10 ways to get a business adrenaline rush

I bore myself (and others probably) by saying that ‘It’s not a rehearsal’

Sometimes it’s hard to make every day at work exciting, exhilarating or downright inspiring, however, if you work for yourself (doing what you enjoy and having complete control over your time and resources) means that you can have a damn good try.

Frankly, I feel for the people who go to work and then come home again and their emotional level throughout the day remains at fixed at ‘neutral’. WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT?!

You’re put on this earth for 80+ years if you’re lucky. Chances are you’ll be working 40+ of those… that’s 90,000 hours of your life (and yes, I removed weekends and holidays). For goodness sake – let’s enjoy it!

It occurred to me yesterday that it is possible to have a business adrenaline rush. You know that feeling… the one where you feel great, feel alive and are so pleased with yourself you don’t want the day to end. This wouldn’t work every day for sure – (or your family would likely disown you on grounds of being unbearable) – but you can plan on making them happen fairly regularly.

Here are ten suggestions to lighting the blue touch paper – it’s fair to say all are based on personal experience.

  • Listen to your heart beating during the ring tone before an important call to someone you’ve never spoken to before.
  • Make an audacious appointment with someone famous, someone you admire, someone who could help you in business. And get it.
  • Make the phone call you’ve been putting off because you’ve been afraid of rejection. Savour the feeling afterwards when it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
  • Get a signature on a month-changing deal.
  • Arrange meetings so close together in a day you have to run between them.
  • Move a step closer to signing a year-changing deal.
  • Stand up and talk to an audience, ever so slightly unprepared and use your experience to get you through.
  • Say no to a client, because you’re right and leave with your head held high.
  • Plan a mini-retirement – and have confidence that your clients will still be there when you get back.
  • Be so inspired by a book, person or idea that you set your alarm even earlier than normal.
  • BONUS: Invite someone, not expecting it, out for dinner and create a new relationship which may just lead places.

Any other suggestions?

 

 

 

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

How to ask good questions…

My dad has taught me from an early age that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Asking a client for the deal, asking a partner for a better deal or asking brave questions to a prospect normally yield interesting and unexpected results. 

Sadly most people start with the premise that someone’s going to say no. If you do, you’ll ask in the wrong way. 

Be confident. If your question is a good one offering a potential win-win for both sides, then there’s every chance you’ll be surprised with the answer

Here’s some great examples of people asking bold questions and getting great and unsurprising answers.

1) The case of the lost Lego

lego-letter

2) Giraffe Bread at Sainsburys Supermarket

One simple letter from a 3 year old…
SONY DSC
Gave rise to 140,000 Likes in a Facebook campaign and this response from Sainsburys…
giraffe-bread-letter-2

3) A man who likes his steak

Peter Shankman had had a long day travelling, realised he wouldn’t have time to make or buy dinner as his flight was getting in late. He was a regular with a steakhouse, which turns out to be 23.5 miles away from New York’s Newark airport, where he was heading.
Before he got on his flight – he sent this Tweet:
porterhouse-tweet
He was joking of course… and Morton’s restaurant knew he was joking – however to return to the title of this post – you know what happens next don’t you?
They met him at the airport, much to his total surprise.
mortons-new-york
An amazing example of customer service – yes – but let’s not forget what’s actually happened here – Peter dared to ask… and he got a great and unexpected result.
Learn how to ask good questions, dare to ask a question you wouldn’t normally ask – and see what happens.
Love to hear your examples below.

Do you just belong?

Saw this poem pinned up the other day on a sports club noticeboard and it resonated with me…

Do you stand on the sidelines looking in or do you participate and get involved? It’s too easy to just watch from afar. Sure, it’s hard putting your head above the parapet – there are trolls and plenty of others to shoot you down, pick holes and generally complain. They’re a minority though.

If you are one of those who ‘just belong’… maybe 2013 is the year to try something different. After all, it’s not a rehearsal.

Are you an active member-
The kind that would be missed
Or are you just contented
That your name is on a list?

Do you attend the functions
And mingle with the crowd
Or do you stay at home
And grumble long and loud?

Do you take an active part
To help the Club along
Or are you satisfied to be
The kind that ‘just belong’?

Do you ever come along
And information seek
Or leave the work to just a few
And talk about a ‘clique’?

There’s quite a programme scheduled
That means success if done
And it can be accomplished
With the help of ‘everyone’.

So why not come along
And help with hand on heart
Don’t be ‘just a member’
But take an active part

Think this over members
Are we right or are we wrong
Are you an ‘active member’
Or do you ‘JUST BELONG’!?

