Posts Tagged ‘Fuzion Communications’

The special gift of music – the playlist with Declan Murphy of THE 4 OF US

March 30, 2021

Music has played a special role in my life, ever since a Spanish student that was staying with us one summer in 1977 and he had brought his tape recorder and a selection of his favourite albums.

I spent weeks, night after night listening to bands like ELO, Supertramp and the wonderful Lou Reed and I was hooked.

The first proper album I bought for myself was The Boomtown Rats debut album, while I was staying with my aunt and uncle for a few days in Dungarvan when I was 13.

My first concert was Thin Lizzy at the City Hall in Cork when I was just 14, quickly followed by Eric Clapton and then Rory Gallagher.

As well as being an avid collector I ended up doing some work with local bands for a short while and even though I never managed to fulfil my dream of working in a record company, I did mange to fulfil another one, which was owning my own record stores in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin. They were called BlackTrack.

I still buy music the whole time, but I do think you can miss a trick and never listen to some gems, so at the beginning of this lockdown 2021, I decided to brighten my year and expand my collection by asking the wonderful, Declan Murphy, songwriter and guitarist with one of my favourite bands, THE 4 OF US to pick out his favourite 12 albums, one for each month of the year.

He shared his list with me on the Win Happy podcast as well as having a big chat about his love of music, the joy of collecting music, the band and his fascinating story.

The conversation ended up being a huge one that stretched over three parts and he totally cheated by managing to squeeze in 16 classic albums. Even though I have a big collection, I was surprised that I just had two of his 16 – in the meantime I’ve managed to get hold of the other 14 and am loving each and every single one of them.

He was very gracious and didn’t include any of the THE 4 OF US albums, he could have as they are all brilliant.

Let me know if you agree with his choices.. 

As I say, enjoy the show!

Part 1 : Must listen to music to brighten up 2021!

Part 2: Its just too personal to me

Part 3: Happy Accidents

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

St. Patrick’s Day and looking in the Covid rear view mirror

March 18, 2021

So, the ISAG (Independent Scientific Advocacy Group) last December were advocating for an approach (mostly known as Zero Covid), that they said would have us out of lockdown and enjoying some return to freedom on St. Patrick’s Day.

They were talking about a similar approach to how New Zealand had dealt with Covid, whereby we could potentially be enjoying a mask free life in our country, meeting friends, eating in restaurants, drinking in pubs, celebrating our special national day and most importantly getting “Back to Normal”.

I myself was a big advocate for the approach they were taking, as I believed it made total sense and was the only way for us to get out of our grave situation with minimum loss of life, health, jobs, damage to the economy and mental health.

I went as far as blogging about it, tweeting about it and even giving their team some pro-bono strategic guidance about their communications – we even did some design work to help simplify their messaging. I am not involved now, but I do support what they are doing.

Note: I was quiet surprised at the abuse I took in some quarters for supporting that approach and was even targeted by the “brilliant” Gript crew (…very strange). The “we are all in this together” horse bolted in April 2020 and still hasn’t come back!

On one hand we can now throw our eyes up to heaven and say the ISAG crew were talking rubbish and isn’t where we are right now proof that they were totally wrong

OR ..we can now look back and say they were spot on all along, and if only we had done what they said then, we would be in a pub with a creamy pint of Murphy’s toasting our national day and the end to the hardship we have all endured at varying levels.

So…were they right or were they wrong?

Let’s take a look..

What they were advocating for was:

  • An aggressive suppression of the virus by going into a sharp, decisive lockdown
  • Quarantining all visitors to the country for two weeks to ensure those entering were not introducing even more Covid and possible new variants
  • Some cooperation with Northern Ireland (who were in a worse mess at the time) about people moving between jurisdictions
  • An effective contact tracing regime to focus in on any cases that happen
  • A sensible opening up of the country on a county by county basis

While all of this initial effort seemed very extreme, a sacrifice by the population for two months or so could have us in a much better, enjoyable place for 2021 while we all waited for vaccines.

Initially many of the usual suspects argued that this “Zero Covid” crew were a bit nuts and what was being suggested just wasn’t possible here – as I said I took a small amount of that abuse for my small part in advocating for the approach.

When we look at what has happened since then until this St. Patrick’s Day (our supposed “freedom” day):

  • We came out of the October/November lockdown when there were still too many cases in the community (we stupidly allowed schools to stay open despite outbreaks)
  • We never controlled international travel or the border with the North
  • Christmas shopping and entertaining kicked in
  • The UK variant came to Ireland with all of the thousands of people returning home for Christmas and….

