Where’s Adam?

Blogging is a fickle business … When I first started writing the Servant of Chaos blog I had no idea what blogging was. It was really just a way of forcing myself into some form of disciplined thinking. The emphasis for me was on the discipline … and I hoped that the writing and the ideas would flow from there.

Along the way I started to find that a rant would disrupt the writing … finding myself engaged in a torrent of indignant words directed at some brand or other. And eventually the content of the site started to steer itself. So the ideas did come and the discipline gave me a focus and a direction for the site. But not all bloggers continue after a few posts.

While Dave Sifry reports on another spectacular rise in the number of new blogs, it is equally apparent that a large number of blogs disappear without a trace. They are like the small businesses of the Internet world … they start with a passion and a flurry of interest and dedication … and then often fold under the weight of the chaos of life.

I was loving the discussion that grew around this topic a few days ago and wanted to see where Adam was up to. To my disappointment I found this message.Adam_1

It is a shame, because I loved the style and energy of his writing. I particularly liked the anarchic approach to ideas and the way he let the rant overtake all else. Let’s hope he makes a reappearance sometime soon … perhaps with that "book project" he was thinking of dusting off.


Put Your Goggles On

You don’t have to be fancy to have an impact. There is no need to create a new website on the scale of MGM Grand — which is pretty spectacular — if you have a great idea and an effective way to execute it.

That is why I like this. It is a flight simulator that uses Google Maps in realtime. You can select your location from a drop down list, or if you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can grab your coordinates from Google Maps and with a couple of hacks, fly around your own local area.

The cool thing about this is that it showcases the skills of Mark Caswell-Daniels — at a time when he is looking for work … and it has the potential to become viral on a global scale — he has cleverly added locations to the game based on the volume of traffic and its origin.

And if you fly north across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you can see my office. And on a bad day, you can even fire at it. Hmmm. I think I would prefer flaming blog comments!


Like to Dabble

Well as the folks over at Simple and Loveable have lamented, there does not seem to be much action in the Web 2.0 world at the moment. It is a shame because I love a new tool to play with.

So imagine how happy I was to find this. It is a way of organising all your favourite web videos. Good fun … thanks to Tara at HorsePigCow.

What Goes Around Comes Around

creepy merrygoround
Originally uploaded by Buddha Rhubarb.

Ideas have a currency and a time. Sometimes YOUR idea will coincide with the ideas of others and will find a ready market. Sometimes your idea will be considered "old" or more progressively "ahead of its time". But if the market is not ready for your idea … if it is not a COMPLIANT idea, then it will disappear into the multitude of messages that bombard us all daily.

I have been thinking through the anatomy of a compliant idea for some time … but it seems that they are easy to identify when you see them … but difficult to explain. For a start, they are slippery — they appear to come from out of nowhere … arriving with their hands on their hips and their sleeves rolled up. Make no mistake, the compliant idea arrives ready to do business.

They are surprisingly easy to implement. Because they are flexible, the compliant idea can be readily applied. They bend, stretch and go around corners. You can cut them up and watch them multiply. They are ideas for the web 2.0 world. Not only that, the compliant idea keeps coming back. It will refuse to go away, and will keep knocking on the door of your creative mind until you do something with it. They are like roundabouts.

I think that the reason compliant ideas are so persistent is that they are embedded deep within our unconscious mind. Our brains work away on them in the background, making connections, firming up pathways and finally when fully formed, they burst through to our conscious mind.

Interestingly, the blogosphere has succeeded in changing some of this. Sure you need to have a good idea, even one that works nicely for and with you … but you also need to make sure that your market is ready for your idea. Now, you can do much smaller trials, create niche experiences and market to those selected audiences very cost effectively.

Like Seth Godin says in this post, "Starbucks couldn’t have launched in 1970. We weren’t ready." It is not just about your idea, and it is not just about its execution. It is also, VERY importantly, about your MARKET. And if they are not listening, then really, you are just wasting your breath.


New Blog Design

Ok … so it is finally done. A new design!

I was thinking about how my initial plans were to use this blog as a form of writing discipline … and an outlet for my "creative" writing "talents". Things have obviously moved on from there (which is also part of the fun). But something that is still at the core of what I am interested in is communication and the importance of words/storytelling.

So I started looking around on the web for inspiration. There were plenty of cool sites about the history of communication, about printing and publishing and about typography (something that I have always been interested in). And the banner seemed to start to flow from there.

Now that the design has been updated, perhaps Terry will leave me alone.


Own Your Own Ideas

I have never really had a great respect for defined job roles. My focus has always been on achieving outcomes … and if that means dragging the IT team into a marketing meeting or taking over the preparation of new project proposals, then that is what I do. Of course, this means that YOU (or I) have to take a leadership position … and you have to accept all that comes with it.

Often this means that you have to learn very quickly, think on your feet, and make decisions while consulting with your teams, stakeholders and executive/board management. You also have to fight against your own internal resistance — fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of knowing what you don’t know. And you have to maintain a focus on delivering the outcomes you were aiming for.

I remember working as an editor for a publishing company and thinking that there had to be a better way of typesetting all the content. There was massive doubling up of work. The editing was slow by hand and could be done faster on a PC. It was obvious to me that this duplication could be eliminated by using one of the new desktop publishing systems. But one of the problems was that doing the work in this way would make ME responsible for the editing AND the setting. And while I was happy to complain about the typesetting and the time it took in the production schedule, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to take on the unions, the management and the mantra of publishing — "that’s the way we do it".

All these thoughts were prompted by this post over at Michael Wagner’s Own Your Brand blog. Mike points us towards an article by Monica Powers where she pinpoints the skills of a good marketer. I liked the way that Monica focuses on the strategic elements of marketing, not the tactical — you know, don’t hire a marketer to layout a newsletter. Actually, I was expecting the article to be in the blog style of "10 skills of a great marketer" … so loved that it wasn’t. Take a look to see what I mean …

But one of the important elements of this discussion was the need to push down the boundaries. Many marketers (actually most people) expect that opportunities will land in their laps. Even when you feel like you have good ideas or contributions to make, it is easy to sit back, throw a couple of comments into a meeting and then sit back and see what happens. It is much harder to volunteer to make something happen. This is partly what (I think) Mike Wagner means when he talks about owning a brand. BUT before you can own your brand, you have to own your own ideas. You have to have the courage of your convictions and a plan, and determination, to push them all forward.

If you are a marketer and you want to have input and impact on your company’s brand, then you have to put your hand up. It is easy to complain, but harder to take up the challenge.

So in the end, I pushed to take on the desktop publishing and the whole company held its breath. You know what, it worked. The editors were happier, the typesetters got rid of work they didn’t want, and the production schedules were cut in half. Our customers were ecstatic.

Think you can do a better job? Stop talking about it then, and step up and own your idea.


How Fast Can You Go?

Taipei 101’s elevators are fast. But they are not as fast as the culture shock you get from flying between cities in Asia.
From the typhoon induced chaos of Taipei’s international airport to the relative calm of Hong Kong … right through to the ease of being back in Sydney … the changes in sights, smell and even air pressure remind you that you are in a different place. And that is before you hear language, or read a sign.
The last few posts have been done from airport lounges, and even from the plane waiting for push-back thanks to Typepad’s mobile blogging setup. I must say I was inspired by David Armano’s use of it … and thought I would give it a try.
So how fast can you blog? As quick as you can send an email, apparently.

Eye of the Storm

After a couple of days of storms it was relatively quiet here in Taipei. And it was our first chance to escape the confines of the hotel. The obvious destination? Tower 101. It is the tallest building in the world. And as the lift catapults you upwards at 60km per hour you are cushioned from the force by some cool technology that creates a pressurised bubble within the car. At the top you are greeted by a spectacular view. But you can feel the building sway … And with a typhoon approaching I was a little nervous. The building also has a massive pendulum that helps it balance in any condition. I’d like one of those myself! More from Sydney over the next few days. S.

No Job Description, Bad Boss Please!

OK … so you know I don’t want a job description. It would feel like I am wearing the WRONG kind of suit … but on the other side of the coin … do we need bosses? Seth Godin gives us a list of things that GOOD bosses do … and I am sure that someone, much more witty than I will come back with a list for BAD bosses.

But sometimes, it is the BAD bosses that actually make you achieve more. Yes, good bosses are … well, good. But the bad ones can inspire you to get out and make something of your life (perhaps out of fear that you will become like them). They can make you clearly see what YOUR skills are and also to help you plan your career by what you are willing to take on (responsibility, stress, politics) and what you are not (responsibility, stress, politics).

In reverence to all my bad bosses I used to love watching The Office … but then, I found Absolute Power’s Charles Prentiss. Bad bosses can make you cringe (in real life), but the truly evil bosses … well they are in a class of their own. They are so wrong they are right.

And if you want to see some fun image sets of lego bosses, try this.

My Thoughts Are Not My Own

Teething problems
Originally uploaded by mark lorch.

Kids are so flexible … they can get their feet into their mouths without a problem. As adults, we often loose this ability … except in a metaphorical sense. This is mostly how I feel when writing this blog … I am always on the verge of placing not just by toe, but my whole foot, into my mouth.
Since I started blogging, I have found a number of times where I was under the misguided apprehension that I had an original idea. I raved on and on about authenticity only to then find the most in-depth and innovative thinking on the subject in blogs by Johnnie Moore and Chris Corrigan.
And my recent ramblings on innovation were (nicely) pointed out to have similarities to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Flow (thanks to Clay Parker Jones). In fact, I think I had read his work years ago and in the meantime had absorbed his ideas and turned them into my own.
It is funny (and sometimes frustrating) to find that our ideas are those belonging to others. But it is also a testament to our education systems and to our own self-learning. Sometimes it is possible to arrive at the same solution to a problem … even if you are working in isolation or in secret. But as I have said before (and as many others have said before me) … it is not about the idea — it is how you bring it to life.
And maybe, just maybe, it is not putting a foot into my mouth — I am just sucking my toe for inspiration.
By the way … the photo is inspired by Katie’s uncanny geographical skills and unmatched oratorial abilities.