Blog

Briefing Paper on A.I. Image Generation

Briefing Paper on A.I. Image Generation

Exec Summary:

Machine Learning / A.I. software now exists that allows businesses and organisations to create photorealistic images, drawings and illustrations in-house for free or at a very low cost.

Business Advantage:

Costs of using stock photos, sourcing basic illustrations and designs can be reduced to zero. Smaller businesses will be more competitive.

Business Threat:

Stock photo production companies may see sales impacted in the medium to long term but they will also see a massive decrease in production costs allowing them to infinitely expand their collections

Business Opportunities:

A new creative economy can be created where people with just an idea can will the imagery to life. Create that poster, that comic, the new brochure by typing a few words. The same way the likes of Photoshop and an internet connection unlocked so much creativity, now people can make art like professionals without having creativity suites.

Background:

In the past few months we’ve seen A.I./ Machine Learning advances so that you can type a few words into a website or desktop app and images will get created for you. Or someone takes an existing image and has it modified or “outcrops” it so the A.I. creates a new world around the image.

How this A.I. software works:

This software uses images and text descriptions downloaded from the Web. Billions of them. This is then put through machine learning/A.I. software that links words to the content of images so that it eventually understands plain english commands e.g. draw me a tree or create a photo of a tree.

Malcolm Gladwell talked about putting 10,000 proper hours into something to get good. A.I. is putting those hours in so you don’t have to. The author of the paper Gladwell cited says he oversimplified and there was also another crucial aspect – having a very good teacher. Who are the good teachers in A.I?

4 main A.I. image systems

Currently there are 4 main image systems but there will be dozens soon.

  • Dall-E from Open A.I. which was the first, is web based and invite only. First few images are free. Then you pay for credits.
  • Crayon – a clone of Dall-E – Free website.
  • Midjourney is in Beta, can be accessed via a Discord web server. First few images are free. Then you subscribe.
  • Stable Diffusion – Open Source, desktop version. Free.

Dangers and Deep Fakes:

Dall-E has checks to prevent the creation of deep fakes and creating violent imagery but many of the others do not. It can be very easy to fake a person, a celebrity or a politician and have them endorse a product or movement or show them in a compromising scenario.

Ethical Issues

As this “tech” is based on billions of images that have been scraped from the web, these images are biased toward the white male gaze of course and with pornography also downloaded, what this software considers to be a woman can be corrupted. The likes of Dall E does error corrections by adding in women so searches to decrease all male images as well as trying to remove violent and racist imagery. Copyrighted images are also in this giant set of images. Read and follow the work of Abeba Birhane.

What comes next:

Video creation and editing e.g. a text command can change the colour of the sky or reorder a city. This is already happening.
In the medium term people will be able to conjure up their own worlds by just telling their VR device. Think will be a jump from Fortnite to a world like in Avatar or any elaborate computer game.

2022 Domain Flash Sale

September 21st

Sale now ended

Contra deals will be considered.
You pay the transfer fees which work out at about €70

Domains start at €400 at the start of the day then go to €200 and then to €100 before sales stop.
But, the nice domains will start disappearing from the list too.
First to email an offer, gets that domain. dm@43.ie You can pay via a Stripe link on the spot or you don’t get it. I can send the invoice after.

Two letter domain names
2k.ie
zc.ie
c4.ie
oc.ie

 

acne.ie

 

bears.ie

 

brewing.ie

businesscourses.ie

butt.ie

 

Ceoil.ie

ceos.ie

classroom.ie

corporation.ie

cremations.ie

cum.ie

daddy.ie

december.ie

drag.ie

entertainmentawards.net
entertainmentawards.tv

 

grief.ie

hugs.ie

independents.ie

insulin.ie

leather.ie

LifeCoach.ie

marriage.ie

 

Mattresses.ie

mna.ie

nightclasses.ie

norm.ie

notions.ie

oncology.ie

Orgasms.ie

paediatrics.ie

 

portlaw.ie

postgraduate.ie

preaccelerator.ie

republic.ie

RiverLee.ie

rub.ie

Sepsis.ie

sex-toys.ie

 

sme.ie

subs.ie

suck.ie

workouts.ie

Irish Social Media Experts – The Present and the Future

I interviewed some people I follow on social media and asked them a few short questions about how they use social, what they like and what’s coming next.

These were the people that got back to me:

What do you think you do well on digital/social?

Val Robus, Magnum Lady: Over the last year or so I’ve run a couple of campaigns to promote the North West of Ireland. It was mainly sharing photos but also bits of news about businesses, people, events, etc. I got a great response from it and I was really pleased with how it all went.

Martin O’Connor, UCC Library: I think we manage to inject personality into our accounts and present the library as an informative, authoritative and fun place to be. Being both of these is important to us. I feel that social media needs to have a personality. Bland corporate accounts are missing a trick I feel.

Cian Corbett, AIB: We use Social Media to humanise the AIB brand to build stronger relationships reminding customers of the positive role that AIB plays in their lives.

Jason Kieran, Houses of the Oireachtas: Our news updates are our bread and butter as such, but we get more traction on lighter content. The Seanad General Elections are always the best content we push out every few years in relation to impressions although it’s to a small number of stakeholders and to a minute audience. We get to be a little free with the type of language used in responses to queries and information requests.

