The conductor and the magic of teamwork

July 19, 2019

Christian Vásquez

We enjoyed a really special evening this week at the Summer Proms with a wonderful performance by the ‘National Youth Orchestra of Ireland‘ at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, who are without doubt a very talented Irish treasure.

What caught my attention particularly on the night was a very clever way of inspiring the many players by the energetic and charismatic conductor, Christian Vásquez from Venezuela

The blurb on the internet describes him as “Renowned for his charismatic stage presence, powerful interpretations and compelling musical integrity“. I got it!

I must own up to my lack of knowledge when it comes to orchestras and the role of the conductor, but if I ever needed someone to bring this to life for me it was during this performance.

The evening was a full symphonic programme made up of:

TCHAIKOVSKY : Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 (Little Russian)
MANUEL DE FALLA : The Three Cornered Hat: Three Dances from Suite No. 2
JOSE PABLO MONCAYO : Huapango
ALBERTO GINASTERA : Dances from Estancia
ARTURO MÁRQUEZ : Danzon nr. 2
ZEQUINHA ABREU : Tico Tico

After the first segment finished the audience applauded to offer their appreciation – Christian the conductor, stepped back into the middle of the orchestra and accepted the applause but then he started to point to some of the individuals in the orchestra gesturing them to stand up and accept particular applause.

He pointed to a drummer at the back, the harpist on the left, a bass player in the middle, a violinist on the right and then a group from each section until all were standing up in unison.

While he ever so slightly embarrassed each of them with this unusual gesture, you could see them beaming with pride amidst their brief moment in the spotlight.

After each musical segment he repeated this gesturing to different individuals and as the night came to the very last sequence nearly everyone in the orchestra had been singled out for individual recognition.

I have no doubt that each player gave a little bit extra, more effort, more emotion, more passion, more verve, and more joy as they played their part on that very last song.

At the very end of the night I saw one of the players wiping his eyes – I am going to assume, these were tears of joy, a night he will never remember.

Getting the most from the talent at your disposal is one of the most important jobs as a manager.

While it is a team effort, taking the time to acknowledge the individuals in your team is one of the greatest things a manager can do. It’s not always easy to do but it always makes a difference and

…you will see the magic in the performance!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

The people we meet everyday that make our world go around!

July 8, 2019

 

O'Conaills Chocolate and Coffee Shop

While we come to work and share that experience with our colleagues (and hopefully that’s a positive one), our lives are filled with a much bigger circle than that, with many different characters all participating in this play!

The neighbours, the bus drivers, the shop keepers, the postman and even the homeless people that you bump into on a regular basis form part of that greater circle that make up our normal routine.

Many of these characters will connect with you and you form relationships with them over time, with lots of surface level banter, but mini relationships all the same, and hopefully one’s that enrich your day and not the opposite.

The characters that work in the local coffee shops meet me a lot as I get my caffeine fix throughout the day, and I find that even in those few minutes when you complete that simple transaction there is an opportunity to connect and brighten each other’s day.

My favourite is O’Conaills Chocolate Shop, which is just around the corner from our Cork office.

I have a little banter with all of the team there but in particular I’ve got to know Julian (from France) and Rachel (from New Zealand) quite well as we swap idle chat about weekend and holiday plans – I miss the banter with the friendly Liv from Ohio who has recently left to continue her world travels!

On a visit a few weeks ago I joked with Julian and Rachel… “is the only thing you two do is bake buns and make coffee?

What do you expect us to do here” they asked and I joked that they could be in a band and play music for customers as they come in!

This week Julian surprised me on my coffee visit when he pulled out a guitar and played a song for me !!

We are all in this life together, going about our business and our lives.

Be nice to everyone you interact with, as it makes for a much more enjoyable life!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Time to calm down folks..

June 9, 2019

Man on bicycle

It was a beautiful, early June Friday morning in Dublin and I decided to walk to my 9:30 am meeting.

The heavy commuter traffic had passed, the sun was shining, there was that happy ‘Friday feeling’ and everything was good in the world.

As I walked along Mount Street in the direction of Merrion Square I approached the traffic lights opposite Holles Street Hospital. I noticed a smartly dressed guy on a black bicycle waiting for the traffic lights to turn green – he was wearing beige chinos and a navy blazer.

