About Andee Sellman

Andee is Founder & CEO of One Sherpa, and a trusted business advisor and qualified accountant. After two decades of experience running businesses in different countries, cultures and industries, he specialises in combining financial communication with human behaviour, which assists with better personal and organisational performance.
Author Archive | Andee Sellman

The key to understanding the web as a marketer: Participation

In the last couple of weeks I have been talking to you about issues we will be addressing at our Business Summit on 17th of October.

Now it is only just around the corner and it is my pleasure to give you a ‘look through the key hole’ into the third speaker at the Summit.

Alister Cameron is the person who has encouraged me to get into the web as a participant rather than an observer or consumer. He has a way of making things ‘make sense’ which I have found helpful and refreshing. I’m really looking forward to his, session so here’s a preview.

From Alister’s Desk

I’d like to invite you to consider two very different ways of looking at the fast and furious developments we’re seeing on the internet…

We can look either from the vantage-point of the average “user”, or from the perspective of the marketer. But since all good marketing starts with a really deep and comprehensive answer to the question “Who is my customer?” we had better first understand the former… not just as observers but as participants.

Frankly, what’s happening online these days is way too fun and exciting to remain on the sidelines as an observer.

More things to do

First off, there has never been so much to do online.

The web is full of attractive, engaging, entertaining and consuming experiences, for almost every age-group. Kids are flocking to Neopets, teens are socializing on MySpace, young adults are throwing sheep at each other on Facebook, photographers are sharing photos on Flickr and everyone is checking out the latest funny video on YouTube.

And far from passing fancies, these online communities boast massive and ever-growing memberships of fiercely loyal and “busy” participants.

More people to know

In case you somehow hadn’t noticed, the web is social.

No major new website or online services can launch these days without the obligatory “friend” features or hooks into Facebook and MySpace. Most of us arrive at our email inbox each morning to face at least one email inviting us to accept a friend request from someone-or-other. And it’s no surprise that the web is “going social”, since we humans are relational animals, and the web is shaping more and more around what we are like.

As a fairly committed “netizen” I note that of the few programs on my computer that I always have running, a good number of them connect me to other people, including Skype, Firefox, my email program and Tweetdeck (a Twitter program… never mind!).

More fun for marketers

Seen from a marketers perspective, this maturing of the World Wide Web, and this “social” emphasis — this humanizing of everything — is exciting and laced with opportunity. I say this because the best marketing takes advantage of “human nature” and how humans behave, and now — more and more — the web is allowing humans to behave more “naturally”.

If we have more to do online, and if we can do it more relationally, then the web is going to feel more and more natural to us. It follow that we’re going to feel more and more comfortable online and will spend more and more time there, in productive and pleasurable activity. And the research tells us this is exactly what’s happening.

Participate or perish

My encouragement to marketers is to get into it! As I will discuss at the Summit, there is no better way to come to a mature and accurate understanding of the “social web” than to get involved. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Wikipedia is an online user-maintained encyclopedia. Squidoo and Google‘s Knol are (sort of) similar — they’re all “wikis“. If you’re an expert in some given subject-matter, sign up to one of these sites and contribute your knowledge. It’s a great way to meet others with similar passions. And you’ll be amazed what brainiacs are out there.
  2. Find a friend or family member who knows their way around Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or similar, and ask them to give you the “guided tour”. Ask them to help you get going with your own user account.
  3. “Google”/research keywords and terms that correspond to your company’s products and services. Is your company mentioned anywhere? Are your competitors? What mentions are positive and which are negative? How many mentions are on blogs and how many are in the “professional media”?

Much has been said — and continues to be said — about the way that the “social web” requires marketers to abandon monologue, in favour of a conversational approach. Of course, that sentence needs a lot of explanation and unpacking. But the point I want to leave you with now, is that all this will not “sink in” for you unless you dive in yourself. You need to become a participant yourself!

There are many “a ha!” experiences ahead for you, but they start with the determination to try something new. So go for it!

If you’re looking for me online, here’s where you can find me!

At the One Sherpa Summit, Alister will likely be our most popular speaker and every time I’ve seen him share, he has a way of connecting with the crowd. I guess that’s why he is one of Australia’s foremost bloggers and a great marketer.

See you on Friday…

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How to be a Winner and Not a Loser in the Current Economic Turmoil

In the last couple of weeks I have been talking to you about issues I will be addressing at our Business Summit on 17th of October.

This week I want to give you a sneak preview into some of the gems you can expect from our other two keynote speakers.

In the current turbulent economic times there will be winners and losers. One key to ensuring that you are a winner and not a loser is to approach issues with the right mindset so you see the opportunities and not just the problems. Lindsay Galt will be addressing this topic at the Summit.

Today I have asked Lindsay to give you a sneak preview into some of the gems he will be sharing with us.

From Lindsay’s Desk

Life is full of choices and the sum of these choices determines your destiny. To be able to make the right choices you need to be able to make good decisions. This is one trait successful people have – an ability to make effective decisions.

One of the biggest barriers to effective decision making is fear. It may be fear of failing, fear of getting it wrong or perhaps, surprisingly, some people even fear success.

When it comes to making decisions there are four impediments that need to be addressed to overcome the fear of failing, or making a mistake. These are:

  • Doubt
  • Over Caution
  • Worry
  • Procrastination

The way to overcome fear is to deal with each of these four impediments that support it.

Here are four steps to help you overcome fear.