BOOM !!!

We had an explosion of Covid with an incredible amount of cases and the inevitable deaths that followed.

Suddenly that aggressive and inevitable lockdown was needed and there was no issue with the general public, we knew it was necessary and with that more and more people were seeing the sense that the ISAG crew were advocating for, except instead of a “hill” of Covid cases in the community that we needed to suppress it was suddenly a colossal “mountain”.

OK, we could still do what the ISAG were suggesting, but the scale of the problem meant the St. Patrick’s Day target was now unrealistic, but instead a few weeks later if we did the right thing.

What did we actually do?

  • We took the tough lockdown on the chin, including home schooling (sensible and necessary) – the only exception is that the lockdown period needed to be longer (how long will it be?)
  • And…a token effort to restrict “unnecessary” travel (as we know there are still thousands travelling each week unnecessarily)
  • And….despite the talk about hotel quarantining we still haven’t managed to put an arrangement in place
  • And….schools will return and the community spread will kick off again
  • And….we are stumbling through a vaccination programme (my 85 year old mum will receive her 2nd vaccination next Saturday , my 47 year old brother in New Jersey received his two weeks ago!)

The most significant problem since December is that the flights kept coming with all sorts of visitors from everywhere including new Covid variants from Brazil and other places.

A simple question may be asked: how bloody stupid are we in this country?

Basically, we can’t go beyond 5kms in Ireland, but you can go to Lanzarote!

As far back as last summer Ireland has been “so good” at putting restrictions on it’s citizens, but for some stupid reasons that I will never fathom we have to leave the back door open, which leaves us on this St. Patrick’s Day, not free but looking into a fog of uncertainty with no plan, a shambles of a vaccination rollout and staring down the barrel of a 2021 and even more hardship and economic devastation.

As well as the high number of deaths and sickness since December, the other very serious problem now is that people have lost patience and lost faith and compounded by extremely poor communications a very depressed country is ready to explode.

So, a big salute to the dedicated ISAG crew who persisted with their very simple, spot on approach that could have had us raising our glasses together in our favourite watering holes.

You were right, all along and for whatever political reasons those in power did not do the “5%” that would have us out of this mess.

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

The very special Natasha Lynch

February 22, 2021

Natasha Lynch

At the end of a long work day we could be found trudging from the office weighed down by the usual stresses, challenges and issues, on the way to retrieving the car from the car park and heading home.

And there she would be, and regardless of the day that you have had it immediately would get better.

She was beautiful, inside and out.

When you would bump into Natasha at anytime you were 100% guaranteed to get a warm, friendly greeting, full of enthusiasm and positivity and she would always leave you with a hug and a feeling like your whole world had brightened up, at least for a while.

Of course she was a great business woman and of course she was a really lovely person, but that gift of making everyone that she met feel immediately better was really special and something that will be a huge loss.

Natasha, you were loved by many and will be missed by so many more and a sincere thanks for making me feel so good every time that we met.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Wayne, her two boys, her dad Tony and the many friends, colleagues and students who all had the benefit of some of her precious time on this earth. Her greatest legacy is that her kindness and brightness will no doubt live on in all those she interacted with, even if just for a moment.

Natasha, they will be lucky to have you up there

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

 

Saying “let’s do it” when most of us just wouldn’t dare!

February 18, 2021

Ciara O'Toole - Going Solo on Lake Como

I’m sure we have all been away on holidays in a special place and you pass an auctioneers window and gaze at the houses for sale and think “what if“?

While it’s a nice dream, quickly after 60 seconds you rationalise and the dream is gone.

For me that place would definitely be Siena in Italy, and while I have had this idea for a while I can think quickly for a bunch of very logical and rational reasons why it just couldn’t work …maybe when I retire (isn’t that the easy way of dodging the thought? )

If Covid has taught us anything, it is that you can get your work done from anywhere, hasn’t it? Of course, there are other reasons why I can’t and it doesn’t take me long to list them in my head.

Ciara O’Toole, our very special friend and her husband gazed at that window in Lake Como and decided “lets do it“!!

She was just married, without a word of Italian, a house in Dublin with a big mortgage and a great career as a marketer…crazy idea Ciara!

What I love about her is her adventurous spirit, that ability to “go for it” without a strong safety net and hey, let’s see what happens!

In Ciara’s case lots happened, including a few nasty bumps and wonderful experiences but it has been and continues to be a great adventure!

