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Welcome to the belivernomics blog

 

I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Feb 23 2019 12:59PM

Last week, I attended a leaving party for my dear friend, former colleague, and current Believernomics business partner. It was a terrific event, not just for the turn out of well-wishers, the genuine sentiments expressed by all present, but also for the sheer power of my friend's charisma. I had always known him to be charismatic and had told him so, but I did not fully appreciate the scale nor the extent of his wonderful gift. In fact, so impressed was I by what I observed, that evening, that I felt inspired to write this blog to deconstruct the key characteristics of charisma.


So, why should anyone care about charisma? In simple terms, it is often the 'secret sauce' of success and the key ingredient for a powerful personal brand. It can be the difference between being heard and being believed; being one amongst the many and standing amongst the few; following and leading. Let us be clear, charisma is not like other personal brand characteristics such as reliability, integrity or courage. Quite unlike those characteristics, charisma cannot be acquired, learned or taught. You either have it or you don't and for those that don't have it, you will know it when you see it. So here is my take on the 13 key characteristics of charisma.


1. it attracts others

People often conflate charisma with celebrity, but they are not the same thing. Celebrity can attract others, but if you take away the underpinning activity or event that creates celebrity, the attraction of it will invariably fade as well. By contrast, people with charisma attract others through their affability, manner or other personality traits. As such, the underpinning characteristics of charisma reflect who you are, not the status or position that you have achieved. Another important aspect of the way in which charisma attracts is through the universality of its language. In other words, the language of charisma cuts across demographics and boundaries.


2. it keeps others

With charisma, whilst the ability to attract people is always a very strong measure, it is the ability to 'keep' those you attract that is the higher standard. The relationships that charismatic people cultivate are rarely transient and more likely to be long-lasting and give expression to intense personal loyalty. This ability to maintain enduring relationships ultimately speaks to the quality of those interactions and by extension, the regard to which charismatic people are often held.


3. it is effortless and authentic

Charisma comes naturally and is not something that you can fake, because you either have it or you do not. In that way, I would liken charisma to humour. People who have a natural sense of humour never need try to be funny, they just are. They seem to have an innate sense of what makes people laugh and do it effortlessly, without preparation. So it is with charisma, it requires no effort, because it is not what you learn, it is what you have, because it is who you are.


4. it needs no introduction because it announces itself

Much as you might tell someone that they are charismatic, you are only really stating the obvious to them and others. The point to note here is that charisma speaks for itself; it is the presence that fills the room and the energy that causes others to gravitate towards it. If you have charisma you do not always have to be the most articulate person in the room, nor the one with the most powerful oratory. That is because, charisma also communicates though non verbal cues such as mannerisms, dress sense and idiosyncrasies.


5. it is influential

Charisma is an effective measure of influence and influence is evidence of soft power. Given that charismatic people are in their element when in the company of others, the scope for leveraging influence over them can be far-reaching. In a positive context, charisma can create highly productive relationships and drive change across wide spans of control.


6. it cannot be easily explained

Anyone who says that they can fully or properly explain how charisma works, really does not understand it at all. We often see the effects of charisma and can therefore witness it at work; but there are various intangibles that make it work. These are the things that are often described as the 'X-factor' (ie: the things that you know are there, but cannot see, weigh or measure). If that were not the case, then everyone would be charismatic and all anyone would need to do, to exhibit it, is follow the formula and apply the science.


7. it makes the difference

The fact is that a compelling, well-evidenced argument is often the most effective way to secure a favourable decision and drive an agenda forward. However, in truth, even that may not be enough. By contrast, with charisma, it is often the case that people choose to trust you because they want to trust you and are willing to do so, even when they disagree with you. Truly charismatic people understand this and use this brand 'super-power' effectively to build momentum and get things done.


8. it is mobile

Few brand characteristics are as transferable, or as mobile, as charisma. As a case in point, when people work for a new employer they sometimes worry about the challenge of starting again and the uncertainty associated with forming new relationships and establishing their reputation in a new place. However, this is not something that charismatic people often worry about. The reason for that is because charisma doesn't just work anywhere, it works everywhere.


9. it exudes the 'feel good factor'

At its most potent, charisma has the extraordinary capacity to make people who experience it, feel good or better about themselves. It is impossible to describe the mechanics of this, other than to say that charisma connects with people at an emotional and psychological level and is as much non-verbal as it is verbal. People want to and enjoy being around those who make them feel positive and people who make others feel positive, can much more easily build strong relationships.


10. it leaves a footprint

One of the most common characteristics of people who are charismatic is that they are memorable. Long after the event or interaction, 'charismatics' tend to be remembered by those they come in contact with. Notwithstanding that the interactions themselves might be mundane or uneventful; charisma can make those experiences memorable. With charisma, you will always know where it has been, when you see what it has done.


