New Year- New Direction

New year is a traditional time for reflection, resolution and resurgence. Taking a new direction, in life, in business and even in politics is sometimes necessary. What happens when that new direction is forced upon you? Do you dive under the duvet and wish it all away, or embrace it, make the best of it and thrive?

So, what new direction is the world taking?

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Well when I think about all the hoo-hah surrounding the run up to the referendum, the vote itself and then it’s surprising result (I didn’t think we Brits had the cojones to vote out) I must admit to having to pinch myself.

For those of a certain age as myself, visions of Robert Lyndsey as Citizen Smith shouting ‘Power to the People’ from the top of his decommissioned tank spring to mind.

I have thought for years that the social strata of the UK were getting wildly out of balance.  The people at the top, the high earners and the politicians are now so out of touch from us ‘lower down’ people that discontent was inevitable.  This discontent got up and gave the establishment an almighty thwack and a bloody nose in June 2016.

You can’t go around doing ‘business as usual’ and gathering the fruits for your personal ambition without considering what caused those fruits to grow in the first place.  Beware what you’ll get if you fall into complacency as our political elite have done.

I don’t believe what the doomsayers predict once Article 50 is triggered.  The only way to succeed with any change or new direction, is to maintain a positive outlook and keep looking for the opportunities that will inevitably crop up.

It may not be easy (nothing worth having ever is) – it may be downright tricky however it will eventually resolve into a workable and sometimes better solution.  As I used to say to my investment clients when I was a financial adviser and the market took a tumble ‘grit your teeth, weather the storm and things will improve’ – it always did.

If there is one thing the British people are good at, as history has shown time and time again, is that they endure and succeed even when all seems stacked against them.  It’s time to show some of that past grit and determination again.

A new direction for the USA

Travelling across the pond, Brexit was followed by Trump. Back into the realms of pinching myself so hard I had bruises.  You really couldn’t make it up!

trumpI was in Washington in 2015 when talk of Trump standing was rife and the general opinion was ‘it will never happen – it’s simply too ludicrous’.  Well guess what? Discontent rose again and the amoral attitude and greed of the established powerhouses got another almighty thwack on the nose. (This time I think it’s broken rather than bloody).

One thing I can’t fathom is, that if he is such a loose cannon with his comments on Twitter, surely, they have the technology to give him a phone where he can tweet to his heart’s content but it just disappears into the ether never to reach the outside world!?

Personally, though concerned about the impact of this new direction, I admit to being very, very curious to see how things pan out.  Either Mr Trump will turn out to be the worst and most embarrassing president ever or he might turn out to be the best they have ever had. Hopefully, nothing terrible or drastic will ensue but it does feel as though America is about to enter 4 years of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ which might be quite exhilarating though perhaps not a desired state of affairs.

It does make you think though.  What would happen if the head of a company went loopy?  What if for some unknown reason the boss lost exactly that, his reason?  Would the business be robust enough to withstand it? Are there contingency plans in place for just such an eventuality?

Does your business need a new direction?

Taking Brexit and Trump as the most significant and obvious signs of change and upheaval in 2016 maybe 2017 is the time to re-think your branding and the image you are trying to portray.  Rather than just thinking about what you want, or what you like, try looking at it as to what your customer/client wants.  If they become emotionally invested or intrigued enough to want to hang around and discover what the outcome is, you’ll have a band of faithful followers and/or advocates.

Take a leaf out of the BBC’s book. When it comes to rebranding one of their biggest successes must be the reincarnation of their Come Dancing programme.

Back in 1953 Come Dancing was a competition where ballroom dancers competed for a coveted trophy. I remember as a child, my grandparents watching it and my sister and I having to endure it.  It was very staid and stiff, with 1950’s gowns and huge taffeta petticoats. Those hair-dos held high by tons of hairspray and false eyelashes glued to almost frozen faces plastered in makeup must have been a fire hazard concern.

In the decades that followed, viewing figures plummeted and the younger generation turned towards the gyrations and freedom of more expressive types of dance.

Then in 2004 there was a re-think and Strictly Come Dancing was born.  Suddenly ballroom dancing mixed in with more Latin flavour dances became hip again with the dance soundtracks replaced by modern music with the required beats.

Millions flocked to watch, have an opinion and vote in their droves.  Formal dancing became inclusive and it didn’t matter if you couldn’t dance – you could aspire to learn and succeed.

It has become a huge export for the BBC and, in the last series, a reported 11 million viewers watched the final as they had become emotionally invested in the outcome.

Sometimes taking an old idea, shaking it vigorously and adding new and exciting elements are all that is needed to give it a new, vibrant lease of life, a new direction. Maybe that is a thought for 2017- shake it up a bit?

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