Fascism has dipped itself in salted caramel and called itself a lollypop

Proponents of the far-right are rejoicing as voters the world over give them a hearty lick of approval. Just like giant salted-caramel lollypops, this formerly unappealing flavour of political creed is now officially everyone’s favourite taste sensation.

By the simple act of plunging into a pool of populism, adding a few heartfelt sprinkles of common man and a dusting of ‘wasn’t life great in 1950’ nuance; Trumpsters, Brexiters, One Nationers and, heaven forbid, Alt-Righters, have become the mother of all Masterchef desserts — and incredibly, hardly anyone saw it coming.

While the usual suspects — you know, the left, the media, the political class, mum and dad investors (because we must always mention them) — were distracted by dead Syrian toddlers on Turkish beaches and kids with sewn-together lips on Manus Island, the salted caramel fascists were honing their baking skills.

While we were watching our secret crush, Justin Trudeau, dance like a boss while waving a rainbow flag at Toronto Pride Parade, the salted caramel fascists were adjusting their temperature gauges a few degrees at a time to get exactly the right crunch.

While we were singing ‘this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ and making garlands out of recycled shopping bags, the salted caramel fascistswere pulling tray after tray of sticky goodness out of their collective ovens and besoaking the world in the most tantalising aromas anyone has ever had forced up their nostrils.

And now, here we sit, wiping caramel crumbs off our chins while exclaiming “holy snappin’ duckshit, how did this happen?”.

So, what do we do now?

In short, we grin and bear it. Here’s why.

Much has been written about the abandonment of facts by politicians seeking to win over voters and discredit opponents. Donald Trump’s “China invented climate change”, Nigel Farage’s “we fund the EU £350 million a week”, and Pauline Hanson’s “swamped by Muslims” claims are cases in point. Each was fact-checked and deemed manifestly untrue, and yet voters either didn’t care about the lie, or believed it despite the lie. As long as the espoused claim aligned with their personal world view, they were on board.

This goes some way to explaining the willingness of many voters to be led by their hearts not their heads when deciding who to get up close and personal with in the ballot box.

With the greatest respect to #evilkermit, a typical ‘me’ versus ‘other me’ conversation might go something like this:

Head: This guy just contradicted himself for the tenth time.

Heart: Yeah, but he also said he’d build a wall and revamp the manufacturing sector so I can get my old job back.

Head: You lost that job years ago, and anyway machines do that work now. You do know you’re never getting that job back, right?

Heart: Yeah, I s’pose so, but he also says ‘winning’ all the time and I really love that word.

Head: Okay, you win.

Added to this, a growing lack of scrutiny by media outlets, seemingly happy to publish press releases and dubious statements unchallenged in order to attract eyeballs, gives credence to political falsehoods by broadcasting them to a wide audience via convincingly official channels.

Ironically, by doing this the press is hastening its own demise and adding to the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ of public trust in the once well regarded institutions of government and the Fourth Estate. When caught out, editors will tell you they don’t have the resources to verify every fact, or that the story was correct at the time of going to press.

Really? Is that the best you can do to justify dumping the most sacred principle of your profession?

Only this morning I read this brilliant article by Moira Weigal in The Guardian, on how Trump’s unrelenting abuse of the vague term ‘political correctness’ was one of his, dare I say, masterstrokes in winning the US election.

“Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism”, Weigal wrote.

Long story short, Trump was able to mask the fact that he has no real policy positions on anything — other than self-interest — by tapping into years of growing public resentment over falling living standards, rising inequality, a fear of migrants, broken promises and outright lies from politicians. He offered no solutions, not one, he simply raised issues and then assured people he could fix them.

“I’ll be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”, he chimed to rousing applause at one of his rallies. It worked like a charm, not least because people have so little trust in the press that whenever journalists countered Trump’s often ludicrous claims, it only reaffirmed their desire to vote for him.

The sad irony is that Trump has no intention of delivering that which those who voted for him crave, and in all likelihood, living standards will fall even lower and inequality will grow even wider under his stewardship. Adding extra bitterness to this pill is the rising tide of abuse against Muslims, LGBTIs, immigrants and non-whites in general, who many Trump supporters blame for their own lack of success.

A similar situation occurred in Britain, where untangling Blighty from Europe with anything like the prosperity promised by the Brexiteers is proving as likely as powdered toast tasting as good as the real thing.

So while politicians the world over are temporarily emboldened by Trump, Brexit, and the politics of fear and fact-fudging, it is only a matter of time before the sowers become the reapers. They will need to deliver on their promises, and quickly, or their supporters will turn on them quicker than they can say, “watch out, Isis is coming to get you”. It isn’t overstating things to say that they have set themselves a monumental task.

This writer, for one, doubts they are up to it and suggests it may be a good time for those of us not caught up in the headiness of the salted caramel fascist revolution to find a nice gelato shop, grab a scoop and chill out under a beach umbrella until it all blows over.

And blow over it will, because one thing is certain; even salted caramel will become ‘so last year’ eventually.


This story was originally published on the online publishing platform Medium. Read it here

How Toyota is future-proofing its innovation reputation

Dmitri Colebatch, Toyota

What do a former elite rower, a car that runs on water and an award-winning IT transformation have in common? Plenty, as it turns out.

Dmitri Colebatch has a history of high achievement. In a former life he represented Australia as an elite rower for nine years, notably winning silver in the Men’s Pair at the 1998 World University Championships in Croatia. These days, his focus is above the waterline but is no less strenuous.

As Toyota Australia’s Corporate Manager Solutions, Dmitri has played a key role in helping the business shape and implement its technology strategy as it prepares to wind up 55 years of car manufacturing in Australia by the end of 2017.

Tom Bendistinto, Executive Director at TACT who have been advising Toyota on its transformation strategy, spoke with Dmitri at Toyota’s Port Melbourne headquarters about how the company is using technology to spearhead its future beyond manufacturing.

