Business Cliches That Show You’re Lazy!

This from Inc – better read it if you’re in any way involved in management or leadership!

Whipping out a platitude isn’t just annoying. Using some platitudes also shows you’re lazy, and not just in words but in actions:

“Work smarter, not harder.”
What happens when you say that to me?
One: You imply I’m stupid.

Two: You imply whatever I’m doing should take a lot less time and effort than it does.
And three: After you say it, I kinda hate you.
If you know I could be more efficient, tell me how. If you know there’s a better way, show me how. If you think there’s a better way but don’t know what it is… say so. Admit you don’t have the answer. Then ask me to help you figure it out. And most importantly, recognize that sometimes the only thing to do is to work harder… so get off your butt and help me.

“There is no ‘I’ in team.”
Sure there is. There are as many “I”s as team members. Those individuals, the more “individual” the better, serve to make the team stronger. The best teams are often a funky blend of the talents, the perspectives… and the individual goals of each person.
If you want a team to work hard and achieve more, make sure each person feels she can not only achieve the team’s goal but also one of her own goals. Spend time figuring out how each individual on the team can do both… instead of taking the lazy way out by simply repressing individuality in the pursuit of the collective.

“It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Fate had nothing to do with it. Something went wrong. Figure out what went wrong and learn from it.
“Oh… it wasn’t meant to be…” is not just lazy but also places responsibility elsewhere.
“Oh… but let’s figure out what we can do next time…” is empowering and places the responsibility where it should be: on you.

“That’s probably not what you want to hear.”
It sucks to hear bad news, no doubt. But when you say that something isn’t what I want to hear you shift the issue over to my side of the table. Somehow it’s become my problem. Don’t shift. Explain why you made a decision. Explain the logic. Explain your reasoning.
I still may not want to hear it… but that way the focus remains on the issue and not on me.

“Perception is reality.”
Yeah, yeah, I know: How I perceive something is my version of reality, no matter how wrong my perception may be.But if other people perceive a reality differently than you, work to change that perception. Make reality the reality.
Besides, perceptions are fleeting and constantly changing. Reality lasts forever… or at least until a new reality comes along to replace it.

“We want your feedback.”
You see and hear a similar line everywhere: websites, signs, meetings…
Don’t be passive if you truly want feedback. Don’t “make it easy” for people to provide. Go get it. Be active.
People who really want feedback take responsibility for getting that feedback–they don’t wait to receive it.

“Do it now and apologize later.”
You’re not a bold, daring risk-taker; you’re lazy and self-indulgent. Good ideas are rarely stifled. People like better; if they don’t like your idea, the problem usually isn’t them: It’s you.
Don’t take the easy way out. Describe what you want to do. Prove it makes sense. Get people behind you.
Then whatever you do has a much better chance of succeeding.

“Failure is not an option.”
This one is often used by a leader who gets frustrated and wants to shut down questions about a debatable decision or a seemingly impossible goal: “Listen, folks, failure is simply not an option.” (Strikes table or podium with fist.)
Failure is always a possibility. Just because you say it isn’t doesn’t make it so.
Don’t reach for a platitude. Justify your decisions. Answer the hard questions.
If you can’t, maybe your decision isn’t so wise after all.

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”
Because hey, your wheel might turn out to be a better wheel… which means my wheel wasn’t so great.
And we can’t have that.

“It is what it is.”
Here’s another shutdown statement. “It is what it is,” really means, “I’m too lazy to try to make it different… so for gosh sakes stop talking about it.”
“It is what it is” is only true if you take the easy way out by letting “it” remain “it.”


It’s All About Service – and other stuff too!

I liked this from Hotel InterActive – a great site. These are ‘lessons learned’ from successful Asian hotels and very valuable lessons they are too – for any sized hotels anywhere. The picture? Bali! Ah! Dream on Richard!

It’s All About Service: By and large, the service levels experienced in all properties were at a palpably superior level than that previously witnessed in similar North American hotels and luxury properties in Europe.  This was accomplished not just through higher staff levels (anticipated), but by what appears to be a stronger and more adroit commitment to service.  Little touches in areas like valet, room service, housekeeping, F&B, front desk and concierge accumulated into something far greater.  In fact, try as I might, in three weeks of travel, only one service deficiency was noted, and it was trivial.

