Mark Zuckerberg, over 2U!

 

More and more frequently I am finding myself falling into the Facebook trap of liking (their word not mine) links to the support of people with disabilities and I sometimes even get channelled over to signing online petitions. I don’t normally like ‘liking’ and I avoid overt political statements and things that might come back to haunt me one day, but when it comes to acknowledging things such as bullying and mental health I find an upsurge of a need to scream ‘injustice’ coupled with the as-yet-unnamed emotion ‘World, please see me as a good guy’. hide and seek

I suspect one reason for all this is that I feel guilty for being ignorant and guilty for not being helpful to people I ought to be helping. I also suspect I am not alone in this and that by opening our Facebook souls we are somehow assuaging this guilt. If you think I’m about to say this is wrong and shallow, I’m not. Indeed although a public airing does little to immediately support those that might benefit by creating awareness, which in business terms is a chief function of Marketing, a first step is being taken. But it is only a first step.

The mention above of my own ignorance comes from a specific incident that happened today. One of my daughters was offered the chance to attend a free training programme (run indeed by a credible organisation) to help her set up her own business. My reaction was immediately upbeat and positive (i.e. pushy) and when she displayed reticence I went into the predictable parental assault/tirade about ‘missed opportunity’ and ‘it’s a once-in a lifetime chance’ when I ought to have realised, as pointed out by an observing third party, that she was basically scared and I ought have taken another more paternal approach.

Recap: Here I am; a writer, a Facebook sympathy giver and somebody who wants to look like a good guy failing at entry level Emotional Intelligence. I cannot even read my offspring’s feelings.

And yet again, I am sure I’m not alone. What is happening in this Facebook age is that many of us are taking to the touchscreen and demonstrating our nuanced skills of empathy and advocacy. This is a reaction to getting more information and hopefully (but with no guarantees), more knowledge about topics like depression, self-harm and cancer. A cost of this however is that some of us are creeping away from real-life interaction and hiding behind the cleanliness and safety of the keyboard. I don’t think we are to be blamed. So much of the modern world turns us towards selfish and egotistic behaviour and I believe the internet and its stable mates (smart phones, tablets, on-demand viewing etc.) all enforce and consolidate the message ‘you are alone, buy into it and act alone’.

At this stage I am not proposing a solution, I was the one that wanted to sacrifice Tim Berners-Lee  at the 2012 Olympics ceremony rather than celebrate him, but realistically had it not been him it would have been somebody else. I do think however that perhaps Mr Facebook himself could look into turning his behemoth into something that actively helps people to actively help. Mark ZUck

Mark Zuckerberg over 2U,

 

 

 

 

images:
https://uk.pinterest.com/susanjn/childrens-books/
http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/10/mark-zuckerberg-and-wife-expecting-second-child-despite-fears-they-would-not-conceive-again-6500466/

Travel Coach Weekend Thought WANTED: Time to Create

Dear Travel Coach

Q. The good news is that my classic-car rental business, that I began during the recession, has done well. The difficulty is that as it has grown, I spend more time being the administrator and less time coming up with new ideas. Also, I get loads of emails requesting internships and money requests from needy charities. I believe in CSR but it’s all too much. How can I address these issues?

Sid, Northampton.

Dear Sid,

A.  It looks like you need a ‘right-hand person’. You will need an assistant that shares your passion and knows everything about the business. This will help in two ways. Firstly when you need to brainstorm and bounce thoughts around, it’s good to do it with someone who reflects your normal self, allowing you to play devil’s advocate. Secondly, you need a trusted person to be able to step in either when you take a well-earned break or if you get run down by the proverbial bus or more likely, a dose of the ‘flu. Invest time in selecting the right person and be prepared also to invest substantially in their wages. You are appointing a professional and not just someone to fill a gap.

Hertz advert

Once your ’emissary-on-earth’ is in place you can shut yourself away and get back to developing schemes, meeting creative talent (designers, web-builders, young tech experts etc). Your team will soon get used to arranging their own lunch breaks, sorting appointments and returning forgotten baby-seats and roof-racks without having to disturb you at all.

Forward non-urgent e-mails to a second, secret (known only to you) mail box that you can look through in your own time. It’s good to support students needing work advice and it’s important to consider the needs of various charities, but do these things on the way home or indeed at any time that you choose.

 

 

If these strategies are designed to show your team where their interaction with you halts, you need to do something that allows you to engage with them too. The best way to achieve this is to hold a weekly scheduled meeting. As always, it needs fixed start and finishing times and has to be structured. Although this may initially feel a little too ‘bossy’, a viable agenda is to allow your staff the chance to ask advice and opinion and for you to answer their queries and to agree their goals and strategies.