 

Dmitri Colebatch, former elite rower for Australia, joined Toyota nine years ago and has played a major role in helping the business prepare for life after car manufacturing in 2018. (Photo: © Scoot Communications)

A long history of innovation

Back in 1958, a sea container arrived in Sydney carrying 13 Land Cruisers destined for the Snowy Mountains. Australia had never before seen the likes of such a vehicle and it soon became the work-horse of the Snowy Scheme. Within a year, Land Cruisers were selling out at car dealerships. Within five years, Australia had launched the first successful Toyota manufacturing plant outside Japan.

Times may have changed, but Toyota’s determination to be a game-changer hasn’t.

“Toyota Australia is transitioning from a manufacturing company to a sales and distribution company,” Dmitri explained. “This change in focus means our Information Systems Division (ISD) can no longer be back of house.”

“The franchise that is Toyota is one of the world’s most powerful brands and you don’t stay that way unless you continually challenge yourself.” – Dmitri Colebatch, Toyota Australia

Technology driving transformation

Toyota Australia is actively pursuing a technology strategy to drive its sales and marketing transformation, which Dmitri says will help it deliver the service levels required to maintain the competitive edge that has seen it notch up 13 straight years as Australia’s market leader.

He says ensuring the workforce have the right tools to do their jobs is integral to this. “In ISD, we provide toolsets to dealerships, corporate, guests (Toyota’s preferred term for customers) and everyone in between … It’s all about making sure the systems we provide are exceptional, which in turn enables exceptional service to Toyota’s guests.”

Toyota is no stranger to innovation, trail-blazing the continuous improvement revolution that has swept the industrialised world over the past ten years. Initiatives like Lean and Just in Time are commonly associated with the brand. Likewise, despite a dozen brands making hybrid cars, the only one people remember is the Toyota Prius.

“You can’t say hybrid without people thinking Prius, and that’s because we really revolutionised that (concept),” says Dmitri.

“Now we’re doing it again with our fuel cell car, the Mirai, which is a really exciting piece of technology. The upshot of this car is that it runs on Toyota’s fuel cell technology – it’s a completely different type of car. Unlike the Prius which runs on batteries, it has the advantage of being much lighter – and of course, it emits nothing but water.”

 

Toyota’s Fuel Cell Vehicle, the Mirai, runs on hydrogen (water) and boasts zero carbon dioxide emissions. The company sees it as a game changer and hopes to make it available to Australian consumers in the next few years.  (Photo: © Scoot Communications)

What next for Toyota?

The closure of manufacturing was a difficult decision for Toyota. The upside is that the company now has the opportunity to reflect on 50 successful years in Australia, and ask itself what it will do to become even more successful over the next 50 years.

One initiative is a program called ‘Franchise of the Future’ which looks at how dealerships operate internally and interact with their guests. Dmitri told us, “we expect people to feel like they are guests of our brand, not just someone we have a transaction with.”

Another priority is centralising the organisation, which currently has people spread across various locations in Melbourne and Sydney. This will reduce the travel burden for many staff, but the real gains will come in increased collaboration within the company; this in turn will facilitate better communication from the workforce about which technology is working for them – and importantly, which isn’t. “We want to know both sides of the equation,” Dmitri told us.

Dmitri said one of the biggest shifts currently in play was the repositioning of IT within the organisation. “We will be focusing less on manufacturing cars and more on distributing them. We (ISD) have already started attending the same training sessions as Toyota’s sales and marketing staff (and) established direct relationships with dealerships … to figure out how the technology plays out in all these business activities. It really needs to be a seamless union.”

We’ve written about success factors for business transformations – and the importance of communication – previously on the TACT blog, and Dmitri echoed some of those sentiments when he reflected on conversations he’s had with people throughout Toyota in the lead up to 2018.

“I’ve talked to a lot of the people whose roles are changing and there’s a lot of excitement (and) looking forward to their future roles. It’s more like ‘hold me back’ than ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready for that’,” he said.

“Due to Toyota’s focus on a respectful transition for affected staff, we’ve had a long lead-time to give people notice and everyone now knows what they’ll be doing in 2018. Let me tell you, they’re looking forward to it,” he added.

“Our work with TACT has helped us see another viewpoint on the pathway forward. By presenting us with a range of strategically-aligned options that challenge the way we’ve done things previously in our ERP area, TACT is playing a really helpful role in supporting ISD’s broader transition journey.” – Dmitri Colebatch, Toyota Australia

It will be compelling viewing to watch Toyota Australia reinvent itself once again and embark on a future beyond manufacturing.

 
Dmitri Colebatch (left) and Tom Bendistinto

Dmitri Colebatch (left) and Tom Bendistinto at Toyota Australia’s HQ in Port Melbourne.  (Photo: © Scoot Communications)

Toyota is a TACT customer working on new and innovative ways to transform their business technology needs. Tom Bendistinto is Executive Director at TACT, a Melbourne-based technology and business transformation consultancy formed in 2014. For more visit www.tactconsulting.com.au.


This article was written by Scoot Communications for Melbourne-based tech business and Scoot client, TACT, in March 2016. Read the original article here.

5 ways a balanced scorecard can help you nail your business strategy

Balanced scorecard, Vietnam style

Balanced scorecard, Vietnam style

“You can’t manage what you don’t control, and you can’t control what you don’t measure.” So said American author and software engineer Tom DeMarco, and at the risk of mangling our metaphors, we’ll add, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.

Anyone who’s ever developed a business strategy for their organisation will likely be nodding in agreement about now. Many will have joined fellow executives and board members at annual company ‘strategy retreats’, somewhere exclusive and out of town, and helped create three, five or even ten-year strategies. Over ensuing months these strategies are finessed until they’re ready to be rolled out. Then, everyone sits back and waits for productivity and profits to soar.

