I’ve been doing mentoring for a few years now, both with organisations like Local Enterprise Offices as well as private events now and then, when I have time. I think going to a mentor/advisor and being a mentor/advisor is a good idea.
Sadly a lot of charlatans have ruined the idea of business coaching so you now have someone with no qualifications that’s just a liar pretending they have a clue about business. The percentage of con artists in “business coaching” is as high as “social media gurus” that work in digital. The advice these people give is plain dangerous. Just another version of the celeb “nutritionists” that can fix autism with some grape seeds.
Getting good advice can help a hell of a lot. We take advice and pay a good price for personal trainers, we take advice from running coaches, from dieticians, counsellors, we should do the same for aspects of our business too.
I do find value with business coaches but they need to be real business coaches. I did a course at the end of 2015 and start of 2016 funded by Management Works. It was run by Actioncoach Ireland. I got training and advice from someone that was properly trained in understanding businesses and knowing what works for a business. They also had years of working with businesses so had a rich tapestry of experience in this.
Most business fundamentals will greatly help a business when done right but most businesses are too busy being businesses to reexamine the fundamentals and get them right. Coaches can quickly see how your business works and communicate simply what you need to do. These people are worth every penny.
Advice for choosing a mentor, advisor, coach
Some thoughts on choosing a mentor/advisor/coach.
Pick a person that will push back against you and tell you (politely or not) that your idea is crap but will go on to say how to change it to make it better. The worst person you can have is a yes person.
Choose someone that has experience. Ask for proof. When I see startup advisors who are only on their first company and it’s barely 18 months old giving advice to startups, I want to smother them with their branded hoody. I’m not sure someone in business less than 2 years has any qualification to give you any advice and I wonder why they have time in their new company to be able to give advice.
Keep the sessions short. At the end of the session, have a to-do list. In between sessions, implement the to-do list. The standard length that orgs giving per session is 3 hours but after 90 minutes both parties become mentally exhausted.
Implement the God damned advice. I’ve found myself giving the same advice to people at mentoring sessions over the years. Same business, new writing pad, same stuff written down and never done.
A mentor cannot and should not be able to answer or suggest a fix to every problem you have, and you should have loads. Pick specialists. Get mentoring for just sales, mentoring for finance.
Know what you want to cover. I really get annoyed when I ask someone what they are looking for advice on and they go “I dunno”. The clock is ticking, I’m being paid anyway but me being paid to figure out what you need isn’t efficient.
Why you should mentor
I guess this is advice to people that aren’t already mentoring cos the fakesters would be the first to say they’re coaches and are already offering their services. Both giving training and mentoring has made me better at my own business. In a way there is a business advantage to doing mentoring and it’s not the fairly low standard rates you get from State bodies for it. It’s this: the more businesses you encounter, the better you are at understanding business more and understanding markets more. In the Digital Strategy courses I do, we spend time on defining customers – mentoring is a live version of this with companies coming to you and telling you how they work. You ask questions to figure them out even more. I find giving training sessions has me learning new things nearly every time because those on the course ask questions I’ve not encountered before and mentoring is the same.
Will I mentor you?
No. Like I won’t meet you for a coffee to chat about your business. My chunks of time are broken into half day sessions. Less than that and it’s not worth it.
2015 was a stupid year for me. I felt my company regressed and a lot of time I was out of breath with everything I do. Now normally I find the even numbered years to not be as fun as the odd numbered ones. Though 2015 is a very even, odd number. All the events I run had their biggest numbers ever and I committed to more events in 2016. Reminder: Do something with 1916.ie and 2016.ie. I did start attending a course to help me to cop the fuck on when it comes to running my business and started going an evening course in UCC so I have been doing constructive and new things. I barely wrote on this blog in 2015 but when I did I loved doing it. Pen set to paper soothes the bubbling brain.
Anyway, been doing these Ones to Watch for a long long time and here is my badly put together one for 2016:
Election year, whipsmart new generation in Sinn Féin, learning the ropes in the Seanad to become a lawmaker when Sinn Féin are in power. A friend first alerted me to this future member of the Sinn Féin dream team. One to watch. BTW, not a member of Sinn Féin, don’t own a wool cardigan, don’t know the words to Men Behind the Wire.
