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The Diary Of A Man That Stopped Waiting

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The best way to master a thing, is to explore, craft, hone and do the thing – yourself. The explore bit is talking and writing about the thing. Talking’s good because it’s fast. Writing’s good because it’s slow.

This week, I helped a sizeable sales team to sell more. By not talking about selling. I prepared two things.

  1. A 2-point agenda for the day.
  2. A 27-point things-to-talk-and-write-about. In no particular order. In no particular way.

By the end of one day, they were all broadly ‘better’ at sale-making. Each in their own, personal way. Because they talked and wrote about the 27 things.

Here’s the list that, incidentally, I spat out in 5 minutes. (The important bit isn’t the list, it’s where the list takes you. Give it a go. If you like).

Things to explore today. If we want.

  1. Why write?
  2. How to write.
  3. When to write.
  4. The importance of having an opinion.
  5. What’s your calling card?
  6. Don’t look for people to sell to. Look for people that believe what you believe.
  7. How to package your thoughts.
  8. Good writing versus bad writing.
  9. Clarity and simplicity.
  10. The best way to set up your personal LinkedIn page (skills and confidence).
  11. It may sound contradictory but… No one’s listening. You’re not that important. So you may as well just write.
  12. Just telling people stuff versus making them feel something.
  13. Inspire. Educate. Entertain.
  14. Audiences become customers.
  15. What to write on LinkedIn. Core beliefs and opinions, then pillars.
  16. How to connect and build an audience on LinkedIn. Starting and joining the right conversations.
  17. How and when to publish online. Patterns and process.
  18. Building your brand, as a team, online. So we become increasingly desirable – individually and as one. And add value/prominence to our brand.
  19. How to think like a publisher, not a marketer. So you build readership first, and customers second.
  20. Building and populating a blog.
  21. Building and populating a newsletter.
  22. The importance of generosity and being useful.
  23. Created content versus curated content.
  24. Selling that doesn’t feel like selling.
  25. The importance of patience.
  26. The importance of committing to what you want to do and enjoy, rather than what you think you should be doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. Note, it may be tricky in the beginning.
  27. The importance and power of your opinion.

Get a “This thing…” Great brands always have a “This thing…”

If you do get a “This thing…” – here’s how I, and everybody else, will tell others all about it.

I’ll lean in so my face is closer to their face. I’ll look them in the eye. I’ll flick my eyes right, then left. As if to check no one is listening. Then I’ll mouth, in hushed tones, ‘And you know what?’ Before flicking my eyes right then left again, and proudly whispering your ‘This thing…’ My eyes clamped on their eyes as I do. As if it were the biggest secret in the world.

“And you know what… They do this thing. They toast the INSIDE of the bread. On every sandwich. So it’s soft on the outside. And crispy on the inside. It’s incredible!”

“And you know what… They do this thing. They give you a warm cookie as you check in. One for each of you. No matter how many of you there are!”

“And you know what… They do this thing. They give you a ‘Bye for Now’ bag when you check out. With water, savoury snacks, sweet snacks, hand sanitiser and voucher codes for your next visit. All sustainable and healthy. They don’t have to do it. They just do!”

“And you know what… They do this thing. There are three different kinds of firewood on the fire pits. One for brightness. One burns longer. One smells amazing. They think of everything!”

Great brands always have a “This thing…”

So. What’s yours?

Some things resonate at any age, don’t they?

I’m lucky. I work as Marketing and Brand Director for a few companies. But luckier still, by a million miles or so, I’m a dad to 7 year old Izobel.

Increasingly, and not because Izobel is older than her years or because businesses behave like 7 year olds (although there’s truth in both), I chat about the same things with Izobel my daughter, and today’s board member. For example:

“Not being accepted because of who you actually are, is better than being accepted for pretending to be someone you actually are not.”

Izobel gets that, even though it’s hard for her. And as business leaders we know it’s true too. The brand building bit of my work covers this. Getting to the truth of who founders and leaders really are, so the business can happily be itself. Rather than the business and its people bending themselves out of shape, keeping the wrong people happy by doing things that feel unnatural to them.

Some things resonate at any age, don’t they?

When you increase your unignorability. It’s a pretty good place for you and your business to be.

A common business question is, ‘When it comes to marketing, how can you be hard to ignore?’ It’s a decent question. But because it requires imagination and time to address, there’s no urgency. It may cause a temporary puff of the cheeks but – well – it can wait. Ironically, a question addressing how to be hard to ignore, is easy to ignore.

A less common question is, ‘When it comes to marketing, are you easy to ignore?’ This is much more urgent. Because it only requires recall. It’s closer to home. It feels much more personal. Questioning how easy you are to ignore, is hard to ignore.

With most businesses and business people, the answer to, ‘When it comes to marketing, are you easy to ignore?’ – is yes. Here’s how to (start to) fix that. If you want to, of course.

Get an opinion. Tell me your point of view. Tell me what you’re changing. If your business is authentic and useful, it’s built around what you think and the valuable change you want to make anyway. State this steadfastly. If you do,  you’ll be well on your way to increasing your unignorability. And even though it’s a made-up word, that’s a pretty good place for you and your business to be.

Difficult to get is not the same as valuable.

