Friday, September 30, 2011

Conflict with Teens…Averted

Many people have a child in their lives. Whether they are a toddler, a child, pre-teen, or are on their way to adulthood, youth are everywhere! And as scary as it may sound to some, the existence of people is inevitable in this world, as is the existence of young people.

Have you ever sparked conflict with a young person? They’re quite easy to start – it can start off with a miscommunication, a bad word, a mean look. But what many people don’t realize, is the small things you can do to help build a better relationship with a young person. My second book ‘Shush, You!’ focuses on this fact in greater depth – the array of stories from people who have contact with youth in today’s world through different environments – whether it’s family at home, family living outside of home, in the workplace, at school…and all these stories are bound by the quick 5 minute tips I’ve observed that can help make a great relationship.

I won’t go into detail of these 5 minute tips – there are so many of them, but I’d like to share three specifics that can be applied to a number of small things you can do to get a young person on side right now, today, tomorrow, and in future.

When a conflict arises, and dare I say that whether it’s with your own kids or not, there is a sure three step process of how you can work towards resolving it, with the end product being a healthy relationship based on common understanding and communication.

1. Listen
My first book is called ‘You Shut Up!’. Without having to remind you that this is a common term many families hear in their household when kids are starting to turn into teenagers, there is, yet another side to reason behind the title. And that is that everyone wants to be heard. As a teenagers, we want to be heard, and whatever you say before we have a chance to speak out will be lost. So ask them for their side of the story first – over time, this will help them realize that sometimes it’s important to hear the other person out.

2. Show Your Side
While they’re speaking, pick up on some of their points so that like in a good debate, you will be able to answer their issues. Start with telling your side, and then ease into some of the issues they’ve raised. You will be showing them that you’re giving your side of the story, but also acknowledging what they have raised. Also remember to use the same language – if they say ‘Well you never talk to me’, don’t say ‘I always communicate with you’ – the meaning is the same, but it will have more effect if you use the same language and come back with ‘I always talk to you’, or similar. Plus, if they hear you using ‘big’ words that weren’t part of their issue, they will discard the entire sentence all together.

3. Compromise
A good conflict resolution technique is to end in compromise. Although this may not always 100% benefit everyone, it doesn’t un-benefit either side. After hearing both sides to the conflict, and deciding that you both want to resolve it, without any ego getting in the way, compromise! Let’s say it’s a matter of curfew – you have set a rule of 10pm and your teen wants it to change until 2am. Try to find a middle ground and then set some extra rules in place as your previous rule of 10pm is being compromised. How about you compromise and set the new curfew at midnight, but the extra rules will be that they have to TXT or call you at 10pm to let you know they’re OK. If this doesn’t happen, take it back to the drawing board, and address their lack of communication at 10pm. The moral is that there is always a way to compromise – you just need to find it amongst the issues from both sides.

Trust Your Future!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Social Media: Online vs. Offline

Time and time again, business owners enquire about why Social Media is right for their business.
Let’s get this straight: you went into business because you have a product, service, or even a gift to help others. Am I right? I hope so. The business aspect of running this wholesome goal I to make money, right?

The logic continues…in order to make money, you need to have customers. And how will customers find out about you? Some businesses invest in advertising through magazines, newspapers, newsletters – a small ad on page 3, in home that the phone will start ringing off the hook, right? Well what if I told you that for the very same price, you could be on the front page of every top newspaper or magazine with an instant engagement tool? Social Media makes this possible. The only difference is that the money you’d be investing will be translated into time. I know – not everyone has time – as business people, as a good friend and colleague speaker Tony Ryan once said, we only have 28 hours in a day. So how can you make this happen?

I won’t go all evangelistic on you about the benefits of Social Media, or how much success it can bring you. But the point I really want to bring across is that you can engage people more when you’re talking one-on-one. The most powerful marketing tactic they say is word of mouth, and there is some great truth in this – people want to buy from people they trust – you must have heard this a million times. So as a person in business, how could you start a conversation with someone, to build the trust you need for them to take that step and buy from you? We don’t have time to become best friends with all our potential clients, but think of the online world as a place where people like you and I are on every single day and they might actually be in need of something that you’re offering. All you need to do is tap into a conversation with them – just start talking to them. The easiest way to do this is to talk about something relevant to them. Perhaps you’re a café owner, and you go onto Twitter and see a whole string of updates of people that have gone on and said something like ‘Gosh I just had the worst coffee at *insert your competitor’s name here*’. This is your perfect cue! ‘Hey, have you tried our coffee? Might be a way better experience!’ is all you need to reply to them, and from there…who knows, maybe they might visit your café and you get another customer, maybe they will start up a conversation with you, but at the very least, they will see you’re making an effort to improve their coffee experience. This might be all you need to do to build that trust.

At the risk of sounding like the used car sales-man, people want to know what else is out there; we all love our options, so look at it as your way of helping people find other options.

Let’s look at some of the traditional methods of marketing, and how this could be replicated online with less time, and more importantly, less investment on your behalf.

Putting up a big sign outside your business

This might be a good idea for Google Maps the next time they come around the street your business is on, but the only way people are going to see it is if they’re in the area. The way you can replicate this online is to associate your business with where you are geographically. Instead of naming your Facebook Business Page as ‘Brad’s Restaurant’, why not go a little further and enter your address details into the ‘Info’ section on the page, or perhaps even re-name your Facebook Page name to: ‘Brad’s Restaurant: home of the best pizza on Brazil Street’. Now we’re talking.

Advertise on a billboard or in a local newspaper

If you’re advertising in a publication that specializes in a local area, why not go online and find forums, or networks of people in that area? Perhaps your target market are people in the Wellington area; go onto Facebook, or find Twitter lists that are for people in the Wellington region; voila! You have people in that particular area, and you can single them out, direct market, and advertise to them through the channels they are used to online.

Putting out flyers
Flyers take quite a bit to print. Bring those costs down by going out there and do a direct marketing campaign! Going back to Facebook, go online and search for networks of people in a particular area, or with particular interests – Facebook is so huge, that it’s likely you will come across a group of people that, for example, have created a group along the lines of ‘What is the best rest-home in the X region?’…or ‘Soccer Moms Unite’…it’s all possible!

Most importantly, these online vs. offline marketing is all going in the direction of direct marketing: the way marketing should be. If you don’t know who your target market is, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, because just by putting up a large billboard in your town, won’t be bringing in thousands of customers overnight – because you’re trying to market to a mass amount of people, without any personalization to them. Go online; go straight to the source – the right people who actually need your product or service. You definitely can’t go wrong there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Benefits of Using Facebook & Twitter

Time and time again, business courses, workshops, general media and people are going on about using Social Media for business.
People are pretty much sold on the benefits of it, but are still unsure – what is my ROI? What will I get out of it? How do I know this is beneficial for my business?

Simply speaking, Social Media is merely another platform for your brand to be seen by the public. Just like newspaper and TV advertising, Social Media is a medium for promoting what you do, and letting people know of the benefits you can bring their current situation.

At the same time, Social Media also doubles as a networking tool. Think about how much time you currently spend talking on the phone, replying to e-mails, networking at events, and any other ways you use to socialize and network for your personal and business use. To really make Social Media work for you, you’d need to invest the same amount of time you currently spend networking, and do it through social networks.

Social Media gives people the opportunity to combine marketing strategies with networking into one. The nature of Social Networking helps you network, and when coupled with basic marketing principals, it can fully succeed no matter what way you need it to. The way to market on Social Media is to spend time on there. Unlike setting up a billboard and have it bring value to each person who sees it, you need to bring that value with individual comments, joining in with discussions, being forward enough to introduce yourself to potential clients, and bringing value by sharing links to articles, products and services you recommend.

So what ARE the benefits of using Social Networking Sites like Twitter and Facebook?

Engage with your target market. Through the power of Social Media, it’s all about the amount and quality of content you produce and share with your target audience. The relevance to your audience and value you produce makes sure you are positioned to be as much of an expert in your field as your words portray. The amount of content you produce gives you the advantage to make sure your audience never forget about you, but also as we all know, we all have our own lives and people just aren’t sitting at their computer waiting for your next update, so you need to make sure you catch them when they finally do get round to logging onto their social networks. So that’s where the repetition and amount of time you keep putting yourself out there will amount to valuable engagement with your target market.

