Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Facebook capitalises on Celebrity Endorsements and Influencer Marketing

August 31, 2017

Recently Facebook announced new controls and capabilities for branded content marketers.

What does this mean?

For brands

This means that any influencer sponsored content can be seen and promoted by the brand once it is tagged and flagged. This gives the brand the ability to publish the post and also reach bigger audiences by boosting it.

Facebook - Influencer content

Once boosted the post will then appear with a ‘sponsored‘ tag allowing followers to see what is a paid for collaboration and what is not.

Facebook - Influencer posts

Now I know people are thinking about ways of getting around this but lets face it, it’s Facebook and there is no way around the all seeing, all knowing Wizard of OZ!

What will happen and is happening quiet frequently already, is that Facebook will suppress posts that do not carry any budget. Without extra budget a collaboration with an influencer may not generate the desired results/visibility.

A really positive outlook for this new change with Facebook is that brands can have peace of mind when it comes to being properly represented and can be selective with who they work with. Another plus is that the post will appear as originated by the creator with access to the content insights such as reach, engagement, total spend and cost per 1000 impression(CPM) to help them determine the effectiveness of posts that creators tagged them in.

For Influencers/Celebrities

This new way of collaborating on Facebook is a great way to show their followers how selective they are when choosing a brand to work with and to show that they are loyal to brands, not just promoting brands for the sake of it.

A lot of influencers are already very selective about the brands they work with it but this will change how some influencers approach this part of their job.

It will also separate those who have always been true and honest to their followers from those who are taking everything on in order to build a following and reach that “Everyone who wants to work with me” status, ultimately rendering their audience useless!

For PR/Digital Agencies

For agencies this is great news and helps when preparing post-campaign reports as well as building relationships for all involved – We love MEASUREMENT! (well our clients do!).

Your clients can rest easy that the collaborations you have suggested with the influencers you suggested were worth the spend. With access to the content insights all parties can see the results enabling you to measure what activity was the most successful and with what influencer. This can determine who the client might work with again in the future.

This new approach could see brands turning to lesser know influencers or celebrities that are not as much in the limelight as The Kardashians but have a genuine following. Choosing to work with then could allow brands to reach a bigger audience that they may not have tapped into yet.

For more information check out the Facebook announcement here: www.facebook.com/business/news/new-controls-and-capabilities-for-branded-content-marketers

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who have offices in Dublin and Cork. 

Fuzion offer a full Social Media Consultancy service.

10 Years of Hashtags – The Magic is in The Message

August 23, 2017

Hasttags Explained

I see the confused look on their faces and Hashtags are often just one step too far!

What is all this hashtag business?” I get asked.

At times it does feel like we are talking another language…

At my social media courses I think it is the one thing that definitely seems to bother people the most. It is a step too far: On Twitter they understand followers, they get following and know that tweets must be less than 140 characters but the mere mention of Hashtags and it seems to add that Tipping Point of confusion that never fails to get a few moans and groans of exasperation. Too much!

So what the hell are these nasty things and how and when might you use them?

In very simple terms a Hashtag is a means of adding a “tag” or label to a post (tweet) on Twitter by using the “#” symbol followed by a continuous set of characters. This is normally a word or a few words joined together.

For example if I prepared a tweet about a new shop opening in town I might tweet “Great to see a new shop opening on Grafton Street #Positivity

When you do this on Twitter it automatically changes the colour of this text, making it stand out and it also adds some “link” functionality to that word(s). If you click on this “link” Twitter will display a list of all the tweets where this hashtag was used.

In a way it gathers them together, which is really handy if it brings the reader to a bunch of tweets about a topic they were very interested in.

While Twitter will track popular topics and show you the keywords that are used most frequently in posts (trending) it will also track the most frequently used hashtags. If everyone who is talking about a popular topic uses a particular hashtag to label these posts it not only gathers them together but it also helps to get the topic trending.

Hashtag ExplainedSo when might I use a hashtag?

For me the single biggest advantage to the use of a hashtag is the simple colour change to that keyword. The text appearing in a different colour draws the readers attention to it and when used properly it can help to communicate the subject matter of that post. The link functionality as discussed earlier is an added bonus.

You can use your own hashtags (there is no ownership of them) or decide to join in on conversations about topics where a particular hashtag is being used already and use it in your posts – this can give you and your tweet visibility if this topic has stirred up a lot of interest.

For me a hashtag can be used in a powerful way to signify a Key Message of yours or a significant  “Breadcrumb” (click that link for my blog about key messages) that you wish to leave behind about you and your business for the reader.

