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Guest Post: Jamie Dunn

I am pleased to welcome Jamie Dunn as my guest blogger for November. Regular readers will have met Jamie in my blog about inspirational young people written to refocus opinion after the September riots across the UK. Jamie Dunn is a 19yr old entrepreneur from Birmingham. This remarkable teenager is already Managing Director of his own company, called Made By Young People. Jamie is an international speaker, a Youth Ambassador and has been recognised with a prestigious Youth Excellence Award. It is well worth reading Jamie’s story on his website, from his first business at the age of 12 to his current venture challenging and inspiring fellow teenagers to succeed. In this blog Jamie highlights a void between the young people who our Media would have us believe are the norm and those like himself who I believe should be shouted from the rooftops as beacons for the future.

Frankie Cocozza + Media = Damned Generation

Posted on November 7, 2011 by Jamie Dunn, Entrepreneur.

I never normally watch X Factor, but have been hearing a lot about the progress and story of, “Frankie Cocozza.” After reading about him in the national papers, hearing about him on Facebook, Twitter and through all my friends I thought I would spend an hour of my Saturday and Sunday seeing what all the fuss is about. I’m no Simon Cowell or have any experience in picking out a talented musician but I was disgusted to see and hear that this individual had made it all the way through to live shows and get national exposure.

He isn’t a great singer, he isn’t even a great entertainer or after reading about him, he doesn’t seem like a nice guy either. Now this all could be the way that the show and the media is making him out, but it does raise a very scary thought to me, “What kind of example is this setting to me and my generation?”

Frankie comes along and within a few months he is on national TV glamorizing binge drinking, sleeping around and not even working hard to improve his musical “talent”. The media have placed so much attention on him and made him an over-night star. Good for Frankie, bad for the millions of young people out there. I’m 19 and the same age as Frankie and after watching the show I now feel like giving everything up and auditioning for some form of reality TV, get successful over-night and then release a book about something, it evidently worked for a lot of celebrities out there and is working for Frankie, why wouldn’t it work for me?

We as a country are to blame for the high unemployment rates in young people at the moment, and the situation surrounding Frankie is the perfect example of why. The media is placing so much emphasis on the likes of Frankie, binge drinking footballers and tax dodging MP’s that we are forgetting the impact that this has on our nation’s young people. We are setting the precedent that it’s ok not to work hard, to not bother and to not improve ourselves because success is so easy. We see footballer’s getting paid millions a year, great, but how did they get there? Instead of showing the flash cars, why don’t we show the other side to that, the 4/5 hours day training, the mental drain and the solid life commitment from the age of 12 to do what it takes to become professional and then maintain it? We don’t show what’s needed to get an end result, we just show the flash cars and the success. This is why young people are disillusioned and think success happens over-night, because that’s simply all that we see and we are seeing it now with Frankie.

Me and my peers are currently being labeled as the “Damned Generation” and world leaders, politicians and activists are all searching for the answer to saving our generation, the truth is that we don’t need saving, we just need to be seeing and hearing the right things and with the media controlling the thoughts and actions of the majority of teenagers in this country is it any wonder that many young people now aspire to lead a life like Frankie Cocozza?

It’s not Frankie that is failing, it’s us as a nation.

Read all about Jamie and his work at http://www.jamie-dunn.com/

Jamie’s company website http://www.madebyyoungpeople.co.uk/

Twitter Thursday #11: The Perfect Tweet – Why?

One of the best things about writing my regular Twitter blog has been the questions which it generates. Indeed, the series has developed partly to respond to emerging themes in the feedback I’ve received. This current posting is a good example and comes in response to a host of queries about the finer points of writing Tweets. I’ve had questions about the importance of spelling, grammar, punctuation, number of characters, content, readability and when to include links. They all come down to the same issue: how to write the perfect Tweet.

I have argued previously that Twitter is pointless without engagement. Even your closest friends and followers may soon tire of your broadcasting if you have not made the effort to build your own interactive online community. In order for this to happen, as my regular readers now know, there are four guiding principles that I use for all Twitter activity. Yes, it’s FIRE again! Are your Tweets Fun, Informative, Relevant, or Expert? By testing against these principles, your Tweets will reach their two main goals, namely READABILITY and RE-TWEETABILITY.