Inspirational pinboard #5 – The journey

“There is no finish line. So, love the journey”

How many days do you leave your desk, not finished for the day? You’ve not done everything you’d hoped. You feel disappointed in yourself. Why? Because you have high expectations and tomorrow is already full.

Don’t be disappointed. There’s rarely a natural finishing point to a working day. There’s always something else to do, create or solve.

Accept this, go home happy and look forwards to tomorrow.

Click here to download the A4 pinboard poster.

Original photograph and words by Mark Copeman

The inspirational pinboard #4 – Taking risk

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”

Not sending that email, not making that speech, not creating that product or not having an opinion makes life much less risky.

Peering over the edge is scary. There will be detractors, competitors and trolls fighting against you, wherever you make yourself heard.

Life however, is short. Don’t squander it.

Click here to download the A4 pinboard poster.

Original photograph and words by Mark Copeman

10 tips for awesome screen capture videos

A great way to get your message (and personality) across

Screen cams / screencaptures / screenflows are all around us. People are all too keen on YouTube to show us the latest and greatest software, however in far too many cases, where people just aren’t familiar with producing videos, they’re more likely to default to text or badly labelled PowerPoint slides, which is a pity. So often a quickly put together screencam could speed up your communications to many or in a 1:1 situation.

Having been a runner up in the 2011 TechSmith Screenchamp awards, I thought I’d offer some thoughts…

1.) Get it right on paper!

It’s so obvious, but I’m compelled to start with it – GET IT RIGHT ON PAPER. Work out what on earth you want to say first of all. Don’t just start waffling – have yourself a mindmap / cigarette packet / napkin / piece of beautifully labelled A3 – whatever your choice. If you plan it out in advance, it will take you minutes to produce a work of art as opposed to an hour to produce a mess. I have to say – one of my favourite tools is a piece of A3 paper.

2.) Keep it short

Make it as short as it can be. People hate waffle. Which brings me back to #1. Reduce the umms and arrrs by being clear in your thought process. Rehearse your ‘voiceover’ if you have to and don’t be afraid to re-record it if it just doesn’t flow. You’ll often find, recording it second time round it sounds and flows better.

3.) It’s all about the sound

Ensure you have a great microphone. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. People can handle average video – poor quality sound is a massive turn off. Whether you’re PC or Mac – I use this USB mic attached to this boom which works a treat. Crystal clear sound, plus I get to relive the olden days and feel like I’m a radio presenter all over again 😉

4.) Maybe there’s a better way?

Think about the format you’re going to create a screencapture in. Recently, I’ve come up with an interesting method for describing concepts, which involves turning a webcam upside down, a decent light, a piece of A3 paper and a big marker pen. With 6,000 views in a month – it seems to be resonating. Maybe, recording a screen isn’t the right answer? Maybe recording you standing in front of a whiteboard, talking is a better idea. Consider the best way to get your message across.

5.) Idea first, software second

If you are going to do a screen capture – you need the right software. Screenflow on a Mac is great. Camtasia (cheaper on Amazon than going direct!) on a PC is pretty good too. You can also check out the free services Jing and Screenr. Accept that if you’ve not used a piece of software before, there’s going to be a learning curve. Don’t shout at it – it may not be the software’s fault – it could be ‘user error’. Like everything in life, the more you do, the easier it becomes.

6.) Tell a story

If you’re going to show how a piece of software works, put things into context – show a workflow… tell a story… paint a picture. Telling your audience that SHIFT-CONTROL-F10 enables the syntax error debugging code window in full screen mode helps no one – especially if they’re a novice, which leads me on to

7.) Consider your audience

Is your audience my dad? Or is your audience an 18 year old college kid who spends 21 hours a day in front of a screen? There’s a big difference in how you tell your story – make sure you speak to your audience

8.) Prepare your assets

When you’re putting your story together – you’ll almost certainly need external files – to upload an image / create a document etc – have them to hand so you don’t spend half of your screencam searching directories. While I’m on it – for goodness sake don’t show the world all your private, personal stuff – hide your browser bookmarks, ensure you don’t navigate personal folders… it will save you having to mask it all out further down the production

9.) File formats

Ensure you export your video file in a decent format. WMVs and FLVs are so 1980’s – the file type of choice for best streaming would be a .MP4 / .M4V – these are universally accessible, are converted by YouTube nicely and are the best quality vs filesize balance of all the file types.

