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On foot of the upcoming nominations and elections for the IPPA council I thought a word on leadership might be suitable.

Once in a while you meet a leader who stands out–even in a room filled with skilled, experienced, successful people. They are just remarkably charismatic. They are just remarkably likeable.

You can tell, in an instant, they simply think and act and lead differently than most people.

But those rare individuals don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. While some are born with an aptitude for leadership, truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, and a healthy dose of introspection they learn how to make quick decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

And in time those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these eight things naturally, automatically, and instinctively:

1. Praise. It’s easy to tell when member recognition is simply one entry on a very long to-do list. We’ve all been around people who occasionally–and awkwardly–shake a few hands and pat a few backs. No matter how hard they try to fake it, their insincerity is evident.

No one gets enough praise, so truly outstanding leaders see expressing thanks, giving praise, and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

Praise is almost like breathing to a truly outstanding leader: natural, automatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. Decide. Ideas are great but implementation is everything. Outstanding leaders quickly weigh, assess, decide, and then immediately act–because decisiveness and action build confidence and momentum.

That’s why making a poor decision is often better than making no decision at all. Mistakes can almost always be corrected. Even though you should always try, rarely must you be right the first time. Adapting and learning and revising so you get it right in the end matters a lot more.

Especially when you…

3. Take responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes.

Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I was wrong.” Outstanding leaders are the first to say, “I made the wrong choice. We need to change course.”

Outstanding leaders instinctively admit their mistakes early and often because they’re quick to take responsibility and because they desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are simply challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and assign blame.

4. Communicate. Business is filled with what: What to execute, what to implement, what to say, and sometimes even what to feel.

What’s often missing is the why.

That’s why so many projects, processes, and tasks fail. Tell me what to do and I’ll try to do it; tell me why, help me understand why, help me believe and make that why my mission too…and I’ll run through proverbial brick walls to do the impossible.

Managers stipulate. Outstanding leaders explain. And then they listen–because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

5. Set the example. Say you’re walking through somewhere with a colleague and you see a piece of rubbish on the floor. There are two types of people when that happens:

One spots it, stops, struts over, snatches it up, crumples it like a beer can, and strides 20 feet to a bin to slam it home. He’s picked up the rubbish, but he’s also making a statement.

The other veers over without breaking stride, picks it up, crumples it up, keeps talking, and doesn’t throw it away until he comes across a convenient bin. He’s not thinking about making a statement. He just saw a little trash and picked it up without thinking.

Simple example? Sure. But extremely telling–especially to those around you.

Why? People notice what you do. When you’re in charge, everyone watches what you do. The difference lies in how you do what you do… and what that says about you.

Outstanding leaders do what they do simply because it’s important to them. It’s part of who they are. They care about go, not show–and, in time, so do they people they work with.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled, more polished, more successful. That’s why we all need constructive feedback.

Because they care about their members, outstanding leaders instinctively go to the person struggling and say, “I know you can do this. And I’m going to help you.”

Think about a time when a person told you what you least wanted to hear and yet most needed to hear. They changed your life. Outstanding leaders naturally try to change people’s lives. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Because they care.

7. Seek help. At some point, most people in leadership positions begin to avoid displaying signs of vulnerability. After all, you’re in charge of everything, so you’re supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. You can’t know everything about your job. Your employees can’t know everything about their jobs, either.

Outstanding leaders don’t pretend to know everything. (In fact, they purposely hire people who know more than they do.) So they naturally ask questions. They automatically ask for help.

And in the process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others, and a willingness to listen–all of which are qualities of outstanding leaders.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by enforcing processes and procedures that support those ideas.

Outstanding leaders create broad standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. They allow employees to turn “yours” into “ours,” transforming work into an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.

So before you vote think about who you want to lead you and whether they exhibit the 8 examples outlined above.

 

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Canon’s various logo guise through the ages but regardless of the subtle logo changes, it’s brand has always stood for quality and rugged cameras.

Many photographers need to proactively build and manage their brands.

Unfortunately, most do not understand what a brand is.

A brand is not a logo. It is not a web site or a colour or a font. A brand is not a business card and it is not an ad you run in a magazine. In fact, a brand is not most of the things you might think it is.

And don’t think paying a designer lots of money will get you a brand. It won’t. All you will get is a design, which is not a brand. And beware, most designers don’t understand how to build a brand. You may not even need any design or advertising to have a strong brand.

Unfortunately, in this crazy, competitive and noisy world, you do need a brand more than ever. A strong brand, managed well, will help to correctly position you in people’s minds. It will also help differentiate you from other photographers. Above all, it will help give people a reason to buy you or whatever you are selling.

You need a brand, just as much as BMW, Hasselblad or Apple need a brand.

So what is a brand? A brand is a promise. Thats it. It’s a promise.

When you are thinking of buying anything, a car, a camera, an egg; a whole lot of things will process in your mind. Some of this stuff will be logical, tangible and functional thoughts. Some of it will be irrational, intangible and emotional etc. All the things which people will think about, and feel and believe in, these will be the building blocks of your brand. Your job in building your brand is to try and manage these thoughts and beliefs.

People who know of you will have beliefs and opinions of you whether you like it or not. Your job is to manage and influence those beliefs and thoughts before they take firm hold. To get ahead of those perceptions and to put your vision and values into peoples minds first.

Think about a brand which you value and to which you are loyal. That value and loyalty is based around your belief in what that brand will promise to deliver to you. And heaven for bid any brand which breaks its promise.

Anyway this is just food for thought.

 

**As a follow on, here is something I found by Guy Kawasaki. You could benchmark your brand against this maybe:

“The Art of Branding”

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By now you should probably carved out your 2014 marketing budget and developed your plans for the year. As business owners, we have a lot of things to consider when planning our efforts for the year. As you put the finishing touches on your 2014 plans let’s review 5 common marketing mistakes for you to avoid to save you time, money and a lot of frustration.

Overlooking Mobile

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen photographers make is overlooking mobile. Currently there are over 5.5 billion mobile device subscriptions across the globe. As a consumer, I definitely access as many websites from mobile devices as I do from a desktop or laptop. And it turns out, I’m not alone. By 2015, it is predicted that we’ll see more than 788 million mobile­ only Internet users with mobile browsing (for the web) surpassing desktop browsing. A mobile ­optimized website is no longer a “nice­to­have,” it’s a must. Your customers expect you to have a mobile­friendly site. Mobile should be a critical component of your digital marketing strategy this year.

Focusing More on Acquisition than Retention

We have to develop a strategy that focuses on both acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Far too often I see photographers shift that focus to be too acquisition centric. Acquisition is important don’t get me wrong, but there needs to be a balance. The cost of retaining a customer is significantly less than that of acquiring one (as much as 20% less!). Another hard truth is that repeat customers spend more than new ones. Marketing is equally about retention as it is about acquisition so don’t forget to consider how you’ll deepen relationships with existing customers (particularly high value ones) in 2014.

Marketing Your Aspirations

Every photographer aspires to be something greater. We all have (and should have) that big hairy audacious goal. But we’re not marketing what we aspire to be, we’re marketing who we are today—in the present. Marketing your aspirations can create major problems if you can’t live up to them. Keep your aspirations in mind when planning and executing, but don’t market them to your customers.

Letting Research Dictate Plans

As a self­proclaimed data junkie, I believe strongly that data can lead to better decision making. You should review data and research to keep you informed, but you shouldn’t let it entirely dictate your plans. Research is a valuable tool for photographers, but research can be misleading at times. There are just some things that research simply can’t predict. And consumers don’t always know how they are feeling or what they want. And they don’t always know how they will feel in the future. It’s hard to predict how consumers will react to things in the future. Research should guide, not lead.

Playing Exactly by the Book

Plans are important. We need plans to keep us focused and on track, but at the end of the day plans are just words on paper. We should always count on plans changing course. Think of your marketing plans as a compass and not a map. Leave some room for adventure and spontaneity and use the plans as your guide.

Can you think of other common marketing mistakes to avoid? Share them in the comments!

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Aaron Lindberg is a photographer and blogger based in Kansas City, Missouri. As well as shooting and blogging, he often writes articles for ‘Fstoppers.com“, which is a terrifically entertaining and highly informative (usually) video blog run by Lee Morris in the USA.

One of Lindbergs more entertaining and topical articles/posts appeared on Fstoppers yesterday titled “Photography is dead”. In it he talks about “shooting for free” and “low hanging fruit” – in my opinion, the entire article is well worth a read. It might change the perspective of many photographers out there.

Here is a link to the full article for you.

Enjoy

http://fstoppers.com/photography-is-dead

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Facebook have completely changed the rules around Facebook competitions in the past couple of weeks. I have seen so many photographers pages continue to flout the rules and put themselves in danger of being unceremoniously shut down.

The great news is that Facebook have completely changed their promotion and competition guidelines, and the new rules have huge implications. The biggest being that pages can now continue doing what they’ve been doing, but it is now actually allowed. Well, most of it.  I’ve outlined the changes below, as well as the pros and cons of running a competition straight from your wall vs via an application.

The biggest and most important change is that you can now run competitions/promotions straight from your Timeline. Previously pages were only able to run competitions through applications, not directly on their page timeline (though many didn’t actually know this was the case). This has now changed, and along with it Facebook are allowing entries via Comments and Likes.

So what does all that mean?

You are now officially allowed to publish a post to your Page that says “Want to win €1000? Like this to enter.” Or post a photo and say ‘Caption this pic for your chance to win”. What has changed you may be thinking? It’s likely you saw loads of competitions similar to this in the past anyway.  And it’s highly likely that’s why Facebook changed the rules – pages simply weren’t adhering to their previous guidelines anyway. That being said, some pages continue to break the rules by posting competitions that require people to share things to their wall to enter the competition. To break it down for you, here’s an overview of what you now can and can’t do with Facebook competitions:

What you can do:

  • Run competitions through your Page wall/timeline (through a post) and/or via an application
  • Allow people to enter your competition via commenting or liking your post
  • Allow people to enter your competition via direct message to the Page
  • Allow people to enter your competition by posting on your wall
  • Use ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism – ie. people can vote for their favourite entry by simply liking it

What you still cannot do:

  • Administer a competition on a personal timeline, it must be done on a business page
  • Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in
  • Require or encourage people to post or share anything to their personal timeline

These new rules mean that it is so much easier, particularly for small businesses with small social budgets, to run competitions through their Pages quickly and cheaply. But in some cases, it may still be preferable to use an application. Here’s a run-down of the pros to each method:

Why use an app to run your Facebook contest?

  • It allows a more personalized and branded experience
  • There is more flexibility in terms of content you can provide and interactivity
  • You can collect more data from entrants – eg. their email addresses, business names etc.
  • You can require the opting into a newsletter to expand your database
  • You can like-gate the competition – ie. Entrants must like your page to enter (thus better opportunity to grow your community)
  • You can easily keep all entries in one place for your community to share, like and vote on (ie. Gallery)
  • You can prompt entrants to share their entry with friends after they have entered, increasing viral exposure (and you have control over the message that is being shared)
  • Easier to collate all entries and entrants’ details in one place for judging*

 

Why use your business page to run your Facebook contest?

  • Faster and easier
  • Cheaper to run – no requirement to pay for third-party apps or pay a developer
  • Easier for entrants to enter, thus likely to gain more entries
  • Potential for greater viral exposure via post showing up in entrants’ newsfeeds who have liked/commented
  • No mobile compatibility issues

Of course, if you want to get the best of both worlds you can always use both an application and your wall to run your competition. If you want to check out Facebook’s new promotion guidelines in more detail, you can do so here.

Hope this helps!

 

Cormac

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