  1. Do your own due diligence; read, learn, and get informed about the key facts and issues affecting this decision.
  2. Consider intelligently the risks, and build in contingencies to counter them.
  3. Don’t over-stretch yourself. Take things one step at a time. Make decisions that will challenge you and cause you to grow personally or expand your resources, but make sure each step is still achievable for you.
  4. Seek the opinion and advice of wise, supportive counselors who have proven knowledge and expertise in the subject matter.
  • Step one will allow you to replace doubt with confidence.
  • Step two will allow you to replace over-caution with prudence.
  • Step three will let you replace worry with peace of mind.
  • Step four will give you the support and encouragement you need so you can replace procrastination with taking action.

—Lindsay

At the One Sherpa Summit, Lindsay will be sharing a bunch of other insights and keys to assist attendees on their journey to success. Amongst them will be 10 steps to effective decision-making.

I hope to see you there.

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It’s time to hold the debt-peddlers to account!

Everybody seems to be talking about the (in)stability of the financial system.

What the heck does that mean?

How many people have any idea what it means? Most of the trouble we’re in right now is because common sense has not prevailed and the smoke and mirrors of financial engineering has gone unchecked because the perpetrators have had so much at stake. It has become “Custer’s last stand”.

Think about the comments coming out of the US from Bush, Paulson et al.  If they don’t sound like Custer’s last stand then I’m a fairy penguin and I’ll go back to my burrow in Antarctica!

Here are the facts.

We’ve had a recessionary correction every decade since the 1960’s except we forgot to have one at the beginning of the new millennium. As a result, we’ve gone on for 18 years of unbridled “growth”.

The problem is, much of this “growth” is not real, rather it’s being fuelled by a massive expansion in debt. Asset values have been going up and people have been thinking they are better off, but all the time they have only been looking at one side of the coin.

On the other side — the side people have not been looking at — we have seen unprecedented growth in debt.

Now, to cap matters off, these financial engineers have completely lost their marbles when it comes to how they have done their accounting. We haven’t been growing real value; we’ve been artificially revaluing assets and then balancing the books with more debt.

When I was doing my accounting degree in the late 70’s it was against all accounting principles to revalue an asset and call it a “profit” and then declare that as “profit” through the profit and loss account. But this is now the most common sort of “return” (profit) that is available… as long as we allow that to continue we’ll never get the cash to catch up to all this speculation.

Stabilising the system through a taxpayer-funded bailout is making sure that we don’t bring the system back to the reality of cash returns and we keep up the “smoke and mirrors”, “rabbit out of the hat” false profit system.

Now, the obvious question…

Who has benefited from all this additional debt in the economy? None other than the money managers and financial engineers of the financial system who have created it. The people who have made themselves rich by financing the revaluing of “assets” over and over again.

Now that their folly has been exposed they are saying that “we the taxpayer” must bail them out! Ordinary citizens have paid them all the way up on their crazy ride through higher and higher quantums of interest, and now it seems we have to pay them again as they slide down the other side.

Enough is enough, I say!

It is time that the people who built and run this crazy financial system were brought to account for their folly.

What do you say?

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Do you really know where your profits are coming from?

On Friday, I introduced you to the second of three keys for ensuring you succeed in these changing economic times, and that was, “Make sure you are empowering those people who are really running the business.”

Today I want to talk about the third key, but before I do let me take a few sentences to reflect on the gale blowing through the financial markets.

A dip? A pothole? A sinkhole?

It seems that we’re in for more than a small dip on the economic horizon. We’re in for completely different economic times!

This morning I was with a client who has been around for a while and was recalling the economic hard times right back to the 60’s. He did comment that we’ve been on an economic run now for the last 18 years. He remarked — and I agree wholeheartedly with him — that for many managers this will be a completely new experience.

Think about it for a minute.

What were you doing 18 years ago? For most of you, it would be something quite different. Your position and scale of responsibility will have been very different from today. That’s why we’ve started blogging in the way we have been. I foresaw current events back in March and the “proverbial is only now hitting the fan.” It means we at One Sherpa weren’t having a lend of you when we outlined the need to acquire new skills for managing in the new environment.

Somehow we got the title for the Summit right on the mark, which is ‘Critical skills to rise above uncertain times.’

Anyway, back to my third key…

“Make sure that you know where and how your profit is being made.”

As I was saying above, we have been on an amazing boom time for the last eighteen years and as a result many of the management practices that were necessary in hard times have become completely irrelevant and lost from the skills repertoire of managers.

In the good time it was simply a matter of increasing your sales as fast as you could, and the profits would generally follow along, even if the cash flow was tight. It was not necessary to know where you made your profit because it all just seemed to work itself out.

In the economic times ahead it will be more important to know exactly where you make your profit. There will be far less room for error and non-profitable products and services will need to be eliminated from your business to first survive and then to continue making satisfactory profits.

At One Sherpa, we determine a company’s performance by looking at the movements in their profit, broken down into three separate elements:

  • Price/Cost Inflation,
  • Cost Productivity, and
  • Volume/Mix Change.

Business owners have not been concerned about this type of breakdown (recently) because inflation has been low, volume has been high and businesses have generally run along OK.

Think about the level of cost increase running in your business… Has it increased? What about the effects of the petrol price increases? How have increased interest rates affected the households of your employees? What about the massive increase in the cost of food?

We used to be able to manage with only one major factor – volume increases — because the other factors were not significant enough to make a material difference. Not any more! In the new environment we will need to look at all three factors and understand why and how they’re affecting our day-to-day business.

I would like to ask you to consider adding your thoughts and relections in the comments area below. One of the reasons for blogging is to increase the interaction and cross-fertilisation of ideas. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments and if you are able to share them in the comments section of the blog it would increase the value of the articles and give others the benefit of any thoughts and feedback you might have.

I look forward to seeing you at the Summit on October 17th. Come ready for a day to remember and some take-away value that will assist you chart your way up your own particular mountain.

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