Isn’t Dublin a cool, progressive city I thought!

Just as I crossed the lights I heard an out of nowhere angry exchange between the smartly dressed cyclist and someone else. I’m not sure who the other person was as I didn’t want to turn around and admit that this perfect morning could be gatecrashed by pointless, raw aggression between total strangers.

It’s a red light” one voice yelled.

Fuck off” the other one yelled back.

I wasn’t shocked to hear this and I’ve certainly heard a lot worse, but this common “rage” between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists is utterly pointless and beyond stupid.

Why can’t we all just calm down, de-stress, go about our business nicely and respectively and appreciate that we have it good, really good.

We live in a great country (despite some problems) and if our biggest issue is a “competition” between others as we all try to get to where we are going, then we should take a deep breath and think about what real issues might look like.

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

We have two lives & the second one begins when you realise you only have one!

June 4, 2019

Mario de Andrade

This beautiful poem written by Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945), a poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist who was one of the founders of Brazilian modernism, was shared with me by my great friend Fr. John Ahern.

*MY SOUL HAS A HAT*

I counted my years
& realised that I have
Less time to live by,
Than I have lived so far.

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure,
But when he realised that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings where the statutes, rules, procedures & internal regulations are discussed,
knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience
To stand absurd people who,
despite their chronological age,
have not grown up.

My time is too short:
I want the essence,
my spirit is in a hurry.
I do not have much candy
In the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans,
very realistic people who know
How to laugh at their mistakes,
Who are not inflated by their own triumphs
& who take responsibility for their actions.
In this way, human dignity is defended
and we live in truth and honesty.

It is the essentials that make life useful.
I want to surround myself with people
who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life
have learned to grow, with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry.
I’m in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.
I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts.

I am sure they will be exquisite,
much more than those eaten so far.
My goal is to reach the end satisfied
and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives
& the second begins when you realise you only have one.

Send this to all of your middle aged friends!!

…It is forbidden to keep it

Local Elections, old codgers and phone zapping…

May 21, 2019

Old codgers - Inniscarra Bar, Cork

We were in our local, the Inniscarra Bar, one of the most authentic old style pubs you will find in the country, part of that dying breed where the walls will talk warmly to you about everyone who has sat there before you and before them.

It was early on a Saturday evening and we were having a sneaky pint before heading home to cook some grub.

The two old codgers sitting at the bar sipped quietly on their  pints and every now and then there was some chit chat between them. One of the guys had a battle weary black dog with him who was busy going from one patron to the next, sniffing and being friendly.

For some strange reason there was a large election poster leaning up against the wall for one of the local candidates, Shane Fallon. I’m not really sure if this was a practical joke or if it was a serious election tactic by the candidate?!

Out of nowhere the two men got very animated and their conversation got louder and louder..

Those f##king posters are a f##king disgrace and they should be banned as they are ruining the environment

Wow….it went on..

Sure, don’t they have email and don’t they have the internet and..and don’t they have, you know yourself, can’t they just zap phones the way they do?

You are so right, a f##king disgrace!“, followed by lots of huffing and puffing and then back to their pints.

Were they right??  

It’s funny …just a few days beforehand I was standing in front of my Dublin Chamber Council colleagues presenting them an overview of our business sector.

To do this I reached out to many of the member companies, both large and small and looked for their feedback about trends in the sector.

A BIG MESSAGE was that there was a huge shift from traditional media to digital but this was loaded with a gentle warning that clients need to be very careful not to put all of their eggs into this one channel as you just won’t reach your audience in a way that your message will land.

As I walked back from the pub I noticed all of the election posters – who do I like the look of?

When I pushed opened the front door open I looked at the flyers that had been pushed through the letter box – who are you and what are you promising?

And if I believe you really care about the location I do expect you to knock on my door and chat to me.

I tweeted three of the candidates who had dropped in their literature and two responded. One just took herself out of the running!

It’s great that the old codgers got so animated about the environment (there probably should be a limit to how many they put up), but unfortunately a candidate who relies only on email (GDPR has that one squeezed to death!!) and zapping phones (I’m taking this to mean social media) will not be successful.

The candidates need to integrate their social media with their traditional media and however they manage it, they need to be recognised, liked and if possible connect in some real way with the voters.

