[Opinion] The Listicle is Simple and Seductive

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

Three points need to be emphasized at the beginning of any training, workshop, or seminar.

Your way of thinking about conflict, communication, and persuasion must shift before anything else can happen.

Your way of consuming information, your attention span, and your level of caring about the content you are about to hear, must shift before any deep learning can happen.

Your way of listening to the delivered content must shift from passive to active, for without that shift, nothing else can happen.

The desire, of course, from some of the participants is for these three things to happen. And these points being made out loud makes those participants relieved.

But there are other desires in the room.

The desire to get the tools, get the skills, get the listicle version of the information, and then to leave.

The desire to get the lecture, get the knowledge, but to not engage in any deeper change. After all, such change is challenging, and if there’s no support in the environment from which you came for change that needs to happen, well then it’s easier to ignore the calls to change.

The desire to not care. This is reflected in the phrases, the questions, the statements, and the observations that spring forth from the participants. Typically framed by some participants as “I hope that you can keep me awake,” or “You kept me awake more than any other facilitator I’ve ever sat through.”

The desire for the listicle version, the shorthand, the summary, the 30-second point, is seductive. But ultimately, changing the philosophy about how we think, matters more than applying shortcut tactics to achieve an outcome we might not enjoy.

Network Leap

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

The deep revelation of the revolution called the Internet, is that it continues to demonstrate that networks are the most valuable resource that an individual, a corporation, or a government possesses in order to leverage innovation, change, and advancement.

Of course, during the height of the Industrial Revolution last century, no one understood how to measure the revenue generated by any kind of network (personal or professional), but everyone knew somebody who had gotten hired via a referral, or who had made a purchase from strong word-of-mouth.

The Internet shows the power of such networks virtually (have you bought an online course lately?) even as it erodes the networks between people in the “real” world.

This is a particularly troubling realization for organizations built at scale, i.e. “real world” companies, from old line manufacturers (Ford) to healthcare companies (name your national hospital conglomerate of choice here).

The fact that a network matters more than physical size, monetary resources, access, etc., on the Internet is the main reason why corporate mergers (i.e. AT&T + Every Other Media Company You Can Name on the Planet) won’t do much to increase the overall market share of individual eyeballs and mass audience attention. The mass approach doesn’t work (because of the network impact of the Long Tail) and such mergers are the flailing attempts of declining industries to remain relevant in the face of the only thing that scales from individual to individual.

The web of the network.

Some sectors are provincially beginning to understand the impact of the presence of the network in the physical world, with the growing talk around the Internet-of-Things. But this is just the beginning.

The fact that the presence of the network matters more than the size of the network, is why Google will eventually get out of the search business altogether (probably around the middle of this century or so) and be the first Internet based company to burst from your computer or mobile phone application, out into the physical world.

Search matters less and less when the network matters more and more to accomplishing revenue, connection and growth goals at scale. Sure, Facebook may “win” the networking wars against search in their own little walled garden, but Google is planning on escaping to larger territories in the physical world where the presence of a network generates more revenues, because of the inability and myopia of Industrial Revolution based organizations to appreciate the impact of a network at scale.

These larger territories where networks aren’t as valued (yet) include the physical connectivity infrastructure of a city (Google Fiber), the physical place where individuals spend time commuting to work (Google Car) and the place where individuals spend the time connecting with others physically AND virtually (Google A.I. projects).

The fact that the network matters more than the technology facilitating the development of the network, is why virtual reality companies (Oculus Rift) and augmented reality games (Pokemon Go!) will be on the edges of individuals’ and companies’ radars for some time to come. The real “killer” app for both virtual reality and augmented reality technology will be the one that brings connectivity and an already established network into the new technology. And then pivots to connect that network to a larger, physical world.

For companies that can’t envision the leap to network based thinking (but who have executives and others on their cell phones texting, emailing, messaging, and otherwise building their virtual network constantly) here are a few suggestions:

Build the physical network between schools, industry, and government in your local town, or municipality. There is nothing less sexy or interesting than sitting at a table talking about how things were better economically in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, but that lament must be part of a larger discussion of expanding the web and the network using the same thinking and acting that individuals are doing virtually daily.

Realize that money is no object. Money is a story. Fear of change and resistance to the present reality and the future possibility are the objects. Recently the question came up in a workshop with an organization in transition “How do ‘crack’ the Resistance?” One way is to build trust. The other way is to change the thinking of the organization around what constitutes a “revenue generating” activity, and what does not.

