P*** Poor Presentations

I do a lot of presentations these days. Here are a few tips…

 

An Insight Into My Day

A number of people ask about my days, the sort of things I get up to etc…Today I took my camera around with me to give you an insight into just that. Enjoy.

So I started a YouTube Channel!

So I started a YouTube Channel!

My first four YouTube Videos are live and I’m loving the feedback I’ve had already – its quite humbling and suggests that its certainly worth persisting with. To bring you upto speed you can check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/alastairbanks

For ease though, here are the first four videos – please forward on to students with an interest in personal brand or development, business owners and entrepreneurial friends, I will hugely appreciate it as it’s not easy creating content for a small following – you do question if its worthwhile.

My first video was about procrastination:

My second was about the most influential business book Ive ever read:

The third was all about Goal Setting:

And the fourth was about change and how important it is if you want to grow:

Please make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss anything. I’ll do my very best to make the content as useful as possible.

Thanks again

Al – @banksy6

Just Do It

So today I embarked on my first trip into YouTubing. I created my first video called ‘Just Do It’, aptly named because I wanted to just get something up there, learn from it and improve. I’ll let the video do the talking. If you like it and you want more, please subscribe and share.

 

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Eight things that changed my life in 2015

Yes folks, its that time of year again. The round up post you’ve all been waiting for 😉

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in my posts from the last few years, you can find them here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13,’14

2015 – Its been a big one! Featured here are my first child, an offline tool that’s changed my life and a diet that’s had a dramatic impact on how I’ve felt after 10 years of putting up with stomach pain. All that alongside a few less serious, but still important ones.

1). Coming in at Number 1 there is only one place to have him – it’s Oscar, my first child. There is no doubt about it, having your first child changes you. For the first time in your life someone is completely reliant on you and that re-focuses you. I’ve spent the last 15 years putting everything into my work and while I still have a passion for that, it will sit alongside the newest love of my life – Oscar. I’ve also found a new respect for my wife Lizz who is quite literally the best Mum ever…just incredible.

2). About ten years ago I started to suffer with IBS, one of those hard to diagnose problems that the doctors don’t really do much about or give you much advice on. After hospital inspections and private consultancies which showed up/gave me nothing, I just had to live with it. When Oscar was born I was in so much pain some nights that I couldn’t do his bedtime and that made me realise that something had to change. I persisted with the doctors and found a diet out of Australia called FODMAP. A university there have tested hundreds of food groups against four main triggers and rated them on an app and in a book. The diet has changed my life. After about 6 months of doing it, I’d say that I’m about 75% better than I was and I intend to continue living and coping with this using management of my diet. If you’re an IBS sufferer then you should definitely check it out. I’ve created a Pinterest board to help people find their feet with the diet as its a bit of a minefield of info out there.

3). The passion planner (I know what you’re thinking but don’t worry, I’m not going there) started off as a Kickstarter project. The ultimate organisation tool. It combines goal setting, diary management, reflection time and to-do lists all in one lovely leather bound book you’d be proud to take to any meeting. People know me as the owner of a digital agency and many are poking fun at the fact that despite the plethora of on-line tools (most of which I feel like I’ve tried) I’ve reverted to good old pen and paper. The fact is there is something very real about planning out your week and crossing things off as you complete them which you just don’t get on-line. You have to get these from America but I guarantee you its worth it.

4). Slack. Used by NASA for collaboration and teamwork we’ve rolled this out internally at Optix for our digital marketing team and a group of Sack Savvy clients. Slack’s strap line is ‘Be Less Busy’ which if anyone disagrees with then I’d suggest you’re reading the wrong blog. We share information, useful links and sometimes just shoot the breeze on this channel. Its closed unlike the big social media sites but that works well and if you want to strengthen comms in your organisation you should check out this app today.

5). Whatsapp Web. Did you know you can use WhatsApp from a browser window, opening up the use of this tool to desktop and laptops not just mobile? Well if you’re old skool like me and still use one of these antiquated computer things then maybe you should just get yourself over there to use the web interface. Simply have your phone app open and scan the QR code on the screen and it will link your computer to your phone. Game changer. Genius.

6). My Apple Watch. Ok so it’s questionable as to whether its really changed my life or not. Most days I forget to charge it but when I do remember and wear it I find myself checking my tweets, messages and email with a little smile on my face. These notifications definitely mean I check my phone less which can only be a good thing right? Would I pay the same again for it? Probably not but I’m glad I have it and its certainly a talking point.

