Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's Make A Responsible Use Of Our Voice In Social Media

Our Social Media Voice.
A few weeks ago a video circulated over the Internet showing a professional soccer player, in fact one of those many call "a legend", a famous master, beat his girlfriend while he was, apparently, totally drunk.

The video in question quickly became popular, and got comments (both positive and negative) as it began to be shared over the internet and especially on social media, as it always happens in these situations.

But regardless of the comments the video generated, what really struck me was having the opportunity to confirm yet again how anyone equipped with a smartphone, a tablet or any similar device, and simply with an internet connection and any social media account, can become a broadcaster for all kind of situations, both true and false, real or invented.

And it’s something that all of us, and I really mean ALL of us, should take into consideration, whether or not we’re running a business: Any person with whom we interact, whether in a positive or negative way, on a professional or personal level, has complete capacity (if they want) to share their own opinions with the community who follows them, and can thus become either an "ambassador" for your company, in the best case; or your "worst nightmare."

It’s a decision that is exclusively on their hands. And that's the big risk (or the great opportunity) for your company’s reputation and even for yourself.

With great powers, come great responsibilities.

But today I want to focus not on your side as a business owner, but on that of the individual who buys things in businesses of all kinds, from that very same shop where you go to do your weekly grocery shopping, up to the workshop you take your car to for repairs.

The immense power that we have to share our opinions over social networks should be used very judiciously.

And even though I feel it’s great that all of us, as consumers and citizens, have the ability to share with the world what we don’t like, what we feel not to be fair, it also looks terrifying to me that any person, at any time and from anywhere in the world - and simply moved by an emotional outburst, or by sheer bad intentions, can put in jeopardy you business’ reputation and even your own reputation, both as a person and a professional.

It comes to my mind the moment when Jor-El tells his son Kal-el (if you’re not familiar with the names, I’m talking about Superman, the flying superhero) that the latter had great powers that no other human being had, nor could ever have, and because of that, those superpowers were to be used responsibly and only to make good things.

And as every time I make statements like these one, I will share with you a story I read about a while ago on an english written blog.

The case of the irritable passenger who was just having a very bad day.

As I said, some time ago I read an article in which a girl related what had happened to her one day she had arrived late to the airport for a flight she needed to take to another city.

Of course, when she finally made it to her flight’s gate, it was already closed. She then approached one of the officers at the ticket counter asking for help, because she really had to get on that plane in a hurry, but the agent told her there was nothing he could do at that time, because the flight was already closed.

The girl, on her frustration and urgency, lost control, got upset and began to complain. Think of the situation: The airline employee trying to respect and hold to his company’s policy, our frustrated girl trying to get on the plane, some things were said, some words were crossed, and it all exploded.

All stories always have two versions, yours and that of the other person involved.

It’s not my intention to judge either party (although I tend to favor the airline, considering that our lady was late for the flight), but the story ended with the lady not boarding the plane and having to book her flight with another airline.

At the end of the day, she got to her destination. But while on the plane, she wrote an article for a blog she was working with, in which she unloaded all her frustration and anger towards the airline and the agent who attended her, who denied her the opportunity to get on the flight and arrive on time to her destination, forcing her to go back and look for another air carrier.

I read her post, as well as many other guys like myself, and had the opportunity to watch her questioning the airline’s reputation, even though she had been fully responsible on her own disgrace, for arriving late to the airport.

The first thing we all need to put to good use is our common sense.

Please note that in the post I read, our lady instead of starting off by admitting she had been responsible for the incident (because she arrived late to the airport), she simply unloaded all her frustration as a customer who believes to deserve everything and blamed the airline and, in particular, the agent by not letting her get on the plane.

We are responsible for what we say, and the damage we inflict to others with what we say.

It’s important, very important, we all make an effort to responsibly use our voice in the digital environment. It’s no longer a simple matter of saying things just because we feel like it, but to always make sure we maintain our objectivity, use sound judgment and common sense while saying anything.

We must understand that, when we decide to complain about anything we consider unfair, or complain to any company for something we believe was not properly done or is simply just wrong, we assume all the consequences that such an act may have for us, whether positive or negative.

What would have happened if, upon reading her post, the airline decided to sue the girl for the damage she could have inflicted the company’s reputation? Which was going to be “our frustrated passenger’s” answer? That she forgot she had to arrive the airport on time to take the flight?

We must act responsibly and always using our common sense. In our hands we have a very powerful tool, both for good and evil, and we’re able to spread our opinion and reach many, many people in a very short time and with very little effort.

We can unite our voices in defense of really worthy causes around the world and make a great contribution to our society, or we can also use our voice irresponsibly and make us an echo of (whether willing or not) false accusations or disseminate uncertain information.

And that is not a positive contribution neither for you, nor for anybody.

I recommend you reading the following article in this post
When The Crisis Explodes, Don’t Focus Your Eyes On The Tip Of The Iceberg.