Ensure somebody takes notes of what has been agreed and make it clear that there ought to be no reason to revisit what has been said unless there are problems. Remember, the aim here is to empower each person to have total control over what they do, in order for you to be free to do what you want to do. These strategies are for everyone to benefit and that in turn will benefit your business. apple advert

Many artists, creatives and innovators find their idea gets swamped by their business admin – don’t let it happen to yours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(originally featured in Travel Bulletin’s Travel Coach /Ask Renato-October 2009)

 

 

Photo credits:

Hertz: q=Vintage+cars&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCjJPtnurTAhVnLMAKHdwNAYgQ_AUICigB&biw=1094&bih=487#tbm=isch&q=Vintage+car+rental+advert&imgrc=d5EyWNKrvHUqFM:
Apple advert:
i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/01/15/article-0-16F3902B000005DC-58_634x919.jpg

 

What Now

 

Travel Coach Weekend Thought:

Q. I am a student on work experience with a travel agency that is set to merge. What is the point in starting a career in travel when the future looks so bleak for me and the other members of staff?

Dorothy, Nottingham

A  Dear Dorothy,

There is no quick answer because despite all the changes in booking patterns in the trade, nobody really knows where our industry is heading. The speed of change is rapid and many of us find it hard to keep up with, let alone get ahead of the game. As a coach however it is my duty to focus on the positives, so here goes

 

Youth equals choice. Being a student means you can still select your career direction. If you develop I.T. skills, you will be in great demand because the industry uses technology a lot. Previously being a computer person meant being a background figure, but now and in the future, you have the chance to be much more centre stage.

A White Star passenger list cover from 1930

 

If you fancied front-desk work in a travel agency, why not use the same skills in a hotel or a conference centre? When I coach agency staff that looking to change career, I emphasise the great range of prospects in Hospitality. If you start at reception and become good at it, you can soon be on the route to management. The same applies to Food & Beverage and restaurant work. There are some really fantastic jobs in the Conference and Meetings side of the business and the support provided by organisations like ABPCO (https://www.abpco.org/) is way ahead of what has been available to retail travel.

Experience also equals choice. Your more experienced colleagues can take a similar view, because even if they may not have your exuberance and youth, they still have gravitas and know-how. Loads of people are achieving great success with the excellent satellite travel agencies (the term home-worker is being used less because many do not now work from home.) This way of working suits those who enjoy being their own boss, have an entrepreneurial spirit and are content with being alone for long stretches – it is not for everyone.

Travel agencies will not vanish completely. They will however become more specific in whom the serve and in what they offer. Your senior colleagues should focus on their individual skills and strengthen them. An example would be someone who is very good at selling a particular product such as cruises, or a destination such as Florida. They need to home in on what they are good at and become as indispensable as possible.

None of these ideas are guarantees of job tenure but it is important to remember that although there will be fewer jobs as a travel agent, the broader travel business will actually offer more prospects than ever before.  Opportunities are out there, but not as you knew them.

Photos:

http://titanicbelfast.com/Discover/Titanic-Stories/Secrets-of-ocean-liner-passenger-lists.aspx

thechronicleherald.ca/sites/default/files/u23/westinbellboy.JPG

Originally published in Travel Bulletin – What Now? Travel Coach 28 March 2007

©Renato Fantoni

 

Travel Coach Weekend Thought: Be visible not invisible

Dear Travel Coach,

I sell loads of holidays in our travel store and am a loyal worker but I don’t get any recognition. How do I improve my profile?

Penny – Blackpool

Dear Penny,

Get physical. An easy way of becoming noticed is to be aware of your body language and to use it deliberately. Therefore, if you happen to be making a cup of tea and someone strolls into the kitchen, don’t move aside but stand your ground, and then offer to make a cup for them too. This brings you right into the picture as strong yet thoughtful.

Set the mood. Every work place has its own mini-culture, its own way of doing things. If you can start affecting how other people feel, you will be noticed e.g. say “well done” quite loudly when somebody makes a big booking. Focus on good things and colleagues will begin to see you in a positive light. Invisible_Woman_Recruited

Suggest new ways. Once you have nudged the old culture-shake it up a bit by actually doing something differently e.g. sort the marketing emails by types of holiday previously taken instead of by post-code.

Volunteer and over-deliver. Ask for responsibilities and take on projects. Some people may think you are showing off, but by and large, they will appreciate that you are lightening their load and will soon start turning to you as a first resort when help is needed.

