Sharing the Love

Are you scrolling through feeds waiting for something to catch your eye? Do you have a special criteria for deciding whether to read more or read less? Is it the headline or the first sentence?

I am pondering this myself, because of this article on Seth Godin’s blog today. He is talking about paying attention to those whom we have GRANTED permission. This one caught my eye only after I had read quite some way in … after all, I have already given Seth my permission to appear in my RSS reader.

But then, about halfway through I started to like the surprising direction of this post. I liked the way that it turned around to put the onus on the person who accepts the meeting. Sure, it can be boring and tiring (sometimes) in meetings, but if you are there … why not get something out of it! After all, as Seth says, "everyone’s an expert", and it just may be that the person you are meeting knows a lot about something that you don’t. Perhaps there is a meeting technique that they use well, or use badly, perhaps it is the stain on their lapel or the way their mobile phone keeps ringing. Or maybe it is even the firmness of their handshake and their sense of purpose.

But if you are going to be in the meeting, then BE there. Challenge the person you are meeting — ask questions, request ideas and so on.

Similarly, when you are reading a blog, drop in a comment. If you have your own blog, add a trackback or a link. Part of the fun of writing online is this sense of engagement and community. Don’t forget, you get out what you put in!


Blogging is Hard Work

You know, when I started out I was aiming to write one blog entry each day with the aim of making it to 999 in around 3 years. But apart from anything else, I was interested in what disciplines may be required in achieving this. And as today the total number of entries sits at 100, I can say that I have been humbled by the beast!

There are 5 things that I have learned:

  1. Just because you write something doesn’t mean that it will interest anyone (no matter how much you love it)
  2. You have got to share the love in order to get some lovin’ yourself (ie don’t think that others will read your rantings if you don’t read those of others)
  3. Keep focused because your readers are interested in the TOPICS you rant about … not necessarily in all the tangents that you throw up (unless your blog is about tangents)
  4. Don’t take it too seriously
  5. Don’t just "report", analyse and add perspective
  6. Anyone still reading? Yeah I know this is six, but the final one is keep trying to surprise yourself AND your readers.

Thanks to all those who keep reading!


A Good Idea is an Axe

Good ideas don’t come from "no where", they are actually the product of deep (and often unconscious) thinking processes. Even the ideas that spring into your mind are the end result of a long creative process — where your conscious and unconscious minds work together to solve a problem. Sometimes it is not the "solution" that springs to mind, but the "problem".

Often, it is only when you are actively brainstorming something, that you uncover the REAL problem, or the "root cause". Once you have the root cause, you will often find that the "answer" is easy to find because you have already done all the hard work of problem solving along the way. The problem is, is that most people will not get as far as the root cause. They will find a solution earlier.

So how do you know when you have a REAL solution to a REAL problem? You will know because a good idea is not friendly — it will hit you like an axe. It should wake you up. It should make you wonder HOW you are going to do it. It should raise more questions.

It should be, in Kafka’s words "… an axe for the frozen sea inside you".

But a good idea is also compelling. You wont be able to let it go. It will gnaw at your consciousness.

I loved the way that Seth Godin shows that ideas can be implemented easily. But often, creativity and innovation take longer to realise. A good idea will never become more than a good idea without the energy, commitment and passion to bring it to life. You need to find an audience, tell a story and keep going even when you and your idea keeps being rejected.

Your challenge is to turn it around … turn the idea into an axe that can break down the doors.


What the Fleck?

I followed Oliver Blanchard’s post to Decisive Flow the other day. They run a web design business specialising in small business. I like the fact that they seek out cool tools to play with and present them in interesting ways — and I especially like the way that they bring new technologies to small business as a way of providing innovation to an often overlooked market.

Today, Natalie linked through to The article was actually about a more adventurous approach to business travel, but I was interested enough to find out more about the mysterious Fleck. And as I am always up for a bit of adventure myself, I gladly signed on for a dose of web democracy. Not only did I get a nice email welcoming me to the beta program, I was also able to participate in one of the silliest web surveys ever.

But while I don’t yet know whether Fleck is anything more than a bit of fun, it was an amusing detour in an otherwise straight lane sort of day.

Thanks also to Boris from Fleck for the personal email sent via his Blackberry. It is always refreshing to see that the web doesn’t have to be so serious.


Love Affair With Courier

I don’t know why, but I am always surprised when I see a movie script or a manuscript typed out in double spacing. It is even more surprising when you see some storyboards for multimedia presented in the same fashion.
Come on, people … WordPerfect went out in the 80s!

Well ok, I can admit that there is something cute and retro about the use of the courier font, but it seems to me that there are a whole heap of writers out there who go OUT OF THEIR WAY to layout the pages of their writing as if the Olivetti was the latest technological innovation seen.

These are the same guys who are writing eBooks, sending out podcasts and blogging in the name of science. They even write while listening to iPods.

So what is it that is going on here? A strange love affair with Courier?

No … these guys are in it for the business of writing. They know what their audience expects … and their audience is not you and I, it is the exec or publisher who needs to see clearly and without fuss what the story is about. It is worth remembering that a good story will sell itself … it does not need to be pretty. It just needs to be compelling.

Now, all I need to do is change this site’s design from black to something a little funkier. Damn typepad has got me in handcuffs!


Are You Web 2.0 Ready?

It is VERY important to maintain web standards. So it is great when a tool like this comes along to help us all with Web 2.0 standards (thanks to Mick Stanic over at SplaTT). It checks for some of the most important elements such as:

  • Use of AJAX
  • References to VCs
  • Mention of Flickr
  • Over-punctuation
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Many other

Of course, I could add in more of these items to this post and really boost my score.

So while it is important to be ready, it is also important to have a sense of humour.


Can Marketing Be Meaningful?

One of the problems of working in marketing or communications is that the words we use easily become part of the industry jargon. And the more we use such words, the faster they become laden with "industry meaning".

And as marketers thrive on innovation in language, we constantly reinvent. We create new compound words, adjectives and even nouns. And we appropriate. Why? Because the new connotations that we create (we hope) will provide new stimulus to our language … we are aiming to create a deep resonance within language that taps into the emotions of our audiences.

But it is a real challenge to avoid falling into jargon. Unfortunately, even the "new" words that are used to indicate new directions can quickly be seen as jargon. This is the nature of the flexible English language in all its forms — it is the trademark, the reason for its success and also the reason for its failure. Words can become outdated or superseded very quickly these days. Take, for example, Johnn Moore’s recent admission.

Now there is not much that you can argue with in the post. But if marketing is to be meaningful, then clearly it has to be meaningful for its intended (as well as its unexpected) audiences. Without that relevance, then it is just marketers writing for marketers. And hey, while that might get you an award or two, it may not always translate into meaningful experiences or dollars in the bank.


Googleidol – A pure form of flattery?

I remember a line from Anne of Green Gables about imitation being the purest form of flattery … and it sprung to mind while viewing the contestants in Googleidol. Of course, what makes some of these stand out is the level of passion and intensity that is delivered in the performance of the clips. These gidols have embraced Seth Godin’s funnel.
Interestingly though, we are also happy to blog, vote and refer our friends to these type of things. Content may be king, but our creative interpretation of content is also generating a strong and resonant echo of the original. So while we love the authentic, we also love the authentic reproduction.
Now that is something to think about!

What’s Authentic, the Experience or the Story?

Seth Godin starts a recent post by asking us a question — "How much do you care about authenticity?". And a question is a great way to start because it draws you, the reader, into a dialogue. It makes you begin to formulate your response. And that response would be? A story, of course!

Of course, we all like to be "real" — we all love being the first in a group to discover a new restaurant, some new music or even a new blog. But are we addicted to the fame of finding or are we truly interested in the process and act of discovery? (the question of course is … does this post trackback to Seth Godin?)

Seth seems to like living on the left of the bell curve, a place that he calls the "Authentic Fringe". But as time marches on and the fashions of the alternative become the daily grind of the masses (think Grunge as pop and Nirvana as middle of the road), there is a blurring of those boundaries. And just as I rolled my eyes listening to my mother’s music as a child, so too will my children roll theirs as I reach for the iPod to play another classic from Nick Cave.

But in the end, we like to mythologise our experiences. And at some point, the story takes over. After all, you can only have the experience once, but the story can be retold many times. And as our "real" memories fade, the stories become stronger, taking over from the experience. So while the experience may lead the charge, if it is not transformed into a lasting memory, both your story and your experience will fade.


Write Your Story, Publish Your Book

The team over at Blurb have an interesting approach to storytelling and publishing — they let you create your story and then custom publish it for you — professionally. Sounds good?

Unfortunately they have reached their subscription limit, so I have not had the opportunity to sign up and test it out … but I am on the list. The prices start at around $30 for a 40 page book which is not bad if you are only printing for a select few.

And while I do love technology and the way that you can publish instantly online, there is something about a book and a bookstore that you just can’t beat. Except, perhaps, if you are into stationery (did Maslow cover fetishes?).