Failure is an option

One of the best-known lines in the movie Apollo 13 is, “Failure is not an option”, attributed to flight director Gene Kranz*, as played by actor Ed Harris.

You can’t, however, be in new territory, push for innovation, make a prediction of the future and hope to prevent failure. If you are creating your own future, which you are as an entrepreneur, you cannot guarantee success.

The only way to guarantee “zero failure” is if you take no risks. And if you don’t take risks, you can’t expect real gains.

You also can’t simultaneously say you care about developing your employees and then expect them to not make errors. Growth, development and innovation imply testing — testing can occur before your product is in market or when it is in market. Testing will mean some things will work, and some things will not.

We need to be OK with failure as an option –  as long as it is done fast, with purpose and with learning.

The risk balance: build to ship early

Opportunity windows can close if you ship only when you aim for the least-risky version or wait for what you think is the perfect product or service. Waiting to ship only when it is “complete” also bets your company on something that’s untested in the market, an option which has its own set of risks.

Much better to ship as soon as you have developed something that you are confident adds value to your customers. That point can be determined as when they are prepared to pay you for what you ship. Then continue to increase value, always measuring true customer interest, engagement, value and feedback. Knowing what your customer uses, how much they use, and why, is much more valuable to your future product or service development plans, and likely to be less risky than any other path.

The risk balance: preparing to learn

In the software development world, this notion of develop fast, deliver often — review, test, fail, learn and refine — is called Agile product development. Yet this approach is applicable more broadly than to just software development.

This means developing the nerve, thinking and processes to work through the obstacles that inevitably arise across any business function, especially when launching something new, or launching as a startup.

Creating a culture that allows for hypotheses, building, shipping, testing — and accepting that some things will fail — actually best balances risk against opportunity. As you move forward, you do more of what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.

In my experience it looks like this:

  • start with customers and define a problem statement that directly solves their needs
  • test the concept early, and when you have enough research to make an informed decision about scope, commit to building it (whether software, a service, or a product)
  • define and commit to the minimum viable version of what you seek to deliver — then get it to market early, in the hands of customers, managing the numbers as you gain feedback and refine
  • update, repeat and continuously deliver as you learn and scale

At Digivizer, by way of example, we have evolved an early product iteration into a fully fledged enterprise service offering. Now we are reusing this technology platform, experience and our data to work on the development of a new SaaS software solution that will allow all companies to easily measure the effectiveness of their social and search investment.

We have, in other words, continuously tested our hypotheses about what customers actually need, shipped, earned reviews, and fed back into continuous product development and product offerings.

Embrace, don’t fear, the possibility of failure: it’s a productive option to get you to your ultimate destination faster

The point about the Apollo 13 mission was not so much that failure was not an option but that the entire NASA team had to make quick decisions and act: the overall mission could not be allowed to fail because the consequences (the death of three astronauts) were simply unacceptable. They dispensed with the tried-and-trusted NASA ethos of testing and checking before executing (they had to). They assessed each task and fix on its merits, did quick assessments of risk (often in less than an hour), and (literally) pushed the button. They didn’t have the oxygen, fuel or power to wait for the perfect moment. More than once, they had to rethink their decisions on the fly.

No one wants to fail. No one plans to fail. But accepting that with progress there is also failure means that instead of waiting for that perfect moment, you are now prepared to ship and continuously innovate and deliver. And if you fail, fail fast, learn from the failure, quickly pivot or iterate, and repeat. And never forget to celebrate the wins and learnings along the way.

(*Kranz never actually said this during the mission, although after its use in the movie, he did adopt the phrase for his autobiography.)

This article is also publish on LinkedIn at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/failure-anoption-emma-lo-russo/.

(Photo source: Tantor via https://audiobookstore.com/audiobooks/failure-is-not-an-option-1.aspx)

 

Digivizer starts new venture to tap into $65 billion APAC gamers’ market

Digivizer has launched a new venture — called goto.game — to tap the global esports and online games market.