Paying Attention to the Details: Every luxury hotel guest expects comfortable and elegant accommodations, a broad array of food choices, and service efficiencies.  What sets these Asian properties apart are details normally not seen stateside.  Some examples include: newspapers delivered with gloves to avoid ink stains on your hands; rather than pillow-chocolates, a small cake at turndown service; notes handed out in leather folders; multiple amenity packages including full shaving and dental kits; jewelry boxes inside the room safe; a stationery kit of goodies to help handle minor business requirements; in-room espresso maker (not just a coffeemaker); multiple lighting configurations for various times of day and ambiance; a unique two-piece martini glass set; contribution envelopes to support local charities as a deposit for your coin change; and proper folios for your departure invoice.

Continuous Innovation: These properties continue to test new ways of improving their guest relationships through product enhancements.  In one hotel, they were experimenting with a dedicated floor for couples.  Another property was testing new menus. Still another was encouraging customers to create wild, new drink combinations.

Expert Maintenance to Support Quality Construction: As expected, the woods, marble and granite used for room furnishings were all immaculate.  While the properties ranged in age from 7 to over 20 years old, they all have the feeling of a newly opened hotel.  This was largely a result of superb maintenance levels.  No visible marks or scuffs were noted on door frames or hallway corners.  Upholstery was fresh, both in look and smell.  All electronics were up-to-date and far beyond what is the norm for North America.

Visible Leadership: Without exception, it was commonplace to see a member of senior property management in the reception area each morning, and often in the evening as well.  While the primary role appeared to be greeting guests, they also served as a reassurance that the team was performing its duties.  One evening, I met a general manager in the restaurant after 10PM, as he was waiting for a VIP guest to arrive from a delayed flight.  Of note, he was telephoned from the arriving limousine a few minutes in advance to efficiently orchestrate the arrival.

Varndean College In Livingstone!

It’s quite unusual for us to feature Guests staying at Livingstone facilities other than Chanters Lodge on our regular Sunday night radio show – The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela – but we were more than happy to host Alrik Green with students Grace Potter and Nino Rapa pictured above. Alrik is a lecturer, Grace and Nino graduate students from Varndean College in Brighton, UK – the guys were actually staying at JollyBoys Backpackers with the rest of their student group. We were delighted to invite them on to our programme so our listeners could hear all about their work with the Kaloko Community on the Copperbelt in Zambia, organized by the Kaloko Trust in UK. Alrik and I have known each other for several years, meeting during one of his previous visits to Zambia. Our radio show airs every Sunday night at 20.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station.

Grace,18 and Nino,17 told listeners that they’d worked for two weeks with the Kaloko Community in Luansobe, some 60 kms from Ndola in Northern Zambia, helping local carpenters to make desks and chairs for local schools that were short of furniture. Were they experienced carpenters themselves, we wondered? “We are now!” Was the smart reply. Where had they stayed while they were there, Milli Jam wanted to know. “In rondavels” they replied, Grace going on to say that the 9 girls with whom she’d shared a ‘dormitory room’ had formed a group now known as the ‘Zambezi Babes’. Had they enjoyed the experience? You bet they had! Some of the group had also helped with some teaching in the local primary school.

The music on the show had an immediate Brighton bias as we featured Conor Maynard’s latest UK smash ‘Vegas Girl’. Conor hails from Brighton and it turned out that Nino and Conor had at one time attended the same school. We coupled ‘Vegas Girl’ with Karmin’s ‘Brokenhearted’ also a huge hit in both UK and USA. Other tracks featured on the show were from Zambian artists B-Flo and Danny, as well as Kelly Rowland’s latest ‘Ice’ featuring Lil Wayne and Nigerian star 2 Face with ‘Bad Girl – Bad Man’. Our oldie of the week was ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ from Puff Daddy Diddy and the prize we give every week to the first person to text us the name of the artist on the track was quickly snapped up! Other tunes were from Cady Groves and Scissor Sisters.
Our Guests told us they are fans of ‘The Seagulls’ – Brighton and Hove Albion, the city’s own Championship football club. “What kind of city is Brighton” Milimo wondered, to which the reply was “big, loud and known as ‘London-By-The-Sea’!” Asked about their favourite musical artists Grace recommended Beyonce, and Nino David Bowie but all three rated Rizzle Kicks – a Brighton band. “So do we” we commented “we’ve played their tracks several times on our show”. Alrik, Nino and Grace all spoke highly of the Zambian music they’d heard when they were on the Copperbelt, and they’d also learned to speak a few words in Bemba.

