Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Forward Ever, Backwards Never







All things, good or bad, inevitably come to an end.


It's been a long year and with it has come, and gone, the usual challenges and celebrations.          

                      

But you've survived; you can look back on your experiences and learn from them.  





Personal highlights



On a personal note, there are two things that I'm grateful for:




1) Discipline trumps motivation


Don't be fooled any longer. Motivation is overrated. I've come instead to appreciate the power of discipline, and have realised that discipline trumps motivation.



This year brought forth an addition to my family. With the pressures of being a new mum to a healthy, demanding baby boy, I began to make excuses about blogging. For the first six to eight weeks, I was predictably sleep-deprived, continuously 'recovering' and almost stopped blogging altogether. I reckoned that life was too short to court unnecessary stress. Coupled with health concerns which needed to be addressed, I of course had legitimate reasons for taking a 'break'. Indeed I almost stopped blogging.









But I reached deep down to draw upon the last ounce of discipline I didn't know I had. I told myself that if I could manage to churn out well-written blog posts—and I never compromise on quality—between May and June (before and after the birth of my third child), then I could prod on throughout my maternity leave, and continue to  blog until I resumed work in August.


It was a struggle but it worked.


Forget motivation; discipline is the key to achieving your goals. Moreover, you will feel inspired to stay the course and will continue with a worthwhile initiative.



Now since there's a season for everything under the sun, a time would come for me to stop blogging, and that will be fine.


But not now.


So as a new baby changes everything, I have needed to adjust and to plan accordingly. In life, change is incontestable anyway so my new mantra is this: forward ever, backwards never.



2) Birthday milestone


I celebrated a birthday milestone this year with family and friends in style – an intimate gathering in a classy restaurant in Ikoyi, Lagos. It was a much-needed night of relaxation with a photomontage and touching video tributes.





I was able to unwind and to really appreciate the efforts made by family and friends to ensure that night was memorable...which it was. I won't forget that event in a hurry. 


I have also come to value relationships and to note that I am truly blessed.


And for that I am grateful.  




Conclusion




On this blog, I celebrated the fourth blog anniversary in March. For those who missed the list of articles published in the blog's fourth year, you could view the titles, descriptions and links here and here. Be sure to catch up on posts you couldn't read and share your favourite quotes from those articles in your networks. 



Blogging since 2012 has been rewarding and I hope to continue on this journey. Whether or not I get recognition for my work would not determine the frequency at which I write or the quality of the articles I post. This is because what is more important to me is that I continue to acquire knowledge and that I add value.






In the spirit of the season, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, and I wish you joyous New Year celebrations. Spend the holidays with loved ones and cherish your relationships. In the final analysis, they are what truly matter in life. 



See you in 2017. 



Forward ever... 



  P.S - I've added a new page to this blog: My Clients. It can be accessed from the homepage. Kindly take a look. Remember that I provide customised  communication coaching for individuals, groups and companies. Contact me for details if you need help.
 


If you enjoyed this post don't rush off just yet. Please remember to: 



Ø  Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.

Ø  Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles!  




Need help with improving your communication skills?  


Hire me for: 

v  Communication training sessions for your staff and executives;

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc.);

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.




Let me help you get results.  Contact me: 

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.

B) Call for a free consultation: 

Nigeria:                0704 631 0592
International:      +234 704 631 0592     



 ----------------------------------------


N.B: First image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan; via freedigitalphotos.net. Second and third images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Tanya3597; via freedigitalphotos.net.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Emotive Storytelling - The Brand's Superpower




Think back to your childhood.


What was that one advert that you loved and can still remember today, decades later? What made that commercial memorable? Was it funny, witty or silly? Did it tug at your heartstrings?


We as humans love stories. It's how we make sense of our world and how we empathise with people we've never met by simply reading their stories. A good example is what happened in Africa in the 1980s. Pictures and stories of suffering Africans in the wake of terrible famines prompted action. Remember the devastating famine in Ethiopia? It galvanised the collaboration of some of the world's most famous musicians and entertainers, including the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  These celebrities gathered as a group to record the song 'We Are The World'.



        


With the single, the group  USA For Africa raised $60 million which was distributed to Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries. Such a feat would have impossible to achieve without storytelling, which shed light on the pitiful plight of victims of famines at that time.


Storytelling is how our parents taught us good morals as kids.




It's also how we connect with  brands and why we sometimes choose Coke, instead of Pepsi (or vice versa), or become lifetime customers of a business.




Companies use storytelling to coax desirable actions from consumers. Emotive storytelling used by brands goes further: it 'ropes' us in and makes us care about all aspects of the brands. It also influences our purchasing habits.                                            


And we may not have much of a choice. As noted in this article, science explains what listening to a story does to our brains. Simply put, a good story, (and a simple story is more effective than a complicated one), makes our brains more active. Researchers noted that a story is also the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into his idea and experience. This of course is a compelling way to influence people to accept our suggestions...kind of like directly imparting our ideas into peoples' minds...like having a superpower.


Think about that for a moment.





How brands can use emotive storytelling to boost revenue


The best stories resonate the most with us and incite emotions that we simply must act upon. We tend to make emotional decisions about our purchasing habits every day. Therefore, emotive storytelling---creating and using stories to arouse strong feelings in order to connect with audiences---will be an effective marketing tool to consistently generate revenue, if done the right way.


In this post, simple tips are given on how brands could use stories about their products to influence consumers to buy, and even to pay more for them. 
                                  

But for such stories to be effective, they must touch a nerve. The examples below illustrate just how stories 'hook' us to brands. These stories don't just sell us products; they sell us experiences and generate endearing messages. It’s no wonder that we're likely to cherish those experiences and remember those messages long after the products have been consumed or the thrills associated with the purchases have dissipated.




1) Brotherly Love - Coca Cola South Africa






Those of us who have older siblings can recognise the mischievous antics and 'bullying' of the older sibling in the commercial. But we knew even then that they protected us and had our backs when necessary. And Coca Cola wants us to  remember that they triggered that special moment that would be cherished by the younger brother in the video...every time he drank a bottle of Coke.





2) Wonderful World - Values.com (The Foundation for a Better Life)


 

 

This advert is posted on the Values.com website, which is owned by The Foundation for a Better Life, a nonprofit organsiation that seeks to inspire people and spread goodwill.


It communicates a strong message: that we live in a wonderful world and should co-exist in harmony with one another and with nature. Notable in the video is the song 'What A Wonderful World' by beloved late singer Louis Armstrong, known for his velvety rich tone and personable character. The iconic song itself stirs nostalgia and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It is a perfect complement to the Foundation's promotion of values and the human spirit. With this commercial, the nonprofit organisation wants us to appreciate our relationships and be grateful for our blessings.


A powerful message, an endearing video (which we'll be tempted to watch several times), and a lasting impact...all achieved in less than two minutes of visual storytelling.



 
Conclusion

 




We all have our favourite brands and reasons why we 'stick' to them, even when competitors continually vie for our patronage. When the differentiation between products or services based on quality, price and business ethics is negligible, emotive storytelling is often the reason that consumers stay loyal. 


This is how it works: 


Emotive storytelling connects people to brands by provoking emotions that cause them to connect with them on a relational level, thereby prompting them to act in a consistent manner. 


Whether the goal is to buy a product, or to pay (more) for a service or to donate for a worthy cause that the brand champions, emotive stories make things happen. So this (not-too-secret) secret to a brand's superpower is often used with other tools to secure customer loyalty and ensure brand dominance. 


And it's why companies today must dedicate time, talent, and resources to creating compelling stories to promote their products and services. These stories will help brands forge long-term bonds with their customers who will always support their businesses. 



So what's your favourite advert? Why will you always remember it? Let us know by posting your comments below. 






If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to: 


- Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
 

-Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles! 




Need help with improving your communication skills? 



Hire me for:


v Communications training sessions for  your staff and executives;
 

v Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc);
 

v Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.
 





Let me help you get results.



 

Contact me: 



A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com.


B) Call for a free consultation: 

 

Nigeria:           0704 631 0592

International: +234 704 631 0592 










--------------------------------------

N.B- Images courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net. Videos courtesy of YouTube.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Addressing The Allure Of Value In The Organisation










Once in a while, someone comes along and does something unexpected.


It's refreshing to see someone keen, no eager, to improve himself.



And not because he wants to curry favour with his boss, but because he genuinely wants to improve his skills and become a more valuable professional.



This happened last week. One of the participants in the Modular Executive MBA programme popped into my office to have a brief chat about his communication skills. He is one of the few non-Nigerians on the programme. Being from Côte d'Ivoire, English is not his native tongue; French is.



So there he was, sitting in my office and asking for advice about English grammar. Now I had had a brief session with him and two other French-speaking professionals a month ago, where I bluntly told them that in my interactions with them, I wouldn't  be speaking French. Not because I couldn't communicate with them—I had a degree in the language after all—but because often, the quickest (albeit more daunting) way to learn a second language is to try, at every opportunity you get, to speak it and to surround yourself with native speakers of the language.



Now back to the French-speaking gentleman who I'd call Mr. D. I watched, rather amused, as he slammed a French-English dictionary on my desk and opened up the section on grammar, pointedly asking about adjectives, modal verbs and tenses.


After a mini-lecture, I proceeded to write out some sentences on a sheet of paper and explained when to use what. Mr. D listened attentively and politely asked me if he could take that sheet of paper back to Abidjan to study, since I wasn't likely to see him until the programme's next intensive week*.


Although I was surprised that Mr. D seemed keen on further study, even though we had tackled his concerns, I immediately agreed. But it was his next request that really impressed me and convinced me that he was serious about his career development.


He asked me to give him specific goals for improving his business writing skills. For example, he asked if I could I tell him what to read and when to finish. He also wanted to know if he should write a summary of each chapter of a book and explain the use of adjectives, modal verbs, etc.  He told me that once he was able to write about anything he read, it meant that he understood the concept. That, he explained, was how he learned new things.


I was concerned about the academic workload his request entailed and worried that it might be a burden for him. So I advised him to simply read an English novel, paying attention to sentence structure and noting other grammatical rules, before our  next meeting.


What really impressed me about Mr. D was his hunger for knowledge, which was reflected in his desire for self-improvement. He wanted to be able to add value to his organisation by becoming more competent at his job. He did not complain about the academic demands or grumble about how he would juggle a full-time job with the demanding executive MBA programme in a foreign country. He was eager to try anything, to do anything that will improve his communication skills in English.


I found his commitment  refreshing.


Interestingly, the English-speaking Nigerians on the programme, to my knowledge, are yet to display that drive for self- improvement. And this isn't because they don't need to improve their communication skills, because we all do. Possibly those who have specific communication needs are tackling them privately. Still, I hope that my fellow Nigerians are also committed to providing value via training to update skills, or by other means of improving their capabilities because they will quickly become irrelevant in their organisations if they don't.


As for Mr. D, I believe he will go far...very far indeed.




The appeal of value for the employer






Mr. D's desire for value—value from the programme and coaching sessions to improve his communication skills, and value he hopes to bring to his career, borne out of enhanced communication skills—got me thinking.



Value is addictive: the more you get, the more you want.




It's no wonder that companies are now on a frenzied quest to provide more value for their employees (translating to increased organisational support). In this insightful article by The New York Times, research showed that employees were more satisfied and productive at work when four core needs were met:




1) Physical - opportunities to regularly recharge at work.


2) Emotional - feelings of being appreciated and valued.


3) Mental - leeway to focus 'in an absorbed way' and define  work schedules.


4) Spiritual - feelings of being connected to a higher purpose at work.


The post explained that the more efficiently companies met those core needs, the more likely the employees would display positive outcomes such as engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction, etc. Even meeting one of the employees' needs was enough to improve all of their performance variables.


Of all the variables discussed in the article, the impact of value was what I found most intriguing. Simply put, feeling cared for by one's boss had a more important impact on the employee's sense of trust and safety, than any other behaviours displayed by a leader. Furthermore, employees with more supportive supervisors were 1.3 times as likely to stay in the organisation and were 67 per cent more engaged.


Really powerful stuff. I recommend that you read the article.




The attraction of value for the employee


As an employee, the quest for value takes you on a mission of self-improvement, just like Mr. D.




You want to become better in your job because that's where you find purpose. Therefore, you register for courses; you sign up for conferences where the latest trends in your field are discussed; and you finance your training. You get the knowledge and you practise what your learn.




 
You know that as a savvy professional, you're in the driver's seat of your professional development. So you improve your prospects and you strive to be competent, reliable and credible. This is because you have accurately deduced that certain actions that positively impact your career in the company are driven by perceptions of the value you provide.





Your positive attitudes and favourable behaviours in turn influence the organisation to provide more support in areas which matter to you, which further boosts your desire to provide value.



 

And so the ‘cycle of value’ continues.




Conclusion



So like Mr. D, strive to add value in your duties. If you're already at the helm of your career ladder, congratulations.


However, note that you, just like other professionals around the globe, could always improve your communication skills, which are increasingly desired at the workplace. 


Even if you think you're perfect, provide more value in your organisation and aim for greater heights. 


Remember that what goes around comes around; therefore be the change you seek. By doing so, you'd make your workplace a conducive place for growth, innovation and success.  



If you enjoyed this post, don't rush off just yet. Please remember to:  



- Share this article in your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top or below.
 

- Sign up for updates in the blog's right sidebar so that you are immediately notified via email when a new blog post is published. Don’t miss any more articles! 



Need help with improving your communication skills? 




Hire me for: 

- Communications training sessions for  your staff and executives; 

-Writing assignments (content creation, executive speeches, etc); 

- Speeches and keynote presentations at your corporate events.  


Let me help you get results.  



Contact me: 

A) Send an email to: Lucilleossai@gmail.com. 



B) Call for a free consultation: 

 Nigeria:           0704 631 0592
 International: +234 704 631 0592    



------------------------------------

*The programme, the Modular Executive MBA, is a 24-month programme designed for busy executives who don't  have the time to be physically present at the Lagos Business School for the entirety of the degree. Participants are given online modules and assignments, and interact online with faculty members and colleagues via webinars, discussions, blogs, etc. They are nonetheless required to return to the Lagos Business School once every two months for week-long intensive sessions.

  

N.B:   First image courtesy of Stuart Miles; via freedigitalphotos.net.  Second image courtesy of Sira Anamwong; via freedigitalphotos.net. Third image courtesy of Jscreationzs; via freedigitalphotos.net. Last image courtesy of Thaikrit; via freedigitalphotos.net