Easy right? Wrong.

As vital as having a strategy is if you want to transform your business, experience shows that implementing the strategy will be far harder than coming up with it in the first place – just like running a marathon is much harder than telling people you’re going to run a marathon.

Despite so much time and expertise being invested in them, over half of all transformative business strategies never make it through the implementation phase. Why do so many strategic plans that look so good on paper go belly up? Is there a disconnect between those who develop them and those who implement them? And if so, how do we fix it?

First, let’s look at some common pitfalls that can derail your strategy.

  • Not linking the strategy to the budget.
  • Not explaining the strategy to your people so they know why it is needed, how it will affect them and what role they will play.
  • Not incentivising your strategy by attaching KPIs to the various measures so that your people are motivated to help deliver it.
  • Not communicating the key messages around organisational and process changes to keep your people informed, aligned and reassured.
  • And the biggest faux pas of all – not setting performance targets that align with your organisation’s vision and goals, and link each core initiative with the people and milestones that will bring your strategy to life.

According to leading planning and performance management firm On Strategy, “The strategic plan addresses the what and why of business activities, while implementation addresses the who, where, when, and how.”

This is where balanced scorecards really come to the fore because they tie all these crucial elements together in a visible and common-sense way that invites the workforce – who are an essential part of delivering it – along on the journey.

Which brings us to the crux of our blog: Five ways that using a balanced scorecard can help you nail your business strategy.

  1. Balanced scorecards inherently drive innovation and efficiency because these are built into the performance targets.
  2. They offer a holistic solution that meets business needs by measuring performance in four key areas: customer-centricity, internal processes, innovation and organisational efficiency.
  3. They are a visual tool that convey insights in an easily digested ‘plan-on-a-page’ format that can be displayed online, on noticeboards and in other locations where staff congregate.
  4. Balanced scorecards ensure everyone from managers to graduates knows what actions are required and the metrics that sit behind them, as well as their own role in helping to achieve it.
  5. They communicate the business strategy to all stakeholders – and show why it matters.

“If you don’t make what’s important visible, how can you expect people to succeed?” – Carl Duckinson, TACT Non-Executive Director

If only everything in life was that simple!


This article was written by Scoot Communications for Melbourne-based tech business and Scoot client, TACT, in March 2016. Read the original article here.

5 hacks for attracting the best IT people to your business

Tips for attracting staff

Tips for attracting staff

Anyone trying to run a business, especially an IT business, will know how tough it is to compete with the big guns when it comes to attracting – and keeping – quality staff.

There’s a perception in the industry that big business offers better job security, pay and career advancement opportunities – and with good reason – it was once true. But several years of highly publicised mass layoffs in once resilient industries like mining, manufacturing and technology, mean old perceptions no longer apply.

Our own industry has been notably trimmed with tech giants HP, IBM, Telstra and Microsoft collectively laying off thousands of workers in Australia in 2015 (and tens of thousands overseas). According to Business Insider and Fairfax Media these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

One reason for the downsizing is the need for companies with legacy businesses to modernise inefficient structures to remain competitive in a changed tech landscape. This has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity for agile startups to take significant market share, by offering services like cloud computing and mobile Apps for a fraction of the cost and time it takes large organisations to deliver them.

What does this mean for boutique IT businesses?

Plenty, actually. Since launching TACT in June 2014 our business has grown rapidly. A key reason for our success is our ability to attract highly capable people and sought-after industry specialists to work with us. Being agile means we can be both strategic and responsive to the needs of our clients, even when the goalposts change during a project — which is not uncommon.

Although we are small, we work with Australia’s largest organisations, like Toll Group and Evolution Mining, and help them with transformations that will have a significant upward impact on their future profits and viability.

We’ve learned plenty along the way. Here are five hacks to help your IT startup or consultancy thrive in an ultra-competitive marketplace by being able to attract quality people to your organisation.

  1. Offer flexible benefits — When you consider the enormous cost and the time needed to recruit new staff, the best bet is to save yourself the trouble by offering packages that help you hang onto your people. Salaries should match the industry average, or be a little higher. Benefits don’t need to be excessive – let’s face it, most small businesses aren’t Google – and an emphasis on flexible work-life balance is important.  Thanks to fast internet and cloud solutions for SaaS for email, finance and payroll, workers no longer need to be tied to a nine to five office routine. The flexibility to work from home to fit in with school pickups or to look after young children for example, is a real bonus for some employees. Industry is certainly heading this way, don’t let your business be left standing on the jetty. 
     
  2. Be an inspired leader — You didn’t become the boss in the last rain shower, and presumably you learned valuable lessons along the way. Share your learnings – including mistakes – with your people to help them develop and grow. Be that influential leader they’ll talk about years from now when they are mentoring their own crop of aspiring future leaders.
     
  3. Value your people — In today’s highly transient job climate, professional people won’t hang around if they feel undervalued or their career aspirations are not being met. Actively promote professional development opportunities such as workshops, training courses, secondments and continuous improvement. Say ‘yes’ to conferences and ‘no’ to working all weekend. Keep your people challenged and motivated, and they’ll keep you in business.  
     
  4. Be collaborative and team-focused — A collaborative workplace is a productive workplace because ideas can be discussed, developed and allowed to flourish (according to their merits). A strong team culture is an important part of keeping employees engaged, motivated and thinking creatively — and that benefits everyone. If you’re a manager, be part of the team, not aloof or unapproachable. Team-building days every few months, followed by a swanky dinner, are also great for morale and staff loyalty.
     
  5. Recognise achievements and learn from failures — We all appreciate a bit of acknowledgement when we do great work, after all, we’re only human. Promoting a culture where due credit is given (and not taken vicariously by the manager), and where mistakes are treated as a stepping stone towards doing it better next time, will build a positive workplace where collaboration, honesty and loyalty flourish.

