Social Media As Defined By Your Target

The social media that drove your business and defined your target through start-up, may not be the social media that fosters equally amazing future growth.
That’s a reality to consider before you assume it’s full steam ahead with the social media platform you built the business around. Or before something happens to the platform—it’s snapped up by a giant, algorithms are changed, or your defined target market is swept on to the next new thing.

You may be comfortable moving forward along the same social media path that has gotten you this far, but prolonged status quo rarely works in any aspect of business. For instance, the skills and knowledge that enabled you to grow your businesses through start up, are not the abilities and capabilities that facilitate mature business growth.

The choice of which social media to build services and products around should probably not have been yours in the first place. Ideally, you began by identifying the target or preferred client group or groups that would would place the highest value on what you offer, whether it is a product, software, skill training, or any other B2B or B2C product or service. Target social media preferences and usage patterns dictated yours and defined your social media.

(If you were first drawn to a new or emerging platform and then to key groups using it, you’ll still find, over time, user tastes and needs shift and changes to the platform may not favor your business.)

Which of the two classic client service patterns represents your high priority target clients?

1. “Temporary” Clients/Niche Specific:
Your product or service is valued at a specific stage, for an identifiable niche, or for short-term use. Your business is designed to continually cultivate new “waves” of clients at that same high-usage stage. Acquiring new clients is high priority. For instance, clients may only need your products or services during start-up mode for businesses or during university years for individuals. These clients remain loyal during this time and then their need or interest in the product or service ends and they move on.

2. “Permanent” Clients/Across Niches:
Your product or service is valued over the clients’ lifetimes or for long-term use. Your business is designed to “permanently” retain and maintain existing clients over years or decades, if not forever. Retaining existing clients is high priority. For instance, your business takes clients through a lifetime or all the growth stages of a business. Clients remain loyal “forever.”

The social media used by “temporary” client types may be different from that which attracts “permanent” client types. At least, how they use and engage will differ even within the same platform. The difference may also lie in which combinations of social media and technology targets use.

Would your prime target client group be considered “temporary” or “permanent?”
How does their social media usage reflect this pattern?
What’s next for your clients?

Defining your target client includes knowing how to anticipate their social media needs.

Panel How-tos: Chronic Pain Forum

With panel discussions, the whole is not always greater than the sum of the parts.

An amazing group of expert panelists needs an amazing communicator and analyst as the moderator and more time than the event is usually assigned. The most important ingredient for an amazing panel discussion is a clearly-stated topic which has the breadth to showcase panelist expertise and allow them to drill down into the subject for inspired insight. If the panel topic tries to cover “everything you every wanted to know about…” the discussion can be superficial or just ordinary.

My work and research make me a frequent and enthusiastic conference and meeting attendee. I admit that I am drawn to panel discussions because communication and the lack of it are what fascinates me. Panel-fan that I am, many panels leave me wondering more about what wasn’t said than what was.

The Best Advice for Panel Design

When you plan a panel discussion for your conference, client-appreciation event, or professional-development meeting, my advice as a panel-fan is to always apply the best advice for successful travel. Why “travel”? When panels catch fire and generate transporting edu-tainment (education combined with entertainment) for their specific audience, the experience is “mind travel” to a new exciting, even surprising place.

My advice for a transporting panel discussion is the same I give for travel: Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.

  • For your panel discussion, the “half as many clothes” will be half as many topics, subjects, and perspectives. Just as novice travelers don’t travel light, panel planners can get carried away with the brain power at their disposal and pack in every subject possible. Ready for all occurrences, just in case, can mean missing the point of the panel discussion in the conference’s context.
  • The panel discussion’s “twice as much money” does not refer to paying panelists more (usually there is little or no payment for these experts). Instead, the “money” refers to how the panel’s value—knowledge, experience, humor, and insight—materializes for the audience. When designing a panel discussion, ramp up the value to audiences. “Twice as much” is just the beginning. At business events, audiences expect to make money from what they learn and who they meet during the conference or meeting. Concentrate on how audience members can take their exposure to the panel discussion “to the bank.”

Example: Chronic Pain Forum

This Panel Discussion, presented by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, jointly with The Huffington Post, is deliberately tackling a big subject head-on to ramp-up attention to The Chronic Pain Epidemic—attention that is long overdue.

The expertise of Forum meeting planners, panelists, and audiences will make this event matter. I’m suggesting you take a look at this event to see how subsequent panel discussions within this umbrella topic could “take half as many clothes and twice as much money” to further ramp-up attention to the issues here.
(The Epidemic’s impact on business is a topic for another post.)