Goto.game is a new media hub and ecosystem 100% focused to deliver value for gamers, influencers, esports and brands. This is directly born out of our seven years of analysing the digital footprint of people across social and search platforms, and providing strategies and services to some of world’s biggest brands.

As with a fire, a new business needs three things: fuel, a spark, and oxygen.

For goto.game, the fuel was the gap in the market, to provide a meaningful ecosystem that brings gamers, influencers esports teams and brands together.

The spark was the realization that gamers, influencer and brands were all being short-changed. Our data let us understand and engage with the influencers, the gamers and the players in the market, what they sought, and how they interacted. We’ve been doing this, on behalf of clients and as Digivizer ourselves.

And we have proven two things: it must be authentic and it must be real.

The oxygen was the desire among gamers, influencers, their fans and brands to work together in new ways. Gamers and esports teams want to connect with commercial sponsors, without compromising their values and how they would authentically stream, play and engage. Brands want to understand how to work effectively in what for many remains unfamiliar territory. And fans want to enjoy their gaming without feeling “sold do” by anyone.

The result is goto.game — a gaming destination run by gamers for gamers.

But fires and new business ventures need one more thing: intent. You have to want to light the fire, and you have to decide to commit all to a new business.

With the data and the validation of the new market to support us, we’ve made that commitment, and lit the fire!

So: why esports and gaming? The gaming space is not new to Digivizer. We’ve provided social and digital insights and services in this market for clients that include Lenovo and Intel over the past three years. We’ve engaged some of the biggest influencers and esports teams in the APAC region, generating highly successful activations, streams, content and sponsorships, providing gaming and non-gaming brands with opportunities to be involved in the lucrative esports market.

And we have hired dedicated gamers to head the new company.

According to digital and online games research company Newzoo, the market is worth AU$131 billion globally, AU$65 billion across APAC, and AU$1.5 billion in Australia and New Zealand alone. There are more than 1.1 billion gamers in the APAC region and 12 million in Australia alone, according to Newzoo.

Our own analysis of the market, and our work at events such as PAX, RTX and this year’s Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) esports event in Sydney, makes it clear that there is a huge opportunity to fill a gap in the market. Over 7 million live views of IEM and 92 million in-content views for a single event represent audiences almost double those of mainstream TV viewing numbers, including the major traditional sporting AFL and NRL grandfinals.

And we have seen this market grow, in size and in the number of engaged fans who influence each other.

Respect (and data) at the centre of everything

Our strategy for goto.game is to bring these three groups — gamers and influencers, their fans and brands — together in a new ecosystem that treats everyone with equal respect, adds expertise and value at every point in the engagement, and uses real-time data to understand what’s working and where to go next.

For fans, influencers and brands, this is about creating a win-win-win, with content and contexts that matter to them. We have been thrilled by the overwhelming support we have received from the wider gaming influencers and esports teams across the APAC region, and from partnerships with the major social and streaming platforms.

Goto.game will be headed by Digivizer’s gaming team specialists Phid Oldfield and Jack Hudson, highly credible gamers and streamers in their own right, supported by a team of gamers including their content and advertising specialists.

Some of the goto.game team. From left to right?—?Jack Huddo, Fran Meliton, Emma Lo Russo, Phid McAwesome
Some of the goto.game team. From left to right?—?Jack Huddo, Fran Meliton, Emma Lo Russo, Phid McAwesome

Goto.game is already talking to top-tier gamers and esports teams, and I’d like to thank launch clients AKRacing (which is launching a new specialist gamers’ chair on the goto.game web site), Intel, and Legion by Lenovo.

Finally: how do Digivizer and goto.game connect? With real-time data and insights. Our technology, six years in the development and refining, powers and sits underneath both businesses.

To strike that first match becomes an easier decision when you have the best-possible information about what might happen next!

This article is also published on LinkedIn at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/digivizer-starts-new-venture-tap-65-billion-apac-gamers-emma-lo-russo/

5 MBA insights for startups and entrepreneurs

Last night I was privileged to be the guest speaker at a UNSW AGSM Business School Executive MBA dinner of those graduating 2017. (I graduated in 2013.)

