Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Boy am I glad it's back: http://www.theroar.com.au/2011/11/29/handshakes-save-the-nba-season/
Monday, March 29, 2010
When I was growing up, my mother kept the world's cleanest house. It didn't help that I was allergic to practically everything and the mere mention of the word 'dust' would make me break out in hives and unsightly excema. But mom went to every effort to keep everything spotless, so when I grew up and moved out, I'd just do the same - how hard could it be?
Damn near impossible.
Now I'm not saying my husband is a messy person, but I will say that we have different thresholds for dirt. And I prefer to see clear space, not clutter, on the countertop, coffee table, office desk, bathroom floor, etc. We are just two people, 2.5 if you count his daughter, surely we couldn't make that much of a mess? But we do. Once the house is clean, we both enjoy it for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon, but by the time the laundry is done on Sunday afternoon, and the groceries need to be put away, then we have a hard week at work, who wants to clean - it's the thankless task. As Melanie Durrant, Canadian singer put it.
Housework makes me sick, I'm so sure of it
It's like I'm allergic
You have to admit - it's like a punishment
There's no end to it
Why is this important? Because the truth is, for many couples, even though she works as hard as he does at the office or wherever, often the woman in the relationship does more of the household chores. According to one Labor Department study, employed women averaged about an hour more per day on housework than did employed men. Is this fair? Nope. But for some of us, it is how it is.
So how does the modern, career-focused woman cope? Outsource.
We first decided to get a cleaner when we were discussing the age old division of labour battle with some friends. They mentioned their simple solution and we were hooked. The finances worked out for us and we decided it would be something to explore. It was one of the best decisions we've made, though I had to cope through some anxiety and inadequacy issues around telling my very own 'supermom'. It felt like a failure somehow. When I finally got around to telling mom about the cleaner, she said: Good for you, I wish I'd done that when you kids were small! I'd have saved myself hours of scrubbing.
But will it work for you? First you'll have to calculate the value of your time. This might help you determine if it is worthwhile to invest in a cleaner. If it is, I say do it!
I've never regretted the decision or the dollars spent.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Spotted in Martin Place, Sydney on New Years Eve 2009. (Only posted today, because I'm still not sure how to post photos from my phone!) If this is Orange Julius, where's Dairy Queen? I thought they were in separable. Is there an ice cream cake somewhere in scorching Australia with no home?
But now I've got a clean slate - or so the calendar page tells me. I've got a chance to make up some new goals and accomplish those. But I want to blog about fun things, too... Let's see what transpires.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So I went on a mission, first to buy the same product I had before, only to find that it's not available outside of the US without significant planning and coordination across continents. I then went to several local department stores to find a suitable substitute, but nothing seemed to meet my needs. I travelled to specialty hair supply stores far and wide, looked in magazines and finally looked online. With so many options and being somewhat of a discerning customer, I was actually paralysed by the analysis of choosing between them all.
I then spoke with a co-worker who sent me a link and a note about her positive experience. A recommendation; it was just the nudge I needed. In the end, I spent more than I wanted to, but it led me to think about what marketers are doing to reach consumers at the points that most influence their decisions.
Traditionally, consumers would get the majority of brand and product messages before they need to purchase, then again after their purchase decision, as an affirmation and means of retaining loyalty to a brand or product.
But with the shift of communications away from pushed, mono-directional communication to a dialogue, and with social media channels being readily available, marketers need ways of managing word-of-mouth. As one of the moments of maximum influence, capitalising on word-of-mouth can increase the chance of reaching the right consumer, with the right message, at the right time - a tricky task, considering you don't want to waste money or seem out-of-touch with consumers.
Now, word of mouth happens when a conversation happens. Conversations about your product happen where consumers congregate to view and share product information, reviews and recommendations.
So if your customers are active users of Facebook/Twitter/Orkut/Hi5, your company should actively use those, too.
In a December 2008 study from Kudzu.com, results showed 86% of consumers seek out and read online reviews before making a purchase decision. 90% of consumers surveyed said they trusted online reviews they read. Another report from the eTailing Group in June of 2008 showed that 32% of retailers who added online reviews to their website experienced an increase of more than 11% in purchase conversions. Of those retailers, 11% of them experience a 20% or more increase in purchase conversions.
So perhaps listening to what customers are saying and addressing their concerns can help create buzz and identify advocates of your products.
Besides the obvious strategies of evaluating objectives, prioritizing spending and tailoring messages, it looks like investing in consumer empowerment is a way to be in the right place at the right time. Marketers should see this not as a loss of power through traditional means, but another way of listening to consumer needs.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Having solid mentoring relationships is important whether you work for yourself or for someone else, and no doubt being able to get some insight into someone else’s successful career may help in keeping sure footing on the career path.
But this begs several questions:
Who can be a mentor?
What makes a good mentor?
Should you have more than one?
Do these mentoring relationships have a lifespan?
So who can be a mentor?
