As we all know, performing well in one’s own familiar context or culture doesn’t automatically equal studying or working effectively in an international context and/or in a diverse team. Even though we live and work in an increasingly globalized world, in which we seem to look, sound and think more and more alike, we are faced with deep layers of cultural differences. Navigating these differences and being able to cross bridges requires developing these four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty.
In this webinar SIETAR Germany’s Gary Thomas will take a look at power talking and how it can impact and influence ourselves, those we lead, our peers, our partners and our environment.
Power Talking is a system of using common words to create uncommonly positive outcomes, developed in the USA by George Walther. The phrase he uses to define this concept is ‘What you say is what you get’.
Amy Hoggart explains Brexit. Whilst this is comedy, it is also one of the most accurate versions of the history of our current problem.
Are you one of many parents out there bringing up kids bi- or trilingually? Are you sick of parents of monolingual kids telling you “Wow, your kids are so lucky” whilst you trawl through Maths in another language when you actually never really got it in your mother tongue? You barely understand the order of operations BODMA rule in English let alone its German KLAPUSTRI equivalent?
Oh I get you! I seriously do. All very time consuming when you are working and homework sessions seem to go on forever. Bringing up children bilingually takes a lot of commitment and consistency. I know it as I’ve been there, done it and yes, have two wonderful bicultural and bilingual children that move in and out of languages and cultures with the flexibility of an American Express platinum card.
But the early days were tough. As a British mother bringing two kids up in Austria, a lot of my friends and colleagues were constantly telling me how lucky I was that my kids were bilingual. I knew in my heart of hearts that this would be great long-term and their future employers would profit from their linguistic assets, but at home I was listening to the dreadful sounds of Denglish, and there was a time when every sentence my kids uttered was painful to my ears. These ranged from word order issues such as “Mummy, I want to the toilet go” (German sentence structure), to verb confusion “French did entfallen today” (was cancelled) and general noun usage errors like “Mum, can you make me a Wurstbrot” (open sandwich with luncheon meat) for words that didn’t really exist in English.
The only book I read on the topic was a bit dry (there were unfortunately no blogs back then) but the message I extracted from it was “keep it consistent” and this has definitely paid off.
BILINGUAL TIPS AND TRICKS
Let’s break it down into bitesize pieces and see how raising kids bilingually can be done as effectively as possible. Here are five ways of ensuring that bilingualism works:
- Be consistent. If you are the parent responsible for a particular language, stick to your mother tongue. Even if your child answers you back in the local language and you speak that language fluently or with your partner. Just don’t budge!
- Correct your child in a genteel fashion – the best way to do this is to repeat the incorrect sentence correctly, without pointing it out to the child. This is a bit tedious at the beginning as you may feel that every short exchange turns into a mammoth dialogue, but it really helps.
- Expose your child to as much of the less present language as possible, this may be in terms of TV, films and books from the lesser predominant culture. Find ways of making the language attractive – watching films together, cooking, inviting friends over and speaking the language. Their friends will often find having a bilingual friend rather exciting. Talking to them is really important!
- Keep family ties going with trips to their “other” culture(s) in the holidays and with Facetime & co, it’s easy to stay in contact with grandma and grandad or other relatives across the seas. This should be encouraged at a young age as teenagers sometimes want to travel less for FOMO as they get more integrated into their local life.
- Maybe your child can gain recognised qualifications in a language in the country you are residing in. In the UK it is possible to do a GCSE in most languages and although the school can’t provide all the teaching, they are usually more than happy for pupils go gain qualifications in their mother tongue.
Many parents feel guilty about bringing up kids in different cultures as there are transitional periods when kids suffer from the change. Trilingualism (e.g. parents with two different mother tongues living in a third country) may take a bit more effort and it often depends on the child as to how they cope with it.
Thankfully, it will all unfold with time. My children have been penalised somewhat in school systems – in Austria their lack of knowledge of English grammar such as when to use the present progressive meant they didn’t always get top marks in English despite their fluency.
In the UK they were able to do their German exams (GCSEs and A-Levels) early but they found doing scientific subjects difficult in English because of lack of knowledge and language. In exam scenarios they have to think long and hard about the differences between “examine”, “explain” and “analyse” in questions, partly because this approach is very British but also because their vocabulary is smaller in both languages. And yet they were never considered by the system in the UK to need extra time as they didn’t sound “foreign” enough.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF LINGUISTIC ASSETS
Being a multilinguist is a great skill for future employers and companies love ‘em! The neuroplasticity of bilingual brains is extensive. Do they think out of the box? Quite frankly NO! Because they don’t have any boxes to think out of! They are flexible, open-minded, empathetic, inclusive and very useful team members as they see value in and create synergy from different ideas and approaches.
Gone are the days when bilingualism was frowned upon – the tut-tutting of immigrants using their language on public transport or when immigrants were told by kindergartens and schools to speak the local language at home.
It’s something to be proud of and companies definitely do not undervalue linguistic assets. These days being ahead globally means having both knowledge of foreign markets and speaking foreign languages. So being bilingual gives you a step ahead – and it’s okay if your kids are not perfectly balanced bilinguals. The effort and hard work you put in in their younger years is definitely worth it in the long run.
Email Vanessa now at email@example.com to start a conversation on bringing up children multilingually.
And please share if you know anyone who may benefit from reading this.
About the author:
Vanessa has been training intercultural communication in various locations for around 14 years and is passionate about helping people relocate and reach their maximum potential from their time abroad.
The Achievements of Women
Today I am celebrating the former and future achievements of women worldwide in their battle for equality and respect, and against bias.
Is this just for woman? Of course not. In the contrary, there is an important role in this for men.
