Friday, November 20, 2009

Creating great testimonials

Here are the questions that you can use to help develop top rate testimonials:

1. What do you like most about the service?

2. What were your perceptions before we started?

3. How has that perception changed?

4. What are the three biggest benefits?

5. Would you recommend our service?

6. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The answers are then given back to the client in a draft summary for them to approve & send back.

For example:

Hi John

I really liked the way you paid attention and listened about my personal situation & developed a plan to help me achieve & protect my goals.

I was feeling a little anxious before we started because I had never thought about some of the issues previously, but after talking it through felt I was in safe hands.

The benefit for me is that I have a motivating goal, a backup plan if things don’t work out due to unforeseen circumstances and I know you are there if you need me.

I would definitely recommend your service to my friends and family.

Thank you once again for your professional & thorough service.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Losing the love(mark)

I loved my ipod touch... but now it's gone... the irreplaceable needs to be replaced because of a fault & the store not replacing it, instead sending it away for analysis - so much for their money back guarantee...

My ipod was with me 24/7...
- It kept track of my life with the calendar
- It lifted my spirits with the (disputably) best track list in the world
- It inspired me with some amazing audio books
- It made me laugh with the great podcasts
- It educated me with leaders sharing their thoughts on video
- It amused me with games
- It woke me in the morning with it's alarm

So, my lovemark has been taken from... Now I have to fill the gaps in my life

Monday, September 14, 2009

Creating meaning

I gave blood the other day & thought it would be great if the Blood Donor Centre told the donors how the donation was used.

I would feel more motivated if I knew my blood made a positive difference in another person's life. It would create 'significance' for the donation.

This could be an automated e-mail that said something like:

Hi Tony

Thanks for taking the time to donate some of your valuable blood.

It was used to help a young burns victim.

We look forward to seeing you next month.

Stay healthy!


Dr ......

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

High tech! - Tony's Toastmasters speech

I knew I was spending too much time on the computer when my wife sent me an e-mail, asking if I was coming downstairs for dinner.

I was introduced to computers back in 1978 with the first colour computer called a compucolor.  This was just after I played pong - not the smelly type either.  But with the compucolor I could travel through space with star trek, rule kingdoms playing Kings Quest and visit bars amongst other dodgy activities with Leisure Suit Larry.

My first work computer was at the National Bank, but each day we got our paper back up files - just in case "the computer" failed (which it did once).  My second job introduced me to the Macintosh which had some great games.  

My first really fast computer was a 486 in the mid 90‘s with an incredible encyclopedia called Encarta and movie database called Cinemania.  It seemed mind boggling that so much information was available on these CD ROMs.  To give you an idea of the computing power of a 486, we ran 9 users in our office off 1 486 computer!

We also had bulletin boards & on-line games which meant tying up the phone lines while we played Doom on 9,600 bits per second modem connections.  Last night my broadband was 5 million bits per second!

I joined the internet in the mid 90s with a company called Compuserve.  It cost $19.95 per hour which is equivalent to $27 after tax today - so I had to work for 3 hours to get 1 hour on the internet!

When Xtra started on 1 May 1996 & I joined, paying $5 per hour.  In August of that year, it halved.  Today I pay the equivalent of 5 cents per hour.

But suddenly the world started seeming a lot smaller & the information much broader. 

I remember the first time I introduced my mother to the computer.

After explaining to take the mouse and her screaming “Where’s the mouse?”, she began waving it in front of the screen.  When I showed her the internet & told her it could answer any question, she thought for a minute, then typed “How is my mother today?”

But the internet can be really useful too.  I’ve used it to buy a piece of the Berlin wall & a signed picture of Kenny Baker (the actor inside R2D2).

On the internet, I found out that in 2002 scientists spent a whole year determining the funniest joke was:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.

He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?"

There are also some wonderful one liners like:

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

or words of wisdom, like:

The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

But as one person said, getting information off the internet is like getting a drink from a fire hydrant.

But some people just shouldn’t talk about the internet.