Jillian van Turnhout
Mannnn, for someone that doesn’t believe in democracy* and wanted and still wants the Seanad to be shut down, Jillian and a few other people in the Seanad and Dáil are showing differences can be made. Clare Daly is another. I was first alerted to Jillian by a friend in the Oireachtas who admired the fact that she hired her parliamentary assistant based on merit and via an open application process. Most sadly are quasi nepotistic – I hire your kid, you hire my kid/wife/buddy.
Loretta Ní Ghabháin
I know Loretta for a few years now via TG4 and other events. She’s looking after a lot of social for TG4 and other organisations from what I can tell and when you want stuff done, talk to her. I’d love to see a digital conference but mostly/majority as Gaeilge. Enough people in digital in Ireland can do this now, btw.
Duh. Oh am I meant to elaborate? Pat proved he can build, talk the talk, do the walk and have an exit. Pat will restart his blog in the next while. Pat isn’t a resting type and a corporate type so I suspect that we’ll see at least the announcement of PatsNewGig in 2016.
Essential French for years has been getting students top grades in the Leaving Cert. The students and wanna-be students give them a cult-like following. McWilliams Sail bags, Essential French attendance and whateve hairstyle is in. EF has won multiple awards. Natasha now is expanding Essential French with the first of probably a few apps. Digital allows you to scale well outside of Cork. The app is out a few months so let’s see what happens in 2016.
First alerted to Ryan via Spunout (there’s always a Spunout link in these). Check out his Instagram and his new food blog. There’s lots of potential in positive and rewarding eating and people changing their eating habits. Good timing, good alignment. Cookbook eventually?
Barricade is an interesting company but the sharing of what they’re doing is massively beneficial to everyone. Also an investor in Trustev. Cork company. Course.
Cos 1. he’ll get pissed off with this but 2. he’s always promoting others so it’s his turn.
Her name in the HSE must set alarm bells going. Probably has her own code in there. With elections in 2016 and Sara having called bullshit on fakery, all the election promises will be gutted and salted and whoever is in Government will be doing a WWSBS? What Will Sara Burke Say? given the budget of the HSE and how it informs public debate. Yeah I can sell you those badges.
Chris and Peter, Peter and Chris.
Ciara had a go last year and is now besties with famous people while still keeping Chris around. The Epic News content they do and the fun stuff for Paddy Power would suggest they’re getting better at producing fun content. Plus Channel 4 of course. And lots of people will want their content.
Jesus Christ, 2015 like but still. That wedding planning and cancer stuff can move the fuck away now thanks. Louise has a great show on 2FM, plays new stuff you don’t hear on the rest of the shows and will say in polite terms she won’t play music from woman beating arseholes. Anyway, I suspect Louise was just warming up in 2015. Woo.
* BTW I was sad to see Alan Shatter go. That man got shit done and held grudges so well but then a scruffy lad from Wexford did him over. A bit like Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Michael Collins.
FOI results from @InvestNI £310,366 (€442,603) given to Web Summit and sister events by InvestNI since 2012. The oddest one for me is for F.ounders given it’s pretty much an invite only event for very rich men.
Web Summit is an all island money acquisition machine.
The Sunday Business Post interviewed me ages back about working for myself. The piece went out on Sunday where I as Damien Mulley and as Damien Mulvey answered the questions.
The more verbose version via an email interview is here:
Why have you chosen to do project work instead of having a traditional job?
I don’t play well with others in the longterm. I’ve worked in very structured company environments and I just didn’t fully fit. Many are very comfortable with working under structures like this but not me. I found that every now and then I zigged when the company zagged.
What kind of project work do you do?
Several organisations hire me to train their members or member companies and lot of it is on digital marketing which changes a lot so these are regular gigs but not guaranteed. Companies also approach me to evaluate and fix their digital marketing for them. Sometimes there is no need for me to come in as the people in there are better than me but those that pay the bills don’t see it. These gigs keep me going over the year and in between I run events like the Social Media Awards, SME Awards and Web Awards.
vHow do you find clients?
It’s all inbound. I’ve never sought work from a company. Despite my crankiness and bad language on Twitter, I still get calls and emails to come in and do some work for companies. Word of mouth and doing a good job gets me future work.
Do you intend to stay doing project work, or would you like to have a traditional job?
