This blog covers the following subject matter: Business/Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Issues Management, Blogging, Social Issues, Doing Green, South Africa, Indian culture and General. If you are looking for posts on a particular subject, please select from the Category List to the right. The newest post on the blog is listed below. NB: I am still in the process of adding further content with regard to the subjects listed above.
The thing about Twitter (in my opinion) is that unlike Facebook, BBM and the likes of WordPress – it isn’t equally valuable irrespective of whether you’re someone important or no one at all. It misses the mark both in terms of resonance and relevance.
Facebook allows us to gain insight into the lives of people whom we know or want to know – with the opportunity for photos, chance to respond to family irrespective of geography and find long-lost friends. It also gives us a slightly more intimate perspective into the lives of ‘famous’ people who may be aspirational.
Instant chat like BMM – well, it makes communication cheap and real-time. Blog platforms facilitate self-expression, sharing of valuable information and a democratisation of media – we don’t need to depend just on journos for a point of view.
But Twitter – with its 140 character restriction – only allows for soundbites. And soundbites become trivial unless you really want to know what some arbitrary person (like me) thinks of an equally arbitrary hotel room on the night before Xmas, for example. Agreed, it does sometimes, act as a type of ‘eyewitness news’ but most of it is fairly random.
Many people ask me why I’m not active on Twitter but I’ve been asking myself: “Do I really have anything valuable to say in 140 characters or less on a daily basis (or sometimes 3 times a day?’
Unless you’re really a mover and shaker and really do know news first – what’s the point. For example: I follow the CEO of a major bank because one of my clients told me that he follows this prolific tweeter religiously. Hence, I expected business insight and signed up. Yet, his tweets are mostly about disrespecting the competitors fees or about his ‘crayfish dive.’ And I find myself asking, “Sorry, why should I care?’ Whereas, if it had been FB and someone with whom I had a personal relationship (on or off-line) posted their excitement about a ‘crayfish dive,’ I would have been thrilled to share in the experience.
My point (both personally and as a professional communications person): I don’t think Twitter is for everyone and it certainly can be over-used as a broadcast mechanism rather than a really good, insightful, interactive communications platform. Consider whether you really have something to say that is going to add value to your life or those of your followers before using it.
It’s Christmas in South Africa
The queues are long,
but the trolleys are empty
Clearly the recession’s hit
and people are feeling the pinch!
Sunny South Africa’s become a myth
As it rains for three days in row
Blame it on global warming
What can we say!
My friends were robbed in their house.
They held seven people hostage.
Thankfully no one was hurt.
But hearts are sore.
Do I sound down?
Perhaps I am
It ain’t been an easy year.
Still I know that I’m blessed.
I was priveleged to watch the dolphins
as Durban’s famous aquarium opened its arms,
and bottle-nosed Gambit,
swayed in the water to Mary’s boy child,
sung in soprano by an African beauty.
I took a trip on a steam train,
Her name’s Maureen,
she’s 99 years old.
She took me to mountainous Kloof
And a Valley of a Thousand Hills
And I remembered
a beloved country.
I watched cheese being made at a cheese farm
and ate rump steak for $8.00, by the side of the dam,
nestled against the Magaliesburg.
I laughed at the show Menopause
I saw my mother smile,
I looked into the future.
I learnt to live in the day.
And I remembered why
I love my country.
“I’m an issues management consultant, I say.
‘Oh,’ says the guy standing next to me. And then silence.
That’s a reaction I’m accustomed to – I have one of those jobs that most people don’t understand. You know, not exactly a conversation starter at cocktail parties.
But then the guy comes back at me. ‘Oh, like Shrien Dewani’s guy – what’s his name, Max Clifford?’
I cringe – not visibly, I hope. Shrien Dewani is the British national accused of murdering his wife whilst on their honeymoon in South Africa last year. Max Clifford is the ‘publicist’ he’s appointed to manage his reputation. So, you can imagine why I cringed! But, in truth, my companion isn’t that far off the truth.
What I do is to help companies foresee issues that could damage their reputation and if the issue has exploded, I help them to repair that reputation. Is that a long way of saying ‘spin doctor?’ Well, no – it isn’t. Issues management is increasingly becoming an internationally recognised field with its own disciplines, ethics, etc. However, in many ways, it is still establishing itself – and therefore, its parameters and definition are left to the people practicing it – to define for themselves.
In my career thus far, I have dealt with issues including systemized racism, price-fixing scandals, corruption, environmental disasters, etc. Does this raise ethical dilemmas for me! Of course, it does and I’ve often asked myself if there is an issue that I won’t take on, where I won’t try to help because it’s ethically and morally unacceptable to me. The answer is that I have adopted a simple principle from my mentor that has been incredibly useful in my work and in my life. This is that any organisation can mess up but there is always a way to ‘do the right thing,’ to make it right but the question is whether the entity has the will to ‘do the right thing.’ If they do, they should be able to build a better, stronger reputation going forward and a sound relationship with tehir communities – if they don’t and they just need a cover-up – well, that’s probably a different field than I’m in. My job is to help to diffuse the situation, balance the interests of the company and its stakeholders, and offer the client clarity as to the way forward.