Get an image. Become known for recycling used toner cartridges or for saving stray cats. It doesn’t really matter what your cause is, so long as it enhances your personal brand and is inoffensive (unlike becoming involved in politics or a crusader for religion.)

Be a gentle rolling stone. If you are a career hunter, try to move on and up every three years. This shows the right blend of stability and ambition to make you appealing to potential new bosses.

Be good but be modest too. Whether in an interview or a casual conversation, try to strike the right balance when talking about your achievements. By all means describe what great things you have done but also emphasise when you have been assisted by somebody else. This shows you know about working in a team and that you are neither arrogant nor one who craves the limelight.sinatra

Pay attention to detail. If your client is about to drip coffee onto their lap, quickly hand them a tissue. If they show interest in an out of season destination – pull up a weather map. Do little things that show you remember people and are interested in their well being.

Carry out your promises. When you say to somebody “I’ll call you next week”, ensure you do it. If you offered to pass on a referral or some information do as you said you would to keep their attention.

All these things are designed to put you in a good light because they are all good things to do. They combine positive deeds with being seen to be doing them.

Invisible woman:

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/avengersalliance/images/f/f9/

Invisible_Woman_Recruited.png/revision/latest?cb=20130416194931

Sinatra: http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2043064.1418401656!/

img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/sinatrapath13a-2-web.jpg

 

Travel Coach Weekend Thought: The Brand Me

 

Dear Renato,

After having worked in the High Street for 14 years I’ve recently become a home-based travel agent. Given that quarterly conference is coming up and I also need to network with prospects, how do I go about presenting myself? Do I need a brand?

Sharon – Middlesbrough

Hi Sharon,

 

To start let’s put the ‘brand’ thing to bed. A lot has been written around this concept. All it means is that you have thought about what you do and how you do it and that the way you come across reflects this process. End of story.

Cattle branding
This is the true beginning of branding ‘My Cow, hands off’

 

You’ll have to choose to what extent you wish to identify with the company behind you. Naturally all the due diligence stuff like handling money and only selling approved suppliers is (rightly) inflexible. However, you do have latitude as to how you portray yourself e.g. are you part of a large professional set-up or are you an independent expert who is truly the best in their field? There is no right or wrong here but you do need to contemplate which makes you feel most comfortable as this will affect your confidence when dealing face to face with new people.

Head tattoo
…and developed into something really sophisticated

You asked about how to present yourself. I suppose you are thinking of what to wear –more of that later. Let’s now examine Social Networking. The facilities offered by Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Word Press, About.Me and whatever else will appear in 2017 are amazing ways of adding to your self-portrait. By working with them you will actually begin to know yourself better. Because these media thrive on users writing with brevity you’ll soon find you are better at discussing what interests you. This in turn will inspire you to research subjects you have a passion for and in time, you will become even more expert in them. For instance one person I follow on Twitter divulges how many seats particular airplanes have. Although the subject matter is somewhat niche (by which I mean boring!) it does help me think of this person as an air seat specialist. Social networking consumes both time and money but has become the marketing method of choice simply because people gravitate to these sites with the same verve as they delete both solicited and unsolicited emails and recycle paper mailings they have not even bothered to open.

So, when you have decided how big or small you are and have become a self-knowing maven you are ready for launch. Before you leave home however, remember that a conference with your peers is different from meeting potential clients. At the company event you are among trusted friends and you’re only selling a smile and a listening ear. However, being among customers is altogether more difficult. You do it because you need to sell to and through them.

And what will you wear? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. The purpose of selecting the right clothes and make up is to suggest competence and expertise. What you put on is secondary to the way you carry it. If a certain styles make you feel confident and good about yourself, then wear it. As a person who is now working for herself you are the boss and you should enjoy the freedom.Mrs May

 

If the owner of any of the images used wishes me to stop using them please do not hesitate to contact me. This site is not commercial.
Sources
Cowboys; https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Cattle_branding_(Grabill_1888).jpg
Lawnmower head: http://toetagtattoo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/15-odd-and-weird-tattoos-funcagefuncage-elegant-tattoos-design-ideas.jpg
Teresa May Heels: http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2013/03/by-paul-goodman-my-old-friend-and-former-premier-league-triallist-daniel-hannan-has-a-party-piece-in-which-he-reels-off-the.html

The Overview Effect, (the manifesto anteprima*)

Ever heard of Spacex?