When you have months where you are in minus figures you sometimes think about that regular job with regular pay but the vast majority of the time, no. I’ve been blooded with the taste of freedom, no going back to the world of fake plastic trees and Chandler Bing fake laughs. In addition the project work pays the bills and also bankrolls me doing other fun things that a regular employer wouldn’t sign off on. I had comic books made instead of business cards, I did events that never made a dime but tested things out and informed me as well as the audience. With project work I get to be honest with companies and lose business as a result sometimes. I’d never be afforded that luxury in a traditional job.
Do you think you do more or less work than someone in a traditional job?
I’m on well below minimum wage. I envy those that work for themselves and take weekends off. 80 hours a week isn’t unusual but I’m happy to do that. This is a time management issue and if I had the time I’d work on it. The clients always get their work on time and on budget though.
What are the biggest risks with project work?
Cash flow is my biggest risk. I’ve had to chase some companies for over 6 months for even small amounts. I had one media company find fault with an invoice 3 months after issue saying I undercharged them by 1 cent so we had to start the process again. I never wanted to become the sour one waving a contract before doing anything but that’d what happens now and I get paid faster. Progress, ironically is a risk as these days you can become irrelevant if you don’t adapt. Illness and getting a bad reputation are other risks.
How do you manage your taxes?
I have a patient and forgiving accountant called Derek Madden. The Magician I call him. I’m terrible with finances so his company does the most of the heavy lifting. It’s the main advice I give to new businesses: Get a good accountant to do as much as you can afford and the time saved will be worth more than what you give the accountant.
Do you think that the tax system is fair?
Has anyone ever answered yes? There are some issues with the way I pay myself and what I get taxed. Some good examples of how if I paid an employee a certain salary, they’d get a better rate than me. I’m okay with how the system works though but again The Magician helps me navigate it. There are good supports especially from Local Enterprise Offices, people who have leeway and know your business personally. There’s currently funding for getting your web offering up to speed, every business should be looking at this. The world can be our client based not our suburb.
Awesome! Mac icon Goddess Susan Kare’s original artwork for the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game on physical playing cards.
So iAd Producer exists for making those rarely seen iAds but it’s also great for prototyping apps @lindadong’s guide.
Listened to a BBC documentary on Anger the other day. It’s superb. They mentioned Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. Didn’t realise how vitriolic it is until they pointed it out. Such a fuck you to an uppity woman. I love it more.
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal
Posted in Fluffy, irishblogs | Comments Off on Fluffy Links – Monday 24th August 2015
Want to do a big event? Do a small one first and iterate on it.
Want to bring out a suite of business services? Start with one service and iterate.
Want to make an app? Why not start with a simple website and iterate into an app.
Everything I do today with my business is because of smaller things I’ve done in the past. Sometimes tiny individual things that then build and attach to each other until you get something like the Sockies that saw 650 people turn up in the RDS Concert Hall.
This year at the SME Awards, most of the crowd never had been to the other awards shows we did and were expecting something entirely more formal. When the sweets started to be fired at their heads by Rick O’Shea, they realised this was not the usual awards show. We started giving out sweets years back at our events as a “fuck you” to more formal events and in a way as a bribe for the crowd to like us. We learned that this also really makes a crowd relax and we don’t have the budget to pump relaxing gases out of the air ducts.
Startups iterate. The youngfella that started Snapchat might have been green when he started but years later and many iterations of Snapchat later, we have a billion dollar company. You can be sure he has people around him that have a wealth of experience too.
David Hieatt and Hiut Denim have a mantra of “Do One Thing Well” and boy do they. http://hiutdenim.co.uk/ Companies should work on something and do it well. Be comfortable with all the elements that ensures it’s done well and then maybe expand out or up.
When I first discovered the web in 95/96, there was Geocities. I started making my own awful websites back then based on copying the code from other shitty Geocities sites and amending them. You can learn a programming language by going through a text book with code snippets and do academically well but going through code made by others and seeing a subtle philosophy in code can be far more valuable. The dirty hacks in code that make it do what the textbooks say can’t be done or should not be done.
Take something, make changes and improvements and eventually what you’ll have is something entirely different to what you started with.
I watched an interview with Eric Clapton years ago (can’t find the link) and he went through blues song after blues song and showed how he picked bits a la carte from the songs and made his own songs from them. Legendary Clapton songs.
Layla’s famous guitar riff is from this song by Albert King called “As The Years Go Passing By”, it’s a sped up version of a riff in this track, it’s hard to spot without being told. https://youtu.be/nFvaC0GqV0c Clapton points it out here.
