Why Communications should be the CORE of every business.

Tags

, ,

b2b-sales-team

I am typing this from Huxleys, a cozy café in Heathrow airport that just served me a very tasty veggie breakfast.  I’m my way to Lagos to work with executives from one of the top financial institutions in West Africa.

You might wonder why I would travel all the way from my home in Cork, Ireland to Nigeria. It’s not simply because Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, it’s because these executives “GET IT.”

They understand what I confidently tell everyone:

Improving Communications, improves the bottom line for EVERY BUSINESS.”

Recently, an executive who participated in a strategic communications workshop I gave, invited me to speak at a conference geared toward tech educators.  At first, the marketing team offered some push-back saying, “but she’s not in the tech industry….”  In the strict sense, that’s true. But I do have a variety of tech-industry clients who all understand that communicating effectively crosses all industries. All geographic boundaries.

No matter what business you are in, you must communicate to sell your products or services.  I’ll give you a quick review.

1. Phone calls.

Seems too basic, doesn’t it? But how many times have you rambled when you should have been succinct?  I hear a lot from clients who work in multi-nationals – and struggle with cultural speaking styles, pronunciation, word-choice, etc.  If you’re spending time writing an email to clarify the points made during a phone call, you’re not efficiently and effectively communicating.

2. Emails.

While personal life may be through Snap Chat, Instagram and Twitter,  a lot of business correspondence is still being sent via email.   How many issues do you raise in a single email?  How are you accommodating for the fact that you’re not able to use tone of voice and body language to help get your messages across?  And unless you’re Hillary Clinton, your organization is probably able to track and archive everything you send as part of their system.  And yet, the strategy and methodology that should support these messages is practically always overlooked.

3. Meeting management.

They are still a necessary evil for most organizations, so why not purposefully create a system to make meetings run in a more smooth, effective, and dare I say it, funway? Meetings are a great way to engage people and they’re too often run in a perfunctory, going-through-the-motions way.  This can and should be addressed.

4. Internal presentations.

Notice here I specified “internal” presentations.  Professionals often make the mistake that unless they’re presenting to clients or an external audience, they don’t need to be strategic or have polish.  Wrong!  Every time you open your mouth is a chance to practice effective and engaging communication.  Your peers and colleagues see you all the time.   What do they see? How are you leading?   Internal presentations are critical for career building.  Take them seriously!

The list goes on and on and includes areas that perhaps you are accustomed to consider as “communications oriented”: Customer service,  external presentations and media relations come quickly to mind. But what about thought-leadership? Taking ownership of developing your own executive brand?

We’re so busy speaking and writing to each other, we take the art and science of “Communications” for granted.

If you think you already have it down. Think again.

Last week, as I participated in the European Tech Summit in Cork, Ireland, I was struck by how much  I learned– in spite of the lackluster delivery from too many of the presenters.

Renowned blogger and Forbes contributor, Meghan M. Biro summed it up at the conference when she said,

We’re all human.  Connect as a human and build your community from there.”

I agree.  And it takes training, time and practice.

As a veteran CNN correspondent, campaign manager and international communications consultant, it has taken me decades to become an “Expert.”  And because I understand that communications is a life-long learned skill, I am still excited about learning something new every day.

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.

Lost in Translation. An American Business Distraction in Ireland.

Tags

, , , , , , ,

 Oh. Em. Geeee! Jack and Jimmy as Gary and Nuno!!! Ha-lair-ee-ous!!

1430839207_nup_168636_0380_jack-black-jimmy-fallon-zoom

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Ireland.  I’m drinking Irish black tea and writing a proposal to speak and train on communications for an upcoming international tech sales conference.   But then – ineffective multi-tasking alert! – I notice that my sister, who lives back home in the States, has sent me an email with a video attached.  The subject line is “Watch This Now!”  Obedient sister that I am, I do.  And Whoosh! Down the Rabbit Hole of Distraction I go.

The video is from this week’s Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Jack Black covering the 1990 music video “More Than Words” by Extreme.

I start laughing out loud like a mad woman.