The conversation was how having an MBA can make a difference and to talk through my personal learnings and journey. After working internationally for the previous five years, my MBA helped connect me to a local network of key decision makers, it provided the assignment discipline for me to focus my strategy and assessments on Digivizer, and gave me access to first- rate lecturers and a peer brains trust I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

In my final year, I wrote my strategy and plan for Digivizer in which I was able to secure $2 million in funding. It was definitely tough working full-time in my startup, studying for my MBA and raising my family, but it gave me amazing resilience and the conviction to pursue the opportunity I see for Digivizer (now seven years in and 50+ employees).

For those wondering how to make an MBA and a start up work, here are my top-five MBA insights for startups and entrepreneurs.

1. Do, don’t just think

Business success is about actually doing, and this is especially-true for startups. There are plenty of consultants, advisers and commentators in the Australian startup ecosystem. The ones to listen to are those who have successfully launched and grown a company, those who have delivered value to customers, and earned revenue and profits.

Many startups suffer for the lack of a plan, and they can be light on strategy. MBAs are good at helping develop both.

It is important to develop a meaningful plan with key measures of success. Then you need to translate your plan into actions and delivery. You need to measure all that you do and refine on the way. I love Eisenhower’s quote on planning and plans: ‘In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’ This is true in preparing your business for success.

2. Define, then evolve, your strategy

When I co-founded Digivizer in 2010 we developed a clear vision: to provide value at the intersection of social media, big data and CRM. To help our customers in acquisition, retention and loyalty by knowing more about how to engage their customers. Back then this was new thinking as most focus back then in social was on volume measures of mentions and very little in connecting social to your customer base. Much of our time was spent explaining to marketing managers where the value was to be found in social media let alone linking it to actual customer acquisition and management programs.

Today that vision remains the same but we have had to evolve our strategy. We now talk to boards and C-levels about how to help to better understand the digital footprint of their customers and have this central in their customer engagement strategies and how to measure their digital investment.

Business of all sizes and at every stage in their growth now need to know exactly how their digital and social marketing budget is working, and to be able to take action on real time insights. We deliver those data and insights and have 7 years now of proof points.

We are also now working on going direct to the SMB business owner. A more simple message but largely the same vision (helping them grow their business by helping them know more about how best to engage their customers and know what is working and what isn’t).

Entrepreneurs are good at having instinctive visions, MBAs are good at building out business concepts against changing market conditions. The learnings in a MBA help form points of differentiation and bring frameworks that help you navigate the different stages of organisational growth.

3. Be flexible, ship value early

Back to doing: the value in any company is in what it ships and how that makes a difference to its customers. At Digivizer we started delivering value as soon as we could, and have built our company and technology primarily on the back of bootstrapping through our own revenue and cash flow. We received funding at a point that we wanted to accelerate building out our enterprise technology platform which allowed us to engage and serve some of the biggest technology, telco, financial, FMCG and retail clients. We are at the stage where we will be taking our technology and our learnings into the broader global SMB market in a SaaS model.

Part of shipping early is flexibility: you can’t wait for the perfect plan or the perfect product. You need to ship and learn from customer feedback. Today’s customers and users are very generous when taken on the journey with you, acting as beta testers when you’re developing a product (especially software).

MBAs can be guiding hands on these Agile environments, balancing product usage with product revenues. This helps remind the startup of the direction they should be heading in, and the ways to measure progress along that journey. Nothing validates a product more than a paying customer!

4. Develop your people and leadership teams

People are everything inside the organization. Startups have to compete against larger companies with larger budgets and established brands.

Yet startups also attract talent, often the best in the market. They offer opportunities to make a real difference from the first day at the company, and to do things never attempted or delivered before. And do so in new and more flexible ways.

To keep these people, you need to develop a team culture and develop them as individuals.

