Tag: linkedin

Leadership Ideas – Ronald Heifetz

The other day in the FT weekend, 16/17 May (you see I am behind writing in my blog), I came across the key leadership ideas of Ronald Heifetz. I just thought it would be nice to share those with you. Maybe you have some input on that?

He defines Leadership as the activity of mobilising the community to tackle tough problems. That sounds like a good definition. Something very tangible, down to the point. Other definitions the FT summarises are:

Technical Problems: we already know the solution, it is just a matter of time and knowledge to come up with a solution
Adaptive Challenges: not a clear-cut solution where the “solution finder” needs to apply learning to come up with a solution
Equilibrium and disequilibrium: leaders, Heifetz says, need to balance stability and periods of stress or conflict. Adaptive change tends to require sustained periods of disequilibrium – it must be carefully paced. That means that you should try to pace between the ups and downs of any cycle. He refers to the pressure cooker metaphor
Work avoidance mechanisms: People fail to adapt because they want to resist change in terms of pain, anxiety or conflict that comes with engaging with a problem.
Holding Environment: “a holding environment is any relationship in which one party has the power to hold the attention of another in order to help them face up to their problems”. A classic example between a therapist and a patient

I hope you found this useful and found some food for thought on how to approach your next leadership challenge?

Use your brain

On the OPEN Forum I discovered an article about brain usage and the 10 tips on how to improve your brain.

I have written about “Train your brain” before and always encourage people to use their brain. Not only when parking their car at Tesco, going around a round about, going shopping or making a comment at a conference….and you will find more examples if you actively listen. No, you should train your brain any chance you get. Ever tried to go around the shopping aisles and memorising what you have in your trolley. Make up a story to better memorise things, e.g.:

When I picked the SALAD I also thought of APPLES and BANANAS that would then go together with the CHEESE sandwich and the HAM on top of it. However, the BBQ with the PRAWNS, the CHICKEN and the little cats, who were eating their CAT FOOD, ……

Ok, this is not rocket science. You memorise words, particularly ones that have nothing in common, much easier if you actually think of a story. It has been 2 years since I wrote the article about the brain training and I have written about brain draining in regards to GTD too. The weekly brain sweep as they call it.

The best part is still that things you do go from your unconscious incompetence to your unconscious competence. A simple way of learning new things. When I first started in SEO I had to memorise that Link Building was put together of directory submissions and link sourcing, e.g. approaching websites to link back. Nowadays you don’t need to tell me that and I added more to that knowledge. Anything you learn goes from not being aware of where it fits all in to it fitting in automatically when you worked with it.

Maybe this was not the best example but I found an old note last week with “what is link building” πŸ™‚ However, if you question things and look things up that are new, memorise them, write them down, revisit sites etc, then you get your brain working. That is what the article on the OPEN Forum suggests too.

I particularly like the idea of learning a new word everyday. My birthday’s word was “compedious“, meaning “Containing or stating briefly and concisely all the essentials; succinct.” Now, I will try to memorise that, revisit this blog post and then make sure I use that word when I can. If I manage to learn a new word every other day, then I add almost 200 words to my daily use – and this is for English only. That can make a difference to the way I can express myself, impress others and train my brain too. And, as you can see below, teaching others (which I did at university), gives you the extra benefit!


Also, I am a big fan of the 20 minute power nap they suggest. Not very practical in a day job. But when I was at uni, I used to study for 60 minutes, took a nap for 20 minutes to let things sink in, then had a cup of coffee and studied for another 60 minutes. That helped me a lot in getting a good degree.

Coping with stress, stress management and turning stress into success are key to being efficient and productive as well.

Also, as of my earlier posts on training your brain and the OPEN Forum, the idea of being open minded and turning your view 180 degrees around is very powerful. Imagine you had the best idea in the world. Now, try to change your point of view and think you are the person that has to work with that idea, or if it was a product idea, you are the person that would buy it. Be creative and find different angles of anything you do. NLP is very powerful, e.g. putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, and can help you a lot, with sensory acuity in the forum being another example.

