A NEW HOME. A NEW NAME.

Design Is Attitude

For a long time I have been treating the subjects of style, design and digitalisation which are my greatest passion on this blog.

Now it is time for the next step and a new digital home.

Design Is Attitude

I converted my passion into a company by the name of Design Is AttitudeDesign Is Attitude. And this time it is not just a blog but also great products paired with digitalisation.

The Style Blog

The blog treats the same subjects as Leadership & Lipstick has done so far. We are aiming to create a kind of encyclopaedia for the following subjects:

  • Stye & Design
  • Shoe Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Interior Design

Please bear with us since we are gradually filling our blog and soon you can subscribe to the newsletter too.

Style & Design

This chapter will also be about the personalities that influenced fashion as much as explanations on fashion in different epochs. The same subjects and more content than in the present blog.

Digitisation is a major subject for all categories since everything is being digitized but the customer service and the products.

Shoe Design

On the present blog there is already a category for shoes. Now it is more than just a category of shoes but it will be my pleasure to present an exclusive shoe brand Stilettissimo.

The launch will be in August 2019. You will hear more about it on Design Is Attitude and of course there is a website.

Fashion Design

I shared images of made-to-measure fashion for women before and there will be more since The Fashion Atelier (hitherto RougeNoir) presents even more models as they also dive into tops prêt-à-porter. You will learn about the latest models, the fabrics they are made of and more. See more.

Interior Design

The category of Interior Design is nothing new to you, dear readers. I have been treating it for a long time and will continue with it. Sone day I might even be able to offer products for this, too.

Move with me to my new digital home.

I am looking forward to meeting you there.

ON PREDICTION AND SUCCESS

2016-06-Prediction-Success

I will never cease to wonder why we are always so sceptical towards new things.

We know that people feared locomotives and today we arrogantly smile at “these fools”. Meanwhile we discovered that the famous prediction that the world not need more than 5 computers is somehow inaccurate.

When John Logie Baird invented the first mechanical TV – the screen was hardly larger than a modern smart phone – people were sure that this invention would never make it. Wrong again.

Only Fear?

Is this – alas so common – reaction really just fear of new things? I seriously doubt it.

I rather think it has a lot to do with envy and insecurity. It is much easier to predict doom than to firmly stand up for one’s own ideas, believing in their success and to work for.

The sceptics probably also knew that social media would go down the tube; or are they still convinced about it?

Many ideas never come to life for various reasons. So the sceptics who of course saw this coming are right again.

Well, no rule without exception and a great idea might just come at the right time. Or as Victor Hugo put it:

«All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.»

Victor Hugo

The TV set just turned 90

 
 
 

Communicate To Change

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I think it is safe to say that social media is more than a seasonal hype. Facebook for instance – not the best but given the number of members the largest – platform has been around for more than 10 years and LinkedIn where a large part of the job market is happening has been founded in 2003.

As a blogger one automatically deals a lot with social media.

The so called new media changed our lives in many aspects and most companies maintain blogs and social media accounts on various platforms. Larger firms have entire teams to deal with this aspect of their corporate communication.

Watch Your Reputation

Do you know what surprises me?

Even some large and renowned enterprises don’t seem to have as much as a minimal concept about their social media activities. And if they have they do not live accordingly. While I am absolutely sure that they have sales targets and all sorts of KPIs I do not see regular blog posts or consistent communication on social media platforms.

Personally, I believe that there is too much at stake to make social media a costly playground. Quite some time ago I mentioned in a post that the famous Greek philosopher Plato did not like writing because he assumed that we lose control over our written words since we never know who will read it and how it is understood. When I look at social media I find this almost prophetic.

Young people are told not to share images that are too private because it will ruin their reputation and might even prevent them from getting a decent job. The Internet never forgets.

How much bigger is the danger of ruining the reputation of their brand for entire companies? Most of them want to be seen as reliable partners, high quality brands, outstanding service providers and all the rest of it. Social Media is fast and generates a lot of talk. You want people to say the right things about you, don’t you?

Get a Grip on Social Media

If your company decides to go social; and I am sure they will, you need a social media concept. And there are some things to be taken into account before you start.