This means understanding everyone as unique individuals, having a clearly-articulated vision for the company, having well-defined opportunities to contribute, to share success, and to reward when the big prize is won (and with smaller prizes along the way). The biggest value you can offer is “the MBA every day”. Involving them in strategy, planning, pricing – all key decisions. Ensuring that everything we do is measured by impact on results, not ego or past experience.  It keeps the organisation flat, fluid and provides plenty of ideas and leadership opportunities. It certainly provides learnings.

MBAs can bring insights into structures, systems and programs that can help a start up grow through different stages. For example, at Digivizer we have introduced project management by objectives, and key results (OKRs, as espoused by Christina Wodtke). Anyone at any level can own a x-platform objective to deliver. We can connect all we do to the direction we’re heading towards (and why), and we can support our teams on the way.

5. The customer is everything

A great idea is just that without a customer. And, it must be said, an MBA is just a business degree without a customer. All businesses from start up to established are successful when they put the customer first. MBAs are most successful when they bring their knowledge to bear on the needs of the customer, working through the products and services of the companies they work for.

I’ve benefited personally from having an MBA, and Digivizer has as a company as well. Having an MBA means I can switch between structured thinking and creative development, between the growth mindset and the longer-term business mindset.

The result is that we have accelerated, evolved, and grown. We continuously check we are ready and relevant for our future.

Robert Kennedy said: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” If there is a difference in having an MBA in the startup world, perhaps this is it: having the business rigour and training to sit alongside your passion, vision and experience, to instil the confidence to take risks, to be prepared to try new things, to be prepared to fail, and to inspire in leadership so you can achieve great things.

This article is also published on LinkedIn at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-mba-insights-startups-entrepreneurs-emma-lo-russo/

Taking your business through growth

I was recently invited to speak at a tech entrepreneurs’ lunch.

In the audience were entrepreneurs just starting out sitting alongside those a number of years in who had successfully navigated the stages of early growth to something more sustainable. We were also lucky enough to hear research presented by Cameron Research Group on key growth inflection points for SMBs.

There were a number of insights gained through the research and the discussions that followed:

1) Focus and commitment to success

Many had chosen to do their own thing not just because they were driven to harness an opportunity and to create a new future, but also because they liked the control it offered. Entrepreneurs felt they could live the life they wanted, and the more time spent on forging their own way, the less likely they could ever work for anyone else again. The result? Total focus on making their venture successful.

2) Managing growth through key inflection points

The way someone was able to run their business in the early days could only get them so far. That point seemed to be at 20-30 employees, at which point entrepreneurs needed to think about switching from a control model to an empowerment model, from an authoritative leadership style to more democratic style of leadership. This meant hiring differently, bringing in new systems, enhancing leadership capability, and formalizing HR and marketing resources and programs.

The next growth inflection point was at 70 employees, where the audience again recognized that what had been built to get them to that size would need to be revisited again, particularly in terms of systems, leadership and culture. The main concern each entrepreneur had was on how to keep and protect their company’s culture and the way they wanted their business to run when they could no longer be personally involved with, or connected to, every decision.  An emphasis on investing in building a strong culture based on values, trust and empowerment was key to those who were successful.

3) Four main growth pain points

This seemed to be universally agreed upon. To grow their businesses from startup to success, entrepreneurs needed to:

  • focus on cash flow,
  • scale recruitment and performance management
  • scale sales and marketing,
  • control costs.

Everyone agreed that all of these were challenging, especially when gearing up for sustainable and often accelerated growth. This has certainly been our experience at Digivizer and we have put much investment in each of these areas.

What was particularly insightful for me was the number of businesses that had realized they had to switch their marketing models from doing it themselves to recognizing they needed external solutions.

And it was especially interesting to hear that once businesses grew to that 20 employee point, they needed to save time and become better at seeing and understanding what was working for them. In particular, it was time for them to invest in solutions as it was important for them to easily and quickly know the ROI of marketing expenditure. They needed to be able to easily measure what was working for them, and to focus resources there ie do more of what works and fix or stop doing what was not working. Data matters and tools could help over manual options.

