We all want to feel safe, and in the face of fear we’re willing to do anything to achieve perceived relative safety. It is therefore tempting to want to sacrifice anything for a sense of security, even freedom, and evenprivacy, which is a form of freedom.
To feel safe, we often don’t mind creepy security cameras in every corner, oridentification papers that make us feel guilty until proven innocent. We don’t mind endless monitoring, whether conducted by government employees or social media giants. We don’t even mind indefinite logging of our private behavior, and its baselining by AI machine learning algorithms that are able to arbitrarily “interpret” our behavior, and judge the content of our character according to the biases of whoever is watching and programming.
Privacy is the extent to which an individual maintains the freedom to keep their personal information private. Privacy is important because your private information can be used to threaten you, extort you, hurt you, or damage you reputation. It can be a tool to oppress and control you in wildly unpredictable ways. You only need to see how oppressive regimes, like the Soviet Union, East Germany and WW2 Germany were spying on their own citizens to use information against them as a means of control. Private information can also be used to damage our dignity and social standing, and we are naturally instinctively inclined to safeguard it. Just like we instinctively want to keep our nudity private (most of us at least), so do we instinctively feel that our private conversations, private behaviors, private relationships and private exchanges should remain private, as they are private by definition. It should be a simple principle to grasp, but in troubled times, for example during an outbreak of terrorist attacks, fear overrides all logical thinking, and all we can think of under stress is achieving a relative sense of safety (not necessarily actual safety). Governments are then quick to dictate to us that relinquishing our private information is a measure to keep us safe, or more precisely, give us the perception of safety, as long as we don’t think about it too much. And as a good placebo, we do feel “safe” with every surrender of our personal information, our freedom and our dignity to perceived authorities that we naively presume have our best interests in mind.
The question remains: How safe do you feel when your personal information is available for some people to use with little-to-no transparency or guiding ethical principles? Information is power, so when people with guns possess information about us, how safe does that truly feel? In the age of subjectivism, any information about you can be used against you in unpredictable ways. Regardless of the benevolence and the good intent of alleged “measures for safety”, entities like governments, regimes and other interests groups tend to change over time, and your private information remainsavailable for anyone to misuse against you, as they see fit, at any given moment.
You may think that it’s harmless for your government to have access, for example, to your online chat history, as long as it could possible help identify terrorists. You might not care if government employees get to view your personal photos and private behavior. But what happens when, for example, your government changes into a puritan dictatorship, and AI machine learning algorithms decide that your life is not pure enough? What happens when all those designated as “impure” are sentenced to be imprisoned (or worse) for the then-perceived “greater good”? It’s not like these things haven’t happened before. And if they have happened, it is just a matter of time until they happen again.
There is no telling how your private information can be used against you in an unpredictable near future. And since information about you is power against you, it is safer to keep information to yourself, andethically, you should never be forced to give it away, for any alleged justification. Privacy, it seems, is safety at its fundamental level.
Privacy advocates understand that the lack of for the sake of safety is not safe. Relinquishing your privacy for the sake of safety is self-defeating, because it creates other risks, and no one can know exactly whether it decreases your total risk, or it increases it. You simply cannot second-guess yourself and generate more risks for the sake of mitigating other risks, because trading one risk for another unknown risk is inconsistent with the principle of “safetyfirst”. In other words, the lack of privacy is dangerous.
But how can you maintain safety from, let’s say terrorism, without sacrificing privacy? How do you spot terrorists, if authorities are not allowed to spy on everyone electronically? Well, if you want less terrorism, you need to address the problem from its source, and treat the cause, not the symptom. You must stop the incentive for terrorism, and not treat the symptom of your government’s aggressive policies with aggression against personal liberties of certain political groups. Terrorism, defined as the act of politically motivated violence, is mostly caused as a reaction to governments’ aggressive policies. There is no justification for terrorism, just like there is no justification for cancer, but we have some idea as to what causes them, and by honestly acknowledging these causes, we can find solutions. The 9/11 terrorist attack was atrocious, but we understand that it was a response to “coalition forces” interventionism in the Middle East, and other places, with big-oil interests. So, the same governments who claim that they need you to relinquish your privacy for your own safety are the ones who are causing the problem in the first place. If your government wanted to safeguard you from terrorism, it would seize all activities that incite terrorism against its people. It clearly doesn’t do that, therefore, your wellbeing is not in your government’s best interest. How safe does it feel when you hand your personal information to such entities?
