Closing comment – Chim Chim Cher-ee, Mary Poppins turns 50

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This week, Mary Poppins celebrated her 50th year on the silver screen. Fifty years since Dame Julie Andrews flew in on her umbrella and brought the loveable Mary into the homes and hearts of millions of people around the world.

Mary, the magical nanny with the perfect British accent and a bottomless carpet bag, has a unique ability to walk the fine line between merriment and earnestness, and the gift of teaching without people realising they’re being taught – perhaps it’s that “spoon full of sugar”.

While the movie is as feel good as they come – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – it has also played a critical role in many people’s lives and this week TIME described Mary as the original Disney feminist.

Half a century later, Mary continues to teach children – and adults – many important life lessons. For communicators we can learn a few lessons from Miss Poppins too.

  1. Respond in person (even to ripped up letters) – when Mary wants the job she responds to the children’s advertisements in person proving face to face communication is always best
  2. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – when communicating change, lead with the positives and benefits
  3. Know your audience, and listen before you communicate – Mary watches and listens before communicating with the children, the mother, the father, and countless other characters in the movie
  4. A good song, laughter and perhaps a dancing penguin can make or break a presentation
  5. Never give up – some advice from Walt Disney himself who spent years in pursuit of the film rights and also Mary who knows she can win her audience (the family) over!

Time for a jolly holiday or at least a weekend!

Cheers,
Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – Celebrities, cash and a cold challenge

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Oprah’s done it. Nicole Kidman too. Red Symons has helped bring it to Victoria, along with Victorian Labor Leader Dan [Daniel to those who haven’t caught the new adverts]. But Pamela Anderson is steering clear!

We’re talking about the ice bucket challenge sweeping the world; a fundraising and awareness-raising activity that’s gone viral in an effort to raise awareness and much-needed funds for ALS research.

It’s a simple concept – take one bucket of icy cold water *brrrr*, dump it over your head, and then challenge three other people within your circle to take the challenge – but one that taps into the internet’s love of a challenge!

So far the ALS Association, a non-profit organisation that conducts research and provides help for those with the debilitating neurological disorder, has received more than $22.9 million in donations; $20 million up on the same period last year.

Sadly, the man who started the global sensation died earlier this week in a diving accident. But Corey Griffin leaves a lasting legacy and has created a phenomenon that has raised millions of dollars and taken the world by storm.

How long will it last? It’s hard to tell but possibly with the number of celebrities now embracing it for a PR stunt, only a few more weeks! But let’s hope for the sake of ALS research that it lasts a few weeks or months more, and at the very least raises a few more million dollars!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and lend your hand to #StrikeOutALS by donating at http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – C= Canberrean writer Lucy Nelson heading to coastal Sri Lanka with writing fellowship

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Here’s a post the combines charitable people (philanthropy at its best!), creative people (writers at their best) and a month in Colombo.

Our chums at Templeberg Villa (Melbourne-based Brent and Christopher) have awarded their second Templeberg Residential Writing Fellowship to Canberra-based writer Lucy Nelson.

Ms Nelson was awarded the 2014 Templeberg Residential Writing Fellowship at a Writers Victoria event The Salon this week and will travel to Templeberg Villa in Galle, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, before the end of this year.

The fellowship includes a return airfare from Melbourne to Colombo in Sri Lanka, a 30-day tourist visa, internal transfer costs, accommodation, full board (all meals, which according to the 2013 winner are excellent and inspiring in themselves) and an A$1,000 spending allowance.

Nelson will use her time there to work on a novel-length manuscript set within rural Sri Lanka about secrets that make slaves of their keepers. “There is nothing that could more usefully serve the development of my project than being plunged into its spicy, sticky setting,” she said.

Having spent six years as an ‘adopted’ member of a Sinhalese family in Melbourne (including some time in rural Sri Lanka learning to speak Sinhala amidst extended family), Nelson says that the sensory awakening she experienced there has continued to haunt her. “Through this project, I am attempting to capture the evocative elements of that culture, and to use this landscape of quiet constant rhythms as a complementary setting to a narrative that is both gripping and lingering,” she explains.

Eleven writers were shortlisted for the residency, which attracted high-quality applications from writers from nearly all states and territories of Australia.

“Writers in Australia are so fortunate to have opportunities like this one and I’m incredibly grateful to have been considered,” Nelson, who travelled to Melbourne to accept her fellowship, said upon receiving the fellowship.

The international fellowship is a philanthropic initiative of the Australian based owners of Templeberg Vila, Christopher Shields and Brent Carey.

“Both Brent and I are delighted to offer this fellowship again this year, with Lucy as the recipient,” Shields said. ‘’As a philanthropic contribution, this long-term commitment to the Australian writing community is fairly modest, but our hope is that the funding will contribute positively to the lives of Australian writers and our adopted home of Sri Lanka.”

“It is very important to us that the fellowship will allow an Australian writer to pursue their artistic endeavors but to also reach out and touch and be touched by the landscape and people of Sri Lanka,” Shields said.

An international judging panel was chaired by acclaimed Sri Lankan-based author Royston Ellis, along with Victorian travel writer Michelle Aung Thin, winner of last year’s fellowship Michelle Wright, Carey and Shields.

“I can’t wait to be back in Sri Lanka and get to work,” Nelson said.

Based on the story from Writers Victoria.

Closing comment – Credit cards close door on “John Hancock”

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JohnHancock

Australia has entered a brave new world.

A world where four digits have curtailed penmanship and ink, where waiters carry credit card machines alongside oversized pepper grinders, and where anyone with plastic in their wallet has to remember yet another number – which can’t be 1 2 3 4.

With today being the first day where signatures are no longer accepted and pins have gone from a nice-to-have to a necessity, we thought we’d say cheers to the faithful old signature.

Now let’s start with some honesty. Who hasn’t sat across from someone and drooled a little over his or her signature? I have and so many wonderful signatures come to mind! You can tell a lot about a person from their signature with so many great c-words to describe the different styles: cursive, conservative, cheeky, creative, crude, cruel or charming.

Whatever the style and whether it’s your name, your nickname, or even a simple “X”, the signature is a tried and tested way to prove the authenticity and provenance of a document.

And I can still recall the days and months of scribbling I went through to define my signature – and I’m still not happy! I wanted something to reflect my personality and stay with me forever … or at least until my new credit card arrived and I was ready for a change.

The humble signature has played an important role in the world providing authority on official documents, ushering in new legislation, allowing shoppers around the globe to ‘charge it’, and ensuring millions of people can cash their cheques.

Our signatures have also graced the pages of millions of other documents, and over time been replaced with various modern conveniences. Here are some examples of where signatures have been replaced in recent years:

  • Correspondence – replaced with electronic signatures on emails
  • Credit cards – replaced with pins and ‘tap & go’ technologies
  • Legal documents – replaced with encrypted digital signatures

And finally we come to John Hancock. This prominent Patriot of the American Revolution will forever be remembered for his large and stylish “John Hancock” on the United States Declaration of Independence. His name is synonymous the world over with the signature.

We’ll miss you signature, but it’s not time to say R.I.P … for now it’s time for the “John Hancock” to take a rest. From time to time we’ll crack you out for a letter, an autograph or even a scented love letter!

Cheers,
Jack & the c word crew

Commonwealth Games delivers gold with a Royal Selfie

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The Queen has made headlines [and been trending across the social media world] by photobombing a selfie at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

And it’s courtesy of a picture by our very own Hockeyroos Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris. The image with Queen Elizabeth smiling in the background has become an internet sensation with more than 7,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.

This isn’t the Queen’s first Royal photobombing selfie. Back in June, her image was spread around the world after a cheeky boy jumped in front of her and nabbed a selfie during her Belfast tour.

The Queen has always had her finger on the technological pulse:

Enjoy the weekend and make sure you snap a selfie or two!

Cheers, Jack and the c word crew

Closing comment – 18 July – crowdfunded carbs cause for concern?

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In the spirit of this week’s Bastille Day: bienvenue à cellophane!

That’s where our French begins and ends unfortunately. And to save you the pain of opening Google Translate, we’ll keep the rest of this post in English.

Now, how much would you pay for a potato salad? $5? $10? $40? How about $40k?

That’s right, an American potato salad connoisseur has used crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise more than $40,000 to make a potato salad. Now that’s a recipe we should all follow!

For $40k he’s offering cashed up carb enthusiasts the recipe along with a carb inspired concert and a potato salad party. While the ‘crowd’ of funders is getting ready to overload on potato salad, others are asking: has crowdfunding gone too far?

Crowdfunding is an alternative financing vehicle that has gone from strength to strength across the world. Normally it involves accessing finance from the “crowd” to fund an initiative and it’s all done via the web.

The potato salad and other recent examples, such as funding a movie of Veronica Mars, have demonstrated it could be funding for pretty much anything. It could be a nonprofit, political, charitable, community or commercial initiative. What’s your next big idea?

Closer to home, crowdfunding is being used by a Perth entrepreneur for far more altruistic reasons. Local DJ David Green came up with the idea for ‘hopeful packs’ while buying a bottle of water on a hot summer day.

Even better, new research has revealed that crowdfunding is likely to be more successful for women than men! That’s a coup for any female entrepreneurs or non-profit fundraisers looking for new avenues of fundraising.

While there are plenty of inspiring success stories of crowdfunding there are also a number of controversies, and it’s critical that any organisation or individual looks at their crowdfunding project from all angles.

For a little additional inspiration, here are some more examples of crowdfunding in action:

Cheers,

Jack & the c word crew

Cherish complaints & criticism – cut the negative connotations

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Do you get the impression most people don’t like feedback?

What’s to like about being told that you’re not doing something well enough or behaving in a way that is unacceptable?

Complaints and criticism come with plenty of negative connotations, so what if you look at it from another point of view? Say, for example that the information someone is giving you is steering you in a way that can help you improve. Or, if taking on your manager’s advice actually helps you do your job more effectively or help you relate to your fellow co-workers more empathetically.

As a manager and as an employee you’re going to have to give and receive feedback regularly. You can’t chose how people respond to your feedback. What you can control the way you chose to give feedback and how you respond to negative feedback (complaints or criticism).

Giving constructive feedback

There’s power in delivering constructive feedback. Again, most people will avoid seeking out feedback. Growth is difficult, painful and often involves giving up something in order to get something else. Goodbyes are never easy and people will resist change, even if not on a conscious level. So, delivering feedback must be done honestly and sensitively.

For more read Forbes’ in depth article on how to foster employee trust through constructive feedback.

Responding to negative feedback

Let’s start with responding to the negative stuff. Even if you loathe it, negative feedback is a source of vital information to help you and your business improve. So much so, seeking out constant feedback will create a culture of inclusion and your team will feel as though they can be honest—and that you care about their needs. Whether it’s through an organised feedback process or one-on-one, regular feedback will help both you and your organisation grow.

Here are 5 steps for getting better employee feedback from Entrepreneur.com if you’re keen to read more.

There are definitively a couple of ways to look at feedback, and we are advocating putting yourself in the mindset to learn from and not react to criticism or complaints in a negative way.

You’ll see. It will empower you and your team.

And perhaps don’t follow the Veep’s feedback process …