Content Marketing and Emotional Intelligence, a Perfect Match?

Two years ago, when looking to move back into corporate life after several years as an entrepreneur, one thing was very clear – my passion for content marketing was not an opportunity in Asia Pacific. It wasn’t on any business radars then and when I spoke about it, it was either unknown or perceived as a “nice to have.” It’s no longer the same.

Today, if you do a job search on LinkedIn – using the words content marketing – more than 160 opportunities pop up. A search for “content” finds 300+ roles. The world has changed and Asia is picking up speed.

In my previous blog “The Content Marketing Coup D’etat”, I wrote about how rapidly it’s changing – in fact, it felt like everything literally happened overnight. And when you look at the available work, I think we can agree we’ve moved to a tipping point in Asia. The problem with tipping points, however, is confusion, and the noise around content marketing has definitely hit a crescendo, but that’s always the case when something is “new.”

Emotional IntelligenceWhat is content marketing? Quite simply, it’s about flipping traditional marketing on its head. We no longer focus on what we want to tell our customers (‘isn’t our product great’), and instead share a rich resource of information and knowledge (not just our own) with a single goal of helping them be successful. By doing this, we’re delighting our customers and building their loyalty to our brand, which means they buy from us.

Moving onto emotional intelligence. This is something else that has changed in job descriptions, with the addition of Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) in the ‘skills required’ section. EQ is absolutely fundamental to many roles, but to finally see it being acknowledged as a required skill is definitely something that makes my heart sing. Maybe we’ll see some humanness coming back into business?

In regards to content marketing specifically, EQ is absolutely fundamental. Pure IQ does not cut it – although having the smarts continues to be important. I believe the people who will shine in this field are those who have an intuitive feel for what information and resources resonate with the “customer” – be it employees, partners, customers, or constituents. And this counts as much for B2B as it does for B2C.

It really doesn’t matter who the audience is. What does matter is having the deep insight into what will make the audience feel and act. That requires strong EQ.

People who can put themselves in the shoes of the “customer” and provide a valuable resource that delivers knowledge focused on making their customer’s personal and professional life better, will be the winners here. But you’ve got to have high EQ to understand how to feed that need. You’ve also got to understand that it’s not about what your company has to offer, but about delivering a whole ecosystem of thought leadership that maps to what is relevant to your audience, which ultimately should map back to your business.

Brand new professions are coming to life in this digital economy, and content marketing strategist, trainer, creator, etc… is finally getting its day in the sun. I just want to encourage those hiring for these roles seek people with extremely high IQs AND EQs to ensure content marketing flourishes in this region.

Then again, perhaps EQ is overrated as Adam Grant, Influencer, Wharton professor and author of ‘GIVE AND TAKE’ suggests in this post? But you know, I’d take a person with high EQ AND IQ over just IQ any day – in my line of work at least.

What do you think?



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12 Social Media Profiles – Narcissist, Spousal Invader, Or?

I was at an APSS event recently and the discussion was around LinkedIn and how to better utilize this great networking asset. It was an informative session and thanks to some pointers from Chris J. Reed, I’ve updated my profile with the new tools available. I do recommend you check out what you can do now on LinkedIn. It’s awesome.

One other thing Chris mentioned was the One Percent Rule – where one percent of people on social media are the contributors (see explanation below), nine percent are participating and sharing, with the following 90 percent not doing much at all, other than inviting you to play Candy Crush. It’s been apparent for a very long time that the 90 percent just don’t seem to get that the one percent don’t have time to play games! Those invites keep on coming though…

One Percent RuleThe 1-9-90 rule makes a lot of sense to me in regards to social interactivity in Asia, especially as I am a One Percenter. I can also see that, as a blogger, I need to ensure my nine percent group is strong.

As always, the session got me thinking, and I’ve come up with my own “profiles” associated with how people contribute in the social world. This is my observations based on my own community, however I think I’m connected to just about every country, race, religion and culture within my network, so a good test case perhaps?

The One Percenters

This group are born communicators. Not only do they create their own content in blogs, articles, etc, they fundamentally believe in the sharing of diverse knowledge – anything that makes them think, laugh or even the stuff that outrages them. Professionally, they’ll share a wide array of information on their field of excellence and support others’ writing about similar subjects. The One Percenters value knowledge and believe sharing ideas can fundamentally change the world. They’re typically open to different opinions, argue passionately, love the collaboration they get to create across the world, and most of the time, provide good fodder for friend’s timelines. The great thing about The One Percenters is they’re also terrific supporters. They’ll love your kids photos, your latest meal and if you want to launch a blog or a Facebook fan page, make sure they know about it, ‘cos they’ll “Like” it and share it – appreciating how hard it is getting any support in Asia. They don’t just communicate out with the world, they actively participate in it, although there are definitely some Narcissists in the one percent gang. Naturally, with three blogs, lots of content under my belt, and a penchant for sharing knowledge, I consider myself a “One Percenter.”

