Still Waiting For That Expert “Top Ten” List?

Top Ten

Top 10!

It’s not all that hard to be different, because you are.

I made an observation recently in a meeting about the tension we have in each of us to both fit in and be utterly unique. This applies to individuals (this is America, after all…individuals are a huge, almost obsessive focus of our attention…) and to our businesses and relationships. As a professional, I explain this to colleagues and clients this way: When, for instance, there is someone out there looking for a real estate agent, you don’t want them to think, “I’m going to call XYZ Mondo Real Estate!” You want them to think, “I’m going to call Janine at XYZ Mondo Real Estate!” You really want to have that kind of relationship with your VACC (Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community). Even though you may be part of a much larger organization or collective, YOU want to stand out.

I have an identical challenge. I have inhabited the digital and social media environment for some time. I know from observation and experience that certain kinds of articles and posts get more “juice” than others, and humans like to categorize and organize information quickly. In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman describes the two systems with which our mind works. First, sensory inputs are fed into System 1. System 1 takes the inputs and makes initial sense out of them. System 1′ s analysis is then fed to System 2. System 2 is the primary component of what we consider consciousness. The processing by System 2 completes the analysis of information within your mind. System 1 works on the economy of effort, and System 2 is the sense-making system. System 1 is much more likely to be intuitive, make quick, easy judgment and classification, and use short-cuts. System 2 digs in, uses much more “fuel” and gets tired as a result (hence the brain’s desire to use System 1 as much as possible.). The book is a TERRIFIC read, by the way, and my explanation here is paltry when compared to the richness to be found there when considering how our minds work….

Getting back to my thread of purpose here, the untold numbers of articles, “listicles” and posts that may be found across the Internet may or may not help you in your profession, but our minds crave that kind of quick-and-easy, how-to, tips-and-tricks writing. I have published a few articles in that vein when I felt that it was the best way to present the information and that it would be most helpful in that way. The bulk of my writing, as you have probably noticed, does not follow that format. I prefer to cover topics referring to the cognitive work in which we, as entrepreneurs, professionals, business owners and intelligent citizens, need to engage in order to be intentional and successful in our endeavors. Once a month I do a post featuring a collection of the five best articles I read that month, but I try to ensure that works within my particular context and message….a large part of which is “Think, Consider and be Authentic” (there’s a reason I call my blog “Authentic Voice“….).

This is not necessarily the most popular way to approach a Business Blog. My focus is more about our humanity, our strengths and limitations, what is important in our lives and business, and taking to account that our work is to support our lives, and not the other way around.  Being human, and treating others as human, not only exposes you as authentic but allows the building of the kinds of relationships with those around you, and your VACC, that will result in the kind of success worth gaining.

I know that this kind of writing may not be to the taste of many people….like I said, our minds are wired to consider information in the most economical way possible, so using our System 2 is harder, and almost no one likes “harder.” My hope is that you find great value in what I write and that you derive good from it. If you find a single item from any of my articles that lifts your business, improves your relationships with your VACC, and allows you to work through a business or individual challenge, then I have succeeded.

There are likely other topics you would like to see more about. If so, leave a comment here or visit my Social Sapiens web site and tell me via the contact form…or even give me a call. We are truly reaching for the same kinds of things together.

What is the Truth about Now for You?

“Well, that happened.”

That’s still one of my favorite movies quotes. It’s uttered (actually more “admitted”) by Bob Berrenger (Alec Baldwin) upon crawling out of an upside down car accident in the movie State and Main. He seems a bit dazed, but not very concerned, despite suffering from a bad cut on his head and, subsequently, walking away from the scene of the accident.  He’s not worried about his past actions and mistakes…..he just moves on. That comes back to get him, but I will let you check out the movie….it’s excellent.
Taking the context of that quote a different way, I’ve spent some time thinking about how this kind of detached view of my past and future can affect me and my business.

Continue reading

Is Being Authentic Harder Than Faking it?

Dave and Me CROPPEDI named my blog “Authentic Voice” when I started seven and a half years ago. Since then I’ve learned that walking the walk of authenticity is way harder than the talk.

Something that I confront when working through this is having to admit when I am not up to the task. These last few days have been very hard and, without going too deep into the particulars, I’m sharing them because I need you to know.

Yesterday my younger, and only, brother died.

Do You Know The Lie of “Comfortable with Ambiguity”?

Caterpillar using a hookah. An illustration fr...

Caterpillar using a hookah. An illustration from Alice in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many jobs have you had where the expectation was that you would be “comfortable with ambiguity“?  Be honest….is anyone really Comfortable with Ambiguity?! Or is this just the company’s way of stating the obvious: everything changes, so hang on?

