Category Archives: Thought Leadership

COVID-19: Where are we now?

I’ve just spent an hour zooming with infectious disease experts re: what individuals and communities can do given what we know about COVID-19.

I have the privilege of being able to do this because I work at Sydney Uni.

So I feel compelled to share what I have just learnt and hope you find it useful because access to expert information that is unpoliticised, to questions about what we can do and why in these uncertain times, might just save lives and promote positive social hygiene behaviours.

C-19 is transferred via both contact and droplet transmission.

These droplets can be ‘aerosolised’ (aka air borne) and fall to a surface (table, bench, door handle etc) or be transmitted person to person.

We also know the affects of the C-19 virus on community groups is dependent on a number of factors (please note this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. The Amount of Exposure to the virus
  2. Age – the virus is more severe in the elderly because of co-existing disease.
  3. Underlying genetic factors – For instance: The number of receptors for this virus to get into the body systems and then the cells. Because males and females have different numbers of these receptors in their cells the impact of the virus also varies.

The Australian Approach

In Australia, we are operating under a policy of ‘suppression’ rather than elimination of the virus because elimination would require severe lockdowns and create social and economic consequences beyond what we have known to date.

So, the current policy is very much in step with a fire fighters approach to ‘spot fires’. Where measures are designed to fight outbreaks as quickly as possible.

Hence the official directive is:

  1. Get tested. If you have a tickle in your throat or show any signs of possible infection.
  2. While waiting for your results – SELF ISOLATE at home away from others.
  3. Social Distance

The fallacy of the FACE MASK

There is a lot of misinformation around the function and effectivity of facemasks.

Facemasks are personal protection equipment. The reason they are recommended (currently mandatory in Melbourne) is because the face mask acts as a barrier in 2 ways:

  1. Protects the WEARER against the transfer of droplets
  2. Protects the wider population by limiting the extent to generate droplets (a known source of transmission of C-19) to the environment.

So when you wear a mask, you’re not just protecting yourself, but also your community.

You’re being socially responsible and community-minded.

Key Insights from the panel discussion:

RNA (the genetic material of the C-19 virus) must reproduce exactly and yet there are some errors every time it multiplies. This is not necessarily a bad thing because through the changes in the strains, tracking of outbreaks can be more precise.

In Australia, C-19 outbreaks in January 2020 were largely from China, then a strain was tracked from Iran.

These nationalised strains of C-19 are beyond interesting to me and something no doubt worthy of further exploration, but by the experts – not me 🙂

I hope you have found this useful in clarifying any questions, hesitations or reservations you might be harbouring during these uncertain times.

Keep your distance, wear a mask out in public, wash your hands, cough into your elbow!

By doing this, you’re contributing to the solution of breaking the chain of infection.

Leadership – It’s black & white

I woke up this morning to footage of protests, turned riots in America and solidarity protests across Europe.

These were the continuation of activities over the weekend following the death of a man, George Floyd, at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, with a reported history of misusing the agency his position gave him.

Last night, as I watched media reports about the escalating situation, I wanted to know what the US leadership’s position was… so I went to Twitter.

Unsurprisingly, the escalation of protests into riots had its genesis.

This morning I revisited the @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed and confirmed my suspicions.

The preferred narrative of the current American president was purpose-filled: insight division, assert white power, silence free speech and deride the 4th estate (media).

My default research platform, should tell you all you need to know about the style of ‘leadership’ in the region of genuine discontent.

While President Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is not the first President to utilise the social networking platform, it is his communications platform of choice (for the moment).

So to understand the ‘Voice’ of the President, Twitter is the logical place to start.

Originally, I started screenshoting the President’s twitter feed, but I stopped.

The abuse of people, process and community was abundant and not something I was looking to give oxygen.

But it got me thinking…

We keep hearing both locally and globally about the ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic that literally saw the world ‘lockdown’.

However, absent in the global leadership dialogue is what we want our ‘new normal’ to look like.

We know the ills of each society are only exacerbated in extreme conditions and hardship.

But is the American leadership position still a viable justification for repression?

IMHO complacency of conversation and supporting action is why a non-politician became the President of the United States of America.

It is also why the new normal is whatever the ones who speak up, stand up and ‘do’, decide.

Ignorance breeds contempt and social structures are embedded with the bias of those who wield power. Their perspective is deemed (rightly or wrongly) appropriate.

However, in reviewing the annals of business (and more recently politics) when is anything @realDonaldTrump has ever done been deemed appropriate?

There is nothing united about the American states.

In reviewing the news footage, I couldn’t help but wonder why and how ‘civilised society’ can repeatedly get it so wrong.

This is a time for leadership within the global community – irrespective of political, legal and economic structures and biases associated with them.

This is the time for men and women – leaders, future leaders and their followers to stake a claim on the future we desire to work towards.