So bottom line is that the OPEN Forum does a good job of summarising various techniques I introduced before plus some key points of personal development. Keep going, you are doing a great job!

Let me know if you have any questions and how cb consultingg could help you!

Twitter’s future and customer service

I am a little behind my reading this week. On the i-media newsletter I found an interesting article from Brendan Nelson about “Where next for Twitter?”

Reason me picking up on this one is that Nelson pointed out a few very interesting things about Twitter.

The idea of brands to embrace Twitter is not new. He uses the example of First Capital Connect to alert travelers of any train problems. My hosting provider uses the same method to alert me when the server is down. I know of a company, or many by now, that embrace social media to engage with their clients. Example is a broadband provider where the Managing Director got a keyword alert on a Sunday morning for his brand name that someone was unhappy with his service. He engaged with the customer and sorted things out for him Monday morning, resulting in the person twittering about the great customer service and engagement with the client! This is just one example of many.

In the old days people recalled products, sent letters and tried to reach people through offline advertising. Nowadays people use 140 characters, instant online SMS, to engage with other people. They recommend services and point other users to positive experience with brands – but also to negative experience with brands. People use “Search”, e.g. Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to FIND recommendations, products and services. And, the more positive news they read about your product the better.

Last week on Twitter, I engaged in a conversation about a mobile phone network. Others tweeted about their bad experience being on hold to their broadband provider, eventually hung up and used a different provider.

What do brands have to do? Engage with your clients via social media. That is the key. Monitor your brand name online and be sure you are found for anything related to your products and services, your brands etc. The bigger the corporation and the more brand names you have, the more important is it to monitor all of them. You can automate that but ideally have someone dedicated to engage with anything that is said about any of your brands…at any one time.

Whilst Google for instance takes a few days to index some pages, Twitter is there instantly. It is real time. If someone opens a “can of coke” and has a bad experience, she might tweet about it whilst waiting for the bus. She turns her “downtime” into “bad reputation for the coke producer”. You want to engage with her and use her next downtime to tweet about the positive response she got from you. Make your client/customers happy! Make them being noticed and feel good. If they do, they will tell their friends about it. And don’t forget, this is REAL TIME. And that makes twitter so powerful. And of course, the more followers you or the person has, the more brand awareness (positive as well as negative) you get! Viral marketing!

Why is Twitter so closely related to search marketing? Firstly, I believe that Twitter is offering instant search. That means people will use Twitter more and more to find most relevant and most up to date information. And, it is reputation management, as people talk about things on Twitter.

Secondly, as a brand, or any brand really, you want to know what your customer says, thinks and would like to see. If someone has an idea of how to improve your chocolate bar, your computer or your software – you want to know. Therefore it becomes more and more important to find those information and turn them into value within your organisation. Dell for instance created a forum for customer support that gained them great ideas which in return relates to millions of pounds in savings for product development.

Taking the two things to mind, you want to be found for what your customers associate you with. If you produce a chocolate bar you don’t want to be found for “chocolate bar” only. If you clients talk about you having “the coolest tasting chocolate bar on the planet”, you want to be found for that keyword and drive that message out through online and digital marketing use. By driving these keywords out there, people will use those keywords and you will be found for them – that is if you optimise for them. Look at Orange’s “I am” campaign.


Now, I can conclude, that customer service in real time is very important and that Twitter is a very valuable source, amongst blogs, forums and other social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Hi5, and Orkut, for you to engage with your clients. Get your communication right and embrace social media and your clients where they are. Embrace their opinion in real time!

Follow me on Twitter, @ballueder

Telemarketing – does it still work?

By now most people should know a few things about me. I am keen on Marketing, particular Inbound Marketing, and you might not know that I started my career in telemarketing.

A few months back I needed less convincing to use telemarketing and cold calling. I thought, if there is a company out there that fits the niche for my company’s service, then a call to them will work. And, it does. However, it is not as effective as getting this person to find you.