The twenty-something barista guy is now looking over at me like, “what the heck is so funny…”  And I jump up and say …

 ME:  (still laughing) “You know that ‘More Than Words’ video?’ from that 90s band Extreme?'”

HIM:  “Er, no, not really.”

ME:  (no longer laughing) “Well, okay.. So, you know this American late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon…?”

HIM:  “Nope.  But I’ve heard of Jay Leno.”

ME:   “Yeah, Leno retired. This is the guy who replaced him..Okay, so what about the American actor, Jack Black…?”

HIM: “Oh yeah, ‘School Rock’ or whatever, right? He was funny a long time ago.”

ME: “Yeah, well, he’s still pretty funny.. And anyways, well, those guys are singing a cover of that song from Extre..… oh never mind….”

Okay… break over.  Back to work!

Lesson learned. Stay on task. Watch videos after work.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Networking Takes Time – but you CAN get it right!

Tags

, , , , , , ,

20631be

The young man’s message to me this morning sounded so desperate, I paused from the presentation I was preparing.

On my Facebook business page, I have hundreds of followers whom I don’t know personally.  They may have heard me speak at an EDGE Communications Seminaror found me through my website or blog or some other means.

Occasionally someone will reach out to me directly with a question or comment and I welcome that.

Today’s message really touched me,

Please, I just graduated college. I don’t have a job. I don’t have any money.  Can you hire me?”

No, I’m so sorry. I cannot.   But I remember that same feeling of  uncertainty when I was about to graduate.  I was involved in a variety of activities at Indiana University. I had decent grades.  Although I dreamed of becoming a television journalist, that was NOT the job I had lined up upon graduation. Far from it.

My first job out of school was as a classified ads receptionist for the Orlando Sentinel.  People called me to sell their couch, their car, their whatever. In today’s era of Ebay and Craigs list, this job doesn’t even exist anymore!  Eventually, I did land my dream job as a CNN correspondent. But it took time!

It’s May. Many college seniors are preparing to graduate. And like my young friend today, they too, may be looking ahead at a sea of uncertainty.

So, this is the advice I gave the earnest sounding and polite young man today and I hope it encourages you too today.

  1. Get your CV PERFECT.

Yes, every word better be spelled correctly.  Yes, the lay-out should be clean and simple. But it’s not enough to have lists and bullet points. Make your CV is the story of you. Google “Engaging resumes” and get some ideas. Whatever materials you hand out when you meet someone in person, make sure it reflects the “you” you want to be!

  1. Ask for introductions. And be “introducible!”

We’re not born understanding what “Networking” means. Some think it’s only being interviewed for a job. It’s more than that. It’s getting yourself out to places where you can meet interesting people. Join Toastmasters or attend a free meeting at BMI.  Talk to the people there. Tell them about yourself. And that means you better be able to talk about what it is you would like to be involved in. Practice what you would say about yourself. Out loud. Ask the people to whom you have been introduced to introduce you to more people. Get names and follow up. You MUST take the initiative. Not the other way around.

  1. Understand that networking TAKES TIME in the initial phase.

I moved to Ireland in September. The first place I met other grown-ups  was at my daughter’s school. I advise you not to be overly aggressive, but yes, this kind of place is most certainly one of opportunity.  So, I casually mentioned upon meeting parents, that I am a communications consultant. One parent happened to work for a large multi-national beverage company. He asked if I provided training sessions. I said, “Yes!”  We chatted a bit more and in November  I met with the training director of that organization. I submitted a proposal to provide presentation training in advance of an event in February. I did NOT get that opportunity.

But! Because, I believe, I had continued to check-in in a kind – not desperate – way, with the training director, she reached out to me again in early March about another opportunity in April. I submitted another proposal.  And, voila, this past Monday, I was delighted to work with five executives from that company.  Mind you, my initial meeting was in NOVEMBER!

  1. After the initial phase, your Networking can increase in momentum.

Since Monday, I received my training evaluations.  They were extremely positive! Each participant said they would recommend my training to others.The training director already emailed me to propose additional follow-up dates. Yey! How you handle your networking meetings and, of course, how you perform, can accelerate your momentum.