Bruce Springsteen’s keynote at SXSW a few years back was an excellent piece on influences and iterations. In this clip he talks about The Animals being a massive influence. Commenting on their song “We gotta get out of this place” “That’s every song I’ve ever written. That’s all of them. I’m not kidding, either. That’s “Born To Run,” ”Born in the USA,” everything I’ve done for the past 40 years.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVSoilSuXO4
Apple is all about iterations
Apple learned from what they did in the Mac. Good UI, good hardware, they make the iPod. Learn from the iMac and the iPod, make the iPhone. Take some of these learnings for the Macbook Air. Make the iPod Touch a testing ground for iPhone stuff. The iPad is an iteration of the iPhone and other product elements. They also iterated on products made by others but did them better.
The Apple Watch while a different form factor is an iteration of all the elements up to now. Chips, software, glass. Apple is not afraid too to cannibalise their own successful products. The iPod is becoming a product no longer in demand as the iPhone does it all. Same possible for the iPad with the bigger iPhones. The Apple Watch will eventually kill the iPhone and Apple will have no problem with that.
And remember, people always say the 3rd version of an Apple product is the one where everything is just right. That’s because Apple gets stuff out, learns from real world use and actual mass production and then … iterates.
Swallowed a spider to catch the fly, swallowed a bird to catch the spider…
Mulley Comms is all about iterations. The company started with me being asked to give tech talks and I’d mention Google Docs, Google Alerts to see who talked about your company online, using blogging software to run your website and way back then I’d mention this social network called Facebook that had 8000 users in Ireland who were college students.
From these tech talks, a few brave organisations asked me to come in and give training on blogging. The first few scared the shit out of me. I’d never done something as formal as these. From those, I covered other elements and as digital and social became more used expanded out the training offerings.
Take what I do, add something new to it. Run with it, perfect it. I don’t cover blogging as much now given social networks are also popular for businesses to use for marketing. My Lead Generation workshops are bits from other talks, split into new areas.
Social Media Crisis Comms workshop is based on other elements and other talks. I’ll probably be doing training on Snapchat in a few years.
Mulley Comms Events
The SME Awards is the latest awards show that I run. The SME Awards came from the Web Awards and the Social Media Awards. I noticed a big increase in the number of SMEs entering these awards and looked at what other business shows were offering and brought out a better, cheaper and fairer offering. The SMEs would not happen without the Sockies, which would not have happened without the Webs.
The Web Awards came about from my frustration at the “sponsors win prizes” awards shows that are so common in Ireland. Sponsor a category, you win in another. These sponsor win prizes events also charged a pretty sharp sum to enter them. Not everyone that has a great site can afford more money to enter these shows. So the Web Awards were started. While the Web Awards will have 600 people at it this year, it started small enough. The Sockies had 650 this year. Next year the Web Awards will be split into two events
The Webs of course were able to be smoothly run from the experience (sometimes very negative experience) of running the Irish Blog Awards. The Blog Awards were nice and comfortably small when they started off with around 100 people. Towards the end we were seeing 450 people turn up. Nobody in their various clones of the Blog Awards every matched that and good luck trying to make money from passionate amateurs!
Dealing with people, dealing with judging, dealing with venues, dealing with estimating numbers was all learned from the blog awards. When I started it, I’d never considered a Web Awards or Sockies or SME Awards. Now from the SME Awards and Sockies, there are about 5 additional events I want to do per year.
A huge value of starting small and iterating up or out is it’s easy. The barrier to entry on doing something small isn’t that difficult. If I wanted to do a big ballsy Sockies from the start I wouldn’t know what to do and I wouldn’t have gotten the audience.
The same thing works in procrastination which I’ve blogged about before (Google it. not bothering to link). Chop a task into smaller pieces and get the smallest done. That stimulates the brain in nice ways and pushes you to tackle bigger bits.
Want to do a big event?
Do a small one first and iterate on it. Why not do a free event. Rent a room upstairs in a bar with the condition people will come along and buy drinks. Have someone speak at it for 30 minutes, maybe it’s you. Invite 100 people to it but your objective secretly is to get 20 to come along. 20 is good if that many turn up. Use Eventbrite to ticket the event which is free to use for free events too. Eventbrite also allows you to export the details of those that booked a ticket so you can follow up with them for other events. The dozens of free talks I did were the things that iterated into becoming the Measurement.ie conference.