This article was written by Scoot Communications for Melbourne-based tech business and Scoot client, TACT, in March 2016. Read the original article here.

3 essential success factors of business transformations (and a rookie mistake to avoid)

Transformation factors

Transformation factors

Transformations can make or break a business. Anyone who’s been responsible for rolling out a major IT overhaul or implementing a cost reduction program will have battle scars to prove it — but with good planning and sound strategy it doesn’t have to be a painful exercise.

As you’d expect there are lots of elements that need to come together to get a transformation right, but in our experience, these three factors are the most critical.

#1 Ensure management and board have skin in the game

Without the backing of the executive team and board, most transformations fail. Why? Because without support from the top, issues around change, process and structure that affect your whole organisation (and there’ll be lots of them) will not be prioritised – and this invariably means they won’t happen.

Build your transformation objectives into your organisation’s long-term vision (including five- and 10-year plans), and establish a centralised PMO to manage processes and communication. These two steps enabled my team to reduce Newcrest’s global IT spend by 40%. — Carl Duckinson, Executive Director TACT

#2 Identify champions and encourage business participation

Identifying project sponsors and champions early on can save you sizeable headaches down the track. With so much ground to cover during a transformation (including planning, communication, workforce engagement, beta testing, execution, training and ongoing assessment), finding change-agents and encouraging them to channel their enthusiasm to their colleagues is the smart way to go. Project champions can be real circuit-breakers during transformations by helping those who feel threatened, anxious or unwilling, adapt to a changed working environment.

#3 Build a diverse and capable project team

Your workforce is diverse so make sure the team selected to oversee your business transformation reflects this. If you want to maintain the inclusive, high-performance culture your organisation is known for (of course you do), it’s important to ensure all your people feel represented and supported throughout the transformation process. There needs to be a collaborative relationship between project teams and your workforce for all the reasons stated in #2.

Just as important is ensuring your project team follows a structured, best-practice methodology that is aligned with the goals of your transformation and doesn’t veer away from core objectives. Avoid silos within the project team for this reason.

Number one rookie mistake

A recent Forbes study cited two main causes of business transformation failures: poor execution (ie inadequate planning) and resource/budgetary constraints.

That may be true, but In our experience the biggest mistake you can make is to not bring your people with you. Even during highly emotive, morale-sapping transformations that involve the shedding of staff, its possible to keep your workforce on side and aligned with the program’s objectives – if the process is sensitively and collaboratively managed. The key is communication.

Consider this

Are visual aides such as posters and email updates regularly distributed? Are sufficient online and in-person training resources made available? Are changes – and the reasons for them – communicated to staff before they are introduced? And are your people given the opportunity to voice their concerns, questions and suggestions to management without fear or favour?

The answer to all the above questions is self-evident. Transformations are difficult enough without making them even harder by alienating your workforce.

So, go forth and transform.


This article was written by Scoot Communications for Melbourne-based tech business and Scoot client, TACT, in November 2015.

It was also published in Inside SAP magazine in November 2015. Read it here.

Run The World conference shines light on women entrepreneurs

Run The World attendees

Run The World attendees

The organisers of a conference for entrepreneurial women called Run The World, held in Melbourne on 19 September, had one goal: to inspire and be inspired. They delivered, but not for the reasons you might think.

Samara Magazine sent me along to see what it was all about and I discovered a growing community of enterprising women who had seemingly not heard of the glass ceiling.

An 8am start on a Saturday didn’t deter over 500 women – and a handful of men – from attending. An energetic vibe filled the room and the predominantly under-45 audience seemed eager to converse with others who, like them, were at varying stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

Bespoke showbags were a nice touch. Cosmetics, quotebooks, notepads and gourmet treats spoke volumes about the level of thought that had gone into the event.

The brainchild of The League of Extraordinary Women, it was the fourth Run The World conference to be held in Melbourne, while a spin off event in Brisbane earlier this year proved so popular that both cities will now host the event annually.

[bctt tweet=”#RunTheWorld2015 is the biggest event for women entrepreneurs in Australia. Here’s why it rocks.”]

The biggest event of its kind for women in Australia.

The League of Extraordinary Women
The League of Extraordinary Women

As for other cities, there’s no word yet on that, but Ana Kosta, CEO and Founder of Soulmates Animal Society in Adelaide, didn’t let that stop her. She travelled to both the Melbourne and Brisbane events this year and said, “I’ll probably go to every single one going forward because I find when I get home my doubts disappear … I meet other people who’ve already done it, they’ve struggled, they’ve felt the same way I feel and have made it to the other side.”

The success of the event rested overwhelmingly on the shoulders of its nine keynote speakers, who didn’t disappoint. The line up included:

Hailing from industries as diverse as beauty, fashion, business advisory, e-commerce, finance, fast food and fitness, performances were strong across the board. There is a risk that audience numbers will dwindle over the course of long events like this one. To the credit of the presenters – and the organisers – it didn’t happen and it was standing room only right until the end.

Comedy and strong messaging kept audiences engaged.

There were plenty of comedic moments throughout the day, not least from MC Liz Atkinson-Volpe, whose quick British wit and conversational style made her a superb choice for the role.

The presenters too, used humour to good effect: “I’m a nervous country girl who hasn’t travelled much and sells frocks for a living”, opened a deadpan Jane Kay from fashion brand Birdsnest. The audience laughed and any nervousness she felt appeared to dissipate.

Amanda Walker Koronczyk, Co-founder Lord of The Fries
Amanda Walker Koronczyk, Co-founder Lord of The Fries

Lord of the Fries co-founder Amanda Walker Koronczyk, used comedy to paint entrepreneurial pictures for the audience – like the time she gave five dollars to a homeless man, then soon after saw him queuing to buy fries from her van. “Proof of the existence of instant karma”, she told us.

