Monday, November 25, 2013

Explaining Leonard Cohen

“I want you to explain Leonard Cohen”

And so begins the simple but impossible task. Many have tried and even those who know him perhaps don’t know him enough to do justice to the response.

But here’s my take from a hundred thousand lifetimes away.

For me the great fascination began at Bimbadgen in 2009 when I attended as a concert buddy for a friend – I was keen to go but happy for him to give the ticket to someone else if he got a better offer. I had always liked Leonard Cohen but his voice in his younger days never quite got to the tonality that really did it for me.  It does now.  ;-)

What was astonishing  at the event was the spread of people in the audience, and technically the good sound and performance and the reverence the audience had for him.

But what really impressed me in many ways that I have perhaps not even come to analyse yet is the Grace of the man.  Here he stood, in this business of performing where so many spend such time and money to not show a sign of their age and Leonard was there naked. The cameras panning in for extreme close ups that do not allow for any vestige of modesty revealing starkly the age of this man and his new challenge that neither he nor any of us can win – that of mortality.

He sang the songs he had written 40 years before as a young man, but now as an old man. And in singing them they linked us with the past and the younger people we all were then… but in doing so he presented them as a man in his then middle 70s.   There is a fine skill to that and it reveals the facility of the writing that to deliver these songs of a young man as an old one – has great potential for being really creepy.

Leonard manages to make aging respectable.  He does it in a way that is dignified and offers us a look at a view of advancing age that we don’t often see.  We see that the young version of ourselves is never far away, even as the years write upon our skin and fail to fool the mirrors.

His nakedness is manifest too in sharing with us his work for all those long years.  The work he recognizes needs an audience to remain alive and vital he acknowledges and in so doing we have in our way become stewards.  These fruits of the garden, that he has tended for more than 40 years and done so because it is what he chose to do.  He has tended his garden – created his life’s work in a way that pleased him to do so – even if it pleased nobody else.

Imagine … what you will show - what will any of us have to display for judgment when the time has almost run out.  What will you have to show others for your life’s work when you are in your old age? That’s the fundamental question that comes up for me in bearing witness to Leonard Cohen.

That life observed in the unfolding that stays true to an internal concept of correct-for-me is what really impresses me with Leonard. That and the impeccable manner that he brings to bear on whatever he does.  Simple. Classic. Unapologetic.

There is no ‘sloppy’ with Leonard’s writing, his personal presentation or performing and he really does give it all he’s got.  No ostentation, no artifice, no fakery.   Like it or leave it – there is no pretense to be something other than it is. The quality of the technical aspects of the show he takes personal interest in and nothing is just ‘good enough’.

And never a whiny call to self pity.  No Loser lyrics for Leonard.

In a way Leonard Cohen is Everyman. He is anyone who has ever suffered, ever longed for something always just out of his grasp, and every woman’s perfect man – made more so because he is unobtainable – but not just to them.  Men it should be said, can be just as taken with his charm and may feel that he expresses in his songs the feelings for which they have no words.

His lyrics which seem so personal are also sufficiently and artfully vague that we can pass them though our own internal filters and find that they fit our own experience perfectly. In this seeming complexity, they are simple, precise and as spare as the Master wordsmith can tailor them.

He is said to be, by those who do not really know his work beyond a line from The Young Ones “Nobody ever listens to me – I might as well be a Leonard Cohen record” – ‘depressing’. Despite having suffered with depression for most of his life, in fact his message is really more one of Surviving. No matter the trials that we face we can survive. Despite everything... there is hope.

Leonard Cohen in concert is phenomenal but the true magic is in the change work that it does for all of us who will take up the challenge. Learn from his experience and come to the point of letting go of our own pretenses, excuses and self pity and go lovingly to tend our own garden.

On Saturday it was back to Bimbadgen for the 23 November 2013 concert - for what was now my fifth Leonard Cohen gathering. This tour, as his 2012 tour with a few changes to the band and introducing a more refined rendering of his songs with a most excellent violin in the lineup. His performance at each a little different in some nuance or set list but always always, giving us much more value than the price of the tickets and the financial and geographical inconvenience.