Have a look at your vision.

Your enterprise will have a vision that states were you are heading to. This must reflect in your social media strategy.

Talk to Your audience

Ask your sales department about your customers.

  • Who are they?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • What size are these companies?
  • Where are they geographically located?

You need this information about the clients you already have and want to keep and the ones you plan to have. Write for them.

This will also answer the question which platform(s) to use. The generic answer is: where your customers are; of course.

Plan

Now you have all the information you need to create a plan. Remember, you have to deliver meaningful content; regularly. Just for the protocol: regularity is what I often miss from the companies I observe.

Set targets

Your sales department has clear targets. So should your social media activities. Consider the help of external experts to set ambitious but realistic goals; such as conversion rates, visitors etc.

Choose the platforms

You might find your clients and prospects on different platforms. Start with the one you consider of highest importance. It is unwise to try doing everything at once as you will have to adjust a lot.

Responsibilities and tasks

Determine who has to do what and when.

Schedule

Create a schedule that establishes the frequency of your postings

Educate

All your people need to know the company’s vision in order to represent it accordingly. You must train your staff before you get them to use social media on behalf of your organization.

Pilot

Allow yourself a pilot phase during which you will

  •  Monitor your results
  •  Get used to the new processes
  •  Make adjustments and improvements
  •  Watch the time each task takes.
    • – Once you are in the productive phase you should limit the time for each task.

Ready to Roll

Now you should be ready to go productive. As I said before social media is a fast-paced business and you will never seize to optimize and adjust but at least you minimized the chance that you will harm your reputation.

P.S. For your convenience I wrote a small guide that answers more questions than this post. Please feel free to download it here.

Tell me about realistic

2015-17-1-Realistic

I frankly admit that I have a problem with the term realistic. People that tell you to be realistic often try to predict your targets concerning their outcome or timeline.

Inventions

When Edison invented the light bulb or Ford developed cars they certainly had a goal but probably no timeline. Projects like inventions, finding the right house or jobs can only be based on the goal but will not fit in a timeline. They are unknown territory.

An invention might need a thousand corrections before it works. That is one reason why research is expensive, unpredictable and often hard to fund.


Want something realistic? Get Swiss Chocolate.


The amount of time some achievements take depend on various reasons such as the amount of work one invests, the talent to be at the right place at the right time, one’s attitude etc. Sometimes it is just luck. What it definitely does not depend on is the prediction of someone who is not even involved. Clairvoyance is a rare talent which means we don’t really know what reality will be and what “realistic” expectations are.

Projects

Having said that the term realistic is a different one if it comes to “normal” projects; provided such a thing exists.

The difference is that most projects deal with subjects the project members and the supplier are familiar with. What I mean is that they create a new solution for their customer but most of the products and services are already invented and need to combined according to the client’s needs.

Under this circumstances “realistic” is a different thing. It should be possible to define milestones and estimate the time and (human) resources each task will take. Timelines and planning are of course key to indicate the cost; meaning the amount stated on the bill the supplier will send their client, and to keep track. And since even in a “normal” project you will meet unforeseen events it is wise to add a certain percentage of extra time. Every project manager will now think that this is hardly a newsflash and they are of course right.

Yes, the cost. They often turn “realistic” into “most utopic”. In order to save cost companies often just shorten the timeline and the working hours per task. Needless to say that the result is typically expected to be the same in regard to quality and features. Tell me about realistic! Latest, when the project has come to a progress of 50% the shortage of resources can no longer been overlooked.

This is the moment for (belated) change or even turnaround management. Either we have to negotiate a simpler and cheaper solution or additional cost and time have to be granted by the stakeholders.

Due to not so realistic planning at the beginning the final cost will most probably be higher than estimated before the “saving attempt”.

Be realistic!

Time Change

2015-11-Time-Change

If you have been following my articles for a certain time you know that I talk about change a lot. Most changes take time. But I think that the most time-consuming change was time itself. Confused? Well, let me explain.

I’ll use Sir Isaac Newton to showcase my claim. If you ask me about Newton’s birthday my answer is: “January 4, 1643”. The mathematician himself would probably shake his head and insist that he was born 10 days earlier since his birthday was December 25, 1642.

