James and Peter listening to an engineer

Understanding people better so that we can make more informed decisions

I was going to title this article, “you don’t know what you’re missing, start listening”. The theme being, by listening, finding out about the other person, we can enjoy life, learn so much more. And indeed that is my point. But it’s been made before. And I think to keep you reading, I’ve got some new ideas to share on problems in this area. Let me start with a story. A cleaner, known to many of us at a local sports club, happened to be chatting to my friend. She “unloaded” only because my friend took the time to stop and ask her about her family, and life. She told my friend that the food in the club was good but said, “I do special food. I did special food in my restaurant.” She proceeded to explain how she ran a successful business abroad, before she had to give it up and flee to England to escape her partner who was violent. Nobody else ever knew this. Or of her talent. Why not? Nobody had ever asked. Do you ever ask people or like me do you sometimes, conversely, come away from a conversation and kick yourself thinking: I missed an opportunity? In other words, just take time to listen and empathise. In most cases people never really find out about this lady at our sports club. I suggest we have opportunities to inspect, respect and appreciate. Understanding people better so that we can make more informed decisions. Listen, find out about people, it’s enjoyable, informative and opens opportunities.

You

I suggest if you can focus your conversations on the person you are talking to it’s a win-win. You get more from the experiences. People “like” you, share more, and…it’s fun! Go into meetings and conversations thinking it’s about “them” or “you”, not “me”. Specifically, why?

  • Everyone wants to talk about themselves
  • You find out all kinds of things
  • People like you for it
  • In business you find out more
  • In social situations, the people who don’t reciprocate, you can avoid!

Understanding people better helps me make more informed decisions. But does this normally happen? If you pass people walking past you talking in the street, or overhear people in a restaurant or at networking event, how often is a person actively probing another about what they do? I’d suggest it is normally an information dump. The word “passion” pops up frequently. If it translates into a really happy enthusiastic, charismatic person, that’s great.

See, Hear, Engage and Feel

Thinking about how you communicate and others do with you is surely essential for work, and any situation for  wider happiness. A useful way to plan ahead and recall what happens is the acronym SHEF: see, hear, engage and feel. This is not just amateur psychology or applying a smattering of NLP – neuro linguistic programming – which is cognitive appreciation of how people understand the world. Why it works for me:

  1. Because having to recall what you see, hear and feel in a meeting forces you to notice.
  2. You stop talking and start watching, hearing and better understanding your client.
  3. You give yourself a chance to engage unlike constantly talking.
  4. You need to pose appropriate, meaningful, good questions to make the process work.

More on this in my article an engaging model for marketing here.

Asking Questions

Rudyard Kipling put it best,

I KEEP six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

the full poem is here

And on the same theme, The 5 Whys: is a technique used in the Analyse phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) methodology. … By repeatedly asking the question “Why” (five is a good rule of thumb), you can peel away the layers of symptoms which can lead to the root cause of a problem. Or just keep it very simple in any given situation. Until you are satisfied with an answer, just keep asking “why”!! There are various templates for this, I like the simplest one – see here Where you keep working backwards to find the root cause. Or across a whole project you can use this. You can adopt this approach in conversation and achieve a lot. Clearly taken to excess it is pretty irritating!

Decisions

I was intrigued recently watching BBC 2 Horizon on How You Really Make Decisions. It featured the work of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman, who wrote the book Fast and Slow Thinking. Both are well worth seeing and reading. What they contend in fact prove is that we have two modes of thinking: 1″ is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. He showed it is more difficult than one might imagine to stop relying and using our fast thinking. Decisions are what make us who we are. And better decisions can only be good. We can’t go against our biological make-up but we can understand, it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking about me, and seeing the world through our prejudices.  Understanding people better so that we can make more informed decisions. Listen, find out about people, it’s enjoyable, informative and opens opportunities.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Dorset-Dolphins-Group-Photo

Realise your Passion

Some of the hundreds of charities, social enterprises and projects we help at Dorset Community Foundation where Peter is a Trustee. Including Dorset Dolpins visually impaired mixed cricket team.

Summary

How do you win in work and play to realise your passion? It’s why we work. Instinct in sport, leisure and work is to resort to obvious emotion to deliver our “best” fast. However, what is the best way to win people over? Be it to pitching money for a business, closing a sale, to run a project properly? Or just ensure your partner or children understands your big idea? And why is it, that so often what is in your head, or your company’s office seems impossible to move into the mind of the recipient? So here are some ideas on how to realise your passion, your ideas, dream or practical projects based on specific techniques and years of experience.

