What We Want Matters

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Brain, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing for Peace Builders, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Privacy, Problem Solving, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity

We as a society of consumers, publishers, advertisers, and owners have failed to understand fully the radical implications of the communications schema we now live under with the presence of the Internet.

When almost everyone in the world has access to a keyboard, a microphone, and camera, almost everyone will become a publisher.

But, someone must fund that publishing in order for it to be seen by an audience willing to be changed by its presence in the world.

And while publishers may fail to understand the relationships between awareness, advertising, persuasion, publishing, and creation, consumers do themselves a disservice when they pretend that what a third party–wedged between them and the publisher–wants doesn’t matter.

There are multiple parties to consider in this transaction that is now going on at scale in the world right now:

Publishers are people (and sometimes organizations) who want to publish. They create, comment, click, like, share, and otherwise either participate, or validate, an opinion, a fact, or an idea through their actions.

What publishers want is a platform upon which to publish and attention from the audience they seek to impact.

Consumers are people who want to consume. They passively watch, applaud, share, click, like, and otherwise take in the opinions, facts, and ideas that publishers create.

What consumers want is to consume. Preferably without much action or engagement on their part and with as little friction as possible.

Owners are brands, organizations, and community builders of all types and stripes who want to own a piece of the communication real estate that the Internet has created. Owners create and own.

What owners want is to get paid for their work, their creativity, their cleverness, and their time spent building something for others. And they want to get paid as quickly as possible, as much as possible, as often as possible.

Advertisers are organizations, buyers, creators, and others who seek to intersect themselves in between owners, publishers, and consumers, ostensibly for the benefit of publishers and owners, but in reality, for the benefit of themselves.

What advertisers want is attention, awareness of the products, services, and processes they are seeking to persuade consumers. And they want it at scale, with as little friction as is possible.

There is little alignment between all of these parties (even though there is often confusing overlap), as the Internet has fractured and atomized the 20th century’s mass media, mass audiences, mass attention, and mass awareness.

With this lack of alignment comes confusion, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and at the end, scandal, corruption, mismanagement, and further erosions of public and private trust.

The best alignment is the type that removes the middleman from the interactions between the publisher and the audience and gets the publisher and the audience aligned.

The worst alignment is reflected in what is happening right now.

We as a society have gotten the Internet we asked for; dare I say, the Internet we wanted.

Now, at the beginning of yet another unraveling, a further atomizing and erosion inflection point in the overall communication culture, it’s time to ask for, and to want, something better.

Network Leap 4

By | Blog, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Media, Music, Networking, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Platform Building, Privacy, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Twitter, Twitter, Virtue, Website

The impact of the next leap remains non-obvious for too many people, and too far off in many individuals’ minds. But then, there is the alarming presence of all the obvious “whens” all around us.

When the AI gets so good that human beings can’t tell the difference between the computer program and the human being.

When the machine learning gets so good that human beings can’t navigate managing and strategizing about the flood of data coming at us faster than the machine can.

When the amount of collected data is so overwhelming that human beings are paralyzed by analysis rather than having the courage to act in spite of the implications of the data.

In a world of those “whens”—which are arriving to the present as fast as they possibly can, no longer “whens” but “nows”—the only areas remaining to categorize, atomize, and to deliver on spec at low cost to an eager consumer, will be the emotional content of individual, human-to-human interactions.

The next leap is not around AI, machine learning, the Internet, or social media applications.

The next leap is not around robotics, data analysis, electric cars, augmented reality applications or virtual reality.

The next leap won’t even be around the industrialization of outcomes to spec on price, cost, labor, and work.

The next leap will be people—individuals, corporations, businesses, churches, schools—preserving and paying for the texture that individuality brings to human interaction.

The companies that are playing the long game of digitizing everything—every human interaction, every job, every product, every process, every service, and every crumb of knowledge—understand this las concept innately.

Google’s next great leap from dominance in the digital world will be from industrialization of outcomes to spec in a digital environment, to dominance in the material world of emotional, human-to-human interactions where spec means something different from individual to individual.

Are you playing Google’s long game, or are you playing humanity’s long game?

Erosion Rate

By | Blog, Facebook, Media, New Posts, Platform Building, Relationships, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Website

The difference between attention and time spent paying attention is the erosion rate of a creator’s long-form content.