Anyone you know can be a mentor: people you know, and even people you don't know... yet. Friends, colleagues, associates, parents and all of their extended networks are potential mentors. Or you can step outside of your known circle, (I'm not talking about being a stalker) and join a mentoring network to find an mentor, like I did. Finding a mentor is about asking questions - finding people who excel at what they do, what you're interested in, and reaching out to them. One of my mentors has somewhat of my dream job as a Marketing and Comms manager for a global computer company, and another is a creative director for an ad agency and has been a stylist for a popular TV show. Many people are pretty keen to pass along nuggets of wisdom from what they've learnt along the way, and are sometimes flattered to hear that you're aspiring to be like them. Mentors can be found all around.
What makes a good mentor?
Being articulate and being able to dish out criticism competently are good traits, but don't think this means your mentor will be good at delivering constructive criticism. Some mentors can be most undiplomatic. The key is that your mentor should be able to see what your strengths and attributes are, and be able to see when you're not using them to your advantage.
Another good quality is someone who can help you identify the gaps, and point you in the right direction. That's right, they can't just diagnose you as a bad communicator; remember, this is as much about self-discovery as anything else. Your mentor should be able to inspire you to feel accountable for the steps you take to make positive changes in your career, the mentor is part of your cheering section, but as a mentee, it's important for you to demonstrate your willingness to take advice to heart. If as a mentee you're not feeling like you owe it to yourself and your mentor to complete tasks and assignments, then it might be time to reevaluate that relationship.
Which leads me to whether you should have more than one mentor:
Why not, I say! Maybe the person with your dream job isn't the best public speaker, maybe the entrepreneur you idolize can't organize his life. If you're looking for direction in multiple areas of your life, why not speak to an expert in each area? There are multiple ways to overcome obstacles, and getting multiple perspectives can be really helpful.
And finally, the question of the expiration date on the mentoring relationship:
My mother always says you meet people for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe this, and my mentor said to me in our very first conversation, that there's so much she can teach me, and eventually I'll outgrow her (it's all very Yoda!). I think there's some element of truth in that statement for any mentoring relationship, but the truth is, by that time, your relationship may have transitioned from mentor-mentee to more of a friendship, and perhaps you can teach each other.
Over the past few months, my experience as a mentee has been extremely valuable. I have learnt to identify things that I want, and things that I don't want out of my career. I now have some insight into breaking my goals and aspirations in to manageable steps.
Having a good group of mentors is a great way to develop rewarding professional relationships and I hope one day to help someone else on their journey.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
- Learn to fail
- Fail early, fail often
- Learn from failures
Learning to fail involves trying something in the first place. As a Canadian living in Australia, I'm very aware of cultural differences, especially the ones engrained attitude of 'Having a go' which revolves around giving something the 'old college try' without fear of failure, which may well happen. So far, I've been reasonably successful at playing it safe, but if I want to move forward, it's time to take some action, and not treat failure as a personality characteristic.
Failing early has to do with the way we learn. Everyone knows we learn through experience and making mistakes. In theory, we should be able to increase the pace of learning by increasing the rate at which we try, right? More than likely, this will also increase the rate at which we make mistakes, and by that I mean different mistakes - new mistakes. But failing in your twenties is probably a lot better than failing when you've got a spouse, kids, and a mortgage or two. There is so much more time for recovery.
Learning from failure is probably the key element to take away from all of this. That means doing things differently. They say one definition of insanity was doing things over and over and expecting a different result. If you're not getting results from your current sales pitch, change it up. If you're not increasing traffic to your blog, try something new. If you've tried sending your resume to a hundred agencies and cold calling organisations to no avail, why not try tapping your network or running a personal campaign for a change?
Learn from failures by:
- Identifying the mistake
- Examining why it happened
- Take steps to prevent the same mistake again
- Move on!
In the end, if you learn something, it's not a complete failure is it? Failure is not a person, it's a thing, so go on, set some goals and have a go!How do you learn from your failures?
Friday, June 26, 2009
Why shouldn't this process also be applicable to career advancement? If you're aiming to become a Marketing Director for a large consumer goods organisation, why not buddy up with someone already in that position (how are those face-to-face networking skills coming along?) and de-construct their career?
Maybe find a job description for your dream job or career nirvana (for now or forever) and assess the criteria -- which are already true for you? Where are the gaps? What do you need to do to make the required skills and experience part of your set? You could freelance on your own, building up a network and reputation as you go along, or you could do some short-term contracting.
Hey, if you convince a few people to mentor you, you can probably be privvy to the good, the bad, and the ugly of their career path, and you might get a little insight as to how you can evaluate your next project or career opportunity and avoid losing your footing.
Either way, each journey begins with a single step
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Ms Mentor suggested, among other things, that I lay out a laundry list that I can use to identify or dismiss opportunities as part of my marketing career advancement strategy. It should be said at this stage that things have been stagnating for the past 6-9 months, but I had to sit tight until getting closer to finishing some post-graduate work. That said, it's official: the hunt is on.
But what is it I'm actually looking for? So many of us don't know, which is really silly after twenty years if schooling in one form or another. And how can you know when you've found that awesome career step if you haven't identified the things you want ahead of time? You won't know it for what is, will you?