Privacy is freedom. By sacrificing your freedoms for the sake of safety, you are incentivizing those who wish to enslave you to continuously threaten your safety. If a ruling class wishes to oppress you, and they know that you relinquish your freedoms every time you are afraid, you are asking them to make you afraid more and more. This is why conflicts keep happening. Maybe we are incentivizing them by caving in to our fear each time something bad happens. If you didn’t sacrifice freedom for safety, there would be little incentive for people to terrorize you, because you would not back down to their demands. This is where the infamous “we do not negotiate with terrorists” paradigm comes in, which is spot on, as it describes the situation perfectly. If a terrorist holds a gun at someone, making demands, then we cannot give them what they want, even if our denial costs that someone’s life. Because if we do cave in, we incentivize more terrorist attacks to occurwith even more victims. No terrorist will be motivated to mess with people who do not cave when threatened. This is why “safety in the here and now” is never a justification for the loss of privacy, because the loss of privacy is danger in the long-term.
As a copywriter, I've always taken measures to secure my workstations, since I tend to move a lot to see various clients on their premises, or simply moving my own workstation. However, most professionals and their organizations are not accustomed to remote working and the extra sensitivity it requires with regards to cybersecurity.
The lockdown measures against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) have already made their mark on our way of life and business. Studies show that remote working is here to stay. What began as a temporary measure to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission rates has now become a long-term strategy for many organizations, including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and other corporate giants.
Upper management is realizing that, in many cases, productivity has increased with remote workstations. Moreover, corporations can abundantly demonstrate corporate social responsibility by reducing employee carbon footprints through reduced commuting. What’s more is that rent costs can go down, if most workstations can be accommodated in employees’ homes.
The fear of a global pandemic has been imprinted in our collective psyche. Seeing how easy it is for a large company to close down from one day to the next resulting from a single infection, remote working will always be the dominant strategy from now on, where possible.
However, there are inherent risks in workstations being positioned well beyond organizational cyber defense perimeters. This rapidly expanding cyber-threat landscape with its widened cyberattack surfaces brings novel threats and vulnerabilities that more organizations are simply too inexperienced and unprepared to address.
To safeguard against the possibility of disastrous data breaches, organizations need to secure their remote workstations reliable VPN solutions, email encryption & security solutions, secure network infrastructure and top-of-the-range cybersecurity awareness and training for their staff to be equipped with the best security practices.
Is your organization prepared to address this new corporate world where remote workstations are placed well beyond the confines of organizational cyber defenses? Are you?
In finance, leverage is the ratio of credit to equity when making an investment. Leverage allows you to make large investments, even if your equity is relatively small.
Forex leverage means buying, with the help of credit, larger amounts of currency than your equity allows. This means that when you trade in forex using leverage, you can expect to make greater profits, or losses.
For example, if you buy a certain currency with 10:1 leverage, any profits or losses incurred by trading back the currency will be ten times more than your equity alone would have generated.
Like any credit-based investment, leverage elevates your financial risk, and in the case of forex, the risk from speculative trading. However, it can also drastically increase the potential profits.
Forex stands for “foreign exchange”, and it refers to the methodical trading of currencies with the aim of making profit by anticipating exchange rate fluctuations.
International transactions take place every second, 24/7. Since each country uses its own currency, foreign trade is conducted each time using a pre-agreed currency, depending on what the parties involved decide upon.
The values of currencies in relation to each other are subject to the ever-changing market forces of supply and demand, just like any other commodity. They are also affected by monetary policies and other geopolitical factors.
Therefore, since the variables affecting a currency’s value against another are constantly changing, we can observe continuous fluctuations in exchange rates. This means that the value of one currency against the other varies due to the shifting pressures of supply and demand (and other factors) for those currencies.
By exchanging currencies at the right time, you are able to take advantage of exchange rate fluctuations to end up with more money that you started with. In other words, by buying currency when its value is low, and selling it when its value is high, you end up making a profit.
For example, let’s say you have 100 US dollars (USD). We assume that right now, the USD/EUR exchange rate is 1 USD = 0.91 EUR. This means that if you use your dollars to buy euros, you’ll end up with 91 EUR, assuming there are no exchange costs and commissions involved. If the euro’s value against the dollar increases by 0.1, this means that the exchange rate will be 1 USD = 0.90 EUR, or the reverse, 1 EUR = 1.11 USD. If you sell your 91 euros for dollars using the new exchange rate, you’ll end up with 101.11 USD, which is 1.11 USD more than your initial amount of 100 USD. In other words, if the currency you hold on to increases in value in relation to another currency, you can make a profit if you exchange those currencies.
