Friday, July 29, 2011

How bad is your good thing?

We always tell ourselves this story.

One day a farmer lost his horse and the neighbor told the farmer how unlucky he is. The farmer replied, “Maybe, maybe.”

Sure enough, before long the missing horse brought back a few wild horses. The neighbor this time said to the farmer how lucky he is. To which the farmer again replied, “Maybe, maybe.”

As the farmer’s son was training the wild horses, he fell down and broke his arm. You can guess what the neighbor said to the farmer. Yes, how unlucky the farmer was. And the farmer’s reply was still “Maybe, maybe.”

Soon, the state went to war and soldiers came drafting for young healthy men. But because the farmer’s son had a broken arm, he was not drafted. Again, the farmer’s neighbor told him how lucky he was. To which his reply was the same.

How are you welcoming bad news?

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

How big is your pond?

Knowledge is like a pool of water. The bigger and deeper it is, the more diversified and the deeper the knowledge. So, when you need it, it is like an unending supply of information you can use to analyze and synthesize.

People can walk up to you with a set of dirty utensils and you can clean it. And after cleaning it, it can be used to cook. There will be a meal ready.

But if your pond is small and filled with murky water, there isn’t much use. Even if people walk up with clean utensils, you are just going to dirty it.

How clean is your water?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Would you dare?

I will be the first to admit. I won't dare.

What does it take? Guts, heart, audacity and...?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who’s your boss?

Eventually, you may want to think about your answer to this question. Regardless, of your kind of
work the answer to this question will help you decide. Add a benchmark. Carve a line in your conscience.

This line allows the world you interact with knows what you will do and what you won’t. And what you will bleed over to get done.

When there are conflicting principles? This is the line you do not cross.

Your boss need not be human too. It can be humankind. It can be your precepts.

What are your commandments?

Who do you serve?

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Monday, July 25, 2011

How can we change for you?

No one can make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy. So, don’t expect us to do things for you. Or worst still, change for you to suit your taste and your whims and fancies.

You are unhappy because you cannot adapt to the unending flux of ebb and flows. Until you can understand that, you will always remain unhappy.

Is unhappiness your constant?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Are you a eunuch in a harem?

It is always easier to look at something and express what you do not like about it. How it can be better. Why wasn’t it done in a certain way. Immensely easier.

To create? Now that is a different story. Creation takes commitment. It takes raw guts. The sweat of effort. With no understanding of these, you just won’t know how it feels like.

You won’t know the how. You won’t know the why.

Sure you can try to imagine, project yourself into the situation. But it’s not the same. You can say the way I swim is wrong. But if you are going to be at the side of the pool yelling your bronchials away and not getting wet like me? Then, you just won’t know.

Create, don’t criticize.

"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Francis Behan

When was your last best creation?

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to steal time?

Stop watching TV. Really, two hours a day means 14 hours a week. That’s more than one working day you save. Imagine what you can clear with that.

Close your web browser. No Facebook, no emails, no Linkedin. If you don’t believe me, do it for a day and see how productive your day will be. Do it for two days and see how your work will change. Do it for three days and see how liberating it will be.

Ignore personal calls at work. No Whatsapp, no smses.

If it can be done in 2 minutes? Do it. No ifs no buts. That email that asks if you can make it for the meeting? Reply it immediately. You don’t need to wait till the end of the day to reply it. If you ignore it and say later. 40,000 other emails will stack on that by 5pm and you will forget. You will get another email from whoever is asking again.

Clear your clutter. Table, computer files, emails, letters, bills. Take leave to do it if you have to. Things undone are like files on your desktop. It takes up memory space. On a computer, it slows it down. In a human, it stresses you out. Take some time off to clear your clutter.

Can you make time?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How do you want to spar?

Here is one reason why an agency’s work is tough (amongst the 4 million other reasons why.)

Clients have no benchmark.

They try to win the argument to satisfy their ego, not for the benefit of the brand. No matter what case studies, no matter how similar the case studies are to their brands they will always say, “Oh, the situation is different.”