Leonard Cohen is currently on Tour in Australia

"Song operates on so many levels. It operates on the level you just spoke of where it addresses the heart in its ordeals and its defeats but it also is useful in getting the dishes done or cleaning the house. It's also useful as a background to courting." - Leonard Cohen 2012

Keeping The Learnings - Further To Explaining Leonard Cohen

Like to discuss your business? Lindy Asimus Design Business Engineering Get Help For Your Business Download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook! Subscribe to Actionbites Blog

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Marketing Without Spamming

 There's a lot to learn about being online!

Today a friend on Twitter posed the question

"How can businesses be online marketing without spamming?"

Really for me it goes back to the fundamental question:

What are your activities online meant to achieve?
And remembering some good manners.

Let me unpack that a little.

My guess is that most people go online with a hope that doing so will result in benefits for their business and not to put too fine a point on it - they will profit from it somehow.

That's a fine sentiment but profiting from online activity is something that few know how to analyse and many don't understand how the process works.

"I Can See You"

The first and most obvious avenue for benefit to a business is more sales. But there are others too, and chief among them in local business, is to be visible to those who have the need to use your products and services and the money and inclination to do so. Being thought of when someone is wanting to buy happens long before a sale is made, but without it the chances are zero.

You want to make more sales - so you need to be visible to the people who can buy from you.

There is a school of thought that some people ascribe to that "any publicity is good publicity" and you like me might conclude that spamming a network is an example of that in action. I think many business owners in their excitement lose track of what would be obvious if it was happening on the street. For example, can you imagine if you went to a networking event and walked up to people and started yelling at them with your business pitch?

Likewise online, nobody online follows you so you can just send them spam.

So what is spam really? In the world of social marketing it is anything that is sent unsolicited to people who have not expressed a request for your products or information.

So what does this look like in play?
  • Automated DMs in Twitter with links to your products when you have never been asked.
  • Posting your link to your products, uninvited,  on the walls of people friends or other business Pages you follow.
  • Sending advertisements to your contacts on Twitter.
  • Posting self promotional pieces to the discussion threads on Linkedin
  • Commenting on people's blog posts and ignoring the post and just adding your information and links.
  • And let's not forget this one which is more and more common and extremely annoying ...
  • Adding people you just met to your mailing list without permission.
  • Confusing a connection with someone on Linkedin, as being permission to put them on a mailing list. It is not. 

Anything that resembles this, that is self serving and providing nothing of value is, by extention, spam.

If you think it might be considered spam. It probably is.

Creating Useful Online Content Is Where You Bring Value

So what do you post instead?

First and foremost it is essential to understand that social marketing is not like pushing out ads as you would in traditional advertising. It is not a broadcast medium it is a social medium and while you can post topics that demonstrate your expertise in certain areas, this is a two way enviroment and for people be interested in you they need to see that you have more to say than just posting ads.

Think before you post - how does this fit with what I want people to think about my business? Post in alignment with your values.

Connect with people who are in the location your business serves. So if you have a local business, connect with local people. If your business serves customers across the world then focus on the demographics of the sector to whom your offering appeals. It may be work at home mothers, or people who like to travel, or whatever.

That's really an important element to consider.

What are the characteristics of your existing customers - and where do people like them spend time online?

When you know that, then you can connect and you have a key to your next element to consider...

What are these people interested in and how can I add value through posting content that will be useful/entertaining/of value to them?
Understanding what your business offers - what people want from it - and what gains their interest is a foundation to what will become a framework for your social marketing.

Social marketing is about being visible to potential customers, expanding your chances to make new sales and to build on existing relationships but it is not for amateurs. Get trained, get help to understand the landscape online, the etiquette of online communications and understand where your risk points are. Your reputation is valuable and the better you understand how to use the online tools and platforms - and what to never do online - the greater your chance of success.

More followers.
More engagement.
More sales.

Where Is Your Content Located?

Do you have a blog?
Is your website being updated regularly?
Do you have coupons for special offers?

