Make space for serendipity

serendipity

Serendipity is when you find something you didn’t know you where looking for. In my previous life as a digital guru, I always told my clients that the most powerful viral effects came from showing/telling/inform people about things they didn’t know they wanted to know.  The “telling people about things they didn’t know they wanted to know” has surprise elements in it that I adore and that makes the concept so much more creative.

I only recently found out that the word “serendipity” was somewhat like it. And yesterday, by chance, I got to explore serendipity a bit more.  I rocked out with my awesome family at my grandmothers birthday party and I saw how  my daughter at one point closed down all her opportunities for “in real life serendipity” because she was playing around with an iPad. When we got home we talked about a story my uncle had told at the party that she couldn’t remember, because she hadn’t been mentally present when he told it.

My mother had found an old article in an old newspaper (from 1985) when my uncle played handball and became “dansk mester” together with the rest of the Helsingør team. There was a picture attached to the article where my uncle looked completely 80s stunning (too small shorts and all). She also missed the awesome story about how my grandmother had met the whole team when they where going home from partying in the city early in the morning – or that some of the fathers of some of her favorite handball players today was in that picture.

Sometimes we miss out on things because we aren’t alert or present. Sometimes we see new things in old patterns. Sometimes we are not world explorers enough or allow enough room for serendipity, online or offline. Sometimes we read the same blogs or newspapers or follow the same people on social media,  not exploring enough. For serendipity to grow we have to make room for it, so we can become inspired from unknown sources that could become real treasures and even sometimes change our entire world perspective!

 

 

 

 

 

Speak geek and enter!

Speak Geek and Enter

Something happened last week. I was nominated for the danish award “Ivækstprisen” together with editor-in-chief, Maria Fynsk Norup because of my work with  Geek Girl Danmark  and our startup Geek Girl Magazine. It was an extreme honour to be nominated – but what was even more extreme, was the response from the network – something I have been living high on ever since. It seems like I’ve struck a chord and it keeps humming.

Just wanted to thank you all and remind you that you can cast your vote for us here (even if you don’t speak danish – you just have to find my name and press “stem” =)

buzzword bingo won’t get you anywhere

I am a fan of “huge” words in  a business context. Words that are world-changing and can mean just that for your company if you implement them, so they fit just you.

If these words ends up being something you’re keeping yourself up on, you can really move mountains within your industry. We have seen it various times with different companies that has dared to be <insert favorite buzzword here> as a part of their identity, marketing and branding.

However, I get so tired of these huge words thrown at me as if it was something you could fix in 5 minutes and get on with your life. It makes them diluted, and it makes me cringe – because I’m left standing on some random streetcorner saying. “I’m sure that’s not what they meant when they started to talk about authentic businesses or  social media”.

So even though you probably get a fair amount of buzzword bingo in your everyday, I can surely say – it’s not the ones that has fast buzzwords coming out of their mouth that really cracks the code for bringing in money, it’s the one that works around it and makes up their own mind about it.

Yep – The one who’s creative. You need to take your buzzwords and create your own good sh*t around it… for me it has been one of the keys to happiness at work =)

 

 

Saving the world by executing one creative curly thought at the time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A while back I got a question about some of my sales activities in Toothless Tiger. Somebody wanted to know how I made customers keep coming in. And yeah we’ve been doing some doorknocking in Toothless Tiger within the last year, but normally people they come to us/me because they have heard of us through their network – which is cool and I thank you all for having my back – You guys rock =)

Anyway my answer puzzled the person who asked the question, and she said – so that’s your plan ? having your network watching your back. I thought about it for a while and said:

I contact my 5 prospects a day for sales activities- but there are a lot of companies out there that really has seen that this is their time to sell more products by saving the world.  They end up contacting me, because im a person who believes in saving the world by executing one creative curly thought at the time.

No matter if it’s an app, a website, a campaign, a book, a launch – I am doing everything I can to help them out strategizing, structuring and helping them polish their concept to make it both offline and digitally viable. But when everything comes to everything my plan is that Im saving the world by executing one creative curly thought at the time. And that’s what I really love to do. Sure I have mile long to do lists – but I am keeping focused and I am prioritizing the tools I know works for me. Babysteps will get you there too – you know ?

