Learning

Employee! Do you see any value in being on LinkedIn?

I’m curious, if you are an employee, i.e. not a business owner, do you see any value in being on LinkedIn beyond it being just your CV (Resumé)? Have fun by looking up that word (Resumé), because the internet has no idea how to spell that and neither do I!

Since I’ve been training professionals in how to get the most from LinkedIn, I’ve noticed overwhelmingly that the largest disbelievers are those that are employed and not business owners. Business owners are totally different, they understand and appreciate the power of a professional network like LinkedIn, the need to grow it and leverage that network.

The only time an employee feels they need to improve their LinkedIn profile, grow their network and be more active on LinkedIn is when they are out of a job or they are looking to move careers.

Employees are not the only ones, employers don’t get it either. If they did understand LinkedIn’s potential power they would include LinkedIn as one of their employees’ roles and objectives. They make the mistake of believing too that LinkedIn is a CV (Resume) platform. I don’t blame them though, LinkedIn still makes over 60% of their revenue from talent solutions, the hidden recruitment engine only available to those that pay handsomely for the privilege.

Anyway, employers and it’s employees need to take LinkedIn seriously for two massively big and simple reasons.

Brand consistency and Customer loyalty.

When potential customers search out company employees your brand would benefit hugely from well crafted employee profiles, great personal and business stories and brand consistency. 

  LinkedIn Company Icon (when no company page)

LinkedIn Company Icon (when no company page)

Some companies still don’t have a company page and those that do, its employees don’t know how to connect their job experience section to those company pages. Probably THE most basic of requirements on an employee LinkedIn profile. If you just see the grey building image on your profile, then you haven’t connected to your organisation’s company page, if there is one.

 
  Job experience with logo pulled in from company page.

Job experience with logo pulled in from company page.

It’s a simple error to fix, the organisation has to create a company page and the employee needs to edit their profile to locate the company page and pull the logo into their job experience section.

 

 

Finally then, we’ve all come across the saying;

‘What gets measured, gets done’. Discussing your employee’s LinkedIn profile as part of their objectives will be a great way to ensure that everyone in the organisation improves their profile for the benefit of themselves, as well as the company’s brand. 

If the employee just spends 20-minutes per day developing their profile and being active on LinkedIn, it will make a massive difference to the organisation's brand reputation and overall recognition. 

In a previous article I suggested ways in which anyone can be active on LinkedIn in just 20-minutes per day. Take the 20-minute per day challenge now!

https://www.stayingaliveuk.com/blog/2016/5/is-linkedin-on-your-job-description

Employee! Help your employer and get your LinkedIn profile looking great.

Employer! Help your employees by adding LinkedIn to their roles and responsibilities and have it as part of their key quarterly objectives.

Wishing you massive success.

@stayingaliveuk

One day we will all just be 'OLD'!

I agree it's a dreadful thought or is it? When we get closer to visiting our Maker, we start to forgive those that have done us wrong, we ask for forgiveness for what we may have said to or about those we did wrong, realising that actually we only have a few hours left on this planet. 

One day that is exactly what will happen to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What they have said to each other will have hurt the other at some level, whether it was the truth or not, it doesn't matter. Throwing verbal abuse at each other is massive negative energy and will affect the other individual. Just think back to when someone verbally abused you. How did it make you feel?

Hillary and Donald are supposed to be the top leaders of the western world, they are supposed to be role models for other leaders, for teenagers and for children who aspire to achieve greatness themselves one day.

Many adults (we're all leaders in our communities by the way) around the world joined in with the verbal abuse, whether it was on TV, the press, Social Media, all of us showing younger people how to behave when things don't go our way. And the abuse continues and will continue for many years to come. This election will NEVER be forgotten, because we will be reminded of it, when every day the media will scrutinise every tiny little detail of Trump's Presidency. 

Can we truly look at ourselves in the mirror and honestly say to ourselves that we are outstanding leaders in this world of ours? Truly?

Watch this fascinating video interview with Simon Sinek, who stated that Donald Trump is a reflection of us. Ironically this interview was posted on YouTube on June 23rd, the day the UK voted for Brexit!

For me what the US Presidential Election of 2016 has shown me is that we as leaders have a very very long way to go to realise what true leadership is. And often we become great leaders when we reach a very mature age, an age when you realise how fragile this life is, an age when forgiveness comes easy, an age when you realise what you did and said wasn't actually that great. And by the way that age is obviously not 69 (Hillary) or 70 (Donald). 

One day we will all just be 'OLD'.

@stayingaliveuk

Are You Storytelling Yet?

Chapter 1 - Is Storytelling fact or fiction?

To what extent is story or storytelling currently used in events, meetings or conferences in your business? 

I don’t believe storytelling is used widely at all. There is a tendency to show and tell. With that I mean that the presenter or speaker always has something to sell, usually their product or services and therefore they have an agenda. You can’t blame them as this is how presenting is mostly done. When I create Whiteboard Animation videos for my clients, I have to coach them regularly to stop selling and instead ‘Share a Story’. Here is a fun video I created to explain this message in memorable way, hopefully!

How can a story or storytelling create or enhance the effectiveness of business messages and an audience’s perception of leadership from a speaker?

We all love stories, we learnt about stories when we were very very little and it filled our imagination with all sorts of wondrous images. When we grow older we still love stories, we read books, we watch films, we watch TV, we watch the adverts. When we read books we have to fill our brain with images to make sense of the storyline, as otherwise we wouldn’t remember it. When we ‘Share a Story’, it is so much more memorable. When we ‘Share a Story’ it enhances our memory of it, because we make an emotional attachment to it.

Chapter 2 - The benefits of Storytelling

What are the benefits and challenges of using storytelling more and how does technology play a role in this? 

The benefits are very significant. If we are teaching or presenting and we wish our audience to remember what we have said or spoken about, just presenting facts just does not cut it. In fact it is a well known researched fact that we forget 80-90% of what we have heard within hours of leaving a meeting, an event or conference. Check out the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_Ebbinghaus

The challenge is we live in a world where we are all being bombarded by advertising messages everywhere we look, it’s getting so much tougher to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. And worse still actually get remembered.

Technology plays a massive part in this. I don’t care what anyone says, we are predominantly visual learners. That means anything visual, images and video is where you can grab someone’s attention. Of course video for me is where it’s at, but not just talking head, animation is going to continue to grow exponentially, so you’d better be doing some.