I wrote a post last year about being in the moment and how each moment was nearly certain to be different from the moment expected. Certainly my life is in a very different place now, and yours may be too.  I’ll bet it is, since this world is anything but static.
It’s interesting that I haven’t seen that particular phrase used quite as frequently as before (say 5 to 7 years ago…). Has anything changed? Has the workplace become more aware, more mindful of the realities and discomforts of change, thanks to greater awareness? There continues to be a lot of discussion of mindfulness in the workplace…perhaps this has created the environment where change and ambiguity don’t need to be called out. They are accepted as the norm and natural.

Continue reading

Do Your Passions Make You More Human?

Signature of Richard P. Feynman

Signature of Richard P. Feynman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is much too easy to burrow into your business and go deeper into the knowledge, building more depth and expertise in that area so you can be an even better resource for your customers. But doesn’t this turn you into a “one-trick pony”? For example, in my social media consulting business, does it truly broaden my mind and stretch my intellect to become more facile in the inner workings of Facebook and Content Marketing…or is it kind of “more of the same”?

I have other interests. You do, too. How do I indulge them, push the boundaries of my interests, and maybe even develop new ones? I need to consciously expose myself to knowledge I probably wouldn’t otherwise, and I have to set aside the time to do it. This is a challenge as an entrepreneur, but to not do it means that I’m less likely to keep growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. There is also a much higher probability that, in exploring some of these new landscapes, I might come across a couple of new ideas that inform and impact my business in ways I have no way of anticipating now.

So, where do I start?

Continue reading

More Than “LIKE”

Detail

Detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a justifiable lament in the air. It concerns the lack of actual conversation taking place between people. In the online world a large portion of our conversation has devolved into one-click LIKEs or, in the case of LinkedIn, Endorsements.  No context.  No qualification.  No degree. No discussion.  Either you LIKE/Endorse or you don’t.  Life isn’t like that, by and large.

Continue reading

Stories are not words

Mars landscape

Image by gunnsteinlye via Flickr

When I tell a story, there is a distinct “movie” going through my head and the words are an attempt to express that “movie” in such a way that others can appreciate the story the same way I do. That covers the written narrative and some kind of multi-media or video representation of it. What about “static media” like graphics, paintings or illustrations?

Continue reading

Traveling the Road

The wheel was invented in circa 4000 BCE.

Image via Wikipedia

I have had a few careers so far: professional musician, music teacher/band director, software developer, college instructor, technology specialist for developers, consultant, product planner and product manager. Every one of them, along with every other subject I’ve ever studied and things for which I have a passion, are what I bring to what I do. My primary motivator in each of these is helping people (OK, so playing music is helping people enjoy themselves….or so I hope…).

Continue reading

Print (Not Print)

DORCHESTER, MA - MAY 4:  A man walks by the fr...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

…with apologies to Was (Not Was)

Newspapers are signposts of their constituents in so many ways. Just take look at the difference between the Seattle Times, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and the Boston Globe (the paper/site I took a look at for this post).  Each has top line focus on local news, but the Register does not have a link to national/global news on its front page. They choose to stay purely local.

Continue reading

It may be Free, but is it Valuable?

In the battle and discussion around Free (using Chris Anderson’s capitalization), I have felt that a missing component has been whether the Free stuff in and of itself has value to the consumer.  Sometimes maybe and sometimes maybe not.

I work in an organization in which we run across something like this: another business unit inside the company has created some technical training content aimed at consultants and systems integration firms.  Many times it takes the form of “<Name of technology goes here>-Brain-Dump-in-a-Box” which is duly posted for broadest possible distribution on the Web.  Great!  Lots of folks go there, download and/or watch it (if it happens to have webcasts that aren’t downloadable) and get whatever assistance the content by itself can offer.

Then, this internal group will approach my team and ask us to make it available to our training channel.  For various niggling reasons, a cost/price becomes associated with this training content in the process.  So the question is, will a training company be able to sell this same course to corporate customers despite the fact that they can get it “for Free off the Web”?

The answer is Yes.

The reason is value. When this corporate student attends an instantiation of this class, she or he will not be staring at a monitor for five days. They will be taught by an experienced technology trainer. There is the value!  It’s not just the content (or whatever other IP you might think of) by itself.  It is the context and the “value-add” that make it worth paying for.  The value-add also adds cost, but the Value scenario still comes out looking good.

Will some companies still opt to go to the site, download the content and point their employees at it, telling them to “get up to speed” on their own?  Sure.  There will always be takers for Just Free. However, context and extra value can make the difference.

The challenge is to discover the context and extra value the potential consumers of your currently Free Stuff would be willing to pay for.