Don’t wait for a single perfect meeting.  Meet as many people as you can. If anything, it helps you practice how you present yourself and your goals.

The journey from dreaded job to dream one is rarely a fast one.    But is will pick up momentum as you make connections who help you make more connections and on and on.  Think of your network as growing waves of concentric circles. They get wider, faster as you go along.

But first, you have to work hard to drop that solid stone in the water to set the ripples in motion. The trick is to get going.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

7 Communications Steps to Making Your Organizational Change a SUCCESS!

Tags

, , , ,

Communications is the key to the success of any organizational transformation or change.

Time For Change

This week I was interviewed as a communications expert to be part of a university’s upcoming interactive textbook on business.

Students will read a variety of case studies, answer a quiz about how they would theoretically handle the described situations and then watch a video from an expert who gives their take on what the realities are.

I’ll keep you posted when the book comes out . Until then, here’s a sneak peek on how I explained the importance of a putting an input-gathering communications and messaging plan in place before any organizational change is announced or implemented.

Change communication is a whole area of study in of itself.  If you don’t have time for that, here are some quick and important considerations to bear in mind!

1. The communications plan is the foundation of any change.

If the foundation isn’t laid properly, the whole change campaign will collapse.  This results in extra, unplanned and not-budgeted time and resources that will have to be dumped into the change project – to try to rebuild the foundation.  The change outcomes will likely never be as strong as they could have if the plan had been executied right the first time.

And yet, communications strategies are too often overlooked. Executives may think successful change rests on the simple merits of the change itself. But that’s wrong. Information alone is not enough to convince and persuade employees that the change is in their best interest.

2. The number one thing is to allocate the proper time.

Your “transformation lag,” as some businesses call it, is at least an 18-month process before the “official announcement.”  The trouble occurs when the change announcement is made first and then the buy-in is attempted.  Successful change happens in the opposite order.

3. Developing the proper messages around your change idea is critical.

This should never be done in a vacuum.  The person or small confidential team that develops the change idea – MUST spend time writing out the benefits and positive reasons behind this effort – and prepare for EVERY possible objection AND then craft positive responses to them.

But that’s not enough – the messages must be tested… 

4. So, identifying stakeholders – in tiers – is next and this requires the most delicacy and protocol.

You’re essentially building a political outreach campaign. What’s the number that you need to win?  Different than elections, you’re going to strive for more than 51 percent for your victory. You want to get as many people on board – before you make the official announcement.  This all must be done in the proper order.  Think of concentric circles.  Protocol is key here. You must be careful NOT to offend anyone in this process.

Your first tier of stakeholders is what we call in campaigning, the “Influencers.” Like the name implies, they have to have a lot of clout and influence among identified next tier stakeholder groups.

Depending on the type of change – you can also consider influencers who are  “Third party advocates.” Here, think of a major vendor or client or board member who may not be part of your organization ,per se, but who is respected, well-known and influential anyway.

Test your messages with this group and gather intel and responses from them. Incorporate their feedback.

5. Stakeholder fan out.

Next come the other tiers as dictated by their levels of influence and respect, size, etc.  You’re doing all this in the “message testing” phase –and while you’re doing that, you’re gathering their input, showing them you value them, and re-calibrating your message if you need to. And! getting all important pre-roll-out buy–in!

The goal here is that by the time you roll out whatever your change is, you have critical mass of stakeholder buy-in – you have vetted your message and benefits, objections properly – that you will have success.

6. Campaign roll-out rewards.

Your change campaign doesn’t end there – you can’t make the announcement and walk away. You should also have a calendar of milestone small reward moments built in.  Incentives to encourage implementation.   This is the test drive area.

7. Over time, you can institutionalize the change.

Be ready with the frame work for writing the change into manuals, handbooks, whatever.. but this comes after success in the previous steps.

For Change Communications to be successful, you must devise a two-way street.  Getting stakeholder buy-in on message and benefits early, BEFORE announcement and implementation may seem like a lot of work, but it will dramatically increase your rate of success – and that saves time and money!