Want to bring out a suite of business services?
Start with one service and iterate. Bring out a service and start selling that service. Get real clients, paying ones. Learn about the right pricing for it, how to support it, what parts of it piss you off or your clients. What can be removed from it to make it more profitable or more efficient from people. From there you might start to see other areas aligned to this offering that clients might avail of.
Want to make an app?
Why not start with a simple website and iterate into an app. Buy a domain, get cheap hosting, use WordPress to run it. Learn SEO and a little bit of HTML. Have an offering that is given once people hand over some contact details or join a mailing list. Learn to deal with the public, talk to them about what interests them, what they’d pay for.
Learn how to work with developers and refine your design language so you can efficiently tell them what you’d need. Then maybe work on that app.
This post is an iteration
This post is all about iterations. It started with an idea of iterations. Remembering what Bruce Springsteen said at SXSW was the first thing written down. Then the backstory of the Web Awards, then Mulley Comms. The bits at the top were nearly the last things done. Iterations!
Tiny iterates to small that iterates to medium that iterates to …
I wrote a blog post called Iterations, it’s going live on this blog tomorrow but people are getting it via DM tonight.
Twitter DM character limit change
Over the past few days for many of us on Twitter, the 140 character limit for DMs (private messages) has been replaced with a 10,000 character limit. That’s about 1500 to 1800 words. A good but short blog post.
For brands, this removing of the brevity limit might turn into a pain in the hole as a customer asks the most long winded questions ever whereas before they had 140 characters so brevity worked in your favour. I liked Twitter for that as I get emails from some people that are 4-5 paragraphs long and don’t need more than a “Yes” or “No” reply. Not now!
Reading a long DM is actually nice and easy too.
Still, I think there are many uses for these loosening of restrictions
It might be a perfect bounce back for customers as you can DM them a few pages from the manual that they’ve not read and that keeps them occupied for a while.
It’s a very handy way for an analyst to send on a briefing doc to the media. Slightly faster than email and keeps the buzz going on Twitter.
Authors can release short stories or a preview of their new book in the form of a chapter sample.
For those on crappy connections, you could request a pared down copy of a webpage from a Twitter account. Like the old Email2FTP services.
You could with a little work run a training course to people via DM. SEO Nick runs an SEO course via email. One part per day. Buffer is currently doing the same with an email a day on social media strategy. DMs could offer the same.
And with a bit of scripting this could turn into a handy service for organisations to distribute information privately to people. See below:
man FTP – gives you the page(s) on using FTP for example.
There have been lots of comparisons to various web services now just doing a version of various Unix commands. You could do the same with Twitter and long DMs. Ask the Twitter account of a company/org for certain things and get a few pages of notes back. Think now about organisations like Samaritans or Spunout or other organisations around issues that still carry a stigma like family planning issues, mental health or eating disorders.
I know a few organisations on Facebook do not get interactions or even subscribers because people are afraid friends or family will see their interactions. It can easily be programmed now for someone to send a private message to these organisations, without following them and ask information from them. A manual of commands could even be sent on the first DM to the organisation.
So maybe you DM (private message) Spunout with the word “Help” and they send you back all the commands that allow you to get information. From there you pick a topic.
d Spunout depressed, d Spunout cutting, d Spunout threesomes
Commercially this can apply to a company too. You could DM Eircom with speed and your account number for support or information. The commands could reflect the tree that you get when you ring a support line.
I’ve already noticed that DMs are now paragraph in size with some people and surprisingly this can make conversations more efficient not less so.
Posted in irishblogs, technology | Comments Off on Twitter changes character limits in DMs – Potential for this
Alphabet = [Google] + [Calico, Nest, Fiber, G Ventures, G Capital, Google X]
Google = Google Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube, Android are still under the Google umbrella in Alphabet. The rest is shit Sundar Pichai doesn’t want.
Alphabet saves face as the founders and Eric are now not running their creation.
Sundar Pichai can gut the company more too and it wasn’t them. Nobody ever got the axe under the rule of the three amigos – Larry, Sergei, Eric. Actually, a few were left go during the crunch but not massive numbers.
Maybe now, silly projects like Google Glass don’t need to be crowbarred into being an integral part of Google and can be left to be fun toys for the billionaire’s boys club