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What more can I say? February 2, 2010

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation.
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That is all.

I’ve got big ideas, I’m out of control (Commented on “A VC”) September 9, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, philosophy, work/life.
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Fred Wilson has an interesting short piece up this morning on failure. After reading it, I left the following comment:

I was doing a review of a (young but brilliant) guy on my team recently, and as we were discussing the feedback he said to me “You know, the thing I worry about more than anything is making mistakes.”

I looked at him blankly and said “That is like fretting that the sun might come up tomorrow. Guess what? It’s going to happen! Don’t worry about making mistakes, worry about things you can actually have a positive impact on. If you spend your time worrying about the possibility of mistakes you’re not going to get anything done.”

Now, being Australian (living in Canada atm), there’s a fair amount of a “no worries” attitude that is ingrained in us, but Fred I think you hit on something really crucial about the States – the fact that success is rewarded and if you fail you are encouraged to give it another go; as fortunate as I feel to be from Australia we don’t have the latter as part of our psyche. I’ve benefited from tremendously from growing up in Hong Kong among other places, and I think a willingness to get it wrong is one of the best things any society can have in its DNA.

It’s probably also the reason I’m a long way from home right now :)

Originally posted as a comment
by davidgillespie
on A VC using DISQUS.

Now, I adore Australia and it will always be home. We do have an odd relationship with success and failure though, born no doubt from a myriad of cultural sources others I’m sure have written long and eloquently about, and which I don’t want to get into right now. Instead I’ll just say, as I did the other day when someone asked me what this blog was about, I said “big ideas”.

“Are they the right ideas?”

I laughed and said “That my friend, was never the point.”

So, here’s to the big ideas today. Wherever they lead us.

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All I wanna do is to thank you June 16, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, conversation, marketing.
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Readers who recall my 5 step marketing mantra will remember point 5 stated the most remarkable thing you can have is exceptional customer service. We’re sadly still in a place where a number of organisations don’t get this, due in large part to the customer service departments being seen as a necessary evil, a cost of doing business. As a result, the people staffing these roles are not empowered to simply solve problems and instead are hamstrung by rules designed to elicit the bare minimum of support; enough to keep the customers at the table but not nearly enough to actually make them happy to be there.

The contrast between the great and the not so great was rammed home for me recently thanks to a lousy experience with one of the world’s largest magazine publishers and one of the world’s smallest cafes. Those who know me know my love for coffee is wholly unbridled, bordering on obsessive. They will also know the outright contempt I hold for the Starbucks of the world, suffice to say North America is not David-friendly when it comes to my dark master.

Reach out and touch somebody

Reach out and touch somebody

Thankfully here in Toronto I have found Balzac’s, an independent coffee house which roasts its own beans and makes, quite simply, the best coffee I’ve had here so far. Having fallen in love with the store-bought goods I began ordering online, and when the first batch showed up, I was greeted with a hand-written card, offering up a 15% off code for my next order and a note about their Facebook application.

Let’s review that people:

  • I already love the product
  • They’re making it cheaper for me to get
  • AND they’re offering me another way to interact with their brand.

Contrast this with Conde Nast, who told me, when my issue of Wired failed to appear (while my co-workers waltzed around with their’s) that I needed to wait 2 weeks before they could fulfill a missing order. Having waited patiently, I contacted them at the appropriate time to be told:

We are sorry to inform you that the issue you requested is no longer available.

To be fair, they then told me my subscription would be extended by an issue, but this is not the point. I understand magazines are having a hard time of it lately.

Can I suggest though the ways to innovate in your business model are not to deprive people of the thing they desire in the interests of saving a couple dollars.

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I hope that someone gets my, I hope that someone gets my… June 15, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, conversation, storytelling.
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My Gmail inbox was out of control. I had over 1300 unread emails in it. Part of that is due to poor email handling habits on my end, but it’s also due to a lot of people sending me information I don’t want or need.

My Google Reader is also overflowing, but it’s full of content I have asked for, stuff I want and, very occasionally, need. in catching up on my feeds over lunch just now though, I came across the below video from Gary Vaynerchuk.

posted with vodpod

I have a lot of friends working in PR, I hope they watch the video. More than that I hope their clients do too.