Forum advance notices state:

Panelists are open to exploring relevant pain care policies, including prescription monitoring program regulations, drug development, funding for research, and a variety of pain management options, including marijuana and mindfulness meditation.

With only one hour for the panel and diverse audiences invited, how will this talented panel rise to create value for audiences?

The Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Forums

THE CHRONIC PAIN EPIDEMIC: What’s to Be Done?

Presented by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health jointly with The Huffington Post

Thursday, November 10, 2016
11am ET — a brief pre-event Q&A with panelist Vaughan Rees and moderator David Freeman. Post your questions during the Q&A on Facebook.
12:30-1:30pm ET — During the one-hour panel discussion, panelists will examine how clinicians can best serve their patients, highlighting the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent National Pain Strategy.

  • Watch the webcast: ForumHSPH.org
    You do not need to register to watch Forum webcasts online.
  • In association with Harvard Health Publications
    You can also watch the live stream on Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/Forumhsph/
  • The Forum video will be on demand after the event.
  • Join the live chat on The Forum’s Chronic Pain Epidemic web page.
  • Tweet @ForumHSPH #chronicpain

The Panel of Experts

Josephine Briggs, Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH

Anne Louise Oaklander, Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and an attending neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Vaughan Rees, addiction specialist and Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation; Member, Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, NIH; and Policy Council Chair, Massachusetts Pain Initiative

Moderator David Freeman is the managing editor of Impact & Innovation at The Huffington Post. He is also host of the weekly NPR radio program Science Insider.

Clients Demand: Pay Attention To Earn TRUST

To engage and hold the attention of a prospect or client, professionals must first PAY ATTENTION.

The media and marketing are committed to distraction, interruption, and redirection to achieve their goals, not your client’s. The more information, phone time, and social media noise distracting a prospect or client, the less of their attention there is to apply to the client problem you expect to solve. Ignore this attention-diverting context, and you won’t be prepared for success with clients who are distracted from making decisions and commitments.

To ramp up your “attention paying” and attention receiving:

1. Tailor to Earn Trust: Your approach, delivery, and service design may have worked before smartphones took over. Now, changes may be necessary to counterbalance the level of information overload your client is operating under or coping with each day. For instance, you may prefer one phone call or meeting to cover everything that you need said, concluding with the client signing on-the-dotted-line and buying your product or service. What’s the client’s preference? Today, many clients need more time and different methods of information delivery to become confident enough to buy. Others may want to take themselves through the sales process online with opportunity to search out details, alternatives, and reviews as they go. What learning tools do your target clients prefer: video, audio, experiential?

2. Concentrate to Earn Trust: It’s not only paying attention to your client that matters, but demonstrating that you’re concentrating. Reduce your level of distraction to elevate concentration. Put down your phone. Eye contact matters. Ask for details; listen constructively to client answers by taking notes; think about the points they make; analyze what’s missing; ask for details to clarify needs and gaps that your product or service is designed to fill. Every time the client has to repeat something to you or remind you that their earlier answer dictates their response to subsequent questions, you’re not earning trust and you may be losing accumulated trust.

3. Prepare to Earn Trust: Take-away content in print, audio, video, digital, or email form may give the prospect or client confidence in your sincerity. During a meeting, give them time alone to review the details and decisions involved. This focused attention may be all they need to sign up. Prepare a client-centric sales or consulting process that incorporates follow up, product/service customizing, client satisfaction, and above-average results for the client. This may mean tweeking your pre-smartphone sales or consulting system or completely overhauling your existing process so it’s smartphone-friendly.

The smartphone changed everything. How have you changed the way you do business to accommodate this communication revolution?

More: An example of how distraction and multitasking can undermine client decision making during a common buying process…”Multitasking vs A Real Estate Frame of Mind

Expansion Demands Preparation

Q: How do you reach out globally to evaluate the potential of a country you want to target for expansion before investing heavily?

A: Find a global conference or think tank that features speakers and business experts knowledgeable about your chosen international market.

When “global” is the big issue, conference organizers will include embassy, trade, banking, and other dignitaries. This means a two- or three-day conference can place you in face-to-face contact with highly-knowledgeable, well-connected experts who are knowledgeable about the market you value for expansion.