I’m so grateful that you are reading my essays. I write inspirationally about better communications, business and life empowerment. If you would like to read regularly, please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and feel free to also connect at LinkedIn, via Twitter, Facebook and at GinaLondon.com

Copyright Gina London 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

Remembering Arezzo

ginalondon:

My Italian loving and blogging friend “Panini Girl” dedicated her post today to me as she spotlighted a Tuscan town we both adore: Arezzo. I share her blog and wonderful photos with you while I thank her for the dedication and thank Arezzo for welcoming us so warmly while Scotty, Lulu and I lived there. Grazie e baci!

Originally posted on Panini Girl:

piazza grande

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

neat gelatoI am dedicating this post to Gina London who was lucky enough to live in charming Arezzo for a few years. Thanks Gina for all the great posts about Arezzo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

my walkwaygiardinoback yard
crests

You can read about my time in Arezzo here,here and here or just click on Arezzo in the categories. This charming town is certainly worth at the very least a day trip.

View original

Five Birthday Wishes for YOU!

Tags

, , , , ,

Okay, this photo is from Lulu's birthday - not mine - I don't think I have photos of recent birthday parties.. I'll have to fix that!

Okay, this photo is from Lulu’s birthday – not mine – I don’t think I have photos of recent birthday parties.. I’ll have to fix that!

On Saturday, I will mark another year of adventure on this planet.  And from the pages of my “I wish I would’ve known then what I know now,” book,  I am going to blow out the candles on my cake making wishes – not for me – but for you!

These wishes express my current attitude toward life.  They are not traits I was born with. They are some of the approaches to life I have chosen to develop over the years.

Life is full of choices.  How you act and react in your professional and personal life is truly up to you.

I share my wishes now. I wish for you to:

1. Be curious. Don’t breeze through your day narrowly focused on only the tasks at hand.  Take a moment to explore and wonder about other people and places and current events. This is not the simple “be informed” approach, it’s a way to make yourself probe further. It’s training yourself to ask the why about things. Nurturing curiosity is a great way to engage. In your community. In your profession. In your friendships.  And that brings me to number two.

 2. Ask follow-up questions.   How often during a conversation, are we waiting for the other person to stop talking so we can offer the “Yeah, that same thing happened to me only better” story?  Instead of responding to a potential client’s or customer’s story with your own, ask a follow-up question.   “What happened next?”  “How did that make you feel?”  “What is going to be done?” I learned this during my interview days as a correspondent for CNN, but it also has so many practical applications.  Asking a follow-up question not only can provide you with helpful  and interesting information, it also tells the person you really care to hear more from them.  People like to talk about their experiences. Listen to them.

3. Be kind, first. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. Offer a “good morning” to a stranger tomorrow as you walk to your office.  Ask the barista how her day is going, and mean it.  Take two minutes to chat with your client or prospect about the weather or their family or their health.  Many people  I find that most, not all, people will respond to kindness – in kind.

 4. Deploy the power of the smile. Connected to number three is this wish:  A lot.  Even if you’re upset, nervous or angry. Your brain is wired to be constantly scanning for your smile muscles to engage. Research shows that even if you fake a broad smile, your endorphins will kick in and you’ll feel better.  I love this one.

 5. Be bold. Sometimes if you think too much, you’ll psych yourself right out of an opportunity.  Submit a “Call to Papers” blindly for a conference you found on Google.  Call the publisher of a newspaper whom you have never met and ask for a seat on that VIP rodeo train trip. Each of these I have done. (That executive I reached out to on-line is now a client.  I will be speaking in June at the 16th International Conference on Human Resources. And the publisher who just happened to pick up the phone at 4pm on a Friday because his secretary was gone for the day – was so blown away that I called him directly – he put me right on that trip and I made many wonderful connections that day.)

A friend told me today, “only fools follow rules.” So, while you may feel foolish about daring to toss a tweet to someone you wish to engage, Give it a go. Be respectful but get creative.  It won’t always work, but it certainly won’t if you don’t try.  And just think how foolish you’ll feel  wondering what might have been.

These may not be the secrets to the universe, but  I sincerely wish you for to experience first-hand  the little life-changers behind these wishes. Speaking of secrets, I also hope that the notion that of, “if you tell someone your wish, it won’t come true,” is just a myth!

So, catch these wishes, take hold and turn them into action and a lifestyle. Let me know which ones resonate with you and what others you have adapted into your own lives.

Happy birthday to me - and you!

Happy birthday to me – and you!

Every day is a chance for a fresh start. Happy birthday!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.

Writing to Engage – Some Simple Strategies!

Tags

, , , , ,

When I interviewed master crime-writer Elmore Leonard years ago, he gave this advice to would-be writers, “If you want to write well, write a lot. Something might even work out.”

writers-block

Okay, practice makes perfect, maybe.   And while you’re out there practicing, it’s nice to have some  general guidelines to help speed up the process.

So, as a former print journalist and veteran CNN correspondent who has written thousands of stories, here are some of the strategies I share with my executive clients – many of whom are working to enhance their professional profiles by creating a body of written work for on-line and mainstream publications.

  1. HEADLINES – Make your headline as compelling as you can!

Think short and catchy.  You may write one headline at the beginning of your article and then find you can re-write it more simply and “grabby” after you are finished – like a quick wrap-up.  In journalism, for example, editors, not reporters, write an article’s headlines. It’s a distinct skill.

a. Pique your readers’ curiosity–Writing a headline that makes readers curious to learn more and turn to you for answers or insight is a great way to build an audience.

b. Link your cause to a celebrity or a news item- Obviously, you don’t have to always link your relevance to someone who is more famous than you (as I shamelessly did by putting Kim Kardashian in my headline about headline writing). In one week alone I saw more than a dozen writers referencing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to wear the same clothes every day as a launching point for their own observations.  In campaigning, we call this finding a solid “third party advocate” – someone who supports your message and is highly visible.  In the same vein, linking your point to a current hot news event or topic is common sense – but too often a missed opportunity.

c. Be emotional and/or fun – Most of us will welcome a quick read if it appeals to us emotionally. Research shows people make decisions first from their subconscious, which is where emotion resides, and then back that up with their conscious mind with rational logic and reasoning.

 2. LEAD (or LEDE) PARAGRAPH – You grabbed them with your headline now really grab them in your lead. You’ll want to spend as much time on formulating your opening paragraph as you do your headline.  There is no single right way to do this. Here are a few ideas:

a. Teaser – This can be as simple as a quick “teaser” introduction, in which you essentially tell your reader here’s what you’re going to get and why it’s important in a couple of sentences – and then the rest of your article fills in the details.

b. Provocative question – Or you can lead with a provocative question that asks your reader to imagine a scenario or something that makes them sit up and want to read more.

c. Startling fact – Hit your readers with the gotcha fact – like how the UK is surprisingly  lagging behind other counties in digital training – or what the shocking future statistics for digital security risk may be if processes aren’t changed. Then fill in with the “what can we do about it.”

 3. PERSONAL ANECDOTE or STORY

You should already understand the idea of adding in a personal story.  Try to make your descriptions as vivid as possible. The key to any story, however, is to relate it back to the point you are making so there’s an applicable take-away for your reader.  Don’t make your reader infer.  Spell it out for them.

  1. NUMBERED LlSTS

If you have three main points, don’t just state them in your narrative. Make them stand out by creating a bulleted list.  This helps your reader find their take-aways easily. You can then even put that back into your headline. “My top three tips for X” ….

  1. LESS IS MORE

Just as with an oral presentation, most essays or articles are best written if they don’t get put the audience to sleep with too much information. If your essay is very  dense, consider breaking it up into two or even three entries.  Imagine you are writing a book, and think about where your chapters would come. One main point per chapter works best.  Tease your audience in a final graph that you are going to write more  – keep them interested.

  1. SIMPLIFY

Are there implications or lessons to be learned from your article that will appeal to more than your immediate professional colleagues? If you want to broaden your audience, steer clear from using too much industry jargon.  Imagine you are writing to a family friend or a dear aunt. Make it interesting for them and it can still have the same appeal for your intended audience.

