Personal Reflections on MojoLife launch

Like everyone who attended, I’ve had time to reflect on last Monday’s launch night for MojoLife and take stock of what we’ve started – and where it might go.

It will be fascinating to see what people make of it, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about.  It’s not what we tell people to do – it’s what they decide to do for themselves.  We simply help with the right environment, tools, knowledge and skills for them to move their lives forward.

But I’d like to reinforce the message we conveyed the other night by emphasising some of the key themes and principles behind MojoLife, as I see them.

A ray of light amid the gloom

The press do seem to love a bad news story – “Council to axe 2,000 jobs” “Front-line services in jeopardy” “Unions threaten strike action”.  But there’s precious little written about what happens to people once they are made redundant, or the pressures on those who remain (same amount of work, fewer people to do it).

The problem with all this is it reinforces a sense of powerlessness and pessimism.  “It’s the banks’ fault…the government’s to blame…when are they going to do something about it?”  The assumption is that our destiny lies in the hands of others.  It’s down to external forces and we’ve just got to keep our heads down, ride out the storm and wait for better times ahead.  Of course the problem is we’re waiting for things to change over which we have no control.

MojoLife offers a welcome alternative, and in a sense it’s an invitation to LEAD.

At its heart is the belief that we have a lot more power than we think; that we have at our disposal the means to engineer a better future for ourselves – a future of our choosing.

Let me give you an example: I made reference the other night to something Seth Godin talks about (see his 7 Ways to Reinvent Yourself).  He reminds us that Marxist theory held that the capitalists dominated the proletariat by owning the means of production.  But these days WE own the means of production!  With a computer, an internet connection, a good idea/story and the ability to communicate it we’re in an excellent position to lead and influence others.

The same Mr G also points out that traditional ‘push’ marketing no longer works like it used to.  I’m sure we’ve all adopted such a strategy – cold calling, leafleting, e-shots or firing off endless CV’s into the cyber-sphere.  The problem is that nowadays there’s so much noise out there that we switch off and ignore stuff.

Indeed it could be argued that CVs are really an apparatus for enabling employers to reject people.  Wouldn’t it be better to have something that’s a celebration of who someone is? That’s why we encourage people to write their manifesto instead of a CV.  It’s a more holistic and meaningful summary of who you are – your beliefs, values, skills, knowledge, capabilities and ambitions.  The problem is people think they ARE their job title.  And when that title is removed, their sense of identity and self-worth is lost.

MojoLife starts by getting people to reconnect with who they really are – at their core.

Having established that, you’re in a position to move forward.  I mentioned the limitations of push marketing.  What about developing a bit of PULL instead?  Let’s say that through a bit of Mojo-thinking you’ve discovered who are and what you’re really good at and what fires you up.  Now you’ve got an opportunity to LEAD.

Do you want to open up the best independent cafe in the North West?  Why not?  The question is how are you going to get noticed and seen in that way?  This is the essence of personal branding and storytelling.  Are you going to be like all the other cafes?  Or is there something about you that’s different? Perhaps you’ll encourage discussion groups or invite writers and poets to share their work?

Do you want to be the best customer service manager in the region?  Why not?  Why not do a mystery shopping survey of how various establishments treat customers in your town or city, and what lessons we can learn.  Be seen as an expert in this field – you’ll probably end up training/providing high quality employees throughout your region!

The point is you have an opportunity to be seen as a leader and an influencer in whatever field you want to dominate.  You’re doing and saying things that are worth paying attention to.  It’s the way you get noticed – not by mass-marketing an unremarkable message but by telling a compelling story about who you are and what value you create for people.

It’s all a question of how you see yourself.  You might read the above and say, “Oh, I could never do that!”  But the truth is you could.  That’s the starting point.  Before others value you, you’ve got to value yourself first.

And here’s the problem.  The CV/job search system (and the business world) is geared towards rejecting you.  That’s what happens if you push market.  You’re lucky if 5% of the people you target show any interest in you.  That means 95% of the time you’re being rejected and that has an impact on your self-confidence.

Pull marketing focuses on what you’ve got to offer – what’s at your core.  It’s about valuing it yourself, packaging it, telling the story really well and attracting interest.  Only the right people come to you; people who by definition validate you and what you offer.  Those are the people you focus on.  And they bring you others like them (watch this fantastic video on leadership and how people join your tribe!)

