Your Voice Is An Asset

From Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson and Prince, sometimes it’s hard to think about great singers ever having had lessons.. whilst talent is magical it is also a skill. And it’s essential! The exploration never ends. Teachers, TV hosts, entrepreneurs, speakers and all the performers out there (even employees) this book is for you, it’s entitled “The voice and articulation drillbook” by Grant Fairbanks link here

Make Friends, Not Clients

Bullshit: Facebook and WhatsApp are for friends and family only. 

Good news: Social “selling” is happening everywhere these days especially on your smartphone.

This message (picture) from a client means the world. It resonates, because clients always have dreams and vision; your role is to HELP them get there.
Heard the stories about door-to-door salesmen being rejected? People getting scammed online? Just reflexes. Genuine conversations  instill the trust process.
Clients can become your friends, no matter where they from, I believe it’s the ultimate goal!
Please remember 2 things: People buy from their friends first. Money keeps the lights on, but great relationships are everything

LinkedIN Is NOT About You!


Attractive and inspiring content is what’s missing on LinkedIN, here is why: people who brag about how great they are, do not realise how annoying it actually is!

I quote this comment from a member of a music conversation group I joined:

“Self-promotion seems to be the modus operandi of a majority of desperate acts on LinkedIN, but most seem to have no idea what they’re doing. 95% of everyone’s feed is self-glorifying, poorly written, close ended statements about someone’s new ‘project’. This sort of posting invites no feedback, and sickens me in that, here is an act – insisting that they are the greatest thing since God – yet they can’t even summon up the creative energy generated by a sack of potatoes to convince me that they’re worth listening to.

If it isn’t that, it seems to be someone wedging in some completely irrelevant – and unwarranted – cheeky political comment.

I’m not necessarily picking on the members of this group, but it’s the growing trend that I see which generally makes me remain silent, or simply leave LinkedIn groups.”

Now is the time to make our LinkedIN feed relevant again and teaching each other something new, everyday.

Grammy 2017: We Are Lost In A Masquerade 

Adele is making my head burn. No doubt. Congrats! She hasn’t lost a Grammy since 2012 and split hers in half to give it to Beyonce…😓 who with Tupac, Prince (a god who walked among us), Mariah Carey and Kanye West never won an album of the year Grammy. Tupac said back in 1996 “we are tired of this event, it’s always the same, boring.. it’s time for something new, time to shock the people” I didn’t mentioned Taylor Swift yet (and I don’t know where Rihanna is) but I’m still baffled while playing George Benson’s song now in heavy rotation: “We are lost in a masquerade🎶” #grammy2017

7 Places Where You’ll Find Conversations That Will Shape Your Next Story


When there’s some good music playing at the bar, I pick up my phone, make my way through the crowd towards the speakers and I launch the almighty SHAZAM app. I wait a few seconds, my hand up in the air like I’m trying to find a network signal in a cave. The phone vibrates, then I look at the message on the screen: “We didn’t quite catch that, get your device closer to the sound and try again.”

The time for me to reach for the DJ, the song will be gone and… I’ll end up frustrated for the rest of the night. I’m sure this kind of situation already happened to you. You didn’t catch THAT sound or lost the webpage featuring articles whith interesting comments. 

Conversations are everything, they educate us, let us agree/disagree, shape us.

Here are the ideal -or not so ideal- places to find great conversations that will fuel your next story:

LinkedIn (2/10) When I started my journey here, it was fun: the “Look-I’m-On-LinkedIn-I’m-cool” vibe, the community, the articles and their comments, the golden days! Until Microsoft kicked in; now my news feed is full of stories with zero comment which only attract serial likers and self-promotion spammers.

You can be a very beautiful woman – God bless you –, and post a pic of the dress you are wearing today. Chances are you’ll break up the platform and gain thousands of followers -pick up artists- in no time.

