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.

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.

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My weekend with COMCAST Support

TiVo Central on Comcast DVR

Image by stevegarfield via Flickr

I am not a BIG FAN of product support…..except, of course, when things go south. Perhaps it comes from the days when I operated in that capacity (and occasionally still do for at-home items, but I digress), or from the bad old days of sitting on hold for untold hours waiting for someone with the actual answer to give it to me, so I could fix the broken whatsit and get back to work/play/whatever.

Things have gotten better….

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Don’t sweat the short stuff

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Image via Wikipedia

Bill Wasik, senior editor at Harper’s magazine, makes several interesting and interlacing points in his talk (seen here). I feel that his assertion that “short stuff” will never be monetized is essentially correct. Short posts by an author or organization are too much like Twitter, and most of these same authors Tweet their short stuff, so why would I pay for that?

Continue reading

Don’t sweat the short stuff

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Image via Wikipedia

Bill Wasik, senior editor at Harper’s magazine, makes several interesting and interlacing points in his talk (seen here). I feel that his assertion that “short stuff” will never be monetized is essentially correct. Short posts by an author or organization are too much like Twitter, and most of these same authors Tweet their short stuff, so why would I pay for that?

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?

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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…).

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Is this a good activity?

brian regan, again

Image by Malingering via Flickr

I am a big fan of the comedian Brian Regan.  He is the only artist I’ve ever seen from which I came away physically in pain because I was laughing so hard.  In one of his bits he tells about growing up in a household full of brothers who were, shall we say, “encouraged” by their mother to go outside and find a “good activity”.  Activities discovered were more or less not totally destructive…hilarity ensues.

Anyway, this thought always comes to me when I sit down to write. Although I can sit for long periods of time and spin out stories and opinions to friends and family, when I am confronted with a screen and a blank page, my mind goes into Choke Mode.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I’ve read so much great stuff from my colleagues and others that I follow across the web that I feel stymied about what I have to contribute.

This morning I ran across a post by Tac Anderson entitled “How to Blog a Lot” that, for some reason, pushed me over the edge (at least for today…).  His guidance is a little self-referential: in order to blog a lot, you should blog a lot.  A kind of “practice makes perfect (or at least better)” methodology.

Great advice. However, I, like most everyone who works with some kind of PC sitting in front of them all day, spend most of the day responding to e-mail, creating presentations, working on documents, attending meetings, Tweeting, etc.  In other words, taking the time out, as Tac suggests, first thing, going over the daily news and posts and then writing about what I find takes a discipline I haven’t really cultivated yet.  I guess part of my hesitation has to do with the organizational expectations around e-mail.  I have, in the past, tried to remind my colleagues (and myself in my more hassled moments) that e-mail is designed to be asynchronous and that it is unlikely that, if I do not respond to a particular mail for an additional 30+ minutes, the world will end or someone will die….just take a deep breath and allow myself to do something that may contribute to the conversation in the greater community that is the Web.  Then I can jump into the swamp-like morass that is daily e-mail.

So I guess this is a good activity……

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An idea


World Eye

That’s the idea: Green

I feel that there are a lot of possibilities with a more abstract phrase/word.  Aside from the most currently common definition today (environmentally friendly) and the obvious definition (um……well, green…), several others come to mind easily:

  • Sickly
  • Inexperienced
  • Overcome with envy

A few other associations come to mind:

  • green belt
  • green card
  • little green men
  • green thumb
  • greenback
  • greengrocer
  • greens keeping
  • green light
  • green tea

Given the breadth of experience and the depth of creative talent in this class, I feel that this would be an exciting topic.

Road to Authenticity – Part 1













 In the several roles I have online (professional, educational, consultative, personal) I find that I have to cope with varying degrees of perceived authenticity.  I’ve been reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, partly because I’m a storyteller and I appreciate being able to look at the way I formulate ideas and thoughts into stories in more a narrative arc, and partly because of the Web Strategies for Storytelling class I am taking this Fall at the University of Washington in conjunction with my Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) program.

Anyway, the chapter I’m reading now is on the credibility of your story. Since credibility leads pretty much straight to authenticity, I started to think about how credible I am in each of these arenas and how that came about (and how it might change).  Not surprisingly, the online roles that are bolstered to some degree by personal, face-to-face contact carry a different quality of credibility.  This really points up the nature of the more human nature of social media (“I’ve met you, I know you a little better, and that helps me trust what you say.”).  It also points to the challenges of online roles that have little or no face-to-face components.

I watched an online video today on Jason Falls’ blog about four books he recommended reading.  Although I only came upon his blog (“met him”, if you will) today, he has attained greater credibility with me because of two things:

  1. His video book reviews.  He has personalized an experience that is important to me; I enjoy hearing about good books in my chats with friends and colleagues, and the video creates an openness that reached past what a simple blog post book review would have done.
  2. I already have two of the four books on my Kindle.  OK, so that’s serendipity, but it strengthens his other recommendations to me.  And it also made me bookmark his blog….

So these are all things that I want to get to. The kind of online credibility and authenticity that makes a first-time visitor go with your recommendations (or at least some of them) and want to come back for more.