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Life is like a Cup of Coffee

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

CoffeeWorld

“Live simply, Speak kindly, Care deeply and Love generously.'” – A worthy mission for our lives

“A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite.

He told his guests to help themselves to the coffee.

After everyone had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said, ‘If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

    Be assured that the cup adds no quality to the coffee.

In most cases, it is just more expensive, and in some cases, even hides what we drink. What all of you       really wanted was coffee, not the cup. But you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups to see who had the best one.

Now consider this…

Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.

Savor the coffee, not the cups!

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.

They just make the best of everything.

“Live simply, Speak kindly, Care deeply and Love generously.'” – A worthy mission for our lives

You and Content

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

It doesn’t matter how the content gets to you, by what ‘road” or in what form,  whether in a library book, a hard copy magazine or newspaper, the web and its various forms of streaming … it has something in common … it has to engage with you .. and make you want you to focus and read on.

This has always been the case. How often have you picked up a book, and it didn’t engage with you, watched a movie, switched channels, went to sleep or worse still walked out of a theatre .. or reading a web page and thought , no .. and moved on …  read a Twitter stream and nothing, you either clicked un-follow or went looking for content that you can relate to, regardless of how the content is delivered to you, how you view it or engage with it, it has to value you and engage with you as a person.

The current thinking in Hollywood and Old Media in general is that somehow they are a special case, somehow entitled to and deserving of exemption from a thing  called change, something that happens to us all, it isn’t the change that is a problem, its the attitude to it that matters … and the choices one makes based on these attitudes.

Now and in the future, content of all types, from the written word to a movie spectacular will reach us whether we are at home, mobile on at some kind of outside occasion via a internet appliance, in other words via an i/p address (VOD, Hulu and Netflix +++) …. and it accompanying infrastructure –   this will soon be the case for public screening (when or perhaps if they will happen) as well, perhaps by some kind of version of Bit torrent service.

If you need any convincing of the change to Internet distribution, currently in the USA, Netflix accounts for 25% of total North American Internet traffic. With their first International expansion, they now have an added 800,000 users (10% of all users) in Canada , with other International expansion slated, probably in the first step into Europe. I have spoken about this in previous post, going back a number of years … do not sit with your head in the sand – change will happen, with or without you.

I feel very sad for those companies who’s core business is public entertainment, and the picture theater complexes and soon they will make more money as retail malls .. or car parking .. but again no, the internet is all prevailing … even the traditional focus on malls will change, those huge real estate investments will be a thing of the past … perhaps the land will be returned long term into something productive, perhaps growing food. These changes in the utilization of malls and other huge public and retail edifices, will happen, it will not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.

They say that Hollywood and TV production is a special case, this is such spin , it is not true, at the end of the day if the content is on You tube and you are engaged by it .. nothing else matters … now they have virtual scenery, and computer systems and CGI do so much inside a computer to generate content .. the quality will soon be available to have virtual actors .. so where is the future … where ever it is, it has to fulfill the emotional and entertainments needs of the customers, what they want … so for goodness sakes, ask them… perhaps back in the real world with real events, documentaries,  engagement with your viewers, (forbid the thought ..some sort of reality television) –   the content will need to relate to the needs of the viewers and have an emotional connection with the audience, the viewers … in this world not a virtual one. However being realistic, there will always be an need for entertainment that allows one to escape from the present, fiction or fantasy.

Hollywood is not a special case, get used to it .. change is here … mass media markets are now part of history, the future is niche interests and markets, so find and follow your bliss and there you will find your nirvana.

Back in 2008, I wrote a white paper on the then cliché phrase of the convergence of the internet with mass media .. at the time, I suggested that until band width is comparable with mass media models, that mass media had a little while, probably 3–5 years .. until the TV, Film and Cable business models primarily needed to be aware that there would be a problem, but they should be planning for this event now (in 2008) … because it would be a huge learning experience. However we are there early, bandwidth and distribution / streaming technology has made the jump to online media.

I always say in my day job, what make your business unique, what makes it different, why should the buyer come to you … this is never so apparent as the now, there is almost nothing unique about the Hollywood experience … and a small company can provide the content that people can engage with for a fraction of what the mass media market can .. but the key here is engagement, if I watch it , it is of value … how many times does the content producers play with us with the big fan fare with the new release, the new series, for a industry that is about the production of content .. with so much experience, you would think they would know what the formulae is and get it right more often .. but they so rarely do … occasionally with the NCIS Franchise, Grey Anatomy and Castle they do .. the BBC is about quality (well it was) others are great as well and are successful, however the vast majority of series are just taking up the air time with OK content .. measured by the engagement of people like you and I, as a ratings sample .. as soon as the engagement falls below a set point, they walk .. but seriously, why can’t they get it right more often, after all its their business … they don’t get it right, because they are not listening to the market .. they are producing content for a market that is not listened too or valued.  Does this sound familiar … it should be, it the song that corporations with flawed structures and cultures sing every day in all market segments that are only driven by a short term business view.