On Linkedina group of Business Development guys discussed telemarketing and particularly cold calling. My comment was: “I have done cold calling for many years but think it proves less and less effective. Ideally you focus on inbound marketing to generate leads. Prospects are funneled through to you and find you online (SEO, PPC, Blogs, Social Media) and if you have the right USP, they will fill in a contact form. Once that is done, you call them. I would almost call that a “luke warm” contact πŸ˜‰ Because the prospect did the first step and you already know that they know you. From there it is much easier to introduce yourself.
Having said all that, for some goods cold calling will still work and becomes a numbers game. Simple example is a washing machine. Everyone needs one, and everyone wants one. There is a saturation in the market but if you call 100 households, I am sure you can sell at least 1 washing machine

So, we are looking at several cases here. Cold calling for B2C and B2B and then for products that are niche and products that are common. From my point of view, like the washing machine example, if you have a commonly available product and cold call B2B or B2C, you will eventually win new clients. It is a numbers game.

If you are B2B and you have a niche product people will find you anyway, particularly if you are using inbound marketing and optimise your site with SEO. However, if you are somewhere in the middle, a combination can work. Don’t call it “cold calling” but “telemarketing”. Start a survey and ask people “is that a service you could be interested in?” – get their “opt-in” to send them further information, get them curious about what you have to say.

Once you made them curious, then you got them to search for a keyword you can push in your email, something easy to optmise for and with little competition. You push a keyword that people will connect to your product and services. This is a great SEO tip too πŸ˜‰

So, to summarise, I still believe that telemarketing and telesales can be useful if it is used as a qualifying tool after the initial contact has been made through a trade show, a contact form or other means of marketing. Used mainly for inbound and “luke warm” outbound calls, as part of a strong inbound marketing mix, telemarketing is a good tool for companies.

And, for anyone who ever worked in telemarketing, it is a great way of starting your sales career. You never have any hesitation to pick up the phone – even if the president was on the other side of the line πŸ˜‰

Social Media Summit

Good morning πŸ˜‰ I am just back from our International Search Summit focusing on Social Media. And, I have to say, it was a great event.

I don’t really have to say that but thought that WebCertain put on a great summit with high calibre speakers. Let me re-cap:

Anne Kennedy from Beyond Ink discussed Facebook once again. She highlighted some key facts and shows that Facebook is a global player for social media. However, do not forget there are some other local networks out there that take on market share and are bigger than Facebook. More about that later. Anne’s research is great and I had ongoing discussions with her afterwards on how to use Facebook with applications and then roll them out worldwide.

Jenny Simpson spoke about Opportunities and Threats for Marketers through Twitter. She had a rather critical view on what Twitter is all about and how it can be used. I remember my first Twitter recap back in January. I understand why people like it, and I add new followers everyday. However, it could just be another hype and, as Jenny pointed out, do not put all your eggs in one basket, do not ONLY rely on Twitter. Surely the advantage is that Twitter offers real time search results and that people recommend things. And, if they are genuine, you get a new engagement with your clients (as a brand) and you are able to turn negative feedback into customer service and positive branding.

The 2nd part of the Summit was about Opportunities for Bebo and AOL. It was a nice presentation to show how to integrate different products. Unfortunately, I didn’t take too much out of it. However, Regina Bustamante of Plaxo spoke about the right localisation and translation, the adoption of local culture to grow an international network. Plaxo is catching up on that and for a small company they have made a huge progress on their internationalisation efforts. I believe we will see more from them in the future. I have been using Plaxo for over 5 years and have to say that I might not see it so much as a social network (definition social network?) but more of “backup tool for my outlook”. However, a very very useful tool.