These are the obvious places to be adding quality content on your special topic. Showcasing your knowledge of your industry and building a presence online where people can find your bank of articles. These will be the content that sets your business apart and is unique. You can use this to post links to your networks, use in your email marketing (permssion based, of course) and to repackage into other forms for use as appropriate.

You can post these links in moderation between other posts of a general nature and discussions that you may engage in on your networks. How often? Well that depends on so much but since you are going to be creating quality content to post, this will limit how much you can post of your own promotions.  Get started on building that bank of good content from which you can draw.

Customers Are Online ... But Not All Of Them!


Not all customer groups spend a lot of time online. Some may never use social networks and yet even for these industries, having a full and engaging social presence online has a value. It makes finding you on search easier but also it builds a picture in the the client's mind that they can feel reassured about you. Suddenly you are not some faceless business, you have roots in the community, people they know are connected with you and this brings with it great peace of mind and credibility for you and your business, so guard it well.

Building a good reputation online takes time just as it does anywhere. And just like offline, it can be ruined with lightning speed.

Action plan:

Research your market.
Build a model of your best customers so you can find more like them.
Devise your strategy to build your online presence.
Write your social marketing plan and schedule.
Create a bank of content to start.
Add value to your networkby sharing general items of interest to them that they are unlikely to have seen.

Above all, respect the people in your network and never take the people who follow you for granted.

See Also:
Check Your Website For Roadworthiness
Think Social Media Is No Use For Your Business? Think Again.
How To Get Your Local Business Noticed Online
Purpose Then Strategy - Case Study Starting Your Website
Remember to build your mailing list
What to do next when you feel like giving up
Send cards for marketing and friends automatically using this Cloud app
Step up in your business - Here's how to improve performance

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Friday, November 08, 2013

Another Four Years To Achieve A New Set Of Goals

Another four years to achieve a new set of goals. blog post banner

So in 2012 we had another election result in the USA election. During the lead up to the voting there had been all kinds of postings on the internet from both sides of the  political divide complaining that the President had "disappointed me", "not done enough", "not done anything!", and more of that nature but less polite. 

With the election concluded we know that there is another period of four years to follow this last period of four years. So I thought to myself - is it true? Has the President not done much in the past four years? What has he done?  This is what I found in 2012. According to Washington Monthly, here are a few:

  • Passed Health Care Reform
  • Pushed Broadband Coverage
  • Expanded Health Coverage for Children 
  • Passed Wall Street Reform
  • Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
  • Reversed Bush Torture Policies
  • Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, 
  • Expanded Pell Grant Spending
  •  Increased Support for Veterans
  •  Passed Credit Card Reforms: 
  • Gave the FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco
  • Brokered Agreement for Speedy Compensation to Victims of Gulf Oil Spill
  • Created
  • Recognized the Dangers of Carbon Dioxide 
  • Expanded Stem Cell Research

You can find the complete list here 

To me, that looks like a fair bit to have accomplished. In any circumstances. And yet I am more interested in your results.

So What Does The Average Person Accomplish In Four Years?

And it got me to wondering. It's easy to be critical of others in the public eye. Just point and complain, and some do that without even checking out what has been done.  Certainly, I have not achieved anything of such importance in the same 4 year period.  I had not brought in a big public policy, or implemented some social justice program. Nothing like it. 

I wonder for those who are reporting being disappointed, what their own report card on the past four years would read like. 

We are quick to make judgments about others without relating that back to our own performance. What would be 'enough' for the President to achieve in a term. What measure are we holding ourselves to when we look at life in 4 year intervals?

Four years is a good chunk of time. It is enough time to do a great many things. Have you accomplished all that you set out to achieve during the past 4 years?  Did you start with some goals to achieve, because many didn't even get that far. 

What Will Achievement Of Your Goals Mean To You?

Are you happy with what you achieved during this last 4 years?  What stands out for you during this time?

What about the next four years... will you set out to achieve something specific that you'll commit to do in the next four years?

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. 
And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." - Jim Rohn

While the President started a new period during which he will be closely watched and his achievements monitored and reported, and any failings reported even more widely,  perhaps it is a good time for us to set out some performance standards that we want to meet in the next four years too.

Setting Goals 

I like to look at goals with clients for the next 12 months and for a 5 year span. A 4 year span would do well too and if we segment these four year intervals to coincide with elections, that could be a good way to piggy-back our own goals so that we can do our own audit of progress while we compare that with that our governments have achieved over the same period. That makes some kind of sense as it is a built-in measure of time.

Politicians come and go. What's critically important to us all - is what we do about the things over which we have control. That's our life. We are the President of that. Make it a job we can be proud of having done well.


Review the past 4 years and honestly report on your performance.
Take some time out and commit to some goals that you will reach in the next 4 years. 

What will you be able to say, in four years time, that you achieved in this term? 

Edited: This post updated in November 2013

Related posts
How to set goals you can reach
More on Goals 

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

"Comfortable" The Hidden Disease

I wrote this way back in 2006. I think it still stacks up.

What have I learned since I first wrote this? I think we can have a very poor understanding of our feelings and what we tend to assume is comfortable is not the deep, sink in and feel wonderful and cosy feeling that is really comfortable, but just a dry, dull absence of real pain. We can wander about with this 'feel nothing' feeling and not even know that this is less than the good feelings we could be enjoying every day. Much like the difference between being truly happy, and being not unhappy.

Why You Should Be Uncomfortable About Being Comfortable 

When Self Deception Masquerades As Comfort

Seldom do we consciously realize there is a little voice that resides in our mind. It whispers to us, when an opportunity presents to us, saying that “we should not take the risk”. The voice just like our parents used when they talked to us, when we were tiny tots. It reminds us that we should keep doing what we’ve always done, because that’s where we are comfortable. Safe. Keeping to a known quantity, where we know what to expect. Familiar territory.

We listen to that voice as we are growing up. Eventually it becomes so much a part of our experience, that we internalize those instructions to the point where we no longer need someone “outside” to tell us – because now we’ve incorporated it into our internal landscape. It’s where we learn to know to verify what we know and convinces us what we should do. It’s where we know how to get what we get. It’s the voice that has kept us doing those things that are comfortable and sometimes it shares the space in our head with other voices, When you bring them to mind, you may recognize when you think about it, that those voices belong to someone from your past. Perhaps a mother, or a father, or a grandparent. Bring the voices to mind now and see if you can locate who the voices remind you of... both in the tonality of how they sound, and in the kinds of things that those voices say to you. Is it someone you know? Is it your own voice you hear when you listen?

What those voices have in common is that they share a single intent, Simply, the intention is to keep you safe.

They all want to save you from disappointment, or accident, or harm. Just like they looked after us when we were a small child with little experience, and fewer resources in both emotional, intellectual, education and personal skills than we have now as adults.

So how do you know when to trust those voices, which whisper to us and urge us to keep to the safe, the known path; those little voices that want only to keep us safe, the only way they know how? Learning to respond now with all the resources you have as an adult, and not as the child that you once were - vulnerable and with limited choices - is the beginning of personal growth and the start of living a self-determined life.

Now what I'd like to ask here is what you do in your own life to visit some of the assumptions that we make on 'Automatic'.

Have you begun yet, to question those things that you just know you know?

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach
Mobile: 0403 365855

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Story Of A Sign. Compassion In Action

Here's a short film that really should be seen by everyone.
I have seen some imitations of this but this is the real deal.

Cannes short film award winner.

History Of Words

Story Of A Sign.

Words do matter.

Powerful ideas expressed with few words.

How marvellous, when our actions match our values, and create magic!

Do post your comments and
do pass it on for others to share.

And do share your thoughts on the film.

Thinking Of Getting A Business Coach?
Lindy Asimus
Design Business Engineering

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How To Step-Up In Your Business.

Accepting personal responsibility for our actions and our performance in the roles we undertake is a sign of our maturity and character.

Performance is something we can judge in others and conveniently miss when it comes to our own.Often the topics of business issues come up and there is a rash of activity and articles posted online and in books about marketing and ways to move things around in business. Working with business owners on many of these issues, it is clear that they all tend to resolve back to the same issue.

