EVERGREENS IN COMMUNICATION. IN SPITE OF SOCIAL MEDIA.

Quite some time ago I wrote an article on Twitter, blogging and social media in general and pointed out my e-book “How to Blog with Ease” about these topics.

Social media platforms tend to constantly change their rules. I gave up on following the changes since my interests are digitalisation, marketing, style and design. Social media platforms are merely the tools to share my ideas and the resulting articles.

What I wrote about Hootsuite and Tweepi is no longer correct. Nowadays I find Hootsuite difficult to use and Tweepi shut down its doors some month ago to go live again. The same name with a very different service.

For the same reason the e-book is no longer online since the information about social media is no longer one hundred percent accurate. Still, most of the tools I speak about are still – at least in my mind – worthwhile and I also stick with the power of images.

At this moment I am building an online reference work with the tools I tested and recommend. Of course you will hear as soon as it is completed.

The Evergreens

Despite all these changes there are some “evergreens” to stick with.

Content is King

It has been emphasized many times and I still think it is true: content is king. Despite SEO and social media, if our content is dull or incorrect we will not reach the readers we are targeting. Personally, I write to share my ideas rather than pleasing the social media platforms.; although I use them of course . If I get comments to my articles I am very happy. But I never will write anything just to earn ten thousand likes or about something I do not believe in.

Newsletters

Publishers and bloggers cannot really control their readers. If our audience is fed up with us we might lose readers if we managed to entertain or teach them they might stay with us. Far be it from me to say that we should not at least try to make them stay by analysing why they read our writings and trying to deliver more of it; if we can.

Newsletters and blogs allow us to do so. Social media does not. Social media platforms use their own algorithm to decide what they will communicate to our followers and contacts. This system is constant subject to change. This even created a professions: SEO experts. I am not one of them. But if it is really important for your business you should hire one.

Find the right tone

You know that different subjects – hence a different audience – require different writing styles.

Some days ago I stumbled over an article about Professor Scott E. Fahlman and a computer scientist. He happens to be the inventor of emoticons. Already in 1982 – when pictures were yet to appear – he suggested to a bulletin board using emoticons in order to distinguish jokes from things that were not meant to be funny.

Originally probably invented for nerds, we not only use emoticons but extended them significantly.

Apparently, this is his original text:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman
I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:
:-)
Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use
:-(

Did we go nerdier or did the frequent use “de-nerd” emoticons?

WHAT IF COMMUNICATION DOES NOT HELP?

Last week I reported the latest news of the German train company (“Deutsche Bahn”) and their letter that asked me for some patience.

The latest News

This week I received another letter with the information that they needed my train tickets.

Big problem!

I booked the ticket via the Swiss railways on their mobile app. I remember that they also sent me an e-mail but why keeping it (I am definitely not a collector) if everything is on my mobile and I already returned from my trip?

So I called the German customer support explaining my situation. I understand that they cannot help me unless I can give them their order number.

The next issue.

Online tickets are being deleted 31 days after the trip happened. The only thing I could offer was the receipt that contains certain reference numbers. I proposed to send it by e-mail.

Wrong again!

The customer support of the German train company only accepts letters. I MEAN PHYSICAL MAIL THAT GOES INTO A PHYSICAL LETTERBOX!

But I am glad they already know how to operate a telephone and accepted me to give them the respective numbers verbally. The gentlemen promised to give that number to the respective department which will bestow another letter upon me.

What is communication at all?

According to some system theories (e.g. Niklas Luhmann) communication and understanding are two different things.

Communication happens as soon as people talk about it. No matter if you understand the meaning of my words in this post. As soon as you tell someone that I wrote this article it is considered communication. In other words: Misunderstanding is as good a communication as complete agreement.

Form this aspect I had a great communication with the support centre. If it was also useful and I’ll get my fare or parts of it refunded is yet to be discovered.

And the story continues…

3 OUT OF 111 PLACES IN ZURICH WORTH A VISIT.

Of many cities there are books about 111 places in the respective city one must see. There is also one about Zurich.

Not only I want to present you the book but also 3 places I find particularly interesting to visit.

The Le Corbusier Centre

As the name reveals this centre has been built according Le Corbusier’s philosophy. If you have been reading here for a while you might remember his famous quote: “The house is a machine to live in”.

I only visited this place very recently. It was planned back in 1958 as a sort of “memorial”, when the architect was still alive. However, he never witnessed its opening in 1967 since he passed away in 1965.

