No Jerks

{Note: I am now blogging at my brand-spanking-new site, SteveWoodruff.com. Just click here to subscribe to the new feedBonus - you can also sign up at the same time for my astonishingly brief  yet brilliant e-newsletter, Clarity Blend (see sample), and when you sign up, you’ll get a free download of my helpful new e-book, Make Yourself Clear: Six Steps to De-fogging Your Direction and Your Message.}

On LeadershipChat this week, we’re going to discuss The Difficult Follower. How do you lead someone who is being – shall we say – recalcitrant about the desired direction?

Now my wise and analytical co-moderator Lisa Petrilli has done a wonderful job with her blog post outlining the various reasons why there might be follower-difficulty. This leaves me free to have a little fun.

So, let’s talk about jerks. Specifically, ZT4J (Zero Tolerance 4 Jerks).

On Twitter a few days back, a blog post was written highlighting this wonderful job description for an engineering position at Hubspot (Boston area). Here are the “no jerk” clauses:

- Strict “no jerks” rules. You won’t have to work with “that guy” (or girl)…

- HubSpot has a strict NO JERKS policy; our culture is fantastic. We have nearly ZERO turnover in three years of engineering…

- We don’t hire jerks. Period. If your normal disposition is to be negative and cranky, and it can’t be explained by a temporary lack of caffeine, you won’t fit in at HubSpot. We’re intense at HubSpot, but it’s a good intense. The reason for the “no jerks” rule is simple — for those of us that are not jerks, working with jerks is a whole lot of suckiness. Life is short. Why work with jerks?

Now, I’m not looking for a job, but if I were, I’d want to look long and hard at Hubspot. Because they know that a big part of troublesome work environments is…you guessed it…jerks. Of course, maybe on that basis I wouldn’t even be allowed in the front door. Hmmmm…

Now, I realize that there can be other reasons for difficulty in leader-follower relationships, and Lisa has done a great job outlining those. But sometimes you’ve just got to call it like it is. If you’re a jerk, you should be put out to the street until you learn not to be a jerk. Perhaps more companies would be far better off if they emphasized ZT for toxic behavior and affect instead of tolerating bad apples because of stupid HR rules. But as Hubspot knows, this is a hiring issue. Put a well-designed jerk screen on the front door, and you’ll  go a long way toward increasing company productivity.

ZT4J. It’s the new quota system!

Join us for an enlightening discussion on #LeadershipChat Tuesday nights on Twitter, at 8 pm ET!

UPDATE: interesting NY Times article on the “No Jerks” theme.

UPDATE: transcript from the LeadershipChat session on The Difficult Follower

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The Pace of Success

All of my marketing instincts perpetually whisper in my ear – “go wide, go loud, build big!” Create an audience. Reach as many as fast as you can.

Yet everything I’ve learned whispers in the other ear – “go deep, go slow, build quality!” Create a tribe. Build a vision and a direction that will reach plenty of people over time.

I’m slowly learning to decrease the volume on the first, and listen more closely to the second. Remind me if I forget. Subduing old instincts that are constantly reinforced by our marketplace is not so easy!

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Book Review: The New Small

I’ve been reading through Phil Simon‘s latest book, The New Small, and it’s a keeper.

There’s a revolution going on in small businesses these days, and it is being enabled by low-cost, high impact new technologies (note: I have built my business on the approaches Phil outlines, so this is not just theory!). Phil outlines the Five Enablers in this volume, and gives a series of case studies showing how progressive and nimble businesses have employed things like cloud computing and social networks to advance their goals quickly.

Here is my video review of The New Small:

Learn more about Phil, and The New Small, here at his website (www.philsimonsystems.com). I met the guy for lunch, where he handed me the book – he’s a high-energy, engaging, likable fellow with some important perspectives.

For two weeks, I struggled to identify the stylistic difficulty I was having with the book. I’d read a chapter, put it down feeling a bit overloaded, stymied at every attempt to put into words why that was so. Concept, message, author – liked them all. Content – solid. Finally, it came to me – the book felt overstuffed, like a suitcase that had 30% too many items of clothing in it (ever done that?). It was packed very tight, and didn’t have an easy flow for this reader. This is purely an editing and writing style issue – and, it may be more of a personal reflection than anything else (plus, I’d rather get a book that had too much to say than too little!)

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Book Review: The Entrepreneur Equation

I have had the privilege of reading through Carol Roth’s about-to-be-released book, chock full of very valuable advice for anyone thinking about starting a new business. The Entrepreneur Equation is a must-read if you’re looking at becoming an entrepreneur.

My video review is below. This is a no-nonsense, highly practical reality check from a gal who knows her stuff. Highly recommended.

