Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

Read Before Tweeting: Lessons from the Bakerloo Line "Colllapse"

Image
Early on the morning of 26 April 2012 BBC London Newsroom tweeted breaking news that a tunnel had collapsed on the Bakerloo line of the London Underground. Less than an hour later they posted a correction withdrawing that report when it turned out that a train had just struck the side of a tunnel, bulging after heavy rain.

Initially there were fears that people might be hurt or worse, so the news spread very quickly through Twitter. But even after the original source had tweeted a correction just 46 minutes later many people were still retweeting and forwarding the news several hours later. Old, inaccurate and out-of-date information often spreads in this way because it takes time for news to filter through a chain of people, so some Twitter users are seeing a retweet, a modified tweet or a paraphrase of the content long after the original tweet. They perhaps don't realize that the news is by Twitter standards very old and retweet or share it without thinking.




In traditional face…

Doing Business in Italy: Three Key Concepts You Need to Know

Image
Maybe you are already on your way to a business meeting in Italy. You don't have time to read a book but if you have just a few minutes on the trip you can still learn enough to make a difference.  The secret is to forget surface details like handshakes -- you can work these out by watching and asking -- and focus instead on three basic concepts that underlie Italian business culture: relationships, flexibility and hierarchy.

1. RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT. In Italy personal relationships are very important so you need to get to know people at least a little before you can start talking about business. This has many practical consequences. You need to allow time for some small talk when you meet someone -- perhaps talking about your trip, your family, your hobbies. You should also try to eat lunch or dinner with your Italian contacts or at least go with them for a coffee. Don't worry if you don't like coffee, go anyway and drink something else or even nothing --- it is not…

Online Reputation: How to Deal With Five Difficult Cases

Image
In October 2011 I wrote Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation, a simple method where you use popular social network and media sites to build a strong online presence quickly and easily. This method works for most people but sometimes there are complications and you need to take some additional steps. Here are the five most common cases and what you can do about them:

1.YOU HAVE A COMMON NAME. If you have a very common name like John Smith or Marco Rossi a simple name search will return mostly pages about other people so you can be hard to find. There are many ways to address this. One way to avoid this problem is just to be quick to register your name in new spaces when they become available: if you had registered the domain johnsmith.com or the Twitter account @johnsmith were available you would have been nearer the top of searches. Don't miss the next big thing. Another solution is to associate your name either with a location or with a professional label. When peo…

How to Make Photos for Professional Profiles and CVs

Image
Before the age of social media some people attached a physical photo to their CVs, but it was usually optional.  With the emergence of professional social networks the practice of having a photo on every profile and every CV has become almost universal. Now people rarely ask if they should have a photo; they ask instead how the photo should be.

Here are some answers to the question, based on techniques borrowed from professional photographers I have worked with over the years and my own impressions after studying hundreds of profile photos.

1. THE WORST PHOTO IS NO PHOTO. I have read many discussions about the correctness of having a photo at all, based on the idea that people should not choose employees on the basis of looks. If nobody had a photo, the argument goes, then they would choose the best candidate, not the most attractive. In reality this is rarely the case; serious companies do not just hire pretty people or they would go out of business.  Most people today have a photo …

Cultural Stereotypes in Cartoons; Do Germans Really Wear Monocles?

Image
A few years ago in  National Stereotypes and Chuggington's Frostini I wrote about the cultural stereotypes in children's cartoons. Perhaps, I argued, that this was understandable in the 1940s but out of place in a computer-generated animation introduced in 2008. Chuggington executive producer Dick Rothkopf was gracious enough to concede the point and added that they would work on this issue.

Perhaps they have, but the use of dubious stereotypes is still thriving elsewhere. Disney/Pixar's Cars 2 released in 2011 seems to be entirely written around cultural stereotypes. Most of them are based at least partly on genuine cultural differences, but one character stands out from all the others: Professor Zündapp.

Professor Zündapp is one of the leading villains of the movie and is represented as a Zundapp Janus microcar. The professor is clearly meant to be German, having a German accent, a German name and, of course, a monocle.

Many times I have visited Germany and I have met m…

Why Networking is About Building Relationships (and why quick pitching is inefficient)

Image
Attend a networking lecture or workshop and you will probably be told that networking is all about building relationships, it takes time and you mustn't expect to get a job, an internship or business immediately. Every so often someone asks "Why does it have to be so slow? Why can't I just make my pitch and get some quick results?  This is often not explained because it is taken for granted, but there is a good reason.

Probably everyone reading this has bought a computer at some time, so we are all potential customers for a computer vendor. But it is also most likely that right now you are not looking to buy a computer. Imagine then that you are at an event and you meet someone who provides an interesting service where they can source you a new computer, migrate all of your stuff and then provide fast help with problems for the first few months. Professional users would probably find this service appealing but on any given day most people are simply not looking for a com…