Like the stock and commodity markets, forex falls into the category of speculative trading for those who study market trends and can anticipate price fluctuations. Making large volumes of foreign exchange transactions with large amounts can end up generating high profits. This creates the need for centralized forex platforms to keep track of market prices as well as managing the performance of your trading portfolio.
Specialized forex trading platforms make it easy for you to monitor foreign exchange markets and make timely transactions at any given time. With insider news, educational material, market analyses and intuitive data analytics, they provide you with real-time visibility over what transpires in the foreign exchange market to help you make informed decisions and help you minimize your trading risk.
Half of the businesses in the real estate sector admit to not being adequately prepared to prevent or mitigate a cyberattack, according to a 2017 KPMG study.
This constitutes an oversight, to say the least, by key players in the real estate field when it comes to the cybersecurity implications of digital transformation, and the new types of inherent risks. The reason for this relative absence of “cyber urgency” in real estate is perhaps the lack of, especially in the United States, a market-specific information security regulatory framework requiring business to adhere to and maintain sufficient cybersecurity controls. This reliance on regulatory direction, and in this case the absence of it, has led to the belief held by many real estate C-levels and stakeholders that cybersecurity is a mere compliance issue, having little to do with financial viability or business continuity. And since the real estate sector does not depend much on the heavily regulated tasks of collecting, processing and storing of personally identifiable information (PII), the sector doesn’t seem to sufficiently prioritize securing their information assets.
It can be argued that it is easier for real estate firms to comply with information security regulatory frameworks (like the GDPR in the EU) due to the limited range in which they collect, process and store personal data. And although the real estate sector generally falls outside the scope of industry-specific regulations such as HIPAA, SWIFT, FISMA, PCI etc., cyber risk is still relevant to their operations, financials, reputation and stock value. And this is because digital transformation refers to the broad adoption of automation technologies in all sectors, including real estate.
Digital transformation converges Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) as they become more and more prevalent in successful management and decision-making in all businesses regardless of industry. The challenge of digital transformation lies in transforming existing manual activities into automated digital systems that can exceed human capacity, aiming to reduce costs, increase output and maintain more sustainable business models. However, this requires venturing into uncharted territory with regards to security, leaving organizations exposed to all kinds of risks related to information security.
The question remains: with more and more sensitive data extracted, processed and stored due to the inevitable and rapid digital transformation of today, how more exposed are we becoming through its inherent wider attack surface?
Let’s start from the basics.
Automation, data processing and data analytics vastly improve the design, planning, implementation, maintenance, management and supervision of real estate projects, asset management, or property trading. Today, every aspect of the real estate sector is affected by the implications of digitization, technology substitution, and task allocation. It is undeniable that technological advancements bring immense benefits to business efficiency and operational capacity, that also introduce their own risks to security and business continuity.
In other words, despite the new opportunities brought by new technologies, a broader use of technologies may also represent an expanded attack surface as well as unforeseen vulnerabilities to digital assets, intellectual property and operations for threat actors to exploit.
For this reason, digital transformation goes hand in hand with Security Transformation, simply because the enlarged exposure inherent in an increased reliance on data, digitization and technology, translate to bigger and more targets when it comes to cybercrime.
In the real estate sector, including smart city infrastructure, operational vulnerabilities are greatly expanding due to the proliferation of Operations Technology factors, such as sensors, IoT devices and APIs, internally or externally. A potential blackout or total data loss in a smart infrastructure due to a ransomware attack for example, can cripple operations and be devastating to an organization’s financial viability, continuity and brand reputation. The cost of remediating and restoring normal operational continuity after such a security breach can be enormous.
An increased susceptibility to cyberattacks against smart buildings, for example, comes from the broad adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, automation technologies and even centralized control platforms. It only takes watching the 2018 movie “Skyscraper” to see how human lives can be threatened directly by a compromised real estate asset management system. From physical access control and security monitoring systems to biometric sensors and environmental controls, smart building management faces unprecedented and elusive cyber-threats as well as operational vulnerabilities, if security is not properly managed.
Now suppose a real estate business develops an online app for property listings. The app contains a number of unspotted bugs that constitute serious security flaws. These security vulnerabilities, including client-side injection, poorly configured certificates or authentication, and improper session handling, result in exposure to innumerable cyber-threats that are constantly evolving. Such a vulnerable property listing app can cause data leakage, privacy violations and other security incidents that carry high remediation costs.
Another example of susceptibility to cyberattack is the contemporary real estate sales process, which today involves digital marketing with automated lead acquisition funnels. The compromise of a detailed database full of real estate sales leads could divulge high-profile investors’ strategic interests to potential extortionists, stock market manipulators, political campaign saboteurs, or just thieves prospecting lucrative targets.
In a nutshell, real estate cyber risk emerging as part of increased automation and digitization includes threats such as security systems compromise, data loss, espionage, sabotage, extortion, and even cyber warfare.
In the age of technological advancement and a booming in security solutions, it is the illusion of relative safety that poses the greatest and most immediate threat in the real estate business. The costs of successful cyberattacks can range from hefty fines and reputation damages to data loss, sabotage, data theft, monetary theft and total disruption of business continuity.
Furthermore, with the enforcement of more and more complex privacy and cybersecurity compliance frameworks, the cost in penalties that may be incurred due to data breeches and security violations significantly increase financial risk in all sectors.
For the above reasons, IT and OT in real estate should go hand in hand with Security Transformation, simply because of the increased exposure inherent in digital transformation, and the widened attack surface it constitutes when faced with contemporary cybercrime.
A proactive approach to cybersecurity is always the most viable option, because the cost of an inevitable cyberattack is exponentially higher than the cost of maintaining an optimized security posture. Securing an organizational network environment should involve flexible cybersecurity solutions tailored to address individual organizational characteristics, regional considerations and industry-specific threats. Depending on the industry and organizational size/complexity, adopting a robust Next-Gen SIEM implementation with Advanced Security Analytics, and complemented by an Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) solution, as well as 24/7 Managed Detection & Response (MDR) by a proven cybersecurity vendor, may constitute an absolute necessity.
With robust cybersecurity solutions in their arsenal, real estate businesses can then seize the opportunity to accurately quantify their cyber risk, triage cyber-threats relevant to their sector depending on severity and impact, and better position themselves to make informed decisions when determining their organizational risk appetite.
But the greatest safety precaution is a security-oriented attitude and mindset. Leaders in real estate are encouraged to foster a culture of vigilance and cyber awareness, always remaining up to date with the constantly evolving cyber-threat landscape, as well as staying abreast of the developments in cybersecurity as it relates to real estate sector idiosyncrasies and special considerations.
What makes a good impactful story (in copywriting or otherwise)? 🤔
Well, it just so happens that storytelling is a science in itself.
Let me explain.
Turns out there are certain elements in a story that relate to the collective human unconscious (as Carl Jung put it).
This is why ALL (every single one, actually) successful stories faithfully adhere to the “hero’s journey” structure. 😎
Be it a legend, a myth, a Hollywood movie, a children’s tale, or a slimy content marketing endeavor (I should know), they all share the elements of the hero’s journey, character-conflict-resolution, character arcs, and last but not least, character archetypes (something I discovered a few years back with the help of Jung’s work).
I found that the most successful characters, those who better relate to and engage the audiences, are the ones who represent a clear Jungian archetype.
The anima for the idealized mother type, the king for the empowering leader, the warrior for the determined brut, the lover for the hopeful natural, the magician for the skilled-obsessed, the trickster (my favorite) for the mischievous devilishly charismatic. 😈
Looking back in stories from popular culture that portrayed successful teams, I recognized that the most successful teams of characters were those that each member accurately described one distinct Jungian archetype, this way complementing their collective effort with a unique attribute.
One of the most spot-on examples by far is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 🐢
You get the science geek, Donatello, who is undoubtedly the magician.
You get to passionate, angry and incredibly focused get-things-done tough guy, Raphael, the warrior.
You get the goofy, playful, innocent, idealist and passionate funny-guy of the group, Michelangelo, the lover.
And you get the responsible self-sacrificing leader, Leonardo, the king.
You can see identical patterns in the Avengers, X-Men, Lord of the Rings, Predator, Star Trek TNG, even the Fast and the Furious franchise. Who knew? 🎥 🍿
And then you get poor attempts at defining the characters of a team in a story, like Ocean’s 12, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Prometheus, and you’re left wondering which role each character actually played in the whole story.
Characters who don’t have a clear archetype or teams of characters with more than one of each archetype are boring, unrelatable, and unimpactful.
That’s just bad writing. 🧐
There is no point in storytelling if it will be duller than reality.
Because, apparently, this is the way our brains are wired to process, assess and respond to storytelling. 🤯
What’s your favorite character or team of characters from a story?
What’s their archetype?
What’s yours? 😎
Copywriter in Cyprus: The reality of writing for marketing, sales and advertising in a small Mediterranean country
Copywriters in Cyprus are a rare, distinguished and misunderstood breed.
The country is still (but quickly) catching up to the concept of professional wordsmiths specializing in targeted written content for marketing, sales, advertising and public relations.
However, the traditionalist family-oriented closed-circle culture of this small Mediterranean island tends to always adapt swiftly once it picks up on the tried-and-tested benefits of something new (see how fast, although late in the game, Cypriots adopted digital marketing).
In the not-so-distant past, most business owners in Cyprus have disregarded the power of carefully arranged wording that will dictate life or death for their business's image, sales and viability.
This reality was not because of negligence, but because no one showed them the way to negotiating and convincing in a single headline, or engaging is results-oriented direct marketing with a short 1-minute-read email.
They were unprepared to see the value that comes from a specialized service that turns words into SALESMANSHIP IN PRINT that can reach thousands in a day, and convert to leads, sales and direct revenue with minimal effort.
In essence, the "copy = money" rule was picked up by only a few in the local business culture, the few who made leaps in their growth, leading their markets while leaving everyone else behind wondering how they did it.
For this reason, most Cypriot business owners in the past casually assigned their written content, marketing copy, advertising, public relations and proofreading to generic office administrators, personal assistants or even family members, believing that no one really reads anymore.
But your sales prospects DO read what you have to say. They might not read for more than 8 seconds each time they come across one of your posts or peripherals, but that's all you need!
Good copy is like good manners; it is expected as a show of respect to your audience.
But now, business owners in Cyprus are FAST acknowledging the value of professional copywriting in gaining a competitive edge and in sustaining their business continuity.
They now see the opportunity of staying relevant in their market by leveraging the power of the written word to positively sway opinions and constructively guide their audiences to make informed personalized purchases.
And this is what copywriters do. They inform, educate and open the minds of specific audiences to the value that new possibilities can bring to them.
Copywriters are different to literary writers, journalists or technical writers. Writing copy is all about psychoanalyzing your audience to then apply principles of psychology, marketing and sales to create intrigue, grasp your readership’s attention, and convert into engagement or direct sales, fast and hassle free.
So, how are things shaping up for Cyprus copywriters?
Well, this is my prediction:
In 2019, medium-to-large Cyprus-based businesses who value their written salesmanship (or copy), not to mention their image, recognized the need for at least one resident copywriter as well as assigning projects to freelancers for a bit of talent variety. On the other hand, most small businesses in Cyprus assigned the management of their social media, digital marketing and web content to specialized copywriters or social media managers with a knack for writing copy.
In the market of Cyprus, copywriters are getting savvier and more competitive on a global level. They stay up to date with the global writing market, and they get to bolster their skills arsenal with expertise in sales, digital marketing, psychology, SEO, web design, and more.
Copywriters in Cyprus also prefer to specialize in a number of markets in which they provide added value coming from their own know-how on top of their independent research.
I foresee that, from 2020 onward, we will experience a drastic demand for copywriters in Cyprus, especially for those with niche market expertise, such as the real estate, technology, gaming and finance sectors.
Having said that, location is still key.
Even though copywriting can be conducted remotely over email and video calls, the most important element of any writing process (that being research, interviewing and communication) is best done face to face.
A copywriter, although slightly autonomous, is still a member of a team, and relies on several other people to accurately develop content and convey information, strategies and goals for the copy to be effective.
So, local copywriters are still in demand, at least for the trust that comes from seeing in the eye who you're shaking hands with.
Current in-demand languages for copywriting in Cyprus are English, Russian, Chinese, German, Arabic, and of course, Greek. Fluency in more than two of these languages is a major advantage.
Are you a copywriter? Are you interested in writing your own copy?
Then be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, or check out my resources section for useful material that I'll be regularly updating.