The objective is just about being more memorable and not forgettable. Most brands are forgettable although they spend millions getting into our minds on a macro level. It’s not surprising that brands are using animals in their ads to evoke an emotional response from us. I call this the ‘Awww Factor’. When we have an emotional response to something we see or experience it will be memorable for longer. Equally the animal in the ad will be memorable and it delivers a hook to the product. 

Watch this video where I explain this concept.

Chapter 3 - The barriers to Storytelling

What do you consider to be the key hinderances that stop people (speakers and presenters) from using story and storytelling methods more? 

Because they can’t think of any and are stuck in a paradigm of using sales speak, Powerpoint Presentation (‘Death by PowerPoint’) methods and their desire to prove to the listening audience that they are credible and important, have a lot of knowledge and wish to impress. Because if they impress, the listener will ‘buy them’. Trouble is the content and the presenter will be forgettable.

The best example of great Storytelling and presenting I can think of are TED talks. The presenters in the main are sharing stories, that’s why TED has been so successful.

Watch this great Ted Talk by film maker Andrew Stanton of Toy Story and WALL-E fame, who shares some clues to a great story.

What can you do to make your messages be more meaningful and memorable for your audience’s ear? 

If it was made compulsory for speakers at meetings, events and conferences to only be allowed to share a story, then they would.

Guidelines could be issued to any speaker to detail how they could make their presentation more engaging by sharing stories.

Here’s another great video that explains brilliantly why stories need to be told instead of presenting bullet point lists.

The video maker has the following description under the video:

A list is great at stating raw information, but raw information alone never changed anyone. Robots love raw information, but humans respond to stories. You know, information that’s wrapped in something they can understand and that has meaning.

So, when you need to explain what your something does, be careful that you’re not just making a list of the features. Give your audience something to believe in. Give them something to care about. Give them a story.

Chapter 4 - The science behind Storytelling

So do you actually know what takes place in your brain when you hear a story?

Let’s compare these 2 short paragraphs and you decide which one is more memorable?

‘Using my smart phone  makes me more efficient and allows me to get back in touch with my colleagues, family and friends in a way I have never been able to do before’.

‘Last week, I was travelling in Europe away from the office and my young family. I have a 2 year-old daughter who misses me when I’m away. Anyway, the scenery was great and I was in the middle of some gorgeous snow peaked mountains. Obviously I was working!I managed to have a good signal on my smart phone and was able to easily get back in touch with my colleagues, family and friends. I love it that modern technology allows me to do this in a way I have never been able to do before.

You may wish to think about the images that appeared in your brain for the 2 different stories.

Here’s a handy infographic that explains in a bit more detail what happens in your brain when you listen to stories.

Do you think it's time for you to start 'Sharing Your Story'? Discuss...

@stayingaliveuk

Do You Listen to Your Customers?

Buffer does...

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Buffer is an app that allows you to schedule your social posts via a pre-determined time-schedule. It works, it's beautiful and their customer service is astounding, no really the best I have EVER experienced of any software company that I've ever dealt with. The founders started the company with Customer Service at it’s core and certainly, for me, they have always delivered. Not only in the way they create their app but at every stage in their communication with me. I'm a MASSIVE fan, can you tell?

So, whilst being active on the buffer web app, I noticed something new, ’Feeds’, a new and very innovative feed engine built inside the app, allowing users to pull in feeds from blogs and thereby sharing articles into their buffer. A brilliant innovation and even before I heard the announcement I started testing it.

The only issue was that they announced that users (me) on the ’awesome’ plan would have the ability for 1 feed and users on the ’business plan’ would get 20 feeds. By the way both sets of users pay for their plans.

Here is the blog that announced the release of 'Feeds'; http://blog.bufferapp.com/introducing-rss-feeds-buffer-social-media-sharing

I was deeply disappointed and because I know that Buffer cares about their customers I decided to say something on their blog, which announced this new release and the limitation for 'awesome' users. And noticed that I wasn't the only ’awesome’ user who was unhappy. I also emailed buffer via their standard email, as they are ALWAYS telling us to reach out to them for any reason at all. I've never seen anyone do this as well as they do. And they ALWAYS respond quickly to any of my emails.

How pleasing then to see how Buffer responded to their disappointed customers. Their response was fantastic and to be honest, they far exceeded my expectations in this. It was also impressive how quickly they responded to me and their customer base.

Below you can read the correspondence for yourself and see how Buffer yet again sets the standard for how companies should deal with their customers and how they listen to what they have to say.

Announcement Email

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My response Email

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Their initial response

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Follow up response

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Joel's Tweet

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Confirmation Email

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A great example of how, when you place customers in the centre of your business, you will get their feedback fast, know that it's genuine and you can respond quickly and with integrity. I'm sure this has been a massive learning opportunity for Buffer and I'm pretty sure they will have a different strategy going forward when deciding to differentiate between plans for their paying customers. It's never an easy problem to solve.

Well done Buffer and I look forward to more of your developments in the future!

If you're reading this and haven't experienced Buffer and their awesome service, go ahead and test it out. http://bufferapp.com

Wishing you success always!

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk

@stayingaliveuk

How Do You Test Competence?

The biggest challenge facing the UK economy is 'Skills Competence' and not 'Skills Shortage'. Everyone always looks at the glass as being half empty instead of half full. So focussing on 'Skills Competence' is better than focussing on 'Skills Shortage', don't you think? Competence is the holy grail, because assessing someone’s competence allows you to directly know whether they are equipped to do the job or not. We have a competence issue in organisations not a skills issue.

Competence: the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

Appraisals, Annual reviews, Objective setting, 360 degree reviews or whatever your name is for reviewing someone’s performance doesn't assess competence. You can only test competence by asking the employee directly if they know the answer to a very specific set of questions that relate to ’what’ they need to know as an absolute minimum to do the job competently.

In every organisation things change. New products or services, new managers, changing procedures and processes, re-organisation which causes job changes, new sales and customer service processes, etc.

Job competency is always under pressure when change happens in an organisation and that's all the time.

To truly understand your employees’ competence you need to test them, regularly. Once you know their competence levels, you can do something about it.

Deploying learning materials in large silos (Learning Management Systems) or any other method of e-learning will allow you to teach skills but not competence. When you teach just skills, you have no idea if the learner has remembered the new skill and whether they've actually become competent in that skill. Indeed it takes time to become competent in any skill and usually it takes repetition of carrying out that skill before you become competent.

