A little bit about the School we are supporting with our Make Digital Work Live event.

I first met Mark Frost the Head at Meadow Park Academy earlier this year, when as  a Rotarian we ran a Dragons Den programme for them. I was so inspired by the pupils and the staff, that I was determined to help them get broadband, so they can offer the pupils the use of technology as part of their education. So after deliberation, I decided that Rotary and I could set up a business event in Reading, about Digital, so you could all help us make this a reality for this amazing school.

In Marks Words

At Meadow Park Academy we have a passion for teaching and learning and a deeply held belief that every child deserves the best opportunity to succeed in life. It is our commitment to this belief that underpins everything we do.

Meadow Park Academy is a happy place, because it offers children a welcoming environment where they are inspired to learn, feel safe and have confidence to take on challenges because they know they will be supported. We want every child to exceed even their own expectations and to do so by understanding the importance of self-discipline, hard work and good manners.

At our Academy children receive a high quality education that combines traditional learning with a modern, relevant and subject-led curriculum. We believe it is vital to teach children explicitly how to learn, how to evaluate and how to be successful. Our children will leave us fully prepared for the next step in their education.

One of the areas we are looking to significantly improve is our Information Technology provision. We want to be able to prepare children fo


r the future by allowing them access to a range of technologies and software. We want children to be regularly using computers and tablets to enhance their learning and support their development.

At the moment we are restricted by the IT infrastructure that we have in place. The biggest issue is that we don’t have a wireless network and therefore staff and children are unable to access the internet without the computer being plugged into a socket. With the shift towards mobile devices and laptops, we feel that it is essential that we not only put a wi

We have a young and enthusiastic teaching staff that is eager to use new technologies in their classes. I am confident that this will have a significant impact on the learning and enjoyment of all children in our care.reless network in place, but that it is future-proof as well. We can’t have a network that will crash if ten or more devices connect at the same time.

So make sure you come along on the 22nd of November and meet 250 other motivated businesses.

You Are Not Richard Branson

Tamsin Fox Davies of Constant Contact is our Guest Blogger today, she is one of our speakers at Make Digital Work Live event on the 22nd of November, come and hear her talk about how to really grow a busines with email and Social.

imagesAs entrepreneurial small business owners we get bombarded with messages about what we should and shouldn’t be doing with our businesses, what we should be striving for, and gurus and celebrity entrepreneurs we should emulate.

This is something that I care passionately about, and I care about it because it’s rubbish.

Yes, you read that correctly – I think the message that we should all be chasing super-star status is a whole heap of hooey, bunkum, and even tosh (feel free to add in your own expletives, but this article is rated PG).

If you, personally, WANT to be the next Branson, that’s just fine and I will cheer you on as you follow that path, but it’s not for everyone.

As I see it, the problem is that entrepreneurial types like you and me (and if you run your own business, however tiny, you ARE entrepreneurial at heart) push ourselves harder and further than many others. Consequently, we tend to feel that we’re failing, not because we don’t achieve anything, but because we don’t fully acknowledge those achievements because we’re already moving on to the next thing we have to do, and the next, and the next.

So, when we get all these messages telling us that Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, or Cath Kidston, are the measures of success that we should rank ourselves against, we automatically feel like what we are doing is not good enough, big enough or clever enough.

Here’s the truth about that:

1. Whatever you want out of your business is just fine. THAT is your measure of success.

2. If you have been in business for more than a year, through the current recession, and you’re still going, you are doing really well.

3. If you are employing other people, or using outsourcers or contractors of any kind, you are doing great AND you’re putting money and work back into the economy and your community.

4. ..and finally, if you’re just starting out in business for yourself, I am beyond impressed by your courage (and you CAN do it).

Please be proud of your own measures of success, don’t strive for other people’s, and be proud of what your fellow business owners are achieving too – together we are slowly putting our economy back on it’s feet.

P.S. Mr Branson, if you are reading this, I think you’re great, just not the role model for every business person out there.


Come along on the 22nd and hear Tamsin’s amazing tips on going from zero to hero when t comes to Social and email marketing. Oh yes…  And every penny we make at Make Digital Work Live goes to charity.

I challenge you …..

I came across a great discussion, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in 6 words, now it’s very debatable if he had anything at all to do with the story, but it’s a great conversation starter, can you describe  your life in 6 words?

6 words

How Trust affects your Bottom line.

I attended the trust conference today run by Talent Dynamics and heard some amazing speakers all talking about building a culture of trust in your business, from trust in your brand, your team, yourself etc, and how this has a tangible effect on your bottom line.

There are some exercises in my notes, questions you can answer to see how trust affects you. Share your answers or thoughts with us.

I have made some notes from the key speaker event,Steven Covey talking about the cost of lack of trust, here is my summary, forgive me Steven if it does not match your words exactly, but I hope I capture the intent and tone you were trying to convey :

Trust and its effect on your bottom line by Steven Covey

Trust is not a fluffy thing, it has real affects on you and your business, starting with these three areas, that he addressed in his 3 hour talk.

  1. It has an economic effect
  2. Good leaders need to be trusted today
  3. You can be taught trust

Here is a simple exercise to illustrate cost :

  • Identify a person that you trust ? Customer, partner, team mate, peer  etc …
  • Now jot down what it’s like work with them, communicate with them, how fast you can get things done and the results you get.
  • Now do that again, but this time it should be someone you do not trust, answer the same questions.

The difference it makes ….Is it a small or a big difference…can you put a price on that difference?

Think about high trust relationships, communication flows, you can share our views, even if you disagree it’s not a problem,. Its Positive and gets results.

Now in low trust relationships you tend to be careful and withhold yourself, you cat be open with facts, you take notes to back yourself  etc etc. It’s a draining experience. And even when you are precise in your communication its often misinterpreted.

So communication is first and foremost about trust and trust means confidence, confidence in you, your company or your brand.

There are 3 types of trust:

  1. Blind, NOT good, it means you can be gullible
  2. Distrust, when you start from the point of “Never Trust Anyone”. This is often seen in people or businesses that have been burned once never trust the team, suppliers, clients again. The danger of this attitude is it leads to a lack of team work, a lack of innovation and lack of passion.
  3. Smart Trust…. This is where you start with a bias to trust, balance it with some assessments to verify. Does not mean verify before trust, in other words you trust first, then think of what you need to continue building that trusted relationship.

Steven shared an example from a large health organisation with the 23 executives, he worked with them individually, asking them to (confidentially) put their peers into either camp trust or no trust ….. most of the 23 trusted most of their piers, but three of the executives were dismissive of everyone, didn’t trust anyone… And guess what… these were the three that were on everyone else’s not trust list…

So in order to be trusted, you need to have the courage to trust others first.

1. Trust and its Economic effect

If you withhold trust it has reciprocity. In companies where managers don’t trust staff, staff don’t trust them, I am sure we all have stories. Trust inspires, people want to live up to it, MOST OF US ARE TRUSTWORTHY So don’t design a company based on the 5% of people you can’t trust, build it those you do trust.

Steven gave a brilliant example of a bike shop that never asks people for any security before taking a bike out for a test ride.

You must be mad … they are told, ask for wallets or a passport, but Chris the owner refuses, he said he wants to start a relationship from a position of trust. Yes he has lost 5 bikes since adopting this a few years ago, but has increased business by thousands of sales.

Chris sees this as his unique marketing tool, yes bikes lost are the price, but huge brand and customer loyalty are the payback for this trust. It makes them money.

When trust goes down…speed of delivery goes down and cost goes up…  and visa versa.

  • When teams trust each other they work quickly and quick results brings down costs
  • When you work with a customer that trusts you, its easy to make a deal, happens quickly, costs less to make.

We can all think of scenarios of both low and high trust relationships and how they can cost us money.


donutThis was my best example of the day, it is all about a small business, a man selling coffe and donughts from a small van in the financial distric of an American city. He noticed he had long lines in the morning, and as he couldn’t serve them quickly he noticed that customers were leaving before getting coffee.

It really bothers him, so he came up with a fantastic solution, he would pour coffee, but he added an honest basket, put in some change and told his customers that they could help themselves to change. Speed improved, he served more people,  he got more business and he even improved his  tips .. he trusted his customers, and they lived up to it.

Could you bring this into your business in some way? Have you seen examples like this?

High trust organisations outperform low trust organisations by 286%!

2.  Trust and Leadership

Think about it the things we need in business today is teams (great talent), the ability to collaborate with others to innovate and build a business.

And guess what the best people want to work for high trust companies, the 100 top companies (Forbes) have high trust and have very low staff turnover. People want to  be trusted, and organisations with high trust have better engagement (communication).

High trust builds cultures of high innovation, people feel they can take risks, be creative and make mistakes. Low trust means no innovation, no passion, no creativity.

High trust wont rescue a lousy strategy but you can be sure that lack of trust will derail the best strategies… if people trust you, you make mistakes people will stick with you

BIG BIG FACT …. if you can increase trust by 10% it has the same effect as a 36% increase in pay …. Now that’s an effect on bottom line

3. Learning trust… the practical bit.

Trust.  It all starts with Credibility.

4 cores to credibility (believability)

  1. Integrity – walk the talk, have you got the courage to do this when it may cost you money?
  2. Intent  – When you want a win -win, for you and your customer, team etc, tell people your intent and why you have that intention, if you don’t tell them your intent, they will ascribe intent to you.
  3. Capability – TASS Talent, attitude, skills and style… are you staying relevant… are you learning, adapting … in order to be trusted you need to reinvent and stay ahead eg. I have 15 years’ experience or do you have 1 year of experience you repeated 15 times. Are you on the look- out for better ways to do things for your clients
  4. Results – Your current and past performance will make people think that is what you will produce in the future, show results.

The 5 Waves of Trust:

Self .. start here, make yourself trustworthy. Think of instructions on an aeroplane, when your drop down mask appears you are told to put your mask on first before helping others.  Then look at building trust in your relationships, your organisation, the market and then within society.


An example of a company that has used the 5 waves is the Swedish company Nordstrom, they are known for brilliant service … that’s market trust.

But they start inside, Steven showed us the employee handbook, a  1 page document, with a few words on either side… Welcome to Nordstom, happy to have you… and on the flip side … Just one rule … use good judgment in every situation.

Now the last time I saw a handbook, it was pages and pages long!

How do you build trust with your team or your clients?

Using Hashtags # on Facebook

Did you know that your # on Facebook will now create a clickable link, and when you click the link you will see a live feed of people that have used that #.



It’s a brilliant way for people to find conversations that interest them, but as a marketer please bear in mind that posting loads of hashtags is likely to irritate your followers, as many are not overly happy about # moving into Facebook.

But they are a great way to extend your reach, by sharing the hastags on Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

They can be a great way to promote an event , a coupon or a contest too.  Remember the # wont link to a page, but a feed, it’s just a way to create awareness.

Like all hashtags capital letters are not relent, it must all be one word (e.g. #facebookhashtag) and don’t stuff your posts with them, that’s just going to peeve people off.

Are you using them? And how?

Making mistakes is all part of learning

Yesterday’s activity was sailing, and I was not a natural, I capsized within the first five minutes of being in the water.

But that doesn’t surprise me, I tend to tackle most things in life head on, throwing caution to the wind, and by falling off early, I have realised that that was the worst that could happen to me, and from that point on I wasn’t as scared.

That bring this back to marketing and business, sometimes you just need to try things quickly, make those mistakes, fall hard, get back up and try again.

Your Rather bedraggled, but determined reporter from Wales.

Try tripping today.


Its Rock climbing and Abseiling today… wish me luck!

Are you afraid, so blind to trying something new?

Day two in Wales, and we were completing an exercise on high ropes, with one person blindfolded, while the other person had to leave them around the course.

Apart from the very, very comical moments here are a few lessons that I took away from the day.

wales blind 2

When you are leading someone else, especially on a new task that they may be afraid of (this may be at work, a new piece of software for instance) you really need very clear communication skills, by this I mean the ability to anticipate every single step and understand within a trip up in the learning process. I’m often not the best teacher, some not very good at communicating detail, it was very impressive to watch a young teacher  (Bec’s) yesterday taking Phill around the course, who was blindfolded and petrified. Bec’s kept her tone calm, and gave them as much detail as he required to giving back safely to the starting point.

wales bind

The second thing I learnt (and I have known this for some time) is how fear makes us completely illogical, to complete the exercise everybody is in safety harnesses that tasted rigorously, which is so feel like you’re going to fall off the ropes.

It was a gentle reminder to me that when I’m teaching my clients about social media, many of them are fearful and just because I have had used social media for years now, I can’t expect them to have the same attitude towards it is as I do.

Could fear of new things should never ever stop you from trying them, like yesterday it was amazing to watch how proud everybody was on completing the task and how much fun they had learning a grand new skill.

Sailing today, and looking out my window it looks like rain.

Speak soon had a brilliant day.

Your intrepid or perhaps insipid reporter , reporting from the Welsh Valleys

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