For example, the average video on YouTube is around 4 minutes. The average blog post is no longer than 200 words. The average podcast is around 45 minutes to an hour.

As audience attention spans wane and decline, there is less and less interest (or care on the part of audiences) in the expense to creators of the sunk costs of making long-form content. The sunk cost is the video editing suites, the cameras, the time spent editing 20 minutes of digital footage into 4 minutes of something that someone might click through.

The sunk cost is the time spent writing, the computer and writing software, and the time spent uploading the blog post for something that someone might skim through.

The sunk cost is the time spent finding a person with a perspective that is interesting, then connecting with that person, interviewing that person for an hour, and then editing, posting, and distributing the audio that someone might listen to with half an ear for around 20 minutes.

And we haven’t even gotten into the fact that repeating the processes for all three forms of long-form content (audio, video, and written) takes time as well.

But these are still sunk costs.

The erosion rate of your content matters if you are a creator of content. But it should matter to you more as a consumer of content. As a consumer of content, connecting with creators that you care about, and supporting them by writing them, contacting them, and talking about them to others, matters more for the creation of more content.

It also reduces erosion rate and brings more value to the content for you the consumer.

Management Form of Writer’s Block

By | Active Listening, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Workplace, Workplace Development

Making a decision should be easy for managers.

However, when the cost of not making a decision is lower than the risk of experiencing consequences from the impacts of a wrong decision, managers tend to experience paralysis.

Writers share a similar mental experience when they navigate the fear of showing up to do the work of writing and the fear of that work being rejected. In this case, writers experience writer’s block.

Both writer’s block in artists and paralysis by analysis in managers come from the same root: Fear.

The Resistance to making a decision, showing up, experiencing consequences, or doing the work to make the change in the first place, is strong, persistent, and unyielding.

Managers can be artists and creative with people as well as writers can with words, idioms or ideas; or, they can be technicians in the way that writers can be merely typists.

But either way, showing up and doing the work persistently and consistently, is the only act that frees us from paralysis and blockage.

Beginnings are Overrated

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Mediation, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Speaking, Storytelling

Beginnings are overrated and too often imbued with meaning.

Endings are also overrated and too often imbued with criticisms, “what if’s” and irrelevancies.

It’s what’s in the middle that counts the most.

Who did what, where, how and why. And, of course, what was shipped.

When you begin a new project, hire new people, or start working on a new idea, remember three things:

The longer you stick with a formula, the more chance it has, to work. This doesn’t mean that you stick with a losing formula, or that you stick with a formula that has not chance of a positive outcome. It means that changing in mid-stream is a bad idea.

The more innovation you can build in at the beginning of a project, the more likely creativity will be the key thing that will be valued—even in the mundane. Many people don’t build expectations, clear communication, or follow-through into their projects. In the rush to get a result out the door, they neglect the small things that will ensure innovation and change happen even as they stay the course.

The smaller bets you make, the smaller wins you are guaranteed, which will lead to much larger wins further along the way. The compound effect is real and has real consequences. Aim small, miss small. The bigger the goals, the bigger the risk, and the less likelihood your project will ship out the door.

Beginnings are overrated and too often imbued with meaning.

Endings are also overrated and too often imbued with criticisms, “what if’s” and irrelevancies.

It’s what’s in the middle that counts the most.

Tough Crowds

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Speaking, Strategies, Strategy, Training, Workshop

Tough crowds are tough because they are skeptical, secure in their own assumptions, wedded to their own worldviews, and unwilling to be convinced.

The skill of being able to face that level of social norming—whether from a crowd of 5-year old’s in kindergarten to a crowd of intoxicated adults at your local comedy club—requires a little something more than bravery.

It requires the skill of being willing to die—metaphorically usually, but sometimes, with some crowds, literally—in order to prove a point, make an assertion, or to create a space for other people to advocate for a minority view of the world.

Being able to win crowds over by knowing your audience is another skill. As is knowing your own point of view inside and out. But, beyond that, there are two key elements to focus on when seeking to internally overcome the crushing psychic weight of a tough crowd:

Never lose focus on the point you’re making.

Don’t get your point caught in their weeds.

Tough crowds seek to tame and turn a presenter, or facilitator, for the purpose of serving their own motives and motivations, and for achieving their own desires and outcomes.

But when you realize that time, focus, and the strength of your position are more powerful than that of the crowds’, you will stay in sharp rhetorical shape.

