Do you look for Opportunities or Obstacles?

Do you look for Opportunities or Obstacles?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I took the www.Kolbe.com personality test a few weeks ago and it showed that I have an extremely high level of what’s called ‘quick start‘ in their system. I love new ideas, vision, creation of new concepts, problem solving and thinking outside the box. On the flip side, I’m pretty awful at ‘follow through‘ which means I need people around me who can take on these new ideas and make them fly.

One of the things I know I do is to look for and see opportunity in everything around me, so this got me wondering if other entrepreneurs and business owners are wired in a similar way.

Since thinking about this I’ve analyzed a lot of the conversations I’ve had with other people to see what I might have done or said in their position and I noticed something very interesting. A select few people seem to walk around looking for opportunity. Any conversation, problem or challenge presents a chance to do something different. In my game it might be to sell something new to a client for example. Others seem to see obstacles – they start their sentences with things like, “We probably can’t do that because…”, “I’m not sure they’d want that”, “I don’t think that’s a good idea”.

Is one way right and one wrong? I’m sure theres a place for both and sometimes I know I need grounding so it’s probably no bad thing to be challenged every now and again. I do however truly believe that entrepreneurs look for opportunity in everything. Safe doesn’t work for them. They don’t need the comfort of knowing what’s round the corner or doing the same thing day in day out.

Earlier in the year I attended LikeMinds in Exeter and saw Luke Johnson (Channel 4, FT Columnist, Pizza Express, Strada, The Ivy…) speak about what makes an Entrepreneur. It was absolutely fascinating and resonated with me completely. Here are some of the words Luke used to explain the psyche of this type of person:

Grit, determination, discipline, optimism, hard working, going against trend, desire gain rather than fear loss and relentless.

He then used a phrase I loved: “The future belongs to the optimist” – How true.

When asked how he has been so successful, he simply said he has always been alive to the opportunities and that it’s often random interactions that open doors. A mantra I certainly live my life by.

This was proved to me once again this week, when after a very long day at work, the last thing I felt like doing was attending an evening do but I knew I needed to make the effort and within 5 mins of walking through the door, two huge work opportunities presented themselves out of no-where. If I’d not gone that night, I would have lost both.

I enjoy looking for opportunities where others can’t see them, it gives me a buzz. How about you?

Now Your Thoughts

  • Which camp do you fall into?
  • Do you agree with me that entrepreneurs look for opportunity?

Like Minds & The Social Media Survey 2010

Like Minds & The Social Media Survey 2010

So last week was the Like Minds conference in Exeter, Devon, a bringing together of Like Minded individuals from all over the globe – The topic – Creativity and Curation.

My Online Marketing Agency, Optix Solutions was proud to sponsor the event for the 3rd time running, making us one of the companies to be there in support from the beginning. We also used the platform to launch the results of the Social Media survey we ran earlier in the year. A glossy 26 page booklet with the findings as well as contributions from some of the world’s leading social media minds was presented. More information on the survey and details of how to request a copy can be found here: http://www.optixsolutions.co.uk/social-media-survey-2010/

It contains insights from the likes of Scott Gould, Trey Pennington, Olivier Blanchard, Julian Summerhayes and a foreword was kindly written by Chris Brogan.

Anyway, here are my take-aways and observations from the fantastic two day conference

1). Exeter is a special place and everyone that came to visit it loved it.

2). Despite Like Minds’ move away from social media to other things, it remains in my mind, a social media conference and when the speakers take on social topics, the audience lights up. I hope the team take this on board for future events.

3). Steve Moore of the Big Society can write a well crafted speech in front of a couple of hundred people in less than an hour, just before he goes on stage – he is also extremely funny and tells amazing stories.

4). The new immersive format in the mornings rocked – I got most of the value from these sessions this year.

5). Did I mention that Optix Solutions released the results of the Social Media Survey 2010 :)

6). Benjamin Ellis is one clever guy and if you want to talk Psychology then he’s your man. Thanks Benjamin

7). Joanne Jacobs predicted in her immersive that by 2012 the web will be viewed by mobiles more than desktop computers, so companies better get their websites mobile friendly. She also said that we’ll see a shift of users to people that currently don’t really use the internet at work (like handymen) – the Internet on their mobiles will become very important for their work

8). Was great to see Jon Akwue back again and even more fantastic that he read the Jeffrey Gitomer book I gave him last time recently and enjoyed it :)

9). Wikis are a great way of sharing social strategy with staff internally, allowing everyone to collaborate and understand what the company is trying to achieve

10). Cofacio is a new Help Engine which is very cool – You can offer help and ask for help and earn points which are used to help good causes. You should signup now

11). Shaa Wasmund has done a lot with her life and not let anything get in her way. She rightly points out that if you don’t try you’ll never know what could be. She’s also incredibly positive – a massive plus in my book

12). James Whatley talked about gaining success in Social Media (and other places) by ‘Displacing the market’ – I.e. trying to do something different to the norm. I love this and will use it often – thanks James :)

12). Robin Wight is a fashion icon (and very clever guy) and I want his shoes!

If you’ve not had the chance to be a part of a Like Minds Conference until now then I wholeheartedly recommend you do your best to get to the next one – you won’t regret it.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What were your highlights – I know the organisers read this blog so it’s a great place to share
  • Have you read the survey – what are your thoughts on the results?

Personal Branding in a ‘P2P’ World

Personal Branding in a ‘P2P’ World

After a couple of very hectic weeks and then a fantastic week’s holiday I need to get back into my regular Friday blog post. I intend to start that again today.

Just before I start, If you were confused by ‘p2p’ in the title it stands for People to People. More on that later.

I want to take a look at something that’s become very important to me recently – personal brand. In my opinion one of the biggest changes in marketing this last year or two (since social media) is the move from business brands to personal brands. There has been a lot of talk about whether you should promote your business through social media channels using a business account, or through personal accounts from staff within the company, or even a combination of the two. I’ve been sitting back studying the trends for quite a while now and have formed my own opinion on this given everything I know and have witnessed through the last year or two. I’m going to use Twitter for this post as it’s probably one of the easiest social media channels to look at.

So if you’re starting up a business or are simply just getting into Social Media how should you create your accounts? I believe there are a few good (not right or wrong) ways of doing this. My view is to research others then adapt these to my own requirements. Here are my recommendations for accounts to look at:

Take a look at the Ford US Twitter account – There is a guy called Scott Monty who heads up social media and under the Ford account, shares the responsibility for tweeting with a number of other staff there. They differentiate the tweets by using the ^ symbol followed by the initials of the staff member there. This has the immediate impact of personalising the brand. The bio clearly defines who does what so when communicating with them you feel like there is a personal touch (shown below):

“·  Bio Drive One. This account is run by @ScottMonty (^SM) & @GwenPeake (^GP), Digital Communications, @JWard35 (^JW) @MSchirmerFord (^MHS), Product Communications”

ASOS the famous online clothing retailer take this a step further and encourage staff members to have their own accounts, preceded with ASOS_ – They appear to then build their own networks while subtly promoting ASOS if there is the opportunity (but not shoving things down people’s throats). This is another great way of spreading a brand message using a personal touch.

Dell Outlet use Twitter for coupons and promo codes for their outlet store. They were famously one of the first major brands to come out in public with a true social media ROI. They have other accounts for customer service and engaging users although interestingly they appear to now be engaging much more on this Outlet account (maybe someone had a word!). There is speculation over whether a social network should be used for pure sales like this and I certainly wouldn’t advise you try this if you’re in an SME without brand power like Dell, but clearly its working for them so one to watch.

