Archive for category Leadership

Wealthy are less greedy these days

What do I mean by saying the wealthy are less greedy these days… To get to the point, that is one of the insights gleaned from the results of a quick survey I did on Ask 500 People, that people who have higher incomes generally think they have enough stuff and a very low percentage of people making over $100k think they don’t have enough stuff.

enough_by_income

Before I get any further into the meaning of the results, I need to do a better job of setting the stage, from the beginning.  You see, it’s been on my mind a lot lately that I really do have enough stuff.  That the all out feeding frenzy at the buffet of consumerism is perhaps coming to an end.  Many retailers are going to be really hurt as we have seen already with Circuit City, Mervyns and Macy’s among the first to experience the hardships.  Now this is especially going to be true for those retailers who aren’t using ecommerce effectively (as you may have seen in my brick and mortar review, shopping at the mall isn’t what it used to be).

People are waking up to the wastefulness of our habits (I sure have – everything from the amount of food that spoils to the amount of packaging materials I throw away and of course, all the old obsolete technology – ugghhh). More and more people from all walks of life are, from all around the world, are realizing that this sort of behaviour is unsustainable.

Do You Have Enough Stuff?

With a margin of error of what I believe is +/- 2% for all respondents (424) versus known respondents with unverified profiles, I think these stats are close to speaking for the whole.

I see some other stuff here that is interesting, and I need to take some more time to write my post for “The Economy of Enough” which is what inspired me to ask this question, so I will just close by saying that if we were still in the Gordon Gecko era of cash is king 80’s, I would suspect it might look something like this:

enough_by_income2

Just for kicks, lets take a nostalgic look back at Mr. Gecko’s infamous speech

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Equality Camp San Francisco

Spent the better part of the day down at Citizen Space for Equality Camp, focusing on supporting the marriage equality movement.  There were some great discussions and a lot of great people, a few of whom I captured in some of these photos.  Hope you enjoy…

#eqcampsf

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Foundational Fixes For Economy #alt2bailout

Face-to-face trading interactions on the tradi...

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This morning over sausages and beer at Citizen Space, the talk inevitably turned to the economy and whether it was going to turn around or tank.  The great thing about co-working is the diversity of perspectives you can get in any conversation.  Without the corporate silo walls preventing us from interacting, without being organized by similarity of activities performed, and without anything connecting us more then a shared sense of place, we get by the bullshit and get real.

Anyway, I digress, because my point is more about what we really need to change in order to correct for our broader market problems (though I clearly think the silos between us are uber important).  What will it take? Less Greed?  Sure, but how do we stop one of the most powerful and highly motivating of the 7 deadly sins?  We certainly don’t legislate it all away, its an emotionally charged human behaviour.  No, we must really start the change from within.  Microsharing is perhaps an appropriate meme to leverage – now we need to get on to microgrowing, where we each grow a little bit each day in terms of understanding how connected we are to the world around us and the other people in it.

This was one of the original purposes of BrainJams, and then Social Media Club – to bring together people from a large diversity of backgrounds to see past the differences of culture, style, economic status and intelligence and see into the hearts and souls of each other.  To see that as much as we are individuals, we are also all one.  We are on this earth together.  We are part of this ecosystem less then we are masters over it.  We are in it together.

Whether or not you believe in the butterfly effect or chaos theory, you certainly have experienced the impact that another person can have on you and that you can have on them.  There is no denying that we are all connected in some way – the homeless man and Donald Trump, George Bush and Cindy Sheehan, and even Charlie Manson and the Benedectine Monks.  What we do affects others.  Simple.  What we do affects the earth. Simple.  What others do affects us.  We need to be mindful of this impact and find a way to ensure its balance.  To balance our self interest and drive with the broader interest of the world around us and its needs for our unique contribution to it.

What we need to fix to help our economy is to not reward greed and excess with tax breaks and bailouts but with meaningful penalties.  Perhaps they can use their great talents to serve as community organizers – to solve big problems.