No matter how strong the data and how robust the research, your research methodology will be called into question. Not because they want to know the answer but because in front of the boss, it will make them look so intelligent.

There is no need for them to offer an alternative after tearing your solution. They have a trump card that reveals their ignorance which they use all the time, “Oh, it’s a challenge to the agency.”

If you want to spar to become a better fighter, then you need to make sure we both spar with the same rules. We both get to use our hands, legs, knees and elbows. Don’t limit me to my hands only. Because if you beat me, it doesn’t mean you are a better fighter. You are better off doing it on a sand bag.

See the brands that fly out there? Those clients get into the ring and slug it out with their sparring partners. They sweat and bleed on the same rules. That’s why they get better all the time.

Are your gloves on yet?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What are you doing about it?

I wrote an email to a new client the other day to follow up on a few things. In order to understand the inner workings of the company there were a few questions I asked.

Interestingly, the answer came back “The boss decides” in each of those questions. I get a sense the answers were given grudgingly too.

I have been in the working world long enough now and have my fair share of bosses. Good, bad and downright evil. Here’s the thing. Regardless, as a staff we have the moral responsibility to inform the boss if we disagree with something.

If you think things are not right, you have a better way of doing it, then bring it up. Sure I don’t work for the ugly face you work for, I will never understand. But, there is no but. It’s your moral obligation. Tell the boss.

There is a reason your title says, “manager”. Otherwise, I suggest you ask for a transfer to the assembly line. Hold the soldering pen and solder away. No name cards for you. The only card you need to care about is the clock-in card.

What’s on your name card now?

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Are you behaving like who you say you really are?

You say you want to be different. To be noticed for the real you. 

You want to be the only one in my life and you want my loyalty.

Yet, you are so afraid to change for me. How can I see you differently if you continue with the same old, same old?

If you say you are refined and cultured, then dress like one. Talk like one. Act like one. 

Is this the conversation your consumers are saying to your brand?

Who is the real you?

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Friday, July 15, 2011

How to be a hero?

You want to do big things. Have the biggest project. Launch the best product. It’s easy to understand because it’s good for your ego. It’s good for your pride. It’s good for your resume. You get bragging rights.

Here is a suggestion. Don’t worry about doing big things. Focus on doing small regular things, things that you are expected to do and do them damn extra-ordinarily well. That will make you a hero. 

Write a well thought out brief. Back up your proposals with facts and figures. Clear your emails on time. Communicate in a clear and concise manner. Know where to find the files your colleagues sent you. Don’t ask for it 30,000 times and apologize for it. Get in to the office on time so when your boss, your colleagues and your clients need you? They can find you.

See. It’s easy to be a hero. Just small stuff. Done right. On time. Every time. 

How much effort can you afford today?

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

How many times do you hit the snooze button?

People often talk about what keeps them up at night. They worry about things. And the stress keeps them awake.

Here’s another take. What wakes you up in the morning?

Ever thought about what gets you up and puts a spring in your step? That. That one speck of reason that makes you say, “Here, it is going to be a good day because it’s another opportunity to pursue the hell out of this project of mine!”

Ignore the things that keep you awake at night. The stress, the “I forgot this”, the “I should have done that”, the “why did I say that”, the “I wish I can quit”, the “what am I going to do about this”.

Sleep well.
Focus on the morning. When the sun rises again, you GET to do what you forgot yesterday. You GET to do what you want. You GET to apologize for the stupid things you said yesterday. You have an opportunity to rummage for better opportunities.

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Face the morning with courage and tenacity.

That which makes you spring out of bed? That points you to your purpose.

You just need to keep your antennae high enough to get the signals.

What time does your alarm rings?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why are you shopping today?

You are sick and you don’t know how to treat yourself, you go to a doctor.
You want to build a house but you don’t know how, you see an engineer.
You want to know your future and can’t see it, you see a fortune teller.

Know what you don’t know. Then you seek the answer. 

When someone gives you the answer, don’t pretend that you know the answer or that it is not the answer. 

Come to me if you don’t have answers. If you do, then why waste your money, time and effort? Mine too.

What answers are you waiting for?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What filter did you create?