IMG_0970

We all know the following 4 phases of learning something new, like learning to drive a car:

1. Unconscious incompetence 2. Conscious incompetence 3. Conscious competence 4. Unconscious competence

The 4th phase is where we want our employees to get to as soon as possible, whether it's with Onboarding (Induction) or learning new skills/knowledge.

Every minute, hour, day, week or month that we take to get them as competent as possible, means the organisation is potentially losing money or not growing as fast.

The Psychology of Study goes as far back as 1932, when Mace wrote his book 'Psychology of Study' and the idea of ’spaced repetition’ was first muted. Earlier still we had Ebbinghaus who told us about the forgetting curve. It tells us that for centuries we've been debating how we can get humans to remember more than how to walk.

Let's take learning languages. If you've ever tried to learn a new language, then you'll know that only by repetition will you become competent in that language. Using flash cards are an even better way of learning to remember a new language. Put the English on one side and the translation on the other. Start with 50 cards on day one and when you know you have mastered a few, take those out of the pack and repeat the others. Keep going until you've mastered them all. It's fairly basic but it works.

It's the only way to become competent in that language. Of course you may decide to repeat it in 3 weeks, because unless you are using these sentences regularly, the chances are that you will forget them.

Take this concept into any skill in any organisation where you require it to become a competence in the person who is performing it and you will rapidly and successfully increase competence throughout the organisation.

Deploying this method is now easier then ever, allowing employees to become more competent through the power of mobile. Not only can you test competence and teach new skills, you can report on the overall competence of a group, a department, a division or the overall organisation. It allows you to succession plan, recruit for competence gaps, evaluate competence levels for new projects. It even tests the individuals who took the course, at the point when they are deemed to be ready to be tested over the phone by a real person. A great motivator for the learner to get up to speed and learn properly.

What if such a tool was available today? What a difference it would make to UK "Skills Competence', to the UK economy, to UK competitiveness, to the Economy of Organisations and especially to the people that work in them.

If any of the concepts above touched a nerve with you and you can see an application inside your organisation, please get in touch with me in the first instance. We’ll get a proof of concept rolling out for you within hours and start your organisation’s journey towards 'Skills Competence' quickly.

Wishing you massive success always.

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

 

Is your Social Media Policy liked?

I read with interest a recent newsletter with guidelines and policy on electronic communication and social media. Electronic communication has been around for a while and whilst it’s good to be reminded about what should and shouldn't be done, especially for new starters and young workers who may not be so used to email, in general it’s well established and most people know what is and isn't allowed. Social Media though is a different matter all together. The first question we have to ask ourselves is ’Why is Social Media so popular?’ Well because it releases dopamine in the brain, inside our pleasure/reward centre and that in turn makes it addictive. I wrote a paper on this last year, ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’.

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As it’s addictive, it means for many it's almost impossible to leave it alone. Think about it, whenever someone, likes, shares, retweets, follows, invites, accepts, pokes or any other social network activity that has become part of daily behaviour, we feel good about ourselves. We feel like someone approves of us, in a world where mostly we receive criticism, it means we feel like we are getting praise. And of course that feels good and if it feels good, it becomes addictive. Especially young people, who get criticised by parents and teachers alike day in day out. Therefore when they are on social media they (mostly) will get positive messages. I know it has its down side too.

So now we need to think this through, because if it’s addictive and people can't leave it alone, will we still be as harsh on them when we catch them accessing their personal social media networks, whilst at work? Or do we accept, actually this is part of the modern world now and very little we can do to fight it.

Research from 2012 suggests that smart phone owners check their devices 150 times per day, about once every 6 minutes. But we're now in 2014, so we can safely assume it has gone up significantly? Americans aged 18-64 who use social networks say they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day doing so, according to research conducted in November 2012 by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX). (http://styin.me/1b1O73t). I'm sure the UK is not far behind them and that figure will have gone up too.

flickr | rockerictic

One way to allow your employees to engage in social media activities is to supply them with an internal social media platform, which connects everyone inside the business, across geographical boundaries, allowing everyone to learn from each other and to collaborate on projects. Also allowing colleagues to like and comment on posts. This way you are distracting them from their personal networks, by allowing them to still engage in similar activities and satisfy their addiction. Actually personal Social Media, is allowing millions of workers to train themselves in order to assist their learning inside the workplace. Think about it, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have provided free online training. Make sense?

Of course there have to be some rules, but we have to recognise that there is a bigger picture and we need to be conscious of that too.

Wishing you success always.

Will You be an E-MENTOR?

Student of economy Can you spare around an hour a week to be an E-MENTOR to help guide a 16-19 year old student on their path to a successful future?

I've been chatting with Diane Vernon,(http://www.linkedin.com/pub/diane-vernon/6/1a7/990), at Career Academies UK and she was telling me about their fantastic new programme called Career Ready. To work successfully they need to find willing volunteers to be E-MENTORS from the business world.

Mentoring is a crucial factor in helping a young person succeed in finding a job or place at University.

As an E-MENTOR you would communicate with a student via a new secure digital platform, as part of a structured programme. This eliminates the need to be located near your student or arrange meetings face-to-face. All E-MENTORS are DBS checked and trained by Career Academies UK.

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You know the stats on unemployed young people in the UK, I don't need to remind you of that and if you've always thought of wanting to make a difference, you can do this now by contacting Diane Vernon at diane.vernon@careeracademies.org.uk or speak to her direct on 07786 170588.

You can read/download the full E-MENTOR pack by going to

http://styin.me/e-mentoringpack

Thank you for your support, I really appreciate it. I know this will be very rewarding for some of you.

I will be joining the programme myself!

Warmest regards and wishing you success always!

Michael 07866 471596

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What Stage are You at with LinkedIn?

The 4 stages of LinkedIn In all my dealings with clients, I have concluded that their are 4 stages of progress with LinkedIn.

Most members are stuck at stage 1, what I call the 'Profile' stage, where they are still getting to grips with developing a decent profile, that shows what they can do for people or employers instead of 'what' they do.

The objective of course is to get to stage 4, the 'Sell' stage and this is the same for members looking for business or for those looking for jobs or advancing their career.

You do need to commit time and effort to each stage and make sure you are comfortable and confident in applying or completing the stage before moving on.

Each stage prepares you for the next one and its a logical progression. There is no way you can dive in and start 'Social Selling' until you have a decent profile, a decent size network and you know how to behave.

