Thank You!

Thank You!

As I write this, at 8am on the morning of my birthday, I’ve already received numerous texts from people, tweets, linkedIn messages and facebook wall comments wishing me many happy returns. I’m actually quite overwhelmed by it. Thank you so much everyone. Many of the people on the social networks didn’t even know me a few years ago and they’ve taken the time to stop by and wish me the best – this is one of the reasons I love this medium – the ability to build relationships :)

Without wanting to get too nauseous I thought rather than a ‘list of things to do’ or a ‘top ways to….’ blog, I’d simply write about the things I’m grateful for, something I think everyone should do once in a while. It’s a positive thing to do, so even if you don’t publish it like I have, maybe do this for yourself in private – it might help put things in perspective.

Health – Another year passes and I’m in good health which has to be up there as one of the most important things to be grateful for. I’ve joined the gym this year and intend to work on this part of my life even more in 2011. Fit body, fit mind after all.

Family – I’m incredibly grateful for having a supportive family. My parents are always behind everything I do and while they are not necessarily in my life everyday, they have a huge bearing on where I’ve come from and where I’m going. A special mention here goes to my brother and his partner who had my niece, Tilly, last year – the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen and someone that has made me think much more about work/life balance.

Friends – My friends and partner are unbelievable. A close nit group, spanning the country & lots more abroad. Intelligent, enthusiastic, gregarious people who I owe an awful lot of why I am ‘me’ too. People I can turn to in time of need and most importantly, people that I know will keep me smiling and laughing all day long.

The Optix Team – No one has had it easy over the last couple of years, business in general for the country has been tougher than it’s been in a very long time so I’m thankful and grateful for my business and my team – without whom, it wouldn’t be possible.

You – Finally I’d like to thank you. For reading this, for sharing it with friends, for commenting and spreading it. It makes it worthwhile.

You can put your sick buckets away now guys, normal service will resume next post. Just thought this might be a nice little break from the norm. :)

Now Your Thoughts

  • What are you most grateful for? It would be great to hear…

How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

How Optix Solutions does ‘People to People’

Last week I wrote about People 2 People and Personal Branding. A few of you asked how we actually implement this in our businesses so I wanted to highlight this in today’s post – hopefully to give you some food for thought.

I’m going to use Olivier Blanchard’s (The Brand Builder) post on this for the structure of the post (hope you don’t mind Olivier :)) and expand on what we do in our main business – Optix Solutions.

Olivier highlighted 11 points that he felt every P-2-P business should have or at least work towards – let’s take them one at a time:

“1. The P2P business doesn’t hire though job sites or advertising. It hires by inviting candidates already connected to the company through social networks, both online and offline. “

I certainly can’t remember the last time we hired through advertising locally although I have to say that I’m not entirely on OB’s side here for Jobsites but the reason for that will become clear in the next few months. Yes, the old fashioned, faceless jobsite is a dying breed, but I think there might just be room for something new…more on that later :) The last few staff we’ve had at Optix have come through either social networks (or relationships built through social networks) or friends of the people that already work here. How great is that? One of my favourite things about recruiting is when one of the guys that works for me puts forward a friend that ‘really wants to work for Optix’ – that speaks volumes in my opinion.

“2. The P2P business no longer has a Director of Social Media, just like traditional B2B and B2C businesses no longer have a Director of Telephones: Social Media is completely embedded in the organization from an operational standpoint. What does that mean? It means that every department, from HR to Marketing to Product Development to Customer Service to Community Management uses Social Media the way they use any other tools and channels to do their jobs. “

Ok, so maybe we’re not quite big enough to have had an SM director in the first place, but that is probably my hat to be honest (I wear quite a few…and always look dapper ;). We have a number of staff with their own Twitter accounts/Facebook Pages/LinkedIn profiles and actively encourage this. The power in numbers through the business in incredible, all bouncing off each other, looking out for what each other is talking about on SM channels and all working together for the greater good of the company. I actively encourage my clients to consider use of SM in the same way at theirs.

“3. The P2P company doesn’t block FaceBook. The P2P company doesn’t block Twitter. The P2P company doesn’t block LinkedIn.  It doesn’t frown on access to community platforms like Ning. As a matter of fact, the P2P company helps its employees participate in online and offline networks more effectively through training and development instead of trying to insulate them from those “dangerous” online community platforms.”

I think I’ve highlighted this point above as well. Conversations actively go on (on a daily basis between staff about clever ideas for SM channels). We love it.

“4. Within the P2P business, the I.T. department no longer plays the role of cranky gatekeeper when it comes to adopting and deploying digital tools. The I.T. department has morphed into the T.E. department: Technology Enablement. Former I.T. professionals with passive-aggressive tendencies who get in the way of employees using the latest and most effective digital tools no longer have a place in the P2P Business. (Buh-bye. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way back to the ’90s.)”