One of my favorite movie is “Pretty Woman”. I bet you remember the scene where Vivian –Julia Roberts– gets bored watching old movies on TV, she’s then heading downstairs, looking for Edward –Richard Gere– and pushes a door in the hotel lobby, attracted by the distant sound of a piano playing. She’s looking for a good conversation! LinkedIn is the guy, who could lock that door in an alternate scene, cutting the story and its charm short. If only Vivian tried to break through that door, she’d find a jukebox playing in an empty room. That’s what a conversation group with 80k members and zero comment looks like. LinkedIN is full of those.

Do you want to post a video? You need to put it on YouTube first –if you have one– and embed its link in your post but you can only do that in your web browser. Your phone’s camera for video? Useless. Forget about it. Which makes me jump to the most interesting platforms next.

Youtube (7/10) this is the land of videos. Video are very special because they strike our emotions, pull our strings. When I watch a Youtube video, the comments section is where I waste my time. Some of them are very spot on while others make me laugh. Either way, they are very engaging.

Facebook (9/10) I ran a search in the Facebook’s ‘Groups’ app. I wanted to find people like me who like “Pretty Woman” (the movie). Figure the results I got. Use your imagination. BUT what if I just typed “movies”, or “80s movies” here we go! On Facebook, the smaller the group the better. If it’s a closed one, it’s way better. In groups the conversation is still going and it’s spontaneous. No spam, no self-advertising. If you want more details about the question you asked publicly? Just send a private message to a member and you’ll get the answer quickly. You want to start a live video? People will watch and react.

On Instagram (4/10) I use Instagram like Pinterest, it’s my huge sketch/inspiration book, it’s the place where I can express myself as an artist. Music, painting, photos anything goes. The problem with Instagram is that the comments are very short, they go from “Nice” to “Very nice” to “👍”. You guessed it: Instagram is for celebrities. Follow me now on the ‘gram @Lionthomas

Twitter (4/10) If you think that messaging is broken on LinkedIn, you haven’t seen nothing yet. I think that Twitter is for live reactions and comments only. You state your opinion and three days -a week- later –maybe- you’ll get some interactions. Everything is public. Twitter is full of spam and bots. That’s why people never answer your messages. I use It as a tool of expression. My Cavs are losing to Golden State: I want to dive in the tweets right now, feel the moment!

Snapchat (0/10) I don’t like it; Maybe I’m too old for it. I find it too cluttered. If you are not on Snapchat you are out of the loop. Please leave me a comment down below if your Snapchat conversation rate is going through the roof. I want yo learn from you.

In the streets (10/10) In Cameroon, blackouts –like the Sun- are running your existence, ‘heat & darkness under the Sun’ as I call it. Of course, you could be left totally in the dark at the bar, but who cares? You’re at the right place: your drink is in front of you! Some people can get very creative there.

As I’m writing those lines, there’s still no power in my block since yesterday. It’s not the end of the world though: in all African neighborhood, at crossroads, you’ll find at least one handmade wooden bench. When I sat down we were just two, we ended up laughing and telling stories, the ten of us, until 10 pm. It takes two and a bench for storytelling.

In conclusion, forget about cold emailing/calling, the greatest business opportunities in life are coming out of very simple things. If you are serious about professional networking, it’s time for a reboot. We are ALL busy but people do ‘repetitive’ business with their friends. Find, read comment sections of your favorite social media platform, I can guarantee you that you’ll find beautiful strangers to talk to.

Lessons Learned From A Train Wreck


Why doesn’t a train provide seat-belts?

I asked myself that question when I found none in my train heading back to Yaounde,  I just said a prayer and fell asleep. Awakened, I ran a Google searchand the best answers came from my English friends.

Let them sort out the essentials, like cold beer, before demanding luxuries.
William Barrett, London, UK

Because as 90 per cent of all commuters have to stand due to overcrowding, it would seem a massive expense for only ten per cent of the travelling public.
Jon Trussler, St Albans, England

Despite the recent bad publicity, train crashes are very rare events. Typically 10 people a day die on the roads and there are about 100 road accident related injuries a day. On the railways in many years less than 10 passengers are killed in a year. Also because of the large momentum of trains the decelleration in a crash is less than with a car so although people are thrown about inside the carriage in rail accidents, the injuries they suffer tend not to be as horrendous.