You might use a hashtag to label posts about:

  • An event or concert #LondonFoodFest or #EP14 (Electric Picnic 2014)
  • Elections #LE14 (Local Elections 2014)
  • A place #Dublin
  • A cause #LGBTRights
  • A sentiment #LoveCork
  • An outlook #Positivity
  • A philosophy #WinHappy
  • A show #Murnaghan
  • Your team #LFC #YNWA
  • Publicising job opportunities #Jobs or #JobFairy

You can use the hashtags in very many ways to suit the occasion and to draw extra attention to the point you want to make or a particular keyword(s) in your post.

Murnaghan

You will find the more progressive TV shows will encourage the viewer to tweet about a topic being discussed and will suggest a hashtag to use – in a way the viewer is asked to “join the discussion“.

Hashtags are also appearing in adverts for brands, where they are often used to help create an association for the consumer between a sentiment and the product or service #LoveLife.

For me hashtags are used best when you decide on a “family” of these, which should be used consistently for you and your business.

Having decided on your key messages you might devise a range of hashtags that might best be used to communicate these little breadcrumbs about you and your business.

For example a restaurant in Dublin who prides themselves on using local artisan suppliers, who have an extensive menu with good gluten free and vegetarian options, who stock a range of craft beers and is very proud of the city and who offer free treats on a Tuesday, might regularly tweet using hashtags such as:

#SourceLocal #Artisan  #GlutenFree  #VegMenus  #CraftBeers  #LoveDublin  #TreatTuesday (hopefully not all at the same time!)

When you are posting you are best keeping your hashtags as short as possible, memorable and try to use them just one at a time in tweets. Used consistently and in the right context you would be surprised how quickly a place gets known for these things.

For example when I tweet I use hashtags a lot to draw attention to particular things in my posts and the ones I use most frequently are #Positivity (when talking about good news or job announcements) #WinHappy (when talking about Fuzion – this is a core philosophy) #FuzionFriday (when talking about our Friday lunch with the team) #FuzionPlaylist (when I mention the music playing in the office).

It amazes me when people play these back to me (“I’d love to join ye for FuzionFriday some day”) in the context that I intended and I then realise that I have managed to convey our key messages effectively by using this simple Twitter device.

I do fully understand people’s frustration with all of this new media and it’s quirks and idiosyncrasies but most of it is built to be easy to use ….once you know how!

You may prefer not to use hashtags at all (sometimes there may be no need) but if you want to get that special message across then start using this new language…

 #HashtagHeaven

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Fuzion Communications offer Social Media Consultancy and Training from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Political Marketing – The Irish Perspective

August 17, 2017

Simpsons - Irish Political Parties

Many phrases such as “political management”, “packaged politics”, “promotional politics”, or “modern political communications”, have been used to describe what is mostly commonly referred to as “political marketing”.

As such, there is a general confusion about the definition of ‘political marketing’ but we can mostly agree that it is where political parties adopt business concepts that help to them to achieve electoral success.

There are three main categories to describe political parties in Ireland, the ‘convinced ideologist’, the ‘tactical populist’, and the ‘relationship builder’.

Notwithstanding a cursory glance, it can hardly be said that any of the political parties in Ireland are a ‘convinced ideologist’, this is where they lead the political market, and ignore public opinion, as they know their political approach is one they believe to be the right one.

Fianna Fáíl and their strategic position on nationalism is interesting, as their actions rarely match up with their past verbal rhetoric.

Fianna Fáil prides itself on a core value of nationalism, yet nationalism does not appear to supersede its aims for electoral success. For example, their past actions while in government have often been to maintain the ‘status quo’ in Northern Ireland, with the last real action being evident in the 1980’s when Charlie Haughey met with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In addition to this, Fianna Fáil has often been responsible for the imprisonment of IRA members, as well as enacting legislation to curtail their actions. Despite this, the party still brands itself as the “Republican Party.”

Let’s compare them to Sinn Fein; while the “Shinners” have embraced their political ideology of nationalism, they have never been in government in the South; so their political commitment to this cause has never been challenged.

Similarly, it would be difficult to reconcile Sinn Féin’s inherent shroud of secrecy with openness and inclusion, where as a leader of the political market, this requires placing openness and inclusion as a high priority.

Likewise, other parties that have had their time in government, Fine Gael, the Greens, and the Labour Party, have also encountered challenges to their core tenets.

Fine Gael is more or less associated with a moralistic discourse and ideology of Church teachings, for example in 1983 it was faced with the abortion referendum. Similarly, while Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have often been successful in uniting people under a core message, Fine Gael have failed to sell their message to their supporters of being the fiscally responsible party of GE16, with their “Let’s Keep the Recovery Going” slogan – which was undoubtedly a nod to their gallant efforts of bringing the country back from the brink of economic ruin (something that they attributed to Fianna Fáil at every chance they got).

Any time I think of the Labour Party I often find myself using the quote by Eamon De Valera “Labour must wait”. Indeed, Labour waited for its time in government, they got it, messed it up, got it again, and the cycle of political woe (or stupidity) followed suit.

Labour have been traditionally associated with a political ideology, explicitly representing the working class and preaching ‘social democracy’. Think back to the years of austerity, when Labour paid harshly for selling their political ideology during election campaigns, and were hung out to dry by voters for delivering something completely different.

Don’t worry; all parties will get their turn!

Next, the Green Party. Preachers of climate change and eco-warriors, now led by Eamon Ryan, the three-person party, has not always been the climate change heroes we think they are.

At first glance, we often see the party leading the fight against climate change, often bringing legislation forward for the good of the people, irrespective of public opinion. Yet, they entered into a coalition government with Fianna Fáil, allowing the development for a motorway through an archaeological sensitive area near the Hill of Tara. They are not the eco-warriors they sell themselves to be.

AAA/Solidarity/PBP and any other acronym they come up with to be more relevant.

The two party coalition of hard leftists advocate strongly against austerity, yet in recent months they rebranded themselves as ‘Solidarity’ – signifying their cognisance that public opinion designs their policy goals, as opposed to strict anti-austerity ideologies.

As such, this left ‘party’ bloc – along with the newer, smaller parties (Socdems and Renua), and the occasional independent grouping, would often favour public opinion over ideology.

This is often termed as the ‘tactical populist’, adopting for a top-down approach, having a reliance on external groups, they follow the market, and their activities consist of uncovering and responding to public opinion as opposed to focusing on ideology.

Foe example: Solidarity/PBP on their position of water charges, or the Dáíl prayer; the Socdems on their positon of the Church and State separation in respect of the public furore over the National Maternity Hospital. In this regard, they are more inclined to focus on relationships with the media, voters, and the expense of other stakeholders.

In Ireland, each of the larger political parties are professionally organised from the bottom up (Fianna Fáíl and Sinn Féin started as underground grass-root movements).

This subsequently resulted in the parties holding annual conferences, ostensibly, to discuss party ideologies and policy with their members. In comparison to the Labour Party, they are often forced to follow conference policy. For example, the party must have a special conference before the parliamentary party enters into a coalition.

By contrast, Fine Gael and other parties – the Greens, Socdems, and Renua – are less bound by the decision of the party conferences, and Fianna Fáil being the least of all.

The policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and fringe parties are much vaguer and of little relevance to party members.

Since the support of the party does not depend on party policy, party leaders are often free to advocate whatever policy is most electorally beneficial – as such; they are more or less termed as a ‘relationship builder’.

They develop policies that are in line with their core values, but also consider public opinion to be just as important – an attempt to balance being responsive to public opinion while following the party’s core beliefs. As such, their marketing activities often consist of synthesising the diverse opinions that exist within society.

For example, Fianna Fáil is really a ‘catch-all’ party. Party policy is widely regarded as whatever is most likely to be popular amongst voters, or embarrassing the opposition. In other words, they make policies that reflect what the market ‘really wants’, and reduce their ideological baggage.

To sum this strategy up, here is a quote from an unnamed Fianna Fáíl TD in an Irish Times article in the early 1980’s; “The party works out which side of an issue will win electorally and that’s the side it will always be on – the winning side.”

With that said, their actions are restricted party ideology e.g nationalism and reunification for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, proper Catholic ethics for Fine Gael.

In an Irish context, political parties often change their political marketing strategy, with their strategy often being a matter of degree and dynamic in which parties can choose to gravitate from being a convinced ideologist, relationship builder, and so on.

Moving from one position to the next depends on the competitive environment the party inhabits.

For example, Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’, Fianna Fáil’s position on the contentious issue of water charges – abolition of water charges was key to its electoral offering and its corresponding rejuvenation during GE16. Once elected, their position changed on multiple occasions as it repeatedly sought to align its ideology with public opinion.

All parties have there own way of going about their business and as voters we need to decide whose beliefs do we align with and if it is important to us that they will actually stand by their convictions.

Andrew RooneyAndrew Rooney

Andrew Rooney is a PR Intern with Fuzion Communications

‘Great Taste’ and all the other things that flavour what we eat or drink

August 3, 2017

The Great Taste awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world are organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

They are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink, and when a consumer sees the Great Taste logo on an item it is a sign that they will be buying a great tasting product.