The Problem

Your idea is great. So find someone who needs it, tell them about it and then they should want it, right? But it doesn’t work like that. Why? First you probably don’t get in front of who you want to speak to. This is known as the persona, more on that here. Then it gets lost in translation. At Dorset Business Angels, we often find the pitches we expect to be the best are not and vice versa. I wrote about this in our other article recently How to win people over an engaging model for marketing view it here. Where we introduced a model of marketing recognising that people See, they Hear, they Engage, they feel in other words, they are alert to the other person. This can be taught, and it can be modelled for marketing.

See Hear Engage Feel

This is not just amateur psychology or applying a smattering of NLP – neuro linguistic programming – which is cognitive appreciation of how people understand the world. It is a different way of approaching project management and problem solving. Plus, there are other issues. Why be better at these engagement skills? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Because having to recall what you see, hear and feel in a meeting forces you to notice.
  2. You stop talking and start watching, hearing and better understanding your client.
  3. You give yourself a chance to engage when constantly talking.
  4. You need to pose appropriate, meaningful, good questions to make the process work.

Vision, Mission Statements and Strategy

It’s critical to have a game-plan. In sport when going into a meeting or with a sales pitch or anything. You need to be crystal clear about what you intend to do. That means having a strategy. To do that you check-out or review the situation, look at competitors, see how you fair against them and do a SWOT (part of marketing plans). You need to have a clear vision on where you see yourself as an organisation and what is your purpose now. And what makes you better, cheaper or different now. In other words what are your USPs which ideally you should be able to articulate in an elevator pitch in a couple of minutes. Here is a simple outline of all of this. Here is how to do an elevator pitch. And here is how to make sure you have your Vision and Mission in shape.

Multi-Diagnostic in Depth Problem Solving

I hear investors say, great pitches are about people and passion, not necessarily the idea. I also hear time and again from top project management gurus, 90% of project management is about people. Too often there is little integration of team and leadership training into project management work. The advent of agile practices “sort of” helps a little here, by introducing flexibility into projects, allowing customers involvement earlier on and iteratively in the process.

What we recommend and do, that is different in kind is this. Two things. First recognise the importance, brilliance and fallibility of people including you and me. Build this into how we target, brief, project plan and implement our marketing, using human resources top level industry agile expertise. Secondly depth of expertise, simply put, years and lots of experience in different scenarios.

The result you ideally want is a model where you build partnerships with people, personally and in work: these are more fun, rewarding and lasting. Plus of course you can realise your passion.

The Link Between Quality of Relationship and Type of Activity

Infographic – Steve Barker

Implementation

So whether you are implementing a partnership approach, which Steve Barker and I recommend as most satisfying when working with customers, or trying to realise your passion, you need an effective way to make it happen, to ENGAGE and implement. When you look forward or you recall results, a simple model of see, hear, engage and feel enables you to plan or remember simply. It’s a checklist for strategy and planning at both a top level and a tactical level. It answers the question for me of how do you win in work and play to realise your passion. Good customer communications, and communications is about “you” not “me”.

Peter – with inspiration and help from business partner Steve Barker see Steve Barker

Contact us if you have any questions

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM

Founder Director Dorset Business Angels

MD o i solutions limited

Dorset Community Foundation

Why a Community Foundation is the best charity to give your funds to the most needy

I’m lucky, I get ideas from new start-ups, from leading edge marketers and from passionate creative people. How? the first is Dorset Business Angels – a kind of Dragons Den. The second, the CIM, Chartered Institute of Marketing. And then Dorset Community Foundation, DCF, which this article is about. I’d also mention the Global Peter Drucker Forum, Nick Hixson at Hixsons Business Enablers, attends each year, the world’s leading management forum. I watch every minute of that. Back to DCF…. In a sentence, DCF raises funding from philanthropically minded people and organisations then directs them into thousands of the most needy charities and community projects across Dorset. When people speak to me about “funding” with my DBA angels hat on or as a marketer, I often find it is DCF that has a possible answer: a potential grant, or charity who may be able to help. Most counties have a Community Foundation, which is the best charity to give your funds to the most needy, with its knowledge of local charities, social enterprises and its audit capabilities. A fund can be a “flow through” which is distributed or you can set up and endowment to function over a longer period of time. Here are some of the many organisations DCF supports – see case studies.

Why do People Set-up A Charity?

