As it is the International Day of Happiness today I thought I should share some assorted thoughts regarding the topic.

Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon



Like so many other things, happiness is something you build into your business culture. A friend of mine, Morten Middelfart, said “Disruption always starts from below”, and I agree. But more important I think, like happiness, that the culture where disruption and happiness resides always has to be built from the top down. It’s up to you as a leader to walk the line and set the bar for your business. To start creating a culture where conversations can take place.

I think if you succeed in that, a transformation of your business will start, and creativity will lead to disruption. Happiness will follow. But this isn’t something that can be turned on and off like a switch.



Shawn Achor talks more about this in the Happiness Advantage, (a great book by the way). He says “average” tailors everything that we do. Being normal is merely average. But if we can change the lens through which we perceive reality we can become happier. We can go from being average to a culture with conversation, creativity and happiness.

But there’s a trap along the way, and that is to fail to be positive in the present, to focus just on the next report, the next goal through short-term thinking. “If we just reach this month’s sales target, then…”. But there are always new targets to be met or new goals to be achieved.

What happens when we focus on the short term is that we push happiness to the opposite side of success and our brains see it as an unreachable goal.



So how do you attain happiness? What drivers should be in place? A couple of clues are given in “Happiness is the New Productivity”.

To start to transform your business there must be passion. A passion you can pass on to the people that are following you or to your employees. By showing gratitude and listening to people, celebrating what went right every single day, and by giving, you can start the transformation to a happier business.

Remember that even though goals are good, happiness can’t be tied to them. Happiness is from the journey toward a vision. Your vision, is the reason people are following you in the first place.

Keep that vision alive. Be social. Start to listen to people and reach out to them. Be vulnerable and ask how you can help, or ask them for help. Tell your story, and form your business around that story, and that of your followers, or employees. Aim for happiness, and success will follow!




In my last post “Start Telling Stories” I talked about why a connection to your customer is crucial. Why telling stories can build a deeper loyalty. It’s all about you. Who you are is as important as what you do. It’s your way into their world.

To connect you have to lower your barriers. Be personal to gain trust. Be vulnerable.



By lowering the barriers between you and your customers you can make people trust you. By using social media to show them who you are you help them to be genuinely interested in you. But it takes courage to do these things and many businesses fail to see the benefit of such actions.

With more and more people choosing social media to get their news and updates and to make purchasing decisions with, maintaining an active online business presence is crucial. But it takes more than just creating a content strategy and posting things online to establish true connection.



As people spend a greater majority of their time interacting with others online, it only makes sense that you join those interactions, too. If you take the time to show that you’re interested in lowering the barriers your customers face when they observe you online, chances are you’ll increase their sense of trust in you, as well.

When you allow greater access to your business you actually increase the sense of loyalty your company can create from its customers. A few ways to do this can include:

  • Adding storytelling to your content
  • Allowing others to interact with you
  • Responding to customer engagement
  • Listening to other people’s stories

Let’s speed up the process of creating trust online. Start by lowering the barriers to online engagement. Show your peers how things like engagement and storytelling can innovate the way business is done. When the barriers begin to be removed, the connections can’t help but begin to be created. Let’s start now!

Start Telling Stories

Without the ability to nurture trust through human connection your brand’s value relies solely on performance. When your market takes a dive your followers have no heartfelt reason to remain loyal to you or your product offerings.

This is where the importance of brand identity and customer connection comes in. Product alone, price alone – these things most likely won’t be enough to keep your customers connected to you. Your brand needs to be accepted and sought after. Your audience needs to know who you are and what you stand for.



The next generation of consumers don’t know anything about ‘the old days’ of corporate marketing. They’re used to switching off if they don’t like your message. You tweet something they don’t agree with; they unfollow you. They’re not interested in what’s on TV. They go to YouTube. Everything is immediate and they’re used to creating a world of their own where they only have to see and hear what they choose.

You need them to choose you.



We’ve been hearing lately that “content is crucial” in social media but the type of content you share can make or break your ability to engage your customers and establish the connections that create brand loyalty.

I believe in the power of sharing personal stories as part of a content strategy because it accelerates the process of connection on all levels and in any industry. Through simple storytelling we can humanize the way we connect.

One way people are connecting these days is by using social communication channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Regardless of the channel you choose, the important thing to remember when sharing content is to keep your focus on sharing stories. Doing this leads to deeper loyalty to your brand because the connections are rooted in human qualities and not on surface traits that can easily be forgotten.

This is why connection is crucial. Because it’s you. Who you are is as important as what you do. It’s your way into their world.

So start telling your story!




As a business leader you can’t ignore the importance of having conversations with the people who actually care about what you do. If you are ready to give your brand uplift and pave the way for new conversations and engagement, you might want to rethink your use of Social Media. When Social Media becomes a trust building tool instead of another marketing channel businesses have the chance for greater success.



In an online world conversation and interaction is based on the level of trust you have. Building trust as a business is essential for employees and customers.

When talking about the best ways to brand your business, most discussions focus on logo creation, website development, and various other marketing tactics. But thoughtful branding is more than these things. Instead, go way back to look deeper and ask some fundamental questions about what your brand stands for and what its purpose is. You need to be clear on the answers to those questions to be able to truly connect with people and build trust.

As I’ve said before, people care more about why you do what you do, than what you do or how you do it.



Remember that building trust takes time. Trust is built upon conversations between people and businesses. Social Media is a great place for these conversations to take place because it allows businesses to communicate with people not only in a wider and broader context than in the past, but also in a way that they’ve never had the opportunity to do before.

By knowing your true values and what you stand for as a business you can start to listen to what people are saying. Then you can reach out and ask your customers how you can help them. Start the conversation and build trust.

Social media is here to stay, so you’ll want to build your brand carefully and wisely to ensure you’re creating an effective and engaging community. Trust is what matters. Be true to what you stand for – authentic in everything you say and do, and people will trust you.



Getting In The Game

With this post I will continue to connect the dots I started to connect in “Focus”.

In a changing market it’s more about listening and engaging with customers, than trying to sell products. Especially when customers don’t buy products anymore. Customers support businesses they trust and care about.



Social Media has become the playing ground for almost every savvy business. The one group that seems to be missing out, though, are those companies who make Business Intelligence products for consumers. For these companies, often with deep technical competencies, it makes little sense to sit on the sidelines of Social Media while some of their competitors are mastering the digital channel.

These companies are missing out on opportunities to create advocates from people that really care about their products. These advocates are potential customers and key allies who freely spread a company’s message.

As Morten Middelfart writes: -“…the one who is going to beat the competition is the company who is present with their customer. By that I mean, understanding what the customer wants and executing it immediately.” (Read more here: “BI trends in 2014“)

So what do customers want?

  • They want to be listened to and actively engaged with.
  • They want to feel like their time and effort spent helping a company promote its product is a good use of their time.



Using Social Media as just another marketing channel to push messages based on the current trends will not get you more customers. Listening to the users of your product will. One way to start is by engaging with them in different Social Media channels. You might see an increase in sales because people have started to trust you.  Knowing that people buy products from brands they trust and want to support, it only makes sense to create an environment that enables such trust and communication to form.

By starting with listening not only will you experience a whole new world by getting to know your customers and turning them into advocates, you will also see an increase in your bottom line.