We've all been there, especially straight out of uni, made to feel desperate for a job, any job (not just a copywriter job), sending badly written CVs indiscriminately for vacancies that don't even match our profile, only to get 1 humiliating interview for every 100 applications, which ends up with the frustrating "we'll be in touch" rejection statement.
You deserve better!
Indiscriminately applying, and the frame of desperation that job candidates tend to project, may actually be the exact reason why we are not treated as well as we'd like. This is because a perceived oversupply of applicants gives employers the false impression that they can hire anyone, anytime, at any rate.
So, my advice to job applicants is to stop wasting your time (and stop artificially inflating labor supply against your best interests) by only applying to employers you would actually LOVE to work with.
But how do you choose a GOOD employer when most of the information about them you have as a job applicant comes from a mere job ad?
With so many job openings out there, it would be extremely useful to be able to spot red flags and filter employers according to your preferences and expectations, assuming of course that you value your work and time, and that you do have expectations when negotiating a job.
Well, I've put together a list to help guide you on how you can vet employers. Save some time when looking through job ads by filtering them (and the employers behind them) based on the following red flags:
(Caveat: these are my personal opinions. Treat them as such.)
Copywriting is more of a science than an art. Copywriters deal with clearly defined variables and precise dynamics in the human psychology that ultimately help make a successful marketing campaign.
A study by the Harvard Business School found that 95% of our decisions are made on a subconscious level. This means that we form impressions and opinions without being aware of it or as to how we were influenced into thinking that way.
Have you ever liked someone without being able to know why? Did you wonder how that was the case without being able to quite put your finger on it?
Most of our decisions are so far removed from our awareness that we even subconsciously do things to affect others subconsciously without being aware of it. Don’t believe me? I invite you to consider why high heels for women are considered to be an indication of prestige, wealth and comfort. Or why red lipstick is universally considered to be an indicator of attraction. Or why a business suit is of more high status than a more comfortable and functional tracksuit.
Our brains are wired in specific ways that determined thought processes and dynamics that affect our decisions on a fundamental level. This is the result of billions of years of evolution that ended up structuring a basic mental architecture that allowed our ancestors to survive and thrive. For example, the cave men who subconsciously decided that fanged animals were dangerous got to survive and reproduce. The cave women who subconsciously decided to be attracted to cave men with power and influence got to reproduce and pass on their genes to us.
The world has changed a lot since them, but the dynamics are the still same. Today’s “powerful men” are not defined by a muscular body but by skill and monetary control. This is why women today are generally attracted to influential leaders, successful businessmen and popular sensations. This is what power is in modern societal structure.
But how do we subconsciously decide that someone is indeed powerful in today’s day and age? The answer is micro-indications of power. Such indications are subtle and often elude conscious awareness, which tends to be slow and avoids generalizations. One general indicator of power is uncomfortable high-class attire because it indicates to the subconscious mind that one is so powerful that they do not need to submit to manual labor. Yes, this is a subconscious line of reasoning, one of innumerable logical pathways that determine our decisions.
How does this relate to marketing and copywriting? Well, a good copywriter understands good consumer psychology. Before we write something, we profile our audience. Although this may require some generalizing, it is necessary, and results are based on approximations and maximal impact rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. Besides, isn’t that how most of pharmaceutical studies work too?
I use evolutionary psychology to profile audiences and predict how they will respond to a given product, service or business. When writing copy, I take into consideration the dynamics of subconscious impressions and decision making that still define our psyche today.
By leveraging evolutionary psychology, I identify the right emotional triggers and subconscious reasoning mechanisms that will help audiences better understand how a given product or service can benefit them and help solve some of their everyday predicaments. This is the aim of good copy after all.
It is not manipulating if done honestly and with the aim of helping audiences solve their problems. It is only manipulative an unethical writer aims to deceive and make a short-term impact. But audiences are quick to respond, especially today when anyone can post a review on Amazon or Twitter or anywhere.
Good copy is empathic and aims at helping audiences solve their everyday struggles. To make it work, do your homework, research and take into consideration the feelings of your audiences. You will then succeed in relating to them.
University textbooks teach that manager and leader are dissimilar qualities, in that managers are concerned with numbers, while leaders tend to value the human factor. This may be true, but what about real-world examples?
Even though management schools make a point about that trendy term “leadership”, we still encounter more managers than leaders out there because leadership is still a vague concept assigned to people with charism, which is another vague vapid term. In the modern business world, we are witnessing a leadership deficit because no one taught managers how to practically be leaders. Rarely discussed in university classrooms, the actual reality of leadership, as opposed to bland management, may elude even the brightest of educators.