If we are genuinely ‘all in this together’, I wonder who within the group of world leaders will speak up, stand up and lead.

Deciding when enough is enough is a solid place to start our ‘new normal’ as I am reminded how well Sorkin nailed the issues in his opening scene of Newsroom, way back when…

Our Educators are the Unsung Heroes of C-19

Rightly or wrongly, the responsibility for the daily health and well-being of Australian families rests on the shoulders of our educators.

Why?

Because our ability as CEO of our households sees us now responsible for feeding, clothing, educating and supporting our children while also managing through the financial complications associated with managing the delicacies of employment in the COVID-19 era.

If you’re a parent who has taken responsibility for the daily educational needs of your child/ren, you know the challenge is real.

If you’re like me, you value the quality of education your child receives.

And yet you know you are failing to keep up.

With life, with work, with your child’s education schedule and the house keeping!

In the first note after isolation was enforced, I couldn’t have loved my daughter’s teacher more.

‘Thank you for taking responsibility for your child’s education’ she said.

I cried. Knowing this was as hard for her as a dedicated educator to relinquish her daily responsibility to us – the unqualified.

As a tertiary educator and online educator for close to a decade, some might assume I had this in the bag.

I certainly wasn’t phased.

I’d downloaded the 13 page .pdf expertly crafted to scaffold both student and parent through this new educational reality.

It was articulate in the daily requirements and included links and hard copies in a folder painstakingly collated and that we’d excitedly collected (while observing strict social distancing instructions).

I was beyond confident.

Then I started reading….the first lesson was phonemes.

My daughter had been speaking about them for weeks and I had congratulated her excitedly.

Yet when it came to teaching them – I had NO idea!

Enter Dr Google… okay, I had a definition. I could make this work. I could participate.

Then I saw that the wonderful educators at her public school really had my back – they’d included an explanatory video!

Now I felt invincible. 🙂

As a working mum and sole parent, I knew the road ahead was going to be busy.

I never imagined it was going to be so challenging. But it was for my daughter and I was beyond committed.

As the days turned into weeks, I spoke to close friends and associates, my struggles, were also their struggles.

Now I was determined to ease the burden for all of us and let the teachers get back to teaching. After all, they’re the ones best qualified. And my daughter deserved them.

So I decided to build a solution to help us all.

In doing so, I’ve now built a wonderful team of like-minded Australian educators and parents stretching four generations who share not only my educational vision but also a  community spirit… and

Our School Online was born.

So if you’re a parent, I’d love to hear how you’re managing through via our online survey because it’s really easy to think you’re all alone on this journey.

And let’s be honest, those What’sApp class groups don’t help our self-esteem! 🙂

If you’re and educator, feel free to call 1800 469 233 or email us at admin@online-school.com.au to see how our custom-built solution can ease the operational burden of moving your classroom online.

After all, we’ve built this to honour and support the brilliant work you do and the dedication you show towards educating our children.

Consider this our Thank you!

xo

 

 

 

 

C-19 – The world has gone mad. Again…

Now, we must STOP, look, listen, think and then act…

The shutdown of global industry could well be a by-product of our sheep mentality, but then again it may not…

While the ‘Facts’ evade us, so too does the privilege of making informed decisions in our daily lives.

So how do we as individuals, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, workers, business owners, debt-savvy individuals manage the reality of business, government and schools grinding to a halt…?

The best way we can.

First we act as individuals. We look at our own daily behaviours. We adopt (or not) a hypersensitivity to germs and we take preventative measures accordingly.

For those of you new to this, that doesn’t mean we start wiping our bottoms and washing our hands with soap post ablutions (you should have already been doing that! 🙂 ), it simply means extending our daily hygeine habits to consider the health of our fellow community members and their families.

As someone who lives and works in a multicultural community, I have long known our current situation isn’t a matter of race, religion or creed.

However, I also know that’s not everyone’s perception…

So sadly, from the outset, some are already operating behind the eight ball.

It’s not your fault (or maybe it is), but rest assured this isn’t an Asian infliction.

Truth be told, none of us outside certain areas of the medical industry have even a buckley’s chance in hell of understanding what this Covid-19 infected world really is.

What we can control however, and what we can take responsibility for is clear.

Our response to the ‘global pandemic’ is ours to own.

So, the real questions to be asked is how do you want and will you contribute to supporting your loved ones and the community at large in a COVID-19 era..?

Those who know me well would describe me as a ‘germaphobe’ due to my life long love affair with soap, incessant hand-washing and standard ‘no drinking after others’ life motto and subsequent daily practices.

What is ‘natural’ daily behaviour for me and something I have been long judged for, could admittedly, in itself be a study. However, it has now become the global minimum expectation for all.

I’m not going to say ‘I told you so. This isn’t the time for grandstanding (is it ever?), but it is the time for calm.

