In May 14th's Businessweek there's an article about a group of people who outspend Americans when they visit the UK: Nigerians. It's a combination of a few things - Nigerians are the UK's ninth largest nationality, so there's a lot of Nigerians coming to visit friends and relatives, they have little formal retail in their home country and the oil-driven economy is improving household incomes. The article describes the signs in popular retailers in tourist areas as being in Chinese, Arabic and Hausa, one of the languages of Nigeria.

If you're not in London, in retail or a Hausa speaker, why is this interesting? Because someone noticed the number of Nigerian shoppers and decided to do something about it. They looked at the credit card numbers, counted the people, looked at the revenue, and decided that yes, there was a trend here and it could be exploited.

Many people claim they're not creative, but creativity isn't having a wild idea out of the blue. It's noticing trends and working out a way to exploit them. Here's three ways to do that. First, say outloud: what's interesting here? If your subconscious thinks that your plan for the week is to just get through it without a crisis, that's what it'll help you do. If you want to notice new things, you have to tell your brain to do that. Outloud or writing it down helps the process along - it turns a thought into something physical.

Second, read or listen to something new. Turn the radio channel in your car to a different channel. Watch a different TV channel when you make dinner. Read a magazine you'd never normally read. 'If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got' is an oft-quoted saying for a reason.

Third, get even more deeply into your subject matter. What are other companies doing in your specialist area? What research is being done which applies? What conferences being held and what are the speakers saying about your specialism? Ideas need food. Feed your brain!

Ni Hao, Shanghai!

Manager Tools is expanding its locations for international conferences. This summer we will hold a conference in Sydney, Australia and in Shanghai, China for the first time. To register for these conferences, go here:

  • Sydney, August 15-16
  • Shanghai, August 27
  • We've also been hard at work planning our conferences for 2013. We'll be adding new cities to the Manager Tools tour as well as returning to some of our favorite sites.

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    no. 78 | 15 May 2012

    People Say...

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