The Nine Percent Includes…

Knowledge is Power

The Knowledge Lovers

While not creating content, this group love knowledge in all its forms. This is the group you definitely want in your tribe as a One Percenter. The Knowledge Lovers admire the One Percenters, but appreciate that creating content is just not their thing. This group is more inclined towards (what I think of as) Microblogging – as in sharing not only their content , but their opinion too – rather than just sharing a link (something that really frustrates me). They’ll tag you in content they think you’ll love, acknowledge the great work of people they know, and just be general cheer leaders for this new world of social. An important differentiator for a Knowledge Lover is they will never share information they have not read first. They appreciate that their credibility is linked to the quality of information they share, so don’t expect them to retweet your blog within five seconds of posting it. It’s not their thing. This group constantly reads every chance they get.

The Narcissists

Then we get The Narcissists – bless. These folk are on social media channels and quite active to boot, but it’s all about them. They’ll share pictures, adventures, events they’re in and more, but they’ll never EVER (well rarely) “like,” share or acknowledge anyone else’s work. Sometimes it’s because they’re just too busy, but the reality is, they see social media as a one-way-street-for-information-distribution, and they’re all over it for that. Be sure to protect your heart from disappointment when they don’t acknowledge your existence. Of course, confused within The Narcissist gang can be the famous and semi-famous – especially those building a brand around their personality. These people are not narcissistic, they are just building a business, and if you are in their close community, they usually go above and beyond for their friends. It’s a fine line.

The Addicts

The Addicts typically cross a lot of social media channels – usually with one favorite in the mix, although not always. These are the sorts of people who let you know where they’ve checked in (aka the Foursquare generation), and they’re often all over Twitter, having conversations all night with complete strangers. You can usually identify The Addicts when they reveal (on social media of course) that “they just need to take a break from social media” – although the break rarely lasts long. I’ve never been a fan of the stranger conversations – preferring to build fewer, deeper relationships – so this group has always been a curiosity to me.

The Community Builders

This is another active group within the top 10 percent of participants, and their goal is to build the biggest community they can as quickly as they can. The Community Builders spend hours and hours following people, they build groups and lists, they know every powerful hashtag in the universe, they join popular conversations and participate, and they are often very successful in raising their personal brand above the noise. I personally don’t know how anyone has the time to do this while working a day job, but I take my hat off to them for the investment. If you get on their radar and they like what you do, they often support you – but it’s not for you, it’s for them.

The Social Channel Fanatics

I love this group of people. They will do everything in their power to convince you that one social channel stands above all others and that is where you need to be. You can always identify a Social Channel Fanatic by their fevered eyes as they wax lyrical about why this one single channel is all you need and why the rest are not relevant at all. While I am always an appreciator of passion, I’ve learnt that arguing the point, suggesting maybe some other channels are better for different people based on their style of interaction, is, well, generally pretty wasted. The Social Channel Fanatics are a great resource to get to the bottom of one particular social channel however, so the depth of learning can be quite wonderful.

The 90 Percent Includes…

The Voyeurs

I know these people exist, because every time I turn up at a networking event, BBQ or a party they’ll tell me everything I’ve been doing in my life, but NOT ONCE did they ever comment or acknowledge my existence online! The Voyeurs don’t participate (beyond an occasional like) and they merely observe the lives of those around them. Sometimes it’s because they’re shy, sometimes it’s because they don’t see the point, and sometimes, it’s just ‘cos the world has to have its voyeurs… it’d be boring without them right?

The Social Critics

Probably my favorite group is this one. The Social Critics are on social media – usually in a limited way – and they use every chance they get to tell you that social media sucks.  I find them a curiosity within the mix, because they do utilize social, however because they do not tend to have a professional need to use it in a more considered way, the negatives tend to outweigh the positives. Examples where it’s not necessary are: they’re getting towards the end of their career and can’t see the point, they work within a very small community so it’s not necessary for career advancement, or they have never left the place they grew up in so most people are physically close to them. While participating to a limited extent, The Social Critics deride it every chance they get. I’ve never gotten to the bottom of that one.

The Socially Inept

This group are not always conscious of their actions (or words) and are the ones who inadvertently drop comments that most consider racist, sexist, un-nationalistic, and generally, not acceptable. The comments are usually posted without expectation of a response – other than for people to agree with them – but when people do respond, often with vitriol, The Socially Inept are surprised. The social revolution has not necessarily been a great thing for this group. You can find extreme examples of how they’ve gotten it very very wrong very very often here, and here and here. While the virality of these stories were impossible to ignore, I suppose the good news is that the Socially Inept attend to learn very harsh lessons very quickly. Long overdue. We all know people like this, so perhaps if you’re aware of anyone at risk, you can share these links and help them see the light?

