Earlier this week I spent some time talking to a recruitment agent. It wasn’t for a new job – I was providing a reference for a friend who used to work for me. It was an interesting conversation – not the run of the mill kind of discussion, but one which delved deeper … into motivation, needs and how they manifest for us in the workplace. It made me think about success – about why some people achieve things that others don’t or can’t.
Whenever I have been in charge of teams, I instinctively seek out those who have the type of energy that I can work with. I am attracted to those who have intrinsic motivation – a sense of drive – and tend to make a hiring decision based on the way that people walk into a room.
In this video, Dan Pink, talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose – and how they combine in an individual – and what this means for those of us who manage, direct or energise teams as part of our daily work. Sure there are times where we can take the standard managerial approach – offering rewards for good performance and disincentives for poor performance, but Dan Pink suggests a need to adjust our management styles according to the type of work being performed.
Mark McGuiness also points out, that while the carrot and stick approach works for simple working arrangements, when it comes to complex problem solving and challenging or creative industries, we need to think outside the box:
… the rules are mystifying, the solution, if it exists, is surprising and not obvious – [for this kind of problem] those ‘If… then’ rewards, the things around which we have build so many of our businesses, DON’T WORK!
This is not a feeling… this is not a philosophy… this is a FACT!
There is a double edged sword here, of course. We all like to be paid handsomely for the work that we do – but few of us are willing to prioritise our desire for autonomy, our mastery and skill and our sense of purpose above income. Or am I wrong?
What’s your motivation for doing what you do? And what would you change if you could?
“Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.” – Jeff Bezos (via Ruth Mortimer)
I was reminded of this quote by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos whilst reading Alan Wolk’s excellent rant on VW’s decision to fire Crispin Porter Bogusky:
You see the problem with VW isn’t the advertising, it’s the cars themselves. At a time when most people’s first stop in the car buying process is Google (or Bing) it’s clear that what VW needs is not better advertising, but better cars.
Alan then goes on to list various problems identified by a quick search on various car forums and blogs. But the same is likely to be found for any other car brand – you can find my own rant about Tim Jackson’s ill-fated Saturn here. Simply do a search on the name of your next (or current) car and add the word “problem” or “lemon” and you will see page after page of owner gripes, rants and issues.
This is something that advertising is simply not going to fix. It’s actually not possible. You see, it no longer takes a big budget and a sexy image to reach an audience. Anyone can start a blog for free and begin corralling opinion. And you know what? It is all captured by Google. Every word, every rant, every unsubstantiated comment (and every truth) is indexed by Google, assessed for inbound links, page rank and a number of other elements and then presented as fact to the unwary web surfer.
For brands, sticking your head in the sand is no longer an option. Consumers are increasingly turning to online opinion, blogs, social media, ratings and reviews as a way of framing their own purchase decisions – and if your voice is not part of the mix, then you are leaving your brand entirely in the hands of others. Is this a bad thing? It can be. It can also astoundingly positive.
The challenge now is not JUST good products and services – these are the new cost of entry into the market. What you need now is love, sweet love. You need the love of your fans. You need products that live up to the TYPE – to the words and stories of your consumers. For without that, no amount of advertising will permanently buy you the front page of Google.
Some organisations are beginning to experiment with social media, while others feel that they are well advanced in their efforts. But if you are like me, you will know that there is always something new to learn or a new approach to consider.
So, in a couple of weeks, there is a fantastic opportunity to hear from some leading social media practitioners. The MarketingNow! Conference in Melbourne is presenting two days of intensive training and interactive workshops with:
David Armano: Talking on “social media for social good” and “social business design” (you’re going to hear a whole lot more on this). It is a real coup to have David speaking here in Australia and a rare opportunity for local marketing, advertising and planning folk to see him and his well-known visualisations up close.
Darren Rowse: Probably the most prominent blogger in the country, Darren will be leading a Blogging 101 and Twitter workshop. I’m looking forward to this one myself!
Stephen Johnson: Will be bringing an agency focus with a workshop on building brand advocates and monitoring social media.
Laurel Papworth: Will be digging into social media measurement and ROI – so that you will be ready to get back in the office and start your business plan asap!
Jim Stewart: Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine? So if your social media strategy does not include a healthy dose of video, you are most probably missing a ton of opportunity. Get the lowdown on best practice video blogging from someone who knows.
Simon Young: Want to know how to actually make social media work within your business? Simon kicks off the two days and covers all the bases. Note to self: Make sure to get there on time!
Gavin Heaton: Yes, that’s right. Here’s your chance to ask me any question you want! I will be running a workshop on lead generation and community management – but want to make sure this topic works for you! Come armed with your questions or challenges – or better yet, drop me a comment and I will see how best I can incorporate your needs into the workshop.
There will also be plenty of opportunities for networking and discussion.
I remember reading John Naisbitt’s Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives years ago and being struck by the concept of high tech/high touch. That is, the more high tech our lives became, the greater our demand for high touch elements. This could account for everything from office design through to the interest in gadgets, and surprisingly, books. And everywhere I looked I could see evidence.
Then, as eBooks began their steady march forward, there were many who suggested that the book publishing industry was on the brink of collapse. We now know this is not true – and that book publishing may well be in the healthiest shape that it has been in for decades. BookExpo America indicates that there were over 130,000 active publishers in 2008 – an increase of 27%. And virtually all this growth occurs in the small publisher category. Clearly it would take something seismic to destroy a $40.3 billion industry.
But despite the growth of blogs and other forms of social communication, books continue to hold a prominent position in our culture. Think about the recent conferences you have attended – how many of the keynote speakers are authors? Think about the way we still continue to revere books. Perhaps it is the lure of storytelling or something more primal. Bruce Temkin suggests that part of our biological makeup, fundamental to evolutionary success, is the way that stories transform our brain’s responses:
People relate to stories because it is part of their evolutionary makeup. Stories cause our mirror neurons to fire at similar experiences, helping us remember and relate.
In my own experience, as the author of The Dialup Guide to Blogging, and more notably, publisher and contributor to The Age of Conversation, extreme care is taken whenever a word is laid out in print. We take more care with words when they are perceived as more PERMANENT than the digital variety, and we pay more attention to their context when they are given physical presence. Yes, a potential employer may Google your name before an interview, but they may throw a quote back in your face. Words really can eat you.
But on the consumption side – as a reader – books are also becoming status symbols. Up until recently, our book collections or libraries signalled our own tastes, follies and predilections to a private audience – those who are invited into the inner sanctums of our homes. (I don’t know about you, but when I visit a friend’s house, I scour their bookshelves for insight and maybe even scandal.) These days, however, we wear our libraries as badges of social honour – with sites such as BookTagger.com, Amazon and Shelfari bringing our reading list into the social networking space.
Nowadays, books are indicators of our conscious attention decisions – when we choose to read a book, we choose to immerse ourselves in its world and the imaginings of the author. Kyle Mitchell, agrees:
But books go beyond this too. When we read a book, we are making a statement to others as well as to ourselves. We invest in an unwritten contract where the rewards on offer can only be reached via our own commitment. As readers, we delay our gratification until the very last page. It’s like a slow dance with an uncertain ending. It’s like sex – or more precisely – like seduction.
There is much that marketers can learn from publishing in this regard. How do we capture the inbuilt Auchterlonie Effect provided by books (allowing others to tell their story about OUR story)? How do we mimetically reproduce that high tech/high touch aspect that is bound up in hundreds of years of publishing history? I think Jeremy Lebard, creator of BookTagger.com points us in the right direction:
Reading provides a quiet solitude seldom found in our busy world. It invokes in me a quiet chamber of the mind that shuts out external distractions and focuses on the story at hand. From that quiet room I get the best view of the world no matter where I am. The view is like no other; I watch a story unfold through the eyes of the author. The author’s words become the script and I the producer and out springs a living breathing story within the walls of my imagination. I am forced to interpret that with which I am unfamiliar. Every story I read takes my imagination for a workout. Reading forces you to become a producer that even with the merest budget it takes to buy a book you can compete with the latest commercially produced multi-million dollar production. Don’t believe me? Just listen next time a book is turned into a movie. More often than not you’ll hear “It’s not as good as the book”.
You know what it is like. There are faces everywhere. Banners. Stands. Noise. The bustle through the aisles urge you ever forward to where the scalding coffee waits your grasping, pre-keynote fingers. There are people you need to meet, folks you’d like to know better, and friends and colleagues waiting for you at the double doors. Someone, somewhere is in possession of a powerboard and will become your new best friend for the day. You are just three steps and a chance meeting away from your next big gig.
And then it starts.
The sessions fly past you at a rate of knots. There are networking drinks. Dinners. Meetings for coffee. Your brain sags like an overworked sponge and you think, at some point, that the stream of same-same Twitter responses may just make sense. In between workshops, the occasional donut beckons. And then, before you know it, you cocoon yourself in your car and shuttle back to the office. The conference over. Swag secured. Notes to digest and summaries to write. Your boss will be expecting a report first thing Monday.
But what happens a month on? Three months? Six? After the bold curation of ideas – of jamming social media cheek-by-jowl with electronic direct mail, strategy and ad networks, SEO, virtual worlds and innovation – what happens next?
Every time I attend a conference I always see them as lost opportunities. They can be intense hives of activity, leaving participants with dozens of ideas to work on – to digest and execute. But rarely does a conference event extend beyond its immediate horizon. Rarely does a conference work with the biorhythms of the business world to enthuse, engage and energise its community over the longer term.
But the folks behind Ad-Tech Sydney are taking on such a challenge – and doing admirably well. Not only do they have the Ad-Tech Brain operating as a blog and industry news aggregator, they have now run two free, breakfast briefings that provide us all with an intellectual caffeine hit just before the work day begins. Dr Jeffrey Cole, founder of the World Internet Project, will no doubt continue this new tradition and jolt us awake at next week’s briefing.
I like the way that Lucy James, Ad-Tech Content Director, is taking this opportunity to weave a story around the conference brand. The briefings are run with neat precision – setting a cracking pre-work day pace and leaving us all with a line or two, or an anecdote that we can easily relay back in the office. And the line-up of quality speakers adds to the experience – yes, you can read about Zappos until you fall out of your ergonomic chair, but it’s not the same as hearing Aaron Magness, tell the stories in his own words.
If authenticity is what we crave in social media, it doesn’t get any grittier than an intimate 80 seat room face-to-face discussion with the people who are taking these ideas and transforming them into successful businesses.
Is this the future of conferences? It certainly changes the way that you think of the conference “value exchange”. It’s not just a one-time event. It creates a sense of involvement, connection – and dare I say, “community”. It establishes an intellectual agenda and serves as a constant reminder of our participation in the world of ideas. I have a feeling other brands could learn some lessons here.