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise

I hadn’t until I was recently struck by an audio bolt from the radio blue and learnt from the excellent presenter@NickyAACampbell that it is a private company at the vanguard of commercialising space travel. It aims to launch, literally, within months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTIYPzfThps&feature=youtu.be

The radio discussion then morphed onto the Overview Effect which seemed so interesting…I had to learn more.

The Overview Effect appears to be a new(ish) awareness. It is a combination of thoughts and feelings around looking at Earth from space and realising:

  • Our planet is so small, it is probably only significant to the organisms that live here.
  • The only divisions on the globe are the ones of physical geography e.g. mountain ranges and water (lakes, oceans, rivers). Any political or national or human interventions are false constructs that despite the best efforts of ancient China or Hadrian are basically meaningless.
  • The human species’ desire to build fences and stake out ownership of land walks hand -in-hand with our communal actions of abusing land by chopping down oxygen giving greenery, melting polar ice caps, exploding/testing nuclear warheads and challenging animal species to cope with whatever we feel can be thrown at them.

The effect can probably be summed up; the planet in space is fragile and beautiful and perhaps godly. Yet ‘we’ prioritise other things and take it all for granted, probably because there is no such thing as ‘we’, just me plus me plus me…

This blog however is not a pro-eco clarion call. You can read that kind of thing anywhere (although if you want to cut out the chaff go straight to http://www.monbiot.com/

What I’m writing about is more akin to the exclamation (though neither the film nor its sci-fi context; “In SpaceNo One Can Hear You Scream.” (Alien dir. Ridley Scott 1979 sci-fi) and how, in effect, Space is the last quiet place. Alien

Some of my blogs over the last year have dealt with my Silence Project. It is something I find myself constructing piecemeal and it’s like building a jigsaw puzzle with no guarantee that the all the pieces are present and the box top picture is almost certainly a different scene from the one I am making.

Two weeks ago I went in search of silence in London. My plan was to visit an obvious silent place and then find a less obvious one in its shadow. I began at the British Library (my thoughts from there are at the foot of this page) and although I found a lovely art book on the topic (which I then bought online) my doubts about the existence of silence were confirmed as soon as I explained my project to a librarian called Ulmila. Her unprovoked reaction was something like ’Silence? In a library? You’re joking. This place is full of background sounds which are amplified by the voices of complaining people who want quiet.’

I left the magnificent building with every intention of going to at least one nearby park but my ardour was so dampened by the angular London rain, I returned to the Library and had Silence IMG_2387a coffee and high-sugar bun until I went home. It was in this café however that I had a mini revelation in the form of a flashback reverie.

I thought back to six days before when I had attended a wedding in a deconstructed brewery in the City of London. I recalled the moment my wife and I ambled towards the bar to say ‘hello’ to somebody and somebody. The bar was by the wall and the whole area was bathed in purple lights that jumped to this sick beat (so sue me Swift!) of the darkened vibrating room. The noise was nauseating and I didn’t hear a word that ‘we’ uttered to somebody and somebody, nor what somebody and somebody said back to ‘us’. Acting under previously dealt instructions not to abandon my spouse, I took a sidestep shuffle and propped up the once keg-lined wall. Seeing that somebody and somebody and my wife were merrily gesturing above the noise to each other I grabbed the moment by the ears, tipped my head forwards and shifted my gaze down at my non-dancing feet.

Aah…silence. Of sorts. In a room with 220 people competing with the pumping line of the hellish bass thumps I managed to crawl into the snail shell of my mind. I timed 26 seconds of respite. I snapped a mental photo of my shoes atop the light wood dance floor and although the music was present, I managed to subdue its relevance by allowing it to become wallpaper. Sure my ear drums were still being struck towards terminal deafness and no doubt any observer would have thought of me as a sad loner but I had stolen some hard-to-find thought time against the odds and in a throbbing environment to boot.

I have long argued that silence is more a state of mind than an absolute and now I have experienced it. I suppose my version of silence is a subjective truth rather than an unequivocal one but I am confident that with this rather muted revelation I have found a way forwards with the Silence Project.

Perhaps this is the birth of an Inner/Under View Effect or maybe it’s simply the overview as seen from inside. Either way, it’s no less valid.

True silence is impossible to find. Experts confirm this and add that even in a scientifically silent place you can hear your own blood careening through your system.

My staring point therefore is that silence is impossible. Extreme quiet however is possible and can bring about similar benefits. I’d actually go on to say that it’s preferable because it is natural and more comfortable for thinking beings to deal with.