Anton Casey

The Newbies

I think my favorite group – because they’re just cute – are the brand new people on social media – The Newbies. They’re straggling in these days, with the vast bulk of developed country humans engaged somewhere. The Newbies post their first comment – to which most people go “about time you joined us,” and then they get tentative, before going quiet to observe what everyone else is doing. Alternatively, they post absolute nonsense and before they know it, people jump on them, and they go quiet. It’s a bit of a scary world for The Newbie, because they are entering an established “structure” and aren’t always confident in how to play this game. The challenge for this gang is they are not early adopters, so this obviously isn’t an intuitive medium for them, and thus, it’s scary. We’re not all the same. But it’s not rocket science, just be authentic and have fun.

The Yeah Whatevs

Remember when mobile phones came out in the late 90s and a lot of us rushed off and got one? Then the next round of adopters got one? Then the next? Finally, there remained a small 4th group who were all attitude, saying “why would I want one of them?” In my mind, this demographic was typically 30’ish male professionals, and they finally cracked about six years ago – the final frontier of mobile phone adoption was won. After that, they were incredibly annoying and couldn’t be without their phones – picking them up during dinner (but not to look at Facebook), interrupting conversations to take calls – yawn! Well those people are not anywhere on social media – other than LinkedIn. You can always spot The Yeah Whatev male, because they wax lyrical at dinner parties about why they aren’t on it, and everyone else is thinking “there is no escape in the long-run sunshine, you’ll see!”

The Spouse Invader

As an addendum to The Yeah Whatevs, I have to add a special category in its own right – The Spouse Invader. Again the majority are male, as let’s face it, women are natural communicators. The Spouse Invader is not on social media, although if anywhere, they do have a shabby LinkedIn profile, but never share anything on it. This group cannot make any sense of Twitter. Google+ what, why? Pinterest is women’s business, although they’ll benefit from the collection of recipes someone has been studiously collating. Facebook, no way, but perhaps I can just have a sneak peak over my spouses’ shoulder? “Hey love, you’ve left Facebook on, do you mind if I take a look?” They are participating, they just want to tell the world that they’re not. I am thankful my husband is not a Spouse Invader.

Concluding now… I promise

Obviously much of the above is tongue-in-cheek and will hopefully make you smile, but we do live in interesting times and for professionals, how we participate on digital channels will become more and more critical for our success and advancement.

In recent months, I’ve been running workshops and training sessions, trying to get more colleagues and professional friends intelligently utilizing social assets to enhance their career opportunities. I really believe in it.

As much as I’m sharing, I’m also learning and gaining clarity on the challenges people are facing. For example, some of the lessons and epiphanies have been:

  1. There is no one size fits all approach – how you engage for professional growth is a very personal journey, based on your unique character and ambitions
  2. Many professionals are being told they should get on social media, but few are explaining to them the why and the how
  3. Most people don’t even know where to start when it comes to sharing information or where they get the information from. Helping people hone in on their areas of expertise and suitable resources for information is a great place to start
  4. People are not understanding the benefit of their companies’ brand, nor are companies understanding the benefit of individual employee brands within their organization. The fundamental message is people speak, companies do not, so you’ve got to make this a priority with all employees in an organization – especially your senior execs. It’s not a nice to have anymore
  5. Successful participation in social media is about giving not getting. This is for companies as well as individuals. People are not really understanding that fundamental philosophy. We must connect with our hearts and minds to be successful. We must be thinking about what will make the biggest impact on the audience we want to influence, and then subtly weave in our own personal goals too

Stand out from the crowd

While social interaction is completely intuitive to me, for the majority of people, it really seems a confusing minefield. In the early days of speaking on this topic, I felt stupid talking about things that were so obvious to me. But they are not obvious to the 90 percent. As such, I’ve decided my goal is to help as many professionals as I can get into the nine percent gang, if not the one percent.

But people must join this world in a way that makes sense to them and can help them build towards their goals. The “What’s in it for Me” is absolutely critical to understand – and there are a lot of individual options in the WIIFM argument. Making sense of that individually is where we are right now.

Any thoughts on who I missed and which profile you can most relate to?



PS: I always try to write short blogs, and here I am again…

PPS: some of my professional social media assets are

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The Content Marketing Coup D’etat

I attended a great evening in Singapore recently – Content Conversations hosted by Outbrain at the Hub. I recommend reading Timi Siytangco’s take on the evening here, as she highlights all of the salient points discussed. It was definitely a lively conversation around driving tangible results in the new world of content marketing, while competing for eye-balls when one is up against the stiffest competition of them all – cute puppies.

But I had an epiphany this night and I’d like to share it with you.