Whether you have purely personal, social or business aims in mind, Twitter is now fast becoming the most effective platform from which to engage with real people online. These may be friends, colleagues or clients, but twitter has given us the means to engage with them all. We can start accumulating social credit with our community of loyal potential advocates.

Of course these same advocates can soon become jaded followers or even influential critics. To avoid this you need to know your readers and always give them the very best Twitter experience. Your Tweets should be given the same care and attention as a poet does to a well-crafted verse. Only then can you be sure that all your followers will read your words and want to pass them on.

By the way. How about a quick maths lesson to finish? Let’s say you have 1000 Twitter followers hanging onto your every word. Even if they only have an average of 500 followers each, if they read and pass on your messages then you have a potential readership of half a million people! Food for thought?

In my next Twitter blog we will look at how to craft the perfect Tweet:

· Be a Beacon of Excellence

· Know your Audience

· The Optimum Number of Characters

· Grab the Attention

· Perfect Spelling

· Flawless Grammar

· Impeccable Punctuation

· Shortening Links

· Get a Twitter Buddy

· FIRE up your Content

Walk This Way

When we are constantly being told to take more exercise, it’s easy to make excuses about not having time or about the gym being too expensive. There is one form of exercise, however, which takes little time and does not need to cost anything. Many health experts will tell you that walking is in fact a perfect form of exercise. Not only is it an easy way to get fit, but you can do it anywhere, any time, and there is no special equipment needed.

The health benefits are many and varied. By walking you can build protection against heart disease and diabetes, high cholesterol and even some cancers. Walking will certainly help to maintain a healthy weight, boost your immune system, your energy levels and assist in managing stress.


Develop the walking habit and you will soon realise that it has become part of your daily routine. Best of all is that you will notice the benefits quickly and be feeling so much better for it. Try to walk every day for a month, or at least five days per week. Research tells us that any new activity done consistently for four weeks will result in a firmly embedded new behaviour.

My four-week plan will show you how to build walking into your everyday life so that time should not be an issue. Here I am going to add a plea to mums and dads everywhere. As a schoolteacher of over 30 year’s experience, I was always amazed at the number of children being driven to school over short distances every day. Here is a perfect opportunity for reducing the growing problem of childhood obesity as well as building great lifelong behaviours. Leave the car at home and walk your children to school. Even if you live a longer distance away, why not drive to a point half a mile from the school, and then enjoy the last part of the journey walking together? You will both be benefiting so much! If there are other children in your area why not arrange to all meet up at a fixed time in a certain place then all walk to school together. These so-called ‘Walking Buses’ have proven very popular in some schools and when well supported can have so many positive benefits. Apart from health, there are social, environmental and financial benefits too.

Do consider the safety aspects e.g. ask the PTA to fund a set of high visibility vests. In my experience, more accidents occurred among the badly parked cars outside the school gates than ever did on the roads to school.

Having covered the old excuses of time and cost, there is of course the greatest British excuse of all, the weather! Stop whingeing! I have seen octogenarian walkers in Florida where heat and humidity do deter any walking at times. Their solution was powerwalking around the air-conditioned shopping malls. Guess what? British shopping centres are warm and dry! If however, you prefer the outdoors than it has been shown that on average (regional variations apply) if you were to walk at the same time every day, you would only get rained on 10 times in any one year. So get out and enjoy the outdoors whenever you can. In fact I am writing this blog on a mild Autumn day surrounded by the beautiful multi-coloured trees in Ashridge Forest after my first walk of this new week.

 

So let’s get ready.

First of all, wear weather-appropriate clothing that is loose and comfortable. Layering can work both ways to help control your temperature. Check out your hat collection too. You need something to keep your head (including ears) warm in winter. A wide brimmed hat will protect against summer sun and keep the rain out of your eyes on the 10 days that you’re going to get wet! Walking boots are not essential but your footwear needs to be supportive, comfortable and well fitting. Trainers will do perfectly.

We should not forget safety. Reflective strips, armbands, or a high visibility vest will help keep you safe on dark nights and on winter days.

Don’t forget to keep well hydrated. Drink water before and after short walks but for longer excursions a water bottle might be useful to carry with you.

Now let’s get going.

WEEK ONE

Experts recommend that we should try to do some exercise for at least 20 min every day. Our goal for this first week is to walk for 30 min every day in addition to any normal daily activities. Either warm up first by marching on the spot for a few minutes or just walk slowly for the first 5 min. Then increase your pace for 20 min, slowing down to cool off the final 5 min.

