Monday, December 07, 2009

Humility and Submission aren't Four Letter Words

I've been thinking a lot about how our culture is changing.  It appears to me that some very positive change has come in the last few years.  I'm not talking about a forced increase in creativity and entrepreneurialism. Though I love creativity and entrepreneurialism. I'm talking about a shift that's been taking place for a while.  Over the last 30-40 years our culture has been about hype.  Everything has been commercialized to the point that in some ways we all started to believe it truly was all about "me."  But the pendulum has begun to swing in a new direction.  No, not back to where we were 50 years ago.  As much as some harken back to "the good ol' days," we couldn't go back if we wanted because of the influence and effect the last 3 plus decades has had on the way we think & act, and the way the world works.  What is happening is a return to the concepts of humility and submission.  But in a new way. Let me explain my thinking. 

Years ago I heard what I believe to be the perfect definition of humility: it's not thinking less of yourself, it's just thinking of yourself less.  There is a new attitude toward helping others, toward protecting the planet, toward service in general.  So much so that Corporate America (as it slowly starts to "get it") spends billions on causes and cause marketing each year.  Whether this is done from the heart or because it's the new cool thing to do or just a way to sell more stuff - the trend toward service is real. 

Now for the more controversial subject of submission.  Again, words mean things so let me define submission.  I'm not talking about the slavery type of submission.  Or totally sacrificing your identity.  Submission is when you are willing to make your will fit the will of a greater cause.  It requires humility, but more than that it requires courage.  For example, you have two opportunities, one to make a large amount of money doing something that you love doing but has little if any social impact and another to make a huge difference by joining forces with an organization that has a massive social impact but the money is less than compelling.  What do you do?  I believe there has been a shift in how a growing percentage of the population answers the question. 

Social impact has become a huge driver in career choice.  People are submitting to what they see as the "greater good" (whether it actually is or not is a subject for another post).  However, the interesting thing is that many are finding a third option, often by accident.  The whole concept of the social entrepreneur.  Doing good to do well.  Making more money by focusing on the social impact.  This is the American Way.  The concept introduced at the beginning of our nation - "Self-Interest Rightly Understood." 

So, humility and submission don't have to mean beating yourself up, taking sacred vows of poverty and self-denial.  Individuality can still be strong in these trends toward humility and submission.  It's actually a requirement to be the best leader you can be.  Jim Collins called this a Level V leader.  The type of leader that can take an organization from Good to Great.  "Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders...[are] self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy - these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar." (pgs. 12-13, Good to Great by Jim Collins)

Selfishness and greed aren't going away but the good news is they are no longer the ideal.  We have the opportunity to do great things through real relationships that have an impact that ripples out beyond ourselves.  What a great time to be alive!

New Perspectives = New Value


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Wave is coming...

If you haven't heard about it yet, you've got to check out what's next from Google. Google Wave is going to change the way you use the internet (again).

While you’re watching this think of the implications – to society, to culture, to productivity, to innovation, to structure, to processes, to how we think, communicate, engage, etc. It’s somewhat mind blowing. At the same time it’s a rather simple concept… Have one place to manage everything – input and output, relationships and work. Collaborate real time. Review the steps that occurred, how a conversation went, who put those weird captions on your vacation pictures. Instant messaging will be truly "instant," letter by letter. Update all your social media sites at one time. Edit them all at one time. Okay, even though it may be a simple concept, what it does goes on and on and on... Watch the video and try not to drool on your keyboard.

New Perspectives = New Value


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Social Media and Richmond, Virginia

Today, Richmond Biz Sense launched the 1st of a 3 part series on social media in Richmond, Virginia. Interesting stuff, especially the quotes from Charles Collie (shameless self-promotion) and my good friend Nhat Pham (he's Pham-tastic).

The point that may have been missed about Twitter is its usefulness beyond selling and marketing is that it is a great information resource. We actually use it as a very powerful research tool. Actually all social media has the potential to inform in a very "real" way.

New Perspectives = New Value


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do it anyway

In a poem called "Do It Anyway", Mother Teresa said:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, some could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

If you live by the words of this poem, your life may not be easy but it will be better.

New Perspectives = New Value


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Lean and Not So Mean Business Model for Today's Economy

Ariel Horn, who runs The Horn Corp., a Manhattan ad agency, has found both a way to help the numerous unemployed advertising workers in New York, and a new business model.

Great ideas don't come from doing things the way they've always been done. Start with the problem not how you do things. It not only makes it easier to solve the problem. It makes it easier to sell the solution. Think like Ariel Horn and you'll find opportunity where others only see problems. Know of anyone else like Ariel?

New Perspectives = New Value.


Friday, May 29, 2009

The Pain and the Ecstasy

Technorati Profile

Connecting all your profiles and getting on all the directories and making sure you have tags here there and everywhere is quite the pain... until someone that needs you finds you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to talk to customers when times have changed

Here's a good article from HBR on how to talk to customers (when you don't know what to say). It equates talking with clients in the current economic downturn filled with layoffs and belt tightening to a personal situation when a friend has lost a loved one. Sometimes you just don't know what to say.

I've been telling my clients for months now that the things their clients cared about just a short time ago are not the same today. The message still comes from your brand's core strength but it needs to be communicated in a new way that takes into account the new behaviors and attitudes as well as the changing strength of various touchpoints/media. I also have been chanting as my mantra that this is not the time to stop or greatly reduce your marketing. It's time to make it more efficient, yes. But to just take the tact of cutting the marketing budget without a strategy to make it more efficient (and effective) by honing your communications by taking the steps outline above is just increasing the speed of your downward spiral.

Be responsible, but be responsible in an intelligent way.

Stay focused.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Times They Are A Changin'

In his blogpost, We Are Actively Dismantling Your Trusted Marketing Strategies, Brian Massey explains that,

"The culture, the strategies, and the beliefs that your business has relied on for the past 20 years are being actively dismantled."

I think that in many ways Brian has it right. As we shift power away from the Boomer Generation that thrived on hype and mass marketing we find control of defining what a brand means largely in the hands of the "new" consumer. Enter the era of conversational marketing where the words humility, simplicity and authenticity rule.

The truly interesting thing about all this that Brian points out is that the parts still work, they just need to be put together in a different form.

"TV is not an effective way to communicate, video is."

"Radio is not an effective way to communicate, the human voice is."

"Print is not an effective way to communicate, words and images are."

"Web sites are not an effective way to communicate, solving problems is."

All of this relates to my last post on listening first and always. Understand your audience (those that are important to you as well as those that are important to them) then say something powerful. They will do the rest.

As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true."

Be real,


Friday, January 02, 2009

Listening is rare, but it's the key to Social Media

Recent research indicates that the average individual listens for only 17 seconds before interrupting and interjecting his/her own ideas.

In social media it usually works like this:

I see that there over 100 million people on Facebook, Bebo, Xing, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter etc., etc., etc. I think, "Wow, I need to get involved. Maybe something good could happen for me." I register, fill out my profile and then start connecting with everyone I know and a bunch of people I barely know or would like to know. I join some groups and ask everyone to connect with me. I spend hours making comments, posting stuff, sending people cutesy flair, etc., etc., etc. It's interesting and even a little fun but nothing is really happening other than a bunch of my old girlfriends are trying to get in my friends list. Lots of talk and no real action (business-wise that is) Hmmm. Why am I not having any luck making something happen?

I think it's because you didn't spend time listening first.

Here's another scenario:

"Wow, I need to get involved..." You google social media and find some interesting articles that talk about the different reasons people get involved with social media. Some of them actually cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. But you now understand the type of people you want to be in touch with to accomplish something. In this case finding resources and networking for business opportunities. You decide to spend some time on each of the most popular social media sites and learn about the tools available for each. You search the groups and find several that seem to fit your interests. You take the time to read some of the posts and comments in the groups and decide on 3 that are great fits. By this time you realize that getting involved with all the social media sites you can find is impossible. But you can manage 2 or maybe 3. You find that there are ways to post once and have it show up on multiple sites. Efficiency is my friend you think. There's more to learn so you continue to monitor posts and follow links to learn more about the people that are saying what you're thinking. You contact a couple through e-mail and find that they are full of advice. You ask about results and listen extremely closely when you hear what some have been able to accomplish. Now its time to get involved... and maybe think about starting a business helping others accomplish their goals through social media... maybe even write a book about it... (that's what David Meerman Scott did).

Listen, Learn and Act,