It’s also quite well-written, and funny. Because that’s who Carol is. You can pre-order your copy here.

(btw, I am a huge advocate of taking ideas and distilling them down to their core essence – yes, I’m a bit OCD about that. One of the coolest items in this book is the “Cheat Sheet” section in the back, where Carol gives a 1-3 sentence summary of each chapter. You can only do that when there is clarity and cohesion of thought…good job, Carol!)

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Book Review: Pick a Title. Any Title.

Bloggers always like to be first getting out a new book review on their blog and through Twitter, in hopes of achieving maximum retweet exposures (MREs).

So, since my friends Jay Baer and Amber Naslund are about to launch their awesome new book The Now Revolution, I thought I’d cheat a little bit to get the very first review out of gate (video below). I like MREs just as much as the next blogger. And, hey, there are efficiencies here – have you ever heard of the Reusable Book Review (RBR)? Yeah – I’m trademarking that.

Tomorrow, return here to very same URL to view my thoughts on Ann Handley and CC Chapman‘s Content Rules. And the day after, Scott Stratten‘s UnMarketing. Because if you don’t send it, I still review it with my patent-pending RBR technology!

(Actually, I do have a couple real video book reviews coming up here on Connection Agent this week – stay tuned!)

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Roddenberry was Right

Gene Roddenberry, the genius behind the early years of the Star Trek series, had an amazingly prescient view of the future.

In the original Star Trek TV series, crew members used devices called communicators which bore a remarkable resemblance to cell phones.

Then, in Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, items that seemed for all the world to be touch-screen computers, iPads, and iPhones were constantly in use. Digital everything. Ubiquitous screens.

Roddenberry got it.

And now, as we daily put to use that which he foresaw decades ago, we reach a point where old labels are shedding their meaning. We still use the term “phone” in various ways, but the idea of an analog device dedicated only to audio voice communication seems rather – quaint. But, we still cling to terms like cell phone, iPhone, Smartphone – heck, the phone is the least-used aspect of my iPhone!

In 10 years, we’ll look back and wonder at the old legacy labels that described separate “things” like phones or cameras or computers.

I’d like to suggest that ultimately, Gene Roddenberry had it right again. You know what these increasingly portable devices are, in their various configurations and form factors?

That’s right. Communicators. Personal Communicators. With which we send and receive messages, info, voice, video – it’s really a far more accurate description than phone, computer, tablet, or what have you.

Kinda brings a whole new meaning to the acronym PC, if you think about it…

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Leadership and Conviction

We hear about vision. Passion. Expertise. Connections. Out-of-the-box creativity. Goal-setting. Persistence. All very important ingredients to leadership and success, no doubt.

But none are as central as…and, in fact, all will take their marching orders from…Conviction.

By conviction I am not talking about a prison record. What I mean is a deep persuasion that something is right, and must be done.

A leader is convinced that an idea, and course of action, must be pursued. This conviction drives decision, promotes action, accepts risk, overcomes doubt, and draws others into the endeavor. If necessary, it walks through walls.

Conviction develops over time, through both positive and negative experiences, through seeing the successes and failings of others. Eventually, it seeps into your soul and you become persuaded that you MUST _________ (fill in the blank).

The best marketing will also draw its inspiration from conviction – that the company, or product, or service, is the best. That it must be known. This is the wellspring of true (not manufactured) word-of-mouth marketing – the conviction has now spread, and is spreading, to the audience.

This is not only true in business. A parent is, above all things, a leader – taking a little life and shaping and molding it into a full-fledged adult member of society. This requires conviction – that the greatest impact we have may well be through others, that the next generation is more important than my immediate gratification, that the hard (and often unglamorous) work of building now will bear fruit in years to come.

Conviction, of course, can be a double-edged sword. Some tyrannical people manage to convince themselves that they are right…and seek to destroy others in the process of carrying out their ruinous beliefs. Some can even inspire others, through the power of conviction, to take leave of their senses and drink Kool-Aid in a forsaken jungle. But far more (who do not make the 6:00 pm news) build businesses, create charities, donate organs, mentor young people, and care for the sick – because it is right. Because they must.

Those that manage others may or may not have this restless level of conviction. Those who perform tasks may actually do their work (less effectively, I’d argue) without it. Leaders, however, are a different story.

Conviction does not guarantee success. But a lack of it almost guarantees failure. Over the years, I’ve come to a number of juncture points where I’ve had to make bold – sometimes disruptive and costly – decisions. In each case, it was conviction that ruled the day. When you believe that a thing is right – when you are compelled to move forward no matter the cost – then you stand the best chance of success.