11. it is spontaneous

The ability to 'freestyle' and think on your feet is an impressive talent. There are some who can do it very effectively, but most cannot. However, it is one of the things that charismatic people do very well. This is because those with charisma are naturally good with people. The bigger and the more diverse the audience, the better they like it and the more comfortable they will be. The capacity to be spontaneous means that people with charisma will be utterly at ease in the presence of strangers as much they are in the company of friends.


12. it has a presence and an aura

If you have ever been in the presence of someone with charisma, you may sense that they have a certain aura about and around them. This is more likely to be evident when they are in the presence of others. An aura, is one of the most important and impactful non-verbal cues of charisma. It is intangible, but can you can feel it; it is invisible, but you know it is there.


13. it listens

One final thing that I have realised from observing my friend, over the years, is that truly charismatic people are also very good listeners. The ability to listen underpins the capacity to learn, Willing listeners are active learners who are better placed to harness and maximise the value of their gifts and talents. This is important because charisma is a brand characteristic. If you do not know what you have then you will not know how to use it and if you do not know how to use it, then it will likely go to waste.


In conclusion, by itself, charisma is not unique. Many people have it and we see evidence of its deployment in politics, business, the media and in everyday situations. Nor is charisma always used positively, by those who possess it, to impact the lives and life experiences of those around them. However, what is beyond dispute is the potency of charisma in establishing a powerful personal brand, a mechanism for inspiring others and a platform for leadership influence.

By pa360, Nov 4 2018 12:35PM

In this second of a three part series on branding, we look at the seven most common types of brand.


Brands are defined by what they do, but more importantly they are defined by how customers perceive, receive and respond to them. Brands are not homogenous constructs. On the contrary, they are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, with unique characteristics and behaviour patterns that define and drive them.


Brands fall under a number of typologies, with each functioning as its own unique economy. There are brands that are time-defined and those that derive from extreme loyalty as well as others that communicate lifestyle choice, personal vanity and social concerns. For entrepreneurs, the better they understand the classifications and characteristics that define each brand economy, the more effectively they can cultivate customers, compete successfully and increase their market presence. Nothing drives success more than the power of a brand. So here are the seven most common types of brand.


1. the bubble brand

As the name suggests, a bubble brand is one with high impact, concentrated energy and a short life. The motion picture industry is a good example of where this sort of brand is most prevalent. It is well understood that the average life-cycle of a movie, from wide release to final showing, is about 10 weeks. During this 'bubble period' the biggest single point impact will be the film's opening weekend. Thereafter, the grosses will diminish, week-on-week, until newer offerings eventually displace it at the box office. A bubble brand is therefore intended to generate as much impact and as great a value, in as short a time, as possible.


2. the loyalty brand

A loyalty brand is one where consumer allegiance derives from reasons other than the quality or performance of a product or service. Some of the best examples of loyalty brands are in the sporting world, where allegiance to a team or franchise isn't transferable or negotiable. As case in point, in 2018, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, finished 15th and last in Eastern Conference. Despite this, during the season, the team still managed to pull an average attendance of 14,400 at their home games. The point to note here is that a loyalty brand is resolute, even in the face of the most negative consumer experience.


3. the endorsement brand

As the name suggests, endorsement is as much a branding technique as a brand in its own right. The purpose of an endorsement is to get the consumer to do something that they probably would not have done, but for the efforts of those who endorse it. A good example of this is when celebrities promote products or services in an effort to imbue them with their own credibility and glamour. However, the most effective and powerful form of endorsement does not come from well-known personalities, but rather from the word of mouth of ordinary consumers who use a product or service, have positive experience and recommend it to others.


4. the lifestyle brand

These brands are most closely identified with the needs, wants and particular preferences of an individual's everyday life. A lifestyle brand is something that speaks to you personally or something that you can customise to reflect your choice and tastes. Examples of this type of brand are tech products such as mobile phones, upon which people rely so heavily to perform every day functions. However, lifestyle brands are also reflected in the places that people regularly go and the things that they routinely do that underpin the rhythm of their daily lives. A good example of this are the restaurants, hairdressing salons and barber shops that people visit.


5. the status brand

A status or vanity brand speaks to the socio-economic statement that a consumer wants to make about themselves, whether or not that statement is accurate. Expensive cars, high-value jewellery, designer clothes and even some tech products are all examples of brands, which are assumed to convey a certain status on those who possess or utilise them.


