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.

Digital Wisdom

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking, New Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Twitter, Twitter, Virtue, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

Many people who have the historical memory of a different communication world,  intuit that the digital world is moving too fast, taking away too much of the “old” world and values that used to be held dear, and is corroding what has remained.

There is also the unstated worry, that the world of digital is moving so fast that it has passed by the wise, in favor of the ignorant, ever seeking knowledge, but failing to ever find the Truth.

The list of problems and issues these people have with modern digital communication are endless:

Lack of relevant empathy.

Increases in narcissism.

Lack of ability to listen.

Loss of critical thinking skills.

Loss of interpersonal communication skills.

Valuing speed to being first over the patience to determine whether you could be wrong.

And so on. And so on. And so on.

I have immense empathy for those who believe that the world is passing them by.

There is an incalculable need for human wisdom from all areas and perspectives to add value by leveraging new digital tools, that it would be a shame to let people other than the wise, to have all the fun in our new digital paradises.

Don’t you agree?

The Model is the Thing

By | Blog, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Website

The model is the thing.

Not the product that gets shipped or the challenges and leaps that it makes us take.

The model is the thing.

When we are building a project (or a product) the model of how somebody else accomplished the same thing becomes a valuable tool and set of data points.

The model inspires, the model activates, the model engages us.

When we need support, encouragement, or just reassurance, the model is the thing that does it.

The model is the thing.

Our 1,000th Post

By | Emotional Intelligence, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Twitter, Twitter, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

I thought it would take less time to hit this milestone than it has taken.

But that’s not an unusual expectation. Many people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years.

My expectations with this blog started out high minded and then crashed to earth and then became high-minded again.

But with 1,000 published posts, some of which are guest posts, podcast episodes, and other sundry items, I can say, with some assurance, that I have gone further than I thought I would.

And you have responded.

You have retweeted, e-mailed, reposted, commented, Facebook “liked” and “shared” posts, and have even gone as far as to reach out to me offline to give me feedback.

That’s how this blog grows.

It’s not like kudzu, where you plant a vine and then come back a year later and there’s growth without investment.

It’s more like planting corn: Some years it’s good. Other years it’s not so good. But the farmer still tills the soil, plants the seed, prays on the knees, and then brings in whatever harvest there may be.

Year after year. Bumper crops and thin ones.

What comes next? What does post 1,001 to 2,000 look like?

Well, there’s another book coming this year, a collection of my best posts about work, disrupting your workplace, and how to accomplish all of that while also disrupting your boss. And it’s about why external training and development doesn’t work for the creation of change.

Look for that in the Fall of 2018.

There will also be a shift as parts of this blog go elsewhere on the web to serve other functions.

In 2018, as I advance and grow my personal brand, the writing will separate, and my blog posts covering conflict management, self-awareness, storytelling, and other contemporary leadership and people management skills and best practices will be featured in this space more prominently

Articles about personal leadership, business development, branding, entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, risk-taking, marketing, social media, the future of human communication on the Internet, and other more personal brand based content will migrate to a new site, focused on building my personal brand with an eye towards keynotes and speaking opportunities.

Look for this split to happen gradually, and then all at once by the Fall of 2018.

But no matter how it plays out, I want to thank you for joining me on the journey so far.

I write this blog because it’s good for my mental and physical health.

I write this blog because it’s good for my writing muscle and it further establishes my own “voice” in my own head.

I write this blog, because it connects me to you, whether that connection happens now, or one, two, five, ten, or twenty years from now.

I write this blog, whether anybody will read this blog or blogs in the future that I may launch, or not.

I write this blog, because the acts of thinking, writing, and then publishing to the world, is still an amazing thing—even in a world of Internet thinness.

So, the real question is where would you and I like to go next?

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.

Laboring in Vain to Make Spectacle

By | Blog, Leadership, Media, New Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Website

Many people are laboring in vain online to create, distribute, and promote content that has all the actionable substance of milk designed for infants, rather than meat to be served to adults.

Long ago, symbolism and spectacle have come to replace action and substance. First with the TV-advertising complex that dominated much of the 20th century, and now with the ubiquity of social media use and through our mobile phones.

Content we create that should be focused on that which is concrete and actionable will not be found in our social media feeds.

Just as the television and mass advertising of old, our collectively new, spectacle driven environments, tend to encourage and reward the development of content designed to appeal to the interest of the masses, who have all the attention span of infants.

Or much less.

Adults—people with longer attention spans searching for the meat of substance–have now had their interests, attention spans, and content pushed to the edges of the content universe of the Internet.

In the niches.

They’re tucked away reading long blog posts, listening to challenging podcasts and watching long videos.

They’re investing in online classes and developing learning experiences that marry the life online with the life off line.

If you want to get the attention of the masses then, by all means, compete in a race to the bottom on creating, developing, curating, and distributing spectacle-driven content.

But make a decision about what you’re actually offering: meat or milk, once the spectacle has run its course, that way your laboring won’t be in vain.

