Be Curious and Have a Point of View

In this always-connected, digital world, I often see and hear things that I agree with. Or disagree with. Some of this is deep content – articles or videos that take time to engage with. But some of the content is simple, cursory, scrollable. I can look at it and move on with barely a moment’s regard.

The thing is, however, that I HAVE had a regard.

Almost everything that I see elicits a decision response in my head. I am forever making judgement calls about every single piece of content that passes by. And not just online. The same applies offline.

On the surface, it would seem that the problem that we all face is inundation. Our minds and our experiences are so saturated with things to engage with that our senses have been dulled. Where once our senses were highly tuned to detect important things (threat, pleasure, opportunities), they now tune things out. We are dulled to our experience of the world right when the world offers so much.

If we look deeper, there is a way to short circuit all this.

We need to re-inspire our curiosity.

If you need a break, meditate. Pause and breath. Express gratitude. Look again at the world, a situation, the page or person in front of you, and be curious. Ask a question. Receive an answer with grace.

But most of all, take your curiosity and act on it. Have a point of view. Respond to the world you live in. Act, don’t react, and see how the world greets you differently.

Snapchat Ghost Mode – and how to protect your child from snap stalkers

Technology shifts and changes so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. Almost every day there are updates to your computers, “patches” to fix software, improvements to the apps on your phone and more. If you are like me, you’ll have automatic updates on so that these changes take place in the background – often overnight – so that when you turn on your device for the day – voila! – new improvements at your fingertips.

But not all updates are created equally – or with your best interests in mind.

A recent Snapchat upgrade added a new feature – Snap Maps. It’s a way to “view Snaps of sporting events, celebrations, breaking news and more from all across the world”. Sounds great, right?

But it’s also a way for you and your friends (or the general Snap user) to share your location with each other. So now, if you are wondering where your friends are and what they are doing, you can seek them out.

It’s super easy to use, just open the Camera screen and “pinch out” like you are zooming out from a photo and Snap Maps will be activated.

From the map you can see snaps from interesting locations and events as well as photos of people that you know or are connected to.

But isn’t that stalking?

It’s rather cool that you can see where your friends are. In fact, Google has variations on this functionality in its maps – and even had the standalone product, Latitude, until it was closed down in 2013. At the time, I had concerns with Latitude and with the data that we uncaringly share with the people who make our phones and create the apps we run on them – and so too do I have concerns with Snap Maps.

Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer, location information can be super useful. And as a person with friends all around the world, I get a particular kick out of knowing where my friends and connections are and what they are doing.

For example, I know my friend Suzanne is travelling in the US at the moment. Thanks to Snap Map I now know that she was just on Mariposa Street in San Francisco. No doubt checking out the local fried chicken shops.

That’s kind of fun. But as a consumer it makes me nervous.

We know that on social media, the concept of “friendship” is fairly loose. There will be a lot of randomness in your friend list – plenty of people who you don’t know, have never met, and probably wouldn’t invite to your home to stay for the weekend. Yet, you can trust them with your location, each and every second of the day.

A warning for parents

As adults, we can make choices about who shares our personal information, location and so on. But parents with children who use Snap Chat may not realise what has become available with the new Snap Map functionality. In fact, most parents won’t know that some children have open privacy settings meaning that anyone can “friend” and connect/share information with them without asking.

Imagine, for example, your child has a group of friends who use Snap Chat to share photos, chat and keep connected outside of school. Then imagine that there’s an incident – like some bullying or bad behaviour – a falling out of some kind.

Thanks to Snap Maps, all your child’s connections (including the bully) will know where your child is whenever they are logged in.

No doubt, parents have asked their children about their connections and “friends”, and have received assurances that “no, I don’t add people I don’t know” … but words and actions are sometimes strangers. In this video, Joey Salads conducts a Snap Map stalking experiment with the parent of a young girl. The results are compelling.

Turn on Ghost Mode to protect your Snap Chat privacy

The only way to stop your location being shared across your Snap Chat network is to enable “Ghost Mode”. You will be prompted for location sharing the first time you upgrade to Snap Maps, but you can also edit your privacy settings later.

If you have children, I’d recommend you enable Ghost Mode immediately. In fact, unless you’re confident that you know your connections well, I’d enable ghost mode on every device. Being location aware can be useful, but data sometimes reveals more than we expect – and there’s no reason for us to turn a blind eye to it.

A Market Like No Other For Goodness Sake

When I was a vegan I became fascinated by the machinery of modern agriculture. And I don’t just mean the tractors – I mean the massive supply chain, refrigeration, logistics, buying and planning mechanisms that bring fresh food to our tables. It seemed that there were more than a million miles between the source of our food and its destination.

