Self validation

Yes, I’m her Mum. Being proud of her is part of my job description. But even so, I think this blog post is worth sharing. I hope you enjoy.

Nemo Imago

As an amateur photographer do you know how well you are doing? We post photographs on the social media website of choice, friends say they like them and of course, so does your mum. You try Instagram and gain a couple of followers, but nothing like the numbers your ego was hoping for. Is this the sign to get grumpy and give it up, or is it developing the foundations for your photography ambitions? Image

For a while I thought that comparing my work to the professionals was a good thing, for ideas, for technique, for ability. It was not. Simply for the reason that I was trying to compare my work to people with seemingly endless kit bags, and more importantly with the time to spend hours getting shots and practising. And while the pro’s still shoot at a level that I aspire to, I have learnt to become slightly…

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Making an impression

I know this is my first blog post for ages – I’ll come back to why and a pile of other stuff in another blog in the next few days, but this particular marketing bugbear of mine just won’t keep any longer.

Now, I don’t claim to be a perfect driver, I make my fair share of mistakes, but last week on my drive to Cardiff one morning, something happened which set me thinking… It must have been about 7.30, just around the time the motorway traffic starts to build. I was just moving to the inside lane as I needed to exit the motorway at the next junction, when another car overtook me on the inside, cutting me up as they pulled out in front of me into the middle lane, and then proceeded to cut other cars up as they pushed their way in to the outside lane. No, this isn’t that unusual or even that noteworthy – except that this car clearly belonged to a small business, as it was covered in advertising and branding.

So, I got cut up by an impatient driver – not the end of the world, surely? Let’s have a think about that… I’m not going to name the company here – although I will mail them a link to this blog 🙂 – but the point is, what impression do I now have of their business and the way they conduct themselves? The company concerned advertises themselves as a reliable, premier event management and hospitality business… One which prides itself on customer service and care. This is not the impression I now have of this company and I’m very unlikely to want to use their services or work with them – all thanks to the impatience and poor driving of one individual, who may or may not be the owner of the business.

Branding company vehicles is a common and useful marketing tool – after all, why not use the blank space that a car or van presents to advertise your business? But, if you’re going to do this you need to be very aware of the messages you send out to those you, or your staff, interact with wherever they go. Remember anything bearing your branding is sending out a message to those who interact with it and creating an impression of your business, which can just as easily be negative as positive!

For some more thoughts on what your marketing message may be saying behind your back, take a look at my good friend Mike Morrison’s blog on the subject.

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So I failed

Yup, I failed. I set myself the challenge of blogging every day during November, and have spectacularly failed! 

Failing isn’t something I do particularly well. I hate not achieving what I’ve set out to do, or not delivering the very best I can in any situation. My Mum’s favourite refrain is ‘Lesley, when will you learn you’re not Superwoman’… and my constant response is ‘NEVER!’. Because to me, the day I stop striving for perfection and demanding the highest standards possible from myself is the day I stop caring about my life, my business and my self respect. 

I know I demand a huge amount of myself, I know I’m harder on myself than anyone else would be – but that’s the way I am. 

But, on this occasion, I knew something had to give. I knew that I couldn’t give everything I needed to give to my current business assignments, and keep a household going, and have some fun downtime, and rest sufficiently, and care for a poorly, elderly dog, and blog. Something had to give, and it was the writing which I considered to be most expendable. So I haven’t written every day. That doesn’t mean the ideas aren’t flowing or that I don’t have things I want to write out – far from it. It just means I needed to be a little kind to myself and cut myself some slack. The blog posts that are important will still get written, just in slower time. To be honest, they’ll be better for it. 

Maybe, finally, my Mum will be proud of me. I’ve started to learn my limitations. 

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My daughter has started a blog about her journey in photography… That first camera was my Christmas present to her. #ProudMum

Nemo Imago

The 25th.

As photographs go, its not a great one. It certainly is not going to win any prizes, or be hung on any walls. So why am I posting it here? It’s my first blog, an opportunity to show off a little – so why ruin that opportunity with a not fantastic photograph?

The photo you see was the 25th photograph I ever took with my first proper camera. A little fuji bridge camera that was given to me on Christmas day, 2008. After a few blurry attempts, the obligatory family shots and the back of my dog (he moves faster than expected!) this happened. This photo happened.

And like I’ve said, it’s not fantastic. But it made me stop and look at the back of the camera. It made me want to try again, and do it better. It turned every dull, cold and tedious walk into an opportunity to…

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We will remember them.

With grateful and heartfelt thanks to all those who have risked their lives in times of conflict to ensure that my family live in freedom and peace. 

Remembering those who have given their lives, or whose mental or physical health has suffered through their service. 

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Turf Wars…

I’m still trying to get my head around the events of yesterday. To say I’m shocked would, in some ways, be an understatement – but on the other hand, I’ve seen many tactics used in business which you wouldn’t find in a textbook.

Briefly, I’m currently engaged in an onsite consultancy with a catering company. We run a number of services to local businesses including sandwich deliveries. The effects of the recession make business tough and competition between delivery companies has increased.  One of my recent tasks has been to look at ways to increase sales – which we have successfully started to do – by good old fashioned, honest methods such as looking at the range of stock, providing the right products, maintaining quality, marketing to gain new calls etc.

Yesterday competition took on a whole new meaning. One of our sandwich round vans had a tyre slashed while out on a call. Whilst we have no proof, circumstances lead us to believe this was likely to have been malicious.

Competition between businesses is healthy – it’s the basis of the free market economy. Competition stops businesses, at whatever level, from getting complaisant, and challenges us to constantly improve, refine and extend our services. Competition can also feel threatening – someone new moves into your ‘space’ and it’s quite natural to feel anxious – after all, the success or failure of your business is absolutely key to your personal security and competition leading to a reduction in income can threaten livelihoods. I’m sure many can recall instances where other businesses have used slightly ‘shady’ techniques to compete, and yesterday’s events were clearly absolutely unethical, and quite frankly, shocking.

But ultimately, will those underhand tactics win? They might immediately appear to – for example, our van missed a number of calls yesterday and if the incident was related to a competitor business, they probably managed to make some capital out of that. But, in the long term, quality, service, and integrity I hope will win out. I believe the concept of Karma does work in business – treat people well, market with integrity and deliver service honestly, and in the end good things come back. I hope.

So I didn’t blog yesterday. I missed a day in my challenge, and now I hope you can understand why. How I feel about ‘failing’ in that challenge will be the topic of a future post,  but in the meantime, let’s remember that sometimes we have to be patient with karma.

Dear Karma, I have a list of people  you missed

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When things go wrong

I am completely and utterly exhausted this evening, so tonight’s post is gonna be a short one, containing a theme which I may return to in time.

My view on resolving issues when things go wrong:

1) Problem solve and find a solution to the issue without getting dragged into an inquisition or the blame game.

2) Devise a plan to minimise the chances of it happening again.

3) If necessary, work out where the system broke down to cause the issue.

Playing the blame game, whilst tempting, is rarely beneficial and can create a negative culture of fear where no-one wants to be the bearer of bad news. Instead, create a culture of open communication where issues can be aired before they become problems.

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