I often say that not having a decent profile with a decent photo is like greeting someone in person with your back turned to them. I still see too many holiday snaps, people posing in the far distance or with family members and mates. Its a disaster and it will NOT win you business or your next job. NO WAY!

When you invite members to connect with you, they will almost certainly look to see if you have over 500+ members. Why? It makes you an attractive connection. Adding another 500+ people to their 2nd level network means they will achieve more exposure on LinkedIn and allows them in turn to find potential prospects to connect to easier too.

If you have 500 connections, who in turn have 500 too, it means your network grows to 250,000 in a heart beat. Now this gives you options and social is a numbers game, sorry but it is. And for those who tell me they are very careful who they connect to and decline people they do not know, you need to wise up to the fact that your network will stay small, because of your small thinking.

Once those two stages are out of the way, you can focus on your behaviour inside LinkedIn and this includes groups, emailing, sharing, liking and commenting. A massive subject taken for granted by most. Oh and it's NOT a promotion campaign that's what the advertising channel is for.

Only after those 3 stages are completed can you think about how to develop leads on LinkedIn.

Hope that makes sense? If you wish to book on the '4 stages of LinkedIn', my price is £200 + vat ($350), for 4 hours of tuition, 13 weeks online support via my LinkedIn group, costed based on the size of your group. £35 ($49) for my 2-hour video course 'Mastering Your Profile on LinkedIn'.

My coaching is over a period of 8 weeks, with a 2-week interval between each stage allowing you to adopt your new learning and implement a new approach.

It's a small investment, if you consider how much potential ongoing annual turnover/profit you will make from just adding one new customer every month to your current business.

I look forward to working with you to make that a reality.

Success!

Have You Ever Studied Ants?

flickr | samantha henneke I was recently in Greece and with temperatures in the 30’s, it's best to take it easy lie by the pool and observe the world around you, OK maybe people watch sometimes!

However even people watching gets boring, so whilst resting on my sun bed in the shade, I started studying the floor beneath me and to my amazement saw this fast moving highway of very small ants. Now usually in hot countries ants are very big, but these weren't and that made them all the more interesting.

As I studied them, I noticed that although their movements appeared random, many were carrying food crumbs back to their colony, which had entrances along a short section of a raised plant border wall. One by one several of these very efficient creatures were collecting these crumbs from all around the pool and taking this very important food stuff back to their colony.

By the way none of them actually ate the food on their journey back, which if you saw how far they were travelling, you would not have blamed them if they had. Now if this was a human doing this, ’collecting free food’, the chances are that it would have been eaten by the time they had completed the journey back.

I also noticed to my amazement that with larger crumbs 2 or even 3 ants would work together to carry it, as it was too big for just one.

This gave me an idea, next time someone in my party came back with cake at tea-time, I would use one of the crumbs and give those hard working ants a challenge. A super large crumb to see how they would manage this.

Have a look and see what happened, I recorded it on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChZGj9BEQRk

What did I learn?

Ants are ’Team Players’, one ant who passes the crumb and checks it out, decides to start moving it and immediately another ant starts assisting, and then another and another until I counted 12 ants moving a massive crumb. Nobody said, ’that’s not my job’ or ’I’m busy doing something else, or ’its not in my job spec’. They just did it because they know that one ant will never manage it on their own and therefore they just started helping out. The ants who joined in just happened to be passing by, they weren't called from the colony, didn't get an email and nobody checked their calendar to see if they were available.

For me it was just the best possible demonstration of excellent team-work. Wow if business could learn just one lesson from ants and if employees and HR teams could stop their compartment thinking, what a different world we would have around us.

Each morning a few scouts would be up early looking for anything that they might have missed and as the day moved on and more holiday makers sat around the pool, eating and drinking, more ants came out scouting the neighbourhood. Obviously they had developed their knowledge that more crumbs would be available later in the day.

Accordingly more troops were scouting in the afternoon.

So here are 3 takeaways from this story:

  1. Be open to helping out anyone in your wider community or organisation, without being asked for help, ’Just Do It’.
  2. If there is a big task or project happening, go and ask if you can help out. They probably will say ’no thanks’ but make sure you insist, even if it is to make the coffee!
  3. Teach your kids or colleagues the power of team work and share the story of ants. I found this great film on YouTube, which will explain and share the story of ants and their incredible behaviour. Watch it together with your kids or colleagues. Teach them how they can adopt the same approach in life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-gIx7LXcQM

Success!

What can The Workplace learn from Social Media?

culture map flickr - dgray_xplane For decades organisations across the globe, are searching for the holy grail, ’Employee Engagement’.

Engagement levels are on the rise globally but shifting across regions. Although the economic impact of the recession continues to rebound in some areas and recess further in others, engagement levels rose slightly to 60% in 2012, up 2 percentage points from 58% in 2011. We see the largest engagement increase in Europe (improving 5 percentage points) and Latin America (improving 3 percentage points). North America’s engagement decreased slightly by 1 percentage point—particularly in the U.S., where engagement dropped 3 percentage points—and Asia Pacific remained the same. [Source: AonHewitt: http://www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/2013_Trends_in_Global_Employee_Engagement_Highlights.pdf]

So globally we've pretty much stayed about the same, which means 40% of employees are NOT engaged. But what does engagement actually mean?

Does it mean they show up but nobody is at work? They do the basics but nothing extra? They prefer not to get involved in those famous ’let’s be a team’ activities?

Or...people are busy with life, work is just a part of it and they carry their worries with them wherever they go including into the workplace? After all we have just one brain and leaving your troubles at home, just doesn't work, because our brain goes with us wherever we go.

But Social Networks have exploded and people are very engaged there! So what happened there?

I've been fascinated by Social Networks for the past 5 years, not only have I actively engaged with them, I've wanted to understand why everyone loves them so much.

That's when I decided to write ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’

So here's the bombshell, we are not loving our workforce enough it’s as simple as that. Many years ago I was involved in the Health and Wellness industry and tried to alert organisations of the need to improve their wellness efforts at work. One of the ways that I suggested they did this was through an online survey called the ’Wellness Inventory’.

I remember presenting this to a major building society in the UK to the HR Director. One of the items on the ’Wellness Inventory’ that people had to answer questions for was an item called ’Love’. He saw this and immediately said; ’actually we don't think that is appropriate here’.

I realised in that instant that I was pushing water uphill with this inventory and getting organisations to adopt it and sure enough I had to change direction after a few months of getting nowhere.