This year (2017) Food and drink producers entered 12,300 products with 4,347 earning 3, 2 and 1 star ratings of which 444 originated from Ireland.

Overall just 165 products earned a 3 Star rating and 1,011 a 2 star rating with Irish products well represented in both of these categories.

PatWhelan, james Whelan Butchers - Great Taste Awards

The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the International Park Lane Hotel, London on the 4 September.

Great Taste, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their packaging, wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. Furthermore the judges have no idea the price that these products normally retail at.

It’s all about the taste!

The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1, 2, or 3 star award.

As you can imagine the judging panel is very illustrious and this year it included; chef, food writer and author, Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, author and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker, Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners and will finally agree on the 2017 Top 50 Foods, which will be announced in August, with the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2017 Supreme Champion unveiled on the 4th September.

Just Taste!

Judging the food and drink products on their taste seems very fair and as you would expect – the packaging and branding is removed so that the judges are able to experience the products in their pure, true state, without any interference or bias.

Sunnes Stores - Sticky Toffee Pudding

When do we ever, truly taste anything?

The minute that award winning cake goes into a wrapper, it changes the taste for the consumer.

  • Once we see the packaging, the colours, the type of paper and the visuals, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see the brand name, it changes the taste.
  • Once we read where the product is made and we see the ingredients, it changes the taste.
  • Once the product is placed in a retail outlet, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see where it is placed in the store, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see some POS and the product displayed on a promotional stand, it changes the taste.
  • Once a price is put on the product, it changes the taste.
  • When the product is on special offer, it changes the taste.
  • When a well dressed sampling person invites you to taste a thumbnail of the product, it changes the taste.
  • When we see that the brand is endorsed by a well known personality, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a newspaper, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a glossy magazine, it changes the taste
  • When a respected food journalist tells you the product is superb, it changes the taste.
  • When we open the pack at home and we are in a great mood, it changes the taste.

Today’s consumer is influenced by everything they see, hear and taste. We are also influenced by a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, by our peers and we all carry with us a lorry load of biases.

With great products our job and the job of everyone else in the chain that brings the product to the consumer, is to make sure that person can actually ‘taste’ the product.

The Great Taste Awards and that big round logo that you will see on products will also help!

Congratulations to two of our clients, James Whelan Butchers and Simply Better by Dunnes Stores who scooped up Great Taste Awards, once again this year.

James Whelan Butchers are Great Taste 3-star winners with their Pork Lard, a natural and clear lard made from slowly rendered back fat, with a “fabulous long lasting and clean pork flavour” – it’s all about taste!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Kevin Myers and the Gatekeepers

August 3, 2017

Gatekeepers

There’s been plenty written this week by far more learned/opinionated people than me about the Kevin Myers controversy. So I’m not really going to spend a whole lot of time on him, the anti-semetic rant that he sort of apologised for, or the vile misogyny that he didn’t feel any need to address.

If you feel like reading some really really good commentary around this topic, do yourself a favour and check out Kathy Sheridan and Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times, or Stephen Kinsella’s excellently researched work in the Sunday Business Post.

One comment during Kevin Myers’ interview with RTE Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke piqued my interest. He said five or six people would have seen his Sunday column before it went to print.

And it’s this comment that leads to me writing this blog – how, if five or six people reviewed Kevin Myers work before it was printed in the Sunday Times, was it approved for publication?

Where was the gatekeeper?

Where is your gatekeeper?

Who is ensuring that your brand’s ethos matches the tone of voice that you, your colleagues, and your staff use when communicating with your target audience?

How do you ensure that the hard earned positive and inclusive, corporate culture that you’ve cultivated is shared in every conversation, every meeting, every tweet?

Who is the gatekeeper protecting your reputation?

Alison Nulty, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison Nulty

Alison Nulty is a Senior Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t forget about the books

July 17, 2017

There is an urban legend about an architect that designed a library.

In his calculations he forgot to factor in the weight of the books, so when the library was complete and filled with its contents it began to sink.

Although it is an urban legend the story hosts a very important point – Never forget about the purpose.

For example, when I design a logo and the client wants something beautiful and creative, it is easy to get carried away with aesthetics and forget about the purpose of a logo.

A logo is an anchor point for your business and it can often be the first impression a customer has with your business. It needs to represent you, what you stand for, who you are, what you do and what makes you unique – and it needs to do this immediately.

Always keep in mind the purpose of what you are doing.

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

It’s nice to be nice!

July 17, 2017

It’s nice to be nice..