One specific place where a change in perspective can have a potentially big impact is in looking at our unrealistic expectations of investment grade returns of our investment capital after a company has developed a mature market.  We probably need to fix the general public perception about investment markets in the US really.  We need to get beyond the expectations of constant never ending growth of our investments and look more to the long term. More like the Europeans with a 5 year view of the market instead of a quarterly perspective.

We need to shift our thinking of investments into alignment with reality.  At some point, investments in mature markets become consistent profitability instead of a doubling of revenue. The investor reward on this investment has a ceiling, but if it is successful will always reward your risk with income in the form of dividends.  Wow, what a concept!  So instead of looking for my money to grow exponentially, I realize it is providing me with $250,000 in income each year.  That sounds pretty darn reasonable to me.

Wasn’t that how utilities and railroads used to operate?

This is clearly a sociological problem. A psychological problem.  So it is hard to imagine any scenario where our government is going to be able to force this sort of change in society.  That change needs to come from inside of us. Each and everyone of us. We need to be aware of the world we inhabit, our role in it, our stewardship of it and our responsibilities to each other that when honored will reward each and everyone of us.

It starts simply with microgrowth.  Personal development and an acceptance of the reality we are facing as a result of a way of thinking that is not based in reality.  Humans Don’t Scale no matter how big our appetite for growth is.

Is it possible for this change in thinking to ever take place? Whats good about it and whats bad about it?

A view of the world in balance with our place in it is all I am seeking,  There are many ways to that path.   Tag yours with #alt2bailout and lets learn from each other and discuss other issues we need to address along with potential solutions to our problems.

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Living in the Era of Conversation

happy conversations are surely bestOver the past few months, I have had several opportunities while speaking, to experientially teach people the power of conversation to create understanding between people that goes beyond our choice of words. In each case, someone in the audience (or in a meeting) misconstrued what I was saying because my word choice did not match their own perceptions regarding an intention or point of view around a particular subject. Through the give and take and back and forth of conversation, we were both able to realize we were merely describing the proverbial different parts of the elephant as the blind men might do.

The idea of widespread participation in ‘the conversation’ is a very challenging thing for corporations to embrace because you not only lose control of the message, but also because you risk losing control of the messenger, and their personal judgments and speech. Last night this came into focus more clearly when my colleague Josh Bancroft criticized our efforts with Social Media Club when he wrote a blog post that said we had “nuked the fridge”. Now, we have received some criticism and some praise throughout the day, which to me is good because it means we are no longer in what Kathy Sierra has referred to as the zone of mediocrity, which is where we were for too long (IMHO).

My challenge isn’t with criticism, it is with a set of broader issues which I guess you could consider as the ‘hot buttons’ that set me off. For this, I want to apologize to Josh for snapping back at him, but I also would like to ask you to indulge me in looking at the bigger picture here, which is a bit complex and for which I am afraid my ability to communicate is not sufficient. I don’t mean to call Josh out specifically here, but this incident really has helped to clarify my thoughts around this issue and I think it is a valuable lesson to share.

While this is not a complete list, as I see it today, there are five things we should understand and consider when living in the era of conversation.

First, it is the matter of intention

Second, it is the matter of making assumptions

Third, it is the matter of familiarity and respect

Fourth, it is the matter of ethnocentrism (or technocentrism)

Finally, it is the matter of responsibility

Intentions matter a lot, and for us to disregard this in public discourse and/or in understanding each other through our actions is to completely misunderstand what being social is all about. In a very real sense, at least from my perspective, I was largely given a ‘hall pass’ on the failures of Social Media Club (SMC) because most people know that my intentions are good, that I am living my values, that I am honest and that I am working for positive change despite falling short on occasion. Last night, I was talking to my Conversation Group colleague Eric Doyle (our office Buddha) who was discussing the meaning of influence with someone who doesn’t believe in PR. He mentioned that influence was largely understood to mean manipulation. I pointed out to Eric that influence itself is not inherently good or bad, but rather it was the intentions behind the use of influence that determined whether it was helpful or exploitative. My drinking of a Peroni may have influenced others who joined our group to also drink a Peroni (it was so tasty!) but there was no intention of manipulation there, or for that matter of being helpful – I was just drinking a cool refreshing Peroni 🙂

