Category Archives: humour

Lessons in Life

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.  It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1.       Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2.       When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3.       Life is too short to waste time hating anyone…
4.       Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends and parents will.  Stay in touch.
5.       Pay off your credit cards every month.
6.       You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
7.       Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8.       It’s OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.
9.       Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.
10.     When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11.     Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12.     It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13.     Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14.     If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15.     Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16.     Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.
17.     Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18.     Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19.     It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20.     When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21.     Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
2 2.     Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23.     Be eccentric now.  Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24.     The most important sex organ is the brain.
25.     No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26.     Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27.     Always choose life.
28.     Forgive everyone everything.
29.     What other people think of you is none of your business.
30.     Time heals almost everything.  Give time.
31.     However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32.     Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
33.     Believe in miracles.
34.     God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35.     Don’t audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.
36.     Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37.     Your children get only one childhood.
38.     All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39.     Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40.     If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41.     Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42.     The best is yet to come.
43.     No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44.     Yield.
45.     Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

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Rob Horlock specialises in helping the commercial side of businesses to review and map processes, manage projects and improve individual and team working efficiencies. This also includes improving the effectiveness of emarketing, particularly aimed at marketing managers who use digital agencies. If you would like to find out more, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: rob@ef-ef.co.uk

Looking for your next job? www.mynextrole.co.uk

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Bananas

Banana Test 
  
There was a very, very tall coconut tree and there are 4 animals,

a Lion a Chimpanzee a Giraffe and a  Squirrel 

They decide to compete to see who is the fastest to get a banana off the tree.

Who do you guess will win?

Your answer will reflect your personality.

So think carefully.  Try and answer within 30 seconds.

Got your answer?

Now scroll down to see the analysis.

 

 

 

 

 


If your answer is:


Lion = you’re wrong
Chimpanzee = you’re wrong.
Giraffe = you’re wrong.
Squirrel  = you’re wrong.

 

 

A COCONUT TREE DOESN’T HAVE BANANAS.

This is a great example of us seeing what we expect to see, or anticipating an outcome which we expect, but which was never going to happen.

It’s often said that the High Street in every town now looks the same – same shops, same signs, same people in many cases. This is true but not if you look up. Look at the architecture of the buildings, look at the rooflines. There are some wonderful old buildings around in our High Streets and we never take the time to notice. Or we look where we usually look. We look where we expect to find the answer. When you’re working, how often do you look for the unexpected? How often do you walk a different path? I bet you park in the same parking spot every day! (If you get in early, it’ll be a parking bay where the driver’s door of the car next to you is less likely to damage your car – am I right?)

So take a lesson from the Coconut tree and don’t try to find bananas growing on it. Don’t assume that you’re going to see or hear something before it happens. Don’t anticipate a negative response to a sales question because that’s what usually happens – prepare for a positive response. The tone of your voice will change and that alone may subconsciously direct your prospective customer to agree with you. Try it, you might go bananas!

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Swine flu jokes

Not in the usual style of ‘lessons from nature’ – something to brighten your day…
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Marketing Projects

Many pieces of work carried out in a typical marketing dept can be classified as projects.

·         A new product launch

·         A sales promotion

·         A new ad campaign

·         A brand extension

·         A packaging update

All are discrete pieces of work which could be defined as ‘projects’. Except that in a typical marketing department, they aren’t classified as projects. They are pieces of work which need to be done as part of the marketing manager’s job description – it’s just the day job.

That’s fine, but perhaps this leads to a less rigorous approach to the piece of work than would be the case if it was managed as a formal project.

One view that is commonly held by marketers is that ‘a project management approach will stifle my creativity and spontaneity’.  That may or may not be true, depending on your definition of project management. A ‘project’ is a piece of work with a discrete start and a discrete end and this can obviously vary in size. At one end of the scale, a project might be ‘build a new Football Stadium’. At the other end a small project might consist of a departmental reorganisation.  Both have beginnings and ends, so are both projects but the approach to each will be markedly different. There is much that marketers can learn from the world of project management, without stifling their creative juices.