Sean Lally, Hotel Woodstock: Express our personality not afraid to stand out from the crowd through our social media and follow the advice from “The Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Convert sales from our social media strategy in all areas of the business because of the raised profile of the Hotel. Harness the social media to win awards and improve our PR and publicity for the Hotel and customer awareness

Peter Collins, Academy Plaza: We are not focusing a lot on social media and aside from Tick Tok the bits we do are poor-ish. TikTok is gone quite as the staff doing it went to different departments and are kept busy. Our sales person is dabbling in SM but is not expert or great at content generation. Communication on our brand message is consistent

Who do you think is great on digital/social and why?

Cian Corbett: Ryanair have really lead the way on Tik Tok perfectly joining trending conversations while remaining true to their irreverence and brand identity. I love TG4 on Twitter too – the tone and nuance is always perfect.

Val Robus: TG4 – always brightens my day.
Taryn de Vere – her campaign of dressing as household objects was the content that we all needed in January (and I want to be as cool as she is).
Spiderworking – Amanda Webb – her insights into all things social media are great.
Zwartbles – Farming, photos, and more.
Katia (Properfood) – an amazing cheerleader for the Irish food industry.
BrodHiggins – I can never see enough dog photos

Martin O’Connor: I’m going to stick to other library accounts on Twitter (which is where
is much of the library world spends its social media time) @UoYLibrary @OrkneyLibrary
@britishlibrary @RHUL_Library I like these accounts as they are informative and fun – they seem to
have a personality and I can imagine they would be fun to hang out with.

Jason Kiernan: I like companies that can have a bit of humour within their content while keeping it professional. It’s a fine line, it can go wrong! TG4 seems to get it right, but I’m not sure RTÉ would get away with it! The team (or team of one) has got it just right for its audience

Peter Collins + Phelim Connolly: Maldron Hotel Parnell are doing good on Facebook, regular posts and local community engagement catches my eye. @MaldronParnell Love him or hate him Cllr Oisin O’Connor often has clever tweets @OConnorOisin – Gone quite recently but @aaroadwash also had interesting tweets.
Video content- Lovin Dublin is very good,

Sean Lally: Ryanair for constantly pushing the boundaries and been quick to react to current affairs. Tony Robbins for his motivation and positivity

Market trends. Noticing anything?

Martin O’Connor: Trends – we are finding that Facebook is becoming not worth the time. Twitter is still our go to as a Library – librarians and libraries love Twitter. It is our platform. But Instagram engagement is way up for us – our students are really engaging with us there. But still mostly for the more fun posts as opposed to the informative authoritative posts. Instagram is going to be worth more time investment by us – we probably need to tweak our content slightly to make it the best we can. It is definitely worth the effort.

Cian Corbett: In my opinion, Tik Tok has changed the pace of communications on social. This puts the onus on Marketers to get comfortable capturing video content that should compete with the style and tone of native content creators which can be a challenge. I see engagement dropping on Facebook as younger audiences spend their time on Tik Tok so it’s worth having a healthy media mix with a few platforms.

Val Robus: Facebook is dying. My blog page was doing really well but it’s gone very quiet in recent weeks. My tiktok is struggling too. It’s hard to get reach on some of these platforms.
Twitter has always been my favourite for engagement. Instagram is ticking along, but nothing wild.

Jason Kiernan: We use live streaming as part of our strategy to push out Oireachtas TV. Twitter has got it right, they purchased Periscope and have invested in how the backend works and it works very well! Facebook, although trying to give Twitch a run for its money re game streaming their backend platform continues to be problematic!

FB audience is falling for us. The audience has also changed re the type of comments, it really has turned into a middle aged complaints board!

LinkedIn is increasing for us… why I’m not sure!

Peter Collins + Phelim Connolly: Unfortunately not that active on SM for business or pleasure. Would use/read Twitter daily and snack on some facebook groups and use the messaging functions for guests responses. We turned off Google Business Messaging as we weren’t well placed to respond 24/7 and often our user directed queries to email which was a backward step.
Facebook- great interface, easy to upload, easy to create posts, and ads. Instagram- hard to upload stories, tiktok is addictive, easy to create attractive video with limited content

Sean Lally: Constant change in the social media channels all trying to copy each other’s best practice not to lose market share can be hard to keep up with the changes here

Facebook is very positive for us, but we are conscious that it is falling with its popularity and Tik Tok is rapidly gaining market share

LinkedIn has had got a huge reaction on my personal account as the social media strategy is very different for this platform which is usually very business focussed and people seem to like this new approach

Where should we focus?

Jason Kiernan: If you are not using reels, stories or short videos you are not listening to your audience! Video still continues to lead the way. Twitter should have spent time and effort on Fleets… I miss them!

Cian Corbett: I know it’s not the most exciting answer but I always recommend research and measurement. Learn what your audience wants, what role can your brand play in their timeline. And then measure the impact – do you audience like seeing your content or are you just shouting into the void?

Val Robus: Twitter. For sure.
People say they don’t know how to use it. I always treat it as a coffee shop. If someone talks to you, reply (unless they are bots).
Join in with conversations and make connections.
You don’t know who is watching.