So do what you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the risk of possible infection. Because we know C-19 lives on surfaces for weeks.

In doing so, you will be acting as a responsible global citizen and a kindly intended individual…

There is a whole lot of power in that.

Stop Nurturing Your e-Brand on social

If you do this…

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You’re signing up for this…

And that’s okay, if you understand how the digital ecosystem works.

Since 1920’s Australians have been encouraged to consume. Initially through the power of print media, then radio and television. 

Convenience has driven consumption of products and services for a hundred years, but somewhere in the last decade,  you and I became the product being sold, under the guise of community and human’s inherent (or learned) desire for connection.

Social media and technology platforms have so expertly distracted us from realising our digital selves are a mirror of our most vulnerable selves, disguising itself as a free solution to building our networks.

However, social technology and mobile media doesn’t connect us, it ‘distracts’ us and from it new daily habits and new norms formed.

Not sure, what I mean…?

Imagine there is a black out for 24 hours. Your phone has just run out of battery and there is literally no way to charge your devices. Even if you could, there is no internet connection.

You’re officially (and without warning) disconnected with no control over when reconnection will occur.

Think about that.

As an individual, How will that impact your mobility, your connection with your partner, children, local community, friends, extended family? How will it affect your earning capacity, ability to be on time (or even know the time), your access to money…?

Can you thrive, your way, in your everyday without being ‘plugged in’?

For most, the simple loss of electricity, paralyses our ‘normal’ everyday routine.

If you’re a small business owner paying ‘influencers’ to do this:

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Ask yourself how sustainable your approach to the market really is.

Social media nurtures a public profile for all to exploit.

It doesn’t organically provide you with community and opportunity or knowledge, merely access to information curated by an algorithm that it thinks you should like… and so you do.

The operational cost of participating is not just your privacy. It’s your intelligence. Now this is nothing new and you probably have felt very comfortable handing over your personal and business data to the AI-driven bots of the Big 7 for years.

But in the absence of legal protections and faint attempts by the ACCC to protect the business interests of media organisations above and beyond the actual human right to privacy for all Australians, your data will continue to be sold back to you, to increase your consumption of mobile and social platforms, because you continue to ride them.

Why do we capitulate so easily to being ‘dumbed down’ as both individuals and society?

The tide needs to turn and although an ethics discussion has been simmering, it is falling largely on deaf ears, possibly because of our collective apathy and the economics of a challenge seem unviable.

Civilisations have crumbled repeatedly throughout the history of man. Why?

Maybe it’s because we fail to recognise the patterns of history do apply to the living and rather than seek to amend our ways intelligently, sustainably and purposefully we default to the convenience of consuming the information provided to us, rather than proactively seeking what is in our collective best interest.

Do you care enough about yourself and your loved ones to seek out a future where your daily actions are your own, or don’t you feel your privacy is worth anything anymore…?

This week’s Challenge: Remove your social media platforms from your phone for a week and see what you are really missing out on.

It’s time to re-think your approach to Social.

I spent a day with some of the brightest young minds in advertising last week.

The similarities

All were fabulous, capable, intelligent, hard-working ‘go-getters’. All were running some of the better social media campaigns in Australia.

Some were from boutique agencies doing really cool stuff, others had evolved to freelancers, some were in-house marketers, while others were clinging lovingly to the structural ropes at some of Australia’s biggest agencies.

All were social coordinators, social leaders, the agencies’ ‘social experts’.

Yet, throughout the course of the day, I felt myself go through all the stages of grief.

I took the next day off to get my head back into production mode and (as luck would have it) I was surrounded by social marketing and social media practitioners who also shattered my new media soul into a thousand pieces when they started telling me How2 Social through buzz phrases, which included (but painfully was not limited to) ‘personal brand’ in the same breath as ‘authenticity’ and ‘social measurement’ as Facebook metrics.

Over two separate days in two completely different environments, my grief was confounded.

Why?

In the short space of two days, it became abundantly clear that current practice is merely a hybrid of the platform ‘certified’ sales pitches. A regurgitation and adaption of the papers we were writing and the presentations we were giving back in 2012…

OVER FIVE YEARS AGO!

(and yes, I know I’m screaming, but seriously…?!)

Discussions around social media have traditionally been driven by the available technology, or social community management issues that have arisen through the event of participation.

Traditionally, advertising and media agencies have worked behind a thin veil of creative agency presenting ‘the solution’ as the requisite bridge between product/ sterile company and desired consumer.

Sadly however, a large percentage of Advertising, PR, Communications and Media Agencies are entrenched in outdated business practice when it comes to production for and distribution on social.

If these company representatives are anything to go by, even the agencies who have re-badged their Art Director to Creative Lead are missing the point somewhat entirely!