6. the transferable brand

A transferable brand is one with such a high trust value, that it can be used across a diverse product and service range. One of the best known examples of this is Richard Branson's Virgin brand. Over the years, the Virgin name has been lent to everything from mobile phones and financial services, to multi-media and mass transit. Not dissimilar from an endorsement, a transferable brand, once attached to a product or service, confers value and standing and therefore communicates 'permission' to trust that product or service.


7. the conscience brand

A conscience brand is a form of status branding, where the consumer seeks to make a personal and social statement about the products and services that they procure. However, distinct from a status brand, which can often be a statement of ostentation or vanity, a conscience brand is communitarian and concerned with social welfare. Some examples of this kind of brand include products and services marketed as fair-trade, responsibly sourced or recycled.


In conclusion, a brand is an economy, reflecting the personal, social and commercial preferences of consumers. Whilst some brands intersect, making it possible for businesses to market products and services across boundaries, others are completely unique and require a more sophisticated approach. In the brand economy, the key to success isn't just the quality of your product, it is the ability to understand the psychology of your customer.




By pa360, Oct 19 2018 09:36AM

In this first of a three part series on branding, we look at the seven questions that will ultimately define your brand.


By itself, a strong brand is not a guarantee of success, but it is essential if you want to be successful. Businesses obsess over their brands, spending millions to cultivate, promote and, when necessary, re-brand their products. Brands matter because they are measures of trust, tests of authenticity and definers of relationships. A business with a strong brand can take risks, afford to fail and set trends. Brands can imbue status and standing to those who associate with them. A strong brand can also drive change by lending credibility, focusing interest and galvanising support for a cause.


Brands are personal and social, they are cross-cultural and geo-spatial. To ignore the importance of branding, is to ignore a simple reality that, even more than money, brands are the most tradable commercial and social currency in any economy, anywhere in the world. That said, it is important to remember that your brand is not the same thing as an image. In simple terms, you image is what you project, but your brand is what they experience. Therefore, if you want to create a great brand then create a memorable experience.


So what are the fundamentals of any brand and what are the factors that define it? Set out below are the seven questions that will define your brand.


1. what do you care about?

The things you care about and how you give expression to them, are powerful brand measures. They are encapsulated in the aims, objectives and purpose that you pursue as well as the relationships that you cultivate and how you manage them. However, the things that you care about can also be imputed. Take those who serve in the military as a case in point. By virtue of their service, the risk to which they willingly expose themselves and their example of self-sacrifice; service men and women are rightly seen as people of courage and character. The point to note here is that everyone cares about something and, more often than not, the best evidence of the things you care about, are the things that you do


2. can you be trusted?

Trust is a measure of consistency and stability. It speaks to your reliability and the extent of your influence. In business, trust doesn't just keep customers, it helps you to win new ones as well. A business that can be trusted, maintains standards. It is also in a good position to innovate and try new things, because customers will always believe, that whatever is done, is for the right reasons and with their best interests in mind. In a broader social context, trust speaks to your ability to provide assurance during times of uncertainty. As social commodities go, trust is probably the most valued of all. As such, any individual, business or interest that cannot answer in the affirmative to the question, of trust, has little of anything else to offer.


3. can you solve problems?

Few questions are as defining of a brand as whether it solves problems. Those who find problems are useful, but those who solve them are indispensible. In the branding context, problem solvers increase convenience, facilitate personalisation and save time. A brand that can be associated with problem solving will not just be the first invited into the room, it will ultimately be the last to leave as well. To build a brand that people want to associate with, or to graduate from a good brand to a better one, you must be able to solve problems.


4. is what you have to offer, worth what I am willing to give?

It is easy to forget that a brand is not just a product, it is also a currency. If you don't know what your currency is worth, you will not get value in exchange. Therefore, being self-aware enough to know the true worth of your brand is absolutely critical. If you do not know the value of your brand, how do you expect anyone else to? In a commercial environment, consumers do not want to pay any more for an under-valued brand than they do for an over-valued one. The onus therefore is on the supplier to do the due diligence and ensure that what they have to offer, is worth what others are willing to give.


5. when you speak who listens?

Does your brand have genuine authority? There are two key points to raise here; first, authority is not just about whether anyone listens, because even weak brands are able to attract an audience. Rather, the question is: when you exercise your authority, does anyone even care? Once you have spoken does your brand drive behaviour? Does it affect sentiment? Is it taken seriously? The second point, is not just about whether you attract an audience, it is about whether you attract the right audience? A brand with authority operates with influence and delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time.


6. are you adaptable?

Adaptability is the ultimate evidence of relevance. It speaks to the idea of openness, change and a capacity for innovation and re-invention. In a branding context, if you are relevant then you are relatable and if you are relatable then you have appeal. The point about adaptability is significant, because it is the ability to adapt that enables a brand to appeal to different demographics and be influential across a wider span of interest. This in turn creates opportunities for a brand to be more impactful and effective.