To give you context, I’ve been in the content marketing game in various forms for a number of years. In the early days, a small handful of businesses and individuals understood the concept of delivering awesomely powerful content to their customers to drive business results. This content was something new, something different – it wasn’t about the company at all – it was about delivering information that helped address the customers’ most pressing needs, and it was about building the intangible – loyalty to your brand.

Content MarketingIt was exciting then – new, fresh and there weren’t too many people playing in the sand pit. It was also a nice group of people, because the early adopters were extremely passionate about content marketing – we knew this was a world changer – so we were all sharing our passion and supporting each other.
Alas, that didn’t help me much. While one would like to be considered a “visionary,” being early in the game in Asia went against me as a small business owner. When I was taking this concept to market, the people I was speaking with just couldn’t comprehend the idea of marketing but not marketing their business. What? Why?

Well Asia is getting it now. Awesome!

Back then, we didn’t have syndication or amplification – beyond our social channels. This genre was led by smart, creative people that understood the concept and delivered value. We were focused on one goal – building a loyal customer base. Hubspot, in my opinion, has always been the greatest example of this art form, and of course “the Pool Guy” aka Marcus Sheridan – is a fabulous success story. Read his story if you haven’t. Very cool.

Asia is now at fever pitch around content, and more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon – adding to the discussion about what content marketing actually is. When I listen in, the conversation seems predominantly focused on consumer content – with viral videos and tweets taking center stage in discussions. How can it not? We’re in the age of the selfie, the age of the clever tweet, and the age where the quality of the conversation delivered on the back of a moment is how we measure success. It’s confusing, especially when you’re in a slightly more serious B2B game.

The original content marketing advocates are still out there creating amazing content, but we have new friends to play with now – the advertising/real-time-bidding/syndication people have joined us in the sandpit. These are the people who understand that creating a great piece of content isn’t enough anymore, it’s got to get in front of as many eye balls as possible, and turning those eye balls into metrics is what matters. Things are definitely changing, and changing fast.

It actually reminds me of my Dad, who is a local Australian artist with a small celebrity status in the community I grew up in. While my Dad has creativity at the core of all he is, he is useless at selling his paintings – I say that with love! Growing up with a struggling artist as a Father wasn’t easy, but every now and again, a gallery owner or art promoter entered our life. They’d take Dad on a whirlwind tour around the country and we’d have a few dollars in the bank for a while. That is what the newest members of the content marketing world are – the art promoters.

Content Marketing

The wonderful, creative people are still delivering great work, but a coup d’etat has occurred, and the people who understand how to promote content are leading the discussion. They’re better at it too. I’ve been creating content because I love it, slowly building a loyal readership because people like what I write – well I hope they do.

Now the professional brokers are in the mix, elevating content in a way it needs to be elevated to get it above the noise. It’s good for all of us creative content types ultimately.

However, as the content marketing industry grows up and becomes mature, I ask two things – especially for the B2B players

  1. In Asia, a lot of marketing folk are taking content they’ve been creating for the last 20+ years and pumping it into social channels, calling it content marketing. Content marketing is not about re-purposing existing marketing content, it’s a completely new style of marketing and it’s about delivering remarkable content for your customers to help them be successful. It really has very little to do with you at all. In fact, this blog (which I wrote in 2012) is still pretty much on the money about what content marketing is (or Inbound Marketing, which is/was the same thing.) As an idea, three out of every four pieces of content you create should have nothing to do with your company at all  -I got that 3 / 4 tidbit from Drew Calin at LinkedIn BTW. Why would I do that I hear you say? Because your goal is to make your customers successful AND building their loyalty to your brand. Remember that, remember that, please remember that
  2. Additionally, as businesses start to focus on amplifying their content, please remember that spending the money here as a priority could mean you forget to spend money where equal value sits – in the quality of the content created. You can spend all the money you like on ensuring your content is distributed to the right people across the world, but if it’s bad content, it’s not going to do you any good and it’s definitely not going to make people loyal to your brand. Your ultimate goal is to build a community of people who love your brand, because you’re helping them be better. If you’re focused on one and not focusing on the other, you’re not going to succeed. Get the balance right, make the content creators a priority, partner with great companies that can amplify your content (like Outbrain) and get cracking. Also this takes time, you’ve got to go in with a long term mindset – you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for instant gratification trust me

Anything I’ve missed here? Any other concerns as the content marketing industry moves into a level of maturity?

These are my take-aways from a great evening. I’ll also definitely be going to the next Content Conversations event. It’s an inspired and excited community of people. I like that.


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Bambajan – Sustainable Music for Everyone

My friends, I wanted to share a really remarkable moment for two of my great friends Duncan and Lee Ann McKee. Nine years ago, they launched STIX, Motivation Through Music. I was present at their very first corporate gig, and it was an amazing experience. Nearly 100 people, coming together, playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with nothing more than a couple of plastic tubes. It was a special moment for everyone in the room.

