August is for personal branding

Preparing for the start of the year in academia is a new thing for me and I am excited to be working on a lot of new courses, all mainly in the area of digital marketing. One topic in particular is getting me super motivated at the moment: digital personal branding.

To learn more in this area, I have bought the Udemy course “Building a personal brand by Gary Vaynerchuck”. Gary V is a very polarizing character, and some aspects of his full-on, “in-your-face” type of personality do slightly irritate me, but I find him really inspiring here.

The ONE learning from this course is to be self-aware, to reflect on who you are. Too few of us really activelly practice self-awareness. I’m doing the exercise: it is worth it, and boils down to the following:

  • Ask yourself what you love (your passion);
  • what you are good at (your strengths);
  • and what you suck at (your weaknesses).

In the process, be true to yourself.

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What you love is what you’ll be able to do every day for the rest of your life. Then come your strengths and weaknesses. The advice is to go all in on the former, and try and delegate the latter. Easier said than done, I agree. Or maybe it seems easy and you already have the answers. In any case, I recommend taking a moment to do it. You may even ask your friends what they think.

What better time than August to reflect on yourself, you career, your goals and aspirations for the year to come? Holidays are ending and it’s back to work, or back to school: be a little more self-aware!

Laurence

Photo credits: Tom Hussey.

 

Using technology to increase student engagement: my top tools

Between 10 and 15 minutes.

That’s, according to psychologists , the attention span of students in class these days. A bit of an issue when most classes last between 60 and 90 minutes, right?

Good indicators of a teacher loosing his/her student’s attention are, in my experience, students smiling at their computer or phone screens (they got a message from a friend/lover), or them typing frantically and never looking up at you (they are working on something else, sending an email).

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Alongside all the “traditional” strategies to increase student’s attention and engagement, some apps and technologies can also make a difference.

Forget the time you banned students from going on their phones and computers in class!

Now, you need to push them to use this very technology – that supposedly distracts them – for purposeful use in and out of class. That is, according to me, the way forward.

Here are a few tools that me and my colleagues use and that are worth discovering for improved levels of student engagement:

  • Hstry : I discovered Hstry at a meetup in Brussels where the CTO pitched it. It’s a brilliant tool to create interactive timelines for students, which they can populate themselves too and use for studying purposes out of class. They also share community timelines created by other users, like this cool history of the Internet.
  • Padlet : used by many and available in web and mobile app format, Padlet also has a timeline format where students can post content (videos, documents, pictures, ideas) and structure presentations, topic discussions. It’s a bit more advanced than Hstry in terms of functionalities but equally cool and can be edited directly in class.
  • Jamstorming : another great tool for in-class engagement, which allows teachers to create interactive workshops by adding questions that students will aswer to in class. Students can also vote for the best answers, rate them, and organise them. Data is then downloadable for further use.
  • Cocertify : I just discovered this tool and will try and use it asap, because it allows something I am really keen on, which is peer assessment. You build your assessment with the desired criteria, then share it with students and analyse results afterwards.

I hope these reviews help. And you, which tools do you use as an educator, or even manager to engage your audience? Which ones do you recommend as a student?

 

Introducing: the KEDGE students guest blog series

For the first time since the inception of this blog, I’m going to host not only one guest blogger, but  15 of them!

What?guest blogger blog blogging contribution marketing

As a professor at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, and I am teaching on the digital marketing specialisation in our Msc programme. Within our “digital customer experience”, course kicking off today, I’m inviting my students to contribute to this blog with a guest post each.

Why?

It think it’s important for a future marketer to learn to produce quality content for a vast audience. It’s also part of a student’s job to articulate critical ideas and be able to share them convincingly. The point of this series of guest posts is getting the students out of their zone of comfort and providing them a friendly, yet professional outlet to do so.

How will it work?

Student will write on a topic of their choice, related to customer experiences. I’ll post the work and they will then promote it.  At the end, they will peer-assess each other’s work and this will count toward their final grade.

I am really excited to see their output and share it with you, which will come out in March and April.

Stay tuned for 15 insightful, smart and fresh posts from my students! They’ll be waiting for your support and tons of shares and comments to get their grades up, so watch this space!

