Nine things that changed my life in 2016

Nine things that changed my life in 2016

So as another year draws to a close, it’s time for my customary post about the things that changed my life this year.

If you’re interested in previous years then you can check them out here: ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13,’14,’15

Ok so lets get on with it, here’s the run down (no particular order):

1). The birth of our daughter Alexa
This year we were blessed with our second child, and first daughter Alexa. I would obviously have been super happy with a brother for Oscar but I was secretly very pleased to get a pink one. The idea of having a daddies girl is quite appealing. Lizz and I decided (together) to create a video of the big day (don’t worry we took out the gruesome bits) so we had an amazing keepsake. You can watch that video here if you wish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTS9648qTRM

2). Our son Oscar
Ok so technically he didn’t arrive this year but watching his little personality develop has been absolutely magical and has enriched my life in a way that I’ll find hard to articulate. Whether starting to walk, uttering his first words or beginning to engage with us in a more human way, every single day there is something new to marvel at. I can’t wait to go through all that again with Alexa, while Im sure Oscar will continue to fill my heart with a love that is hard to comprehend.

 

3). Being Best Man for my Brother 
When my brother asked me to be his best man last year I was truly touched. As the majority of my friends have already tied the knot, I really thought my chances of getting this honour were running out. Then my brother surprised me and asked. I jumped at the chance. The minor mission of organising a stag do to Vegas was my first major responsibility and we all made it back alive so I guess that was a success. The wedding was an awesome day held at Ham Polo Club back in the summer. Stu and Caitlin seemed chuffed to bits so once my speech was over, I was a happy man.

 

4). The Appeal for Chris Tester
This is a story of solidarity and what people are capable of when they come together. On Christmas Night (last week) an old school friend of mine who I’d not seen for many years was shot in the head at his parents restaurant in Antigua while it was held up. The family started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the 90k needed to get Chris back to the UK for the treatment and care he needs. I picked up on the campaign on Boxing day when they’d reached 7k. I did everything I could, using all my knowledge of social media mechanics to help them promote the campaign. Within two days the campaign had raised 60k and within 4 it had reached the target of 90k. Chris is now on his way home and its all thanks to the amazing people who dug in and helped spread the message. Two things occurred to me during this horrible ordeal; the solidarity of old friends – people who hadn’t seen each other in 25 years came together and worked for the good of the campaign. I was just one of many helping spread the message, many of the rest I knew from days at Brentwood School. The second was the power of social media, without which, this would have been next to impossible and it may just have saved Chris’ life. Doing what I do, you’d not be surprised that I’m a huge advocate of this world but this amazing story just goes to cement my feelings that its not just about marketing and helping businesses, it can be focused for social good. In fact this was on a scale I’d not witnessed before. The campaign is still raising funds to help goto towards Chris’ care in the UK so if you’d be kind enough to share for me I’d appreciate it, even better if you’d think about donating: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/chris-tester-urgent-appeal/?

 

5). Vlogging (please check out my channel: https://www.youtube.com/alastairbanks)
Back in Feb of 2016 I set out to become a daily vlogger. I’d been watching the rise of the YouTube celebrity for a while and although it wasn’t my intention to become one of them, I wanted to see what it took to build an audience and to ensure I understood the medium so I could consult our clients on how to maximise their use of it. I knew it would take a long time to get off the ground so I set myself the goal of a year and away I went. I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be. Very few subscribers and less than a handful of video views for the first six months was quite disheartening. That alongside quite a bit of negativity from people close to me (about the reasons behind doing it) and it would have been easy to quit. This spurred me on if anything. I wanted to prove that I could do it and now, almost ten months on I’m really starting to gain traction. Speaking gigs, video production for others and wonderful engagement on some of my videos have been indirect benefits of this effort but I’m building for the future, its never been about the here and now. I don’t think people realise how hard these things are to get off the ground so if you’re thinking about life in ten years time, you need to be taking action now. My most popular video has now had over 4700 views (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_cryzBXSJg) and gets lots of comments which I do my best to respond to everyone of. I’d love for you to subscribe in 2017 and pass it onto to anyone you know who might find it of interest.

 

6). Podcasts
I really got into podcasts this year. What a great way of learning and growing as a person. One of the challenges of video is that you have to look at a screen and can do very little else while doing so. This is not the case with Podcasts. I listen to them in the car everyday and quite often in the shower too. Its an awesome way to get a shot in the arm every morning before work. My goto’s have been Gary Vaynerchuck’s channel, Boagworld, Tim Ferris and The Craft of Marketing but there is a podcast for everyone out there so I’d highly recommend looking into them in 2017.