George Bush - is quoted as saying "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."

But these last 2 quotes sum it up for me:

"The Internet is a giant international network of intelligent, informed computer enthusiasts, by which I mean, "people without lives."

or  "Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Midnight Youth

<a href="">All On Our Own by Midnight Youth</a>

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The magic of great copywriting

Recently a broken washing machine sold on Trade Me for NZ$5,160!

It started with a NZ$1 reserve but due to some original & creative thinking, the seller was able to add value to the machine.  It even has its own website now -

I'm impressed how a piece of writing can add so much value, but I guess it's like so much of what we buy... a CD is only a piece of plastic, worth about $0.10, but we pay $30 because of the creative skill.

Congratulations Mike - Kiwi ingenuity is alive & making lots of money!

The auction had over 800,000 hits and a huge number of comments.

This is what Mike Whittaker (the seller) wrote:
Old mid 80's Fisher and Paykel top loader.
Goes like a rocket!

By 'goes like a rocket' I actually mean that literally.
It actually shakes the house.

It's the loudest most violent sounding washing machine I have ever encountered. 
It makes guests scared and children cry. I've lived with it like that for almost a year and it still scares me.

Once while washing a load of towells it got a bit out of balance and it got so out of control for a minute that I swear I actually saw a porthole to another dimension open above it just for a second, there were dinosaurs on the otherside and they looked scared too, it almost sucked me in but I held onto for my life to the deepfreeze. It sucked my shoes and pants off though and it got the iron as well which pissed me off because it was quite a good one. Luckily it sucked it's own power cord out of the wall and stopped before the whole house went in.
I drew a picture of the dinosaurs i saw incase people didn't believe me, they are partly red because my green felt ran out half way through.

I think it would be good to paint it matt black and put steel spikes all over it and draw demons on the front, however I have added an image of another possible customization option for people who like horses.

On heavy duty spin cycle it sort of sounds a bit like the tortured howls of 1000 undead writhing in the sulphury pits of hell mixed with a train with carriages full of scrap iron sliding down the road with no wheels, on fire, into a bell factory.

Thankfully it's bite is not as bad as it's bark. It washes fine, completes cycles, does everything it's supposed to.
It leaks a bit when it's running, always has.
Its a bit grubby, could do with a wipe down, I refuse to touch it because I'm still getting over the whole dinosaur scare thing.

If your in a fix and need a cheap washing machine and are either completely deaf or hate your neighbours this baby is for you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ideas map

I recently heard a leader in the marketing game talk about a map they had on their wall, where they pinned all the locations that the staff came up with great ideas for their clients.

They had 100's of pins in the map - but only 13 were in the office.

Some might think that they should spend more time in the office!  But seriously we all know some of our best ideas occur when we are not trying to come up with them.

Whether it's:
- in the shower
- going for a run
- waking in the middle of the night to jot down some notes
- over a great meal & a bottle of plonk
- in the car

To allow the creative juices  flow we need to get out & explore!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's not about stress

I hear people talking about "stress" as if it's a problem.  I'm not an expert but I believe it's actually our level of resilience to certain events that can cause problems when we are less resilient. 

Selye's general adaptation syndrome helps explain how our resilience can cope for a period & the better our resilience, the longer our resistance.  (The 3 stages are Alarm , Resistance & Exhaustion) - You can read more about the model at

Things that erode my resilience:
  • Pain
  • Tiredness
  • Illness
  • Loss
Things that build my resilience:
  • Sleep
  • Goals
  • Enjoyable activities
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Being with people I like
  • Constructive feedback
  • Learning
  • Spirituality
  • Physical activity
I'm going to continue to focus on building and maintaining my resilience.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sales ideas

I was thinking how some companies could grow their business during a recessionary economy...

How about luxury car suppliers teaming with sales managers to help drive sales performance?

The sales person could choose a vehicle & create a sales target programme that will motivate them to achieve a higher target &  get them into a classy vehicle of their choice.

This is an example where teams could co-operate to create synergy & win-win-win outcomes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Brand leadership

Currently I am studying leadership & was interested to see the similarities between great leaders & great brands.

Great leaders have a strong sense of purpose, to achieve progress towards an aspirational goal.

The great brands that resonate strongly with me also have a strong sense of purpose, combined with client centricity.  They seem to suggest that they are here to make our lives better.

I would be interested to develop this thinking further...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The 3 i's of decision making

When making decisions it's important to:

1. Get good quality information
2. Interpret the information using various perspectives
3. Implement the decision with benchmarks in place to measure progress & success

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A land of milk & honey

Whether it was the lure of a better life or an escape from an existing one, New Zealand held the hopes and dreams that drew people to its shores, whether it was in the last year, last 100 years ago or thousands of years ago.

The British Government rallied people in the early 1870’s to recruit:
“married agricultural laborers and single female domestic servants, provided they were ‘sober, industrious, of good moral character, of sound mind and in good health.”  

Posters were put up & newspapers ran stories like this one from November 1873 in the Labourers’ Union Chronicle wrote,
“Not a farm labourer in England but should rush from the old doomed country to such a paradise as New Zealand – a good land – a land of oil, olives & honey – a land where in thou may’st eat bread without scarceness... Away then farm labourers, away!  New Zealand is the Promised Land for you,

There was a flood of immigrants, being enticed by the promise of a better life coupled with a range of cheap & free fares.

My Great Great Grandfather was one of those, a farm labourer who chose to leave Ireland back in July 1876.  I wondered what hope he & his family packed when they left an impoverished Ireland where demand for farm labourers had fallen by 16% due to cheap imports.  

Imagine a 31 year old George McCombs & his wife Kate with their 2 sons James aged 2 years & Charles who was 2 months sailing for 93 days to the other side of the world.  

Imagine you had been travelling on an old wooden boat for the last 3 months.  I start feeling bored travelling in an aircraft for too long.  The 18 hours it took to get the family to LA a few years ago seemed long enough, let alone 2,230 hours on a boat.  

There were 290 people, including 81 from Ireland, on the boat that came into Wellington Harbour in October 1876.  It’s hard to imagine what these pioneers would’ve thought about old Wellington.

The ship’s doctor recorded there were no accidents or sickness however 3 children under 2 died and one was born.

The ship’s passenger list was a mixture of families, single men and single women.  There were farmers, carpenters, a couple of tailors, a 16 year old teacher, servants, dairymaids and a range of others from all over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

New Zealand wasn’t everything that people expected and about 40% of those who arrived in the 1870’s left again.

The McCombs family arrived in Wellington harbour but made their home in Christchurch.

Who would’ve thought that their eldest son, James, who left school after standard 6, would represent the Lyttelton seat in Parliament from 1913 to 1933 and when he died, his wife, Elizabeth would succeed him as New Zealand’s first woman Member of Parliament until she died in 1935, and their son (my grandfather) Terry would then hold the seat until 1951.

I’m sure George & Kate didn’t expect these things to happen, but by taking a risk and choosing to follow a path into an unknown world, they created opportunities for their descendants.  If they hadn’t taken that risk I wouldn’t be here today, just as if your ancestors hadn’t made certain decisions you wouldn’t be here either.

The dreams that our pioneering ancestors had still hold true for us today.  

Although we are told the world’s economy is in a recession and some say on the brink of a depression, we certainly have a better quality of life than a farm labourer in 1876, when the life expectancy for a male was only 50 & females could expect to live until 54.  Those born in 1876 only had an 86% chance of celebrating their first birthday.  Today we are concerned about outliving our savings and many are already choosing to continue working beyond the retirement age of 65. 

My 16 year old son was recently awarded a farming scholarship.  He had a dream for his future – of one day owning his own farm.  This is a dream that he had when he was 2 & he told me a story that he called “The Tractor Boy”.  We had visited an uncle on his farm and that had sown the seed.  He often talked about farming being in his blood.  Part of me believes that this dream of my sons, could’ve also been the dream of his great, great, great grandfather while working on a farm back in Ireland, that even if he wouldn’t maybe his descendants could own their own farm one day.

I encourage you to reflect on the hopes and dreams that your ancestors had.  The promised land we call New Zealand still holds great promise.  That promise is held within us – it’s people – He Tangata.  

Those hopes, dreams and aspirations exist for us all if we are prepared to take risks and look for the amazing opportunities on this sliver of land on the edge of the world, we have made our home.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Waitangi Day speech

I am proud to be a New Zealander, to be a thread in our diverse and beautiful tapestry.

On Waitangi Day we can look around at our nation, our community, our neighbours and our whanau, the tangata who have chosen to make Aotearoa our home.

Whether we are tangata whenua or tangata tiriti, the Treaty of Waitangi is a frame like an unthreaded loom.  The threads on the loom that bind the nation are its' tangata!

Let us not just come together on this one day, but let us bind as a nation so together we can become stronger and cohesive.  

Let us stand proudly and acknowledge the past but focus our eyes firmly on the future and support each other to be the best little nation on the edge of the world!  

Together we will weave a future that we can individually and collectively be proud to call our home.

It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.- Bill Gates

I read this quote in Kirsty Dunphey's weekly newsletter today.  There is some truth to reflecting on failures, however I have come to realise how important it is to reflect on successes.

Being able to replicate & build on success is the key to continued success.

Reflecting on why we are successful  helps us do the right things more often.  Whether it's winning a new client or a round of golf, learning what we did right is often more valuable than trying to fix what we might've got wrong.

The revised quote could be:

"Celebrate success, then learn from it & build on it to replicate the success!" - Tony

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Staying ahead of the pack

By the time we hear about new ideas or trends it's probably too late.

Remember when we were all told to write articles like "7 reasons to buy such as such"?  Now everything I read seems to have been based on this golden rule - except now it's boring & the gold has turned to tin...

Companies like Saatchi & Saatchi try and stay ahead of the pack.  When all other companies seem to be going green, they are talking about blue.  But they are also working on the next colour!

In New Zealand we have a lot of sheep - but it doesn't mean we need to follow each other like a flock of sheep.  The challenge is to play our game by our rules & change them every now & then to keep the relevant.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm sorry

Often in times of conflict an apology is all that is needed to diffuse a situation.

An employee can apologise on behalf of a workplace, rather than apologising for something they have personally done.  I remember doing this when I worked for the Railways & the person complaining consoled me by saying "It's OK, it's not your fault".

Likewise, it's possible to say sorry that a situation had occurred.  Again, it's not taking personal responsibility but acknowledging the disappointment of an event.  This is useful if each party blames the other.  An apology can open the door to constructive dialogue.

Finally, if you are responsible - fess up & apologise - fix it - learn from it - and then move on positively!

My 4 top diet tips

Water - A glass of water before a meal can fill the stomach & leaves less room for over-eating

Brush teeth - Changing habits like brushing teeth after a meal rather than before bed can stop snacking after meals.

Leftovers - Leaving food on your plate can create a feeling of control over the food.  Parents may have drilled in negative messages of starving children or making the cook feel bad by leaving food.

Exercise - A work out is a great way of burning calories.  It also creates healthier eating patterns.  Careful not to cut back the calories too quickly while the body adjusts to the additional exercise.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The logistics of dying

When I saw some of the challenges my mother-in-law had to deal with, caring for her husband at home  who is terminally ill with a brain tumour, I searched for a solution to help with communication.

I thought there must be a tool that can assist with communication.

When I couldn't find anything, I developed a sheet that can be laminated & used to make communication easier.

The sheet deals with the basics such as:
  • What day it is.
  • What the meals will be.
  • When visitors will be welcome.
  • What events will be taking place that day.
  • Any notes.
The second page is a device to help with communication when the patient has difficulty with verbal communication.  It has letters, numbers, words and a scale to indicate responses.  

If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please feel free to use it.  If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let me know.