Get out and vote this Friday!!

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

More beautiful music please..

May 14, 2019

Cork Youth Orchestra

It was another magical night in Cork as we watched the superb Cork Youth Orchestra perform with Altan and the Lee Singers at the majestic City Hall.

The performance by the orchestra was just spell bounding as we watched 128 talented young musicians play together, powerfully and passionately conducted by Tomás McCarthy.

It was moving, watching the different sections of the orchestra playing together, creating powerful, beautiful, uplifting music and I was reflecting on the huge feat that we were witnessing, the seamless coordination of so many young talented musicians.

Cork Youth Orchestra

There is huge credit to the conductor, the musicians and the proud parents who all played their role and while we just turned up to experience the special performance on the night, I can only imagine the amount of hard work and countless hours that must have gone into what we were witnessing.

You could feel the huge sense of togetherness on the night and you knew this was the magic ingredient, because without this togetherness the uplifting performance would not have happened.

It made me think about how much we can create and how much we can achieve when we come together with a beautiful, common goal.

I took a photo during the performance and at the interval I opened up Twitter to tweet about the magical evening.

As I was about to post I spotted a jarring tweet about a bombing in Pakistan, where gunmen had forced their way into a hotel and started shooting indiscriminately, leaving four hotel employees and a Pakistan Navy soldier dead. Six others were injured.

How can we come together and achieve such beautiful things and how can we be consumed by so much hatred that we can kill others?

More music please…

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Magic Ingredients of Winning!

May 8, 2019

Liverpool FC Barcelona celebrations

While I am basking in the most beautiful feeling of my team, Liverpool FC, once again pulling off another, monumental, miraculous performance to win against incredible odds against Barcelona it’s worth thinking about some of the factors why and maybe we can all take some lessons from it.

Everyone Matters

The team that went out on the pitch to face the mighty Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world wasn’t the first choice team. Many of the star names were missing and those who stepped in, players who have been pretty much second choice all season did a superb job.

…some of your team might surprise you when you ask them to step up.

Karma

At times the wonderful Barcelona were very cynical including the former Liverpool player Luis Suarez. He deliberately injured the Liverpool left back Andy Robertson, which meant he couldn’t play in the second half. His replacement scored two goals!

Philippe Countinho, the wonderful Brazilian midfielder, another former Liverpool player had an awful night. When he was with Liverpool he downed tools at a critical time to agitate for a dream move to Barcelona.

…play a good fair game, do your work ethically and honestly. It will come back in your favour.

Attitude

Jurgen Klopp, the manager from heaven always has a positive, beaming smile and an infectious enthusiasm and passion. Before this game he encouraged the team to go out and enjoy the special occasion, do what you can but make sure you enjoy it. I thunk they did just that!!

..work hard to instil a positive attitude in your team

Belief

No matter what, you have to believe that anything is possible. Jurgen told the team that he thought the task of turning around a 3-0 deficit was impossible but……he also told them that if anyone could this group of players could. They came out on the pitch believing.

…make sure your team know how great they are and believe in their capability

Morale

It is as clear as day that the morale in this team is incredible – there is a bond that has them fighting for each other and this is obvious in their behaviours, their celebrations and their social media posts.

…morale is a precious intangible, work on it

Confidence

That fragile thing, confidence. When you win and keep winning you feel unbeatable, invincible. When the opposite happens you can crumble. The best of us can lose confidence and this can happen when just a few things go against you. Understanding how this works and how you manage it is key.

…keep doing the right thing and have faith, it will bring you results

Liverpool v Barcelona

Resilience

When this team goes behind, when they get beaten they have a resilient mind, they can resist the negative feelings and believe that they have the quality to recover.

…you don’t lose, you learn for the next time. There is always a next time

Experience

There are older players who just add an extra grit and steel and maturity to the team. James Milner, that older head, who somehow manages to outrun and outfight many of the younger players can bring something special from the whole group.

…have a little thought about the older codgers like me and for the older codgers, never underestimate your value to the team

Youth

While the old guys play a valuable part the young guys can also bring freshness, vitality and quality to the team and somehow they are not out of place, even in a red hot, pressure pot atmosphere. Well done Trent and Andy Robertson!

…nurture the freshness and energy that youth brings and support them to thrive

Quality

While attitude and heart and soul will get you so far, you do need to have quality in your team. Liverpool paid big money to bring in a goalkeeper and a central defender in the last year and this quality with the right attitude makes an essential difference

…do what you can to entice the good guys and gals and what you can to hold onto them

Values and Expectations 

Some of the new players took a while to become part of this team – until they get the Liverpool way and understand what is expected of them, and can be relied to do it, they are not allowed on the pitch

…take the time with everyone you introduce to your team to ensure they get your culture and values

Quick thinking

Trent Alexexander Arnold, the young 20 year old from Liverpool gave a lesson in always being alert and looking for opportunities. When everyone else was doing the expected and taking a while to get organised for a corner, just like they do each week he spotted that they weren’t paying attention, they weren’t ready.

His alert mind spotted the gap, a momentary lapse of concentration and before anyone knew it a spontaneous, unplanned perfect ball was passed in and Liverpool had their winner, 4-0!!

…stay alert to opportunities, and encourage everyone to act on them

Staying Calm

Even under pressure you need to stay calm, even when things are going wrong, even in an intense atmosphere. Liverpool have learnt how to stay calm.

…count to 10, count to 20

Training and Hard work

Followers of Liverpool know that the pre-season training is intense and it is all about preparing the team for a gruelling season. The team work hard, run hard and more than opponents, put the opposition under pressure constantly and this takes fitness as well as hard work.

…train your team and work hard!

Learning 

Each year Klopp has learnt how to improve in a demanding English league and also how to manage a European campaign. In his first two seasons the hectic Christmas period seemed to wear his team out, which always resulted in a barren spell. He also struggled to manage both competitions. He has adapted the style of play as he has progressed and it is working!

…constantly review what you are doing, learn and adapt.

Digging Deep

When your back is against the wall you need to be able to dig deep, really deep to cope. He has “dig deepers” in this team, who keep producing the goods. Digging deep is now a habit, a hard habit to break!

…make sure you acknowledge when members of your team dig deep and how much you value it

Habits

It’s so important to get into really great, positive habits. Winning is a habit, just like hard work and always doing the right thing is a habit.

…identify the habits, the metrics that are needed to deliver success and make sure the team know and understand them

Enjoyment!

Klopp preaches to his team to enjoy their football, he preaches to the fans to enjoy the football, even the matches that seem impossible. His smile shows us that he believes it.

…work should be fun and not all serious, enjoy the experience

Management 

Jurgen Klopp manages this team, those regular players and the non regulars, the youth coming though as well as his backroom team, everyone playing their part together.

The other critical part that he manages is the crowd – he is a master of bringing them with him and showing how much and needed their support is, and the very special role that they play in generating a winning atmosphere and even more important, avoiding a negative atmosphere.

…pay attention to your team. look after them and that special dynamic

Support

Jurgen Klopp says that the incredible win would not have been possible without the support of the crowd. Not only does he bring the crowd with him and earns their support but he does the same with the players who aren’t on the pitch and the former players.

…start with you, support those around you and encourage your team to do the same

Communications

While we are talking about our industry, Klopp is a master of communications.

When he came to Liverpool, in his very first press conference he said that he would convert the fans from “Doubters to Believers‘ and in a sweep he not only won the support of every single fan but he also started a very clever process of communicating what the role of “supporters” is and the power of believing.

He is a brilliant communicator, carefully weaving his messages, carefully avoiding certain topics – he is a master!

…learn how to be a great communicator (we can help!!)

Now, enough of this blog post…back to basking!!

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

The girl in the coffee shop!

April 16, 2019

Coffee

I couldn’t help but notice the girl waiting on her coffee this morning.

She was perfectly turned out, beige coat, black boots, hair tied up and perfect makeup but you could sense her tension – there was no one ahead of her and no one behind her. It was just her and the girl who was serving her.

There wasn’t a smile, not a word of chat, just a series of deep breaths and sighs as she went though the “painful” process of ordering her coffee, waiting for it and paying for it.

This “intimate” transaction happened quickly, and without a word she was on her way with her coffee and into the passenger seat of a car that was waiting outside for her.

It’s Tuesday morning and I have no idea who she is or what her life must be like but this is not a good start to the day.

Smile, say hello, wake up and ….smell the coffee!

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Ethics of Business?

April 15, 2019

This was an impressive new venture with some good backers and people involved.

Let’s take the meeting.

These guys were launching a new App and they needed a Marketing and PR Plan to help them – we had our briefing meeting with them, getting stuck into the detail so that we had a deep understanding of their requirements.

We did our research and the team went to work developing a detailed plan for them, one which would achieve their objectives.

We met the guys and presented our plan, which they loved and they gave us the green light to proceed.

We were thrilled with the client win and to be working on such a new and exciting venture, so we handed it to our accounts guy to draw up the contract and ‘lock in’ invoicing and payment arrangements.

Problem!!

The guys would not be in a position to pay the monthly bill on receipt of an invoice at the end of the month as their funding would not be through at that stage. They would not be in a position to pay for three months.

This was really disappointing as it was the first time we heard that there would be an issue with payment. It strangely never came up in the briefing meeting!

Solution – At this stage we had a lot of work done, we were really enthusiastic about the project so as long as funds could be guaranteed we would live with the delay.

Problem number 2 !!

The guys now shared with us that funds were not in place and they were still in a pitching phase, so three months was just an estimate, which they were quite confident about but they could not guarantee with any certainty.

Solution 2 – Taking a huge leap of faith in them we offered to proceed with the work as long as we would get a Personal Guarantee to ensure that we would be paid.

What do you think happened next?

It turns out that these guys were not prepared to provide us with a personal guarantee and instead wanted us to bear all of the risk of our arrangement with them.

In effect they were quite happy entering an arrangement with us knowing that there was a good chance we would not get paid for months or at all.

Furthermore, it turns out they were hoping that we would have more faith in their project than they had themselves so as you can imagine we had no option but to walk away from the work, despite having done lots at this stage.

Ethics?

You meet all types in business but you do hope that the vast majority of them will be honest and honourable and you have to try your best to protect yourself to ensure that you don’t fall prey to the chancers, and we have met quite a few in our time.

The really worrying aspect to this “transaction” was that these young guys who are starting out on their entrepreneurial journey with credible backers/advisors, already have a belief that this is all a game and a perfectly acceptable way to deal with people.

This might be the way that new business is now being conducted but..

Don’t be anyone’s fool..

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

When losing is winning!

March 21, 2019

Nelson Mandela - Winning and Learning

A really big potentially lucrative and very complex prospect came our way and like every prospect you must assess how much time and work you need to put into the plan between the:

  • Initial briefing
  • Background research
  • Brainstorming ideas and approaches
  • Writing the plan
  • Getting it ready visually
  • Rehearsing the pitch
  • Presenting the plan to the prospect

This one was really big and our ambitious team decided to go for it and they dug very deep spending days and nights working on the plan until the day came to present.

A big challenge here is that this work must happen alongside the normal client work, which helps to keep the lights on after all!

Apparently of the five agencies that were invited to pitch, two had withdrawn from the process and we were one of three who were remaining.

Our guys made their presentation, which they felt went really well so their confidence levels were up and then the anxious waiting and very painful period begins.

A strange thing happens when these prospects come to you – at the beginning it is a simple case of ‘will we or won’t we‘ and other than the possibility of a new client there is no emotional investment at this time.

At the point of presenting when you have poured heart and soul as well as bucket loads of time you are totally invested in the result with a huge emotional investment in the result.

The news came though via a very polite call from the prospect…

We didn’t win, we came a close second!!

We were the personal choice of the person who called us but someone more senior voted for another service provider, a mammoth of the consulting world.

While this was a disappointing loss in particular for those in the core team who worked on it, I explained to them genuinely that I believed it was really a win.

Nelson Mandela made a famous quote: “I never lose, I either win or I learn

Taking Mandela’s inspirational quote we did learn but we also won – our team had a chance to demonstrate two of our Core Values, they were Ambitious and they were Brave, they had the opportunity to showcase the deep expertise in our team and they had the joy of working closely together, even when there was a good chance the odds were stacked against us.

On our Fuzion Friday (we go for lunch every Friday with the team) we toasted our Dig Deepers, our true winners!

Bravely onto the next big challenge…

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland