Archives for category: Communication
Paul Dilger 1000 blog posts

1000 blog posts

This, folks, is my 1000th blog post since I started a regular Monday, Wednesday, Friday thing on the 2nd of September 2013. It will also be my last, at least in this 3-times-a-week cadence.

Have I run out of things to say? No, I don’t think, fortunately, that will ever happen, otherwise what’s the point to anything? It’s simply that I started blogging to generate the discipline of regular writing, writing in a style that I enjoy both doing and consuming. I wanted to write a book. I wrote the book, and a designer is currently putting her magic touches to it, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It’s almost finished, and then I’ll publish it.

Of course, with 1,000 posts under my belt there is held, within this blogroll, at least another book or two as well, anthologised versions of my ramblings. The best ones put together if you like, although some of you might argue that if it’s only the best ones that make it in, they’ll be pretty short tomes.

I’ll still be blogging from here; after all I’ve a book to flog and some of you have been good enough to check in fairly regularly to read what I’ve had to say. Perhaps you’ll buy a copy. It’s on the subject that I’ve only briefly touched on over the last 1,000 posts, but the savvier among you might have an inkling as to the subject matter, especially since I’ve written small bits on a very wide range of topics.

Speaking of which, thank you. And thanks also to Seth Godin, who has done this sort of thing for longer, more frequently, and far better than I, but whose example got me kick-started.

So, 1,000 blog posts, over and out, until the next time. It does feel odd to be finishing mid-week, though. I don’t know what I’ll do come Friday…

It’s blog number 999 for me, but this is not an emergency. Instead, as I stand on the precipice of a 4-figure blog post career, I want to share what I’ve learned about this art form, or is it a science?

Of course, I’ve never been an example of the classic blogger, someone who writes to build a following. That was never my intention; rather, I’ve revelled in the joy and discipline of a regular write-up. This means that I’ll offer none of the lessons on acquiring readers, SEO, ideal blog length, influence, following people that follow you, that kind of thing.

No, this is what I’ve found over the years on the content alone, these 5 observations:

  • The one-off posts that come from something I come into contact with take longer to do, but are more fun because I don’t know where they’ll end up
  • The work-related blog post series on things to do with marketing, sales and general business are less fun because I know where they’re going but they’re more valuable to the readers
  • The blog post series which are not really series but posts grouped together to get me over a creative hump are the least valuable, and I apologise if you’ve had a sub-standard experience wading through them. At least you never have far to wade
  • If you sit down in front of your laptop needing to write a post but you don’t have a topic, it can be tough. The best thing to do is to let your mind wander where it wants and something will emerge. It doesn’t always have to be the light bulb moment that you must jot down for a future topic; sometimes you have to grind them out, crank them out
  • Fifthly, and perhaps most importantly, every single blog post is a mini product, a mini product of you, even if you’re not trying to sell your products, or services, or company. It’s your output, so it’s you. You’re giving away yourself, and in the course of repeatedly doing this you amass a body of hopefully honest work that can become something greater than the sum of each individual post. Even though sometimes you’re a slave to the schedule, to that standard of discipline I talked about, try and make every one a good one, the best it can be in the time you have

 

 

Are you a glass half full person, or a glass half empty? Tradition has it that the optimist is glass half full, the pessimist half empty.

But what’s the realist? I like to consider myself a realist, borne out of experience. This realism is often misconstrued as pessimism. I admit it, I’m a whinging pom sometimes, and I’m in the second age category that Wilde refers to when he says ‘the young know everything, the middle aged suspect everything, the old believe everything.’ But I’m still a realist, there’s no contradiction there in my view.

Consider these phrases, which I attribute to realism:

  • Hope for the best, plan for the worst
  • Sh*t happens
  • C*ck-up theory
  • Chance, happenstance and circumstance
  • It is what it is

To continue the glass metaphor, that makes me a glass 50% kind of a guy. It’s not half full, it’s not half empty, it’s simply half.

You can work and plan to improve the 50%, and that’s where your experience, track record and realism comes in. Hoping it’s going to happen, and fearing it won’t happen; they’ll do you little good.

It’s tough being a kid, especially a teenage one. It’s the one decade where you change out of all recognition. So much to learn, so much to get your head around.

It’s no wonder that kids seem to be all over the place sometimes, their poor brains scrambled as they rewire at an alarming rate through adolescence.

I know my kids often struggled with remembering to bring stuff with them, or to bring stuff back, or to give me things from school. So much going on, and so much to remember.

It’s unfair to expect them to remember everything, so you have to take memory out of it. You have to make it systematic: an automatic, engrained behaviour for a situation.

Give them a system, or a process, that they can follow until it’s almost instinctive. After all, that’s what you did when you taught them how to go to the toilet, hold their knife and fork, or tie their laces.

In point of fact, this advice works in work as well as play, for cutting down the errors, the miscommunications and the inconsistencies. A culture of system or process services us all brilliantly well. And then, on those occasions when we cut loose and get spontaneous, it’s so much more refreshing and enjoyable.

 

Hello and Happy New Year! I wish you a simply stellar 2020. I wonder if they had as much fun with the year 1010 as we will have this year.

This very day, the 1st of January, reminds me of an example as to why marketing is always leveraging the nuances of language in its work.

Here’s my example. This is the eighth year that I’ve blogged. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? Eight years! Except it isn’t really. It’s not that I’ve been blogging for eight years. It’s not even that I’m into my eighth year of blogging. Let me explain.