Picture Copyright: imagesbavaria / 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why You Need To Make A "Reality Check" Every Now And Then?

Why you need a "Reality-Check"?
Whenever you talk with someone who wants to open up a new business, you come across a person who is totally charged with an overdose of optimism, daydreaming to achieve great and laudable goals, completely self-sold into their business idea, because she considers it simply awesome.

And all that is just quite normal and, I would say, appropriate of course.

Optimism is the attitude that will allow you to stay in the fight much longer than others.

But, have you ever wondered why most business plans that are out there, are built upon economic predictions with more zeros than we can even come to think of, showcasing the overly optimistic expectations of its very owners?

Certainly entrepreneurship needs a good dose of optimism to succeed.

It’s true that entrepreneurship is not for those with weak hearts. A good dose of optimism is needed to succeed. But there is a very, very fine line between optimism and mere illusion.

Only from this point of view can you understand the fact that, despite existing so many people convinced they have a brilliant business idea, only 1 out of 10 new businesses survive the first five years of its operation. It doesn’t make sense, does it?

I’m 100% sure that, for being an entrepreneur, you have to be an optimistic person, first of all, to be able to assume all the risks and uncertainties associated with entrepreneurship itself. That’s for sure.

But unless you have a checkbook with an interesting balance which serves as a mattress for you just in case your venture fails and you’d to start all over again, or if you’re addicted to gambling and betting, it’s much more advisable to practice a sort of “optimism based on reality”.

But why do we fall into this excessive optimism trap so easily and often?

Unfortunately, when you're making decisions that involve the possibility to make big bucks (or loss big bucks), you become more prone to look for any information that supports your claims that things are going to be fantastic, because it simply makes you feel better and more confident.

You get yourself tightly connected to your expectations both emotionally and rationally, so you openly ignore any information which confronts your beliefs. People say we often tend to hear only what we want to hear, and this is particularly true when it comes to evaluating possibilities for your business.

Interestingly though the greater the profit you expect to receive, the greater the chances you'll fall into the trap of over-optimism.

Haven’t you noticed your eyes swelling in excitement when you explain others the great possibilities you have to achieve excellent results with your wonderful business idea? And yet, when someone simply shows up in scene and raises two or three things contradicting you or simply showing that things might not come out so wonderful, an unpleasant sensation runs down your entire body and you wish you could simple erase that person from the map.

Overoptimism often tends to be the most common and damaging mistake you can make while managing your business. And this over-optimism can be particularly harmful when you want to explore opportunities inside the most competitive or faster changing sectors.

Practice then reality-based optimism.

Like many things in life, all extremes are bad to you. And this rule also applies to the optimism you put into your business: Neither too much nor too little. Just the proper balance and, on top of everything else, always gathering real data to back up your expectations.

Optimism based on reality generates better results than over-optimism.

It's easy to understand why: It’s very difficult, if not impossible at all, to accurately predict the results awaiting for you at the other side of the road, so being "optimistic-with-facts-on-the-hands" always offers you the opportunity to take more informed and realistic decisions.

It’s clear that optimism will help you keep energy levels high at all times, while moderation will allow you to identify more clearly when it really is not worth it to keep on pushing.

What can you do to practice the "reality-based optimism"?

Some recommendations you can take into consideration are the following:
1. Get to know your industry as well as you can: When searching for new business opportunities, try doing it in areas you are familiar with, those you've already had some contact and experience. Or if you want to dive deep into something completely new, try to get this knowledge bringing in people who shares your interests, passion and already have the knowledge about the industry. This knowledge will help you have a more realistic picture of the market in which you want to participate.
2. Always plan ahead for different scenarios: "What if?" Is a powerful question that allows you to open up your mind to new and more challenging situations, thinking outside of the box about different plans of action, planning for alternatives. Don’t keep yourself from having the opportunity to also look at the "dark side" of the force, for there is also a lot that can be learned from it.
3. Receive advice from more experienced people. Surround yourself with a team which is not afraid to put your proposals to the test. Find people who are willing to challenge you, to raise different ideas. If you surround yourself with people who always lipservice you, then you’ll have very little opportunities to see things from a different perspective. Someone with more experience than you or with knowledge you don’t have will prove to be a very important partner in your venture.
4. Become your most demanding customer. Always try to look at your product from your customers’ point of view and not only from your own. Does your product really captivates its customers’ heart, just as it does with your? Is your product really as valuable for your customers as you think it is?
Practicing optimism moderated by a strong dose of reality is a great way to manage your business and ensure the fewest headaches.

Considering and practicing all recommendations above will allow you to skip the self-deception trap and get you on the track to achieving more realistic and concrete goals.

I do recommend you to read the following posts from my blog to dig deeper on the subject:
Want a successful product? Become your most demanding customer.
A business plan’s flexibility: Obstinacy or perseverance?