17 January 2013 15:50

We followed the rules, now what?

Since I started to get into the startup scene there’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot, namely taking risks. All the entrepreneurs I meet seem to have a certain type of courage that I find quite rare. I don’t know how many times I’ve read articles about successful entrepreneurs that have dropped out of college/uni and a lot of times they say that this is the reason they are successful. Among the most famous of them we can find Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Dropping out of college/uni seems like a big no-no in our society, because how are you otherwise going to get a job? Who will hire you when you don’t have a degree?

 

Their courage is amazing, but I can’t help thinking that these people are the exception to the rule. What about the rest of us? The ones who didn’t have an awesome idea when we were 18, an idea great enough to build a company on and those of us who were a bit confused as what to do with our lives. . The ones who did what you’re “supposed to” in order to get a job and well, have a happy and successful life. The ones who spent several years in college/uni to get a degree, but now are finding ourselves without jobs and heavily in depth were having a degree is worth nothing since so many people have them. Has our boat already sailed?

 

For me, I wouldn’t trade in my years at college/uni for anything. They brought me a completely new way of thinking and a lot of amazing new friends. The social aspect of this experience is something I think a lot of people value due to the fact that you tend to make lifelong friendships during this time of your life. But a part of being in school is to follow the rules, doing what the teacher tells you to and a lot of times there is only one right solution for how those things are supposed to be done. We are not taught to question and if you do you’re “the difficult student”. This does however become a problem when you enter real life. As Aimee Elizabeth expresses it:

“I believe college teaches you how to be an employee,

not an entrepreneur”. 

 

I’m not saying there’s something wrong with being an employee and in a lot of professions where you get a lot of practical experience going to college is great for your future. However, when you do graduate you are programmed to do what people tell you and in a way your creativity has been killed.

 

I remember when I was at Berghs and we got asked by a guest lecturer to in five minutes come up with something like 10 creative ideas for a problem we where discussing. Everyone in my class started writing, and I panicked. I had absolutely no ideas and the more I tried to come up with something the more I panicked. I’d never thought of myself as a creative person, but after this experience I decided to ask one of my teachers about this. Mainly because it was such a horrifying experience and I wanted to know how to never feel like that again. My teacher told me that it wasn’t that I didn’t have any ideas, but that it had to do with the context of how I came up with those creative ideas. He said I’d been “schooled” into thinking in a certain way. And that’s when I realized that I was so used to my way of gathering information and thinking logically on an idea to solve that problem. Exactly they way you are taught to do in school. Luckily my teacher gave me some methods in order to think in another way, to think more creatively.

 

“We don’t grow in to creativity, we grow out of it.

Or rather, we get educated out of it.”

The irony here is that I had to find someone to help me unlearn the way I’d been thinking in order to unlock creativity. Sir Ken Robinson talks about this phenomenon in the following TED talk with how education transforms us from the creativity we posses as kids, something many of us don’t know how to access as adults, but finding us in great need to. Or as he puts it; “Kids are not frightened of being wrong. I’m not saying that being wrong and being creative is the same thing. But if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original. By the time they become adults most kids have lost that capacity. They are frightened of being wrong. We run our companies this way, we stigmatize mistakes and we are now running national education systems were mistakes are the worst thing you can do. And the result is that we are educating kids out of their creative capacity.”

 

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The example of the help I got from my teacher to “unlock creativity” got me thinking about whether you can teach yourself to the traits needed to be a great entrepreneur, or just have the courage to try. A lot of times entrepreneurs are described as somewhat “special”, “unafraid” or simply just “crazy”. Someone who’s “not like everyone else”. From what I’ve seen I think a lot of it has to do with courage. Courage to do something different, something that’s not within the path we’re expected to take. A bit over a year ago I decided to leave Sweden for London and I found it very interesting to hear the reactions from the people around me about this decision. A lot of people were supportive, but equally many didn’t understand why I left. I got told that “the grass are not greener on the other side” and why would I leave “when I had such a great apartment”. Breaking free from the expectations around how you’re supposed to live your life is not easy and not listening to these kinds of comments can be very difficult. Especially when they come from a family member or an older generation which might tell you to go for “a secure employment just like they did”. Charlie Hoehn talks a lot about this in the following TED talk and also gives an example to why you’ll get this kind of advice.

