Actions speak louder than words

October 19th, 2014

A fair idea acted upon is better than a brilliant one never acted upon. The purpose of any business is, simply put, to develop and make money. And how’s that going to happen if you don’t take action? Why do we have a corporate culture where an abundance of reports are written on how things should be done in theory and then –

If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere.

If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere.

only sometimes – acted upon?

Or worse acted upon to the detriment of not only the company but society as a whole. A contributing factor to the global banking crisis was academic people without enough experience having theories that unfortunately didn’t work out in reality.

Why complicate things?

Confusius was right when he said that life is really simple but we make it complicated. And writing theoretical reports instead of acting is a very good example of that.

Conditions are never perfect

Sometimes reports are produced to avoid doing something that companies know has to be done, but really want to avoid. The reports then show share holders that they are doing something and become an excuse for not taking action until conditions are perfect. And they never will be. Passive companies are not going to be winners but active ones are. The only thing you will achieve by postponing action is losing time and money.

What happened to common sense?

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes reports are needed to get optimal results. But for the majority of businesses in this world, does it really make sense to spend a lot of money on writing theoretical reports? What happened to common sense? Most things are actually pretty basic. How much money do you need to bring in to make profit? How will you get that kind of revenue? In most cases you don’t need to write a report to determine that. For most businesses a few meetings, discussions and agreement on a plan of action is sufficient. You swiftly notice when things aren’t working out as planned and then you just change tactics. It has actually happened that I have told companies that what they need is not a report on how to do it, but simply act to get more customers and increase sales. You can argue that I should have produced an expensive report instead of being honest, but you don’t keep clients that way. If you make them pay for what they do not need, it’s just a question of how long it takes before you loose them.

Maybe it’s easy for me since I started my career in journalism and know how to get the information I need and then act to get results. And the same applies to business, I find the information I need, adapt it to the situation at hand and then take the appropriate action.

How many reports are acted upon?

Writing reports is a Western phenomena that has unfortunately spread. Don’t know how many times I have heard about conglomerates, for instance in the Middle East, that have hired an academic to write reports. They mostly spend a lot of money on it but the reports conclusions are seldom acted upon. Wouldn’t it have been better to simply take action to improve, for instance, sales, acquiring new customers, developing products and collecting money? Doing that you would also bring in money.

Start-ups that spend months writing detailed analysis on how to best do what they are going to do frequently run out of money and have to close or, worse, go bankrupt.

Have always applied action style leadership to get results. In business I like to surround myself with action-oriented people. Naturally I do contemplate and analyse but my main focus is on action and I do believe that’s where we need to be in this world to achieve something. If you overdo the contemplating part you will never get anywhere. And how long will you be in business then? Every day thousands of good ideas are buried because people are afraid to act upon them. Got a good idea? Then act upon it!

(Photo: cpask Photo Xpress)

Who’s the richest man in China?

October 12th, 2014

It’s a most unusual character, Alibaba‘s founder Jack Ma. Watch this short video with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang explaining how he became so rich:

He really defies the picture we have of what the richest man in China would be like, doesn’t he? But we have to give it to Jack Ma, he went from earning $12 a month to being worth $22 billion.

The new rich?

An interesting aspect of Jack Ma striking it rich is that it seems that nowadays quite a few unusual personalities are becoming mega wealthy because of inventing a video game, an innovative app or something similar within the IT field. Are the days when industrialists struck it rich over? Will future billionaires be of this new breed? Entrepreneurs of a new kind that defies the current stereotype?

Jack Ma is an unusual billionaire, isn't he?

Jack Ma is an unusual billionaire, isn’t he?

Did you know that Jack Ma is the richest man in China? Would you have imagined that a man like him would become so wealthy? Do you believe the people who strike it rich nowadays are different from those who made it in the past? Will we see more characters like Jack Ma striking it rich? 

Video: Bloomberg News

Yoga – an access to having it all?

October 5th, 2014

Want to be healthy, happy, fit, full of energy, excel at what you are doing and reach your goals? Try yoga. It works. According to Guinness World Records, the oldest yoga teacher in the world, Tao Porchon-Lynch, is 93 year old. Watch the short portrait of her and you will understand why I am so keen on yoga:

Yoga is fantastic. It has a positive impact of almost everything to do with body, mind and sprit. Since I started practising it by default in Islamabad about fifteen years ago I have never looked back. Start every morning with “pranayama” to be followed by 10-15 minutes of “asanas“.