So here's my laundry list. Yours may look a little different, but I think Ms Mentor's advice is sound: you can't recognise a good thing (career, apartment, house, husband) until you know what you're looking for.
1) Location, location, location - for me, living in the beautiful city of Sydney is great. I love the look and feel of the city, I love the vibrance. Why would I want to drive or ride a train/bus for an hour and a half to two hours each day? I'm at the stage where I'm ready, willing and able to put in the hours and the effort to move forward. If this means I'm getting home at eleven pm, fine. just don't make me go far to go home. I currently have a 40 minute round trip. I'd like my commute to stay that way or shrink.
2) Give me an organization I can believe in - I mentioned before being willing to put in the hard yards to move forward. In return, I want an organization I can get excited about and be proud of. I want the company I work for to have a reputation for doing great work, having talented people and at least giving the impression of caring about them. Is that so much to ask? I want their products to be relevant to me. That way, I can give a hundred percent and take some pride in it.
3) Show me the money, Honey - Let's be honest, money makes the world go round, right? Or does it? Money isn't everything to me right now or it would have been at the top of the list. That said, I don't want to move backwards in salary, either, though I know any company's going to want their pound of flesh for whatever they offer. I just want to know that I'm being paid fairly and competitively for what I do.
4) Travel - Do I get to? I got my first slight taste of corporate travel for my current role, and I still think it's glamour! So I want more, but this time I want to go to differenc countries. I want to see different places, work with different people, work through cultural differences and make a difference on a broader scale. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to get to travel back to North America to see the folks every so often either. I suppose this has an impact on the type of organization to some extent, too. They've got to have a global presence!
5) Let me see your flextime - What sort of flexible working arrangements does this organization have? Can I work from home if I need to? In my current role I can't, and I know that there are times that I'm sick enough not to get suited up to go in, but I would have no problems answering my e-mail and finishing other tasks from home, or on the road or anywhere else. Some people loathe the working from home because it makes it seem like you're never out of the office. I think a flexible approach focuses on outcomes, rather than putting in token facetime. Ultimately, results are more important, no?
6) Perk me up! - I'd love a chance to test out new products or services before they go to market, or get samples of cool promotions or a discount on whatever my beloved company offers. Maybe to entice me to work longer hours they offer a gym membership? Maybe an extra day of paid vacation? Or perhaps they give cool tech-gadgets like leading edge phones, laptops and other treats to make me feel they love me - or just keep tabs on me. Either way, bring on the perks!
7) Manage me, Mentor me! - Can I have a great manager, please? Someone who I get along with, who I can speak to, who knows what he or she is doing and is willing to develop me to move up, rather than hold me back?!? Can I have someone who has experience enough to give good guidance, who makes me want to emulate effective behaviours and go the extra mile for my beloved organization?
There you have it: My list of what I want in my next role - mentoring assignment 1 complete! Maybe I sound like a whiny child saying "I want, I want". I figure, if I put it out in the universe, maybe there's a better chance of me finding them or at the very least sticking to this list as a set of benchmarks for what I'm willing to accept. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and surely as my priorities change, so will my role requirements. I wonder if there's anything I didn't consider? I'm sure there is, and I'd love to hear comments or feedback.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
1. Too much information
Some direct marketers believe that the more sales messages (mailers, catalogues, e-mails, etc) sent to their customers, the more likely those customers are to purchase goods or services. Communication is sent out willy-nilly, with no consideration for timing, frequency or the content of the message. Overloading the consumer with information has the unintended effect of alienating the consumer and lowering the probability of any purchase/response. Consumers are looking for trusted, proven relationships that save them time and effort by fulfilling promises of product, service or expertise. If direct marketers get committed to giving the consumers what they want - the "need to know" versus the "nice to know", keep in touch with valued customers, give timely, relevant accurate information on their offerings, they'll be rewarded with responsive consumers.
2. We're not all created equal
Some direct marketers treat all consumers as equals. Maybe they're sending 'cold' messages to those who have previously purchased, and acting all too familiar with potential customers whose trust they haven't yet earned. All consumers are not equal. Loyalty should be rewarded to build a relationship of the highest quality. That's why it's of the utmost importance to segment the message to engage the consumers, making them an offer they can't refuse. Keep them reading, clicking and buying by sending them focused, targeted content that they want (they've shown you that they want it from being responsive in the past; you know they might want it because you've done your demographic/behavioural research).
3. You don't make me feel special
While direct marketing has a focus of productivity, standards, volume and costs, consumers are more focused on timeliness, selection, relevance and value. When this divergence of priorities is made apparent to the consumer, there is disengagement. Customers don't care about your bottom line, they care about themselves, and they want to feel important. Make sure your content is benefit-rich, and allows the consumer to relate to your message and your offering. Make it easy for your recipient to reply to you, too. When it's difficult to engage with you, consumers get frustrated, dismiss your message, or click-away from the cool website/newsletter/mailer into which you've put so much effort (read: $$).
Keeping the above in mind when planning a campaign or evaluating direct marketing strategy might help avoid some major pitfalls and allow you to build and maintain long-standing profitable customer relationships.