7). My Northface Jacket. Yes its one of those weird ribbed jackets people are wearing everywhere. I saw people turning themselves into the Michelin man and couldn’t get my head round it for a year or so….until I tried one. The one I went for is a particularly fetching bright orange one. You can tell I’m an introvert right 😉 So although I might stand out like a sore thumb I’ll be a particularly warm one and I’m unlikely to get lost in the fog. My other reason for getting one was to ensure that I look as stylish as possible on the slopes this year (although my Dad and skiing partner may disagree with that statement)! If you didn’t know, I also run a skiing blog over at http://www.firstlift.co.uk

8). Insights. I’ve always said that if I wasn’t running a digital agency (and I didn’t make it as a ski instructor) that my second favourite job would be something to do with psychology and in particular psychometric profiling. I find it absolutely fascinating. This year we profiled the whole company using the Insights model. A local practitioner, Jack Russell ran a session with us after we’d been profiled and what’s happened since is quite amazing. A common language, a deeper understanding of oneself and others and better communication all round. We’ve enjoyed it so much that my wife and I are in the process of setting up a new business and partnering with Jack so we can share the excitement and success we’ve had at Optix with others. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened with the profiling at Optix, check out the post I wrote here.

So there we go, eight things that changed my life this year, its been big, its been fun and hopefully next year will be just as exciting.

How was your year? Have you taken the time to reflect on it and write down the things that mattered to you?

Meeting Etiquette

Meeting Etiquette

We have a few hard and fast rules at Optix for our meetings. I thought I’d share these in case you can glean something from them. I can’t take full credit for these. I reworked some that I saw at one of our lovely clients – Trinity Fire and Security.

Optix Meeting Rules

First rule of meeting club – do you really need a meeting? They are expensive use of our most important resource – You!

1). Only invite people that REALLY need to be there.

2). Set up and send out an agenda/up front contract in advance so people know what they are being asked to do.

3). Just because Outlook says an hour in the calendar do you really need an hour? If you can do it in ten mins standing up, do so.

4). When you enter the meeting, read out your agenda/ufc so everyone is clear on why they are there and how long you’ll be

5). Be on time

6). Turn your devices onto silent – don’t look at your phone in the meeting unless there is an emergency in which case let the room know

7). Respect others – don’t speak too much, not enough or even worse, over the top of others

8). Take your own action points yourself – these are now your responsibility

9). If you’re getting nothing from the meeting – let the organiser know

10). Don’t feel bad about calling people out on the points above – they are here for a reason

11). Review all actions at the end of the meeting – circle the room and everyone who has an action tell everyone else

 

Why the young are our future

Why the young are our future

The first high jump event was recorded in the early 19th century. From then until 1964 athletes had all used something called the scissors technique. Essentially they approached the bar and jumped with one leg going over from the side first, followed by the second, all the time remaining bolt upright.

Then in 1964 something remarkable happened. Dick Frosbury went against the norm and performed a completely different technique, jumping and ‘flopping’ over the bar backwards. He shocked (and perhaps you could argue, ‘changed’) the world. Later this technique would be known as the Frosbury Flop and has become the staple move for all high jumpers ever since.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very good presentation by Marc Astley of Astley Media on the topic of Chaos. Marc and I talk on very similar subjects around our local area and we share a number of the same views. This talk in particular highlighted something I’ve been thinking about for a while now – I’m getting older (35 is practically ancient in my game ;)) The people who will take my business forward are the young guns with the new ideas.

Marc made the point that engaging these guys is critical for business success. The tricky thing is doing it in such a way that doesn’t stifle them. Think about it. For years, businesses have bought kids in and taught them ‘their way’, after all, its got them this far hasn’t it! As these kids have moved up the career ladder they’ve often become managers and taught the same thing they were taught. A recipe for disaster when in todays world, innovation is so critical for business survival.

Sadly I see lots of business who aren’t in the slightest bit innovative or willing to invest in their young guns. They’d rather do things the way they’ve always done and unfortunately this will be their downfall in a world where disruption is the word of the day.

If Dick Frosbury hadn’t been willing to try something different would the sport have moved on? Probably…but who knows how long it would have taken.

We all need innovators in our businesses. Seek yours out, give them a voice and embrace change…..or prepare for a rocky road ahead in the next few years.

Do you actually want my business?

Do you actually want my business?

This is in danger of turning into a rant I’m afraid. Sorry about that.

