I was in my favourite coffee place in the whole world (it's tiny Filter in Cork) reading about the takeover battle between Pfizer & AstraZeneca.
You know the way coffee lovers get chatting...
One thing led to another & she asked me what I did for a living?
"You're mad. Don't tell me that's what you do? You can't be serious..."
She looked both shocked and a bit outraged.
"You can't do that. I've never heard of anyone doing that."
It wasn't the fact that I half own a company that grows businesses thru more meaningful marketing that upset her.
It was the story I told her that caused the rumpus...
"You mean to say you went to meet a potential new client & starting taking photographs to post on social media?"
"And within a few days you wrote a blogpost about them?"
"And you've been doing this ever since your company started?"
"And before that too."
"You must be bonkers. You ask permission to do this?"
"Sometimes - if there's time & I remember."
"Oh my god."
"My default position is open."
"Look, let me give you a bit of advice.
You'll never succeed in corporate life if you don't stop that. There are rules - you can't publish anything about clients without their express permission in writing. You can't take photographs without permission & sign-off from their brand manager & corporate PR person. Only certain people are authorised to publish stuff about companies I've worked for. You'll upset too many people. They'll never touch you with a barge pole."
I was still thinking about Pfizer's £60 billion
& the jump in AstraZeneca share price of 15% yesterday - such mergers usually fail (don't they?).
"You're not seriously into Instagram - that's for fun not real business."
Then I told her I recorded conversations with clients & shared them on Audioboo.
"Hang on - you mean you record meeting with clients? How?
"On my iphone."
"Oh my god, not even a proper quality scripted podcast? You are weird. You can't do that."
"I share the files with clients via Dropbox."
"Yes, we invite clients to Dropbox - if they're not using it already. We can show them how easy it is to use Dropbox for sharing content."
"Oh no - you expect clients to do things they don't already do?"
I smiled - this was blowing her mind.
She was from a different working culture. This was a whole new way of thinking & behaving for her.
I felt I better do my best to explain before she went off - never to return.
"I used to work in big complex organisations before the internet came along. I worked for companies before they had websites. Before people got smartphones & tablets. Back in the days when all big companies were able to control the message. There was no interaction worth talking about between companies & the wider community - let alone customers. It was all one way. Remember those days?"
"Thank goodness those days are gone" - that was the first moment of relaxation on her face.
"So much has changed & is changing - big companies are struggling to keep up with all this new social technology. People in many "corporates" feel out of their depth with the way things are going."
"You're right about that. I certainly feel out of my depth & my director hasn't a clue - he sticks to Facebook for his family. Also the rule he has says no one can use social media at work. We're blocked from You Tube."
"And all of the stuff about your company has to be approved by HR & Marketing?"
"So the whole story about your company is under control - central control?"
"No employee can say what they think about the company in public?"
"Of course - without permission."
"And permission is hard to get?"
"You know that - you've worked for corporates."
I wasn't sure where to take the conversation
- or how much patience she had for the subject.
"Tell me, do you think people would be interested in the work your company's doing, the products you're developing, and the way you're doing it?"
"Yes - I work for a really good company - we're proud of our record."
"If people knew what went on behind the scenes, would they want to work for your company?
"Funny you ask that, we're looking to expand & need to recruit people - that's my biggest headache."
"Yes - I'm head of recruitment."
"You mean to say you're trying to make your company attractive to potential new staff. And you're in a highly competitive market for talent?"
"You got it."
"If people knew more about how good a company you really are, and could be confident it wasn't all corporate bullshit you published - would that help you recruit your ideal staff?"
"The sort of staff we want to recruit have to be sharp - not just technical: we want people switched on to the difference between bullshit & authentic stuff."
"Because we're surrounded with misleading messages plus our brand emphasises the value of open honest communication."
The woman in the suit crossed the Rubicon...
"Oh bloody hell - I see what you're driving at. Oh my god... how on earth can I have been so blind?
"What is it you said you do? Seriously though, can we fix a meeting? - I need help to think this through. Before I get too hooked into our next recruitment campaign? What's the name of your company again?"
It was a privilege to be there when the penny dropped.
We swapped business cards. I have no idea what'll happen next but one thing is sure :
I'll take a "selfie" with her in her office. This might get interesting... [to be continued]