Are Business Heroes Worthy of Their Capes?

There is a danger in setting up the business leaders of the world as models of great leadership. By profile, far too many of these people are living imbalanced lives of gross inequality (not only in the earnings to contribution ratio, but in the way they live and use that money).  I am all for making lots of money (in fact, if you have any extra, please send it my way), but I am worried about setting on a pedestal as exemplary leaders, those figures of modern industry that are more focused on finances than moral character. Continue reading

Humans don’t fear change, they fear uncertainty.

There have been many acres of forest spent on theories of change, many of which seem to posit that humans dislike and avoid it. Tell me, however, that you are giving me 10 million dollars and I will happily take it, even though it means and introduces change into my life. So, what’s the real story with change? Do humans favor or fear it? Continue reading

Marketers, Stop Taking and Start Giving

Of course that’s an inflammatory headline; it’s supposed to get your attention.  Now the next thing I do is write a line or two of pain-centered content, then I begin to pull you in with my pitch.  That’s what good marketers do, right?

We send messages.  We pretend to communicate and fire away at our market with little regard to whether or not the message is received, decoded properly or feedback gathered.  In fact, in most marketing organizations I know of, the flow of thinking is: create the campaign, fire away, and start creating the next campaign (all without the concept of action-learning).  Not anymore.

The game has changed, but we’re still playing with our old tactics and strategies, yet wondering why are not able to capture more loyal customers or survive in a struggling economy. The bottom line is that our customers come second in line to ourselves and the gap between the two gets bigger with every level of management that stands between.  The future of marketing is changing faster than marketing management is able to.

Markets are not just ‘markets’ – they are people.  People don’t want to be talked at, they want you to listen.  People crave reliable relationships, interactions that validate them as individuals of worth and value resources that enable and empower them to at least feel like they can do more, even if they don’t.  Take the example of great customer service – at its most fundamental level, focused, personal customer service raises the perception of dignity in an individual and gives them the feeling that they are ‘worth it’. For most of us, whose back is to the wall on a daily basis, a simple experience of self-worth is priceless.  Marketers forget that.  We think it’s about us.  It’s not – it’s about THEM.

With the availability and flow of information today, marketers have to realize that they can rarely control online reputation through a carefully filtered stance of message-leaking.  If an organization does not speak enough, the market will speak for them, often to the chagrin of brand managers and boards of directors.  What’s worse is that even if a company is trying to speak volumes in cyberspace, today’s social spheres quickly attribute even the smallest departure from what they feel is honesty, transparency and moral motive and then do the branding and advertising for you, in a negative light.

Marketing, branding, positioning, etc. is not what we think or say, it’s the net result of everything we do.  Don’t be afraid to invite the customer in and give them a free pass to your world, because if you don’t, they’ll happily be standing there as you sort through your own rubble.

Google CEO on Web 3.0

Though said in 2007 (I believe), its interesting to see how Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s predictions for what Web 3.0 would be:

Schmidt predicted that Web 3.0 applications would have the following characteristcs:

1. Applications that are relatively small

2. The data is in the cloud

3. The applications can run on any device, PC or mobile phone.

4. The applications are very fast

5. The applications are very customizable

6. The applications are distributed by “viraling” – by social networks, email, etc. You won’t go to the store and purchase them; they will be sent to you.

So, how are we doing – on the way to 3.o?

(see the actual dialogue here)

Hey Interviewers, Here’s a Gut-Check for You: “Interview Illusion”

“…We all think we’re good at it. We are Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace, taking the measure of the person. Psychologist Richard Nisbett calls this the “interview illusion” — our certainty that we’re learning more in an interview than we really are.”

I love this. So true. I was a part of a great organization that actually did learn how to interview, and I learned a lot from them. Unfortunately, most don’t.

http://ow.ly/7GoF

Marketing in Social Networks is not Network Marketing

My wife is part of a group of ladies that gather monthly to play a game of Bunco. There is nothing to the game – no skill or feats of strategery can win it.  And they

Marketing in social networks is about the network, not the marketers.

Marketing in social networks is about the network, not the marketers.

really don’t get together to play the game – they get together to simply get together.  Its their time to pursue a little something outside of the mainstream mom-hood.  And they enjoy it.  That is, until someone starts using the gathering to pitch them their latest networking marketing scheme.

Yes, there is a member of the group who isn’t necessarily a regular participant any more, and when they do show up, they end up talking all about their new business and how much money you can make and by the end of the evening have gone from covert to overt and uncomfortable.  Every time that happens, I hear all about how it ruined the evening and everybody was so turned off by it.  I can’t help but think of our current drive to market using social media.

In a great op ed piece written recently by Gareth Kay, he brought up the perspective (albeit semantic) that we ought not to be talking about social media, but about social ideas.  The media has been around and is really nothing new.  People getting together, collaborating, building networks, etc. – that’s nothing new either.  But to focus on the social media aspect is dangerously close to focusing on the means, and not the ends – the technology and not the results.  Marketing within the increasing waves of online social circles means that marketers will have to actually learn to 1. communicate and 2. listen, neither of which modern point-and-click directors have excelled at.

Marketing within the ‘social’ context includes active contribution, focusing on something other than one’s self and, instead of soliciting sales, soliciting collaboration towards a bigger purpose that fuels the social network itself.  When you show up to Bunco night and start pitching your wares, you’re not only way out of line, you’re way out in left field – nobody is there to get sold on your products or services.  They are there for the bigger purpose, THEIR PURPOSE, and you need to tie into that quick or you’re going to be the one not getting invited back to Bunco.