This combined “been there, done that” expertise can save you from expensive dead-end inquires and false-starts. I known entrepreneurs who used this type of contact-rich investigation opportunity and discovered their business was not the exact match that they expected. I’ve known even more entrepreneurs who found that attending a global summit opened was like an advance screening and opened doors for them that they never knew existed. Contacts made during the conference may lead to introductions for the first country visit that amplify progress.

Intellectually-stimulating global conferences and forums allow engagement with business people who know from experience. For instance, discussions concerning the relevance of North American best practices can save a lot of time and help avoid offending cultural norms when visiting the target country. This is networking at its best—if you are prepared!

Merely showing up with a fist full of business cards or a snazzy web presence is not enough.

Preparation for global expansion involves investigating the target country, so you can articulate why this country is your best expansion choice. This preparation will enable intelligent exchanges with those who know what you do not and will help you learn how to make the right expansion match:

  • Details of population, culture, traditions, and geography are as important as legal and financial frameworks and economic policies.
  • Where politics are dramatically different, issues regarding civil rights, rule of law, and foreign (that’s you) requirements will define your project. This is where professional expertise will be essential.
  • Don’t expect others to do the thinking for you. Know what you need to know from your business’ perspective. Understand which types of professionals to search out when at the conference. Aim to discover where your thinking and knowledge may be off and how to avoid mistakes obvious to decision makers in your target country.

The more prepared you are to make your point, that is, communicate the advantages of doing business with you and your company, the luckier you’ll be.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur

More

Entrepreneurship: What’s Your Edge?

kehindetunde

Serial entrepreneur Tunde Kehinde’s successful mimic of Amazon astounded Africa—and many others, too. Now, he fosters entrepreneurship across the emerging African market of 1 billion…and beyond.

Dynamic entrepreneur Tunde Kehinde, with three successful start-ups to his credit and another well on the way, shared ideas on entrepreneurship and emerging markets as a speaker, panelist, and attendee at the recent Global Forum. I had the privilege of speaking with Kehinde privately to explore entrepreneurship further.

Listening to Kehinde explain his business theories and strategies, I was struck by one question: “What gives Tunde Kehinde his unique entrepreneurial edge?

The list of career highlights for this man—who has many more decades ahead—is already impressive. When matched with essential entrepreneurial skills, the list explains a lot about his serial success, but not everything…

  • Nigerian Kehinde credits his education and work experience as the foundation of his entrepreneurial success. A finance major, he earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. Hands-on experience as a business development executive with Diageo in London and as an Investment Banking professional with Wachovia Securities in North Carolina and New York City revealed the difference between theory and reality. This experience accounts for his solid foundation in analysis, quick thinking, and flexibility, but it’s only the beginning.
  • This impressive communicator has a warm, natural style and a creative command of public speaking that facilitates his delivery of his point in any context. For all these reasons, he was a popular Forum speaker. One media colleague referred to him as a “rock star” since each time he spoke, lines of attendees gathered, eager to speak with him and snap a pic. Essential communication skills and salesmanship often separate successful entrepreneurs from those who merely have a good idea, but there’s more to this.
  • Kehinde’s track record has created a credibility and momentum that makes future success almost predictable:
  1. Kehinde began by co-founding Bandeka.com, an online dating platform identified by Forbes Magazine as one of the hottest tech start-ups in Africa.
  2. Then, he saw the need for a version of Amazon that would fill infrastructure and other system gaps for Africa and Jumia.com emerged as Nigeria’s leading ecommerce platform. As Co-Founder and former Managing Director of Jumia, Kehinde helped grow the business from 5 employees to almost 1,000 to serve customers across Nigeria.
  3. Next, he emerged as the Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of Africa Courier Express (ACE) (www.ace.ng), a technology-driven logistics platform, that enables ecommerce companies, financial institutions, and healthcare businesses to ship items directly to consumers across Nigeria. ACE shipped to almost 400,000 customers and collected payments on behalf of 1,000 merchants. ACE plans to expand across Africa.
  4. To address financial and banking barriers for ACE clients, merchants, entrepreneurs, and the growing African online middle class, Kehinde co-launched Lidya.co which offers easy, reliable, secure online access to finances.

What gives Tunde Kehinde his unique entrepreneurial edge?

When I explained to Kehinde that I had met entrepreneurs with credentials similar to his that explained his and their polished professionalism, he nodded. When I went on to say that I saw more than the sum of these parts in his ability, magnetism, and calm resolve, he smiled. When I asked, “How’d you get so smart?” He laughed and began to explain…

Acknowledging the importance of education, career opportunities, and practical start-up experience, Kehinde revealed that his parents were both entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial mind set was ingrained in him. That’s what makes the difference for him.

