Archive for category Leadership

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?


Looking good, feeling good… soon to be all good!

With mom the year before she passed So Kristie and I are finally getting serious about the weight loss – I am sure we will lose plenty of weight before the wedding in 3 weeks… Oy ve, the self defeatist bit of me keeps coming out on this one. I have thought of myself as fat (I mean big boned) for so long now, it is hard to imagine myself at a healthy, happy weight again. The last time I was even close to my ideal weight of 215 (which was a pretty fatty 222) was after I had Montezuma’s Revenge down in Costa Rica in July of 2004.

It has mostly been because of the fact that I get the munchies at night, particularly after drinking.  I have eaten some crazy stuff in my day – cheese and ketchup with whatever meat is left over in the fridge for instance.  So just cutting out that will help a lot.  Stopping drinking helps me lost quite a bit just off the top too…

Now though, I have started working with a new coach – a really darn good one too.  Spirtiually aware, but grounded and pragmatic rather than hokey.  Will speak more about Stacey over time, but for now, want to get back to the weight loss…

The photo here is of my and my mom the year before she died. I was in the midst of Guru Communications, the first year I wore a goatee to try to look a bit older and get more respect for my young 26 years of age in charge of a 35 person company.  I was skinnier then because I was broke – mom would give me $5-10 to eat on and get gas for the day – I was living at home at that point, just prior to moving into the sweet SoBe Mansion (not quite, but it felt like it).  Shortly after this I started gaining weight and never went below 200 since.  I felt awesome though – high energy and generally pretty happy, but I never felt that I was good looking – self esteem issues – some of which I still struggle with I guess, which is partly to blame for the weight issue today, but only partly.

Now, however, I am much more comfortable in my own skin and confident in my talents and abilities, though I am completely embarrassed when people think I look like Roger Moore, which is a good motivating factor in itself.  Back then I could never have done the speaking I am doing today – would have been shaking as if I was having a seizure of some sort.   I still have some difficulty even seeing me at 215 pounds again, let alone the 195 I would really like to hit by this time next year, but if I do, maybe I will do that talk show.  I can do it, I just need the support of friends and loved ones – I need to keep hitting the gym everyday, no matter what else is going on and I need to eat the sorts of foods I know I should be eating but don’t.  Of course, emotionally and mentally, it is a lot more complicated, especially lately, but it is totally within my power.

If you can believe, you can achieve…

I scanned in a bunch of photos of me from over the years, in some of which I actually am pretty good looking. Check out the football one in particular – was so stoked that made it into the yearbook 🙂

PS – yes I have had a problem with big hair over the years – pretty damn funny in retrospect


Making sure EVERYONE gets credit for their contributions

In my meandering through the blogosphere this morning, I came upon a post from Kaliya about why certain contributors to the OpenID effort were not properly attributed in a recent announcement.  She has since posted a response she received from the PR person who handled the announcement, pointing to the ever increasing complexity of having more people involved in getting approval etc…  While that is true, to acknolwwedge a significant contribution from an organization or individual is very important, and I believe was mishandled in this case.

I was trying to add my comment on her original post, but apparently you must be a registered user on her blog to do so, which I am not.  So I am posting it here instead, because this is a very important point to make:

Yes Kaliya – everyone shoud work hard to be more inclusive and appreciative of other people’s contributions to the broader community.  It is a shame that so many times, a few people who are working so hard to be leaders within a given community of practice choose to not attribute or give credit where credit is due – it seems to happen all the time and unless it stops soon, many people who do not already embrace the open source ethos will choose not to share and not to contribute to the commons.  There needs to be at the very least, a modicum of repsect given to every contributor, and more for major contributors, to every community effort rather than the selective approach that seems so prevalent.

If we can’t reward people financially for their contributions, we must absolutely reward people and give them respect through accreditation – something that has been sorely lacking for too long among many of the vanguard in the current societal transformation. During my lunch with David Brin last week, we dove deep into the idea of mutually beneficial reciprocity.  After that conversation I came away understanding the importance of this one shared value as the basis of collaboration in the commons.  I will be posting some audio on Social Media Club soon and writing more of my thoughts there…

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Why is it so hard?

So blogging is really truly “as easy as writing a public email” – but sometimes it just feels so damn hard! Not the act itself, comitting an act of blogging is super easy, just as it is right now, a stream of consciousness, focused on my WordPress posp.php page. It is really the one’s that matter that are the hard ones. I could talk to people all day about the insytes I want to share (and most days that is what I do, talk to people). To actually focus those ideas into the post.php form, however, is a different story.

Last weekend, Kristie and I were having brunch with Robert and Maryam Scoble, along with Francine Hardaway, to discuss Francine’s upcoming conference in Phoenix, when Robert made it clear to me what my real problem was. I am often afraid to write something that is not perfect, that might make me look ignorant or foolish. He mentioned to me that one of the things he has really discovered and now uses as a technique, is to go ahead and write something before having a full and deep comprehension of the topic (publish or perish?) and let his commenters/readers educate him on the subject and/or correct him. Once my audience gets that big, perhaps it will work for me too, but in the meantime, I just need to hit publish more.  Interestingly, Brian Oberkirch mentioned a similar approach the other day, with a very humorous slant on this, but I can’t find the post now…

The reality is that I have worked on letting go and not trying to be a perfectionist for a long time. It is the one trait I dont understand in my psyche – or rather, I don’t know where it comes from. I am certainly not perfect, and believe the Tony Robbins angle that the goal of perfection is the worst goal – to really work on being Outstanding instead as a much higher plane of being your best.

