MIND YOUR LANGUAGE!
Local canto guru, Cecilie Gamst Berg recently wrote an entertaining piece in the South China Morning Post weekend mag about Canto slang – you know, the sort of stuff which is frowned upon in the office!
A highly entertaining piece about the language and more so, the cutlure. How many foreigners (white) do you know who speak it fairly proficently? Personally, I know a handfull of caucasions who speak Cantonese – and most have facinating stories as to how they got into their groove. As a “chok-san” overseas born Chinese, I am a child of two worlds and often learn from my friends (and awesome HK action movies) which keeps me up to date with the latest lingo. Everyday I continue to learn. But what about the thousands upon thousands trying at this very moment? Why is there, historically, such low retention rate?
Cecilie, who is a teacher and moonlights on RTHK’s Naked Cantonese programme, devels into this mystery with a lot of enthusiasm and hysterical humour while refuting many cultural ‘norms’ of the city. What makes this story special is the voice, the Hong Kong feel of the prose – fast pace and no nonense! Cecilie’s provocative and hillarious take on Cantonese seals the deal for learners and native speakers alike. It is a language which continues to bring new surprises. Her story shines a light onto a language which is not only proud of its roots, but also a language which continues to evolve. A must read for all Hong Kongers….
- What the Devil are you saying – Cecilie Gamst Berg
- Best Cantonese Movies
- Cantonese Culture – by Shirley Ingram
Free? Who works for free in this town? The tough ethnic Chinese peasant inside me says: never! But the reality is that I am a big hearted person who loves to give back – same as the hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers around who donate their valuable time each time to help others out.
So how does one balance “free” and “paid” work in our 24/7 work environment?
If it’s not for charity, working for free is not something I recommend. But the question begs: When should one work for free?
Interning: In Hong Kong, the free labour is illegal after the implementation of the minimum wage law. But in saying that, working for lowly wages is nearly free and something we have all done to gain experience. This would be an instance to apply this philosophy as one has to start from somewhere.
Clients: In a business with new clients, there is a courting phase of give a take. A couple of times, even after we have won the pitch, there is still a further stage in the process. For instances like this, I have implemented a ‘taster’ which gives the client a rough sketch with fleshed out examples of what we will do for them, but not the whole picture. This is strictly free and I see it more as an investment into building a successful relationship.
Charity: Strategy, content, websites, brochures, speaking gigs…. These are things which I have done for free in the past few weeks for issues and charities I believe in. There is a time to be giving away one’s services for free but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! There are ways to leverage on the ‘free services’ as you give back but striving to do good comes from the heart so dig down and stay focused!
- Networking: Pro Bono work is a great way to meet new clients while also getting to know the local scene – and help grow it. This is a perfect opportunity to ‘talk shop’ and be part of the change you want to see.
- Branding: How about being positioned a ‘sponsor’ and getting your logo placed on their marketing material? Just being there, and having your name and your company’s name on their roster helps promote your brand.
- Recruiting: Being part of the community connects you together with young up and coming talent. Take this opportunity to find your next winning business development manager or account manager.
While we are all focused on the P&L for each account, we need to sometimes come out of the well to take note of the rest of the landscape around us. Being connected to our community is important, as is growing your business year on year. Find a balance between the two and remember to give back, for free!
Is there a secret formula for keeping a client happy? Many are seemingly adept at this so are they just naturally blessed and more importantly, how can we leverage on this blessing? In my experience, the only thing which makes a client truly happy is your ability to deliver what they want on time. Here are three points which might help you along the way.
1) Define what the Expectation is: At the very start, it is important to first listen to what the client is looking for: branding, more media coverage, better content, B2B marketing, the list goes on. The aim is to fulfill their needs and wants with the toolbox of skill set that you and your agency has. Don’t be afraid to talk about the budget as there can be wiggle room to be had to sell up. Take their aim and define (in words everyone understands!) specifically what will be done to “reset” expectations. A consensus needs to be met by both parties which will lead to harmony!
2) Be Organised: I can not stress this enough. Lists, systems, memos, briefings, emails, presentations. While others are short term reapers, the ones who retain the client over years are the ones who pay attention to the nuance and the details. To keep projects on track, to meet the KPIs and to deliver strategic prowess, be organised. By doing that, remember to keep on top of the bi-monthly updates. This is a standard system set up for many agencies and something to keep up to date. We know how things can just ‘slide’ and the book can quickly become outdated. The updates are the perfect time to check in, talk about changes to the grand plan and bounce new ideas off the client. As well, it keeps the client abreast while giving them the perfect platform to see you shine.
3) Meeting or Exceeding Expectation: Consistency is what one should strive for as slow and steady wins the race. Do not over-promise what you and or your vendors can achieve. While the goal posts may shift, this should be a gradual and controlled process where the client is informed on every step of the process on how this will affect the day to day workflow, the overall planning and the budget. Walking them through changes and or ‘surprises’ can be the difference between an all out crisis and just a ‘challenging’ day.
In summary, this is the communication business, so we can all learn how to better communicate! Start with first listening about their objective. Then set to agree on an understanding on the timing, methodology and budget behind the execution. Create systems to help organise the team as the devil is in the details! It is the goal of every client relationship to exceed expectations so be open and proactive on managing changes. This will put you in the ideal position to foster a long term relationship with your client of choice.
For the last month, I’ve been working on conception, design, content and publishing of the inaugural Asia Contemporary Art Show catalog – to be held on October 4th – 7th at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. The show will feature galleries and artists’ original paintings, limited editions, sculptures and photography – all displayed inside the hotel’s 12th, 14th and 15th floors.
I love how the art world is melding together home and galleries with the use of the hotel rooms. It brings something intimate and also unique to the art world which is renowned for its white walls and imposing spaces. As well, the affordability of the art itself encourages artists, connoisseurs and amateur collectors to participate in the new trends.
The show also features a Grand Prize (HK$50,000) and a People’s Prize (HK$25,000) where short listed entries and winners will be exhibited until October 14th on the Mezzanine Floor.
I hope to see you at Asia Contemporary Art Show 2012 – let me know if you need tickets!