Being positively productive

Some things stick in the brain, and nag at you.

Perpetual Optimism

A month or two ago I was sitting in the front seat of a taxi in Sofia (Bulgaria), when I caught a snippet of conversation from the back. All I heard was the phrase ‘perpetual optimism’, and that was it. Nothing further reached through the traffic noise. I glanced at the driver, but he didn’t seem that talkative (perhaps someone warned him), so I pondered instead.

How concise can you get?  A phrase that manages to deliver more in two words than most paragraphs.

(sometimes called a meme, this post is worth reading too – after this one of course)

It was memorable enough to resurface in my brain through fog of the following morning. It must be important, somehow. Foolishly on the flight home I mentioned I might blog about it, and so here we are on an unintended quest.

What do we know about being positive?

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know a lot. There are lots of books telling us to be positive, and all the riches in the world will be ours, but it’s always a bit broad and unspecific – to someone who deals with specific words for a living at any rate. What does positivity actually mean?

Searching through the kindlesphere, I found a more thoughtful read by Psychology Scientist Barbara Fredrickson called positivity. A psychology person, in a new field apparently only invented in 1999, it seems that after  scientists studied depression and anxiety for hundreds of years, it occurred to one of them that it may be generally connected to happiness. But enough of this snarky observation, on with the story.

It must be have been incredibly difficult to be scientific about ‘feelings’, but I was pretty impressed with the results.

(A picture of Google allows this post to be on a blog about lead generation)

Getting specific

Because I’ve been trained to think about the customer journey, I’ve re-ordered these elements of positivity described in the book.

Hope, Interest, Amusement, Inspiration, Joy, Love, Pride, Serenity, Gratitude, Awe (or awesome as someone I know is fond of saying)

I personally think that being positive is a journey. Hope is before everything.

Do we know the outcome?

Amongst other things, it has been proven that being positive is very good for your health, as long as it is heartfelt and ‘real’, yep, ok, tick. More interestingly,

compared to people in the other conditions, participants in experiments who experience positive emotions show heightened levels of creativity, inventiveness, and “big picture” perceptual focus.

Proven. Wow.

Getting stuff done

This post went from being drafted on my personal blog, to being promoted to the professional one about lead generation. My experience in completely different scenarios, with various shades of marketers, entrepreneurs and sales people. It is crystal clear that positivity gets things done, and negativity stalls people. Literally, work stops.

Without hope, nobody in the world is going to start anything. With it, mountains are moved pretty quickly.

Marketing, by default, is the practice of being really positive about things. But it requires positivity to come up with ideas, to write enthusiastically, to inspire confidence.

Can we change?

Of course, it’s a variable. We oscillate. But here’s the result of my unintended quest.

If we decide that we are positive, then it happens. Just like if we decide to smile then, eventually, we forget we are pretending. The effects can be amazing. Take a negative scenario that is coming up, be positive and then take notice of how people react – I did. It inspires people to change, and makes people more likely to take action (take a note blog copy ninjas).

I believe that we all genuinely want to be happy, someone just needs to go first. I’m sure there is plenty of advice around, but for me, the most important thing was, to decide it is important.

Looking through positivity tinted glasses

It’s been a couple of months, and I have found that actively taking notice of positivity has a really positive effect in itself. I realised that the people I liked most were all pretty positive, and some of them refused to be negative in any single sentence. I hadn’t noticed that before – perhaps they know this already, and I’ve spent all these years being uneducated. But then, it was only invented in 1999, so I don’t feel too bad.

Let’s all use less negative words. Particularly ban the ones that sound like “problem”.

According to our scientist Barbara, it is all connected, there is a golden ratio of 3-1. When we reach that ratio of positive versus negative reactions, then it builds on itself, spiralling to a point where we are naturally resilient. 

Onwards and Upwards. I’m proud of this post.

The cookie law is a monster

Most people have heard of a new law involving website cookies. But if you haven’t, I hope you don’t have to be too concerned by it. We’re keeping a lookout and will let you know.

