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  • Make better decisions using six thinking hats

    Six Thinking HatsIf you’ve ever sat in meetings thinking that they could be more efficient or if you often grapple with making decisions with your partner (or as an individual) you may find Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats system useful. Here's how you can make your decision making processes more effective:



    The problem with thinking


    The main difficulty with thinking is that we tend to try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity all crowd in on us. Personal agendas, politics, egos and power struggles can also create further confusion. The Six Thinking Hats allow thinkers to do one thing at a time, focussing on what can be rather than on what is, and on how to design a way forward - not on who is right and who is wrong. Essentially it is a game that everyone plays to reach a defined goal. It lays arguments side by side, avoids confusion, creates focus, removes ego, saves time and is a neutral, objective way of creating a comprehensive map and making decisions easier.


    The Colours


    Remembering the colours helps recall the function of each hat:


    White is neutral and objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.

    Red suggests anger and emotions. The red hat gives the emotional view.

    Black is sombre and serious. The black hat is cautious and points out weaknesses in an idea.

    Yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is optimistic and highlights the strengths of an idea.

    Green is vegetation and fertile growth. The green hat sparks creativity and new ideas.

    Blue is cool and calm. The blue hat controls the organisation of the thinking process.



    Using the Six Thinking Hats


    You can use the hats as symbols on their own to request a particular type of thinking.  E.g. “I Think we need some green hat thinking here”. The hats can also be used in a sequence. You don't have to use all the hats and can use each as often as like. Generally, one minute per person present on each hat forces concentration and reduces waffle. The leader indicates change of hats.



    White Hat Thinking


    The white hat focuses on objective information. Like a computer, facts and figures are given as requested, without interpretations or opinions. There are usually two tiers: The first is where the facts are checked and proven to be accurate: “Our shop’s turnover this year was £305,413 and is down 8% on last year”. The second are believed to be true, but need to be checked. Often these are beliefs and should be framed as such: “we believe our shop’s decreased turnover was due to the ailing economy.” Facts also range from ‘always true’ to ’never true’. It’s fine for information to be included under the white hat as long as the appropriate frame is used to highlight the likelihood of the fact. White hat also defines what information is missing and needed: “we need to analyse our shop’s sales to discover likely causes of the increase”. You must also distinguish between facts and interpretation or extrapolation from facts. All facts are laid side by side on the table, even if they conflict.



    Red Hat Thinking


    Wearing the red hat is short and brisk and gives you and your team a chance to express feelings without the need to explain or justify them. In business we’re not supposed to allow our emotions in, but they often enter anyway - disguised as logic. The biggest challenge when using the red hat is to avoid justifying or explaining our feelings as many of us are brought up to do. Feelings can change, so it can be useful to have red hat thinking at the beginning and at the end of a meeting. Red hat is always done on an individual basis and is relatively quick. Manager: “Give me your red hat thinking on lowering prices in our shop.” Staff member: “I feel that lowering prices will not increase our sales and could damage our shop’s brand.”



    Black Hat Thinking


    The black hat is used for caution, for being careful. We have to consider risks, dangers, obstacles, potential problems and downsides. Overuse of black hat thinking can limit us. One of the advantages of the six hats method is that it limits the amount of time spent on cautious and critical thinking.


    “I don’t like the idea of lowering prices” is red hat thinking. Black hat thinking is not emotional, it must be logical. What are the reasons why lowering prices is not liked as an idea? They must make sense. Black hat is the opposite of the yellow hat, which looks for advantages and upside. The black hat answer is: “In our past experience - which I can demonstrate with sales figures - lowering prices has not resulted in enough extra sales to offset the reduction in profits.”



    Yellow Hat Thinking


    Yellow hat thinking looks for the benefits. It’s about positive assessment, which can range from logical and practical to dreams and hopes. It’s harder to wear than the black hat as you have to develop ‘value sensitivity’ rather than our more natural tendency towards ‘danger sensitivity’ (black hat).


    Yellow hat is concerned with the generation of proposals, the positive assessment of them and their development. It is not directly concerned with creativity (green hat). Just as black hat thinking can pinpoint a fault and leave it to green hat thinking to correct that fault, so yellow hat thinking can define an opportunity and leave it to green hat thinking to come up with some novel way of exploiting that opportunity. 


    Value and benefits are not always obvious, so be disciplined and thorough with using the yellow hat. Yellow hat: “Lowering retail prices at certain times of the year, like January, is believed to drive 20% extra recorded footfall into our shop and our customers say that they love a good deal.”