I hear stories every day now from employees who work for small, medium and large organisations. Those stories confirm to me that people at work are not loved enough.

It's time to examine the success of Social Networks and take on board the tactics that these Social Network giants adopt to gain more members, more engagement and share the love.

It's not a bad 4 letter word, you must just try it!

Have You Got The Skills?

Ever since I left college, I've been working on my own skills. Strange isn't it, that once you leave school, college or university you actually start to think about what you will be doing and what skills you need to do that job you want or need. I taught myself computer skills, never ever went on a course to learn how to switch on a computer or operate Microsoft office or even switch to Apple in 2010 (other software suppliers/manufacturers are available). 20130426-221659.jpg

I am proud to say that I did it all myself. Training in the organisations I worked in, was very slim and most of the time non-existent. And this was because I worked in manufacturing where there just wasn't the funds for expensive training and yet I managed to work myself up to become a board director in a number of these organisations.

So when I attended a conference in Birmingham on skills for the next generation, I was astounded to hear about all the efforts that are being put in place for young learners to get them digitally trained.

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There are now thousands of courses available on line for millions of people if they have the hunger to learn.

They are called MOOCS, massive open online courses, which are exploding with great online courses and most of these are FREE.

Coursera is such a site and this is what they say on their website.

Choose from 300+ courses in over 20 categories created by 62 Universities from 16 countries.

Udemy is another one and this is what they say;

Expert instructors have taught over 500,000 students on Udemy, helping them learn everything from programming to photography to design to yoga and more.

flickr | ben110 teacher

Udacity say this, by making high-quality classes affordable and accessible for students across the globe: Udacity is democratizing education.

And then there is Khan Academy and this is what they say;

With a library of over 4,000 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, we're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.

There's TED Education, YouTube Education and I'm sure there are many more that exist and will exist in the future.

There has never ever, never ever, never EVER, EVER, EVER been a better time to learn skills!!

There should be no excuse for learners, teachers, business, and employers everywhere to skill up and get ready for work or develop whilst in work or whilst working on your own.

In the past 3 years, I've not paid for any course, have had to reinvent my business skills and I've done it all online.

Come on everyone get skilled up, you are responsible for your own education, don't expect others to do it for you, you have to create your own luck, but you'll have a better chance of creating it whilst learning new skills and taking responsibility for your own learning.

Wishing you success with your own learning!

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Are You Collaborating yet?

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Tech companies are investing heavily in ’Social’. You have to ask yourself one major question; Why?

You like most of us are already wired into ’Social’. And Tech companies know that the next big thing for corporates is ’Social Collaboration’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_collaboration

After TQM, Six Sigma, Lean and many other management process improvement practices, they have all tried to achieve one thing; ’Social Collaboration’ and never really succeeded, because they created too many meetings and actually reduced productivity, the very opposite of why these practices were actually invented.

Now that you and I are wired into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more social networks, corporates are delighted that those networks have managed to train you and me in the art of being virtually social. You and I have become comfortable in using these networks, happy to share personal and professional information publicly, plus sharing what we learn in our day to day lives, including recommendations for goods and services.

So now that we have been trained to do this, the natural extension of this is to bring ’Social’ into the organisation. Some have already started with patchy success, but the smarter executives realise that in order to capture the knowledge contained in employees heads and get true collaboration started, they will have to, without fail, invest in a corporate social network. By the way women understand this instinctively and men have to work at it much harder.

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A Corporate Social Network, doesn't only connect employees with each other across departments, countries and continents, it will save them billions in travel costs, training programs and on-boarding (induction).

Corporates are a bit slow in the execution of this, because all they have been focussed on was things like, ’if we open Facebook and Twitter to employees, then no work will get done’, instead of saying how can we get those type of networks replicated inside of our business?

So major global tech companies, like Microsoft, IBM, Google etc., have all invested in social network start-ups to add to their portfolio of products allowing corporates to implement these networks seamlessly with existing software.

You might be a small business reading this and thinking, that's great for larger corporates, but what about me as a start-up, a home office or a group of entrepreneurs, how do we do this?

Well the time has come for small business to collaborate with others. In order to compete with the larger corporates it's absolutely essential that we embrace ’social’ as well.

You are already ’wired-in’ to LinkedIn, so now it's time for you to maximise your activity there and start collaborating in order to grow your business footprint.

Ask me how and I will be delighted to collaborate on something with you.

Success!

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What is stopping YOU?

I probably speak to people daily about the power of video and how this is such an important area for businesses to invest in. In fact I have been on about this since 2004, even before the birth and rise of YouTube and yes I was way ahead of my time, even if I say that myself. How right I was, if only I had invested more time and effort, I could have been an Internet billionaire by now. Oh well there's still time! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRC16SEJMmc

And whenever I mention it, they agree, they wax lyrical about YouTube and how they have found stuff on there, which was really useful and how they learned so much from it. Or how they saw this really funny video about a cat and a dog!!

So why is it then that YOU aren't doing it yourself?? I even remember (ok so I am getting on a bit) when websites first started emerging, those horrible American sites with the textured backgrounds, companies were saying that it wouldn't take off and that people wanted to be able to feel something tangible, a brochure or a leaflet, is what they needed. The same people who said that email would never take off, because people wanted a physical letter, and I bet they also said that photography was wrong online and that there was nothing better than having a printed photo, to put into a physical album. You have heard it all before I know you have...

Could these dinosaurs also be the ones who said that social media was for kids and for sharing what you had for breakfast and how they didn't get it? Actually a lot of them are still saying that even now. Yep they certainly are! Ah I nearly forgot of course they also said that music could only be listened to via a physical product like a record or CD, yes even a CD was hard to swallow but they had to give in on that one, because the quality was better.

Back to Video then, let me share an infographic with you. Whether you believe it or not there are a few things I am sure you will accept.

Watching video is fast, you probably watch an average of 5 hours each day, whether through the TV, DVD's and online.

You get what's said in a video very fast, much faster then via the written word.

Most of your senses are engaged with Video, eyes, ears, feeling or VAK as the experts call it Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Yes indeed these senses make you remember so much more from watching video. That's why 'the movies' are still so successful because they know how to get you to get a full sensory experience, which makes you want to come back for more and no I am not talking about the popcorn and coke!

Broadband speeds are getting faster and the roll out of fibre across the UK means soon everyone will enjoy over 30mb download speeds and even more over the next few years.