·         Write a Project Plan – this doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, an excel spreadsheet is fine with tasks and responsibilities down the side and a timeline along the top. This gives a view of the tasks which need to be done, who is responsible for doing them and by when.

o   TOP TIP 1: Share the plan with everyone who is involved with the project tasks. Sounds obvious, but doesn’t always happen.

o   TOP TIP 2: Keep the plan up to date. When something changes, update the plan and re-circulate it. You don’t need to become a slave to the plan, just spend a few minutes every week reviewing it to keep it current

·         Monitor the project:

o   Understand the Risks involved in running the project. What changes will it involve? Who will be affected? How likely is it that the identified risks will actually occur? How serious is each risk? Have a proactive plan to deal with each risk (even if the plan says ‘we see x as a risk but will take the chance that it doesn’t happen’. This is an acceptable risk response, providing everyone involved understands that this is the decision that has been made).

o   Monitor the budget. Keep on top of cost, particularly costs incurred by third parties.

o   Measure progress against the plan

o   Update the plan when necessary, but don’t become a slave to it!

·         When the project reaches its end, have a ‘wrap up’ review. What went well, what lessons were learned?

o   TOP TIP 1: Document these learnings and save them in a central repository which is accessible to anyone who may run a similar project in the future.

None of this is rocket science but much of it is ignored by marketing execs who are keen ‘to get things moving’. Time spent thinking about the piece of work up front, planning and anticipating the potential issues, will free up time later on – guaranteed!

Sayings:

I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap. 
– Bob Hope 
We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress. 
– Will Rogers 
Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you. 
– Winston Churchill 
Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out. 
– Phyllis Diller 
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere. 
– Billy Crystal 

Rob Horlock specialises in part time project management and helping the commercial side of organisations to manage projects. If you would like to find out more about documenting processes or project management, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk

 

Reacting to Change

Camouflage is one of nature’s basic techniques for ensuring the survival of species. Flatfish have the same colouring as the seabed where they dwell. Females of bird species which nest in vulnerable places tend to have less colourful plumage then their male counterparts, to conceal them from predators while they incubate their eggs. The pheasant is a good example of this. Stick insects resemble the foliage of the plants on which they live. There are hundreds, thousands of similar examples. Some animals and birds actually change colour depending on their surroundings. The Artic Fox is brown in summer and white in winter, to match the snow. The Ptarmigan, a type of grouse that inhabits the snowy arctic tundra, does the same. It is not only the famed Chameleon which changes colour to camouflage itself. To stand a chance of seeing a camouflaged creature, you have to look carefully, in the right places.

How is this reflected in the business world? Who uses camouflage techniques to conceal themselves? Many people at work put on their camouflaged ‘business face’. The face that nods agreement sometimes when they should really be shaking their head to disagree. The face that agrees with you when in the same room, but who spreads discontent, rumour and innuendo amongst friends and colleagues behind your back. The face that tells you what they think you want to hear.

This is especially true in times of change within the company. When processes are reviewed, waste of one form or another is almost always uncovered. This ‘waste’ will be all or part of some people’s daily roles within the company and they will become very uncomfortable if they think that their job is in jeopardy. When told of impending changes in their department they may smile and nod agreement with the proposals. Underneath, they may be very worried and can react in a number of ways:

  • They can decide that it is time they found a new job with a new company and so will start job hunting. The organisation may or may not wish to keep the employee and the follow up action will depend on this position. Ultimately, the employee’s actions will have a fairly ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • The employee may seek clarification from their line manager –’how will the changes affect me?’; ‘if my job goes, will I find another position within the company?’; ‘How much redundancy pay can I expect to get if my job goes?’, etc. If there is a likely to be a positive outcome and the employee finds a new position, this too will have a ‘passive’ effect on the proposed changes.
  • Alternatively, the employee may be a ‘blocker’, someone who reacts negatively to any change. They may start off with a camouflaged face but quickly come out in to the open. They may still nod in agreement in public, but will spread negative (and usually exaggerated) rumours about the implications of the changes amongst the other members of staff. These people have very ‘active’ (and negative) effect on the proposed changes and they can change the overall opinion of the workforce unless they are managed correctly and speedily.

