[In english] How to choose an advanced master in digital? (when you’re 36 and French)

My article on « Digital me up » blog

pursue

You want to pursue your studies with a great diploma, and learn more about the digital world? That was my position 1 year ago, when I had the idea to begin an advanced master in digital business. Let me tell you about this personal experience: how I chose the advanced master I’m currently in, why, and the most important, how it is.

Hi, I’m Max, 36, from France. I’ve been working in the digital world for over 15 years now, in the marketing field. I truly know that this digital marketing area is my passion and career. But on the digital side, I’m a self-taught, I never got any diploma about it (yeah, it didn’t exist at that time).
So I decided last year to continue my studies, in order to 1. Improve my knowledge by learning new methods, and 2. Finally get a diploma in the digital field.

How to continue my studies in digital?

I started to look over the web, for the perfect grail:

  • Best content : A program with really great content, and which is 100% digital-oriented
  • Flexible schedule: As I’m an executive (I’m working in a great company in Bordeaux), the schedule was important for me, I couldn’t be full time, I had to continue to work at the same time.
  • Right level: As I had a Master degree level in Marketing, I was looking for a program to improve my knowledge, so certainly a Master of Science or around this level.

I ranked every Master I found online, I used comparator websites like meilleurs-masters.com (in French), and finally I turned myself to the Advanced Master’s in Digital Business Strategy from GEM Business school (Grenoble Graduate school of Business).

Why did I choose the digital business strategy master from GEM?

I will tell you objectively why I thought -and still think- this program is the best program in my case:

  • The program director, and the teachers are professionals, who are currently working in digital fields. It definitely makes a difference: you learn practical skills you can use in your work from day 1. And you get lot of feedbacks from different industries (this year: from luxury market to Google’s insider).
  • The whole program is in English. Honestly, that was not what I was looking for at first. But Internet is worldwide right? What’s the best language to learn about the digital world? Definitely not French. And 50% of all our business jargon is already in English. So that’s a good knowledge to improve.
  • All courses take place in Paris. That’s not the worst city.
  • The program duration is 15 months, with 3 days per month classes. So you can continue your job at the same time, or find an internship. It’s not a full-time job, even if you got a lot of work to handle.
  • The main advantage of this program will never be featured on school’s brochure, but here it is: Huge emulation. By working on digital all day, and talking about experiences with every student and speakers, motivation is increasing, and it brings you new ideas, and projects. Your mind will quickly become 100% digital-oriented.

I’ll be part of this program for a few more months, and my to-do list is already full of projects. When it will ends, I’m sure that it will only means this is the beginning of a whole set of new digital ideas to test and develop.

[In english] Why you should use Zapier!

When we talk about digital, there is an endless list of softwares to use, for each of our tasks: updating our website, amplifying our social networks, meeting online, SEO, our own productivity, etc. So we hear a lot about automation, and plugging software. We already know for example that on Linkedin, each time we post something, we can automatically tweet it also. That’s great, right? That’s 20 sec. saved. What if we could do that with any software we use?
That‘s the goal of websites like Zapier: to connect software we use on a daily basis, and to automate these tasks. I heard about it on a recent course about Technologies, by Julien Grossiord.
Of course, different websites can do that, and I could have done a full comparison between each of them, but I personally use Zapier since then, and I will explain to you why.

  1. The goal of automation is to use it, not to talk about it.

I’ll tell you about one software only because the main goal is to get started, fast. If we want to save time and automate tasks, the good way seems to begin using it. After some tests, if it does not fit, you can still look for another software, you will already know a bit about the subject.

  1. An API, without coding?

Zapier uses the principle of API (Application Programming Interface), but without the need to code. It’s a user-oriented website, where you only choose, drag, drop. That’s cool.

  1. The first automations are free.

A good way to get started.

  1. A huge range of softwares and apps are available

Zapier can do automation on 500+ apps and softwares, among the most famous: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Salesforce, etc.

zapier-apps

So what can I do with Zapier? (examples)

You first have to choose a category of apps to automate: social, project management, e-commerce, invoicing, file management, personal, etc.
As there is a huge list of softwares available, we can easily be lost, and not knowing where to begin. So I will give you examples, in some different categories.