Realize that there isn’t power in hoarding knowledge, access, or a carefully constructed network anymore. There isn’t power in hoarding money anymore (no matter how much cash on the balance sheets the Fortune 500 is hoarding). There isn’t even power in hoarding connections to politicians, power-brokers, or personalities anymore. The power is in sharing, reciprocity and building trust across boundaries, rather than busily building moats.

Or walls.

The full power of the Internet—in its ability to shape how humans build, how humans communicate, and how humans create network value—has yet to be fully explored.

We are at the beginning of a revolution.

[Strategy] If I Were You…

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

“If I were you…” is the worst beginning to providing feedback to anyone.

The statement merely says, if the person giving the feedback were the person receiving the feedback then this is what the feedback would be.

This is a poorly considered bit of critical shorthand, because if the person giving the feedback were the person receiving the feedback, then nothing would change.

This is a poorly considered bit of persuasive shorthand, because if the person giving the feedback were the person receiving the feedback, then that person wouldn’t be persuaded to change in any meaningful way.

This is a poorly considered method of shortcutting through another’s experience to get to “empathy” and to get around the other party’s defenses.

The thing is, if the person giving the feedback were the person receiving the feedback, they would be acting in the same way that the person receiving the feedback is.

Better to say, “If my brain were in your situation” or “If my behavior could be inserted in between you and the problem,” and be done with it.

[Strategy] The Era of the Chameleons is not Ending Fast Enough

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

Human interactions, impacted and shaped by the economic, political, and social effects of the Industrial Revolution, used to highly value—and continue to reward—the skills of the chameleon.

You know the chameleon at work.

This is the person at a meeting who, when a person says “This is clearly black in color,” they nod their head approvingly.

This is the same person who, twenty minutes later at the same meeting, when another person offers their color opinion and says, “This is clearly white in color,” they also nod their head approvingly.

Then, a person walks up to them after the meeting that was supposed to be about colors (but was about acquiescence) and says to them, “One person said the color was black. Another person said the color was white. I think that they were both wrong and the color is grey. What do you think?”

And the person, the chameleon agrees that the color is grey.

You know the chameleon at work.

This behavior, this inability to stand up, stick out, take a stand, or state an opinion, for fear of being fired, flattened down, or left out, was a critical management benefit of our past Industrial Age. It was a function of a work culture based in top-down, command and control directions and the presence of a lone voice of authority to whom to appeal. This behavior was rewarded with promotion, bonuses, and extra trips. This behavior was so regular and so pervasive that it was lampooned by comedians; it lay at the core of televised situational comedies; and it was studied by psychologists.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the chameleons that currently in the workplace, the color is neither black, nor, white. It isn’t even grey anymore.

The dominant color of change, conflict, and innovation is plaid.

And when a chameleon must adjust to the presence of plaid—particularly the chameleon at work—it tends to not survive the experience.

The era of the chameleon is ending, but not nearly fast enough.

[Opinion] Developing the Present

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

When in economic development conversations with government officials, investors, and concerned community members, the tension is always revealed at a certain point in the dialogue.

Usually it comes in the form of either (or both) of the assertions below:

In the past, one person (typically a politician, or group of politicians) provided the authoritative voice that told every other person, political party, or community member what was going to happen.

In the present, one person (typically a politician, or group of politicians) no longer exists with the authoritative voice that tells every other person, political party, or community member, what is going to happen in the future.

And then, typically, there’s a moment of silence and a sigh.

The tension between the imagined past (or actual past, as in the case of Walter Cronkite versus Lyndon Johnson) and the current day reveals a nostalgia for centralized control, a reduction in the clamoring of voices for attention in the public square, and the desire for speed in change.

  • Was there an authoritative voice in the past that stated “how it was going to be,” or was that also an illusion?
  • Was there a centralized authority that “flattened” choices in the past, making everyone in a community conform, or is that just a myth that we tell ourselves in the present in hindsight?
  • Was there more progress yesterday than there is today, because yesterday people in the community knew not to ask for permission, and instead followed orders?

The conflict—or tension—between remembering a simple imagined past (nostalgia) and living through an uncomfortable present, won’t be resolved by a centralized voice—if it ever could be.

Instead, the development of new ways of persuading, convincing, caring, and telling stories that resonate must combine with patience to accomplish an economic future we can all experience the benefits of.

Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode #6 – Darren MacDonald

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Theology, Marketing for Peace Builders, Old Posts, Selling for Peace Builders

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 6 – Darren MacDonald, Investor, Film/Movie Buff, World Traveler, Local Raconteur

podcast-earbud_u-season-four-episode-6-darren-macdonald

 

Intercultural context, humility, and world travel.

