Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

When I am selecting these posts, I look for something that piques my interest – a word, a phrase or an idea that resonates.

Interestingly, it is almost never a comment. The idea behind Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week is to highlight those articles that should be shared or should find their way through the well-tuned content filters we have now all developed.

These five posts caught my eye and my imagination last week. I hope they help you start this week well!

  1. This excellent article on the Psychology of Pay Walls fascinates me. The concept that ownership has its own value is very important – and gives an indication of just how online communities become entrenched in the minds of their members
  2. Do your blog posts have a “tweetable moment” – the soundbyte that encourages your readers to tweet out a link? Craig Rosenberg shares Nine Variable to Consider When Creating Remarkable Content. The tweetable moment is just one of them
  3. How to Make New Friends is a stirling post by Nicola Swankie. Plenty of lessons for all of us here
  4. Not exactly from last week, but something that Mark Pollard shared (again): How to Position Your Business in 3 Sentences. For. Only. Because. We all need to be reminded of this! (Also check out his How to Explain an Idea – really from the last 5 days)
  5. An opportunity not to be missed – the Tax Deduction that Could Change Your Business.

There Are No More Boundaries

The 1950s were a wonderful time. It was a time of nuclear, loving families, safe neighbourhoods and white picket fences. In our local communities we knew the butcher, baker and grocer. The mayor would tip his hat as he passed you in the street and the boy next door delivered the newspaper each day on his rounds. It was a time when professional and domestic spaces were separate – as much by who participated in them as by the clock.

We latched onto these distinct notions with fervour. Deep in our psyches we ingrained the borders between work and home, public and private, and professional and personal as though they held “the truth”. In a post-war world, these distinctions helped us find our place – in the world at large and the smaller, mirror-worlds known as “work”, “community” and “home”. It was our need to BELONG and our desire to PARTICIPATE that drew us to these distinctions and turned a “role” into a way of being. The very act of performing these roles then served to strengthen and solidify them.

Soon we began to identify ourselves with these roles. We left our names behind and adopted these roles in their stead. Rather than “Gavin Heaton”, I would be a “marketing professional”, or even more specifically, a “director of social media”. This meant that the answer to the question of “what do you do?” became even more critical. The society’s shift of emphasis away from community value (I am a father, coach of a soccer team, husband and intellectual journeyman) to personal, professional value (I work at Acme Co) further served to reinforce the distinctions, ascribing a value to the professional/public life over the personal/community/private life.

Even the term “work/life balance” contains this dichotomy. It presumes that there is work – and then there is the whole of the rest of your life hived off in some other (smaller) compartment.

And yet while these barriers have remained in our thinking, they have been undermined by our behaviours. The widespread corporate retrenchments that shook the 1980s marked a fundamental shift in the way that we behaved – even it if had not yet affected the way that we thought. We went from a “job for life” behavioural commitment to a “career for me” action. The sense of security in the workplace was replaced by suspicion (on both sides of the management fence), and the individualism of era was given the face of Gordon Gecko.

Interestingly, these changes were forced upon us. We did not choose them, nor were we coerced or cajoled. As Mark Earls points out, achieving a change in behaviour is difficult.

In the decades that followed, our sense of belonging and participation fragmented, becoming narrower and narrower. We were able to effectively create and manage our fragmented personalities because they were disjointed, unconnected and unconnectable. This personal determinism set in place a regulated paradigm of thinking. Operating within small enclave our behaviours and actions reinforced this mindset.

But the connected (or social) web changed all that.

Our actions and behaviours in one sphere would be surfaced in our dealings with another (I like to think there is a level of subversion taking place here – along the lines of what Mike Arauz calls desire paths). The way we act and behave in business ripples across these connections and impacts the network of Facebook friends, website readers and Twitter followers. Our carefully crafted reputation no longer holds water – living instead in the active recommendations, connections, suggestions and star-ratings of our social networks. Just like the brands that we work for, we have become hub-and-spoke manifestations of our personalities.

But it’s not just digital.

Sure, social networks have surfaced the connections that we spent decades separating. But it is in the real work – the real connections – that value of the network is realised. It’s in the phone calls and coffees. It’s in the collaborative projects and workshops that result. It’s in the conversion of a recommendation to a sale. And underlying all this is reputation.

Whether you like it or not, your reputation is bursting out. It is racing ahead of you – out of reach and far beyond your control. This what I mean when I say “there are no more boundaries”. It goes beyond what we own – to the heart of who we are. It’s about purpose.

It’s The Social Way.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

A little late this week – but there’s been a lot on! There’s posts, news, work and so much great reading it’s hard to find time to write!

Hope that these five posts from last week get your brains vibing!

  1. For those wanting to optimise their sites (and who doesn’t), Google’s recent changes to their search algorithm is big news. Michael Brenner explains What Google’s New Search Algorithm Means For You.
  2. Want to move people from the digital world into your stores? Julian Cole shares 7 Killer Examples of Online to Offline Campaigns.
  3. Nike made it famous. Just do it. The same applies to social media for business. Cathie McGinn recommends joining the Dead Social Media Practitioners Society.
  4. John Hagel suggests we are seeing a shift from short term to long term thinking. He talks revolution from the edge. Thankfully few of us ever have to push our ideas for change as hard as those in the Middle East.
  5. Feel like you get pushed from pillar to post? Veronica Jarski explains How to Prevent Your Social Media Strategist from Being Everyone’s Lackey.

And don’t you still love Spell with Flickr?

Your Friends Suck

We often talk about social networks operating in a bi- or multi-directional way. The conversations flow from one point to another and ever-onwards.

But the same can be said of reputation.The same can be said of “influence”. After all, the people that we associate with – the people that we know and that we trust impact the way that other people see us. And those people also influence us.

Here, for example, is my Klout “influence matrix”. Now, I don’t think Klout is the be-all and end-all of measurement by any stretch of the imagination, but it provides us a glimpse into the world of mass-digital-data that sits just below the so-called level playing field of the social web.


What this shows, is at this point in time, indications are that I am influenced by David Armano, Mack Collier, Craig Wilson, Heather Snodgrass and Mark Pollard. But the same can be said of those who I, in turn, “influence”: Kate Kendall, Rob Campbell, Jye Smith, Trent Collins and Matt Moore.

Now, I am quite happy to write about these smart folks because at some level, they reflect well on me. They are smart, focused, professional people. But I would not have included their names, links and pictures in this post if I did not respect them. It is precisely because we can now see your visible networks, that we are able to make an assessment of what YOU are like, how professional YOU are and how likely YOU are to work well in a business context. And this is not just about HR or marketing. It impacts every aspect of your business. It impacts every relationship.

So now you really need to ask yourself – do your friends suck? And just what are you going to do about it?

Tell to Win – and Win

If you are like me, you can tell from the first line of a book whether you think it will capture you. Peter Guber’s Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story was one of those books that not only had me at the first line. It was like a Dan Brown book – but for business – one compelling story after another, urging me to speed, ever faster, through the pages towards the end.

Peppered with personal anecdotes, this book is all about the art of storytelling, for business. It starts with a failure – Guber’s own – where his pitch to the Mayor of Las Vegas falls short and he is reminded that there is only one chance to make a positive first impression. From this dramatic and embarrassing start, Guber takes us through his personal history, showing how storytelling underpinned his successes – and how a lack of storytelling ensured his failures. Along the way, there are quotes and examples from writers, doctors and business people of all persuasion.

For some readers, there won’t be enough detail in this book. Guber doesn’t dive deep into the research. But he does demonstrate precisely why and how the power of a good story wins out anyway – his own narrative uses facts to illustrate his points, but they never overwhelm. They never distract.

LOGO_ttw_cover While reading, I was constantly reminded of the best TED talks. I was reminded of the way that these great business leaders would engage us deeply with an issue that was dear to their hearts. They would make us laugh and make us cry. Not with the bald facts – which were often heartbreaking – but with the stories that show the human impact of those facts. Peter Guber’s book explains how these style of stories are crafted – how they are hung together. Then it’s up to you to give it a try.

To be honest, telling a story is scary. We can all hide behind the facts and the figures, but a story has a personal dimension. You tell it at a personal cost – and live or die (win or lose your pitch) by the story’s sword. My own experience is the same – where I have trusted in the story, I have succeeded. And where I doubted my story and pushed the facts, I lost. Reading this book, has in a way, reaffirmed for me the primacy of story. And that too is a success.

Now tell me your story and win

The publisher of Tell to Win sent me an extra copy of this book to review. This could be yours. Tell me your best business story in the comments below – or email me. The best story (in my opinion) will win a copy of the book. You’ve got until Wednesday at midnight (Sydney time).

Oh, and if you can’t wait, order a copy at Amazon.

And you can visit Peter Guber’s website here.

Social Media Channel Matrix

Many years ago I created a communications channel matrix. It acted as a ready-reference guide that allowed me to map out messages first and then choose the channel and the medium that was most appropriate. I have used it ever since.

I even had a version that I used for social media. But then the folks over at produced a version for social media marketers – the CMO’s guide to the Social Media Landscape. They have recently updated the guide for 2011. Interestingly it still includes Digg which I find next to useless – and have replaced Delicious with Tumblr. But – as with any form of communications – you need to know where your audience is use the media appropriately. Use this as a start, and overlay your own audience metrics and mapping to make this as customised as it needs to be.


Ejaculating Ideas

We’ve all been there. The dark room. Intense. Shallow breathing followed by a gulp of breath. For the first timer, the virgin, it’s daunting. There’s new terrain to explore and new opportunities laid bare. There’s also risk.

The tension builds. There’s nervousness, trepidation and excitement. Even the more experienced person can falter right about now. After all, you just don’t know how this will play out …

And then, you’re committed. You swallow. You bark out a few unintelligible words.

And it’s over. You’re spent.

Welcome to the messy world of the creative process.

There was a time when I thought coming up with an idea was the hard part. I thought they were the hard work of the creative process. And I saw the fabled “big idea” as the money shot. The one that counts. The moment that the game changes and the clients/bosses fall over themselves.

But I don’t see this anymore.

We now live in a time of abundance. Where once there was the luxury of time, we now only have urgency. And this urgency now acts as a meta-filter for all our experiences. We all ask the same questions. When can I have it? How quickly? How big?

Perhaps it was ever so. Maybe I am viewing creativity through the rose coloured tints of nostalgia.

But one thing is clear. Ideas come and go. They are spurted out left right and centre by anyone with a keyboard and a Twitter account. These orphans are left gasping for life at the edge of the information torrents that pause for no ego. After all, today’s Britney meltdown is tomorrow’s Charlie Sheen triumph.

The challenge for the marketer is not in identifying the next big idea. Our challenge is to commit to something we can BELIEVE in. That’s right, we need to find a concept, a grain of truth … something that we can trust-in and drive. We have to put ourselves on the line for these ideas – not the other way around.

The time for ejaculating ideas is over. It’s time for the Social Way.

100 Voices – 100 Years of International Women’s Day

I love this sort of thing … crowdsourcing and engaging super smart, articulate people, providing them a focus and letting them unleash their creativity.

Krishna De has gathered 100 quotes from women in business – all who contributed less than 140 characters. But even taking a quick glance you’ll be struck by just how clear and how powerful you can be in what is effectively the length of a tweet. A great way to celebrate 100 Years of International Women’s Day.