7. what do others say about you?

The ultimate strength of a brand is the number and range of people who are willing to endorse or recommend it. No matter what you say about yourself, or the image that you project, your true brand is what people experience and say about you. Therefore, if people have good experience, then they will not only talk about them, they will come back and bring others. There are few true measures that say more about the impact and effectiveness of a brand than the chatter it is able to generate by word of mouth.


In conclusion, irrespective of whether you are an individual or a business, the questions in this blog, are an evaluative framework for the critical assessment of your brand. In addressing these questions, it is worth remembering that whilst brands are dynamic, they are also uncomplicated and predictable. As such, the better you understand how they are defined, the better able you will be to determine both the efficacy and viability of your brand.



By pa360, Feb 4 2015 06:04AM

An opportunity is not a guarantee. It may be a possibility or a probability, but it is not a guarantee. Everyday we 'trade' in opportunity, for example by applying for jobs in the hope of being recruited, by extending our networks in the hope of making valued new contacts, by shopping in a high street sale in the hope of picking up a bargain, or by making an investment in the hope of securing a financial return. That's opportunity for you. It is a free-market trade in hope. The hope of gaining an advantage, a benefit or a competitive edge.


I have often commented on the 'market-place' of opportunity. Much as that might sound like a catchy sound bite, it is not. I genuinely do see opportunity as a vibrant market-place. Like any other trading space it is both actual and virtual allowing us to exchange ideas, acquire skills, take risks, explore and venture out. You don't even need to be awake to trade in the market-place of opportunity. How many times have you read testimonies of people who have come up with truly great ideas whilst asleep?


To trade successfully in 'opportunity stock' there are four things that you need to do. First, know your market-place. Find out what drives sentiment and preference in your chosen area of interest. In addition, start to develop an understanding of where the market gaps are and think about things that you can do, to plug those gaps and meet unmet need.


Second, have something to offer that is marketable. The strength of your offer will depend to a large extent on its uniqueness. In a market-place saturated with products that look alike and sound alike, a product that looks different and sounds different, will attract attention. Make yourself identifiably different to others. If you do, you will be indispensible.


Third, think value. A focus on value will help you to ensure that your product is relevant and tailored to the needs of the market place. A space rocket and a skateboard are both modes of transportation, but only one will take you to the moon.


Fourth, have something to spend. I have often said that in the market-place of opportunity, your brand is your currency. The stronger your brand, the more you will have to spend. Having a stronger trading currency gives you significantly more leverage, bargaining power and choice.


To maximise opportunity, make yourself marketable.

By pa360, Jan 23 2015 01:42PM

A barrel of oil is currently trading anywhere between about $45 and $48. This is a sharp contrast to seven months ago when the same commodity was trading at about $110. For those economies heavily reliant on oil revenues, the plummeting price of the commodity is disastrous news. But what does the price of a barrel of oil and the over-reliance of nation states on that product have to do with believernomics? Well it has to do with balance and the need to ensure that your economy is in balance and not out of balance.


Let me explain further, using three examples.


First, an economy is out of balance if it becomes over-exposed to risk. This over-exposure, which increases vulnerability, can happen for a number of reasons. It may, occur if an economy is over-reliant on a particular product or activity. During the good times this might be ok, but what happens if the market becomes volatile? In such a situation a lack of diversity will increase an economy's exposure to the shocks brought about when market conditions change. The earlier example of the falling price of oil is a case in point.


Second, an economy is out of balance if it is over-reliant on imports (which create deficit and debt) as opposed to exports (which generate revenue and income). In a situation where the value of your imports exceeds the value of your exports you have a trade deficit. In economics as in life, deficits are usually bad and surpluses are usually good.


Third, an economy is out of balance if those who it supports cannot live within their means. This situation occurs when outgoings (expenditure) exceed incomings (revenue) and is further exacerbated when spending is fuelled by unsustainable levels of borrowing. There is a simple rule of thumb here that if you spend more than you earn, you will end up in debt. You cannot live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget.


Each one of these scenarios is applicable to your personal economy. If you are over-reliant on a particular skill or talent, you will be over-exposed to risk during times of uncertainty. However, by diversifying your skills base you will increase your business resilience and mitigate risks associated with market volatility. Likewise if you expect more than you give then you are basing your economy on a dependency culture that will lead to learned helplessness. Similarly, if your appetite for consumption is greater than the strength of your brand, you will become over-reliant on good-will for lines of 'credit' to which you are not entitled. This will not be the case if you have significant 'capital reserves' of trust and influence to draw upon.

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