About Personal

  • Beginner example: Each time I receive an email with the word “invoice” in the subject line, I save the invoice attached automatically on my Dropbox account, for archive purpose.
  • Advanced example: you can create a task list (on Notes, Evernote, Trello, etc.) from Gmail labels. Ex: each time I receive email from La Poste, it adds a task on my “Saturday morning things to do” list on Trello.

About CMS

  • Beginner example : you can automatically post new WordPress posts on Facebook
  • Advanced: you can make WordPress post from a Google document or a Evernote note.

About E-commerce

  • Beginner example: each time I have a new customer on my website, his email is added to my Sugar-CRM (or Mailchimp mailing list)
  • Advanced example: you can create a public helpdesk (like Zen desk) from a simple Google form entry

How can I find tasks I can automate in my life?

The secret recipe seems to say this sentence:

“Each time I do this, I want it to do that”.

Each time you can say this sentence about one of your tasks, it means that you want to automate something. And you will save time by doing it.

“each time”: that means you need to automate

“I do this”: this defines the 1st app to connect

“To do that”: this defines the 2nd app

Look for the tasks you do without thinking, only because “you have to do it”. You will find a good way to start.

[In english] 3 tips to create successful virtual teams

My article on Digital-me-up.com

nemawashi

Do you know what « Nemawashi » means? It’s a Japanese word which defines a first meeting organized to gather support and feedback from the audience before an official meeting.
What’s the use? In Japan, people are looking for the consent of all sides (not the majority!). Moreover, executives don’t like to hear new proposals during a meeting, they feel like they have been ignored or rejected. It’s a key fact when working with Japanese teams, and not knowing this can easily lead to failure.

I learnt this small example during a course from Véronique Rostas few months ago, about building virtual intercultural teams. This course really made me understand that yes, cultural differences are fierce. And in the digital age, we all will have to work with people from different countries, people we certainly never met face to face for most of them.

Different perspectives, beliefs, values, cultures… So how can we be sure to really understand each other? How can we make our team effective?
Here are the key facts I keep in mind from this course:

  • 1/ Find a common purpose for your team
common purpose

You have a team and you’re already beginning to work? Good, but does everybody know what’s the purpose of the mission? In order to overcome the challenges of the project, you have to develop a shared strategy of how the team will work together. Create a common and unique framework, based on 3 pillars:

  • A crystal clear chart, with team’s objectives, tasks and responsibilities.
  • Define composition for each member: which role? Who has leadership? Who is the sponsor of the mission?
  • Build great processes too: How decisions are made? How do we ensure good communication to cultivate trust? Do we reward team performance?

You will perhaps loose some hours at first, but especially with virtual teams, you have to start slowly to end faster.

  • 2/ Monochronic or polychronic cultures?
polychronic

Your virtual team is certainly composed of people from different cultures. Knowing if people are more monochronic or polychronic will help you a lot.

Monochronic are…cultures where you have to meet deadlines, where agendas are respected, and globally, only 1 person speaks at a time.

Polychronic are…cultures where deadlines are more considered as guidelines to follow, where you can add new topics to the agendas, and globally where several people can speak at the same time, without bothering the audience.

Of course, we as French are more of a polychronic culture. And UK (to name only one) are more monochronic.

Another easy tool to really understand cultural differences between people is « Trompenaar’s 7 dimensions », named after the management consultant Fons Trompenaars. It is a really amazing framework, helping us to rank cultures and background in 7 simple dimensions.

This model will allow us to distinguish for example the « I am the captain of my destiny » type of guy, from the « what will be will be » other type of guy. You certainly have examples like this around you. Feel free to learn more about Trompenaar’s 7 dimensions.

  • 3/ Using the right tools
the right tools


We have a lot of digital tools to communicate with people: email, chat, phone, conference calls, skype, IM, Yammer, etc. But on the other hand, we often use the same few tools on a daily basis. It’s working? So let’s use it again and again!
An important fact about digital teams seems to be adapting the tools you use, to the level of decision you are trying to reach. For example, high level decisions will need rich media tools, like Skype. But on routine tasks, emails will surely be enough. Use different tools, it’s not a problem. The more you will encourage cooperation, the less you will create conflicts.

Even if you are not working in a big international firm, intercultural teams are everywhere. In the real world of course, and in the digital world on a daily basis. So let’s build this little framework each time to merge the best of individual’s ideas…and diverse perspectives.