Frank Zappa, innovation and ridicule

FZ as we knew him

YouTube is a wonderful thing if you like to be distracted by random stuff from people that you like. Whilst rehearsing a choir part from a YouTube track by my local community choir the other night the  suggested videos list threw up a thoroughly cringeworthy appearance by Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen Show on 4 March 1963. Cringeworthy it may be but it illustrates the way genuine innovators can often come up against ridicule when their ideas first appear.

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Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 3) Just add circus skills

If you have been following this series closely you’ll be equipped to build great relationships with your customers and be able to motivate your co-workers with a few killer one-liners and some well thought-out communications. There’s just one thing that needs to be added to spice up the workplace: circus skills. Yes, this is my big take-away from the Fringe: the business world would benefit enormously from regular injections of acrobatics, tightrope-walking and attempts at the seemingly-impossible.

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Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 2) Stand up and be funny

I’m going to tell you a story… no, I’m going to start with a confession – I don’t go to that many comedy shows so what I’m going to say is based almost entirely on the few shows I saw at the Fringe. But, as we consultants say, two data points make a trend and anything more than that is cast-iron proof. Oh, and I’m also going to attempt some humour… what’s that? People heading for the door? And I’ve only just started…

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Business lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe: 1) Marketing

Horse playing the accordion - and why not?I went on holiday to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the expectation that  my take-aways would be mainly fish suppers (the jokes don’t get any better believe me) but there were a few business-related things that struck me about it that I thought I would share. The whole thing was a fun break – and this trilogy of blogs is intended in much the same spirit.

I’ll cover comedy, circus skills and, inevitably, interpretive dance soon but to get started…

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Branch banking? Let’s get personal!

I’ve been working in financial services on and off over a period of more than 20 years and the debate over how many branches a bank needs has been going on for at least that long. So it was good to see the Financial Services Club keeping the debate going this week. Despite money becoming increasingly virtual and the growth of online banking I think the industry has a long way to go before we see a significant change in the number and style of bank branches. Banks that invest in their people as well as new technology will maintain both a distribution network and the valuable customer relationships that go with it.

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Waitrose hashtag fail: too clever by half?

My social media credibility – recently boosted by having a tweet ‘favorited’ by a jazz pianist admired by my 16 year old – has taken a bit of a dive as I was unaware of Waitrose’s recent Twitter campaign – #WaitroseReasons – asking people to complete the sentence “I shop at Waitrose because….”. Initial reaction in the press and on Twitter suggested that this was serious hashtag fail. I personally think it’s a brilliant piece of marketing.

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Locating the passion – do you know when you’ve been tango’d?

In my attempts at bringing humour into my work, I – and I think I’m probably not the only one – have occasionally used the phrase ‘through the medium of interpretive dance’ as a shorthand for ‘out-there, wacky stuff in the business place’. Despite my love of aforesaid wackiness I’ve never actually been to a meeting or workshop where any form of dance was featured – until last night when I attended the excellent Knowledge Cafe run by Alida Acosta and accompanying tango dancers.

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In praise of improvisation, comedy and Wallaby Lacrosse

Lacrosse sticks optionalI make no apologies for a second post on the joys of improvisation – this time inspired by seeing the Comedy Store Players (featuring Paul Merton) in an evening of hilarious improvised comedy at my local theatre last weekend.  For readers unfamiliar with the improv approach, the audience supplies the source material by suggesting film or theatre styles, character names, locations, jobs and so on. It’s then up to the performers to improvise from that starting point. It’s hard to convey the results of this without making it sound ridiculous – which it is – so I won’t attempt to. (Since it’s played for laughs the ridiculousness is all part of the equation anyway.) Continue reading “In praise of improvisation, comedy and Wallaby Lacrosse”

In praise of improvisation

It’s about discovering that inner child…I was going to write a post on customer service in a recession but then I got distracted by a great article on improvised theatre posted on Innovation Tools. It made me realise that my original impulse – to post a piece on the recently-ended London Jazz Festival was the best one to go for as both the article and my experiences at the festival were inspirational and, yes, they do provide useful lessons for customer service.

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