 

7). Amazon Prime
I took the plunge and ordered a Firestick (aff link) this year. We’d had Netflix for a while and Love Film before that but Amazon Prime makes life so easy. We’re addicted to box sets so being able to watch Walking Dead, Vikings, Spartacus, Lucifer, Blacksails and The Killing to name but a few makes us very happy. Then when Grand Tour was released we were even happier (much to the annoyance of Simon who works for me at Optix). If you’ve not got yourself a firestick (aff link), go get one, you won’t regret it.

 

8). Casey Neistat
The first ever YouTube vlogger I got completely hooked on. Casey is a filmmaker from New York who made the transition from the big screen to the world of YouTube and did it in style. The quality of his daily vlogs was off the chart. Earlier this month he gave up the daily vlog having hit 5 million subscribers, his reason being that he needed to focus on new projects and that he was losing the passion in the daily uploads. He’s not done too much since but his first ‘feature’ video didn’t let us down. They built a drone big and powerful enough to pull him along in the air on his snowboard! If you haven’t watched and subscribed to his channel then you should. Watch the drone video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At3xcj-pTjg

 

9). Speaking Events
This year I had a number of opportunities to speak publicly for which I am very thankful. The more I do this the more I realise its where my heart lies and what I would like to be doing more of in the next phase of my career. The positive interaction, engagement and feedback I get from these events is my oxygen. This year I was lucky enough to speak on the London Business School and Exeter University’s MBAs as well as various other events all over the UK and as far a field as Copenhagen. Early in 2017 I’ll be flying to Barcelona so lets hope this is the beginning of another busy year of talks.

 

So there you have it guys, my run down of the year. Another one passes and this exercise once again serves as a useful reminder of all the good things that have happened to my family and I in 2016. We’re very lucky indeed and should remember that everyday.

 

What significant things happened to you in 2016? Have you gone through the journalling exercise above? It really helps clarify where you are and where you want to get to. I’d hugely encourage it.

 

Facebook Ads and YouTube PreRolls

Facebook Ads and YouTube PreRolls

You may well know that my wife and I are expecting our second child anytime now, the due date was actually Saturday, which has been and gone. So I took the opportunity on Sunday to go and shoot some Ads for Facebook and do a YouTube PreRoll. I wanted to talk to you about how I’ve done that and the options you have available to you when you do so.

So, with YouTube you can put a video in front of other videos that people are watching, they get the chance to skip the Ad after about 5 seconds, so you really have to capture their interest. I took some advice from good old Gary Vaynerchuck and started my video with “Hey guys, I know you’re here to watch something else, but I hope you will just give me a minute of your time”. With Facebook I obviously didn’t do that, but I did create something very similar that goes up as a sponsored post and tells the user a little bit about me and gives them a link to the YouTube Channel. As Facebook owns Instagram, it also goes on that platform.

Once you upload the videos to these platforms, they are both incredibly good when it comes to audience targeting. With YouTube you can target by demographics – things like age and gender. Then you can also target by areas of interest, so if they are interested in Business, for example, it will show the video to people watching business based videos. With Facebook it goes a little deeper than that. Demographics again, but the interests section is a bit more interesting in my opinion, because it actually relies on what the user has typed into their profile. If for example they have said they are interested in business or digital marketing or entrepreneurship then my sponsored Ad will show.

Having created the Ads I now need to measure, evaluate, then refine them. I’m probably going to run the Facebook Ad for the next two weeks, then I’ll move onto the YouTube PreRoll for the following two weeks. I will then look at the results side by side and see which gave me the greatest return. I particularly like the fact that on both platforms I can get in front of the right people who should be interested in my content and ultimately generate more impressions, subscriptions and views on my channel, helping me to build my audience.

I’m interested to know if you are using these mediums in your business? Are you using Facebook targeting? Are you using YouTube PreRolls? If not, you might be missing out on opportunities. If you are using them then let us know if you’re having success and what tricks you’ve learnt. I’d love to know.