Had the visitors had time for tourist activities while they’d been in Livingstone? Yes, and Nino would be taking the microlight flight over the Falls the following day.

Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing in ten years time, the students hoped they would be working and living in Zambia, Alrik hoped he would still be teaching and taking students as great as Grace and Nino on tour to places like Zambia! The group greeted friends back at Jollyboys and their families at home in UK. Our show streams live on the net so we hoped the people overseas caught their messages!

Great guys, great show!


Free Wifi…..or not!

TNooz is the place to find stuff about hotels and hospitality! This piece about the importance of offering free wifi in hotels caught my eye. Chanters Lodge was one of the first small lodges in Livingstone to offer this facility some years ago and we have battled with various ISP’s to meet our goal. Right now our supplier is Zamtel but we have a back up ISP as well. Get in!

It is possibly one of the most fiercely debated topics in (consumer) travel technology – should consumers be entitled to free wifi and web access in hotels? And it now turns out that travellers are becoming more discerning about the destinations they are likely to visit, based on the quality of mobile coverage.

A study of 500 travellers (52% from Western Europe, 16% Northern Europe, 13% Southern Europe, 17% Middle East) found that 86% now expect wifi connections to be made freely available in hotels. Amazingly, over a third (37%) say that good mobile coverage is important when choosing a destination, although the study doesn’t explain how consumers are checking such requirements.

Elsewhere in the study (commissioned by Brocade), over half admitted to using their mobile devices to check on work emails during a leisure trip – hardly surprising in some respects given that 95% of people will take a mobile phone away with them on holiday. Pressure is increasing on hotels to loosen their policies over tariffs for wifi services, although property owners and others still claim costs in large hotels are often prohibitive.

Interestingly, live streaming appears to be becoming an increasingly important consideration, with a third claiming they will attempt to watch content from the London 2012 Olympics if it coincides with a trip.

Brocade VP and CMO, John McHugh, says:
“There is significant blurring between personal time and work time in modern society, with the consumerisation of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) working policies leading many people to rely on smartphones and tablet devices around the clock, wherever they may be and whatever they may be doing.”

That’s it!


Tablet Time For Hotels

Gosh! Here’s some food for thought from HotelInteractive! and Mr. Larry Mogelonsky – CHA

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s this great new piece of technology gaining massive acceptance, generically called the Tablet PC.  Your guests will be arriving with them.  Your competitors will be finding ways to use them.  So what are you doing about it?

If you’re not convinced this new technology is important, consider this: Apple, the world’s leading tablet computer manufacturer, shipped over 14 million iPads in Q1 2012 alone, nearly quadruple the amount of laptops (MacBooks) they sold in the same period.  On an industry scale, sales of tablets are up about 300% year-over-year, while sales of notebook PCs have basically plateaued.  This adoption rate is faster than just about any new technology to hit the marketplace in recent history, including the DVD player, PC, or smart phone.

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not your hotel is tablet friendly.  Have you checked your website on a tablet to see how it looks?  Can customers book from a tablet as easily as they can on a computer?  Most tablets will only have two plugs – one to connect to a computer or power source and another for headphones.  Without an Ethernet port, you better have WiFi available for your tablet guests and ideally, at no additional cost.  Excuse the pun, but hardwired Internet just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Once a guest arrives, there are many other interactions where tablets can make a strong impression.  Rather than having your concierge show someone a paper brochure for an amenity or activity, why not present it to them on a tablet?  It will impress your guests and allow you to show them a variety of material without interruption; introducing and enticing them to use more of your services.

At your restaurant, try showcasing your wine list with an app for users to browse by type, price and vintage.  You’ll save big on reprints.  Many wine list apps today can integrate with your inventory to only show those that are presently available, as well as ideal food pairings.  You might even consider using tablets to replace the paper menu all together!

At check-in, consider having a tablet available so that your front desk staff can use them to up-sell rooms.  It is easy to create simple presentations on features and benefits in a quick slideshow of illustrious photography.

What about behind the scenes?  Think about how your staff members can keep track of guest requirements.  Integrating a tablet app with your property PMS can go a long way to help reduce the waste associated with daily room printouts as well as speed up internal communication.  Applications such as the dashboard system I have developed, Inn at a Glance, are designed to work seamlessly in a tablet configuration for this purpose.