Even if you don’t want to become self-employed or start a movement or change the world, pull marketing can work for you.  There are so many means at your disposal now, things which YOU can control, that can make you marketable.

  • You can blog.
  • You can establish a strong profile via social media like LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • You can start talking to strangers.
  • You can have your own radio or TV show, and interview people.
  • You can organise meetings and be a connector.
  • You can better understand yourself and what you have to offer.
  • You can improve the way you communicate that.
  • You can improve your knowledge and understanding of your area of expertise.
  • You can prepare the ground for your dream future while earning a living in some other way.

At the MojoLife launch we introduced you to some people who’d done extraordinary things with very few resources.

Lauren Luke

The makeup queen who discovered what she had to offer, packaged it, shipped it out via free social media (YouTube) and built a following (and an income).

William Kamkwamba

The young man in Malawi who taught himself how to build a working windmill from rubbish.  It powered his family home.

  • It attracted people wanting to charge their mobile phones.
  • It attracted the interest of journalists and bloggers.
  • It came to the attention of the TED community.
  • William told his story and he’s now part of the worldwide climate change lobby.

The Grace Living Centre

An impromptu reading programme between kindergarten children and old folks in a retirement home.

  • Led to improved reading age for the kids.
  • Better understanding of pre-technology age and the cycle of life.
  • Old folks came off their medication!

All 3 stories have a similar theme: all these people came alive through finding their purpose.  This is what Sir Ken Robinson talks about in The Element.  When you find the thing you have a facility (and a passion) for, that’s IT!  You find your mojo and suddenly work doesn’t seem like work anymore.

Being at a cross-roads represents both a challenge and an opportunity.  My own trauma about 3 years ago was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to me.  It’s not the trauma that’s the challenge though – it’s the way we respond to it.

By changing my routines, mixing with new people, being open-minded to new perspectives, improving my knowledge and skills and re-training my mind, I was able to discover my purpose and move forward.  I’ve never looked back or doubted myself since.

Joe and Graham (the 2 gents who shared their stories) have similarly found their calling, after a hugely traumatic development in their lives.  But let no one doubt how challenging it is to do this.  You need support and guidance to engineer your own future, and that’s what MojoLife provides.  It’s a very personal thing for all 4 of its co-founders because we’ve all had quite a journey ourselves.

It’s less to do with money than determination and self-belief.  I had no money whatsoever but still managed to reinvent myself.  Along the way I:

  • Started a blog
  • Published a book
  • Created a business skills club
  • Started a personal development reading group
  • Got asked to sit on 3 advisory panels in higher education establishments
  • hosted the Pecha Kucha concept in Manchester
  • Developed a reputation as a speaker & trainer
  • Built up an extraordinary network
  • Started a communication skills club for business people (it’s now running in Australia too)
  • Co-founded MojoLife

But of all of the above probably the most important was the network.  I couldn’t have done it without their support (and I include my ex-wife in that by the way!).

The CV writing and the interview techniques and the job search navigation is all very well, but what moves mountains is attitude combined with effort – and when that’s channeled in a specific direction (a direction of your choosing), some extraordinary things begin to occur.

MojoLife is for Success

One final point: as Lily pointed out on the night, MojoLife isn’t for the b-m-w brigade (that’s bitch, moan, whinge!).  MojoLife is attracting some highly skilled, talented people who are capable of leading and influencing others in their field.  They’ve just lost a bit of belief – rather like an athlete who’s on a bad run of results (some may be trying the 200 metres when they should be doing the 100…or playing football!).  Our task is to help them come alive again.

What’s interesting is that the skills and attitudes at the heart of MojoLife are precisely the things that businesses really need in the current climate:

  • A more motivated and productive workforce.
  • A better understanding of their own story.
  • The ability to communicate that story, both F2F and via social media.
  • The ability to build and nurture authentic relationships.

For me, MojoLife is really about unleashing leadership potential, and supporting you on your journey.  I hope you’ll find some way to get involved in this new movement.  See the list of dates and venues for meetings by clicking here.