Yet, it isn’t easy to make these decisions in the practicality of the working day and ultimately, one is dealing with people. So you can only judge a situation given time and clients often need to be coached – not because they don’t want to act but because it takes courage, resilience, empathy and a willingness to do more than the expedient thing – to act but not be reactionary.
So, no wonder it’s not a conversation starter. I think that the next time someone asks me what I do, I’ll say: ‘Computers’ – just to see what happens.
I have discovered that the issue is not finding more ways to communicate but finding more time to communicate. This is the first rule of blogging. Can you find the time to put down all those amazing thoughts and ideas? Can you edit down your work and publish a disciplined, tightly written piece? Last but not least, do you have the time to market and promote your blog?
Like many things in life – you don’t really know what it takes until you start doing it. For myself, I have had to resign myself to forfeiting ambitious readership targets and settling for writing when I have the time and for the pure joy of writing. I simply can not keep up with the ‘business’ of blogging – so, hopefully, there will be some people who find value in what I have to say – however erratic.
Am I disappointed? Yes. But I am also respectful of my ‘other’ life – my off-line life, which takes priority tight now – simply by virtue of its immediacy. This includes my work which I love and which is very demanding. It also includes my family – that at this point includes a puking child.
So, blogging takes a smaller slice of the pie. It is one more part that I have to integrate into my life – rather than something that receives priority – as it did in the first naive weeks of blogging. I trust that other new bloggers will find this an honest reflection of the demands of blogging. Initially, I spent most of my time trying to learn the science of blogging and in retrospect, I think I would have spent more time on the art – on creating a bank of articles that could be published over time and then trying to figure out the science of attracting an audience. Content rules.
I haven’t been blogging for a long time. However from the blogs that I’ve viewed (non-commercial), there are a few distinct types of bloggers. This might help you in defining the kind of blog that you’re writing or want to write. It may also help you choose colours, themes, etc.
So, there are broadly five categories of bloggers.
These are blogs that focus on a particular niche in which the writer has expertise. They are usually focused on developing the skills of the reader or in providing updated information on that niche. Examples could include everything from blogs about business to blogs about photography. Posts that fall under this category are usually quite in-depth, include research, references, reviews, techniques, tips and advice. Or it may also link you to other relevant resources. Posts also offer a point-of-view as to how to do things better or differently in that field. A good example is an expert blog about blogging….
These blogs are often focused on trends. It’s not such much about depth-of-information but about happenings, trends, what’s hot and where. Malcolm Gladwell who wrote The Tipping Point describes a connector as someone who knows lots of people. I’ve taken some license in saying that, in relation to blogging, its more related to what’s happening rather than who-you-know. Although, it would appear that if you’re the first to know what’s happening – you probably also know a lot of people.
As the name suggests these are people who like conversations – an outlet for their thoughts, to give expression to their opinions, to have conversations with other bloggers, to talk and laugh, often to build a network with like-minded people. However, don’t be fooled – conversationalists are often among the most dedicated of bloggers and write some of the most interesting and funny blogs.
These are people who journal an event, an experience or a life change, a journey whether spiritual, emotional or physical. These blogs may include an account of illness or a fight for freedom or the documenting of a journey to motherhood.
The last of the categories (according to me) are the commentators. Commentators have a degree of insight into a particular subject matter but are not focused on providing technical information. Rather, they focus on providing a point-of-view, an opinion or editorial on a particular subject. The tone of these blogs is usually more formal than any of the categories above and often deal with politics, feminism, human rights, world issues, civil rights, etc.
I hope that this helps you define the type of blog that you want to write or if any other categories occur to you, please drop me a note.
My grandmother was a young woman in the late 40’s/early 50’s. This is typically what she would have carried in her handbag to go shopping – as would most women of that decade.
Face Powder (compact with mirror)
Nail File (maybe)
Money (in a small purse)
Address Book & Pencil (small)
Safety Pins (don’t know why but my gran always had these)
2011 – A WOMAN’S HANDBAG
This is what a woman would typically carry in her handbag today.
– credit cards,
– debit cards
– loyalty cards
– cheque book
– driver’s license
– Face powder
– Lip liner
– Eye liner/Mascara
– Miniature parfum/Deo
– all may vary depending on woman
Electronic Access Cards (work, etc)
Cell phone/PDA (acts as address book, calculator, photo album)
Condoms (often – not always)
Hand Sanitiser/Wet Wipes
This tells us a few things. It tells us how much the lives of women have changed, how our responsibilities have changed, how much technology has given us (and taken away from us), how much …more…we need to get through our day.
Could you carry only the same contents that your grandmother carried for one week? Keys and remotes you can keep; but leave out all else including electronics. Let me know what you think.