Many of the conference-goers I spoke to agreed that a key takeaway was hearing stories about failure. Every successful entrepreneur has experienced failure, sometimes many times over, and a repeated message was that it’s learning from mistakes that ultimately leads to success.

All the Run The World speakers spoke about adversity. By sharing not only their successes, but also their failures with the audience, it made their stories personal. For an audience largely in the concept or startup phases of running a business, there was much low hanging fruit to be plucked from their experiences.

Nikki Best, who plans to launch her own business in the future, said the stories of things going wrong helped her confidence. “So often you hear glorified success stories and you don’t realise the struggles that everyone goes through to get to the celebratory period. I’m someone who hasn’t started my business yet and am getting up the courage. Today is invaluable in the sense you’re learning the lessons everyone goes through, that they were at your stage once, and I think it just gets you inspired and gives you the energy you need to take the big step.”

Nyree Hibberd, Director at Koh Living, agreed. “The standout moment for me was actually seeing people who have come up against extraordinary odds, achieve extraordinary things.”

As they say, if you fail to plan then plan to fail – there was no chance of that at this event.

From a planning perspective, Managing Director of The League of Extraordinary Women, Chiquita Searle, said it took six months to organise the one-day event. All the presenters donated their time and the passion and energy they brought to the stage – and the openness of their answers during the Q&A afterwards – ensured it was a day that provided considerable value to many.

For all that was spoken, and for all the questions that were asked and thoughtfully answered, there remained one unspoken message: it was that all 500 women in the room believed they could build a career, be an entrepreneur, have children, travel the world and educate themselves – if they chose to do so.

It seems nobody had told these women that you can’t have it all.


This article was commissioned by Samara Magazine, one of Australia’s best online resources for women in business. Read it here.

Scoot Communications logo

 

The Tremendous 10 (best podcasts of the moment)

Tremendous 10The ten best podcasts of the moment for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Unless you are a) an infant, b) an alien, or c) an infant alien, you will no doubt be so obsessed with listening to podcasts that you barely have time to eat before new episodes of Hamish & Andy, The Moth and *insert preference here* demand your attention.

Yeah, we hear you.

With literally thousands of new podcasts from around the world being lobbed onto iTunes every week, on topics as diverse as foodie culture, cultured foodies, travelling without shoes, political satire (isn’t all politics satirical?), psychology and social media strategy to name but a few, the choice is endless. It’s like the world’s biggest kitchen, chock full of delicious morsels, all waiting to be hoovered up by your ears!

Alas, not everything in this kitchen lives up to expectation. There’s the odd can of Dairy Whip masquerading as King Island Double Cream to contend with. And we all know that’s not good for anyone’s health! With so much choice, is it possible to bypass the canned crap and go straight to quality content that is relevant to you and your business?

It sure is!

Scootalicious has been prowling the podwaves on your behalf and we’ve come up with the Tremendous 10 to help you sort the fluff from the rough and turn all that aural stimulation into mental penetration.

(Note: By the very nature of the Scootalicious blog it should be no surprise that we’ve chosen podcasts aimed at entrepreneurs, small business owners, arty types and wunderkinds!)

So, without further ado, we give you the TREMENDOUS 10.

 

# 1. Reputation Revolution

Presented by:   Trevor Young 
Main focus:        Personal branding and thought leadership
Streams from:  Melbourne

Clearly we love this guy because he’s number one on our list! Here’s why. Trevor is a self-described “PR warrior on the frontline of the communications revolution” and it’s clear he loves what he does. His interviews with industry leaders and influencers around the world are packed with valuable insights and practical strategies to help professionals, entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their sphere of influence. If you want to be a go-to person in your industry, a thriving small business operator, or an entrepreneur whose thought leadership credentials attract as much publicity as your enterprise, you’d better crack on and subscribe to Reputation Revolution. We also highly recommend Trevor’s previous podcast, The Connected Brand, which delves into content marketing and social media strategy, and despite the odd sound quality issue, is a terrific listen.

#2. Chat 10 Looks 3 

Presented by:    Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb
Main focus:        Books, TV, movies, politics, food, amusing anecdotes and witticisms, and plenty more
Streams from:  Sydney

For viewers of ABC TV, this duo need no introduction. For the non-initiated, Leigh Sales presents the hard-hitting current affairs program, 7.30 (and is also handy with a piano and a show tunes songbook), while Annabel Crabb (who appears to have no musical acuity whatsoever) pops up on so many of Aunty’s programs it’s hard to pin her down to just one. She also writes frequently for Fairfax. Needless to say, these acclaimed journalists and firm friends have swags of stories to tell and by jove they do an amusing job of it on Chat 10 Looks 3. Not only will you laugh out loud frequently, you’ll also say “well I never” quite a lot, and will glean some great material to regale friends with at your next dinner party!

#3. Small Business Big Marketing

Presented by:    Timbo Reid
Main focus:        Just what the name says
Streams from:  Melbourne

Timbo Reid is not only a champion marketer, he’s also a champion podcaster. With nearly 250 episodes under his belt he’s been honing his craft since way back in 2009 when most people thought podcasts were a type of pea. Timbo has achieved massive global recognition since then and his podcast now represents one of the most insightful and comprehensive online resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Calling himself Timbo, not Tim, is a big clue that he’s a happy guy, and his delivery is infectiously upbeat – just try being in a bad mood after one of his shows! In addition, his voluminous knowledge of marketing and ability to attract quality people onto the show, make Small Business Big Marketing a must-subscribe podcast for anyone involved in running a business.