PS: A HUGE thanks to my fellow MojoLife founders Sara, Lily and Kwai, our wonderful ambassadors, to Dave Bradburn and Mark Dicker, to Cobbetts for supporting us by hosting a fabulous evening and to all the others who’ve attended our events and endorsed our endeavours.

The myth of the USP

We’re all told we need a Unique Selling Point, but it’s normally the case that what we claim as ‘unique’ is anything but.

  • We value clients as our friends.
  • We’re No.1 for customer service.
  • We believe in investing in our people.
  • We’re committed to raising standards in …

You might claim that, but then again so do loads of other people.  It’s not ‘U’ at all; it’s more of a CSP (where C = common)!

It’s increasingly an issue for professional services firms and this article in today’s Telegraph highlights the problems accountancy firms have with marketing themselves.  When the squeeze is on clients become more price-conscious but if they see you as indispensable and distinct from your rivals, you have a better chance of retaining them.

My belief is that you DO have something meaningful in your company that’s truly unique.  You have your people, their relationships and their stories.  Build your brand around these things.

They can’t be copied.

Are you wasting your time networking?

What’s been interesting about Speakeasy is the way it makes people reflect on what they say when they network.  Typically that’s in the form of a 30-60 second ‘elevator pitch’, a 5-10 minute spotlight presentation or simply conversations taking place between these formal bits.

These are important opportunities when people form their opinions about you.  You spend a lot of time and money putting yourself into these positions. But the questions to ask yourself are:

  • do people really ‘get’ what I’m about?
  • do they remember?
  • do they care?
  • am I doing my story justice?

These are important questions, given that networking is a time-consuming activity and it needs to produce results.

So I’ve outlined a 4 Step Process for helping you use your story to good effect.  You’ll see it goes far beyond what people normally consider to be important or relevant. It sits at the very heart of everything you do in business and, as a marketing tool, it’s a vital strategy for getting talked about.

1) Getting Started – your basic story
Know your own story (what you do, how you do it, but mostly WHY you do what you do).  Recognise the value you create (Seth Godin describes this as your ‘art’).

2) The art of delivery
Get really good at telling your story (presenting/speaking).  Get some great anecdotes/case studies; develop a story vault.   Learn to weave them into conversations and presentations.

3) Become a story-led business
Establish a story culture within your organisation; capture stories, develop a nose for a good story, use them as a training tool, a means of motivating and engaging employees and a source of material for promoting your brand.

4) Spreading your word
Use social media and networking to propagate your story; use it to build your brand and get other people talking about you.

The result?
You’ll become more distinctive.
You’ll PULL people towards you.

 

 

Push me, Pull You – which marketing strategy are you adopting?

It seems we’re all under more pressure these days. We’re looking for results but it’s tough out there – more sellers, fewer buyers. Our natural response is to push harder. More ads, door drops, cold calling, e-shots – push, push, push.

The problem is it’s a broken system. There’s too much noise out there, and we just end up ignoring stuff.

It’s time for a different approach – a PULL approach. It’s time to draw people in – the right people; ones who find something appealing in our message.

So the question now is “What are you saying that’s worth listening to? What are you doing that’s worth talking about?” This switches the focus away from the unsuspecting people you’re targeting, to the quality of what you’re doing. It’s about getting back to the core, the ‘story’.

The first problem is that many people don’t fully understand what their story is.

Someone representing an accountancy firm would normally start off with, “Hi, my name’s Cliff. I’m a tax accountant with *** and we’re based in Manchester. We have a wide range of clients..blah, blah…” Dull and entirely forgettable.

Try this instead: “As accountants, we get really frustrated when we see owners who are essentially imprisoned in their own business, because they’re getting drawn into work they shouldn’t be doing. They’re working incredibly hard but not getting the results they want. That’s why we like to work closely with clients, not just looking after their tax returns but acting as a strategic partner. We encourage owners to focus their efforts on the right things, so they realise the true potential of their business and actually gain some personal benefit from all that blood, sweat and tears.”

This is more of a ‘why’ approach and it’s more likely to convey what kind of firm you are to deal with. It’s more distinctive and is more likely to attract attention (see Simon Sinek’s concept of The Golden Circle).

But again, they’re only words – your words – and your audience might reasonably expect some proof. That’s where your case studies come in.

