaker of the closing plenary was Don Tapscott of Wikinomics fame, and very good he was too. His presentation was on the rise of web 2.0 and the new generation of work force who have no notion of life B.G (Before Google). He talked about the fast-paced, constantly innovating, fun world of work that this generation expects, and a little about how today's institutions are going to have to accept this and evolve if they want to attract the best talent.

One moment in particular made me smile. He told the audience about an interview he did at one conference with a panel of "kids" aged between 12 and 24. He asked them whether or not they used email. The answer that came back?

"Not really, email's pretty old fashioned - its too slow."

"Interesting. What would you use email for then?"

"Well its appropriate for formal communication - maybe to write a thank you letter to a friend's parents or something like that..."

The audience groaned audibly.

It seems to me that much of the deluge of sites and tools being thrown up by web 2.0 will have slipped away by web 2.5, leaving only the very best in use. However one that looks like its here to stay is Twitter, the site for fast status updates and connections. Among other things its proving a particularly useful tool for consumer businesses who have a presence there, to connect with the world outside. Hopefully those same businesses will soon start to explore how it can help them to connect better with their own communities.

Anyway! All this was prompted by this beautiful, tongue in cheek little video I found yesterday. As a new Twitterer who still doesn't really get it, but knows everyone else does, it really made me smile. If you decide you want to find out what all the fuss is about, you'll find me at, come tweet with me!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

BNI Hogarth - a great find

When I first started out on my own, I thought that I would have to be competitive, fight tooth and nail for every good thing, watch my back and be secretive. Obviously I didn't think any of this out loud in case people thought I was mad, but deep down I thought being a business woman would mean developing a tougher husk. Well as it turns out this was the first thing I was wrong about, although I'm sure it won't be the last.

Overall I have found other people in business to be kind, helpful, welcoming and generous. Even if what I do represents competition to them. This may well be something to do with the fact that in this new Web 2.0 world we live in, its recognised that collaboration is king. I don't really care why it is actually - I just really like it.

This morning, this truth was brought home to me once more when my colleague Jon invited me to join the Hogarth chapter of the BNI for their weekly breakfast meeting. The BNI is a business networking organisation with around 70,000 members worldwide. Each local chapter offers the opportunity for local businesses to exchange qualified referrals and, importantly, to learn from one another. I was so openly and warmly welcomed as soon as I walked in, I didn't even manage to feel nervous about the 60 sec timed introduction I had to give myself.

It was a fascinating exercise actually, to see how everyone from plumbers to ad agency directors chose to introduce and market themselves. Among those intros there were some pithily brilliant comments. The one that stands out and that I want to share was from area director, Dinah Liversidge who (on this occasion) was given a 10minute slot. I hope she won't mind me paraphrasing her,

"We as a business organisation need to set our goals for the next 6 months, and monitor our progress towards them... and I invite each of you to do the same thing. Do you know what your goals are for the next 6 months? If not, you need to put some in place. If you don't put up your goal posts, you'll never be able to score".

I thought this was such a lovely analogy. I'm sure its not a new learning for any of you and yet... are your goals in place? For both employer and employee, this is an useful piece of advice to remember.

Many thanks to everyone at BNI Hogarth for an inspiring morning.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Everyone has a story

As some of you may know, I'm in the process of launching a new engagement consultancy called One Magnolia and I'm hugely excited about it! At the heart of this new business are two beliefs:

1. You can't achieve business objectives, long term, without employee engagement.

2. Employee engagement happens one person at a time - everyone has a story, and that story is key to their motivation in life.

I came across this a few days ago; a new collection of the six word stories which Ernest Hemingway made so famous with the chilling, "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn". I love it and it made me think about all the stories there are out there, and how they affect us at work. Watch the video, and then (if you don't mind sharing) tell me, what's your story? Mine starts with a magnolia tree...

Six-Word Memoir book preview from SMITHmag on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Are you there boss? Its me...

Following an ICM poll of 1000 people, the Church of England have discovered (among other things) that around 1/3rd of people are anticipating a very busy time at work coming up. As many as 1 in 8 also said they were "dreading" their return to work after the traditionally quiet summer period. In response the church commisioned this prayer-ad to calm commuters as they read The Metro on their way to work yesterday morning.

Such a lovely idea! It occurred to me though, that having spoken to The Almighty (and keeping in mind the fact that God helps those who help themselves), it might be wise to also deal with the problem at a local level. How about a similar missive to your boss....

Dear Boss,

You know me. Don't you?

I'm not just a person at a desk, or another login name. I'm not just the project pusher. I'm me, and I have stories that I could tell.

I could tell you why I do this, and what motivates me more than money. I could tell you what brought me to where I am now... Without ever leaving these four walls I could tell you tales of conflict and injustice, pride and joy, fear, failure, determination and success. I know this place and I know what really works (and what really doesn't).

Are you listening Boss? I've got so much to say. I think I can help you to make the most of every day in this new month. Come by my desk. Ask me a question.

Thank you
A man