The creative business is a people business. It’s about understanding, connecting and inspiring people through ideas and solutions.
The best communication is that which capture hearts and tells compelling stories. Additionally, those that nudge people into changing attitudes or behaviour are the ideas based on understanding the human mind and psychology to work out underlying thought patterns or habits.
To do this well, we must be able to use our empathy and human understanding to unravel motivations. If we do not spend time or are not open to figuring out what drives motivations we will be less successful at connecting and winning with heart.
Winning with Heart
Whether we are thinking about our own personal or professional relationships or we are designing winning brands and companies, winning people’s hearts requires us to embody and nurture the values that our audience also finds important.
The laws of physics demonstrate that for every trend, there is an equal and opposite counter trend and I am a firm believer in this principle. There never is an absolute truth, rather a series of forces that shape our lives and we get to choose what suits us, there is no black and white but a series of grey.
And so it is with the #etisalatchallenge. For years people have been complaining that the Telco “doesn’t listen” “is old fashioned” and “doesn’t reach out to the community” – and then finally when it does, it gets bagged out on social media.
I know there are only 2 Telco’s in the UAE but that is precisely why the #etisalatchallenge is so bold because rather than rest on their laurels, Etisalat demonstrates that they are serious about offering best in market products and services. If you check the Etisalat website, they have offers that are first in the market and quite useful for various audiences.
What this campaign has done is create a conversation around Etisalat and it invites people to be part of that conversation either through the #etisalatchallenge or via opinions about the campaign and that’s what every brand wishes for, to start a conversation.
Rather than critisizing Etisalat’s move, we should support and encourage this gesture by a prominent and iconic UAE brand. Maybe it could have been done in a more relevant way (using meaningful brand ambassadors and having a better customer service response across social media) but it takes guts to challenge people and live up to the challenge. And, taking a Challenger position is not something usually done by an established player.
Brands that want to stay relevant constantly innovate and challenge themselves. And this is exactly what Etisalat has done. So now Etisalat should continue to challenge itself by listening and learning from customer feedback.
And I challenge other brands in the UAE to be open and transparent about their products and customer service and to put in place mechanisms that help identify and resolve customer complaints.
Too often we find it easy to judge others based on our own limited perceptions of the world and some ingrained memories.
But I believe that we are all on our own developmental journey whether emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical, moral, intellectual or any other paradigm.
Each of us may be quite advanced in one area of life whilst slower to develop in other areas.
If we agree with this premise, then our role is not to judge others, but to have the compassion and generosity of spirit to help others we encounter on our journey, and to expect that others who are more advanced than us on certain paths, in turn help us.
Cognitive is a word relating to cognition, which is the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. It is our way of discerning what is going on around us. It is basically the way we mentally process information around us to gain understanding.
Cognitive Biases, therefore, are unconscious inclinations or prejudices that are based on our historical environment and psychological development and in this way, they limit our way of interacting with the people and situations around us, and they deny us our full human experience.
When we become aware of the existence of cognitive biases, it becomes easier to break their hold by noticing when we are defaulting to that mode of thinking.
Confirmation Bias is one type of cognitive bias that refers to the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
When you default to that mode of thinking, you tend to approve ideas that confirm what you already know, thus staying within your comfort zone and rejeting ideas that are totally new or unfamiliar.
In order to negate the effects of confirmation bias, it helps to detach from your usual way of thinking by asking yourself a few questions:
Am I selecting this idea because it sits within my comfort zone?
Am I taking the path of least resistance?
How can I break down this idea into its various components to make its adoption easier?
Hope this helps you to push your thinking into more courageous territory.
Ancient Greece is a complex topic but from what I can summarise about Sparta, it was a wealthy state with a strong education system called the Agoge where elite boys would take part in physical training to mould them into the strongest and most disciplined soldiers. Spartan girls were also brought up to be strong and supportive so they could provide strong babies to continue the Spartan lineage. But Sparta ruled over the Helots – peasants who farmed the land and provided food for their wealthy Spartan overlords. Over time, resentment between the Helots and the ruling Spartans led to a war. Even though the Spartans won the war, this class struggle plagued and weakened them for a long time until eventually they had a war with Athens over the city of Thebes which led to Sparta’s demise.
Similarly, fast forward a few thousand years to modern Greece with huge levels of inequality and impoverishment leading to the election of Syriza on an Economic platform. Greece is saying “we’re going to be playing by our rules now and we will no longer be subjected to EU humiliation and Economic imbalances”.
We can’t solve problems using established systems and entrenched models of thinking. We must be trailblazers even though it might ruffle some feathers along the way.
The solutions we design must be based on symbiosis and nurturing a win/win scenario. The current mess that the world is in can be attributed partly to the inequality that many feel at the hands of the few.
It’s time we each question where our beliefs, values, pre-dispositions come from. When we realise that much of them are human-made and full of biases, perhaps we will start to improve our condition and change the world.
In grade 7 I took compulsory Home Economics class which taught basic sewing and cooking skills. I was pretty good at it and although much fun I wrote it off because in my mind it wasn’t for ‘ambitious modern girls’ who wanted to use their ‘intelligence’ and pursue a ‘career’ or who aspired to be ‘more’ than ‘just’ a ‘housewife’ *rolls eyes*. How wrong I was!
At the time, we were led to believe that girls can do anything and we were trained in girl power. We weren’t taught to value craftwork because that would be taken over by machines and technology and it wasn’t for the new generation of highly educated women who went to University and studied for years and years and ended up in high powered positions.
I agree with encouraging girls to follow challenging pursuits, but in hindsight I have also learnt that success in life is about finding something you enjoy doing and doing that in our individual and unique way.
In any case, what my teachers and career advisers didn’t foresee was the huge cultural and attitudinal shift which has led to the DIY Revolution and the Maker Movement. Independent cafes, restaurants, art galleries, grassroots community initiates such as urban gardening and food and craft markets as well as self-reliant transition towns have burgeoned in the last few years.
If I had known that the future would be about artisanal crafts, community building, creativity and individuality, and that there was space to grow beyond the big corporates maybe I would have pursued my talent in Home Eco’s at least as a side pursuit.
I have no regrets about working hard to go to University and I loved what I studied and my area of specialisation. Every choice we make has a story to tell us about who we are and I have definitely learnt a lot about myself back then and the context surrounding my choices by examining them many years later.
I encourage you to make your decisions based on what you enjoy and what feels right to you, not based on projections of future earning potential or hot-job list.
I wonder when the Silicon Valley / Tech bubble is going to burst? It seems to me it is lacking integrity. Although it was touted as the Economic Saviour and Tech. Revolution that will propel humanity forward and create fairness, in reality it’s just hipster Entrepreneurs who claim to be different than the corporates they left but they end up emulating them.
It’s not really their fault though because they are part of an unsustainable global system that sucks them back into the same old paradigms – inequality, unnecessary growth for growth’s sake, unsustainable use of finite resources, imbalance of values.
In this video, Spotfront founder mentions the “Silicon Valley culture of Glorifying Success and ‘Big Exits’ – whilst not focussing on the fundamentals of building a business” – in other words, he’s describing the Silicon Valley PR machine.
And even he goes on an MBA instigated ramble discussing how his start-up is “Business Model Focussed” – what on earth does that mean? And what about “Cost Structures”? For a purportedly Agile Start-up this sounds too much like the overly complicated business language that many start-ups were trying to escape. Why not say “focus on doing things right and minimising your costs”?
Technology has been touted as the force that will propel humankind forward. But in reality, if people don’t have access to the tools | networks | connections | education for Technology it will continue to divide the world into the Elites and the masses. When the system is so disoriented and imbalanced as it currently is, technology cannot save us until we change our values and move to a more equatable, fair, honest system.
We’ve seen enough Venture Capital, Hipster Marketing/PR and Techies to realise that it’s mostly cool design used to coerce people into spending more on over priced designer toys and labels.