From Islamabad to Mayfair

Once I had tried yoga with a Pakistani instructor in Islamabad I was hooked. Fortunately for me Frances Houlahan was teaching at Danceworks close to my office in Mayfair, London. So I trained with her on a regular basis. Swiftly noticed that after breathing deeply for an hour while doing the asanas stress was out the window. Felt like a million dollars and went back to the office full of energy.

The oldest yoga teacher in the world is 93 and proof that it works.

The oldest yoga teacher in the world is 93 and proof of how beneficial it is.

Indian yoga instructors 

In the Middle East I used to have mainly Indian instructors, both male and female. They taught me even more about pranayama and I learnt to do the breath of fire pranayama that I have do every morning.

While living in Riyadh I managed to get a sport injury that caused an inflamed a muscle that the best doctors in the Kingdom could not cure. The inflammation simply would not go away.

Ayurveda succeeded where medical science failed

Ayurvedic medicine is linked to yoga and use plants and massages to treat such sport injuries. Found a practitioner in Dubai and after a week of daily massages, smelling foully, taking a herbal supplement and having applications of plants and herbs on the inflamed muscle, I was cured. And it should be added that during half a year I paid a fortune for specialist treatments in Riyadh that didn’t work. The ayurvedic treatment however, that did cost a fraction of what the doctors charged, swiftly made the inflammation a thing of the past.

Difference between yoga and normal exercise

From looking at the video and the link above about the positive impact of yoga, I’m sure you have a good idea of what can be achieved. For those of you who don’t practice yoga, have you tried breathing deeply for an hour while you exercise? If you do you will notice a difference. Not only do you feel good like after normal exercise but also feel as if you have taken some kind of happiness drug.

It’s not for nothing that Tao Porchon-Lynch says the ancient eastern practice of yoga keeps her fit and healthy. At 93 a major reason she is still going strong is yoga. So if you feel run down, stressed and need a kick to improve all areas of your life, try yoga.

For some reason the majority of business people don’t find time for yoga. Have a feeling many businessmen regard it as suitable for women. Lamentable since they would be more successful if they found the time for yoga.

Do you believe yoga will improve your life? Maybe you practice yoga? If so, what benefits have you noticed? If not, how would you like to improve your life? Would you like to have more energy? Better health? Perform better at work? Get rid of aces and pain? Be happy? Start reaching your goals? Like Tao be still going strong at 93? Maybe it’s time for you to try yoga? Or do you have any other suggestions that can benefit you the way yoga do?

Video: AlJazeeraEnglish – You Tube

Interested in exporting to Southeast Asia?

September 28th, 2014

Do you. like General Electric, see huge opportunities to do more business in the region? Watch this short video with Stuart Dean, GE ASEAN CEO, outlining how to seize the ASEAN opportunities:

The video speaks for itself. ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,is already a free trade area and will become a common economic community in 2015. The region’s need of infrastructure is tremendous and you will find opportunities in aviation, power, water, railroads, other infrastructure businesses as well as oil and gas. So many, in fact, that General Electric now considers infrastructure to be their second-fastest growing category.

GE more than doubled it's orders in ASEAN the last few years.

GE more than doubled it’s orders in ASEAN the last few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have cooperated with several secretary-generals of the ASEAN Secretariat and have only positive experiences with the organisation. Their unity actually convinced China to come to the negotiating table to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Are you already doing business with Southeast Asia? If so, with what countries? Or are you contemplating exports to the region? Do you agree with Stuart Dean about the opportunities in the area? Are you interested in seizing them? What positive experiences do you have of doing business in the region? Any pitfalls you would advise businesses to be aware of? 

Video: McKinsey & Company

Do your customers recommend you?

September 21st, 2014

If not, what psychological strategies would make them share their positive experiences with others? Listen to suggestions from Christian Wheeler, professor of marketing at Stanford:

Word of mouth is the best advertising we can get. So getting your customers to advocate for your business is fundamental. Sometimes you don’t need to do anything but applying the psychological strategies outlined by professor Wheeler might still be a good idea.

Have personally found that another way of making customers really happy is to follow in Apple’s footsteps and call customers to make sure they are really happy and content. Discontent clients are not likely to recommend you. On the contrary.

After watching the video you may have found some answers?

After watching the video you may have some new strategies?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do your customers recommend you? If so, have you any idea why? If not, why don’t they? Have you ever tried the psychological strategies outlined in the video? If so, what results did you get? Do you agree that word of mouth is the best advertising  a business can get? If not, what in your opinion is better?