 

 

 

Let me hear you say “SoLoMo”

pic of the audience by Erno Hannink during Eric Schmidts talk at le web

 

So when I was sitting in front of the stage at le web day 2 – listening to the “money” panel – which normally is one of the Best discussions of le Web – if you Are a startup, I got that feeling again. the “omg I know now what to guide people and companies to do with their brands – digitalwise. Anyway the panel is five guys (who happens to be some of the worlds top venture capitalists) sitting on a couch talking about money in the startup World.

THIS IS KEY TO KNOW IF YOURE A STARTUP LOOKING FOR MONEY. Because they basically spill the deeds on what they are investing in – which to some extend also signals what will be developed in the startup community within the next couple of years.

They give it all to you- saying what it is they are looking for In a startup and what characteristica you need to have before you’re relevant to Them. Super important information.

This year they are saying “SoLoMo” – which also is the subject line for the le web conference. “SoLoMo” is an abbreviation for “Social”, “Local” og “Mobile”. So this is where the money primarily are going to be spend within the next 1 or two years. I think it’s an exciting trend because it holds a lot of possibilities – both offline and mobile – but not so much for the web. Can it really be that we are starting to develop more to connect people in general instead of developing for the web ? I think so. is the World Wide Web on a decline? Maybe not so much yet – but something tells me that it’s a very likely scenario in the near future. that is kind of exciting.

I saw this presentation today on google + about lean-back media and the shock of the old:

 

Which I also think says something very relevant about the offline/local/mobil transition.
Could it be that laptops will turn more and more into an advanced typewriter where all the reading and the playing and interacting is done on tablets ? a likely scenario again =)

Anyway a huge pointer from here – and a real exciting one.

 

 

 

The le web 11 feeling in retrospect: Undercover fashion tech a la creme

picture by Chris Heuer: Kristie Wells of Social Media Club, Annika Lidne of Disruptive Media and yours truely)

So this draft was created on the last day of the le Web conference in Paris, but I first got around to finish it now.

Le Web has been a very interesting experience. Even though it has been very different from last year- but a lot fantastic people where met, speakers seen, friends dined and cool British bands such as the ting tings where experienced. All compiled in 4 days in Paris.

I think to some extend the Le Web conference is like a fashion show. 

in one of the presentations somebody used the phrase “undercover fashion tech a la creme”. To me it describes Le Web very well;  It’s the best of the best in tech and you’re left mesmerized. I think Le web has become for tech what Paris is for the fashion scene. The conference is so well curated so if you’re leaving Le Web not knowing what is going to happen within the next 2 – 3 years, then you haven’t been paying attention at all at the conference.

Le Web has become the European event hub that’s most vital for your business.

You need to be present as a startup or as a coolhunter/trendspotter. There was some agencies down there who I overheard a conversation by, and they had simply thought that they would get a recipe for social media they could sell to their clients (if that’s what you want – feel free to contact me over at Toothlesstiger.com and I can help you out). But they didn’t get the whole startup/venture capitalist part of the conference. Some of them where annoyed that it seemed like that the whole conference where more about startups and what they are building. But you need to know this – even as an agency. You need to know what cool ideas are out there – executed by the finest in Europe.

Anyway Im looking forward to Le Web again next year. It’s my december kick and a good way to ignite and plan for 2012 =)

 

 

 

Sweden: Be appreciative of the swedish startup community

The swedish startup community rocks!

Yesterday I was accepted as a part of “teknik bubblan” a facebook group for swedes that are into tech. I was a bit daring with adding it – mainly because I’m not a swede (well I’m an 8th swede ) and I don’t reside in Sweden. However Helsingør (my town) is right across the ocean from Sweden and I go there a lot (so much so I’m thinking about moving a part of the Toothless Tiger to Sweden) so I guess that must count for something. But I put together a list of why it’s cool as a dane in tech to live close to sweden.

10 reason Why it’s cool as a dane (in technology) to live close to sweden and the swedish startup community

1. Every time I go over there I get immensely inspired, both by the startups, the support by the society to do startups, and the incredibly sweet and friendly people. I also get inspired by the startup scene in Denmark, because the startups are immensely cool – but it just does’t seem as if they get quite as much support as the startup scene in Sweden. Also, in 2012,  Sweden had a delegation of swedish startups at Le Web. The swedish embassy in Paris even invited them for drinks with the ambassador present at the party and at Le Web. That will happen to the danish startups in a million years if we’re lucky.

2. It seems like even though I would claim that the road from thought to action is smaller in Denmark, it’s more well recognized by the community and the media in Sweden, and more supported to actually carry out your ideas.

3. I love the fact that it seems like the people in the startup community – overall – support each other. We do the same in Denmark but on a much lesser scale – maybe it’s because we’re fewer and we don’t have as many hubs for the startup environment as they do in Sweden. Also, it seems as if they actually have media that keeps an eye out for what’s happening in the startup space – in Denmark it seems like we just have social media consultants that translate allfacebook.com or mashable into danish =) no just kidding… the ecosystem and the support system around the startups just seems better or larger. In Denmark as a tech startup you might get written about on comon.dk, on computerworld.dk – but there’s hope for us more “soft” startups out there: erhvervsbladet.dk is turning into a section of berlingske focused on entrepreneurship, startups and growth. I’m looking so much forward to that.

4. It’s literally not far away – if you’re in Copenhagen it’s a 45 min train ride, or in Helsingør as I am it takes 15 mins with a ferry. Sometimes I feel that the mental barrier of “going to Sweden” or “going to Denmark” is actually bigger than øresund itself =)

5. I have gotten some great friends from my trips to Sweden – they are cool and greatly appreciated. And on the personal side (and why I love to visit Sweden)

6. They have cheap food – and in all kinds of varieties. Even their instant (eco) coffee is good. Their dog food is cheap (and the CCSO (Chief Cuddly Security Officer) and CSO (chief shoe-eating officer) of Toothless Tiger eats a whole lot of that). I’m a ICA maxi fan.

7. They have cool (and cheap) clothes – we always buy clothes for P (my daughter) in sweden – Lindex in particular

8. They have lakes and canoes and blueberries and small red houses and mountains (to swedes you probably would call places like Isaberg a huge hill – but hey I’m a dane – it’s a mountain to me)

9. Sweden makes me relaxed and it makes me want to write more than any other place in the world – so if you have a spare cabin somewhere in the woods I would love to go and finish some of the next book there.

10.You have cheap lunches – I would choose a ‘dagens’ at hacket in Helsingborg anyday (if I could=) in Denmark you end up paying twice as much for lunch – in danish kroner. So that’s it – a little sweden shout from me =). (Oh and if you’re an internet startup based in Helsingborg (in particular) or Malmø¸ and want to have coffee with me the next time I come over – I would love to hear what you’re about. Also if you have an office space I can crash occasionally =) In my mind the Sweden startup community is so different from the danish because of the overall supportive role from the surroundings(both on a macro and on a micro level).

 

The preconditions for viral effects

Viral effect is all I live and work by these days. Here’s something I have drawn up for you:

the preconditions for viral effects on the social web infogram

I love to create infograms and stuff like that. I recently published my involvement manifesto. But today I give you something less serious and more playful: the preconditions of viral effects on the social web infogram. Something you can turn to if you want to enhance the word- of-mouth of your brand on social media. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s a good pointer on what I think viral effect takes.

My definition of viral effects

 

Viral effect to me, is all about brand love

And it’s about generating content on a regular basis to keep the Brand love alive. It’s about listening to what’s happening out there around your brand. And it’s about being proactive in your approach to making your branding happen.

If you want my viral effect infogram, it’s up in a larger size, it’s up on  Toothless Tiger Press for grabs as well as Toothless Tiger and pinterest

Hope you’ll love it to pieces

Creativity is my homeboy and I love him to pieces

Next week Media Evolution The Conferenceone of the coolest digital creativity conferences, is taking place in Malmø. Yesterday, the always awesome Joakim Jardenberg wrote  the first piece in a blog relay to put focus on some of the conference sessions, today it’s my turn (yay!) and  tomorrow I’m handing the baton to Helen Alfvegren.

creativity is my homeboy

 

I’m looking forward to attend The Conference both because the speaker list looks amazing, but also because conferences in general are my favorite playing field. And I think the 3 different themes for the conference are übercool and relevant. They’ve asked me to write something for their blog relay, and even though I wanted to pick something else, I can’t help but to choose to write about creativity or “New business opportunities with disruptive thinking” (as one of the talks is called).

However I’ve decided to change that around a bit and write this instead Because that’s totally allowed on the internet. On your own website. In my own Henriette Weber social media, word-of-mouth, creativity La-la-land that I’ve created, where I’m the law, the rockn’roll queen and I make the rules. Hey Facebook! I can even hold a competition here without making an app and you can’t shut me down If I don’t abide the rules or can’t figure out the terms of use. I look so much forward to see you in Malmø.

Creativity is my homeboy and I love him to pieces.

Now, Inspiration is a big thing in my network, I work every day with creating value, inspiration, creativity and happiness for my blogreaders, my newsletter subscribers (both here and on toothless tiger.com) and helping my clients to create value for their clients and prospects. Mainly in an advice-based how-to form. I think inspiration and creativity go hand in hand on the social web these days, sometimes it even seems like inspiration overload. I mean if I spend 10 minutes on pinterest.com, I have enough DIY projects to make with my daugther for the next month. If I visit a persons webpage or blog, there are 100 things I can download, read, share and be inspired by. It’s. All. Creativity.

Breaking the normal boundaries for doing business

One of the things we tend to forget is that everytime this happens and people they decide to create something that gives value to their surroundings, they are breaking the normal boundaries for doing business. They are adding to their brand and identity with creativity. And this is a crucial and important thing for businesses because it shows that the boundaries for “when you can do what” in business has changed tremendiously. We literally have all the tools, now we just need to look within and find out what we should be creating and for whom.

That rocks doesn’t it ? It’s one of the things that makes me get out of bed every morning, mostly because when people they notice this, they also find out that they can basically make anything on the internet! Yay! It’s a cool great world out there for creativity these days. The internet is so filled with inspiration you can dig into.

My biggest problem with all of this? The fear. The fear of people not liking you. The fear of people saying that something you’ve created isn’t good enough or doesn’t meet their extremely high standards. I have a secret to reveal to you: Last night when I was reading in my ton of books beside my bed (a couple of  nights a week I curl up in bed and I become smarter.. i LOVE books). I read Twyla Tharps “the creative habit” in preparation for this blogpost. I don’t know what it was, but something was triggered inside of me and when it was time to go to bed I used 20 minutes to write my translator and tell him that we where translating my danish book (Return on Involvement – how to use the social web to create business unusual) published in aug 2009 in Denmark to english in it’s original format.

Now I’ve changed my mind a gazillion time about this but the reason I do this, as a part of the creative process is that Im so afraid I will fail. And my standards are too high. Even though the book was very very well recieved in Denmark, I think I needed to change it into something that Seth Godin, or Brian Solis or Danielle Laporte could write. And I don’t have to anymore, because it needs to be something that I could write. And I already did. And it’s perfect with it’s imperfections and totally not tailored for the english market. It’s short, it’s filled with strategic recipes and it’s written in my own tone of voice. But I need to give it a shot, I need to change the market out there by seeing if it will survive in english. It’s a piece of art and creativity to and of me and I hope you will all love it.

So I’m holding my breath here and I’ll be brave, because that is one of the most important things that creativity is to me. Boldness. Difference. And totally in the hands of the person creating.

So what are you waiting for ? Execute those cool ideas, don’t let the fear get you down and start creating.


The story of yearbook machine – the social network in a book


At geekn’rolla, Heidi and I highjacked two men to take us out to dinner: Tom and Dan of Yearbook Machine – basically it’s a startup that turns your social network into a book.

Anyway I talked to Tom about the story behind yearbook machine and he wrote it down for me (and for you guys out there). One of the things I really like to cover on this blog is the ideas and stories of the startups I meet – not from a “how much funding are you looking for/did you get” angle, but the inspiration there, which lies in building something from scratch.

Anyway the rest of this blogpost is written by Tom=)

“Yearbook Machine was formed as a response to our own experience as part of a yearbook committee, tasked with making a yearbook for our friends when we left school in 2007. My co-founder at Yearbook Machine, Dan, was charged with coordinating the book. He searched and analysed the existing companies but all of the solutions appeared over priced with no appreciation for design. What we wanted to do was to make something that our friends would be proud of, so we collected information on the school network, designed the book ourselves, and had it printed in China. The finished result left everybody happy and that was that, we still had no intention of starting a business.

In the summer of 2008 our old school approached Dan to make the book again, and he happily obliged. Having made this second book we thought how hard could it be to make an online system that did it all for you, and so we decided to establish Yearbook Machine. It was, however, still a side-project to our university studies. In the summer of 2009 four local schools conducted a private test of version 1 of the system, and the feedback was very positive. We then made some alterations to the system for 2010 and version 2 of the system was born. At this point we were restricted by continuous development and the fact that it was a part time venture, but nevertheless eight schools enjoyed our service.

At this point in time something had to change, it was apparent that making the perfect online system was not as simple as first thought. The business then moved out of our bedrooms and into East London, Dan finished at Cambridge, and we begin to build a team for the first time. Since the summer of 2010 it’s been all go. We’ve completely overhauled the online system, creating version 3, and we’re confident that things are moving in the right direction. In the coming weeks we will print thousands of yearbooks including those of twenty Oxford/Cambridge Colleges.

So where are we at ?

There seems to be countless tasks to do right now, and I don’t see the situation changing anytime soon. The business has matured, and we’re no longer a startup that concentrates purely on product development. Naturally that is incredibly important, but now we also need to also think very hard about the business side of things. With the added pressure of deadlines our time seems to just vanish, and sometimes it’s a struggle just to deal with the essentials. (I’m currently writing this message on a flight to Poland to save time!)

We have thousands of customers online at the moment, which is simply too much work for just two of us. So we’ve started to build a team, and the real challenge appears to be getting the balance right. We need talented people, happy to undertake a variety of tasks, who can fit into the culture of a fast paced startup. They need to be ambitious, driven, and able to detect and solve challenges on their own. Becoming the third, forth, or fifth member of our team is very different to joining a big corporate and becoming just another cog in a giant machine, so it’s very important that everybody works well on a personal level. With this in mind our employees start on a casual or freelance basis.  Obviously we’re restricted by budget, so it’s also a challenge to evaluate where we are most stretched; Design? Customer support? Software engineers?

One of the other great challenges is planning months and not weeks ahead. I need to know how much money we need in April 2012, and not just when our next invoice is due. This means that the financing and forecasting of the business has a very different feeling. We need to consider how the business is financed twelve months in advance because we are currently depended on the school year, meaning that income is cyclical. Going forward we can address this, but at the moment it has implications for our cash flow. Our expenditure is kept to a minimum, which really helps things. However, there are some costs that can’t be avoided such as lawyers. They seem ever so expensive for startups like us, but with our volume of custom, which will only increase, there is a pressure to make sure that the legal framework is in place.

We are looking forwards to the next academic year when we will begin to promote our service more explicitly and to a wider audience. We’ve previously purposely restricted the number of customers using our service because we’ve wanted to ensure that the quality to remains consistent whilst we scale upwards. We know now that we can produce thousands of high quality books at no extra cost, which means that the months ahead promises to be very exciting! ”

Tom Allen,

Co-founder Yearbook Machine.

 

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