Photos:

Earthrise; http://www.ecology.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise.jpg

Alien Poster: http://www.pxleyes.com/images/contests/movie-poster-recreation/fullsize/movie-poster-recreation-52953fe575c29.jpg

*anteprima=preview

15 / 02/ 2017 Rough notes

Facts: 11. Feb 2017 British Library, London 10.16 am. 22 degrees C Humanities 1. Thirty Two fellow readers, 65% female.

SOUND: A/C hum, padded footsteps on looped carpet. The soft slide of my borrowed pink pencil (TATE: [not sweet}). Low female voice with a non-local accent, brief punctuated coughing. Key board clicks. The low ecru suspended ceiling swallows bigger sounds and bounces them out through its holes.

SMELL: Cool tinge to a bookish musk

FEEL: Deep paged paper (this book!) smoothly springs up against my writing right hand. My own unshaven face.

SIGHT: Blanched people moving at slow pace and purpose. A woman breaks into a march and a bald male (professor?) follows suit. He slides to his chair, positions four books at jaunty angles (Blue one on the top) and flicker/reads the pages. Broad wide room, up lights shine up and move the white to grey.

Light wood modern desks consume the floor. A library, this one too, a centre of knowledge. These walls house data, opinion. Old news and accidental history (when I write now I’m not thinking of becoming the past).

My own concentration — as ever — is fragile and waning and the SILENCE is only a truth in outer space and earthling death.

Realising upon flickering and reading (flickerding?) that SILENCE (Kamps, Said Menil collections 2012) turns phrases of non-sound to pictorial art. Once concept represents another and my problem with (love of) art is that it borrows its stabilizers from philosophy and intellectual impulse. My project needs to come in at a non-intellectual level.

Person I met: Ulmila, female library assistant who once worked in ASDA and the library in Colindale and at once misses the buzz of retail yet appreciates the calm of the British Library. She also -now that she is older -likes the detail of handling book loans. She agrees that true silence is an unrealistic concept, even in the BL. People complain about human generated sounds, but it is futile.

Travel Coach Weekend thought: Network-Notwork

 

Dear Travel Coach,

I run an independent agency and want more clients. I have been advised to start networking and to join a breakfast group. What is networking and would you recommend it?

Agatha, Bury.

Hi Agatha,

The big idea behind networking is that by regularly meeting people and building personal rapport, and trust with them you will increase business opportunities. This is done by promoting yourself (instead of your company) with the largely, but not entirely, truthful adage in mind that ‘people buy people first’.

At its simplest, networking is the attitude that when you are at a work-related gathering, many of the other people there are either potential clients or capable of referring you to potential clients. Be aware however not to treat everyone as a prospect nor make it obvious you are viewing them as such, otherwise they will keep a distance from you (think how unpleasant it is when somebody thrusts a business card in your hand). To maintain a balance you need to listen, show genuine interest and obtain the other person’s card (this also gives you the power to contact them).english-breakfast

Your stated reason to network is to acquire more customers. This is fine, but don’t assume everyone else has the same motive. I met a university librarian at a networking skills event. Unable to guess her commercial motive (after all, libraries lend – they don’t sell), I asked her purpose and she explained that success for her was having empty shelves. If her books were out on loan at the Universities of Helsinki and Rio, she was doing well and networking was a way of achieving this goal.

So, by tuning in to their definitions of success, you can assist other people before they help you and thereby gain credibility and the right to request their support in return.

On the back of this ‘mutual support’ idea, some entrepreneurs have formed ‘open to new members’ networking groups. They have a tendency to posture as ‘professional’ associations but are businesses and profit is central to their aims. There is nothing wrong in this, but do remember where their priority lies when you consider signing up. Their profit comes before yours so look at the fees involved with care.

The term raison d’etre of networking groups is to gain business for members. They can be successful, but be aware that people whose services are used out of desperation (plumbers, electricians, roofers) or legal obligation (lawyers, accountants) fare better than the others. Unfortunately, travel agents, like insurance brokers, are one of many competing channels and you will need to work much harder than other nominally equal members to get business referrals and loyalty from your cohort.knife-in-the-back-118x150

Lastly, networking companies’ regulations and habits foster a ‘team’ ethos. This is often a false construct to make you feel that membership is worthwhile even when it actually isn’t. Fine if you obtain gratification from being among ‘mates’ in a group but do consider if it is really worth being part of ‘We’ if it is at the expense of ‘Me’.

 

Photo: http://flashbak.com/the-communist-party-of-great-britain-and-the-red-menace-1920-1991-34573/

Graphic:http://thedomesticmama.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/knife-in-the-back-118×150.jpg