Calories

I guess it’s human nature to immediately implement or listen to a doctor’s recommendation rather than the constant feedback from your wife or life partner. Much like a heart attack would spur into action an immediate lifestyle change, which was part of the conversation the doctor was having with me yesterday.

That being said I’m one of those special people whose body can’t process sugar properly resulting in significantly more bad cholesterol finding a home in all the wrong places in me. If I was producing enough good cholesterol this would not be a problem, but given my current trajectory I’ll probably be a diabetic and suffer heart disease along with a heart attack at some stage. All grim news just before the holiday season really kicks off. While emphasising balance the doctor also slipped in a move away from all things alcohol in the short term.

Being an avid beer, whisky and tequila consumer this was not good news not even red wine escaped the clutches of this serious conversation. Given the nature of things going cold turkey isn’t an option especially over the very vibrant festive season. So, in my infinite wisdom I’ve researched what the calorie count is for my favourite alcoholic beverages and slotted in a slice of bread as a reference. As an FYI, coffee has no calories. For comparison purposes 100 grams = 3.38 shots, calorie data sourced from USDA

Calories Grams Calories per shot Equivalent slice of bread
White bread (per slice) 79 30 23
Red wine 85 100 25 0.3
Tequila 231 100 68 0.9
Whisky 250 100 74 0.9
Gin 263 100 78 1.0
Beer 43 100 13 0.2
Monster 42 100 12 0.2
Red Bull 45 100 13 0.2

At my treadmill running pace, I can smash 232 calories in 20 mins, so the odds are stacked against me for now. It’s not all doom and gloom though, best is to determine how many calories you need to remain healthy and what percentage of those can be good or bad cholesterol. Fortunately we are all built and process carbs differently.

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FUTURE INVESTING

It is increasingly becoming obvious that millennials prefer being self directed in their choices, trusting peer review forums more than product brochures. Within their investment decisions this is becoming more prevalent as non-intermediated investments continue to tick up. Asset managers who do not embrace this trend will struggle to gain and retain market share. Not only are the number of self directed investors increasing the number of advisors specifically independents in the industry are projected to decrease as regulatory changes under the “Twin Peaks” model are implemented in South Africa.

The availability of low cost investment alternatives specifically Exchange Traded Funds, coupled with an easy to invest online application process which is user centric are providing further impetus to a changing landscape.  Looking beyond migrating existing businesses away from legacy systems. It does beg the question why are firms hesitant to embrace a market which inherently is low maintenance yet has the potential to be a sustainable profit generator?

Awakening the Force with Infographics

Visual messaging, be it a video or infographic has found a special place in our everyday existence. Good visual design should be part of the the holy grail of interaction with the consumer, yet few companies consistently deliver. Apple probably is one of the few large companies to hit the sweet spot more often than not. With this backdrop, it is no surprise infographics have become a key messaging platform within a marketing campaign. Not only does it convey a consistent message in miliseconds it allows the viewer to focus on specific products or service components while having access to a bigger picture the company is trying to convey.

Crucially a good infographic should include the following considerations:

  • Simplicity: An overly complex infographic with many paths is confusing and will result in viewer frustration and a lost opportunity for positive brand engagement.
  • Consistent messaging: A golden messaging thread should be weaved through the infographic as a whole and be part of well structured campaign not an isolated element. All to often an inforgraphic appears to be an after thought.
  • Visually engaging: Viewers should feel incentivised to read the infographic not cringe as they follow the content trail. Being on Brand is key but infographics allow for brand extension with clever visual elements and the use of COLOUR.
  • A BIG ASS Call To Action: CTAs are sometimes overlooked when designing an infographic. The infographic is not a CTA, it only visually portrays existing product or service information differently.

Infographics are a powerful marketing tool and should not be relegated to being viewed as a graphic heavy document with words slapped on it. A well thought through and executed infographic can be the start of a long fruitful conversation.

Happy to hear your thoughts?

OUTLIERS

Let me first confess, I’m a Malcolm Gladwell groupie. I find his work interesting, thought-provoking and a joy to read. His ability to deconstruct complexities in a story like fashion keeps me glued to the pages.

That being said I recently found myself rereading Outliers which he published in 2008. It’s an enthralling journey reshaping the way we think about success.  It also introduces the 10,000 hour rule! YES a significant portion of success as we understand it is sheer hard work, intelligence, attitude and appetite but we tend to think very narrowly about it. We tend to discount the impact of our heritage, culture or even our birth year amongst other factors have on the successes we have achieved.

Success is very rarely is attained through a singular event, in most instances it’s the incremental environmental factors and decisions at the margin which over time add up to the major successes we accomplish.  Looking at my own life, had I not been born in 1979 I would not have been able to complete both junior and high school in a model C school which allowed non-white students to attend after the end of Apartheid. This opportunity to learn in a different environment I do believe contributed significantly to my thinking about the world and made my succesful introduction into a white dominated corporate South Africa easier.

When you have a chance get the book or audio version and start building your collection of Gladwell books!

Plan, Organise, Lead and Control

Given the plethora of tasks at hand on any given day, having a plan at hand is always helpful. Be it a daily task list or a year long marketing/campaign plan. This is especially true when unique or a “once in a generation” combination of events swarm together and disrupt the business as usual processes and activities. Think 911 or the oil price plummeting precipitously.

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Having a plan, even a conceptual strategic version which is viewed occasionally does create focus and ensures re-alignment in times of extreme stress where deliverables are complex and requires a significant amount of focus with short turn around time frames.

It effectively allows one to Plan, Organise, Lead and Control. You might remember that from 1st year varisty studies and it’s a truth repeating itself daily. Creating a plan is daunting but consider the following when crafting your roadmap.

Objective: Clearly state the purpose of the plan in a document people can easily access. This should be succinct and excite the reader. Where possible distill the objective or messaging you are trying to convey into a word or a phrase no longer than 3. Less is more.

Stakeholders: Extracting and distilling stakeholder needs clearly in all likelihood will probably be the most frustrating part of constructing an executable plan. Removing ambiguity and agreeing on granular details are key to tick off as deliverables upfront.

Excel: Spreadsheets are one of the most underutilised business tools we have in our arsenal. Not only can you elevate your wordy plan by including budgets but these can be extended to modelling and forecasts with editable variables. Enhancing your Excel skills requires practice which will raise your confidence. Many online tutorials are available and Microsoft has a number of helpful hints.

Matrix: Using a Matrix approach allows for readers to sumamrise a year’s activity easily, key to this is understanding stakeholder needs on a granular level. As an example which Social Network platforms to engage: Facebook vs LinkedIn. These should be reflected in either the horizontal or vertical columns, the opposing category should be a time period either weeks or months. The Web is littered with templates to minimise your workload.

WIP: Your plan can’t be static, use it actively in meetings and discussions. It definitely should not be placed in the bottom draw only to be reviewed on an ad hoc basis.

Meetings: Your plan should form the basis of regular meetings to track progress and change activities as the market dynamics shift. In addition it forces participants and stakeholders to remain aligned and focuses energies on key outputs.

After a few iterations of trying different approaches in crafting and compiling your plan you will find a workable solution allowing for effecting Planning, Organising, Leading and Control. Good luck.

Keeping the X in UX & CX

User Experience (UX) and by extension Customer User Experience (CX) are cornerstones of everything we experience and as a learning discipline been with us for ages. It continues to remain mainstream as the ebb and flow of multiple product launches of wearables and more intuitive tech permeates our lives. Although some brands have traditionally settled for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach. Hoping the average user will be satisfied, the instantaneous interaction users now have through social media platforms have changed this dynamic. It really is power to the people time!

I recently stumbled across a useful slide pack which is lengthy yet provides a punchy overview of the Importance Of Ux. The slide pack is from the Contribute Group and should definitely be followed @ContributeGroup.

UX will be an imperative component of everything we interact with especially online as this component of our lives continues to increase. Ultimately brand interaction will require continued evolution to ensure the MVP is exceeded.

SOCIAL MEDIA HERE UNTIL FOREVER

Social Media and Social Networking Sites are a collective term used to describe Internet hosted and Web powered applications and platforms allowing interactions with each other across a wide variety of social activities.

Massi

Although in our generation it appears to have been a newly minted concept the process of interaction, the human need for this interaction and the motivational drivers underpinning it have always existed. Massi summarises and superimposes the motivational drivers for Social Media & Networking usage on the famed Maslow hierachy of needs:

  • Discovery
  • Altruism
  • Social
  • Fame
  • Escapism
  • Expression

Not difficult to argue the science and this study was completed in 2010 when MySpace still featured.

What arguably has changed significantly is the speed, breadth and depth of interaction. Ranging not only from initially posting a video or a comment on one platform to multitudes of platforms with a single click. Social Media have ensured we are always connected.

It is important to remember all Social Media users are active Web users but that not all Web users are Social Media participants! Similar to the evolution of the Web, Social Network sites have over time evolved allowing users and publishers to push and pull content form each other. This not only was underpinned by the technology evolution causing the Web to transform from being one directional but was hastened predominately by the the sharp and sustained rise in in mobile device adoption rates and technology advancements.

Today we have the tools to co-create, collaborate and partake in immersive experiences from across the world without leaving our chairs. For Brands and Businesses this has significant meaning:

  • Social Media is here until forever
  • Social Media ensures depth and breadth of interactions are increasing
  • Timely, consistent messaging & content across platforms are crucial
  • Ensure content consumers are engaged transparently or you will be caught
  • On and offline experiences should complement each other not be an obstacle