The “idea” is good, as it covers tracking people who go onto websites. And we agree that tracking visitors who have been personally identified should require their permission, that’s obvious to everyone.

Permission from anonymous visitors?

But getting permission from people who we don’t know, is not practical, and if anything, we think it will be more irritating to keep asking them.

How do you keep a track of the people who have asked not to be tracked?

Could you imagine someone measuring footfall through a shopping centre getting written permission from each shopper?

I only came in for a sandwich..

Would it be like getting written permission from everyone who wanders past a CCTV camera.

Question: Is this cookie law consistent with CCTV laws, we wouldn’t have thought so. We’ll ask an expert in cctv…our friend David at Demux who provides cctv analysis services.

A lot of companies seem to be adopting a wait and see attitude – including 95% of the top uk 100 websites from what we can see.

Having said that:

The law is clear, it does actually want us to get permission to set a cookie.

The thing is, if people say no, then we have to set a cookie. And if we can’t do that, then it looks like we’d have to ask them, not only every time they came back to the site, but also every page they visit. Too extreme, perhaps.

Our Solutions

1. We do have a privacy policy on each customer website now – even if you can’t see it.

(1.b We’re just enabling it by linking to it from the footers to comply with the spirit and letter of the law)

2. The cookie plugin on this site seems to work fine – with a few adjustments it will become legal.

3. Move country

Because as every company in this country ‘may be’ at a commercial disadvantage if they implement, we hope it changes soon.

The internet is a small world.

Conversation Starter

Something changed. And it suddenly got a lot more colourful in the office.

our kind of people

Copy, Content and Distribution

Loads of copywriters have told us that they struggle to sell their own services , ironically, and I have seen customers actually screw up their noses at the mere mention of the word. I guess it’s one of those words that can mean different things to different people.

As a result, there is a lot of confusion around the purpose, the benefits, and the value.

But, what we know is that when we write pages on our customer websites

2. The number of visits to websites goes up

1. The number of leads goes up

As a company we need to be able to add that value. The more words you have on the website, the more relevant traffic you get. It’s simple really:

Words make web marketing work better, and they get to repeat themselves again and again, over a very long period.

If you work hard at knowing what to say, it gets even better.

And, so, we’ve been busy. In fact, we have been doing so many things for other people, that we had no energy to write our own!

That’s not right.

So, we are so very pleased to welcome Jessica McGinn to help us onto the next step, and I’m very sure our customers will be just as happy.

About Jess

Now, Jessica can write.

She gets ‘context’, and thinks about how words make people feel. Having said that, our Jess isn’t that worried about saying what she thinks about pretty much anything.

Which is why I’m not showing her this before I hit the publish button.

But whilst writing will be a very important skill for our little community going forward, managing that content in WordPress is just as important. Even if customers send us their own stuff, it still needs structuring for the web, editing and laying out.

We’ve seen already that being web dexterous will be a massive help in ‘getting things done’. And things are getting done faster around here. You’ll see.

A Learning Process

After 6 very solid, brain exploding weeks of learning at speed, we’re just about ‘ready to go’.

And I think we’ve spent useful time learning about learning, teaching, conversations, and all related to web marketing and sales. They say you never really know a subject until you’ve taught it, so I’m glad to have started on the content badge now.

So, I guess I ought to finish the intro and say, ‘Hi Jess’.

Here are some subjects you might choose for a first blog post. Or, choose something else, we’re only just getting going after all..

  1. Websites are conversations
  2. Learning is at the heart of all good conversation
  3. The best conversations come from really good questions
  4. The best time to write about something is when you’re learning it

What is it about learning lately….

Bloggers vs Blaggers

Blog technology has huge business benefits, but the best in business say it’s about more than that.

In the last few days, several people, in quite different industries told me they felt integrity was crucial to their business. Pointedly, they also said they were competing with people without.

Underneath I’m not sure they really believe that’s true, but what if all the good people wrote blog articles regularly? I like to think it would help us all rise above the blaggers – and in a very literal way, with Google in mind, it probably will do.

When you write stuff down, good things tend to happen.

A friend sent this to me, I’m guessing it’s because I’ve been too busy to write lately. Perhaps if they would be so kind as to send this over about once a week or so?

Inspirational HR?

A collection of inspirational web content is building on a hidden page in the Conversationware Web Vaults.

This time, a strange source. Not some wacky software entrepreneur, or some compelling life lessons for us this week -

Oh no….. it’s a presentation from Netflix, a monolith that is a publicly quoted company – they just shared a slide deck (meant to be read online) about HR.

Link to Inspiration Page

Click image to Inspiration Page

Ok, so that shouldn’t be inspirational. But it sets out how it sees the development and most importantly the retention of talent within the company, and how to escape from HR as a business process…. their words, not mine!

It’s extremely interesting for those with 10 minutes to spare.

Splitting the marketing atom

You may know that physics has a rather interesting problem.

In layman’s terms (meaning I can get this ever so slightly wrong), there are;

a. well understood laws for large objects – bigger than an atom – called relativity, and
b. well understood (if not quite complete) laws for very small objects or particles in ‘quantum’ level physics.

And, these laws are mutually incompatible.

splitting the marketing atom

Up until 50 years ago, physicists were making brilliant progress, assuming that all was going swimmingly well, and but for a few pauses, discoveries of the 18th century were being developed and were informing the next logical theories right through to the point it all just….got really confusing, and nothing worked.

Even Einstein spent his last thirty years looking for something that would bring it all together, but ultimately he came up blank.

Marketing has similar issues.

As our friend Seth Godin says, mass marketing has worked fine, making its inexorable progress through the TV industrial complex, right up to the point where things got very small. Channels, readership, circulation, user bases, blog posts (twitter) and attention spans (I must get to the point), well, they have all shrunk immeasurably.

Suddenly, the old rules don’t work any more – in fact they’re more confusing than anything we could have possibly imagined. Just like our physics.

We’re dealing in fragments.

Fragmented tasks, fragmented communications, markets, job descriptions, jobs, economic realities, projects, product life cycles and fleeting fads, microscopic opportunities. Higgs Boson PR anyone?

Are we truly going to end up marketing on a one to one basis? Hasn’t anyone got a chaos theory we can use to put this together? Well, there have been a few viewpoints around one aspect – SEO vs PR. All from one conversation on a social network. Now there’s a promising start.

Jed Hallam, SEO and Public Relations

Stuart Bruce, Public relations is about reputation

Stephen Waddington, good summary from a technical PR perspective

Wom on Socnets from Rob Brown

Julia Shuvalova, you need every digital marketing skill in a perfect world (including the higgs boson perhaps)

My two penneth, at this stage, is that this seems like a classic big bang confluence of ideas, skillsets and job descriptions. A Large Hadron Collider…especially when you include communications technology, which is driving all this together (in circles perhaps). Convergence.

Industry vs techniques, pah, so much fluff to me. Where do we all come from, and what is the meaning of life? Is there a dog after all? Which particle of the marketing atom are you?

Forget whatever industry you think you’re in, it is about sales, marketing and relationships. But not necessarily in that order.

As an aside to my PR friends, isn’t reputation management only necessary when you’re not able to control your product or your people….oh wait, what? we can’t do that?

I do have some string theory, I’ll have to post soon, but I’m getting the feeling the attention span is ‘gone’, and we’re all moving on to the next big passing phase. So I’ll stop for now.

Any more views you can point out, the more the merrier.

Unlimited google email storage

Talk about email storage to IT managers and they tend to start going this funny colour. Users can’t seem to manage their Inbox apparently, although not the exact words they use.

This has come up time and again, where, on behalf of the user experience, it is up to me to persuade I.T that voice messages have to reside in the email store.

During the conversation you can see this assume huge proportions in the minds eye, and I always used to show my own mailbox to calm them down……a bit.

So its an area of interest.

I just saw that in my personal email, on Google, that I’ve used 93MB of 6 Gig. In a year and a half.

gmail storage

So I check my Exchange work mailbox, I now have ALL historical emails saved locally – although I’m good at deleting very large emails first – I have 2.5 Gig, in 3 years. Including unified messaging.

By my calculations then Google are effectively giving me unlimited storage. They seem to put it up every month, I could easily have 7 years of email before deleting anything at all. Which is surely what most people would ever need. Or am I behind the multimedia times.

You gotta love that.

Recalling emails doesn't work

It’s Funny when you see someone try to recall an email.

Of course, the recall function serves only to highlight the original email to be read more closely, just to see where the rickett has been dropped, and how loud the clang was.

Another example of a terrible email mistake here at email tide

There are three Matt Lambert’s in the UK around the technology field, one at Microsoft and one at a telecoms company. So, I do get voicemails from people I’ve never heard of every now and again….although nothing interesting. But the more people you are ‘acquainted’ with, the less well you might know them, and this is going to happen more often.

In the comments in the linked article, there is a Thunderbird plugin that is designed with the ‘are you sure you want to send this’ button built in. Not bad, but possibly subject to the similar address blindness after a while.

What this highlights (again) is the fact that Email is a fairly blunt tool with which to be handling sensitive documents.

Surely there must be some enterprise 2.0 software that could handle a central repository, and sharing mechanism for messages, without overloading the user with yet more passwords. It makes you wonder if any other legal companies have gone with Google Docs for this?

Is Sharepoint the right vehicle – I’ve heard varying reports. I’ve got another Avanquest training session on this next week, perhaps it will sink in this time.

Talking of Passwords, methinks it is worth another look at OpenID again.

Gmail for business – Google Apps mini review

When I looked for free web based email, I knew Gmail was going to be the best option.

With huge amounts of storage, accessible from my various PC’s, Spam filters and desktop notifications (so I don’t have to check for new mail, which is the most important), plus Gtalk Instant Messaging on the same login – so it proved.

Thus, when I wanted to have separate ‘blog’ email, I took a look at Google Apps (it’s free, so why not).

Google Apps is Gmail, but with your own domain – (e.g. mail is sent to name@company.com) but with all the above benefits, and more. Being free, I think it’s great value, and even at the premier edition at $50 per user per year – compared to the cost of running premises based equivalents is a no brainer.

Setting it up does mean you need your own domain, and access to the control panel to follow google’s instructions in moving the Email MX records…..it’s easier than it sounds though, and knowing someone who can help is useful.

On first impressions, it was good. But last year…..

I had the problem of trying to access two separate Gmail accounts from the same machine – it turned out to be very unwieldy flicking from account to account and notifications weren’t as timely if I wasn’t logged in.

It’s amazing how the little things prevent you from using and being completely happy with software.

Recently however, Google Apps and Gmail have both moved to supporting IMAP, and my problems have been solved. It’s brilliant!

One of the most useful additional applications is Docs – great for sharing information between boundaries….accessible from anywhere. I haven’t worked out my three different calendars yet, but there are apparently synching apps available.

I’m now using Thunderbird to receive and send mail from multiple gmail accounts (as well as a separate email account for work!). I can still be logged in to my primary gmail account (personal) for most of the day.

With all the above facilities, Google Apps is aimed at companies – but I always wondered whether companies would get over the trust issue. That is, trusting Google to look after their email.

I figured for my own part that if Google let any information go, their share price would slide, and therefore they had more to lose than I did.

There is an extremely interesting article here, showing a Legal company have made exactly the same decision.

Email server, Software, support, Spam software, archiving, the list of savings just goes on.

If you don’t need to support a LAN to run documents and email (with failover support), this tends to help free up both funds and the staff from looking after it, not to mention users who can literally work anywhere with mobile broadband.

It has to be worth most small companies time in having a look at this, and if Legal companies are happy to trust their customer’s information, then that shouldn’t stop anyone.