Probably aimed more at the larger corporate here but once again, IT enablement is what it’s all about. I can’t understand those companies that block Facebook/Twitter etc on their networks – do they not realise that most of this SM stuff happens in the mobile space these days and they can’t block that?

“5. P2P Brand Managers are among the most sophisticated business strategists on the planet. No longer do they mostly be concerned with push messaging, self-serving marketing communications, trade dress and the ever ubiquitous logo redesigns. Their skillset has now exploded to meet the needs of an increasingly complex organization and marketplace.

  • They are now fluent in the four precepts of effective P2P program ownership: Development, integration, management (where monitoring lives) and measurement.
  • They are personally involved and invested in the communities that support and align themselves with the brand(s) they manage.
  • They are now equally involved in every step of the product lifecycle process, from ideation, design, development, manufacturing, testing, launch, and management.
  • They spend at least as much time in the world as they do inside the bubble of their corporate office, because they realize that is where their brand and products actually live.
  • Brand Managers are now mobile. They are cultural anthropologists as much as they are business managers. They look to free themselves from the corporate cocoon as much as possible to keep their perspective fresh and their insights untainted.
  • Brand Managers have become socio-cultural designers. Think about that for a minute and then think about it some more. This is key.”

We’re obviously in the slightly unique situation of working with brand strategists at other companies and so need to practice what we preach. We work with them to make sure the 4 P’s are ingrained in the strategy (In fact, we’ve worked with Olivier and Scott Gould at Likeminds to make sure our strategy offering is effective – we try where possible to practice what we preach)

“6. The P2P business understands how to smoothly blend campaigns with its daily mix of activities. Though it is naive to think that there is no longer a division between PR, Advertising, email marketing, web “marketing”, mobile marketing, customer support and community engagement, these roles and the deliverables they create work seamlessly together.”

As we’ve grown (From 2 to 13 in the last 6 years), we’ve gone through the silo effect and seen the damage this can cause. Dev not talking to Design, Design not talking to Sales, Sales not talking to anyone apart from their customers….you get the picture! Over the last few years we’ve done our very best to instil a culture of ‘team and family’ into the business. We have regular meetings where everyone thinks about client projects, we now have meetings with clients where everyone involved in the project is part of it so there is buy-in to the project. We’re not perfect yet but we’re working bloody hard to get there. :)

“7. The P2P business only uses corporate speak to make fun of corporate speak – and out of a sense of responsibility: Keeping that dying linguistic tradition alive will serve as a lesson to future generations that the world of gray cubicles, and cretinous business language almost destroyed business in the early 21st century. “

Not even going to expand on this one – The days of Gordon Geckko are no longer here…

“8. Employees of P2P businesses don’t hate their jobs. Why? Because they are empowered by their management team to collaborate with employees and the communities they touch. As a result of being clearly aware of their operational boundaries and because they receive ongoing, multilateral support from their organization, they know how to act professionally when dealing with the public.”

I think I mentioned this one earlier. When you have staff referring their friends to work for you, you’ve nailed it. After all, they wouldn’t be a very good pal if they got their mate into a business that sucked would they! We empower all our staff to ‘amaze clients where possible’ – That line is even in our staff benefits package because we want our staff to know that’s what’s important to us as a business…creating fantastic customer experiences.

“9. The P2P business no longer outsources its customer service. Period.”

We never did and we never will. Period :)

“10. The P2P business partners with like-minds. Put simply, it understands that the partners it aligns itself with say at least as much about its brand(s) as it does on its own. Even when partnerships are meant to be purely strategic or tactical, they signal an alignment of values that the marketplace (the community) is quick to take note of and interpret.”

Partners and Likeminds has been a personal goal of mine for 2010. I’ve spent a lot of time this year building relationships, strategic alliances and partnerships with some influential people and companies. As a business we recognise that the public perception of us is paramount to our success and the more people out there working with us on projects, the better. We started the Optix Inside Circle this year where we invited select partners (for strategic reasons) to a morning session where they could meet each other, network and then hopefully learn something of value for their own client base. The first event was very well attended locally and I’m looking forward to developing these events further this year.

“11. In case it wasn’t obvious: People would sell their grandmother to work there. Not just because the P2P company pays well (it might not) but because it is known to be a fantastic place to work, learn, and build lasting professional and personal relationships. People who work there are happier than most, professionally engaged and fulfilled, consider themselves successful (their definition may differ from yours), and wouldn’t dream of working anywhere else.”

This is certainly the feedback I’ve had from others…no doubt my wonderful team who are reading this will jump on me as soon as they pickup this RSS feed :)

Here’s to P-2-P Olivier – Thanks for your post.