Building a Pirate Ship

By | Emotional Intelligence, Advice, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Google, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Presentations, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, The Future & The Singularity

The steps to building an effective, online content pirate ship that will surprise your competitors, aren’t flashy or interesting.

But they are effective.

Step 1: Know which content ship to build before you build it.

There are three modern forms of shipbuilding in the value creation space online: writing (i.e. blogs, books, etc.); audio (i.e. voice search, podcast, etc.); and video (i.e. performing, editing, etc.).

You’ve got to know which one of the three is at the edges, which one of the three is the most valuable to you, and which one of the three will get you the furthest.

You’ve also got to just pick one. Better to pick the one you’re good at, rather than the one that’s most popular right now.

Step #2: Pick the right content slip, the right building tools, and the right materials to build.

Knowing your own intuition is key to the first part (pick the right slip) because, as the person building the pirate ship, no one can tell you what the “right” slip is. And, if you try to build a pirate ship in another slip, too far away from the water (i.e. other opportunities) you fail.

Knowing yourself is the key to the second part (pick the right tools) because, even there are many low to no cost solutions to building a pirate ship of valuable, online content, every tool is not for you. And there are a lot of dead ends.

Knowing what you want to accomplish with the ship you’re building is the key to the third part (pick the right materials) because if you pick the wrong shipbuilding materials, your pirate ship of content could sink before it even leaves the slip. Or, much like the Spruce Goose of old, it could only fly once. And then crash.

Step #3: Execute the building with patience, perseverance, and prayer.

Execution (shipping) matters more than anything else in building a pirate ship, and that means struggling through self-doubt, other people’s doubt, and the market’s doubt. Prayer doesn’t hurt either.

Step #4: Launch the ship with a crew (or by yourself) and raid the edges of the empire.

Having an attitude of shipping (launching the ship) and an attitude of raiding (staying on the edges) allows the pirate to explore first with their content, survive second, and to thrive third.

The real tragedy is that many people (now as in the past) will instead choose to eat off the raiding of other pirates, rather than taking the opportunity to build a ship of their own.

Internet Thinness

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Education, Facebook, Google, Media, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Platform Building, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Website

There is a species of thinness at the center of most of what you are reading, absorbing, and choosing to be activated by, on the Internet.

Social media (from YouTube to Soundcloud) drives a lot of this thinness by providing distractions, by watering down complicated subjects, and by blasting your attention and awareness repeatedly.

There were many people who believed that the rise of the Internet would herald deeper, more intimate connections between people.

They believed that the mechanism of combining television, radio, computer technology, and phone and cable lines, would herald a newer, fresher, more meaningful communication experience for humanity.

They believed that the Internets’ ability to scale empathy, connection, and action, would overcome the human tendencies toward tribalism, passivity, and disconnection.

And to a certain degree, they were right.

At scale, however, it only took a little while, for the forces of the big to take over and dominate the center of the Internet communication schema, and to use it for their own ends.

Which typically means to sell you more stuff at a faster rate, than ever dreamed of before…

…and as the long tail has gotten even longer, and as the “get rich quick” artists have fallen away;

…and as the large communication conglomerates have dominated more and more of the center;

…and as the average person has decided that active publishing and shipping is too hard, and that passive consumption is easier;

…and as the metrics of engagement have proven to be more and more inflated;

…the thinness of the big dominating the center, has become more and more apparent.

In the face of these realities, the hard thing now is to stick to the outer edges of the Internet universe; to do the work of publishing hard, thick, crusty ideas; to be committed to the building of communities of like-minded people over years (and in some cases decades); and to do, say, show, and commit to the hard thing without hope of payoff.

Instant, or otherwise.

It will take a long time for the thinness to thicken up in most of what you read, absorb, and choose to be activated by, on the Internet.

At this rate, it may take another twenty years.

But if you choose not to ship, choose not to participate, choose only to observe, it may be impossible for you to act when you’re ready.

Start this year.

Messages in 730 Characters

By | Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, New Posts, Technology, Twitter, Twitter, Website

Speed: Fast and wrong is still wrong.

Inaccurate: Wrong facts cannot create right truth.

Ephemeral: No culture–work, community, family–can survive anonymity in delivering feedback.

Caring: Practicing empathy is not about liking the other person.

Humility: The entire world does not revolve around your use case of conflict.

Status Quo: This current status quo only showed up recently in human history. Just like your worldview about it.

Power: Knowing what the work is–and isn’t–is power.

Politics: The personal is not political. Stop outsourcing your emotional life to political and policy decisions by other people.

Billboard: What’s on the billboard of your mind matters more than the messages on the one along the side of the road.

ROI of Ethics

By | Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, Leadership, New Posts, Organizational Development, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Twitter, Virtue

One of the main reasons that social entrepreneurship is sometimes scoffed at by audience’s observing from the outside, is the recognition of the obvious tension between the founders’ personal ethics and business revenue generation.

So, what’s the ROI (return on investment) on founders’ ethics?

The ROI on founders’ ethics is the same as the ROI on using the Internet and the tools of communication to leverage business practices against future audiences’ time and attention.

The ROI on founders’ ethics is the same as the ROI on corporate social responsibility—the idea that business must be more like Martin Luther King, Jr., and less like Milton Friedman.

The ROI on founders’ ethics, at the core of social entrepreneurship practices, comes down to deciding whether maintaining principles matters more than generating revenues through all manner of non-ethical business practices.

But, every business person, every founder, every person who starts a social entrepreneurship project, must decide—usually at the beginning of a project—about what those principles are.

And about how far they are willing to travel with them.

Building a Memory Palace of Lies

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Education, Google, New Posts, Persuasion, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Truth

What happens when how I remember an event doesn’t match how you remember an event?

This mismatch in memory—and framing of those mismatches—leads to people constructing palaces to specific memories in their minds. These palaces are filled with feelings, ideas, thoughts, and conclusions that may not be objectively accurate.

And that may be viewed by the other party (who remembers events differently) as a palace of constructed out of lies.

One of the issue with outsourcing our memory of events (and even our memory of truth) to online algorithmically based programs, is that the program remembers quite accurately. But it remembers what its original creator (or “first mover” if you will) programmed it to remember.

And just about as accurately.

Here’s a deeper issue: When I appeal to an outside authority to adjudicate the disagreement between my memory of events and your memory of events, and when that authority has been programmed by a third party with their own attributions and biases, at what point do we stop appealing to authority?

And let bygones, be bygones.

The power of memory truly lies in allowing people to construct their own memory palaces in peace, to remember the past with nostalgia, and to forget (and be forgotten) not as an escape from consequence—memories provide plenty of that on their own—but as a way to experience grace.

Network Leap 3

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Google, Leadership, Networking, New Posts, Problem Solving, Relationships, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Website

Most people don’t see it.

Confusing the primacy of what we can see, touch, taste, and feel, closes our human perceptions to the potential financial and monetary value of what we cannot measure and codify with our five senses.

This is evident in the primacy of the use of relationship networks in every aspect of our lives.

We cannot touch connection, though we can experience a story with other people.

We cannot see engagement, though we can engage in active listening and experience the positive effects of someone listening to us intently, and the negative effects of someone ignoring us.

We cannot see the value in a relationship, but we can feel with our hands and our emotions the ways in which people grow in relationship transactionally with us.

We cannot see the cruft, bad feelings, negative emotions, and life experiences where the relationship didn’t “work out” as transactionally as we would like, which often creates in us a sense of caution at getting back into relationships and connections.

We have all observed the causal outcomes of the impact of things we can’t see (relationships) and have experienced the power in maintaining and growing connections (networks) to people who may—or may not—be able to “help” us advance in the world.

We all know someone who has gotten a cake job, attained a plum position, or moved up the ladder of an organization, not through technical skills, but through the value of human connection.

Most people don’t see it.

We cannot directly observe the functions of the Internet.

We cannot directly observe how information spreads through bits and bytes and is translated into images, text, and videos.

We cannot directly observe how those videos, texts, and images impact the mind and change the perceptions of the receiver of those messages, but we all accept the reality of these changes happening.

We cannot see how searching for information on the Internet, using a tool such as Google, unites us as disparate people in a communal desire to connect, engage, and to grow our interests, our curiosities, our agreements, and our arguments.

Most people don’t see it.

But Google does.

Think about it: Google as a search engine tool proves—in a form monetized at enormous scale—that the networks of connections matter more for making money, making more connections, making products, making ideas, and making services than anything else tried in human history up to this point.

But there’s an upper limit to that knowledge.

