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Friday 6 December 2019
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An old dog’s new cyber tricks

PAOLO KERNAHAN
PAOLO KERNAHAN

As the saying goes, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks.”

Well, whoever said that obviously didn't have access to the Internet. Social media platforms are awash with videos of old dogs doing all sorts of clever things that seem out of character for canids white in the muzzle.

This was certainly the case with me, the old dog in this yarn, when I spotted the gathering clouds of a recession. I knew my small business, which creates video marketing content for local companies, was going to get walloped. One of the first items of expenditure to go in an economic downturn is marketing. In an already competitive market, survival was going to take some ingenuity.

My partner and I would have to create a business model that could reach markets beyond the prolonged economic anaemia of TT. This called for loads of painstaking market research. Building a new business in the maw of a recession is like laying bricks to rebuild your home to recover from a devastating blaze...except the fire is still raging.

The goal was to take the skills my partner and I acquired over our long careers in the media and convert them into products that could be marketed globally. No Fuss Video, our new incarnation, has created a line of e-learning products.

Through a four-book series and our first online course, we are teaching people all over the globe how to use video to market their businesses and how to speak with confidence on camera to captivate audiences.

I had the privilege of learning from local masters like Barbara Assoon who taught me the nuances of effective vocal delivery in news presenting. I also have to single out for special mention, Tony "Dr Suds" Fraser who forced me to face my on-camera fears to do my very first live broadcast way back before national TV station, TTT, became 777.

I learned from the best and, quite frankly, I'm getting a kick out of sharing my expertise with people in far-flung destinations. Speaking on camera is becoming one of those digital literacy skills central to getting ahead in today's tech-driven environment.

I encounter so many people who say they're held back by, to quote Morrisey "...a shyness that is criminally vulgar." That's the pre-pro-Brexit, right wing Morrisey, mind you.

What most people don't know about me is, even though I come across as a natural on camera, the truth is I make the most extreme introverts seem like social butterflies.

I've never met up with someone I didn't want to avoid. When walking through the mall, if I spot a potentially awkward chit chat on approach I will duck into the nearest store. It could be a lingerie store. I would feign interest in the various saucy selections until the 'threat' has passed.

So, I understand people's concerns about shyness. I also know, however, the tremendous power of video to push change in today's digital landscape. That's why I decided to 'digitize' my experience and expertise. Turning a conventional business into an online concern certainly sounds exciting, but it isn’t the easiest thing to do. I don't want to make it sound like a simple matter of changing my pants.

Creating an online business pushed my partner and I to learn things we never thought possible for us. Building our own websites, creating landing pages, search engine optimisation, Facebook and Amazon advertising; the knowledge required to thrive in the online business landscape is not a 3-5 minute read.

On some days, I feel like my brain is operating on caveman software. This is a young Turk's world! Of course, that's nonsense. There are people far older than I who are blazing trails with their own Internet businesses. Survival means taking on new challenges, even those that seem the most discomfiting.

I don't have the luxury of waiting for the benefits of BHP's gas find round about 2028. Am I out of the woods yet? Not quite. But I've created something that allows me to share my skills with a market that's larger than anything I could have imagined.

Even more encouraging is the evidence that so many young people in this country are bucking the conventions of entrepreneurship. They are ready to plant their flags and claim their own territory in this sprawling digital frontier. Gas or no gas, that's a good thing for T&T.

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