Lee Ann and Duncan in Action

The specialness of the moment wasn’t just because I was witnessing two great people launching a dream, it was also because the majority of this group had never played a musical instrument in their lives. Yet here they were, playing a symphony. It was remarkable

Roll the clock forward nearly a decade and STIX has been a great success. They work with the biggest brands all over the world, sharing their special message and motivation. In fact, if you’ve got a corporate meeting coming up, keep them in mind.

But they’re not the kind of people to be idle, so they’ve been busy creating something else. For the last two years, they’ve focused on moving this skill beyond business, because they believe everyone can play music – young or old. But it’s not just about the music for Lee Ann and Duncan, they also have a strong desire to make a meaningful contribution in the world – both socially and environmentally. And that’s where Bambajam comes in.

Duncan and Lee Ann created Bambajam so we can all experience the joy of playing music together. Many people miss out on music in their younger years, so being able to play later in life often feels like an impossible dream. Well it isn’t. Duncan has worked hard to create a musical notation system anyone can learn to read (see below – very colorful for the kids), and the Bambajam instrument can be played as separate tubes or with a small group of people sitting around the instrument together as a xylophone. This means everyone in a school CAN have an instrument to play. Can you see it in impoverished schools? I can.


The top section is Duncan’s music – you can read that!

I was lucky to grow up in a family devoted to music, but many do not have the opportunity. However, learning music isn’t just about exploring a new skill. All research in this area indicates that kids who have creative outlets – especially music – perform better across the board. In Asia, with academic success such a high priority, this is a key strength for Bambajam. Not to mention, the kids will be happier!

A wonderful part of this story is its sustainability message. The Bambajam tubes (or xylophone) has been handcrafted and sourced from renewable bamboo in partnership with the East Bali Poverty Project. Lee Ann and Duncan are absolutely committed to ensuring the instrument is sustainable and ethical as well. As such, the East Bali Poverty Project are sourcing the bamboo and you can read more about this great organization here. Bamboo reforestation is critical for both sustainable social and economic development in this community. Therefore, by supporting Bambajam, you really can make a difference.

How can you help? In the last week, Lee Ann and Duncan have launched an Indegogo crowd funding program and I urge you to check it out, make a donation, plant a bamboo, or better yet, buy the instrument. I think our order is already in, right Steve? Additionally:

  1. If you know someone in teaching, tell them about Bambajam. For a small investment, a classroom can play a symphony
  2. If you are a parent, buy one of these beautiful instruments, even if you’ve never played music yourself. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are playing a symphony with your family, or maybe some jazz, or a nursery rhyme – there’s lots of music to choose from
  3. Or just make a small donation to help them out or pay a small fee to plant some bamboo and help the wonderful people living in the mountains of Bali


There are lots of ways you can participate – check out the right hand side of the Webpage here for ideas. I’m just thrilled to see two great people making such a beautiful impact on the community they live in, as well as sharing a new way for all of us to learn music. But we’ve got to help them out because….

  • Bambajam is the real deal.
  • It’s created by two people with a wonderful, meaningful dream who are now delivering this to the world.
  • It’s a business built from passion and it can change the world.
  • It’s giving jobs to people who need them.
  • It’s making a positive environmental contribution.
  • It can get everyone playing music, no matter the skills or experience.
  • But most importantly, it’s a business built from the heart. That alone is worth supporting.

Who’s going to join me and give two social entrepreneurs a leg up on their awesome business? Thanks in advance if you decide to help them out.



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Thank You Asia’s Analysts

So I had some pretty amazing news late Friday night. Apparently the industry analysts in Asia have told the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) that I’m doing a good job for them, which resulted in an equal 3rd place in the Annual Analyst Relations Professional of the Year awards. How’s that hey?

Mind-blowing to say the least. Humbling too.

AR Professional of the YearWhen I agreed to come back into AR just over a year ago (after a 15 year break) it was actually quite a big decision for me. I had been focusing on content and communications strategy, content marketing, business storytelling, etc… – all of which I enjoy immensely – however, the opportunity was hard to ignore. Microsoft is going through such an amazing transformation right now, so to be part of that was a very exciting proposition, especially as the analysts are a big part of Microsoft succeeding in this new world.

But the bottom line reason for saying yes was a genuine love of working with analysts. This is a great group of people who spend their time looking at the entire IT industry and predicting how IT will transform our world. That means I get to have the most fascinating conversations with experts about the direction our industry is taking and I greatly value understanding how they see the future playing out and why they come to those conclusions. I also know, fundamentally, how important analysts are for the success of the entire IT community, so from a professional satisfaction and intellectual curiosity point-of-view, it was a no-brainer. Not to mention they’re a nice bunch of people tool.