Did I tell you she learnt how to fly a sea plane and wrote a book about the experience?

If you get a chance at all you might read her book “Going Solo on Lake Como” and maybe tune into the episode of the Win Happy podcast with this intelligent, funny, adventurer, marketeer, entrepreneur, author and pilot who tells her incredible story that is full of many twists and turns!

Let’s celebrate those who say “Let’s do it”, and maybe think about that being you next time you look at that window. 

Check out Ciara’s website by clicking on this link

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you friend..

January 20, 2021

Men's friendship

Maybe it was something that I specifically said in my email about a bad nights sleep or maybe there was just a hint in the some of my other content, that I was under a little bit of a cloud yesterday?

Whatever it was, like all good friends he sensed that my mood wasn’t quite what it should be.

Within minutes my phone rang and it was him.

We chatted about work, about football about Covid and about families and of course he did ask me why I was a bit off colour and not sleeping. He did get it out of me that this was getting close to Dad’s anniversary, and at this time three years ago we were watching him gradually fade away, day after day and the sad memories were weighing heavily on me.

As always, a problem shared is a problem halved and we also got the chance to talk about how he was feeling – his dad sadly passed towards the end of last year.

I am so grateful to my friend for taking time out of his busy day to reach out – it took away the cloud.

So today, and all days, pay close attention to those you love and your colleagues to what they are saying and how they are saying it, and if you can make the time, reach out.

Thank you Roger..

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

 

The man at the window

January 17, 2021

Working from home

And there he is..

He must have been there all along, doing exactly the same thing as me, day in day out for months, but it took the leaves to fall from the trees and the evenings to get shorter for me to notice him.

Late in the afternoon, just like me he switches on the light in the upstairs bedroom or “lockdown office” and I spotted him for the first time.

He is working from his house, upstairs in one of the bedrooms in the housing estate opposite me.

When we walk the dogs in the morning and in the evening you can see all of the neighbouring “offices” , the many people at work early in the morning and late in the evening at their new workplaces in bedrooms and on kitchen tables.

It’s as if many of the city centre offices have moved out to the houses in the suburbs with the exception that we can’t take a breather and walk around the corner to the coffee shop or head to the canteen for a cuppa with a work colleague. Instead we just walk down the stairs, put the kettle on, say hello to the dog (if you have a dog!) and come back to the desk.

I don’t miss the commuting time and I certainly don’t miss the costs associated with that, but I do think there is a quiet grind to this extended period of working from home that is probably chipping away at us, in ways that we don’t even realise.

For all of the time saved commuting and the brutal efficiency of meeting the team and clients on Zoom, for some reason I don’t seem to be more productive and when Friday comes I am fairly wiped out.

I read with interest the new proposal by government about remote working which has just been published, ‘Making Remote Work’, Ireland’s National Remote Work Strategy. The Strategy’s stated objective is to ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits.

Somehow the word “remote” is quite a negative one and it’s literal meaning might resonate with too many of us at the moment.

I know that I don’t want to return to the way it was before, but I’m not sure what exactly I will evolve to.

I don’t know my work neighbour in the window across the way, but maybe some day I will wave and we just might have a coffee at the wall!

Mind your mind..

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

 

 

 

I had a great 2021 because..

December 31, 2020

Visualisation

Before I do this post about a form of planning for the year ahead, I wanted to write briefly about the attitude “choices” that we can bring to different situations and how this can affect our outlook and our outcomes.

My dad sadly passed away around this time three years ago, so it is naturally an emotionally challenging time of the year for the family and in particular for my mum.

We had her over for dinner on St. Stephen’s Day and a conversation started around the table about Christmas gifts. Mum started to tell us stories about her and dad when they were living in New York in the late fifties and when they were invited to dinner at that time by friends and relatives.

It turns out that the practical presents such as socks and gloves, which would have been the norm in the Ireland they had left, weren’t quite the norm in an abundant, booming New York!

Mum was nearly choking with the laughter as she recalled her and dad nearly running from a relatives house contemplating them opening the meagre gifts they had bought them after seeing what had been bought for them.

We laughed with her and loved her stories – despite the sad time of year, she always sees the positive and instead of being down, we toasted dad and she told us even more stories about their time in the States. He was with us in a nice way.

So..

I had a great year because..

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

I have found it to be really useful and it has made a big difference, and as I look back at last year (even despite Covid) I can see the things that I have achieved as a result of this focus. In Fuzion we also ask all of the team to do this – it is really important to us that everyone in the team achieves their own personal and career goals.

