- Why do people incessantly complain about the heat. Yes it’s hot and no one likes to work in this heat but I really don’t need any more people to tell this.
- People who complain about how cold their office is because they have air conditioning. You shouldn’t be complaining you should be smug, really smug. At the very least you should exude an air of gratitude that your employer bought something that will lie redundant the rest of the year.
- Where is an ice cream van when you need it and why do they never take cards?Even if one came I would almost certainly not have any change. We live in a cashless society don’t we?
- I know we all wanted a summer but do we have to have it all in one go? If we have to have a two day summer can we possibly have say, at a weekend. (Apologies to the thousands of people who have to work at weekends).
- Why do keep fans in the most inaccessible part of the loft? I know it’s not been used for two years but why did I throw it to far end of the loft. I’d have been much better sitting down and cooling off rather than working up a sweat in the hottest part of the house.
It seems strange that I have been doing Five Thoughts for several months now and this the first time it has crossed my mind to do five thoughts on thinking. As with most of these blogs my thought process was triggered by something I read. My current morning reading of choice is Dave Trott’s One Plus One Equals Three.
- There is a difference between thinking and daydreaming. Daydreaming, that moment when you let your mind just drift. You are not really thinking, you probably can’t even remember what crossed your mind, if anything. Daydreaming is an aimless activity, nothing wrong with that but it’s not thinking. Thinking has a certain creative and critical element to it and, to my mind at least, it leads somewhere.
- “It’s the thought that counts.” I have no doubt you’ve heard that expression actually you’ve probably said it. Normally it’s said when you are given a totally inappropriate gift but you are grateful that at least they thought of you. Not very well obviously for such a crap present. Thinking has to be more than just a fleeting recognition. Thinking must surely lead to doing and some form of doing that makes a difference.
- Thinking has surely got to be positive and not negative. The problem with thinking, well over thinking really, is that it can quickly turn to negativity. You think about all the reasons why something can’t be done. Sometimes just going ahead without over thinking something is the way to go. I am not advocating recklessness but sometimes you just need to think on your feet, solve the problems as you encounter them not as your think about them.
- Do less thinking. I have read so many top class performers, actors, athletes, artists etc talk about how they feel at their best when they just do stuff without thinking. When they over think something it all seems to go wrong. Of course they are not making it up as they go along, far from it. That level of achieving without thinking comes from hours and hours of practice and dedication but in that moment of high achievement everything comes naturally. It just flows without conscious thought. What a place to be. If you think you could never reach that level just remember you probably drive your car without much thought. Not carelessly, it just becomes second nature, natural like breathing.
- Think differently. The way we think is probably the result of years of practice. We all get into a certain way of thinking about the world and the way it works. As human beings we like routine. There is safety in routine and I have no doubt we develop thought patterns along the same lines. We think a certain way because that is the way we have always thought. We have always thought that way because we have been taught and have learnt that is the way to think. Maybe we need to UNTHINK. To find another way of thinking. Not sure how you do that but it’s a thought, isn’t it?
I was listening to a podcast the other day. I was struck by a phrase, “we all need to find our personal Yoda”. I presume he meant find someone who can mentor you rather than find a mythical character who utters wise words in an almost incomprehensible fashion. In another life I had a sort of mentor and I have had people in my life who, from time to time, have offered advice and direction. I have also had people who didn’t so much offer advice as tell me what a worthless piece of….but that’s best forgotten and I don’t think it come under the broad category of mentoring.
- A mentor should be someone who is willing to share their skills, knowledge and expertise. Should mentors have the skills that are directly applicable to your industry? Personally I don’t think so.It might well help. If if they come from the same industry background they may possess a certain amount of insider knowledge but in any business arena there are transferrable skills. Someone might know nothing about how to edit a video but would know how to deal with people, how to stay focussed and a whole host of other skills that could benefit me.
- A mentor should hold you to account for what you do but not be judgemental. Too many are fearful of seeking help and advice because they feel they will be judged. Helping you see where you can do better rather than pointing out where you are going wrong seems to me to be one of the prime skills of a mentor.
- Good mentors remember what it was like to start out and will understand where their mentee is on the growth curve.
- A mentor needs to guide and offer direction but not be controlling. It must be tempting to live life vicariously through one you are mentoring. Maybe even to the point of taking the credit for their success. It takes quite a person to mentor someone and then to take a step back and allow others to take the glory. Humility is surely a key trait of any mentor.
- A mentor needs the ability to reflect on their own journey. A mentor will have ability and knowledge but alongside the how of their success they will know the why of it as well.
As much as I would like to avoid it I can’t do a weekly blog and not have five thoughts on the referendum. So tin hat on and off we go.
- For decades voter participation and engagement, across all elections, has been dropping. Voting for X-Factor and Strictly consistently out perform voting at elections. Although you can vote more than once in TV talent shows. I do wonder if, in the perception of some at least, the model for democracy is more akin to these shows than the reality of our parliamentary democracy? I don’t watch X-Factor but I do see the debate across my social media streams. There are cries of foul play, vote rigging and how can anyone choose them and in the context of recent events, many a statement about the stupidity of those who voted for someone other than their favourite. There is also this simple fact, the best singer or dancer does not always win. Why? Well maybe because…
- Voting is rarely done rationally. We vote for all kinds of different reasons. Party loyalty, family loyalty, a whole host of different narratives will often outweigh any investigation of data. It happens in all walks of life and I have no reason to believe an election or a referendum is any different.
- The vast majority of people who voted leave are not racist or stupid. Likewise those who voted remain are not unpatriotic appeasers. Sadly there will be a minority who will believe that a majority of people think and believe and think the way they do. Racism in any form is wrong. It is wrong in any country not just ours. We should all unite to condemn it and work for a better society.
- Are referenda a good way to decide anything? Just maybe our parliamentary democracy and the sovereignty of parliament has been dealt a significant blow by this process. I am not sure it’s been dealt fatal blow but the I think it’s been lessened. It seems Parliament does not now whether to debate the result or not. After all the people have spoken but they were elected to speak and act on our behalf just a year ago. I’ll be honest I have no clear and unequivocal answer to this but I think it’s a question that should be debated. Has the referendum irrespective of the result damaged the standing of our parliamentary democracy.
- Most MPs are alright your know. They have to balance loyalty to a party with personal morals and convictions. Deeply held beliefs with pragmatism. The cartoon depiction of MPs probably does not stand up to scrutiny. Most work hard with the right motives like the rest of us. There are times when they get it wrong just like the rest of us.
They say travel broadens the mind and I guess if the kind of travelling you are thinking of involves backpacks, local cuisine and many many air miles then I guess that would be true.
However the travel the majority of us indulge in is usually of the more mundane kind. The regular commute to work, travelling to see a client or a relative. I am writing this on a tube train. It’s the eighth one I’ve been on today. By the time I get home over 4 hours of my day will have been spent on this metal tube or waiting to get on one. So my five thoughts on the more mundane travel experience.
1. Commuting is hard. I am glad I don’t do it every day. I doff my virtual cap to all of you hardy souls who endure it every day. Once upon a time I guess people moved out to the suburbs for a better quality of life. You would put up with the misery of the commute because it would all be worth it just to live in leafy suburbia. OK you don’t see that much of it but worth it. just think if you had to sell your inner London home now, you could probably retire. Instead you’ll be back to the commute dreaming of the better life that lies, somewhere, in the future.
2. The number of broken down escalators is in direct proportion to a) how knackered you are on any given day and b) the amount of stuff you have to carry up said busted escalator.
3. The man or woman who has placed their bags on the only spare seat next to them is always asleep. Not dozing. Really, really, deeply asleep. Because surely the guilt alone of taking up a seat that could be used by someone else would prevent you from sleeping.
4 Fast food always smells so much better when you catch a whiff of it when the doors open at a station. I think it’s something about it being unattainable yet so close.
5. London Underground always operates.a good service. That is until you get on a train. Within two stops the whole system has ground to a halt and you are left train-less on a platform of a station you have only ever glimpsed through a window. A station incidentally that has no amenities whatsoever.
Happy travelling, it certainly broadened my mind.
