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Month: August 2009

First step in using 10 Sun Tzu Rules in the Networked World

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It is hard for a start up to get started on their social media strategy because they can’t describe their fans

Earlier today, I posted a reworded version of Umair Haque’s 10 Sun Tzu Rules in the Networked World

The first rule gives new startups a lot of trouble. “Who are our fans?”

People going into their first job or making a career switch have the same trouble. How can we say who we work for when we know so little about them? When we are asked too abruptly to describe our future customers, we feel very anxious and tend to freeze.

Freezing in terror is a common psychological response to the unknown

Freezing falls into a common ‘class of problem’ that positive career psychologists can sort out for you. This is how we think about your predicament.

We are on the edge of canyon staring at a frayed rope bridge, and our eyes are naturally drawn to the long drop down. It is sickening.

But we have all heard the advice – don’t look down – and it is good advice.

The solution is to focus on what we have going for us

What we have to do is to take our eyes off the long drop down, and take stock. Take your eyes off that drop now, and look at your pockets.

What resources do you have? What is in your pockets? Do you have a map? And so on.

Feel better?

Now we want to keep our focus on what is going for us

A tricks of the trade will help.

I found this version of an elevator pitch that will do the trick.

Hello, ____________(their name).  I’m ___________ (my name).

I heard/read in _______________ (source) that________________________________(event/issue).

Perhaps, ______________(co name) should consider__________________________(my brilliant idea.)

As _____________(informal/formal position), I __________________________(achievement/activity).

And ________________(result).

So what do you think?

Thank you.  I would like to continue this conversation. Here is my card.

And we should spot a solution quite readily

I am sure your potential customers can swimming into your imagination quite vividly. In fact, you are probably surprised (and impressed) by the clarity and detail that you imagine!

Did it work? Do let me know.

Oh, and do jot down a few scenarios down before you lose the pictures.   Then you can see if your social media strategy falls into place easily.

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10 Sun Tzu rules for the networked world

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On Saturday, Umair Haque published the ‘Sun Tzu’ rules for the networked world.  It is an important list.  I am sure people who need to defend themselves against networked attacks will study the rules closely.

I wondered, if the rules could also tell us something about social media strategy in non-crisis situations.

So I’ve re-written the rules for normal engagement.

What do you think?

The rules are in very straightforward language – I hope. I say this to alert you that in each rule is a critical point that must not be lost. In the first, for example, the issue is speed. If you can reach every one faster by sending out runners, then do that. Don’t use social media for the sake of seeming modern!

Sun Tzu rules for the networked world

1  Who and where are our fans? How quickly can we reach our most remote “fan”? Could we reach them faster through Facebook, Twitter or any other social media channel?

2  What is the smallest chunk of information that makes sense? Can we break up our information into sensible small chunks preferably less 140 characters of a text message?

3  How can we send one message about what is happening and why it is important to the fans?

4  How can we break up our communication into cells so that if anyone part goes down, other parts are unaffected?

(Test: is there any one break that would crash the whole communication system?)

5  Can our fans quickly access resources and tools for them to respond to any meaningful scenario without referring back to us?

6  How do we monitor trending topics and join in relevant conversations?

7  What do we think are the appropriate ways for us to behave online and do we explain to our fans why we choose to behave as we do?

8  How do we help off-line groups and what resources do give them to help them organize themselves?

9  How do our fans remix our resources creatively and which formats help them do this?

10  What confuses our fans and where does confusing information emanate from? How can we counter the confusion at the source?

My first test of the Sun Tzu rules for the networked world

My first attempt to use the rules tells me that startups feel stressed on the first point. Startups understand too well the gap between their actual customers and the customers they desire.

The solution I will try is to help them draw their graph. I am going to write out a scenario for them (write out not just imagine) describing an existing customer or prospect.

  • How does the startup contact the startup and how does the customer or prospect talk to other people?
  • How does the customer or prospect reply to the startup?
  • Should someone hear a good word through word-of-mouth, how would a new prospect ask existing customers about the startup?
  • And what would they approach the startup about?

I will keep it concrete to avoid panic.  Write, write, write will be my plan because activity relieves anxiety.

Any comment about the rewrite?

Have you been able to use the list?  I’d be be interested in your experience.

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Ask your Chief Social Officer 5 questions

I love a good protocol.  Today (Saturday),  Harvard Blog published 5 ways social media will challenge your business.  I’ve rewritten the list as the opportunities we should be look out for.

The list will work as a job description for your Chief Social Officer. Or, a  checklist for your Social Media Consultant.  Or, to focus the minds of employees who are dead keen to use Social Media in your business.

And if you cannot answer these questions, pick out a clutch of bright Gen Y in your company and ask them to answer them for you.

1  Where and how can we use social media tools, and where and how can we run our business much more easily (and lucratively)?

<        Tool                             Example                                                    >

<         Socially mediated linkages affecting our industry       Tools>

2  What issues might arise from social media (whether we use it deliberately or not) and how can we respond?

<          Situation                         Protocol, people & tools to respond >

3  How do our customers enjoy helping us and helping each other?

<          Example                                 Tools & resources to help them >

4  How do our employees enjoy helping us and who do we talk to away from work?

<          People we talk to                                        Resources we need >

5. When and where do we discuss the usefulness of our procedures for our business?

<          Discussions we have                     Key factors of our business >

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Can you beat my 3 simple rules of conduct?


Quite recently, we got a TESCO’s, a little one.  We have a Co-op tucked away in a side court.  But we don’t have a Boots or WHSmith.

This is a little town and we don’t have a Timpson’s either.  I had never heard of them until I heard one its owners talking on Radio 4.  They are an odd jobbing kind of firm that do your shoes, your keys, and so on, and have branches right across the UK.

Well what is this to do with you?

They say they have two rules in their code of conduct

1.  Look the part

2.  Don’t steal our money

What are your rules?

I have three rules of conduct

1.    Look after yourself

2.   Look after us

3.   Always be ready for a customer who walks through the door

Can you make them any simpler or clearer?


3 opportunities for HR in social media. Join me?

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I’ve this minute discovered Norwegian blog Human Resources and Social Media, where Vegard Iglebaek asks today – are there any collaborative organizations out there?

I spent much of my career consulting to a variety of multinationals in a regional hub, a career which allowed me to get a sense of how management styles differ by nationality.

Norwegian firms are highly collaborative but also very disciplined. You aren’t allowed to bypass the collaborative process. Nor can you act as a loose cannon. That can be a shock to people from more ill disciplined cultures or cultures where position allows personal license.

I think Vegard is asking a more general question. What are the opportunities in social media? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this too and these are my conclusions.

3 issues for HR & #So.ME.

1   Helping conventional organizations use Social Media in their existing structures or take the first baby steps to learn about Social Media.

I have rubric for aggregating #So.ME skills in an organization and slowly assimilating #So.ME expertise in a pragmatic way, if you are interested.

2   Helping #So.ME organizations use conventional management to pursue their more collaborative goals (doing HR and OD for them).

Many of these young organizations need some basic help in putting in management systems. We should take care though to adapt our systems to the nature of their organization. We shouldn’t just copy procedures from old organizations.

3   Understanding the new organizations that will emerge and how they put some of the organizations in 1 out of business (requiring some redundancy work from us.)

I am impressed the US military is using social media quite assertively. For the most part though, it is not enough to tack social media onto the end of an organization as an afterthought.

The correct thinking is to sketch out the value added chain for the whole industry and to ask where #So.ME will be the game changer. Then leap frog to that position creating a vigorous viable organization that is competitive right here, right now.

Choosing the concentration for our own practice

While these three prongs are clear, trying to service all three groups at once can split our attention.

I would love to form a consortium of HR people who use #So.ME so we could each specialize in one area and bring in our colleagues specializing in the other prongs on a project-by-project basis to add depth.

It seems to me though that HR people in #So.ME don’t have confidence in the new zeitgeist.  Does it seem like that to you?

We need to put our money where our mouth is.  We need to be seen to be working collaboratively (and in as disciplined way as any conventionally collaborative Norwegian organisation).  The our clients will readily believe what we say.

Contact me if you are interested!

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Mojo of Social Media White Noise

There is heaps and heaps of advice out there on how to write good blogs, mostly in the “5 easy steps” genre.  Oddly, though, there is little in the “5 dazzling blogs” or “5 perfect blogs” Digg-friendly category.  Maybe there is an adjective for blogs that I am missing!!

I don’t have any qualifications at all in literary analysis.  Indeed having a literal rather than literary turn of mind, I was a total dunce at literature at school.  What is the significance of the weather in Wuthering Heights?  It rains in Yorkshire.  You think it will stop because we want to be happy?  You get my drift.  I am bad at this sort of thing.   Zero neuro circuitry for the oblique, obscure, metaphorical and mystical.

But there is an underlying structure to blogs, good blogs, that goes deeper than “5 easy steps” and I’ve been admiring @loudmouthman’s Social Media White Noise for two weeks now. What is he doing that makes his blog so compelling?

Easy reading features of Social Media White Noise

Yes.  The blog posts are short.

Yes.   Loudmouthman is listing resources. We love resources.

Yes.   Social Media White Noise filters the social media news saving us a lot of time reading our feeds.

Yes.   The prose is readable.

Yes.   The layout is consistent and easy to scan.

All good.

Entrancing twists of Social Media White Noise

The pattern of the content is also interesting though.

Each post seems to be a brief description of mundane details in the day of two geeks in the south-east of UK, followed by a list of major events in the social media world world wide.

The mundane details are tongue-in-cheek in the self-deprecatory style of British humour.  The contrast between the mundane details and world events also seems to be the key to much British humour.  There is a sort of smugness, we are above it all, the world is really ridiculous anyway, ironical view which is commonplace in our descriptions of our world.  We try and try but nothing works but it doesn’t matter anyway. Humour that is incomprehensible to many cultures and faintly irritating to others.

I think the blog really works though because of the sense of two streams of time – the forceful main current of social media world wide and the choppy waves and eddies lapping at its edge.

But it is the the juxtaposition that seems important.  If the content were reversed and we saw the main events of the world in the background and our own daily activities in the foreground, it wouldn’t work.  It needs the tension of foreground and background interchanged.

But why are the streams important?

I rather suspect the sense of motion is appealing to me – I am not sure whether it is to others.  I would be interested.

What is even more important, I think, is the sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves.  When we see the backdrop of our work,  the mundane realities, and even brutalities, of our daily lives take on perspective, if not meaning.

It is the counterpoising of day-to-day life against the broader picture that conveys the sense of authority and feeling that these are people we look to for leadershp.

To convey a picture of where we are going – our sense of purpose and even the comedy of our own confusions – against a picture of where are world is going, orients us and provides a valuable service.

Now to figure that out for my own blog.

My recommendation

Social Media White Noise is very clever and worth a read.   So head on over and grab the feed.  You will be happy.

And if you weren’t a dunce at literature, tell me what they are doing to make it work so well.

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You really must be in a positive mood to get the job of your dreams

Downtown Core, Singapore's business centre.
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I am ever so grateful to Daryl Tay who blogged his successful search for a social media job in Singapore.

Now Singapore is a prosperous place.  Daryl has a good degree.   And he is an adventurous outgoing guy who instigated Social Media Breakfast while he was an under-grad.

But Social Media is new industry and Social Media firms aren’t queuing up at University Career Days looking for bright-eyed bushy-tailed students to gopher for them on a two-year graduate program.

So Daryl had to make his own job and I think the contrast between his positive attitude and the unfamiliarity of his task really put into perspective my job as a career coach, and indeed, what you must demand of your career coach.

What you want from your career coach

Your career coach’s job is to get you into a positive frame of mind.

If you are feeling bruised and sore, you cannot think even think straight. You certainly cannot be sufficiently creative to find the job of your dreams in the hurly-burly and confusion in the marketplace.

What Daryl brought home to me, is that it is not good enough for me to tell you the theory. You probably know the theory at least intuitively.

I must get you into a good mood so you can search creatively.

Read on to see if I am on the right track

Mid 2009, Singapore

Daryl Tay, social media evangelist blogged his job search that led to Blue Interactive in Singapore.  Success!  A good agency, new challenges, freedom to blog!  The perfect first job for a newly-minted graduate.

Daryl puts his success down to the generosity of the social media world.  It is a generous world for the most part.  He passed on information about a job to an acquaintance, who reciprocated in due course, without being asked.  He followed up her lead, which led in turn, not to a job, but to ten more “names”.  He followed those up, and got 3-4 interviews, one of which was with Blue.

That’s pretty good by all accounts. I saw figures somewhere that in the US you should budget for 3-4 “qualified leads” from 100 approaches.  So Daryl did 10x better than average.   A 1000% gain!  Worth paying attention to.

What led to Daryl’s success?

  1. The generous ethos of the social media world.
  2. Singapore is relatively prosperous.
  3. Singaporeans are unusually punctilious in their business dealings. They don’t waste each others time.
  4. Daryl is well known in social media circles as he is an established blogger and hosts Singapore’s Social Media Breakast.
  5. Daryl took a degree in marketing including a semester in Canada.
  6. Daryl is a nice guy.

Yes, all these are true. What is also true is that Daryl did not mind having to make his own job. Nor was he offended by the people who did not respond to his approach. Nor did he seem particularly bothered by interviews that did not lead to jobs.

Has Daryl got a thick skin? I don’t think so. He has always seemed like a sensitive, responsive person to me.

The point is he was in positive frame of mind. So, his mind went automatically to two thoughts:

  1. What could he create?
  2. What worked well and what should he do more of?

Such simple questions but try thinking that way when you are in a negative mood! It is really hard!

Working with a career coach

By the time people come to see me as a work & organizational psychologist, otherwise known as a career coach, they are pretty fed up. The job market is not what they thought and they want me to make it responsive. They want me just to make the bad stuff go away!

The general pattern of career coaching is based on career guidance of old. It has changed a little, but not enough.

We typically go through four steps.

  1. With tests or other means, we figure out who you are.
  2. We match you to opportunities in the world.
  3. We prepare you for interviews.
  4. We celebrate or commiserate with the results.

Straightforward – yes, but wrong.

Positive career coaching

While you are in a bad mood, you see all the problems.  It is nothing to do with being optimistic or pessimistic.  It is a natural reaction and the recalcitrance of the world is very real to you at that point.   So our job is to get you back into a good mood.  Then you will do the rest yourself!

  1. We have to get you thinking about what you do well (most services do that, but it is not enough)
  2. We have to get you exploring the work world and identifying 10 companies whom you think are interesting.
  3. You need to know enough about these companies to approach them.
  4. You need to approach them (preferably working down the list from 6 to 10 so you can make your mistakes on the second half of the list).
  5. It helps to keep your coach on sides to discuss the results. You will decipher the feedback quicker and they’ll help you soak up any disappointment.
  6. Go after your top 5 companies with gusto!

That’s pretty much what Daryl did, but without the recovery from a bad mood at the beginning.

Does positive career coaching work?

I’ve often tried to get people to list these 10 jobs and predictably, they do it when they are in a good mood and they won’t do it when they are in a bad mood.

In a bad mood, they just want to pick up the paper, or go on the internet, and see a list of suitable jobs.

Your coach’s job, my job, is to get you back into a sufficiently positive frame of mind so that you list those 10 companies and work out what you can do with them.

After that you will approach them with a spring in your step, laughter in your voice, and mental agility that will delight even you!

It is not easy.   After all that is what you pay us for.   To get you back into a positive frame of mind.   When you are focusing again on what does work, it all clicks together and suddenly everything happens for you.

This is not positive thinking or wishful thinking, I might add. It is painstaking work listing and acting on what works until the world seems to be full of opportunity again.

To Daryl

So well done Daryl, and thanks.  I knew all this but reading your story brought home to me that it is not career coaching that is important.

It is focusing our minds on what works, regaining the positive mood, and sticking with you during the search to keep you positive.

Your success brought that home to me.  Well done!  A lot of people will take heart from your initiative.

To everyone else

Make sure your coach delivers. It is their job to put up with your bad mood until your recover your sense of humour!

Pay them well and buy them a good meal when you get the job of your dreams.  You’ll be good company by then. 🙂

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5 agreed points about happy prosperous work in the new economy

Mavens of work

FOUR loose communities of internet pundits are watching changes in work with great interest –

1 Professors and academics

2 Management consultants who specialize in organizational design

3 Social media gurus who explain developments

4 Marketers and purveyors of social media services who hope to stimulate demand

A FIFTH group, poets, might have a look from time to time but they probably find our prose dull.

What are we all looking for?

  • We know that the world economy is on a cusp. The industries of the 20th century have reached a point of diminishing returns. And we are definitely moving toward a future of new industries underpinned by advances in biotechnology and other sciences.
  • At the same time, we are communicating across countries and industries at the cracking pace made possible by the internet. Work has become quite different. And so has the leadership of organizations.

What are we pretty certain about?

I am yet to get my head around exactly which industries will boom. It is also not clear which activities will need formal organizations and which we will pursue as-and-when using social media tools like Facebook.

What is clear are the psychological “rules” of our new age.

The 5 points of appreciative inquiry originally described by David Cooperrider of Case Western seem to be repeated over and over again in different words with different examples.

As a case in point, a Thai blog quoted an Education Professor at Harvard who identified 5 competencies for the modern age.

What are the core competencies needed in this century? Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Helen Haste has identified five that we should begin teaching our students. We business managers should also consider how to bring these skills to our companies and careers.

Managing Ambiguity. “Managing ambiguity is that tension between rushing to the clear, the concrete, and managing this ambiguous fuzzy area in the middle. And managing ambiguity is something we have to teach. Because we have to counter the story of a single linear solution.”

Agency and Responsibility. “We have to be able to take responsibility and know what that means. Being an effective agent means being able to approach one’s environment, social or physical, with a confidence that one actually will be able to deal with it.”

Finding and Sustaining Community. “Managing community is partly about that multitasking of connecting and interacting. It’s also, of course, about maintaining community, about maintaining links with people, making sure you do remember your best friend’s birthday, that you don’t forget that your grandmother is by herself this weekend, and of course recognizing also that one is part of a larger community, not just one’s own private little world.”

Managing Emotion. “Really it’s about getting away from the idea that emotion and reason are separate… Teaching young people to manage reason and emotion and not to flip to one or the other is an important part of our education process.”

Managing Technological Change. “When we have a new tool, we first use it for what we are already doing, just doing it a bit better. But gradually, the new tool changes the way we do things. It changes our social practices.”

To make my point, how do these well phrased principles relate to the principles of appreciative inquiry?

The positive principle. Instead of assuming we now the solution and finding a plan to fit, begin with where you are now. Take the first step and see what you learn. (Managing Technological Change.) This is also know as rapid prototyping or Ready Fire Aim.

The social constructionist principle. There is no one view of the world which accounts for all our realities. We need to listen to all our points of view and look for the common linkages between us. These are ever changing as our experiences of the world change. (Finding and sustaining community.) Diversity and belonging are key to modern enterprises. If we neglect either, we rip the guts out of our organizations.

The anticipatory principle. We are doers by nature and like nothing better than chasing after a goal. To achieve a goal, we need to understand how things work, and pay attention to the results we achieve. Feedback, though, comes back to us from all angles and to disentangle what we are hearing, we have to learn about the world and our place in it. Our love of Agency and Responsibility is never clearer than in computer games were we pursue quests and test out our competence with others in competition with “forces of nature” and competing interests. We are being chided to take responsibility. We do so naturally. The trick is to figure out what is under our control.

The simultaneity principle. The world exists only in so far as we pay attention to it. This is not an abstract philosophical point. It is also a point in physics. It doesn’t mean we can ignore what we choose or make things up. It means things change their meaning and their essence when we notice them. And we change when we notice ourselves. David Cooperrider put the principle like this. We move in the direction of the questions we ask. To put this concretely, I don’t go to London. When I start asking where is London, I start moving toward London. If I ask the question a different way, how do I drive to London, I will probably do something different, such as not use the train. (Managing Ambiguity).

The poetic principle. The poetic principle is not poetic! But “the good, the true, the better and the possible” is. Most of us had poetic language beaten out of us at school and college Dry, wooden language became a mark legitimacy and is popular with the powerful because it conceals their motives. When we are firmly in charge, we reject the emotions and motivations of our audiences so we don’t have to acknowledge their interests. By using dry language, we can claim that our interests are truths – so convenient! Poetic language engages the interests of others. It is emotional. It is not deliberately emotional. It is explicitly emotion. And we use emotional language to find the common basis of our separate and sometimes conflicting interests. To say emotional language is honest negotiation sounds unpoetic – but that is what it is. Many people in power, including teachers, are disconcerted by the demands of Gen Y to approach issues from their point of view. How can this be organized, they cry? Well I have taught a 850 person class of Gen Y. They do evaluate every lecture with the question : what does this material do for me, right here, right now? They behave like 850 demanding CEO’s. Once we’ve got over our surprise, it works. Stand and deliver! We look at the emotion – their point of view – and the range of their points of view – and deliver the material accordingly. They learn more. They learn the substance. They learn what to do with the content we are teaching. They learn about the range of perspectives in the class. They apply the material. Isn’t that what we are asking for – engagement? To engage we have to come from their point of view – not ours which we concealed in pompous language.

We seem to be on a plateau of understanding

It strikes me that professors, consultants, gurus, geeks and poets have come up different sides of a hill and found themselves on flat piece of ground. We seem to concur, for now, on the essential ingredients of “new work”.

I’m sure these principles will be refined in due course. And it is good for each of us to rephrase them in our own words using our own examples. It helps us understand their nuances and limitations.

They are clear enough for now, and they appear in sufficient sources, though, to teach.

They are also clear enough to try out in practical projects.

The next goal

From now onwards, I am only going to scan theoretical pieces to see if they are saying anything new.

Otherwise, I am looking for examples of collective action and how the principles worked in practice.

I think I am interested in active experimentationhow we learn about these principles, deliberately or accidently.

If you have an example, do let me know.

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My virtual knight in shining armour – from panic to productivity in less than 1 hour!

A long time ago when I drove a VW, I got some sound advice.  Always have a tool kit in your car.  Otherwise how else will the shining knight in a Red Ferrari fix my car when he stops to help?

And now I live half my day in a virtual world, I must make sure shining knights on Cross Loop can find me – so they can rescue me from the dragons of my own mis-steps and panic!

And so should you!

Today, Loudmouthman, speedy, nippy geek from Horsham rescued me in minutes, and I live 4 hours drive away.

This is how he did it, and this is what you need to know, because one day you are going to need Nik and you are going to feel so much better knowing he is just over the horizon!

It all began last night

. . . as I tidied up my computer,  I created a new user just to check what standard settings looked like.    All seemed in order.   There were two users, both Administrators, and I was logging in and out of both quite happily.


This morning, I could only log in to the dummy.


Send up the distress rockets!

I logged in to the dummy account, got onto Twitter, and fired off a May Day call to no one in particular.


@Loudmouthman answered and told me to download Cross Loop and to contact him.

Minutes later, Nik was connected. He took over my machine though Cross Loop, and though other services offer this feature too, most importantly, I could also

  • Send a message to him including my landline number, so he could call me, which he did.
  • See the ratings of his many happy customers.
  • Look at his competitors should I wish to.
  • See his hourly rate.
  • Get a quote.
  • And pay him by Paypal.

My predicament explained

By setting up a second user with admin rights, I was no longer given the option to login in to plain old “Admininstrator”

Client Education

Working remotely, Loudmouthman showed that the Administrator account was still there (C: Drive and Documents & Setttings).

Panic subsided!


Still working remotely, Nik checked my description of the problem by having me log off to show him that Administrator really couldn’t be accessed from the Login screen (which of course he could see remotely).


I could hear him looking something up in the background (his keyboard was going noisely).

Then he had me log in again to the dummy account and he went into some Windows Settings and added a line to activate Administrator.

Hey presto, we were done. And it would have been faster if I hadn’t been in a panic.

Final Check & Wrap-Up

I logged out of the dummy account and back into Administrator – and downloaded Cross Loop again which was no longer visible.

I had to make another request for service. Then I asked for an Estimate, accepted it, and then asked for a Final Bill.

A PayPal screen came up and I paid promptly and printed out the receipt for the accountants.

Just the way I like it.

Done, dusted with all the paper work wrapped up.

How to get hold of Loudmouthman?

On Cross Loop as Loudmouthman

On Twitter as @loudmouthman

Through his website, Loudmouthman

On Skype thebutlershouse (Nik Butler)

And to find out what is causing ripples in the Social Media world in the south-east of UK on any one day, Nik’s blog Social Media White Noise is well worth a visit.

Thanks Nik! From panic to productivity in under an hour!

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3 jawdropping facts about Linkedin members in UK

I’m a member of LinkedIn, the professional networking site. You probably are too. If you live in the UK, you are one of 1.8m members. Around 30m people in the UK are of working age. So about 6% of us are LinkedIn members.

So, is it worth belonging to LinkedIn? And if you are, who are you likely to meet there?

I painstakingly took some numbers off Google Adplanner and I have three surprises that will make you rethink Linkedin membership.

When you’ve whizzed through the headlines, narrative and graphs, tell me what you make of this picture.

#1 College graduates in UK do not dominate Linkedin

That’s a surprise isn’t it?

Check the graph. Linkedin in the UK is dominated by people in the range of “some post-school education but less than a degree”.

Education & Gender on Linkedin from UK (drawn in Chartle)
Education & Gender on Linkedin from UK (drawn in Chartle)

Should we be surprised?

About 25% of people in UK have a degree. 33% of male Linkedin members in the UK finished University. Slightly fewer than 30% of female members of Linkedin in UK have degrees or graduate degrees.

So the facts go in the right direction.  Graduates are more likely to join Linkedin than people with other levels of education, but, because three-quarters of the population have not been to university, even members who have no further education at all outnumber those with a first degree.

This is a salutary lesson for us all. Even on Linkedin, the real world dominates. And in the real world, most people do not go to University.

#2 People who earn 50K pounds a year (or more) dominate Linkedin

I will surprise you again.

In the next two graphs, we see that people whose household income exceeds 50K a year dominate LinkedIn.

Salaries of Men on Linkedin UK (drawn in Chartle)
Salaries of Men on Linkedin UK (drawn in Chartle)

OK, this is not so surprising in itself. After all, Linkedin is a high-end service. Google also reports household income. Average income in the UK is about 20K per person and if two people work, 50K is an average amount. So we shouldn’t be surprised to have Linkedin users from households who earn 50K a year.

(BTW, a 50K salary puts a person in the top 10% of the UK.)

But given that Linkedin is dominated by ordinary people – may be this figure is surprising?

When we look more closely at the graphs, we see that education makes it easier to earn household incomes of 50K+, but there are lots of people out there with ordinary education levels who also have household incomes of 50K+.

To spell this out:

  • If you are a male Linkedin member, with a graduate degree, you probably earn 50K+.
  • This is also true if you have a Bachelor’s degree – but about a third of ordinary degree-holders on Linkedin earn in the 30K to 50K range.
  • If you are in the dominant group, “the post-school but no degree” crowd, you are more likely to be in the 30K-50K range but, there are as many people in this group earning 50K+ as there are degree holders earning 50K+ ! There are also more of this group earning 50K than graduates earning 50K+ – largely, I suppose, because there are fewer people with graduate degrees in the market.  “The post-school but no degree” crowd rule, OK?  Fonzi, still rules!

Burn this on to your brain.  If you find someone with high household income on Linkedin, they could come from almost any education level.

We have two apparently conflicting facts.

  • Education helps us earn money!
  • But earning money telling us little about a person’s education!  There are just as many high earners from lesser education levels (at least on Linkedin).

The pattern for women on LinkedIn is similar. But, it is confused by the over-powering dominance of women in the “more than high school but no degree group”.  They rule even more than they do among men.

Salaries of Women on Linkedin UK (drawn in Chartle)
Salaries of Women on Linkedin UK (drawn in Chartle)

#3 The high earners in Linkedin are young and the younger members of Linkedin are high earners!

This is the really stunning surprise!

See at the next graph.

The 25-34 year old group have high incomes AND they outnumber older people with high household incomes!

Have a good look at that graph and burn it onto your memory –

Who are the big earners on Linkedin UK? (drawn with Chartle)
Who are the big earners on Linkedin UK? (drawn with Chartle)

Now to the interpretation.

It is not a surprise – though nor is it acceptable – that women earn less than men. We should also disentangle the more complicated picture at the the mid-age levels. But we all knew this already.

More importantly, where are the older high earners? Why don’t they join Linkedin? Are they that complacent, or are they outnumbered by young people in real world too?

I did check with the UK Government Statistics Office. And I spoke to a professional statistician. They don’t have numbers going from high salaries to age. They have a 1% sample of taxpayers and they present data from age to salaries in percentiles. Their reports suggest – as common sense suggests – that the workforce is dominated by people in the 40-49 range who also have higher salaries.

So what is happening here?

Because we haven’t any baseline data for the UK working population, we have to work with some sweeping generalizations – never a good idea.

It looks as if Linkedin is attracting younger people who are high earners.

Remember these things.

  • 29% of men on Linkedin in UK who have household salaries of 50K+ are aged 25-34
  • 35% of women on Linkedin in UK who have household salaries of 50K+ are aged 25-34
  • 57% of men on Linkedin in UK who have household salaries of 50K+ are aged 25-44
  • 68% of women on Linkedin in UK have household salaries of 50K+ are aged 25-44


Possibly, because women tend to partner men who earn more than them? Worth exploring, I think.

So what eureka moments did I have in this time-consuming micro-analysis of Google AdPlanner?

  • The typical member of Linkedin in UK does not have a degree (700K out of 1,8M)
  • The typical household income bracket of UK Linkedin members is 50K+ pounds.  University education makes it more likely you will be in the high earning group but people who finished university are outnumbered by people who didn’t or didn’t go at all.
  • The high earning bracket is dominated by 25-35 year olds!

How will I use this in practice?

  • I am going to find out who are the young (25-34 and 35-44) women on LinkedIn with household incomes of 50k+.
  • I know that less than half will have a degree but I can fine-tune this information AND find out what they do.

What will you do with it?