30 minutes may sound like a lot, but it’s only 2% of your entire day. Many people spend more than 15% of their day sat in front of the TV. If you can already walk for 30 minutes without any discomfort then aim to do it every day. But if 30 minutes is really too much at the beginning then split it into two 15 min walks.

Start thinking how to build walking into your day. For example the journey to school, or to the office or workplace? How about a lunch time walk? Or a walk after-dinner. Another option might be to split your weekly shopping into several smaller journeys. Walk to the shops and back but use a rucksack to carry groceries, not bags in your hands.

WEEK TWO

Your goal for the second week will be to increase your walking time by 10% . Yes, that’s just three more minutes every day.

Try to monitor your speed. You should be walking briskly enough to breathe harder and become a little bit warmer. A good test of this speed is that you should be able to hold a conversation while walking along. If you cannot manage to talk properly you may be going too fast but if you’re singing your favourite songs out loud as you walk you’re probably going to slowly.

Add power and speed to your walk by using your arms. Bending them at the elbow and swinging them back and forth as you walk will burn more calories.

Make small changes at home. Use the stairs whenever you can. Walk around while you are chatting on the phone. How about hiding the TV remote so that you have to get up to change channels. You could also walk around during commercial breaks. When you go out how about offering to take the neighbour’s dog for a walk!

WEEK THREE

Your goal for the third week will be to add another 10% to your time but also try to build more walking into your everyday activities. Park further away from work and walk the last bit. Get up and walk to see colleagues instead of sending texts or e-mails when they are in the same building. Use stairs when you can or walk up escalators but try to avoid using lifts.How about cancelling newspaper or milk deliveries so that you can walk to the shop in the morning to collect them?

WEEK FOUR

Your goal in week four will be to add another 10% to your walking time, so you should now be walking for at least 40 min every day. More importantly, in week four, try to add some inclines to your walk. Walking uphill for short distances will add considerably to the effort needed. Not only will you burn more calories but you’ll increase strength and stamina. It has been shown that walking uphill will make your heart work harder and burn at least one third more calories than a level walk. If there are no hills around, then walking on different surfaces is better than nothing because soft surfaces like grass, sand or pebbles take more energy and will help to improve your strength.

LOOKING FORWARD

By adding just 10% to your walking time every week you will be walking for an hour by the time you get to 10 weeks. By this time you will start to lose weight too.

Check your posture, making sure that you stand tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your eyes looking ahead with your shoulders relaxed.

You also need to get your technique right. Ensure that your heel touches down first and then roll through the step from heel to toe pushing off with your toe.

Now you can also start to increase your pace for a few minutes during each walk. The length of your stride should stay the same; just try to take more steps per minute.

Now you can think about setting monthly goals. You could increase the length of time or walking speed. How about planning a challenging weekend walk or two? Of course if appropriate get the whole family involved. Also see if there are any charity walks that you could join in with.

By now you may have got the exercise bug, so you might start looking at other forms of exercise to add to your regime such as swimming or dancing.

As you continue, motivation will become really important. Try not to give up just because you have missed a few days. Vary your routine by walking different routes or walking at different times of the day Find out if there are any organised walks in your area. How about dragging a friend along with you or even form your own group of walking buddies. Of course you can listen to music while you walk too, but take care if there is traffic around!

Most of all have fun and let me know how you get on.

Guest Post: Do You Suffer From 'Pathological Altruism'?

For a while now, I’ve been considering inviting guest bloggers to contribute to this site. Today I read a post written by the wonderful Edna Murdoch, the Director of the Coaching Supervision Academy, which struck a chord with me. Edna has kindly agreed to my reproducing it here, and so I am proud to welcome her as my first guest blogger!

More info on the CSA appears at the end of this post.

 

I am intrigued to discover that this autumn, OUP are publishing a scholarly volume of essays on the theme of Pathological Altruism.  The NYT says that: ‘The book is the first comprehensive treatment of the idea that when ostensibly generous “how can I help you?” behavior is taken to extremes, misapplied or stridently rhapsodized, it can become unhelpful, unproductive and even destructive.