No one likes failure but it is an inevitable part of life. You’ll win some, you’ll lose some that is life in a nutshell. I am sure there are people who have experienced way more successes than failures but even they will have to look failure square in the eye. You may have noticed failure has cropped up a number of times in recent Five Thoughts For Thursday blogs. It’s not that I have had a spell of unremitting failures but my recent reading including the excellent Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed has made me re-evaluate failure, so here are my five thoughts so far.
1. Failure is inevitable. Whoever said “failure is not an option” clearly knew very little about life. There will be times, far more than you’d like, when things just don’t work out. I think accepting failure will come your way is actually a better way to deal with it. If you live a deluded existence where “failure is not an option”, when it does cross your path it is more likely to be a crushing blow. As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his famous poem If,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
[Clearly this advice applies to everyone not just the male of the species]
2. You fail you are not a failure. Pretty hard to separate yourself from your failures but failing at something does not make you a failure. It just means you failed at one thing, one time. Next time may be very different. Many people, successful, well rounded people, have failed on numerous occasions but no one would call them a failure. The reason for that is..
3. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Athletes fail all the time. That is the essence of their training. They try something, to run faster, to jump higher or further and most of the time they fail. Each time they fail they learn something new about what it takes to succeed.
4. True success is built on trail and error. Theory is all very well but in the end you have to try something and see if it will work. You may have 100 failures but each one of them will contribute something towards the eventual success. Read any biography of any inventor and you will soon learn that the fantastic product they ended up inventing was really the product of many, many failed attempts.
5. A fear of failure will mean you never really advance. Some people, maybe even you, are too scared to try anything, to advance anywhere because of the fear of failure. Fear of the failure itself or fear of what people will think of you because of your failure. I genuinely believe it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried. The inevitability of failure is not a licence to be reckless. I am not suggesting you go “gung ho” into a situation. There is still a place for research, planning and, yes, caution but to dwell on all that can go wrong can have a paralyzing effect on you. Anticipate the obstacles, plan how to hurdle them and, most importantly pick yourself up when you’ve hit one.
Here’s to your future success, from one who has failed to another. Definitely not from one failure to another. Maybe one learner to another.
FOOTNOTE: I send this blog out via email to my Five Thoughts Mailing List, which you can join by the way. Just fill in your details in the box on the right. Imagine my horror when my copy popped into my inbox with nothing in the email. CLICK HERE TO SEE Frankly I should have left it as the perfect example of failure, but I learnt my lesson corrected the mistake and sent out the newsletter again. I suppose I should just have left it as a prime example of failure, it’s inevitability and a lesson learnt.
A system is merely a framework to make something or somebody work better.
I think the appeal of a system, any system, is the offer of something that will lead to success but with little input from us. You follow the system rules and hey presto there you go, success. If only.
As anyone who has tried to follow a recipe from a cookbook will know success is not guaranteed. You follow the steps, you measure carefully but somehow yours doesn’t even remotely resemble the glossy picture in the book. I am not against any particular system or method but here are my five thoughts on the subject.
1. Systems should not be ends in themselves. Personally I love Miracle Morning. It has brought so much into my life, but a few weeks ago I realised that it was becoming more important to me than the goals it was designed to help me achieve. Ticking off another day done was the achievement. Sticking to the system should not be the goal, the goal should be beyond the system. Where it is designed to take you.
2. Systems are nothing without commitment. You can’t make anything work unless you are committed. No technique, no rule, no system will achieve anything unless you put in the hard work and commitment. People buy into systems because they want to succeed but they want to succeed without the hard work that usually accompanies it.
3. Systems are best when you use them to evaluate failure. Surely we follow a method to be successful? I am reading Matthew Syed’s book Black Box Thinking. It is a really good read especially when he talks about evaluating failure. Failure is the gateway to success. It seems to me systems work best when they enable you to assess where things went wrong. The safety of the aviation industry is based on the systematic evaluation of the, thankfully, few failures.
4. There is no golden key system, seriously there isn’t. There are methods that work for some people and not for others. It is easy to get sucked in with the sales patter that tells you, “follow this and you will earn thousands and be the person you want to be.” am sure there are people who have used a system and made it work for them but that does not mean it is foolproof.
5. Find what suits you. I have found a method or a system that works for me that doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all individuals and it make take some trial and error to find something that suits you and your aspirations.
However you choose to move into your future, whatever method or system you choose to get you there, it can only work if you put in the hard yards and are committed for the long term.
In early 2016 I reached a point where I decided to work towards a considerable improvement in my health and general well being. Here are the five things that are changing me for the better.
- Miracle Mornings. I had seen the book, Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod mentioned numerous times on social media. I had also heard about the concept from a Ted Talk I had watched. I decided to buy the book and see what all the fuss was about. I don’t think I had any intention of doing anything about it, after all, I was not a morning person. It’s not a long book and it’s a good read. The basic premise is that you get up earlier than you normally would and practice a number of disciplines. Through this discipline you will change your life around. I won’t go into all the details, you can buy the book for those, but suffice it say it has turned my life around. I would need another much longer blog post to explain how it has but take my word for it, it has. I have read many self improvement book but this is the first one I have read and put into practice.
- The Eight Week Blood Sugar Diet. Another book this time By Dr Mike Mosley I read a newspaper article which mentioned this book. The article was the story of a man with type two diabetes who used this diet not only to lose weight but reverse his diabetes. i was sufficiently intrigued to buy not only this book but two other related books. I needed to lost weight and I wanted to kickstart the process. At first glance this diet seems really severe. It is backed up by solid research and evidence and has worked for countless people. So I embarked on an eight week diet. Not only am I losing substantial amounts of weight I am learning about how I can eat better in the future.
- Yoga. One of the disciplines of the Miracle Morning is exercise. I had already begun taking my dogs for a brisk morning walk but I wanted something more. Something that would help me build muscle and give me some much needed flexibility. Following the example of Ryan Giggs I chose yoga. I was offered all kinds of books and DVDs and the odd class but I decided I wanted to plough my own furrow, I searched YouTube and came across Sean Vigue and his Yoga for Dudes workout. Perfect. I found the perfect beginner routine for me. The exercises have improved my posture and flexibility and I can’t imagine starting the day without my ten minute yoga routine.
- Fitbit. I initially bought the Fitbit to monitor my heart rate but now I use it for so much more. Not only does it record my exercise but it motivates me to do more. There is a saying, “What can’t be measured doesn’t exist.” It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have been more active than you have. My Fitbit encourages my by showing me how much exercise I have done and motivates me to walk that little bit further or take the stairs rather the lift.
- Reading. I have been an avid reader for most of my life but for some reason I stopped reading quite as much. I decided to change this and made reading part of my morning routine as well as making time for reading at other times of the day. It’s amazing how quickly you can get through a book when you set aside time time to read. I make a point of reading a chapter or two a day rather just when I have the urge to read. I also take notes and when I have finished a book I go back through them. I do this to review what I have read and see if there is any action I should take as a result. All to easy to nod in agreement with a section of a book and do nothing about it.
So there you have it, five things that are changing my life. They are all interlinked of course, one wouldn’t really exist without the other. Without them my life would be very different.
There are many things we should all be justifiably upset with. You know, world poverty injustice and the like. How is it then that there a host of other trivialities that make me seethe. Things I shouldn’t even give a monkey’s about but somehow get my goat. If using too many animal based metaphors annoys you are probably about to give up reading right about now but bear with me. Here are five things that for no apparent reason make me angry. I really should try and just roll with the punches and get on with life but I need to get these off my chest.
1. People who stand in doorways. Doors are for going through. You know, in and out. So why is it so many people begin their journey through and then stop. Why can’t they get through the door step to one side and then do whatever they urgently need to do at that point? Do they not realise people behind them are slightly addicted to using doors for their proper purpose? This happens to me just about every day. I don’t get angry enough to confront the offenders and tell them to get out of the way but angry enough to squeeze passed them, sigh loudly and very quietly mutter, “some people”.
2. Being surprised at having to pay at a supermarket checkout. You stand patiently in the queue. (This is not something that has yet made me angry.) The person in front loads their shopping on to the conveyor belt. They load their shopping into their bags. Hand over a bundle of,largely out of date, coupons. Then and only then does it occur to them that they might have to pay for the goods. You have had all of that time waiting in the queue to prepare for the relatively simple act of paying for your shopping. Yet you choose to wait and then, and only then, do you go delving in search for whatever it is you have chosen to use to pay your bill. I am desperately trying to avoid the word, purse, in case I should be accused of gender bias. I’m not. Payment blindness affects all genders. Why O why can’t you be like me and have your card and loyalty card at the ready when you reach the packing area?