    Green Hat Thinking


    This is the energy hat. Think of growth, creativity, new ideas, options and alternatives. Under the green hat we seek to modify and improve suggested ideas: “We want to be able to lower prices and grow sales without losing profit, can you green hat this for me?” The value of the green hat is that specific time is set out for everyone to make a creative effort. Creativity isn’t just about the ‘ideas person’ at the table whilst everyone sits ready to pounce on an idea. 


    You may get a lot of green hat ideas and possibilities that are not possible to explore in your meeting. The red hat can then be used to pick out ‘low cost ideas’ and those that are easy to implement. Someone needs to collect green hat thoughts and the ideas then need to be taken through yellow, black and red hat consideration in order to assess what is actionable.



    Blue Hat Thinking


    The blue hat is the conductor of the orchestra. It manages your thinking and suggests different hats at different stages: “OK, we have some great suggestions for lowering greeting card prices in new ways, lets red hat our feelings on them.”  


    At the start blue hat defines (why, what, goal, direction, sequence plan) and at the end it summarises (outcome, conclusion, design, solution, next steps, etc). Having a structure to your thinking will make it more effective. This is not just about ordering the use of the other hats, the blue hat can also be used to organise other aspects of thinking like assessing priorities or listing constraints. The blue hat pulls into shape what may appear to have been a chaotic discussion. It also provides overview updates and draws together final conclusions.





    The six thinking hats system simplifies thinking by dealing with one thing at a time. It also allows for a switch in thinking to prevent it becoming bogged down in one mode (usually black hat). Importantly, it does this without threatening ego.


    One of the most striking things about using the six hats system is that decisions seem to make themselves. When you come to the final blue hat, the answer seems obvious to all present. Solutions also present themselves quickly, even after previously having spent hours considering the subject in question. Even when it seems that decisions can’t be made it can become clear that more information is needed, a path that considers various options is required or a red hat feeling must decide on the way forward. Whichever it is, the 6 hats method will give you a clearer idea of the lay of the land when you decide.  



    Jeremy is speaking on Digital Marketing and Social Media for Retailers at Spring Fair on Sunday 1st February at 12:00 in Hall 4 and again on Monday 2nd February at 15:45.


    He is also speaking on Growing your Export Sales on Tuesday 3rd February at 14:00 in Hall 4 in the UKTI theatre at Spring Fair.



    Read more:


    Six way our minds deceive us


    Why customer complaints are good for business


    Looking back from perfect - How to achieve your goals


    Visit Edward de Bono's website

  • Spring Fair 2015 - The Essential Information

    Spring Fair 2015 Essential InfoAbout Spring Fair 2015

    Spring Fair International runs from Sunday 1st February until Thursday 5th February from 09:00 - 18:00 each day and brings together an inspirational showcase of over 350 British greetings card publishers in Hall 4 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) Birmingham. This is the biggest trade show of the year for our industry. It attracts buyers from all over the world and is the leading showcase of innovation and creativity in the global Greetings Card market. Spring Fair attracts over 70,000 visitors and features a massive range of products, so don't miss it!

    ‚ÄčRegister for FREE tickets to Spring Fair 2015 by clicking here.

    Download the Spring Fair App for your phone or iPad here.

    Where to Stay at Spring Fair

    Accommodation can be tough to find when the show is on and places get booked up months in advance. Also hotels close to the show charge much higher rates during this week. A useful tip is to look at hotels in Birmingham City Centre (which is a short train ride from the NEC) and also consider hotels that are 30 minutes away by motorway (people don't usually book these as they look far on the map, when actually they are quite close because the roads are fast). If you are travelling by car it is worth getting in early to avoid the Birmingham rush hour.

    How to get to Spring Fair

    Travel to the show is easy with excellent rail and motorway links. The NEC post code is B40 1NT (if you use a sat nav). You can park for free in several car parks on site, all of which have free shuttle buses to take you around the complex. Birmingham International Rail Station is a 5 minute walk from the show as is Birmingham International Airport. It is an 80 minute train ride from London Euston Rail Station. You can also click on the map below to plan your journey.

    Where to Eat at Spring Fair

    Read 5 Great Restaurants near the NEC. There's also a lot of good choice in the city centre for restaurants. 

    Seminars at Spring Fair 2015

    Improve your business at Spring Fair 2015. Click here for a full list of seminars. Blue Eyed Sun are speaking at:

    Digital Marketing for Retailers on Sunday 1st February at 12:00 in the Ecommerce Theatre in Hall 4.

    Digital Marketing for Retailers on Monday 2nd February at 15:45 in the Ecommerce Theatre in Hall 4.

    Growing your Export Sales on Tuesday 3rd February at 14:00 in Hall 4 in the UKTI theatre.

    What's New from Blue Eyed Sun at Spring Fair 

    Blue Eyed Sun are launching a brand new range called Enchantment which features 45 embroidered designs by textile artists, Jo Corner. We also have 24 new additions in our best selling Vintage range as well as our latest Christmas designs for the 2015 season. All this and a huge selection of best selling, award winning hand finished cards in our Allotment, Picnic Time and Gorgeous ranges. You can also top up on last minute Valentines, Mother's Day and Easter orders.

    When you get to Spring Fair do remember to come and say hi to us on Stand 4L66.

    Quote coupon code: SFB15 when ordering during the shows (online or offline) for FREE CARRIAGE until 15th February.

    Can't make the show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    Read 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors

    See if you can find Blue Eyed Sun's stand 4L66 in Hall 4 on the show map below:

    Spring Fair 2015 NEC Hall Plan

    View Larger Map

  • 5 Great restaurants near Olympia exhibition centre in London

    5 Great Restaurants Near Olympia in London

    I have exhibited at various trade shows in Olympia in London over the years and have tried all sorts of restaurants near Olympia Exhibition Centre during that time. There are lots of great restaurants in London, so the list that follows is not exhaustive and not numbered by preference. I enjoyed eating at all of these though and hope you do too. If you are staying nearby in Earls Court, you might also like to read my blog post on great restaurants near Earls Court.

    Crown And Sceptre Restaurant Near Olympia in London

    1. The Crown & Sceptre

    This gastro pub is just a short walk from Olympia Exhibition Centre at 34 Holland Road on the other side of the railway. Speciailising in gourmet British pub cuisine, the food is delicious and this friendly gastro pub has a nice atmosphere. You can even stay over as they have several lovely boutique rooms. Read the Crown and Sceptres menu here

    Tortoise And Hare Restaurant Olympia

    2. Hare & Tortoise

    This stylish, minimalist looking Japanese restaurant near Olympia is a short walk down High Street Kensington from the exhibition centre. The food is first rate, the service is quick and the portions are good value. Try the miso soup, it's awesome; as is the sushi and tempura. Find out more about the Hare & Tortoise by clicking here

    Pizza Express Restaurant Olympia London

    3. Pizza Express

    I know, I know, it's a chain, but when it comes to restaurants near Olympia, this Italian is as close as you can get. Sitting on the corner of the Olympia exhibition centre, the staff are friendly, the prices are great value and the food is good if you are not too fussy. It's family friendly and easy if you're tired after a long day at a show, although it can get busy. Click here to visit the Pizza Express website

    Whits Restaurant Olympia London

    4. Whits

    This lovely little French restaurant is just off High Street Kensington at 21 Abingdon Road just up the road from Olympia. The owners have worked at some of the leading London restaurants as well as cooking for the Royals. The menu is French with a touch of Italian and British. There are limited options for veggies, although some good choices if you eat seafood. It's small, so worth booking in advanceClick here for more information about Whits

    The Gate Restaurant Near Olympia in London

    5. The Gate 

    Tucked away on 51 Queen Caroline Street (behind the Hammersmith Apollo) and a fifteen minute walk from Olympia, this wonderful veggie restaurant is worth the cab fare or sore heels if you love outstanding vegetarian food. The decor is classy and the dishes are elegantly prepared and very tasty. With great service and a host of things to do after dinner in Hammersmith it's not to be missed.  Click here to book a table at the Gate online

    See Blue Eyed Sun at Olympia for Top Drawer Spring on Stand T46 - 11-13 January 2015.

    Can't make the trade show? Click here to request access all of our designs online.

    If you like this blog post, you might also like these:

    5 Great Restaurants near the NEC

    5 Good restaurants near the Business Design Centre

    5 Great Restaurants near Earls Court

  • 18 ways retailers can maximise their January Sales

    January SalesMajor high street retailers like John Lewis, Oasis, Jones Bootmakers, New Look, Top Shop and Multiyork use a fascinating array of techniques to encourage consumers to spend more during their promotional sales periods. Here are 18 key insights that independent retailers can learn from the bigger multiples when launching their January Sales:


    1. Sales aren't all about clearance items

    Multiple retailers, like John Lewis, buy in stock known as Special Buys to sell at discounted prices during the sales. This buying accounts for a significant proportion of what is sold to consumers during the sales. Plan to have stock that you can sell specifically during your sale period instead of just focussing on left over stock clearance.