From practical experience and applied knowledge, this article breaks down what I think are the definitive qualities that make a leader more than a simple manager:
Accountability. It should be a no-brainer that leaders are responsible for their team’s performance. They are responsible for their department not just to their superiors, but also to the people they lead. It’s easy to blame your subordinates, but a leader willingly takes the blame, even when objectively it was a team member’s fault. And the reason for that is that a leader is indirectly responsible for each team member’s mistakes since it’s a leader’s job to proactively identify issues, to train, to monitor, and to extract maximum performance out of the people involved. A leader takes the blame for not finding the right way to communicate effectively or to leverage the specific skills of specific people in that specific way that triggers them to unfold their productivity. This includes holding themselves accountable for conflicts, as well as their constructive resolution. Leaders are decisive and they stand by their choices or mistakes. This means that they own their mistakes instead of looking to blame team members or external factors. Even if it’s a team member’s fault, a leader takes full responsibility for them because they were under the leader’s wing, the leader’s area of influence and control. The leader is willing to take the hit and does so boldly because leaders are confident in their ability to formulate plans to manage disasters and to improve anything and anyone.
Delegation. This means avoiding micromanagement. Sure, a leader may be better at performing a specific task that is the responsibility of a team member, but letting them do it and accepting the perceived relative imperfection of the result, basically not micromanaging, keeps the ball rolling, the team working, keeps employees happy, promotes initiative, gives them a sense of ownership of their work, and encourages them to be creative and innovative because they are entrusted with the responsibility of their tasks. Micromanaging kills all initiative, creativity, motivation, inspiration, productivity, not to mention the negative effects on trust, self-worth, sense of purpose and mental wellbeing. Leaders are not afraid to take a leap of faith in the team they themselves have developed, and they are confident that it will perform well as a whole.
Involvement. A leader involves team members in everything that’s going on that remotely concerns them. Be it a casual brief on the strategy of the organization, or some everyday harmless gossip about the working environment (work-life happens to be the largest part of people’s lives), involving people and not leaving them in the dark helps them feel relevant and appreciated. Team members who feel isolated and distanced by management will demonstrate low levels of motivation, creativity, drive, productivity, and loyalty.
Interest. A leader is genuinely interested in their team members’ wellbeing. Leaders are proactive in identifying their team members’ concerns and they create the right environment where people can feel empowered to talk and share what’s on their mind, freely, without fearing negative repercussions. Leaders keep the communication frame light, fun and friendly without compromising professionalism so that team members can feel comfortable to share. Leaders frequently enquire how their people are, how their health is, if the working environment is promoting their wellbeing, and what they can do as leaders to improve workplace wellness and productivity, as well as employee relevance and development. But a leader’s job doesn’t just end at asking and not following up. Leaders don’t just ask. They are also willing to work extra and put the necessary processes in place to address team members’ concerns, where possible. Team members who request something reasonable that improves their wellbeing and productivity and don’t get a response may feel betrayed and unappreciated, especially when that something is relatively easy for management to do.
Mentoring. A manager views their employees as tools to get tasks done. A leader views their team members as people with concerns who need to be cared for and supported to grow as individuals first and then as professionals. Leaders are mentors in that they serve as role models to inspire their team members. Moreover, leaders provide the necessary opportunities and put in the work to develop their team members’ skill-sets. Failure to guide and provide the necessary opportunities for team members to grow will inevitably lead to team members feeling betrayed, unappreciated, and having no purpose. The impact of that on wellbeing and productivity can be severe, to say the least.
Emotional intelligence. Leaders are perceptive of their team members’ emotions, as well as their own. They value emotions and consider how emotions of others are affected by their decisions. If marketing teaches one thing, is that emotions determine our choices more than rationality, and success in anything comes from inspiration, positive mindsets, loyalty, ambition, and drive, all of which are emotions. Great leaders know how to tap into those emotions and leverage them to empower their team members first, and then the team as a whole.
To sum up, unless an organization is interested in mediocre results at best, then managers need to become leaders. You can tell a good leader by observing their team members. Are they inspired? Are they happy? Are they driven by a sense of purpose when it comes to their work? Do they admire their supervisor? That’s how you spot a model leader.
Article originally posted on Medium.