I thought immediately of coaches and of our naturally generous disposition – somewhere in the midst of our businesses, we are ‘helpers’.  As such, we need to keep our balance and not lapse into rescuing.  ‘Rescuing’ is a term in Transactional Analysis, which indicates that we are over-doing the altruism, going the extra mile to an unhelpful degree.  What happens as a result, is that we distort the professional relationship and lose presence, awareness and clarity.  If you want to know much more about how this works, see the superb article on the Karpman Drama Triangle by Miriam Orriss on the CSA website (Resources).

So we come back to the importance of Coaching Presence – the ability to stay ‘empty’ and present to all that is going on between coach and client – as well as attending to the content of the session. I find in my own coaching and in supervision with coaches, that the difficulty of paying attention to ‘all of it’, without over-trying, is a recurring theme. I also know that when we ‘get it’, that the essential catalyzing/transforming aspect of our work as coaches, is the relationship, we tend to take more care of interpersonal  dynamics and especially, of our part in those. Creating spaciousness in relationship, so that all parties can breathe and where the practitioner is not caught in over-helping, is an essential skill.

Research in professions akin to coaching indicates that it is not our tool kits, our wonderful range of skills, but our ‘being with’ the client that makes a difference.  If you are interested in why this is so at a biological and chemical level, do have a look at a marvellous book called  ’A General Theory of Love’ by Lewis, Amini and Lannon.

Finally, the Buddhists make a nice distinction between ‘compassion’ and  ‘idiot compassion’. An important question might be: How do I know when I am moving form the energy of appropriate compassion to idiot compassion?  What in my body/mind system alerts me to knowing that I might be crossing this frontier?  What practices support me to stay out of excessive altruism – sometimes disguised and working hard for the client! Interestingly, research shows that empathetic nurses burn out and leave the profession more quickly than do their peers who remain aloof.

Let’s protect our energy and our skills and avoid ‘pathological altruism’.

Edna Murdoch 2011

A very important point made Edna! I am reminded of some words of wisdom given to me by a good friend many years ago. Brian is an entrepreneur and self-made millionaire who was very altruistic himself but he warned against “being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good”!

The Coaching Supervision Academy (CSA) is a leading UK-based provider of coaching supervision training and practical supervision support. They have a great website for coaches at http://coachingsupervisionacademy.com/  The CSA was formally established in 2001 by Edna Murdoch and Miriam Orriss. Both practicing coaches, they discovered a distinct lack of supervision options, so decided to solve the problem themselves. Having spent a day working with both these ladies, I hold them in very high esteem for their professionalism, friendliness and their passionate support of coaches!


Twitter Thursday #10: Twitter Management Tools

You will not be using Twitter for long before you start to feel overwhelmed by all those tweets. There are several third-party twitter management tools out there, and I’ve had a lot of questions asked about them. So let’s take a look! Here are some of the most notable tools:

HootSuite.com: This is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter accounts as well as Facebook, LinkedIn and others. You can set up personalised columns for these feeds, and you can also compose messages before choosing which social account to post them to.

CoTweet: This comes in a standard free version and a paid premium version, and is aimed at the business market. CoTweet manages up to five Twitter accounts, allowing brand and keyword monitoring using Twitter search. There are useful workflow management capabilities for use with a group of co-users.

TweetDeck: This is your personal, real-time social media browser. It connects you with all your important contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google, Buzz and others. It’s also great for managing multiple Twitter accounts.

There are many other Twitter management tools such as EasyTweets, Seesmic, splitweet, Tweet-visor, Echophon for Firefox users and Silverbird for Chrome users. There is also MarketMeSuite, which I will return to later as it deserves special mention.

The extremely helpful Tweetdeck welcome screen.

My ‘dashboard’ of choice is TweetDeck, so that’s the one I’ll look at in more detail. It is also important to note that as of May 2011, TweetDeck has officially become part of Twitter after Twitter recognised its potential by purchasing the company.

Iain Dodsworth, a London-based programmer, set his mind to organising everything that was happening on Twitter. the result, in 2008, was TweetDeck, which comes in the form of a ‘dashboard’, allowing users to monitor in real-time what others are saying. Particularly useful for power-users, TweetDeck provides a platform from which to monitor and track all the real-time conversations that matter most to them. This makes true engagement with other Twitter users much easier.

The principle feature of TweetDeck is that the user can create groups and so extend the Twitter service. Through these groups, it is possible to check the Tweets of a subset of the user’s followers. These groups appear as columns on the screen, and they can be used to display Friends, News, Mentions, Business tweets or whatever group heading the user chooses to set up.