Peter Crosby fromViadeo spoke about the approach they are taking. As a French company they created local networks in major countries: Germany, France, Spain, Italy, UK, Mexico, India….and they are growing. Connect on a local level is their idea, and I was encouraged to sign up for their network. We shall see, if I do – I will let you know what I think. Any incentives Peter πŸ˜‰

Unfortunately I missed the panel debate but what followed in the afternoon was very interesting, particular for bloggers.
Vasco Sommer-Nunes from Mokono, maybe better known for their blog.xy sites, e.g. Blogs in Germany, he pointed out how to monetise blogging. Followed by Sante who spoke about international blogging and later Massimo Burgio who spoke about Social Media Marketing and Blogging.

Highlights, from my point of view were Alex Burmaster’s presentation on the key trends of riding the wave of social networking! Coming from Nielsen he presented data that was just amazing. You can download some reports on their website and I will posts links as I get them. However, one fact stuck out to me and that was that more and more older people, age 60+ are joining Facebook in the US. That means we will have a similar pattern in the UK soon, then across Europe. Brands should start thinking on how to cater for these demographics and start building applications. We already discussed first ideas!

Then there was Tom Smith from Trendstream. His presentation can be found on Slideshare already. He spoke about the International Social Media Trends, warning about neglecting the amount of Chinese people in local networks that by far growing quicker than Facebook. So our Western answers on Facebook might not be able to be applied to the Asian Market. Similar things are true for Russia. So it is not all about Facebook (sorry Anne ;-)) but for brands a lot about “where to I find my target demographics in which country” – and the Chinese platform seems to make a profit too.

Oscar Carreras spoke about what I would call “Inbound Marketing“. However, his Social Media Optimisation and his knowledge of SEO paired of the understanding on how to utilise social networks as well as using them to engage with your clients was very fascinating. His blog on International SEO picks up on these topics too.

Last but not least was Martin Belam from the Guardian. Whilst there is a hot discussion on how publishers and newspapers can or cannot survive with more and more content being available for free, he pointed out ways on how to use social media to drive traffic to your site. Again, I believe that the overall topic of driving traffic is great but what do we do with the traffic once it is on our site?

The overall summary for me is that we have our networks we use in the Western World, namely Plaxo, Linkedin, Facebook etc. and that we seem to neglect some international networks which we shouldn’t. Also, we see Twitter as a great way of broadcasting news and company information. Again, we drive traffic to our site but the conversion and the monetization of the traffic is still something we need to solve. As so often in the online world: we have the data, but we are not quite sure how to use it.

Stay tuned.

Turn your dreams into reality

If there is a dream, there is reality!

But let’s start at the beginning: Coaching is based on 3 supports.

1) Beliefs – challenge your limiting beliefs and reinforce supportive/positive ones!
2) Values – know your values and live them.
3) Goals – what do you want to achieve and how do you want to achieve it?

People say that goals are dreams with legs – they go somewhere. Or, you can put it differently, if you are dreaming to achieve something, then you can support this dream with actions and turn this dream into a reality, a goal. This goal becomes achievable when you are putting your efforts and beliefs behind it.

Coaching is based around goals. We all start in the here and now and have a reality check of our current life. What is our present state and what do we like or dislike about our current life. This could be the job, the love life, the amount of exercise we do etc. Check for the wheel of life to identify what you might want to change.

From there you define your goals and the desired state. This state is now your aim, your goal, something you need to put your mind to. As we say in NLP, now imagine you are already at your desired state and look back to your present state, how did you get there?

That might sound complicated, but if you want to cross a river, you can either think of building a bridge or you can imagine that you already crossed the river and look at the problem from the other side. You might discover a new way across, something you cannot see from your current perspective.


NLP uses that technique quite a lot. Put yourself in the corner of the room and watch yourself having this conversation or interview and evaluate yourself whilst doing so. Also, you can then watch the reaction of your opposite conversation partner and act / amend your conversation accordingly. This enables you to build stronger rapport and more effective conversations, communications and connections.

In regards to goal setting, always set positive goals. Move towards a positive goal rather than away from something negative. You don’t want to loose weight, as you focus on the weight. Focus on the healthy aspect and formulate your goal “I want to be fit and healthy”.