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Standing on the rooftops, shouting out June 4, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, branding, conversation, digital strategy, technology, work/life.
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I think I need to start a competition amongst readers to see who can pic the song each post’s title is from. Here’s a hint:

Anyway, your friend and mine Tim is fond of saying “To understand change, you have to be part of it.” Now, he perhaps didn’t come up with that himself, but I am always reminded of him whenever I think of it, which is as good an exercise in branding as you’ll find.

With this in mind, I have spent some time this morning trying to bring my own silos of conversation together. My marketing self tends to exist only on this site, but my musician self is spread across Facebook, MySpace, iLike, YouTube, and God knows where else. Oh, not to mention another website of his own. Now, I do my best to keep my two selves separate, but bear with me for the purposes of this conversation.

It goes without saying that nobody working full time has the means to update all of the above sites, let alone engage the way we all insist we should. On top of that, there’s a requirement for authors who establish these sites to get a little more versed in the nuances of the technology than they’re otherwise compelled (or able) to do. What it means is more time spent tweaking the various underpinnings of a site or service and less time doing the things you started a site for in the first place. Cue frustrated creators and audiences in silos.

David Jones (a person, not the store) is a guy I’ve come across here in Canada. I spotted him tweeting one day “Don’t tell me what you would have done, tell me what you did.” – and that really struck a chord. Talk of best practices is all well and good, but evidence of how you’ve implemented it for yourself and others is much better. For the time being, until the big players in this space decide to make their platforms talk to each other, we all get to take part in a zero-sum race to a dead end.

Now I can understand each platform’s desire to control the artist dashboard, as the eyeballs are currently what gives them value. The reality however is if the smaller players don’t make it easier to pick up syndicated content, they’re going to see a reduction in usage.

I want to make it easy for people to consume my content in whatever manner best suits their existing habits. Turning that into a reality however currently means an ultimately unsustainable adjustment to my own. Something’s gotta give.

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I could never take the place of your man May 11, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in blogging, conversation, strategy.
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When I made games, every now and then I’d see a project underway where all the code was written by a single individual. That individual would invariably write it in such a fashion that it was only decipherable by them. This became an issue when the project got sufficiently far along that there wasn’t time to re-write the core code (it became, in other words, “too big to fail”. Har har). The company would then be in an interesting position – they could fire the programmer and lose the work, they could assign someone else to work along side the programmer who would no doubt have the most miserable job in the whole building deciphering and documenting the spaghetti or they could…? I don’t know.

I was thinking about this as I reviewed the top 100 brands on Twitter. Upon investigation there should be a massive asterisk which leads you to “In April. Over a few days.” – but this is not the point. The list itself is a collection of the usual suspects, and where possible their Twitter name is included and linked to.

What I find interesting here is at #21 Ford appears. Not just Ford though – Ford’s social media evangelist, Scott Monty. Nowhere else on this list does an individual appear alongside a company listing, in fact nowhere else does an individual appear at all.

Is Ford or Scott Monty doing well here?

Is Ford or Scott Monty doing well here?

We can assume, at some point, Scott won’t work for Ford. This creates an interesting dillemma wherein an individual not tied to the company potentially takes the good will built up with them when they leave. We’ve seen this previously with community managers, but it has for the most part remained within the confines of tech companies. Less risky strategies have been seen from the likes of Southwest Airlines where they encourage their employees to blog and engage in social media, but do a good job of tying it under a single site.

Personally, I’m a big fan of putting a human face on this sort of initiative, in fact I don’t think it works without it. It will be interesting to see however how it plays out once Scott no longer calls Ford home.

I really believe you can’t pay someone to engage, you can only reward them for it. In this case, the reward is a job.

But this is why you can’t just pull in the new recruit from the marketing team to take up the mantle. If they don’t already engage, they’re not going to do it because of a paycheque, not in a way that resonates.

Because that can’t be bought.

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This is the great adventure April 13, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, conversation, creativity, storytelling.
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Every time I play a gig, people ask me if I’m nervous, which I almost always am. And I think that is the way it is supposed to be – if I’m not nervous then nothing is at stake. If nothing is at stake then why am I here? What am I going to learn I don’t already know? What will the audience experience if I’m not pushing myself to some place I haven’t been before; if I know I’m not going to fall, there is simply no elation in flight.