I guess you already see that we are both right (or maybe wrong) but using different calendars.

The two Calendars

The Julian calendar was announced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC as a reform of the old Roman calendar. I don’t know how much time it took the Romans to roll out the new calendar throughout their huge realm. But what we do know is that this calendar was a success story. After all it took more than1600 years until a new reform took place.

The Gregorian calendar is named after Pope Gregor VIII who issued a so called papal bull (an order only the Holy See can establish) in 1582 that made the new calendar mandatory to the Christian world. The motivation for this change was to enable correct calculations of the dates of important feasts; foremost Easter. You probably know that Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after beginning of spring. March 21 was the result of their calculation.

The Gregorian calendar was not completely new but rather an adjustment of the Julian model.

Reluctant Acceptance of Change

On the pope’s order in 1582 almost all Europe and the European colonies bestowed the new time system upon their subjects. Every few years one or two countries changed to the new calendar. Scotland and England only joined long after Isaac Newton’s death in 1752. The last European country to accept the Gregorian calendar was Greece, in 1924.

What you just read is the official version. My guess is that it took more than one generation for people to “take the new time system personally”.

China, for instance, has been applying the Western calendar since 1949 but to the present day the Chinese New Year is still a cultural event of utmost importance – and it never starts on January 1. It is so famous that even the West takes an interest in it.

Bottom Line

Maybe you remember Luc de Brabandere’s theory on Fact and Perception. In the present case the papal order and the new time system are Fact. The Perception on the other hand is the way people look at it. The same glass can be half full or half empty.

It is the same in every project. If you want to really change things you have to communicate a lot and to explain the goals you are planning to achieve. Every change is a risk for an enterprise and you want all your employees to support it.

Of course you can exercise a lot of pressure on people. The question is how long you can keep it up and at what price.

I believe that change is an art; not an order.

Women’s Secrets

2015-10-womens-secret

While last week we spoke about glamour in tech today’s topic is about secret work.

Top Secret Rosies

You might know that ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was the first touring-complete computer. This means that it functioned according to the mathematician Alan Touring’s scheme. The device was developed for ballistic calculations. But that was not until 1946.

Before ENIAC the notion computer did not describe a device but a profession; human calculators, so to speak. Our story starts in 1942 and the protagonists are h(w)oman calculators. Since most men fought in World War II the army was short of resources.

Therefore they created a secret programme hiring female students from different Universities to get them to do the calculations on artillery firing tables. The women took an intense course at the University of Pennsylvania where they learned how to work the equations. The results were distributed to the soldiers and the bombardiers. The women worked in shifts in order to complete their ballistic calculations. Apparently, their results were so accurate that they even could tell if enemy soldiers would stand or lie in trenches.

In 1943-45 they used a differential analyser (this is indeed a machine) to deliver the results faster. Unfortunately, this device was quite unreliable and frequently required the intervention of a mechanic. The human computers still had to control the results manually.

ENIAC

When in 1946 ENIAC was announced as “a gigantic brain” not all the problems were solved. Besides the fact that ENIAC was huge it comprised thousands of components. As it seems the more than 17 000 vacuum tubes were a big problem. If only one of them failed the device produced wrong results. So the faulty tube had to be adjusted manually. Six of the “Rosies” worked on the ENIAC team.

Of course the ladies were not (all) called Rosies but it is the title of the documentary which tells their story.

The Year-2000-Problem

If you already worked in the IT in 1999 you will remember the panic about the so called Y2K-Problem which describes the fear that all computer systems were out of order in the new millennium. Companies duplicated entire systems to have a fall back scenario if on January 1, 2000 everything would go to the dogs. To the present day I am not sure if it was not just an ingenious marketing trick or if really nobody could tell for certain what would happen.

The Y2K-Problem has its roots in the late 1950ies and the originator was Grace Hopper. She graduated from Yale in mathematics and physics in 1930. Grace was a computer scientist and a real pioneer. She developed the first compiler (this is a programme that “translates” other programmes from one language to another one so it can be used by different devices). She belonged to the US Navy and worked as a mathematician and programmer at the University of Harvard. She substantially contributed to the development of some really important basics of programming.

