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June 30, 2016

Welcome to Brexit Britain. It’s up to all of us now

Welcome to Brexit Britain

I’m one of the 17.4 million people in the UK who voted to leave the EU. According to many this means I am likely to be an ageing little Englander, a racist xenophobe, and a short sighted ill-informed idiot who has been duped by a campaign run by clowns.

It seems I’m also partly responsible for ruining any chances of prosperity and happiness for future generations, and the possible collapse of western civilization.

Who knew putting an X on a ballot paper could be so powerful?

The reaction is ongoing and it’s likely to be some time before feelings subside.  After all, the intensity of the convictions are proportional to the importance of the event.

There is a lot of anger, but I wonder what the reaction would have been had the result swung the other way.  How would the Remainers appease 16 million Brexiteers for example?

I’m not going to ask anyone to calm down or suck it up.  Your reaction is your own responsibility and you’ll have your reasons.  I respect your views and I hope you will respect mine.  After all, isn’t that what a tolerant, fair and democratic society is all about? Aren’t we supposed to be mature enough to work this out despite our differences of opinion?

However, it seems some Remainers won’t be happy until we keep having referenda until they get the ‘right’ result. Either that or, some have suggested, this result is ignored.

Did you vote?

The turnout was so large and the outcome so close that it was inevitable that several million people were going to be disappointed either way.  There was no room for compromise.  You were either for or against Britain leaving the EU.

However, this didn’t stop a lot of people sitting on the fence and abstaining altogether.  It has been reported that there was an 80%+ turnout among voters aged 60+ and only a 45%+ turnout among those in their twenties, so it’s just possible that if more young people got off their backsides and voted then the result might have been a win for the Remainers.

On the other hand, I suspect there would have been even more votes Brexit were it not for the fact that there were some who didn’t want to feel associated with Ukip and Mr Farage, even though they broadly agreed with the principles of the Leave campaign.  Eurosceptics on the left in particular may have wavered at the last minute onto the Remain side.

One thing I do know is that this referendum was not a General Election.  A vote for Brexit was not an endorsement of Ukip policy, whatever the simplistic memes on Facebook may suggest.

Why I voted for Brexit

I’m not going to repeat all the arguments here.  We had months of debate and everyone voted for their own reasons. The media was awash with information and there was no shortage of data to mull over while you made up your mind.

Personally, I voted for Brexit with a sense of optimism and a positive view of a stronger, more prosperous country free of the reins of the EU, trading with our European neighbours and the rest of the world, but on our own terms.

Far from pulling up the drawbridge to retreat into Little England I sensed a chance for us to turn to look outward and further, with bigger ambitions and more freedom in which to explore them.

To me, a vote for Brexit was a positive move in a different direction away from a club that looks upon the UK as a rich but badly behaved uncle.  Someone EU members tolerate for his financial contribution, but secretly don’t respect and find a bit embarrassing.

It was a chance to divorce ourselves from a failed project.  Time will tell, but it may the case that once again Britain has shown the way and others will follow.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue be trading partners, friends, and allies to our European neighbours.  Far from being insular we now have a chance to strike deals with any other country, free and unfettered by rules with which we don’t agree.

The idea that we could somehow fix the EU from the inside was a pipe dream.  Mr Cameron tried a few months ago and returned with barely any concessions. The men (and it is mostly men) in Brussels would not compromise even though we he had the leverage of a UK referendum on the horizon.

The EU’s agenda will always come first and the pleas by individual member states for change or reform for the sake of their own populations will always come second.

The immigration bit

We will continue to welcome immigrants to Britain, both from Europe and the rest of the world, who are ready and eager to contribute to our nation. It’s neither desirable nor practical to do otherwise, but we should be able to control who and how many come in to our country.  There’s nothing racist about that.  It’s just good government.

The thing is though, we seem to have bred a generation of people for whom the subject of immigration is the ultimate taboo. The political correctness is so powerful and ingrained that it’s difficult to even open the debate without a fair proportion of the audience assuming you’re a closet Nazi.

It’s been ridiculous for years.  The mainstream media tip-toes around the subject while everyone from career politicians to sanctimonious students and Guardian columnists are ever ready to describe the benefits of immigration, as if they had never occurred to anyone else.

I’ve grown weary of being lectured like this by people half my age who assume anyone over the age of 50 thinks like Alf Garnett and deserves to be shipped off to the Winnie Abbott Re-Education Camp for the Politically Incorrect.

