All posts by Titi Ngau-Thu Nguyen

I am fascinated by new ideas every day. Know more about me at https://fi.linkedin.com/in/ngauthu

Inspiring data storytelling collection -1-

DATA STORYTELLING COLLECTION

  1. The chart from Pew Research Center (Link)

image

-We can get the key idea that Democrats and Republican’s viewpoints are more divided over the 30-year time span through the distribution graphs quickly.

-The data-ink principle is followed closely. There are not irrelevant data illustrations in the visualization such as the vertical axis, and confusing numbers.

-Putting the two political population distribution on the same scale for political tendency is very creative and effective. The median white vertical lines indicate the fact that these are the population distribution.

-The colors of Republican and Democrat are used widely to show the distinction between the two party. The purple color is the result of blending these two colors, showing the parts of Republican and Democrat population having viewpoints towards more of the other side.

-The graph also enables us to make comparisons horizontally without effort.

 

The best marketing trend I have seen so far in 2016

Every new year seems to come up with a term or two describing a new concept that promises to change the landscape of marketing and business forever. However, there are always some concepts that remain with time and prove their importance, while others disappear as quickly as how they appear and are often referred to as “buzz words”.

So, the question now as we are already starting 2016 is what marketing trends have done well so far?

Because if they are truly effective marketing ideas and tactics, we are better off paying close attention to them in order to get ahead in the game.

As one makes a quick search on the internet, it is quite easy to find many articles and answers regarding the marketing trend of the year. For example, onBOOSTtheNEWS, there are different predictions regarding the future of 2016, for example, “the year of bigger, braver, bolder content”,  ” the year of live streaming”, “the year of online shows”, “the year of improving online ads”. For me, among all the predictions, what I have seen so far is the rise of real-time content marketing: the marketing trend of 2016.

Why do I have this kind of feelings? 

Since the emergence of Facebook and Twitter, we have seen the true potential of consumer-generated stories. Facebook is like a big platform for people to update and share their stories. People are attracted to the feeling of connecting with friends wherever they are.

I can see what my friends did today, where they went, what made them happy.

Twitter, on the other hand, have done a great job of keeping on-going conversations around hot topics and issues.

People feel more like connected in real time with friends through their conversations.

However, nowadays, it seems that people just don’t feel enough with knowing what people did or what people are saying.

The concept of watching exactly what people are doing and what people are experiencing in real time is so attractive that Periscope, Blab and other similar apps have been earning insanse word-of-mouth these days.

Through some of my initial experience with these apps, I feel that Periscope has done a great job of connecting experience regardless of geography.

Periscope-for-Android-aa-710x426

Everybody can be a news reporter or a travel blogger easily with Periscope’s user-friendly interface. And this is not only attractive to users because they can watch real-time experience. This is also undoubtedly attractive to business to reveal behind-the-scene, office view or a typical customer experience with the brand. Even though this app still has a limited presence in Asia and Europe, I can see the future here. Just take an example in tourism, this app can totally change how people capture travelling experience, which is totally inexpensive for tourist agencies to offer real-time interesting what-to-do in their destinations.

blab

Blab would be kind of different in terms of the discussion format it adopts. Everybody here can become a reality show host with catchy topics. It is a really great way to build our online presence and reputation by interacting with visitors who are interested in us and our topics in a truly authentic real-time discussion. After the event is completed, we can even upload the whole discussion on Youtube as a podcast, which is such a creative way for marketers to publish contents. I have read some reviews from active users here, and many of them agreed that Blab helped them widen their social and professional network amazingly. This is definitely worth trying for people who want to discover interesting topics and people around the world in no “dead-time” or pre-recorded formats.

Indeed, the rest of 2016 is still there to explore soon if real-time content marketing can rock the world. For now, the idea of connecting with people in real time through authentic live streaming videos seems appealing to me.

What’s about your predictions for 2016?

Do you agree with my ideas? Or would you add any? I would love to hear more from you and join the discussion that will shape the marketing landscape this year!