10.) Showcase and promote your work

There’s not much point in producing beautiful work if no one sees it. Enter it into competitions, embed it on your blog – get people to talk about what you’re doing and if you get really good at it – why not build a few, and turn them into a course. Don’t forget to give a couple of modules away for free though…

If you’ve found any great screencammers out there – add them into the comments below.

 

Alternatives to PowerPoint

Before I start, I’ve nothing against the software, nor the producer of it. The issue I have is how it’s used, and how it’s taken over our lives.

I’ve spent the last 10 years helping people deliver their messages to internal and external audiences – so I guess you could say I’ve seen and experienced a lot of seminars and presentations. I’ve helped CEO’s of FTSE 100 companies deliver their messages and I’ve worked with dozens of salesforces, consultants and marketing departments create and deliver messages to persuade, ‘cajole’ (good word) and win business.

Ban PowerPoint for a day

In short, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to presenting.

Despite the length of time I’ve been doing this. I’m now more fascinated in the subject than ever. Why?

I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues in the corporate space and I’m hearing more than ever the phrases:

“I need to work late to finish my slides”
“They need the slides 24 hours before the meeting”
“Can you help me with my slides”
“I need to get my slides out”

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH

Everywhere I look there are slides being produced and emailed to hundreds of people. Slides which have hours put into them. Slides which have to win over an argument, persuade, educate and rarely do.

Why?

Because 90% of the time, sending a set of slides is not the answer.

  • Slides are something to hide behind when presenting an argument
  • Slides are typically part of a ‘read along with me’ session
  • Slides should more often than not be a report or document
  • Slides do not contain your personality
  • Slides alone do not persuade, sell or cajole
  • Slides don’t get read or understood, they get flicked through
  • Slides rarely add to your argument
  • Slides make you work late and rarely give you a return on your time
  • Slides come second. You story comes first. Most people work the other way round.

Believe it or not, last year in Switzerland, Mattias Poehm founded a political party dedicated to the eradication of Powerpoint. Awesome. I might just join.

You probably don’t need to be quite so radical, but what’s my answer?

Here are 10 alternatives for getting your message across.

  1. Still need to get visual? Master Prezi. It will make your audiences sit up and listen
  2. Read Pitch Anything! By Oren Claff to understand how to construct your story.
  3. Use Camtasia (great price here) / Screenflow for MAC to produce a narrated demo to bring your story alive
  4. Read Resonate to understand how to construct the visuals for your story. (I’m reading it now and it’s brilliant)
  5. Refuse a projector. Be brave, stand up and just talk. Use notes and make sure you’ve prepared your story.
  6. Don’t use a single bullet point. Use images only. Images are memorable. Spend a few dollars on some images – what return might you get?
  7. Do something different. If you’re given an hour, figure out how to take 10 mins to deliver the same message. Give you audience the gift of time. Hook them in enough to want more and create conversations afterwards.
  8. Use a whiteboard or a flipchar, learn to draw, develop a story. Make it personal.
  9. When someone asks for ‘slides’ ask why. Ask them whether a narrated screencam might be better. Narrate 10 mins over some slides and send them the video. This way you don’t need to have the presentation after all. I do this a LOT and have had tremendous results. Then, when you then actually get to meet someone, they know what the message is you’re looking to deliver, because they’ve heard and seen it in advance. You can then use the time together constructively.
  10. If there’s nothing on screen, you are the focus. Your words get listened to. Choose your technique based on your message and your audience.

Try something. If you work as part of a large team, join me in banning PowerPoint in your business for a day and see what happens.

Announcing our final total

A plan was hatched

And so it all began on the morning of 18th September 2011, when my wife and I sat and watched the Bupa Great North Run in our dressing gowns whilst having a relaxed Sunday morning.

Before the race started, as ever in true BBC style, wonderful tales of heroism, courage and support were told by everyday people, all running for their cause – all running for something they believed in passionately and all doing something positive to help that cause.

Listening to their stories and watching them run put me to shame that morning.

We’d just come back from a pretty special summer holiday. We live incredibly privileged lives and it hit me squarely between the eyes that it was time to take some action, raise some money and generally give something back to the charity that in an indirect way had saved my life 15 years’ ago.

That morning we hatched a plan for me to run four half marathons in a month. Not ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination – but challenging enough for me. What would make it even more special however would be to run it with a group of friends and persuade them to do the challenge too.

On 17th November 2011, after much research, thinking and fine tuning of my pitch, I assembled 10 “dad’s” in our local pub and waited till pint #3 before pitching the challenge.

So, how did we get on?