This means the likes of Netflix, Apple, Amazon and many more will see their video download services explode, in the same way music downloads did. And yes there will be the dinosaurs that say that copyright, piracy will be an issue and since when has that stopped anyone?

My appeal to you then is to get engaged with video, whether it's to promote your business, educate your colleagues or communicate to your staff.

JUST DO IT!!

Have you Embraced 'Social Learning'?

The term 'Social Learning' in current days, doesn't mean the same as it did when Bandura did his experiments in the 60's. It encompasses a theory that individuals enjoy learning in a social context, when our learning is discussed and debated.

After all 'everyone has an opinion', and this means that we actually learn more about a topic, news story, event, training intervention, when we can reflect on it and interact with it.

Learning & Development (or training) at school and at work has and will continue to be the holy grail for all education professionals. We're always looking for better ways to engage students and drive a change in human behaviour.

Trouble is millions of $'s & £'s are spent every year to achieve these objectives. And it's so painful to see when the results don't match the spend.

Think about it. The world is at War somewhere in the world and always has been. Consider the economic conditions in most countries currently. If education, training and development works, we would not be in this state of flux. But really think about it. We as humans haven't evolved as much as we like to think. Our nature is closer to animal instinct then we give ourselves credit for.

If we are truly sophisticated and used more of our frontal lobe, which is the part that separates us from animals, then surely we wouldn't be carrying out wars, we wouldn't have an issue with CO2 emissions and global warming, the economies would be running smoothly.

Surely it would? Am I mad? I don't think so, I believe I am quite a rational kind of person, who can usually see both sides of the argument and yes I do see the best in most humans, because after all they should be educated, rational, intelligent and loving beings. And you also know that this isn't always true, but we have to start somewhere and I start with everyone's good until proven otherwise.

Anyway where is this leading us towards?

Oh yes, 'Social Learning'.

Consider the success of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and the latest kid on the block Pinterest.

What do they all have in common? Any idea?

Humans connecting with humans, that's the common thread through all of it. So why is this so important at this time in the world? It has allowed millions of us to have a voice, to discuss, comment and debate on news stories on major world events and on individual stories and their life events.

My theory and its only my theory and it makes perfect sense to me is as follows.

Remember the war? Which one you will say, because there have been so many.

Well let's just talk about World War II.

The War brought people closer, they looked out for each other and they knew more about each other's lives compared to any time in history. Well it's nearly 70 years since the ending of that major war and ever since then we as humans have drifted apart and have become more unconnected.

Social Networking is not an accident or a happy coincidence, it isn't either the creation of a Harvard University graduate or silicon valley's entrepreneurs. Their invention would never have worked if there wasn't the appetite for it.

The old saying ’people buy people first’ applies in social networks too, not just in business. We like to connect to like minded individuals or people that interest us and maybe we can learn something from them!

And yes we do like to learn, we are always learning, the brain collects millions of impressions every day, without us even realising it. If we don't learn we will die. As humans we have an inherent need to grow. But when we think about learning we think about, classrooms, teachers, exams, pressure, stress and recall many unpleasant memories.

We don't perceive consciously that reading tweets, Facebook posts, articles, blogs, watching YouTube videos as learning and of course it is, you are learning all the time.

The learning methodology of 70-20-10, is showing us that actually we learn 70% on the job or in our daily lives, 20% from our colleagues or family members or friends and 10% formally, so that's when we sit in a classroom, either at school or in the workplace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdHZQ2VXhE

The development of social networks, will and is changing the world of learning forever. Millions of teachers and trainers are having to adopt these new technologies as part of their delivery methods.

This requires the teacher / trainer to become proficient in these new tools and get their own knowledge of these networks up to scratch. After all their students are using these to learn, so now we better embrace these too and make use of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H4RkudFzlc#!

Those that do, will succeed in helping to change the landscape of learning for themselves and students alike. A more engaged student will mean a more connected world and a more connected world will mean a world with more compassion and understanding for our fellow human.

Success!

 

Has your 17-year old got 'Working Knowledge'?

Working Knowledge is a brilliant Social Enterprise, who invited me to join their 'Splash' event in Bromsgrove on the 15th March 2012.

My role?  An Expert!

I have never been an ’Expert’ before, so it was a real treat.

I was an Expert from the business community together with other business experts, who were all there to support 17 / 18 year olds from Northeast Worcestershire College, to become enlightened about business through the vehicle of a one-day experiential event, allowing them to innovate, create and visualise their own entrepreneurial spirit.

I had never done anything like it before and so did not know what to expect.

What was it like?  In one word...OUTSTANDING!

Basically the event is a cross between Dragons Den and the Apprentice and as a local business I played the role of ‘expert’ advising students from the local College on their new business ideas.  Working Knowledge is a Social Enterprise and Nationally Award Winning educational training company founded by Dr James Lott.

The events Working Knowledge run have been shown to have a profound impact on the students and tutors in colleges throughout UK, bridging the gap between education and the workplace.  As a business expert volunteer I played an integral role in the success of the event and thereby raise the aspirations of young people in my region.

Here's my testimonial MindMap and Video, which was the best way for me to articulate what I thought of the whole day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcQmefmSKCc

And why does Working Knowledge exist?

They believe that for the UK economy to grow and for communities to thrive, young people need to be inspired by, and better prepared for, the world of work. We need young people that are more confident, purposeful and responsible and can therefore provide a sustained flow of talent and energy into the local economy. Their vision cannot be achieved by educators alone, the business community HAS to be involved in the education process.

What a great vision!

There is a website http://www.workingknowledge.org.uk/business-experts/overview/ where you can find out more about the expert role.  If you are interested in becoming involved then please register here http://events.workingknowledge.org.uk/profile/new?type=expert and Working Knowledge will contact you when a suitable event comes up in your area.

If you have any questions then contact Ollie Collard on 0117 304 8000 or email ollie.collard@workingknowledge.org.uk

I hope you do take up the opportunity.  It really is one worth doing.

Success!

Do you really make assumptions all the time?

I read a fascinating article in Wired magazine by Jonathan Lehrer, where he discusses the phenomena of our brains making assumptions on how things work, based on a set of data that we have collected.  In fact we collect data in our brains all the time.  And when we analyse data we start making all sorts of assumptions and conclusions based on that data.

And of course we can never have enough data to make our decisions on and at some stage we have to decide that we have enough of it to base our decisions on.