Also, be specific about your goals. That means it has to be measurable and reward yourself by achieving part of the goal. stepping stones are important. These stepping stones will provide you with the right feedback and you can see whether you are on track for your big goal.

And, whilst pursuing any dream, any goal, any stepping stone, think of the 3 coaching supports. Be true to your beliefs and values. Be cautious what some actions might mean to you and your environment. What costs are involved, what time etc.

By making an action plan and making sure that you have a can-do approach, you eventually will achieve your goals. If you need help defining them or setting stepping stones to reach your goals and turn your dreams into reality, please give Coach Volker a call.

Inbound Marketing for SMEs and Start-Ups

I read a fantastic article from Rand the other day on his blog of SEOmoz.

Really interesting. I summarised it for myself as “Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools work but only up to a certain extend” and thought of myself about inbound marketing once again.

So let me think about it. I am an SME, do not have a lot of brand awareness, or I am a start-up, just entering the market. What is it I have to do to get noticed?

I would suggest that first of all you need brand awareness. This can be done by registering in various organisations, directories, adverts in industry specific magazines, PR and push your profile online on:

Twitter: create a company profile, start following people and stay personal in order to create a “personal brand” people like to follow. Have something to say and add value with every “tweet”. Try to engage with the community and be “a friend”.
Linkedin: create a corporate profile and make all your friends/connections aware of it. Add slide shows via Slideshare and show off the knowledge you have. Link your corporate blog to the profile too.
Blog: having a corporate blog is great to engage with your consumers/clients and it is important that you keep it up to date. Do some keyword research and write all your articles keyword rich so that your blog shows up for the same keywords as your website. Your blog can link with the right anchor text to your website.
Website – don’t be silly, I thought that was already done πŸ˜‰ – make sure you do basic SEO on it and make sure that you rank for the important keywords, do some link building and watch your competitors with google alerts and make sure you get alerts if someone places a link back to your site. Later on, do more link building and concentrate on high value links, e.g. from Universities or Government sites; also increase your keywords (keyword expansion).
– Online PR: using both your blog and your PR agency, push your PR in as many channels as possible to get brand awareness.

Wow, this only took 5 minutes to write up. Is that all?

I believe that brand consistency is important. Think of a theme that you can tell your clients and prospects. Become a thought leader or a knowledgeable person that will bring new ideas and values to their everyday life. If you have a USP (unique selling point), then make use of that one before anyone else is coming after you. Create a seminar or webinar series and use email marketing, twitter and SEO, possibly a good PPC campaign, to drive traffic and attendees to the seminar. Price it affordable so that people won’t have to think twice if they want to attend or not.

Now, why am I summarising a good inbound marketing strategy and what has this to do with Rand’s article. Rand writes in his article that the ROI from your twitter or blogs might only be low to moderate, whilst traditional SEO and web marketing, this could be affiliate, display ads, email marketing, is moderate to high. Of course it takes longer but in the long run, it is more effective.

And, before I forget, don’t forget to measure it. Online marketing is measurable and therefore you need an analytics tool to track down where your visitors are coming from. If you don’t know, then it is time to find out and increase the spend on the channels that allow you for greater ROI!

If you have any questions or would like an introductory meeting on how to create your marketing plan, please contact Volker from cb consulting London.

Coaching yourself

Not too long ago I wrote about career coaching in a recession. Now, things have changed a bit and I am revisiting some great coaching resources. Also, I should expand on the time line on when the coaching in a recession is most useful.

The question if you are in a situation, like I was many years ago, where you thought that nothing would move forward and your whole life is in shambles, you decide to coach yourself. Similar to Baron von Muenchausen who pulled himself out of the swamp.


Ideally I have some partner coaches I work with at cb consulting but sometimes, for smaller things, and my own dream fulfillment, I work with myself a lot. You need to be your own coach and chose mentors to work with.