You might claim to put customers as your no.1 priority but that’s what everyone says! Far better to relate a story that’s memorable and gets this across. A friend of mine who works for the John Lewis Partnership told me a wonderful story of when she was running the kitchen department at her store. A doctor and his wife were about to sign their lives away for the kitchen of their dreams when the husband threw a major spanner in the works. “Our house is inaccessible for delivery vehicles so I don’t think we can go ahead,” he explained.

My friend arranged a site visit and sure enough it was a complete nightmare – thick trees on one side of the house, a body of water on the other. Mission Impossible! Undaunted she came up with a novel solution – she hired a barge, parked it under a bridge, lowered the kitchen units one by one on to the boat and sailed the kitchen to the doctor’s house!

The beauty of stories such as this is they allow the listener/reader to make their own mind up about the store’s attitude to customer service. But more than that, it’s memorable and gets passed on (as I’m doing now).

Many individuals and companies do great work, but they don’t the recognize the true value of what they’re doing. A receptionist who placates an irate customer and ultimately turns them into an advocate for the company is doing something remark-able (ie worth talking about). In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin describes this as ‘art’. But for most people, it’s simply lost in their job title. “That’s just what I do.”

It’s vital to have a ‘nose’ for a good story. Try to capture these anecdotes (especially ones of before-and-after transformation) and make it easy for them to spread. Telling them well in the first place makes it easier for others to pass them on. But using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook gives your stories greater (and immediate) reach.

To conclude, it’s not just a matter of pushing an unremarkable message harder and wider. Focus on what’s at the core. What it is about the things you do and say that are worth paying attention to? Spend time understanding your own story. Improve how you tell it and look to cement your reputation in your chosen field. Try these pull strategies:

Blog/publish
Start conversations through LinkedIn
Do interviews on YouTube
Speak at events
Organise things
Be a connector
Capture great client stories
Leave behind a great footprint wherever you go

These things create chatter (and they mostly cost nothing). They go towards cementing your reputation. They form your story, your distinctive ‘signature’. That’s when you start attracting the right people to you.

Are you ready to go on the pull?

Self-employment – can you make it?

“Make a Job, Don’t Take a Job” is the title of a report by former journalist Martin Bright, and although it’s aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial endeavour within the creative industry, it has relevance for all job seekers in the current economic climate.

In yesterday’s Observer (Review) there was a fascinating feature on graduates who rejected the traditional ‘compact’ that says you do well at school, go to university, get a degree and that guarantees a job. Of course it’s a falsehood now, and given that kids will be saddled with significant debts after higher education, it’s high time we questioned this orthodoxy.

According to Bright, it’s more a question of having an idea, a computer, broadband access and then away you go! Of course, it’s not quite so easy but the Observer piece highlights a number of young people who have made a decent fist of self-employment.

Joshua Magidson (24) founded an on-line business called eatstudent.co.uk, having himself found it hard to find a decent home delivery takeaway service after a night out with the lads! He now has over 300 restaurants advertising on his site and 15 UK universities on his database. Apparently, the web site’s popularity rose thanks to the slogan “Sex, Drugs and Egg Spring Rolls”!

But it’s not just on-line businesses that students are forming. Gerard Jones (pictured above), a promising footballer, formed his own coaching school and turned down an offer from Manchester United to be one of their paid employees. In his first year Jones taught over 4,000 students and his (very large) poster adorns his local shopping centre, a hero in his home town of Hull.

What interests me about the cases highlighted is the way they’ve immersed themselves in something that’s close to their heart, and attracted attention in the process. Magidson’s activities caught the eye of JustEat and they poured money into the web-site, enabling the young entrepreneur to grow (they were keen as he was the only one focusing entirely on the student market).

But it’s also to do with what Simon Sinek talks about in his TED presentation – start with the WHY. In other words, because of some personal experience these entrepreneurs decided to right a wrong, to do something that wasn’t being addressed – in other words to challenge the status quo. Sinek calls this leadership. For him, companies and individuals who LEAD effectively do so because they articulate their BELIEFS FIRST, and the benefits and features second. The trick is not to find people who need what you supply; it’s about finding people who believe in what you believe.