I want to look at directing money to needy causes. Which creating a fund at DCF can achieve. However some people driven by do something in this kind of situation, set up a charity. “Do good, have fun, and money will come” says Richard Branson. More emotional motivation for creating a charity or fundraising is bereavement, injustice or an experience affecting family, friends or people close to you. Charities, are rightly highly regulated. And if you are thinking of setting-up a charity, here are some useful steps from the Gov.uk website:

  1. Step 1: decide if a charity is the right option
  2. Step 2: decide on your charity’s purpose
  3. Step 3: choose a charity structure
  4. Step 4: write a governing document
  5. Step 5: choose a name
  6. Step 6: find trustees
  7. Step 7: fund your charity’s work

For more visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-set-up-a-charity-cc21a

What sets DCF and Community Foundations Apart – USPs

Create Your Own Charitable Trust of Fund

It may be better to set up a fund. Not always. Otherwise some of the greatest charities including local charities I try and support such as Forest Holme and Lewis Manning cancer hospices, would not have started. At DCF, philanthropists look to us to invest their money into the most needy causes locally, that fit their passions, interests and what they believe is important. They take a varying level of control from hands-off – leaving it to our expert Grants Manager and panels to allocate grants – to being more involved on a case by case situation. In both scenarios, DCF will audit organisations before and after any funding.

Audit Capability

A community foundation team will audit a charity, social enterprise or person before distributing funds. In the case of an organisation for example, typical audit issues to consider can include:

  • Organisation sustainability
  • Project viability
  • Review accounts
  • Their unrestricted funds
  • Constitution
  • Aims and Objectives
  • Governance

This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you an idea. See my article on 5 Tips for Grant Fund Applications.

Grants

Most of our grants we award are between £1,000 – £5,000 and we support voluntary and grassroots organisations that are well-placed to identify and address local needs. Our awards to individuals support young people to develop and improve their life chances, and also provide grants to support older people in fuel poverty. Whether you are looking for funding for an organisation or an individual you will be asked to submit an application form and your application will be assessed and decisions about funding made by a grants panel. Grants Map for Dorset – 2016-2017 . More on DCF website here.

Channel to thousands of charities and social enterprises

UK Community Foundation made £77m grants last year, with £580m endowment amongst its 46 community foundations, of which DCF is one. In the last financial year, 2016-17, DCF distributed £149,055 to 181 local groups and individuals. Over the years DCF has given funding to thousands of people and organisations. The sum has been higher in some previous years, we are aiming to increase this in future years, to around £250K, working with local philanthropists and organisations.

Signposting Charities and Social Enterprises

What charities are there out there? Who does what and for whom? How viable is a charity? Is it better to give your next pound to x or y charity? And even in the same charity sector, who is going to do the better job? Well… a community foundation can help answer these questions. I first came across community foundations when we offered charity donations to customers for returned printer cartridges, in an office supplies business we ran a few years ago. When people did not have a particular charity, a friend of mine said, “tell them to default to their community foundation, they are the “charity of charities who funnel money to the best local deserving charity and social enterprises and audit the outcomes” “. It is still, probably the most succinct and clear description of a community foundation!

The Best Value Channel for Donors Unsure Who to Fund Locally

Community Foundations are best in my mind if you:

  • Are unsure who to fund
  • Want to make sure a fair amount is allocated to staff costs and the maximum to the charitable outcomes
  • Have not got the skill or time to do a personal audit on each specific charity
  • Want to make sure your money is allocated locally
  • You want to direct funding based on your specific criteria – note this may not be possible if you are making small donations, we all have to be reasonable! A £5 donation is not the same as setting up a fund for several thousand or an endowment.

Summary

I like the flexibility of Dorset Community Foundation and community foundations. It does not stop me from helping other charities. Just like at Dorset Business Angels where I will get involved with specific projects. Or CIM where I have clients we do marketing work for. So remember most counties have a Community Foundation, which is the best charity to give your funds to the most needy, with its knowledge of local charities, social enterprises and its audit function. A community foundation is not about raising very small sums i.e. £1 or £5 but best to create a fund which will make a difference. It’s pretty straightforward. A fund can be a “flow through” which is distributed or you can set up and endowment over a longer period of time.

I am a Trustee Board Member of Dorset Community Foundation

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Agreeing funding

5 Tips for Grant Fund Applications

I am a Trustee Board member for Dorset Community Foundation (DCF), we fund community groups and charities. DCF support Dorset based charities and individuals through grants and bursaries. The funding we distribute is on the behalf of individuals, companies, funding partners, trusts or from our own Dorset Fund. I see many people pitching for funds at Dorset Business Angels, which is different from Dorset Community Foundation. But there are some similar demands on the applicant, I will cover later. First, let me give 5 tips for grant fund applications based on talking to our Grants Manager at DCF. Here are useful web links, one to the DCF website on  Apply for a Grant  and another from Dorset Community Action (DCA), a Dorset voluntary organisation that gives funding advice here.

1. Impact and Outcomes

As part of our grant making strategy, we not only support smaller organisations that carry out vital work, but we also ensure funded projects are:

  • Sustainable – grant manager recognise the challenge in the current economic climate of achieving genuine longer term sustainability. However, they will be looking for a project to show genuine viability, not over-reliance on a grant.
  • Good value for money
  • Support the maximum number of beneficiaries possible
  • Monitored and audited to deliver as per project proposal

Dorset Community Foundation are currently in the process of reviewing our impact and outcomes assessment in order to ensure that we provide compelling evidence of the impact of donor/fund holder investment in local community development. Read more on DCF website here.