At Optix Solutions we have a number of accounts – The main Optix account is used to promote client websites, site launches and news from the business. It’s definitely been harder to build followers on this account but we do see it as another strand to the businesses marketing mix. We also do our best to show our business personality promoting things like new staff, goals, achievements and events that we put on – like #optixhatday (where all the staff had to wear a hat) and #optixhawaainday (where we dressed in colourful clothing because of the rubbish summer we had). We then encourage our staff to create their own accounts and build their own networks. This is really important as a business because of the power in numbers. The more people we are talking to locally, the more know us, the more likely we are to pick up the opportunity to quote on work as and when it happens. None of these accounts directly sell, they simply build relationships.

Olivier Blanchard (The Brand Builder) wrote a fantastic post on a new classification of business p2p (person to person).

I completely agree with Olivier’s post and am really looking forward to doing business in a new ‘p2p world’ but for these companies to exist and flourish it’s vital that some of the more old school way of thinking is put aside and staff are empowered to concentrate on their personal brands.

Aren Grimshaw of Tonick Media summed this up for me at the recent Likeminds event in Exeter. He said, ‘The simple way of describing the use of social media in businesses is to draw the analogy with the traditional village shop where you walked in and the owner knew your name, what you bought each time and probably asked how your partner and kids were at the same time’. It’s all about personal service and personal connections. Nail this and you’ll nail social media channels like Twitter :)

These maybe basic, but for the starters amongst you here are my ‘Banksy’s top 5 tips’ for working on your personal brand online:

1). Use a picture of your face on social networks – where possible use the same picture across the networks for consistency. Some people like to show themselves doing something they enjoy (like sport) – This is fine if you can see the face too. It’s important to personalise a medium which could be seen as fairly impersonal. Don’t hide behind a silly avatar. I like to recognise who I’m talking too and then when I meet them in real life I know instantly who they are.

2). Be likeable – This goes for all walks of life – on and offline but is so important. Consider what people say about you when you’re not in the room – if you’re not sure or are worried about this, you may just need to think about your attitude a bit and work on it.

3). Be Helpful – Don’t spend all day talking about yourself or trolling other people. No one likes listening to someone else go on about themselves all day or belittling others. Consider what you can do to help your friends, family and colleagues now. Go and do something memorable for them this minute. Give value without expecting anything in return – it’s a philosophy that will stand you in good stead. On social media platforms like Twitter you need to make sure you’re retweeting people, thanking them when they retweet you and point your followers in the direction of information they would find useful.

4). Mix it up – Business and Pleasure – In my opinion it’s much easier to relate to someone if they are a mixture of business and pleasure. It’s far easier to get on with someone if you can uncover things that they like to do outside work and perhaps common interests.

5). Attitude – Ok, so maybe this is covered by some of the points above but it’s just so important to everything you do and how far you’ll go. Do you wake up in the morning full of life, go to work and love what you do? Attitude is catching – make sure you surround yourself with positive people where possible, they will rub off on you and help you succeed. In the same way, negative people will drain you – rid your life of these people.

So if you’re going to be a p2p company as Olivier’s blog sets out, you need to make sure you and all your staff (if you have them) adopt these values early and make sure they are ingrained in the fabric of your organisation.

Bonjour

P.S. We’ve partnered with the forward-thinking team at Like Minds to produce a White Paper on how businesses are (or aren’t!) using Social Media and we would love for you to be a part of it! All you need to do is take a few minutes to fill out the survey here: http://bit.ly/9FUt8W.

p.p.s. If you like what you’ve read here then you should sign up to my RSS feed and every time I update this site the post will be sent to your reader automatically

Likeminds 2010 & Never forget where you’ve come from

Likeminds 2010 & Never forget where you’ve come from

Last week saw Exeter host Likeminds 2010, a social media conference (for want of a better title). It showcased some of the world’s leading authorities on social media, in some of the world’s largest companies. The event took place on the 26th of Feb and boy was the line up something special. My Online Marketing Agency in Exeter, Optix Solutions is proud to have been a local sponsor for the second time running. On the day, the hashtag for the event #likeminds, ‘trended’ on Twitter (meaning it was among the top 5 or 6 most referenced things in the world at that time!) The event has subsequently had write ups in numerous blogs around the world and large newspapers such as the Guardian. At certain times during the day, I literally sat there pinching myself, to remember that we were actually in Exeter, in sunny Devon.