I said before that Grace Hopper was a pioneer. Obviously she did not think that only few of us are. She only used two digits for the year (meaning 59 instead of 1959). Neither she nor her team thought that there were so many professional copyists. They had high hopes for human’s creativity and really thought that by 1999 computer science would be much more advanced.

So the Year-2000-problem is not Grace Hopper’s fault but has arisen from our limited imagination.

The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. – Aesop

P.S. The secret Rosies proof that women are not necessarily the source of gossip laugh

Glamour in Tech

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The idea of the nerdy computer programmer is somehow still in people’s minds. Well, this species is about to die out; if it hasn’t already. Maybe, so I think, because information technology has an impact on everybody’s life and its use has become normal. Moreover, IT has grown to such diversity that everybody has to specialize in a certain field within this vast sector.

Apart from the cliché of tons of coffee and cigarettes information technology had some rather glamorous moments. Here are the ones I know of.

The first Computer

I guess more than 50% of my gentle readers know that the German inventor Konrad Zuse (1910-1995) built the first fully functioning computer called Z3 in 1941. The device had all of the core features that define our idea of a computer: it was fully automatic, electronically controlled and programmable.

All computers need programmes. You might be surprised to hear that the first one had already been written around 1840. Ada Lovelace – the daughter of famous Lord Byron – is attributed to be the world’s first programmer. The English mathematician developed the idea of a mechanical computer which she never finished. Her untimely death (she died at the age of 36) might be an important reason for this.

The computer language “Ada” was named after her. What I don’t know is how much of the code she had written Konrad Zuse could use.

Maybe Victor Hugo is right:

«Greater than the thread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.» Victor Hugo

Wireless Data Transfer

Of course you all know and use wireless technologies which are available in various flavours. Like so many technical inventions it was first used for military purpose.

The basic invention of wireless is attributed to a very glamorous lady by the name of Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000). She was an actress of Austrian origin and lived in the United States.

During World War II she sided with the Allies. Together with the composer Georg Antheil she developed the system of frequency hopping (also known as spread-spectrum). The US Army used this technology to control torpedoes. In spread-spectrum the frequency is rapidly changing within a certain bandwidth which makes it harder to eavesdrop and therefore provides a certain security.

Although frequency hopping without encryption is considered insecure by modern standard it provided the base for other inventions. Bluetooth for instance uses so called advanced frequency hopping which prevents it from interferences.

Well, who would have thought that glamour and information technology go together so well and even produce sustainable solutions?

Next week we’ll speak about ENIAC, the famous Year-2000 problem and confidential projects.

101

022015

I trust that you arrived safely at 2015 and enjoyed the holiday season.

May I confront you with some statistics for a start?

Leadership & Lipstick proudly present
article number 101.

I cannot believe it myself but the last article of 2014 was indeed the hundredth one. Not that I planned it, the posts somehow just happened. 100 seems to be the order of 2014 since even my Facebook page reached exactly 100 likes by December 31, 2014.


Book Lufthansa right here


Typically, my believe in statistics is rather limited since their “truths” not only depend on the source but also on the interest of the statisticians. While in the European Renaissance fortune was predicted by astrologists, nowadays this is done by statistics and economists. I guess that the accuracy remained the same.

New Year Resolutions

However, statistics show that about 60% of the New Year resolutions don’t even survive the month of January. I have been doing sports on a regularly basis for years and can tell that the gym is never as crowded as in January and things are back to normal within four weeks.

Plan Change

Please don’t get me wrong. I know that in most companies the fiscal year starts on January 1st and forecasts and sales figures have to be measured as from this date in order to make them comparable. Hence it is obvious that enterprises have or should have a strategy to achieve their targets.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Targets

As my gentle readers certainly noticed that I not only believe in change but appreciate it since it gives us the opportunity to improve things.

Despite my liking for change I abstained from additional resolutions but will keep on working on the targets already set. However, a goal that is worthwhile can be set on any day.

One of my ongoing goals is to deliver weekly blogposts worth reading. I invite you to comment or make suggestions.

I wish you a wonderful and happy 2015.

