Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Pushing out to the edges..

February 7, 2021

Dave Grohl

I was reading an interview in the Irish Times weekend Magazine with the singer/songwriter and guitarist of the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl where he was chatting about their new album, ‘Medicine at Midnight‘.

The band are a few decades into their career and Dave had also been the drummer with Nirvana, and just 25 years old when that band finished due to the death of Kirk Cobain. I wonder did he play that famous gig in Sir Henry’s in Cork – were you there?

The Foo Fighters are a huge band and they have a big following and with each new album there must be a pressure to stick to the “winning formula” and style that has earned them so many loyal fans, or do they refresh, reinvent, reinvigorate and go down new paths, that could be quite risky musically and commercially.

In the interview Dave says “You have to feel comfortable and confident enough to push out to the edges a little bit every time you do it – otherwise it’s just not fun, it’s just not exciting

My question for you is – is this just the privilege of musicians, writers and artists to think like this?

Is it just these types of people that can have that luxury of “pushing what they do out to the edges” just because life gets boring and less fun, or can that thinking apply to all of us?

This life of ours isn’t a rehearsal. and we do owe it to ourselves to “push out to the edges” – of course we have to pay the bills, but we can also refresh, reinvent, reinvigorate and explore some new paths.

The opposite is just too big a price to pay..

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Landing on the Zoom!

January 11, 2021

Landing on the moon

Happy New Year to you!!

As we start into a second full working week of the new year amidst a severe lockdown and an even more severe pandemic with outrageous Covid case numbers it looks like we need to remain on the Zoom for a while longer!

While we barely knew anything about this incredibly powerful communication tool this time last year and most likely had never used it, it’s amazing how quickly it has become a way of life.

Before this year I hated any visual meetings online, and part of that was the clunky software (I’m amazed how Skype never became more intuitive) and the unreliable performance.

I’m not sure if it was lucky timing, but when Covid sent us home in March it seemed to be Zoom or Microsoft Teams in pole position, and very quickly Zoom took a lead and became the standard, the easy one to use and before we knew it, the one most of us were using.

Even now, when I get an invite to a meeting or a webinar I find myself groaning when it is something other than Zoom, because now in this impatient age of ours we want to go click click click and we are in, 100% at ease and knowing what we are doing.

And since March, Zoom have been clever and we have seen better security and new features – I am now using it for meetings, and in Fuzion we have used it for events, training, webinars and workshops, complete with breakout rooms (another great feature), Q&A sessions and polls.

For training purposes alone it has been transformational – we quickly adapted and with a few little tricks of the trade (and humour) you can have a really engaging session with all participants.

I have also been using it for recording my podcasts and as long as the broadband is ok, it has been fantastic!

Making it work for you

Deirdre, the founder of Fuzion  wrote a really excellent blog post early on last year about online meeting etiquette, and it gives some great tips about how you present yourself online and since then I wanted to add a few more tips as we get into even more of the subtleties.

Your Name

When you join the online meeting make sure that your name is right (proper spelling, use capital first letter for first name and surname- even if you are using someone else’s account you can rename yourself on entry) and maybe even consider adding your company name.

If it is a meeting with people from a number of different organisations or departments then make it easy for the others.

Who is in the Spotlight?

When the numbers of participants are high during a meeting then “spotlight” the speaker/speakers as it makes it much easier to see who the speakers are and it makes the session more interesting – even when they are screen sharing you can see just them as they present, instead of everyone.

This is a great feature in Zoom.

Meeting Room message!

As part of the improved Zoom security measures most people will end up in a “meeting room” before being left into the session – there is a facility in your settings to customise the message people will see while waiting in your room. Why not customise and add a little humour!

Where are you on the screen?

My own team just throw their eyes up to heaven (or wherever they like to go!) when I start to ask them where I am on their screen, as part of a silly game we play to break the lockdown monotony. On a serious note I do believe that where you are on the screen can be important.

If you are on the top row (having followed all of the other tips about looking good etc) you are probably better off than being on the bottom row when it comes to being noticed and gaining attention.

The first on the Zoom call occupy that space, and as long as you don’t turn off your video during the session for some reason you will stay in pole position!

For all of the tips and tricks that we have spoken about, and for all of the Zoom learning that we should have on board at this stage I am still amazed how many presenters are still not set up properly and we end up looking up their nose for the duration of their presentation.

..make sure that’s not you!

If you do land on the Zoom make sure you make a great impression!

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

Dangerous People!

December 14, 2020
Dangerous People !

Don’t you just hate those “dangerous people” who come to meetings because

– they ask the question you hope no one asks

– they don’t just go with the flow and nod their head politely at what is being said

– they are there to fulfil a role and not to be popular with the group

– through their actions they encourage others to speak their mind

– they provide another point of view and quite possibly an inconvenient one

– they can make you feel uncomfortable

– they might take the meeting in an unplanned direction

– they could cause the meeting to run over

– they might just result in making more work for everyone

Next time you have a meeting where you really want to trash out an issue, hold people accountable, get alternative views and maybe even arrive at a much better conclusion, make sure you have a dangerous person in the room..