The speaker line up included names from Orange, Sky, Ogilvy, Reuters and one of the world’s leading social media masters – Chris Brogan (author of best selling book – Trust Agents). It was nicely balanced however with local participants such as John Harvey, Exeter’s city centre manager, Helena Holt, CEO of Devon Air Ambulance and many others, not to mention the fantastic ‘Endevours’, where local charities were given 5 mins on stage to promote their causes. Likeminds is exciting for a city like Exeter, most events of this type are held in larger cities like London, so to have people descend on Exeter for a couple of days is unbelievable, raising both the profile of city and showing what great waves it’s making in the social media world. It would be very easy to write for days and days about this event (as many others will) and in light of the fact that this blog is aiming at reaching out to young entrepreneurs and adding value to people looking to start up businesses, I’m going to pick up on how it felt to spend some of the day with a social media ‘rockstar’ – Chris Brogan.

If you’re not in the social media or marketing world yourself you’d be forgiven for not having heard about this guy but for those of us who are, let me tell you, he’s a bit of a hero. He co-authored (Affiliate Link) Trust Agents, a fantastic book about how you should conduct yourself online and build trust and the rewards that can lead to. He has over 100k twitter followers and thousands of people subscribe to his blog.

I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity to talk with Chris a couple of times that day, at Lunch (where he even paid the tables tab!) and at dinner for the sponsors and speakers in the evening (how lucky was I!). This is a very humble guy – it would be very easy in Chris’ position to simply rub shoulders with the other people around the world who share his success but I get the feeling his mantra is about never forgetting where you’ve been and helping the up and coming stars (in fact he references this in his book and definitely carries it out in real life). All day, Chris gave his time to whomever approached him, always happy to share stories and sign books – it must have been pretty exhausting for him but he never once looked uninterested in anyone – in fact, far from it, he always showed interest beyond the call of duty. This is how he does business and in my opinion it’s one of the main reasons he’s been so successful. I see the same traits in Trey Pennington (whom I also met from Likeminds last year). These guys are just genuinely nice and make it their business to help others (they are true connectors) – they know when they do this that they will benefit, maybe not immediately but certainly over time. This has been part of the way I’ve built my business. Where possible I try and add value to others, helping them with their problems or challenges – I never ask for anything in return, but over time this definitely leads to more good than bad experiences. I’d strongly recommend you considering this path for your business too.

Another thing that particularly impressed me about Chris was his ability with names. Chris signed my book at lunch and asked me my first name for it, later that night, having met literally hundreds of people he was still calling me by it and that was special – I noticed he did this with everyone he met. I wrote a post about the importance of a name a while ago. This skill is so important in getting ahead in business and clearly Chris knows this.

I want to end on something Chris said in his keynote speech at the end of Likeminds. It was probably my ‘take-away’ for the day – ‘Make your customers feel special’ – Chris talks of the ‘guest experience’ for customers, a term coined by Disney I believe. This is essentially going the extra mile for them and leaving them with a warm feeling, one that makes them want to refer you on. This was also one of the points that Jeffrey Gitomer makes about great customer service being the number one priority for any company – get that right and you’re on the road to success. I learnt about a system called the ‘net promoter score’ the other day – it’s a system that monitors how many of your customers would be prepared to refer your business. Most companies struggle to get above 30% and in fact many are far lower. It strikes me that social media tools, on top of good company principles and values would lead companies to increasing their NPS scores, something I may focus on in another blog post sometime. We’re all looking for more success, I think it’s absolutely vital to remember everyone that’s helped you on the way up and make sure that you always remain true to your values – Chris Brogan is a bit of a master at this and I learnt a lot from the day with him. I hope to have passed some on to you all out there.

Make sure you follow Chris on @chrisbrogan

Scott Gould vs Alastair Banks – A Case Study

Ok – back to me again! I have to warn you I’m feeling a bit mischievous today, hence the title!