    2. Visual display merchandising is key

    As one John Lewis merchandiser points out " We've got a lot of expensive product so if you want to sell it you have to display it in a way that makes people want to purchase them.” How you present your sale items and the signage you use will boost your sales. Make it tempting.


    3. Mark downs must be carefully considered

    Jones Bootmaker’s entire senior management team spend 2 whole days locked in a room deciding what goes on sale and at what discount. 40% of annual sales for their business are taken during the winter and summer sales so their decisions are vital to the profits and turnover of the business. Too much discount and they lose profits, too little and they get stuck with dead stock. Make time to focus on getting your offering right.


    4. There are rules to discount signs in your windows

    Legally you can put up a 50% off sale sign in your window as long as at least 10% of your stock has a 50% discount and it has been on sale at the list price for a meaningful length of time. Multiyork's MD suggests this should be around 28 days. Ideally you should state when the item was on sale at the list price.


    5. Phasing down drives sales

    If you stagger your sales discounts down in stages it helps to drive sales. Consumers then have to weigh up the choice between buying it at the current discount and having the item they want or waiting for the price to drop further and risk the product being sold out. Multiples use phasing down pricing as a call to action for shoppers to buy then and there.


    6. Other clearance channels

    Jones Bootmaker has a warehouse clearance sale that it markets in a very small way in it's local area. What they don't sell there they clear to traders abroad and remove the branding from the shoes so that it doesn't damage sales in the UK. It's worth having other channels to clear your dead stock. eBay, craft fairs and car boots are all options to consider.


    7. Understanding Oniomaniacs

    Oniomania is the technical term for shopoholism which affects 1 in 10 people. Bargain hunting physically affects the pulse and stress levels of shoppers. Dr Jack Kreindler has tracked shoppers and discovered that their heart rate increases from 60 to 100 beats per minute when they find an item they like and stress / excitement levels rise from 20% to 80%. According to retail psychologist, Dr David Lewis, the body also releases reward chemicals when shopping. Essentially shopping can be addictive and your sales bargains can feed this.


    8. Presenting sale items like a jumble sale can drive engagement

    Shoppers can add value to a sale item in their mind because of the time they have spent searching through other items for bargains they have found. The longer they spend searching through sale items in your shop the more they engage with your products and the more likely they are to value them. Also, the more products customers touch in your shop the more they are likely to make purchases.


    9. Discounting is expected in some retail sectors

    £12 billion is spent each year in the UK on furniture, something which is not regarded as an essential purchase by most consumers. The furniture industry permanently run sales and offer free credit to enhance sales. 75% of furniture sold by MultiYork is sold at discounts of between 30 and 50%. Consumers expect this of the furniture sector so it's a must have marketing ploy for furniture retailers. Be aware of what customers expect of you in terms of sales discounts so that you don’t disappoint.


    10. Personal Shoppers boost sales

    Shops like Top Shop are now offering personal shopping experiences where clients can get assistance with choosing what to wear and what looks good on them from the latest season. Sales staff that meet consumers needs well will always help any retailer's profits.


    11. Retail interiors add to the experience

    Oasis spent £7 million refitting their stores focussing on a sensory experience for their customers. In their flag ship store the downstairs area is fresh and bright and upstairs is moodier and more atmospheric. The railings are positioned to be more inviting for customers. These experiences affect the mood and encourage shoppers to spend.


    12. The customer is the fairest of them all

    The mirrors in one of fashion retailers are often large and lean against the wall. This looks aesthetically good and also had the effect of slimming the person standing in front of the mirror. The lighting and the mirror are set up to make the customer appear to glow in their chosen garments. Creating a satisfying feeling for customers is important.


    13. Smells are not to be sniffed at

    Oasis has a machine that scents their retail space. Smell is a trigger for contextual memory which can help put clients in a good mood and encourage them to spend more. Using a machine called ScentAir, smells like vanilla may increase customers' perceptions of trust worthiness of sales staff, make them 84% more likely to purchase and can even mean that they value products more highly.


    14. Getting customers to join your club

    High Street retailers are using social media to help consumers feel part of a community and to create loyal fan bases. New Look have over 3 million Facebook fans and a customer email list that they send flash sale deals to which drive turnover. Can you use these to boost your sales?