I chat about this when I help business leaders. Sat at the Board Table. As Brand and Marketing Director. (That’s what I do for a handful of clients/friends).

Trying to win an unprofitable account, just to block ‘them’ from having it. Managing reputation when those adversely affecting it have no reputable position of their own. Trying to hold on to a team member that doesn’t want to be held. All difficult. None valuable.

These things are sometimes hard to see when you’re inside. But it’s not so hard for me to see, from the outside. That difficult to get is not the same as valuable.

I’m not sure about you, but I think I have a Brain-switch. When it’s on, I’m quite clever. When it’s off, I’m not. So if you want to talk to me about something businessy and important, please check my Brain-switch is on, first.

Brain-switch on.

I talk to MD’s about Underthinking. As a Brand and Marketing Director. Brain-switch firmly on. I encourage leaders to listen to what the gut says today. Then act. Today. I think with clarity and speed when my Brain-switch is on. Eyebrows down. Concentrating. Listening. Moving businesses, big and small, forward, at pace.

Brain-switch off.

You know how you get a carrier bag and fill it with loads of other carrier bags then forget to put the carrier bag full of carrier bags in the car so you have this one carrier bag full of loads of other carrier bags in a cupboard somewhere. I do that. The other day, a friend saw it, pointed right at it, and asked me to pass him a carrier bag. Brain-switch off, I picked up my carrier bag of carrier bags and, because my friend had pointed at the blue carrier bag containing all other carrier bags, I slowly emptied out 3 dozen carrier bags and, several seconds later, surrounded by emptied-out carrier bags, I handed my (now) open-mouthed friend the blue one. He didn’t speak. But he did shake his head. Slowly.

I’m not sure about you, but I think I have a Brain-switch. When it’s on, I’m quite clever. When it’s off, I’m not. So if you want to talk to me about something businessy and important, please check my Brain-switch is on, first.

Something I saw yesterday made me think about how we all solve problems. And in conclusion, I advocate the following.

Don’t blow. Suck.

I lived in Newcastle for 30 years. I don’t go much nowadays. But I was there yesterday. And at a sunny 10am, from my parked car window, I noticed a smartly dressed lady outside one of Newcastle’s best restaurants, with a leaf blower. And as I watched her, I felt sad.

Because she had a problem. And she was blowing. Not sucking.

Right now, we’re revamping our holiday cottages in Northumberland. It’s hard! Cleansing. Upgrading. Adding more beyond-expectation surprises. And partnering with key people. Local fresh food suppliers. Sustainability-focussed suppliers. Local bars. Local restaurants. And neighbours. We look after neighbour relationships just as determinedly as every other business relationship. So they look after us – and our guests.

And that’s why, as I watched the smartly dressed lady with the leaf blower outside the restaurant, I felt sad.

I felt sad because she was chasing leaves from her front door, to her neighbour’s front door. I felt sad because she was solving her own problem simply by displacing it to someone else. It affected my perception of her. And the restaurant.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere. So whilst I’ve never articulated it quite like this before, here I am. Pondering how the next time I come across something shitty or problematic in my own life, I can sort it out for me and for everybody else at the same time.

In short; don’t blow. Suck.

Childhood lasts a lifetime.

I really like this thought because it can be read, and read into, in so many ways.

A reminder of our responsibility as parents – today – no matter how old our kids are.

A reminder to get off our collective arse, to knock on the doors of local schools and universities, to give our time to young people. (Not that he knew, my art teacher, Mr. Rice, was my dad when I was 16).

A reminder, for me at least, that it is neither unusual or wrong for some of the deepest scars incurred in childhood to still hurt.

A reminder that the best parts of childhood need not be gone. Some board tables I sit at are grey. The people around them; grey too. I’m the colour.

All of that is why I really like this thought. Because it can be read, and read into, in so many ways.

Childhood, I think, lasts a lifetime.

When we’re asked, ‘What do you do?’ – I don’t think we answer that question at all. We answer this question instead: ‘What do people like you do?’

It’s because we’re nice. Helpful. We give relatable responses. And that can sound, well, boring. I updated my LinkedIn profile this week. To this:

“I’m a fan of Underthinking. Underthinking is doing what your gut said today, today. I help business leaders Underthink, get unstuck, and act. Also, I think Marketing and Brand should be entertaining. Fun. Funny. Brave. Marketing that just tells you stuff – no good. Don’t do that.”

In summary, my work is Fast and Funny.

Yes; I’m a Brand & Marketing Director and Copywriter. That’s what I do. My uniqueness is the Fast and Funny bit. It’s what I enjoy, and it’s definitely best for clients too. It works.

So when they ask, ‘What do you do?’ – tell them. Tell them what you, and only you do. How only you can.

For me, right now, for various reasons, Coddiwompling is essential. Coddiwompling is ‘travelling purposefully towards an as yet unknown destination’.

In a certain frame of mind, I’d see this as silly. Moving forward not knowing where to. But, thinking about it, moving forward not knowing where to has taken me to the greatest places I’ve been, meeting the greatest people I know.

So join me if you like. If you do, at the very least, it means you can say this:

Them: “Hey; what you up to these days?”

You: “All good actually. Life’s exciting! I’m Coddiwompling.”