In another exchange yesterday, a colleague from Intel Kelly Feller pointed out that there were not a lot of corporate practitioners on the SMC Interim Board (there are in fact 6 or 7). I had worked hard to invite a wide range of people to provide different perspectives and was taken aback by this a little. Since I don’t know Kelly all that well (we have only spoken by phone/email a few times, but I clearly understand she has value to contribute and generally ‘gets it’), I was able to keep a more level head. While a bit ‘perturbed’ at this pronouncement, I engaged her in Twitter conversation to determine her intentions and ask if she was interested in helping, to which she answered “who would I be to criticize and then not be willing to help? 😉

But when Josh decided to say that we nuked the fridge, his use of colorful language, in my mind (and based on prior observed behaviour), was used to draw attention and demean our efforts, not make them better or engage in conversation. This was in stark contrast to the approach that Lloyd Davis took in the comments when noticing that we had made a mistake in claiming 42 interim board members, when in fact there was only 41. Had Lloyd’s intention been anything other than to respectfully get to the facts, he may have written a blog post calling us liars and committing a fraud on the public, though clearly this was a simple, and all too human, mistake.

This leads me into my second issue, which is about making assumptions. Now we all have to do this generally to get by in the world (is this person I am dating ‘sponge worthy‘ for instance), but largely we tend to make assumptions when we should be asking questions and seeking clarifications. This is one of the central points of what I think is the most important book of our time (and my favorite), The Four Agreements. Clearly I am not perfect in this regards because I assumed that Josh was attacking me and SMC for his own gain rather than calmly engaging him and trying to get at the root of his concerns.

In my mind though, this was for a good reason, which brings me to my 3rd point of familiarity and respect. There have been a few times where I have been personally offended by assumptions and statements made by people I know who didn’t bother to respect our relationship by seeking clarification directly before making public statements/posts which in my mind were inaccurate. I had mistakenly thought that Josh understood my intentions here and what we were working to accomplish with SMC, which can broadly be thought of as trying to ensure we use this social medium properly for the positive benefit of us individually and collectively. So when someone published what I perceived as an attacking post instead of asking me for clarification personally first (he does follow me on Twitter despite my original mistake in thinking he doesn’t), it really hit my hot button. As I clearly hit Josh’s when I made another statement on Twitter, and for which I again apologize for upsetting you Josh. Hopefully you can see that there was a point to it here that I was trying to make, one which is clearly taking more then 140 characters to explain.

This of course brings up a larger question of responsibility, my fourth point. We have been given a great power in freedom of speech with these social media tools, and of course in the use of that freedom people are free to do with it as they please and we have little control over it, if any at all (at least in this country). This is why it is so important that those of us, like Josh and myself, have a responsibility to use the power of this medium responsibly. We have a responsibility to not just pass judgement in a hastily formed opinion that could cause harm to others (personal, professional, or otherwise). Journalists have this responsibility to the truth hammered into them from their very early days of ‘J’ school, and by all their editor/mentors over the years. It is a tradition passed on from master to apprentice and it is missing from the ‘art of blogging’ to such a degree that I do think it is one of the biggest issues we face. The behaviour we choose to model for those who follow us will determine what society as a whole thinks is the difference between right and wrong – if we choose to use inflamatory language to draw more attention to our hastily formed opinions which may not be based on all the facts, we are setting a bad example.