That’s the key to a powerful entrepreneurial edge: a clear inner, empowering “you can do it” voice.

This inner determination is either instilled early in life or deliberately acquired later. Parents who embody entrepreneurial drive and repeat entrepreneurial sentiments to their children can be powerful role models. The resulting family environment, can make the business drive to succeed part of both conscious and unconscious thinking and decision making in the next generation.

Family is what gave Kehinde a very early start and a unique entrepreneurial edge. He’s taken it from there.

What gives you your entrepreneurial edge?

Even if your parents were not in business and never encouraged you—or, perhaps were even a discouraging force—that inner certainty came from somewhere. The more conscious you are of how your certainty arose, the more in control of it you’ll be, even in the toughest times.

For more from Tunde Kindhe…see “Harnessing the Potential of Emerging Middle-Class Markets” in “Explore New Markets At A Global Forum

Disruptive Technologies: Hyper Local & Diamonds

“Disruptive” has evolved into an exciting business word, but it remains full of surprises, especially when linked to “disruptive technology” and its sea of opportunity.

“Disruptive” used to be a negative word meaning “burst asunder,” “throw into disorder,” or “dash to pieces.” Now, many see the term as a provocatively-positive invitation to dismantle or redirect the existing and drive home their over-riding point of view à la Uber and Amazon.

Lots of opportunity there but, new disruptive technologies do not automatically over-write everything. However, they will always require new ways of thinking and communicating. As a result, re-engineering and re-designing are now ongoing business processes, not once-in-a-while overhauls.

Professionals, entrepreneurs, and organizations ready to jump in and grab the emerging “brass ring”—that is, “disruptors”—benefit most when, from the start, they have client-centric vision. Once clear about existing target market needs, wants, and the untapped elements of both, opportunity emerges. As the new technology alters context for both disruptors and their target clients, competition can heat up. Client-centric disruptors can maintain their “first in” advantage because they understand how to communicate advantages, not disruption, to target markets.

At a recent Global Forum entitled “Leading in Uncertain Times,” arguably the most popular of the 11 break-out forums was “Riding the Wave of Disruptive Technologies.” A panel of forward thinkers explored the question: “What is the potential long-term economic impact of disruptive technologies?”

One panelist set the stage for disruption of globalization and emergence of a new “hyper local.”

“The path of light determines decentralized architecture,” said panelist Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer of Nokia and President of Bell Labs. “It is the speed of light that determines this. [Light] can only travel about 100km (round trip, meaning there and back) in 1 millisecond. So any application or service requiring this latency/delay has to be located within 100km maximum, which we say [as] 50km allowing for some additional processing time.”

According to Weldon, this means that the “within 50 kilometers” necessity leads to a focus on “hyper local because it must be that way.”

This predicted disruptive shift from globalization to a new hyper local arises from internet of everything demands. Resulting significant change may open up local or small venture opportunity.

Weldon (by email): “Going local will require the deployment of cloud infrastructure within 50-100km from each user/enterprise and not everyone will be willing or able to build out the cloud to this level. That is not to say that Global providers cannot become local cloud providers, but they may choose not to, and just partner or federate with other cloud providers who do. Telecom operators are one potential local cloud provider for these local clouds as they own local facilities (switching offices etc.) with fiber running to those facilities, and [they] need to run their networks in this way anyway.”

How would this disruption alter context for your target markets and their income earning?

Panelist Adam Khan, Founder and CEO of Illinois-based Akhan Semiconductors and co-inventor of the Miraj Diamond™ Platform explained how diamond semiconductor technology provides “new pathways of flexibility” that have the potential to disrupt electronics, including consumer electronics and wearable applications.

If diamond—known as the “Ultimate Wide Bandgap semiconductor material”—were a key successor technology to silicon, where could disruption materialize in electronics? How would your target markets be affected? Or, would the change created open new targets for your venture?

Disruptive bonus: Later in a phone interview, Khan talked about how local and global interplay is growing his semiconductor business. He also candidly explained why disrupting his work schedule to spend three days at the Global Forum was the best use of his time:

How do you disrupt your routine to benefit your business and, therefore, your clients?

Part 2: Framework Responsive to Millennials

Mobile-friendly or responsive websites and online content are vital if you aim to attract and serve millennials.

