Tag Archives: Inspiration

You are awesome. We will be back.

Most days I am thoroughly underwhelmed by mediocre customer service experiences.

It amazes me that in a competitive marketplace how little emphasis seems to be placed on providing outstanding service, especially when we know that personal recommendations are key in helping people make purchasing decisions, whether buying a new product or choosing what charity to support.*

If you receive poor or mediocre service you might not say anything. You just might not return. If the service is diabolical you probably will tell the world in order to stop anyone else having he same bad experience, or sometimes to give the diabolical service provider the opportunity to put it right. (You can see some of the best diabolical service complaints letters that went viral here)

So when something exceptional happens it really stands out. Something exceptional happened this week and I want to tell you about it.

I went for lunch with a friend at the Oxo Tower Brasserie on London’s Southbank. It’s on the 8th floor and has stunning views over the city. It was her birthday.

TG51We had a delicious meal and while we were waiting for coffee something unexpected happened. Our waiter, Marco, arrived at our table with a plate with Happy Birthday written on it in chocolate sauce accompanied with a scoop of ice cream with a candle in it.

My friend thought I had arranged it. (For a fleeting moment I thought of taking the credit, but I had to confess I hadn’t been that thoughtful.)

TG50

I asked Marco how he knew. He said he had overheard us talking when we toasted with our wine earlier and he thought it would be a nice thing to do.

It was more than a nice thing to do. It was awesome.

So a scoop of ice cream with a candle on is no big deal. The big deal was that someone was paying attention to us, understood that it was a special occasion and took the time and effort to do something to make us feel special.

Exceptional service like that is so rare. Yet in a competitive marketplace if you don’t offer exceptional service how do you get your customers to return and recommend you to others? The same applies to your supporters and donors.

It takes a bit of extra effort – but the result was that Marco and the Oxo Tower Brasserie stands out in a crowded marketplace of average experiences.

So thank you Marco for being a brilliant waiter and making our day. You are awesome. We will be back.

*Recent research claims that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations (Source)while only 14% of people trust advertising.  Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber, Wiley Publishing  2007

 

 

There are people dying now, so give me the money

On 31 May, hundreds of fundraisers gathered in London to hear 22 fundraising professionals share which fundraising ideas they wished they had thought of. I was proud to be included in the line up of speakers.

I took some inspiration away from every single presentation. So that’s at least 22 ideas (if I include my own).  Not bad for an afternoons work.

Rebecca Mauger from Red Cross spoke about Live Aid. Now this struck a bit of a chord with me because I really remember Live Aid.

The Christmas before LiveAid, I remember going to WHSmith with my pocket money to buy the 7” single, ‘Do they know its Christmas’ to help victims of the Ethiopian famine. Yes that is physically going into a shop (with my mum), and buying a vinyl record and coming home and playing it non-stop on my parents hi-fi system. Back in 1984 this made me very cool. And I haven’t been very cool since.

At the time it was the UK’s best selling single and raised an estimated £8 million. The point is that it made giving to charity very cool for not just me, but for many people.

I also remember my dad coming home from work being super excited that he had seen Bob Geldof getting on a plane (my dad worked at Heathrow). He rushed off to Boots (yes the pharmacy) to get his film developed (no digital then) and we were delighted several days later (one hour service didn’t exist) to see 24 shots of a small man with big black hair (or possibly a hat) in a white t-shirt getting on a plane in the very far distance (no zoom lens). You might have an app that makes your photos look like this. My dad was, nevertheless proud of ‘meeting’ Bob Geldof, even though he was ‘a bit scruffy’.

Live Aid was a music concert held the following July simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. 58 bands played over 16 hours attended in total by over 170,000 people and the broadcast was watched by two billion people in 160 countries. Oh and they planned and delivered it in 12 weeks. Oh and this was before the internet or email was invented.

In 1985 Live Aid was an entirely new phenomenon for the fundraising world. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

I remember being glued to the telly that day. And I remember Bob Geldof getting all shouty and sweary. Now I know that he was getting frustrated that there wasn’t an urgent enough call to action when he famously said ‘f*** the address! –  there are people dying now, so give me the money.’ You can watch below.

The original fundraising target for LiveAid was £1 million and the final figure raised was about £150 million. Outstanding.

So thank you Rebecca for indulging me on a trip back to when I was cool. But more importantly for reminding us all that with an urgent need, passion, determination, bloody mindedness, a strong ask and sometimes a bit of swearing we can achieve outstanding things.

I love infographics

I love infographics. I love infographics so much that I’ve written a blog about them.

An infographic is short for ‘information graphic’ and is a visual representation of information data or knowledge. They are the perfect tool for presenting complex information quickly and clearly.

How much information do you receive on your average day? For most of us it’s more that our brains can process. As we become increasingly connected through use of mobile and online technology our attention spans are becoming shorter as we try to process increasing amounts of information. As we flit from task pretending ‘multi-task’, the ability to filter information is becoming more and more important.

So the task for anyone getting their message to stand out amongst all the background noise is becoming harder than ever. I think infographics are a good way to grab attention and they tend to be shared widely via digital media. This blog by Mick Dee provides some good examples of how infographics work and some tips for developing your own.

So given what a great tool an infographic is for expressing complex issues in a compelling way and demonstrating impact, I am surprised that more charities are not using them. Infographics can showcase a charities expertise, demonstrate their view in a wider political and social environment or could be a way to thank donors or keep them up to date on progress. They provide visual clues on the cause and can bring a sense of fun where appropriate.

Howard Lake has been collating examples of fundraising infographics here. My favourites include;

Leeds University’s Alumni & Development Team have presented the results of their matched giving campaign in infographic form as a thank you to the donors who gave. It will appear on the back cover of the next donor newsletter. Brilliant.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have some interesting infographics, including an interactive one on it’s campaign to end malaria.

Charity water and eNonprofit Benchmarks Survey are both making good use of infographics to communicate their messages. Click on the links on the images to see in more detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So next time you have a message to get across to donors, supporters, volunteers, staff or the general public, bin the lengthy word document or email, and think if using an infographic will work harder in cutting through the background noise to enable you to get the results that you want.

Here’s to the crazy ones

I surprised myself last week how upset I was when I heard that Steve Jobs had died. It’s been hard to digest all that has been written about Steve in the last week. For me, the 1997 Apple advert The Crazy Ones’ just about sums it up. So I’m sharing it here.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I believe that Steve Jobs was a crazy one. And he changed the world. Thank you Steve.

Will you donate just £1 for my birthday?

So its my birthday, I’m another year older. 38. How has this happened? Seems like only yesterday I was hanging out at Virginia Water Lakes with Stan Gower in my knee socks and sandals.

My priorities have changed a bit over the years. These days I’m a marketers dream; anything that says anti gravity or anti ageing or age defying and I’m there.  Can’t get enough.

This birthday I have to admit that I have been very impressed with the direct marketing I have received. Lots of organisations are helping me celebrate. Facebook Causes are onto me and even Next are offering me £5 off my ‘birthday’ order. This is a big improvement from the birthday direct mail I used to get a few years ago.

From about 1997-2003 I used to get mail from one of those companies that take free ‘glamour’ shots of you in Vaseline edged lenses and then charge you hundreds of pounds for the prints. I think they were featured on Watchdog once.  Every year the letter started, Dear *Harriet, Have you ever wanted to look really beautiful like the models in the magazines…? one year the letter made me cry real tears.

So my point? I’m getting to it. I treat my birthday like many people treat New Year, as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and hatch fresh plans for the future.

So this year I have been thinking about who has inspired me. Who has made an impact on my life. One such person is Simon Berry.

Simon and his partner Jane are the inspiration behind Colalife, a charity that hopes to be able to use Cokes distribution networks to get vital medicines out to rural areas in Africa in order to save lives. Simon and Jane have given up their day jobs and are about to move to Africa to get the Zambia Colalife pilot up and running. Awesome.

So, if you were thinking of buying me a birthday present, and actually even if you weren’t, please can you help Simon and Jane help children who are dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic medicines that you and I take for granted.

Please sponsor the Colalife cyclists Nigel and Bill who are cycling 400 kilometres across Normandy to raise a target of £6,000  to save lives. So help them out.  You can sponsor them here. 

Just £1 will fill an AidPod with simple medicines to help a mother in rural Zambia rehydrate her child and save her child’s life (there are only 70 retail pharmacies in the whole of Zambia – and public clinics can be a 20 kilometre walk from home).

You can also tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter and perhaps some of them will donate £1 too. Or maybe more…….

So together we can help save lives. We don’t need to look beautiful like the models in the magazines. We just need to make a difference. Right now.

That’s all.

*yes according to my passport Harriet is my first name.

Having ideas isn’t the problem. The hard part is making them happen.

I’ve just finished reading Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky; an inspirational book full of practical advice based on real experiences of the challenges and joys of making ideas happen.

 

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” Thomas Edison

As Scott rightly points out, having ideas isn’t the real problem; it’s making them happen. Ideas don’t happen because they are great or by accident. They happen because people make them happen. And there is a formula.

Making ideas happen = Ideas + organisation + communal forces + leadership capability

Organisation This is about managing your energy wisely and prioritising where you will make the most difference. Scott suggests that you approach everything (even personal life)  as a project.  All projects are broken down into;

  • Action steps; specific concrete tasks that move you forward; write blog, call important person, pay electricity bill
  • References; project related information; websites, email trails to refer back to
  • back-burner items; not for now, but someday; idea for a new training course or pitch for a client Organise everything in these three categories to move projects that matter forward.

Communal forces Ideas do not happen in isolation, (also see Stephen Johnson’s Where good ideas come from) you must build your networks, work with the people around you, tap into their energy, ask for their help in building, refining and broadcasting your idea, get their feedback and reciprocate.  This will help your idea gain traction.

“Diversity of opinions and circumstances increases the likelihood of happy accidents” John Maeda FISD President

Leadership This is the ability to inspire others. Your ideas will thrive with you as a creative leader. There are challenges to this; it requires a mindset and a personal resilience to help you overcome obstacles along the way to making your idea happen. Actually taking action or ‘shipping’ as Seth Godin names it in his excellent book Linchpin, is one of the biggest challenges. Having the ability to close down the ‘lizard brain’ that feeds on fear to stop you shipping things and causes you to sabotage your progress by having….. another……. meeting… (sound familiar?) is a skill that leaders must work hard at.

I love this book because there are many practical tips to help you make your ideas happen, my favourite tip is keeping an eye on the backward clock… and also the many stories including the Purple Santas.

Most ideas never happen. I challenge you to defy the odds and work hard to become a person whose ideas happen. If you can do this you will be at a huge advantage.

Stop caring what the other kids think

Last week I happened upon the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. To be honest it’s more like a museum of nostalgia as the core audience seems to be thirtysomethings peering at their old toys in glass cases.

There were some children there too, playing at being giant vegetables in the Food Glorious Food exhibition and acting out their own Punch and Judy stories with the help of Mr and Mrs Punch puppets.

Continue reading

If you are alive and breathing there is still time

On Sunday 13 March I went to a School of Life Sunday Sermon. If singing Eye of the Tiger at 11 o clock on a Sunday morning with a hall full of strangers wasn’t enough, I also got to listen to Sir Ken Robinson talk about passion.

Ken asked us to think about the sequences of past incidents – and people who have had to meet in order for us to be here on this planet. To be born at all is a miracle – so, asks Ken, “what are you going to do with your life?”

Ken Robinson believes that everyone is born with extraordinary capability. The tragedy is that most people have no idea of what they are capable of so therefore don’t think they are capable of doing anything. As a result many people spend their entire lives doing things they don’t care for, plodding along at a life that they have merely a general tolerance for.

It all begins at school. The education system is linear, in that if you are not good at a core subject, for example maths you are thought to not be good generally. Innovation and creativity are stifled and teachers struggle to promote creativity, as they are uncertain of their own creative abilities.

Human beings are imaginative, as Ken puts it “it comes with the kit” Humans are always investigating something new, we are inherently curious about the world.

According to Ken, the secret of a fulfilled life is to find that something that you have passion for as well as a natural talent for. Simply being good at something isn’t a good enough reason to do it – you have to have passion too.

“The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim to low and succeed.” Michelangelo

Ken delighted us with stories from his book ‘The Element’ of people who have found their talent and their passion and made a leap of faith to ensure that they do live a life they love.

Ken urges us all to get inspired to follow our dreams and find our personal passion to live our life. So what you going to do? Answers please.

If you are interested in this post, you may also like to read the following books.

The Element – Ken Robinson

Now Discover your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham

From Good to Great - Jim Collins

Business Beyond the Box -  John O’Keeffe

Linchpin - Seth Godin

Dare to do and notice more

I love living in London.  Even though the tube is dirty and crowded, people don’t talk to each other, its expensive, grubby and the transport system is so ineffective that all it takes is a few snowflakes to bring the entire city to a halt.

I still love it though. There is so much to do. It’s a hub of inspiration if you just take time to explore and notice more.

A few weeks ago I went to The Wellcome Collection High Society. All about drugs. High Society examines the history of drugs from their plant origins, their use as medicines and to today’s international drugs market estimated by the UN to be worth £200 billion a year.

It’s fascinating that very few people live their lives without using some form of mood altering substance, whether its gin, cocaine or a cup of coffee. Drugs are used across the world for recreation, religious, medical, scientific experimental reasons or just pure entertainment. They offer an escape from daily life or an enhanced understanding of what it means to be human. Many are addictive. What is an addiction though? A failure of willpower, a physical disease or a coping strategy for problems beyond the individual’s control?

The perceived wisdom about drugs varies from culture to culture; a Religious sacrament in one culture can be a public health problem in another. There is a close link between social interaction and use of drugs, the fundamental dynamic of a group interacting with a behaviour altering substance draws many parallels, for example a social glass of wine after work, to more formal group rituals as explored in Tribe.

Although most drugs, rightly or wrongly are tested on animals, drugs that alter your consciousness can only be fully described by human subjects and its intriguing that we are still unable to explain why each persons experience is so different.

Our perception of drugs over time have also changed. Opium originated in central Europe and for centuries was the most effective painkiller and main ingredient in many patented medicines. Even compare smoking adverts and health warnings from the 1950s compared to now, the difference is staggering. Santa was a smoker!

The Wellcome Collection is a fascinating place, with a great coffee shop for the caffeine addicts amongst us.

The subject of drugs and addiction is out of my normal frame of reference, discounting drinking too much wine on a weekend. But that was the whole point in going. I don’t know yet what connections this new experience will influence. But I do know that if you want to have good ideas you have to open yourself to more experiences, break existing patterns and dare to notice more.

We know that good ideas come from a series of connections, or hunches over time that combine in new ways. So whether you take drugs to feel, see and notice more or not, I challenge you to make the most of what your environment has to offer. I dare you to get out there and start noticing more today.

If you are interested in how to do and notice more check out the links below

Steven Johnson Where good ideas come from

What If!? Sticky Wisdom

Time Out Guides

Le Cool

Lonely Planet – seize the day

Four ingredients; belief, passion, determination and focus

I love the London Marathon – have you ever been? It’s an amazing day. London is transformed into a hub of positive energy. Everyone is willing the 39,000 runners round the course, its like a big emotionally charged street party, and everyone is invited.

There are some sights to behold too; People who shouldn’t ever be running anywhere are pounding the streets, held together with sticky plasters, knee and ankle supports. There are some ingenious and ridiculous costumes, rhinos, pirates, supermen, emus, people linked together in hand-crafted canoes or as 5 person caterpillars (?!), my personal favourite was a really really tall giraffe cobbled together from toilet rolls and sellotape.

Everyone running has a story, many are running for charities and in honour of friends or relatives. Some of the messages on runners t-shirts are truly inspirational; its as emotional for the spectators taking in all the stories as it is for the runners. This year over 2000 charities benefited from the London Marathon which has raised over £19 million so far on fundraising website JustGiving.com alone…

For me, The London Marathon proves that if we have belief and passion coupled with determination and a focus, we can achieve incredible things. Many people take part in London Marathon and leave determined to achieve other goals, many spectators feel humbled by what they have experienced, and leave with a new vigour to fulfil their personal challenges. When did you last feel like that? When did you last feel inspired to achieve something great?

Just imagine, if we could all hold onto that inspirational London Marathon feeling every day how much more could we achieve?