I realise that this blog will be read by people that don’t know either Scott or I so before I go on, I just want to give you a quick heads-up on who Scott is. He runs a relatively new (2008) ‘Experience Marketing Company’ in Exeter called Aaron & Gould. You don’t need to know us either – what underlies is an important message for new business owners or people trying to make a name for themselves.  That’s probably all you need to know. Let’s move on….

Did you know that most business owners (SMES) are more often than not, sales people? They have to be in order for their businesses to succeed. They normally can’t afford to pay someone to go out and sell for them so they have to sell themselves (this is why some of my networking/sales posts are so critical if you’re starting up). There is nothing wrong with this – it’s how I started and it forms the basis for my post – you see times have changed in business and it wasn’t until I met my new pal Scott Gould that I realised quite how much (Well I realised but this really brought it home).

When I started Optix Solutions I shamelessly gave out my business card to everyone I met – The way I saw it, the more people that knew about Optix the better. In certain circles I was known as the networking king – visiting every meeting I could, wherever it might be and giving away more and more business cards. In fact this got to the point where even my best friends, who didn’t know me through work circles, lovingly gave me the nickname of ‘business card’ :) Happy Days! To be honest, I still live by this mantra – you never know who someone might know, so what are you waiting for, exchange contact details and see where it goes. In fact, only last week I sat on the buffet service on the train back from London and met a senior partner from Deloitte, a guy from Reuters and a product designer. The guy from Deloitte asked for my card and the chap from Reuters and I exchanged details – all over a meal and a two hour train journey from London to Exeter – The point is, that might not go anywhere – but equally I may well have my biggest sale next month from it. If I hadn’t exchanged cards, it certainly wouldn’t have given me any chance at all.

Back in 1999, Social Media certainly wasn’t around – in fact, Google wasn’t even around (well, only just). Man, I’m starting to worry that I sound old writing this now. :) I should mention at this point that it took me years to become well known – even in a small town like Exeter. I would guess that it was a good 5 years before I was trusted on the networking circuit.

Now roll on 10 years and I meet this chap, Scott, through our mutual love of Social Media and especially Twitter – I think I’m right in saying that from one of my first tweets about Exeter he popped up with a friendly ‘hello’ and said if I needed any help that I could contact him’ – What a gent! We’ve since become friends and Scott and I have done some work together. Optix also sponsored the fantastic event that he put on a month or so ago – Like Minds.

I’m pretty sure that by his own admittance he would say that at the start of this year, his name was not very well known in Exeter. He was a true start-up, had a few clients and was looking around for work. Through use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter he was able to connect with quite literally hundreds of people in the Exeter area in a very short space of time. I watched this process for months with great interest. He was essentially doing what I did when I started, but using new technologies and platforms to achieve it – and doing very well at it. For the first part of the year very few people had actually met Scott but many new his name – they’d connected on Twitter and other platforms, but slowly and surely people soon started to meet him at tweet ups and events and then of course he blew everyone away by organising Like Minds entirely using social media (read my article on that here). Now he’s known all over the town – in fact some might say it’s the Scott Gould show at the mo ;) (He will love that one!)

Scott has successfully used modern tools to network the area, gain trust and reputation and he now stands in a great place to capitalise on that and take Exeter, Devon and possibly the World by storm – All in less than a year. I take my hat off to him, I really do. What took me years to achieve, Scott has done in a far shorter period of time. I wish him well.