Your friend and mine Sean Howard touches on these points in a recent post, The Scariest Thing I’ve ever Done. In it heleverages an eBook he published called The Passion Economy (rockstars Gavin Heaton and Katie Chatfield contribute as well). It’s a candid assessment of his work, and he’s honest about fis failings. More to the point though, he makes a case for purposefully putting yourself into those awkward and unknown territories. He’s preaching to the choir with me, and, I hope, you as well.

If he’s not, then why are you here?

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Do androids dream of these electric sheep? March 19, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, creativity, Viral.
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Just found the below via Crackunit, which is a lot of fun. Watch.

Your friend and mine, Julian Cole, said the key to going viral is friendship. Which is nonsense. Even if Jules and I are friends (which we are).

The key to going viral is having something interesting to share, and finding it interesting or amusing regardless of whether you’re somehow attached to it or not. And as we all find different stuff amusing and/or interesting, that is harder than it would seem.

For instance, if you had told me yesterday I was going to blog about sheep with LED lights strapped to their backs, I would have assured you you were quite mistaken.

And there you have it.

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More than skin deep December 4, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, marketing, storytelling.
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Dove Onslaught(er)

Image by Capitan Giona via Flickr

So a while back I got up on a high horse (I know I know, say it isn’t so) about story-telling in advertising. I identified the three ways stories get told in advertising, and was making a case for the third way (giving your consumers tools to tell their own stories) as being by far the most powerful. I want to get side-tracked for a second on this and look at two Dove commercials. One made by them, another made by Greenpeace.

The first: Evolution.

Everyone agrees (I think…) it’s a great piece of work and the conversation is continued over at The Campaign For Real Beauty which doesn’t seem to have an Australian presence but is all over Europe and the Americas. It’s a play at talking about something much bigger than the products they produce, which should really go without saying these days. Two years on and it is still a compelling piece of work.

How hollow does it ring though when followed up with this: Onslaught(er)?

Onslaught(er) brought such incredible public pressure to bear that Unilever, Dove’s parent company, had little choice but to work with Greenpeace to help save the very forests they had been destroying to create their product. They began a 6 month program in May of this year to work together to bring the plight of the forests in South East Asia to all companies that were destroying the forests for palm oil.

So here there are two very different stories being told, one the company wants to push about its products and one someone else wants to push about the company. Admittedly the former offered up a platform for consumers to have a discussion about beauty, but when the message is re-framed with the second piece of footage, the whole exercise falls pretty flat for me.

Perhaps it is a cheap or easy shot to take, but it has been repeated this month in the US with a company called Motrin whose light-hearted poke at baby slings backfired out of sight. The first move was a company telling its own story, the next was the community telling one entirely different.

Anyone else have some good examples of this sort of thing?

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Three of the best for Marketers November 7, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in conversation, marketing, philosophy, social media.
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My friend Matt put up a great post – The Ten Best Marketing Tips Ever. I’m not crazy about all of them, but these three are gems:

  1. Make your customer service truly remarkable. No, seriously, you don’t understand. Not good. Not brilliant: remarkable.
  2. Find time to get active in your industry association. Offer to be secretary and do an amazing job. Do extra stuff that no one wants to do and do it really well. You’ll be a captain of industry in six months.
  3. Engage your customers properly, start conversations with them online and offline (you know, like, when they’re in your store) and do it because you want to, not because it’s the latest fad. Smile like you mean it.

Some thoughts:

  • Remarkable is such a good idea, and so under the radar still. Take it, eat it for breakfast. Own it. Be it.
  • I was telling my new friend Lisa, there’s always an opportunity to be a thought-leader, and she’s reaching out to small businesses on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and making a really positive impact by just being good. If you’re in that area and need a hand, get in touch with her.
  • Passion counts for more than degrees and experience and networks combined. Full stop. Look at my friend Jules for proof of that.
  • Matt references Gary Vee’s brilliant talk from the Web 2.0 conference, which is required reading watching if you’re a reader here (“Stop watching fucking Lost!”). The other great insight from that talk is (and I’m paraphrasing) “Listening is one thing, giving a shit is a whole other thing.”

OK. Go enjoy the weekend.

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