And this happens all the time in the most dangerous industry in the world, pharmaceuticals.  This article highlights some lessons for us all on how we make assumptions all the time in our private, business and social lives.

I have extracted what I believe to be the important constituents from his article:

On November 30, 2006 executives at Pfizer - the largest pharmaceutical company in the world held a meeting with investors at the firm's research centre in Groton, Connecticut.  Jeff Kindler, the then CEO began the presentation with an upbeat assessment of the company's efforts to bring new drugs to market.   He cited "exciting approaches" to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis.  But Kindler was most excited about a new drug called torcetrapib, which had recently entered Phase III clinical trials, the last step before filing for approval.  He confidently declared that it would be "one of the most important compounds of our generation".  Kindler told investors that, by the second half of 2008, Pfizer would begin applying for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The success of the drug seemed a sure thing.  And then, just two days later, on December 2, 2006, Pfizer issued a stunning announcement: the torcetrapib Phase III clinical trial was being terminated.  Although the compound was supposed to prevent heart disease, it was actually triggering higher rates of chest pain and heart failure and a 60% increase in overall mortality.  The drug appeared to be killing people.  That week, Pfizer's value plummeted by $21 billion (£14 billion).

The story of torcetrapib is one of mistaken causation.  Pfizer was operating on the assumption that raising levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL would lead to predictable outcome: improved cardiovascular health.  Less arterial plaque.  Cleaner pipes.  But that didn't happen. (According to a recent analysis, more that 40% of drugs fail Phase III clinical trials).

The problem was, it's this assumption that causes a strange kind of knowledge.  This was first pointed out by David Hume, a Scottish 18th-century philosopher.  

He realised that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts - tangible things that can be discovered - they're actually not at all factual.  Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a "lively conception produced by habit".  When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity.  Hume's sceptical insight was that we don't see gravity - we see only an object tugged towards earth.  We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between.  We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact - it's fiction that helps us make sense of facts.

The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental short cuts.  Most of the time, these work well enough.  They allow us to discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies.  However when it comes to reasoning about highly complex systems - say the human body - these short cuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading.

Consider a set of classic experiments designed by Belgian psychologist Albert Michotte, first conducted in the 40's.

His research featured a series of short films about a blue ball and a red ball.  In the first  film, the red ball races across the screen, touches the blue ball and then stops.  The blue ball, meanwhile, begins moving in the shame basic direction as the red ball.  When Michotte asked people to describe the film, they automatically lapsed in the language of causation.  The red ball hit the blue ball, which caused it to move.  This is known as the launching effect, and it's a universal property of visual perception.  Although there was nothing in the two-second film - it was just a montage of animated images - people couldn't help but tell a story about what had happened.  They had translated their perceptions into causal beliefs.  Michotte would go on to conduct more than 100 of these studies manipulating the films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_jKNlC2YKo

There are two lessons learned from these experiments.  The first is that our theories about a particular cause and effect are inherently perceptual, infected by all the sensory cheats of vision.  Hume was right that causes are never seen, only inferred, but the truth is we can't tell the difference.  And so we look at moving balls and see causes, melodrama of taps and collisions, chasing and fleeing.  The second lesson is that causal explanations are oversimplifications.  This is what makes them useful - they help us grasp the world at a glance.  

The article is far too long for me to include everything in it and I have not been able to find it online either.  However I think I have got the main message from it.

And the question I pose to you, is:  What assumptions are you making today, that are based on incorrect date or not enough data or just that you have perceived the information  in a certain way?  Is the red ball chasing the blue ball instead of them just moving independently of each other?

And then there is the other old saying: "Perception is Reality"

Success!

Are you afraid of LinkedIn?

(135 million+ LinkedIn professionals around the world as of November 3, 2011)

I attended a recent networking event and chatted with business people, who were there because like me they would like more business.  I was taken aback a little when 2 people that I spoke to out of the 5 that I met, who shared with me that they were "afraid" of LinkedIn.

I use the term "afraid" on purpose because, when I asked them whether they were on LinkedIn, which is a standard question I ask every business person I meet, their faces filled with horror and then they shared with me the reasons why they either weren't there or why they were very very careful who they connected to.

Maybe I am the naive one, but my philosophy with Social Media is to either be active in it and play full out or stay out of the game, you can't be half in and choose when to come out and play and when to stay at home.

But it got me thinking, maybe there are more of you out there, who are "afraid" also, so I wanted to write this article to appeal to your more liberal side, the part of you that has courage and is willing to take a few risks, because you know you've got that part inside of yourself, don't you?

Here are the "fears" that were raised with me today:

  • People who I have never met or spoken to, ask to be connected to me on LinkedIn, why?
  • They tell me that they are wishing to grow their networks; well they are pulling me into the same mindset and I do not wish to be part of it!
  • I am very choosey who I connect to, because I only wish to be connected to people, who I have met and I have got to know them and what they are about
  • What if they start calling my contacts and telling them that they know me, when really they do not?

And I am sure there could have been more.  The real reason for the "fear" is actually ignorance and I don't mean that in a negative way, I actually believe it is really positive, because there is a fantastic opportunity to educate people.

I consider LinkedIn as my virtual business networking database.  LinkedIn is actually very ethical, it is run with the same principles as face to face networking and yes of course it is ideally best to have met that person or at least to have spoken to them.  However business is a numbers game and in order to have some influence in your business community you do need to connect with people who can be in your circle of influence.

It is good to build a relationship with people who you have not yet met face to face and yes try and do that even if you are only connected virtually.  Actually LinkedIn is so transparent, they can learn about you, your history, your experience, your business goals and learn so much more, which you would never be able to share at a face to face networking event.

We all need to do more with less, so LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle to network, without the expense of attending networking events, breakfasts, lunches etc.  It is becoming more acceptable to do things virtually and of course I appreciate it's not everyone's "cup of tea".

We need you all to start getting into the game and changing your mindset, because this is only going to continue to grow and we would like you to be there with us and be part of the journey.

There is a huge amount to know about LinkedIn and I have witnessed the massive changes it has undergone in the past few years, which I promise you will continue, especially as they have gone public now.

Below I have shared my own network stats on LinkedIn and you can see the reach you can have with only a few connections.  They say that the level below your direct contacts are where your real business opportunities lie.  You can see that I have 365,000 connections that are 2 degrees away from me.  That's just unbelievable and I could never imagine that I would be connected to so many people.  However if you notice carefully Linkedin, presents a small box to you every time you log in, which says "people you may know".  And when you click through you will see a list of page after page with people that are 2 degrees away from you.  Well the same is presented to everyone that goes on LinkedIn and is active on there and that's how you get noticed, that's when people view your profile.