So to summarise, in case anyone missed the point of this post – Use social media to build your networks locally, gain trust and reputation. Make sure you network online and offline and as much as possible and you’ll reap the rewards in business. To help you along the way I’ve picked out a few of the tactics Scott would have used to achieve what he has – you too can use these, starting today:

  • Follow your local town/city name – Setup a search for the town/city in any of the major tools such as tweetdeck and actively engage with people mentioning the name  – There are also directories like twellow that you can use to find people and now twitter has its ‘lists’ feature, many people have setup local lists which make it really easy to find local ‘tweeps’ – For those of you in Exeter – Here is the search for Exeter on Twitter done for you already.
  • Use social media as an ‘Enabler and Extender’ – Try and take your contact through the following process – tweet/email/call/meetup – You may be lucky enough to do business as a direct result of SM but its more likely that you’ll need to meet up, so use the tools to gently take people more quickly through this processes which might have taken months or years in ‘olden days’ – circa <2007 ;)
  • Have a clear result – Who do you want to attract/connect with?  Have a strategy, even if  its as basic as ‘I want to talk to business leaders/influencers in my town’ – Filter out what you’re not interested in and have a strategy in place.

Scott and I have recently co-founded TAGS Tweetup in Exeter with Dave Thomas – If you’re interested in finding out more then please take a look at our new Tags blog for information about the next event.

Now go and put a brew on and come back ready to use your new found tactics to build your network and of course, as always, please let me know about your success.

The 3 types of happiness

This is a very exciting time for me with the introduction of my first guest blogger – Rachel Willis. Rachel and I have met as a direct result of the #likeminds social media conference earlier this year and amazingly she wasn’t even there! A very good friend of hers – Caroline Bosher put the two of us in touch. Rachel is a strategist and has worked with quite a few household names including Deloitte and GlaxoSmithKline to name just two. Rachel and I hope to collaborate more in the future so this won’t be the last you read from her. Enjoy.

Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

Rachel Willis

rachel@rachel-willis.co.uk
www.rachel-willis.co.uk

twitter.com/RachelWillisUK


Happiness.

This buzzword seems to be everywhere we turn, littering magazines, books and conversations with supposed formulae for achieving happiness, as if it were a noun rather than a verb.

Subsequently, it has become synonymous with expectations, success vs. failure and fearful striving. Whether we are trying to lose that extra 7 pounds on the promise that this weight loss will make us happy, online dating to find the partner that will make us happy, or focusing all our efforts on earning the amount of money that we believe will make us happy, the motivation is the same.

Taking this approach can cause us to waste our whole lives chasing rainbows, always considering ourselves unhappy if we haven’t achieved whatever target we set for ourselves and in the process not appreciating the moments of happiness that are within our reach.

Therefore, it can be useful to understand that there are 3 fundamental types of happiness.

1. Pleasure

This is the immediate rush of happiness that comes from an unexpected windfall, the blowing of the final whistle in a triumphant Cup Final or spontaneous, carefree laughter shared with a loved one on a beautiful summer’s day.

The important point to note about pleasure is that it is transient. We cannot hold onto this feeling for anything longer than a few moments.

Once we appreciate this, we can remind ourselves that we are not being cheated out of happiness when the feeling passes, and instead of robbing ourselves of these precious moments when they occur, we can enjoy them for what they are – fleeting, wonderful and a brief glimpse into our fully present aliveness.

2. Satisfaction

This is the slow-burner of the happiness world that comes from completing a demanding10km run, putting your feet up after finishing the long-dreaded attic clear out, or handing the client the project you and your colleagues have tirelessly slaved over for the last few months.

It is a quieter, subtler sense of happiness that often occurs after completing a challenging task and is coupled with a sense of pride and relief.

For this reason, we can sometimes allow satisfaction to pass quickly, barely recognising its appearance, but why not feast on this happiness for a little longer, we deserve it!

3. Contentment

This is the long-term, sturdy feeling that is not rocked by an occasional unhappy disturbance in your life.

So often people think that if they arrange their external world according to their perceived criteria for happiness – the requisite relationship, career, body etc – they will feel content.

This mentality is totally understandable when we see that is the entire basis for the marketing industry. Companies make money from encouraging us to feel that if we use this new miracle product, eat this food or use this service then we will be happy (and more importantly, they prey on our fears that if we don’t have x, y or z then we will be unhappy).

But unfortunately, this is the wrong way around. Yes, these conditions can provide us with short-term happiness, but trying to find lasting happiness (AKA contentment) using this strategy leads to disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Only by feeling content and peaceful in ourselves can we feel contentment with our lives.