I strongly believe in the saying ‘it costs nothing to be nice’. If we can all remind ourselves of this every so often it can have such a positive impact.

In today’s world, often it seems to be all money money money, but it’s the simple things that are free and can make all the difference. When people are nice towards one another we are much happier people.

I believe that you can never go wrong with being nice.

You often see and hear of heartwarming stories of people helping another person or carrying out a simple gesture and although it may seem small to you it can mean the world to the other person.

Sometimes being nice can come down to a little understanding.

Just take a second to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try and understand it from their perspective and as they say, treat others like you would like to be treated yourself.

Life is short so just be nice – you will be a better person for it.

Saidhbh Sweeney - Fuzion CommunicationsSaidhbh

Saidhbh Sweeney is a PR Executive with Fuzion Communications: PR, Marketing and Graphic Design

Gina London: You are who you choose to be, so change is possible

July 5, 2017

Best mans speech

It was my brother’s wedding and as the best man,” my Dublin taxi driver tells me, “I’m supposed to give the toast.”

Now, I’m not a reserved individual. I’m normally outgoing and confident. I’m a national handball champion,” he says. “But when I stood up to speak, I suddenly blanked. I couldn’t remember a word. I looked down at the notes I was holding but my hands were shaking so much, I couldn’t read. I bombed.”

That was 21 years ago, he says as the taxi nears my destination. My handball-champion driver says he lives in dread considering that one day in the future he will be expected to give the eulogy at his elderly father’s funeral.

Do you label your public-speaking ability or leadership style by a single experience? During the recent Fine Gael debates, one of the candidates stated: “I am what I am” when asked about himself.

Are we? Is it that all there is?

I am who I am” sounds like a passage from God in the Bible or Popeye in the cartoons,” retorts Alan Weiss, PhD, an American thought-leader in career coaching and consulting whom the New York Post describes as “one of the most highly-respected independent consultants in the country” and whom I interviewed via email.

His latest book, co-authored with another notable American executive coach, Dr Marshall Goldsmith, is Lifestorming, Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life. Between the two of them they have written more than 100 books on human behaviour.

Your past does not define your future.

When I asked Alan if he wanted to share any Irish experiences he may have had, he wrote: “I love the joy of the Irish and I loved driving through the Northwest, but I never had a question answered without the prefix, ‘After 800 years’ of British oppression‘.”

I hear that prefix all the time, too. Of course, experiences from our past may be part of our story.

But we can learn from them and move forward. They do not need to define us.

We can change.

Acting in any way and denying the ability to change and alter for the right occasions bespeaks someone who is so completely inflexible and self-centred as to be oblivious to others.” Alan says. “Who chooses to be boring?

I would expand upon that adjective by adding, fearful, or timid, or cynical, or whatever other limiting label we – or perhaps others – may attach to ourselves. We do not have to stay married to it. If a personality label is holding you back, take action to start unloading it now.

You can change.

Character can be developed. Lifestorming identifies six building attributes which can be improved on with respect to others,” Alan says.

There is no balance between competence and warmth. They are both rheostats. Not on/off switches.”

Leaders are made, not born. Most of the literature shows that the critical feature of successful leadership is flexibility, not some perfect style.”

Machiavelli said that successful people adapt their manner to the times.

Consider a single bold action to reboot your character in a positive way

For instance, I met Alan four years ago, when I was living in Italy. I had read a couple of his books and reached out to him to say how much I appreciated what I had learned.

If you ever come over here to visit,” I tagged, “I’d be delighted to buy you a cup of coffee.”

A few months later, he and his wife came over on summer holiday and I caught up with him in the marbled lobby of the Four Seasons in Florence where they were staying.

He didn’t take me up on that coffee, but he did give me invaluable advice.

Understanding that my inability to speak Italian at a professional level was limiting my ability to properly network and develop my own consulting business, Alan encouraged me to seek out an English-speaking country.

I did. And now, after two years living here in Ireland, it has made a world of difference. I am grateful.

So, to my taxi-driver, don’t wait until your father is dearly departed.

Take charge of your fear of delivering a speech in public. Write a rip-roaring eulogy for your dad.

Invite over loads of friends and family. Present your speech to everyone gathered while your dad’s alive to hear it.

He’ll thank you for it and you will thank yourself for taking the step toward changing your personal outlook.

What about you?

What is your limiting label? What can you do today to shed it?

We are who we choose to be.

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Expressing what you think of others online

July 4, 2017

Trump

Sometimes when you make your feelings known about others it can end up saying even more about you than it does about them:

Trump tweets

Be careful what you say online..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Social Media Consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 


%d bloggers like this: