Do you need a fighter?

June 11, 2015

Dr Martin Luther KIng

I was part of an interview panel recently for a client and during the course of my pre-interview preparation I did my usual checks online with the various candidates.

This normally reveals a lot – you can see how strong their presence is online, you can see how good their communications skills are and you can see the things they care about.

Often what you discover from their social media activity can confirm what they have described on their CV’s, it can further illuminate who they are or it can even bring everything into question – is this a different person?

I love the LinkedIn profiles in particular and the great ones have genuine recommendations written for them supporting the work they did in particular roles, which makes it really easy to assess them.

You can also see other evidence of their lives, their blog posts, the websites they are listed on and even some media coverage they have been mentioned in…all very interesting.

Unfair dismissal

In one individual’s case I quickly found a newspaper article whereby they had taken and settled a constructive dismissal case against a former employer!

According to the article the case was settled on the steps (of course!) and both sides were quoted as saying “they were happy with the outcome” – no doubt a cheque was written and this person backed down.

The unfortunate thing about the article is that this person was the only person named (the organisation was named but not the individuals involved) and as a result they have this against their name for people like me to find on a simple Google search.

Their CV obviously didn’t mention this incident – how could you even go about presenting this information to a prospective employer in a positive way? The CV told a different, quite positive story.

My immediate reaction was alarm bells – is this person trouble and are things not so rosey in their garden?

And then I reflected – maybe this person was bullied, maybe they were one of many in the organisation who were mistreated and instead of quietly moving on just maybe they were the ones who were strong and brave enough to stand up for themselves and make sure that this behaviour stopped?

Maybe they did this to ensure the practice of bullying stopped within the organisation?

Instead of being a huge negative maybe this incident gave a huge hint that this person was a strong person with high principles who was prepared to stand up and fight for what is right, even if it had the potential to make them look bad. In this case you could definitely argue that it did.

Isn’t it possible that a person like this is a rare gem and not the ‘troublemaker‘ we first thought?

The unfortunate truth is that in most cases this person won’t even get as far as an interview because we do jump to conclusions quickly so what can that person do?

Taking control

They most take control of their ‘story’ online – make sure LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook tell a really positive story. Get those recommendations from previous employers and other people in business who will enforce the good stories.

The other big thing that person can do is to start self publishing online – start blogging, start guest blogging, push that expertise and passion out there and quickly that Google space will be filled with their own material and those old articles will gradually get pushed down the ranking and will not be found.

If they get to interview and the ‘topic’ comes up they should be prepared to tell the real story.

In this case the person had withdrawn from the process even though we were quite happy to interview them.

If they are a fighter they also have to fight for their own online presence and reputation!

A fighter could be the very person you need ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Ireland from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

“Don’t worry, I own your problem now”

May 31, 2015

Taking ownership of a problem

We had a really interesting networking session at the recent Business Owners Network event at Dublin Chamber.

This group of business owners meet pretty much every second Friday morning, bright and early from 7:30 am till 9am. The sessions always involve some informal networking over a coffee and normally there is a guest speaker about some topic of interest.

(I would highly recommend it to business owners in Dublin – great for networking, learning, contacts and new business)

At our recent session, which I was privileged to chair we did some formal networking by breaking the room into circles of six people allowing each person a proper chance to share with the others what they do. At the session we also looked for people to share their number one business tip, which was quite interesting and varied.

At the end of the session each group were asked to share their learnings, which again generated some really interesting topics;

  • Nothing beats meeting people face to face
  • Listen to your customer and be open to changing your offer according to what they need
  • By listening to others you always learn something new
  • Cold calling can be quite enjoyable!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the business

My big learning from the session was that you should never under estimate the wisdom that experience brings – in every conversation with someone you nearly always learn something new.

I was chatting to one of the attendees, Sean who was passionate about customer service. The gist of the conversation was that customer service has disimproved generally and that there is huge customer frustration in particular with the call centre culture whereby you rarely get the feeling that someone is really ‘on top‘ of your problem.

You know the drill ..you call, you are often in a queue to be heard, you go through a sequence of pressing numbers, then you give your account details and eventually you get a chance to describe what is wrong. From here you can end up being passed from pillar to post, each time repeating your details and the nature of the problem.

In fact when you have an issue you need to put a good half hour aside as the whole process can end up taking that long.

He used a great expression to demonstrate what a great process would look like. You just want the person you speak to first to say: “Don’t worry, I own your problem now” and leave you with an assurance that they will see it through until it is sorted.

Do you own your customer’s problems?

Greg Canty 

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

Nothing to play for

May 23, 2015

Chelsea-v-Manchester-United-Premier-League

The end of the football season is always a very strange time – it manages to produce unexpected results, surprising comebacks and even more surprising defeats.

Teams that were hopeless all season all of a sudden put a run together and start winning matches, virtually unrecognisable from before. They miraculously survive.

Teams that performed well all season but know that they can’t win the league start losing and drawing games, which before they would more than likely have won easily.