Our challenge is now over. 6 of us ran every race, one of us kayaked two half marathons and 10 others were involved in single races, which was no mean feat. Somehow I managed to run 4 personal bests in a row and am now fitter than I’ve been for a long time which was the icing on the cake really!

So – quick report on the last month…

We then had a week off

  • 30th Sept Bristol – 10,000 people, went off way to fast, horrible small hills, great city atmosphere,
  • 7th Oct Windsor – the hardest – closest to us and arrived late, the hills hurt a lot, the children running the home straight with Paul was a real highlight
  • 14th Oct – Henley – I was somewhat surprised by us being joined by 7 of my school mates, stunning weather, gorgeous scenery, the hardest mile of the 52 in Henley Hill, a great celebration afterwards.

Wind forward to Friday 19th October 2012

We celebrated the end of our challenge by gathering runner and supporters at the Thames Riviera Hotel in Maidenhead. It was a great night to reflect on the last few months of training and the pain of racing 52 miles across that month. Everyone had their own stories to tell and everyone had a lot of special memories. Some of us were even sad it was over!

I did stand on a chair and make a speech I’d spent most of the day writing – it was predominately to say thank you to everyone, and to award some certificates – I’d even laminated myself…

I also wanted to announce a total (which is still going up)… across 242 individual donations, including gift aid, we had exceeded our target of raising £10,783.20. However, in addition, I was delighted to announce a matched donation from BP (thanks to Simon Hodgkinson – one of their employees was part of the team )of £2,783.

There were gasps from the audience…

But even better than that, Paul Johnson then stood up… he’d applied for a grant from the foundation of his company Allergan (Allergan International Foundation) and had been successful. He proudly handed over a cheque for £10,000, making our total raised so far £23,566.

Donations on the night took the total to £23,758 – which we were all thrilled with.

And so what a journey it’s been. What a lot of fond memories and most importantly, what a lot of money raised.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Let the next adventure be as fun…

Mark.

PS Proof is below (less the gift aid!) and will you look at the last donation on the entries…

Race #4 – Henley

And so after 10 months of thinking about it and the last month of running, the last race was upon us. Notice how I called this one a ‘race’. Despite the miles already put in – there was a sense of determination amongst Team Awesome, as I now refer to them. Everyone was tired, but everyone wanted to keep striving to knock off a few seconds off their personal bests and go for broke – right until the end.

Saturday night involved texting who could eat the biggest pizza. I’m fairly certain I won – because I struggled to get up the stairs that night – I felt a little like Augustus Gloop and needed rolling into bed. But I didn’t care – it was my last night of guilt free eating for a while.

Our final challenge had an air of notoriety about it. Mainly due to something called Henley Hill. The profile had been circulating on email for a while. It didn’t look pretty. Turned out that was the truth. We liked the flat bits – but not so the steep climb and the run/gallop/hobble down the other side.

So the alarm went at 6.30 and it was the first wake up call in the dark. Porridge was made and consumed and the sun still hadn’t shown its face. Turns out the temperature at that point was 1.3 degrees centigrade. Ouch.

After picking up ‘Gels’ Johnson as he’s become affectionately known to the team, my wonderful family made their last pilgrimage to watch me run, with the aim of high fiving as many runners as they could and for Matthew to hand over my bottle of Lucozade at the desired moment – just like an elite athlete…

It was a beautiful morning by the river in Henley – fog and blue skies and lots of VERY fit looking people in serious running gear set the tone for the day.

I was looking forward to meeting a couple of additional runners in the club house – joining the Awesome Team on our final endeavour. One of whom has recently cleaned out the NHS in operations, drugs and physio on his legs over the years. He was welcomed with open arms into the team and a liberal amount of strapping applied.

As we entered the Henley Rugby Club clubhouse, imagine my surprise when I spotted some other familiar looking faces.

To cut a very long story short, 8 of my oldest friends had been secretly ‘training’ for the last 3 months and had decided to join the team on our last outing (although Jim had completed the Sydney half marathon on the day of our first run – he had a good excuse not being there). At first as I spotted them I thought they were there to support. I was wrong – they were going to run it with us. It’s not often I’m overwhelmed and speechless. Today I was.

After much man hugging, the grand total of 16 of us were going to be running together. Brand new branded “Spud-based” shirts (don’t ask) and newly printed existing shirts were donned, and I made do with my felt tip penned scrawl.

The gun went and we were off. What with the commotion, warming up was somewhat of an after thought. Mr Carpenter my awesome pacemaker was at my side again, Mr Lycra and the Machine had taken their celebrity start positions and Gels Johnson and the Honorary Lad, Mrs Carpenter settled into their pace, with Henley Hill very much in mind.