These are just some of the ways that tablets can integrate into your hotel’s operation.  Mind you, it’s not an overnight adjustment because there is the fixed cost of purchasing each unit and there are some security issues (never mind that you might have to install WiFi throughout your hotel).  However, with their exponential adoption rate, you’ll need to be tablet-compatible and tablet-chic if you want to attract the younger tech-savvy crowd. 

Best get with the program before it’s too late!

Cowbell and Entrepreneurship

Loved this from Emmygees Uwakina on Facebook

MTN came to Nigeria at a time when nobody wanted to invest in Nigeria, at a time when Nigerians did not have phones. Even Zenith Bank refused to lend MTN cash to operate, UBA rejected MTN’s offer – but today see the difference. Millions of Nigerians, and Africans have cell phones and many use MTN!

And, we all know the story of the only civilian unelected President in Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan. We know how people said he was not going to be President, they even made him acting President. Today the rest is history!

What about Cowbell? When they came to Nigeria, they made milk in a sachet. Peak laughed at them – they said Cowbell was milk for the poor and they were right! 3 million poor people could afford N10 a day for a sachet of milk. Do the math – 3 million people buying milk at N10.00- that was N30million every single day. In a month they grossed N900million (almost N1billion). Even Peak have had to make sachet milk in order to survive in the market.


So what have people told you? What have they said you cannot do, that you are not qualified to do, or for that matter do not have the experience to do? They told Cowbell, they told Goodluck, they told MTN, but today the story has changed.

Success is not about where you graduated from, but what graduates from you!

Keep the spirit!


Kubu Crafts, Livingstone

Thanks to Joanne Selby at Sun International about Kubu Crafts and their new shop in Livingstone at Mosi-o-Tunya right next to Shoprite:

Kubu Crafts is a small factory in Livingstone. They specialise in making hand-made furniture from indigenous hard woods – Zambezi teak and rosewood. This timber is special to our region.

In the early 1900s a company set itself up to cut teak and rosewood close to Livingstone. In those days it was the railway which was the method of transport using steam locomotives. The company, called Zambezi Sawmills, felled many of the trees close to Livingstone and then set its sights on the enormous resources to the northwest of Livingstone, near a town called Mulobezi.

They constructed a railway track to Mulobezi which was a huge task through thick sand and over rivers. They laid temporary tracks into the forest to haul the felled timber out and bring it to Livingstone. It was, in its time, one of the biggest industries in Zambia. The railway was the longest privately-owned line in the world. The timber was widely used as railway sleepers in Africa because the wood is so strong and resistant to insect attack. It was also used as parquet flooring which was sent to England and used in stately homes.

Back in the 1900s the forest resources seemed infinite; Zambia had hardly been touched by any development. Today, though, things are much different. The timber is cut from the forests but it has to be of a certain size, the smaller trees being left to grow. Each log has to be inspected and stamped. When bringing the logs from the forests to town the transporter has to have a permit. It is all strictly controlled.

When Kubu Crafts receives a log from the forest it is marked for cutting, maximizing the large pieces to make beds and tables. The medium-sized pieces are used to make side tables and chairs. The small pieces are used to make lamp stands, candlesticks and business card boxes. Very little of the wood is wasted – it is a precious resource.



Heard of Wimdu? If you’re in the hospitality business it’s probably important that you know about them, so here you are!

Wimdu was started with a small international team in March 2011, but has quickly grown into a tightly-knit group of 350 dedicated employees worldwide. Still growing rapidly, Wimdu is an online platform with a wide range of private accommodation that stretches as far as your imagination is willing to take you. Whether it’s a room in a Berlin shared apartment or a New York designer flat, Wimdu’s range of over 50,000 properties in more than 100 countries ensures that everybody can find exactly what they’re looking for: exciting accommodation in fantastic places, and it’s cheaper than a hotel!

They say they connect guests and hosts all over the world, inspiring unique encounters that allow you to discover a new way of traveling, staying true to their slogan ‘Travel like a local’. But not only that. Wimdu also lets you rent out your own place and make money as you help others explore the world!

Wimdu was founded by Arne Bleckwenn and Hinrich Dreiling, two close friends who met each other at university and had successfully founded two companies together before establishing Wimdu. The two passionate backpackers came up with the idea behind Wimdu on a year long trip around the world. Bored of the monotony of hotel rooms and the increasing austerity of hostels, they started staying more and more often in small rooms offered by locals: living with them, getting insider tips and spending evenings getting to know them. Motivated by their experiences and an internationally spreading interest in personalized rentals, they decided to start a company that would combine technical know-how with passion for travelling and a closer attention to the individual needs of its users, all rooted in the unique flavour of Berlin.

The result of this is Wimdu, a diverse team of highly-qualified and enthusiastic people all aiming to turn private, home-grown rentals into an easy to use global norm. They say they want to change the way people travel into something more real and personal, to help them ‘travel like a local’, as their slogan suggests. Their large team of over 350 people is located not only in their Berlin headquarters, but is spread out in many locations all over the world.


Tribal Textiles

Here’s an eye opening little piece from You and Mia

“I recently returned from Zambia. While there, I took the opportunity to visit Tribal Textiles, near Mfuwe.
Driving along a bumpy country road lined with trees, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there is a signpost for Tribal Textiles. Turning off the main road, you are greeted by white-washed buildings, lush greenery overhanging wooden benches and stone courtyards. The air is cool and fresh under the shade. We stretched our legs, cramped from the long road-trip and walked through the shop and workshops.

Colors pop off of pillow cases and aprons. Bold geometric shapes and traditional patterns cover everything from bedsheets and curtains, to table runners and other home accessories. Everything is made with 100% cotton, designed and painted individually. I first thought the designs were created using Batik, like in Indonesia. But the designs are made using a starch paste that is sun-dried and then hand-painted. Baking the fabric makes it durable in countless washes.”

(Go the link to see the video about Tribal Textiles)



My Klout score was 64 the last time I checked and I am apparently rated as a ‘top influencer’ for Zambia, as well as having a high score for tourism. Do you know your score – if not it would be a good idea to log on and find out! It matters. Check what the influential Forbes has to say about it.

“It’s fashionable to feign indifference to your Klout score, which measures online influence. Some professionals think it’s uncool to seem too interested in their rankings; others believe all you need to worry about is creating good content. Not so fast, says Alex Lightman, author of Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet. Klout, he argues, is an indispensable way to showcase your expertise in a fast-changing marketplace – and a powerful egalitarian force that privileges know-how over who you know.

Thanks to Klout, says Lightman, “We don’t have to use the logical fallacy of deferring to authority. Just because someone’s from MIT doesn’t mean they know something up-to-date on a particular subject.” Instead, there’s now another option – to reward people based on demonstrated expertise: “Now we have a fair and objective way to see who gets a shot.”

Lightman – who has an impressive Klout score of 81 out of 100 and is considered the #1 authority on topics such as the singularity and the future – has worked hard at building his network and his score. That effort is valuable, he says, because Klout measures and encourages the right things online – whether you’re engaging with your network and producing quality content. “If you just go and add a bunch of people on Twitter or Facebook but you’re not conversing or interacting, that will kill your Klout score,” he says.

Lightman’s posts often have a scientific bent, but he focuses on generating high-quality conversations about topics as eclectic as government in ancient Rome and optimal exercise techniques. “I have intelligent people listening and participating in the conversation,” he says. Spending time developing your network, says Lightman, can improve your access to new ideas, capital, potential collaborators, and publicity opportunities. Most importantly, it might change your mind: “One of the things about having a high Klout score is I don’t have to know everything,” he says. “I can now just host conversations, as opposed to having to know it all. I don’t constantly have to be Mr. Science News; I can post a cat picture…People don’t feel a need to argue me to the ground, and I’m not as wedded to an absolute position as I used to be, because there’s always somebody who can come up with new evidence.”

So how can you improve your own Klout score? Lightman has three tips to share.

Don’t be formulaic. It’s not about posting X many times a day, or only on certain topics. “I feel sorry for people who think they have to follow a formula,” he says. “They miss the coolness of it. What you ate for dinner is not novel, not a surprise. You want things to emerge out of your life – so you have to live a life full of surprises. If you’re surprised and delighted with your own life, other people will be excited, too.”

Pictures tell the best stories. Lightman collects interesting photos and then – instead of regular, descriptive captions – will come up with funny alternative scenarios. He’s constantly brainstorming ways to inform and entertain his network: “If they go to my [Facebook] wall, they’re going to see something new.”

Give back. One of Lightman’s most popular innovations is his pledge to spend 40 hours per year helping others by answering questions. His periodic “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Facebook have produced thoughtful dialogues on world population, artificial intelligence, and alternative energy.

Do you think Klout score matters? What are your strategies for engaging with your online network and creating great content?

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