The teams that know they are ‘safe‘ from relegation take a breather for the last few matches because they know the job is done and they start losing matches.

The teams involved at the latter stages of the cup tournaments start performing lousy in league matches because the players are ‘saving’ themselves for the glamour matches.

At this stage of the season those at the bottom with the desire to survive always seem to be able to dig deep a little more than those near the top. Survival is possibly a stronger motivator than getting as high as possible at this stage.

The best teams to play against seem to be those who have ‘nothing to play for‘. With a stronger motivation to win surely the team who needs it more will have a better chance at overpowering a team who don’t really need it at all?

There are always exceptions like the team that is already relegated and manages to win their first away match of the whole season against a team fighting for their lives. The extreme pressure was off and they managed to relax and play the football they were capable of but never managed before.

It is at this stage of the season that you see who the great managers really are.

These managers are the ones who inspire their teams to win even when there is nothing to play for such as Jose Mourinho. Even though the team has already won the league he still manages to motivate his players enough to beat teams who have a lot more to play for.

No matter what you do you must give your team something to play for; some target, some goal, some challenge so that they can dig in, reach higher and keep winning.

What are your team playing for?

Greg Canty 

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

You, your story and your www

May 21, 2015

Emperor

Before it was your shop front, your building, your address or your Golden Pages listing that were the main things that would create that first impression to make you and your business look good.

While these things are still really important your online presence is your new shop front, the place where your customers will make up their mind about you with frightening speed.

Before you know it that prospect has come and gone, they have clicked onto your online presence (whatever that might be) and without any opportunity to say hello, show your wares, sell the benefits of what you do they have come and gone with their minds made up.

Your online presence includes your website, your blog, your LinkedIn account and all of your social media platforms and each of them in their own way will tell a story about you and your business.

When you do get an inquiry you should know that you have done a good job – they have found you and they liked what they saw, at least enough to make an enquiry.

The selling starts with your www … Ask someone you really trust (thing the Emperors new clothes!) if your online presence really captures your story, the very best of you?

How is your www? 

Greg Canty 

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

Pick the right maverick and get out of their way!

May 13, 2015

Young Wonder

Just a quick note to say thank you.  The video you created is really special; I’ve made videos for 15 years at a major label and hated nearly every single one of them…too many compromises, too many cooks….this is the treatment played out in front of us and its f**king brilliant… many many thanks

Brendan Canty, Feel Good LostThis is a fantastic email my son Brendan Canty (he has his own production company Feel Good Lost) received after completing a recent music video project.

He tells me it was one of the smoothest projects he has worked on and one with a fantastic outcome.

They loved his original idea and he delivered it without any interference.

He tells me this is often not the case. In many projects too many people get involved, there are too many opinions, too many opposing views, too many egos and too many comprises – he is not a compromiser but sometimes he tells me you end up doing what you need to do to get a job completed.

It tells us a very simple message about engaging with any creative talent including artists/designers/professionals.

Pick the right maverick, get out of the way and then let them do what they do best  ..

Brendan  has just finished a fantastic music video for a talented and ‘soon to be huge‘ Irish artist Gavin James.

The track is a beautiful song called “For You“.

You already know about this video by another Irish artist called Hozier, which he also happened to direct. At the time of writing this has been watched 247,000,000 times!

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

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

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

 

 

 

The Peace of Wild Things

April 30, 2015

Wood drake on the water

I am thankful to a great friend of mine who sent me this poem to read by Wendell Berry  – there are times when we should all read it!

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell E. Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.

Wendell Berry, Poet

A prolific author, he has written dozens of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012.

He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.

On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

I hope you enjoy it ..

Greg

 

Opening a new business and budgeting for the essentials

April 27, 2015

Open for business

They were experienced operators with a successful business already up and running.

They decided to take the brave step to open another premises in a different location that they believed was currently under-served with a new concept. After all this is what you do to drive on and make progress?

The budgets were carefully worked out including renovating the premises, purchasing and installing the equipment, furnishing and decorating, branding and signage, professional fees and then some allowance was made for working capital and other opening costs.

Their budget also included a marketing fund – there is no point opening a new business unless you tell your target audience about it!

When all the budgets are done you look at your funding and cash flow requirements, some leasing, loans and an overdraft to make all of this possible and then you try to carefully manage the ‘opening project’ so that you come in on target.

For as long as I have been in business including my time as an accountant and in management there is a ‘rule of thumb’ that nearly always applies: “Everything takes longer than you expect, everything costs more and there is always the ‘unexpected’ that you also have to cope with“.

As sure as night follows day there was a problem with the fire officer that resulted in extra work that was necessary for the building – this delayed the opening and resulted in extra unexpected costs. As a result there was a serious unexpected ‘hit’ on cashflow for this essential expenditure, which could not be avoided.

As a result the marketing budget was wiped out and this new business suddenly had to rely on ‘word of mouth‘ and social media to get the word out there.

Unfortunately the momentum was not enough and the volume of business coming through the door from the date of the opening was insufficient to cover basic running costs and within months the new venture had to be shut as it was not sustainable.