My point here is that if you start up some business just to make a profit, you’ll struggle to gain a following. You’ll rely on advertising to PUSH your product or service in front of people, and in a world of more choice and less time this strategy is becoming defunct.

Think in terms of your manifesto, not your brochure or CV. Talk about why you do what you do. Craft a compelling message and deliver it with skill and passion. Use multiple platforms to spread your message, and soon enough you’ll start attracting people to you – the right people. Something in your message resonated with them. Something touched them about what you were doing and saying.

The government is right to encourage entrepreneurial endeavour, but people need a lot of support and advice to set something up, sustain it and make it successful. The good news is there’s never been a better time than now for the under-resourced to start a business, pursue an ambition and take charge of their own future (take a look at our MojoLife concept).

Are you in tune with your clients/prospects?

News of redundancies fills the airwaves these days, but what’s the true cost? I ask the question because in business we often don’t see the bigger picture, the wider implications of a pain a prospect or client is experiencing.

Here’s some suggestions for the true pain of losing your job:

  • Loss of income
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Strained relationships with partner/children/relatives
  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • Loss of motivation
  • Less of a social life
  • Alcoholism, Depression or worse

Conversely, what would the benefits be of someone finding a job they really enjoy?

  • Immediate source of income
  • Peace of mind
  • Fulfilment
  • Able to make plans
  • Growth in confidence and self-worth
  • You’re “nice to be around”
  • Improved relationships with key people
  • More invitations to parties, functions
  • A feeling of being engaged and connected

My point is that most people focus on the first issue – the INCOME – when considering the loss/gain. But there are many, wider but nonetheless highly significant implications that impact on the individual.

And this tendency carries through into business – we often fail to appreciate the wider effects of a problem someone is facing, and the benefits we could bring if we managed to fix it. It boils down to that basic principle that the more you understand people, the better able you are to influence them.

So if you’re warming up a prospect and hoping for a sale, improve your pitch by understanding (and empathising with) that bigger picture.

Shawshank Redemption – it’s the story not the facts

Frank Darabont’s 1994 movie about a banker imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit barely covered its budget after a lukewarm box office reception. But the film has since developed a cult following, regularly featuring in the top 5 of the ‘most-loved movie’ polls.

Based on a short book by Stephen King, the film tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who in 1947…well, here’s the basic gist:

  • Man is accused of murdering his wife (he didn’t)
  • He gets sent to prison (it’s brutal)
  • He makes the best of it and forms some friendships (one in particular)
  • He escapes (in a clever manner)
  • He’s reunited with his prison pal (the end).

Now read that and it doesn’t seem like much does it? But those are the basic facts. My point is that the facts don’t make the story. There’s a world of difference and if you try to tell it merely by relating the basic facts NO ONE will be moved by it!

But this is what people do all the time – business owners, sales-people, job seekers. They deliver the facts, but don’t tell the story. And it’s in the STORY where the emotion resides. THIS is what makes your proposition compelling.

Job seekers often make claims like:

“excellent communication skills”

“good team player”

“adaptable and good under pressure”

These claims are just that – claims. And even when asked to substantiate it they might relate an anecdote or case study, but they don’t do the story justice. They deliver the facts, not the emotion. If it was made into a movie, NO ONE would watch it!

Shawshank is one of the most popular movies of all time because of the way the story is told. You get to know the characters, and there’s good (Tim Robbins, Morgan Feeman) vs evil (the warden, the head guard). There’s the notion of time and the journey and the development of the relationship between the main (and subsidiary) characters. There’s an identification with the principal leads, of wanting them to have justice, to have ‘redemption’. There’s humanity juxtaposed with senseless brutality. There’s the claustrophobia of the setting and precious moments of hope – only for them to swept mercilessly away. And there’s a wonderful twist, a reveal that people still discuss to this day.

Darabont succeeds because he forms a terrific connection between his audience and what’s on the screen. He takes us with him on that emotional journey and it’s a skill that anyone in an influencing role should seek to learn.

Think of your business pitch, or job interview, in the same way. It’s the not the bare facts that people find compelling. It’s the humanising of the story that makes it work. It’s about how you make your audience feel about your proposition that counts. It’s about taking them from A to B.

It’s a piece of storytelling.