Bottom line – now that I can see this is one of the things preventing me from blogging more freqently, I can do something more about it, but I still wonder why it is so hard? Does anyone else have any ideas or thoughts or suggestions?


What’s best for the community? Isn’t that the other point?

One of the most important things I have been talking to people about over the last year is how organizations with similar values should support one another but don’t because of their egos or fear of losing mindshare or donor dollars. Instead of really working towards what is best for the community, they work on what is best for their own self-interest, in the name of the community. As I noted in my post on the Importance of Social Media, this is one of the key reasons many of us left the work world – to leave the political BS behind and do the right thing, that is in the best interest of the community.

That sort of political BS is in stark contrast to the wonderful relationships we are building with the Society for New Communications Research and the National Coalition for Deliberation and Dialogue. Where we are constantly looking for ways to expand the conversations, to include more people and to work together towards our common interests. This is one of the core premises of Social Media Club – to support other organizations that are doing good work – not excluding those organizations that are serving similar interests within the community out of fear.

This is why I am excited to see the Portland Social Media Association rise up from the Portland Podcasting Group. Social Media Club will support them, instead of worrying about them competing with us – we will both be the better for it. We need to find people who are doing the right things and support them so that more of that good work is put out into the world and that other people can connect with them. This is very much in line with the work of The Uplift Academy – another organization we want to support in every way possible and with which we share common values.

I guess I should explain where this is coming from – it is a bit about something I have been holding onto for a while and also about the fact that a few ‘community leaders’ have chosen not to support the Web 2point2 unconference we are organizing, and are, according to what some have told me, actively working against it. (This is not, BTW, something between the 2 conferences going on this week – we have nothing against Tim O’Reilly or the Web 2.0 Conference and as far as I know, they are probably just annoyed with us by the contrast and/or laughing about how hard we work for no money.)

The Web 2point2 Unconference is providing an alternative to the expensive Web 2.0 Conference.  Web 2point2 is more accessible and more about the people interested in the Web 2.0 era and working hard to make it real. Chris Pirillo really nailed the difference on the head – there most certainly is value in the networking, and the amenities offered at a big hotel are really very expensive, but a lot of that is superfluous to what really matters. We are doing this event because it is the right thing to do for the community and it is representative of our core values. We are doing this because it helps us build the community we want to belong to. We are investing our time and energy because we are passionate about doing so and hope to make a living doing what we love.

I’m not speaking against any individual, but I am calling for everyone in the community to be supportive of efforts like the Web 2point2 Unconference and/or to call out the effort’s shortcomings publicly and fairly – to participate in the community. It is FOR the people, FOR the community, and FOR improving the dialogue around social media and Web 2.0 for everyone’s benefit. Those who have said negative things about these efforts wihtout engaging us in conversation about how it could be improved are really doing a disservice to the community. But as all bloggers know, nothing stays secret forever. Those people who serve their own interests over that of the community will be found out. Those who support the community with their hearts, minds and deeds will be the ones who shape the dialogue of the future.

Don’t raise the torch for a participatory democracy when you’re only really marketing yourself as the one who should be put in charge of who gets to speak and who can belong. From my perspective, that looks a lot like a Stalinist view of the world dressed up in Kennedy rhetoric. That is beyond hypocritical – it is like the atheists battling each other in the most recent South Park episode. We don’t need to tear down the walls of a communtiy or organization only to erect new ones, we need to build better doors between communities and bridges across them.

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‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and leave no doubt.

Some people get it and others don’t.  If you don’t know what you are talking about stop talking – it dimishes your reputation and shows a lack of respect for those you are speaking to.  As Lorraine from Credit Suisse whispered to me at the Office 2.0 Conference this morning, “There sure are a lot of BS degrees here today”…

More than she knew at the time apparently.

I have some interesting stories to share on my brief experience with the conference, which seems to have made a boat load of money (good for them) and exposed the ‘me2’ problem of lemmings marching to their death with 80 variations on running MS Office in the browser in addition to the ‘cautious exuberance’ that will hopefully be a halmark for our time.  Time for bed now though – lots of work to do tomorrow, so much so, I won’t be able to get there until later in the day.

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Credited on Valleywag…

Jason Calcanis - Media AdvisorJust wanted to point out that this photo got picked up on Valleywag (just as Jason Calcanis predicted shortly after he uttered those words attributed to him in the quote). While Jason is indeed pretty bombastic and can be somewhat offputting to most people (including me on at least one occasion) – I do appreciate that he can say it like it is – at least to him. He will often say the things that other people only think, or say in very private conversations. I respect him for that just as I respect Jeremy Peper for the same sort of attitude, even when I disagree with their opinion.

I wonder what it would be like if they could take that same approach with a dose of sugar instead of vinegar and a little more repsect of everyday folks in the process. But I guess if either of them suffered fools gladly, they wouldn’t be who they are, so if for that reason alone I for one am glad to hear their voice as part of the conversation.


Leadership does not mean “Power Hungry”

Chris Messina had an interesting post called “The future of open leadership” which I felt compelled to respond to.  I generally get where Chris is coming from and agree with a lot of the core stuff (after all, one of my practice areas with Conversal was ‘transforming the heart of business’) but much of the way it is presented and the pervasive anti-establishment perspective does not sit well with me.  It seems that many people of late are advocates for throwing the baby out with the bath water – instead of seeing things as they really are, everything is colored by their personal experience and perspective>  People are more apt to associate something they dont like (such as the abuse of power) with something funamental (such as leadership) and thinking we need to re-invent the fundamentals.  We don’t – we need to help people reach back to their roots and re-introduce the fundamentals as what they really are.  Here is my broad sweeping response to his post which I also included in his comments:

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