Martin O’Connor: Our focus for now will really remain on Twitter and Instagram. But we are scanning the social media horizon to see what else would work well for us. I’m curious to see how other libraries and other educational institutions use TikTok. I’m watching that space carefully.

Peter Collins/ Phelim Connolly: Helping business with organic engagement and posts v’s pure Look at our product aren’t we great type posts which are not that interesting.
Strong interface API allows for quick answer and reduces time wasting

Sean Lally: Video is so important in getting your message across and we see this area growing which is where we are strong and we work with an excellent videographer Dom McCarthy who brings so much to the table with his skillset

Get your personality across on the video as people buy people in business and sales and this has really worked for us at Hotel Woodstock

What else should I have asked?

Peter Collins/Phelim Connolly: Do you see a good ROI on Social Media posts & engagement, which channels do you use and what is the frequency of use.

How long is the attention span of the youth of tomorrow? Answer-less than that of a goldfish !!

Cian Corbett: Does your social media strategy actually do what you want it to do? Take time to think about what objective you want to achieve. Social Media is great at completing a task so you should think carefully about what task you are giving it. Are you Driving Awareness, Building Engagement, Increasing Conversion, Driving Traffic, Generating Leads? Choose your objective and then build your strategy and resist ‘doing social on the fly’. Map out your destination and then plan your route to get there.

Martin O’Connor: Why do you invest the time in social media that you do? And is it worth it? Where do you plan to go next with your social media? Would you have any advice for those looking to tweak their social media game?

Jason Kiernan: What is the next new thing? Can there be something new? There are only so much affordances within platforms as they are, what will be the next BIG thing? I really don’t know.

Sean Lally: Where do you see the future of digital for the hospitality industry ?

At the moment we see the most important medium been videos across all social channels and we feel Tik Tok has been the main driver of this and companies need to embrace this as in the Hotel industry you see very few Hotels really working this platform as it is not the normal type of marketing but you need to constantly push the boundaries when it comes to digital marketing and stand out from the crowd.

LinkedIn Updates – How many Words Before the Text Disappears? 25ish

You have 25 words/140 characters to get your message across on here before “See More” needs to be pressed. The space of an old school tweet.

Use the inverted pyramid. Headline and takeaway first and then go into more detail. An update for all screen sizes that includes an image, video or link preview will be seen if it is about 140 characters.

This 140 character rule is a simplification because this all depends on the size of a screen. You have more words/characters for desktop users compared to mobile. Blank spaces/blank lines are also counted.

And so if you are the type that spaces out sentences

so they read like this, the spaces and line breaks seem to be counted too.

Doing it this way you might actually only have 10-15 words to get your takeaway/exec summary across.

I prefer adding a video, image or link to updates as you get more real estate on a timeline and capture more of the gaze of a scroller. Keeping it to 140 characters gets my text and image/video/link preview seen too.

So choose your intro text very carefully.

August 2022 Briefing note: What’s happening with Instagram

Briefing note: What’s happening with Instagram

Exec Summary:

Facebook/Meta sees Tiktok as an existential threat and are doing their best to make Instagram work exactly like TikTok. They will happily force this on their users and turn their back on their photo app roots. Facebook and Instagram have lost the younger demographic to TikTok and these changes will not have an impact.

Facebook is now the clown car

Mark Zuckerberg once called Twitter a clown car that fell down a goldmine. Facebook/Meta have taken their eye off the ball for their Facebook and Instagram offerings while trying to pivot their company to become the main provider of VR/AR virtual worlds (metaverse), wasting billions so far on this quest. In the meantime Tiktok’s numbers are growing and they are the main social app for those under 25 with Instagram Reels failing to gain popularity with younger people. (see Irish data further down)

Facebook/Meta’s Identity Crisis

Tiktok has pointed out that they are an entertainment platform not a social network. Facebook is a social network, there was even a movie about them called The Social Network. Their Mission Statement is: Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

For decades they’ve talked about their mission of connecting people but now they want to be Tiktok and that means a full DNA transplant. While at the same time wanting to be TikTok they want to be a metaverse first company too. Instagram has always been the vehicle to counter outside threats to the Meta/Facebook business but this time it might damage it.

Instagram timeline:

    • 2010 Instagram launches.
    • April 2012 Bought by Facebook.
    • August 2016 Instagram rips off Snapchat Stories with Instagram Stories.
    • June 2018 IGTV launched as YouTube competitor
    • August 2020 Instagram rips off Tiktok with Instagram Reels.
    • Mid 2021 Instagram starts adding posts from accounts you don’t follow into timelines.
    • October 2021 IGTV stepped down as a long-form video offering.
    • Early 2022 Instagram Reels videos from non-followed accounts forced into timelines.
    • July IGTV videos and existing videos converted to Instagram Reels
    • July 26th 2022 Instagram changes algorithm to push even more Reels videos into timeline and announces this will be the default.
    • July 29th 2022 Instagram announces they’ve paused this feature for now.

Data Manipulation as justification for changes

In their July 26th announcement Instagram used data to argue people wanted more video (Reels) in their timelines as this was the content they were watching more. However, Instagram changed their algorithm to give videos more priority so the data was of course going to show this. Facebook/Meta’s data can never be trusted, they have a lot of history with their “data”.

