“Done it all before” versus a fresh perspective and sparkle

January 25, 2015

Bored Accountant

I left the accountancy practice because I knew I had gone stale, working on the same clients in the same environment and now I wanted to get stuck in and get more involved so I decided to move into industry.

I started with Moog, an American multinational at the age of 22 taking on the role of financial accountant, reporting into the financial controller.

I didn’t have experience of working for a multi-national before but I was a bright, enthusiastic qualified accountant looking for a new challenge.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that initial period I really got into gear and they got the best of me. The financial controller went off on maternity leave after I was there just over a year and I was asked to take on her role and mine – not a bother, I took it in my stride. When she came back I knew I couldn’t slip back to the supporting role so I looked for a new challenge.

I then took on the role of financial controller of a drinks wholesaler and manufacturer, a subsidiary of Guinness.

I didn’t have experience of working in the drinks sector before but I had worked in practice and I had been the financial controller in a large multinational. For six months I was learning and soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that they really got the best of me.

Music Store

After a few years in this role I was going stale, I was repeating myself and the job was more of the same. I had always wanted to start my own business and I loved music so I recruited a manager and opened a few music stores around the country while I still stayed working. I had never worked in the music industry before nor had I operated retail stores but I brought a fresh perspective and bucket loads of enthusiasm to this new experience.

Out of the blue I was asked if I was interested in the General Manager role, which I gladly accepted.

I didn’t have the experience of managing a large business but I was a bright, enthusiastic person with a good understanding of the company and I had a solid background in finance.

For six months I was learning, soaking up this experience with fresh eyes and a new perspective and after that period they really got the very best of me achieving the best results ever for the company.

Guinness

I then moved to Guinness in Dublin taking on a number of different roles, none of which I had done before bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to all of them.

After three years I became the general manager of a subsidiary of Heineken bringing fresh eyes and a new perspective to the role. I really drove on the performance of the company but in truth I had done a similar role for the Guinness subsidiary and after three years I was getting bored and I should have moved on. I lasted two more years and left to join Deirdre Waldron at Fuzion, which has been brilliant.

Everyday in Fuzion we are faced with new situations and fresh challenges. We often work with new clients from different sectors and we achieve great results by bringing fresh eyes, new perspectives and enthusiasm and applying all of our collective experience and learnings to their challenges.

I have learned in my 32 years of working that to get the best of anyone in a role there must be some element of a challenge in it, something new the whole time that keeps them challenged, fresh, inspired and motivated and at the top of their game.

I have also learned that after a while of doing the same thing over and over people will get stale as that sense of challenge disappears. Despite having all of the experience and knowledge a big opportunity will be lost by not handing over the mantle to someone who knows less but has a sparkle, a freshness, a hunger and a desire to learn and take on a new challenge.

The next time you are choosing someone for a role or you are putting your project out for contract try to resist the safe temptation of going with the person or the company that have “done it all before” and instead look for the fresh perspective and grab that sparkle.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Hoovering and Storytelling

January 18, 2015

Sir James Dyson

Typical..just as we are skint at the start of January and all the bills are flying in our Dyson vacuum cleaner decides to pack up. I guess its not too bad as the previous one served us well for over 10 years so we can’t complain too much. Having said that the timing could be better!

Off we headed on a Saturday afternoon (I can think of a lot better things to be doing!) to buy a new one and for me there was a simple choice to be made – what model of Dyson would we buy and at which store?

For me I had no intention of even considering a different brand of vacuum cleaner (I have to try hard to not say ‘Hoover’) simply because I believe in the ‘story‘ of Dyson, the spirit, the innovation, the person and I believe that this story will deliver a superior product.

While we were browsing the selection of Dyson’s on display at Harvey Norman’s a helpful shopper (another guy as it turns out – is it the men that do the hoovering I’m wondering?! …I used the hoover word didn’t I!) whispered in my ear:

I’d buy a Miele if I were you. The suction is much better. I’ve had Dyson’s down through the years and they are only ok“.

Despite this sound impartial advice and my own experience I still wanted a Dyson. Even though we were surrounded by a wide selection of vacuum brands with lots of different features and price points I didn’t once consider even looking at them. I just wanted a Dyson. One of the Dyson models had a good offer on it, which simplified the task even further and before we knew it we were on the way home.