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

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

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

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

Taking this approach, you can apply it by doing some simple visualisation about the year ahead and tapping into all of Your Possibilities.

Take a quiet few moments so you can concentrate with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and do some visualisation – Take a few deep breaths and relax and close your eyes.

Now imagine the last working day of this year, just before you head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest. You are feeling really satisfied as you reflect on your fantastic achievements during the year. Some of these were personal things and some of these were professional things – you are feeling great because you have achieved them.

Now open your eyes and start writing:

I had a great year because ….

Now off you go – list the things that will make this year a great one for you.

Take your time and be as specific as you can including all of those business and personal goals that will give you that huge sense of satisfaction on that last working day of the year.

This is the starting point – when you are ready you need to study this list and start figuring out how you can go about making this list come to life.

Put your piece of paper in a safe place so that you can refer to it throughout the year to make sure your list of possibilities stays on track.

Enjoy realising all of your possibilities..

Happy New Year

This clip of Benjamin Zander is really motivational and well worth watching.

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

When will we be back to normal?

December 20, 2020
closed because of Covid

I’m been really feeling down all day having made a decision to cancel two different restaurant bookings that we had made with friends because of the rising Covid case numbers and the fact that mum is coming for dinner on St.Stephen’s Day.

Yes, it’s the right thing to do..

It’s more than frustrating as since the 6 week lockdown period we managed to get out just once and now it looks like we are heading into another lockdown at the start of the new year.

I know Ireland is in relatively good shape and I am very lucky and yes, “boo hoo” to me with having to cancel a restaurant booking!! Others have had REAL hardship this year and some haven’t seen family in a long time – it’s been tough.

I’m feeling down because we are missing out on friends, I’m down for the restaurants that have to take cancellations on the chin and the crap year they have had, I’m down for the pubs and the entertainment industry that were wiped out this year, I’m down for those who are sick because of Covid and what about those who have sadly passed this year because of the disease.

More than being down, I’m feeling really angry that the “6 week sacrifice” that we all made and in particular the many businesses that were forced to shut again was fairly worthless because of some poor decision making that left us with high case numbers at the end of that period.

We ignored the opportunity to extend the school’s midterm break at the beginning of lockdown and even when schools had reported cases there was some strange determination to ignore it – this got so ludicrous that some schools with an “outbreak” that wanted to close were instructed to stay open!!

We had takeaway pints being allowed throughout the 6 weeks – what level of stupidity was this?

And as for people coming into the country ..

Instead of being down I think we now need to start getting angry because this could and should have been avoided.

Tony Holohan (Chief Medical Officer in Ireland) and co are blue in the face from telling us all to be careful, wash hands, avoid travelling, stop visiting, reduce contacts, but I swear to god …

..we’ll do all of that, but that must come hand in hand with doing the other sensible things as well

If you have half an hour please listen to Dr. Niall Conroy, Consultant in Public Medicine in Queensland, talking to Eamon Dunphy on his wonderful podcast about how the combination of strong leadership and listening to the doctors suppressed Covid-19 across Australia.

At that time (in September) he suggested that if Ireland did the right things we could be celebrating with friends and family on Christmas day. We didn’t – instead we did a one legged lockdown that has us practically back to square one within a fortnight.

As I said, I’m angry..

In my view the only way to avoid us being in this perpetual yo yo situation until late next year is to do something different, the proven things that have worked in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and even a place such as the Isle of Man.

The very clever people from the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) have carefully laid out a plan to get us “Back To Normal” for St.Patrick’s Day , which is a real solution to this crisis.

It is sensible, it will protect the health of everyone pre vaccine, it will save lives, it will start to restore mental health issues, it will have all of our businesses operating to their maximum potential under the circumstances, it will save the country a fortune and it will have our health service making up ground on all the other medical procedures that have been delayed.

Click here to read more – it will require a final lockdown (unfortunately we are there again), but then a real strategy to get us “Back To Normal” that works with some basic other things that will shut the back door as well as the front door and provide a real path to normality…

  1. Proper Suppression
  2. Travel Quarantine
  3. Northern Ireland cooperation
  4. Effective Test and Trace
  5. Region by Region approach
  6. Support for those isolated
  7. International Cooperation (that’s one I have added – we can open up with other countries who take the same approach)

Let’s make sure that most of 2021 isn’t as bad as 2020 – we know what to do.

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