Thursday, 24 May 2007

The difference a word makes

Rod Drury's in the UK, and he's shared some valuable insights into doing business there (and in the EU).

Particularly interesting was:

# It stuck me that in the few days I’ve been here, I’ve never heard the word Export. In the UK all talk is participating in the global economy. I think that shows how far we are away from our markets, and our international business maturity. Perhaps because of English history they are concerned that exporting would appear to be cultural imperialism.

In the middle of Export Year, when kiwi exporters are struggling more than ever, do we need to change our thinking about what we're doing? Does the word "export" create more of a psychological barrier than it needs to? I know it does for me. As an entrepreneur whose product is intangible (words) it took me a while to realise that when the government wanted to encourage "exporters", they were talking to me.

And yet, when I heard Ken Stevens speak at the New Thinking Week about starting global, it resonated deeply with me. In fact I did start global, because I started my business on the internet.

There's a global economy to be participated in. Come on New Zealand, let's jump in!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Insurance for the hip and trendy

I've often come across insurance brokers who are trying to make insurance more interesting. I don't blame them, it's pretty boring, and it has the added burden of not adding any value - it's the product you don't want to use.

So it's interesting to see a press release about "the first NZ life insurance offerings that specifically target the Internet-savvy ‘Generation C' "!

More here, and I've also blogged about it on our Generation C blog.

Jackson and Spielberg team up

Jackson teams up with Spielberg for Tintin film

Wow. It'll either be magnificent or really, really bad because too many cooks, etc. But it sounds like fun. What was that phrase that Captain Haddock always used to say? Ah yes - Blistering Barnacles!

Who would be Tintin? Val Kilmer? Alan Wyck? Or someone more famous...

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

El Greco

El Greco
Originally uploaded by Wilhelm Augustus Hohenzollern.
I've been El Greco-'d! Thanks to the Face Transformer tool. Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang who Twittered about it!

(Getting El Greco-ed is certainly one way to lose weight!)

Monday, 14 May 2007

I don't love Lovemarks today

A brand lives or dies on customer experience.

I'm spring-cleaning my email, so I'm switching all of my non-personal emails to my Gmail address. Should be simple enough, but many email newsletter platforms make this simple task onerous.

Take for example. To change my address, I have to login to the site, using a password I can't remember (I'm not a regular visitor), so I have to click "forgotten password" and wait ten minutes (yes!) for a new password - which I then have to change.

I'm successful changing the address on one account, but then remember I've accidentally created two accounts - probably the last time I tried to change the address!

So I try to change the other account to my Gmail address. No dice. Even when it says I was successful, I can see it still has my old email address. What's wrong with you, Lovemarks?

So now I want to delete this unnecessary account, but there's no way of doing it. I am stuck with it. Forever.

Lovemarks, if you love someone, you've got to let them go!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Can Manukau City make lemonade?

City hopes for Pacific language focus - 28 Apr 2007 - Samoans in NZ

Great story about Manukau City being one of the most bilingual cities in New Zealand. To a word-freak like me, that's great! But I know many New Zealand-born Pacific islanders who see their language and culture as a liability, not an asset.

It's good to see Manukau City recognising the potential wealth of knowledge and skill that lies dormant. My wife Marie is teaching in south Auckland at the moment, and sometimes finds it hard.

I don't want to talk out of turn - and this is second-hand, so that's even more out of turn - but there's a kind of feeling that people in South Auckland have given up. Life is small, narrow, cramped. There's no sense of the limitless possibilities.

Entrepreneurial companies like Dawn Raid seemed to offer hope, but now that they've gone into liquidation it seems there's little in the way of role modelling for young people growing up in South Auckland.

I hope I'm wrong, though. And I think I might be. Yesterday Marie told me about one of her students, a 17-year old guy that all the other tutors had warned her about. He's badly behaved, and gets cheeky, they said.

So Marie set about what she does best - making the class engaging and fun for everyone. Turns out this guy is not the bad news he might seem to be. Instead, he's smart - answering the questions that stumped other students.

And he's responsible - he won't be at school today because he's out with his girlfriend buying clothes for their baby, due in December. He's sticking with her, even though his mother has told him to F off, so he has to stay with his girlfriend's parents.

All this, at 17.

It's a bad situation, but just imagine what that character and determination could do in a good situation!

Saturday, 5 May 2007

On my bookshelf - "to read"!

Have had much time to read lately, but when I have, I've been greatly enjoying Wake me when the Data is over. Less of a "how to" than a "how it's been done" of storytelling, this collection of case studies stimulates possibility thinking in just about every area.

We've been getting ready to shift house, so all the other books are going into a box. Well, nearly all of them. There's a small pile of books I have promised myself I will read over the coming months. By listing them here, I hope to keep that promise.

They are:

That should keep me busy for a couple of years!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Good meetings: Better By Design and Freelance 2007

Yesterday I was at two conferences almost simultaneously. There was the superb Freelance Writers Conference, which I paid to go to, and the Better By Design CEO summit, which Idealog kindly paid for me to report on.

Would've been nice if they weren't on the same day, but it was an exciting day!

My daily reports from the CEO summit (Wednesday and Thursday) were the closest I've come to liveblogging. I don't think I'd be comfortable doing real live, liveblogging. You do need some space to process and make sense of what's being said - unless maybe you have a dual processor brain? Hm.

Meanwhile the Freelance do was both inspiring and a little intimidating for some of the people I spoke with afterwards. It does take guts to be self-employed, to pitch stories, and to interview people. For someone just beginning, it looks like one hell of a mountain to climb.

But it can be done. That was the theme I was hearing from both conferences - whether the story of Bendon's slow climb back from near-death to a powerhouse brand, or Hsin-Yi Cohen's journey "from scratch to specialty in a year". I didn't get to hear Hsin-Yi, but I do remember her email on the Journz email list about a year ago asking for advice from other journos. Now she writes for publications all around the world on niche topics that are personally meaningful to her.

Two factors were a little different at this year's Freelance conference: the majority of us realise we won't be able to retain copyright on articles written for the majority of NZ publications (but maybe for some overseas ones), and it is very, very hard to get more than 40 cents per word from most NZ publications (but not the case for overseas).

One thing that was missing - and this was echoed by Bob from Wellington, whose last name I didn't catch as we walked to the Shakespeare tavern for drinks and awards - was the point that as a freelancer you are running a business, and therefore running your own show. A lot of the talk of unionisation and such is probably necessary but to me just speaks too much of an employee (read: helpless) mindset.

Easy for me to say, I guess. I've established myself in a few niches, built relationships with editors and gotten to a certain comfort level. But you really do need to start the way you mean to go on. Are you going to go on as a winner?

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Silent morning

Didn't listen to any podcasts this morning on the bus.

No particular reason, just didn't feel like getting the headphones on.

What a great experience! I'd forgotten what it was like to just sit and observe the world around me. People are so interesting!

Ended up feeling kind of an unplugged euphoria, thinking thoughts like "human race, you are beautiful"! Got to watch that, might end up feeling kindly towards my fellow beings.

Seriously, though, I feel that one of the biggest needs in the infoverload age is balance. If you're an entrepreneur (and if you are, chances are you're that way inclined), look for opportunities to bring balance, perspective and context to people's lives. We've got so much choice today we kind of need a few customised ground rules to help us enjoy life.

Hmm. All of those things - balance, choice, ground rules, customisation - are trends about Generation C. Interesting...

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Blogs meet mainstream TV

In the US, they're bringing bloggers and TV together with the from-the-front stories of soldiers in Band of Bloggers.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, Gibson Group is experimenting with fictional characters blogging with their mini-soap MyStory.

Gartner's rules for Second Life

Gartner Says 80 Percent of Active Internet Users Will Have A ``Second Life'' in the Virtual World by the End of 2011

As heard of (and mentioned approvingly by Neville Hobson, aka Jangles Junot) on For Immediate Release.