    15. Fans feel special

    New Look often tweets their followers to come in for a surprise and amazingly they do respond. They literally draw customers into their stores by inviting them on social media. These customers love being the first to know about a deal that they could share with their friends. Looking after fans who refer you to others like this is key to any successful business.


    16. Product layout boosts sales

    Using a pair of eye tracking glasses (tobii glassesDr Tim Holmes, a neuroscientist, shows how our eyes are drawn to blocks of texture and colour when shopping. For example, when grouped in colours, products like shoes help to draw the eye around the store. If the shop is well laid out, retailers can use this trick to draw customers deeper into the store.


    17. The power of suggestion

    Some shops have suggestive slogans on the walls which we register in our brains even if we don't seem to notice them. The entrance to the shoe department at New Look had a sign which says "Shoe Heaven" and a slogan on the wall that said "Repeat after me: 'I deserve new shoes'." You can have a lot of fun with this kind of marketing.


    18. Red sale signs

    Red is a colour that really stands out against others so is perfect for Sale signs that they draw the eye. Too many red signs and the effect is ruined. Too garish and badly type set signs also cheapen your offering.


    Retail sales are exciting. Consumers who love to shop do love sales. It's thrilling to find deals and even more exhilarating if there is a limited time to do this in. Retailers that do well during their January Sales take advantage of this knowledge and create experiences that give customers what they want: some fun and excitement at a price they feel is a bargain.


    Read more:


    How to get more customers into your retail business

    7 Habits of Highy Effective Retailers

    9 Tips for Retailers to improve their greeting card sales

  • Top Drawer Spring 2015 - The Essential Information

    Top Drawer Spring 2015 - Essential information

    Blue Eyed Sun are exhibiting at Top Drawer Spring 2015 with some gorgeous new designs for 2015. If you are visiting the show, please stop by and see us on Stand T46 to view all of our latest cards in person. Be the first to preview our new Everyday Enchantment cards, plus 24 new additions to our best selling Vintage cards and 12 additions to our large format Allotment cards. You can also order any last minute Valentines, Mothers or Fathers Day cards.

    For free tickets to Top Drawer Spring please click here.

    What is Top Drawer Spring 2015?

    Top Drawer Spring 2015 runs from Sunday 11th January until Tuesday 13th January from 09:30 - 18:00 and brings together an inspirational showcase of over 800 carefully selected British and International suppliers to Olympia in London. This trade show showcases all of the latest product launches, cutting edge designs and must have products for 2014 helping design-led gift shops stand out on the high street. It attracts over 13,000 visitors and the top buyers and suppliers in the industry so don't miss it! Click here to watch a video of the card section at Top Drawer Spring.

    Where to Eat at Top Drawer Spring

    Read our blog post on 5 Great Restaurants near Olympia.

    Where to Stay at Top Drawer Spring

    For up to date info on where to stay near the show click here for an interactive map of hotels near Top Drawer Spring.

    How to Get to Top Drawer Spring

    Train travel to Top Drawer Spring 2015 is accessed by overland train to Olympia Station from Shepherd's Bush (central line) or West Brompton (District Line)Click here for the TFL website.

    The post code for Olympia is W14 8UX, if you are driving. You can park next to the venue. Do book in advance as it is expensive on the day. Click here to book parking at Olympia. More info can be found on alternative routes on the Transport for London link above. You can also click on the map below.

    To find out more about Top Drawer Spring 2015 click here.

    To order Blue Eyed Sun's new designs for your shop or request a brochure click here.

    Read our 12 Top Tips for Trade Show Visitors by clicking here.

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Enchantment cards

    Enchantment cards by Blue Eyed Sun

    Blue Eyed Sun have launched a gorgeous new Everyday range of forty seven Enchantment cards.

    Based on original machine stitched artworks by market leading textile designer, Jo Corner, they are all hand finished with jewels. These beautiful new Enchantment cards include 13 open birthday captions and 32 occasions cards as well as twelve Mother's Day cards.

    Enchantment cards all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 165mm x 165mm square. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website.

    You can see them all first in person at the events below:

    Top Drawer at Olympia 11-13 January 2014 - Stand T46

    Spring Fair International at the NEC in Birmingham 1 - 5 February 2015 - Hall 4 - Stand 4L66

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see an overview of Blue Eyed Sun ranges click here.

  • 6 ways our minds deceive us

    6 ways our minds deceive us

    I've recently been learning about common ways our minds deceive us. To explain more I'd you like to play a game with me. Before you read the rest of this post please watch the video below, which asks you to count the number of basketball passes made by players in white T-shirts for 1 minute. Click on the triangle in the middle of the image below to play the video.