I’m definitely only just getting started back in this area, so for the analysts to say – hey, you’re doing a good job – well, it feels terrific. But I know I can do more. I know I can create more opportunities for engagement between Microsoft and the analysts across Asia. I also know there are so many areas where I need to go deeper with the analysts. I know and I’m working on it I promise, but AR is definitely a marathon not a sprint.

So thank you to all of the analysts who said darn nice things about me. I just want you to know I really appreciate it and I’ll always work hard for you.

I’d also like to thank the IIAR for running these awards. The only people who know how hard analyst relations is are the people who actually do it – and it is hard! So I wanted to say I appreciate you bringing our industry together and ensuring there is a platform for us to collaborate with peers across the world. Bravo.

And of course, congrats to the top 10 from all over the world, namely:

  • Clare Loxely, HP
  • Signe Loenberg, Loenberg AR
  • Caroline Dennington, Symantec
  • Huey Miin Leong, Cisco
  • Britta Glade, RSA (EMC)
  • Shyam Mundhada, Infosys
  • Geoff Dorrington, CA
  • Jan Daley, AR Advisors
  • Yvonne Kaupp, T-Systems International

I have to say an extra big congrats to my Asian colleagues, including my dear friend Miin at Cisco, and Shyam from Infosys – who I’ve heard great things about as well.

I suppose we can all bask in the glow for a few days and then get back to work huh?





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I’ve been spending a bit of time with my Yammer colleagues recently, and there are two philosophies I really love about this team of inspired people. The first is “let’s change the world together” – yes please, I love that and I’m in. The second is encouraging all people to #worklikeanetwork. I absolutely couldn’t agree more and think this is an area everyone in Asia needs to be focusing on as we move towards a digital future. No matter your role, it’s relevant.

What does #worklikeanetwork mean? Microsoft defines it this way:

“It takes a network of people to serve a network of customers. Microsoft connects people and information across familiar applications, so your company can listen, adapt, and grow at the speed of a networked world.”

In fact, this YouTube flick really brings #worklikeanetwork to life

The truth is, this way of working is so tantalizingly close, I can taste it and I’m excited about it. It’s just waiting for all of us to get on board and embrace it. The technology is certainly ready.

I am well into this game, because I naturally work out loud, love sharing great information, love participating, and adore all of the information and opinions I have access to since social media changed all of our lives forever. I am a communicator and a sharer, so this new world is a dream come true for me.

When I think of the idea of #worklikeanetwork, it’s about participating across all of your social pillars, and that goes for your professional interactions as well – because social offers amazing opportunities to be really transformative in how we all approach our work and career aspirations today.

The struggle in Asia is that very few people are really understanding and applying this to their everyday work, taking into account the cultural challenges we face as well. Equally, many do not understand their role in their companies’ success within the context of how they participate, nor how their employer benefits from their participation – it’s a two-way street. Please read “Role of Personal Branding in Innovation” – specifically focusing on the typical organization versus the future organization. This is a very worthwhile read.

In Asia, many of us are active on social networks, but not enough are actively engaging from a professional point of view – we’re just too passive and missing opportunities to boot. If you read the above article (and many more on the topic) this is about building YOUR personal brand – an investment I sincerely believe will impact future career opportunities. Think about it, if you stand side-by-side with a candidate of equal measure and one of you is active, the other not, who does the new employer choose? It’s going to be that straight forward right?

Therefore, I encourage everyone to get out there and get noisy. But do it with thought, otherwise you’ll be swamped or make a silly mistake that will go against you – there are plenty of examples.

Before you make the decision to get going, I encourage you to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Who am I in the business world?
  2. What do I stand for? What does my company stand for?
  3. Am I more than one thing?
  4. What can I commit to?

Alternatively, this Forbes article – “3 Critical Questions To Ask Yourself Before Building Your Personal Brand” – encourages you to ask yourself:

  1. What makes me great?
  2. What makes me unique?
  3. What makes me compelling?

I like these questions, and believe I answered them for myself long ago. To give you some context, five years ago I decided to segment my personal brand. Firstly, I am a professional communicator (who loves content marketing, social media/business, communications, and inspirational business), BUT I’m also a Mum and I am Andrea the woman – the sort who likes dirty jokes and enjoys a good argument about religion, feminism… well you name it.

Each of these segments is me, but do they need to cross-over into each other and become part of my professional profile as well? I don’t think so, so I separated myself – as much as one can. My three profiles have a blog, as well as various social media channels dedicated to each “brand.” I don’t believe everyone needs to segment themselves like I have – some people can be who they are across all of their channels – but if you need to segment yourself, it’s definitely worth considering. Then work out who you are and what you stand for.

