When technology goes bad…

Books are one of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. To read is to escape, to be released from the place you currently inhabit and be set free.

Speaking as someone who is usually 100% behind the relentless movement of technology the one thing that I truly fear is that books will become replaced by devices such as the Kindle or the ipad.

There is something so wonderful, so tactile and all consuming about reading a book. From the feeling in your hands, to the smell as you open the pages – whether that is the crisp synthetic smell of treated paper in a brand new press, or the musty scent of aged wood in a first edition you scored from a widows garage sale. It is an experience, an immersion.

And what does technology offer us by way of resolve? Cost benefits and room savings? The ability to have video embedded within the page? These things do not make up for what is lost (indeed I would argue that video or movement within the page strips an essential quality from the experience of reading).

Last year book sales fell an estimated 7.1% according to Nielsen BookScan, with the value of sales dropping 12.6% to $1.1 billion. E-book data is difficult to get a handle on as there is no central research group collecting data and not all providers of e-books are open with their data, however several industry pundits have estimated that Australian patterns would closely mirror that of the US.

The figures show that for the first month of this year, eBook sales were up by 115.8% compared to January 2010, representing $US69.9 million.

During the same period, sales of hardcovers fell by 11.3% to $49.1 million, while paperbacks fell from $56.4 million to $39 million.

Smart Company

This is a terrifying pattern, and while I know that in my lifetime devices will never completely usurp physical books, the thought that in only a few generations paper books could be something only collectors and the third world remember is both depressing and unsettling.

My hope is that before this happens there will be a renaissance of reading, a rekindling of the love affair between (wo)man and book.

Do yourself a favour… buy a book, pour a glass of wine, turn off the computer and TV, and fall in love again.

Lessons from 2010

2010 has been a massive year of both ups and downs for me which has lead to some significant personal development. As I take a leap forwards into come new challenges I thought what better time to compose a very brief list of some lessons I’ve learned in the year past.

Professional Lessons

– A campaign not working is not a failure as long as you learn something from it
– Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it will work, just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea
– Take holidays – for years I put off taking trips because I didn’t want to fall behind on work, but nothing leaves you more hungry to do good work than a little time away
– ‘No’ is not a dirty word – If a timeline is unrealistic at least suggest a more manageable solution, don’t just say yes
– Low cost, High Quality, Fast delivery – Pick 2
– Anyone can be insightful, often without realising it. The secret is to listen closely enough to hear the verbal diamond in the rough.

Personal Lessons

– There is no such thing as a black and white situation – only varying shades of grey
– While it’s important to speak your beliefs it is more important to listen to those of others
– Exercise really is enjoyable – everyone wasn’t lying to me for the past 23 years despite what I previously thought
– If you want something in life take it. Don’t wait for the ‘right time,’ it may never come
– In 12 months everything can change – Last year my dad spent about 6 months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant. The end of December see’s him 12 months cancer free and he is currently back at work full-time and looking more healthy everyday.

But everyone’s doing it?!?

It seems to me that businesses have lost a bit of that discerning nature that makes them the long term successes they want to be.

Every decision should be made for the good of the company. This is a fact of business and often the key factor that can make the difference between a mediocre leader and a great one. Where the difficulty lies is that a lot of people only think of the good of the company as ensuring that their monthly/quarterly/yearly profits are as high as possible and that in the public eye there are sweeping positive reviews, but there is so much more to it than that. It is inevitable that there will be some level of negative sentiment about a business, be it from past employees, a negative event that occurred or a current employee that has had a bad day and is having a vent. The issue is with seeing all of this as a completely negative thing that is to be controlled. People expect employees to have bad days, nobody is happy all the time, work is stressful and at times depressing. This is the way things are in even the best of companies.

What we are seeing at the moment is companies rushing to control this output through monitoring of employees online activity and then taking action off the back of it the problem with this is that it is in no way a cost efficient use of anybodies time. If employees are complaining en-mass a standard level of brand monitoring throughout social channels should pick this up, there is no need to monitor employees specifically. Furthermore the way in which businesses are treating employees that do complain is counter-productive, in fact if an employee that is typically happy complains online they are just as likely to promote the business through the same channel when they have a good day. If there are high levels of complaints occurring from employees throughout the business, or even from within particular business teams the issue is not that people are complaining, it is that they are unhappy at work. This, whether businesses like it or not is a management/leadership issue.

If businesses put the same amount of time, effort and money into leadership training, employee reward and recognition programs and talent development that they put into attempting to control their employees online behaviour they would not only see the amount of negative sentiment from employees fade, they would additionally be left with a more engaged and productive workforce. This is the largest issue with businesses rushing to get on board the latest trend, they are not thinking about the long term cost associated with this behaviour. When you lose an employee t it costs the business on average a minimum of 2x their salary to recruit, train and replace the employee. Add to this the damage and cost of having dis-engaged employees to begin with and what you are left with is an extremely detrimental cost to the business, so instead of punishing and restricting the expression of employees who will only feel further unhappy about their situation knowing that work is now encroaching on their personal space, businesses should look internally at employee engagement (there are a multitude of providers who run assessments around this) and figuring out how they can improve the workplace for everyone. Hypothetically speaking you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars saved annually in turnover and productivity.

It’s just smart business.

For more information about the benefits of investing in employees you can look at my lovely partner Jessica’s site: HR Club Sydney

Its Back!

The Zinger Tower Burger

As of 9:40am the KFC Tower Burger series is back, which means we can once again enjoy the near orgasmic delights offered by this succulent taste sensation.

People all over the world are celebrating this momentous occasion, even children who may look as though they are actually supporting Obama and have had their photo altered by someone with no access to decent photo-editing software *shifty eyes*:

2010 – The words list

I’m not normally one for new years resolutions however this year I have decided that I am going to take a few steps to increase the level of positivity in my life. One of these steps, in order to improve the quality of my thinking and the level of positive vibes I push out, is that I am going to aspire to use certain words more frequently and not use other words (those that strip the user of power or impede creative thinking) at all.

Words to strip from my vocabulary

can’t
impossible
stupid
idiot
hate
not my fault
dislike
failure
don’t
won’t
should
have too

Words to use more frequently

great work
thank you
please
exceptional
amazing
deserve
fun
hilarious
want
care
I love you

Sponsor my mo

Hi all,

I am currently taking part in Movember, an initiative to raise money and awareness around Prostate Cancer and male depressions.

I am calling my mo Mo-hammed and will be growing some accompanying sideburns, it will be filthy.

If you feel like supporting this very worthwhile cause you can dig deep and donate here, every cent helps!

Thanks,

Joel