Iron Lady

Iron Lady

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Brands are talking, people aren’t.

I usually go to Waterloo on my way to Southbank, one of my favorites places in London; and every time the train arrives, I can’t help looking at all the adverts surrounding the place – normal people usually avoid them, but we, the freaks in advertising, never miss them. You will find billboards everywhere, all along the platforms, brands on the barriers, posters on the walls, by the escalators, people wearing branded costumes, free oyster-card covers, free little pieces of doughnuts and other gifts en route that human beings are too busy or too ashamed to take; last summer I got an ice cream – very nice!

Messages up, down, there…everything seems to talk, except people. We are busy looking at devices, communicating with family or friends in other places, talking to people in other countries, teleporting with music, books or migrating to a different galaxy to discuss with our alter ego. We are in a rush to get somewhere else, rather than where we are at the time.

Why is that? We are mastering online communications, prefer talking to far away people than saying a simple ‘hello’ to the person next to us. We do care about someone tweeting from Singapore, texting from Spain, giving news from NY or posting from London -that’s me- but caring about the neighbour, there is no time! Digital tools are giving us an incredible ability to connect to the world but are we losing our ability to talk? Humanity seems to be more interested in getting likes and shares, another way to talk though, will the next generations respond with a click instead of a nod?

That reminded me of a brand that never says a word: “The boy with tape on his face“. I went last summer to see him and it was hilarious, he didn’t need to speak to make an entire audience laugh and connect with each other. He left the talking to the public by giving them an experience – that is what brands should do, providing memorable moments so when you leave the train station, you are not just going to remember where you are going but what they are talking about.The boy with tape on his face

So you think you’re creative? Meet the creative recruiters

#gottalovecake at #HREvent13We tend to think that creativity has to come from people applying for jobs, they are the ones using their imagination, cracking their brains until they get an amazing piece of work that stands out from the crowd; and that HR departments only have to point and pick a winner. Don’t underestimate Recruiters; they can get very Creative too.

This is the case at Bromford Group, I met them last week at #HREvent13 where they presented their famous case study. They were looking for 5 people to join their communications team and after some attempts on job sites and newspapers they didn’t find suitable candidates. At that point rather than looking outside, they started looking inside their company, what were their passions, what they actually like, what it was like working at Bromford and if someone was going to join – they had love their loves.

The list was long including a love for space hoppers and fancy dress, as well as some more work-based ones like telling people’s stories and changing lives. But one thing was clear, when you work at Bromford there’s a lot of cake and we love our cake!” -says Alex Abbotts, Head of Communications.

That’s how the #gottalovecake campaign was born. Candidates were directed to a website with the job description and then had to submit a piece of work, whether WordPress, video, audio, infographic, or joining the Twitter activity.

What caught my attention, wasn’t that they found a good match, but the statistics.

•       Cost: £0 Vs £1,500
•       Hit 13,398 individual Twitter accounts
•       Seen over 58,600 times on Twitter
•       Trended (£2k for free)
•       1,959 visitors to #gottalovecake web page
•       2,536 separate visits
•       140 visits from Twitter per day
•       19% reduction in applications…but a far greater candidate match
•       87% vs 38% through to second stage
•       Gold at HR Distinction Awards – #HREvent13 at Birmingham
•       Blogpost on “6 hours ahead” and other famous blogs.

I know a lot of agencies use creative ways to find their talent, but this is one that I will definitely remember (not only because I’m a cake fan); but when you look inside and find your best, then you get something unique and memorable.

There is a lot of competition when you look for a job, not just from other candidates, but from those hiring too – HR Directors are setting the bar high.

It is all about people

You usually meet HR people twice; first when you are hired and then when you are leaving. I had the chance to meet a full delegation of HR Directors this week, whilst covering one of the biggest HR Events in Europe: HREvent13.

Everything started with an early morning, catching the 5:30am train to Birmingham. Then walking the icy streets without falling, making it to the ICC where the 11th Annual HR Directors Business Summit was taking place.

There is big machine running behind a Human Resources department and a two day event was going to draw attention to the main pillars supporting the industry of getting the right people in the right places. It involves changes, decisions, cultural shifts, psychology, innovation, performance, strategy, self believe, benefits, software and so on. I will tell you some highlights; nevertheless there were many interesting stories on stage and in the corridors.
Day One was enlightened when Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller took to the stage (as she said – a very long name, don’t bother to say it again). With a great sense of humor and a strong voice the Baroness talked about “How to manage change under pressure”. She was head of MI5 -Britain’s Security Service- in the wake of 9/11 and during the threat of Al-Qaeda. Not an easy task right? During this time, this woman managed to double it in size, opened 8 new offices and established a training academy. While telling true stories about people at MI5 – I picked up on some good statements:

  • The higher the pressure of a situation, the easier it is to make decisions.
  • We always have a way of doing things, but ask yourself – is it the best way?
  • Performance will drop if you change too much.
  • It’s not what you do; it’s what you think.
  • Understand the pressure and don´t fear failure. If you fail, you will only have more to do.
  • Believe in what you are doing.
  • Be concerned with people’s welfare.
  • Pay attention to the small details, make sure you know people’s names.
  • Human beings are laughers, have a sense of humor.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Be humble and open about what you do wrong.
  • It’s good not to be thanked as many times as you think you should.

Baroness Eliza Manninghan-Buller at #HREvent13

The program kept running and we kept moving along the conference rooms. I then joined “A guide to working the way you want” it sounded like the title for a best seller, instead Richard Peers, Head of HR at Vodafone, showed us how a company that sells its customers mobility, embraces the same principles. Vodafone’s head office at Maastricht, a city in The Netherlands, enables their employees to work whenever and wherever they like. In this building they replaced fixed workstation for multifunctional rooms, so you don’t have the same desk every day.

Vodafone Head Office

The concept is called mobile working which brings into practice what Vodafone stands for: simplicity, speed and trust. You can work surrounded by a library, by a forest, get a coffee and then move to another room and ask for feedback in an informal meeting.

The well being of it’s staff is part of the design and it goes further than an office layout, it motivates people to collaborate, enhancing transparency among the organization. It also has financial benefits, have a look at these figures:

Vodafone Case Study. #hrevent13.

Then we went for a lunch break, I think we deserve one here as well. See you shortly.

The future of books

How do you imagine the future of books? Some people say the digital revolution is opening up new opportunities and at the same time threatening some of the players in the publishing industry. Others believe there will be a lot more books – people will just find them differently. I found a video this morning that describes 3 interesting models about it.

1. Nelson is about the impact of the books on people and refers to online discussions, it gives multiple perspectives.
2. Coupland relates key reading materials based on your professional network. Book clubs and reading lists.
3.  Alice, my favorite, it is an interactive reading experience. The readers communicate with the characters and also contribute to the story.

It made me think of that film I watched in the 80’s…“The NeverEnding Story”. At that time I wanted to be Bastian reading in an attic, flying on a luckdragon called Falkor and helping Atreyu. In this case, the reader is meant to be the key to saving Fantasia.

Three decades later, the reader continues to be the key. Maybe to discover the future of books, we don’t need to look ahead, we can just turn back a few pages. What do you think?

The Future of the Book. from IDEO.