“They are going to keep giving you the advice that they were given,
because it’s going to justify all their past decisions.”

 

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I think Charlie gives us a great example on how to start doing what we are afraid of. Doing “free” work while you’re in school or afterwards is also a great way to find out what you want to do. Among my friends we have a saying, “if what you are doing doesn’t make you scared it’s not worth doing” and I think that putting yourself in work related situations were we are scared to go on makes us able to adapt to this and helps to teach our brain to associate these situations with a positive reward feeling rather than settling for what is comfortable. Any tips on how to train yourself to become more entrepreneurial are very welcome!

15 January 2013 18:27

One year later...

So, It’s been almost exactly one year since I posted something here. And, well, I have my reasons. It’s been a tough year. But now I’m back, writing from a new city (Berlin) and with a new job. As a starter my boss asked me to make a film about myself which might give you a couple of laughs while I write some more posts for you to enjoy.

16 January 2012 17:38

Google's 'Search Plus Your World' and the rise of new Gatekeepers.

In marketing it’s been well know for a long time that people listen to their friends rather then listening to what companies communicate when they make a decision on what to buy. Hence, creating and communicating things people want to talk about has become more and more important. Last week Google made it even more important when they launched their new feature “Search Plus Your World”. What this new feature does is essentially to first show you the things your friends have shared related to the topic you’re searching for. As Google would put it they’re personalizing the search to show you the results they think you are interested in based on information they have on you. Here’s their concept video with further explanation about the new function.

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This truly marks Google entrance into Social and other players such as Twitter are starting to get worried. And it’s understandable that they are. The personal results on subjects, people and social profiles are all from Google+. This function will be default and you have to exit it rather than joining. The search results we will se will not only include the thing I mentioned before, but also give us related pictures, videos etc. that our friends have shared.

I’d say that this is a pretty brilliant way that Google makes us use Goolge+. Right now it seems like only the early adopters are using it, but most of us just don’t see the point of using another social network since the people we interact with are already on Facebook or Twitter. So what most likely will happen is that companies who want to rank high in search results will more actively start using Google+ as one of their main communication-platforms. When we search for things we’ll get these personalized search results from Google+ covering most of our landing page of the search result. And as statistics indicate, most of us tend to only read this first page. If Google+ owns the results showing there we’ll be more likely to start using it.

This has both up- and downsides. This puts even more pressure on companies to start doing and creating great things that we’d want to share. We are moving more and more towards a world where companies who do relevant things that adds great value to people’s lives will be dominating. This does also contribute even more to the shift of gatekeepers and what information is relevant. What I think is a bit scary with this function is that the more personalized the information we’ll find when searching the less likely we are to stumble upon something that is out of the ordinary of the things we normally read. Since Google’s algorithms base our results on thing we previously liked and thing our friends share we are very likely to miss out on important information. This release reminded me of a TED Talk I saw a while back, which is linked to this and well worth a look.

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9 January 2012 15:54

Some thoughts on Customer Service.

Last week I tried to call my cell phone carrier to cancel my subscription. Frankly I really wanted to finish all business we have together since I’ve gotten quite fed up with not having any reception anywhere (I’ve been their customer for five years and the reception problem started to occur when I moved to Stockholm a year ago). I would much rather have gone in to one of their stores to do this, but that’s not possible since they ”can” only cancel this over phone. So, here’s the scenario.