Of course if you want an easy life..

Greg

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

Grrrrrr…..Great Presentation

May 31, 2020

Bert

This week in the middle of the Covid lockdown we found ourselves presenting to a really great prospect, one of those who was thankfully staying positive at this time and looking for ways to engage with their target audiences.

We had a briefing meeting with them before the lockdown, we got a really deep understanding of their business and the challenges, we brainstormed with the team and we had written a good solid plan with a mix of tactics and some new initiatives that would deliver their objectives.

As with all other meetings at this time we were presenting to the prospect via Zoom with me in my room (the kitchen!), Deirdre in hers (the music room), one of the other team members in their home and the prospect in theirs.

Little does anyone know, but when Dee starts work each day in this lockdown period the two dogs, Honey and Bert wait patiently and when she heads into the room to take her space on the couch, each of them follows suit and chooses a space at either side of her and relaxes for the day, not making a peep except for the intrusion of the postman or delivery man – little Bert lets them know in no uncertain terms that he is the “protector” of this house!

At this stage the two dogs have sat through numerous team meetings, webinars, client presentations and I believe they are the first dogs to attend the Cork Chamber board meeting – that took 200 years to happen!

Anyhow, we were presenting to this prospect and Dee with buckets of professionalism and enthusiasm led the charge through the very detailed proposal – the problem as we saw it, the tactics that we were recommending that should be employed and the “BIG Driving Idea” that we felt would really make this business stand out.

As Dee presented the “BIG idea” she was getting very enthusiastic and animated and as one does her hands were moving accordingly.

Just like the prospect, I and my other colleague were watching Dee on screen and listening to her but we could both hear a very definite “Grrrrrrrrr….. sound”, which was quite unusual.

It was Bert, our gorgeous rescue dog who without doubt was walloped badly in the early stages of his life and since then he gets very protective when he sees hands coming over him.

Dee, quite oblivious because she was lost in the presentation continued with her enthusiastic delivery and again we heard another very definite “Grrrrrr……“.

At this point I had to tell Dee to stop moving her hands around as poor Bert who was alongside her, out of screen shot, could be heard quite clearly pitching in!!

The prospect didn’t mind at all, and if anything it made everything a little more real and genuine.

This Covid lockdown time has been quite unusual and it has asked a lot from all of us. It has made us all very far apart, and in very strange ways it has also brought us very close together, maybe too close!

A big thanks to that prospect, to our team and to everyone else, who despite the awful circumstances made a decision to drive forward and still do positive things when the opposite could have been the easiest thing to do.

During the last recession I found myself using this word a lot….#Positivity

It’s time to get back to it!

Greg

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

 

 

 

When ‘How About’ and ‘Why Not’ come together

December 21, 2019

Emerald Ivory at The White Horse

A really talented musician said “How about” to a bunch of talented musicians who answered “Why not” to an idea about performing classic Irish songs together

Someone said “How about” doing a gig before Christmas at the venue Upstairs at the The White Horse Bar and Restaurant in Ballincollig, Cork and someone said “Why not“.

I saw the gig listing when trying to figure out something special to do belatedly for our wedding anniversary (too busy with client events!) and asked Dee “How about” and she said “Why not“.

Needless to say the debut gig of Emerald Ivory was really special and we had a great night.

To do anything new and discover magic in life we need two essential ingredients:

Someone to ask “How about

and someone to say “Why not“.

Are you one of those people?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing 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

 

Sumud and jumping off the busy “Wheel of Life” with Mick Hannigan, Co-Director of the Indie Cork Film Festival

August 19, 2018

Mick Hannigan

When I sat down to record an episode of the Fuzion Win Happy podcast, with Mick Hannigan, Co-Director of the Indie Cork Film Festival the conversation turned up many surprises, as these chats always do!

Sumud

The first thing that I learnt was that Mick was just after returning from a three month stint volunteering in the West Bank, organised by The Quakers.

He was more than surprised to find himself up a mountain in a place called Yatta (Hebron) herding a small flock sheep with a shepherd – this was just one of his duties as an international monitor in this troubled area.

He witnessed many things in his time there, including many experiences that would leave him with hope, or Sumud as they would say in Arabic.

Since I took a job in an accountancy office in the South Mall, in 1982 as a seventeen year old I have never stepped off that wheel of working – Would you step off your busy ‘Wheel of Life’ and volunteer for three months and really make a difference?

Listen to Mick’s experience in the West Bank by clicking here.

Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

30 Years Talent Spotting

Mick grew up in Blackpool in Cork, had a fun childhood but didn’t like seeing his classmates getting beaten in school.

His colourful life took him to a punk era London in the seventies and then with a few more years under his belt and more maturity he returned to Cork to complete his education in UCC.

Voluntary roles in the Quay Co-op and the Triskel, eventually led to a role as Director of the Cork Film Festival, which he held for 27 years.

His acrimonious removal from this role that he was passionate about, hurt deeply, but eventually he picked himself up, he dug deep and was instrumental in creating the Indie Cork Film Festival, which is now in it’s 6th year.

He carefully followed the ownership model of Cork City FC to ensure that some of the “politics” that he feels affected his previous organisation would not be allowed to reoccur at the Indie Cork Film Festival.

For Mick both of these roles allow his passion for spotting Irish film talent to flourish, and allow a Cork and Irish audience the chance to enjoy something special every year – thank you Mick!

When you get kicked do you have the resilience to pick yourself up and stay on your chosen course?

Click here to listen to Part 2 of our chat with the very special Mick Hannigan.

Greg 

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

 

 

 

Tommy Doyle – How to be a winner?

March 19, 2018

Tommy Doyle celebrates with Mick O'Dwyer

In 1993 at the age of 28, I was appointed General Manager of a Guinness owned drinks company called Deasy & Co. We were a wholesaler, supplying beer and soft drinks to pubs, off licences and shops in Cork and Kerry as well as manufacturing our own soft drinks.

We had a distribution depot in Cork city and a distribution depot and manufacturing operation in Clonakilty in West Cork.

At this point in time I had been the Financial Controller for nearly four years and I’ll admit that I was starting to get very bored as I was just repeating myself each year and I needed a new challenge. When asked would I take on the role of General Manager it was huge for me and it opened up a new exciting career path for me.

One of my first big tasks as GM was to appoint a Sales Manager and I recruited from our own team of sales reps.

I appointed a guy called Tommy Doyle who was working with us for about a year at this stage. Tommy had moved from Tralee to Cork to work with us and he had a big reputation as a Kerry GAA football star.

Being quite honest, I never had much interest in GAA, so I didn’t quite appreciate that Tommy had won seven senior All-Ireland medals with Kerry and the depth of character that it takes for such a monumental achievement.

I quickly saw this when Tommy took on the sales manager role and watched his hard work, total commitment, drive, determination, incredible focus, teamwork and motivation transform the performance of our team of nine sales reps, which led to huge company performance.

Since those days in Deasy’s I worked with Tommy again in other roles and witnessed further success. He has since moved onto general management positions, and has with no surprise been successful in various industries.

He is now the General Manager of the Kinsale Bay Food Company, a successful business in the very competitive food sector in Ireland. The company, based in Cork produce a wide range of award winning, quality gluten free  products, which can be found in the multiples as well as artisan stores throughout Ireland.

Time and time again I have seen this very special, highly driven man achieve huge success in every role that he has taken on.

During the ‘Beast from the East‘ recently when we were all housebound I managed to grab Tommy (he lives close by!) for over an hour, with the help of a bottle of red wine (it had to be Michel Lynch for nostalgic reasons) to find out what you need to do to win your first All-Ireland medal, what it takes to win seven and how these winning attributes transfer so effectively to the business world.

Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

I captured this, some fascinating insights into the legendary Kerry manager, Mick O’Dwyer and much more in a special episode of the Fuzion Win Happy podcast.

If you have the time click the link above and enjoy.

A big thank you to my great buddy Tommy Doyle for his friendship and for some valuable lessons he has taught me since 1993!

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

Tommy has turned out to be one of my best buddies

Is age diversity the biggest opportunity?

October 28, 2017

Fintech 20

I was thrilled to be the moderator on one of the discussion panels at the fantastic FinTech conference at UCD organised by Simon Cocking and his team from Irish Tech News.

There are clearly many opportunities in this dynamic sector and the jam packed agenda featured startups in the space, established businesses, financiers and angel investors as well as sponsors with a vested interest in the sector.

One of the observations that was made on the day was (as usual) about the gender mix in the room, which was I’m guessing, about 75/25% male versus female.

This probably reflects the tech sector generally as it just seems to attract more males than females – the event was a free to attend event.

Mary McKenna, an Angel Investor and a great person into bargain, shared her philosophy about how she chooses projects to invest in. While the project or idea always has to be great and have an element of ‘doing good’ she looks for great, committed people in that business to drive it forward.

Her other critical criteria is that the founders must be female!

A few (including me!) immediately questioned her logic for taking this position – were females better, could they be trusted more, did they bring special qualities to the table? Why Mary??

Mary’s answer was really simple – it’s my money and I can do what I want with it. I’m choosing to invest in females and that’s that! There was a collective shrug of the shoulders in the auditorium. Fair enough….