2. Evidencing the need

  1. What statistical information do you have showing proof?
  2. What has happened, examples, situation and numbers relevant to your submission and the criteria.

In the case of our Neighbourhood Fund you can see some of the needs and challenges clearly listed on this page.

3. Give detailed Costing

DCF has various funds and grants. Our website summarises the Grants we offer here. Specific grants have criteria which will ask you to list costs associated with the application. Historic accuracy, proof, and the ability to audit in future are important. Our audit function is one of the reasons we are given funds by organisations and partners such as Comic Relief, The Dorset Authorities and commercial organisations, as well as from high net worth friends. They trust and rely on us to check on applications and then audit in future that money has been well invested.

4. Do you fit the Funding Criteria?

If you fit the funding criteria that’s good. If not, don’t waste your time. If you think you fit the criteria, there is a skill to writing a good application. Help the funder, by answering the questions. Most funders get a lot of pages to read. Be clear and specific. Like any test or exam (not trying to scare you here!) the trick is to “read” the form or guidance notes carefully. Here for example are the Bursary Scheme Guidance notes view here (this round closed September 2016).

5. Send in all the Documents

This may seem obvious, but make sure you have sent in all the document and forms that need to be filled in. You will probably have heard of tenders where they are very strict and non-compliance in any shape or form, means you are not considered. DCF always tries to be helpful, but do check.

Conclusion

I mentioned to start this article on 5 tips for grant fund applications, that there are similarities with Dragons Den style fund raising at Dorset Business Angels. I would point to a couple. One is research the funding organisation thoroughly. If you understand DCF, how it works, funds, who it funds and the specific fund, and grant involved, this can only help you. Why you? This is important. In business and in all walks of life, there is ever increasing competition. A panel will probably end up reviewing your application alongside others. If you were pitching on Dragon’s Den, what would be your Elevator Pitch? Your one paragraph story? And your 3 or 4 USPs – your Unique Selling Propositions?

However, a word of warning. Do not, start inserting unnecessary information that the Grants Manager will find annoying! It is likely any funding organisation will have to say “no” to some applications. You will be competing for funding. How will the funding make a difference, the impact in measurable terms? If you are applying for the right grant, you should be able to prove your story.

Apply for a Grant at Dorset Community Foundation here

Peter

Business angel investing by two successful angel entrepreneurs Peter Cowley and Don McQueen

Peter Cowley Don Conference
Peter Cowley Don McQueen

The angel network chairmen and successful angel investors shared tips on what to do for successful angel investing at our investing conference. You can see videos of their presentations below. Peter Cowley, ‘Best Angel Investor in the World 2017’ is also chair of the board of the Cambridge Business Angels and the Investment Director of the Marshall of Cambridge, Martlet Corporate Angel division. More on Peter here. Don McQueen, hosting the event, is Chair of Dorset Business Angels, Corporate leader and chairman. He has a track record leading and building profitable technology companies. Expertise in corporate strategy, M&A, acquisition integration and turnarounds. More on Don here.

Peter Cowley, ‘Best Angel Investor in the World 2017’

Peter Cowley, grabbed the attention of the audience with his talk entitled, ‘What I wished I’d known a decade ago!’

Video of Peter’s presentation here.

Summary of Peter’s presentation here:

THE TEAM

  • Peter believes who you invest in is more important than the anything.
  • The team need, “High growth ambitions”.
  • An outstanding founding team, at least two people (3 also works, but not 4).
  • Peter requires a team with a UK legal structure.
  • They need to be local for ease of travelling.
  • There must be a board representative – Peter needs to trust the Investor Non Exec Director.
  • The company need to understand, and can justify the ratio: “Customer Lifetime Value” over “Cost of Customer Acquisition”.

THE PRODUCT

  • Evidence of a large market. Globally at least $/£100m, although not all businesses need to have global ambitions. Note that Peter doesn’t need to see a billion+ market – angels can get an excellent return, even if the investee’s revenues are less than £5M on exit.
  • A level of defensibility, whether it is speed to market, know-how or a patent application.
  • Invest in markets you understand, Peter Cowley for example invests in software, electronics, RF comms; and sectors: B2B and B2B2C, never B2C.