This resonated with us, given that at Digivizer our focus is on helping businesses create better experiences for their customers by knowing more about them and what they care about in order to help them generate leads and sales from digital.

All of which makes me even more focused and committed to rolling out our technology and solutions in an affordable way for every business.

This article is also published at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/taking-your-business-through-growth-emma-lo-russo/.

Are boards being let down by their senior leadership teams?

The Australian Financial Review’s Tony Boyd raises some amber, if not red flags, in his recent article about the lack of preparedness, of most of Australia’s listed boards to the reality of the mobile-first world in which they now operate.

Deloitte cites an Australian smartphone adoption rate of 84% (rising to 94% if you’re under 24), calling Australia a nation of hyper-connectivity and exceeding many western countries permeation rate. With 17 million Australians on Facebook, with most of us checking in at the moment we awaken and checking out just before we turn off the lights for the night on our mobile devices, businesses who ignore mobile as a platform to entertain, inform, engage and delight their customers are at their peril.

We agree with Tony Boyd’s assertion in conversation with Stephen Scheeler that boards need to see digital and social as ways to know much more about their customers, and thereby create better customer experiences.

Given most companies spend between 10 to 15% of revenue on marketing, with now over half going to digital, boards should be asking to see digital and social insights and results in their board packs as a matter or priority.  The beauty of digital is that everything is measurable.  Measuring the ROI of investment in digital should be continuously reported to help organizations learn and do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.

Boards need to hold their leadership teams accountable to appropriate investment in the strategic thinking and tools necessary to enable them to engage directly with customers, and to track every activity into and away from their websites, digital messaging and social platforms through to conversion.

While it should be assumed digital is an essential part of delivery, the real opportunity is in the ability to delight the customer and create friction-less, positive and outcome-driven experiences when and wherever the customer wants.  Measuring the delight and sentiment of customers in relation to their total experience (including digital experience with your brand), and by focusing on continuous delivery of experience improvements will provide the type of stickiness and advocacy businesses and boards are looking for.

This article is also published on LinkedIn at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/boards-being-let-down-senior-leadership-teams-emma-lo-russo/.

Brands and CMOs: don’t compete with creators and storytellers. Instead: inspire, invest in, and support them

Marketing has always been about achieving the best results by getting the right message to the right person at the right time using the right channel. That mantra remains as true as ever, but the techniques, long-accepted and built on the now-crumbling foundations of broadcasting messages at anonymous audiences in sufficient numbers that some of these messages eventually stick, are increasingly redundant.

What’s changed is the consumers. They are to be found on their mobile devices, managing their everyday work and personal life commitments, making choice about who to like or engage with, and to turn to, every waking minute. Overwhelming consumers with mass-market branded messages is increasingly ineffective, often prevented by ad-blocking technology, becoming expensive quickly, and still often misses the individual and their context.

The consumers are in control. And the secret to engaging with them lies with the true creators and storytellers.

Last night Digivizer supported Thom Whilton and Lisa Teh, natural storytellers, entrepreneurs and creators with whom we’ve had a long partnership, at the launch of their new book Australian Style: The Who’s Who of Fashion.

The book builds on Thom and Lisa’s on-line content and editing success, and celebrates Australia’s fashion industry innovators, leaders who create Australia’s leading designs, and those who tell their genuine stories to the industry and to consumers.

I joined a panel alongside Daniel Watts, managing director of Thames and Hudson Australia, Janice Breen Burns, former fashion editor of The Age, Lisa Teh, and blogger and influencer Lana Wilkinson as moderator. Despite our different backgrounds and careers, early consensus appeared:  a brand telling its own story no longer holds the same equity and interest for consumers. Consumers want a new and different story to be told by someone they trust, one that is entertaining and informative, and that aligns to their passions and values.

Thom Whilton & Lisa Teh, co-authors of Australian Style: The Who’s Who of Fashion

The evidence is in the data. Digivizer’s analytics show that those brands that work with great creators and storytellers gain greater consumer engagement, loyalty, interest and sales. They outperform those trying to control the branded messaging and solutions.

