Three Thought Bubbles hits the stop button

23 December

I’m hitting the stop button on Three Thought Bubbles. It’s time for me to stretch upwards. I’ve committed to learning new skills. One of the triggers for this move is a business trend that worries me today; we want to distill everything down to a 5 step process. Social media obliges and rehashes the formulas daily. I want to do some deep learning which involves messy exploration with no set objectives. I want to learn through doing the work myself.

A video posted by Min Liu (@bloodydairy) on

 

I’m taking six months out to do some deep learning in a distraction free zone!

I continue to be open to collaborations and side projects. One of these is ARTzheimer’s – a social enterprise that uses art to provoke bold and honest conversations about Alzheimer’s. My work here is as a written and visual brand storyteller.

I stand by the two reasons I set up Three Thought Bubbles; to help businesses to be more human on the web and to help them to communicate with meaning and clarity. I still believe that human and marketing are two words that can co-exist – if we choose to communicate with intention.

This creative learning break was greatly inspired by Stefan Sagmeister. One day he questioned how we spend our lives learning, working and dreaming about retirement –

Right now we spend about the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.

Here are some of my articles about key ideas I learned as a mentor and trainer over the last three years:

  • The concept and results of doing micro work are powerful.
  • Best Practice’ is a jargon phrase used by lazy people who want to follow formulas and not exercise their brains.
  • “We’re on social media.” Really? What is your intention?
  • Learn to chop your words – the power of editing.
  • Ultimately, what do you want to be known for?
  • Why blogging is not about finding your voice.
  • I encourage you to be part of an encouragement network.Develop your brand voice

    That’s it for now – no trumpet fanfares or lengthy speeches. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in this field. I trained a diverse group of clients and got to collaborate with inspiring colleagues. Two colleagues I’d like to mention in particular are Siodhna McGowan from Inspired Thinking and Gillian Horan from The Pudding Brand. Like myself, they strive to make marketing human and meaningful.

    Who knows what the next chapter will hold! I’d love to stay in touch with you – Twitter is my platform of choice.

    .

Animated GIF credit:
Min Liu Animator NYC / Taiwan
Website: min-liu.com
Instagram: @bloodydairy

Save

What is your six word business story?

27 May

Last week, I was at a Creative Mornings Dublin talk. The worldwide theme was ‘Reality’ and the speaker was Bob Gray from Red & Grey Design. Bob talked about their design process and how they help clients to get really clear on what they actually do. He then talked about the power of writing a six word business story. I use this technique with clients too.

Six word business story

Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write the six word story above; “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” It’s amazing how much emotion this tiny story evokes. We want to know why the shoes are for sale – and more importantly, what happened to the baby. The reason this exercise is so powerful for businesses is twofold – if you are crystal clear about how you can help customers, it makes it easy for them to understand too. It’s a prerequisite to a sale!

What is your six word business story?

Some of my clients find it tricky to sum up what they do in a few words. Here are some tips that will help you:

Capture lots of words that describe what you do
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and choose words that will mean something to them
Edit it down to six words that sum up how you can make someone else’s life better

Irish company ‘Strong Roots’ say more with less words!

Strong roots - Irish frozen vegetable food company

I came across a new Irish business called Strong Roots yesterday. Their website communicates what they do in simple and meaningful language. They are on a mission ‘to revolutionise frozen food’. And they have a great six word mission statement –

“Honesty in food from underground flavours”

Here’s the truth

It’s refreshing (and surprising) to come across a business that has a clear brand message. I don’t need a dictionary to understand what ‘Strong Roots’ do. They value my time by explaining succinctly how they can help me. If I’m interested in quality, frozen sweet potatoes, I’m in the right place! If not, I’m off.

Strong Roots

Business is about people and it’s about communication. Do your customers understand what you do when they visit your website or blog? Have a go at creating your own short story. Then ask for some feedback from people who don’t know you!

I help businesses to be more human on the web. I offer a range of training and services – Check out my current offerings or give me a call on 087 635 5655.

Related posts
How minimalism can help you simplify your life and your business – I’ve discovered that less works best – less words, less goals, less obsessively reading online content!
Chop your words; the skill of editing. Language is an art – how to be selective in your word choice and word count.

What might your customer be secretly hoping for?

3 February

What might your customer be secretly hoping for?

I absolutely love when I read a sentence that jolts me. This one popped off my screen yesterday. The article was about business innovation and creativity and it threw up 4 questions that can generate ‘fruitful thinking’.

I’m isolating this question and throwing it out to you.
Have you ever thought thought about what your customers might be secretly hoping for?

If you’re a photographer, your client might be secretly hoping that you’ll capture their true essence. If you’re a language teacher, your client might be secretly hoping that they’ll reinvent themselves and settle in Sicily. We never ‘just’ buy products or services. We buy how we imagine they’ll make us feel.

No matter what your business is, your customer has secret hopes. Maybe it’s a simple as making someone feel calmer.

I challenge you to sit with this idea over your lunch break. Better still, take it on a walk! Look beyond your business descriptions and climb into your customers’ shoes. I know that you’ll get some exciting insights!

I recommend you read the full articleInnovation and Creativity via The Book of Life.

The best of 2015 – the ideas I learned and shared this year

13 January

Three Thought Bubbles popular blog posts 2015

I write this blog to help you and to help myself.
I tease out ideas, I share knowledge and skills and I play with words.
I reach out to new people who excite me (mostly Tweeters!) and we have blind dates over strong coffee. There is electric energy in many of these conversations. Ideas collide and grow new limbs! Unexpected collaborations and strong friendships have developed too.

If you are in business, you must emotionally connect with people. This is something I can help you with. This blog post introduces you to the skills and values that underpin my training.

Here are the most popular posts from 2015 – they all focus on authentic ways for you to market what you do.

I tell my clients that a blog becomes a living business plan. Over time, it reveals the ideas, people and values that matter to you. It’s your choice to invest in mattering or write for SEO robots.

In 2015, I wrote about self confidence in business, telling your story and the art of writing, human marketing, visual storytelling, living your brand and face to face networking with people who excite you. What drives me most is finding ways to make business more human. Of course we need to market what we do but there are authentic and meaningful ways to do this.

Learning new skills – how to be kind to yourself

As business owners, we can be very tough on ourselves. I find this is especially true when people are learning new social media skills. My advice is to take baby steps and be kind to yourself! These posts might help you with this:

How to set ‘sane, humane and reasonable goals!
How to give yourself a break. It’s all about taking small, achievable steps.

Blogging – how do you feel about learning a new skill?
Do you expect to master new skills in an instant? Could you change that mind-set?

How minimalism can help you simplify your life and your business

I’ve discovered that less works best – less words, less goals, less obsessively reading online content!

Writing tips

When did you learn to write? Probably at school or college. Now it’s time to lose some of the formal structure and learn to write like you speak. This takes time and commitment but it’s an enjoyable journey. Here are some tips on writing skills and styles:

Chop your words; the skill of editing
Language is an art – how to be selective in your word choice and word count.

Why blogging is not about finding your voice
It’s in the doing; the magic happens as you learn.

Is the feeling of having to ‘create content’ killing your creativity?
Are you writing for SEO robots or because you have something interesting to say?

Human Marketing

When I first heard this phrase, it rang true with me. Sometimes, perceived opposites can work harmoniously together. The reason I set up Three Thought Bubbles was because I believe there are authentic ways to market a business. The second reason is that I know this technique is proven to be effective. People buy from people they like and trust. That is what human marketing is all about; understanding what people want help with. These posts will get you out of your own head and into the mind of your ideal customers:

Brand tone; what do your customers really hear?
Your brand is the conversation that your customers have when you leave the room! How do people ‘experience’ your brand?

Invest in mattering…
What if you focused on how what you do matters to other people? Would it change how you approach your business?

Stop, think, post – how to do social media with intention
Stop and ask yourself ‘what is my intention?’

Tips on how to tell your business story visually

Humans make sense of the world through images and stories. Images are powerful for reinforcing your written ideas. There are lots of ways for you to tell visual business stories:

How to use Instagram to tell your business story
Instagram is a powerful micro blogging platform – see how other businesses are effectively using it.

Visual tips to bring your business stories alive
Simple tips to tell powerful visual stories.

How can you ‘Live our brand’?

We might fight it but each of us is a brand. We’re selling ourselves on a daily basis! We now have the chance to create our online identity:

How much thought do you give to your personal brand?
What do you find when you Google your name? It’s time to own and develop your online reputation.

Connect with people on and off the web

And finally, I encourage you to connect with others and always ask for help!
Find interesting people on the web and invite them out for coffee. See what happens next!

The reason we are in business is to connect with people on an emotional level. Most of us never learned how to do this is in a business context. I can help you by offering you training, support and strategies. Give me a call on 087 635 5655 if you’d like to discuss some options.

Aisling