As a coach you are always a leader at the same time. Leadership consists of skill, knowledge and being able to provide examples. You just cannot coach people without identifying their problems, knowing what to do and giving examples of how other people have done it, or how things would be in a similar situation. So you become a role model for your clients by being a good coach and doing what you know and be the one you are.

This sounds a bit weird. Maybe I expand on this. If you know how to pull yourself out of the swamp like Muenchhausen, then you know how to pull other people out too. You need to be confident and do the same things that you would do with clients to yourself. And, when you build up the skills and knowledge, you are the example for your clients.

This is growing into the role of a coach. You live your values and become a role model to your clients.

You need to identify
– your identity: passion, vision, ethics and doing that by being curious and observing yourself
– relationships with others: be curious about them, build rapport and set the standard needed
– facts: understand the facts and be creative in your approach, building new models

Now, if we look at the above, I cannot help but thinking of my current job as a manager. I have been managing for quite some time, additional to my coaching – or vice versa if you like.
Being a good manager also means to be a good coach.

First you need to know where you stand and know what you want, represent, what your goals and objectives are and how you can fulfil your role. This is usually done during the decision making progress of choosing a new job. Once the job has been chosen, you identify your role in more detail and set up an action plan, targets, goals and objectives.

Secondly: you build rapport, relationship and be a role model for the people you manage. Set time aside each week, or every other week to discuss their role, their aims and their objectives. Make sure you understand what they want to achieve with their role, if they feel self confident in the role and how you can support them. Let them fail if you have to but don’t make them fail on purpose. Let them learn and give them guidance.

Thirdly keep yourself up to date. With your job, the industry, your contacts, your staff, staff morale, situations at work etc. Be the one you are and be informed about as much as possible. I am not referring to gossip but to a simple understanding of what is going on.

So from coaching yourself you can take the step to be a good manager and coach to your staff. A quality I find very essential for any manager. Develop your staff….but develop yourself first.

If you want more answers about coaching, please visit our website for Personal Development Coaching.


In this weekend’s FT I read about Richard Thaler who wrote a book called “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness“. Of course I ordered it straight away.

Since I did not know who Richard Thaler was, I had a look. He is the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioural Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Wow, what a title. He was advisor to Obama in his presidential campaign.
His book “Nudge” discusses how organizations can help to make better choices. The term “choice architect” was defined as someone who displays choice in a way for other people to chose, e.g. he uses the example of someone who writes out a school menu and depending on whether the healthy or unhealthy option is first, that “architect” influences the decision for lunch.

Below is a video I found of his presentation given at the RSA, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, in London. Enjoy and please let me know what you think. I cannot wait to read his book!

Stress Management – Working Out

As it happens, and I have written a lot about stress management lately, my new Buddhist Chanting CDs arrived. Wow, super easy listening and makes me much more productive whilst working on proposals and presentations!

However, I found an article in the Metro again, this time about “Busy working, so no workout” – what is that about.

Well, it says that 4 out of 5, e.g. 80%, of all London workers only exercise half an hour a week instead of 4 hours. The latter is the recommended amount. The poll was amongst 2,500 employees from Fitstart.com. It showed that only 7% worked out correctly and the reason for it is….TIME!

Who would have guessed? Working hours in the UK are longer than anywhere else in Europe.

Working week figures, thanks to the Economist!
Working week figures, thanks to the Economist!

So managing stress becomes more important, particularly if you are working at lot and long hours. Sitting in front of a laptop/computer all day does not help. You need to achieve the work life balance needed by exercising regularly.

How am I personally doing? Not too bad, but could do better.

I go to the gym twice a week, on average a 45 minutes work out, plus 1 hour Tai Chi a week. Totalling just about 2.5 hours. Counting the escalators at Victoria and Kings Cross twice a day, I might even make it to 3 hours a week πŸ˜‰ Not bad, is it? Not achieving my 10,000 steps every day. Currently sitting around 7,500 steps on average.

So overall, I should not complain. An enjoyable job, regular exercise and a healthy attitude to life πŸ™‚ Stress Management I guess!