The Worst Case Scenario

How do you make tough decisions? Do you require all the information in the world before making any call? Making decisions is something that all leaders have to do. People, more specifically your subordinate, judge you based on this skill.

Some of them judge you if the outcome of that particular decision is not so good. Some of them judge you if you don’t make a decision or eventually make it but it’s too late. Decision making is an intriguing activity.

If you ask me, I make lots of decisions. I make them all quick, I don’t normally take longer than a few days to make any decisions, big or small. I am not saying that all the decisions I made were correct. Many of them were not. But, it is unforgivable for a leader not to make decisions. My tips? Very simple,

  1. I gather all information, in my brain library and other sources. Once the scale of information reaches about 80%, I am ready to make a call.
  2. I create “the worst case scenario” of what would happen if things go south. Can I accept or manage the situation? If I can, then no reason to slow down on anything.

My team or my colleagues always hear me ask “what would be the worst case scenario?” Can we handle it? What preventive actions do we need if things don’t work the way we want? Waiting for a decision to be made is super frustrating. It’s your job to make the damn decision.


Intensity vs Consistency

Which one do you think is more important between intensity and consistency? You might answer it depends on context. You are right. But, what if the context is about leadership, branding, and marketing? Which one is more important?

It’s not new but after listening to Simon Sinek’s videos, he made me think about them very seriously. In leadership, intensity looks like this – many companies think having a leadership workshop once a year would be sufficient to generate good leaders or changing culture. I attended those workshops in the past 10 years and haven’t seen much difference. Consistency is the opposite. You nurture your team about how to be a good leader every day, even a few minutes a day.

It’s like going to a gym. You cannot go to the gym twice a year and spend 10 hours each time then expect something to change. It doesn’t work like that. You have to go the the gym consistently, at least 3-4 times/week for 20-30 minutes at each time.

Being consistent is far more important than being intense, at least in the leadership, marketing, and branding areas. You have to be consistent in your messages, your designs, and your tones so customers can recognise your pieces.


Chop into pieces

One small habit that I learnt many years ago and I think it plays a vital role in my life is to chop what you have to do into small pieces. What do I mean by that?

In your life, there are so many things to do or so many things you want to do. For example, you want to read lots of books in a year. Or, you may want to finish some projects at work. However, the sizes of those things might put you off. They look daunting so you can only think about doing them. You don’t actually do them. Why don’t you chop those things into small pieces and do them one by one?

I always do that. I want to read xx books but cannot concentrate on this mission every day. So, I might read a book for 5 minutes in the morning, then 10 minutes in the afternoon. I might spend 30 minutes on Saturday and another hour on Sunday. Before I know it, I finish the whole book.

When you chop things into small pieces, their sizes would not intimidate you. You will see things differently as it’s not too hard to finish one small things at a time.

Try it and let me know how you go.


How do you acquire new knowledge?

Do you ask yourself this question? It doesn’t need to be the exact question. But, how do you add new knowledge for your development? I ask this question to all candidates who apply to jobs in my team. I would say less than 5% answered this question the way I want to hear.

The answer to this question pretty much depends on what you want to achieve in life. If you want to be “above average”, you would have a serious thought about it. If your today’s answer is I don’t do much to get new knowledge, but you want to be successful, you will start doing something about it. The easiest form of new knowledge acquisition is reading. I wasn’t born to love reading. But, I want to be above average so I created a habit to read. I have to read something every day if not I would feel very bad. I can tell you one thing about reading. It changes my life for the better. I have learnt a lot from many great books, great leaders, and great lessons.

Do you want to be above average? If you do, is acquiring new knowledge your daily habit? If it’s not, it’s not too late to start now. The new year is approaching, people who read is many, many steps ahead of you. It’s your catching up game.


Will Email Marketing be Dead?

It has been more than 5 years now that some marketing experts have predicted about the end of the email marketing. Their primary reason is because the widespread usage of social media. And, here we are, 5 years later, we still receive a lot of emails. Will email marketing be dead?

In my humble opinion, the email marketing would never die as long as we still have to use our email address as a login to many online services. Facebook, Google, Apple, etc require users to use an email address as a login. Things will change if one day we can use our finger print or facial recognition to login to our accounts. We start to see this trend already. I would say in about 2 years from today, the usage of the email address as the login will change. And, by that time, the email marketing as we know it will also change.

For marketers, we can continue emailing people in the next 2 years. The open rate and the click through rate will decline more and more. Things will get harder if we continue bombarding our customers with cheap deals. Having said that I don’t believe email marketing will be dead. But, it will be in a zombie stage in 2 year.

It’s about time to change.


Start with the product

It’s getting harder and harder to have a product that stands out of the crowd. Some companies like mine have a product that lasts for a long time and it’s not easy to come up with a new product. What are we going to do if we have to stick with our existing, non-attractive product?

In my opinion, there are 2 options to deal with this situation:

1. Repositioning the product: it means looking for the minimal viable audience and reposition your product to suit them. It is the same product but you create reasons for this group of people to buy your product.

2. Partner with other products: for example, if you are selling hotel rooms and your hotel doesn’t have a unique proposition, you may partner with a cooking company and offer a cooking package while staying at your hotel.

Remember this – there is always a solution to every business problem.


What does being authentic mean?

I don’t why but I have seen this word everywhere. That word is “authentic”. It’s in the leadership books and articles that I read. It’s also in the books about branding and inbound marketing. I do not 100% what this word mean. Let’s have a look.

What does it mean by being authentic? I like the explanation from Diane Mottl“Being authentic means coming from a real place within. It is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be. There is no “should” in authentic.”

Being true to ourselves is difficult than it sounds. That’s why being authentic is used in many business context. In leadership, you have to be authentic. You have to walk the talk, set up a good example. Remember, good culture starts from the very top.

In branding and marketing, being authentic means earn trust from your customers. Once you get that trust, you don’t have to do those low class promotions and advertising.

But, being authentic and successful is difficult. It takes time. You won’t get quick results (maybe that’s why it’s difficult). Once you get there though, it’s worth the world.


To the crazy ones

Why do we do what we do? More specifically for me, why do I go to work every day? And, the answer is I want to make a difference. The last time I saw my job description was 10+ years ago. My responsibilities have changed so much that I couldn’t even remember. I just do what I have to do, to make a difference, to make people’s lives better (in the scope I have control).

I told people around me that I want to change the world, the small world that I live in. Every now and then, I have to remind myself by watching this commercial from Apple. The goal is when I walk away from everything one day, I want to be remembered as ‘the crazy one’.

To all the crazy ones out there.


How to tell good stories

I watched an interesting TedTalk yesterday about how to tell good stories. The speaker is David JP Phillips and you can watch the video here. There is an ingredient that consists of 3 hormones.

  1. Dopamine: Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. The keyword here is focus. Making audience wait for something, for example, is a way to get their attention.
  2. Oxytocin: Oxytocin plays a crucial role in our social behaviors for the activities including sexual arousal, recognition, trust, anxiety and mother–infant bonding. As a result, oxytocin has been called the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle chemical’. In storytelling, you create empathy.
  3. Endorphin: Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain. They can also help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. You can increase the level of Endorphin by activities like running or exercising. In your stories, you can create Endorphin by making audience laugh, for example.

Very interesting, isn’t it? When you are creating stories next time, please remember the roles of those 3 hormones. You could get more reads and shares.


Good strategy for 2020

No, I don’t have business solutions for you next year, sorry. The year end is approaching and some of us is thinking or planning about next year. Will it be harder? What am I going to do to get better results? What is my strategy for 2020?

I read (no I skimmed through) this article – Science Behind Successful Business Strategy – and I don’t get much value out of it. So, I told myself, I will offer a different suggestion. For next year, I would like to encourage you to do one thing for me (well for yourself). Please think, or list, or write down your current business challenges. What are the challenges that keep you awake at night? Write them down.

There is a simple way to help you understand your business challenges. It’s to ask a why question 3 times.

  1. Why can’t I generate sales from my Facebook page? Because I don’t have enough audience.
  2. Why don’t I have enough audience? Because I don’t post valuable content for my customers.
  3. Why don’t I post value able content for my customers? Because I don’t focus on generating valuable content.

Well, your strategy in this example should be creating content that offers your customers’ solutions to their problems.

Doing this is far more important than coming up with mission or vision. Understand your business challenges is the most critical step to develop good strategy. This is my wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year message.