Error Story

2014-51

Most of us are professional error detectors and hunters of perfection. Perfect work, perfect speeches, perfect services make us look good and add to our honour. An error that comes to light is a black spot on our reputation.

Perfection is great but not always necessary and sometimes even harmful.

Some days ago I read an article about an interview a newspaper had with a professor of work psychology. He claims that errors bear secrets worth being unravelled. From his explanation I understand that he strongly recommends to learn from our mistakes. Well, this is hardly a news flash, but it is worth the effort to have a closer look at our “error culture”.

If an error has been discovered we tend to search for a culprit, shift the blame and all the rest of it; you know what I mean. Needless to say that this is of no help and hiders us to learn from mistakes.

To me the most important insight of this interview is that to err is part of human nature. In other words we might be able to correct errors but we cannot prevent erring.

The professor seems to have an entire error collection and admits that not every mistake has a secret to tell but just reminds us to concentrate in what we are doing in order to avoid further errors.

Rigour against Error

Of course there are some examples where even small mistakes can lead to a catastrophe. The pilot of a plane should be fit for the job as much as a surgeon must be absolutely sure of how to handle the scalpel. In both cases a mistake can cost lives.

Although errors and accidents happen everywhere some industries created processes or use technologies to “limit the bleeding”. Before the start of a plane the captain goes through a clearly predefined checklist to make sure that everything is fine. After the flight the crew has a debriefing to discuss if there were incidents that have to be reported to the authorities. Some mistakes do not require a report but still a correction.

Hospitals maintain case conferences and car companies invent devices like airbags.

Helpful Errors

Precision is certainly supportive to do things right but also most hindering to innovation. If we try something new or invent things they will not be perfect but need lots of adjustments, testing, rethinking and maybe hundreds of iterations.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10’000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison

If we want something new we must have the courage to fail.

Bottom Line

What you just read might sound to you as if I would try to saint errors. I don’t. I came to the conclusion that we do have to choose when we really need processes and rigour to avoid errors and in which cases we can afford or are even compelled to err and fail.

Just for the records: If you find typing errors in my articles please be assured that I am not trying to invent a new language but struggling on my way to perfection.

Public Relation Is Change Management

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Most of us know that one needs a so called USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to really stand out of the crowd. An excellent product or service as well as a unique skillset can be seen as USPs.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”. – Coco Chanel

Mademoiselle Chanel’s quote brings me straight to today’s topic which is about clever PR management. The best service will hardly become a bestseller if nobody knows about it. So marketing is indispensable and from my point of view it is worth the effort of putting some brains and money in it.

Coco Chanel was also a genius in public relation. Her most famous perfume “Chanel No. 5” was released on May 5, 1921 and she held a kind of soirée to which she invited only the most exclusive clients to make the scent something really special and the women who bought it probably felt like the Queen of Sheba. Just for the records: “Chanel No. 5” is still a bestseller.

Heels, Fines and a Good Sense of Humour

You might be aware of the fact that everything we see or hear hits our emotions long before our relatively slow logic sets in. This is the core of the so called neuro-marketing. The public transport of the town of Zurich (by the abbreviation of “VBZ”) seems to know a great deal about effective PR and they hire the best agencies for it.

Their marketing campaigns meet people’s eyes and nerves. Let me just give you my two favourite examples. Given I am a high heel wearer a picture of a high heel with the following claim makes me laugh:

“Conveniently, in Zurich there is a station every 300 metres”. – VBZ

Moreover, I have to admit that I am a passionate driver which does not agree with public transport in the first place. However, parking spots in Zurich – like in every city – are rare hence expensive. The really bad news is that the police (mostly bad-tempered ladies) have a close watch on them. VBZ knows that this is exactly the problem they solve and they found a way to communicate it:

politessen

Change Management with Noah

Of course the ecological aspects are a highly political topic; and apparently an age-old one, too.

noah-vbz

Noah is said to have saved mankind. Very few of us probably will. Nevertheless, most companies, travel agencies and tourist offices should take classes at Zurich’s public transport company.

Image Credits

All the images belong to VBZ. I just translated the slogans and compiled the pictures.