The reality of the situation was that the marketing fund was even more essential than the demands that the fire officer made on the project. One was essential to get the doors open and the other was essential to keep the doors open. As a result all investment, dreams, sweat and tears were lost and the existing business will take some time to mop up the resulting debts and the recovery.

The guys were put in a total predicament and were forced to do what they had to do and this ultimately was the act that effectively closed the business and put their existing business at serious risk.

Did they have any options?

They took a view and a huge risk that they could sacrifice the most essential overhead of all and this was their ultimate downfall (while totally understandable).

Maybe they could have done a few things different ..

They could have:

  • Allowed for a contingency fund for delays/unexpected cost in the original budgets (you always need a buffer) – don’t go ahead until you have that
  • Explored other ways of cutting back and leaving their marketing fund somewhat intact
  • Looked for extra funds before proceeding any further with the project (would a bank manager have appreciated and understood their late request for extra funds? ultimately it might protect his own investment) – a strong open and honest relationship is a must for this to happen
  • Negotiated credit with suppliers – again a strong, open and honest relationship is a must (would suppliers understand?)

We have seen this cruel scenario being repeated time and time again with clients with the same awful result. Some manage to survive the setback and many unfortunately do not.

Once open you must have a fund to promote your business because without awareness and customers everything else is at risk.

Keep dreaming, keep advancing, keep expanding but most importantly keep succeeding!

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

Recommendations Rock!

April 21, 2015

Recommendations

Do you remember the old days of the “reference“?

That magic piece of paper from a previous boss or the parish priest that says you are a great person and someone who can be trusted to do a good job!

These pieces of paper were little treasures that we kept safe and produced when required on interview day.

Even now whenever any of our team move to pastures new (why anyone would ever leave Fuzion is a mystery to me!) they ask us for a ‘reference‘.

They clearly don’t need it for the job they have just accepted but they might end up using it for the next role they go for. More than likely whenever it will be used it will be at least two years old.

This reference is written in the knowledge that it will only ever be shown privately in very specific circumstances.

For me the ‘real’ references are the recommendations that appear on your LinkedIn profile.

As far back as April 2010, Fortune magazine in an article about LinkedIn were advising that “if you were serious about your career then you should be proactive about getting recommendations“.

LinkedIn recommendations

These are much more powerful that the traditional ‘reference‘ in my view. This is someone going on record for everyone to see that “Greg is a great fella“. A good recommendation on your LinkedIn profile by a credible person speaks volumes about you as a prospective employee or as service provider.

Furthermore a bank manager, a landlord or a supplier might find such a recommendation just as beneficial.

I get asked a lot by people about how to go about asking for a recommendation. If you have done a great job for a boss or a customer then it’s appropriate to ask and mostly they will be happy to oblige (they must be a LinkedIn user).

Ironically one of the best ways to get a recommendation is to first give one. This is a powerful gesture between you and that person – there is nothing wrong in recommending your boss (a very fair person, who I thrived under, who gave me fantastic direction etc) or a customer (a pleasure to deal with, very professional and fair) .

On LinkedIn once you recommend someone the question is then asked of them “would you like to recommend Greg“.

I must practice what I’ve been preaching and write a few recommendations

Who is first? …

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Profit without Passion?

April 12, 2015

Passion

These two guys came into us, full of confidence about their new project.

They were introducing a new range of ready made meals to the Irish market, which they reckoned were going to be a huge success.

The market in Ireland was huge and growing and according to them poorly serviced with inferior products. They were going to bring restaurant quality meals with recipes designed by a high profile chef using the best of Irish ingredients.

These meals were going to be well packaged and would be ‘on shelf‘ at competitive products – this was their recipe for success!

By their reckoning they would conservatively capture a share of the market and even with moderate success they would make a fortune, it was guaranteed.

They had the listings with some of the multiples and our job was to launch the new range of products. They also had a good budget for the promotional campaign – success guaranteed?

I had a few nagging doubts ..

These guys had no history in food or experience in the industry. They had no passion for food – I tried and I tried to find it. I couldn’t see a genuine love for Irish ingredients and great food – this was just a way of making money and they reckoned they had all the necessary ingredients for success.

The high profile chef was equally unimpressive – I started to get the feeling that his ‘name was on the box‘ and that was about the extent of his passion for the project.

Of course he did the interviews and said all the right things but I just didn’t feel the passion for the project.

The launch date arrived, there seemed to be trouble with distribution, the products didn’t look well in the packaging and there was nothing special about the taste. It certainly wasn’t the superior restaurant quality ready-made meals that we were promised.

In no time at all the partners were fighting and the chef pulled back from the project. Effectively before the whole project got going they shut it down and many people including ourselves went without payment.

If there was genuine passion you would taste it in the end product, you would work hard to overcome any problems and you would dig deep and do everything to keep your dream alive.

Without passion you just give up ….that’s easier!

Passion is the single must important ingredient in your meal, your restaurant, your products, your service and your organisation.

Profit without passion? … I don’t think so 

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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