John Miles, Cardiff UK

Very rare events…unfortunately this time was big time: the train -the same I took the day before- just crashed!

Cameroon is in the international news: “Please Lord, help this country to change, help us to change, make a change!” a survivor screamed at the medias. Death toll: 70 dead and counting, over 600 injured.

I deeply love Africa and my country, but I must admit: It’s hearthbreaking. You can feel it: people are tired and frustrated. We pray -really hard- here everyday but apparently not hard enough. Bollore, the french company owning the rolling stock “Camrail” is learning its business fundamentals the hard way.

How your company can learn from this failure? This is what we are going to discuss today.

Monopoly game is an illusion and can backfire
Cameroon is the country of “one”: one telecommunication provider, one airline carrier, one energy provider with no solar panel solutions -where the sun is beating like crazy 24/7-, one road between two big capitals, one to take you from your home to work, one train, one railroad… you got it. Don’t you think that in a country of 23 million people, “one” is a very bad number? Consequences: high prices, crippled services and products, bad customer service and quality.

Plan ahead or face the domino effect
The road linking Douala to Yaounde is the most dangerous in the country. It’s narrow, full of turns -with drivers gladly overtaking others-, hardly maintained, no rest areas, no emergency phones, the list goes on. But Nature like to kindly remind us our life support condition in this country, so it did cast the night before the accident an heavy storm that caused a bridge to collapse, dividing the road in the process. When you can’t take the road you hit the train, and when the train can’t be overloaded for security reasons, no one cares! We’ll gladly double the -cheap- wagons we have in stock for you. Thanks for your money.
Change: Keep greediness at bay, invest in solutions that will make your customers’ life easier tomorrow.

The power of communication & social media
Everybody has a smartphone. This should be the first thought running in an entrepreneur’s mind before tackling a business plan. The first one a Transport Minister should think about before going live. You can’t keep people from talking, you can’t just say that nothing happened and keep calm when people are recording and shooting people getting out of a train wreck like zombies, whatsapping about it. A rap song got even released the same day and went viral.
Change: the impact of words, images, videos, music is powerful.

Misperceived value and the power of caring
It’s just a plane, a train, a bus, a logo, a website, a video, an event…. why shall we care? “Just” give them -the customers- the bare necessities, the essentials. Big issues will never happen and they don’t care. Bad news: sh*t always happen and people do care!
Change: If you are in the game for the long run and trying to leave a strong company culture that will thrive without you, it’s time to act different: turn the “it’s just a __________” sentence into “it’s MORE than just a ______” this is where your strong value proposition reside. If you belittle your business value, how do you expect your future customers not doing the same?

A good business is supposed to care for its customers’ satisfaction and well being. That means avoiding shortcuts, not downplaying the huge importance of maintenance and having strong security policies. Putting hardly maintained wagons in circulation is pure madness. Running a cracked Windows version on all your organization’s desktops can cause the shutdown of your website and cost you! Buying a cheap identity because you “just” need it for your business cards to end up finding out that your competitor got the same logo [or way better.] or getting a lawsuit, can cost you! Trying to cut your promotional video lenght and you ended up with an inefficient, distorted and complex message.
Change: care for your audience, they deserve it.

Take full responsibility and apologise
Don’t blame others and call your business partners/team out. If something happens in your shop, under your watch, you are responsible. Especially if you are in a strategic position. 
Assess the problem right away
: communication, communication and communication. Camrail’s facebook got flooded by bad comments, they did reply but to a very few of them, which made the situation worse. We all fail, but facing failure “I’m sorry” are your best words. Learning  from your mistakes and promise to do better/plan ahead next time. You are in trouble when the same situation happens over and over again and you just feel “okay” about it.