The important point is to recognise that some people wear a disguise when at work. Understand this and its implications. Key to this is Communication, the topic covered in the next instalment of ‘Natural Processes’.

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Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, ‘Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.’ 

– Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter) 

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’ 

– Eleanor Roosevelt   

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible. 

– George Burns 

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year. 

– Victor Borge 

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. 

– Mark Twain 

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. 

– Socrates 

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. 

– Groucho Marx 

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe. 

– Jimmy Durante 

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back. 

– Zsa Zsa Gabor 

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. 

– Alex Levine 

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying. 

– Rodney Dangerfield 

Money can’t buy you happiness .. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. 

– Spike Milligan 

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Rob Horlock specialises in helping the commercial side of businesses to manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. If you would like to find out more, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: info@ef-ef.co.uk

 

Marketing Projects – what are they?

What is a Marketing Project? ‘We don’t do ‘projects‘ in Marketing’, I hear you say. ‘We do strategy and conceptualisation; we uncover insight and manage brand equities, etc.’ Yes, that’s true. Ultimately, though, the purpose of Marketing is to sell more of your goods and services by giving the consumer (and the trade) more reasons to purchase your products rather than the competition’s offerings.

So, you develop New Products, you Repackage existing products, you develop Line Extensions and invest in various Branding techniques. You develop Advertising campaigns, Promotions, Sponsorships, Memberships Clubs and send out Email Newsletters. You’ll almost certainly set up a Website, you might highlight your Green Credentials to your target audience, you’ll definitely want to gain as much visibility as possible, whether that’s by Merchandising products in store or gaining Testimonials for your services. All great initiatives and all could be described as discrete pieces of work, or ‘projects’! Each piece of work has a defined beginning and end and it has constraints – Time, Quality and Budget – all of which sound very much like a project.

So, if marketers manage ‘projects’ on a day to day basis, then there are lots of helpful tools that can be used to improve the likelihood of success:

  • Write a Project Plan, keep an Issues Log, anticipate the Risks and (very importantly), capture the Learnings at the end of the project
  • There are several software applications to help you to manage your marketing projects, some very complex, some much simpler to use

To many marketers, this all smacks of process‘, a dirty word which ‘stifles creativity’. This mindset should be questioned, particularly with the growth of Web2.0 technologies and Social Networking. You need to collaborate with your colleagues and this means that you all need to understand where you’re at with the project, which will not be the case if all of the details are logged firmly in your head!

Our society enables us all to specialise and work together. If we hadn’t evolved this way we’d still all be hunter-gatherers, struggling for our own survival each year. So why, when we get to work, do we often revert back to working for ourselves? We keep our own spreadsheets, manage our own work in our own ways and often do little to collaborate effectively. Why not share more and reduce the burden on ourselves? That’s how Facebook has grown into the phenomenon that’s it’s become – they encourage anyone to develop their own software to share with other Facebook members.

There is no doubt that a more ‘process driven’ approach to marketing projects will grow the bottom line of your business – less duplication of effort, fewer misunderstandings and smarter team working are obvious benefits. There are many more. A bit of process will not stifle creativity, quite the reverse. If you’re more organised, you’ll have more time for thinking. If you can’t stand the thought of increasing your own admin, maybe it can be centralised within the department – there will be staff members who enjoy it! Why have brands such as AudiCadbury, Heinz, Hovis and Persil and a host of others thrived? Apart from all the other things that they do so well, they believe in the benefit of using processes to manage their brands.

How much duplication of effort goes on in your business? (a ‘best guess’ will suffice). If you applied a more process driven approach, how much less time would be wasted? Worth pondering?

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Quotations:

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’

Eleanor Roosevelt 

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

George Burns 

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.

Victor Borge 

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. 

Mark Twain 

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

Groucho Marx 

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe. 

Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.

Zsa Zsa Gabor 

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Rob Horlock specialises in helping the commercial side of businesses to review and map processes, manage projects ands improve individual and team working efficiencies. This also includes improving the effectiveness of your emarketing, particularly in the area of turning prospects into customers. If you would like to find out more, see http://www.ef-ef.co.uk or email: rob@ef-ef.co.uk