In my mind, this is made an even more egregious mistake when such snap judgements are formed about people or situations to which we have direct access to the people involved. It amazes me to think about how many times someone I know has written something that was simply not correct, when a simple email, direct message or phone call could provide clarification about their concerns…

As I am getting rather long and I am afraid people will misconstrue my final point, I won’t dive too deep into why ethnocentrism is an important matter to discuss here, but let me briefly talk about the relevant analogy I am trying to make. In this case, the idea of technocentrism is perhaps more important to discuss. It has its roots in the same general principles of ethnocentrism – the distrust/dislike of people who are not like us and a feeling of superiority – but it is perhaps more divisive in our society today then many realize. As part of my regular speeches I often talk of the chasm of mistrust between technology and marketing folks as being responsible for trillions of dollars of lost value in the economy. I mean it, and I wish I could fund a study to prove it – the number might be even bigger.

The challenge here is that oftentimes when a technologist sees someone in a suit, or with a particular title, or using some of those ‘marketing words’, many will make a snap judgement that this person is not to be trusted. Online, we make similar snap judgments based on the words and writing styles people use. In the situation with Josh Bancroft’s dislike of Social Media Club’s announcement, it had to do with a particular paragraph of text that to him made it sound like we had ‘sold out’ and gone ‘corporate’.

To be clear, I am not perfect here myself. The only reason I know about this or have thought about it is because I have made the same sort of mistakes and faced the same issues personally. Had I not felt the pain that such thinking and behaviour has wrought, I wouldn’t have learned the lessons myself. In fact, for many of these points, I still make the same mistakes, but I am quick to admit when I am wrong or when I realize I should have responded differently.

Why invest so many words in trying to explain this situation? It is not for my sake or for Josh’s, but rather for all of our benefit. If we don’t learn how to live in this era of conversation with one another better, all of the command and control hierarchy people in institutions who don’t want us talking to one another will win the day. This is one of the few places where the group that plays Amanda Chapel is right – seeing the world as it is rather than how it could be – there is little reason why corporations based on the principles of profit and growth should risk their existence by allowing an individual to express a hastily formed opinion or speak out of turn when we are not thinking more conscientiously about what we are saying and how it will be perceived. If we are to really have conversations with companies, and with each other, openly and freely, we have to learn how to talk with one another better. We need to accept responsibility for our actions and our speech.

In short, we need to apply good intentions, stop making assumptions, respect one another regardless of our differing opinions, stop judging books by their covers and embrace the fact that we are all responsible for the communities in which we live.

If we can’t get by these problems as a society and start to move in the direction of open and respectful conversation, we won’t ever realize our full potential or live in the sort of world I hope and pray we can create.


Photo by CC_Chapman under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license.

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It’s About Conversation, Not Marketing

After reading The problem with ‘conversational marketing’ I was inspired to express my views on the importance of conversation and the evolution of marketing.

Let’s be clear, the real problem with conversational marketing (other than the God awful term itself) is the ‘marketing’, not the conversation. The human problem with many traditional marketing practices is that they are exploitative in nature, selling/hyping goods and services in the market that are of dubious value, and only benefit those doing the selling. Of course this is not the case with the majority of marketing or marketers, but the extent to which a few bad intentioned actors can create a stereotype that is harmful to an entire group of people is quite stunning.

The gist of the article is correct that product and experience are the most important aspects of the business by providing goods and services to the market that create profits and satisfaction. I wrote about this after our awesome SxSW panel earlier this year in a post called The Golden Rules of Marketing. If you are more interested in the importance of great products as the first step to great marketing, listen to the podcast of the Self Replicating Awesomness session.

My problem is with the article’s dismissal of the importance of conversation over messaging to create understanding. It demonstrates how badly a few buzzword spewing charlatans can hurt the efforts towards transformation across an industry (communications in this case).

As I have demonstrated in unplanned exchanges in numerous workshops I have facilitated over the past year, it is very easy for people to mean the same thing, use different words to describe it and have an argument resulting from their different viewpoints. Conversation in this case, creates understanding, bridging cultures and differences in the use of language – something that a simple published statement or headline (aka message) can not do if no one is able to be engaged, listening and responding.