Starting a business teaches you a lot of things.

Chief of which, it teaches me to filter. A filter enables you to do the things you want to do, take the direction you want to take.

You need to manufacture your own filter to be self sufficient and self determining. 

Let certain things go through and block off others. 

How are you focusing today?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

What is it that you do not have?

You want to quit your job. You want to start on an idea. You want to do a lot of things. You want. And all that remains is a want.

Worst if you belong to the category of, “I don’t know what I want”, “I don’t know where to go”. 

I think you know what you want. You know where to go. 

Ignorance is a good excuse. It’s a good excuse for failing in the future. Because in the future, you can say in the past you did not have the information and the direction to decide.

No whatever is no excuse, for whatever. People have succeeded with less than you have.

Whose permission are you waiting for?

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Where is your heart?

You run to the gym, you exercise. You eat healthily. Well, at least you think you try to eat healthily. You take your nutritional supplements.  Good job on working on your physical health.

How about your mental health? What do you feed your mind? No, not your brain. I am not talking about reading to be more knowledgeable.

Your mind. That one name that seems to refer to an anatomy except you can’t point to one place to say this is your mind. In fact, the Chinese calls the mind - Xin. Which also refers to the heart. Except it is not the heart.

What are you feeding it today?

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

How much do you know your work?

I recently got a deck for a brief that has got 5 points on the objective sheet. Out of the 5 points, 2 were objectives and 3 were strategies.

Are you confusing objective and strategy? Come on. After so many years as a marketer you must surely know the difference.

Otherwise, please ask someone who does. Be a little more humble and perhaps good hearted people will teach you a little. 

Or you will just rot in your own ego. You can continue to swim in your pool of ignorance. The price is someone may just name you as the grade E marketer one of these days. Nothing wrong with being grade E so long as you are happy being there.

Just do not waste our time.

Are you the grade E marketer?

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How do you value opinions?

I have come to a point where I believe no matter how much of an expert you are in any field; you will be challenged by people who know less than you know. 

For whatever reasons that tickle their fancy. 

If you are a lawyer? They are better in law than you. If you are a doctor? They are better in medicine than you. 

People employ all sorts of experts - lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, actuaries, architects, can I add brand consultants? But they will choose to be more of an expert than the people they pay good money for.

If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are. – Zen saying.

Are you happy when you pay?

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How deep is your love?

Contacted and connected are two different things. 

All those big numbers and “Likes” you have on your Facebook are a great way to tell your boss you have done your job. But being able to be contacted by the millions isn’t the same as being able to be connected to the individual.

If your brand is building a relationship, then the depth of the one affinity to your brand is perhaps the best measure.

There is no button for that one person who is so connected to your brand to click.

Don’t worry about the breadth of masses; focus on the depth of the individual relationship. 

How are you allowing connection?

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Do you envy people who do crazily successful things?

We see other brands do crazy things and succeed - we think, “Wow, would be nice to pull that one off.” But how many times do you think what it took to get that crazy idea to ship? The approvals, the dead dendrites and axons and parched esophagus.

To reach the stage of being envied by others, someone has to suspend their cynicism.

Maybe that person is you. 

In the movie “Contact”, Dr. Ellie Arroway when confronted by an executive who accused her proposal as being less science and more like science fiction she said this:

Ellie Arroway: You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an "airplane," you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, it's ridiculous, right? And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon, or atomic energy, or a mission to Mars? Science fiction, right? Look, all I'm asking, is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back for one minute and look at the big picture. To take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history.

What is the nuttiest thing you have heard?

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Why do you use what you use?

You use a hammer to knock in a nail. You use a screwdriver to turn the screw into the wood panel. You use a M200 if you want to shoot someone 2 kilometers away. To stir fry Chinese style, wok is best.

So, what you use depends on what you want to do and what you want to achieve. Interestingly, some marketers do not do this when they deploy their media plans or marketing efforts. 

You can use a screwdriver to knock in a nail. Heck, you can even use your shoes to do that. It’s just that it may not be very effective. And even not very efficient.

Do you understand the intrinsic value of the tool?

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