Mary might miss out on great projects and bigger opportunities, that also do good because of her narrow criteria, but it is her money and her prerogative.

If the gender equality police had their way this would be a crime – if it was a stated preference for male founders I’m guessing there would be total outrage!! (equality must play both ways people).

Age Diversity

On one of the panels, which was discussing the challenge of attracting talent, inevitably the topic of male versus female was raised. One of the panellists changed the diversity focus to age instead of gender, which they felt was a more relevant one worthy of more discussion.

To emphasise the point he went on to explain a recent recruitment experience that he had in their company. He was explaining the value of recruiting older people instead of the obsession about millennials – recently they employed an older person and I sat up to hear a little more…

Someone in their sixties maybe? – he was trying to make a point, after all.

It was someone in their forties!!

As a 52 year old I was shifting uneasily in my seat as I reckoned if I was not self employed, many would not even consider me for a job.

I’ve been seeing quite a few revealing articles on this topic recently – one in particular makes some great arguments for the importance of age diversity in business,

An article on the Chron, tech website says: “Companies that employ workers in wide ranges of age have the advantage of creating a dynamic, multi-generational workforce — with a diverse range of skill sets — that is beneficial to the company”

Specifically they list the following advantages:

Diverse Skill Sets – Each age group brings their own unique skills and talents. Young employees are likely to have a strong grasp on the use of high-tech business mediums and more mature professionals often have exceptional interpersonal skills and perform well in environments where traditional in-person communication is used.

Technology – While the younger generation have grown up with technology all generations are using it.

Business Skills – Just as younger generations are credited with having good working knowledge of business technology, more mature members of a workforce have the advantage of traditional business skills.

Mentoring – Employees of all ages have the opportunity to teach, share and learn from one another.

Continuity – A mix of maturity and experience with the vitality, energy and rawness of youth is likely to create a strong mix that ensures a strong identity and culture that protects continuity of the business

So..while we are all getting quite obsessed about the boys versus girls, please don’t forget about the old fogies in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond – we have a lot to offer!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

Making sure that ‘Great Taste’ is never lost

August 3, 2017

The Great Taste awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world are organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

They are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink, and when a consumer sees the Great Taste logo on an item it is a sign that they will be buying a great tasting product.

This year (2017) Food and drink producers entered 12,300 products with 4,347 earning 3, 2 and 1 star ratings of which 444 originated from Ireland.

Overall just 165 products earned a 3 Star rating and 1,011 a 2 star rating with Irish products well represented in both of these categories.

PatWhelan, james Whelan Butchers - Great Taste Awards

The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the International Park Lane Hotel, London on the 4 September.

Great Taste, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their packaging, wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. Furthermore the judges have no idea the price that these products normally retail at.

It’s all about the taste!

The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1, 2, or 3 star award.

As you can imagine the judging panel is very illustrious and this year it included; chef, food writer and author, Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, author and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker, Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners and will finally agree on the 2017 Top 50 Foods, which will be announced in August, with the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2017 Supreme Champion unveiled on the 4th September.

Just Taste!

Judging the food and drink products on their taste seems very fair and as you would expect – the packaging and branding is removed so that the judges are able to experience the products in their pure, true state, without any interference or bias.

Sunnes Stores - Sticky Toffee Pudding

When do we ever, truly taste anything?

The minute that award winning cake goes into a wrapper, it changes the taste for the consumer.

  • Once we see the packaging, the colours, the type of paper and the visuals, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see the brand name, it changes the taste.
  • Once we read where the product is made and we see the ingredients, it changes the taste.
  • Once the product is placed in a retail outlet, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see where it is placed in the store, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see some POS and the product displayed on a promotional stand, it changes the taste.
  • Once a price is put on the product, it changes the taste.
  • When the product is on special offer, it changes the taste.
  • When a well dressed sampling person invites you to taste a thumbnail of the product, it changes the taste.
  • When we see that the brand is endorsed by a well known personality, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a newspaper, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a glossy magazine, it changes the taste
  • When a respected food journalist tells you the product is superb, it changes the taste.
  • When we open the pack at home and we are in a great mood, it changes the taste.

Today’s consumer is influenced by everything they see, hear and taste. We are also influenced by a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, by our peers and we all carry with us a lorry load of biases.

With great products our job and the job of everyone else in the chain that brings the product to the consumer, is to make sure that person can actually ‘taste’ the product.

The Great Taste Awards and that big round logo that you will see on products will also help!

Congratulations to two of our clients, James Whelan Butchers and Simply Better by Dunnes Stores who scooped up Great Taste Awards, once again this year.

James Whelan Butchers are Great Taste 3-star winners with their Pork Lard, a natural and clear lard made from slowly rendered back fat, with a “fabulous long lasting and clean pork flavour” – it’s all about taste!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland