If the product sucks, is the work worth it?

The ad was so good that it launched the phrase “not happy Jan” in Australia but is it really that good if it was for the Yellow Pages and the internet has happened since?


I’m wondering if the work is really worth it if the product sucks? “Not happy Jan” is some brilliant work, but it didn’t stop the Yellow Pages from going extinct once the internet really got going. But here’s the thing, even after the product has died, the great work of this advertisement lives on… and on… and on.

See – just check out the hashtag #nothappyjan on Twitter – I bet only 1% of those people use the Yellow Pages, but long lives the phrase.

I think that often we can find ourselves working on things we may not really believe in, or can even see the writing on the wall for, and yet we still have the opportunity to make something fabulous. I often use the phrase ‘lipstick on a pig’, but hey, lipstick can be goddamn work of art.

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These make me happy

If you’re in need of a smile, here are a couple of videos that have floated my boat this week:

Oh the belly laughs – it’s an infection I’m happy to catch!

And these cuties have tunnelled their way into my heart… It’s Panda-monium! (Sorryyyyy)


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Service should sweat the small stuff

I’m a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of gal, so I don’t often get too hung up on service mishaps.

But yesterday was some fresh hell as I travelled with my grieving partner to join his family overseas, and had to endure hours of airport travel and countless service encounters. I fully understand now why people hermit when they have been through tragedy – all of sudden so much becomes raw. Human beings going through things are so sensitive to feeling like cattle. It’s like, all of a sudden your life is being put into perspective because of some awful event filled with complications and intricate implications. It’s the moment we feel most human and least animal.

So to find yourself in a service situation where all of a sudden you feel like cattle being herded through a process, well, it is excruciating.

The worst example I have from the day was checking into our international flight where we had arranged to have a 12 hour stopover so we could see a family member and pick up some clothing, before heading onto our final destination. We asked to take our bags at the stopover, although the staff member just assumed we wanted the bags to transfer directly to our final destination. When we asked (politely, because i am no believer of speaking rudely to service staff) it was clear this employee didn’t know how to action our request, and she asked her colleagues at the adjacent desks how to do it by saying in front of us “these customers have changed their mind and now want their baggage at the stopover – how do I do that?” Oh my God, I wanted to snap my fingers and say “no you didn’t!” We changed OUR mind?! We hadn’t even been asked where we wanted the bags – she simply made an assumption, then blamed us because her assumption was wrong. Did she realise what we were going through? Did she know the huge amount of pain we were dealing with and how simple but important our request was? Nope.

I can’t see any scenario where service doesn’t eventually end up affecting a human being. And human beings aren’t always in good places, sometimes they’re in joyful places, sometimes they are raw nerves going through divorce, sickness or children that won’t sleep. Often that means they don’t need the service to surprise and delight them – they just need something that works and treats them like humans.

So although in life we are told not to sweat the small stuff, service is a place I really do believe the small stuff needs to be sweated more than ever. And it’s noble to sweat the small stuff in service, because it means the rest of us mere mortals interacting with service everyday can leave that small stuff in capable hands.

The small stuff that would have helped our sisyphean day of travel was being spoken to kindly with care, being shown the generosity of patience, and listened to because our situation mattered, despite only being an economy-travelling pleb. The small stuff that would have avoided the service that made my eyes prickle was the ability to indicate whether we wanted our luggage at the stopover in the booking process, just as we can choose a seat, so there’s no need for an employee to bungle this simple request at check in.

That’s the small stuff that makes a world of difference to those living through the big stuff.

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Social Media & HR – my speaking notes for a presentation

This is a short presentation I gave to a group of HR Professionals on why I use social media, the benefits, how to get over some stumbling blocks, and why I think everyone should just have a go!

Slide 2: I work in HR in my day job, and outside of that I’m quite active on Twitter and social media channels. I make weekly videos for AHRI where I talk about what’s happened in HR and social media for that week. So I guess you could say… I quite like social media and would happily advocate for it!

Slide 3: My story starts with me moving from Australia to Singapore in my first year out of uni. I found myself in a small HR team, and separated from my networks. Very soon I realised I was lacking mentors and networks, so I decided to seek it through an online network. I started writing a blog I called ‘Whipper Snapper HR’ and joined the HR community on Twitter.

Slide 4: Social media helped to build my subject matter confidence in talking about HR, and also in talking about social media. Social media connected me to incredible people and networks that have followed me wherever I’ve lived. It provides a constant stream of fresh ideas and challenges, it keeps me on my toes and out of a comfort zone in what I know about HR. And finally, it taught me great attitude lessons about generosity and the power of generosity with time, praise and feedback in building networks.

Slide 5: I think that social media has done some incredibly powerful things for me, and I could understand people feeling like they would need to aim for ‘fame’ if they dive into social media. But numbers aren’t everything – you don’t need huge numbers of followers and you don’t need to be connected to a huge number of people to be feeling the rewards of participating in the online HR community.

Slide 6: By dipping your toe into social media, be it participating in a Linkedin Group, or starting a podcast, I think this will help build your confidence in just having a go! It will connect you to great people who share common interests, and it will mean you have informed opinions about social media and how it can assist your organisation.

Slide 7: Here are a few of the reasons I think that HR people may have hesitations around social media.
Time – a few minutes a day count most. By keeping your streams full of people you know have valuable content, you will be able to tap into rich content in short amounts of time.
Confidentiality – you can join the HR community without talking cases, and if all else fails, pet pictures work! 

Where to start? – become a commenter. The 1% internet rule is that 90% of internet users ‘lurk’, 9% of internet users contribute and only 1% of internet users create content. So if you aren’t someone with a burning desire to be a content creator, the best place to start is just by contributing with comments, feedback, and shares.

Slide 8: There are so many formats in social media – and after a day at a computer I completely understand that reading more text on a computer screen isn’t always appealing. I really encourage having a play with formats that you would enjoy experimenting with, and just having a go!

Slide 9: Cringe moments will happen – things will be typed that just don’t translate – typos will go unnoticed… in my favourite Ted talk by Matt Smith, he talks about the physical manifestation of cringing, and how that affects our reaction to failure.

Slide 10: So it’s important to practice things like Failure Bows when you’re doing things like playing with social media… if you make a mistake, take a bow with a cheesy grin and arms up, like a trapeze artist would after making an error… it’s not the end of the world, and you don’t need to beat yourself up about it. It’s important to have a healthy attitude about failure and remember, everything moves so fast in social media, it will be forgotten in no time!

Slide 11: Your biggest asset when joining an online community is generosity. Be it through commenting, retweeting, sharing links to content in your blog, or just sharing well wishes – you can build up strong participation really easily. And you’ll also be regarded as a valuable part of the community that people recognise. It doesn’t have to be about being the best, the most famous, the funniest or the most widely read – and for me personally, that takes a lot of the pressure off, and I can just enjoy it for what it is: some great people I am really lucky to share with and learn from.

Slide 12: I think it’s important to come back to this point of remembering why you started when you get into things like social media – it’s about making relationships – not shouting out in to the world “listen to me!”

Slide 13: So my final thoughts, and how I sign off every week in my AHRI video on social media, “if you’re having fun (and it’s not at someone’s expense) then you’re doing it right!”

Slide 14: I hope I’ve given some reasons to have a go at trying out social media beyond the comfort zone of a resume on Linkedin and a Facebook profile… so if you’re keen to get started, I highly recommend this book by @HR_Gem and @TimScottHR – it’s right down to the nuts and bolts of starting out with social media and getting involved in the HR community. Awesome stuff!

Slide 15: This book helped me so much when I started up my blog Whipper Snapper HR – if you’re keen on creating content, I highly recommend this!

Slide 16:
And this book has great ideas on how to build your online portfolio, and how to share what you’re working on. It’s quirky and fun.

Best of luck – I hope you aim to try something new in social media and have some fun with it!

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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