 

  1. I had to wait 20 minutes in a phone queue before I got to talk to someone.
  2. When asked if I’ve been satisfied with their service I tell the guy I’m talking to the truth. That well, I was satisfied with them until I moved to Stockholm. Now I have no reception.
  3. The guy then ”explains” quite condescending for the next 5 minutes that this is because of the model of my phone and that all other phones works really good.
  4. I try to tell him that I have friends who use the same mobile carrier with models he mentions and they still don’t work. But that doesn’t matter; he doesn’t listen, because he’s still think he’s right.
  5. I try to move on to finish what I called to finish.
  6. What happens next is that he tries to get me to prolong my subscription for another 6 months, which would be cheaper than paying the rest of the money that I have left to pay, but I’d still be bound to this company.
  7. He says he can get the price down so much it sounds unbelievable. I ask for him to send me some papers about this. He says he can send me the contracts.
  8. I ask him if him sending me the contracts means I’ve agreed to the subscription he’s suggested. He unwillingly admits that I would, but that I have 14 days to change my mind (which would mean another of these calls).
  9. I try to explain to the guy I’m talking to that I don’t mind paying the money I owe them as long as I’m no longer contracted to them anymore.
  10. The guy clearly thinks I’m making a stupid decision.
  11. When I’ve gotten him to understand what I want he asks me if I want to keep my number.
  12. I tell him that of course I want to keep my number. I’ve had it for several years.
  13. And now he starts to make it impossible for me to transfer the number and telling me that he needs to know straight away what I want to do with it. Which I do, and I tell him this. He says this is impossible (which I know it isn’t since this company have helped me with this before).
  14. He refuses to help me and I start to get more and more angry. The conversation ends with me madly hanging up the phone without having been able to cancel what I wanted to cancel since this guy threatens to give away my phone number and turning my phone off as soon as we hang up.

Let’s see, this guy is in my mind the official representative for this company. During this conversation he’s told me that things I’ve experienced are false (and are thus calling me a liar), he’s tried to make me feel stupid, he doesn’t listen to what I want, he’s tried to trick me into buying something I clearly don’t want, he has failed to help me and he’s wasted my time.

 

In my mind this is not customer service.

 

I have two takes on this scenario:

-  Firstly, when calling them I’m a customer and generally I’m the one who knows less about how these things work. That’s why I’m calling; to get help. Not for someone to try to trick me into buying something I clearly don’t want and make me feel like an idiot. If entering a grocery store to buy food an the personnel there told us which food to should buy in order to stay healthy and not get fat most of us would probably leave and go somewhere else. Now, what if the person in this store would look the door and keep us from leaving? That sounds a bit extreme, but this is kind of what this company is doing. They don’t want to let me out of their store.

-  Secondly, from a company perspective having employees who behave like this is not really good PR. Me, as a customer wants to never ever want to be their customer again, and guess what, I’m telling all of my friends to stay as far away from you as possible. And I’m using social media to do so. So, as a company one should ask themselves whether they want to spend their time doing business that gives them bad PR and ultimately will loose them customers rather than gaining new ones. This is just another example of a company not understanding the digital world and the transparency that comes with it. In order to be successful, it’s not about cleaning up all these mistakes, but rather making sure that they never happen. To start focusing on delivering a great service for their customers.

 

I do however believe that in a couple of years companies like this will have a lot of problems since new players will emerge that will be able to give the younger customers what they want. I have not mentioned this company’s name yet. But I’m going to leave you with this film showing that this company cares more about selling than their customers.

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2 January 2012 17:21

Welcome 2012.

For the first time in a long time it feels like the new year truly is a new start. 2011 has for me been a good year in some aspect, but unfortunately more with focus on not so good aspects. This is probably why I’m feeling like I’m turning a page and I definitely feel motivated to update you with more posts here. December has as usual been filled with a lot of predictions and trends for 2012 and a wile back I saw this one from JWTIntelligence.

I’d say it’s one of the few predictions I feel really gets things. Perhaps it’s because they seem to get some of the thing I’ve felt has been in the making for quite a while and I’m more inspired than ever to start making some changes. Here is the summary in video format, but you can also check out the summary.

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23 September 2011 15:01

The Facebook F8 (Fate?)

It’s been difficult to miss Facebooks F8 keynote from yesterday, it’s everywhere. And I’m not surprised. Due to the fact that I’m moving tomorrow I missed the livestream and stayed up a couple of hours more than I should have last night watching the backchannel. And of course then I couldn’t sleep. I’m Amazed by the fact that I think what Facebook is launching is brilliant, and of course it’s the next step in social interaction, but I also find this a bit scary. if you haven’t seen it, here’s Facebook´s introduction film to Timeline:

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What amazes me the most is Facebooks ability to understand our behavior (often before we do, which can be seen through all the negative comments about the updates they make). They understand how we interact with people and they always seem to develop great solutions for how to make this digital. I think that if we take a look at our newsfeed we can see that people, as Mark points out, loves to share what they do, where they are, what they like and dislike etc. I can stop myself a lot of times and think “is this really something I want to share? what will people think about me when I post this?”. Let’s face it, in the current Facebook design there is not that much information you can get about someone and it’s definitely difficult to get a sense about who this person is. That’s because all the things we do in our everyday life are not expressed. People can see what we “like” but not what we do. Unless we check in at a place or update someone through our status. The things we do are the things that make up who we are as a person. What music we listen to, what films or tv-series we watch, if we like to run, to cook, play soccer, go to concerts etc. This is what the new apps will help us to show our friends:

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The thing about sharing these things are however not something new. Last.fm have been doing this for years. I think I’ve had my profile there since 2006 or something. And just last week someone asked me why and I said it’s a nice way to express my taste in music, something that’s very essential to me. It’s also quite nice to get a grip of what you’re actually listening to and see if that coincide with the music I think I’m listening to. The upside to this being done on Facebook is that now it will be used by a lot more people and you’ll be able to listen to music together with your friends. That’s one of the beauties about Facebook; they collect everything in one place making it unnecessary for you to use any other service to do it.

 

From a perspective of marketing I’d say the new updates are great. Since the things we “like” will no longer be shown in our newsfeed but in the fast moving Ticker it will mean less people will actually see what you companies or brands you like. This new updates gives the great possibility for brands to become more creative. The new vocabulary that just won’t include “like” will enable companies and brands to come up with new verbs for the way people interact with them. It also puts pressure on companies to create something that creates value and engages the user.

 

So there’s a lot of upsides to Facebook´s new updates, but of course there is a lot of downsides as well. From a private perspective I’m not that fond of people being able to see my status updates from all my years active on Facebook. I don’t know, I guess it has something to do with the fact that you evolve as a person through the years, and well, it might be fun to see the stuff I posted a couple of years ago, but I don’t want people to think I’m that person now. The fact that if we want them to people can see what we listen to, watch or do may adjust our behavior into only doing the things we want to show other people. Things that show the way we want to be perceived. I don’t know how many times I’ve told people not to play a certain song on my Spotify account during a party since it will be scrobbled to my Last.fm profile. When something really matters to people, like with me and music, we are really scared that people will perceive us as not being the people we want them to. There is always the fear about what Facebook does with the information they have about us. If we start using all these new features and share more information about ourselves, Facebook will of course have access to that data and use it to direct more targeted advertising to us. If that’s something good or bad is something everyone has to be the judge of themselves. Personally I’d think it would be rather nice to not get advertising about stuff that I have no interest in.

30 August 2011 15:02

The Importance of asking the right questions.

During the past year my lecturers at Berghs have been talking about the importance of asking the right questions. Because if you ask the right questions you´ll be able to solve the problem. I´d say Alex Steffen in this TED talk on `The shareable future of cites´ is spot on. He´s talking about the climate changes and the problem we have identified, which in his opinion is the most obvious problem, but also the wrong problem. If we look at it the way he does. Perhaps at a problem that might seem a bit more complex then we´ll be able to solve our problems with climate changes. I really love his way of thinking. That we see the easy problems and try to solve them instead on focusing on more complex ones. It´s the complex ones that are interesting.

 

29 August 2011 13:06

Choose the right size of your TV with Augmented Reality.

Ever since I first heard about Augmented Reality I´ve found the technology of it really fascinating. The idea to be able to put a digital layer on the world is interesting in itself. It has however seemed like a challenge to make it useful for consumers. To find a situation where people would actually have som usage for it. Some examples of maps and games have been interesting, but not given the “wow” feeling which is associated with finding a solution that will solve a problem in our everyday lives and leading up to the fact that we´d use the service.