Additionally, TweetDeck now has the ability to synch groups and settings between the Desktop standalone version of the program and the free iPhone app. Thus you can access the same TweetDeck information at home or on the move.

I mentioned MarkMeSuite earlier. This is another Social Media marketing dashboard designed with business users in mind. As a great bonus, its premium service is now completely free. This application not only allows for Twitter management, but has a wide range of other tools, allowing such things as brand management and unlimited team members (multiple users). It is well worth a look for serious business users.

Young People: Our Promise For The Future

For a while now, our youth have been dominating the media headlines. All too often it appears that they are presented in a negative way. This has been made worse since the recent riots in London and around the country. Far too many adults have become armchair sociologists, who all seem to know exactly the reasons why our young people have lost their way. Worst of all are the ‘professional’ amateur sociologists (e.g. politicians) who are generous with their opinions and their distribution of blame!

There is a reckless presupposition involved here. Are they ALL so bad? Over recent months, while young people in general are being marginalised, my life has been touched by several amazing young people who prove the stereotype wrong. They have not so much restored my faith in our youth (I had never lost it), but they have shown me that in their hands, the future of our society is looking bright.

I have also come to realise that many amazing young people are being ignored in favour of their less focussed peers but they deserve better!

As a school teacher I feared that the education system was failing our young people. As a coach I have had the privilege of getting to know a variety of young people who have proven to me that, given the right attitude, they can achieve whatever they desire. It is also clear that they can do this either in, or outside the education system. In fact, I am convinced that our tertiary education system has been so hijacked by commerce and politics as to disable it. Our colleges and universities are being forced to turn out students who are ‘fit for purpose’ (commercial) but who are often not fit for life in a rapidly changing world.

I know I am venting here, but I am at heart a believer in action, so let’s look at some examples of the kind of young people who I see as shining beacons for the future. Then I want you, dear reader, to look about you and find other examples to be proud of! Let’s move to a culture of positive thinking about young people and their potential.

I have had the honour of coaching, mentoring or befriending several young people who are moving towards a goal oriented future whether through focussed study or on the job training and experience. None of these come from a privileged background, nor are they being groomed by pushy parents. In fact it appears that they are following their chosen paths in spite of their histories and not because of them! I will give details for some of my examples in the hope that you might look in on their work or achievements. Others will be allowed some anonymity for reasons I am sure you will understand.

First among these are my own wonderful nieces all moving through school and into university one by one to follow their dreams through careful planning and sheer hard work.

Next the spotlight shines on an amazing, hardworking young Irishman. Sean lives with his family in a small town in Ireland but there is nothing small about his ambitions. Sean is passionate about literature and writing and is an aspiring author. I have read a good deal of his work and the teacher in me has been mightily impressed by the quality of his work. Sean graduated from a prestigious Irish university this year with a great degree and was immediately offered a place on their post grad MA course. After testing this opportunity against his personal goals, Sean decided that what he needed was time to write and polish his craft, not more studies. Like many of his generation Sean has immersed himself in the internet and is a regular contributor to his own and other blogs and web based book review sites.

Sean has now found a job to support himself (no mean feat in present day Ireland) and he makes time to write every day. His first full length novel is almost finished and I wish him every success with it. While many of his peers might choose to riot, Sean’s strong opinions are delivered from his keyboard and are well worth reading.

Now the spotlight shines on a young Arab with a remarkable story. This is a profound example of one’s past being no model for any goal driven future. Safaa is a young Iraqi lad whose parents feared for his safety in Bagdad during the Iraq war. A bright intelligent 17yr old with a passion for music and sport he could have carved out a future in either arena at home. In fact he was well on the way to being able to represent his country playing tennis. This was not to be since his family sent Safaa into exile rather than risk his life at home. This was a huge wrench for a boy devoted to his family but Safaa travelled to Syria and started university where he too graduated this year with a great degree in IT engineering. Of course living in Damascus he is once again in fear for his life but his ambitions are undimmed and he has not left his goal driven path. I find such strength, self-motivation and drive in one so young, to be truly inspiring!

Now I want to highlight a newer breed of young person. There are a growing number of passionate, young entrepreneurs who are not following any traditional path. Instead from an early age they are carving their own way and inspiring everyone they meet. I am not referring to any bright young things working in ‘the city’ earning huge salaries and leading cash hungry lifestyles. Instead these are the kind of young men and women who each have a personal mission. They have huge ambitions, but serious goals and an action oriented work ethic.

