Keeping up with the phoneses

It used to be about the Joneses next door: the car, the lawn, the picket fence… But now social pressures are felt through our screens. And it’s not just having the latest phone or fashion, it’s about who’s living their best life, who’s telling the best stories.

All those Citizen Janes and Jamals out there posting, liking and story-ing up a storm. Connecting to their online communities, creating content, sharing news, forming opinions…

And then there’s the shopping. Which, for anyone in business, means not just your personal socials to stay across, there’s the whole colourful, moving and changeable world of social media marketing.

Upset puzzled woman uses mobile phone for online communication, types text messages on cellular, dressed in red sweater and trousers, isolated over purple background. Hmm, what strange notification

A social media marketing strategy is a great place to start, as it defines what you want to say, where, when and to whom. There’s not much point trying to engage teens via Facebook (their numbers are dropping dramatically in this space), and Instagram content or TikTok will be all wrong for your over 65s (though older demographics are increasingly saying yes to Facebook).

Social content by definition should resonate the right voice. Whether marketing for sales or gaining support for a cause, it’s important to stay consistent to your brand’s values and personality. But you should nuance your tone to suit the platform: we’re talking professional for LinkedIn, lighter on the more social platforms.

It won’t have escaped most people’s attention that content is on the move. Even the basic social toolkit and content calendar should now include videos and regular stories. On both Instagram and Facebook, stories are right up the top of the screen, and increasingly competing with the regular feeds for user time, attention and engagement.

And for some years now, social media marketing has also been on the move towards mobile – with the “mobile-responsive” user experience now stepping aside for “mobile only” in many areas. Which brings us back to those phoneses.

According to Think with Google, 90% of millennials have at least one mobile phone and 75% of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive.

So the ever-changing world of social media and marketing brings with it the challenge to constantly adapt and keep up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you’d be forgiven for wanting to pass it all on to the nearest teenager. But we think it connects rather nicely to the concept of lifelong learning

All that glitters isn’t gold…

There’s silver as well!

Silver linings, silver spoons, silver fox, silver tail. To silver is even an Olympic verb, as they say, “I silvered in Rio” (Ok, this means to come second – but at the highest place you possibly could!)

And then there’s silver the shiny stuff. They say the ancient Egyptians valued it above gold. It’s also the most conductive metal we know, and it’s been used for cloud seeding to make rain… which brings us back to those silver linings.

So here’s to silver and its many uses – not least of all as a very fine way to make sparkle. You can even learn how to “bling” your own!

Our silver jewellery studio in Rozelle has seen many a sparkly project – from beginners just starting on the jewellery making basics, to the weekly studio group that gathers to work on more advanced techniques. The classes have seen adults of all ages and backgrounds, attracted to a creative pursuit away from the screens to work with their hands in fine detail, soldering and forming with metals.

We’ve seen couples and besties attend together to collaborate on the most special of rings. And new friendships form as students gather to learn new skills, creative expression and problem solving.

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 2.42.51 pm

Anne, James and Margaret – regulars at our weekly studio session – say they enjoy the opportunity to work together with a teacher to develop their skills and use the tools. “It’s a chance to commit the time”, says Margaret, “it’s a lovely space” (that’s James), while Anne who lives in an apartment, appreciates the “opportunity to use the workshop without investing in all the equipment”.

Click here for a peek at the workshop…

A different kind of date night …

Meet the Ottoman Engineers

We recently had the pleasure of teaching two engineers how to stuff an Ottoman!

Sydney couple Ellen and Will were looking for a new kind of date night when they signed up to learn Woodworking & Upholstery. The course was a Christmas gift from Ellen, inspired by Will’s reputation for being “not so good with the tools”. And like much of what they learn together, it became a little competitive – as Will’s “measure twice” approach was pitted against Ellen’s “keepin’ it creative”.

Ellen and Will
Image: @renewedbyannette

“He’s all about correct measurements and colour coordination”, says Ellen, “while I take a more creative approach.” After the first class, teacher Annette quipped on Instagram “What do you get when an engineer couple attend a night class? Precision measuring and a spot of friendly competition. It’s going to be fun watching these ottomans come together… By the end of the course she was impressed to say “they even put down their rulers and ‘freestyled’ the placement of their decorative upholstery tacks as a finishing touch”.

Environmental engineer Ellen said she and her chemical engineer husband really enjoyed the experience and looked forward to every Monday night class. “It’s a different approach to date night” says Ellen. “I loved every aspect, with (the Bower’s) ethos on repair.”

Ellen and Will 2
Ta-dah! Image: @renewedbyannette

This couple are not alone in seeking out things they can learn together. Many Sydney Community College enrolments come in twos, as couples, friends and family members look for creative ways to spend time together. It’s a night out, but not focussed around eating and drinking, and when you’re focussed on a project together, the conversation can flow more easily.

But it’s not always BYO friend, as many also attend solo but make new acquaintances along the way – and you know you’re going to have at least one thing in common with someone you meet at a class.

And as for our couple Ellen and Will, perhaps they’ll turn up next at “Interior Decoration Made Simple” to learn how to make those Ottomans not compete with each other back at home.

Manage Time Like a Pro

Do you dream of being an organised person?
The definition of Time Management according to the Collins Dictionary is the process of deciding on the order in which you will do tasks, and making sure that they are done on schedule. So what is good time management? Using an effective time management strategy to get the very most out of your day.