If you ever attended one of my trainings you will remember: a battle for the rights of a minority is more likely to have a positive outcome when the majority fights for it. And yes, men are actually still a minority in the Netherlands, by numbers. (in 2018 the Netherlands counted 8,527610 men and 8,654043 women according to CBS, worldwide there are actually more men than women according to Human Development Report of United Nations). So you can’t lean back and relax. International women’s day is your business too, or of your partner or your son or your male leader’s.
One of the positive examples that I know is Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. Another example is the company Gillette with their advertisement campaign for razors where they chose to make a clear statement about the attitude and position that is taught to and about boys. Yes, it is an advertisement by a company and still, they did not have to make a critical social statement but they chose to. Just like the company Nike with their new add about crazy dreams of women. Have a look at the Gillette ad here and the Nike ad here
I would like to hear from you about your good examples!
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day in the Netherlands is “heroine”
Prominent, invisible, dead and alive, great and small. We all know them because in each town and in every village there are and were heroines. Heroines who have been fighting for equal rights for women and their fellow human beings in a special way.
You can remember, honour, congratulate, salute, encourage them or give them a voice.
One of my heroines is Jane Elliott, the founder of the workshop Brown Eyed Blue Eyed. During our conversation last week, she told me that she is nowhere near being ready with her fight against discrimination.
She received the honorary doctorate from the University of Northern Iowa in December last year for a lifetime of determination to make a change in people’s ideology. She finds it disturbing. According to her, it is not a great achievement for a University to give another white, privileged person an honorary doctorate. How seldom does this happen? She sees greater importance in honouring the efforts of so many people of colour for their achievements and efforts. For this reason, she is now thinking about refusing the next doctorate which is going to be offered later this year from another University.
My other heroine is my mother. She taught me to take myself seriously as a woman and to believe in my power. As a single mother she raised two children in a warm and safe home. This was in surroundings that were neither friendly for migrants or for a divorced woman either. She offered one of the first intercultural sewing and cooking classes for mixed groups of women. It was a way to provide dialogue between them and to get to know each other’s culture and language. She did this on top of her fulltime job in a factory. Even today she is my rock, making my work possible by being there with my family while I am out here, working with you.
Who is your heroine? I would be excited to hear about her!
And which heroines do you share and tell others about? I found a book with some great examples to read to (grand)kids, to to use in class, give as a gift to nephews and nieces, or, just to read for yourself:
2017, Elena Favilli, Particular Books
Women in leadership
There is something about women in leadership positions. I have been asked repeatedly if I have a programme for this issue. In the last couple of months I have been working for a couple of clients who kept landing on the same question over and over again: how can we learn from female leadership instead of teaching women to adjust. The outcomes were special and very successful. I am converting them in to a new training course right now. I’ll keep you updated about it in my next mail. And no, the training is not ‘women only’!
Author – Şeydâ Buurman-Kutsal
Supervising | Training | Advisor
Contant – Mobile phone; +31-6 27 40 66 61
Into the Valley of Stupidity Rode the 600, MPs
Warning – Contains Humour, flashing lights and insults for BOTH Labour and the Conservative Party – It is Insult Inclusive!
Must Try Harder – Poor Communication
600 MPs campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU. They did so because it made sense for trade, defence, jobs and the NHS.
And they did such a poor job of campaigning that, evil marketing genius, Dominic Cummings and the Leave campaign, easily kicked their collective arses and won. Ouch.
Must Try Harder – Arrogance
Before getting D – for communication skills, they cockily assumed that no one would be exposed to 1000,000,000 Facebook adds containing, persuasive, attractive but wholly untrue slogans – Take back control, Britain for the British, A Leave vote will save the NHS, We will get back our lost UK Sovereignty, Save the bendy banana, etc. MPs assumed an easy referendum victory and then overcommitted – The Government did not set the bar high enough requiring a 66% result before a constitutional change was triggered – Even, not-so democratic Turkey, managed that. They said that this vote would be final, thus changing an advisory referendum into a vehicle allowing the educationally deprived British public to make direct British law for the first time in history – INSANE.
Must Try Harder – Rat-Ification
And then the Labour leadership got behind job reductions, economic recession, loss of foreign investment, NHS staff shortages and the Tory and right wing media ideological coup that is Brexit, saying they would deliver a secret rainbow, paradise and unicorn version of Brexit where Bambi’s mum would be brought back to life and everyone would go to work on hover-scooters. (You can’t say that I am wrong because no one has ever seen their plan!)
Must Try Harder – Forget Britain
And whilst this shaming and shameful charade has been playing out, like the end of the Roman Empire – None of the real British issues have been dealt with. We have lost time, money and the political will to sort out key systemic UK problems because these very British issues have all now been blamed on Brussels – INSANE.
It was not Brussels that made some regions of the UK poorer than others – The EU offered salvation to these troubled poor spots with regional EU investment money. After Brexit, that cash lifeline will now disappear. They did not cut Government support for local councils by 60% – The UK Government did that to top up the coffers after bailing out failed UK banks after the 2007 – 2008 UK / US Sub-Prime bank scam. It was the UK Government that chose to let in all the EU workers in 2004 – They were needed then and are needed now to fill jobs, work hard and make a net positive tax contribution to this country – We could have controlled the flow of incoming hard workers at ANY time. There has never been a Brussels / EU legal directive that Britain has disagreed with. Why should there be? Why would 27 reasonable states cook up a law that was repellent to us? They wouldn’t. And we have always had a veto on adopting new EU laws anyway. Even the UKs stupidest negotiator, Dumb David David David Davies admits that we have never disagreed with any new EU laws, “It is the principle”, he says with the sort of simple arrogance that makes you want to cry, laugh and puke, all at the same time.
Must Try Harder – Selfish Selfish Selfish
MPs and Head MPs continue to put job security and their personal ambitions before country. This is, morally…treasonous. TMPM just and only wants to hold on to her job for another week, and another week, and another week. That is all – She does not want consensus, a great deal for business, solutions for the regions, or a safe and protected NHS. No – Just her job, for one more week. Last week was proof of that with, “I will go off to Brussels to ask them to re-open the closed UK-EU negotiations and remove the backstop, which took 2 long years to agree upon.” Impossible (or as the right wing press would tell you – A great victory of TMPM) All she wants is the PM job… for another week.