THE FINANCES

  • Early stage income, probably pre-revenue and pre-grant income, although evidence of valid (even if a one off trial) customer sales traction will help.
  • Valuation – Pre-money valuation, mostly under £1m and with an upper limit of £2m (unless exceptional).
  • Valuations have being upwards, due to the over-supply of early stage money (particularly in London) and NOT because exits are at a larger multiple nor more frequent.
  • A minimum 10X valuation increase within 5 to 10 years, so if you are asking for, say, a £1m post-investment valuation, what does your company look like? And who will buy it for £10+m in a few years’ time?
  • Syndicated. Peter never invests alone. Although he can connect and/or build a syndicate, if he likes your proposition. Angels (although very rarely those who invest through online platforms) want and expect to add value with connections, advice, governance and future funding.
  • Peter does not invest in deals that either have been, or are, on any equity crowd-funding sites except Syndicate Room, where he is involved.

Don McQueen Chairman Dorset Business Angels
on Angel Investing

Video of Don’s presentation here.

Summary of Don’s presentation here:

Selecting Presentation Pitches – what appeals to investors?

  • Valuation and amount needed.
  • Stage of business – pre or post revenues
  • Market they are addressing
  • What’s the problem the business is solving?
  • Is there any IP?
  • Is the team able to implement the plan?
  • Do I know this industry / market?
  • Can angels add value post deal?

Follow-Up after the Event & Due Diligence

  • Meeting with the team on their site
  • NDA and detailed business plans
  • Negotiating valuation
  • Agreeing investment team and amount to invest
  • Due diligence
  • Investment legal documents
  • Completion.

Investment and Beyond

  • Investor meetings, if not legal directors.
  • Mentoring of management team
  • EIS and SEIS certificates, getting your cash back
  • Reviewing reports
  • Help with raising further funding / exit
  • Give as much or as little of you time.
  • Build a private investment portfolio
  • Have fun and hopefully make money.

Key Lessons Learnt

  • Start small, learn before first investment
  • Focus on the markets and technologies you understand
  • Ask as many questions as you can
  • If you are unsure, don’t
  • Negotiate hard on valuation, if you can
  • If things go wrong – cut your losses
  • Only help the business as much as you feel comfortable with.

More Videos from Conference Speakers

I hope you enjoyed business angel investing by two successful angel entrepreneurs Peter Cowley and Don McQueen. The angel network chairmen and successful angel investors shared tips on what to do for successful angel investing. These videos of their presentations were just some of the videos recorded on the day. You can see all the presentations on the Dorset Business Angels Conference website page. And if you would like to attend a pitch event find out more here. 

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Planning

Planning catch-22

“It’s chaotic, we’re rushed off our feet.” That’s a typical response from many business leaders if you enquire how things are. Try to speak to them or get a slot in their diary and it’s impossible. Busy people? I wonder if a call came in from Buckingham Palace asking them to meet the queen tomorrow, would they find time? Of course they would. Similarly if you ask, do you have a business plan or personal plan, or at least strategies for key challenges and opportunities, they probably would not have them. Why? Too busy. It’s planning catch-22, which is the dilemma of not being able to do one thing – your plan – till you have time, but your never have time. To create time you need to plan. To avoid planning catch-22 you control the sail, don’t complain about the wind. It’s about taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Resources

In fact, the complaint often extends to being starved of time, resources, skills, people, opportunities and even luck. Before you think I am just describing a complete loser (!), let me pause and say I am recollecting a plethora of senior corporate leaders and also entrepreneurs. The feeling they engender in others is not confidence and calm, so how do they feel personally? Certainly not in control or happy. It’s always about taking control, whether personal or of their business.

Winning against the odds

If you read about the great generals in history, for example Napoleon or Julius Caesar. They didn’t always win battles based upon greater numbers and resources. They were brilliant strategists. Britain did the same in the Second World War, using innovative brilliance. It requires leadership and vision. The Battle of Agincourt saw 9,000 English beat 30,000 French using archery – superior tools.

Pragmatic Strategy

Fast forward to 2017 and what I do see working these days in many different business and also personal situations is agile strategy. I hesitate to use the term, but it serves a purpose. I don’t mean all the many detailed techniques, I mean simply, design, test, amend try again. It’s the instinctive way entrepreneurs work. And as Johan S Roos said recently at the Global Drucker Forum, just do a one page strategy document, keep it simple. Strategy, personal or business is about getting from where you are to where you want to be. It’s always about taking control, whether personal of business. To avoid planning catch-22 you control the sail, don’t complain about the wind. It’s about taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

Checking data for GDPR

GDPR updates news and thoughts

General Links

Information Commissioner’s Office – you can subscribe to their newsletter site

ICO tweets https://twitter.com/ICOnews

BBC Technology News “UK data protection laws to be overhauled” – here

EU Privacy Directive – here

GDPR – Wikipedia as ever is useful on this here

Mark Gracey GDPR expert local to Bournemouth and Dorset from FLAVOURFY DIGITAL

The GDPR regulation in full, read here

GDPR and ePrivacy Directive Essentials – article from o i solutions with templates and what to do – here