When those of us who understand what is happening say the words ‘listen and respond’, we are not limiting ourselves to the words we say back to someone after listening. We are talking about what we DO as a result of HEARING them as well as what we say. By listening, and truly hearing what is said, we are also showing that we are paying attention – it speaks volumes about the true intentions of our actions in the market place.

The post’s author sees the biggest proof of the failure of conversational marketing in a 2007 study from 9 months prior to their post:

According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Dell was at the bottom of the pack in 2007 and actually lost 5 percentage points from the previous year

The author is correct in noting that it is much more difficult to provide a product that meets the market’s needs/expectations then it is to talk with them. Duh! The point isn’t so much that they are talking together, but what they do as a result. To expect conversations between representatives of a company and the market to turn around the culture and operational systems of that company within a matter of hours or days is of course impractical. These things take time. We are all human, people misunderstand, and of course, people make new mistakes which need to be understood and corrected all the time.

The article goes on to further state:

As such, companies should invest first and foremost in making sure that they do a good job of providing consumers with the products and services they want and need.

But of course, in order to understand what products they want, the companies need to listen to them FIRST, deliver the goods, listen to them again, change, deliver the goods again with improvements and so on. This quote shows how backwards the thinking is – companies need to do more up front to understand the needs of the market (traditionally thought of as research, which is of course a form of a conversation) before they invest in producing the goods.

The post goes on to say:

I would also point out what may seem counterintuitive to conversationalists – the fact that sometimes silence is the best indicator of consumer satisfaction.

Apparently, the author – Drama 2.0 – hasn’t read one of Kathy Sierra’s best blog posts called Be Brave or Go Home, which explains why customer silence is not golden if your company lives in the zone of mediocrity. Nor have they read Ken Blanchards book called Raving Fans, nor do they understand the importance and impact of Word of Mouth.

The thing is, that if I buy a computer from Dell (and I am a Mac guy, so the chances are slim), I hope I don’t have to talk to Richard Binhammer about a problem, but he hopes I talk to him about how much I love it. Either way, because I know that they are listening, as humans do to one another, I know that he will help to fix any problems. I know that their intentions are to serve us with better products and that sometimes shit happens. If the intention is made clear that they are not a faceless corporation here to take my money and harm me by selling me bad products/services, I would rather buy from them then anyone else.

This is our philosophy at The Conversation Group, and the main purpose we came together as an agency – to help more companies embrace the spirit of conversation with markets and to move beyond marketing by discovering, engaging and serving their markets in a more respectful and effective way.

Thanks to Rebecca Caroe from Creative Agency Secrets who pointed out this article called The problem with ‘conversational marketing’. (disclosure: two of the subjects of that post, Richard Binhammer and Shel Israel are friends) This is something I was writing about last summer in the post entitled, Stop the Insanity, Don’t Call it Conversational Marketing, and more recently in response to a Doc Searls post (keep getting better Doc, we’re with you) called Clues vs. Trains.

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Towards a More Social Organization

Chief Social Officer The discussion around social media at this point in time is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the breadth and depth of change that is being created in organizations of all sizes around the world. While some like Steve Rubel will argue that this emphasis is a passing fad and social media is merely another channel that will be thought of eventually as media, I disagree. By looking at this era in such a short sighted way, you miss what Doc Searls talks about as the ‘greater significance ’ of this transformative technology.

I contend that the rise of Social Media is the catalyst that will ultimately transform our world of work, our economy and our entire society. It will propel us to evolve from being industrial organizations, focused on increasing throughput and efficiencies of production processes to becoming social organizations, with a true emphasis on people over processes and technologies. Surely, Steve and others who feel the same way are right in thinking that the technologies will one day be thought of as simple tools (like pencils are today). You would also be right to assume that one day, the newness of what makes this different will be worn down to the point that we refer to a lot of what is happening more broadly as simply media.

However, to de-emphasize it at this time destroys the all important context that contains the most valuable and nutritious part of the signal we are trying to send around the world. That it is time for us to return to being social with one another, to look at other people (especially those who are different from us) as our ‘friends’ and to really think about how our decisions and actions can positively or negatively affect other people. In short, our organizations and the way we operate them need to become more socially oriented, truly engaged in the market conversation.

In a recent discussion with my Social Media Playbook co-author Brian Solis , we started to bring together all these points that we have been discussing with others for the past two years. Social Media is not just about how an enterprise does its marketing, but how all the people in the enterprise talks with its market.

Yes there is an internal employee to external stakeholder communications path, but there is also a collaboration element added to this – a social sense of working together for common goals. To be really successful however requires more then proficiency with this one aspect of managing your organization. It also requires you to develop deeper expertise with your communications and collaborations process between employees; between employees and partners; and even in some cases between external stakeholders and other external stakeholders.

This includes marketing, customer support, product development, research, partner relationships, internal collaboration, information technology, and even facilities. There is no aspect of your organization that will go untouched. This is not some pie in the sky vision of a far off utopian future, this is what many people/consumers are clamoring for. Tired of being sold to ant talked at, advertising is less effective then ever before and efforts are underway to turn CRM upside down in favor of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) .

This is not to say that we are supposed to turn away from profitability, far from it. By increasing the efficiency of market interactions, there is a greater chance for profitability; for good companies to become great companies; and for bad companies to just die off. Companies need to be profitable in order to grow and flourish and continue to do good for the world – as the saying goes, you are either thriving or dying and seldom if ever just stagnant. The difference between where we are today and where we will be tomorrow can be summed up as reasonable profitability with market cultivating behaviour as opposed to exploitative profitability and predatory behaviour.

While today you can gain a competitive advantage through the proper applications of Social Media, tomorrow it will be the price of admission for every market. So the question we are trying to help you answer with The Social Media Playbook is not how do I use Social Media for Marketing or Public Relations, but rather how do you transform your company into a social organization.

To this end, I see the potential for a new position in many larger organizations – for someone to wear the hat of the Chief Social Officer. While this responsibility could be held in any of the existing C-Suite titles, in larger organizations I believe it is necessary to have one person overseeing these efforts. Their needs to be someone with the authority, leadership, vision and yes, power, in order to effect change of this magnitude, as Michael Dell did over the past several years.

Why do we need a Chief Social Officer? Because embracing social media is embracing change management; changing the way teams collaborate; improving our relationships with customers; affecting our interaction with partners; overseeing customer support; empowering sales people to be purchase support; altering our product innovation and creation processes; and ultimately, bringing us out of the industrial age, beyond the information age and into a new age of enlightenment. It requires us to break down, once and for all, the silo walls that separate groups, the moats that have created fiefdoms of power and the interpersonal bullshit that prevents us from seeing that we all want what’s best, even if we have different ideas of how to do it.

In a recent McKinsey report, they talked about The Evolving role of the CMO , and the increased demands (related to these responsibilities) being put upon the position. I believe, as the report suggested, that the CMO should be the voice of the customer across the organization. The CMO/CEO and Chief Social Officer can and should co-exist and work together to bring about organizational transformation.

This is a new world of work, where knowledge, applied with compassion, creates a sustainable economy and a more peaceful world by transforming the very heart of business.

What are you doing to make your organization more social? How are you “being the change you want to see most in the world?”

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Is Social Media bad for the environment?

Sunset in JamaicaOdd question isn’t it?

I mean, surely Social Media is doing a lot for the cause, helping people spread the word via blogs, organize efforts and make everyone aware of our global climate crisis. Sarah Perez (love her stuff) even has a great post just today on How to Use Social Media for Social Change. Of course I agree, as evidenced by my early post on the Importance of Social Media and Amanda Chapel’s constant attacks against me (which I gleefully laugh at as he continues to give me more attention).

So what made me stop trying to fight my insomnia and get out of bed to write such a seemingly silly blog post at 430am this morning?

During the course of the work I have been doing with Intel lately, I have been researching the enterprise IT market and learning a lot about what they have been doing to reduce power consumption while maintaining performance across all there product lines. This CIO survey from March has some interesting details on “The Greening of IT”. It’s a very big and important topic for the industry and each of us. My friend Bill Kircos from Intel tells me that Intel is the largest buyer of reusable/renewable energy as ranked by the EPA (story on Treehugger.com). They are also extending their Greening Efforts across their operations in other important ways such as removing lead from their chips. Even my wife (Kristie Wells) is researching carbon offsets for her company Joyent.

At the same time, I have been thinking a lot about the big data portability issue (which I fully support) and whether or not the recent Facebook/Google challenge over Friend Connect might mean that we are seeing “The Twilight of the Open Web” (a topic of discussion for next months Social Media Club meeting in San Francisco – details to come).

In talking with some folks at the Executing Social Media conference last night, I mentioned this event idea and Nathan Gilliatt remarked we will always have some walled gardens and I replied with my standard “we can’t have walls, we need semi-permeable membranes”, meaning there needs to be some trust filter to keep the bad actors out and the good actors safe – which is the role Facebook claims to be playing in safegauding its users privacy from Friend Connect sites.

This is similar to the debate around Flickr and Zoomr and an open API for user portability which was basically about (paraphrasing) not allowing people to have all their data and photos transferred to a site where they may not be able to take it somewhere else in the future. As Stuart Butterfield said “we definitely should approve requests from direct competitors as long as they do the same … fair’s fair”. Or as Marc Canter infamously said at BloggerCon IV, “If you’re gonna suck, you gotta spit“.

Now look at the great and hugely popular service that FriendFeed and SocialThing are providing, a true value for sure, but it is duplicating, and in some cases tripling the amount of storage used for the same content.

Was also thinking about TubeMogul, which Tim Street mentioned during a session yesterday and which I also happen to love. It allows you to send your video to any and all of the video sharing sites you want all at once, saving us a great deal of time in distributing our video. Of course, there are also the people who take copies of it and upload it to other servers and other sites…

So these thoughts and discussions lead to me wondering about the impact that all of this data duplication we are creating with our Social Media is creating. Multiple hard drives, redundant systems, ultimately needing to head to a landfill or get partially recycled and replaced. Perhaps it is merely distributing the consumption we would have had anyway, but I have over 8,000 photos on Flickr and if I put them on Zoomr too that would be (@3MB each) 24 GB of extra storage space I am taking up on primary systems, plus backups – then the electricity to run it all.

Jake McKee talks about how he and his wife upload the same photos to their different Flickr accounts, what if they switched and then switched again. Of course, we also have a ton of different equipment we are using for creating and consuming media. Just today I had my M-Audio podcast rig, my Flip video camera, my phone and my iPod sitting in front of me next to my 3rd iBook/MacBook. The impact of manufacturing and disposal and power consumption of all this stuff we are using is just huge.

Of course, this is, most importantly, the method through which the whole of our society is improving, growing smarter and becoming more connected.

It’s obviously ok for the storage folks bottom lines and the power company and even me as a Social Media evangelist, but is Social Media bad for the environment? Shouldn’t we all be thinking more about Storage Conservation instead of Duplication?

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The Golden Rules of Marketing

Our panel at last week’s SxSW Interactive conference was by far the best panel I have ever had the pleasure to join.  Self Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing included Deb Schultz, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh Macleod and David Parmet who are each absolutely brilliant in their own way, and some of my favorite peers in this field.  You really should listen to the audio (where is it?) and I really should do a better recap post then just linking to the Google Search Results, but a few things have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days I wanted to share with you now.

First, several people are attributing to me something I quoted from the CEO of iProspect, Fredrick Marckini, who said “The brands with the best storytellers win.”  I wish I could take credit for that awesome insight, but Fredrick deserves the credit.  More people should set the story straight when they are standing on the shoulders of our peers – it is a shame so many seemingly smart people quietly sit by and take credit for the work of others, but that is a separate story.

Most importantly, there are three major thoughts about marketing that I have been thinking about deeply that I want to share with you now.  The first is my definition of marketing, the second is about marketing’s place in the product lifecycle and the third is about marketings interaction with markets.

  1. Marketing is the work we do to match a company’s product or service with the people or companies who will get the most value and/or satisfaction from it.
  2. The best marketing is done during the product development process, where the needs and desires of those who will use the product or service are considered and designed into the product or service with an understanding of the broader marketplace in which they will be sold.  You can’t easily market a product that was not well made, but the iPhone sells itself.
  3. Marketing is not the transactional process with which it has become associated despite its close proximity. If markets are indeed conversations, then marketing is a series of conversations intended to serve the better interests of the market. (David Weinberger has famously said ‘somewhere along the way marketing became what we did TO people’)

Of course, all of this is moot if you don’t remember and live the original golden rule DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.  In short, don’t sell people crap, don’t try to pretend that people need your crap and don’t, by any means, try to pretend your crap is not crap – because everyone knows crap when they smell it.

So this is my first draft to attempt to redefine how we think of marketing, or rather how marketing is perceived and presented.  What do you think the new golden rules of marketing should be?

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Transforming the Heart of Business (My BIL Talk)

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Are you a “real marketer”?

Chris Brogan shines bright and demonstrates why I really wanted him on The Conversation Group advisory board as much as Doc Searls and David Weinberger in this post “I am a marketer“. I try to avoid the word marketing like the plague – because of bad marketers – or more accurately, I should say badly intentioned marketers, which is the key reason the profession has been besieged for the last several years in some parts of society.

It’s time to talk once again about what I still think of as “real marketing”. For me this means the process of matching a product/service with the people who will get the most benefit/satisfaction/enjoyment from it. This is about serving the market’s interest by being a matchmaker of value between people and companies – caring about both, but more importantly caring about your own integrity.

Unfortunately, marketing has become more closely linked to selling, where oftentimes the systems and expectations of management are about producing quarter over quarter increases in numbers, without concern for the state of the product, its usability or its appropriateness for a particular use. This is where integrity breaks down and an individual’s self-esteem becomes linked to ‘hitting the numbers’ regardless of whether or not that is the right thing for the company or the people buying the product. This can also result in companies selling their product to the wrong people, creating an unnecessary negative impression in the market among people who might otherwise find value in it.

The bottomline is some marketers create a bad name for the rest of us because they are selling without concern for the buyer. Of course, everyone has some self interest, which is not in and of itself bad – it is when the interest is more focused on money than integrity where things go bad.

Chris also brings up the often talked about issue of transparency, which is still overused and misunderstood, but is getting more directly at the root of the bad marketer problem. According to Merriam Webster, being transparent means “free from pretense or deceit” – in short, it means being honest. As I have been saying a lot lately, “say what you mean and do what you say” – this is what leads to trust – being honest and continuing to demonstrate that honesty through your actions. Too many people misunderstand transparency to mean a completely open kimono, a view on everything going on – which is not feasible or completely appropriate. What it really means is don’t lie and make clear your intentions.

From my perspective, the bottom line here is a matter of intentions and authenticity. What are you trying to do and are you being true to yourself?

Chris speaks very eloquently to these ideals in action and lays out a great path for all marketers, but it is your point of origin where it all starts.

Are you working for a company you believe in? Are you working in a market you care about? Are you able to be human or must you uphold a fake ideal?

If you can answer these questions truthfully and affirmatively, you are a real marketer. I can proudly say that I am a real marketer, don’t you want to be a real marketer too?

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