#4. Online Marketing Made Easy

Presented by:    Amy Porterfield
Main focus:        Social media strategy with an emphasis on Facebook marketing
Streams from:  USA

Amy is a legend in the social media community and co-authored the book ‘Facebook Marketing for Dummies’. Her podcasts offer practical tips to help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow without spending a fortune. YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others all get the Amy treatment and you’ll soon see why so many social media marketers and  business owners recommend this podcast.

#5. Brand Newsroom

Produced by:     Lush Digital Media
Main focus:        Content marketing and brand journalism
Streams from:  Perth, WA

At around 20 minutes long, Brand Newsroom podcasts are not only packed with great commentary about innovations and trends in brand journalism and content marketing, but are the perfect length to slot in when driving to meetings, commuting to work or walking the dog. Produced in Perth, there is nothing colloquial about Brand Newsroom. It has a distinctly global flavour as the panel – from Australia, the UK and the US – discuss issues of the day that affect how businesses communicate with their audiences.

#6. The Bugle

Presented by:    John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman
Main focus:        Satirical social and political commentary, cricket (it’s funny side – yes, it has one!), general mirth and pop culture
Streams from:  London (Andy’s home) and New York (John’s home)

Anyone who has seen John Oliver’s sardonic rants on Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show will know they are in for a feast of satirical high-wit and mockery on this podcast. As for sidekick Andy Zaltzman, a relative stranger in these parts prior to touring Australia with his show Satirist for Hire in March 2015, he is not only the funniest big hair guy in the business, but also the most unlikely cricket fan. Check out his blog The Confectionery Stall where he clean bowls the game with more satirical spin than Warney during one of his 7-wicket hauls! Oliver and Zaltzman are a knockout tag-team and you can expect plenty of high notes and very little B-flat from this bugle!

#7. Background Briefing

Presented by:    ABC Radio National
Main focus:        Investigative journalism, current affairs and political issues of the day
Streams from:  Canberra and Sydney

High quality investigations of issues affecting Australians, including politics, terrorism, domestic violence, science and technology, sport, health and everything in between. Shows are recorded weekly by various ABC journalists with an emphasis on unbiased reportage of a wide range of issues and hot topics. If you want the facts, sans political spin and obfuscation, you want Background Briefing.

#8. The Weekly Hour

Presented by:    Various 
Main focus
:         Satirical political and social commentary brimming with youthful exuberance
Streams from:   Melbourne

A witty and insightful deconstruction of all things #auspol, with plenty of tongues in cheeks being wagged at public figures of all political stripes. You’ll laugh, cry, wince and groan in equal measure…and that’s just in the first 5 minutes! The joie de vivre of youth bounces off the speakers of this podcast like a bus-load of uni students dressed up for O week. And what could be better than being made to feel young again!

#9. The Moth Podcast

Presented by:    Various
Main focus:        True stories, unscripted, up close and personal
Streams from:  New York

The Guardian says, “it’s brilliant and quietly addictive”, while The Wall Street Journal calls it, “New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket”. Lofty praise indeed, and with good reason. The Moth Radio Show launched in 1997 with one aim – to immerse New Yorkers in the art of storytelling by broadcasting real people, telling true stories, unscripted. The show’s runaway success has brought the avant-garde to the masses. The Moth Podcast offers bite-sized chunks of the radio show so those of us in far-flung lands can savour a little piece of The Big Apple any old time we like.

#10. Vinyl Soul

Presented by:    Aiden Grant
Main focus:        Music, musicians, chat
Streams from:  Adelaide, SA

Here’s one for the music buffs. Presenter Aiden G works on commercial radio in Adelaide but don’t let that deter you. His musical tastes are as broad as commercial radio is narrow, and he dedicates the fledgling Vinyl Soul podcast to “the soundtrack of our lives”. Although still a pup with only 6 episodes under its vinyl-coated belt, the inclusion of Morgan Bain, front man for 90s alternative rockers Everclear, in episode 4, was all this writer needed to include Vinyl Soul in the Tremendous 10.

3 easy ways to listen and subscribe to podcasts:

1. Open iTunes on your desktop or mobile device, select podcasts and subscribe straight from there
2. Get the Podcast App from the App Store or Google Play
3. Click on the links provided above to visit individual podcast websites

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Exploring hidden Melbourne on foot

Bohemian Melbourne exhibition, State Library

Why take the tram when there’s so much to see on foot?

Ah Melbourne. Bulging with activity, breathless with action and beguiling with gorgeous art and architecture. If you need reminding why Melbourne has been voted the World’s Most Liveable City for four years running, maybe it’s time you stepped off the tram and took a good long constitutional. I did so recently, and here’s what I discovered.

After an early morning meeting at Melbourne Central’s popular Plantation Specialty Coffee, I decided to turn right and do the town instead of turning left and catching my tram home. Pleasantly caffeinated and pastried-up, I found the allure of dappled morning sunlight and my Instagram addiction too much to resist and spent the next few hours being a human rendition of Stumbleupon, pinging between streets and laneways, tram stops and rooftops.

First up, I wandered into the State Library of Victoria to savour its towering reading rooms, gorgeous artwork and its ever popular chess lounge …

State Library of Victoria  State Library entrance  Dudes doing chess, State Library

The stand out exhibit was Bohemian Melbourne at the State Library, which showcased the debonair fashionistas who over the last 150 years have shaped Melbourne’s vibrant counter-culture. Who knew there had always been an alternative culture? I thought my friends and I invented it in the 80s!

Consorting in opium dens and cigar lounges, brothels and lofts, these erstwhile city workers, artistés, writers and communists, collectively known as Bohemians, multi-handedly sowed the seeds for the future “world’s most liveable city”. The stitches of their work may be invisible to the naked eye, but we can wave our fingers in the general direction of these one-time wastrels and say hallelujah, your idle lives produced something magical. And for that we salute you.

Bohemian Melbourne exhibition, State Library  I am an anarchist. So what?