    How did you get on? How many passes did you count? Did you notice anything unusual? We all believe that we are capable of seeing what’s accurately in front of us, of accurately remembering important events from our past, of understanding the limits of our knowledge, of properly determining cause and effect. But these intuitive beliefs are often mistaken ones that critically mask important limitations in our cognitive beliefs. Here's a brief overview of six limiting beliefs we all fall prey to:


    illusion of attention


    When you watched the video, did you see the gorilla? Yes, a man size gorilla walked into the game. If you missed it, you experienced something called inattentional blindness. Which is to say that when people are focussed on a particular area or aspect of their visual world, they tend not to notice unexpected objects, even when these unexpected objects are salient, potentially important, and appear right where they are looking. If you didn't watch the video you're probably thinking "I would have seen that." Perhaps you would have, maybe you wouldn't. It doesn't matter either way. It's not an intelligence or aptitude test. What's most interesting about this experiment is that most people are surprised that they, or others, would miss the gorilla. Things seem obvious in hindsight.  Unfortunately, people often confuse what is easily noticed, when it is expected, with what should be noticed when it is unexpected.


    illusion of memory


    Just as we intuitively believe in the illusion of attention, there is also disconnect between how we think our memory works and how it actually works. Many of of us believe that memory works like a video camera and some believe that, once a memory is formed, the memory doesn’t change. In fact your mind will often reconstruct details based on your specific memory and how the things you are remembering are generally related. When we perceive something we extract the meaning rather than encoding every detail. Memory doesn’t store everything we perceive, but instead takes what we have seen and heard and associates it with what we already know. As with the gorilla, people see what they expect to see, with memory they remember what they expect to remember. People remember events based on what is salient to them based on their experiences. Vividness and emotionality are not necessarily strong indicators of accuracy, even though we often believe them, and the confidence with which they are expressed, to be so.


    illusion of confidence


    People judge the accuracy of another persons memory based on how much confidence that person expresses in the memory. Think of a doctor who uses a book or computer in front of you to diagnose you. How would you feel about their abilities? As you can imagine, such doctors tend to be under appreciated by their patients. The irony is that those that are the least skilled are the most likely to think better of themselves than they should. As Charles Darwin said, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than it does knowledge.” When we become more skilled at something our confidence levels align themselves more closely to our actual abilities. A doctor who knows her limits might actually be the one who is more valuable to you as a patient than the overconfident quack. 


    Group leadership can also be determined by confidence. People with dominant personalities tend to exhibit greater self-confidence. If you offer your opinion early and often, people will take your confidence as an indicator of ability, even if you are no better than your peers. It's worth bearing this in mind when you hire staff or promote within your team. Be sure that confidence levels and abilities are closely aligned and not illusory. 


    illusion of knowledge


    Whenever people think they know more than they do, they are under the illusion of knowledge. Over familiarity often contributes to the illusion of knowledge. Think of the internet. We all know how to use it daily, but few of us understand how it actually works. Think also of how often descriptions of things by someone who believed themselves to be knowledgable were amiss from the actual things they were describing. The illusion of knowledge is compounded by techno babble. We seem to prefer the expert who does not know the limits to their self knowledge than the one who does. People who know the limits of their knowledge say things like “there is a 75% chance of rain” while those who don’t know those limits express undue certainty. Even the best in their fields of expertise can fall prey to this illusion.


    illusion of cause


    There are three separate, but interrelated biases that contribute to the illusion of cause. Firstly, your visual system is exquisitely sensitive to patterns most important to you and can easily identify these patterns in randomness. When pattern recognition works well a mum can find the face of a lost child in a crowd. When it works too well we can spot the face of Jesus in pastries and other relationships that aren’t really there or don’t mean what we think they do. Secondly, we have a bias towards single narratives or causes. We look at events that happen together as having a causal relationship. Correlative results of scientific studies do not corroborate causal inference. Which is to say that results that appear to relate to a cause, may not actually do so. Finally, we tend to interpret events that happened earlier as causes of events that happened or appeared to happen later. We can often jump to conclusions and point to a single cause when in fact the truth may be more complex than that.


    illusion of potential


    We are prone to thinking that vast reservoirs of untapped mental ability exist in our brains. It’s not true that we only use 10% of our brain capacity. There is no known way of measuring a person’s brain capacity and brain tissue that produces no activity whatsoever for an extended time is clinically dead. We also do not have a sixth sense and cannot sense someone looking at us from behind. This idea has been thoroughly debunked in 1898 by psychologist Edward Titchener. Similarly, subliminal advertising or persuasion is not scientifically proven. The single frame saying “drink Coca-Cola” inserted into a movie does not boost sales of coke at cinemas. Ad exec James Vicary, the man behind the study, has since admitted that it was a fraud. Lastly, many of us believe that brain training and listening to Mozart boost general mental abilities when the truth is that physical exercise is the only proven activity to be show preservation of our grey matter. This is not to say that improvement can't been made in our mental abilities. Just don't fall prey to the illusion that is is quick easy and doesn't require effort. The brains potential is vast, and you can indeed tap into it, but it takes time and effort.





    These mirages of the mind can make us think that our mental capacities are greater than they are. In a metaphorical sense they there are gorillas in our midst, i.e. the important things in front of you that you may be missing. So what can we do to address them? Well, be wary of thinking you know more about a subject than you actually do. Test your understanding before mistaking familiarity for knowledge. Just because your mind does something easily, doesn’t mean it has done it well. So double check. Trust your memory less. Avoid get-smart-quick gimmicks. Understand that this is how all our minds work and try avoid jumping to conclusions.


    This article was inspired by the book The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.


    You might also like to read:

    How to get more customers into your retail business

    7 Habits of Highy Effective Retailers

    How to get things done when you don't feel like it

  • Festive Friday 2014 at Blue Eyed Sun's Studio

    Festive Friday 2014 Blue Eyed SunFestive Friday 2014 at Blue Eyed Sun

    Festive Friday is the day that kick starts the UK Christmas card sending season and we've been busy writing our Christmas cards today because, you've guessed it, Friday 28th November is Festive Friday 2014!

    The UK Greeting Card Association launched the Festive Friday campaign last year to encourage card publishers and retailers to send their Christmas cards early to help remind everyone to remember to send theirs. There are around 100,000 people working directly and indirectly with the UK card industry. If each of us sends 10 Christmas cards to arrive in the first week of December it will have a fantastic ripple effect from those first million gestures. Last year had a fantastic effect on our industry and we hope that this fun initiative will continue for many years to come.

    At Blue Eyed Sun we've been getting into the Christmas spirit ourselves and held a 'christmas card writing hour' for our team to write and send cards to their loved ones. We sponsored the cards, their time and the postage to support the GCA campaign. All our team had to do was to write as many cards as they wanted to in the hour. We managed 104 Christmas cards between us, which will be making their way via Royal Mail over the weekend to their lucky recipients.

    Our team had a lot of fun on Festive Friday 2014 with Christmas jumpers and Santa hats to get us in the mood. It's a wonderful feeling when we think about all of the love going out into the world from this short amount of time dedicated to card sending and we recommend it to anyone involved in the card industry.

    Even if you are not in the card industry, it is a special time of year to connect with your customers, friends and loved ones. Send them a nice Christmas card with a warm message in it expressing your gratitude and wishing them all the best for 2015. We hope you enjoy spreading festive cheer around the world.

    Remember that cards really can have valuable emotional impact in your loved ones' lives.

    There are only a few days left to get cards in the post though, so do get started this week. I've listed the Royal Mail's last posting dates below. Want to print this info out for your customers? Click here to download the dates in a PDF.

    Find out more about Blue Eyed Sun's Christmas cards for 2014 here. Available at all good card retailers.

    Worried about the cost? Read the truth about How Royal Mail's price increases affect your card sending costs here.

    Festive Friday 2014 Blue Eyed Sun Team Festive Friday 2014 Blue Eyed Sun

    Last Recommended Posting Dates UK Christmas 2014

  • Blue Eyed Sun launch new Vintage greeting cards for 2015

    New Vintage greeting cards from Blue Eyed Sun

    Blue Eyed Sun have added twenty four new designs to their stunning, award nominated Vintage greeting cards.

    Based on original machine stitched artworks by market leading textile designer, Jo Corner, they are printed and embossed to give a beautiful look and a realistic feel. Hand finished with jewels the new additions include 12 open birthday captions and 12 occasions cards. The Vintage range also includes a fantastic selection of best selling designs in ChristmasValentine's Day and Mother's Day.

    Vintage greeting cards all come cello wrapped with a coloured envelope that is 165mm x 165mm square. Sold in sixes the designs are available for trade customers to order through our agents, by brochure, at shows or on our website.

    You can see them all first in person at the events below:

    Top Drawer at Olympia 11-13 January 2014 - Stand T46

    Spring Fair International at the NEC in Birmingham 1 - 5 February 2015 - Hall 4 - Stand 4L66

    To stock these cards in your shop click here. If you'd like to see them in your local shop please tell them and point them in the direction of or recommend a shop to us by clicking here. You can also visit our stockists page to find a store near you that may be selling them. To see an overview of Blue Eyed Sun ranges click here.

  • The Ladder Club Seminar 2014

    The Ladder Club Seminar 2014 - Day 1

    The Ladder Club is an annual seminar to support new and aspiring greeting card publishers to climb the ladder to success in the card industry. It's organised by Lynn Tait and has been an incredible support to so many artists and new card publishers for many years, helping them to avoid the pitfalls that can cost time, money and a whole lot of heartache. 

    I have enjoyed speaking at the event for the past ten of it's fifteen year history and have had the privilege of meeting and helping many wonderful new businesses during that time. Often the seminar has been regarded by attendees as a success even when they have decided not to become a publishers. For £48 and a day of their time some artists and photographers have realised that their passion is creating beautiful things and they choose to find other ways of generating income including licensing their work, partnering with businesses or simply selling their work in other ways. I have just returned from this year's seminars, which were two of the best to date and included some great speakers and many talented delegates. Here are some of my photos of the day and a brief summary of everything we went through.

    Lynn Tait, Sharon Little and Jakki BrownWe had a fantastic turn out for the first day of the seminar this year, which is all about helping the delegates to take their first step onto the Ladder. Lynn Tait compered both days that began with an introduction to the Greeting Card Association from CEO Sharon Little. Jakkie Brown from Max Publishing spoke about PG Live, the Henries Awards and how to make the most of Progressive Greetings magazine's free editorial section called Innovations.

    Simon King, Bob Short and Nicky MarshallSimon King and Nicky Marshall from Sherwood Litho Press showed everyone how to prepare for and print litho on B1 presses and the technical issues involved with doing so. Bob Short from The Imaging Centre took us all through the Digital Printing process which most card publishers these days use for short runs to test the market with their products. Both printers ran through the costs of getting started and the Ladder Club delegates were given useful information packs.

    Mark Jessett, julie Brightly and Tracey ArnaudEveryone got to learn about the different substrates and boards they could print on in an entertaining talk from Mark Jessett at paper merchants GF Smith. Julie Brightley from Enveco Envelopes Plus talked about how envelopes are made, what prices they start at and how to save money by using standard off-the-shelf sizes for your first greeting card ranges. Tracey Arnaud from Progressive Greetings Live talked us through the important things to consider when exhibiting at trade shows for the first time and how to get the most out of your trade fairs. 

    Lynn Tait, Karen Wilson, Claire Williams, Jeremy Corner and Ian BradleyLadder Club alumni, Karen and Claire from Paper Salad, spoke about their adventures in greeting card publishing and the things that new publishers must keep an eye out for before rushing into big deals with large multiple card retailers. I had a few things to so say about my experience in the card business running Blue Eyed Sun and how to cope with wearing different hats whilst doing soIan Bradley, a Midlands greeting card agent, then gave everyone to gain an insight into how working with freelance sales agents can benefit their greeting card business.

    Henri Davis, Miles Robinson and Chris HoufeThe second day was a more advanced Ladder Club seminar. Retail expert Henri Davis spoke about how to approach large retailers in a very informative talk drawing on her experience of buying at the National Trust and WH Smiths. We also heard how best to approach retailers from Miles Robinson who co-owns a small chain of independent card shops called House of Cards. Finally, Chris Houfe, from Waterwells Distribution (part of the Great British Card Company) taught us all the basics of brokerage and how to work with brokers to best serve multiple retailers. 

    Everyone had a great time and all of those attending found the Ladder Club extremely useful and well worth their time. It was really interesting to see that almost everyone attended the meal the night before the second day event as more experienced publishers recognised the importance of this great networking opportunity. I look forward to seeing those who attended this year's Ladder Club at trade shows and other card industry events in the future. A special thanks also to Trudi who organised the day, to Jim for keeping us all on time and to all of the speakers who gave their time so freely.

    Click here to join the Ladder Club Facebook Group (only open to attendees and Ladder Club alumni)

    For those that attended the Ladder Club and want to know more. Here are some links to useful content on my blog:

    Looking Back from Perfect - How to achieve your goals

    Overcoming the challenges of exporting abroad

    Our top ten business tools

    Are trade shows still worth it?

    10 Business Basics to get right before using social media

    The Ladder Club Seminar 2014 - Day 2

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