I hope you take on board what I am trying to convey, but just in case you don't, I would be happy to explain some other finer points to you at any time, just post a comment or question on here.

Success!

How effective is your "SoMe" Marketing?

Most of us are now involved with Social Media, whether it's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or something else.  And if you're not, well you can't be having as much fun as most of us!

But...how do you know whether you are making progress, there are plenty of "SoMe" gurus, (me included), who will charge you for education and may even do all the hard work for your business with an even heavier fee.

So when I found SplashCube, I was delighted to find something that would help me, guide me, direct me and most of all track me on how well I was doing with my "SoMe" marketing.

They use a clever method, which is now known as gamification, basically a clever algorithm that calculates what you are doing and then produces the results in a clever graphical representation, allowing you to adjust your performance.  Thinks of it as a game that you are playing and every time you need to get better at the game you are told where you need to improve.

After you have connected your accounts to SplashCube, it will analyse what you need to be doing in order to maximise your "SoMe" marketing.

I have not seen anything better as yet, but let me know if you have found something better.

See the example below for my Twitter account.  To be honest (and I always am), you don't need to get an account with them to understand what you required to do, basically just adopt what I am showing you in these images.

In the image at the top of this post, there are some great suggestions on what you need to do for your various  "SoMe" accounts as well, and just to expand on one of them;

Facebook Fan Page |  Ask 2 questions in 6 days | Means that you need to post a question on your Facebook fan page every 6 days as minimum in order to get better exposure and engagement with your fans and grow your fan base.  Get the general idea?

Have a look at the image with Twitter suggestions, just copy these down somewhere and start acting upon them.

What SplashCube does, you can do for yourself, as long as you are disciplined and if you are not, then go ahead and open account with them. (By the way I am not affiliated to them in anyway, I just thought it was a "cool tool", which I felt I should share with you).

Success!

Blogs that wear Clogs...

I have done it, I have resisted doing it for months, but finally I have opened a hosting account with the brilliant 1and1.co.uk and transferred from a ".com" Wordpress account to a ".org", wordpress.org.  And I am delighted with it. Because now I am in charge of my own destiny, and able to make use of the thousands of plugins for Wordpress, develop true social integration and if need be mess with HTML and embed code, when I fancy.

It's quite incredible to think that only a few years ago, creating a website or blog was the domain of web developers, graphic designers, charging "an arm and a leg" to create a website for you.  But now the website is free and the hosting is a just a few pounds per month.  This makes it incredibly cost effective for anyone to have their own website and more importantly be in charge of their own updating as well.

Their is a huge amount of training available either through Wordpress and many others who have created hours of video or tutorials to help you develop your own learning of Wordpress.  And it's all free!  All you need is a bit of courage and a friendly help desk in 1and1.co.uk who give all their telephone support for free to get your hosting up and running.

The other thing I have learnt as part of my Social Media journey, is that blogs are more important then having a standard brochure website.  It means you can be more engaging with your audience, it allows them to understand better what the company is about and what they are up to, through reading or subscribing to their blogs.  Obviously if you are selling via the web then that is different.

Therefore my suggestion is to ditch the website, create an engaging series of videos (we can help with that), which talk about your business and create a "weblog" instead of a "website".

Most of the information you can include on a weblog is the same, it is just displayed differently, no difficult navigation buttons, just a simple clean layout is what is required and I hope that this is what I have managed to achieve here.

I have noticed that a lot of the latest websites have gone for this very clean, white and open design.  And I do like it, because it means my eyes are not distracted from lots of stuff on the site.  Hopefully it means that the viewer will stay on the site longer and will be more interested in making an enquiry.

Anyway I hope you like it and please feel free to leave me some feedback and share the site by using the social media toolbar wibiya.com at the bottom of this weblog.

And if you need any assistance in doing the same, you know where I am!

Success!

Lord Digby Jones | Fix Britain and Standing for Mayor

John Duckers reports on a speech by Lord Digby Jones on whether he intends to stand for Birmingham mayor. LORD Jones of Birmingham says an elected mayor for the city is not enough – we need an elected mayor for the West Midlands.

Speaking to Birmingham Business Breakfast Club at the Botanical Gardens, he insisted he had not yet decided whether he would stand because of the lack of clarity over the powers available.

"I am not too sure an elected mayor for Birmingham is what we should be campaigning about," he told the 120-strong gathering.

"We should be campaigning about an elected mayor for the West Midlands. The issues are about the region; not just Birmingham."

An elected mayor should govern for Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, with each of the constituent cities able to elect a representative to the mayor's cabinet.

What would the powers of an elected mayor be, he asked?

Would a mayor be able to go into schools and say 'This is how it is going to be' in a bid to address poor literacy and numeracy standards?

Controversially, Lord Jones would stop the benefits of parents whose children failed to reach basic levels, offering them only food coupons so they wouldn't go hungry.

Would an elected mayor be able to implement an integrated transport system to reflect expansion of the airport, HS2 and possibly a Crossrail for Birmingham? Or would elected mayors be mere "glorified council leaders"?

"They should have the same powers as Boris Johnson in London and Alex Salmond in Scotland. There are 5.3 million people in the West Midlands, the same size as Scotland.

"I want these questions answered before I make a decision on whether to stand. I genuinely don't know. I have not made up my mind."

But he quipped: "I would make a lousy politician.....because I tell the truth."

He said he was in favour of HS2 but only if the route was changed to go through the existing "pollution corridor" along the M40 and Chiltern rail line.

And if that meant spending a bit more to sort out bends and inclines, then it should be done.

But he was cautious on how many jobs would come to the region as a result.

"It will create jobs here but it won't create long term sustainable jobs. Birmingham, and particularly south Birmingham, will become the northernmost suburb of London. A lot of work will go down south."

Lord Jones was one of the four founders of the BBBC in 1983 and was quickly bantering with old legal mate John James.

To get the club running, it was decided the four would all bring a chum to the next get-together and Digby invited John.

"It was a case of either JJ got up and came to the breakfast or he got up and went home."

To read John Duckers blog follow this link: http://www.duckersanddiving.co.uk

To hear the full speech, please listen to the recording below.