The good news is that it still looks modern and contemporary and given the building’s large windows it is bright and you feel a bit like living outside as well as insight.

The downside of it is, that almost none of his famous furniture is there and the staircases are definitely too narrow to be practical.

Still, a very avant-garde place in a beautiful environment by the lake.

The “Frauenbadi”. An Open Air Bath for Women Only.

This place was built in 1888 in a time when hygiene and health just became a really important topic for everybody but many houses did not have running water in all apartments. In other words the “Frauenbadi” was not meant for fun but for hygiene as the “bath rules” that one can still read tell very clearly.

Nowadays we all have running water plus the “Frauenbadi”. The place is floating on the river Limmat (one of the two rivers meandering through Zurich) in the style of Art Nouveau. To this day it is reserved for women. Prude? Old-fashioned? Maybe. But it is quite cool there.

@Gentlemen:

  • In the summer evenings they turn the place into a bar where you are most wanted 😉
  • Moreover, there is also a swimming bath (also open air) for men only. We are fair around here. :-)

Zurich just has about 400 000 inhabitants but 19 public open air swimming baths and quite a number of indoor swimming pools.

A Piece of the “Forbidden City”. The China Garden.

Switzerland is in the heart of Europe with four seasons and a rather high amount of rain and cooler temperatures. Besides 38 museums and tons of shops you might still want something more exotic.

In this case I recommend the China Garden. Since 1982 the Chinese city of Kunming and small Zurich are partners. And the seven million metropole honoured us with a Chinese Garden. Its motto translates into “The 3 friends in winter”. The reason Zurich got this garden is because Switzerland sent engineers to Kunming to support the city installing a sustainable tap water system. It is the largest thank you one can think of. All the parts were made in China who sent a delegation of experts to Zurich who built the garden according to the complex and traditional rules of such a garden.

These temple gardens – as I learned – have a ranking in their importance. According to the description the “Zurich-Garden” possesses the highest ranking outside of China.

In order to understand at least a small part of the secrets and symbols you need a guide. That is also the week part of it. The only public tours are once a month between April and October. The garden itself is accessible during the day but also only just in this period.

Book of the Month

To see the other 108 places please refer to this book. It is available in German only.

But if you need translation, you know where to find me.

NEWS FROM THE TRAINS.

Remember my post about my odyssey from Frankfurt to Zurich? In that article I complained that we were not informed what was going on.

I just want to give you a short update on this.

At the end of the journey all passengers received a form by which one can reclaim the fare or at least a part of it. Of course I completed it and send it in the envelope I got to the German railway company.

Last week – about three weeks later – I received a letter from the German railway company informing me that they received my request but due to recent (meteorological) events they had a lot of those forms and kindly ask me to be patient.

The funny thing is that they also asked about my e-mail address and still sent me a physical letter.

However, I do not want to complain too much. Even though, I do not have any of my money back, they are communicating again.

FASHION. BEHIND THE SCENES.

I love shopping. If you are a man I guess you say now: „Women, of course!“ or something similar. Please accept my apologies if I guessed wrong.

If you are a woman I am not so sure on your comment.

Although I like shopping I never shop for the sake of shopping but I hunt something specific. This goes for almost everything I own. Before I take something I am only half convinced I rather go come home with nothing. As a result of my «strategic buying» most of my stuff is of good quality and I own by far fewer items than most of you might think.

Until very recently I assumed that most women like shopping; some buy as considered as I do others have a different shopping behaviour.
However, my assumption turned out to be utterly wrong. Many women do not like shopping; especially if it comes to clothes.

These has mainly two reasons:

  1. Because they do not know their style hence are never sure about what to buy
  2. They cannot find what they are looking for

Invest in quality and in your own style

Before you end up with three wardrobes with «nothing to dress» because not a single item makes you feel good you might want to make an appointment at «By Claire».

«By Claire» provides bespoke fashion of high quality at reasonable prices. Her system is as simple as it is ingenious. She developed a certain amount of sewing patters which you can personalize with different building blocks such as the shape, length and cuffs of a blazer etc.

Moreover, you can choose from an almost endless offer of fabrics and colours.

Behind the scene

To showcase her models «By Claire» organised a photo shooting. I had the honour of hosting this event.

My apartment is spacy, with high ceilings and – not a surprise anymore – few furniture. The photos were taken by Peny Creative Services.

Less is more

Quite some time ago I wrote an article about the amount of shoes a woman needs.

The dictum «less is more» also goes for clothes. If you have five basic pieces that you can combine with almost anything you are all set and you can buy things to combine with them but you do not have to.

If you need to know how you can combine the «high end basics» with the things you already have, you should book a consultation with Kathy Patellis-Schmidt. She will be able to help you. Trust me on this.

 

P.S. The team of «By Claire» is working on a really cool online-shop. I’ll let you know it is online.

INSIGHTS ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. OFFLINE AND ONLINE.

Would you pay an admission fee to enter a shop?

This week I read an interesting article about shopping behaviour and consumer experience.

Business models

The writer of this article states that nowadays consumers can order anything they want online and that there was no need to visit an actual store anymore. People only would come to the store because they consider the shopping experience was worth their time.

How does the shop owner know if the visitors really appreciate his (or her) store and its atmosphere? By charging an admission fee, says the article.

The thing I find really odd is the writer’s comparison with a theatre or a cinema where it is clear to everyone that they sell tickets.

As interesting as this article is as much I think that it missed the boat; in this case the company’s purpose. Cinemas and theatres sell the very service they stand for: entertainment. A store for Hi-Fi or a boutique for shoes sell the respective goods.

Moreover, the article mentions a coffee shop in London “The Ziferblat” where the coffee, Wi-Fi, cakes etc. are for free and the only thing you pay for is the time you are sitting there. A look at their website makes it very clear that they have a different business model. They rent working and meeting space and facilitate networking. This means coffee, cake and Wi-Fi is a courtesy to the clients.

You got it, I am sure.

Consumer Experience

The idea of making shopping more enjoyable is not extremely new. Shoe coffees where you get finest Italian espresso sitting among elegant shoes have been known for several years. Also coffee shops where every piece of furniture you sit on and all decoration items you are looking at are for sale are hardly a news flash. However,  Haute Couture and espresso should maybe be separated a bit. Just in case you spill your coffee…

Offline

Let’s go back to the claim that shoppers want to be rewarded for their time investment. I really appreciate a good espresso but to me a great shopping experience comprises a nice shop where I can find what I am looking for and a competent sales person to consult me. If on top of it all I get an espresso I am in heaven.

Going Digital

While doing your online-shopping you can sit on your sofa eating and drinking to your liking. But at least in my opinion many shops have yet to create an outstanding online experience that I am confident to buy from.

 

PINK UP YOUR LIFE!

Some time ago I bought a book by the title of Pink Up Your Life!: The World of Pink Design. Although I am not a great fan of this colour I fell for the design of the book.

So this article is about the combination of classic design and pink.

1919. A lady made of (pink) Steel.

In 1919 the iconic – and probably revolutionary at the time – stand mixer Kitchen Aid was born. If only I took a little of pride in my housewife skills I am sure I would own one. Well, I rather spend a fortune for a posh and stylish espresso machine.

However, if you think of 1919 what sort of colours would you associate with it? I thought of black, white and maybe grey or beige. As it seems I am totally wrong. It was and is to this day available in light pink. I guess it makes household chores sweeter.

1919. A fast car.

Bentley Motors Limited was founded by W. O. Bentley in 1919 in Cricklewood, North London. The founder himself was a keen race driver and the brand became known by winning the 24 Hours of Lemans several times between 1924 and 1930.

Cars at that time were typically black and the British racing cars were of course British racing green. Classic cars can also be white, silver or beige.

But in 2009 Mansory Design & Holding designed this:

The bad news is that such cars actually exist. The model is called «Mansory Vitesse Rosé». The good part: they are limited edition.

1955: The Ant.

Arne Jacobsen designed “the ant” also known as the “series 7” in 1955. The chair that was originally meant for a cantina became a classic and secured him a “seat” in the first class designer lounge.

As far as I can see it was available in a variety of colours. However, for the 60st anniversary of the design two new models were developed.

One in dark blue. The other one in pale pink. With a twist. The legs are 24 carat gold plated.

Pink For Everyone?

It seems to me that pink polarises more than any other colour. It is seen as playful or shocking. If you see the world through pink glasses you are considered non-realistic and if you wear it as a ribbon you fight against breast cancer. The colour I wear most is black and I have to admit that I cannot keep up with this.

Images

The images are either from the free portal pixabay.com or scanned from the book mentioned above.

WHAT TRAINS CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT COMMUNICATION.

Last weekend I visited friends in Frankfurt, Germany. I travelled by train which takes only about 4 hours.

On Saturday noon I arrived in Frankfurt where I had a great time with sunny weather, good food and great company. Frankfurt may not be the most beautiful city in Germany but certainly one that offers a high quality of life. Along the bank of the river Main there is a street that allows bikers and walkers to enjoy a beautiful view on the river, on the barges which seem to glide on it and at the skyline. Besides all the advantages a city offers.

On Sunday evening around 5 pm I boarded the train home and expected to be at home by around 9 pm. Big mistake.

About an hour and a half later we were arrived – as planned – in Karlsruhe but were informed that a storm had destroyed the contact line in city called Offenburg which was the next stop. Moreover, we were told that we would go to Offenburg in any case and there would be busses to take us further.

The way between Offenburg and Basel where I was supposed to change trains for Zurich was apparently blocked and they were working on the problem. Not fun but these things happen and it is nobody’s fault.

And the Odyssey begins

  • 6.20 pm:
    Arrival in Karlsruhe – First information about the problem and the promise that we would go to Offenburg
  • 7 pm:
    Still in Karlsruhe – Second information to please leave the train as we could not go further. Busses should be available but not to places I ever heard of. Apparently I was not the only one, since the queue in front of the information desk was nearly endless. To make matters worse my mobile connection was exceptionally bad and I could not access the internet. I texted my friend back in Frankfurt to check the possibilities. They looked not too bad and my friend’s moral support was really helpful.
  • 8 pm:
    The loudspeaker at the station in Karlsruhe informed us that there was a train (the types that stop in every second village) that would take us to Offenburg and later pass the black forest (a name well deserved in my opinion) to Constance which is close to the Swiss border.
  • 8:45 pm:
    Still in that train, progressing slowly. No further information from the Deutsche Bahn (the German train company) but many messages back and forth between my friend an me.
  • 9 pm:
    Information by DB that they could organize a train from Offenburg to Basel as my journey had fore seen it. Cool. Boarded that train some minutes later.
  • 10 pm:
    Still in that train at the very same place. According to the information they were waiting for clearance to start. The announcements are still as if everything was normal; the arrival and departure on trains are being displayed as if nothing happens. Well, nothing happened; the announced trains of course never showed up.
  • 10 pm to midnight:
    Still in that train. No official information by the DB. The chaos is enormous. Rumour had it that there were busses, that the Red Cross opened “hotels” in train cars. Others said that the DB was giving away vouchers for taxis. I could as well sleep in my seat and the taxi drivers were as sold out as the take-away. And a trip to Zurich would have taken them too long anyway. Still in touch with my friend who informs me about the Twitter stream and other online media. Moreover, the gentleman who sat opposite me had a great and very sarcastic sense of humour and I had a good laugh.
  • 12.15 am:
    Eureka! The train moves again. We are going at normal speed towards Basel. Only one stop in Freiburg, Germany.
  • 01.30 am:
    Basel; well, still on the German side but not too bad. My “entertainer” (I don’t even know his name) has arrived since he lives near Basel. I need to get home.Another official announcement: Travellers to Switzerland and some German places get taxi vouchers. Correct. They are organising groups of people with the same destination so they can share a taxi. I was lucky to share mine with a father of two children, living not far from me.
  • 02.45 am
    Home, Sweet Home.

It is all about communication

A storm is nobody’s fault. Neither is the damage resulting of it. Everybody understands that some problems cannot be solved in a heartbeat.

The crucial point is how you deal with it. From what I observed it seems to me that the crisis management was totally missing. When I looked through the window of my train waiting for clearance I observed scenes we normally see in the news about derailed trains, earthquakes and this sort of things.

I lived in Western Africa for a while and concerning the organisation of the “event” I could not detect a difference between Germany and Africa.

Some philosophers say that languages as sophisticated as ours makes us human. Use it!

The whole mess was a result of almost complete absence of information and even some misinformation. For most of the time we were not sure where and  when we go. Well, at least I know now how Odysseus must have felt during his journey. While mine took half a night his took an entire decade.

@Hillu, if you read this: Thanks again. Your support made this almost enjoyable.

JEANS. THEY WENT FROM TRIVIAL TO TREND. AND THE STORY GOES ON.

Some items were invented for very practical reasons and somehow made it to be style icons. Blue jeans are one of them.

Almost everybody I know possesses at least one pair of jeans. The typical features of  jeans are:

  • Made of blue denim
  • 5 riveted pockets

The first and most famous jeans producer is San Francisco based Levi Strauss & Co.

The Humble Beginnings

Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853 by Levi Strauss, who was born Löb Strauss in Germany, the offspring of a large and poor family. His father died when Löb was just 16 and his mother saw no other option than starting a new life in America. The family arrived at the heyday of the gold rush and young Löb (I guess that was the time he changed his name to Levi as nobody in America could possibly pronounce Löb) became a wholesaler providing soap, tools and other essentials to the gold diggers. He discovered that they needed hard-wearing clothes and started producing overalls and flap trousers made of strong fabric.

The Invention

But blue jeans as we know them were invented by Jacob Davis a tailor from Reno, Nevada who bought denim from Levi Strauss to sew trousers; mostly for labourers. There are two different stories why he came up with the idea to reinforce the pockets with the same type of rivets that were used for the harness of horses.

The first story tells us that Mr Davis had an overweight customer who always had his trousers torn due to his weight and finally the tailor fixed it by means of a rivet.

To me the second version is more convincing: The most vulnerable parts of trousers were the pockets and they frequently needed to be fixed again. This was probably a boring and not very rewarding business. Jacob Davis found the ideal solution by reinforcing the pockets of every pair of trousers he made. Rivets certainly were the least expensive solution and the most practical one.

The Breakthrough

The idea went viral and was soon copied by other tailors. Therefore Jacob Davis wanted to patent his invention. The poor tailor he was he could not afford the cost and turned to Levi Strauss for financial backing on which the latter agreed and they filed for the patent.

As visible in the picture below Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss & Co. were granted patent number 139.121 for “fastening pocket openings” on May 20, 1873.

Jacob Davis worked for Levi Strauss & Co. supervising the production of riveted denim trousers until his death in 1908.

This sounds like a happy end, doesn’t it? Just as far as I can see there is no end.

The Story Continues

Although according to the records I found Levi Strauss’ and Jacob Davis’ patent expired in 1908 they had a large competitive edge and are producing jeans to this day.

Other brands have appeared and jeans are still available in different colours and styles.

The really amazing thing is that jeans provide a feeling of individualism although it is the most uniform-like garment one can own. They made it from a poor man’s outfit to the catwalk. I have no idea how this could happen, maybe it is a question to be clarified (or already clarified) by social scientists.

Or do you happen to know the reason?

INSIGHTS ON SWITZERLAND’S MOST ELEGANT CONTRIBUTION TO POLO.

In spite of the yearly St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow, Polo is not the first thought jumping to your mind when you think of Switzerland. I guess you rather dream of chocolate, mountains and watches.

But one specific Swiss swatch is absolutely related to Polo. Bear with me I get to it in a minute.

The United Kingdom is famous for Polo and even some members of the royal family are engaging in this sport. Although Polo has been invented some hundred years ago in Persia from where it spread to Arabia and India it only arrived in the UK in the 19th century. This was the Victorian age and Victoria herself was not only the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland but also the Empress of India. For this reason Great Britain sent business men and military personnel to India. The military officers apparently took pleasure in this sport and brought it to Great Britain.

It also looks as if Polo was and is to this day quite an expensive sport since the rules require that each player has at least two horses in order to protect the animals from harm. I believe that this explains the following watch-story.

Reverso

The British officers that were based in India were the reason for the invention of the watch model “Reverso” by Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Polo is a fast equestrian sport. Nevertheless, the British officers seemed to be quite relaxed about it since they apparently had enough of capacity to constantly watch the time while playing and could not take off their watches. Hence they frequently found the glass of their watches broken after the game and became tired of it.

So in the 1930ies the Swiss watch manufacturer Jaeger-LeCoultre developed the “self-protecting” model “Reverso”. The watch itself sits in a cradle and can be turned to either side. In “normal mode” you can check the time and in “protection mode” the glass is turned inward and you look at the steel bottom of the watch. I have seen models with enamel images on the bottom or just the owner’s name engraved.

What was invented for a practical – maybe a bit snobby – reason became the embodiment of ultimate elegance. Quite rightly so.

See More

The following video clip explains the history of Jaeger-LeCoultre as well as some details on the Reverso.