It all comes back to the actions, skills and attitude of the business owner.

Perhaps not surprisingly, we can end up in business without preparation and training in the particular skills that will enable us to perform excellently in our new role as CEO of our business. Sometimes we just start doing what we love and before we know it, our doing-what-we-love activity has become a real life business and suddenly we’re faced with employees, compliance issues, customers to serve, and a need to keep the rent paid and feed all the mouths that are depending on us. Meanwhile the world has changed, and the way that we always knew how to do what we do, have changed too.

Now we have to contend with competition from big operators with vast budgets for marketing and advertising and a willingness to sell under our cost of goods, just to squeeze out the local operators. We have a changing marketplace where customers expect access 24/7 to our business and will spend their money elsewhere if we don’t make provision for them in a way that suits them best. Higher expectations and access to an internet full of alternatives makes it important that we keep up with the new changes, but often we can be so busy just ‘putting out fires’ that we don’t even notice how much is changed – or that those changes can also bring us opportunity, along with threats to the status quo.

So how do we grow into the role that our business needs us to assume?

How do we move from the harried business owner, to the calm, in control CEO who runs the business as a business, and maintains a standard of service and product that can compete in this new environment?

Here are some areas to focus on that can help you be that person.

Review Your Current Position

Think about it ... What commitment you are going to make to yourself and the contract you’re willing to enter with YOU to perform at the level the CEO of any business, should deliver. Commit to deliver for your business. Write it out and sign off on it. Get it witnessed!

Get Help: See What’s Hiding In Your Blind-spot

You know the signs on the trucks when you’re driving “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”. The same is true in business, and while we are looking the issues that are right in front of us, we are in danger of not seeing those things that might be causing some of our problems, or those things that can blindside us and wipe us out fast, or just cause a slow and miserable death. What is in that blind-spot can be leading to money bleeding from the business, preventing money coming into the business, or creating an environment that is stressful and bad for business and everyone in the business, and customers who would willingly spend money ‘if only’.

You get a different perspective when you can share what you see, with someone who can see the same thing from an outside perspective. This value of this can be immeasurable. Make sure what you think you are seeing is really what’s there and get an external viewpoint from someone who can not only see, but understand how to analyse what they are seeing.

Consider Your Business Vision

Nobody can build anything well, if they don’t know what it is supposed to look like. Try putting that furniture together if you don’t know what goes where. It is too hard! And it doesn’t need to be. Pick what YOU want your business to be like.

Understand if the business doesn’t look like you thought it would – or would like it to – then it is up to you to recalibrate, retool if necessary, and revamp to create the vision that you DO want.

And you need people to help you, so you need to engage your employees, and others who will help you achieve bring your vision to life, so they know what it is, and you all know when you have arrived and can keep it flourishing.

Create A Blueprint

Just as you need to know what something should look like, before you can build it, you need some guidelines to make sure that you put it together the way that can get you to the final result for which you are aiming. Your blueprint is your working document to show you what, how and where everything goes and when it will be done.

Follow Through

This is blueprint is worthless unless you make the commitment to yourself and to the project to do what you say you will do those actions that need to happen in order for it to be done now. If you don’t know HOW to do it, or to do some part of it, then that’s okay. Just find out! Yes you can find out anything you need to know, and you can find it inside the business, or you can find it outside the business if you don’t have what you need to do it. Finding the help you need, well that’s part of your commitment. No excuses.

Make Yourself Accountable To Someone

One of the great things in business is that we often get to make the decisions. One of the terrible things in business is we often get to make the decisions, and not be accountable for the results. That’s bad for the business and while it sometimes feels like a good thing... it is bad for us too.

This is where ‘the rubber hits the road’ and this is where we find out if you are really Stepping Up in your business. It can be scary, here on what can seem like the ‘bleeding edge’ but is just doing what we should be doing from the outset.

Push through that barrier, and you’ll find your better self on the other side.

A Five Year Plan For Your Goals Or Business Vision - Here's How!

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach
Mobile: 0403 365855

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