Capitalism, expanding your worldview, entrepreneurship, one-way traffic, and the country of India.

Our guest today on the show, Darren MacDonald, is a local venture capital investor, film buff, and world traveler.  This interview stands out as a “call back” to our very first episode of the Earbud_U Podcast, where we debuted by featuring Darren’s unique, humorous and engaging point of view.

And we’re doing it again here.

In this episode, Darren talks about finding his way from the Taj Mahal to Mumbai, his travels in India, and how to expand capitalism into other areas and explore new ideas.

One idea that we talked about extensively in this conversation was about hope. Now, hope is not a strategy, but it does lie at the core of many questions, yet to be answered, in the world of entrepreneurship globally:

How do we get hope to people?

Hope to places from Mumbai, India to St. Louis, Missouri.

Hope to places where all hope–economic, social, and even spiritual–has left.

Hope is the eraser for despair. But before we get to hope, we’ve got to identify what the problems are, why they are important to solve, and who actually has the bandwidth to solve them.

This is the first part of a two-part conversation with Darren and it’s a lot of fun, while also being sobering, inspiring, and sometimes, just downright goofy.

And there’s nothing not hopeful about any of that.

Connect with Darren through all the ways you can below:

Check out our first interview with Darren here: http://www.hsconsultingandtraining.com/blog/earbud_u/earbud_u-episode-1-darren-macdonald/

Follow Darren on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upwordz

Connect with Darren on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darrenmacdonald/

Connect with the Southern Tier Capital Fund: http://stcfny.com/

Connect with the Southern Tier Capital Fund on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stcapitalfund

[Strategy] “My Boss Doesn’t Care.”

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

“My boss doesn’t care about fixing disagreements between employees around here.”

“My boss is the cause of all the problems around here.”

“My boss has never shown an interest in doing any of the things that you’re talking about.”

“My boss is never going to come to any of these workshops.”

“This is all great information, and it would be better if my boss were here to hear it.”

“My boss will never let me do any of the things that you are talking about here.”

Yes.

Your boss has never shown an interest in resolving disagreements.

Your boss has never shown an interest in attending a training, or development opportunity.

Your boss is a person in authority and sets the tone in the workplace of “my way or the highway.”

Your boss is not a progressive thinker or doer in the workplace.

Your boss is the one where all the problems at work start.

And if your boss would just change, everything would be better at work.

Right?

Well….

You could try to strategically disrupt your boss, but many of you are more concerned about your mortgage, your kids’ education, your status at work, the importance of the work that you think you are doing, or whatever the other reasons are you come up with, to not engage in strategic disruption.

You could try to disrupt your boss, but you are afraid that you will be fired, reprimanded, or even not promoted. Or even worse, if the disruption works, you are afraid that the responsibility and accountability for what will happen next will fall on you. And you already have enough tasks to accomplish at work.

You could try to disrupt your boss, but you are worried and anxious that the other employees looking at you, won’t back you up as you speak and act with candor, clarity, and courage. So, you’ll be out there by yourself, facing an angry boss, shifted office politics, and new disagreements that you didn’t think could possibly happen.

Right?

The empathy that exists around acknowledging the presence of all of these reasons for not acting, and for making the statements that you make that are listed above, does not reduce the impact of three facts:

Only you can take responsibility and accountability. Yes, it might not work out when you confront the other adult, known as your boss, about their lack of interest in changing the conflict culture of the workplace you’re in, but it just might.

Only you can implement ideas and strategies to reduce the impact of conflicts in your workplace, in spite of the politics of your co-workers, not because of the politics of your co-workers.

Only you can start the process of addressing, honoring, and respecting adults as adults. Rather than dealing with them in the way that the boss does who you complain about—as if they are children.

“My boss doesn’t care” is the beginning of, not complaint, but possibility.

HIT Piece: 10.11.2016 -“For” You, or “To” You

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, New Posts, Old Posts

The government (and the corporations that consort with it through lobbying efforts) can’t provide every service, fulfill every need, and relieve every want for every individual.

The government (and the corporations that consort with it through lobbying efforts) can be hampered from taking away rights and encouraging responsibility, from individuals.

One perspective is known as “positive rights” and the other perspective is known as “negative rights.”