And ready to face any tough crowds, anywhere.

But If The Answer Is…

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

When followers say that they want self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management as traits in their best leaders, then leaders must ask questions starting with the words “why,” “how,” and “what.”

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “why,”is an ever-descending whirlpool of internal negativity, defensiveness, and fear-based answers in leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose for pursuing the attaining of self-awareness is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “how” is applying, and advocating for, ever-increasing layers of organizational bureaucracy and lethargy in the team, then followers must ask what the real purpose of storytelling is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “what,”is endless handwringing about the potential consequences of actions before they are even taken by leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose of positive conflict will be.

Self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management are the only traits that matter in the 21st century if we want leaders to lead effectively.

These traits—which are really skills—are also critical to encourage if we want to create more leaders rather than more compliant followers.

The lack of inner curiosity, desire to care, and hiding from decisions are the real skills hobbling the development and growth of the kinds of leadership that followers say they want.

Let’s eliminate those skills first.

The Dip Within the Dip

By | Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

The act of working to get out of a dip, as it is happening, is a dip in and of itself.

The dip, of course, is the place that we all get stuck in when we’ve invested so much that we believe we can’t go backward, and that we are so buried in (emotionally, financially, psychologically) that we can’t see a way out.

And then we quit. In the dip.

When we are in the dip, however, certain acts we engage in create that place of being stuck. The acts of trying to exit the dip, become dips themselves.

Since no one tells us when we’re in the dip, and since no one tells us when our process of getting out of the dip is compromised, the act of knowing what acts are dips in and of themselves, becomes a necessary skill, rather than a “nice to have.”

Knowing what to focus on and when will help you travel through the dip to the goal that we are seeking to achieve. But just working on projects and patterns that will distract us from having to think about the dip’s we’re in, is a form of hiding.

We need to hide less and work more.

Outcomes You’ll Pay For

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Divorce, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Platform Building, Selling for Peace Builders, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

Outcomes of processes are the only things worth paying for.

No matter what your role at work, you are paid for producing outcomes from processes. The people who get paid the most, produce the highest value outcomes. The people who get paid the least, produce the least valuable outcomes.

Producing outcomes is also valued—and thus rewarded—in ways that have nothing to do with money: Prestige, status, attention, awareness, these are all rewards that are tied to specifically produced outcomes that an audience, and organization, or an individual, value.

The most excellent move that a person who is a freelancer, a consultant, or an entrepreneur can make, is to raise the price of an outcome to reflect continued, growing value. Not because it costs them more to generate that outcome—in actuality, the production costs are sunk and meaningless after a certain point—but because the value of that outcome becomes more desirable to the market that individual provider serves.

We attach all kinds of subjective meaning to outcomes and since they are really the only things that we value, failure and success, while remaining subjective, become more and more acute and infinite. But only if the person or organization producing the valuable outcome is willing to let go of their attachment to the success or failure of a particular outcome.

Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan both “got” this distinction. But if you’re still wrapped up in the mindset of a particular granular success or failure outcome, then you’ve missed that larger lesson.

There are three big tips to come out of this line of thinking that will serve anybody well as they move forward:

  • Outcomes are the only things worth paying for, but sometimes an innovator can be too far ahead of the market (thus, the innovator designation) or a crackpot can be too far behind the market (thus, the crackpot designation). Each person has to decide where they want to be in relation to the market and what the process is to get to the outcome that they are seeking to make valuable.
  • Outcomes have nothing to do with comparison, and have everything to do with personal satisfaction. One of the larger problems with the social media landscape is that people display as if the outcome of a process is the only thing that can connect themselves with an audience. But showing the audience the process, slowly revealing why the outcome has occurred, is an outcome in and of itself. And worth rewarding, not with comparison, but with massive differentiation. Each person has to decide their comfort level with the slow burn of a long-desired reveal.
  • Outcomes can be argued and debated, but in the end, when it comes time to render payment, they cannot be denied. This is evident most baldly in the world of sports, where the distance between a process and an outcome is perceived as being immediate (though there is usually years of preparation, sacrifice, humility, and ambition behind any outcome), and is less evident in the world of teaching, or parenting. These are places where twelve to twenty years of a process leads to outcomes that cannot be denied. Each person has to decide their own pace at which they would like to move toward a reward.

Focus on the process, highly value the outcome, and price the outcome against the market accordingly.