As a final treat, the exhibition closed with a fabulous homage to alternative rockers Died Pretty, whose legendary song Stoneage Cinderella, which I saw them perform live at a raucous gig at the University of WA in 1986, was playing on rotation. Oh the joy of hearing it once again, while also gazing upon the actual vinyl single which had been nailed to the wall. Such simple pleasures.

Died Pretty - Stoneage Cinderella

Alas, I feel almost cruel to have mentioned the Bohemian Melbourne exhibition because it has now closed (I admit I’ve been a tad tardy in posting this blog, sorry!). Never mind though because a visit to the State Library is always guaranteed to please so try not to feel too bad.

Then I wandered up to the National Gallery of Victoria, known to most as the NGV, to soak up some world class art in photogenic gallery spaces that could easily double as film sets.

National Gallery of Victoria water wall

NGV foyer bathed in light

Another must-do summer attraction is the Night Market at the Queen Victoria Market. This lavish tapestry of live music, giant dragons, buzzy atmosphere and 60 head-spinningly delicious food traders serving up a world of street food, is hard to put into words. Shown below are the maestros at Hoy Pinoy whipping up the best dang Philippino street food outside Manila; delicious chargrilled peaches with caramel crunch, cream and mint from Mr Peach; and a divine Polish pork slider from the slider dude who’s name totally escapes me (sorry, slider dude!). YUMMO! (5pm-10pm every Wednesday until 25 March).

Hoy Pinoy, Philippino street food  Mr Peach, yes please  Pork slider

Then, back in my local hood in the industrial dockside suburb of Footscray, a random stroll can beget all manner of artistic delights. Earnest scratchings from unknown poets turn walls into fonts of all knowledge. Classy murals make me wonder if Banksy is in town. Ethnically-inspired streetscapes that resemble Addis Ababa or Saigon give me complete wanderlust, and funky eateries like the Footscray Milking Station and Guerilla Espresso keep peckishness and caffeine addictions at bay.

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If you haven’t checked out your local burb or meandered through the streets of our city lately, what are you waiting for?

So 2015, what you got for us?

NYE fireworks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are, three weeks into January already and I’m wondering how the festive season flew by so quickly. For most of us, fabulous summer holidays at the beach are but a distant memory. Perhaps, like me, you’ve stubbornly resisted the urge to wash the sand off your thongs in a vain attempt to deny reality, but on the whole, it’s all work work work.

Bugger! Never mind though, Scoot has been hovercrafting over that other tropical paradise – known as the web – on your behalf and has compiled this list of really cool social media and content marketing tips and trends to help skyrocket your business in 2015. No need to thank us, just share the article instead. And of course give us a shout if you need a hand with any of it. There’s a good poppet!

  1. Two words … video baby!

    Video is now the most shared medium on social media. ReelSEO reported that in 2014 there were 75% more videos uploaded to Facebook than in 2013. If that doesn’t impress you, this will. Facebook users watch a staggering 1 billion videos every day, 65% of them on mobile devices. According to IT giant Cisco, video will account for 70% of all internet traffic by 2017. Clearly then, if you’re not using video as part of your digital content offering, you are dudding yourself out of a vast bucket of potential followers, advocates and customers.

    Don’t panic. We’re not talking epics like Ben Hur. Short and sweet is definitely best. 15 seconds on Instagram, 6 seconds on Vine or up to a couple of minutes on other channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter. By all means make longer films, but if you want people to actually watch them you’ll need to put the effort into creating a slick and engaging production. Lights, camera, action!

  2. Pictures paint a thousand words.

    You’ve never heard that before, right? Well, cliché or not, a great photo will beat a great essay every time. Which isn’t to say don’t write and share essays and other wordy content, but be sure to include an eye-catching image or two to entice readers. Even Twitter’s truncated format responds to a bit of photo love, with posts containing an image statistically more likely to be retweeted than those without. Yes, you do sacrifice around 20 of your 140 characters by adding an image, but wouldn’t you rather your posts were shared? In a nutshell, society has become steadfastly image-driven, so make it easy on yourself and give the people what they want.

  3. Be as smart as your Smartphone. In fact, be smarter!

    Mind boggling as it may be, 1 billion people will access the Internet exclusively from mobile devices in 2015. That is a huge number of people to ignore, which is effectively what you are doing if you haven’t gotten around to making your website ‘responsive’ yet (which means it automatically detects whether visitors are using a desktop computer, mobile phone or tablet, and adjusts the layout accordingly). Put another way, if your website doesn’t work properly on Smartphones and tablets, you can kiss goodbye to 1 billion potential customers. So, if that isn’t 1 billion reasons to take action, I don’t know what is!

  4. Driftnet prospecting is out, targeted content marketing is in.

    Forget the old 10% rule of mass mailouts to your entire contact database in the hope of scoring a few hits through sheer weight of numbers. Aside from the obvious wasted effort, such ‘driftnet marketing’ methods can be irritating and spammy for recipients, and damaging to your brand. Thanks to social media, you can now identify people with some degree of interest in your brand, product or service, and market specifically to them. As an added bonus, analytics allows you to easily measure the success of digital campaigns so you know exactly what return on investment (ROI) you are getting every step of the way. Happy days!

  5. You get what you pay for.

    Yep, time to wave bye bye to unlimited free publicity across the social media universe. Facebook’s departure from allowing business pages to share content with followers for free was widely reported in 2014. By tweaking the site’s algorithms, content now reaches less than 1% of followers organically (ie for free). So if you want your posts to reach as many of your Facebook fans as possible (of course you do), you’ll need to allocate some budget towards paying to ‘boost’ posts. No need to boost every post, unless you’ve got deep pockets, because fans sharing your brilliant posts will do some of the grunt work for you (so make sure they are indeed brilliant!). But you’ll certainly want to boost the big stuff like product launches, sales, fundraising initiatives and events, to make sure people don’t miss them.

