Doesn’t everyone have an inner soundtrack?

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You’ve seen it right? Jesus Quintana dancing up to bowl. Los Lobos covering Hotel California in the background. He struts, he preens but you know he means business.

Well I’m never without my iPod and I’m sure like me, most of you have felt an extra spring in the step when THAT song comes on and your natural gait becomes more of a strut. No? Just me? When that song doesn’t end and you’re into the lift, onto your floor, walking to your desk thinking, “if they could only hear what I hear!”… No? Still just me?

I listen to music a lot. When I’m walking, resting, in bed, working…my headphones are never far away. Sometimes I don’t even have my headphones on. I just hear it in my head and still get that same spring.

Music is so mood altering that I’ve noticed it affects my productivity and style. I’m thinking of starting every email, every presentation by including soundtrack info right at the beginning. On the title slide – “This presentation was brought to you by Paul Thomas and Tom Waits.” It would at least explain the lack of flow!

So what’s your inner soundtrack? What’s the song or band that helps you to do your best work or start your day on the right (dancing) foot?

(And if you’re wondering, this slightly springy blog post was brought to you by Supergrass, I Should Coco. And like the last track on that album, it’s Time To Go.

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On the eve of London 2012, we’re going global

Olympic fever is breaking out across London; look carefully and you’ll see the evidence across the sweaty, furrowed brows of many a Londoner over the next couple of weeks.

We’ve moved away (the kids made us do it) but I still feel like a Londoner and am not sure what to think about the hype. I’m excited of course, I think it’s an amazing event to be hosting. I even have tickets…to the 100m final would you believe?

I think it’s the supposed desertion of London by Londoners that I’m unsure about. Months of being told to not travel, work from home; it brings to mind a certain Smiths song. It’s less ‘London Calling’ and more ‘Run To The Hills’.

Anyway. I’m braving it later today for a global call, which I’m chairing, hosting people from across Grant Thornton’s International member firms. It’s for members of a social media group I’ve been involved with to present to our Global Knowledge Management (KM) committee and any interested parties who want to join in. We’re looking at some of the fantastic social media activity across our member firms. The US, Mexico and South Africa are presenting and I’m then leading a debate on what our brand means for our use of social media and vice versa. More on that another time.

I think it’s harder and harder to talk about KM without talking about social media first. In my experience so far, the traditional KM people have been sceptical to the point of dismissal, but have gradually come on side, caught up and are now keener than ever to get involved. It’s the reason I was asked to set up the social media group in the first place.

Our business, like others, can seem chock full of initiatives and things to think about. How do others cope with the melding of social media, KM, Market Intelligence, brand and avoid stressing their employees to breaking point I wonder? What’s the umbrella you gather these initiatives under so that everyone understands?

I don’t have all the answers yet, but my feeling is that everyone will find a different way in. For some, social media will be the entry point. Others may be more traditional. But it won’t be long before we all realise that it’s all the same stuff. It all adds value. It all points towards a better way of just getting on with business and not worrying about the nomenclature.

And if you’ve not seen this clip from Twenty Twelve, you’ll see what all the jargon can lead to!

Putting my neck on the line

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I’m not the world’s most organised person. Being a father of two, holding down a full time job, maintaining my interests, finding downtime – all these things contribute to a life that can sometimes feel a little too full. It can sometimes feel like the world is moving at great pace and all you want to do is get off for a while

So how do you ensure that you’re consistently at your best for your family, colleagues and friends? Easy, you slip a disc in your neck!

Clearly I’m not suggesting this as a preferred way of achieving the perfect work/life balance, but for me it has fundamentally changed the way I’ve done things for near on 3 months.

1st change – laptop stays home. Can’t/shouldn’t carry it so don’t.

2nd change – bunch my meetings together and work from home when not in meetings.

3rd change – keep moving. Sitting, standing, desk working all take their toll. As soon as I feel that familiar ache and the pins and needles hit, it’s up and off. Laps of my floor, out for a coffee, a desk side chat or now the weather’s changed, a stretch on the grass outslde Euston.

