Mr Motivator

March 28, 2015

Mr Motivator

There is just one Greg Canty and he is special and don’t you forget about it” he said

Just keep being the best ‘you’ that you can be” ..ok, I will.

It had been a while since I had chatted to him but it is always great when we do. He always leaves you feeling ten feet tall and better about yourself than before you had spoken.

I called him out of the blue just for a chat but he always has this knack of saying something that makes you feel better about yourself.

I remember years ago we had him over at the house for grub and at the time we were feeling a little but low because we were struggling to get some sponsors signed up for our Catwalks event. This was a high end fashion and beauty event that we used take on tour around Ireland.

I think he picked up that we weren’t as positive as we usually were and after a while he grabbed a flyer in his hand from a previous Catwalks event that we had run and he gave us one of his magical pep talks.

Do you see this?” he asked “You and Dee created a national event from nothing. You have already signed up some top brands and its been a huge success to date. Never forget that it is only you two who could have pulled something like this off

After he left we were punching the air, feeling special, full of motivation and determination, ready to take on the world … sure enough we signed up more sponsors.

We all need people like that in our lives, the ones who make you fell better about yourself, the ones who you can call if you need that little gee up …they are precious.

Pat Dolan Thank you Pat Dolan..

Who is your Mr Motivator?

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

LinkedIn and Temptation

March 22, 2015

Temptation

I remember a few years back being asked to give some LinkedIn training to the senior team in a large company.

When I was asked to give the training my contact stressed that I wasn’t to mention that it was a popular platform for job hunting and for putting your CV ‘out there‘. Apparently their financial department had recently been poached en masse and they were putting this down to LinkedIn so it was a delicate issue.

I carefully went through my presentation and removed any references to job hunting or it being a platform for hosting your  ‘online 3D CV‘.

I duly arrived, started my presentation and just 30 seconds into the session the first question was fired at me “Isn’t LinkedIn just a great place for finding a new job?“!

It was clear I wasn’t going to get away with avoiding the ‘elephant in the room‘.

Personally I see LinkedIn as a lot more than a place for online CV’s.

It has been a fantastic way for me and Fuzion to highlight our services, to make new contacts and great connections and to really drive our visibility. We blog frequently and we push our blog posts on LinkedIn and it helps showcase out team and their expertise.

However I must admit that the ‘CV’ dimension and the increased focus on job adverts combined with the relative ease of finding and targeting possible candidates is starting to have a huge impact on employees and employers. It has had an impact on our business.

Unfortunately I feel it can be detrimental to both employees and employers and if we are not careful this will only get worse.

Temptation..

In the good old days (I started my first proper job in an accountancy office in 1982) we took a job and tended to stay with companies for quite a while. In many cases we worked our way up the ladder through a combination of experience and on the job training.

Generally the senior long serving team members would live and breathe the organisations they worked for and they tended to have a deep practical knowledge of them including the ethos and core beliefs that the places were built on.

When the job stopped interesting and challenging you, when you stopped learning or when the career progression stopped then it was a natural time to start looking for a new job.

At this moment you started flicking through the job pages in the newspaper on a Friday and you might even register yourself with an employment agency. It was a very considered process.

Now things have changed significantly ..every single day anyone with a LinkedIn profile (there are over 1.4 million people in Ireland) can receive a job enquiry, a little temptation is dangled in front of them and long before they have even considered looking for another job their head has been turned and they are unsettled.

Two of our team left in the recent past and the story was the same for both of them “You know me, I love it here. I wasn’t even looking but they contacted me and the offer was so good I couldn’t resist“.

While this is a detrimental issue for employers who now have to contend with much higher staff turnover it is even more detrimental for the individuals who are letting their heads be easily turned.

Before their full skill-sets are developed and they have a chance to grow in their roles they are off and starting again, never reaching their full potential anywhere.

Technology has clearly changed all of our lives and in the workplace these changes are very significant.

Avoiding temptation..

This new temptation is detrimental to everyone and we need to take a little control back to limit how detrimental it is.

For the individuals that are tempted have a really good think before you allow your head to be turned – is this temptation really the best thing right now for your development and your long term career?

For employers who are tempted – do you really want to take someone on who has their head turned that easy? This won’t be the last time their head will turn!

Temptation ..no thanks!

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

 

 

Sixteen tons and what do you get?

March 14, 2015

My dad "pops"

It was a strange 50th birthday..

It couldn’t be the usual champagne popping have a blast carefree type of a day as my dad had to have a procedure at the Bons Secours hospital in Cork.

This was very strange as 50 years to the day I was actually born in the very same hospital – who could have predicted that?

We were with him first thing in the morning as the nurse came in to bring him to the theatre. As usual even though he was apprehensive about what lay ahead he couldn’t help being his usual charming and funny self!