It makes sense. If we feel content inside then we don’t require what is happening around us to make us happy. Therefore we put less emphasis and pressure on those external circumstances. And when we come from a place of wanting rather than needing something, we can enjoy it for what it is, whatever that may be. We become selective in what we do, whom we see and where we go. And guess what, this makes us more content; it’s a win-win situation!

So, next time you find yourself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life, keep in mind that “man is only unhappy because he does not realise he is happy”.

Social Media ROI and Likeminds – WOW

Friday the 16th of October saw Exeter welcome a new social media conference to the Westcountry – Like Minds. My company were lucky enough to be one of the local sponsors and our logo sat impressively on the big screen behind the speakers alongside the like of Magners and Starbucks – not bad exposure I say :)

The reason for this post is to try and reach a few more people and explain the power of using social media in your business. I’ve also been flying high on a wave of social media love since the conference on Friday and want to tell the world about it :)

A few facts first:

  • The conference tackled the issue of ROI in Social Media
  • There were over 200 people there
  • Over 500 watched the conference on Ustream – A live stream of the event – still available here
  • People interacted with the conference in real time from all over the world – Even Stephen Fry the Twitter God dropped in digitally to say ‘Hi’ to everyone there!
  • The twitter fall, which was projected onto the screen while panelists were talking had thousands of tweets on it
  • Two of the keynote speakers flew from America especially to talk at the conference
  • Another keynote speaker – @darenBBC worked for the BBC for some time and was instrumental in putting Microsoft and IBM together as well as working on the iplayer!
  • The last keynote speaker – @mazi is in charge of social media for SKY!

Now here’s the thing – The two guys in charge of this whole event @scottgould and @drewellis didn’t even know each other this time last year! They met on Twitter and through a building of trust using social media, became closer until they decided to launch likeminds together earlier in the year. Now take into account that every single one of the sponsors bought into the event and the organisers purely because of social media. None of us knew Scott or Drew this time last year but like they had done, we had met through our love of social media and innovative thinking. Amazing as this all sounds, its even more amazing to think that this WHOLE event was put on and organised using social media – not a single bit of traditional advertising was used – Scott interacted with and finally met @treypennington and @thebrandbuilder on twitter (our two American friends) and after a visit earlier in the year by Trey, they agreed to talk at the conference – Another victory for social media.

Now Exeter is not known for its conferences or foresight when it comes to technology so to get the numbers mentioned together in a room was a remarkable achievement. I’ve been working in Exeter for over 10 years now and never seen anything like it.

If you want to see the interest in the conference and everything it’s generated since, take a look at the hashtag #likeminds on twitter here. An amazing event experience.

Social media has the power to break down barriers like nothing I’ve experienced before, for example I sat next to one of my competitors all day as we tweeted and retweeted each other on the twitter fall. We then shared dinner that evening (with others I have to say ;)) and it just made me marvel at how important getting ‘like minded people’ together really is. We have undoubtedly become closer due to social media and I’m thankful for that. I also met a lot of fantastic new people at the conference and cemented relationships with others – I literally cant wait for the next one.

Likeminds in itself was a testimony to what social media can achieve if implemented correctly. The return on investment for all involved was huge.

If you’re not using Social Media in your business yet then I strongly suggest you start thinking about it. Of course, if you’re stuck, then Optix Solutions can give you a helping hand :)

#Likeminds

Just a very quick update to say that I’m really looking forward to the South West’s first Social Media Conference today which i’m extremely proud Optix Solutions are sponsoring.

With a large attendance expected, Like Minds looks set to show the rest of the UK just how leading edge the South West can be.

If you can’t make it then they are live streaming the event from their website here: http://alikeminds.org/

I’m sure there will be a huge amount of twitter activity so keep up-to-date with that on #likeminds hashtag – lets see if we can make it trend ;)

Look out for me, @banksy6 – come and say hello – I like to think of myself as a friendly chap :)

See you there!