What comes next for Instagram and Facebook/Meta?

Facebook/Meta’s recent earnings and commentary show a company that’s in panic mode. Their big bet on a Metaverse with them having a monopoly on it seems to be a very expensive future for them and the coveted youth market they once had is lost to them. They’ve tried to clone TikTok and this is not working and they’ve tried to stoke fears and get it curtailed and this has failed too.

The latest announcement and climb back has been a giant misstep. When Instagram cloned Snapchat Stories, Snapchat redesigned their app and made their most popular features hard to use, pushing more people to Instagram Stories and hampered their own growth and dominance. It now seems Instagram is doing something similar by turning a beloved app into something else.

Opportunity for others

While Facebook/Meta said they’ll hold off on the timeline changes for now, they will bring them back and force them through. Tiktok is all they can think of now. Instagram was better at photos than Facebook and Facebook bought them and they used their resources to get them over a billion users. With Facebook/Meta now turning their back on the photo sharing element of Instagram, there are opportunities for other apps to pull in these audiences that Instagram seems not to want anymore.

TikTok, Instagram and Instagram Reels numbers

Monthly usage of apps/social apps in Ireland. These numbers are generated from the as systems of these platforms.

Tiktok in Ireland
2.26M users
13-18 not measured (the ad tool doesn’t allow you advertise to those under 19)
18-24 1.058M
24-34 562k
35-44 318k
45-54 184k
55+ 107k

Instagram in Ireland
2.6M overall
13-18 192k
18-24 653k
24-34 814k
35-44 560k
45-54 322k
55+ 231k

Reels overall 1.2M
13-18 70k
18-24 268k
24-34 394k
35-44 246k

Instagram Reels growth
August 2021 – 540,000
January 2022 – 930,000
August 2022 – 1.2M
(algorithm changes contributed to this growth too)

Instagram Stories 2.1M

This briefing document is from Mulley Communications – dm@mulley.ie – 086 8258586

Metaverse Briefing Document July 2022

The Metaverse Executive Summary

The Metaverse does not exist. Pure hype. 5-10 years away. Observe and wait for mass market adoption. Consider VR/AR for high value clients such as building walkthroughs, training or 3D models of your products.

This post is heavily inspired by (read ripped off) James Whatley and watch this metaverse talk he gave.

PDF version.

What is the Metaverse?

Broad Definition: The Metaverse is an always-on set of immersive 3D virtual worlds that are all connected to each other creating a single 3D virtual universe of destinations.
(Most companies are making up their own definitions of what the Metaverse is to suit their own interests, most of these are existing online games or VR platforms.)

Is the Metaverse owned by Facebook?

No. Facebook/Meta announced they’re building the metaverse but what they are building is an immersive 3D world at some point in the future which will not have interoperability with other online VR spaces. They are calling this the Metaverse, so are 100s of others.

The Trouble with the Metaverse – Consoles wars x10

Everyone appears to be building The Metaverse. The trouble is that all these “metaverses” are like game console war except there are now 250+ game console companies and none are compatible. Facebook/Meta, Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, AMD, Roblox, Samsung and Sony to name but a few are talking about making a Metaverse. To use their proprietary version you will need a specific piece of hardware to access each one of these.

Unlike the Internet and the World Wide Web where you build a website and every device with an Internet connection can access it, for the Metaverse hype you will need to build an individual presence using different standards in each “Metaverse” and each metaverse will have their own technology (e.g. headsets and glasses) that you’ll need to use.

Technology for “the Metaverse” is many years away from becoming a reality. Both the hardware and the software are not good enough to be used for now.

What about Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft?
These are online games, not the Metaverse.

You cannot trust Meta/Facebook

Facebook/Meta has a history of luring in companies to go all-in on their offerings before then chopping off their legs. They did this before by promising Facebook Apps would make companies rich and then killed off Facebook Apps, they then lured companies especially media companies to go all-in on video creation on Facebook and then changed their algorithm to downplay video, destroying many media companies. They did the same with news organisations encouraging them to make Facebook specific content and have now shuttered their Facebook News programme. Most recently they have decided to turn Instagram into a TikTok clone by pushing Instagram Reels of strangers into your main timeline and de-prioritise photos and posts, turning their back on people that helped build the app. Do not trust them.

Observe and Wait

For now companies large and small should consider waiting to see what happens with the various Metaverse projects out there. When Apple launches their VR headset and eventually VR/AR glasses, this will bring stability and also mass market numbers to VR/AR and this will create a clearer picture of where things are headed.

Where the Metaverse money is: VR and AR as a gateway to the Metaverse

The VR and AR space is growing
Companies should consider using VR for high value clients such as building walkthroughs, high end simulation programmes or 3D models of your products. If just a few hundred people seeing your work in VR is enough for a high value sale, then VR can be worth it.

IP and innovation
Those working on VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) will be the ones who will do well when The Metaverse becomes more standardised. They’ll do this by licensing the IP they create or by being acquired or by creating content for clients. Many already successful Irish VR/AR companies will be ready for the Metaverse and will do well from it.

Cynically using the Metaverse hype
If you cynically look at the Metaverse then there are a few ways to have success:

Using the Metaverse for PR
A business could announce they’re setting up in the Metaverse and they could get media coverage for this. Many are already doing this.