 

A while back I stumbled upon manufacturers of TVs using this to help consumers decide the size of the TV they are about to buy. In this case I really think that augmented reality has a part in helping consumers solve a problem. Because all of us who have been about to buy a new TV knows it´s really difficult to know which size to get. It depends on a lot of things. The size of the room, the distance from the TV and where you intend to sit when watching it etc. Sony have developed a concept where the consumer print a marker, puts it where the TV is intended to be placed and takes a picture with a digital camera and then imports it into a computer to use the program. This is how it works:

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A part of me thinks this solution is a bit complicated in the sense that you have to use a digital camera and import the pictures to your computer, but on the other hand it´s a really good solution for the people who don´t have smartphones. For the people who do Panasonic have developed a similar concept where one puts a marker on where the TV will be placed, but then uses the smartphone to se how it will look like.

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The ideal would be to offer both of these solutions and make them easily accessible and understandable. I think this is a great way to help consumers in their process of buying a new TV. I do however think these solutions would get more mainstream knowledge and usage if retailers like Media Markt, Elgiganten etc. picked it up. This would not only get more knowledge by consumers, but it would also be a competitive advantage for the one who would launch it first and thus strengthen the relationship with their customers.

25 August 2011 18:13

Why should consumers engage with your brand?

There´s something I´ve been thinking about lately. I have some organizations I´ve worked for that have started Facebook pages they want me to like or help them spread their information by sharing it with my friends. And well, I´ve worked for these organizations and have some kind of bond to them, but I´ve been asking myself the question “why?”. Why should I `like´ them on Facebook? Why should I spread their message? What does it give me? And, I´d say that´s what matters for a lot of people when it comes to interacting with brands and organizations in social media. So I´ve been thinking about the reasons one would have to engage with an organization and brands in social media and come up with two categories.

 

1. Information

The first reason is that the brand is interesting and `liking´or `following´ them will give the person information he or she interested in getting. And a really great reason for choosing to `like´ or `follow´ the organization is that the information will be given to the follower in his or hers newsfeed and that will mean the person doesn´t have to visit the organizations website or sign up for a newsletter in order to get it. The person will get all the information he or she needs at one place and thus making it more comfortable and easy to interact with the brand. Things falling into this category is something concerning a persons interests such as music, technology, sport, news etc.

 

2. Image

In the second category we´ll find the thing we want to show our friends that we like. One could say it´s a way of showing who we are or the person we want to be perceived as by others. The organizations or brands we like will show the world what subculture we belong or want to belong to. Examples of brands or organizations included in this is bands, books, films, charity organizations and political parties.

 

So, how would one go about to do fall into one of these categories. It all comes down to finding something interesting to talk about that target group would find interesting enough so they´ll engage with your brand. You´ll always have to have in mind what´s in it for the user. But also that people today have personal brands which is made visible through social media which makes it very important for them what kind of message the want to send out through the brands they like. If you can´t give them information that they would want, then maybe you have something else? Maybe an activity that will give something back to the user for liking or sharing an organizations or brands material. Like the food chain Panini in Stockholm who hands out free lunch to 20 000 people at one time if you like them on Facebook, and who doesn´t want a free lunch?

16 August 2011 20:38

iZettle.

During SSWC this weekend we got to test an iZettle. iZettle is a chipreader and an application you can use to accept payments and make withdrawals through your phone. So what you need to use it is an iPhone, an iZettle and a chip-card. The device and the iPhone app doesn´t cost anything and there are no monthly fees. This is a truly amazing thing for small business owners who sell stuff and it will be awesome if they start using this is restaurants aswell. No to mention being at a restaurant with your friends and wanting to split the check. Now one can pay for all and then the rest can just use iZettle to make their payments to the friend who paid for everyone.

When my friend Johanna tried the iZettle this weekend she withdrew 100 SEK wich is possible if you have cash on you. So now you can be a wandering ATM. Right now iZettle is only released in Sweden and for beta-testers only, but I look forward when it´s properly released and I can get my hands on one! If you want to know more about how it works you can watch the video below.

 

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