In online interactions with corporations that are coalescing and acting like “real-world” mega-corporations (consorting with, and lobbying against or for, government policies and such) the issue in conversations around online anonymity is whether or not you believe that those mega-corporations should do for you, or should not do to you.

“For” you, or “to” you.

The preposition makes a difference.

If you believe that Google should do for you, then you will gladly give over your private data without a thought, to companies that view you as a product, and your privacy and anonymity as an afterthought.

If you believe that Facebook should not do to you, then you will be savvy about what you reveal online, where you reveal it, and to what company you give access to your data. You will interact with companies on the Internet who view you as a customer, and your privacy and anonymity as their first thought.

The preposition makes a difference.

If you believe that SnapChat should do for you, then you will gladly stay inside the walls of that communication garden, adopt the rules of the garden without thinking, and will complain when the rules of the garden are changed—as they inevitably will be—because you didn’t build SnapChat. Evan Speigel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown did.

If you believe that Dropbox should not do to you, then you will gladly pay for their premium service which protects your anonymity and expands company revenues in ways that allow it to continue to grow, because you will realize that you aren’t the product. The cloud storage is the product. And you won’t get caught the next time there’s a data breach.

The preposition makes a difference.

If you believe that AirBnB should do for you, then you will gladly applaud as they make changes to who can use their app as a part of their service, to reflect current political and social considerations based in long-simmering cultural passions, rather than revenue based considerations.

If you believe that Uber should not do to you, then you will sign petitions to bring Uber to your town, while also insisting on anonymity in driver data, protection from harassment from incumbents such as taxi drivers and others, and encourage the founders to develop robust responses to charges of sexual assault by drivers in countries not America.

The preposition makes a difference.

If you believe that the Internet should do for you, then you will happily engage with the Internet as a finite communication and connection tool. You will be happy inside walled communications (Skype), commodity (Gmail), and collaboration (GoToMeeting) gardens, and you won’t explore much further than those gardens. Because the Internet has too many options, is too confusing, changes too fast, and is too chaotic and scary to make an informed decision about services or products.

If you believe that the Internet should not do to you, then you will read blogs that have only been read by under 100 people or so, you will mourn the death of RSS feeds and will manage your email subscriptions carefully, and you will be unhappy with the “walled gardens” that the majority insist upon using. Because the Internet is infinite, never-ending, and like any other communication tool, requires self-control to manage, intuition and critical thinking to navigate, and patience to address on its own terms.

“For” you, or “to” you.

The preposition makes a difference.

When considering issues of online anonymity, harassment, bullying, bad behavior, privacy concerns, data breaches, and all the other unethical and illegal behavior being engaged in by individuals and corporations, the understanding of the difference in the meaning behind the preposition matters.

[Opinion] Reading Tea Leaves

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, New Posts, Old Posts

We like the prediction business because as human beings, we dislike uncertainty.

If we can know what’s going to happen next, we feel a sense of control.

If we know what’s going to happen next, then we put trust in our own ability and efficacy in order to “fix” whatever problems might arise.

If we know what’s going to happen next, then we feel as if there is a chance to gain safety and security in an insecure and chaotic world.

Psychics, soothsayers, and seers; analysts, pollsters, and pundits; politicians, priests, and professors; well-meaning prognosticators, all.

But see, the tension that lies deep down is between the soothing predictive words of person standing in front of us (or the person on our computer based devices) and the suspicion that we have, resonating from a deeper place of intuitive knowledge, that such predictions are false.

But since we can’t know the future, but we can prove the present, we buy into the lull of certainty that prediction gives us, and we err on the side of prediction, rather than dancing with the uncomfortableness of uncertainty.

Patience.

Being aware of, and secure in, the present.

Letting go emotionally of events that happened in the past.

Not needing to be in control of everything, all the time.

These are emotional skills that, once honed to a fine point, make human beings less susceptible to the predictions of well-meaning prognosticators.

Because the only thing that is guaranteed to be knowable, is that tomorrow will come, no matter how we feel about it.

[Advice] To What End?

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Philosophy, Leadership Theology, New Posts, Old Posts

What matters the most?

Asking the right questions, or listening to the right answers?

What makes the most impact?

Personalized individual behavioral changes, or massive societal shifts?

When expanding and rapacious technological advancements and the human ability to ignore a crisis until it is impossible to manage its effects merge, the ability to bravely tear down an old system and replace it with another system, is the only skill that matters.

But if we don’t know what matters the most and if we can’t agree on what makes the most impact, then we can’t answer the last question, which becomes the most critical one to get right:

What outcome do we want to end up with?