Research proved to Boston-based social enterprise Framework Homeownership, LLC that mobile-savvy millennials make up more than 35% of the target for their national online home buyer course, so creating a mobile-friendly or responsive version of their highly-regarded home education resource was a “no brainer.”

For-profit Framework arose out of the combined efforts of two leading national nonprofits that share empowerment mandates to build strong communities: the Housing Partnership Network and the Minnesota Homeownership Center. The social enterprise has two main directives:

  1. Access: Any time, anywhere, anyone…responsive home education which sets a high standard for home buying and home ownership
  2. Revenue Sharing: Framework’s future lies in partnerships—profits shared with non-profits and for-profits intent on serving their real-estate-intent clients with unbiased online education.

Framework’s Holly Mott, Vice President of Brand Marketing, reports that almost 80,000 Americans from all 50 states have completed the online course since its creation in 2013—including more than 49,000 this year!

Even if real-estate-intent millennials are not your prime target, you can learn a lot from how strategically this innovative home education organization serves users and partners.

Framework has done many things right in communicating its “responsive” intent in all senses of the word:

  • The online course, with optional downloadable content, is available in English for platforms from mobile to desktop. (The Spanish version is not yet mobile friendly.)
  • The course has proven to be such a strong buyer-be-aware starting point that Fannie Mae made it an eligibility requirement for a major program. Wells Fargo and others see the value of home education for their clients.
  • The $75 fee is counterbalanced by readily-available discounts and coupons (scholarships) from advisory partners and growing numbers of lending and real estate professionals.
  • Framework acknowledges that expanding product offerings and applications is essential for continued connections. For instance, free monthly email content concentrates on what new homeowners need to know. The expanding national network of free, unbiased expert advisors (not salespeople) keeps millennials and other buyers, sellers, and borrowers coming back to Framework.
  • Mott says they broke start-up rules by launching in 2012 with just one product—the online course. However, Framework has built significant credibility by developing the best-possible, high-standard responsive course and online platform. This effort is very deliberately balanced by establishment of an industry-wide advisory and partnership network. Now, next steps can be giant steps. Three new products are in the R&D phase. Future plans will transform the responsive site into a revolutionary online platform to create new national standards for home-buying and ownership education and to let consumers, including millennials, reap the real estate rewards.

How responsive is your online presence?
Do you understand your target markets well enough to be responsive—online and off—to what they want and to what they may not realize they need from you?

Resource:
To learn more about Framework:

Part 1: Are You Responsive?

More and more people are using their phone to search the net. This means your net presence must quickly make a vital user-friendly statement. What message do you deliver when your website or online courses are not responsive?

Google™-recommended Responsive Web Design is the most common method of achieving mobile-friendly web pages configured to look great on the small screens of smartphones and other mobile devices. Search engines favor this user-friendly design. Responsive uses computer code that responds differently to different screen sizes, but ensures page displays remain similar and readable on any mobile device.

Are you asking users and target clients to deal with non-responsive websites and online content that are stuck in the “desktop dark ages?” They’ll probably vote “no way” by clicking on the mobile-friendly competition.

If your target market is mobile savvy, engage them on their terms. Transforming your website, blog, and online content into mobile-friendly territory is essential. Take time to decide which change strategy is most compatible with your short- and long-tem goals and those of target clients:

  1. Nowhere Fast: Those who find little or no business comes to them over the internet may decide there is no need for responsive design. (There is a very good business case for going responsive and optimizing the site to gain traffic, leads, and referrals, but that’s another article, for another time.)
  2. Halfway There: Blogs are not automatically responsive. For instance, WordPress  (WP), which accounts for almost 25% of internet activity, offers many mobile-friendly templates or themes, however, earlier WP blog templates were not responsive. Even now, new bloggers do not have to choose responsive themes. Check it out: Transforming your non-responsive WordPress blog and website may merely involve switching to a responsive theme.
  3. All the Way: The process of transforming a website to responsive is not as simple as switching templates. Coding changes are just the beginning. Design—including layout, fonts, images, and site navigation—will need modification to optimize smaller reading “windows.” Then, there’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to consider. Although this may be an opportune time for a full-site overhaul of content, navigation, and all related marketing elements, a phased-in re-do or scaled-down site are other alternatives. A big job with a big budget? If the website drives your business, delay will be even more expensive. Action: In some cases, recreating the site as a responsive WP site may be faster and less expensive. Google suggests  other ways to optimize for mobile search.