Brands must understand that to win, they must deliver the best experiences and provide great reasons for individuals to engage with them. One of the best ways to do this is to work with the people consumers already turn to for information and inspiration: the creators, the innovators and the storytellers who have already earned and built engaged communities of like-minded individuals sharing common interests, passions and values.

Consumers are savvy. They know who is being authentic and what is contrived, and they spot undeclared paid-for influence or comment. Even ahead of increasing regulation around declaring paid-for comment, brands should look to earn consumers’ respect for what they really help create, rather than look to trick or mislead. This comes through investment, inspiration and collaboration of these exciting possibilities via this new generation of creators and storytellers.

The process of engaging with individuals starts with great stories, but consumers quickly vote with their thumbs on their mobile devices. As they do, they leave clues about their intentions, connections, needs and preferences, many with the expectation that brands will act on these clues and engage with something of interest and relevance.

The opportunity sits in the precision of being able to act on these real-time actionable insights intersecting with the actual conversations and content engagement taking place on the social web.

The choice for brands seems clear: embrace the new role that supports, commissions and inspires the storytellers and creators to deliver genuine and inspiring collaborations that in turn fuels real Australian and global innovation.

Brands need to invest in, not compete with, the creators and storytellers.

This article is also published on LinkedIn at
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brands-cmos-dont-compete-creators-storytellers-instead-emma-lo-russo/.

Australian Style: The Who’s Who of Fashion was launched Wednesday 8 March in Melbourne, as part of the 2017 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival IDEAS program. Follow the social conversation at #australianstylebook #vamff. Digivizer was the primary sponsor of the event.

 

Digivizer creates additional annual day of paid leave to celebrate International Women’s Day for all employees

Today we make a commitment to workplace equality and diversity to recognize International Women’s Day: Digivizer is introducing an additional day of paid leave for all employees.

A fun Digivizer dress up fundraising  initiative for Loud Shirt Day (supporting deaf children)

I wanted to make the sentiments behind International Women’s Day around equality and diversity tangible for all our employees. Granting an extra day of paid leave to all employees, to be taken whenever it suits them each year, helps put the focus on work flexibility, and allows them to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment they make, and the support they receive from their partners and families.

One way to support every employee is to provide a flexible workplace that helps them find balance across all aspects of their life, including family, health and wellbeing. If we define success by the outcomes we create, who we are, and the value we deliver, rather than defining how, when and where this is done, businesses and people will flourish. Workplaces of the future should always be about results, not effort.

If we recruit the best talent we can afford, true workplace diversity will follow.

To make the workplace of the future meaningful and real, we have to change now. Some of those changes will be large in scope, others simple to make. Our responsibilities as leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners remain clear: make decisions that empower all employees to be the best they can, in workplace environments that allow them to succeed.

Thank you to all of Digivizer’s employees, for their contribution and commitment! As International Women’s day reminds us all, Be Bold for Change!

Key Speaker for Government’s “Women in Global Business” Conference

Emma is invited to speak and present a case study as to the key ingredients to achieving global success at the July

Women in Global Business Speaker Series.

Here are some of the details being shared to promote the event:

Australian women will have the opportunity to hear from prominent women who have succeeded internationally at the Women in Global Business Speaker Series in July and August.The annual event held in states and territories across the country will feature speakers from a variety of industry sectors, providing businesswomen with practical advice on venturing overseas.

Women in Global Business national program manager, Cynthia Balogh, believe the event is beneficial in helping women overcome international barriers, particularly those in the Middle East.

“The Middle East presents quite specific barriers for women; some of the Asian and South American markets can do the same,” she said.

Balogh told Dynamic Export the event offers business owners the opportunity to learn and network with like-minded people.

“It’s an opportunity to see their role models, who have often had quite tough journeys to expand their businesses into those market places, women often learn from seeing role models. It helps them overcome some confidence issues, whether it’s personal confidence or confidence in business,” Balogh said.