Video: Stanford Graduate School of Business

How do you network on social media?

September 14th, 2014

Do you ask strangers to recommend you? Get you a job? Send you money? If you are, your online networking  is bound to be a failure. But still an abundance of members of social media behave like that. Cannot understand why they are trying to get people to do what they would not do?

Never, ever forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

Never, ever, forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

Don’t they understand that that’s not what networking is all about? Simply cannot understand why so many people are trying to jump the gun like that? They only annoy people and make sure their new connections don’t want to have anything to do with them again. Even remove them as connections.

Why do people ruin their reputation?

Don’t know how many times I have started a discussion on Linkedin only for members of the group to comment by pitching for business, even leaving their contact details. One man actually posted his CV as a comment in a discussion on branding for success. Would have understood if it was a discussion about jobs, but branding? On top of it he was nothing to write home about. He desperately needed branding, but obviously didn’t realize that.

Don’t ask for a job

Recently got a message on Linkedin from a man saying I could get him a job in marketing and demanding I did so. Just removed him from my connection and marked his message as spam. Have even written at the bottom of my Linkedin profile that I am not in recruitment and cannot get anyone a job. But that doesn’t seem to stop all individuals.

Another bad side effect is that once you accept their invitation to connect they start spamming you with newsletters and all kinds of other un-solicited offers. Never ever sent newsletters to people who have not asked you to do so. If you do, your mail will be sent to the junk folder and if enough people do so your email address will be classified as junk.

Behave like you do in real life

Have had considerable success in networking in real life. Leaders all over the world have agreed to do what I wanted them to do – sometimes even on the spot. But if I had demanded something I would have failed.

Another important aspect is to not send the standard invitation to connect i.e. “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Make it personal and explain why you want to connect. Have started clicking ignore on most “I’d like to add..” invitations I get for the simple reason that many of them are spammers.

Build long term relationships

Successful networking is in most cases about building up a long term relationship. If you are not prepared to do so, don’t network. One lawyer who sent me an invite to connect immediately asked me to recommend him to my connections. When I told him that wasn’t possible since I don’t know him he got upset and said connecting on Linkedin was all about getting more business. Not only are people like that annoying, how can they respect someone who actually recommend them when they haven’t even met? Only a person with no judgement whatsoever would be stupid enough to recommend a stranger. Am sure such people actually laugh when strangers recommend them.

Want to lose credibility – recommend strangers!

If you recommend, or endorse, strangers online you will lose credibility, people will lose respect for you and I actually believe your business friends will start avoiding you since you will be not be regarded as a serious person.

It works two ways

To try and network swiftly is in most cases impossible and actually gives networking a bad name, which is a shame. How you connect will have a huge impact on building a relationship. But too many people are so much in a hurry they forget to take the other person into account. Pity, because they really shoot themselves in the foot by looking after “number one” the way they do.

But then again, some people really go too far when it comes to building up relationships with people they connect with online. Am really pleased about how many people want to connect with me because of my international blog you are now readding. But far too many start writing long daily e-mails to me and expect the same from me in return, which unfortunately is simply impossible since it would be a full time job. Again, all they think about is what they want without even wondering how many people have the time to exchange e-mails like that with strangers. Pity because it means the wonderful success of my blog has a negative side to it that wouldn’t exist if people understood how to network.

Don’t push

You can get fantastic results from networking if you have patience to do it properly. In real life you agree with the person you approach at an event that you will contact him/her. You contact them, they remember you and decide if it’s in their interest you to cooperate with you. If you try to push them you will fail. So why should networking online be any different?

As far as I’m concerned networking online is building up long term online relationships with interesting people. The more the merrier and discussing with people from every corner of the world is not only fascinating but you also learn a lot. And that’s what life, and networking, is all about. Breathing down people’s necks to get a job or more business is a nuisance that simply doesn’t work.

People observe you online and in the future some of your connections may deliver jackpot. Much more than you ever bargained for. But not if you try to make them do all kinds of things for you before they have even made up their mind about you, much less decided you are worth while. Be professional, show respect and don’t ask others to do what you would not do for them and networking online may become a very positive experience for you. And never, ever, forget that networking is not all about you and what you want.

(Photo: Blaine Stiger, Photoxpress)

Are grades being inflated?

September 7th, 2014

Do universities care too much about what students and parents want and give students better grades than they deserve? The Economist takes a quick look at how it works at Ivy League universities:

The video speaks for itself. We have the same phenomena going on in Europe. Even at high schools. Isn’t it better to give students the grades they have earned? Is there a danger that education will lose impact and other qualities becoming more important for succeeding in business? Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman is of that opinion.

The best students resent the system that clearly doesn't favour them.

The best students are not happy with the system that works against them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you believe that grades are being inflated to please everyone? Should the best students be disappointed because their grades don’t show how they stand out? Or are students actually getting smarter? So much so that the average grade at Harvard is an A? Do you believe this development is positive for society? Or is it just a way of making student select a university where they will get high grades? What impact will it have on employers? Will it lessen the importance of grades? 

Video: The Economist

 

Social media – influence talks!

August 31st, 2014

Have you thought about the fact that the quality of the content you post on social media is branding you? You actually need to be a bit like a skilled politician and convey your thoughts and ideas in ways that have an impact.

Maybe it’s time to decide what you are trying to achieve on Twitter and other social media networks? How are you going to influence others if you don't have a strategy?

Maybe it’s time to decide what you are trying to achieve on Twitter and other social media networks? How are you going to influence others if you don’t have a strategy?

What do you want out of social media?

Maybe it’s time to look at what you are trying to achieve on Linkedin and other social media networks? If not, the likelihood of anything beneficial happening is slim. How are you going to influence others in order to achieve your goals if you don’t know what they are?

And influence that’s what social media is all about. If nothing else influence to create a good impression of yourself and your company.

The originality syndrome

Google’s Algorithm rewards originality. Am really pleased about that because I refuse to write for search engines. It ruins your writing to constantly have to think about using the right key words and writing a headline the search engines would love.

Originality is also what counts on social media networks if you would like to have influence. Business professionals are changing how they cooperate because of online communities. They want to be associated with people with a mind of their own. And that doesn’t mean people who criticize for the sake of criticising. Or complicate an issue so much it’s difficult to understand what they are trying to say. Or worse, prove themselves at the expense of others.

Thought leadership is the name of the game

Are you up to thought leadership i.e. ideas that merit attention? Because that’s needed if you would like to be recognized as a thought leader. Needless to say that signifies that you know what you are doing, say on Linkedin, and what the people you are trying to influence are interested in getting from you.

Are you in the driving seat?

An abundance of information is coming at us online. And your ability to act and get others to respond is critical in this new economy. Nor least since professional networks facilitate interactions by enabling us to cooperate no matter where in the world we are. That’s the currency on social media.

Do you have influence?

How many people request to connect with you on say, Linkedin, on a weekly basis? Do people interact with you in discussions you start? Are your posts being syndicated? Do people share your posts with their networks? Are you getting positive feedback from other members of social media networks? Are you being criticized? The latter you unfortunately can’t avoid unless what you have to say is of no relevance whatsoever.

There are many ways of determining how much influence you have. However, unless you honestly look at those issues you will just be drifting along and not contribute the quality that makes you a thought leader. Maybe your actions are even branding you the wrong way?

Search engines record everything and forget nothing

Do you realize that more and more companies are beginning to use new software that show exactly what a person has been doing on social media? So people leaving nasty comments or parroting should be careful. Search engines record everything and forget nothing. Those who insult others and pretend they are someone they are not will pay a heavy price.

Do you know what you are trying to accomplish on social media? If so, what are you trying to achieve? If you are not sure, maybe it’s better to keep a low profile until you have a strategy? Then when you have made up your mind, you can start having an impact and build up the influence you want, and need, to reach your goals.

Are you a global asset?

August 24th, 2014

Global experience is more important than education when it comes to succeeding in business, according to Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman. If she is right, not only will the way global businesses are run change drastically, a different kind of people will be in charge. Devote 4 minutes to watching her explain her ideas to Harvard:

According to Anna Tavis, the requirements of today’s global market place has changed and the traditional success formula of education will no longer open up opportunities. It’s taken for granted that you are educated. But what else do you  have to offer?

Globalisation of talent

People looking for talent for global organisations are on the lookout for a different profile than in the past, she says and adds that they now recruit all over the world as opposed to only in the country their head office is located in. The same holds true for finding the next generation of leaders.

Will headhunters looking for global assets find you?

Will headhunters looking for global assets find you?

Head offices a thing of the past?