3. Shop assistants who seem reluctant to engage with you. I am not talking about those who simply tell you how much to pay, take you money and hand over your change and say thank you. Actually I quite like those. Nothing worse than the shop assistant who embarks on a , usually pre-scripted, chat with you about your day. No I mean those who are on the phone, or talking to their colleague and break stride only to thrust out a hand for payment. Hello, please pay some attention to me, I am a customer.
4. Complete strangers who are over familiar. It’s probably the reverse of number three. How many times on the phone and in person have I been called mate or even worse, matey? When did we become friends that you feel you can address me as your mate? I’m tempted to ask them when we are next going for a drink as we appear to be bessie mates. I don’t of course because I’m British.
5. When my headphone leads get tangled. There I am already to go out, spend some time walking my dogs and listening to some inspirational music or podcast and I have to spend five minutes untangling my stupid headphones. In the meantime I have missed five minutes of what I was going to listen to because I foolishly pressed play anticipating just putting my ear buds and going. I want to know who it is who each night goes around and tangles up MY headphone? Last time I used them I left them beautiful untangled and furled ready for immediate use.
I know I really shouldn’t get angry with things like this but I do. I’m flawed, what can I say.
What makes you mad? Comment below
In a former life I was an avid reader. It was kind of a part of the job. I did it for all sorts of reasons. For some reason the last few years have been a bit fallow for me on the reading front. Recently I decided to make a point of reading more as part of a new boring routine. Getting back into reading regularly made me think about the value of reading and who we can incorporate it into our day.
- READ. I know is a pretty obvious thing to say but just get down to reading. I promise you will be the richer for it. I’m not suggesting you kick off by reading any Dostoevsky but find something you enjoy reading, something that suits you. If you read regularly you will develop your own taste for what works for you. Once you get to that stage then you can move onto something that will stretch and challenge you. Reading expands your mind, informs you, fosters your imagination and it improves your written and spoken communication. What’s not to like?
- TAKE NOTES. I admit I’m not a Kindle kind of guy. I have tried but, when it comes to books, I am definitely an analogue guy. I can see the enormous benefits of a Kindle just not quite got there myself. I say this because for me taking notes in the margins is one of the joys of reading, particularly non-fiction, I have yet to to make a single note in any Dan Brown book. Notes help me to reinforce the message of a chapter or section. There are books I return to and review the notes to see if I have taken any action on that particular lesson or if what struck as profound on first reading is still valid. Whether you make notes in the margin, a notebook or on your Kindle always go back and review them. I usually do it when I have finished reading a book.
- SET ASIDE time to read. Most people’s excuse for not reading is they don’t have the time. If you don’t see reading as important then that’s likely to be the case. Make reading an important part of your day. Doesn’t have to be a long time. Set yourself a target. Reading is a part of my morning routine. I read a chapter a day of my current book. It’s amazing how quickly you can get through a book when you decide to make time for it. Add in the times when I read at opportune times and I can polish off a book in a week to ten days. Imagine doing that for a whole year. Imagine how much better informed you will be.
- SPEED READ. One of the best things I ever did was learn to speed read. I meet many people who say you can’t possibly read that quick you must miss loads. Yes, there are times when I miss the the odd sentence or paragraph but less frequent than you would imagine. There are plenty of techniques you can use to speed up your reading. Pop along to YouTube and search for How to Speed Read, trust me you will find hundreds of videos.
- RESEARCH. Stuck for something to read? Have a look around at what people are reading. Ask your friends or colleagues. I often ask on Twitter and LinkedIn for advice on what to read next. Doesn’t always mean I discover a gem of a book but most of the time it does. Many blogs compile list of the best books to read on a particular subject. While this is great and my primary source of new reading material don’t limit yourself to this. Browse an online book store or, even better, get along to a book shop. Find a few books that take your fancy and sit down and skim through a few pages.
You don’t have to be on Facebook very long to see a post asking you what five things you would rescue from a fire. Generally speaking the answers are pretty predictable. Partner, children, pets, photos. I am always surprised no one says Insurance documents. OK Just me then. Well the following are five things I could well live without but I choose not to. They contribute to and enhance my own life. Like most people I live a life straddling analogue and digital. Fads have come and gone in my life but these are the ones to which I keep returning.
1. Youtube. It probably comes as no surprise, as a film maker, YouTube is an ever present in my life. I do have a business channel showcasing my work https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrxp-jmThL8egPbCr0pRBBA but that is not the reason YouTube is important. I use YouTube in all kinds of ways. Sadly watching kitten or puppy videos is not one of them. I recently started Yoga. All kinds of DVDs and classes were recommended but I found the perfect workout for me on YouTube. Yoga for Dudes
If I am researching an item of equipment it’s the first place I go for reviews and unboxing videos, always good to know exactly what you are getting. I do watch the official manufacturer videos but I love real world reviews. The manufacturer might say it does this or that but does it work in real life? Software issues then it is off to YouTube. In the past month I have found and used tutorials on goal setting, visualisation, Evernote, Adobe Premiere, learnt how to repair a dishwasher and found the perfect Smartphone for me. All with a bit of effort and smart searching.
2. Podcast addict. I may be a film maker and therefore predisposed towards the visual but I do love a good podcast. Those of you on IOS will probably be wedded to iTunes but I’m an Android guy and having tried several podcast apps I settled on Podcast addict. It’s a free app but there is a paid version (£2.19) that removes adverts. (I admit it I’m cheap). I find it easy to search for the podcasts I am interested in. You can stream them or with one click download them. You can subscribe to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Be careful when downloading you don’t accidentally tell Podcast Addict to download them all! 384 episodes of Zig Ziglar didn’t go down well with my phone.
3. Journal/notebook. Despite loving my apps and technology I am still pretty much in love with my notebook. I try to carry one with me everywhere I go. I have just started using Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning Daily Journal. I like the discipline of it, writing something everyday however short is really therapeutic. Before anything ever sees the light of day on here it is most likely written in a notebook first. When I plan a shoot I often sketch out my ideas and storyboard in my notebook and then transfer to a format I can share with people. I have tried using online methods but nothing works better for me than my little old notebooks. I have several I am particularly addicted to Moleskin notebooks.
4. Evernote. I signed up to Evernote years ago. Trouble was I really didn’t use it. Every business blog told me I should have Evernote. The turning point was getting an Evernote Notebook. This enable you to take analogue notes and transfer them via your smartphone to your Evernote online account. The notebook was a present and it came with a six months subscription to Evernote premium. From this point on I started using Evernote, I mean, really use it. I use it to collate web pages for future reading and research. I keep all of my notes and emails of current projects, (you can forward emails to your account) in separate folders. I can tag, and classify just about anything and Evernote is smart enough to know which folder to put it in. I could go on. Evernote enables me to bridge the gap between my analogue and online lives. There are loads of video tutorials on YouTube on getting the best out of Evernote but this guy is my favourite.
5. Camera. Shouldn’t really come as surprise but having a camera with me at all times is an essential. Of course the Smartphone has enabled us to have to a camera with us at all times. I also try to take one of my smaller production cameras with me, my current favourite is my Sony A7s. You never know where an opportunity might present itself. Often the video or stills never make it into the public domain but I have enjoyed snapping or filming.
I am sure you would have a different list and I’d love to know your list. Just leave a comment below.
Happy Thoughts for Thursday
I have been on Twitter 7 years and 2 months. I joined twitter because so many of my then clients where tweeting. Interestingly many of those early advocates are either no longer on twitter or only tweet sporadically. Such a change from their early zeal. My first tweet was unsurprising more of a broadcast. Hey, I was finding my way. Since then I have tweeted almost 20,000 tweets. Twitter trends have come and gone as have a number of followers. Still there are things that annoy about twitter. Actually not about twitter just the way some people use twitter. So here are my five thoughts this week. In short they are the five most likely reasons I will unfollow you.