Disconnect as the New Standard

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Mediation, Negotiation, New Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Virtue, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

The disconnect between what people know about how the Internet (and by extension social media) “works” (choices, behaviors, options, etc.) and what people use the Internet (and social media) to accomplish (tasks) is underrated and massive.

Part of the disconnect comes from a lack of interest and caring about how the world of communication (and the tools in it) work, not only for the people with whom we are immediately communicating but also for the people not part of the communication.

Part of the disconnect comes from distractions that exist in the world of social interactions between people, and differing filters of awareness and attention. Individuals pay attention to all kinds of things that other individuals believe are unnecessary, irrelevant, uninteresting, or even unknowable. And then, because the human mind seeks order out of chaos, individuals, make judgments, create attributions, and create frames and boxes for language and ideas that further the disconnect.

Part of the disconnect comes from a lack of curiosity and even a lack of education about what to pay attention to. Lack of curiosity is endemic in discussion around the Internet (and social media) because our communication tools have prioritized lack of curiosity as the “new normal” in social interactions.  Lack of education comes about when the market responds to a lack of curiosity as a new standard, and then complies by providing less nourishing meat (education) and more easily digestible milk (displays where people advance by how well they kiss).

The disconnect is massive and troubling, for two reasons:

In the market’s breakneck race to monetize every human interaction and behavior, combined with the alarming reduction in human economic productivity, we have a recipe for a society and culture where the very tools of educating, enlightening and uplifting are being monetized and controlled by a select few individuals—or organizations.

Which would be fine if those individuals and organizations were angels, but like most people, they’re just people.

The second reason is economic in that we have prioritized facility and adaptation as ways to get ahead in a world of Internet-based (and social media based) communications where competition for attention and awareness is fiercer than ever. But if the average individual is non-curious (or too disinterested or disconnected to care) about where their future dollars to pay their future electric bills are going to come from, then we have opened society to the wavering whims of every political, social, cultural, and economic demagogue (both individual and organizational) promising to make such important decisions “simple.”

“Simple” of course meaning, “Simple in a way that works for me, my power base, and my tribe, and creates distractions, confusion, disillusionment, and disengagement, for you, your power base, and your tribe.”

Which would be fine if those individuals and organizations were angels, but like most people, they’re just people.

A standard of anti-intellectualism comes from a standard of non-curiosity, which combined with the disconnect between people and how they use their new communications tools, leads to the creation of a world of communication, rhetoric, persuasion, and power, we should all be wary of.

To resist the new standard, we need to fight to establish access to education about how to use our new social tools across the disconnect, eliminate distractions as a way to encourage disillusionment and disengagement, and re-establish curiosity about the unknown (or about blind spots) as an alternative “normal.”

Otherwise, the conflict outcomes could be disastrous for everyone.

Utopia and Dystopia in the Present

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, New Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Virtue, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

A friend once pointed out that he doesn’t watch films that portray either a dystopic future (i.e. Children of Men or Blade Runner) or a utopian ideal (i.e. Avatar or Gattaca) because they tend to be less than realistic.

There is a lot of talk (and writing) going around about the importance of either 1984 by George Orwell or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as a literary or cultural guideposts in a time of rampant civic uncertainty and fear.

There are several problems with articulating–and living out–a worldview based off works by English authors of the early to mid-20th century, but the biggest problem of all is the mindset behind thinking that authors of a dystopian (or utopian) future can possibly provide any actionable wisdom in the present day.

The specific problems are best articulated by others, but the general issues that face believers searching for truth in any conception of utopia (or dystopia) are three-fold:

Utopia (or dystopia) look different based upon your frame of reference. This is the main problem in applying the logic of utopia (or dystopia) to fleeting present-day political disputes and disagreements, rather than seeking longer term wisdom. The fact is, for every person who views a position as a dystopic one, there is a person who at the least views the position as not a problem. And for some, they view the position through the frame of utopian thinking.

The dystopia (or utopia) that a person is looking for (typically one represented in film or literature) is rarely exactly the one that manifests in the real world. The specific tent poles of culture, politics, and societal considerations are fluid and dynamic, not static and solid. There are elements of utopia (or dystopia) that manifest, but not all of them. Not exactly. And the fact is, when there isn’t exactitude in the manifestation of a prediction, the credibility of the predictor (and by extension the reputation of the prediction itself) seems to fail miserably.

How people think about what’s happening now influences how they mentally construct utopias (or dystopias), and then emotionally “buy-in” to them. This mental and emotional construction is more of an analysis about the nature of a present condition of conflict, rather than about genuinely deep conflict analysis. This is why films and literature aren’t good predictors of what will happen, what can happen, or even what should happen.

The fundamentals that underlie films and literature about dystopias or utopias are snapshots in time, representing a particular conflict mindset, and a particular set of perspectives on the world and events in it.

We would do well to be skeptical of attempts to glean too much understanding of current events from them, and would do better at managing and engaging with the conflicts we are currently in, by dealing bravely with the utopia (or dystopia) we’re creating right now.