I’ll bring you down to the theatre Michael, will we get a wheelchair?” the nurse asked

My dad looked at her as if she had two heads – no way was that happening!

He bounced out of the bed and started joking with the nurse, relaxing my mum, me and Dee.

In the corridor he stopped her and he went into his usual routine, the routine he does with everyone, and one that makes us all smile. Even my six year old niece in the U.S. can recite this because he taught it to her when she could barely talk!

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

This seemed so appropriate and defiant and he delivered it with clenched fists and a charming smile – nothing is going to beat this man and definitely not today!

You’re lovely, I’ll go anywhere with you he says” and he linked the nurses arm.

We stood there watching as my fantastic dad (“pops” I call him) walked away from us with the nurse laughing and joking down the long corridor to a place that neither he nor any of us wanted to be on this March day.

I was curious about where the words for my dad’s little routine came from. They come from a song made popular by a guy called Tennessee Ernie Forde in 1955. His version became a huge hit and it was later covered by many artists including Johnny Cash and even Robbie Williams!

It was first recored in 1946 by a country singer called Merle Travis. The clever, catchy song is about a coal miner who has broken his back shovelling coal all his life. He never sees actual pay because the workers used get paid in vouchers, which they could exchange for goods at the company owned store:

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

There was no point waiting around so I went about my day, which included meetings, lunch with Dee and my two kids, Brendan and Ellen, a little clothes shopping spree in Brown Thomas and a drive to Dublin.

We got news that dad had recovered well from the procedure but he still isn’t quite out of the woods yet. Not quite what we were hoping to hear.

That evening we ended up having dinner at Leinster House with a good friend and some interesting people – the last thing on this strange day that I could have expected was people singing ‘Happy Birthday‘ to me there!

It wasn’t a perfect birthday but I spent it with people I love, I loaded some coal, I had an unexpected evening and I watched one of my all time heroes charming a nurse and defiantly saying “If you see me coming, you better step aside

Now it’s time to load some more coal ..

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

You get what you pay for – maybe you get a lot less?

March 9, 2015

PR versus advertising

You get what you pay for ..maybe when you pay you get less?

At nearly every talk I attend about social media these days a business Facebook user asks the question about the crashing reach of their posts – a few years ago when you posted something this post would reach a large number of your users (fans) who had signed up and followed your page.

Over the last few years the ‘reach’ of your posts has been crashing and we are now at a stage when some posts will get just a handful of views.

PR versus Advertising

A savvy customer will believe editorial or an article they read a lot more than an advert – a standard mechanism in the PR industry values media coverage three times more than the equivalent advertising space. (Have a peep at a blog post that our own Edel Cox has written on the topic).

After all if you pay to say you are great it’s not worth as much as someone else saying you are great!

The very same argument can be applied to your posts on social media.

As we have mentioned above Facebook have well and truly entered the ‘show me the money‘ era as fans of your page are no longer seeing your posts that they have signed up to see. Sooner or later this moment was going to come as all the social media platforms must make money just like any other business.

If 10% of your fans are seeing your posts then you are doing extremely well. From my experience those doing better than this are generally either giving away bucket loads of free stuff or have fallen into the trap of posting irrelevant funny videos.

Show me the money

The only way to really ensure that your fans are seeing your posts is to ‘boost‘ them. This is done simply by paying a few quid (the amount will vary depending on how many fans you have) to ensure that your post is pushed out by Facebook to your existing fans and beyond that if you wish.

The big problem with this approach is that suddenly these posts appear in your fans timeline with the word ‘sponsored‘ above them. Your post that was never intended to be an advert has now become an advert and just like the PR versus advertising argument its value has reduced to a third.

In my view the only way around this is to find other ways of talking to your “tribe” – we need to post frequently on Facebook (carefully choose the times that your audience are online) so that we are not fully reliant on the adverts, we must start using the other social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram (which are still relatively “pure”) or try to get your fans to sign up for your e-newsletter, which isn’t quite as conversational.

The important thing, however you go about it is that your tribe believe and trust what you are saying to them

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Do we say something?

March 5, 2015

Hear no evil

This is the tricky part …

You feel something has gone wrong, you have been treated unfairly, you have seen someone else being treated badly and they are losing out..

If you open your mouth and complain then you become the ‘pain in the backside‘, the one who always ends up raising the issue, always being troublesome, the one to be avoided in the future.

In some ways maybe you are better off just saying nothing … Let someone else be the one to complain or raise the issue.

We rationalise that maybe that is actually the best approach, bite the lip, say nothing, stay in line and stay in favour, surely someone else will ask the question?

All of us do this all of the time because it makes sense, we think about the bigger picture and we decide to be strategic. Surely this is the best way to win?

Every time we do this someone gets away with something that maybe they shouldn’t and bad practices become a habit – with power and influence on their side bad practice becomes an even bigger habit and it goes on and on.