Hollywood, the TV Networks and the content producers are in denial, if they think they are in somehow a special case .. technology now has the ability to deliver digital pictures to a mobile device via a GSM or Wireless device .. by next year as the broadband speeds increase by factors of ten, or even multipliers by a 100 times, this will become the norm .. Goodness guys and girls … the future is here … adapt or die.

I have written a number of posts on this subject, going back 4 almost 5 years –  the attitude between of the content producers is desperation, they have almost no original stories that fit the Hollywood mold, and so the content producers regurgitate the same old formulae’s again and again … they do not rely on innovation, they rely on the past to provide their profit for the future … this reminds me of a old example but a good one, how do you think the last manufacturer of buggy whips did at quality control, through, over time, mergers and buy outs, I bet the last manufacturer produced the absolute best   product in the world, in what is defined as a shrinking. niche market, a long way from the Hey Day … we are seeing the same again … Hollywood is producing technically great content, all fluff and wonder, with almost no substance .. all fluff .. and relying on technical tricks, like 3D to enhance the viewing experience, it is not viable to do this .. I paid on 2009 for an adult and one child $40 for the tickets for Avatar .. (not including drinks, travel or parking ) … this is not sustainable.

Putting you content in a box, and controlling access, cannot and will not work in the digital world, this is a paradigm shift ladies and gentlemen, there are plenty of business models that will work, with this new technology, find another business model, even people of the Internet and New Media industry such as Google understand this, for instance, Eric Schmidt ex: Google CEO – “Free is better than cheap” work with adjacent income streams. This maybe an anathema to you, but it is reality.

Hollywood and its compatriots needs to realise that the dollar well is not bottomless, out here in the real world, money is not abundant (well nothing is really in the physical world) you have to appeal to your customers real needs and desires, I wrote a post about the current content production and MPAA  here …. which focused on the real situation of the motion picture content production industry .. their current healthy status and view of the future, please ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to be the one that says I told you so when a corporate liquidator is going through your asset list and seeing what they can make a return on .. do take note.

I have found another article on content and changes necessary by Jim Louderbeck, that brings more to this subject, I would suggest you look at it here

Engagement & Content ..

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Content of an interesting discussion …. starts the thought processes !

My thoughts at the moment, seem to be focused on “engagement”, the reasons why we aren’t and the bigger picture of flawed corporate cultures caused by basic systemic issues …  as I said in the feed yesterday “Everyone is connected, but are we really connecting ?” – I think not .. or worse if we are … we are not listening.  I have some views on the reasons for this … but it amazes me that organisations including governments seem to just go through the motions and are seemingly indifferent to the reality .. which is why their stakeholders .. us .. are not engaged (normally) with their strategies … this comes down to the education of the “masses” as well, as for the Gods in the marble halls – we are just too ‘aware’ for their own good.

However with the fragmentation of the mass market in all areas, including mass media, the outcome for me is that instead of organisations making systemic changes to move with the social and technological changes to improve their internal cultures and thus the engagement and transparency with “us”, they basically keep going the way they are going, and one day when the financial world is sorting through the carcass of what were “great” organisations (including governments probably) …  they will ask .. too late .. “How did this happen” ? 

To cut a long story short, there has to be change in the way things are done … we all need to realise that so far as the Universe is concerned we don’t amount to a hill of beans as individuals (but together ?? ) … as Carl Sagan said in his own meditation … we are just this little blue dot in a relatively small galaxy, within the infinity of the Universe, that’s the reality of our significance … numberless blades of grass or the grains of sands on every beach … in every world springs to mind …

So what can potentially makes us different .. one thing, which is “what if”  we believed in engagement with each other, in true transparency (not just the words) we can become magnificent working together .. so what exactly is stopping us .. fear of “everything”, ego .. perhaps !

But we need to start, with one small step, how about within your own circle of influence, and then the circle will grow, and soon (this relies on engagement) .. we have the ability to foresee the magnificence which can be a social engaged one world …  utopia, even possible ?? … it must be possible as I can see our potential …probable .. I hope so .. I hope I see the start of it before my time is over .. well this time around anyway.

There needs to be one thing,  a world wide social revolution, that holds Governments at all levels accountable and likewise all levels of business … how about we bring all levels of abuse and inequity to the surface …. without all of the hype and b/s of the news organisations who are basically there to sell their own product, their content… so we come back basically to transparency and accountability … so long as there is a “rating” to be improved .. we cannot trust in the ethics of the organisation, who are only motivated by money .. for me (now) money is like the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow .. when you get to it, there is nothing there … and I can tell you from personal experience that money and materialism does not make you happy  … but I guess that is something you need to find out for yourself.