It made me realise there were more complexities in the market of markets than I had understood.

In the face of this I wondered what impact a personal choice – such as becoming a vegan – may have on the larger world. What could be achieved by my small, defiant action?

But the road to change is never straight forward or as direct as you’d like. It can sometimes take years for a motivation to move to action. Or for the conditions for success to align like stars in a horoscope.

Over the years, I have learned that good intentions and personal choice only go so far. At some point you have to choose and commit.

And if the times are right and the stars are aligned, something may just happen.

On Sunday, 19 March 2017, a new fresh produce market comes to Sydney. It’s the first ever For Goodness Sake Market.There will be over 50 stalls, including fresh produce, artisanal goods, hot food, coffee, fun for the kids, music and more. It’s a new, regular market in the heart of the city at Royal Randwick – but its roots are deep in the Australian farming world.

Growing up on dairy farms in Western Australia, Clive Burcham could hardly imagine a life spanning continents and working in emerging technology with some of the largest brands in the country. Not only is Clive the driving force behind one of Australia’s leading digital and creative agencies, The Conscience Organisation, he’s been deeply involved in social enterprises that directly impact disadvantage and global poverty. And now he’s turned his attention to his heartland. To farmers and their families.

It’s obviously been a long journey to return to the start – but the world will be a better place for it.

The Fair Farmers Market kicks off on Sunday, 19 March from 8am and will open every Sunday thereafter. There is wheelchair access and parking is by gold coin donation to Ozharvest.

The Importance of Brands in the Social Media Sphere

Facts and figures are boring. Yet almost every B2B brand relies on facts and figures to tell the story of their products or services. Countless whitepapers, videos and presentations wheel out the features and functions or a particular platform, technology or product line, yet everything that we know, as marketers, as data analysts, tells us that there is a better way. A more efficient way. In fact, neuroscience has provided vital clues that help us understand not the power of logic to drive purchase, but the importance of emotion to tip our decision-making.

So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

But it is one thing to know something and quite another to do something about it. Just imagine being the marketing director pitching in a new campaign to your CMO where there is little reference to product features and functions. Imagine the questions. The feedback. The personal-professional risk.

This week I recorded a podcast with the NewsModo team. We talked about branding, social media and content marketing. But mostly we talked about how storytelling allows brands to tap into the minds and emotions of their customers. One of the examples I had in mind was this video from the recent election campaign. The video captured my imagination because it’s a great example of how facts and figures can be incorporated into a campaign that drives not just action but activation. In fact, if brands (and political parties) can learn anything from the election results, it is this … listen to your audiences, understand what drives their collective mindset and help or encourage them to act on that mindset.

When you have a moment, check out the NewsModo podcast. There have been some great guests – and it may just inspire your next, best idea.

How Do We Do More? CityTalks Inspires Questions

Sitting in the audience of the City of Sydney’s #SydCityTalk event featuring human rights advocate and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, it was clear that she was preaching to the choir. The message of “people first” deeply resonated with the audience and spread out like a shock wave from the stalls back. It wasn’t that we haven’t heard discussions about the importance of human-centred policy and action before – it’s just apparent that this style of conversation has been missing from our public discourse for some time.

After all, we live in an age where our sense of humanity has taken a backseat on our roadtrip to the future, and we’ve packed off the difficult issues like climate change, asylum seekers and refugees to live with the relatives.

So hearing a discussion of how governments, business and citizens can work together seems strangely foreign and wildly exciting.

Mary Robinson packed plenty into a short presentation – sustainable development goals, global focus, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson and Bill Gates and global recognition for the programs and actions of the City of Sydney. Be sure to watch her speech in the video below.

Debunking Trickle Down Economics

One of the most interesting talks of the evening was Richard Denniss, Chief Economist from The Australia Institute. Not only was he able to make economics sound interesting and entertaining, he was able to do so in a way that illustrated his main point – that trickle down economics does not work. While we have seen this for ourselves in the widening gap between rich and poor – and the accelerating distance between the poor and the poorest – the raw numbers from the IMF tell an altogether more compelling story.

The research from five IMF economists, drew attention to the issue of global inequality, dismissed “trickle-down” economics and urged governments to target policies toward the bottom 20 percent of their citizens.

The problem with inequality is that it actually cripples growth. If we invest in the top 20% of our population, then GDP declines over the medium term. While a 1% increase in the income share of the poorest 20% of the population results in a 0.38% increase in GDP.

Where to from here?

Each of the speakers told a compelling and vital story. But the facts and figures from Richard Denniss’ speech coupled with Mary Robinson’s urgent insistence on change made me wonder. In fact, it made many of us in the audience wonder – where do we go from here? The levers of change are being applied to the UN’s sustainable development goals – and Australia is a willing signatory. But there is a yawning gulf between intention and policy, signature and action. Where do we go from here? How do we take these good intentions and make change happen? And precisely who is this WE?

I would dearly love to hear an update on progress at the next City Talks event.

Perhaps it is too soon to expect change to take place – or maybe – just maybe, we need more impatience in the mix of government, business and citizen policy making.

You can watch the full replay of the event below.

Will Social Media Make Politicians More Likeable?

Over the last few days, Australia has found itself with yet another Prime Minister. It is our fifth Prime Minister in five years.

What is fascinating is not just that there has been so much change but the speed with which that change has taken place. In fact, some time ago I suggested that with social media, we are all swinging voters now. And so the transformation in the highest office in the land happened in broad view of the voting public – we were privy to a vast range of opinion mixed with insight as and when it happened.

While the Liberal Party met to decide whether Tony Abbott would be trusted with another six months as Captain, ABC reporter, Chris Uhlmann reminded us that behind the public persona of any politician is an individual – and that at times such as this, that individual faces great pressure and personal challenge. “We forget politicians are human”, he said.

But broadcast media has framed the political landscape in a particular way. It constructs meaning very specifically – broken into catchy slogans, sound bites and images. The meaning, messaging and positioning of every action, announcement and “door stop” interview have been carefully crafted and rehearsed towards a specific outcome – to appeal to particular segments of voters. And in the endless repeating of these messages, the words and actions of our politicians have lost all meaning. We are living Baudrillard’s simulacra, caught on endless loop.

When Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith first created the Texts from Hilary blog, I thought it was genius. It was so clever, in fact, that I suspected that it had been created as part of a deliberate strategy to “humanise” the Hilary Clinton brand. My next thought was that the Australian Labor Party (or one of its supporters) should take the same approach and apply it to then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. It seemed like a no-brainer:

  • A proven and popular model to engage the imagination of the voting public
  • Low cost, high impact media that allows non-scripted communication in a shareable format
  • Distance between the creator of the account/content and the person herself.

But the “Texts from Julia” account never appeared.

About six months ago, a Texts From Malcolm Instagram account appeared and has been steadily gaining a following. Like the Hilary account, it uses text overlays to create imaginary conversations between well-known players on the political scene. In a way, politicians are becoming the cats memes of the internet – instantly recognisable, unusually intimate and slightly irreverent.

Now that Malcolm Turnbull has taken over the big chair at Parliament House in Canberra, this account has become even more interesting. And given NSW Premier, Mike Baird’s blisteringly strong social media performance over recent weeks, it seems that political media strategists are keying into the vast potential of social media. And it makes me wonder – is Texts from Malcolm a clever setup by the former Communications Minister? Will it create the necessary distance and psychological space between the knock-down political action and the voters to engender a new form of electoral trust? And, ultimately, will social media make politicians more likeable?

We’re entering a new understanding of media communications with politicians leading the experimental charge. Brands and businesses largely remain on the starting blocks, but politicians and their advisors – whose very jobs rely on the goodwill and support of the people, are clearly realising that there is advantage to be made in the occasional tweet, video or blog post. It will be interesting to watch this play out in the coming months.

QUT Staff Think About the Future with Staff Giving Program

Employee giving programs are a powerful way of maximising your personal charitable giving. Charities gain reliable, regular funds and by making pre-tax donations to charities through workplace giving, the impact of your donations can go much further. In fact, with employer matching in place – where every dollar that you donate is matched by your employer – the economic impact of every dollar can be be multiplied by up to a factor of FOUR.

So, for every dollar you donate, your favourite charities can be four times better off.

  • Employer matching doubles your contribution
  • Charities traditionally spend up to 25% of their income on fundraising, so you are saving them acquisition, retention and marketing funds
  • Regular, bulk payroll donations reduce administration costs and allow for more effective planning

But despite continuing growth in workplace giving, many organisations have yet to put a formal program in place. The Australian Charities Fund explains that these programs have massive impact – not just on charities who receive the philanthropic funds – but also on employers and individuals. For example:

  • Individual worker philanthropy: People are more confident that their donations make a difference, feel more involved with their community and benefit from the tax effectiveness of their donations
  • Corporates: Employers can build effective and useful community partnerships and boost employee morale. Workplace giving programs are low on cost and administration and simultaneously help attract and retain quality talent

But how do you have a genuine, engaging discussion about staff giving?

The Queensland University of Technology took an innovative approach and tapped their own school of performing arts to create a flashmob during staff Christmas celebrations. The aim was to get people to think about the future – the future of students and of the university. Not only were students involved, so were lecturers, tutors, professors and heads of schools. There was wide engagement across all stakeholder groups.

This is important to note, because if you want a lasting impact, you need to move beyond talking, to doing. Your ideas have to have a life and an impetus to drive participation. And while we all love the idea of conversation, we also know that talk is cheap, and at the beginning of a new year, perhaps we should all be looking towards a new future.

http://youtu.be/NxAQy2N-moM

Chaired aloft a sea of dancers.  Mobile Clubbing, London Victoria Station concourse, 4 April 2007.

Image: Chris Beckett via Compfight

#WhipIt–Pantene tackles workplace perceptions of women

When I was a teenager I felt that my generation was going to be the one to combat all the issues of injustice that plagued the world. As I got older, I realised that almost every teenage generation thinks the same way – that they can, armed with fresh insight, a new perspective and abundant energy, change the world.

But changing one person’s mind is hard enough. Changing the world … well, you see where I am going.

We are a great mass of inertia – and it takes a lot of effort to mobilise our thinking and to push us to take action. That’s why it’s important to keep challenging “what is”. It’s why it is essential to call out unacceptable behaviours and “old” notions of thinking. Because in challenging these things change can happen one heart and one mind at a time. But no change comes without drawing a line in the sand. Which is why I love the way that Pantene has framed this ad. It’s calling out the often unspoken attitudes that continue to prevail in many of our workplaces.

It’s a great ad. It may not change the world, but it may inspire the drawing of a few more lines. And that would be a great, good thing.

The Perfect Gift this Holiday

Way back in 2009, Mark Pollard and I set out to change the online conversation about men’s health, depression, suicide and alcohol dependency. As part of the Inspire Foundation’s Manweek campaign, we collected stories that would help reinvent manhood. We even had author of Manhood and Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph write an introduction.

This is one hell of a book. Born out of a triple j week focusing on men’s lives, and created by its listeners, it’s a remarkable piece of work.

A man’s life, whether he is 18 or 80, can start to go badly. And often, after that, it just gets worse. How to turn your life around is a serious concern. The men who write these gutsy, honest, emotionally vulnerable stories create an excitement and energy in the reader, because they have faced the dragon of their own pain, and won. They got help, they dived in, they didn’t give up, and they trusted the power of their hearts to bring them through.

Every kind of man, every single style of writing, with pictures, cartoons, short and punchy, you will find bits of yourself all over these pages. Read it and weep. It will change you.l

We know that around this time of year – when we celebrate Christmas and head into the holiday season – some men find themselves isolated and struggling. The book, The Perfect Gift for a Man, was written specifically for them. And it remains as powerful and as relevant today as it did in 2009.

Get a free download of the book today.

If you need help with issues like these, please contact Reachout. If you’re in Australia and want to talk to someone, try Lifeline 13 11 14 or Inspire.


Go Where Others Don’t – The Digital Newsroom of Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia

msftv There is a lot of talk about brands becoming publishers – as if it was a simple transformation achieved by the stroke of a budget making biro. But what does it really take?

In Australia, Medicins Sans Frontieres or “doctors without borders” aim to put this to the test.

Médecins Sans Frontières is the world’s leading independent organisation for medical humanitarian aid, providing relief after natural disasters, helping victims of conflict and running emergency feeding programs. Working in war zones much of their work happens far from the eyes of the world.

And while MSF are known as a “below the radar” organisation – this poses real challenges for sharing stories, building awareness and engaging with potential sponsors, donors and the interested public.

For the month of October, MSF TV aims to address this challenge head on, creating a digital newsroom to bring stories directly to the public. There are:

  • Seven channels of video content aimed to stimulate conversation
  • Conversations amplified through the #msftv hashtag on Twitter
  • Live updates and headlines from around the world
  • Interviews from those on-the-ground
  • Hosted debates on Facebook and on MSF TV
  • YouTube channel with an archive of episodes and issues from the MSF TV site

The rise of digital opens new opportunities for brands to go peer-to-peer

Marketers generally think in terms of business-to-business or business-to-consumer communications. But the rise of digital has changed the landscape. It’s not one-to-many but one-FOR-many communications. The old B2B and B2C distinctions are crumbling under the weight of social media – with communicators now working in a peer-to-peer conversation.

Very few organisations have followed this path thus far. It’s complicated, challenging and exciting. MSF and their partner agency, Republic of Everyone, are trailblazing. They truly are going where others don’t. But we can only expect more to follow.