Opening and assembling the Dyson was a pleasure (relatively speaking!) with all of the parts cleverly clicking into place and inside the box I found a little booklet called ‘The Story of Dyson’.

It tells us that James Dyson is a curious inventor and shared some of his early designs including a Sea Truck (a high speed landing craft), a ballbarrow (a wheelbarrow with a clever ball that stops it sinking into the mud) a trolleyball boat launcher and an amphibious wheel boat.

Observing a sawmill he watched how a cyclone spun sawdust in the air and collected it in a chamber and wondered if the same principle could apply to vacuum cleaners that were using cleaner bags that constantly clogged the machines. After 5,127 prototypes he cracked it!

Since then he launched his range of vacuum cleaners, built a successful company and has constantly improved his products as well as introducing new ones.

James Dyson Foundation

Today Dyson machines are exhibited in museums in London, New York, Zurich,Sydney and Paris and the James Dyson Foundation runs workshops around the globe where young people solve engineering challenges in a practical fun way.

Dyson know they have a great story and they understand the power of this story so much that they include in it every box. This story is an integral part of their brand, so powerful that it had me not even entertaining a competitor product.

What you do, the products you sell and the services you offer are important – your story is what makes you unique.

Time to start storytelling ….

Check out another blog post: “Branding and Storytelling

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Personal branding and your Coat of Arms

January 12, 2015

personal branding

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of your ‘personal brand‘; how you always need to be aware of it, how you should project it and how you should protect it.

It is talked about in marketing circles as if it is a new thing and that it is borrowed from the world of products and companies, which all have their own branding that we can easily relate to.

The comparison to products, services and companies can be a little disturbing at first – surely we are human beings and not products (many may disagree!)? After all we have feelings, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, passions, we want to be appreciated and valued and we definitely don’t want to be treated as commodities.

If we forget about the comparison to products and companies it gets easier and we can start to appreciate what our personal brand really means. Our personal brand is our story, it is what we represent, it is what we believe in, it is what motivates us, it is who we are. If you deal with me this is what you get.

The challenge is to properly project our story so that others get what we are all about.

In ancient times the personal brand for our family was captured in our family crest or our coat of arms.

A coat of arms is described as a unique heraldic (a visual way of signifying rank) design on a shield or surcoat. A surcoat, and subsequently a coat of arms was used by medieval knights to cover, protect, and identify the wearer. The coat of arms symbolises the heraldic achievement which consists of a shield with a crest and motto.

These coats of arms came into general use by feudal lords and knights in battle in the 12th Century. By the 13th Century their use had spread beyond the battlefield to become a kind of flag or logo for families in the higher social classes of Europe, inherited from one generation to the next.

Your coat of arms or crest was effectively a way of telling a story about your family and what they represent.

Canty family crestIn the case of the ‘Canty’ crest:

  • the core blue colour in the shield represents Loyalty and Truth (good traits I’m sure you will agree!)
  • the use of yellow represents Generosity (the drinks are on me ..very true)
  • the Chevron (the upsidedown ‘V‘) denotes Protection. Apparently this is often granted as a reward to one who has achieved some Notable Enterprise (woohoo!)
  • the crescents signify one who has been ‘Enlightened and Honoured by his Sovereign’ (hmm..what did we do to deserve this?)

While this captures and projects a ‘story’ and a set of values and beliefs for my family in many ways it also sets a standard and creates an expectation about our behaviour – something that we all need to live up to.

Ironically the use of the coats of arms evolved over time and started to be used by commercial companies, which are effectively the origins of the modern logo.

Telling your story today

Today we don’t carry around a shield (just a business card..) and we don’t wear a suit of armour so communicating our story can be a little bit more challenging!

The face to face personal experience has always been the most important part of our story. How we look, how we dress, how we speak, how we behave and what we do are powerful ways of telling this story. Those who interact with us get to experience our ‘personal brand‘ up close and hopefully they will carry with them a positive version of our story.

For those at a distance our modern day coat of arms is our blog, our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. This is where we get a chance to show our photo, detail who we are, what we have learnt, what we have done, what we believe in and then bring all of this to life through our regular conversations and interactions.

In Ireland alone there are 1.4 million LinkedIn users. The most common activity of these users is looking at other people’s profiles. I wonder why..

How is your coat of arms looking? 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

We had a great 2015 because ..

January 1, 2015

Cool Runnings

For the last few years we have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

We have found it to be really useful and one that has made a big difference.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago we were inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (unbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This year instead of doing it individually (definitely do this as well) why not as a team take on the task for your business or organisation.

Imagine the last working day of the year just before you switch off the lights in the office, before you exchange office presents and head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest, you have a chat about the fantastic achievements during the year.

Here goes ..

Take a flipchart and simply write your achievements in advance for the last working day of the year to come..

Wednesday, 23rd December, 2015

We had a great year because ….

Be as specific as you can including business and developmental goals and when the team are done get everyone to Sign it!

Once you have done this take some time out with your team and work out the detailed planning and action plans that support your 2015 wish list and then track progress during the year.

…grab just 30 minutes with your team this week before things fully kick off again and do it!

Happy 2015!!

(the pic at the top of the post is from the fantastic movie, Cool Runnings the last featuring the comic genius John Candy about the Jamaican bobsleigh team making their debut at the 1988 winter Olympics in Canada)

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

That’s a lot of responsibility on a New Year

December 31, 2014

Be happy today

We just bumped into a neighbour of ours at the cash desk in Aldi with her two daughters.

It was obvious from our shopping trolley that we were buying in provisions for a New Years Eve party, which we pretty much do every year. It’s nothing fancy just friends and family to ring in the new year.

We asked our neighbour if she fancied popping in with her girls. Their faces lit up at the thought of a ‘party’ but she politely shut down the invite.

After the year I have had I’m going to bed as early as possible and getting the year over and done with. The sooner next year can come the better

Her girls knew she was serious and said nothing but they realised they had no choice but to stay in, go to bed early and get rid of this year.

Without knowing the detail they obviously had a bad year and are putting faith in a new calendar year for a change of fortunes.

In a way it’s a real pity their mum feels like that because she could have fun on this last day with her girls and the rest of her family and start the new year with smiles, hugs and fun from the very first minute.

Then again are we all putting way too much responsibility on the new year or any year for our good fortune?

Happy New Year? … I certainly hope so

Happy today? … that’s up to you and me

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Perfect moments

December 29, 2014

We all have great times that we fondly look back at, special achievements, fantastic holidays, family occasions, all manner of things to remember. We look back at these times and we realise that they were great.

Something a little bit more rare and precious than those times are what I call ‘perfect moments‘. These are extra special because they are literally moments and when they occur a feeling comes over you and you realise there and then that this is a ‘perfect’ moment.

Often these ‘perfect moments’ are not the obvious ones such as the moment your children were born. While these were incredibly special moments they were tense and worrying so in ways for me they could not be perfect there and then.

These are some of my perfect moments..

Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy

I was fourteen and Thin Lizzy were on stage in the City Hall in Cork. Phil Lynott roared “Are you Ready” and he roared it again ..the packed hall erupted, my body trembled and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up..this is a perfect moment.

Euro Final 1992

I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle of the Danish fans in 1992 on a warm summer’s evening in Gothenburg in Sweden as they were beating the clear favourites Germany 2-1 in the European final. I was sipping on a beer alongside people I barely knew (I was on a junket compliments of Carlsberg), the fans were going bonkers and a feeling crept over me ..this is a perfect moment.

Greg and Dee, Cuba

I was in Cuba with Dee and we had gone into the sea for a dip to cool down. The sun was beating down and we were having fun in the water. I picked her up in my warms, and we were laughing and so close …this is a perfect moment.

Greg Canty, Jonathan Leahy Maharaj, Maire Coffey

We were on a magical mystery tour as part of our last day at work after a great year and all of us were to meet in different pubs based on a set of clues. The Oval, our planned destination on South Main Street was closed and the instructions were to head into the nearest one to it. I found myself in Ziggy’s bar with Jonathan and Maire taking turns at picking songs on the jukebox.

My choice, ‘Ain’t no love in the heart of the city‘ the live version by Whitesnake came on. We were having great fun, great chat, the music was great and the barman/ageing rocker with the pigtail enquired..”Who put that song on…great track man“…a perfect moment.

What was yours?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Far from shore

December 28, 2014

Relaxing at sea

The sweet spot of the holidays … When you have been off for a few days, enough to have been able to come down the gears and properly switch off and far enough from going back to work so you don’t have to start thinking about it again.

This rare time, when you are far from shore is special, you start to recharge, refresh, replenish and get to know the ‘other’ you and when your head is clear all manner of things can happen. These brief moments come along just once or twice a year and before you know it, it’s time to turn the boat around and head back to land.

The question is …what are you doing with this precious time?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Take me to the “nice” church

December 22, 2014

Andrew Hozier-Byrne

When I do my social media courses I do a simple exercise to get the participants thinking about their online etiquette.

I ask them the following question: “What are the characteristics of people that you like doing business with?

I see the puzzled look on their faces with many thinking ..I thought I was here to learn all about social media?

After a while they get into the exercise and I get a list that normally includes characteristics such as honest, reliable, efficient, decisive, knowledgeable, trustworthy, helpful and professional. (I do get a few mentions for ‘people who pay their bills’!)

These are big things but I also get softer characteristics, which are just as important such as passionate, optimistic, humorous and I even get a few saying I like people who are ‘like me‘!

A simple but yet powerful word that wraps a number of these things together is the word ‘Nice‘. In all of those business courses and management books do we ever hear about the magical power of being ‘nice‘ and what it can do for you?

Brendan Canty - Feel Good Lost

I found myself proudly reading an article recently about my son, Brendan Canty (www.feelgoodlost.me) who directed the Hozier ‘Take me to the Church’ video, which has until the moment of writing incredibly received nearly 52 million views on YouTube.

This is one of these miraculous stories where a music video, which was done on a shoestring budget for an up-and-coming hugely talented artist called Hozier went global. The day after the filming Brendan told me that Hozier was playing in the Pavilion in Cork and that I shouldn’t miss it. Pathetically I was too busy and missed a special intimate gig as a tiny crowd were lucky enough to witness a star who was about to be born.

Brendan played me the video in the Fuzion office before it was set live and we all knew it would be special …it was a great song, with a powerful theme all captured brilliantly by Brendan and Conal of Feel Good Lost and featuring a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers.

The video erupted instantaneously online as soon as it was published and in no time it had a lot of tongues wagging and the media caught hold of it. When the Huffington Post featured it you could feel it had the potential to have a huge impact globally. Hozier deservedly won a record contract soon after and has gone onto be a huge success internationally.

You might think that Andrew Hozier-Byrne might forget about the enthusiastic troop who made this video as he laps up his newfound fame but at every opportunity this ‘nice‘ gentleman always mentions the role that Brendan and the guys played in his success.

In Brendan’s interview he was asked about how he got his first breaks in the industry and I was proud to read what he said: “I started reaching out to people online and they started reaching out to me. People are basically nice if you’re nice to them

Nice works online and come to think of it nice works offline as well..

Take me to the “nice” church!  

 

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

 

Customers aren’t just for Christmas!

December 22, 2014

Marc Jacobs

It was about this time last year when I embraced the “hint” that was given to me by Dee and I found myself in the handbag section of Brown Thomas looking for a leather hand bag, which was stylish but small and tidy.

In the end I settled for a classy navy blue Marc Jacobs bag … that’s a good brand, isn’t it? The price suggested it was a good brand and surely she would be happy with it. Down through the years I’ve bought a few handbags in BT for Dee ..strangely (I know what you are thinking..) I actually like shopping for handbags! I love the leathers and the colours and the different designs and for the most part you can’t go wrong with a bag as a present…I think?

As usual I scored and on Christmas morning Dee was happy with her gift.

Marc Jacobs was born in New York City on April 9, 1963. After graduating from the High School of Art and Design in 1981 he entered Parson’s School of Design. As a design student at Parson’s, Jacobs was the recipient of some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year. In 1984 he met Robert Duffy who is still his business partner today. These two have been really successful at building this huge brand, which as all of us knows doesn’t happen by accident

At the end of this summer (just 7 months on) the leather edges of the bag started to turn white – the piping on the seams of the bag were not leather but some type of narrow plastic and the covering was wearing away – this didn’t seem very Marc Jacobs so we returned it to the store assured that there would be no issue with a repair or a replacement.

After two months the bag was returned repaired. Dee was upset as it smelt musty so it must have been sitting in a damp repair shop for quite a while and the inner lining that had to be opened up to complete the repair was still torn.

She put up with this, de-fumigated the bag with perfume but within a few weeks you could see that the repair was not going to work as the seams were once again stripping away – back to Brown Thomas!