CIM Data Right pledge – here

DMA (Direct Marketing Assocation) – here

IDM (Institute of direct and digital marketing) – here

Events and Training

Essential Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for Marketers – here

GDPR Summit Series London – here

Helpful Sites on FAQs

GDPR – What does Design by Data mean? – blog by i3digital here

GDPR LEGAL GROUNDS FOR PROCESSING – CONSENT? LEGITIMATE INTERESTS? – here

Consent and Legitimate Interest – Slaughter and May lawyers here

Balancing in the GDPR: legitimate interests vs. right to object, KU Leven (IT, IP law centre) here

Guidance on GDPR legitimate interests – identify, carry out & balance (from DPN network) here

Bristows Legally Speaking! Webinar here

What is personal data? An ICO quick reference guide 1998 DPA Act – here

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

happiness

Do what you want to do and you will be happier

“It’s about the people, not the plan” said Peter Cowley, Business angel investor of the world 2017 at our recent conference. And Kurt Lyall, from RocketRoute, who has raised millions, said, you should work with people you like. Sounds fun, so why do we need money? Why are people so stressed? Another colleague at the same conference agreed with me, that in reality many top business people are pretty tough and some are pretty, well…nasty. So, on the specific issue of happiness, should you pursue it? One reason people leave employed work is to regain control of what they do. The idea being that if you do what you want to do you will be happier.  A piece of research on the BBC, on Trust Me I’m a Doctor, recently conclusively, proved this. So, if you do what you want to do you will be happier. Across all aspects of our lives, happiness means taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Types and Causes of Happiness

Two happiness experts, Richard Layard of the London School of Economics and John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia produced the first World Happiness Report. The report found that the world’s happiest countries were in northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands) and the most miserable are in Africa (Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone). They say happiness can be measured. That happiness has causes such as wealth, income distribution, health and political institutions. This is well worth a read and echoes what Maslow wrote in his Hierarchy of Needs. People need to deal with basic and psychological needs before considering self-fulfilment needs, or indeed their “happiness”.

This said, and despite recent austerity challenges, living standards have raised, to a level in the West where many (not all), would expect from work and lifestyles much more than previous generations. Hence happiness has appeared more readily on the agenda. As has stress. The question for home life and work is what type of happiness is there? Here are three suggestions.

  1. “Feeling good” hedonistic happiness. It’s pretty obvious this is the fun we all indulge in but not part of a life-plan, or something you’d base your business on.
  2. Eudaimonic Happiness meaning “flourishing” dating back to Socrates and the Stoics. A virtuous life gave you this. Virtues enjoyed in this state include justice, self-control and wisdom.
  3. Evaluative Happiness, psychologists ask you to rate happiness 1-10 tied to “life satisfaction” and goal fulfilment. It’s simple, easily measured and therefore popular.

Until now…

A ground breaking piece of research you may have seen on the BBC into mental health and stress was conducted as part of the TV series Trust Me I’m a Doctor. It concluded, if you carry out activity you enjoy, you will be happy. Obvious? Well, let me give you more detail. The team gathered a group of people. They measured the changes in critical body chemistry elements associated with stress and happiness. They divided them into sub-groups and over a number of weeks each sub-group did yoga, gardening, wellbeing and various other activities associated with relieving stress. There was also a control group i.e. one with no change in lifestyle. People participating in activities showed improvement. Those doing what they enjoyed improved better i.e. were happier still.

Conversely Avoid Unhappiness

It is incredible how many people appear to hate their jobs. Or it is claimed they hate their jobs… The headline in a recent survey, reported in this smallbusiness.co.uk-article , screamed out, “16:22 pm Sunday is officially the “end” of the weekend”. With five sectors topping the list as dreading Mondays most, being:

  • Accountancy and banking (83 per cent)
  • Recruitment/HR (78 per cent)
  • Law (78 per cent)
  • Healthcare (76 per cent)
  • Property and construction (75 per cent)

For Leaders Happiness is through Achievement

Taking control of your personal and business situation is the challenge for leaders. How to do this? Most leaders, MDs, business owners and directors take it for granted that work and leisure mix these days. In fact, for some the two are the same. I mentioned the recent Dorset Business Angels Conference earlier; all the speakers stressed the need to adapt with change. They relish challenge, they deal with failure, they smile and laugh despite pretty awful problems at times. They have fun, personally and with their companies. They prove you can have private and company wellbeing. Happiness means take control of your personal and business wellbeing. It’s both about empathy and being hard-nosed as appropriate and requires leadership.