The course was tricky – cross country at times, with little room for manoeuvrings. The Thames looked stunning and the small, occasional crowd mainly drunk tea. I was forced at one point to ask for a cheer, and made another man wave his union jack slightly more vigorously. It was Henley after all.

After a loop, we were back into town for much support, and Matthew handed over my Lucozade perfectly. We were then to be faced with the hill from hell. Less said about it the better. It was steep and winding and never ending. As I got near the top, I spotted two of our new team members – C Fink and L Fink and we ran down the hill together on the other side like a cross between a wounded gazelle and and a malfunctioning robot. There’s no right way to run 0.5 of a mile downhill quickly. However you do it, it hurts.

Chris and Lucy turned into my new pacemakers for the last 4 miles. I’d taken a look at the watch and decided another PB wasn’t on the cards. That wasn’t going to stop me trying and to say I was pleased when I looked at my watch after I’d crossed the line, was an understatement. I was knackered and somehow had indeed managed another personal best time.

It was then time to cheer the remainder home. Pricey and Simon The Machine lead the pack, with Harvey Lycra and Mr Murray next. With myself and Mr and Mrs Fink next – we then had the great pleasure of cheering home (in no particular order) Wilco, Fairchamp, Gorzy, Lord Jones, Jockey, Godba, Mr and Mrs Carpenter, and with yet another PB, the legend that is Gels Johnson.

Truly amazing – everyone did themselves proud. A lot of DNA swapping ensued through sweaty man (and woman) hugging for the next hour.

Whilst this was all going on, it’s sometimes easy to forget why we were doing it. A quick look at the Just Giving website reminded me – our total was around the £10,100 mark.

My idyllic afternoon of buying the Sunday Times for the first time this year and putting my feet up was then thoroughly spoilt by the surprise hosting of 54 people for carb replacement chilli (and an occasional beer).

I didn’t mind.

It was a day I will never forget.

 

Race #3 – Windsor

So, it doesn’t get much closer for us – Windsor is a stone’s throw from base – so you’d think we’d get there on time, there’d be no queues and it would all be nice and smooth?

Not so much – the traffic wasn’t great and the mile walk to the start? Well – let’s call it a good warm up.

The awesome team (TM) joined 4,00o others for a lunchtime ‘kickoff’ this time. Porridge had to be postponed. Routines were confused. Some had had double breakfast or early lunch. Some had brought extra gels in their activity belts.

I felt nervous. This was always going to be the hardest psychologically. The third one – hot off the heels of the second one. People were tired. Fortunately, no one knew the profile of the course, or I suspect few (including me) would have turned up!

Windsor (apparently) is notorious. Basically, you know flat bits? well, Windsor doesn’t have any. Flat wasn’t part of the plans for the Great Park, when they errrr built it 100’s of years ago. They thought it would be funny to put loads of long hills in. So they did. Unknown to us.

The start line was great – lots of crowds lining the Great Walk. When I managed to get a few of them cheering and being ‘non-Windsor’ like – it was even better. It starts with a run up to the Copper Horse at the very top of the hill. From there, it’s a couple of circuits of the beautiful (but did I mention, hilly?) Great Park.

My pacemaker Mr Carpenter had agreed not to be quite as ‘ambitious’ as the previous race and we started together, a little slower. The Lycra one and the Machine were ahead. Mr Gel Johnson and Mrs Carpenter were in our rear view mirrors – but battling.

The hills hurt. A lot. I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to overcome them – I felt good and I was making the most of it. I even managed to get the crowd ‘whooping’ a couple more times, which felt good for confidence. Scrawling “MARK” on the front of my running top was also a big help. People like to cheer on people with real names so it seems.

Once again, family and friends were out in support. Children were high fiving and they’ll never know how much it means – we got to see and hear them twice – which was great.

The race finishes down that hill from the Copper Horse. You can see the finish – it’s literally in front of you. But – you can’t touch it… and basically, it doesn’t get any closer, despite running as fast as you can for about 12 minutes. I set another new personal best – and was literally over the moon. I was so focused, I didn’t even see or hear Simon, The Machine cheering me down the last 400m. (He’d finished a couple of hours earlier ;-)).

Once again, everyone did themselves proud. Mr Johnson excelled himself by overcoming the hills, (how about that for an awesome photo?!) and in one of the highlights of this challenge, various children (who we own) accompanied him down the hill to the finish for the last mile – giving him the lift he needed. Superb.

Three quarters of the way there… one to go – Henley. Next Sunday.

What a month.