Brown Thomas

Our interaction with the manager of the store this week was interesting. She studied the handbag carefully. “Do you have a receipt?” It was clear from the repair paperwork that BT had already handled the previous repair. “The manufacturer has a 6 month repair policy, so we can’t really guarantee anything” hmmm.. “we never know how people will wear their handbags” ..in other words if you are the type of person who mistreats a bag then we can’t be responsible. Taking one look at Dee you would know this is a bag that would be looked after carefully.

We politely reminded her that we trust Brown Thomas and the expensive brands they are selling and that there is no way we should accept this level of wear and tear after just a few months. Surely a brand such as Marc Jacobs care about their quality? The manager elaborated “They don’t care! You can give out all you want, kick up a fuss but it won’t make any difference. They are so big and so popular they just don’t care

That is just incredible – we did suggest that maybe Brown Thomas should stop stocking such a brand if that is what their attitude is towards the quality of their products and the customers who put faith in them. Glancing around the store you could see how much space was dedicated to this very popular brand – The Marc Jacobs brand is big business.

We did leave the handbag with the manager and she assured us that she would do everything in her power to get this brand to behave themselves and deal with the issue. I’m pessimistic and my prediction is that this will end up with Dee being handed back a worn out bag, which will never see the light of day.

When you are that popular and selling that much product is it easy to forget about the customer?

When a brand is so powerful do you do everything you can to stock them in your store even if they don’t really care about customers?

When Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy met 30 years ago and started on their journey I am sure they were passionate about style, quality and their customers? Have they lost control of their brand?

When Hugh Brown and James Thomas started their store in 1848 I am sure the customer come before any of the brands they were stocking?

Maybe something might have changed since then ..

Customer’s aren’t just for Christmas and brands don’t necessarily last forever!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Branding or just Storytelling?

December 16, 2014

Storytellers

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon perfectly summarised branding when he declared “your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room

So..branding isn’t about logos or tag lines? …it is actually what people say about you.

In that case our job as marketeers is to simply help our clients tell the story of their business, organisation, products and services effectively so that when people talk about these things they say exactly what we want them to say.

In effect we need to be great storytellers, creating memorable content that connects with our target audience in a way that they will remember positively.

Telling memorable stories takes great copy, imagery, logos, tag lines, ideas, PR campaigns, events, sponsorships, initiatives and social media activity.

When we talk to clients about the Fuzion process we try to forget about the industry jargon and instead we talk about stories:

Capture your story

It is vital that your story, the essence of the organisation is captured properly – this is an important and necessary first step. It is damaging to promote your business if this part is not right.

Whenever and wherever anyone comes across your products, services, website, promotional material, vehicles, premises and even the individuals in your team your story must be told in a way that properly reflects what you want.

Finding your story

If I look for the products or services that you offer with the help of Mr Google it is vital that you are found easily and prominently. This is the low hanging fruit!

When we build websites for our clients we make sure the platforms they are built on facilitate good search engine performance and that we include the right ‘copy’ (the keywords customers use when they search for your products or services) so they are found prominently by potential customers.

Telling your story

Every business must promote itself so that people know it exists. This is your advertising, PR campaigns, direct marketing, email marketing, events and sponsorships all designed to tell your target audience that you exist and what you do.

This must be done carefully and consistently so that the right story is always told.

Conversations about your story

We often hear that 80% of business comes from referrals or ‘word of mouth‘.

Surprisingly only a portion of these referrals will be from actual customers. Often these referrals will simply come from people who have ‘heard about you‘ somewhere along the way.

Social media when correctly used is a fantastic way to generate these referrals and get the right word of mouth going through online ‘conversations‘ and interactions.

It is also a great way to communicate the personality and beliefs of the organisation in a way that is often impossible through other communications.

Protecting your story

The last part of the process is only ever called into action when something goes wrong. We help organisations when incidents occur that have the potential of ruining the good ‘story‘ of an organisation.

The larger well prepared organisations will have predicted possible negative scenarios and will have a ‘crisis drill‘ in place to deal with these should they occur. Often you just cannot predict every possible scenario and when the wheels do fall off unexpectedly we will get the call to help when it is really needed.

What’s your story?

Every individual, business and organisation has a story to tell and this ‘story’ process works best when it is carefully executed as part of an integrated plan.

Marketing?…nah, just like the guys around the camp fire we are just storytellers!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland


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