Are YOU responsive? This post explores communicating your value and intentions using technology. “Responsive” means much more. In both the technical and relationship sense of this word, how do you manage client and partner interfaces including websites and online interactive content? Closing the gap between what target prospects and clients value and need and what you offer enhances your relevance and responsiveness. That’s what credibility means to targets.

Resource: What’s Your Point?

Trust Earning: Do You Deserve Client Trust?

Risk aversion stops many good things from happening when it is supposed to stop bad things. Trust is the antidote to risk aversion.

Professionals must communicate their trustworthiness to earn trust and build lasting relationships with prospects and clients.

Natural fear of taking action or making a decision is meant to preserve our health, property, way of life, and sanity, but it can do the opposite. As far as prospects and clients are concerned, their trust will be earned by professionals who show consistent, genuine interest in the wellbeing of the prospect or client. Unless this client concern is visible in every facet of the work carried out by the professional for and with clients, trust may not be achieved and the relationship will remain superficial.

Clients’ interests should be transparently and prominently placed above the professionals’ interests. This commitment materializes as services that are relevant to target client needs and as delivery methods that match the professional’s process and organizational support.

For instance, whether a client filters the world through their smartphone or prefers emails interspersed with phone or face-to-face meetings, they’ll be receptive to placing trust in professionals who respect client communication preferences. Professionals who commit to client needs and goals discover many ways to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

Trust is also earned by professionals who deliver on promises and responsibilities without prompting or excuses. If it’s not clear to clients that they are in sync with the professional, has the professional genuinely earned their trust?

Perception is the reality in earning client loyalty. The client’s definition of trust sets the standard for professionals to meet and exceed in everything from communication to service delivery:

  • Should trusting include the client questioning the professional, or is unquestioning acceptance demanded by the professional?
  • Is the professional’s reaction defensive or offensive if their knowledge or skill is challenged?
  • Does the client understand exactly what you, the professional, expect from them and from yourself as the relationship progresses?
  • From the start, clients deserve to understand what “trust” will mean to both of you, and to outcomes. Clients should trust themselves to be sure about this.

Will you share this post with your prospects and clients because you want to open up the lines of communication and earn trust?

© Source: What’s Your Point? PJ Wade The Catalyst

Sao Miguel coast

Itinerary: 12 Days in the Azores

Itinerary: 12 days in the Azores

Azores vista

Green-blue vistas, red-roofed homes and rolling farmland…great places to ramble and explore

Lagoa harbor

Lagoa’s colorful harbor with kids swimming off the dock and fisherman preparing to launch

Arquipelago dos Acores

Portugal’s Azores Archipelago (Click to enlarge)

My first visit to the Azores, Portugal’s mid-Atlantic archipelago, landed me on São Miguel for a month and hooked me on this green-blue island, the largest of the nine islands. My recent 12-day trip combined a return to São Miguel and brief visits to three new islands: Faial, Pico, and Terceria. Now, I’m hooked on the Azores and I still have 5 more islands to go.

This adventure introduced a significant element of context. The Azores trip followed a month traveling throughout mainland Portugal, so how did my view of the mainland—its people, culture, and countryside—color my latest island explorations?

For now, I’m resisting the urge to rave about the natural beauty of the Azores—the stunning landscapes, striking coastlines, rolling green farm fields lined by blue Hydrangeas, inspiring sunrises and sunsets, colorful red-roofed homes, artistically cobblestoned plazas and streets…and much more. The accompanying photos were hard to select because the Azores is paradise for a photographer (or artist or traveler of any kind).

In subsequent posts, I’ll share ideas, observations, and inspiration from the Azores relevant to this whatsyourpoint blog’s themes: perspectives on context, extreme service excellence, entrepreneurship, meeting dynamics, and related communication topics, as well as suggestions for your trip to the Azores.

If you want travel details now, visit the Azores Promotion Board’s www.visitazores.com The regional airline, Azores Airlines, offers direct flights from North America: www.azoresairlines.pt

Faial surf

Surf’s up on Faial’s north coast

My itinerary: Courtesy of SATA Azores Airlines
Day 1: Leave Lisbon Portugal 12:30; arrive Ponta Delgado, São Miguel 13:45

Day 6: Leave Ponta Delgado 8:20; did not arrive at Horta, Faial at 9:20 but diverted to Pico Island airport because of fog on Faial. Short tour of Pico and then ferry ride to Horta, Faial.

Day 10: Leave Faial airport 11:20; arrive Terceira Island

Day 12: Leave Terceira 16:45

Why do I say the right hotel makes your visit?