Digital detox: These 3 rules make me feel better in front of the computer

3 rules for digital detox

If you are like me who get scared by all the bad findings of the harmful effects of technology, and yet still can’t stay away from your laptop the whole day to give yourself a break, you seriously need a digital detox. But how?
For sure, we can’t absolutely become immune to harmful effects from technologies (unless we give up technology completely!). But we can reduce these impacts to the least by following these 3 rules below, which I have experienced myself and have received a wonderful improvement in terms of mental and physical wellness.

#1: create a distance from the electronic devices.

Science has found that electronics produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which can harm our health tremendously. However, this detrimental exposure tends to reduce as the distance from the emitting source increases.

Therefore, in daytime, for mobile phone, it is always a better idea to text than to call, to use speakerphone and headphone than to speak directly through the phone. and to keep our mobile phones in the bag than to keep them in the pocket. Most importantly, a long phone call is extremely harmful, hence, keep it short. In case using a laptop, it is worth noticing that EMF is higher when the laptop is plugged in, so it would be a good idea to take a break from the computer when it is being charged. And putting the laptop on our lap is undoubtedly never a good idea, especially when it is being charged.

In night time, I always try to stop my computer work one hour before sleep. In this way, I can help prevent the blue lights of electronics from disrupting my biological clock and hindering my sleep. The sleep is one of the most important natural detox processes every day. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we can get good enough sleep for the day.
Before going to sleep, don’t forget to turn off all the Wifi router and devices at night. If this seems too difficult, at least, we need to keep the Wifi router as far from us as possible. Also, turn the wifi devices to airplane mode, so that we can minimize their impacts on our health.

#2: take a break every hour between our screen times.

In my experience, increased screen time caused depression, bad sleep, bad mood and weak metabolism. Hence, I decided to schedule different alarms in my mobile phones for a break. Most of the time, we tend to forget how long we have been working, and this is absolutely not good for our mental and physical health.

During this time, we can do some stretching, meditation, yoga or qigong. Indeed, according to some qigong documents, thirty minutes of meditation is worth 2 hours of sleeping to our body. I started this routine a few months ago, and I have not felt that sleepy all day long. For people who need to work in the office, it is always useful to have some breathing practices that can bring our bodies back to balance.

Or you can take this break to splash some water on face and put on some sunscreen cream to prevent your face from being irritated by the computer radiation. In the past, my face was always unreasonably hot after using the computer for a while. Now, after this water splashing break and a little sunscreen cream on my face, I always feel so refreshed and energetic to continue working.

#3: add small daily habits to our schedule for a better immune sýtem.

Drink a cup of tea in the daytime. Tea was discovered to contain chemical compounds including polyphenol that help absorb radiance. Besides, the antioxidants and vitamin C in tea do not only help eliminate free radicals but also help fight depression and stress. That’s one of the many reasons why tea is the number one health tip in general. Also, according to the Eastern medicine, green mung beans can help people detox effectively. Hence, it’s never a bad idea to add this item regularly to your meal. Finally, put a cup of water or a small flowerpot on your desk. In this way, it can help absorb partly the computer radiation.

At the time writing the last part of this post, I am just back from a short cycling break. This is one of my favorite routines to protect myself from hours working on the computer. For me, as a business student and a millennial, it’s hard to imagine a day without my computer and the internet.

Maybe it’s a terrible thing. Maybe it’s a signal that I need a digital detox. And maybe you need it too.

Keeping ourselves safe and sound from all the technologies is not easy. I know because I have experienced it myself and have talked to other friends who have too. That’s why I want to write this post to share with you what I have been doing to maintain a healthy life with technology.

How’s about you?

Do you have your own special tips in working with technologies and protecting yourself at the same time? Let me know more about it in the comments.

3 things I found out about clothing subscription. The last one is the one I am obsessed with.

I just recently applied for an internship position at some startups, and realized that I wanted to know more about the business that I was applying for.  So, as a result, I made a 3-hour search and found out the first thing: most of them are in the subscription business.

This is actually a very promising market. Indeed, the number of  startups out there offering similar services tells everything.

But this is no ordinary market – this is market of personalized service. And this is no ordinary market of clothing – we need to deliver what a customer love to wear regularly and make her satisfied everytime she receives a new box of clothing. This might seem not that difficult if we look back on the progress of technology and computer intelligence.

However, right when I made a quick search on the internet, I knew that something was not exactly right. Among the positive feedback and reviews, we can easily find negative reviews that are very intimidating, which could prevent one from the idea of starting the subscription. Comments following these negative feedbacks can be like:

“You saved me from literally entering in my credit card details!”

BOOMS! We lose the customer right there.

The siutation can get even worse if this negative review ranks first in Google search. We can see that this does no good to the subscription business, which is based mainly on trust and loyalty.

But now I am not reading the review of the clothing subscription service anymore.

I am reading a brighter side of review – from a marketer – to see how the customer (even though as cynical as he can be with emails) is so happy with the email he received from Everlane- the online clothing retailer. Surprisingly, it is not the quality, the design or the delivery time that the author is talking about. It is the email. Yes, you are not getting wrong. People are writing blog posts just about an email that they received from the online clothing retailer.

I am not going deep into this but there is one thing that is very clear here. People want personal touch as much as possible. We do not have salesman or saleswoman to make our customers feel happy but we actually have more contact with our customers than we think. When the relationship becomes more personal, people become more tolerant. In the case of personalised clothing shopping, are we seeing the same thing? I read one comment on a blog review expressing how they feel that the customer service is unhuman with the email address: hi@abc. It is such a small detail, you are right. But we know that people do care about such small details.

But how much should we personalize our communication? from our email? from our social media post?

Or should we get in touch more with the reasons people like or dislike their subscribed box?

Or should we be present on most media platforms and reply every feedback or review instantly to show that we really care?

Whatever popping up in mind right now is all correct. Though ridiculous as it may seem, first and foremost, the more intelligent technology become in understanding people, the more human touch should be provided to understand people.  When I consider you as a friend who tries to help me, I am more tolerant towards your mistakes and help you improve. When I know that you simply want to earn money from me, a small mistake can be the reason for me to leave you.

We don’t have other kinds of relationship here.

Next, information is the key. Everybody wants the best things or, if not possible, the best choice. However, there are negative feedbacks about the bad quality and design of the subscribed clothes all over the place. Why would a sensible person choose to subscribe the same service after reading such bad comments? unless she wanted to write another soon-to-be-popular “honest” review.

However, there is one twist around this: by providing and receiving more information about the clothes you are offering.

Firstly, provide more product details and better presentation.  I myself never feel enough with a few images and some short descriptions. I always want more photos from different angles. I always want to see more product information: where is this clothes manufactured? where should i wear it? what is the cost of producing one piece of clothing, etc. I want to reassure myself, and I bet that many people would want the same thing. What we want to reassure ourselves is that this is the best choice, the best decision we make after considering all the product information. So often, people don’t know much about what they buy and turn disappointed when they actually receive the clothes. If I already knew that this fabric was produced in China with acceptable quality, and I still bought it for the design, I would not become that disappointed receiving the delivery. In short, more information, clearer expectation, less disappointment.

Secondly, receive feedbacks and make adjustments. This might not be a matter of second. But we need to find out our true customer satisfaction with the quality. Email or call randomly some customers and ask for their honest feedback for improvement. If they do think it is bad, we need to change the supplier, find other sources, change the design. Because in the end, it is the customer loyalty that keep subscription business alive. They may even appreciate our effort with the message: We are not scamming you with bad quality products. We are on our way to offer you the best.

Last but not least, share your story with customers.

I may be quite obsessed recently with my bachelor thesis about storytelling, but honestly, who don’t like story? There are so many competitors out there offering the same subscription service, so why should I choose you? If you tell me the story why you start this first or stories of people like me, something like “because you won’t need to compromise time and fashion”, “because you can feel beautiful and surprised every day without losing focus on your life goals”. If I am in your story, I like your clothes design, and I see that you are responsive to my feedback,  I can be your loyal customer for a long time. What I buy is not limited to convenience, indeed, it is the belief, the lifestyle, the dream that i buy into.

So what’s in it for clothing subscription business:

1) have more personal relationships with customers in different ways and on different platforms

2) provide more product information and listen more to what the customers has to say. Listen, understand and change to stay in customer’s heart.

3) tell stories, make our customers believe, and then write the stories together.

Honestly, i guess that this is easier said than done. But as soon as one business starts the wheel, it will undoubtedly become the leader and finally set the expectation for the rest.

Here’s why we should add storytelling to our market segment. The thesis research blew me away with this.

Imagine a market where you are not only identified with your age, your  nationality, your income, your whatever but  also for what you  BELIEVE!

It was exceptionally a warm day when I was visiting a friend in Helsinki.  We were jabbering on our way home when we came across an old bookstore. I have always loved old bookstores with all the nostagic  atmosphere and chance to run into a beautiful serendipity. This time, it was a whitish and greenish book back in the first shelves near the counter. The title catches my attention right away: “The Dream Society – How the coming shift from information to imagination will transform your business” by Rolf Jensen. It might have been because I obviously seemed to be glued to the book, my friend offered to buy me the book right away. The book is no doubt an interesting book to read, but it is only until recently that I find some connections between what the book has to say and what I have observed and experienced.

A few months after I finished the book, I came across a business with the so-called storytelling stratety. It was Everlane, the startup business that disrupted the fashion retail industry with the story about transparency. “It would be so cool to see the true cost of producing the tee I am wearing”, I told myself.  I was inspired, but I also wondered whether my friends would also be interested. They are urban students between the age of 18 and 24, which fits right into the target customer segment of Everlane.  It was the reason why I started my thesis of Digital Storytelling with the representative example from Everlane to test quantitatively the impact of the storytelling tactics.

 

digital storytelling
Infographic about Everlane’s transparency story

My surveys are now ready to be distributed already, but last night, after some conversations, I just realized that my friends who were also from Vietnam and around my age would not necessarily be inspired by this same story by Everlane. This reminds me of the way Mr. Jensen describes the future markets in the Dream Society. There will not be Market for Products, but instead Market for Stories. In other words, if i identify myself with Everlane, I choose to tell the story about me with the belief in transparency. For my friends, even though they are from the same background, they may have a different story that they want to relate themselves to instead of transparency.  There might have also been other reasons for my friends’ indifference: Vietnam’s disposable income is not that high yet, my friends’ preference for stories of other well-known brands, etc. If this is the case, market research here plays a very important role in helping companies either identify their target customers or identify the story market that have not been tapped into.

I am now still working on my thesis, but hopefully I can find some cool things to get updated with the storytelling market. For now, I feel inspired and excited about this new territory. The Dream Society, written and dreamt in 1999, is not that far away.

6 travelling tips that rock your time in Germany. I am using tip #1 in other places as well.

St. Michaelis in Hamburg
St. Michaelis in Hamburg

I am now back from my one-week vacation to Germany, resounding with a lot of joy and memories. Due to the time limitations, I can only visit two German cities: Berlin and Hamburg. I think that it is quite good for me though. The time span is long enough for me to find what I love about Berlin and Hamburg, and short enough for me not to start feeling tired of a long vacation. So, here are some of my personal recommendations for you if you are planning for your first trip to Germany with a tight budget like me.

Travelling to Germany can be affordable!

1.  Join the Hamburg and Berlin free walking tours: They are free, and the tour guides are adorable. They offer tours in English, German and Spanish, so you can choose the language group you want to join. The tour guides can take you through many important tourist attractions and tell you all the stories attached to it. If you are not afraid of walking for two hours, this can be a perfect way for you to start your trip in these cities. Some tours might require you to book online but they are all free of charge. If you love the trip, you can leave some tips for the tour guides at the end of the tours. But these people are not nagging for any money, so if you don’t have cash, they would not go after you for it. ^_^

2. Find a second hand store: It might seem ridiculous but I just love the feeling of finding old items of the cities in these lovely little shops. They say a little bit about the city, the people and the culture embedded there.  And in case you make the same mistake as I did, remember to check the opening hours of these shops (weekdays are not automatically opening days). It was also very lucky for me and my friends to discover the beautiful surroundings of this shop even though it was not opened on the day we visited it. The old buildings with a touch of warm colors and vivid graffiti did make me marvel at the beautiful daily life here.

3. Visit the Mauerpark on Sunday: I believe that there have been many recommendations for this place before, but I just want to emphasize the meaning of this activity for a tourist like me. It made me feel the spirit of Berlin. Yes, very international, people from all over the world and all walks of life come here to sing karaoke in front of hundreds of people. Yes, very lively and sexy, people are not afraid of anything to express who they are and what they love here. “We are poor but sexy” You can experience what Berliners mean when they say that here.

 

4. Book a hostel in the center of the city: I think that this tip applies to other trips as well. As I and my friends traveled on a tight budget, we tried to reduce the accommodation cost by booking on Airbnb for our accommodation in Hamburg. We regretted the decision right away when we arrived in the place. The place is cheap but it’s too far away for us to reach. It took us around 1 hour for one-way trip to the center. With the limited time we had in Hamburg, we could have done more things if we were right in the center. In the hostel in Berlin, we could also make friends with people from all over the world. The hostel service was professional as anyone might expect. And to our surprise, the prices of Airbnb and hostel are quite similar.

5. Try affordable German food: You can find many cheap street vendors offering some traditional German food. However, don’t expect too much for German sausages and schnitzels if you are like me who is used to the Asian way of cooking. I would suggest that if you can take curry wurst for your first breakfast and schnitzel for your lunch. They have unique flavors but when I tried them in the middle of the summer, I felt that they were a bit too dry for me to enjoy completely. On the other hand, the local bakery and Nepalese food shops are amazing. You shouldn’t miss them when you find one.

6. Travel in groups: This might be what applies to many travel destinations, too. However, this is extremely true for Germany. I and two other friends bought day group ticket for 17 euros. and this ticket can be used for all public transportation and for up to 5 people, while a single ticket for one-way trip is already 2.6 euros. Then you can see how much you can save when travelling together with your friends.

These are some of my personal reflections after this beautiful vacation. When I am writing this, a short melody comes across my mind “The best things in life, they are free”. Yes, I do feel that I have had the best experience with Berlin and Hamburg without being broke after my vacation!

berlin1

Thank you for treating me so well these days, Berlin and Hamburg!

Mikkeli. August 19, 2015

 

Here’s why you should read “Chagrin d’Ecole” once in your free time

If you want to read about education, but tired of long lists of indicators and fragmented news, try “Chagrin d’Ecole” – the book for education and more

Two years ago, I read a book that told me honest stories about education. I found myself in the stories as many did after reading reflections on the author’s early struggles with formal education.

I personally do not want to list this book as a novel only, because my understanding of education’s challenges did grow after reading this small piece of story. However, what sets this book apart from other education books is the personal approach the author used in painting the picture of education. Pennac is clearly not afraid to pull every string of his painful childhood memories to describe what transformed him from a terribly desperate pupil to a respectable educator and writer.

After going through the pages of Daniel Pennac, it becomes easier for me to understand the success of Finnish education. Many believes that this achievement is due to Finnish trust in teachers. But why ultimate trust in teachers plays such an important role in education? I hadn’t found the answers until the day I grabbed Pennac’s book from the store by chance. The title and demonstration image brought me back immediately to the days when I was a little “onion” with so many layers of anxiety, nervousness and boredom. And in a whim, I bought the book. The whim never lets me down.

The book won me over from the beginning, speaking directly what I always feel confused about our system “Since the dawn of education, the student considered as normal has been the student who puts up the least resistance to teaching, the one who doesn’t call our knowledge into question or put our competency to the test, a student who already knows a lot, who is gifted with instant comprehension, who spares us searching for the access roads to his grey matter, a student with a natural urge to learn, who can stop being a kid in turmoil or a teenager with problems during our lessons, a student convinced from the cradle that he has to curb his appetites and emotions by exercising his reason if he doesn’t want to live in a jungle filled with predators, a student confident that the intellectual life is a source of infinite pleasures that can be refined to the extreme when most other pleasures are doomed to monotonous repetition…”Here, he arrives at the heart of my uncomfortable feeling in the past, trying to imitate my good-student friends to receive warmness and encouragement from our teachers. His account is written with pain and care, and he reminds us that our education system have been stereotyping students since they are too young to unleash fully their uniqueness and talents to the world.

 

I have never regretted my decision to read this beautiful story. But why should the all-day-busy person like you needs to find time to read this? Let’s be real. If you haven’t taken the position of a parent or a coach, you will soon. Indeed, the harsh truth of growing up somehow separates us from the sensitive world of children. With this in mind, the book is a gift to bring us not only to our own childhood, but also closer to the fragile worlds of our little brother, little sister, and little child to somehow understand their rebellion in growing up. I did find this message in many movies including the two famous “3 idiots” and “Like stars on earth”, but nothing speaks this in such a humorous yet ironic way like Pennac did.

 

To end this note, I hope that if you ever come across the book’s title “Chagrin d’ecole”, or “School Blues” or “Nỗi buồn thời cắp sách”, believe me that the book is more than what you can see from the engaging title and expressive image. It is, to me, a privilege to read it.

 

What you have missed in your trip to Vietnam: Nha Trang

These days, when my dream of coming to the land of Santa Claus come true, I have always felt so happy to experience this first winter in Finland. However, occasionally, I would feel a little nostalgic towards Nha Trang city, the place where I call home.

Nha Trang is a very small coastal city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. Contrary to its size, the city’s reputation extends far beyond the national fame. Among the world’s most beautiful bays, Nha Trang Bay attracts millions of tourists every year. From my personal experience, the feeling when you see the sun gradually rise from below the horizon is indescribable through photos and tourist guidance alone. The best feeling is when the gentle waves naughtily massage your foot as if consoling yourself: “Everything is going to be ok when the sun rises.” All my childhood memories are there and forever tied with the sweet feeling sitting behind my father’s back on our motorcycle riding along the seaside. If you have a chance to visit my hometown, you can experience what I am saying here: the intimacy between nature and people is twisted upon the beautiful landscape and the fresh air from the sea.

For a little feeling of wonder and mystery, the city is always the first city in Vietnam to catch the sunlight every morning. It is also the only place in Vietnam where storms had never reached since the time people could remember, despite the fact that it is a coastal city in Vietnam – the country with typhoons visiting all year round. Many believed that this was due to the protection of the Godmother in Ponagar Temple – one of the most popular tourist attractions here in the city – that had been preventing any powerful forces from hurting the beautiful yet vulnerable life of this city.

And if you do visit our hometown, do not forget the special delicacies. The authentic mix of tastes and flavors from all regions across Vietnam can be found here. Grilled fermented pork roll (Nem nuong), Rice vermicelli with grilled fish and jellyfish (Bun cha ca), Can cake (Banh can) and seafood are the must-try dishes if you happen to come here. I am also more than happy to show you around this lovely city. Pristine beaches, delicious food and genuine hospitality would surely leave you with unforgettable memories in every corner you may find here.

WHAT WOULD BE INSIDE THIS BLOG?

The answer would be anything. They can be stories I just found from novels, lessons from classes that I want to share, and some pieces of sharing, as I believe, worth sharing. The topics can vary from daily life and good novels to health and lifestyle. Sometimes I do write in Vietnamese too. They are like my diaries in time.

If you happen to visit my homepage, it would be a beautiful serendipity if you read through some of my posts. I hope that some of the topics can speak to what you are finding, or at least lead you to some perspectives of a 23-year-old Vietnamese girl aspiring to collect stories and experiences to share with the world.

Hope you have a fun time reading my posts 😛