Digivizer CEO, Emma Lo Russo, who will be speaking at the Sydney event can relate to the personal challenges women face when growing their business.

Lo Russo believes the event will provide shared mentorship and allow women to learn from real-life experiences.  “Having real honest examples of what works, is quite empowering. Instead of feeling like you have to navigate the unknown or have a goal and do it alone”.

Details & registration for the event can be found here :

Thursday 26th July 2012

8.30am – 12.30pm

NSW Trade and Investment Centre, Level 47, MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, Sydney

I’ll post more about my key points to achieving international success here soon.

Commonwealth Bank exploring how the social web can de-risk their decisions

Last week I spoke to 75 of CBA’s Risk, Institutional & Business Banking team to help them see how leveraging the digital footprints of people on the social web could de-risk their organization’s decisions.

I shared how insights from the social web can be used to help make better decisions around relevant targeting and personalization of offers. This is made possible when a customer base is linked to the social web (something DIGIVIZER offers).

The questions and discussions that followed regarding applications were active, positive and encouraging. They continued for a further 2 hours following the presentation and it seems for a few days following.  Feedback was positive and the discussions continue:

“Emma did a great presentation for CBA last week on “How social web can inform and de-risk your organisation decisions’. She certainly raised awareness and promoted significant debate both during and for days after her presentation. Highly informative and all delivered with an engaging and passionate approach.” Trina Edgar, General Manager, Commonwealth Bank

There is lots of discussion about Social CRM and many companies are making good in-roads into leveraging real-time insights within their marketing programs.

You can find out more about how you can use the social web to get closer to your customers and increase sales and profit here.

Hope powering change

Last night I attended the Sydney Festival event Hope 2012 with the theme “Citizens seizing the day”.

My name is HopeSocial Media was hailed as one of the agents of change.  Certainly it has made it possible even in oppressed societies for citizens to reach more people and help gain momentum and support for their plight and desired change (think recent people lead change in Egypt as well as community support generated for those affected by QLD Floods, NZ & Japan Earthquakes etc).

However social media really only represents an easy, low-cost, high reach and engagement channel.  It is not the channel that brings change but the opportunity it presents and the people who engage within it and the messages they share.

Listening to the personal stories of the great speakers last night and those across Australia, there were some common and consistent messages that suggest a blue print for bringing about change. They point to the cause of which the channel is only the conduit:

1) Hope Powers Change – you must first genuinely hope to bring about change . Hope then provides the fuel and momentum for you to continue in the face of adversity, inequity, barriers, and power imbalance. Hope also binds people together behind a common cause.

2) It starts with the first step – no matter how small, everything you contribute to bringing change no matter how small can make a difference.  The benefits of taking 1 minute of your time, showing or demonstrating your encouragement and support, donating something small (time, message, money, resources).  Just taking an action can generate, add-to or complete some great act of change in someone’s life. It has the added benefit of impacting you positively too.

3) Look for, understand & stand for basic human rights – equality, freedom, opportunity  for everyone – how can you ensure this is enjoyed by everyone. Identify how many of your rights you take for granted that are not available to others.  Identify the basic human rights that are being challenged all around the world including in our own back yard (and our legislation).

4) Connect directly with people affected – it is too easy to be disconnected from the person and people who needs help.  Listen to their story.  Listen to their hope.  It is impossible to ignore and will help you know the right action to take.

5) Have Courage – it requires courage to stand up, have a voice, be counted and more importantly to act.  It starts with the courage to ask yourself “why is this happening and what can I do to change it?”

It felt easy to applaud those making changes last night however significantly more difficult and uncomfortable to ask ourselves how much are we doing at the individual level to bring about change.

It matters not how much we have done to support required changes in the past, only how much we can do moving forward.

I reflect on the great George Bernard Shaw quote:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

It points to the need to stand resolute and that we must first look to ourselves as the instruments of change.

May 2012 be your year.  Allow Hope to power the change you desire.