  1. CREATE A SENSE of URGENCY

Is there reason why someone should pay attention to your article?  What might happen if someone does not follow or consider your point?  What will happen if the status quo continues in a particular line of business? This does not mean a false sense of urgency, but if there is a poignant reason for your audience to pay attention, tell them!

  1. CHUNK WRITING

I don’t always write “linearly” – if I know I want to include a particular point in the middle of my story, I may craft that paragraph as a stand-alone right away and come back to it later.  Or while I’m thinking of a topic, I may think of a perfect “wrap” or “go-home” line and write it down before I forget and before I write anything else.  I may think of a compelling lede line only after I have written everything else.  Imagine the paragraphs of your essay as shells in the “shell game.” When you re-read your finished product, you might move one graph above another if they seem to support each other in a better order.  Play with your structure. It’s your creation. You are an artist creating for an audience.

 Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Happy Easter – and There are no small parts…

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I have a confession:  When my seven-year-old told me she had been given the non-speaking bit role of “Forest Dancer” in her school’s Easter festival play, my first inclination was to angrily protest.

Rockboro Primary  Easter Festival Play. School, Cork, Ireland.

Rockboro Primary Easter Festival Play. School, Cork, Ireland.

(Note! This is NOT merely the musings of a mother on her young daughter’s first school play, there is also a lovely lesson for business and life here, I promise.)

I imagined walking up to her first-grade teacher saying something like:  “What?! MY daughter deserves MORE than a puny role as ‘tree fairy who protects the princess’ which was clearly made up just to give every kid a part. Lulu should have been the princess herself, or at least a character with one line of dialogue! How dare you!”

Of course, I said nothing to the teacher. To my daughter, I smiled down said something supportive about how she was sure to be a great “Forest Dancer.” Still, inwardly, I worried about her sure-to-be-damaged tender self-esteem.

But, my daughter wasn’t upset about her small role at all.   She was actually excited about being a “Forest Dancer.”

“I am creating my own dance moves to guard the princess,” she happily told me one evening.

She applied twirls and flourishes she had learned in her after-school ballet lessons. Then she studied her face in the mirror and announced she would like to wear her hair swept into an up-do complete with a ring of flowers.  We shopped for an appropriate “tree dancer” outfit and came up with a leafy dress the teachers liked so much they urged Lulu’s “tree dancer” partner to buy a matching outfit just like it.

When the day of the Easter festival arrived, amid tables of hot cross buns, pastel-colored cupcakes and walls plastered with hundreds of pictures of bunnies and chicks, my little daughter proudly took to the stage.

Her little ballet moves were adorable and for a moment I thought of the background dancer in a recent production of The Nutcracker who hilariously upstaged the featured performers.

Lulu, aka, "Forest Dancer," guarding the princess.

Lulu, aka, “Forest Dancer,” guarding the princess.

Lulu didn’t go that far.  She simply brought to the performance all that she could.  She wasn’t envious of the girl who did play the role of the princess. She had a great attitude. She was encouraging and encouraged in return.

I was the one who needed to have my attitude checked.  When we’re offered something we may consider “beneath” us, how do we react? With frustration? Anger? Are we indignant or are we gracious?

The way Lulu handled herself, reminded me of the Stanislavski quote that:

 There are no small parts, only small actors.

So, no matter whether in an Easter festival play or in business or in life, remember all the world’s a stage. Give every role your best.

Fun and friends after the play!

Fun and friends after the play!

And Happy Easter!

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

 

Nigeria’s Election: Why It Matters

Tags

, ,

B3EA264B-0E40-4A25-87FC-7496B1EA6FFB_w640_r1_s

Tomorrow, Nigerians head to the polls.    I recently spoke on Nigerian Radio Continental with popular host “Citizen Jones”   about the importance of this election – not only for selecting the nation’s president –  but for why it matters to the rest of the world.

jones

Radio Continental’s Citizen Jones

As a veteran CNN journalist and current business consultant who has spent months working with hundreds of students and professionals in Nigeria, much is at stake.

Incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan is squaring off again against former military leader  Mohammadu  Buhari.  It’s the fourth time Buhari has tried for the highest office since he took charge after a coup back in the 80s and it’s the second time he’ll face Jonathan.   Latest polls show the race is a tight one. But this contest is more than betting on the long-running horse race of Buhari’s persistence.

From my perch, the top issues facing Nigeria are:

  1. Maintaining and improving the country’s economy
  2. Curbing widespread corruption
  3. Eradicating Boko Haram

Economy.  Nigeria is proudly Africa’s number one economy – taking the title away from South Africa for nearly a year now.   Its vast oil riches support its base and analysts say it is bolstered by strong agriculture, information and communications technology.

But the chasm between the haves and the have-nots is evident the moment you arrive.  Tin-topped shanty neighborhoods mushroom under the shade of sprawling gold-encrusted McMansions.  Customized Range Rovers share the road with dilapidated, exhaust- spewing  yellow “danfo” vans dangerously filled with poor commuters.

Corruption.  Everybody knows it goes on.  And everybody has a story.  Like last September when I was  touring the country on a training circuit and kept  reading headlines about the private plane that left the capital city of Abuja for South Africa.  When it landed, officials discovered it was carrying 10 MILLION dollars in cash.  There was plenty of speculation about who had chartered the plane and what the money was planned for but I never heard any real answers.

One step toward righting this ongoing wrong would be for peace and fairness to be found at all Nigeria’s polls tomorrow.  In 2007, antics during the elections prompted the US State Department to describe them as “Flawed.” There was substantial improvement in 2011’s election, but observers still claimed there was widespread fraud and voter rigging.

A smooth and peaceful election this weekend could  set a standard and example for other developing democracies across the globe.  Both candidates publically signed an agreement this week promising to respect the election’s outcome and urging their supporters to refrain from violence.

Boko Haram.  This month’s announced alliance between Boko Haram and ISIS dramatically illustrates that  rooting out terrorism is the world’s problem, not simply the country in which the terrorists are residing and fighting.

Whoever wins Nigeria’s election must seek out and forge strong alliances with partner countries to put an end to the madness – for everyone.

As I discussed with the other panelists on Radio Continental,  journalists have a responsibility to accurately – and independently –  cover and report tomorrow’s elections.  Together, Nigerian journalists and its government can work together to build a better nation – and a better world.

I’ll be back on Radio Continental on Monday and I hope we’ll be talking how it was an unprecedented peaceful weekend of hope and fulfilled promises by both political parties.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

The Optimism of Daffodils

Tags

, , ,

As it is Daffodil Day here in Ireland, a day to donate, volunteer and wear a daffodil in support of finding a cure for cancer, I am reminding us all of the grand optimism that resides in these buttery bright flowers! 

Amid lingering piles of snow, battering gusts of wind or, like here in Ireland, drenching torrents of rain, it may not yet feel like spring is at hand.  But some diligent stalwarts are already foretelling the new season’s arrival.

Like many of us, they have spent the winter  in dark solitude.  Unseen, they may have been largely forgotten. But they did not need to be recognized or rewarded or encouraged.  They are self-motivators, working steadily throughout the cold months driven by determination.

And now in our parks and along the green, grassy medians of our roadways, the rewarding results of their tireless  labors are emerging.

An old man in worn and shabby clothing meanders among the rows of bright yellow and looks out upon them.  An overly critical eye might predispose one to assume he should be given a wide berth; he is very likely a person not worth engaging.  But one would be wrong indeed.

This unassuming gentleman spoke and perfectly summed up the sentiment that rings through these dependable heralds with faces stretching upward toward an inconsistent sun:

Ah, the optimism of daffodils.”

daffodil-19361-1680x1050

How many times are we burdened by work or family or life and forget that a little dogged determination, or focused optimism – viewed as an action-word – not a simple state of being or emotion – will get us through?

Take a tip from the daffodils. The sun will come out again. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will.

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,097 other followers