Launching a client in the Metaverse
Many companies have plenty of resources to spend money building a space in a virtual world. These companies will spend 10s of 1000s to 100s of 1000s to millions to have their space in “the Metaverse” and there is no way to convince them otherwise. Take their money. Build VR/AR apps for them.

Questions to ask when there’s a Metaverse announcement

How do I access the Metaverse now?
What hardware do I need?
Is your Metaverse offering just a space in an online game like Minecraft/Roblox?
How many daily users are in your Metaverse?

Shut Up LinkedIn – How to stop LinkedIn Notifications on the timeline

LinkedIn has become really noisy in the past few months. Much more than before. It’s just like Facebook now in terms of updates. You can quieten down your LinkedIn feed though. There are lots of settings that allow you to do that. In fact there are 100s of different ways LinkedIn pushes things into your feed and you can turn all of these off or just some of them. LinkedIn will become a lot more peaceful as a result.

To start with you can go into your Settings by clicking on Me at the top right.
To start with you can go into your Settings by clicking on Me at the top right.

Then click on Communications on the left
Then click on Communications on the left

Then click On LinkedIn or go here: https://www.linkedin.com/mypreferences/d/notification-channels/on-linkedin
Then click On LinkedIn

Then you have all these settings to play with
Then you have all these settings to play with

There are literally 100s of options across each of these. Disable most for a better LinkedIn life.
Luckily you can just turn all of them off in one go

Luckily you can just turn all of them off in one go

 

And this makes life a lot easier. Some of those you might like to keep on some settings so then you’ll have to turn off each one in that section instead but not that much extra work really. The Network category to me is the worst offender. Direct link.

You can unfollow the really noisy people in your timeline too. This means you are still a connection but you don’t see their constant activity liking and commenting on anything and everything. You know the types. The performative “Bert likes this” “Ernie celebrates this” and Bert is commenting on every update from everyone. You can do that right in the timeline by clicking on the dots next to their name. The person is not notified you unfollowed them. It can be bliss.

Mute noisy people in LinkedIn. Click on the 3 dots next to their name and choose Unfollow.

This should actually save a lot of time on a daily basis.

Today I learned, Today I shared, Today I got back.

My rule for doing well on social networks is: Hit at least 2 of the above points on a daily/weekly basis. Give value, get value. Today I learned, Today I shared, Today I got back.

Today I Learned

If you’re on social media and you’re mostly just browsing, what are you getting back from it? What have you learned? What have you done as a result of learning something on a social network? Have you found new links to tools that make your life easier? Have you found articles or even tweets from founders that actually give you a better perspective? Things like how you should be running your business? Has your business become more efficient after discovering something on social media?

If you’re just browsing on social media, but you’re learning lots of stuff, then that’s a good use of it. Stay on social media. If you’re just seeing lots of dances and funny videos, well, how does that help you? One way is it can make you smile and the world is shit right now, so that can be good for your mental health. In moderation. Ask yourself: Are you being entertained and channel hopping at the expense of your business? So we’ve asked what you learned today, now switch this question around. Are you the person that someone finds is of use to them on social networks?

Today I shared

Are you adding value to a social network? It doesn’t matter which social network it is. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Are you putting information out there that shows that you’re an expert? And if you’re putting information out there, do people know what your business does? Are you putting content out there that entertains people, but it’s good for brand recognition? Enough that they recognize your name?

An example: You could be an upholstery business. On social media you can be educational and entertaining. You could do videos on how upholstery is done, this is showing your skill and talent in upholstery. This is you sharing useful and entertaining content and maybe it’s spreading and more people know what you do now. If you’re just sharing nonsense and silly little things or if you’re trying to be funny and you really aren’t funny, what does that get you? So you might have learned something today on social media, you might have shared something useful on social media, did you get anything back from these things on social media? What did you get back today?

Today I got back

Are you getting leads back as a result of you sharing things and as a result of you being seen as an expert. Are people who contact you going “Hi expert person. I’d like to talk to you. Can we have a call?” Be careful obviously that you don’t want to have these tyre kickers that just want to drain you of information without paying for it. Know your value, look at Fuck you, pay me.

Realistically are you getting something back? Are you getting new contacts? Are you building a database such as a mailing list? Are people joining that mailing list? Are people directly buying your product as a result of your updates? Are people recommending you to other people? Are you being asked to speak at a conference or speak on a podcast or give your expert opinion on something?

The holy trinity

Those three things as a result of blog posts, or your mailing lists or social network usage on a regular basis, is probably what you need. If you get all three of those, that’s absolutely fantastic. If that’s not the case, then should you be on those social networks?

What the fuck happened to Damien Mulley?

TLDR;
I’m back
I was off doing a health course in UCC
I miss events (speaking at them) and in-person training
Comedy circuit here I come (you’ll see)
Sure I’ll speak on your podcast, at your event

A good couple of years ago I took an interest in death and dying. This was as a result of me researching how to break bad news for corporate clients (mostly about hacks/data breaches). Then I started looking at health communications and the way bad news is broken to people. Dozens of books later including Being Mortal and I thought I’d like to do something in the area of End of Life care and Ageing. I did a short course for carers on End of Life care and thought I’d like something more formal. All the detailed courses were postgrads though and you needed a medical or nursing degree to do them.

And lo my partner said on to me “then do a nursing degree”. And this is what I did. Applied to UCC, rented out my apartment to keep the mortgage paid, moved back with my very patient folks and put Mulley Comms on pause mode. This is all happening at the same time that I had been telling people that when I started Mulley Communications I was going to give it maybe 10 years and then switch to something else. Maybe it was giving it five years and switch to something else? People would be all You’re doing well. Why would you do that? And what would you go for? My whole attitude was, I don’t know what comes next but I’m sure I’ll find out in time.

For the past five years I was doing a general nursing degree in UCC and then took the non-clinical exit route, which is pretty unique, I think, to UCC and nursing. I now have a health qualification but won’t be practising as a nurse. My whole attitude while doing nursing was I wouldn’t lock myself into end of life care but see what interested me most. What I was interested in was ageing and looking after older people. Specifically then I’ve been looking at nutrition and dementia. This is where I’ve been for the past couple of years.

And what happens to a sole trader business when the owner goes back to college full time? I managed to keep it ticking over with the Social Media Awards so it’s still an entity that filed taxes and was registered for VAT but the orange standby light was on.

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been quiet in the past couple of years, that’s why. I’ve bumped into a few of you over the years in a hospital and it was weird seeing me in a nurses uniform I’m sure.

What next for Mulley Communications?

After five years away, a total rebuild. Arnold Schwarzenegger was away from competitive bodybuilding for five years and trained hard over 8 weeks and (spoiler alert) won the Mr. Olympia for the 7th time*. Total Rebuild is the documentary covering this amazing feat. It’ll take more than 8 weeks for Mulley Comms and me to get back up to speed. I’ll be back on the road doing events and training bits and all that. Oh and more automated tweets on Twitter about business and marketing and the like.

The Summer of Yes

I’ve written a few times about Jerry Seinfeld getting back into doing standup and how he did the circuit. Did 5 min routines in comedy club after comedy club all on the same night and tried out new materials, got his timing right until he was happy with it and then he did gigs in front of 10,000 people and made millions. Now if you’ve read down this far, I’m going to do a few free ** training events to get in the hang of doing courses for people. I’d rather in person but it does seem online courses are the future. I’m going to be doing some on Twitter, LinkedIn, SEO basics, if you want to be a live audience, sign up here. My previous blog post Fuck You, Pay Me tells you to know your worth and to expect others to do the same. Don’t do things for free etc. Unless you are starting off and want the benefit of someone else’s audience. This is going to be my Summer and maybe autumn of yes. Yes to speaking at your event, yes to guest posting, yes to coming on your podcast. Meet for coffee to pick my brains? Uhmm. No? Or maybe it’ll be like improv – Yes, and?

* It was totally rigged and he was nowhere near his old form and in 5 years people had gotten way better than old him.

** Not really free, you can donate something to a charity I nominate, this values my training above zero value that free suggests

Working with each other in your own company – What is it like?

Running a business together – Our Experiences

Thanks to everyone who answered my questions on this and your patience waiting for me to set it live.

Tell me about your business

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. Mostly Industrial and Pharmaceutical.

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
We’re a sweet Bakery and opened our retail shop in 2018. Known for Cupcakes, Tea Bracks, Soda Breads and our reworking of “retro” biscuits. In the shop we have an added focus on small Irish food producers with a selection of Cheese, Jams, Honey, Chocolate, Coffee and more from artisans.

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
We design, illustrate, paint and print eco friendly, meme inspired greetings cards for any occasion www.weirdwatercolours.com

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
Owner of a software development company

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Our business is Valentia Island Vermouth. We are the first Irish vermouth and we launched on the 14th of July 2021!

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
Faerly.ie is an online sustainable store and we sell products from small Irish makers and independent brands that are natural, handmade, ethical and sustainable. We’re had a rollercoaster year since we launched and were thrilled in our first year to win the Repak National Online Green Packaging Award and to be a finalist for the Retail Excellence Online Store of the Year award. You’ll find us at www.faerly.ie

Why did you decide to work together?

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
We had an immersive theatre events company together in the UK so by starting another business together I guess we are obvs gluttons for punishment 😉

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
We ended up isolating together in March 2020 after going on a date and reuniting after 6 years. We are both creatives and wanted to keep busy during the first lock down. We started doing live drawing over Instagram and getting viewers to join in and after a few evenings of this WeirdWatercolours was born and people started asking if they could purchase our work.

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
Our skills complement each other and we both had a vested interest in making it a success. We work really well as a team in our personal life so extended that to our business.c

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
Necessity. D had been laid off in June and returned to college, Graham was made redundant the same November, we had to do something. We had been thinking of our own business so had looked at premises etc but it was researching for the future. Literally the morning after Graham was told of his redundancy we got a phone call offering a kitchen space, a second offering an industrial oven and a third offering stainless steel work benches – we hadn’t told anyone, ANYONE, our news so it floored us. We jumped at all three offers and decided to give the business a shot. Coincidence, fate, someone looking down on us, whatever, the universe was making something possible we had to go with it.