Jimmy-Savile

Before we know it we are reading awful stories about sweet deals, favours, corruption, embezzlement, back handers and abuse … we read about Jimmy Savile and wonder how could such terrible, shocking things happen. Who is to blame?

When we make a decision to say nothing it becomes all of our fault.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”

Say something ..

Note: After I wrote this post I read an incredible article in the Irish Independent where an Irish educated surgeon, Gabrielle McMullin advises trainee doctors not to report sexual abuse as it could affect their careers. Is she right?

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

Tenders that are anything but

February 19, 2015

Tenders

I’ve had enough ..

The call came through directly to us that we were invited to tender for supplying social media training services across the country for this state body (I won’t mention who it was for the  moment).

Alarm bell number one..

Why wasn’t this put out to tender on the normal etender website I wondered?

I get quite suspicious when this happens – isn’t there a normal procedure for this?

Alarm bell number two..

We received the specification for this training and I was really surprised by how specific it was and by some of the language used. The objective was outlined clearly and it was up to the service providers to provide a solution. The thing is the ‘solution‘ was nearly fully mapped out in the specification.

One of the challenges for us was that the prescribed ‘solution’ would not achieve the required objectives.

We were well qualified to deliver a comprehensive solution for this organisation and we have huge relevant experience in the area so we went about writing a plan. This work took me the best part of a day to complete.

Alarm bell number three..

There was a very unusual item in the specification advising that the provider should budget “in a range of between €21,000 and €24,000“.

Why would a state organisation provide anyone tendering with a price guide? This was particularly surprising when the published ‘marking criteria‘ included cost.

Is it not up to each provider to assess the need and then provide a budget to fulfil this need?

Our proposal ..

We completed our proposal and included a more comprehensive training schedule than what was prescribed in their specification, clearly explaining why less training would not achieve their objectives.

I priced this using our normal rates and I was surprised that despite the heavier workload our budget came in a few thousand under the €21,000 – €24,000 price range as indicated.

We submitted our proposal and crossed our fingers – this was a really well thought out substantial and comprehensive evaluation and training plan.

Just like every proposal you work on, you end up investing your time and a little part of yourself in them and you become hopeful – on this proposal we were definitely hopeful.

Alarm bell number four – time to evacuate the building!!

We received our ‘Dear John‘ letter within days of submitting the proposal and we also received our score compared to the winning proposal based on the evaluation criteria.

On ‘methodology and fit for purpose‘ we scored 1,800 out of 3,000.

Surprise,surprise …the winning provider scored a full 3,000!!

Our methodology took their specification and went deeper and more comprehensive – I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.

A score of 1,800 means we barely know what we are doing ..

On ‘quality and balance of resources proposed‘ we scored 2,800 out of 3,500.

Surprise, surprise (once again!!)…the winning provider scored a full 3,500!!

Wow …they must be brilliant. Like those kids in school who get 100% out of 100% for everything.

The rage was starting to brim over … the cat, the dog, the laptop, the office door – nothing was safe (don’t worry I just cursed a lot!)

On ‘cost‘ we scored 3,500 out of 3,500..Jackpot!

Surprise, surprise …we beat the winning provider because our costs were below what was prescribed in the tender document. My accounting training was starting to pay off!

Rules and regulations..

I feel sorry for the government agencies as they are obliged to put things out to tender even when they might have a preferred provider. This ‘technically‘ means there is always 100% transparency, fairness and honesty and equal opportunity for everyone.

90% of the providers I have met have given up on this tender process because they believe it is a farce and a colossal waste of time and anything but fair.

In the commercial world we can work with whoever we want and when we want even if providers are more expensive – this makes business easy as we can just get on with things and not be forced into a painful ‘tender’ process every single time we want to get our business done.

However, these rules are in place and when these agencies are obliged to put things out to tender this commits anyone (fools like us) who is interested in the work to spend a lot of time working on proposals.

If the process is genuine we will play the game and put our best foot forward and let the best crew win.

When it is not and we are being used unfairly just so that the agency can ‘tick the box‘ on their technical obligations it is a much different manner.

What can we do??

This time I have had enough and I am complaining, freedom of information, the whole nine yards and I don’t care about the consequences.

The dilemma we all have is that ‘we don’t want to be seen as the troublemakers‘ and if we complain then we run the risk of not getting some crumbs from the table down the road.

We pay our taxes, which pays for these state agencies and if these rules are in place I won’t put up with anyone wasting our precious time just so they can tick a box and give the business to their favoured supplier.

I’ll let you know how this one goes…

Update !!

A lot of people have contacted me since I published this post.

Many are irate and have given up on the tender system as they feel it is anything but. Some have criticised me and told me that we are naive to expect any of this to be a chance of winning business – ‘play the game‘ and get in there before things go to tender, which is how you win things I am told.

I desperately want to believe that this system can work fairly and that it is a valid way of winning business.

With that rationale I did officially complain and as expected I didn’t get very far..

There were explanations

Performance – the winning company apparently committed to seven times more activity than what was outlined in the brief. I can’t see how this would be necessary and I struggle to see how the teams would be free to attend that much training. We will keep a careful eye on that one.

Budget – they told me that it is their “normal practice” to give a budget guideline to be fair to everyone tendering. I don’t think I have seen this in a tender, at least not the ones we have entered.

The unexplained

It turns out another company who tendered for the work scored exactly the same as we did on the criteria except for the cost element. An incredible coincidence …what do you think?

They contacted me when they saw this post and have decided not to complain as they want to make sure that they do get those ‘crumbs from the table‘ the next time they might be going.

Maybe they are right!

Next steps .. lets see

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

Launching your Core Values

February 17, 2015

US Marines Core Values

I was having a chat with someone working in one of the large multinationals recently and he was all excited as was telling me about their ‘core values‘.

We launched our core values last week” he explained to me as if he was talking about a new product or a new service.

Wow, that’s interesting!

Were these a new gimmick, something fancy, something that emerged from a brain storm, something that had to be sold to the team?

Your core values are the fundamental beliefs of your organisation. They are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Your core values can help people in your organisation to know what is right from wrong; they can help to determine if you are on the right path and the company is fulfilling its business goals; and they create an unwavering and unchanging guide.

If your ‘core values‘ are something that have to be launched then maybe they aren’t quite as ‘core‘ as you thought..

What are your core values?

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

 

Valentines Day and minimum expectations

February 14, 2015

Romance

As she stepped out of the car she left me with the little bombshell “I hope you have something special organised for Valentine’s Day” ..Dee was half joking of course! (?)

All of a sudden this isn’t about a demonstration of your love, it’s an expectation, a bar, below which you will perish if you fail to do the right things and achieve that minimum standard!

I started thinking..I am on an absolute hiding to nothing here.

All I can do is either disappoint (try to avoid!) or successfully manage to satisfy this ‘expectation’. What can I possibly do to surprise her and make her feel as special as I feel about her on this day ..something beyond “he did what was required“?

To make matters worse I have been so busy with work that I haven’t had two minutes to scratch, think about what I might do and then have the time to actually organise whatever I come up with!!

Isn’t this what it is like with the service we provide our clients? They quite rightfully have a minimum expectation and your first job is making sure that you at least match that – anything less and they are disappointed.

But just like Dee you want to leave them surprised and feeling special and this means doing something that they are not expecting, something that they will really appreciate and show them how much you really care. This is the ‘sweet spot’ where you get to show them that you are quite different than all the other potential ‘lovers’ out there.

Just like Valentines Day it’s a challenge but if you want them to know how special they are you’ve got to dig deep..

Happy Valentines Day x

(My efforts ..I wrote a poem for her card, I bought a single rose, I brought her breakfast, we’ll walk on a beach and after that I will cook dinner …have I done enough?)

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

Following the Reciprocity rules

February 11, 2015

Reciprocity

When you hold the door open for me I say thank you …. I’ll do the same for you

When you leave me out in traffic I acknowledge it …. I’ll do the same for you

When you recommend me or pass me a business lead I thank you … I’ll do the same for you

We pretty much understand how these things work in the ‘real world‘ and we know we should thank and reciprocate where possible.

When these ‘rules‘ aren’t followed it reflects badly on whoever breaks them.

Last time I do a favour for them” you might say to yourself

When someone connects with you or shares a post of yours on LinkedIn say thank you and do the same for them when you get a chance.

When someone retweets something for you acknowledge it and do the same for them when it’s appropriate.

From my experience too many people treat the online world different to the offline world and they forget the normal common courtesies and very quietly they are doing their reputations damage bit by bit.

The rules of reciprocity are powerful (check out Robert Cialdini’s work on the topic) and can work for you or against you.

A favour deserves a thank you and a favour should be reciprocated whenever possible.

Offline or online …. That shouldn’t matter, it’s all your reputation.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Jumping to the wrong conclusion!

February 4, 2015

Man in overalls

My brother-in-law tells me a great story about a day that he was off work to do some painting in the house. He was wearing old clothes as he went about his chores.

Later that day he had to pop over to Douglas on an errand and while over there he popped into a show house in a new housing development that they had been interested in.

He was looking at the new ‘top of the range‘ four bedroom  detached show house. The salesman for the development took one look at him in his scruffy painting gear and without giving him a chance to speak he politely led him out the door and pointed down the street and told him the where the three bedroom semi-detached show house was.

My brother-in-law hopped in his car and headed home to finish his painting..

We should never judge our customer on the first impression..

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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