Recently I was in the market for a new car. I’d had my current wheels for about 6 years and although I loved them, they were getting a little old and my priorities had changed. Now it’s about showing my commitment to our growing family (currently a dog and a little one on the way).

Anyway, onto my rant. I don’t know if my expectations are too high but does it sometimes feel like people don’t want your business or purposely make it difficult to do business with them. I work pretty hard in my life. I’m in the office til gone 7pm most nights and occasionally I work the odd Saturday while I get some quiet time. At the rest of the time I’m still digitally connected by email and social media to my clients and our services. I’m not suggesting you should do the same but I’m guessing there will be a few of you out there wired like me so hopefully you’ll empathise.

This way of life makes it difficult to shop conventionally.

I thought I’d do some car shopping at the weekend on a Sunday because Sunday is pretty much like any other day right? Wrong. My wife and I got in the car and took off for the area well known for lots of car dealers in Exeter, excited by the proposition of what we might find. Our spirits were immediately dampened when the first dealer we came across was shut for the day. Unperturbed we drove on thinking there must be a reason for their closure but as we passed one after another main dealer it was clear this was the norm.

Among the closed barriers and dark showrooms, both the main dealers for my local BMW and Land Rover were closed. Interestingly smaller outfits and most local companies in the area were open for business. I was both shocked and disappointed as either one of them could have picked up a sale that day and have now left me with a bitter taste in my mouth regarding their customer service.

We live in a 24 hour world now. The internet has done that for us. Good or bad? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it’s worth working out when your customers need you and making sure they have some way to engage with you at those times, if not, I’m sure there is someone else willing to do so.

6 things that changed my life in 2014

6 things that changed my life in 2014
Yes folks its that time of year again. While I’ve been a little light on posts in 2014 there is one that must be written. This one.

2014 has been an interesting year, one which has seen a lot of change in both my personal life and business dealings. In a year that saw Optix Solutions turn 15 and new ventures being started by my business partner and I (hopefully more on those in years to come) we may just have tried to do a little too much. As you probably know I’m a huge fan of change and believe it completely necessary for success however sometimes it can feel like you’re biting off too much and its important in those moments to take stock, remember what you’ve achieved and maybe even take some time out. So in this post I’m taking a moment to look at what happened this year and how it affected my life.

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in my posts from the last few years, you can find them here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13:

So let’s do the run down then…

1). Baby Banks on the way – Well this absolutely has to be at the top doesn’t it :)

I’ll be a father for the first time in Feb this year (well maybe a little earlier if you look at the size of Lizz!). I’m excited and apprehensive at the same time which is an unusual feeling. With everything in business, things are generally within my control. I can make decisions and live by them but here we’re talking about another life, one which I can only hope to guide without pushing too hard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be a good Dad but there are a few moments when I question if I have the skills and knowledge for what’s going to be the biggest change to my life so far.  I’m sure there will be more about fatherhood on this blog throughout the year so watch this space.

2). Re-Focusing is important however big the decisions

Three years ago our business was split about 75% design and build to 25% digital marketing. Now its almost flipped and that’s been a conscious decision based on goals and a vision we set out a few years ago. Steering a company with 15 people in it is not like a startup where decisions can be made quickly. If you get them wrong in the early days its fairly easy to claw back, with a larger company it takes time and effort and you have to get everyone on board taking into account their own individual drivers (which of course may not be totally aligned with your own vision). This year we’ve pushed harder than ever to adapt to the industry and its been an exciting journey which we are starting to reap the rewards for.

3). Ben Corbally

I hope adding Ben in here means he doesn’t get too much stick from the rest of the team. They aren’t those kind of people so I’m sure they won’t give him too much :) So why did Ben make this list? Ben is a young gun who joined Optix in late 2013 in our Digital Marketing team. He now works alongside me in the client facing part of the business and helps build the digital strategy for some of our newer clients. The reason that he makes the list is that he’s pushed me to think differently this year, to take a new perspective on things which I’ve made fundamental business decisions with. We’ve bought in new services (which has attracted new clients) and pushed ourselves more than I think we would have done without him. Ben you’ve been a delight to work with and I look forward to doing more along side you over the next few years. Exciting times ahead.
You can find Ben over on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bencorbally 

4). Vision for 2020

We re-wrote our vision story for Optix this year and delivered it to the team in September. The statement is our second of this type, the last one being done in 2012 and running out in September of 2015. Its written in the format of a story (from a clients perspective of Optix) and outlines some of the goals that James and I have set for the business. This new vision features everything from turnover figures hitting a million to owning our own building. Better get working then!