- You insist on telling me your twitter stats, daily, weekly and monthly (I don’t care). I realise this is an automated service you have signed up to. I admit the stats the service offers can be very helpful but I cannot understand what is to be gained by you telling me you are looking forward to reading my tweets, have gained x followers today, this week, this month. There may be some strategy to using these type of tweets but I struggle to see what it is. You are indeed visible. Annoyingly visible.
- You are still using paper.li Seriously does anyone ever read these curated piles of….. The only reason anyone opens one of these links is because they are mentioned. Ego and hubris are might drivers on twitter.
- You post links to websites I cannot read. Mainly to paywalled news sites. It so frustrating to see and link you might want to read and find you cannot read it unless you subscribe. Not frustrated enough it has to be said to sign up. Fortunately some tweeters let you know it is to a paywalled site. Saves me a click at least.
- You never engage with anyone. Not even a RT or a like for anyone or anything. All you do is tweet your own message, usually buy my stuff. I can only imagine that somewhere, someone believes this is the correct way to “do” social media. More likely they have convinced some fee paying client or their bosses that this twitter thing really works, look I have tweeted 100 times today.
- You have been a bit quiet on twitter lately and the way you decide to remedy this is by tweeting link after link to various websites. Sometimes not even different ones.
- Creative Carte Blanch. When a client gives you an open brief and asks you to be creative and surprise almost certainly that is not what they want you to do. Go ahead, create something completely out of left field and see their reaction. It probably won’t be the one you were hoping for. Coming up with something completely new does not mean abandoning their, no doubt hard won, brand recognition. It’s about being creative within what is already known and exists.
- Creativity is not plucked out of thin air. No doubt somebody somewhere has been hit with the metaphorical lightening bolt of inspiration. Coming up with an idea that has truly never been done before. I think that scenario is as rare as hens teeth. People who are really creative are those who are immersed in creativity in general and the creativity of their chosen discipline in particular. If you want to be a good writer you must read, to be a good film maker you need to watch the masters of the art at work. No creativity takes place in or emerges from a vacuum.
- One person’s creativity is another shrug of the shoulders. True, there are some objective criteria on which something could be judged but generally we respond subjectively. “Do I like it” or in the words of ex England manager Graham Taylor, “Do I not like that.” If some people do like your effort or indeed hate it, it does not mean what you have created is without merit. Just not to them at that moment.
- No one has a monopoly on creativity. I describe myself as a creative but there are people for whom creative is a job title. “I’m the chief creative at XYZ Agency”. Having a creative does not mean other people can’t be creative because they can. There are some people who would be quick to say they haven’t a creative bone in their body. It might not be their prime skill but they can still have creative thoughts. People say they could never write a book because they have no imagination. Yet millions of people every week construct an elaborate story of wealth, super cars, large houses and holidays every week. Only to see it dashed as soon as they checked heir lottery ticket.
- Creativity is never easy. Brilliant ideas emerge from the battlefield of creative hit and miss.
I have started reading a self improvement book. The title is a little bit immaterial but generally speaking it involves getting up early and having a good long look at yourself. For a variety of reasons I needed to get my life back on track, or at least back onto a different track. Inevitably I have come across a number of quotes from the great and the good of self improvement. So here are the five that stood out.
- “Life’s too short” is repeated often enough to be a cliche, but this time it’s true. You don’t have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre. It’s not just pointless, it’s painful Seth Godin. Having has a glancing blow with my own mortality I decided I didn’t want to be either, unhappy or mediocre. It’s a good job this quote was at the beginning of the book as it inspired me to read the rest of it.
- “Thanks for being on my team.” – not a quote I found in a book but in an email to me. Encouragement is so important in life. Six words and the sentiment behind them made my day. I felt I belonged, my work was validated and it inspired me to look further up the road.
- “You gotta get out of the boat” This was the main message of an address I heard many years ago, when, in another life I was a Baptist Minister. I will write a longer blog explaining the wider story behind the boat but essentially it means getting out of the comfort zone and taking a few risks. The sea may be choppy and deep and the boat secure but you’re not going to achieve anything be remaining in the boat.
- “the first hour of the morning, is the rudder of the day.” ― Henry Ward Beecher. For me the first hour of the day was a moveable feast. I work from home so what did it matter how long it took me to get up, shave or not, as long as I got stuff done. Well I have learnt it does matter. If the the start of your day is lazy and unfocussed then the rest of the day will surely follow in the same vein.
- “Everything is difficult before it is easy.” Hal Elrod. We would all like the easy way out, the magic bullet, the one easily implemented strategy that leads to wealth, health and happiness. Of course it doesn’t exist. Anything that is worthwhile comes with its own struggle.
Hospital visits always make me ponder on my own mortality. My years are advancing faster than I’d like but am I growing old or just growing older. Here my five thoughts on the subject.
- There is a difference between getting older and growing old. We can’t help getting older it starts the day we are born. Getting old is more a state of mind. “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman
- It is said old dogs cannot learn new tricks. I have two dogs and they can learn new tricks. As you grow older it may well get harder to learn new skills. There is a lifetime of ingrained habits and mindsets. Some of these have to be unlearnt in order to move on to new skills I also think that the lifetime of ingrained habits and mindsets can be an advantage. An advantage called experience. Use that experience to continue to grow and develop no matter what age you are.
- Remember getting older is a privilege not given to vast numbers of people throughout the world. As many are attributed to have said, “I don’t mind getting old especially when you consider the alternative.”
- Remember old age is always fifteen years older than you current age.
- Try not to make contracts in your mind that your body can’t fulfil.
Yesterday I sat in a room with other creatives and watched s series of videos. The purpose was to share our thoughts and discuss best practice. I hope to share some of the others eventually. However this was the one the provoked the most discussion. This video has had almost 21 million views. Has it changed the way people feel about gender specific toys. Dolls for girls building kits for boys. I would genuinely love to read your thoughts so please leave a comment. But first watch this;
I think just about every profession goes through a creative block at some time or other. That feeling when you don’t seem to be able to do anything.
Often called writer’s block but it affects artists of all kinds, indeed anyone who is trying to create something. It might be a book or a blog, a painting or a sculpture, a new concept or a different way of working. All of us in one way or another have reached that point when no matter what we do the page, canvas, notebook or screen remains stubbornly empty. So here are my five five thoughts.
- Keep a storeroom. Always seek inspiration from others. Reading, watching, listening and recording are, in my opinion, essential to creativity. Keep a notebook, scrapbook or online gallery of things that have inspired you or made you think or you just liked. When barren times come wandering around this storeroom will, I promise, spark your creativity. You will find stuff you had long forgotten, dusty and neglected that will trigger new thinking. If you are not already doing this start today, it may be a while before you see the benefit but it will help. This blog would not have been written without visiting my storeroom.
- Try a bit of demolition. Any task can seem daunting and overwhelming. Being overwhelmed is not good for the creative juices. So break the project down. Find elements you can do right away. Start with small bricks and soon you will have a wall and eventually a temple. I might have pushed that metaphor a touch to far but you get the idea. War and Peace starts with one word, then one sentence.
- Get on with it. Work anyway. What stifles most creativity is the screwing up of paper and throwing it in the bin. Whether metaphorically or in reality. Get some stuff done, it might be utter rubbish but you will have done something and once you get over that hurdle you’ll be surprised how ideas start to flow. Keep everything and then come back to it. It might be days, weeks or even years later. Some of it will still be crap but there will be others things you find are actually little gems.
- Listen to music. The theologian Karl Barth said he did his best work to Mozart. Music can lift the spirits, get the blood pumping and inspire you. Play something that lifts your spirit and if you can play it loudly.
- Realise great work comes from great struggle. There are times when things just flow. You can barely keep up with the creativity coursing through your brain. Hey, savour the good times but don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t come quite so easily. Sometimes it is the struggle that makes it all worthwhile.
How many times does someone ask you, “Busy?” They shorten it because they are so busy they can’t possibly talk in full sentences. What do you say? If you say no they assume you are work shy or useless at your job or both. If you say yes they will follow up with “well shan’t keep you” or “busy is the best way to be”.
1. Anyone can have a big to do list. I read of someone with a four page To Do list. All this says is you are are exceptional at making a list and convincing yourself you will get it all done.
2. When someone tells you they are too busy for you, it’s not about how busy they are it’s about the value they put on your place in their schedule.