    The good news is it’s really easy to specify how much you’d like to spend, for how long, and on which posts etc. And it’s economical in the scheme of things. The bad news is, well, it used to be free and now it isn’t! Other channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are heading the same way, but for the time being at least, you can still reach up to 20% of those audiences without paying for advertising.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about hashtags

Allessandro della Spina, image credit www.niteimaginabas.com
Allessandro della Spina, image credit www.niteimaginabas.com

Back in twelfth century Italy, an entrepreneurial friar named Allessandro della Spina launched a revolutionary new product to help people see a little better. Although rudimentary by today’s standards, his ‘eyeglasses’ were a game-changer.

Suddenly, smashed thumbs from errant blacksmithing irons and pricked pinkies from misjudged sewing needles became solely the domain of the clumsy. People with less than 20/20 vision could now differentiate between a tuppence and a thruppence – or the Medieval Italian equivalent – thus saving themselves a pauper’s fortune in miscounted disbursements. And best of all, long-sighted lovers could gaze into one another’s eyes and actually see who they were looking at. A pleasing development, most of the time!

If Twitter had been around there would undoubtedly have been a frenzy of hashtags to celebrate the arrival of eyeglasses: #notblind #ICanSee #NoMoreBlackThumbs #DidntRealiseHubbyWasSoUgly. That last one is unkind, but you get the drift. The topic would have trended for weeks.

Fast forward 800 or so years, and today hashtags give us infinitely greater vision than eyeglasses ever could. If social media is the mouthpiece of the masses – and only a fool would suggest otherwise – hashtags are its eyes and ears.

 

Excuse me, I’ve been living under a rock. What are hashtags?

In a nutshell, if you stick a hashtag (#) in front of a word or phrase (as per the litany of examples throughout this blog post), it will then be searchable (and stumble-onto-able) by others on that particular social media network.

As an example, if you posted a tweet containing #auspol (the tag for Australian politics) and I then typed #auspol into the Twitter search bar, your tweet (along with any others using the #auspol tag) would show up in my results – even if I wasn’t following you. If I liked your post I would check out your profile and hopefully start following you, and ideally others would do the same.

Bingo. One relevant hashtag, many new followers!

(Note that cross-platform searches are not possible, you can only search Twitter from Twitter, Facebook from Facebook, etc.)

 

Too easy. But why bother? People can find me through Google.

Yes they can. If they know what they are looking for … and you have a strong Google ranking at the top of page one … and you don’t mind being overlooked by new audiences who might have found you had you used hashtags in your posts … and who as a result go to one of your competitors … and … I could go on you know!

 

Okay, I get it. So when is it best to use hashtags?

Any old time. Hashtags can be used within posts, or as an adjunct to them, like the examples below. Rarely should hashtags be used on their own. Rather, they should accompany a passage of meaningful text, ideally with an image, video or link to round out the post and pique maximum interest from readers.

The main benefit of hashtags is to enable you to quickly find relevant posts on a chosen social media network, from known and unknown sources, without having to wade through loads of irrelevant content.

 

The above example uses hashtags as part of the message 

 

This example uses hashtags as an adjunct to the message 

 

Other ways you might use hashtags are to project your mood to the world (#tiredandemotional), or your political views (#MyCatForPM), your preferred brands (#levis101), a classy restaurant (#notKFC) or a shambolic flight check-in (#NoUpgradeForMe).

You can also use hashtags to search for stuff (#melbournevolcanoes), participate in TV or online forums like ABC’s Q&A program (#qanda), join in the conversation at an event (#hillsfestival) or to monitor a crisis such as a bush fire, cyclone or even a missing airliner (check out #MH370 to see what I mean).

Finally, you can create your own personalised hashtags to promote events, products, launches or whatever, that relate to your organisation. Say your company, XYZ, was holding a conference. You could advise delegates to tweet or post questions and comments to #XYZconference. Not only would the unique hashtag make comments easy to find and respond to, but if enough people got on board you may even find your own event trending on social media – what a coup that would be!

 

Which social media channels use hashtags?

Most of the popular social media channels now support hashtags, including Twitter (the originator), Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and others. This means searching for things, promoting your own products and causes, creating that elusive flurry of excitement known as a trending topic, and being generally more efficient in your use of social media are easier than ever. Interestingly, after initially jumping on the bandwagon, LinkedIn have now dropped hashtags from their repertoire. Likewise it’s been widely reported that adding hashtags to Facebook posts may actually reduce engagement (go figure!).

Remember to use analytics to help you identify popular keywords that are relevant to your organisation as well as your target audience. Combining hashtags and keywords in an appropriate way will help you attract new followers. This doesn’t mean sticking #angelinajolie at the end of a post about community banking just to attract zillions of eyeballs – trust me, people are smarter than to fall for that old chestnut! Suffice to say, analytics is a crucial part of any successful digital communications strategy and a future edition of Scootalicious will cover it in greater detail, but it would be remiss not to touch on it here.

 

What not to do.

You certainly don’t want to overdo it by ‘hashtag stuffing’ – which means posting a string of #too #many #hashtags #and #no #actual #caption. These types of posts are an abuse of hashtags and an eyesore, and should be avoided at all costs. People do this in the belief that their posts will turn up in more searches and result in more followers, however I find it crass and would never follow or like a business that used such methods. As with all things in life, moderation is the key.

These are just some of the ways to use hashtags. For others, consult your imagination or check out what’s ‘trending’ on Facebook or Twitter to get up close and personal with topics ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

As for dear departed Friar Allessandro, were he still around he might offer this sage advice: #Don’t #be #a #dinosaur #hashtags #make #your #content #roar #!

…or maybe not!