The first of these young entrepreneurs is Jamie Dunn from Birmingham. This remarkable teenager is already Managing Director of his own company called Made By Young People. Jamie is already an international speaker, a Youth Ambassador for BXL charity and has been recognised with a prestigious Youth Excellence Award. It is well worth reading Jamie’s story on his website, from his first business at the age of 12 to his current venture challenging and inspiring fellow teenagers. Jamie also uses social media, but unlike so many he does not just broadcast on Twitter. He truly engages with his many followers. This young man is just the kind of role model we need to promote!

Finally we come to Josh Chandler from Lincolnshire in the east of England. Josh is the founder of ‘Windows Media Player Updates.com’ a truly excellent user support website. However Josh is so much more than a clever IT guy. His real passion is social change and Josh has a real desire to highlight issues and to influence both community development and social change. Having already established his online credentials and his credibility as an entrepreneur, Josh has decided to now further his education and is about to study business management at Leeds Met University.

Both Jamie and Josh are well aware that real success cannot be based on luck or a youthful smile. Over this last weekend while so many of their peers were out enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer, both lads were hard at work, mostly alone, writing business plans, goal setting and strategizing for the future.

Let’s stop looking for reasons to knock the youth of today. Look around and search out those young people who are carving out their own positive futures. Congratulate them, support them and be proud of them! Do let me know of any individuals worth highlighting and watch out for planned interviews with some of these beacons for the future.

Links:

Sean: www.seanwills.com Twitter: @seanwillsalt

Safaa: http://www.facebook.com/Safaa Al-dulaimy  Twitter:@safaa_Aldulaimy

Jamie: http://www.madebyyoungpeople.co.uk/ Twitter: @JDEntrepeneur

Josh: http://twitter.com/@joshchandler Use this link while Josh’s main site is being rebranded.

Twitter Thursday #9: Tweeting Images

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we have the ability to extend the Twitter limit of 140 characters with ease! We can add images to our tweets very easily and effectively.

There are now a large number of third-party services which allow images to be shared on Twitter. In some ways these have been superseded by Twitter’s own image sharing feature. There are, however, some good reasons to consider using a third party option to attach images to your tweets.

Flickr is a powerful image and video hosting site and only community owned by Yahoo! It’s popular with bloggers for hosting images embedded into blogs and social media.

pikchur allows you to upload pictures and videos, then shares them throughout your social network on Facebook, flickr, Twitter etc.

Twitgoo resembles twitter itself, but asks ‘What are you looking at?’ rather than ‘What’s happening?’

yfrog is a popular photo sharing site which now lets you chat with other users too!

By far the largest and most popular of the Twitter-related services is Twitpic, which grew rapidly in January 2009 after some of the earliest pictures of the Hudson River plane crash were shared on the site.

All of these sites are easy to join and easy to use, but it comes as no surprise that Twitter would want to add a photo-sharing service to its growing list of additional features.

With the web becoming more and more ‘real-time’, twitter is arguably the most important way for people to share content as it becomes available. We can of course (and many do) add links to images, webpages, blogs and YouTube videos to our tweets. But Twitter has now made it very easy to add images directly to any tweet you send.

In the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed two new icons appearing underneath your tweets as you type them. One of these is a camera symbol.

Note the new camera icon in the lower left-hand corner!

Simply click this and browse the files on your computer for the image you wish to add. Double click on the image and a thumbnail will appear under your message. Once you’ve added the image, the character count to the left of the Tweet button will update to allow for the number of characters used for the image’s link, which is how the image will appear to your readers once the tweet is sent.

The tweet contains 32 characters, yet Twitter is reporting that there are only 101 characters remaining.

As with all such features, the Twitter image service has its pro’s and con’s. Click on your ‘profile’ tab and you will see that all your recent images now appear as a gallery on your front page. This includes any images which you have retweeted. This can be great news if you have lots of pictures related to what you do. Share them all and they will appear to anyone looking at your profile. The downside, of course, is that if you tweet any images which go against your personal or brand values, they will now be out there for all to see.

How do you choose which images to post? You may well already know what my advice will be! F.I.R.E  your images! Are they Fun, Interesting, Relevant or displaying your Expertise? Then share away.

As with all these features, go play around with image sharing and have fun!

Happy Birthday to an Amazing 20yr Old!

Two days ago, on 6th August, my first tweet of the day included a birthday greeting to the World Wide Web. Is it really only 20 years old? The internet itself had already been around for over 30 years when the web was invented, but it was a tool of academia and the military. It was neither accessible nor comprehensible to the outside world.

After much hard work by a team of experts, a 36 year old physicist named Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website on a computer at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland where he worked. On 6th August 1991 the world changed forever. The website was info.cern.ch and the first web page, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/www/theproject.html, was a very basic set of links to technical information about the project. The original page no longer exists, but a 1992 copy of it can be found on the World Wide Web Consortium website:

The inventor, now Sir Tim Berners-Lee, could never have predicted the way his baby has grown over the past 20 years. The Web permeates to every corner of the world and every facet of human behaviour. It took about 2 years before the web entered the public domain but its growth since then has been staggering. We tend to take for granted that the World Wide Web is now the place where people meet and engage, knowledge grows rapidly and creatively and businesses trade and expand. We see revolutions rise by the power of the web and of course we watch animals, children and drunks do the funniest things!

The web has many detractors and we are always being told that it is about to collapse under the weight of spam or porn residing on it. However, only 12% of websites are porn and 25% of searches are porn related. Legitimate (?) use far outstrips this. I think we can take great comfort from the fact that Sir Tim is still actively involved in nurturing his baby and he remains excited about its future.

Many are worried that a few large companies are dominating the web and even attempting to ring fence parts of it for their own personal gain. The history of the web, however, tells us that nothing is certain. One of the best features of the web is the speed at which new things can come along and very quickly change what has gone before.

It may appear that Google dominates, but there is always the rumble of the next big thing about to march over the horizon. It is a sobering thought that there are still some 6 billion web pages in Mandarin which are as yet not indexed by the search giant. In China the search engine of choice is not Google but Baidu which accounts for 75% of all searches. The ‘Twitter of China’ is a relatively new site called Sina Weibo which accrued some 40 million users in its first 2 months. The online population in China has so far this year risen by 6% to 485 million, but some two thirds of the population have yet to go online!

What of the future? It is impossible to predict what will happen on the World Wide Web over the next 20 years or beyond. Will ‘Apps’ or the ‘cloud’ be the vogue? One certain development will be the increased use of web addresses using other languages and other alphabets. The ability to access the web using languages other than English will open it up for a vast, as yet unconnected, portion of the global population

Developments in technology will allow the web to become ever more mobile and to be accessed by devices far removed from any traditional computer. Interestingly it appears that web developments in China tend to be about creative use of the web itself and not about any particular technology.

The biggest question being debated now is whether or not the Web is changing the way we think and behave. Is it changing the way our brain works? Are we moving away from learning a lot of factual information because we can always find it on the web?

The simple answer is yes! Technology has always had a hand in changing the way we think and behave. I would argue that every significant change in human development has been triggered by the development of new technology. Early on it was fire and the wheel. Then it was Roman roads allowing the spread of civilisation on the new ‘network’. Of course there was the printing press too. What defines us as human is our ability to reflect and to adapt; developing new skill sets to cope with these changes and to take advantage of them. We may no longer need to learn lots of factual ‘stuff’ but we need to develop our skills of review, critique and creativity.

One thing we can be sure of is that when we come to mark the web’s ‘coming of age’ a year from now we will be learning to use web based tools not even invented yet. Will I be writing a 21st birthday blog in a year’s time or will I have moved on to a newer way of engaging with you all? Whatever exciting new tool/app I use it will be dependent on an even bigger World Wide Web.

Book Review: Do It! Or Ditch It by Bev James

Today sees the publication of a book written by Bev James, a good friend and mentor of mine. I was proud to be asked to endorse the book prior to publication, and I found it to be genuinely great in its content and its philosophy. Bev truly cares about helping people to achieve their business goals and her book is a perfect example of the application of her “Coaching heart, Commercial mind” philosophy. If, like me, you are attempting to build a solid business from a set of creative ideas, then Do It! or Ditch It is just the kind of guide book we need. It offers a fresh approach to business success from someone who has made success her business. Why ‘fresh’? What makes it stand out from the plethora of business books on the shelves? Do It! Or Ditch It is a real how-to book and by following Bev’s no-nonsense approach, any business owner could take their idea and grow it into a solid success.