Photo credits: huffingtonpost.com

Educating the non-digital natives

Social media tend to emphasise the generational gap between us, generation Y or Z, and those born and raised without the ubiquitous presence of the Internet (the NON digital natives, also know as “our parents”).

Have you ever noticed your parents struggling with technology, online practices and vocabulary? Yes… yes, you have. Ever had to set up an online account for them? Help them reset their password, install a printer, show them how to scroll, view messages, pay online..? Probably a hundred times.

Out of all these funny, and honestly quite adorable parent fails, I find their social media behaviour most amazing. Parents are experimenting with social media out of curiosity; to stay in touch with their kids or reconnect with old pals from school. The funny part is that they don’t seem aware of the fast-evolving “code of conduct” that we have learned to master after about a decade of social media usage (yes, we can call ourselves experts here).

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Remember these times when you kindly ignored, or better, deleted, embarrassing comments they made on your Facebook profile – visible to all your friends? (“You are so beautiful and intelligent and I love you so much and miss you, why don’t you come and visit more often?” – something like that). It’s a bit the equivalent of them kissing you ten times when dropping you off at school when you were ten. Social humiliation.

Or when they profusely use “lol’s” and weird smileys, or even sometimes leave spelling mistakes or shortened words in their posts, thinking it’s cool. You probably don’t use “lol” since 2012 and stopped shortening words when the text message length got unlimited.

They might also randomly poke you (why does that even still exist?) or get mad if you don’t instantly answer a Facebook message. If they are connected, you should too: is that not like an SMS?!

So, I think that, as a good starting point (vocabulary is always the basic of learning), we should send this link to all parents, possibly grand-parents and elders in our network: the Top Social Media Terms and Acronyms Defined. Don’t bother reading it, just send it.

Remember when your parents sermoned you for doing socially-awkward things in the real-life world, like trowing a tantrum in the supermarket? Start giving back, send the link, and hope for the best!

PS: Dear parents, we still love you 🙂

JovaTV

I don’t blog much about music, but my latest discovery cannot be left unshared, so I am happily deviating from my usual topics – also because it relates to what I love: online communities and great brands.

I am a big fan of the Italian singer and songwriter Jovanotti. From hearing my uncle sing his early hits in the 1990’s, to re-discovering him in the mid-2000’s, this artist has stuck with me. He always comes with very varied influences (rap, hip-hop, disco, funk, world music), meaningful texts and is where you least expect him, always innovating, always reinventing himself. He’s the kind of artist that brings you to a happy place.

A few weeks ago, he launched JovaTV, which can be described as an online platform for video sharing, centred around him and his work, but going much further than that. Let me explain. On the one hand, the platform features official and unofficial music clips, stories, shots of life, etc. posted by Jovanotti himself. You can even watch one of his live shows in full. Pretty awesome, but not yet transcending.

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The really amazing part of the site is the section of the called “YouJova”, where fans can submit their own videos, somehow related to Jova’s music (covers, flashmobs, kids singing, dances, etc.)

I think this is a great way to give voice to fans, to build a community and share this feeling of sheer happiness and optimism that transpires through Jova’s work. Some fan videos are very professional, properly directed and cut, others are highly unplanned and casual, making for a really rich web of interrelated, meaningful stories.

This is how Jovanotti envisions the platform:

I would like to post experiments, travel stories and above all music. I will use it to tell stories, to let you see things that traditional TV does not have time and will to broadcast, to have an archive of my whole story, to give an outlet to new directors and filmmakers

This is still a beta project, which is due to evolve. From the look of it, it is off to a great start.

Stay tuned, browse through, and discover what I think is the start of a fantastic specialised social platform and  strong brand.

Continue reading “JovaTV”

CrossFit

I do not particularly like it when people advocate that one sport is the best and only way to exercise. There is now a big craze around CrossFit, which I do not really identify with, but as one of the sports that I like, I wanted to tell you a bit about it. (And as some people thought I was about to commit suicide after my last post on data analysis, I though something a bit more fun would be a nice follow-up)!

First, and because everyone loves a good definition, let’s start by clarifying what CrossFit is:

CrossFit is that which optimises fitness through constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.

Ok, that sounds a bit brutal, right? Well yes, a bit, but really fun and safe when done well.

If you are a big fan of low impact, low intensity workouts (or no workout at all), if you are just happy with your fitness level, or otherwise severely injured…, it’s probably best to take it easy indeed.

In any other case, even if, like me, you are far from being an athlete but want a good challenge, just give it a go. If you are willing to sweat your eyeballs out after just 5 minutes of exercise, go for it. If you don’t mind forgetting what your name is after an amazing Workout Of the Day (WOD in CrossFit jargon), come along. Like any sport, it requires persistence to get results, and efforts along the way. No pain, no #gainz, like they say.

And then you might get hooked and start wearing official CrossFit Reebok or Rogue gear, eat your Optimum Nutrition proteins and PurePharma supplements, but that’s not needed: it’s just the branding maniac in me saluting the really cool business concept.

And you, how do you enjoy exercising?

IMG_6392For more info about CrossFit in Belgium:

For CrossFitters in Glasgow:

  • Train with me at CrossFit Glasgow. Everyone at CrossFit makes a point to know other members by their name. I keep telling them to call me Lau, but they enjoy mispronouncing Laurence too much 🙂 Seriously, it’s an amazing place to exercise (Instagram @crossfitglasgow)

To find an affiliate CrossFit gym anywhere in the world: http://www.crossfit.com/

The Dublin Express

When Ryanair opened a Glasgow International-Dublin flight and decided to price it at £20 for the return trip, I knew I had no other option than to hop on it.

This was my second visit to Dublin (first in 2012). As I had done all the touristy bits that time (Guinness Storehouse, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and the Book of Kells…), I decided to just go with the flow. Here are my week-end highlights and recommendations for any impromptu Dublin city-break.

Visit the Google offices.

Seriously, do. They boast the highest building of the city (13 storey, people, get excited!) and a true corporate Disneyland. So much that I find amazing how employees can focus on their job rather than play and eat all day. I guess the excitement progressively wears out. Mine did not!

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In Google European Headquarters, you’ll find: kitchens filled with amazing snacks, fruits, cakes and drinks on every floor; toys scattered all over the open-floors (Nerf guns among others); cosy, colourful and super techy meeting rooms and booths everywhere; massive social spaces for drinks and events; a restaurant with free international food for breakfast, lunch and dinner – you heard me – a doctor; massage room and post office…oh and let’s not forget a swimming pool and hyper-equipped gym. I might have hyperventilated, then. All of this with a pretty cool view over the city (rain included in the package).

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I think I would be incapable of working there for sheer focus issues, but I utterly enjoyed the visit!

Meander.

Having an aimless walk in a city and following the streets to wherever they want to lead you (with the help of your friend Google Maps, let’s not push the adventure too far) is sometimes the best way to discover a city. Get off the beaten tracks and forget about tourist guides, you will see lovely things in Dublin, among which the famous Dublin doors.

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Eat, drink, rave, repeat. 

And last but not least, the food review! If you fancy a lovely brunch by the docks, go to Herbstreet and try their mushroom-loaded toast. For a chill evening of wine sampling and elegant dining, discover the Dublin Wine Rooms in the financial district. In the mood for a wild party at the heart of Grafton street? Hit Lillie’s Bordello. And try to find your way back home. On the next day, have a recovery brunch at Avoca on Suffolk Street (picture below). Then, meander in their shop for an hour, have a very long walk and refuel with an espresso from 3FE Coffee. You’ve just won the hipster badge. And just because, top it up with a quite decent plate of maki and gyoza from Musashi. Once you have done this and, if need be, had a look at my reviews of these places on Yelp, have a small food coma on the plane back home…

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…and give a big thank you to your host for showing you a fantastic time and to your Irish flatmate for being the perfect partner in crime.

Until next time, Ireland!

 

 

Ode to Glasgow

After 4 years spent living in Glasgow, I sometimes forget I am an expat and tend to be a bit blasé of the city I live in. Same walk to work every morning, same people wearing the same clothes, same subway stations and buildings all around.

But sometimes, the sun might decide to shine between two apocalyptic downpours, street art might surprise you on the corner of a street, you may discover a new shop where you had not been before, or hidden jewels.

On these moments, take your phone out and capture it. Then, collect things in a random blogpost to entice people to come and visit you before you leave (wink wink) or simply remind them to open their eyes to what their city has to offer, wherever they live.

Gorgeous Glasgow in a few shots…

The old mansions of Charing Cross & Kelvinbridge on Great Western Road :

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Flowers blooming at the Botanics Gardens & overly friendly squirrels:

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The University main building viewed from the library on a sunny day

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Glasgow had one of the strongest YES vote on the referendum

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Street art (or marketing…) here and there

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The Clyde and BBC Scotland on a night stroll & the Canal at Speirs Wharf

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And you, where do you live and what do you love about your city?

The wings to run!

Far from being an expert runner now, but after running my second Great Scottish Run half-marathon last week, I just thought I’d share a couple of (impromptu) strategies that helped me take my time down and get these wings going!

4058251539_2b9fbe9172_bFind a lollipop.

There were supposed to be pacers in the crowd, that you’d be able to follow if you wanted to achieve a certain time. They would carry a big lollipop with the intended completion time. Never found them, so I decided to find my own “lollipop” and started keeping an eye on a girl who was just a bit ahead of me and seemed really steady. I lost her at some point, but then found a little rabbit man who did the job.

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Look down. 

I realised about half way through that looking at the ground, focusing on my breathing and forgetting about the world around was helping me be more consistent in my pace, and increase my speed. It might not work for everyone, especially if you like seeing the buzz around you, but it might be a winning technique for some.In any case, find out what you are comfortable thinking about: your breath and technique, happy memories, your loved ones, the finish line and meal you’ll have after…Or like me forget about everything and focus on my shoes and the beats in my ears.

porridgeFuel up.

Make sure to load up with carbs with a nice pre race breakfast. I had a large bowl of oats topped with a banana and almond butter 3 hours prior, then a protein shake a bit later, and an energy gel just before the race.

Drinking during the race is super important, but frequent and small amounts work better for me…too much bouncing does not agree with loads of fluids!

 

 

That’s my three key takes for this race. Maybe a marathon next time…!

Other resources that helped me prepare:

Runner’s World A fab website full of resources about anything runners might want to know. I track their updates on Facebook.

BBC Good Food For tips on what to eat!

Going to a fitness club (This club in Glasgow is amazing). I find that good overall fitness is important as a supplement to running training.

Hipsters taking pictures of hipsters taking pictures of food.

What seemed like a weird trend a few months back has now evolved in a global phenomenon, and it is taking huge proportions as time goes by, both in the private, public and business spheres. Here is a bit of a reflexion on the whole “food chat” and “picture taking” that is erupting these days.

Oh, yes, I know, only hipsters take pictures of food, not you. And it is either disgustingly healthy and oddly colourful/perfect, or blindingly sweating with fat. Or just an awkward shot with a bad light. Or it is the odd, expensive, super fancy, four star meal you’ve been treated to for your birthday. Or this cake you made that really turned out to be amazing FOR ONCE. Think about it. You too have at some point posted a picture of food. SHAME.

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What’s with all the food pictures then? What’s with all the healthy living and self-indulging chat? What’s with all these obscure people becoming famous because they talk about what our grandmas have done for decades, only on a fancy blog? What’s with all these celebrities suddenly turning into health gurus, because they too – surprise!, know how to cook.

It only takes a fews clicks and taps to discover that social media are absolutely infested with pictures of food, recipes and health advice. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to feast on these.

I enjoy my food boards on Pinterest, following Deliciously Ella’s blog, and Glasgow-based fresheather ‘s Instragram flux and youtube channel. I adore Jamie Oliver’s newly revamped website, and I am very curious about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new GOOP platform, which seems to be falling into the lifestyle app/e-commerce category. I’ve also recently discovered the joys of “Yelping” and leave reviews for my favourite food stores and restaurants in Glasgow. Yelp, admittedly, is not only about food…but still a lot. I have fun enlightening 5 Instagram followers with my latest breakfast experiment, most likely out of narcissism, let’s admit it. It makes me feel good to see the amount of likes on my spirulina smoothie: what has happened to me?

It’s interesting to think of what could lie behind this “food bubble”, though. Is it bound to last or burst? Is it just one aspect of people posting everything and anything about there lives? Does is sit in a wider trend toward health-consciousness to reduce obesity and malnutrition?

Loads of food for thought, anyway. Pun intended.

I’m going to leave you to think about it with this last note: if you ever want to be the perfect combination of a geek and foodie, go for the emoji diet  – it does not get better!