There are all too many people who, for the best of reasons, have a rose-tinted view of the consequences of mass immigration.  They are often isolated from the impact and far removed from the real effects of a sudden increase in population in an area that doesn’t have the services and infrastructure to support it.

Even Miliband and Corbyn have managed to work that one out, but only because they didn’t get the number of votes they expected from certain areas that have a history of voting for Labour.

The aftershocks of the referendum result

The media loves to report on bad news and attracts more viewers using sensationalism.  We pride ourselves on being intelligent enough to know this and to be able to discern the difference, but the fact is we keep falling into the trap.  We lap up the hysteria and have emotional reactions as a result.

Jobs were lost and created before the referendum.  Contracts were won and lost, and businesses failed (BHS, Austin Reed etc).  They will be lost and created afterwards and I’m sure that there will be those who blame the losses on the referendum result while at the same time suggesting that any created couldn’t possibly be due to the outcome of the vote.

I’ll bet there’s many more of the 17,410,742 Brexit voters who can freely admit to not being an expert in economics, but to pin our hopes for prosperity for ourselves and future generations on EU membership seemed an unwise choice.

No doubt many will think we foolish and uniformed, but there it is. I expect millions more voted either way on less information.  I simply do not trust the people running the show in Brussels.

Meanwhile, on June 29th, there are already positive reports to be seen among all the negatives and the FTSE 100 has closed at a pre Brexit level.

Where do we go from here?

Assuming we want peace, prosperity, unity, happiness, and the whole nine yards then we’ve got to start imagining those outcomes, formulating a strategy, and moving towards it.  I say ‘assuming’ because there are those who want disruption, anarchy, and violence.  You’ll find them on the far left as well as the far right of politics.  They’ve always been there, ready to leap in and seize any opportunity to prey on people’s fears and create turmoil.

What unites people despite all their differences is a common desire to live in peace and dignity, with a reasonable standard of living,  and to see their children grow up happily with a decent education.  That may seem obvious and simplistic, but it’s the foundation for everything else. Politics is just arguing about how to bring that about.

Britain remains a great country with a great future, if we choose to create it.

It’s up to all of us as a country now.  If we can imagine it then we can make it happen, but if we’re determined to live under gloomy clouds of bitterness and regret then that’s exactly what we’re going to get.

As the eloquent Sufi mystic and poet Rumi so aptly put it:

Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.

Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Management

Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Management DashboardThere are all kinds of tools designed to support the task of managing multiple social media accounts.  I have tested several but my favourite by far is Hootsuite.  The Hootsuite social media marketing management dashboard is feature rich, well supported, and includes some free introductory training.

The Hootsuite dashboard scales according to your needs.  If you are running your own social media campaigns you may have one or more of the following accounts; Twitter, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, a Google+ page, Instagram, Pinterest, a YouTube account, and perhaps a WordPress blog.

Without a dashboard you will have to log in to each of your accounts one by one in order to respond and react to the activity in each stream.  You could simplify this process a little by setting up individual tabs in your browser and making these your default homepages on loading the browser.  However, this would be a poor substitute for what Hootsuite has to offer.

Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Management Dashboard

Every social media account has several aspects to it that may need your attention.  There are the comments, likes, messages, and other reactions to your output.  There may be content you want to share with your audience, and there could be requests for support or more information.  All of this while you’re trying to build your brand and expand awareness of your business in an effort to attract new clients.

Managing all of this, even for a solo operator with a small business, can become a time consuming task.  Consequently there is a risk that it could be done badly or not at all and that would mean the potential this offers would be lost.

The dashboard can be configured to show the streams of information from each of your social media accounts and arrange them in tabs for easy reference.  These streams will automatically refresh giving you an overview of all the activity and the ability to respond to any interaction.

You can schedule posts and updates to your accounts, one by one or in bulk.  This gives you the ability to plan, prepare, and create social media campaigns.  You updates can be scheduled to match the activity of your target market’s peak activity online.

Hootsuite Analytics will give you feedback and statistics on the effectiveness of your social media activity.  You can then adjust and optimise your campaigns based on this data.

Outsource Social Media Marketing Management

However, learning how to use all these features and putting them into practice takes time.  Training is available if you are inclined to complete it.  Even then you may find it takes up too much of your precious time if your attention is needed elsewhere.  Your business priorities may mean that you don’t have the time to mange this task on a regular basis.

This is why some businesses choose to outsource the task.  It can be much more cost effective to hand the job over to someone who has already completed all the training and knows how to use the dashboard efficiently.

They will get to know your business objectives, formulate a social media strategy with you, and put it into action.  They will monitor the results and adjust accordingly as the strategy unfolds.

If this sounds like something you’d like to explore then contact me for more information and a no obligation chat.  Social media has huge potential for businesses of all sizes and you can exploit this potential with the right help.

Social Media Marketing for Aviation, GA and UA

Social Media Marketing for AviationI had my first trial lesson in the early 1980s and went on to gain my PPL.  In 2013 I began exploring the emerging world of unmanned aviation and the use of drones for aerial photography.  The experience of both GA and UA puts me in a strong position help others reach their target market using social media marketing for aviation businesses.

Between 2014 and 2015 I built three websites, completed a course of training, and gained my PfAW from the CAA.  I then went on to complete some aerial photography work for several clients as well as make videos of my own.

I subsequently sold the UA business (Wessex Aerial Photography) to an existing aviation company, along with two UA websites, Copter Drones, and Drone UAV.

Social Media Marketing for Aviation

Social Media Marketing, like Google Adwords and other Pay Per Click marketing, is simple enough to start, but you need to analyse results and adjust accordingly.

Just like navigation in the air, if you want to reach your target destination on time and having used as little fuel as possible you need to understand what the instruments are telling you, where and what to adjust, and when to make those adjustments.

You also need to understand your audience and to interact with them.  You’ve probably heard people say that it’s all about building relationships, not trying to sell things, and they are right.

For example, there’s little point in using Twitter just to send out the occasional tweet about a service or product you want to sell.  Account used in this way attract few followers and end up being ignored.  Worse, they can use up time and other resources, and they may lessen the impact of your brand.

How I can help

Your business needs the appropriate social media accounts for what it is you’re offering.  Those accounts need to be managed, monitored, and operated with a clearly defined marketing strategy in mind.

I can help you to define your business goals, formulate a plan, put it into action, check results, and adjust accordingly.

Please get in touch for a no obligation chat.  I’m sure there will be some way in which I can help you to fly on track and land safely where your new clients are waiting.

Social Media Marketing Campaign Management

Social Media Marketing Certification

Social Media Marketing CertificationIf you’re interested in learning more about social media marketing either for your own business or in order to offer it as a service to others then hop over to Hootsuite.  They offer a free online course with the option of taking an exam at the end.  The exam comprises 58 questions to be answered in 60 minutes and costs $199.  If you don’t pass first time you can take it again.

The free online training consists of short video lectures and some notes to download in pdf files.  You can learn at your own pace, but it’s easy to follow and only takes a few hours to complete.  So for the purpose of continuity, especially if you intend to take the exam, I recommend you complete it within a two or three days.

The course teaches you how to make best use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram for business.  Perhaps you’ve tried all of these already and you think you know how to use them all, but I learned a lot despite having opened accounts years ago.

Social Media Marketing Course

The course is divided into six sections:

  1. Introduction to Social Media Marketing
  2. Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles
  3. Social Media Strategy – From A to Z
  4. Growing Your Online Community
  5. Content Marketing Fundamentals
  6. Social Advertising Fundamentals

Some of the things you learn will inspire you to pause the learning and head off to implement them on your social media profiles, but it’s probably best to wait until you’ve completed the course.  Take a step back and review what you’ve learned.  Then develop a strategy.

One of my early mistakes was to create too many profiles. It became too time consuming to manage them all and to find content to share in each of them.  So my first task was to consolidate them down to a more realistic number.  Then, having developed a strategy and calendar, implement it and review the results on a monthly basis.

Outsource Your Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing requires planning.  You have to consider your business goals and objectives, formulate a marketing plan that’s in line with them, put it in to practice, review the results, and adjust as necessary.

If you’re a business, one person or larger, this takes time and effort to learn and do.  It’s one of those tasks that is often best outsourced to someone like me who can get on with it for you while you concentrate on what you do best.  Contact me for more information and to discuss how we can use social media marketing to attract more leads and clients, build your brand, and help your business to grow.

June 14, 2016

Is the New Age Old Hat? Maybe metaphysics is mainstream now

keep calm and meditateIs the New Age Old Hat?  Maybe metaphysics is mainstream now.  So many subjects that used to be considered quirky or downright weird are now given open tolerance and promotion.

Four decades ago, before Amazon or Waterstones, the only way to buy any books on esoteric subjects was to visit an independent bookstore, a wholefood store, or use mail order.  As a curious teenager searching for answers outside mainstream religion I did just that.  I would send stamp addressed envelope to a bookshop in Leeds (it’s still there, 40 years later) and they would send a catalogue by return.

By the recommendation of friends, or referring to reviews I’d read in an obscure journal, or by pure guesswork I would select a few titles and send off a cheque.  A week or so later my books would arrive and I’d set about trying to absorb and understand the contents.

Inevitably, without the benefit of experience nor any guidance, I read some rubbish, but a few gems as well.  Gradually, I got to know the more respected authors  that fall into the category of the Western Mystery Tradition, like Gareth Knight, Dion Fortune, Colin Wilson, David Conway etc.

Among the growing number of New Age writers were Carlos Castaneda, and the author and aviator Richard Bach who were perhaps the pathfinders for the now popular Law of Attraction ideas.

Among the less talented authors were ones like Tuesday Lobsang Rampa.  He claimed to be a Tibetan monk, but turned out to be Cyril Henry Hoskins, a plumber from Plympton in Devon.  However, whatever his motives were for this disguise he did touch on some interesting subjects and his books were stepping stone for others.

Dion Fortune once wrote that it too far less work and effort to be a blacksmith than a Mage, and being a bit on the lazy side I took a job in a forge instead.

1980s – New Age Bookshops & Workshops

New Age Crystals

During the 1980s we saw the growth of Mind, Body, and Spirit sections in the bookstores, as well as New Age bookshops selling an ever increasing number of titles designed to answer the call more information on all the associated subjects.

The format was and remains the same; the books were complimented by an assortment of accessories including incense, crystals, CDs of whale and meditation music, and the ubiquitous dream-catchers (more often than not, made in China, not by Native Americans).

The 1980s was also a decade in which we saw the growth of workshops and seminars.  You could spend a couple of nights somewhere in Dorset where you would attend classes lead by an author or coach who lead the group into a series of exercises designed to find oneself, live magically, create one’s own reality etc.

If you wanted to go a bit deeper you might find yourself camping out in a field in Somerset attending the Glastonbury Earth Mysteries Camp or one of the Dragon Camps.   These consisted of daily workshops on a variety of subjects; sweat lodges, dowsing, wild herbs, sacred dance and so on.

1990s – Dawn of the Internet Age

With the arrival of the World Wide Web in the second half of the 1990s information (of variable standards and quality) began to be shared and published online.  In the years that followed a flood of information was made available.

The vast amount of data now accessible to anyone online is hard to comprehend. There are entire repositories like the Sacred Texts archive.  There is enough information in this one website alone to keep you busy for more than a lifetime.

The democratic nature the internet is such that there is no quality check of anything that is published online.  An open mind is healthy, but so is discernment.

21st Century Authors

Despite all this information available to us at a click or a swipe there is no substitute for  a hard copy. A book is still my preferred method for reading anything, whatever the subject.

There are plenty of excellent authors producing work that is both an inspiration and pleasure to read.  Authors like Gordon Strong (UK) and Gregg Braden (USA) to name just two.

Both not only write, but they also give talks and hold workshops. They are open to contact and dialogue online, which makes it a lot easier to obtain answers to questions raised by their output.  Gordon Strong is particularly active on Facebook.

Conclusion

Guided Mindfulness MeditationSo is the New Age old hat now?  In some ways things have changed beyond all recognition from the ‘Dawning of the Age of Aquarius’ of the 1960s, but on the other hand we’ve only just begun.

‘New Age’ certainly not a term you hear as much these days.  Perhaps it’s because so much that was fringe forty years ago is mainstream now; feng shui is incorporated into interior design, you can get complimentary medicine on the NHS, guided mindfulness meditation, and yoga are encouraged in the workplace, and respected sciences like cosmology and quantum mechanics are proving as weird as anything that has come before.

In addition, we’ve become much more aware of the effects of human activity on the planet, we recognise the importance of sustainable and renewable technology, and we see the world as a whole, responsive system.

Maybe those hippies and mystics were on to a thing or two.