I started blogging in 2013. Fairly late in 2013, September in fact, but September nonetheless. Counting up the years – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 – this is indeed the eighth year that I’ve blogged. At least one post in each of those years, and if you exclude 2013 and 2020 I’ve blogged 156 times in each of them.

In reality the elapsed time is exactly six and a third years, or six and one third as our US friends would say, but eight years, or the eighth year, sounds much more impressive.

Trading on these nuances is what helps us marketers stretch our claims to our advantage, but not to breaking point.

It would take some going to get into my eighth year of blogging, and what seems like an eternity to have been doing it for eight whole years. Not gonna happen, don’t think.

 

The Germans have a word, actually I’m sure they have several other such examples, that conveys something that’s really hard to express in English without using a far less economical explanation.

Wikipedia describes the word as ‘a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.’

Whenever I think of the word I imagine being in a warm chalet half-way up a ski slope, with a roaring fire, comfy chairs, a bunch of friends and family, and a glass of gluhwein or a bowl of gulaschsuppe with a hunk of bread. I don’t ski very often at all, but I hope I’m conveying that feeling of snugness, without I hope, the feeling of smugness, that we can all experience without going alpine.

One of the wonders of there being loads of different languages is that they all have certain words relating to their own culture and are so idiomatic that you need a paragraph or even a book to do them justice in your own tongue. Another example would be the Danish word hygge, which is surprisingly close to gemütlichkeit in its meaning.

Whatever your own preference of word, I wish you much of it.

C’est la vie – this is the life! Or, as my good lady’s aunt pronounces it, ‘sest lav eye’.

What better phrase is there to sum up the pinnacle of being alive in a great moment? When you’re lying down with the sun on your face, or admiring an amazing view from the comfort of a chair, or enjoying a drink with friends in a place with gemütlichkeit, it’s those precious times when you are conscious of how lucky you are.

I wrote recently about the importance of enjoyment, and making an effort to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. The self-help best seller and blogger Tim Ferriss also alluded to it in his 5-bullet Friday email when he picked for his ‘quote I’m pondering’ a Kurt Vonnegut line from the book A Man without a Country:

‘And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’

Which, I guess you could say, is the exact North American translation of c’est la vie.

The phrase ‘to judge a book by it cover’ is a common one, and I’ve blogged before about how we should judge products by how good the accessories are, since they’re an intrinsic part of the product itself and the overall product experience.

I’m a firm believer in that you can judge a lot about a public place from the standard and cleanliness of its toilets. This is especially true of restaurants. If the toilets are not clean, what does that lead us to conclude about the restaurants’ approach to hygiene and about the kitchen in particular? Toilets are part of the product, the brand, the whole experience.

You can say exactly the same about pubs. I was out on a mini pub crawl the other evening. It was out in the country; we’re talking the deepest, darkest, quietest, most rural parts of east county Galway. Almost literally, the middle of nowhere. Some pubs you’d walk into, everyone would turn and look at you, and the decor was basic at best, very rough and ready.

The one pub that sticks in my mind? The one with the nice decor, the pleasant ambience, and, I have to say, the nicest toilets I have ever seen for a pub. Super clean, well appointed and with a recently applied expensive-looking tiling.

The pub that sticks in my mind is the one I will visit again. It got the whole product experience right, possibly without consciously trying to do, but by making an effort.

 

I’ve always detested the so-called Reality TV genre. Really can’t abide it at all. It doesn’t matter what topic: celebrities, regular folks, dancing, surviving, loving, hating, watching reality TV. I find it awful and depressing.

I think this is because reality is not real. At least, reality television isn’t real. It’s an edited down, souped up, hammed up, extreme version of real life. All the good bits, the dramatic bits, put together for our entertainment. Packaged up as real, but not really real at all; simply entertainment, of a type.

It doesn’t convey real life, and I don’t think it was ever meant to. Real life is running all the time, and has always run, and you simply can’t convey the huge periods periods of not much happening, periods of normalcy, not even with vlogging. Normalcy is not viewable as entertainment, not even if you attempted some Truman Show-type of constant coverage. If you did you’d get the view the camera gives you, not your view, the individual’s.

When I was much younger, well before reality TV emerged, I sometimes day-dreamed about what it would be like televising me driving on a long journey, exploring my musings and regaling myself and my unseen audience with my wit. How would that ever be interesting to others, even if you had the most charismatic person in the world, unless you presented the highlights?

You can’t ever replicate the individual’s perspective of the reality they see and experience. Maybe there’s a different format yet to be explored which will do justice to real life. But probably not.

The media’s obsession with bad news, or sensational news, means that it’s really hard to maintain a positive outlook and a sense of balance. This is because someone else is deciding which bits of the millions of bits happening in the world are worthy of making it through the funnel into the wider world.

Unfortunately, bad news, at least someone else’s bad news, sells rather well. Natural disasters, accidents, terrorism, politics; there’s not much uplifting in that lot.

My good lady sent me this great feature the other day, which I feel we all need. It’s from Bored Panda and the title says it all: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News, So I Illustrated 50 Of The Best Ones From 2019.

The illustrations are in a style I love and each good news story is a great one that should go viral. It’s a serious antidote to all the FUD that threatens to cloud our view of the world. I’m not sure why good news is unfashionable, but it has been so for a while.

It’s really hard to pick a favourite, both in terms of illustration and news story; they’re all superb.