Speaking the local language and thoroughly understanding the culture of the market you work with is essential, if you wish to succeed in business around the world. And because of time differences the next generation of leaders will be spread around the world, as opposed to all working out of the head office.

This will initially put a lot of pressure on people in the head office. But there is no longer a need to have the entire top management in one location. We can work from anywhere in the world and provide the same kind of service, expertise and knowledge, with the added benefit of understanding the culture we work in, speak the language and  hence be better able to negotiate and succeed in business.

What do you think? Is she right that education is taken for granted and it’s your global experience that counts nowadays? Or do you believe it’s possible to understand how people on the other side of the world think, what drives and motivates them through education only? To what extent can you understand a culture you haven’t integrated in? Will having one head office gradually become a thing of the past? Is talent globalised? Will top management be spread around the world instead of in a head office? Are you better able to succeed in a country where you understand the culture? Or maybe you disagree with her and believe that the traditional reciepe for success i.e. education still holds? Or do you agree with her ideas and, if you are not already a global asset, will strive to become one?

Video: HarvardBusiness – You Tube

Be yourself – instead of – parroting

August 17th, 2014

Can’t help wondering why so many people on social media are just parroting others? Copying and pasting. And what’s worse that seems to account for part of what’s called creativity today.

A copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will turn you into Marilyn Monroe. So be yourself.

What happened to creativity?

Have a section of humanity stopped being creative? Or is it just that too many people are lazy and hence just copy others? Don’t they realize that they will not impress the people they are trying to impress? Only ignorant people will buy what the parrots are doing. If you don’t have anything new to contribute, to say a discussion, don’t just re-write what someone else has already said. Coping and pasting from say, Harvard Business Review to make you look intellectual is not a great idea either. What’s wrong with saying that you agree or disagree?

Original ideas

If imitating others were just a social media phenomena it would be one thing. But unfortunately you have an abundance of people selling services online that haven’t got any ideas of their own. They just copy what others have done and charge for doing so. And we should not forget the copy and paste that’s becoming a problem in academia. A prominent European policician was caught having copied and pasted into his thesis.

But a copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will change that. It may work short term but long term it will work against you. The European politician is a good example. He had to step down. Doubt that his future is as bright as it would have been if he hadn’t copied and pasted. Am sure he regrets what he did. But sincerely he should have thought through what he was doing before cheateing. Can’t help wondering if parrots, like him, have really stopped thinking for themselves?

One article I wrote was copied and pasted by a US woman who calls herself an expert on corporate communications. She has her own company and can be hired as a consultant. Sad that she has to steal content for her web site isn’t it?

Hard sell on social media

The amount of parroting on social media most likely boils down to people believing they have to sell themselves aggressively online. Can understand that to some degree. But don’t they understand that it’s obvious to others what they are doing? Am active on social media and almost every day someone re-writes what someone has already written to make it appear to be their new idea. One interesting phenomena are the people who are experts on all issues relating to all countries in the world, regardless of the fact that they have never even visited the countries in question. But copying and pasting they certainly know how to do. Nobody, including myself, knows everything so what’s the point in pretending you do? People only lose respect for you.

Current buzz words leader, expert, entrepreneurial & innovative

The fact that many people believe they have to portray themselves in what they consider to be the right way is a major reason for all the parroting. Wouldn’t it be much better to have an honest look at yourself and decide what your strengths are? If you are not say, innovative, describing yourself so will work against you since you will be found out. Read in The New York Times that 70% of high school graduates in the US believe they have more than average leadership skills. Only 2% considered themselves below average. Truly wish their assessments were correct, but unfortunately 70% of them are not leaders and will never be leading anything. If this applied to the United States only, i.e. approximately 5% of the world’s population, it wouldn’t be too bad. But unfortunately it applies to the remaining 95% of mankind as well.

Use social media to portray the real you

What’s wrong with having talents that are currently not in fashion? Whatever talents you have you can create a lucrative niche for yourself. Why does everyone feel they have to portray themselves as business tycoons? Looking at profiles on social media today you easily get the impression that the majority of people in this world are on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s normal for children to imitate, but grown ups really should give up that habit.

Social media is a wonderful thing and I have met many fantastic people online, mainly thanks to my blog and Linkedin. If the parrots were just themselves and stopped pretending to be what they are not they would also start reaping positive benefits of social media. To start with they would gain respect. We are all unique and can contribute to society in different ways. That’s the beauty of humanity. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all parroting each other.

Photo: mseckington – Flickr