Personal and Organisational Effectiveness

Truly effective leaders know from experience (and failure) that the business cannot be fully effective unless they are also fully effective. A business can’t fire on all four cylinders if the person in charge is misfiring. I’ve done some work with Steve Barker on this where we show the synergy between personal and business life. You might find the ideas useful, take a look when you have a moment here. The point remains that aiming for happiness for the sake of itself is a tad shallow and illusory. Most people who have achieved anything however modest usually get enjoyment from a challenge! As the BBC research showed and experience shows if you do what you want to do you will be happier. Across all aspects of our lives, happiness means taking control of your work, home and lifestyle.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

opportunity

GDPR is a business and marketing opportunity

Some good friends are lawyers. But I don’t ask them to run my business, why would they want to? As a business angel, and company director, I believe in getting appropriate legal help, but I don’t abdicate my role. With GDPR becoming law in 2018 we need legal and expert help. But this is not a an exclusive legal project. GDPR is a big commercial opportunity. And sure, as with and business situation there is a risk. But why the obsession with fines to the complete exclusion of the pportunity? GDPR is a business and marketing opportunity. 


GDPR The Commercial Opportunity

You may have to contact businesses, prospects, customers, competitors to renew your database. Use this to make offers. It will cost money if your data is not GDPR compliant, but you have no choice anyway. Invest to grow. Work out a series of campaigns. Work out who should receive what message. Clearly not all people are targets for the same message, but it can be an opportunity to spread an integrated, shared story across clients and companies. Let me be clear. In some instances it will not be appropriate to do this. But in others it will.  


The Marketing Opportunity

 

The commercial opportunity is part of the marketing opportunity. However more broadly, I’d say, stop and think for a moment. What we are talking about here is personal data, people. When any of us started a business we had people in mind as those we were trying to excite with our services and products. Surely that should be the starting point now. Engaging people, in a conversation. So here are my thoughts for a marketing approach to GDPR: 

·        Segmentation is always the starting point for me: divide the database into groups.

·        Is there old data, people who we do not want to engage with any longer? If so, then delete

·        Work out your key ideal customer personas i.e. profile targets.

·        What do we have online for example on the company website, if people visit during our contact process, to check out our credentials, does it match what we are saying? We need to be authentic.

·        Decide the contact process – see consent section below.

·        I believe it’s great news for marketing:

o   A chance to clear out old “rubbish” data.

o   An excuse (frankly) to clearly ask prospects and customers “do you want to stay connected?”. How often do we strain our minds for excuses to contact people!!

o   Marketing complain about not having budgets. Companies MUST resource this or face the consequences.

Mark Gracey our expert on GDPR delivers a CIM Dorset Practical Guidance presentation event on 8th November.

 

Consent

I am involved in a charity, commercial businesses and not-for-profit organisations. The requirements may vary. But in essence, marketers are more concerned than other people with getting consent from individuals. What strikes me in all the mass of online advice, is that it depends who is giving it. This alters the emphasis the expert gives to certain aspects of GDPR. For example whether it be a digital agency, cyber security company, a charity sector specialist and so on. I am not going into detail here, there’s more on our GDPR article. But the companies we work with adopt simple processes including the following steps: 

·        Who to contact

·        How to contact them: written, email, face to face or phone

·        What to get authorised, i.e. scope for example an email update and separately a newsletter

·        Ensuring they get consent for specific items

·        How to record it / the items

·        How long it will last before it needs to be renewed

 

Contracts

Ongoing customer relationships and contracts together with consent form part of data processing.

 

Suppliers and Processors

You need to take responsibility for someone or organisations processing data.

 

Automation

This intrigues me. There is quite a lot in GDPR on automation. The danger for example that financial credit may be refused because of an automated procedure. This could cause a financial provider problems under GDPR. Equally marketing automation annoying customers. Anything which is thoughtless use of data. Again, I’d make the point: it takes someone with marketing experience to understand this; to know how clumsy marketing automation can be. Any tool is as good or bad as the user. Marketing automation is huge. So we need to be careful.
 

Summary
 

These are just some ideas, not exhaustive. Why do so many directors abdicate their responsibilities and not understand the “stuff” they need to?  I am all for working with experts. We work with the excellent Mark Gracey from Flavoury Digital GDPR expert. You can see Mark at the CIM Dorset Practical Guidance presentation event on 8th November. We also work with Leon Thompson, of Jigsaw Compliance Services Ltd an expert in the financial services compliance world – an old colleague from Abbey Life plc days when I was a director there. BUT…I make it my business to understand what to do for our business, so we have our own Data Protection Officer, Action Plans, and processes. Use experts and lawyers, but take control. And enjoy the commercial and marketing opportunity that is GDPR.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited

woman-texting-on-smartphone

Does Social Media make you Illiterate?