Gary Vaynerchuck Likes Me! :)

Today was a busy day – a Board Meeting, a morning in the park with the parents, a Lunch and Learn and a 911 – enjoy the roar:

 

GoPro v’s Canon 100d

Interview with Michael Dart

Today I interviewed business leader, visionary and all round nice guy, Michael Dart of Darts Farm in Exeter. They’ve won every award under the sun this year, built an incredible business which is highly respected locally and turned a farm shop into an exclusive destination. I find out some of his secrets to success. Enjoy

Giving Promotions

Today we promoted Thomas Haynes to the new Head of Digital Marketing for Optix, marking a new era for us as a company and ensuring we continue to develop, grow and improve that important area of our business. I vlogged the day.

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.

The Importance of Content Marketing

I met the Head of Digital at the Met Office today and we talked about Content Marketing. This Vlog explains:

Interview with a Millennial

Interview with a Millennial

The Millennial generation is getting serious. They are serious employees in serious positions of responsibility and serious buyers of our products and services now. At Optix Solutions I’ve been lucky enough to employ a number of this generation and I tell you what, they are different breed. If you don’t recognise the nuances of this generation and how they like to buy/be engaged with you will lose out.

In this blog I interviewed a member of the Optix team – Chris Boyd to get his take on life. I hope you get some interesting insight as I did.

[Interview Starts]

Me: So what drives you?

Chris: Career progression, responsibility and enjoyment more than anything. I think unlike in the past, Money is a secondary goal, as long as your continuously improving and widening your skill set you’ll naturally land better (and higher paid) roles.

Me: What matters to you?

Chris: That I’m ahead of the game, that I have knowledge in all areas of my field and that people see me as the ‘go-to-guy’ when they want objective and helpful advice. I also want acknowledgement of my good work. It’s happened too many times previously where my work has been passed off as someone else’s. Sometimes you just have to accept    that your not going to get recognition, but being a bit outspoken when it comes down to it does help – and if that bothers the other person: so be it. Likewise I won’t accept acknowledgement for other people’s work.

Me: What sites/apps do you and your friends interact with on a daily basis?

Chris: Facebook and Twitter is where I go to learn about current affairs. Snapchat, whatsapp and Instagram are the main channels I use to actually interact with my friends.

Me: How long do you spend online each day?

Chris: I’m online for my job and my downtime. I’m constantly connected, even down to my entertainment, it’s all streamed through Netflix, Now TV or Catch up channels. When I’m awake: I’m connected.

Me: Can you imagine a world without the internet?

Chris: I can imagine it, but it would be a struggle!

Me: Who do you look up to?

Chris: I look up to those around me that hold more knowledge and have gained success through that knowledge. I think it’s important to not overly idolise the likes of Mark Zuckerberg where luck has played a major role in their success. I have colleagues and clients close by that I look up to as successful and intelligent business people.

Me: What do you want from a job?

Chris: As cheesy as it sounds, I want to be happy. If you’re spending upwards of 9 hours a day doing something, it has to be enjoyable and worthwhile. I want to see results. I want to know that I’m making a difference. Whether that’s someone complimenting you on your service when watering in a restaurant or seeing a clients eyes light up when there’s been a major increase in traffic to their site.

Me: What do you want from an employer, any advice?

Chris: Flexibility and trust are a big driver for me; I know that I’ll always go the extra mile to ensure work is complete and in most cases I’ll try and exceed expectations. With this in mind, employers need to be flexible, if I’ve worked 2 hours overtime yesterday I don’t expect to be penalised for turning up 2 minutes late the next day – you’ll only deter me from sticking around. If you value your millennial employees – pick and choose your battles and ask yourself, “is what I’m about to say Trivial in the grand scheme.”

Me: Why is being a millennial in the workplace today different to previous generations?

Chris: I think today establishing yourself and finding a career path is much easier, you have a lot more support and resource, and university is very accessible. That being said, everything is much more competitive. In order to succeed nowadays  you need to go the extra mile and allocate some of your free time to educating yourself. When in the workplace you’re constantly playing catch up to your more experienced counterparts, so you have to be out to impress.

My personal (and perhaps slightly controversial) opinion; is that having a degree nowadays isn’t anything special. If we all drove Ferraris and Lamborghinis they wouldn’t be considered a luxury car; it’s exactly the same. Without the additional time investment, shelling out for courses, reading blogs and listening to podcasts – getting ahead will be a struggle.

Me: Where will you be in 10 years time?

Chris: No matter the industry I think it’s important to aim for the top, when I worked in hotels I worked everyday with the end goal to be general manager. Now I’m in Marketing I aim for director/CMO or agency/business owner. I’m not sure where I’ll be, but wherever it is, I’m confident I’ll be at the top!