The final point, of my four points above, is what can I commit to? I love social and I am all over it. It’s not easy keeping up and I certainly don’t do as much as I want to do, but it’s a priority for me so I am more active than most. To give you a feel, here’s my active social channels – although SlideShare is more about reading and sharing than participating right now…

Personal Branding
Yes, it’s rather busy keeping up.

But what can you do? Is Twitter all you’ve got in you? Focus on that. LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+? Make your decisions based on what you can manage and grow from there, but don’t be half-baked across multiple platforms. You may as well not play at all.

There’s a lot I can say here, but here are my top eight tips if you’re not doing enough and want to do more:

  1. Define your voice and what you stand for. Additionally, if you want to do something else in the future, it’s good to build your credibility in that field long before you start looking for work or launching a new business. Say you’re a programmer today and want to be a florist in the future – start a blog on flowers right now and build a social channel dedicated to floristry. You’ll have credibility before you start and it’ll be much easier when the time comes
  2. Be realistic about what you can do and commit to it! Commitment is such a big priority in this area and not being consistent will kill you. This is a patience game, so if you are half baked, it will take a lot longer to get results and that can also be shocking for your confidence
  3. Support your brand. If you are working for a company, you get a lot of benefits being associated with its brand. When I ran my own business, it was much harder to get attention. With Microsoft beside my name, more people sit up and take notice. So share your companies news and information – just aim for one a day if you can’t do more
  4. Find sites in your field and share content every day. I’ve written about this before and it’s the easiest way to get going. As a simple rule, follow 1-5 great publications or blogs (I follow up to 10) that really resonate with you and your personal brand, then if you like it, share it. Copy the author if you can – this increases your reach/ability to build your network. The important part here – ADD YOUR OPINION. Don’t just share links. Inspire me to read it and tell me why I should. I’ll appreciate your insight
  5. Support colleagues and people you admire by sharing their work – because we’re still not doing this in Asia and I have been saying it for years (Like It Share It). You have a role to play in helping others build their personal brand, just as they have a role in helping you build yours. Don’t wait until you need something – a new job, a promotion, a referral, support for your new blog (I get asked to support new blogs all the time) – do it now. In fact, if you like this blog and think it will be great for your community, why not share it? I’d sure appreciate it
  6. Include three hashtags with everything – this is so simple and so important, but it’s a habit you need to develop if you’re not doing it yet. It’s important because it connects you to audiences beyond your immediate community and that means you build a stronger network. For example, if you want to reach new sectors and don’t have the connections, #tags can get you in there, so do your research on what hashtags those targets follow and use them – three is good standard practice
  7. Join, create and participate in groups – LinkedIn, Tweet chats, Google hang-outs, whatever suits you. This isn’t easy and it can be time consuming, so choose one to get started and get active. If one doesn’t exist in your community, create one – easy peasy
  8. Be kind and be careful. Never judge or criticize anyone or anything – Anton Casey is a recent example of how it can all unravel very quickly. We also had another Former Miss Singapore in the media spot light this last week, after making insensitive comments on Facebook. It didn’t cause quite as much of a stir as Mr. Casey, but nobody wants that glare. My suggestion for professional criticism is be constructive – especially when someone is creating something you haven’t got the courage to do. Blogging, as an example, is not easy. It’s hard to put yourself out there in the world, so go easy on us

The one thing I’d love to see everyone in Asia embracing is the idea that we are all a Personal Brand. To stand out in this digital future – developing, nurturing, protecting, and valuing your personal brand is critical to success. We all need to make sure our personal brand stands for something remarkable if we want to excel – that’s the world we live in now. Also understand your personal brand’s value within the context of your employer, because it goes both ways. Truly innovative companies of the future will really value those with a strong and credible personal brand.

Facebook logo

Does this get a thumbs up?

With all that said, I certainly don’t have all of the answers and I haven’t got it all right – it’s a constant work in progress. But I’d LOVE to hear thoughts and feedback from my peers in this great region? Any insight on what you think professionals in Asia can do to nurture their personal brands?

It would be wonderful to see us all harnessing the great digital platforms available today – both internally and externally – so we can all gain the amazing benefits that #worklikeanetwork delivers.

I’m definitely in. Are you?


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Is Your Mum Safe?

Throughout my last year at Microsoft, I’ve been working with my communication and marketing colleagues on a big milestone – XP End of Service. It’s impossible to work in the IT industry and not know about this date – it’s a big priority – and we can certainly expect the momentum (and noise) to ramp up in the coming weeks as D-Day fast approaches – 8th April 2014! case you didn’t know, all operating systems have an end-of-service (here are Microsoft’s) because what is possible today just can’t support what is possible tomorrow. Let’s face it, all of the brilliant things we enjoy about technology right now were almost inconceivable when XP was first invented more than a decade ago.