Trapped by the confines of the box in your pocket (i.e. your mobile phone) or the box in your house (i.e. your TV or desktop computer) or the box in your briefcase (i.e. your tablet), there’s a hardware limit to a software solution.

There might not be a software solution to the problems that people have, but in the 21st century, Google (now Alphabet) is going to do its level best to break out of the boxes it is currently trapped in, and prove that networks between people in the physical world, can be scaled and monetized just as easily as they were through a search function.

Google sees it.

Do you?

Network Leap

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Brain, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Google, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

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.

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

By | Advice, Blog, Facebook, Google, HIT Pieces, New Posts, Old Posts, Privacy, Social Communication, Social Media, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Twitter, Twitter, Website

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] The Quality of Mercy Doesn’t Scale…and Never Will…

By | Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Emotional Intelligence, Facebook, Google, Media, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Peacemaker, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Twitter, Twitter, Virtue

From the Coliseum to Facebook, there has rarely been any mercy from the mob watching the participants in the arena.

The reason the writers of the Constitution favored a Republic over all else, was that they believed the mob was a dangerous, unpredictable force that moved without logic, rationality, reason, or mercy. And then the horrors of the French Revolution proved them correct about human nature.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible for individuals to stand-by, and watch degradations happen to others, people will. This is called the Bystander Effect.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible for the mass of people to suffer the injustices of the moment as long as those injustices do not personally affect them in any way, people will. This is called social proofing.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible to go along with others en masse as an event of any kind happens, because that even happening confirms a belief deeply and long held, people will. This is called confirmation bias.

The quality of mercy comes about when you know someone personally; when you are connected to their story intimately; and when you empathize with their struggle in a real and powerful way.

The quality of mercy cannot scale.

The outcomes of mercy—justice, forgiveness, reconciliation—can scale, but the actual quality of mercy comes along in an individualized process that cannot be scaled, and must instead be seeded, from one person to another.

No matter whether you’re among the mob watching in the Coliseum, or among the mob engaging on Facebook.

[Advice] On Influencers

By | Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, Marketing for Peace Builders, Media, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Platform Building, Selling for Peace Builders, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Twitter, Twitter, Website, Workshop

Influential personalities and brands online are about to become even more influential as the years go by.

And mediators, lawyers, and negotiators should take note.

Influencer advertising is tricky to navigate, whether you are trying to partner with the peacebuilding neighborhood association with a vibrant Facebook community or the pop singer Rhianna.

Influencer marketing is only going to grow larger in the coming year for the very same reasons that social media is influential now: Individuals trust other individuals more than they trust brands. In the field of mediation and peacebuilding, where trust is a huge deal, influencers and thought leaders such as Bernard Mayer and Kenneth Cloke bring their substantial influence to academic programs, academic writing, advocacy and other areas.

However, as the influence of those individuals begins to fade, a new generation of influencers is rising in the ranks of mediation and peacebuilding professionals, such as Patricia Porter, Brad Heckman, Cinnie Noble, and others who have begun to leverage social tools and the wide reach of the Internet to make a dent in the peace building universe.

For the ADR professional with limited resources to be able to connect with larger names in the peacebuilding world, there are a few things to remember when considering using influencers to advertise your content, your services, your philosophy, or your processes:

Does the influencer’s brand link well with my brand promise?

Carefully considering how an influencer’s brand (which may range from Bernard Mayer all the way to Kim Kardashian) complements the strengths and reduces the weaknesses of the peacebuilder’s brand promise is key to developing a long term relationship with the influencer. Influencers are people first and foremost, and peacebuilding professionals should be about building that relational knowledge ahead of jumping into a branded relationship.

Is the influencer’s audience an audience that I want to be addressing as a peace builder?

Depending upon who the influencer’s audience is (and audiences range in taste and structure from the 1,000 followers the neighborhood peace builder has on her Facebook page, all the way to the millions of fans and followers Jon Stewart has) the peace builder has to decide carefully if that is an audience worth talking to. The fact of the matter is, every audience that a brand influencer has is not appropriate for a peace builder to talk to, nor is every audience open to hearing a message about peace.

Does the influencer’s message help or harm my message?

Every influencer talks to their audience in their own way, using words, images, symbols, and other forms of social cuing that inexorably tie that audience to them.

Some influencers are less savvy than others, but that does not mean that they aren’t sophisticated communications professionals in their own right.