Does this sound like you?
• You never seem to be able to check off all the items on your to-do list.
• It seems like there’s an endless number of tasks and never enough time.
• You dream of a work-life balance.
• You are stressed at work.
• You may miss deadlines.

If you answered yes to any of these, perhaps some effective Time Management Techniques could be the answer you have been looking for. These can include setting goals.

Goal setting is key to any good time management strategy. Their job is to Goals keep you on task and on track. You need to define goals that are clear and attainable. Once you’ve set your goals and determined the individual tasks you need to complete to achieve them, it’s time to prioritise.

The idea is that you work through a to-do list based on importance and urgency. As you complete each one, cross it off your to-do list. This is going to provide you with a sense of achievement and can motivate you to keep pushing through the rest of your list. Basically getting stuff done. Revisit you list often and add new items as soon as they appear to keep on top of your day.

The better you are at maintaining focus and managing your time, the more you will achieve, and the easier it will be for you to leave the office on time. Not only does effective time management allow you to get better results at work, it also helps you deal with stress and achieve that desired work-life balance. You’ll be surprised at how much more efficient you can be.

It may just be that you need to learn to just say no. Be your own work boss. If you have to decline a call for help from a colleague in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent, perhaps you need to say no, or if more palatable, “sure I’ll help when my work is done”.

First and foremost though, make a plan ahead. One of the worst things common mistake you can do is jump into your workday with no clear idea about what needs to be done. While it might seem like wasting more time to think ahead rather than getting straight down to business, if you plan your time wisely, it helps you work smarter, not harder.

Anyone can efficiently manage their time as long as they get organised first.
Many surveys confirm that employees believe up to 30% of their day is wasted. Time is our most precious resource. Create your own time management strategy that works for you at our Effective Time Management course. Ideal for Employees with time pressures at all levels and for all business types and sizes.

You can be a time management pro, sign up for the next Sydney Community College Effective Time Management class here.

What is Adult Learning and why is it important?

We all know that learning does not stop after the age of eighteen but continues throughout life. Learning is an essential tool that helps individuals and society grow and respond to change. This is especially important in a world where dramatic workplace and lifestyle changes have become a feature of all our lives.

‘Adult learning’, ‘post-compulsory learning’ and ‘lifelong learning’ are all terms that describe the learning we undertake throughout life. The professions sometimes term it “Continuing Professional Development – CPD”. Lifelong learning contributes to every aspect of life in Australia – the economy, environment, community work, family life and recreation.

In Australia there are thousands of opportunities to become involved with learning and each year millions of Australians participate in a learning activity.

Learning does not have to involve classrooms, enrolment, assignments or qualifications and all learning contributes to the making of us as productive and constructive individuals. Further, participating in learning does not have to mean that you need to be a student. You can become involved as a mentor, tutor, guide or volunteer, or simply participate as an equal member of a group. People who participate in lifelong learning develop skills and confidence that enable them to embrace change and seize new opportunities. People engaged in learning quickly become confident, innovative and enterprising people, better able to cope with all aspects of life. Learning is larger than qualifications.

Lifelong learning is a powerful tool for building prosperous and thriving communities in which people pool their resources, skills and knowledge, to advance the community as a whole. Therefore and importantly, on-going learning contributes to the concept of a civil society where tolerance and acceptance of diversity is developed and celebrated.

In an average year at Sydney Community College 11,000 plus students enrol in a vast array of subjects in categories such as Arts, Business, Languages, Lifestyle and Sport. There are learning options and outcomes to suit everyone. It is never too late or too soon to participate in some form of learning.

So, join a book club, become a volunteer, share your skills and mentor someone, learn a language or learn to cook. The choice is only limited by you.

Education, Investment or Cost?

Some of us are fortunate enough to ask this question. For the vast majority of the world’s population, education is neither a question of investment or cost. It is simply an unattainable luxury.

During a recent throw out I came upon the crumpled front page of the Sydney Morning Herald from 2004. There was a picture and story of young graduate doctors heading off for placements in rural NSW. Of the group pictured, most seemed to be from non-English speaking backgrounds and the article mused on this fact at length.

Of those pictured, the scant facts of a young man of Vietnamese background caught my attention. Along with his family and as a tiny child, he had fled Vietnam by boat on a journey that many before and after him had not survived. He landed in this country his family not speaking English, a refugee. Within 12 years he was heading off to a Rural Hospital for the final part of his medical training. As the article pointed out, he would soon be a valuable resource to rural Australia.

Two things strike me as interesting here. The first is the obvious fact that this country has been built on migration, forced and by choice. The second is that our investment in those so landed and in education generally, pays dividends. We are richer both culturally and economically as a result. Migrants especially see education as the key to generational change.

The story of the young Vietnamese man is not unusual. I have over the years been privileged to present awards, certificates and other prizes. I have also met first and second-generation refugees who through outstanding commitment, have invested heavily in their own education. Their stories vary but are similar and usually feature a background of oppression, violence, hardship and escape. For them, the once unattainable luxury of education became a realisable goal in Australia.

In this country since, education should never been viewed as a luxurious addition. It is a Public Good. The strength of our education system will inevitably determine the future of our society.

Garry John Traynor OAM

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author