Do the Opposite

Place yourself in extreme situations – if you hate dinner functions, go to dinner functions; if you are not comfortable, be comfortable; if you don’t want to be engaged in a conversation, be engaged in a conversation; if you don’t want to be seen, be seen; if you get nervous around someone, be around someone, as often as possible; if you hate presentations, do more presentations, but practise first – so one day, you will be different, not in a sense that you won’t be nervous any more, but rather you have gotten used to dancing with your fear, so you have thrill instead of fear when you are in the situations again.

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Boundary + Thinking with Boldness

Often there is a boundary I set for myself that literally prevents me from thinking with boldness every time. I can’t seem to think beyond practical constrains, whilst I should think what is the best, what is the most ideal solution, then think of ways to make it work.

Think boldly.

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Does Relevance Matter? How to be relevant subtly yet effectively?

Finally get to do some reading… Just stumbled upon an article about AmEx and then read lots about them – they basically have presence everywhere digital producing content about lifestyle, passion, business, travel, health and well being etc. First thing that came to my mind about this content approach was ‘serious investment in a bunch of content with minimal impact’. But when I had a second thought, all these topics somehow relate to the American Express company. The constancy and frequency of the content make AmEx become relevant to us, it is weaved in every part of our life, it inspires all the key elements of our life, so when we are making any decision that evolves around any transaction, AmEx has our top of mind awareness. Genius!

That’s why we need see beyond immediate results. Communicating with a direct messaging, asking people to ‘use me, use me’ or ‘buy me, buy me’ doesn’t mean it’ll effectively motivate people to take actions. It’s about subtly weaving our brand, our strategy, our thinking, our concept, and our ideas in smaller pieces of information we give to or conversations we have with people/our consumers, they will remember us, over a period of time (remember it takes time – and that changes our mindset about measuring success, that’ll be another piece of writing).

This is applicable not only to building genuine and sustainable connection with your consumers, but also applicable to building connections with people, people you want to sell your ideas to.

Small conversations help us breakthrough communication barriers.

Build relationships. Build connections.  And allow time for yourself to do all these, because it takes time to build trust (think about yourself, and how you make friends). Anything meaningful requires investment and time. So relax and enjoy the process, and know that ultimately not only would you achieve the expected business outcome but, surprisingly, also loyalty, trust and relationship that have far more value than a short-term business outcome.

So go sit back, relax, make friends, talk intelligently, purposefully and make something happen.

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Talk, meaningfully.

We have too many meetings and talks involving too many people.

In one of my old jobs, one day, three different people came to my boss trying to help resolve a problem, all three of them work in different departments, but all try to solve the same problem. Meaningless talks, redundant use of resources, meaningless interactions.

In another one of my old jobs, one day, a team initiated a meeting with our team and told us that they were going to start a new project but all the scope of work had been mapped out and signed off and the strategy had been set but our team was required to collaborate with them and make major contribution to the project. Crazy right? Then it took meetings and meetings for us to make adjustments to the project plan and strategy because we realised we could not achieve consensus on multiple objects and the thinking behind the project was rather narrow. These meetings are, again, meaningless. 

In the other one of my old jobs, my boss favoured a particular colleague of mine and truly believed in everything she said, and entire team and even the entire department functioned according to what she suggested. Huge mistake – an organisation whose operation revolves around one person’s or a handful of people’s thinking only does not function to its full potential, and it misses huge opportunities to elicit insights from those who know best about the actual work but do not have the chance to get their voice heard.

We need to talk, or provide a channel for people talk.

Finding the right people to talk about the right matter will help us solve the problem in the right way.

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Stop. And Think.  

I disagree* with companies, bosses or managers who believe that the length of time you stay in the office or your busy-ness determine how good you are as a worker. Well, probably they are right, if you are a work-er, of course you need to WORK to demonstrate your value. But doing does not mean you are producing value, many times we need to stop, to read, to reflect and to think in order to better our work.

(*I actually wanted to use despise, but it seems like an overly strong word only the world famous marketing guru could use to criticise and challenge the norms, for a young, little, yet to grow marketer, I choose to be modest and humble – so I disagree…)

If you were on the client side, when it comes to agency management, please be aware your agencies (the good ones) are charging you a high price for a reason. They are not just charging you for the actual head hours spent on your project, but also the time they stop to read, to explore, to discover and to think, so they can come up with better ideas, move faster and produce work that makes a difference.

If you were on the client side, function like an agency, an agency that is willing to invest in their people, an agency that understands the importance for the motivated and talented ones to read, explore and discover continuously so they can fully unleash their potential and produce best work for your business.

If you were on the agency side, make sure you learn, and learn more, and be open and talk about it, as to show your clients you are providing world class knowledge and expertise to them, so all the big bucks they pay are all worth it.

If you were on the agency side, if you failed to provide best practice to your clients, if you thought your clients were all stupid, if you thought you clients just wanted you to keep producing work work work for them, you are wrong. Clients look for value-add, they look for partnership, they look for opportunities to grow together. Clients (the good ones) are willing to take calculated risks with you and try out new things as long as you share your thinking with them, consistently and constantly.

Clients and agencies, instead of just doing more, think more and talk more, with each other.

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Meet Seth Challenge – Half Failed. Plan Tweaked.