Again, I’m not suggesting universal laptop mutiny, but simply that each and everyone of us thinks about the amount of time spent static or welded to our inboxes, hunched over tiny screens, lunches at desks….we all recognise at least one of these, no?

You could also argue that it’s fine for me. My role is all about the use of digital communication and social media. Surely I can afford to do things a little differently?

Baby steps people! Just offering to do the tea round may be enough? Running to the shops. Whatever…don’t wait until your neck snaps before you take up my advice.

On the basis of this BBC article, (Office workers, bankers, IT experts and couch potatoes beware. Doctors are warning sitting down for too long can shorten lives. So how can the chair be countered?) I’m suggesting Grant Thornton buys a funky coffee machine, I train as a Barista and turn out coffees for Euston House between 9 and 10.30 each morning. I’ll be on my feet, colleagues will be on their feet and you can be sure that by 10.30 each day I’d have all the water cooler gossip and conversation. I’d feel the pulse of Grant Thornton House!

Surely that’s the essence of social communication and what we’re trying to achieve? 😉

View from the social coal face

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My Twitter stream is full of amazing social media and #socbiz related thinking. I follow the ‘experts’ and have in the past felt like I’m stumbling along in the dark, getting things wrong, or getting left behind. Maybe it really is rocket science…?

Some share articles I would find if I had the time. They cut through the mass of information and they serve up their view on what makes a business social. They’re the theoreticians – a lot of useful stuff, but not always very practical.

And then there’s others more like me. Some beating a strong path that I sit back and admire, others who constantly retweet the two user types above, but who aren’t necessarily sharing their own insight on a regular basis.

For the longest time, I worried about all of this. I was mindful that others were further down the road to being where I wanted to be, where I wanted Grant Thornton to be. It’s been dawning on me for a while now that very little of that matters and so I’ve decided the thrust of this blog will be about the real world issues working with social media in a major organisation.

There’ll be other stuff of course. Why would I want to bore myself to death? But if you want to hear about real implementation issues rather than theoretical ones, I hope you find something useful here.

Offer of a lifetime: secondments for consultants

Working in digital communications, I get a lot of sales emails and newsletters. The more I unsubscribe from, The more I seem to get. All of them tell me they have the answers to my digital communication and social media problems.

Great!

But the problem I see everyday with the world of consultants is that there’s a massive disconnect between theory and execution. There’s so much intellectualising behind closed doors that purpose and fit are sometimes ignored.

A few years ago I was in the same shoes. I left my role in a digital agency in order to be a better consultant. I joined my biggest client to experience the pressures and concerns on their side of the divide for myself. This, I told myself, would ultimately put me in a better position in the long term; I’d have insight and understanding that few of my peers would have.

I’m not tarring all agencies with the same brush. There are clearly brilliant ideas and brilliant people out there and I thrive on working with the best of them, but I do find more and more examples of wide of the mark advice and bandwagoning.

Too many agencies are full of first jobbers who’ve never experienced the joys of IT departments, risk teams and restricted budgets. They’ve not suffered it, so how would they know? You can tell the frustration in their eyes as you tell them, “just another six months and we’ll be there.”

I wonder, can we help? Should we be saying, “Yes we’ll work with you, but come and work with us first.”

So here’s my offer. Want to find out how the other half live, then come and spend the day with us. I may give you some work to do, shove you in an endless meeting, but it will give you time to really make me believe you have the answers to all my problems.

I promise. It will make you a better consultant, even for a day.

Taking a human approach to social marketing

I read with interest today the results of Flagship Consulting’s research into the use of social media in professional services.

It talks about delving beyond the corporate brand pumped out by many firms and realising a level of human interaction with clients and other readers and followers.

The approach we’ve taken at Grant Thornton goes further than that and although we’re a way off finding our ‘corporate’ voice on Twitter, we allow our people the freedom to have those interactions person to person, enquirer to subject matter expert, without the intervention of communications and marketing.

We’ve taken this to award winning levels with the trainees who look after our trainee recruitment and blog. As it says on the site – for trainees, by trainees.

http://traineeblog.grant-thornton.co.uk/

After all our people own our brand, shouldn’t they look after it?