Cheap behaviour is a global trend and it’s running very strong in Africa. Organizations, startups, entrepreneurs are always seeking solutions about how to minimise the costs, maximise the profits and they ALSO hope to provide/get quality. But what to do when this state of mind -melt with high corruption practices- is pushed to the extremes in places where the population’s welfare is jeopardized? 


How To Write Effective LinkedIN Invitations?

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Story 1:
After receiving multiple reminders telling you that you have a package to pick up, you call the company who let you know that the package is actually a free water tester kit that they’ll bring to you to test your water and then offer you service to improve your water at home.

Story 2:
You are waiting for important feedbacks from your prospects regarding the response you sent to assess their business inquiries. You then hear an email notification while you’re making your morning coffee. You rushing to your desktop, opening your browser, and discover mail  from someone in Africa who received a million dollar inheritance and need your help (i.e: bank account details) to recover it.

Uncomfortable truth: “We are surrounded by scams!” We’ve been the victims of cold calling/emailing or scam techniques and schemes for decades, now we can smell the sale from miles away. Today I will focus on LinkedIN’s most important feature: invitations.

LinkedIN is my favorite engagement tool. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Instagram It aims at people who are down for business and networking. I’ve already told you about the 3 Things We Are Doing Wrong On LinkedIN let’s go deeper

  1. Profiles : a total stranger has put some time and effort to write his story (LinkedIN bio), please read it carefully! At least read the headline, ads that sell have short and efficient headlines. Once you’ll start reading it, you’ll ask genuine questions. Especially if you both share common activity fields. Note these questions down. They’ll be helpful.
  2. Activity : Activities are key elements on LinkedIN, they will tell you how many followers people got, the articles they put online, their likes  and comments.
  3. Groups : like Seth Godin said: “we are all part of a tribe”. I love marketing and advertising, social media and design. Where will I find professionals talking and sharing stories about the things I really care about and giving me the opportunity to bounce off ideas? In LinkedIN Groups! If you we are part of the same tribe, chances are our conversations will be interesting.
  4. Causes: what are your passions? Art and culture? Sports? Music? Animal lover?
    If you do, let me tell you something: we are already friends, but you don’t know it!

Now you know four aspects to take your engagement skill further. LinkedIN is all about connections and sending the right invitations to the right people. How to send and personalise an invitation? My friend and LinkedIN expert Viveka Van Rosen can help you do that.

A good advice: stay creative. Remind yourself that you are a stranger and an intruder on the wrong side of the gun. To sparkle my curiosity -and keep me from pulling the trigger 🙂 – tell me who you are: How did you find my profile? Did I say something interesting in it? Do we have connection in common? Are we in the same group? Did you like a post or comment I wrote? So many ways. Be original, make me smile or laugh in 300 characters. If you write a quote, instead of running your polite “looking forward to read from you” jargon you’re on a great start: “Great minds think alike”.

Should you copy and paste invitations? Sure, especially if you have a lot of them to send over! Just tweak them a bit to show that you really care. And please…oh please…spell my name correctly : Denzel and Lionel aren’t the same person. I wish they were! 🙂

Practice, practice, practice!  A great source of inspiration could be dialogue from movies, tv shows, even books/comics! Look how strangers start a conversation with a character you like.

An invitation example could go like this:
I just liked your comment in regard to __________. I hold a similar viewpoint. I wish to connect with people on the same wave length. Hope we’ll share interesting conversations around ________. Happy to connect!

In conclusion, what undermine our success is the obvious things we know but miss everyday. Make a goal to send five genuine LinkedIN connections everyday. Track your failure/success rate and adjust.

We all hate underhanded marketing and time-wasters. We get interrupted all the time, even by LinkedIN invitations coming from nowhere! YOU are the product. I strongly believe that you can help someone out there – out of your country –  by contacting directly and honestly and maybe -I’m sure!- a great conversation will follow!

Your turn! Please, inspire us now! Share your stories and some examples of your best invitations, the ones that worked for you, in the comment section below!