This only compounds my grief as Australian agencies should be leading the global creative charge in this space (and no don’t point me to the self-congratulatory industry statues corporations spend millions to win each year).

Creatives have the opportunity to lead, rather than dwell.

Directors have the opportunity to integrate and showcase, rather than merely direct traffic.

Oh.. and to the Preditors (the hybrid being that is both producer and editor) let’s make a concerted effort to lose the jargon.

It’s not about what you call yourself, it’s what you say and do that drives impact.

Say No, Think Know

When you find yourself on the treadmill of life, finding the time to stop and reflect is elusive at best.

More often than not, it’s only the bone-crunching tackle that ‘Life’ blindsides us with that throws us into a lumpy, tangled mess and makes us STOP before taking a good hard look at and around ourselves.

Our physiological core –  we have to exercise, stabilise, celebrate and show it off every now and then.

Our emotional core – arguably our most important and directive – requires consistency and commitment to ensure contribution.

Because only then, are we able to confidently and consistently enhance and enable those around us.

Why?

Our brains and our hearts comprise a core where all the things that complement, enhance function.

Looking after ourselves, so we complement our communities (blood and others) in our everyday disposition, actions, outputs and impacts is our role.

However, with all the tricks and traits of a modern, tech-savvy society we get distracted. Repeatedly and Unashamedly.

So when are we going to stop swivelling from distraction to distraction and instead focus on genuine and organic human evolution?

We need to feed our brain the questions and information it craves…

Hasn’t it dined out on the sexual exploits of the likes of the Trash-dashians for long enough?

When are we going to face up to the vacuous, plastic-fantastic mediated realm we’ve adopted as our ideal over time and re-focus our daily intent towards growing our contributions to ourselves and our communities?

Sadly, we’re not. Not anytime soon.

However, imagine if we did…

Imagine just for one moment if we stood up collectively and said ‘No’ (while thinking ‘Know’).

How fabulous would THAT world –  created in independent thinking and unique knowledge pods of life’s experiences – look, sound and feel…

Genuine and Innovative is my guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Email the Darth Vader of Modern Business Communications?

In a world where instant communications and engagement is rapidly becoming the norm, email is taking on all the traits of a dark lord in the making.

Electronic mail (e-mail) started out as a powerful and useful tool that brought speed and (for the most part) brevity to industrial and corporate communications. However, it is rapidly transforming into the disgruntled Jedi of communications.

Email is a dark art in workplace solutions. A habitual norm. Administratively heavy, it sucks precious time and resources from your everyday.

and yet… for all its operational inefficiencies it still seems to work for the majority.

Mobility has ensured access to the dark lord of ICT communications. Smartphones have ensured access to webmail a standard… in effect minimising the mobile digital divide, by giving cross-generational comfort on these new platforms and devices.

In this form, email is the connector. The access point for new media platforms and devices.

Convergence can only occur where comfort resides.

For the first decade of ‘social’ it has been email, but what’s next…? 

What’s able to fill the void? Is SMS or IM enough? or is non-regulation the biggest obstacle here…?

Non-regulation, poor regulation and the non-specific zones of the internet environment are our biggest foes.

Not just for business, but for governments and citizens as well.

There are no robust legal structures in place that currently nurture nor protect the individual online, let alone small business.

In over a decade there has been very little movement towards reform as monetising the internet remains the priority.

LinkedIn – the largest professional network where people have been putting their personal information for free for the last decade is now owned by a multinational corporation in Microsoft.

I find it strange that no one is questioning the personal cost of such a merger… perhaps for the majority of us, we’re not switching on to the reality of the evolution of the social networking platform that profiled, connected and enabled market transfers in human terms…. at what cost are we willing to earn a buck?

Let’s hope someday in the not too distant future we all start thinking about and directly addressing the cost of how we ‘settle’ the wild west of the internet.

What are we really willing to relinquish in order to earn a buck?

If so, what is the true cost to the individual, team or organisation… society?

Sadly, it’s a question very few are willing to articulate, let alone address with a view to answering

Why?

Because in order to do so, we’d have to acknowledge and address not only email as the Dark Lord of the internet, but the deeper, now embedded commercial practices of digital decadence and the new norm of dumbing down and relaxing acceptable standards of entertainment, operations and performance.

Let’s stop being happy with average and strive for great and the impossible again.

 

 

‘Tis the Season for Christmas Ads

In the US Super Bowl advertising can make and break careers.

In the UK, the advertising heavyweights concentrate their efforts (and a large percentage of spend) on Christmas.

This year Marks & Spencer (or M&S as it is more commonly referred) released their contribution to the corporate advertising ‘Christmas cheer’… and it’s an absolute winner.

Not only is it beautifully shot, its originality is decidedly refreshing… and VERY clever.

Don’t take my word for it though, judge for yourselves… and enjoy:

#UrWelcome

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