As such, this end-date is a critical milestone, because those remaining on XP after the cut-off are exposing themselves to very high risks – security breaches, hacks, bots, etc…. However, a more compelling reason for me is quite simple: those still on XP are not even close to experiencing all of the wonderful things technology delivers today.

XP is a 12 year old operating system (OS), and while one of the most popular OS’s in Microsoft’s history, today it can only deliver a sub-standard experience. When people upgrade a whole new world opens up to them – something I’ve seen firsthand, with reactions varying from relief to almost wonder – when they migrate to Windows 7/8. When people upgrade they understand for the first time what is really possible.

Recently, I was brainstorming some ideas with my colleagues, trying to clarify which industries remain at high risk and what we could do about it. Top of the pops are financial services, healthcare, telcos, insurance and retail. However, what really caught my imagination was this number:

There are currently 20 million individuals in Asia still on Windows XP. Yes, 20 million – that’s almost the population of Australia!

(If you’re interested, there are more than 230 million users on XP in Asia, including China. Take China out of the picture and it’s down to close to 60 million. Minus India it’s more than 40 million. These numbers include businesses and can be found at Statcounter. However, it is the individuals that caught my attention. The one’s who probably don’t even know.)

So I start thinking – who are those individuals? Where are they?

And then it occurred to me that my Mum is probably one of them.

The problem is my Mum wouldn’t know XP if you smacked her in the head with it. She knows as much about technology as a new born babe, and while not everyone of her generation is as technology illiterate (although both of my parents seem to be), I’m thinking the message to the Mums (and Dads) of the world may not be getting through?

So how do we get the message to them?

Well from where I’m sitting, it’s simple – we go over to our Mum’s house and check out her computer.

But wait I hear you asking: why is it important that my Mum knows about this? Why can’t she just keep on using an old operating system in peace? She’s really happy with it right now – why rock that boat?

Here’s one possible scenario of why this could become an important issue to take seriously. Let’s say your dear old Mum has her bank details on her PC and it gets hacked and someone takes her life savings. She calls the bank expecting everything to be resolved. However, the banks have decided to approach these situations differently, and the first thing they do is send in forensic teams to analyze her computer. “What!” exclaims your Mum, “that’s not how it’s supposed to work?”

To be honest, I think this is fair enough – we should be 100 percent responsible for our personal data, because it’s our personal data after all. And it seems the banks are switching onto this and asking: “have you taken the most stringent steps you can take to protect your information before we agree to reimburse you for any losses?”

To my knowledge, the banks have focused on making sure your security software is effective. However, perhaps if you’re still on XP after April 8th 2014 that will be enough to make your claim invalid? It’s certainly possible.

Never heard of a bank taking these steps? Neither had I until recently. A friend in Australia was hacked and she had to give the bank her computer for forensic analysis. Her security was up-to-date and she was OK. But will my Mum be?

I’m obviously not speaking for the banks here, nor am I suggesting they will definitely do this, but things are starting to move in that direction – with personal responsibility for our data lying squarely with us. As such, I believe it is a potential threat and something we shouldn’t expose our Mums to. It’s also why your Mum needs to understand that this IS an important issue for her.

Yes she probably won’t enjoy learning a whole new operating system – who does? – but this is the safest route for her (and all of us) to go. We’ve got to make sure we’re secure digitally.

In the meantime, you’ve got a month to go until XP is no longer supported. The big industry players (mentioned above) that are still on XP have got enough money and resources to keep their IT infrastructure safe. Your Mum hasn’t.

So get on over to your Mum’s house, make sure she’s up-to-date with her technology, try and find the patience to teach her how to use a new operating system (or pay for her to go back to school if you don’t have that patience), and don’t forget to take a nice bunch of flowers to make her day. When your Mum’s safe and happy, it’s good for everyone.

In the meantime, I found this video of how Microsoft thinks technology will look in 2019 – you certainly won’t get to enjoy any of this stuff if you’re still on XP.

Please do share this with your Mum if you think she’ll value it and if you’ve got any thoughts on the risk to individuals still on XP, I’d love to hear it?



PS: what’s this got to do with communication? Everything. Technology is the core tool of the communication professional today – making sure you’re using the latest and greatest (as well as the most secure) is critical for success.

Some additional links

As many of us know, it’s not just individuals at risk today, it is also small to medium business (SMB) owners. I found it startling to learn that more than 70 percent of SMBs in Asia employ between 1-4 people – many of whom remain at risk with XP.

Microsoft and its partners are offering great incentives to this community – as is the high street outlets for individual consumers (like Mums) – but here are some handy links across the region, especially if you want more insight of what XP End of Service really means to you and your business. These links are specifically for SMBs in Asia Pacific.

The overall Windows XP site is here

Then by country in Asia Pacific – not including China or India.

New Zealand
Sri Lanka

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