By the way, if I hear one more time, “We have always done it this way … “ but this is my point exactly … and here you are talking with some organisation that is in need of change, sometimes surgical change. In any  organisation, you must be proactive and always be curious and strive for excellence. To drive policy … that is the function, or it is supposed to be of the Board / owner and the CEO .. to work on the question .. here is the direction we we want to go, how do we get there ? Too many CEO’s work in the company and therefore never understand the reality which is that their company is not entitled to anything .. they may have the best / greatest most exciting wiz bang product or idea in the Universe, but unless you really engage with your market, (before – you take it to market, so they are part of the process) – it will rarely succeed.

Ok .. time for my exercise …

You and Blogging

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I have been taking a lot of note of what happens on Blogs and in Twitter as relates to marketing and engagement … I have noticed one thing that seems to stand out, and it is said far better by others than I can.

The first is Glen Allsop who writes for Copyblogger.com, his post

Why Nobody Cares About Your Content (And What to do About it)

I seriously couldn’t say it any better myself.

Please take note …. the content of your blog has to matter to me … as a reader .. if it does not matter to me, well the next site is a click away.

I have other suggestions for excellent Marketing sales advice at the blogs of Seth Godin .. in particular the realities of the process at his link Seth Godin and Darren Rowse at true expert at this … with over 320,000 readers can be found at Problogger.net and an article of interest from his site about becoming a pro blogger here

I would also refer you to the three basic rules of sales blogging, be the expert, the authority a reader is seeking  by Attracting Readers, Engaging with them (with content) and Convert these contacts to sales …

I hope that this helps

Customer /Reader Engagement – Twitter

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

What is the essence of Social Media Communications ?  There is a wide gap in the understanding about the use of these channels for communication, such as Email, Twitter, RSS or even a properly constructed (from a communications work flow viewpoint) website. Communications in whatever form needs to be carried out respectfully and inclusively, rather than the norm, which is to use these subscribed people as the equivalent of Email fodder –  no wonder it has been said that over 90% of people opt-out .. me included.

Why is it so hard,all forms of communications are a conversation, and to foster and nurture that connection the tone has to be informative, respectful  and inclusive. There very few organisations that do it well. So for the understanding of the majority of Corporate and other “bricks and mortar” organisations .. including News Corporation and many other old media icons –  please take note.

“Communications with direct stakeholders as well as the wider community, which includes your customers –  via Website, Email, Twitter and even Facebook should not be seen as a cost of doing business …. it is your business …. if you are not here to communicate in a transparent fashion to build the relationship, then what in heavens name are you here for ? “  If you do not nurture the relationship with a view to engaging with your “subscribers”, your stakeholders, you will end up out of business.

Stop for heavens sake playing lip service to the idea of “Social Media” it so pains me to see otherwise credible companies, doing it so badly.

Let’s go back to basis … and start with Twitter

According to Twitter … Twitter allows you to answer the question, “What are you doing”

However Twitter is also a incredibly powerful tool which is capable of reaching out to thousands, even millions of people near instantly.

For me, the primary function of Twitter is to establish and build a relationship with your subscribers, your customers, your stakeholders, those people who have decided to engage with you.  This is by and large for the larger population, an emotional connection, where the unfollow button is a click away, mind you even that, because of the near instantaneous nature of Twitter, is a response ( a poll if you like) to what you have done –  in this case – the next problem is trying to re-engage – which may then be impossible.

It is used (badly) by many Governments, corporations (old media who should know better), organisations and politicians ( the ultimate self interest group ). However when properly used, it can engage with its readers with relevant content which will build up credibility with the readers for the Twitter content provider, grow relationships, engender interest, gauge or influence opinions, increase excitement concerning a new product launch (news or website product or service), a special event, an election.

Twitter because of its format, does have a multitude (limited only by our imagination) of uses, for example the latest trouble in Egypt, to provide immediate news on the street, as well the first pictures from the downed Flight 1549, which crashed into the Hudson were taken and then uploaded to Twitpic and sent out using Twitter, it is a  immediate communication tool.

My personal view, is that so far, it is the ultimate way to facilitate social interaction –  to understand the views of their engaged (somewhat) readers, allows feedback, basic polling, product ideas .. and opinion,  the ultimate way to draw on the social intelligence. A way to answer or ask the question that is your hearts desire, all within 140 characters.

Use it responsibly to covey snapshots of relevant information. If you include a well worded intro or description, they may engage, (even going viral, by multiple re-tweets) but that is the essence of the difference between Email and twitter, the engagement or commitment of the reader.

Next time …. we will look at Email ….

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