3. Being busy should not be an end in itself. The key question is what are you busy with?
4. I can manufacture busy. It’s easy. Just rearrange your office, make a few lists, read a few chapters on organising your life. I guarantee you will have occupied a whole day. Busy doing nothing.
5.“Never be so busy as not to think of others.” Mother Teresa
I need to spend less time on vision and more on doing. I have this written above my desk as reminder that no matter how many good ideas I have it is only the ones that get done that are ultimately worth anything.
I know “Without a vision the people perish” (it’s from the Bible, look it up) but there are times when I spend so much time formulating and dreaming about the future I am going to enjoy that I DO very little.
So back in December I decided I would write a blog every week. I could list a whole load of reasons why this is a good idea. Heaven knows how many seminars, articles and podcasts I have attended, read and listened to that tell me just how good an idea it is. The one reason I chose to write my weekly blog, Five Thoughts For Thursday, I wanted the discipline of writing something every week. I am glad some people read it and comment on it but the real benefit is that is has got me back into writing and thinking.
Instead of writing lists and action plans about how I would blog I just got on and did it. Some are crap, some are quite good but I am being disciplined and as a result my love of writing has returned.
I watched the Lady in the Van the other night and one line stood out for me right at the beginning of the film. There are two Alan Bennett’s in the film, that makes sense if you watch the film. The line is “There is the one who writes and the one who lives”. Beautiful and typically Bennett.
Sometimes there are two of us, the who dreams and the one who does. The difficulty is getting the balance between the two. If I had to choose it would be the one who does over the one who dreams.
How do you balance the two, the dreams/visions of the future with the getting on an doing?
Given the events of this week I was, to be honest, lost for words. In a sense I have not written five thoughts for Thursday this week just five hastags and there could have been more.
# Pray for Paris
# Pray for Ankara
# Pray for Istanbul
# Pray for Brussels
# Pray for Peace
As promised last week another five thoughts on email.
- Send an email with the title “email is definitely dead” and see how many opens you get.
- Remember email is a whole lot easier than writing and sending a letter. For fun why don’t you write an email, print it off on some really good quality paper, sign it and put it in a top notch envelope. Spray with perfume/cologne (not compulsory). Address the envelope, after you have searched high and low for the address, pay a fortune for a stamp after you have searched on the internet for what price you should pay for this size of envelope. Try to remember where you last saw a postbox and then post it. Sit for several weeks waiting for a reply and then write an email asking if they got your letter. See email is so much easier.
- WhatsApp might appear quicker than email but people will learn to ignore it and make up excuses as to why they didn’t receive your message. Chief among these will be, “I get so many messages I can’t read them all”. You will then embark on a quest to clear WhatsApp of messages. Same old, same old and repeat with…….(insert latest messaging app name here).
- People who give out an email address and then tell you they never check their email! Come the revolution.
- In the end it’s all about communication. Email is just a tool and like all tools it can be used well, badly or not at all. People will use and misuse anything. Remember “the cheque is in the post” or “it must have been lost in the post”. The language may change with the platform or service but the excuses for lack of communication remain pretty much the same.
Ray Tomlison, the man who put the @ in your email died this week and many tributes paid to him. Many people have a love/hate relationship with email. We love the ease with which we can send messages and we hate, nay loathe, seeing our inbox fill up. I had so many thoughts about email that Five Thoughts has extended to ten so there will be a second five thoughts on email next week.
- Sign up to a newsletter using the the first name Sexy, the second name Beast. It really does lift your day when you get an email addressed to “Dear Sexy” or “Dear Sexy Beast” and occasionally from those who don’t know who to work an email list very well, “Dear Beast, Sexy”.
- For persistent emailers, reply asking if you can at least have a date with them as they seem to know you so well.
- If you receive an email, probably a newsletter, you are pretty sure you didn’t sign up for. Unsubscribe. Delete. Forget it. Life’s too short to get angry about it.
- Remember people who email you are only doing what you are doing, trying to earn a living, promoting a cause dear to their hearts or trying to connect with you.
- An empty email inbox may seem like a great achievement but is it? Climbing a mountain is an achievement, battling with a chronic illness is an achievement, staring at an empty inbox may be pleasurable but it’s really just a tick off you to do list. You will be very disappointed if your inbox is empty tomorrow. Boasting about the size of your inbox is not big or clever.The fullness of your inbox is not a sign of your inherent popularity, just of how widespread your email address is.
Five more thoughts on email next week.
By the way I hate spam as much as the next person.
- Upon thanking me for a hug I say “Don’t worry it’s what I do best”. Which isn’t true. There are a lot of things I do better than hugging. In the grand scheme of thing hugging is not really a skill is it? I have yet to come across a self help book that seriously addresses the skill of hugging*
- “It’s a pleasure” – which it wasn’t really. The phrase is just a full stop. A notification that the conversation is over and I wish to move on to a new chapter in my life that involves genuine pleasures like sex or coffee.
- “No problem” – actually it is a problem. Probably plenty of them, but I am too polite to point them out or I am sufficiently egotistical to believe I can defeat any problems put in front of me.
- “OK, just one more, if you insist” – this is never a good idea. Be it alcohol, sweets or another portion of food, it is never JUST one more.
- “You must tell me more” – what I really mean is, “you must tell me more at a future convenient date, i.e. the 12th of never.”
With David Cameron returning home triumphant with, no doubt, hundreds of pieces of paper in his briefcase. All love letters from European heads of state saying please don’t go I felt I had to have five thoughts on the referendum*
- So it’s In or Out – quite a thought in itself.
- If, perchance, I declare my allegiance to one camp or another on social media please do not assume that I am naive/thick/uniformed/LibDem (delete as applicable). I am perfectly capable of weighing up the evidence and making a decision for myself. You really don’t have some “hidden evidence” that if only I read it I would change my mind instantly. I suggest if you this amazing evidence you contact Julian Assange c/o the Ecuadorian Embassy, 3 Hans Crescent, London.
- Isn’t the video for the Grassroots Out campaign just…well words fail me. See for yourself here . What next? David Cameron releasing a cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”?
- To the bloke I overheard in Costa coffee. No England, Wales and Northern Ireland won’t have to pull out of the European Championships if the UK votes NO and the fate of Eurovision is unlikely to be affected by the vote either. Greece will not suddenly vote for us even if our song is crap. They will reserve that for Cypress. (And the Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom, the clue is in the name, so they wouldn’t have to come home anyway.)
- I’m bored already, can we do this next week, I’m free at least.
*Disclaimer – this in no way reflects where I might put my cross on 23rd June, only that I will.
You are free to download and use the above infographic, here it is in pdf format
Along with many people I watch The Voice on BBC 1 on a Saturday night. Well I say watch, it’s more audio visual wallpaper. You know it’s there but you don’t really notice it until you glance up and see the bit of edge that is curling up or the inexplicable tea stain two thirds of the way up the wall. How?
Well it got me thinking.
- It’s not really all about the voice, despite what the producers say. It only really works because we, the viewers, can see the person singing and we wonder how anything good is going to come out of their mouth. Or in a Susan Boyle like epiphany we marvel at the outstanding voice coming from a less than outstanding looking person. Judgemental I know but the programme doesn’t work without it does it?
- It’s not a talent show it’s a light entertainment television show.
- Boy George looks genuinely crestfallen when rejected as a coach by one the singers.
- The way in which they communicate the back story to the judges is incredible. The show is as dependent on heartbreaking sob stories as The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. What I do admire is the way they manage to shoehorn it in. All the judges need to ask is “what’s your name and where are you from?” That’s all. Still they manage to add that they have lost 11 stone, overcome crippling fear or any other of the many obstacles life throws in our path. The more heartbreaking the story the more the judges look like complete bastards for not turning.
- Appearances are everything and then again they’re not. Generally speaking all of us have to interact with other people. Appearances do matter, you can’t avoid it. Your opinion of someone, especially a first or second one, is largely based on how they look to you. I say how they look to you because how they look to you is largely based on your preconceptions. I dare say all of he judges, past and present, have their own misconceptions about people based on how they look.
- Can you photoshop me? Other versions include, can you make me look 20 years younger, 20 pounds lighter, like Robert Redford, like Nicole Kidman. Delete or add as appropriate
- Will it be on the telly? If filming in a public place scores of people behind the subject waving, inanely smiling and/or on their phone
- I’ll just wing it. Quickly followed by.