Getting straight feedback. Sure it may sometimes be from the general public, but it’s very valuable information for you to obtain about how others perceive your services and benefits of doing business with you through the internet.

Instantly reaching out to your potential clients. The beauty of the internet is that the entire world, news, advice and events can be uploaded and circulated instantly. As soon as you have any new press releases, or content to share, upload it! The benefit of the internet is that it has the power to update the world about events as they happen. Once something happens and you wait until tomorrow morning to report on it, chances are it won’t be as current or someone else would have taken the space of being ‘the first reporter’ of the happenings.

Get the inside scoop about your industry. Social Media is public. And that can be a good thing. This means you can find out valuable information about your competitors, and any current events or news happening within your industry. This can also be a great opportunity to tie in popular current events with the relevance of your work. A friend of mine races Suzuki Swifts, and he loves the singer Taylor Swift, so he called his car ‘Taylor The Swift’ and made a Facebook Fan Page for it. So when the big mishap happened at the Music Awards when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, everyone around the world of all ages were talking about how unfair this was on Taylor, people were searching the internet for the video clips, opinions, forums and pages about this event. Coincidentally, although for most people a race car driver wasn’t going to be of interest, because of the amounts of people searching the name ‘Taylor Swift’ guided their Google searches to my friend’s ‘Taylor the Swift’ Facebook Page. Almost overnight, his Fan page grew from about 100 of his friends and fans to about 700 fans. That’s a 600% increase! How would you like to increase your target, pin-pointed audience online by 600%?

Raise awareness of your brand. Through your involvement in Social Media, you have the power to not only connect and engage your target audience, but by doing so, you will also be raising the awareness of your brand. Of course we can’t all be McDonald’s with the yellow arches, but we can certainly try become the expert in our industry through the value of our content we produce and share with our online audience. Just make sure you’re including your website, logo, and anything else that will give your brand association with your name online, so when people say ‘Eva-Maria’ online now, if they are within my target audience and don’t necessarily know my name, they will at least be able to identify with my bestselling book’s title ‘You Shut Up!’ because I always make sure I’m consistent with my subject, brand and content.

Promote your Content. Once you write anything – a press release, article, blog post or update on your life, use your social networks to update the rest of the world. By keeping in constant touch with people online, you’re ultimately building awareness of your being, expertise and important-ness online.

What would it take to convince you to get onto those Social Networks?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Teen Suicide

It’s not news that New Zealand has one of the highest rates for teen suicide in the world. It’s a sad thought that our dear country has this kind of history that keeps repeating itself, but there are definitely some sound ways parents and relatives can make the growing up years a little easier.

Here’s my stance on it: depression is real, no doubt about it. However, at some point of our lives, we have those days when we don’t feel like getting out of bed, when we feel lonely and when we just don’t want to talk to anyone. Those feeling are normal. Like I say, if you were to quickly diagnose people generally feeling ‘sad’, should we have a tax on emotions like ‘love’ aswell?

Depression is real – I’m not saying it’s not, but we all have those days when we feel a little ‘emo’, or ‘depressed’ if you must. If this goes on for a little longer than a day, a week, month, then yes – professional help is needed. But you can actually stop this unwinding of events! Don’t let that sad stage of a teen’s life turn into ‘depression’. There are three things to remember:


Whenever you notice something, talk to them! Even if they don’t want to, keep talking to them – even the small things count “How was your day darling?”, “What do you think about….” Get them involved in conversations, family activities – anything. Just keep that communication going, because when the time comes, they will open up about what’s bothering them. More times than never, parents seem to drift off and stop talking because they don’t want to deal with another snappy answer – this is just them taking some of their issues out little by little. Keep talking, talking, talking.

Did your teen have an interesting idea? Do they need a lift from you somewhere? Do they need to talk to you? Be open to support them in their decisions. At the end of the day, if you tell them not to do something, as much as I hate to say it, psychologically that makes them want to do these things even more; to try these things to find out what all the fuss is about. Don’t let it get that far – if they hear the word ‘no’ from you often enough, that translates into ‘I don’t care about you’ to a teen sometimes, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. If you must say ‘no’ to some things – a tattoo, a party they want to go to, a business venture they might want to start up by dropping out of school, say ‘no’ as much as you want, but don’t forget the reasons behind it and tell them about this. This will automatically put them into the ‘understanding’ mindset, and just like it would be perfect for you to read their mind, give them something to work off by giving them your side of the story – what you’re thinking, and why you’re thinking it.


I cannot stress this point enough. When you don’t say a happy ‘Good Morning’, ask for their opinion, say ‘no’ to anything they want to do, that all translates into ‘I don’t care or love you’. Wrong, wrong, wrong! A great book about the ‘5 Love Languages’ talks about how different people show their love for each other. With a teenager, you don’t necessarily need to study that book, unless you have the time – small things count. My parents always remember to tell me they love me, heck when I was little, after Mum had been away in another city, just her bringing back some cheap lollies from the plane as a ‘gift’ got my brother and I excited – you can express your love through so many different ways – don’t forget that it can stretch out further than a simple ‘I love you’; it can be anything from a small gift, to a gesture of love (“Would you like some tea?”), to just sitting down when they need to talk to you the most and hearing what they have to say.

How do you communicate, support and love the teen in your life? As hard as it may be, they hold so much energy and power to balance out the world; to make something out of themselves, and to make the world a better place – if not now, then definitely in future. Cherish and love them – who would want to end their life when they’re surrounded by love and understanding? No one is my guess!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Social Networking: Our Future?

From the GrownUps Column that can be found here

Social Networking has exponentially grown in popularity since I started this column. Although some of my entries are to do with the young people of today, I think there are many parallels between the online world and the way younger generations are growing up in the 21st century; after all, they, or should I say we, are indeed the product of what technology has created. And what technology has created is a fast-paced, never-still, ever-changing world that surprises us every single day.

I remember when the iPhone first came out, and a speaker from the US was speaking at a workshop I was sitting in on. At the end of the talk, he went on to give a couple of points about why people in business need to get onto the new technologies and embrace them. I was not impressed; “Isn’t that obvious to these people in suits?” I thought. I was even less impressed when he took out his iPhone, and went on to show the audience a new app where you can tilt the phone and it makes it look like the phone is a glass with drink disappearing. A teenager at the time, I was most of all un-impressed by how easily these ‘adults’ were impressed. I had heard of this new drinking app, but there are definitely more impressive things in the world, surely.

What I’m trying to get at is not that young generations are not easily amused; it’s that the world in all its fast speed is constantly coming up with new inventions and discoveries for the potential to do something better; to amuse people more and more. It’s not impressive to have a touch-screen phone anymore. If anything, speaking from my own experience, I’m hating my new touch screen phone. I need a phone to call and TXT; I don’t want all the weird gadgets on there…necessarily, and get very restless when a TXT takes longer than a split second to open up on my screen. That’s the reality.

But here comes my biggest point:
Social Media has brought people closer. What we couldn’t do 20, 10 or even 5 years ago is available at our fingertips. I never try to be an evangelist for the online world – there are many things it cannot replace, but for what it’s worth, it has made some things attainable. Think meetings. I’m on the National Executive of the National Speakers Association. We have a meeting every month. It would take a large collective investment to fly everyone to one city, but the Association can use the pool of knowledge from people from all over the country by having a Skype conference. People have meetings from all around the world over the internet, I can coach people about relationships with their teens, or about how to use Social Media for their business over the internet; years ago, we couldn’t even dream of doing business deals without meeting someone in person, but it’s possible.
Social Media isn’t all about how many Skype conversations you can have; it can serve a higher purpose: to connect. Connect with your existing, future and potential clients, family members; anyone. It’s about starting a conversation.

Imagine you’re at one of those networking events, standing in a corner and everyone seems to have some sort of natural link, but you. Enter the online world; you can butt into any conversation, put in your two cents about a topic, or person, and it’s normal. You don’t need to be the awkward freak of nature trying to ease your way into the conversation; online, it’s a GOOD thing to butt into conversations, compliment people, and all the rest.

Of course the how-to of engaging with people online isn’t something you can break down in a few words, but when you start with the ‘why’ when you sit down at a computer, ready to take on the social media world, just keep your goal in mind – is your goal to connect and network with potential client? Is it to keep in touch with existing clients or relatives? Is it to make new friends or find a soulmate?

Just keep the end goal in mind, and everything will come from there.