The book sets the scene with some very pertinent, factual information. This creates a context for the book, as Bev tells us “Do It! Or Ditch It was born of a frustration of seeing too many good business ideas go to waste while bad ideas take up valuable time and resources – and from a strong desire to show that we are always in control of our own decisions and can choose to make things happen if we wish. The approach can be applied to all situations.”

To begin with, Bev highlights the need to develop the right mindset for running your own business, setting the right goals and then committing to those actions needed to reach them. This book is all about taking action and never letting life ‘just happen’.

The book is presented in two parts, the first of which is called ‘How to develop a Do It! Or Ditch It mindset’. This takes us through 5 powerful but easy to follow decision-making tools. Here Bev applies her coaching heart and shows how to gather the mental resources needed to prepare any entrepreneur for success. Part 2 is called ‘Turn ideas into action and make decisions that count’, which guides the reader through 8 steps to business success. Now it is Bev’s commercial mind which brings clarity to the daunting process of bringing an idea to fruition as a well-planned, carefully structured and solidly implemented business.

Bev’s approach is fast paced and anyone who has met her will recognise her shoot-from-the-hip style on every page. Definitely not a ghost-written celebrity book here! Bev’s writing is direct and its time is now, with more people than ever trying to turn their own ideas into working businesses. Alongside the book itself Bev has launched a great website full of additional business tools and ideas at www.bevjames.com You have the opportunity to sign up for daily business tips and also to download useful planning materials for free. Whatever your idea, this book will take you by the hand from one stepping stone to another to reach your business goals. Of course at the end of the day only you can decide to Do It or Ditch It.

Twitter Thursday #8: Retweets and #ff

This blog series has generated many questions from readers and I have enjoyed responding directly to most of them. Many of the questions are similar, and so it seems sensible to cover these topics in a further blog posting. Today I will look at two recurring themes. One is about how to edit, or add text to a retweeted message. The other is about the use of the hashtag, more specifically the #ff which has generated more comments and questions than any other aspect of TwitterI have mentioned to date.

Editing Retweets

In Twitter Thursday #2 I wrote about the use of the RETWEET. This is a simple way of sharing a message delivered to your timeline with all of your FOLLOWERS as well as the person who originally sent it to you. Just 2 button clicks and it’s done. Occasionally, however, you get the urge to add a few words in support of the message. You will quickly find that it is not possible to edit the message during the standard retweet process. But there is a way!

Rather than clicking on RETWEET, highlight the message and copy it. Next you need to paste the message into your ‘What’s happening’ text box at the top of your timeline. It will appear as would any message you were going to tweet yourself, and as such it can be edited. First you need to type at the start of the message ‘RT<space>@Twitter name e.g. RT @timorahilly. This properly labels it as a retweeted message. Now you can add your own words to the message and click the Tweet button.

Of course you are still limited to a total of 140 characters. Don’t be tempted to delete the name of the originator to gain more characters. For this same reason, if you want to have your messages retweeted, a good tip is to keep your character count below a maximum of 120. This allows others to retweet your messages without having to edit them.

Follow Friday (#ff)

I wrote about #ff and other uses of the HASHTAG in Twitter Thursday #4, but have found myself replying to many questions and comments about it since then. First of all, do remember that nobody owns hashtags or has any control over their use. You can start your own hashtag at any time. Just use the SEARCH tab to see if it is already in use.

For the history of the #FF I refer to Twitter expert @markshaw who tells me that it began life back in January 2009 when Micah Baldwin proposed the use of ‘Follow Friday’ as a tool for those unsure of whom to follow. His idea was that a good way to start might be to follow those people who were recommended by others.

The theory is great but in practice, over time, #ff has lost a lot of its meaning and all too often I see the hashtag followed by a whole list of followers. As such I believe it is being misused! Lets get back to the spirit of Follow Friday. Be a real advocate to your valued followers and list them because you have good reason to recommend them to others. In each tweet, just mention one or two followers and give a clear reason why they deserve your advocacy. Here are some examples of my own #ff :

How do you choose who to list? That’s easy when you apply my FIRE principle. If their tweets are Fun, Interesting, Relevant and/or Expert then pay them the compliment of a well-deserved #ff. Give yourself the satisfaction of a positive and upbeat end to the week and have a great weekend.

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