- I’ll get it right eventually. Maybe I should have written a few things down. I’ll just write a few quick notes. Can you hold those notes so I can read them? Does this look like I’m reading this?
- Can I just take this call?
- That’s a nice bit of kit.
Last week I was in an environment where there was a great deal of talk about tradition, what is and is not traditional and whether change was good or bad, necessary or avoidable. So, guess what, I’ve had five thoughts about change
- Change is only bad when don’t like what is being changed.
- Change is going to happen, it’s the way life develops. You can’t avoid it so better to embrace it.
- “Change for change’s sake.” Does this exist? Surely all change is done for a reason. Some people say, “If it ain’t broke don’t change it.” If we had taken this attitude in the past children would still be sent down mines and up chimneys.
- We resist change because change robs us of a past in which we feel more comfortable. However resisting change or taking refuge in sentimentality doesn’t bring the “good old days” back, it just stops you living in the present.
- “Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes Turn and Face the strange” David Bowie
Terry Wogan was a fixture in mine and just about everybody’s life. From radio to TV he was there with his charm, wit and consummate professionalism. Much has be written so here are my five thoughts, lessons from the great man.
- Speaking to one person is more effective than trying to speak to many. His great skill as a broadcaster was to make you feel he was talking to just you.
- Being a skilled professional does not mean you have to take yourself too seriously.
- The apparent ease with which something is done belies a lot of hard work done out of the spotlight. The seemingly “making it up” as you go along vibe that Terry exuded was due to a lifetime of experience and learning.
- Understanding your audience is the key for effective communication.
- The way he observed and commentated with wit, charm and insight is a gift few possess in the way Terry did. At no point did you ever feel he crossed the line into cruel ridicule of the person or an event.
Goodbye Terry, you will be missed but you have left a lifetime of memories.
Once again my eyes have been assaulted by claims that this, that and the other has become a viral hit on the internet.
On closer investigation I discovered they didn’t really go viral. At best they were shared a good number of times but not really viral. Viral suggests reaching an audience way beyond your intended one. Let’s face it having millions of people viewing your video, post or photograph must be brilliant but in reality what does it achieve? A million YouTube views. All that means is one million people clicked play. They may have clicked off after 3 seconds, got distracted and just not paid any real attention to the content anyway.
I am not saying numbers are unimportant but that they might not be as important as we think they are.
Maybe we need to examine them a bit more. If you make a video of a friends birthday party and post it to FB and everyone of your 600 friends on the platform viewed it, then you can say your video was a success. It reached everyone of your intended audience. Beyond your Facebook friends your video has no audience.Maybe we need to re-examine what we deem success in the social media world. Huge audiences does not necessarily imply huge engagement.We need to define our audience better and assess the success of the video or campaign, not by how many random people have watched it, but by the engagement it generated with our intended audience. At a recent Charity Comms event Joe Hall, online campaigns and communications manager, The Climate Coalition/ founder, Woo Hoo Yeah Yeah! shared this slide.
It shows an event was trending, surely a success, but the sharing was only amongst activists. As the next slide showed everyone else was unaware.
Numbers only tell a part of the story. It seems to me having plenty of committed activists engaged with your message is much better than a large mildly interested one.
How you define your audience is up to you but define it and reach it you must. Viral isn’t everything engagement on the other hand.
Five things that occurred to me as waded through the internet this week.
It’s OK to blow your own trumpet. Why would you want to blow someone else’s anyway’? It’s probably not that hygienic. Remember though not everyone is a trumpet person, some are violin people others are piccolo people. Make sure your message is suited to your audience.
Big yourself up by all means but visiting a couple of places does not a tour make. “By popular demand” does imply a demand beyond you, your friends and your dog.
You are most certainly a unique person but it’s unlikely that your business or your offering is. Don’t claim to be the only one and only, leave that to Chesney Hawkes.
Don’t make a claim to be a leading something or other unless you can back it up with hard evidence. Make sure you are the leading expert in your own house before claiming it for your street, town or world.
Don’t promise what you have no idea how to deliver. Stretch yourself by all means. Remember, what you don’t know you can learn. What you can’t do someone else can and collaboration is a strength not a weakness.
We are assaulted on every side by information, misinformation and stuff.
Yesterday one of the top stories on the BBC website was the death of the actor Leslie Nielsen. This was followed by a host of tweets and Facebook statuses mourning the loss of this fine comic actor. Many reflected on how cruel 2016 had been so far, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman etc. Bizarrely the Airplane actor died in 2010 yet his death was reported as if it were yesterday. I have no idea why.
The lesson is clear. There is so much information out there just how do we process it and, perhaps more importantly, filter it?
Here are my thoughts on the subject.
Save the good stuff but don’t hoard. Read it, if not read in a week, delete it.
Forget the useless stuff.
Enjoy funny stuff.
Share the good stuff.
Remember not all stuff is equally valid.
I would love to know the sales figures for Moleskin notebooks, To Do pads and organisational apps in the first week of January. There is something about the New Year that makes us all want to be better organised, me included, so here are my five thoughts on the subject.
1. Getting organised is not the same as being organised. So much effort is put into devising systems, writing lists and planning and not enough into actually doing. Organising yourself with journal entries, to do lists and bullet points is just another form of procrastination.
2. Organisation is a means to an end not and end in itself. Organise yourself so you can be productive and you life has some balance.
3. The size of your To Do list is no reflection on how good or how busy you are.
4 “While we complain that our ‘to do’ lists are endless, let us not forget that we begat those lists; no one from outer space came when we weren’t looking and implanted ‘the list’ in our brains. Okay, let’s say we really do need to jot down a few things of importance, like needing to buy milk or to have a colonoscopy, but when that ‘things that must be done’ list goes into the hundreds per day, we should be concerned. Maybe we keep adding new things in the the fear that, even if we ever got through our list, we’d have no purpose, no reason to take another step. If you were suddenly list-less, would you just grind to a halt? What happens when that happens?” Ruby Wax from her excellent book A Mindfulness Guide for The Frazzled, available now.
5. Seriously, no one is interested in the size of your To Do list. Honestly, we’re not. Stop tweeting and sharing your list and get on and do it. Then post a picture of you enjoying a cocktail or cup of tea because you’ve finished your list.
- People are thinking about new beginnings, new ventures and new directions for their lives. Now may be the time to approach new collaborators and clients.
- Don’t make resolutions – set a to do list and list the “baby” steps needed to achieve it. Big hairy audacious goals are all very well but only ever achieved one step at a time.
- “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.” Paul Arden. Read this book, it’s relatively short and really good. It’s available on Amazon.
- 2016 will not be all plain sailing. The road will not always be straight or easy but it is your road so prepare for your journey as well as for your destination.
- STOP and take in the views. Traveling headlong towards you destination is ultimately unrewarding. Take time to look at the view along the way.
This is my last “Five thoughts” for the Year. Seriously you didn’t expect me to write on Christmas or New Years Day. I suspect on New Years Day I will be unable to string more than two words together. So here are few thoughts as I reflect on my week.
- Remember one person’s improved cash flow is someone else’s delayed invoice.
- Some business gurus haven’t even the slightest clue how to run a business. Watch out for ex-Apprentice contestants handing out business advice over the next year and remember you watched how bad they were.
- Some of the best ideas are the simplest but making something simple is not easy as you think.
- There is no system around that guarantees success. Hard work and determination or simply wanting it more than others is not enough. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
- It’s Christmas, whatever you celebrate, wherever you celebrate it and with whoever raise a glass with, enjoy, relax and put the out of office email ON.
Seriously asking for a friend…discuss.
Just five thoughts as I reflect on my week.
- It is possible to fall in love with something again. I have fallen out of love with networking, football, social media and probably a whole host of other things but returning to a former love can prove fruitful and enriching. Reach out to something or someone.
- Good people are good people and no amount of distance or time will change that – reconnect with the good ones.
- Revisit a social media channel that has lain dormant and you’ll be surprised at how much you can get out of it – revisit a channel you previously used it might surprise you.
- Opportunities come and go, don’t get hung up on the ones that passed you by, celebrate the ones you took and look forward to the next one that will come your way. – Reach out and take the opportunities that come your way.
- Celebrate the small things. Enough of them will eventually lead to bigger things. – Whatever you it is that has made your heart glad this week, celebrate it.
Conceived, produced, directed and film by me Gordon O’Neill. Find out why over 16,000 have viewed this theatrical trailer.
The song chosen was “I’ve Got a Little List”. I chose this because it is one of the best known songs from the show and is traditionally rewritten and updated for every show to bring a contemporary edge. You can see an example by Opera Australia’s twist on YouTube.
The aim was to use the song to introduce the characters and the production. As a G&S novice I turned to my wife, Sue, to produce the lyrics. She is in the show and knows more about the plot and the characters than I do. Which to be honest would not be difficult. She produced some excellent lyrics and Geoffrey Farrer who plays Ko-Ko had the task of learning them.
The next step was to record the song. We arranged a session at one of the regular rehearsals in a local church hall. First we recorded Geoffrey’s song with piano backing and then recorded a chorus with the rest of the cast who were at rehearsal. This was mixed down and we were ready to set up filming.
The difficulty with any production is to be able to get the cast together in one place to film. We planned that none of the characters needed to be in the same shot together. If they did then I could do that in post production.
The concept was to have Ko-Ko in his study devising his Little List and the cast to be filmed in front of a green screen and then the stylised Tokyo background from the show’s publicity behind them. The great thing about choosing the green screen route is that it can be done anywhere, including my dining room. Each character was filmed responding appropriately to the lyrics about them. I also recorded them singing the chorus. Those involved quickly learned how difficult it is to lip-sync. Still they all got there in the end.
I filmed some additional scenes. In the end I didn’t use them but it is always good to have more footage at your disposal. Although these clips were not used in this production they may be used in a future production for the show.
Ko-Ko was filmed at his desk in his study. In reality our dining room. Studios are nice and preferable if you want to record sound but it is amazing what you can do with a few props, lighting and framing of the shot.
The entire production was filmed on a Canon 5D Mkii with a Samyang 35mm prime cine lens and edited in Premiere Pro CC. The opening was filmed using a budget slider I bought on Ebay, not the lightest piece of kit but OK for this.
I love doing these theatrical trailers and it is great to see the significant numbers of people viewing the video.
I’m not sure I really mean what’s the point but why do some people bother having an email address since they never seem to actually use it!
A few weeks ago I read a lot of chat about how you should address someone in an email. Particularly, if they were not a personal acquaintance, you were unsure of their gender or title. My issue is why some people do not reply to emails?
Hands up. I plead guilty to leaving emails unanswered in my inbox for weeks, OK months, I’m sure it never got as bad as years, but after this blog post I intend to turn over a new leaf, electronically speaking.
We all get emails, sometimes hundreds of them and some people do seem to relish boasting about the size of their inbox. They probably have a big car and a 50” inch TV as well and probably an inefficient spam filter. The psychologists among you can draw your own conclusions.
The issue is not getting an email but what do we do with it once you get it.
Let me explain.
I sent an email to someone I had met. We had a conversation about what I do and about what they do. We exchanged email addresses. A third party, who did the face to face introduction, also initiated an online connection via email and encouraged us to get together for business. So my email was not exactly spam or out of the blue. Three emails – no reply. Not even, thanks but no thanks.
The person in question no doubt has their own reasons for not replying and I am not about to speculate as to why. It did, however, get me thinking about my own responses and actions to email. I admit I do not have the bulging inbox some of you seem to have, not sure if this makes me a lesser person or not, and thus my thoughts on how to deal with email may fall on deaf ears or tired fingers.
Let me categorise my inbox and the actions I intend to take.
SPAM – ignore and delete
Newsletters – tempted to say ignore and delete but maybe read and certainly, unless something catches my eye, no response is needed. I have set up an email address that I use solely for signing up to newsletters. I know that unopened emails in that box are not urgent.
Clients, friends etc – read, reply as soon as possible. I will often try to send a quick reply to acknowledge I have received it even if I am not able to deal with the content specifically at that time.
Prospective clients – holding email at first if busy then reply asap.
People looking for work – I regularly get CV’s etc. At the very least I reply and thank them even though it is unlikely I have anything for them. Most reply thanking me for even acknowledging their email. It can be a pain to get these emails but imagine how devastating it must feel to be ignored. I also sometimes reply with a little advice about researching the companies you email looking for work.
Sales emails – I don’t mind receiving these and occasionally I have found and bought a product because of them. A quick read and then delete. Cleary these emails are not expecting you to email them back.
So there it is, my plan for dealing with my inbox and keeping the lines of communication open. It is unlikely to force people to reply to my emails but at least I feel as though I am doing my bit. If you are in business you are likely to be busy but remember so is the person contacting you. The excuse “I am just too busy to reply” implies you consider your “busy-ness” as somehow superior to theirs. If you are so busy that you cannot reply or communicate with people you need to find a better business model.
I know Channel Four or Five have done it before. Their 100 Greatest Christmas Moments was voted for by the great British Public. Unfortunately it didn’t include me, if it had it might have turned out differently.
My personal five greatest TV moments are based more on my own personal memories of Christmas past, TV moments that stir personal memories. So, in no particular order.
- Christmas Disney Time – hard to imagine now but there was a time when if you wanted to see a Disney film it was at the cinema. Christmas Disney time was just such a treat to see clips from Disney movies you’d seen and others you hadn’t. Usually presented by a celebrity it was a treat for all the family.
- Christmas morning at a children’s hospital – this ran in various guises over the years featuring Rolf Harris and Noel Edmonds amongst others. The premise was simple, live on Christmas morning celebrities would visit a hospital children’s ward and distribute presents. I think I loved it so much that even as a child I appreciated, amongst all the presents I had, that there were those worse off than me.
- The big Christmas film – It is hard today to recapture the thrill of knowing a huge cinema release was about to air on TV. I remember the excitement building to the screening of The Sound of Music. We’d all seen it at the cinema but to sit in your own front room and see and hear “high on a hill lived a lonely goat herd” was truly magical.
- Christmas Top of the Pops – this was the highlight of many teenagers Christmas. Prior to the screening I would give pep talks to other (usually older) members of the family, no talking, no comments about modern music all sounding the same.
- The late afternoon re-run – this is not really a childhood memory but one rather more recent one. December is a very busy time for most people and as a consequence a lot of TV is missed. However there comes a moment when work finishes and Christmas begins. For me it happens after the lunchtime drinks on the last day of work. Coming home “happy” and relaxed I sit in an armchair and turn on the TV to a re-run of a Christmas special I’ve missed. The lights are out, the room is lit only by the TV and the Christmas tree lights. Coffee and mince pie in hand, for me, Christmas is here.
1. Even if it has been a bad week there will always be something you can be grateful for. You reached Friday at the very least
2. There is another week next week. World domination* may not have happened this week but it could in the week ahead. (*I don’t literally mean world domination unless you know something I don’t )
3. Give yourself some time off. Watch telly, read a book, go to a football match, go for a walk, whatever helps you to think about something else.
4. Remember you don’t HAVE to do anything. You will have responsibilities and there are consequences for not doing something but ultimately you can say NO. You might be surprised at how motivating this is. Knowing you don’t have to do something and then choosing to do it can be liberating.
5. Think ahead and plan one thing to do next week that you didn’t do this week
- You insist on telling me your twitter stats, daily, weekly and monthly (I don’t care)
- You are still using paper.li
- You post links to websites I cannot read.
- You never engage with anyone. Not even a RT or a like for anyone or anything.
- All you do is RT stuff.
- You choose Costa (other coffee shops are available) to work rather than your own office.
- You have developed a tolerance for Christmas music in November.
- You can shut out the world and his/her dog, well maybe not the dog but certainly many children, in order to work.
- You can make a medium Americano last for more than an hour.
- You have developed a liking for stone cold Americano.
- You have a Macbook pro.
- You have amazing bladder control so you don’t have to pack up all your expensive tech in order to go to the loo. (loo breaks are for arrival and departure)*
- You can complain/rave about the free wifi.
- You are glad you bought that WiFi dongle.
- You spend more time writing tweets, watching cat videos or writing blogs rather than the work you should be doing.
Some years ago I had a sabbatical and my topic was “Communication in a Post Modern World”. Now I do not intend to share my findings or lack of them. However I have revisited a book that had a profound influence on me at the time.
Neil Postman’s book, “Amusing ourselves to death” was an analysis on television’s effect on culture. Published in 1985 it was pre internet, email, Facebook, Twitter etc yet re-reading it has given me some food for thought.
We spend a lot of time on social networks and there are many who now claim it as an art, a skill, and by the looks of things a marketable skill, BUT, there is has to be a but, maybe all this time and effort we are putting into social networking is really just amusing ourselves to death.
In investing time and energy into social networking are we deceiving ourselves into believing we are being productive and all this effort is worthwhile. Maybe in a years time social networking will be so last year and there will be another genre of mass communication to amuse us.
Every now and again I re-arrange my office, re-order the way I work. Why? Because it is something that I can do.
There is an end product. It makes feel I am achieving something.
In reality I am rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
There truly are better ways to feel and be productive and maybe the 100 “tweets” I posted will make me feel productive but maybe I would have been better doing some real work!
“When a population become distracted by trivia, when a cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment, when a serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; cultural death is a real possibility.” Neil Postman
There are people who believe that uploading a video to YouTube is all they have to do. It’s there, soon millions will be flocking to view my creation. Well no. In fact if you want to hide a video I think simply uploading it to YouTube is probably the best thing you can do. It will easily crouch down behind all the other videos and hide from any potential viewers. Here are the Top Ten mistakes people make with YoutTube.
Optimisation: Not optimising your YouTube title
The title tag of a YouTube video is one of the main ranking factors on the site. Give it some thought. I have seen videos with the title Final Edit number three. It tells me whoever has uploaded the video has been lazy but it also tells me nothing about the production’s content. Work hard on that title.
Description: Not adding a description
YouTube provides a Description field so that you can give your potential viewers an idea of what they are about to watch, and provide further information if needed.
Links: No links to your site or landing page
Link to a landing page or a page on your site to take people on in the sales/promotion journey.
Tags: Fail to tag your video or select the correct category
Tagging helps users find your video. It gives YouTube the right information to categorise your video so getting this right is really important. Research similar videos to see what tags are being used.
Thumbnail: Use the worst thumbnail you can pick
A colourful, relevant thumbnail acts as an advertisement for your video, so make sure you pick the one that reflects the content. YouTube will pick one for you if you don’t so use the custom thumbnail option and pick your own.
Subtitles: Fail to use subtitles (closed captions)
There are millions of people who are deaf and hard of hearing and rely on subtitles to engage with your content.
Comments: Turning off comments and not engaging with anyone
Why create content and not engage with the viewers? Yes you might get the odd spammer or troll but you can deal with that.
Playlists: Don’t add your video to a playlist
Playlists help YouTube determine the relevancy of your content. A long term video strategy will have playlists, tags and optimisation at its heart.
Social Media: Fail to use social media
Just uploading to YouTube will not get your video seen or improve it’s visibility. You need to use the full breadth of social media to promote your video and bring it to the attention of your prospective viewers.
Naff Content: Upload consistently bad content
If you want advice and help on YouTube and how to use it for your business then contact email@example.com
For those suffering withdrawal symptoms since Breaking left our screens the prospect of the prequel “Better Call Saul” gave us the prospect of filling the void left by Heisenberg’s demise.
It was no surprise really the producers looked for a follow up. I thought they would have gone with following Jessie as he leads a new life post BB. Instead they opted for the prequel route giving us the back story of Saul Goodman.
To me, prequels, all prequels, suffer with the same problem. As an audience we all know where it ends. It takes a special kind of story-telling to keep us engaged without resorted to constant allusions to the original series. Star Wars prequels, episodes whatever they were, to my mind didn’t work, Star Trek did.
Better Call Saul kind of does. From my twitter feed the biggest complaint levelled at the series is that it is too slow. I agree but then there were times when Breaking Bad seemed painfully slow. Remember the Fly episode?
I think Better Call Saul seems slow for two reasons.
Firstly they decided to go the broadcast route of release. Episodes are released on a weekly basis, unlike House of Cards where all episodes were released at once enabling fans to lose an entire weekend to Spacey and Co. I think this makes the inevitable slower paced episodes stand out. Binging on a series alleviates this.
Secondly it is the curse of the prequel. Because we know where all this is leading to we get impatient when we don’t get there quick enough. Whilst this is true I think the writers should be applauded for not going the obvious route where everywhere little twists and turn is an obvious reference to BB.
As a Breaking Bad fan I love Better Call Saul. Yes it is a little slow at times but it has all the Vince Gilligan trademark shots and devices. Non BB fans I am sure will also love it, probably more so because they don’t carry the baggage of expectation fans of Walter White carry.
The big question for me is when will we say goodbye to Jimmy and meet Saul?
Roll on February 15th.
I, along with many others, tuned in last night to watch this year’s Dimbleby Lecture given by Baroness Martha Lane Fox.
Martha Lane Fox is probably best known as the founder of Lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman but latterly has given her time to two governments as a Digital Champion.
The thrust of her lecture was for the establishment of a dot everyone, to make the UK the most digital nation on the planet. She quoted the late activist Aaron Swartz who once said, “It’s not OK not to understand the internet anymore.”
The next day I saw this tweet from Baroness Fox;
Of course it never happened and it was never going to happen. I get the impression that many in the media see not being knowledgeable about the internet as a veritable badge of honour. A sign that they are somehow above it all and reasonable and proper debate and thought takes place away from the idle chatter and noise of “the internet”.
In this General Election “The Internet” is not seen as the real issue. The real issues are immigration, the economy, wages and jobs. Well try and get a job without decent access to the internet. Almost impossible.
Somehow we need to break this false dichotomy of new and old.
If a child spends time on a computer it is deemed, by many, to be wasted time. Time they should be using to climb trees, scrape knees play with other likeminded children and get skin cancer.
A child who locks themselves in their room and reads the entire Harry Potter series of books is seen as some kind of hero. No doubt a genius. Let’s gloss over the fact reading is a solitary activity and one where they are unlikely to climb any real trees or scrape any knees. At least they wont get skin cancer.
Once again it is the old world – good, new world bad.
Away from the media there are many in business who avoid the internet. In SME’s and boardrooms alike the internet is seen as unrelated to the real world of business. Let us hope they will realise it is not one or the other but both.
This year’s lecture was a breath of fresh air featuring as it did a call to action. This election I will be asking candidates for their views on superfast broadband, data security and the harnessing of the internet for the common good.
In the meantime I can sign the petition and back Baroness Fox’s call for a dot.everyone institution. I leave you with her words.
“Britain invented the BBC, the NHS – let’s not have a poverty of ambition – we can and should be inventing the definitive public institution for our digital age. If you like the idea, I have set up a petition at change.org so please sign it. And please blog, tweet, respond – lets start the debate.”
A PS to show how far we still have to go.
I wanted to book a service for my car. I was extremely gratified to see my local dealer had an on-line booking page. I duly filled in the form with my name, car model, preferred day of the week and my contact details. I clicked send and received a message that they would be in touch. Four days and nothing. When I rang the garage they admitted they don’t really check their emails or notifications, “Always better to ring us” they said. Words fail me.
Embracing video as part of a marketing strategy is the next big thing for brands who hold an online presence, according to industry experts. Companies are now rushing to become video-savvy and offer an online video strategy that will help to drive traffic, engage customers and ultimately lead to sales. The key is not to make a video but to make an investment. A financial investment but a strategic, purpose driven emotional investment.
Here a five compelling facts why you should.
- Video’s widespread use. Check out these stats.
- The average YouTube viewer watches 261 minute per month
- 500 tweets every minute contain web video
- More than 50% of social media videos are commented on
- 68% of online video viewers share video links
- 53% more likely to get a first page Google result with web video on your homepage
- A video improves your chance of a first page Google ranking by 53% (Forrester)
- Mobile Video use is exploding. According to some reports a ten fold increase in the last year. YouTube mobile is now available on over 350 million devices and growing.
- According to a recent Forbes Insight study, 59% of C-Level decision makers prefer watching online video to reading text because it helps them make deeper connections and better understand a company’s product or service
- Including a video in an online press release increases views by 77% according to PR Newswire.
If that’s not enough to persuade watch this video by Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist. He discusses how pictures, videos and images help us understand the universe. The power of video IS the power of the mind! He touched upon the human brain and power it holds.