Must Try Harder – Jezza
F knows what he wants. A not so secret Euro super sceptic, he has played an awful tactical long game, hoping not to be PM (he never wanted that) but for labour to walk over the bombed out Tory rubble of a failed Brexit, into power and Government. A fairly avoidant strategy, based, not on his successful leadership (there hasn’t been any) but depending on Tory humiliation and British people leaving their Brexit CULT of their own free will (Maybe he needs further education on Cults to realise that people trapped on the inside of them almost never leave of their own free will.)
Oops – What he didn’t reckon on was the uselessness of MPs, the power of the media to make Brexit still seem like a reasonable option (Brexit was at no time a better economic plan than staying in the EU. There was never a Brexit plan. There couldn’t be one, and, there is not going to be a better choice than trading from WITHIN the EU, any time soon.)
God knows why JC wants an election – TMPM would probably get an outright majority by the time the press has made Jezza into Soviet Satan and the majority of good British people finally admitted that they STOPPED THINKING, READING OR CARING about Brexit, sometime in Autumn 2016 and now, simply, wanted it all to be over.
Must Try Harder – Facts Fact Facts
All the facts are against what 600 MPs are going to do next – MPs will now be fully complicit in grinding out some sort of half-cock divorce with the EU, and, then grinding grinding out 5 to 10 years of post divorce EU trade negotiations with 27 states, where UK PLC will move either from, our current, First Class and Beneficial EU trade agreement to a Second or Third Class Non-Beneficial Agreement. – MPs will now “help” their 70 million constituents by deciding whether we shoot ourselves only in one foot, in booth feet OR, in the head! That is what our 600 MPs will decide for us. Well worth their £77,000 salary, topped up with some dodgy expense claims. And, well worth our votes and continuing support…?
It’s never too early to sidestep a cult
We don’t have to stretch and think of Waco, ISIS or the Moonies to find examples of Cult recruitment methods at work today. There will be many attempts to recruit you this year, much closer to home.
Whether it is Veganism, Brexit, continued support for Trump’s wall, Sci-entol-ogy, The NRA or Jehovah’s Witness – All have disturbing aspects of a Cult and we need to be more aware of the mechanisms they employ to protect ourself and our loved ones from being inducted against our conscious will.
BTW – If you are part of one of these groups, reading this article will in no way change you. Your programming will enable you to easily resist the 5 points below – In fact you will have already been inoculated against anything in written form that calls your group a cult. And, articles such as this one will drive you in deeper as they act as proof that the “enemy without” exists, thus reinforcing your commitment to your group.
Bizarrely, it is the phenomenon of your inoculation that forms part of the proof that your group is… a cult.
5 False assumptions about cults.
We think of US extremes and people being taken away from their families, being brainwashed to reject all outside communication and performing any act to support and show loyalty to their charismatic leaders – Including bringing in cash and actively recruiting new members. Yes that describes the obvious destructive cult, but be warned, there are other versions that can be equally bad for your rights, your agile mind and your future.
- Destructive Cults only prey on the weak – As you sit amongst your small family, reading a newspaper that is supposedly part of the free press, you may feel pity for the poor saps sucked into some a remote compound or made to sleep with their cult leader.
But, is it time the alarm went off? Actually, the sick, simple and poorest in our community are not the main target of cult recruitment. It is YOU. The hypnotic mechanisms of an effective cult induction programme are, actually, reasonably sophisticated and work best on the educated mind. Most dangerous is the thought that your education is sufficient to protect you from cult messages or you will never be inducted into a cult because you live your life exercising choices, freedom and your wits. Remember. there are those that went to investigate and never came back…
- Negative force is used in the recruitment process for cults
Whilst the mechanisms are manipulative and powerful, force is not normally part of the initial process. The opposite is the case. Love, energy and acknowledgement of the individual are the tools that will attract you in at the beginning (You will be enslaved later.) In my work with corporations as a soft skills trainer, I see that tough love by management is used as part of a behavioural regime of intermittent behavioural reinforcement, that conditions executives to work extra hard, buy into stretch goals and sacrifice more of their free time and other choices in the service of the main corporate mission and a big company vision.
With cults, a dirtier and more subversive version of this happens later in the conversion process and cult induction journey. To start with, the targeted individual is showered with praise, positive affirmation and is deliberately encouraged to feel fabulous and great about themself. This aims to break down the barriers that any sane individual would have when contemplating joining a band of isolated extremists.
The subtle part of the process then follows. The target passes through a barely noticeable series of non-return doors. These suck the prey in and make resistance difficult. Think about yourself at this point. You are really nice, middle class, and an educated person. With a good level of self-worth? So, what will it be difficult for you to do in these surroundings – being showered with love by decent and, supposedly, like-minded people? The answer – Be rude, ask challenging questions, get angry or walk out. (For the Brits it is, “I didn’t want to make a fuss.” This allows the brainwashing to take hold…
- They keep you there by force
The mechanisms of the one-way route during your induction into a cult are ingenious by design. Once your mind has flipped over from resister to congruent follower, You will be filled with a simplified alternative version of reality and “educated” that all other ways are not just wrong but that they threaten the existence of the cult itself. Brilliant gas lighting. When you are fully under the spell of the cult, you will eventually be trusted to venture out on your own. You will be theoretically free to run away – but you will not.
And, it is YOUR mind that will keep you there.
You will, by this stage, super-believe in the tenants of the cult. Hour upon hour of repetition of the key cult messages and models will have worn you down and ensured your compliance with the beliefs of the cult group. And, you will be super-inoculated against all attempts by outsiders to rationalise with you, contact you or plead with you to leave.
So clever is the communication strategy, that the more you plead the more the new cult recruit will smile and say, “They said you would say that.” Evil genius – Your newly brainwashed logic circuits will assign the role of “testing your faith” to outsiders where their pleas make you an active participant in maintaining the cult’s parallel universe. The outsider’s logic will ensure the new cult recruit now believes that the all-wise cult leader was RIGHT all along!!! In a twisted way – you have to admire their dirty craft.
- I live in a democracy and am, therefore, immune from cult recruitment
No, there will be a point in your life when you will be vulnerable. This will come when you are in a state of emotional flux – The death of a parent / child / friend, divorce, recovering from long illness or after being made redundant.
At this point in your life journey, your normal programming about, “Life being fair” or “You get out what you put in” etc. will fail you. In this moment there will be no easy answers at hand. It is now that you will find yourself most open to external warmth, love and the “meaning” of a cult. This is when their powerful weapons of persuasion will work best on you.
Your uncertainty and doubt is their opportunity.
Think of young offenders in prison – lonely, frightened and confused – perfect fodder for the clear, simple story of a radial preacher – Providing a richer context and narrative for their poor and low value lives. It is almost too easy.
- Charisma won’t work on me – I am too rational
People are not rational. That is a myth. We buy emotionally, hate irrationally and our fears can be manufactured quickly, grown cheaply and exploited simply. We are herd animals with the additional hindrance of actively seeking out stories, membership to tribes and having a desperate need to be loved and approved of.
Time and again in Europe, South America and the USA, a population has been swept away by a charismatic leader, only to pay a great cost later. Cult mechanism fuelled the growth of Soviet communism, Chinese communism, Nazi propaganda, the messages of Brexit, and, the divisive communications of British Trade Unions in the 1970’s and the persuasion of the many to give up so much for the benefit of the few. (- please note the balance.)
A Cult Leader
A great public speaker, who understands rhetoric and the key fears of their target audience, can quickly work out, practice and find a platform to deliver cult promises representing a clear and simple alternative to the current state of business.
You too can become a cult leader…
You could do it yourself – Just jot down all the complaints of your community (no matter the actual origin), work out which faction to blame (it does not have to be this targeted group’s fault), come up with a simple alternative reality (it does not have to work) and, hey presto – You have a cult and a speech that will definitely start to draw people in and have them loyally follow you.
You will grab the hearts, minds and wallets of the people who resonate with your list of rapidly cobbled together complaints – just about every time.
For good or evil, a repeated message of clarity, simplicity and improvement works – Obama’s “Yes we can”, Blair’s “For the people”, May’s “The will of the people”, Trump’s “We are going to build a wall”, Thatcher’s “No one has to remain working class – vote for me and your can own your own home”, or, Boris and Dominic Cummings’ “Take back control and save the NHS with lots of money we currently pay to the EU.”
It is so much easier to start a cult than fix real core problems. Problems are
complex, multi-sourced and require intelligent consensus, time, money and commitment from a disparate range of stakeholders. Gathering the necessary support requires… a compelling vision, a charismatic speaker and the recruitment of followers. OMG – we are back here again!
And a democracy (multiple groups having a say and being listened to) makes it much easier for one strong and clear alternative cult guru’s voice to be heard and followed.
Irony stacked upon irony
And once in, there is no quick way out. Rational debate is not possible. The time for listening will be over. Facts will fail.
For the cult member, the need and desire to stay congruent with the cult’s key messages, to feel consistent, loyal and belong to the cult in-group, requires violent rejection of logic and all alternatives. And, more – Rejecting, even the possibility, that their cult might have got it wrong.
And it is this dynamic that generates aggressive words, physical intimidation, lawyers letters, or, at its most miserable extreme, fighting to the death in a foreign land, whilst deluding yourself that you are dying for something valid and real, and, you are dying as a sainted martyr.
Stay vigilant people
Your next cult recruitment message promising a good and simple alternative the complex issues we face today will be coming your way today or tomorrow. Wake up and smell the coffee before you end up being asked to drink the Kool-Aid!
About the Author
Matthew Hill is an Intercultural Trainer, Speaker and Marketeer.
How Many Of The 10 OLD Marketing Crimes Are You Guilty Of?
With the rampaging march of technology, social media and ever diminishing audience attention spans, it pays now, more than at anytime in the last 20 years, to keep on top of your marketing output. We are all competing with more suppliers over a greater area and need to stay ahead of the, “Not them again” fatigue that causes poverty through customer irritation.
In no particular order here are the TOP 10 MARKETING CRIMES – Do keep score of how many old habits you are guilty of as you read and check your results at the end. Be honest now. Good luck…
1) A Newsletter carved in stone. You stressed and worried about the first one you launched to 50 people all those years ago and were so proud at receiving your first pleasant response. Do you remember? You may have even received an order for business from your first few issues! Wow.
Several years later, you have fallen into a routine. You haven’t updated your format. And, the content is all about you. The text is repetitive and tired and you are going around the block for the umpteenth time giving out educational advice that, in your heart of hearts, you know most people either already know, are not interested in, or, think is slightly quaint and, itself, out-dated.
Action – Start again. Ask, “Who will be my paying customers over the next 2-3 years?” Where are they? What do they read / listen to / watch? What channel works for them? And, where is the GAP today in their knowledge or wisdom that I can fill with insights and service?
(More on this in a moment)
2) The Repeating Repeating event. Again, do you remember feeling like you had just discovered penicillin when you held your first Breakfast Briefing, Monthly Mixer or Multi-Speaker Do? And, good for you. You put your all into inviting senior decision making people to a high value demonstration of your wisdom and originality and it was probably lapped up by your audience and generated a healthy return on your invested time and money.
Times have moved on. Now everyone seems time scarce, attention scare and oh, so cynical. Your prospects now send juniors who spend too much time looking at their phone. Your venue costs have gone up and your returns have all but disappeared. And the quality of speaker you can attract to help you out has diminished too.
Action – Once more – Is it time to think again? – Do you need a physical event? If so, what about partnering with a complimentary service or product provider and splitting the cost whilst enlarging your potential base? Who could dove-tail with you and bring a wider and fresh audience? As customers become more scattered around the globe, is a remote version of this event a good idea – A webinar or filmed demonstration? It is definitely time to change your whole approach?
3) Your Dusty Flat Website – It was so exciting when you updated your old 5 page brochure site to include rotating pictures, a call me back button, or even added a news feed. Wow – Nosebleed territory.
Your returns on the website peaked many moons ago and people are finding you through other means now. As you read through your site today, you realise it all about you you you. It is overly factual and your copy fails to engage the customer or prospect. It does not interrupt them and take them on a journey. There is no story, no insight and no call to action that is compelling enough for them to – CALL YOU. And, you have a list of teaser happenings to lure new customers in that makes two assumptions –– That you have enough traffic to make this work for you, and, that they don’t mind the thin content you are providing as bait.
Action – Let us get real. Unless you are going to spend real bucks on getting something web-tastic with a shopping cart, then we are probably wasting our time here putting all our eggs in the website basket. Whilst websites are no longer number one, why not think about an intelligent strategy to proceed with. There are cheaper and more flexible versions of websites via WordPress that incorporate blogs, measure responses and allow for far more interactivity. And ones that allow opt ins for joining your list that can be connected to your newsletter via an autosponder sequence to take new joiners on a relevant and escalating journey of engagement, and, with a proportion of them, will lead to an initial sale – an automated journey that does not require human intervention and the salary that accompanies it.
4) Words Words Words – Not SuperCopy – It still amazes me that plenty of otherwise bright company executives (over performing in their core areas of expertise), continue to operate with a complete blind spot to accepting that persuasive and well written copy actually generates action, a response and represents a return on time and the marketing money you spend! Instead we see 1000s of words about me me me, facts, features and detail that bore readers, turn away needy customers and fail to promote the company’s best assets – Their product / service, the quality of your interaction, or, your unique selling advantage.
The answers are out there enabling you to learn about key influencing copy devices that will move your observer prospects up to an energy level where they take action; that will shift those passive but needy customers to reach out and get in touch with you. And, with automated systems, they will do more than half of this whist you are getting on with delivery.
Action – If you can’t wait until number 10) then do call me (Matthew Hill 07540 65 9995) with your details and we can talk through the immediate actions you would be wise to contemplate, decide to do and get started on.
5) Non Selling Sales People – When you employed that merry band of brothers and sisters in your sales department, you did not realise just how sales-phobic they would become and how quickly they would chose to grow cosy and cosseted in that comfortable office you provide, making nice warm calls to already warm connections whilst failing to break new ground and look for new players on the block.
Given a chance to change, you find that they defend their cosy “keeping in touch” non-selling version of communication… to the death, and, resist your pleas for them to step up their game and do something challenging and relevant.
Action – Is it time to challenge your whole sales and marketing process and simplifying it down to something that works?!?! Your new successful process will emerge as you study the sales decision making process of your median customer? Where do they begin, enquire, question? And, What do they need? What assurances work? What demonstration and proofs convert? What words work? And, What is the quickest or optimum route from “Don’t know you” to “Know you, like you, trust you and let’s buy from you on multiple occasions”? When would now be an excellent time to start asking these questions?
6) E Mailed to sleep – Whilst E Mail has been around for 25 years, it’s abuse and massive overuse has lead to GDPR, spam screening and a vast decrease in the power of any single E Mail.
The average marketing executive still thinks they know how to write a compelling and hip message that will work. OMG.
Action – If there is one thing to commit to doing in the next 12 months, make it be this – Find out how to write compelling, sincere and action inducing E Mails that work. Please, pretty please and please with a cherry on the top do this one thing.
7) Brochures – There was a time when having your own bespoke, designed and professionally printed brochure was a sign of status and kudos. With studio package shots and agency copy, they were a thing of beauty and value.
Now everything moves quickly, is on-line and uses realistic looking E mock ups of printed books and boxes, making your product look even better than it does in real life. So, what is the point of a brochure? And how much does it cost to print and send out one copy? And, does anyone read them anymore?
Action – Break that habit. Add up the real cost and ask yourself if it is the way to go? Dan Kennedy, the undisputed king of marketing, would advice moving that budget into flyers, newsletters and offers. And, who is to say he is wrong?
8) Trade fairs – Do you remember 2 or 3 recessions ago, how much fun trade fairs were? We had gift bags that contained things we wanted! Alcohol flowed freely. There were gimmicks and gadgets and, the pace of change in some industries was so fast you HAD to be there, to get the education and new contacts you needed, just to keep up.
All of that has gone. The budgets are slashed, the attendees are now juniors and not decision makers, the speeches are pat and less inspiring, and, the gifts are not worth collecting.
Action – Let’s get back some of the magic of the olden days with a bit of pizzazz, some energy and humour and a speech that has a CTA – Call to Action at the end of it. And, let us make it super-professional. Save money by designing your communication pathway to qualify out the time wasters and tire kickers. And, actively qualify in your real prospects, engage with them, warm them up, and, follow up proactively, professionally and with purpose. Have them remember that first meeting with you at the trade fair as the start of something exciting and exceptional.
9) Social Media –
Do you remember your first brave steps on Facebook and LinkedIn? And do you remember your first successes? Oh, treasured memories.
Oh dear – If there were just one Crime Sheet area that had to be pointed out, this would be it. – A litany of FB and LI groups with 72 members. Me Me Me posts that singularly fail to connect with your customers. Twitter accounts with 17 followers. I could go on…
Action – Stop your awkward half-hearted presence campaigns on social media now before you embarrass yourself. And, start the whole thing again. Curate meaningful content, test your text, write from the perspective of the reader and not your company, and, don’t just scatter your seed to the wind – Ask for opt ins and exchange a small meaningful product for your target’s contact details and permission to communicate with them.
10) Database – My regular readers will now be mouthing my following sentence – “If you don’t have a database, you don’t have a business”. And by database, today, we do not mean a list typed in from that dusty collection of business cards kept in each marketing employee’s desk. And, we don’t mean the list you call a database that the Trade Fair gave you – That is a spam list of people who actively don’t know you and are becoming increasingly irritated at getting random offers and interruptions just because they visited the Excel centre once and came away a some lousy bag full of pointless brochures and low quality gifts.
All data was not created equal – The undifferentiated pile of contacts!!! – Are they hot, warm or cold? How old are they? Are they prospects, suspects, peers or competitors? What contact have you had with them? Do you have permission to contact them? Have you qualified them IN or OUT? – NOBODY KNOWS.
Action – Start again – Use your intelligence to start a completely new database with a big set of doors on it. Only let in warms and hots. Qualify and examine each dataset on the way in. Have one plan for the warms, and a more energetic one for the hots. Automate the generation of new enquiries and spend some time working with each one to get those all-important first encounter touch points right.
Go back and ask, “Who do you best serve?” Who will benefit most from your wisdom and experience? And, build a funnel to contact and develop all warms and hots in an intelligent, legal and optimally effective way.
Do forward this post please to someone who urgently needs to get with the programme.
Add up your score – How did you do? Any sweaty moments? (Have you been totally honest?) – Where are you falling short or finding yourself stuck in bad old habits and the past? Please now read on about what to do next, based on your results…
Score – So, what is your Crime Sheet number?
***3 or Less – You are in the modern era. You are keeping yourself abreast of modern methods, investing in knowledge and marketing. You are on the ball – We know you will do well this year and next. Good for you.
***4 – 7 – OMG – Call this emergency hot line now! – Matthew Hill 07540 65 9995 – You are at the edge of the cliff and it could crumble under your feet sooner than you think. Growth is by no means assured for this year or next. Now is the time to take action.
***8 – 10 – Don’t worry – Whilst you are beyond help, you will have hopefully bagged enough cash when your old marketing delivered cash and peaked in a bygone era and you do not need to be competitive in the modern era. We wish you well in your hobby company and upcoming retirement.
About the Author
Matthew Hill helps organisations and solopreneurs spruce up their marketing efforts to quickly, cleanly and effectively leap into short sequence, copy driven and ethical marketing endeavours that seek out active customers, interrupt prospects respectfully and exchange value-for-access to allow for a speedy and dignified accent from “Who the hell are you?” to “Ah, great to hear from you. I am looking forward to learn more about how you will be helping me this year”
Matthew has worked with some of the largest companies in the world and now concentrates on small and medium sized training services businesses that wish to turn around their “survival” mode of existence and start to grow top line income, the quality of their target customers, and, begin to create super-fan clients that are happy to rave about you, advocate for you and help you become positively busy, happy and successful.
For a f’ree conversation with zero obligation, do take action now and call me – Leave your details with Matthew Hill on 07540 65 9995. Thanks and speak to you soon.
Collaborate or Die
We are meant to play nicely, work as a team and respect each other. In Part 1, we expanded on 10 reasons why this often fails to happen.
In this Part 3, we now look at the key desirable behaviours that, when practiced mindfully and regularly, WILL produce a team breakthrough, get the group to the goal and leave everyone alive, and, at least on speaking terms at the end.
As you move through the behaviours, ask yourself, “Do I do this? “Can I start doing this?” And, “Will I step up and do this regularly?”
15 Strong Suggestions
- Interrupt your dark defensive moments and fill them with light.
Experienced in so many ways as sarcasm, denial, anger, avoidance and justification, defensiveness – This is the burden suffered by most teams attempting to become more collaborative and effective.
Borrowed from anger management training courses, the best method is to spot the symptoms of early on-set defensiveness and divert the behaviour, diminish it or reverse it. If you are beginning to feel your blood boil, take a walk to the balcony, go smell the flowers and take your imagination to a place of cool, calm tranquillity to “reset” your body’s distracting chemicals.
- Coaching your colleagues through any resistance.
The majority of people will not instantly get behind a fresh idea or new change. They will choose to wait it out, criticise it, or, mount an attack.
Here, a coaching approach can be effective as you focus inside your colleague’s head to access both their imagination and logic circuits to help them do the work of processing change and getting on board for themselves. Questions that help to create different and contrasting futures are good – “What if we carry on as we are? What are the risks of this?” “If we had 10 times the resources available, what should we do next?” “If you were the team leader now, what course of action would you recommend?” Etc.
- Actively listening to your concerned colleague.
The problem with teams is that the confident, privileged and beautiful get most of the airtime. And this dynamic is actually reinforced by everybody in the team – even the oppressed, the shy, or, the outsiders. The reflectors, quiet geniuses and shy analysts are not prone to speak up, do not feel they have permission to speak and, thus, do not take up their share of the microphone.
Related to coaching but intruding less, listening is about getting the whole story out of the coachee / colleague. We can employ minimal encouragement – “That is important, please tell us more” “You were saying…” “And, what does this mean for our team?” Quieter members of the team may be more sensitive. If you overdo it they will clam up – Maintain a positive, still attention with minimal non-verbal, para-verbal and verbal prompts. This will be good for evening out the group’s share of voice, listening to all and including their ideas and concerns as well as counting the vote of everybody to form an inclusive group dynamic that will be effective in taking a diverse group all the way to a stretched goal.
- Building muscular resilience.
We can see resilience as the ability to bounce back from pressure, stress or becoming knocked off balance, AND, still being about to function effectively. In the politics of the team, possessing greater resilience can take people all the way to the top. And a lack of resilience will see someone being relegated to the oppressed group, or demoted to basic executive duties. They are sent to eat at the children’s table.
Resilience comes in 4 flavours – Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Teams or individuals can be encouraged to participate in simple and repeated exercises to stretch and build their resilience muscles. Physical – Regular exercise, monitoring diet and alcohol consumption. Emotional – Developing the habit of experiencing positive emotions through appreciation, gratitude and laughter. Mental – Simple maths exercises. Spiritual – Practicing your faith or thinking pure thoughts.
- Learning to resolve difference intelligently.
It is easy to sulk, withdraw and dismiss a different opinion from your own. This actually represents a form of defensiveness and will not allow a team to become optimally collaborative.
Imagine learning to reconcile difference to a level where, “I am OK & You’re OK”, becomes the default setting for the group. (We discuss a positive exception to this later).
What difference would this make to the atmosphere and energy in your team? The simplest method when two parties are on opposite sides of an argument or behaviour style (e.g. direct communicators v indirect communicators), is to reconcile the difference. We ask first, what is the benefit and contribution of each style, acknowledging that a diversity of approaches is actually NECESSARY for success. We then work on how we can accommodate those two benefits in team communications or by putting them into the project plan. E.g. direct people tell the unvarnished truth, which can be invaluable when a crisis is looming. Diplomatic indirect people keep the channels of communication open, maintain higher levels of trust and ensure the probability of long-term communication. It is easy to see that both styles are required. The task then is to design simple protocols that allow both styles to operate with respect and appreciation within the team.
- Two heads are better than one when solving a problem.
If you are a hammer, your default mode is to bash things on the head. Not great when changing the batteries in your watch. Again a diversity of approaches will be more effective.
Practicing problem solving can be a bonding process that deepens the respect and positive emotions of all team members. Weekly intellectual challenges involving abstract problems can be a fun team building activity that is secretly growing the team’s capacity to handle complex issue, resolve involved messes, and, operate smoothly and efficiently when a live business problem comes along.
- Trust underpins it all.
Without trust we have defensiveness, solo silos, and Machiavellian plots.
There are 3 components to trust – Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. Each must be in play to ensure positive vulnerability and promote trust in a high functioning collaborative team. Ability – Giving recognition to the skills, competence and experience of each team member is a way that quickly establishing better communication and inclusion in any team. X becomes the go-to person on subject Y. Benevolence – By this we mean that each member declares and proves that they are not wishing a negative outcome upon their colleagues. They wish to allow a beneficial or, at least, neutral state to exist. Integrity – My word is my bond. It is essential to continually keep your promises in order to maintain confidence in the overall performance of any team. If there is a weak link, the whole side will feel let down.
- The Licensed Pessimist.
The risk to any team is Groupthink, where a strong personality is accepted as leader and their ego expands to a level where they propose actions that represent foolhardy risk taking. The compliant and passive nodders around them, allow and encourage adoption of this fast-track route to disaster.
Challenging the precepts of 7. we deliberately create a rotating and official role that allows and encourages a critical view and gives full permission for that person to voice their concerns – The Licenced Pessimist. “What if the market does not recover? What then?” “Those numbers appear way too optimistic. How did you derive them?”
When immunity from revenge and animosity is established in the group’s ground rules, the role becomes effective and essential in stress testing all new input to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.
- Holding everybody accountable.
Like a sulky child, the wayward executive defends their actions by saying – “Well I didn’t agree with the decision to go this route in the first place.” (Though they remained silent or did not actively disagree, when given the chance before the decision was made.) It is this lack of ownership that will lead to a suboptimal quality of work and poor outcomes.
Asking everybody to say the word, “agree” can be enough to reduce the number of passive passengers on the bus and encourage everybody to process the information to form an active and personally held view. More people are then included in the process of building strategy, planning and problem solving.
- Regular Brainstorming.
Habits are quick to form and hard to change. It is easier to repeat what you did yesterday than take a different approach today in order to get a stronger result tomorrow. We are conservative, risk avoidant and take comfort in repetition. The zone we live in is far from comfortable – We stay in horrible jobs, relationships or houses not out of comfort, but out of habit.
This activity will also count towards your resilience exercises. Brainstorming is about expanding the creative connections that you allow your imagination to make by expressing yourself freely. Exempt from criticism and editing, brainstorming moves in waves. There will be a burst of output, a lull, a second burst, and then a second lull. Keep going. It is often in the third burst that the gold is to be found.
- Turning passive to active.
What is written on the tombstone of most failed companies, “Well, we tried”. Not hard enough. Underperformance is supported in meetings and work by grey language, low energy sentences and half-hearted commitment. “I’ll try” is at the heart of all of them.
Challenge sluggish, monotone responses to requests. Do not take “Maybe” for an answer. When you are asked, “How you are in the morning?”, upgrade your answer from a monotone, “ffiinne, I suppose” to, “SUPERB AND FANTASTIC. THANKS FOR ASKING.“
- Get rid of blame.
The best companies react intelligently to crisis, drama and adverse external circumstance. They do not start to defend, point the finger or avoid responsibility.
The next time you have a company fire to put out and you follow the charter (point 15.) you will experience a difference in atmosphere and will have the chance to see the benefit of full-on collaboration in action. When people are scientific in their description of events this can be captured on a timeline. When they are objective in outlining the symptoms and measured in their analysis of likely causes, then you will experience the pay-off in investing to build collaborative mechanisms in your team.
- Moderation and facilitating collaboration.
The accidental hero boss can unintentionally ignore valuable input in order to maintain their hero brand. The neurotic and scared boss may shut down intelligent challenge, not because of the quality of the input, but due to their own insecurities. And, the time-scarce leader can move the meeting along, unconsciously, only asking group thinkers and fans for input, driven by a misguided and dangerous perceived need for peace and pace rather than quality and challenge.
The job of a great moderator is to even out the debate and include a wider base of people, delivering a more diverse and representative contribution – Sampling a diversity of opinion and actively encouraging the quieter sources of wisdom to share their contribution, speak up and be heard.
- Good Conflict.
Many companies employ “nice” people who are expected to be “nice”. What actually happens is they become avoidant and this allows stupider ideas to become policy in action, leading to disaster.
Promote the licensed critic, the robust challenger and include different opinions (and integrate these exotic gems via the process of reconciliation.) The smart move is to establish a protocol for allowed any civilised challenge within a robust but protected environment, to produce better suggestions, better processes, more considered solutions and a better customer experience. All this is done to generate improved products, services and engagement, the end result of which, will be experienced in higher income and healthier levels of profit.
- Capture collaboration in a charter How many great training initiatives generated on a Friday are quietly killed off at the 8.30AM reporting meeting on a Monday? A. Most of them. It is easier to let innovation, change and challenge die on the vine and to go back to those old habits that are, actually not serving you well, but feel like an old pair of shoes – At least familiar. The problem is, they represent a slow company suicide.
The formulation of a charter for collaborative team behaviours, formed collaboratively. Is that too obvious? It does not start with a stone tablet issuing from the CEO’s office. It does not come from an expensive off-site weekend jolly for Directors only. It comes from the floor. It evolves. It represents the voice and heart of everybody. And, it is signed up to by everybody – Volunteers stepping up, not coerced group thinkers just nodding along.
About the Author – Matthew Hill is a facilitator, trainer, writer, and public speaker, working with UK and International teams to get them beyond their blockages to create durable results in an exciting peer-to-peer atmosphere of exchange, fairness and excellence.
Contact Matthew on 075 40 65 9995 for a short conversation.
PROGRAMME – A BLANK SLATE?
NEUROSCIENZE E CULTURE / BRAIN SCIENCE AND CULTURES
AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Florence Firenze, 4th-6th April 2019
Thursday 4th April (3.00-6.00 pm) – Inaugural session
Palazzo Vecchio, Salone dei Cinquecento
Roberto Ruffino, Fondazione Intercultura Benvenuto/Welcome
Issues about the transfer of culture
Steven Pinker, Harvard University The Blank Slate (video presentation)
Lamberto Maffei, Università di Pisa Guardare, vedere, immagini del tempo
Peter Richerson, University of California Not by Genes Alone: How Culture
Transformed Human Evolution
Martin Gessmann, Hochschule fur Gestaltung Mind Meets Brain: The True Impact of Neuroscience Offenbach am Main on Philosophy
Mai Nguyen Phuong Mai, Amsterdam University There is no blank slate. The role of genes,
neurons, behaviour and geography in the
reshaping of cultures
Panel Discussion (9.00 pm)
Firenze, Hotel Mediterraneo, Centro Congressi
Milton Bennett IDRI Institute – Ying-yi Hong, Chinese University of Hong Kong:
A debate “Culture, Cognition, and Consciousness”
Friday 5th April (all day) – Parallel Workshops
Firenze, Hotel Mediterraneo, Centro Congressi
09.00 -11.00 – We are all human beings
Shalom H. Schwartz, University of Jerusalem Universal values across cultures
Lilach Sagiv, Hebrew University Jerusalem
Richard Nisbett, University of Michigan Culture, genes and intelligence
Andrea Moro, Scuola Univ Sup. IUSS Pavia Sintassi, cervello e lingue impossibili
Alberto Piazza, Università di Torino La conservazione della memoria genetica
Giuseppe Mantovani, Universià di Padova L’educazione interculturale al tempo dei sovranismi
con Simone Giusti Storia globale e traduzione nella scuola
Mark Pagel, University of Reading Origins of the Human Social Mind
Adriano Favole, Università di Torino Nature e Culture: l’irriducibile pluralità
Stefano Allovio, Università Statale di Milano dell’umano
11.30 -13.30 – Cultures and the unconscious
Sudhir Kakar, Psychoanalyst, Goa Cultures and Psyche
Paolo Inghilleri, Università di Milano La cultura e i geni non si trasmettono da soli:
il ruolo della mente
Hannah Monyer, University of Heidelberg Brain Plasticity and Memory
Giacomo Rizzolatti, Università di Parma La doppia vita delle espressioni emozionali
Fausto Caruana, Università di Parma
Neil Levy, Macquarie University Sydney Neuro-ethics
Shinobu Kitayama, University of Michigan Interaction between culture and brain
Romano Madera, Universita di Milano Bicocca Dalla pseudospeciazione al capro espiatorio
15.00 -17.00 – Cervello, coscienza, culture/Brain, consciousness and cultures
David Sloane Wilson, Binghamton University Cultural evolution is a blank slate in the same way as other evolutionary processes
Joseph Shaules, Juntedo University A Deep Culture Approach to Intercultural Learning: Culture Cognition and the Intuitive Mind
Milena Santerini, Università Cattolica Milano Educazione morale e neuroscienze
Franco Fabbro, Università di Udine Basi neuropsicologiche dell’esperienza religiosa
Marcello Massimini, Università di Milano Definire e misurare il valore dello stato di coscienza
Guido Barbujani, Università di Ferrara L’invenzione delle razze
Saturday 6th April (morning) – Plenary session
Firenze, Hotel Mediterraneo, Centro Congressi
- Video-summary of items from previous day’s workshops
- Dialogo su culture, cervello, geni e valori/ A dialogue on cultures, brain, genes and values:
- Ian Tattersall, NY Museum of Natural History
- Susanna Mantovani, Università di Milano Bicocca
- Francesco Cavalli Sforza, Università San Raffaele di Milano
12.00-13.00 Wrap up and Conclusions
- Roberto Toscano, Presidente Fondazione Intercultura