I had a plan of making the challenges accomplished one at time so I can create a leverage to sell myself to Seth Godin when he’s in town in Sydney later this year. Apparently it failed – I stopped writing since last December. Main problem is that it is hard to maintain writing daily posts with full-time work commitment plus with ministry and social work on the side, my previous plan also requires me to fully absorb someone else’s work, then find opportunities to apply what I learn, then evaluate the success of the outcome and learn from it so it becomes beneficial for my next project – It was not quite a practical plan, that why it failed.

But anyways, Seth is who inspire to write short pieces to inspire my own thinking, and I’d like to continue on that journey and tweaked my plan to something extremely simple – so simple that it’s just writing I believe is right, writing things I learn or get inspired by my experiences and observations, writing about changes we need to make, writing about things I want to voice out but there’s no channel for me to do so. And hope that my thinking gets through the crowd and the noises and goes straight to Seth, and other amazing marketers out there who deliver insights, who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and willing to change, and change fast.

One of the goals in my professional life is to work in one of Seth’s projects – it’ll be my privilege.

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Seth Godin Challenge #1 – Dance with your fear

The Blog Entry: Dec 4, 2013 – Trash talking important work

A snap shot of the article: The self-induced anxiety formula often goes like this: What I’m about to do is important. You get nervous when you feel like you are having the once a life time opportunity which you would never get again. A common approach to decreasing the unhappy cycle is self talk to minimize how important the upcoming event is. The problem with that approach is that you spend your day trash talking your leverage and impact. In fact, it does matter, it is nerve racking, but it is OK to be nervous. We shall learn to embrace it and dance with your fear. It’s a sign you’re on to something. “Oh good, here comes that itch!” When we welcome a feeling like this, when we embrace it and actually look forward to it, the feeling doesn’t get louder and more debilitating. It softens, softens to the point where we can work with it.

The very thing I learn from it: It’s ok to have fear, learn to embrace it and dance with it, and know that once you go through it, you would resolve a problem.

Challenge: Overcome the fear from the past, change the perception towards myself not being able to build good relationship with colleagues/people at work. Overcome the fear of being open, start trusting and believing in yourself. When you know that itch is coming, recognise it, when you want to run away, do the opposite.

Actual task: Start talking to your boss again, proactively. Stay back to do drinks at QT, and proactively talk to your colleagues, do not leave earlier unless you have to.

How did I go and what have I learned? – To be continued…

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Pathway to Meeting Seth Godin – Let’s Make It Happen, One Challenge at A Time

Being caught up by so much operational work recently at work stopped me from pursuing inspirations. It is so easy to become stagnant. When life is without motion and passion, it becomes boring. So I want to do something about it.

Just got to know that Seth Godin is coming down under September 2014 (yup it’s next year, but tickets are already available for sale!!!).God knows how much respect I have for SETH, would love a once a life time opportunity to sit in a full day Q&A session listening to his words of wisdom and letting him ignite all the fire inside me towards marketing, towards brilliant ideas. But I thought to myself, how much would I gain from that one day session? A lot more than what he would normally share? More than the aggregation of all his learnings accumulated day by day? How much information I can take away? If I were lucky, I might merely get to ask 2 questions or 3, and I would be really busy taking notes at the same time, so  I can imagine it is going to be a full on and overwhelming learning experience shared with 180 ‘Seth believers’. But is there any other way I can make the learning experience more personal, more impactful to myself and also Seth Godin could gain value from it?

I have an idea. An idea that could help discipline myself and also strengthen my ability to execute and implement ideas – it is to put Seth Godin’s daily mantra into practise and write down the learning experience that belongs uniquely to me, i.e. for every idea Seth writes in his blog, I’ll set a challenge for myself to find a situation or opportunity to just execute it. Then I’ll come back and write about my learning at the end of every day.

This is going to be such an exciting learning experience for me. In terms of how to get in touch with Seth, that’s another story. I’ll think about that if I could sustain this activity for 2 months.

It really is going to take persistence and discipline to do this, and I am going to do it.

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The power of being young

Sometimes we should appreciate the fact that we’re still young, so we’re allowed to make mistakes and fall, then we can stand up again, and learn from our mistakes. Also we are allowed to ask questions, and no one is going to think that you are dumb, because you are allowed to be ‘not experienced enough’ when you are still sort of young, therefore, you’ll learn how to be humble, learn that you should ask as many questions as possible (well, of course, meaningful ones) to learn from those who have climbed the ladder, been through the tough journey, gained the wisdom and are experienced and generous to share their knowledge with you.

So, I am thinking of taking my learning project further. Besides continuing on my blog to write about the inspirations I got from the Spikes presentations, I am going to conduct a short interview with the speaker of the presentation because I am sure I’ll have questions along my little writing journey and potentially want someone to see how stupid/how good my thoughts are and it would be best if that ‘someone’ was the speaker himself/herself so I can make the most of it. I believe in generosity – so a 15 minute interview seems rather reasonable, to me, and hopefully, to the speakers too. This would be my little Moonshot Project, inspired by Google.

Why am I taking on this crazy initiative? And who am I that the busy advertising gurus would care enough to talk to me? Well, it’s just because it I am nobody (yet, hopefully), and it just makes complete sense that they’d ignore me anyway, so it wouldn’t hurt asking, I might have some luck.

Thanks to Seth Godin and his genius quote – “How dare you settle for less while the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable.” I am giving this a try.

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Power of Cutting

I always believe in simplicity and love how Dennis Roch put it, “If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.” Cutting down your words makes you think, provides clarity to your mind and allows you to refine your ideas, so when you communicate it, it’s crystal clear. Good for the audience.

Cutting forges effective communication.

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