5). Finally bringing Project Management to Optix

OK so this is an area I’ll put my hands up and say we hung around too long to sort out. This year we’ve recruited Mr James Cassap, a heavyweight recruit for the business from Cambridge University Press who brings 10 years of project management skills to the business. One well known friend of the company has described the change as likely to look like Optix on steroids. I’m looking forward to seeing that next year. :)

6). Bellroy

Ok so a bit of a light-hearted one to throw in here but hey you need to have a bit of fun don’t you. A man’s wallet is a key item to have around his person. The problem with wallets is they are bulky things. They can affect the shape of nice suits and weigh you down. Bellroy know this too well and have invented a set of wallets which solve this problem. I bought one this year and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that everytime I use it, its an absolute pleasure and puts a smile on my face.

So there were six of my year-changers. I’m looking forward to 2015 for personal and business reasons and I’ve got a feeling that next years post will have some pretty special points in it.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a prosperous and healthy 2015

Now Your Thoughts
 
  • So what changed your life this year?
  • Who and what made an impact on your 2014?

How to use LinkedIn to generate Sales Leads

How to use LinkedIn to generate Sales Leads

In the last 3-4 months I’ve generated more than 50k’s worth of direct business from my personal LinkedIn account. I spend around 2-3 hours a week on the website and I have a set process for how to get the most from it. At Optix, we spend a fair bit of time training our clients on the effective use of this tool. I recently headed to London to help a 12 man sales team optimise their usage of it so I thought I’d share a few of the key points from that session with you today.

The Basics
For those that don’t know, LinkedIn is a social media platform which started back in 2003. Boasting 300+ million members worldwide (of which 60+ million are in Europe), there are 15+ million users in the UK and roughly 187 monthly unique visits.

Getting Set Up
The more time and effort you put into your profile, the better the results, and if you want to generate the best return then you have to actively engage. If you treat it as a giant Rolodex of contacts then nothing is going to happen.

Populate your profile with relevant information but don’t just create a CV about yourself – no one wants to read that. Tell me how you can solve my problems. Connect with people that you know and observe how they interact with others. You definitely need a profile picture, so choose one where you look suitably professional.

Etiquette
Recognise that connections are currency but you need strong ones. You absolutely cannot try the hard sell on LinkedIn; use it simply as a tool for establishing and nurturing genuine business relationships. LinkedIn is not a place to pick up friends (like Facebook or Twitter); it’s your boardroom of connections. Be interested in others, rather than bombarding them with information about you. When you add connections it’s a good idea to send them a polite message reminding them where you’ve met rather than leaving that terrible message that the site writes for you.

Maintenance
Maintaining your profile is an important job and must be prioritised if you want to generate sales. It’s the first thing that people are going to look at when you’ve reached out to them. Put together a daily/weekly/monthly plan and diarise this so it doesn’t get forgotten. LinkedIn is a long-term investment; you are building your personal brand and you’ll carry this with you for life – so make it count.

Results
There are lots of short-term wins (a favourite of mine is to message people who’ve taken the time to look at my profile) and longer term wins (such as establishing yourself as an authority in your field by authoring posts). The key to it all is proactivity. Are you asking for introductions to key prospects? Have you set-up saved searches to send you weekly emails of targets? What’s your process when you get that email saying one of your connections has moved jobs?

The groups section offers you the chance to position yourself as a thought leader but consider hanging out where your prospects are, not just in that industry group you joined in those first few months on the site (don’t worry we all did it ;).

LinkedIn can’t create sales itself but it can help you create opportunities for conversations and that’s all good sales people need. Once you have those opportunities its up to you to convert. Once you’ve been active for a while (this probably took years for me rather than months) you’ll find that you start getting referrals from current customers who point their connections at your profile.

While I’ve covered a few of the main points here, there is far more to be said about this website so read up about it, make it part of your prospecting activity and be consistent.

So where did my 50k come from? Two well crafted status updates and sending a contact that had moved a quick message of congratulations. Ten years ago none of this existed, it was hard graft, knocking on doors and cold calling. Any savvy sales person should now be thanking the stars for tools like this.

I don’t write these posts to sell but if you are interested in us hosting a training session for your organisation then drop me a line and I’ll send you some details.

Good luck and let me know the minute you make that first sale.

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Got any LinkedIn sales tips you want to share? Pop them in the comments below.

Photo courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheilascarborough/