Tag Archives: friends

It’s all about you

There is often debate about how much contact charities should be making with donors. In a recent blog by Jeff Brooks he highlights that there is no proof that increased contact leads to donor attrition. He notes that too little contact could be detrimental to your fundraising, but the worst thing of all is being irrelevant.

Charities need to focus on the donor. It’s all about the charity providing the donor with the opportunity to change the world and feel valued in a way that is relevant to them. From the style of the copy, to the key message, to the choice of images, to the channel of communication, it’s all about them.

My question is; can we compare our fundraising communications to other sectors, for example clothes retail, restaurants or mobile phone providers? I think we can.

A couple of weeks ago I was doing some work with the direct mail fundraising team; considering how we make our donors feel special, important and loved. We did some work reflecting on our own experiences and considered what organisations (if any!) had made us feel valued or special lately.

We came up with a good list that included, Eagle Cabs, a dentist, Bupa and Virgin (?). My example was Boden, which I will share with you here.

Johnnie Boden has been writing to me for a few years now. I don’t remember asking him, or when he first embarked on his correspondence with me, but he writes to me a lot. In fact I get more post from Johnnie Boden than anyone else. I have to say his overly friendly chirpy marketing copy does grate on my nerves a bit. However, somewhat ashamedly I admit, I am a Boden customer.

The reason this example was so relevant to the question about communication being all about the donor is that Johnnie Bodens latest autumn catalogue was all about me.  The centre text reads, ‘I owe Lucy everything’  as well as other references to ‘Lucy’. I think this is brilliant. There were even personalised stickers so I could mark what I wanted.

But while I’m on the topic, it’s not just the personalised catalogue that makes Boden stand out. Johnnie Bodens customer service is excellent too. A few months ago I complained about a scarf because all the bobbles fell off it. I emailed customer service and I received a real email back from a real person the same day. They sent me a new scarf and a freepost envelope to return the bobbleless one in. All within a couple of days. Impressive.

So what can fundraisers learn from Johnnie Boden? Here is my list.

  • Personal; great personalization of materials – see the example above
  • Frequent; I must get something monthly at least. It doesn’t put me off. It probably helps me buy more.
  • Offers; I get an incentive with every catalogue. I’m sure every single other customer does too. But I feel special.
  • Customer service; It’s good. Real people answer emails and take action. Refer to the scarf story above.
  • Targeted; Johnnie Boden sends me stuff I’m interested in. He segments his data well. I check in with my other target audience friends and we receive different creative and offers. Sometimes we get a bit jealous of each other’s Boden relationship.  (I acknowledge that could be perceived as sad on our part)
  • New; the catalogues always have some new lines.
  • Topical; The Royal wedding edition catalogue contained make your own cut-out bunting and Royal wedding bingo game. Other catalogues refer to recent events or seasons.

So, whether you are in the market for a brightly coloured rain mac or not; don’t just take my word for it, Test the Boden theory, or another company that makes you feel special. Ask yourself what is it that they do. Then try to recreate that special feeling for your donors.

More from the catalogue below.

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.

Stop press – a great customer experience story

I always complain if I receive rubbish service (so most days), and when I have a great customer service experience I shout it from the rooftops. Partly because it’s so rare and partly because I want to share that providing great service may take a bit more thought and effort, but it’s not actually that difficult.

On Thursday I went for dinner with my friend Katie, the brief was budget. She turned up with a 2 for 1 voucher because her mum had bought a special offer pizza in Sainsbury’s last week. Always sticks to the brief does Katie.

So we rocked up, well more like waded up in the torrential rain and joined the queue of drowned rats at the door. The restaurant was packed but within a few seconds the waitress said hi, and advised us we would have a 15 min wait, was that OK? We had a lot to chat about and didn’t want to back outside in the rain so decided to stay. She offered us a four person table, but we offered it up to the four people behind us as a two table would only be another 10 minute wait.

Once seated our waiter gave us each a glass of wine on the house as we had to wait and for offering up the four person table. Wow – free wine?! Great stuff.

Once we got over the shock, we took a moment to look around this transformed Pizza Express. The interior had been given a makeover, bright colours and stripey walls, funky chairs and sofas and one wall was a big screen playing an unidentified black and white film. It didn’t feel like we were in a Pizza Express.

Our waiter was great, attentive, but not pushy and he was actually excited to tell us about the different pizza bases and pointed out that he should know, as he was half Italian.

The staff had new uniforms, rather cool blue t-shirts with a fluorescent re-branded logo although the chefs were looking a bit jailbreak their striped outfits that matched the walls.

Our food was good. The menu had been given a refresh too and there were more charity partnership offers than before. We sampled the new Baileys latte (it would be rude not to), and I fully recommend.

The restaurant was busy but we didn’t feel rushed. When we wanted the bill the waiter was there, no Mexican waves or pretending to walk out to get their attention required, which in the norm in my recent experience. Our meal was on brief and cheap as chips, in fact it may only have been cheaper if indeed, we had eaten chips.

Then we were given feedback invitation cards and asked to give feedback online if we had had a good time, and also if we hadn’t. I have done this and am now expectantly waiting for my £500 Pizza Express card, but in the meantime happy with my dough balls voucher. (although I would have given feedback without an incentive)

On leaving a waitress that we hadn’t even spoken to smiled and said thanks and she sounded like she actually meant it too. And THEN the waitress on the door apologised for the wait again.

We left the restaurant reeling in shock at this unexpected great experience.

We all bang on about the customer experience and donor journey, but I’m not convinced many organisations are actually doing it.  So well done Pizza Express you have done a great job. You have transformed from average high street pizza chain to providing customers with a remarkable pizza eating experience. I think its fair to say that your pizzas went a bit small for a while and I am still not sure about the ‘diet’ pizza with a hole in the middle but based on this recent experience I’ll let you off. I think you are back on track.

So team what can we learn from Pizza Express? Is it as simple as a bit of a brand refresh, lick of paint, some customer service training combined with getting the right people on the bus in the first place?

It feels that Pizza Express have really worked at cross selling their products with simple supermarket incentives, integrating online and offline messages, providing customer incentives to return, providing great product, actively seeking feedback, providing superb in restaurant service and excellent value for money.

But don’t just take my word for it – go hang out in Pizza Express or anywhere else that provides good service and watch and learn.  And then go do it yourself.

I’m still reeling in shock and thinking I should probably go to the gym today to offset the anticipated voucher.

Gotta Share

There is no doubt that social media enables us all to share what we are doing, thinking and feeling like never before. There are great opportunities for organisations to tap into the insights and conversations that customers and potential customers are sharing online.

As highlighted in previous posts, I’m trying to make sense of the world of social media, hoping to navigate through it and establish some common etiquette. Recently I was out with two friends who seemed to spend a lot of time updating various statuses that they were out in a bar having dinner and drinking wine. I felt a bit bemused at all the time spent frantically texting, tagging and updating that detracted from the real life chat we were having.

It made me wonder if we are spending too much time ‘sharing’ at the expense of real life experiences.

Often we know what our friends are up to because their status tells us; on the one hand this is a great way of being connected, on the other if you spend your real life time updating that you are “Having a great time with blah at ‘name drop’ cool place” then I’m not so sure its such a great idea.

I would like to question people’s motivation for sharing; is it a competition as to who can be tagged in the coolest places with the sexiest people? Or is it about proving your wit and intelligence? Or is it for a sympathy vote and attention? Or is it a combination of all of the above? Who are your status updates for? Yourself? Your friends? Your enemies?

If you are in real life having a real life experience, does posting something to tell everyone detract from that experience or does it enhance it?

Personally, my view is if you are having a conversation in real life, unless it’s a life or death situation I think it’s rude to be on your phone updating, surfing the net or whatever. Your focus should be on the present.

I found this brilliant piece on YouTube which to some extent sums it up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on Facebook and I love Twitter – a lot. I learn lots, ask for help and information and in turn hope that I provide useful tweets to the people who follow me.

My point is that sharing the moment on social media should not be at the expense of experiencing and sharing a real life moment.

I’d be interested to know what you think….

Today has been a bad day for customer service

Dear Richard,

Despite your entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, I have had a decidedly below par experience of the Virgin brand this week.

Firstly, I have had to travel on Virgin trains a lot. And they are crap. They are crap because there are not enough luggage racks – on a long journey most people have overnight bags. Did no one think of this when they were designing your trains? While I’m on the subject, why put the luggage racks in the middle of the train?  It causes a bottleneck and panic as people scrabble to get off the train with their luggage.  The overhead racks are barely big enough to post a sandwich in. The trains are cramped, mostly because the aisles are cluttered with overnight bags, they are hot and stuffy and my carriage smelt vaguely of vomit. A shambles.

I’m only mentioning Virgin trains this now as I am freshly incensed by your brand today and the problems I’ve had with my internet connection.

In the last 24 hours I have spent over three hours on the phone to various Welsh people in a Virgin call centre. I’m sorry but life is too short for this.

At first I dialled the customer service number full of hope and optimism. My heart sank as an overly chipper automated person answered and asked me to key in my home telephone number ‘so that we can deal with your call more quickly’.

This initiated a multilevel filtering system, ‘to help us help you more quickly’. At some point in the process a helpful automated person suggested that I might want to go online to get help. Given that m I’m calling because my internet is not working, the offer just makes me more irritable. Which by this point is about 8 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very irritated indeed.

Finally, I get through to a real person who asks for my telephone number again and then puts me on hold because I need to speak to a the ‘national team’ whatever that means.  At this point I get the option of choosing my answer phone music. Presumably Virgin are aware that if you have got to this stage of so near but yet so far, that you might deserve some choice in how you would like your brain numbed. I zoned out after the pop and classical options and decide to stick with whatever genre I had been defaulted to for fear than any interference would prolong my wait time.

To be fair the various Welsh people who I conversed with were pleasant enough, if not somewhat patronising. I did resent having to tell my story afresh to each different individual. I also hate being called Madam as anyone who knows me knows – but today worse than called madam was being called Mrs Gower – that’s my mum.

So the helpful patronising Welsh person insisted that to test the service I have to remove the base of the phone socket to plug the phone line into a different socket. The last time someone tampered with these screws on the socket was probably about 1980 – so they are welded on. So there I am, wedged between the sofa and the wall face down trying to leverage the welded in screws with the helpful person at the end of the phone on speaker enquiring if perhaps I have any friends who can help, in a tinny voice laced with a level of irritation to match my own.

Eventually I got the screws off the wall. But I had to call back and navigate once more through the multi layer system. It’s apparently not possible to have a number to the right team, surely that would be helping me more quickly than me giving my phone number to every new person I speak to?

Anyway the outcome is that the internet works a bit, but like the internet worked in 1994. Slowly. Virgin say it’s the router and the router says its Virgin and I am now also broken with a fried brain from overexposure to hold music not of my own choosing.

This blog is like therapy. If I manage to post it and you are reading this – you are experiencing a miracle.

So I’m struggling to find a positive outcome, the only silver lining is in an attempt to find internet I discovered a great local café that has not only internet but excellent coffee and the best Chelsea buns I’ve ever tasted.

So whilst this letter isn’t a patch on this letter, I do want to highlight to Virgin and any other customer facing organisation some advice to keep customers happy.

  • Care about your customer
  • Employ real people
  • Answer the phone
  • Listen to people and record the conversation so they don’t have to keep telling their story
  • Don’t call me Mrs or Madam

Rant over. Thank you for listening.

A story of fish and focus

Imagine the scene, a small Mediterranean island, miles of beautiful beaches, warm sunshine, fragrant olive groves and a scattering of tavernas serving local, fresh food and wine.

A businessman on holiday strolls along the port and is fascinated by a fishermen hauling in his catch.

Noting the quality of the fish, the businessman asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
 “Not very long.” answered the fisherman.

“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the businessman.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
 The businessman asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
 “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have a nap in the afternoon under a palm tree. In the evenings, I see my friends and family, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.

The businessman ventured, “I can help you…… If you fished longer every day, you could sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you could buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you could buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You could then leave this little island and move to a city, from where you could direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.

“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the businessman.

“And after that?” asked the fisherman.

“After that? “When your business gets really big,’ replied the businessman “you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small island, sleep in late every day, spend time with your friends and family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a palm tree……”

I love this story. Sometimes, on the treadmill of daily life its easy to lose sight of the important stuff. The stuff that doesn’t really matter like the latest Apple gadget, expensive fashions, a bigger house or a bigger boat.

Are you swept along by what you think others think and expect of you? Or are you doing what you are passionate about and enjoy? Take a deep breath and think about what is important. Now focus on achieving that.

If you like this you might also like

Fish! – Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen, Ken Blanchard

The Fred Factor – Mark Sanborn

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

The Four Hour Working Week – Tim Ferris 

A brief guide to social media friendship etiquette

When Tim Berners Lee invented the world-wide web in 1990 I don’t think he, or any of us could predict the huge changes it would make to the way we communicate and live our lives. The internet has shifted the basis of some fundamental relationships. With the growth of online social networking what does it even mean to be a ‘friend’? Personally I’m a bit confused.

The dictionary defines a friend as

• A person you know well and like, and who is not usually a member of your family

• A person you know, like and trust

• A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade

• One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

So when someone you don’t know declares their friendship online, what do you do? It’s not very friendly to ignore or reject someone, but then again is it ok to assume a level of intimacy by asking a stranger for friendship in the first place?

So to help me navigate round the world of online friendship I’ve set some basic friendship criteria.

Twitter

Twitter is a bit of a free for all, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. However, just because you are following someone on Twitter doesn’t make you friends. It’s the online equivalent of living in the same town, you have some common interest and Twitter is just a mechanism to allow you to more easily know about people doing the same stuff.

If, on Twitter, we chat, share links, share ideas and build some rapport we could be heading into friendship territory. We may even meet face to face, either at an organised Tweetup or networking events or a 1:1 meeting. For example great to connect with @commutiny recently and @ycharity at the Institute of Fundraising’s First Thursday last week. So once there is some specific contact we could be in a position to be ‘friends’ on Linkedin.

Linkedin

This is a professional network, so linking to people in your industry, people with shared professional interests including headhunters and job seekers. I love Linkedin, but just because you work in the same industry as someone you can’t assume you are ‘friends’. Sending a generic introduction ‘indicating you are friends’ if you are not – is not OK. If you work in the same org/industry and want to link to someone then that’s great, but put a line in your introduction, like ‘ I saw we are on the same group, work for xxx company and it would be good to talk about a project I am working on’ – or similar.

Declaring friendship with someone you do not know is the equivalent of rocking up to a stranger at a business conference and treating them with the intimacy of a long-lost friendship with a big hug and kisses an a reference to weight gained/lost. If you have not established any relationship before it feels uncomfortable and frankly weird.

Facebook

Now onto Facebook; a lot of organisations use Facebook as a corporate site and a lot of companies are doing a really good job of building communities of loyal customers, engaging them with product development, getting feedback and gaining insight.

However, I use Facebook to link with my friends. Real life people who I know. Facebook is great for sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends overseas, finding long-lost friends and stalking ex’s (apparently).

Seriously, you have to know me to be friends. Just because we went to the same school 20 years ago don’t assume friendship, and if it’s a bit of a tentative connection give an explanation when you invite me to be your friend.


My Facebook rule is ‘If they turned up at my house on a Sunday afternoon would I invite them in for a cup of tea?. If the answer is yes, then we can be Facebook friends.

If you are using Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook to build communities, donor or customer relationships, have a think about friendship etiquette. This is especially important for communicating with those born before 1990, because it’s a new skill. They didn’t grow up with the internet. Before you send a friend request take a moment to consider how the person you are befriending will feel about your request, it may be that there is a better way of communicating with them to get the result you want.

I’m not saying my view is gospel, but it’s helping me navigate in a way that feels right for me and importantly does not dilute the importance and meaning of offline friendships.

What do you think?

What innovation isn’t

Innovation, in my opinion is an overused term. People often seem to bung innovation in a sentence if they want to make something sound good but are too lazy to think properly about what they actually mean. A bit of a catch-all term that is so overused it loses its’ meaning.

My best example of innovation overuse was on a cheese, ham and pickle sandwich – an innovation from National Rail catering. Apparently.

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts” Larry Ellison

Last week I was explaining innovation to some friends. Turns out it was much easier to explain what innovation isn’t than what innovation is. Here is the list.

Innovation isn’t

1. A lone genius. Einstein practically had a fail factory, with teams testing different ideas. Innovation is about a series of previously unconnected connections and collaboration.

2. A cyber city of geeks ‘doing’ techy stuff we’ve never heard of.  Technology is an enabler of innovation, but not all innovation is about new technology.

3. About lime green bean bags or slides to the coffee machine. I say no more.

4. About being crazy or wearing wacky glasses.  All humans are creative. It makes us human. You don’t have to be wacky glasses to have breakthrough ideas.

5. Group hugs. If you just want a group hug, don’t disguise it as innovation. Just check out these guys.

6. Brand new stuff. Innovation can be a new approach, adaptions or a combination of existing stuff to produce something new. Think about the invention of the printing press, combining type setting and wine pressing.

7. All glamour. The world-wide web was invented to share scientific documents. Absolutely nothing glamorous about that.

8. Just for organisations with big budgets.  It costs nothing to take a creative approach to life. Yes you need to practice and there are lots of free resources to help you.

10. Power.  It’s not battle of the egos, it’s about leadership. It’s about encouraging individuals and organisations to think and work differently.

11.  Irrelevant.  If organisations do not adapt to changing markets and customers needs they will die. Innovation is essential.

12. About stupid silly names, iteration or misspelling to be ‘cool’.

13. Google. Lets get this clear, Google are a great example of an innovation culture, fuelled by great leadership and the opportunity to develop new products in an emerging market. Innovation is not just about Google per say.

14. Instant success.  Back to point one and Einstein in his failure factory.  You got to try and fail and learn and try and fail and learn. Pack for a long journey.

15. A blueprint in a box. You can’t just follow the instructions and it will work. You have to find the best way to innovate for you and your organisation.

What else isn’t innovation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tune in next time for more on what innovation is…

My Groupon story…….”But they still whip up an amazing fish curry”

From half price pedicures to cheap jive lessons to exclusive restaurant deals, Groupon offers you daily deals in your local area. The deal only activates if enough people sign up, encouraging customers to promote the deals and the collective buying power guarantees the merchant a minimum amount of business. Groupon keeps half the money and the merchant gets the rest.

Groupon has been applauded for making this innovative business model work. On the face of it, it sounds like a win-win arrangement. The customer gets cheap stuff and the merchant gets increased sales and profile of their product.

However scratch under the surface and Groupon doesnt always provide the best experience for the consumer or the merchant.

Let me tell you my Groupon story….

My friend bought some Groupon vouchers for a fish pedicure as a Christmas present at Pasha Clinic in London. After a month of phoning an engaged line and sending regular emails into the ether in an attempt to redeem the vouchers before they expired, my friend was getting somewhat agitated.

The customer service team at Groupon who claim on the website that “Nothing is more important to us than treating our customers well.” Suggested she just keep trying.

Eventually, after six weeks she got through and had a rather heated conversation with Pasha Clinic who didn’t have any weekend availability before the voucher ran out. They did offer up a weekday lunchtime. Although she then added that if we had paid full price they could have found us an appointment. My friend ended up putting the phone down on the less than satisfactory response from Pasha Clinic. Then she received this email. I kid you not.

“you are extremely rude. i cancelled your name from our system.  you failed to provide proper details of your voucher and still blaming us on being late. You should be saying sorry for taking our time with your incopitance to provide basic voucher detail. you have no telephone manner at all.  it is sad that you live in the most civilised country but have no idea about being civilised.
you bougth a £9 worth treatment and vaiting to be treated like a queen. looser. now forward my mail to geoupon  so make sure you dont come back.”

Priceless.

Groupon were very apologetic about the above email and have given my friend Groupon credit for the vouchers. Presumably so she can waste another six weeks of her life chasing another great value deal. Bet she can’t wait.

I’ve got several points to make,

1. Firstly the customer service of Pasha Clinic is so terrible it’s practically comedy. Pasha Clinic I wont ever use you – even though your website looks quite good.

2. I’m sure that Pasha Clinic are not the only company to have been inundated by customers. (I understand that one coffee shop in Portland  was swamped with a stampede of over 1000 customers on the first day.) However, Groupon officials state that ‘deal’ subscriptions should be capped in advance to a reasonable number to deal with this situation.

3. Companies need to consider carefully what a Groupon deal means to their business; can they cope with the increased business, are the terms and conditions on the deal right, are they sure they are not actually driving themselves into bankruptcy?

4. However much of a mess merchants get themselves into there is no excuse for poor customer service and the above email.

5. The weather is getting warmer and my trotters are not up to scratch. And you know how important good trotters are to a lady.

I’d love to know if you have had a good or bad Groupon experience.

If you are interested in the Groupon phenomenon, Bob Phibbs the retail doctor has quite a lot to say on the matter too.

P.S. And while we are on the subject, Groupon recently made an ‘interesting’ Superbowl advert in which actor Timothy Hutton begins by making a plea for the people of Tibet before delivering the punch line: “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry” Groupon have apologized and the ad has been withdrawn but you can watch it here.

 

 

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