Social media is not bad for you, embrace technology, and equally keep enjoying literature and offline communications. I write this in response to various articles pointing out the problems with social media. Let’s take a while in this article to look at what social media is, what’s good and bad about it, and separately but related: literacy in the digital age. Wikipedia defines Social media ascomputer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.” What strikes me with this definition is the absence of any reference to “literature”. So, does social media make you illiterate? I’d suggest not. But let me point out some challenges and opportunities with media, literature and changing reading habits.

Social Media is Bad for Literacy Articles

A survey of 214 secondary school heads found that 70 per cent believe Facebook and Twitter are “bad for literacy”. Daily Mail 15th November 2013. A recent excellent and wide-ranging article by Mike Wide journalist for The Times, on social media and literature referred to the fact that Howard Jacobson “Booker prize-winning novelist has warned that children will be illiterate within a generation because of social media such as Twitter.” And he himself “craved interruption” due to a combination of smartphones and social media. In Scotland, a survey in May revealed a steep fall in writing standards among 13-year-olds over the past five years, with less than half performing well or very well at writing. Wade also points out the percentage of American adults who read literature — any novels, short stories, poetry or plays — fell to at least a three-decade low last year, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

How Social Media Can Benefit Your Business

I’d suggest benefits of social media for business include:

  • Increase Brand Recognition
  • Showcase Your Customer Service Efforts
  • Increase Traffic to Your Website
  • Build a Community of Dedicated Followers
  • Decrease Your Marketing Costs
  • Give You Valuable Information About Your Audience
  • Increase Loyalty to Your Brand
  • Establish Your Authority.

I could go on…and our o i solutions Digital page gives myriad sites and examples of fantastic, innovative tools and sites in the social media and tech world that can benefit your business.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media for People More Widely

Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media for Society are listed by techmaish here. The advantages for children are confidently listed by Digital Review including helping to make children confident, friendly, connected, smart, informed, helpful, relaxed and feeling welcome. But risks are well documented by many. And very notably in this Clinical Report−The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson and COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA which says, “Using social media becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most adults realise. Most risks fall into the following categories: peer-to-peer; inappropriate content; lack of understanding of online privacy issues; and outside influences of third-party advertising groups” and lists concerns including cyberbullying, online harassment, Facebook depression and sexting. The USA responded with The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), it is a United States federal law. The act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction about children under 13 years of age. It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing of those under. When asking does social media make you illiterate? Or is it damaging, the USA is surely the place to look at as leader, first mover and producer of most things in the social media space.

Fake News Another Problem Linked to Social Media

There’s a useful article in The Daily Telegraph tracing the history of fake news, emphasising that it was the introduction of social media which really started it from circa 2007. Although one might point to Second World War propaganda as early precursors.

Can News Literacy Be Taught?

The article  by Niemen Reports, discusses the importance of news literacy courses in the U.S. universities and colleges. According to a Stanford University study, most middle school, high school and college students were functional news illiterates. Sam Wineburg, lead author of the study, stated that most students are completely unprepared to be responsible news consumers in the Internet age. In response to this problem, some universities and colleges included news literacy course elements in their curriculum.

A Possible Solution, Embrace Information, e-literacy and Media Literacy

Witek Donna writes that perhaps the biggest recent shift in how information is produced, accessed, and used is the multiplication of information formats that now exist as a result of advances in computing technology.   Ralph Raab writes: “A 2007 study showed that frequent television viewing during adolescence caused attention deficiencies…You must be functionally literate in order to use the internet. This has led to a phenomenon called e-literacy. When parents and teachers criticize the amount of time kids spend online, they’re forgetting that you have to be literate to use the internet effectively. ” American Libraries. Aug2010, Vol. 41 Issue 8, p34-37. 4p.

Filtering Out Fake News: It All Starts With Media Literacy

This issue is at the heart of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE; namle .net). NAMLE’s executive director, Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, recently said “every step of the [Media] chain from content creator to social media platform to user must be held more accountable.” She supports a rating system of news outlets based on a number of factors (source material, credentials, bias, factchecking, etc.) to make the lines of fact versus fiction less blurred. Another point she stresses is the need for people to understand the difference between researched journalism and opinion and commentary. Media outlets, she says, must be clear about these differences. Lipkin feels that Facebook has always been a media company. Lipkin is emphatic that media literacy must be taught from the earliest grades. As Lipkin so aptly puts it, “We need to embrace technology and media literacy and empower students to use it. We need to stop trying to protect kids and start preparing them.”

Summary

I think the final sentence of the preceding paragraph says it all; in particular “embrace technology”. Social media is just a tool, it’s pervasive and at its worst distracting and petty. But why not enjoy it alongside longer form literature, and enrich the media and communications landscape? I love it.

Peter Eales BA Hons Chartered Marketer FCIM FIDM
Founder Director Dorset Business Angels
MD o i solutions limited