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
I’d been working in a large multinational for 10 years. A secure job and a great company to work for but I was ready for a change. I’d an idea in my head for a business for a long time but never acted on it. The usual, never had the time…….

Well, working from home during the first lockdown and suddenly having no daily commute, as well as our social life vanishing, I suddenly had the time and space to really explore it and actually do it. I started thinking about it seriously in March of 2020 at the start of the first lockdown and by May I had decided to go for it and started setting up the business in earnest. I did a ‘Start Your Own Business Course’ online with my Local Enterprise Office.

Our whole ethos is sustainability and we wanted our business to be properly sustainable for us. So rather than going big and borrowing money, renting space etc. we decided instead to do everything ourselves and keep it small, setting it up from our home. I’m not sure if I would have definitely made the leap to do it if Eoin hadn’t literally pushed me.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
It was mostly circumstance, having moved from an urban to a rural environment and starting a family, it made sense to do what we could to cut out the hours long commute to the city. Dave had gone from being a sole trader to establishing a limited company with a business partner, and that relationship didn’t work out. I was a social worker in dublin and similar opportunities were not available to me locally so I stepped in as a director of Devhaus in 2013.

Do you do different tasks in the business?

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
Very much. I work full time in the business now and I look after all the business side of things, accounts, marketing, purchasing and most of the day to day work of shipping our orders.

Eoin is already a busy man, he works full time as a Guidance Teacher in a secondary school in Dublin. When he’s not doing that he helps me with whatever needs to be done, from packing orders to making deliveries. He’s also paying all the bills now that his is the only income coming into the house. We took a major hit to our income in the short term with me giving up my job.

He’s also my main person to talk to about the business and bounce ideas off. Eoin prefers to be more behind the scenes when it comes to the business but he’s the driving force in terms of support and giving me the energy to it.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
Yes, Dave is the technical whiz, acting as CTO and I manage the clients, projects, staff and finances.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Anna is the maker, producer and decision maker
Orla looks after the getting it out there and does a great job of drinking it

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
Yes

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
Yes, Graham is baker, product development, creative. Daithi is logistics, payroll, accounts, nuts and bolts.

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
Yes we both have several titles within the business. From bookkeeping to handmaking our own envelopes and everything in between.

How do you disconnect at home?

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
Work inevitably spills over into our home life. As business owners, we have to handle various things outside of business hours. But when we’re done one will say ‘we’re not talking about work any more’ and we do something else. We’re lucky to be occupied by the antics of our four kids, I do a lot of campaigning and community work and Dave is a GAA coach, so it’s actually quite easy to switch into the reality of our home life. Dave also builds Lego technics, so he’ll disappear down that black hole for a couple of hours at a time!

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
We only talk business for a short time early in the evening and get on with our lives after that.

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
Can’t always, honestly. We get phone calls at 11 at night, 9 on Sunday morning, Christmas Day looking to place orders. The business is our livelihood so it is a constant presence. Somehow though, talking something through on a long walk or even in the middle of dinner, in a more relaxed “non work frame of mind” works. It just needs to be done.

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
We don’t get too much down time at the moment and we’re ok with that as it’s the early days of a new business so it’s par for the course. We try to keep work out of the house as much as we can. We live in walking distance of town so we like a stroll to the pub for a pint, especially on a summer’s evening. Eoin’s involved in a lot of community work here in Kilcullen where we live and is usually at some meeting or other or working on projects in the evenings. That gives us a bit of space from each other too which is healthy!

When we’re struggling to disconnect we head to a mountain. You’ll often find us somewhere like Glendalough or Lugnaquilla early on Sunday morning so we can hike on our own before anyone else gets there and that gives us life.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Don’t talk about work! When you want to talk about work explicitly say: “can I talk about work for a sec” or if you don’t want to, say “can we talk about this another time” Leave the home environment, the being out for dinner environment or the weekend environment free to talk about unicorns or the existence of dragons. You know, the normal stuff. Defo talk about hopes and dreams for the future in your down time.

With the lockdown home is now work and work is now home. How was that for you both?

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
Since Covid, our business has shrunk and we have had to give up the office space we had been renting so our living/dining room is now the office. It’s more about making the most of time off to switch off and it can take an effort – we manage.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
We’ve always been set up to work remotely, so it wasn’t hugely new to us. We’ve had many remote staff working across the globe over the years from Berlin to Phnom penh. Having said that, I did find it extremely difficult when the kids were off school, with four different primary school lessons to get through daily and a business to run, balancing anything was completely impossible. But we’re still standing and moving forward, and that’s all that matters in the end.

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
Eoin’s lockdown project was to build a big pond in our garden and it’s right across from my office window. Now that I work from the garden, I swapped a long daily commute to a pretty soulless business park, for a stroll down to my office where I can look out at the pond all day and watch the world and wildlife go by. It’s really hard to beat.

Going from a large corporate environment to running our own micro enterprise has also been refreshing in many ways. You do miss out on the social aspect of course but that’s not all bad to be honest. You get to miss the office politics too. I quite like the solitude sometimes and I enjoy working quietly without distractions. I was actually worried originally that I’d be lonely but I’m not at all so far. There’s too much to be done.

We built an office/workshop in our garden and the business stays down there so there’s no laptops in the house or working at the kitchen table. That helps keep work life and home life separate, even though it’s all on the same property.

It took me a while to adjust when eoin went back to work in September. We were together 24/7 in the summer and now Eoin is gone from 8-5. But it’s probably healthy for us too.

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
We are lucky that pharmaceutical companies stayed going throughout so we didn’t get under each others feet only for a few weeks. We did house projects together on our down time. We rarely stop doing stuff.

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
At our busiest time we both found it quite stressful as space was limited. We set up the studio with all our equipment in our spare room and managed to fit two workspaces in with the bed turned on its end against the wall. During winter and in the midst of lockdown we both also found it challenging to stay motivated and not get distracted by needing to do household things as our professional work space was our home space.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
We ensured to create one neutral space that neither of us were working in (which was the kitchen). So it remained a work free zone

Have you wanted to murder each other?

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
Yes on many occasions, that is all.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
Yes. I won’t repeat the episodes of violence that ran through my head at my lowest times. :-/

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
Yes but mostly not over business.

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
Not quite…. There are stresses which working together probably brings to our relationship which otherwise we might not have BUT there’s also a very strong sense of purpose and working together which possibly also wouldn’t be there so it’s a glue that binds probably more than an abrasive.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Ara of course we have. The point to hold on to is that we haven’t

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
Ha! I don’t think so. We don’t tend to get on each other’s nerves too much and we both enjoy a bit of craziness it our lives, we’re easily bored. I can get a bit stressed sometimes but Eoin never does and is very good at giving me space if I’m being irrible and unreasonable. It never lasts long and we’re back to having a laugh. We wouldn’t work together if we didn’t enjoy spending a lot of time together.

How do you manage to prevent business disagreement spilling into the relationship?

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
We’re lucky that we can disagree without falling out. Listening to the other perspective though helps us come to a consensus usually.

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
I guess that we know each other so well and work together so well that there haven’t really been any major disagreements which have threatened us personally. We are pretty much a unit and we just get on with it.

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
As I am an Aires and Audrey is very much a Leo things get fiery. We have recently learned, as adults, to listen better and in some areas compromise. WeirdWatercolurs takes its influence from the Irish and the everyday so the lines between our professional mode and our relationship mode are quite blurred in the best way.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
We have just learned to draw a line under it. It does affect our relationship but we’re both committed and determined (stubborn) and luckily we don’t give up on anything easily. We are ultimately greatly for the opportunities running our own business has given us, so it’s worth holding on through the hard times.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Try and chill the feck out about whatever it is that the disagreement is about. We made loads of mistakes and had a lot of disagreements in our previous business. So learning from all of those and trying to not make the same mistakes in this business!

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
We have very different roles in the business and that helps. We don’t really argue much to be honest. I tend to make the final call on decisions relating to the business and so far we haven’t had any major fall outs on it. But it’s early days!

What are the pluses for working together? What are the minuses?

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
A plus is we understand time commitments and don’t feel upset when a personal event may need to be cancelled for work.
A minus is that if there is a cashflow problem we are both affected and it can get stressful to not have money coming in from a different source.

Joanne and Dave – Devhaus
Pluses are that we have complimentary skills and we learn from each other and push each other to do better. We enjoy each other’s company so don’t mind being together for long periods. We get to be with our kids growing up, get them from school, take them to activities. When they’re sick, we can stay home and mind them or take them to appointments. The minuses are that it’s ‘just us’, there is nobody else for support or help, we each rely heavily on the other. That can be a big burden at times. It’s not easy, you’re really working 24/7, at least in your head. It’s near to impossible to take time off, because there is nobody to hold the business together when we’re both gone. That’s something we’re working on, to take two weeks off next year.

Graham and Daithí – The Cupcake Bloke
On the plus side is that common purpose, common drive and genuine support of each other which strengthens us.

The minus is the business is always there, we just have to work at separating work and private life.

Audrey & Abi – WeirdWatercolours
Pluses: Same drive, same sense of humour, the mutual love of a creative challenge. Minuses: Not equally as organisationally equipped, a one sided irrational fear of admin.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Pluses = work becomes life. Find something you love doing, with someone you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Minuses = work can become life. You have to become hyper aware of your behaviour to not be a dick.

James and Eoin – Faerly.ie
Pluses are – getting to spend more time together, being closer to each other’s day to day – things like work stress are not abstract and we get to experience the highs and lows together so it’s a real shared experience. You get to be your true self at work because you don’t have anything to prove. If I feel worried or scared or whatever we can just talk about that. I don’t have to put on a work mask. We’re building this together and that feels really good. Maybe its because we don’t have any kids but it feels like we’re building something for us. Plus I don’t have to pay him any wages 🙂

Minuses – you have to work at having down time or life becomes just work, work, work. We’re not always great at that to be honest but we’re working on it. When you’re rarely away from each other you don’t get the joy of seeing each other again after a few days away.

Anything else you want to add that I forgot to ask?

Margaret and Alec – Climatech
It’s good to have someone you totally trust 100% to have your back to make decisions and bounce ideas off.

Anna and Orla – Valentia Island Vermouth
Both of us are just trying to do a thing that we have no idea how to do. Take the urgency out of stuff, so what if you don’t agree on stuff, and have a good feckin time doing the stuff