Conviction leads you to take a course. It feeds into persistence, which drives you to stay the course. And that’s the shortest path to results.

(Image credit)

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Steve Recommends: eLearning Providers

Steve Woodruff is the Connection Agent, and he has lined up top-quality recommended providers for a whole range of corporate training, marketing, and communications needs.

Some of our partners do a fabulous job of eLearning design and development – everything from straightforward modules to sophisticated simulations; from 3-D immersive virtual worlds to quick and simple reinforcement communications.

Our eLearning partners service not only the healthcare world, but many other industries as well. And, because they are hand-selected by the Connection Agent, they are smart, ethical, and talented. Just what you’re looking for.

Download this introductory info sheet, ConnectionAgent eLearning, and let us know how we can be of assistance!

NEED OTHER SERVICES? We have preferred partners for a whole range of marketing, training, and communication needs. See the list!

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Steve Woodruff is the Connection Agent, a client-vendor matchmaker often called the walking eHarmony of the industry. We are restoring trust and efficiency to the marketplace through the growth of a top-notch network of recommended clients and providers.

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Consensus, or Progress?

For our #LeadershipChat discussion tonight on Twitter, we’re going to have a first – a guest author. Russell Bishop wrote Workarounds that Work (subtitle: How to Conquer Anything that Stands in Your Way at Work) – a guide to help leaders get things done in the complex work environment faced by many of us.

We’re going to work through several themes contained in the book, but one chapter in particular stood out to me, called Moving Beyond Consensus. In it, Russell discusses how an over-emphasis on gaining group consensus (or its close cousin, overall buy-in) can paralyze decision-making and inhibit progress.

Words like consensus, buy-in, and unanimity sound good on the idealistic level. But in the real world, such goals are rarely achieved. So, now what?

Helpfully, he outlines a workaround by detailing three levels of personnel and their role in decision-making:

  • Who has the ultimate authority to decide something
  • Who has the right to be consulted prior to a decision’s being made
  • Who has the right to be informed of any decisions

I like this structure, especially when these lines are clearly drawn up front. And, as Russell writes later in the chapter, when a decision is put in place and progress is being made, those who were are at first skeptical – not fully bought-in – will often jump on board as the direction takes shape.

This lesson has been reinforced in a book I’ve been reading about the leadership of General Ulysses Grant during the Civil War (thanks for the recommendation, Anthony Iannarino!) He was successful in battle because of his decisiveness – he valued progress over unanimous agreement, action over too-much-analysis. Grant’s fellow officers didn’t always agree with the final decision, but having voiced their viewpoints, they’d go forward with the chosen direction and carry the battle forward.

How have you seen this play out in your work history? Are you seeing a good balance between consensus and decisiveness, or is the boat capsizing on the side of either paralysis, or autocratic fiat? Join us for an enlightening discussion on #LeadershipChat tonight! And be sure, in preparation, to read my co-host Lisa Petrilli‘s introductory blog post on our topic, Shift Your Thinking for Business (and Life) Transformation.

(Original image credit)

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Where is My Business Coming From?

You.

And, if I have anything to say about it, some of yours is going to come from me (if you’re competent and trustworthy, that is!)

Every entrepreneur, contractor, and business owner knows that one of the biggest challenges is finding new business. Or, as I discussed on the phone last week with Canadian networker Kneale Mann (@knealemann), even if you have enough clients, you can always hope to gain better clients.

Now we all know that the best clients come by referrals. A recommendation by a trusted source is gold, both for the client and the supplier. But by and large, this happens only haphazardly. We’re still stuck marketing and selling ourselves constantly, sucking away potentially productive time in the scramble to acquire new clients.

Stop and think about what we so often take for granted. What we have resigned ourselves to. Do you realize what percentage of our time is spent in this gross inefficiency? Now, think from a client perspective – how much time and effort gets drained away trying to find the best supplier, and how much money is wasted when bad decisions are made?

Do you see the billions of dollars, the billions of hours of lost productivity, flying out the window every week of every year? We don’t even see it anymore, just chalking it up to the cost of doing business.

This status quo stinks. I’m tired of seeing good people not have enough work to achieve escape velocity, and tired of seeing clients and suppliers hemorrhage away money in the clumsy dance that is “normal” business development.

My company is built on a network of business matchmaking. And, joining together with other like-minded folks, we’re building a new business reality – where trusted recommendations are the norm, not the exception. Where good people and companies find each other through a purpose-built trust network. Think of it as the Connection Agency.

Stay tuned. There’s a lot more to come…

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Become a Certified Quora Ninja!

(yes, this is a spoof. Only a pixie-dusting unicorn can make you a real Quora ninja!)

Yes, you too can become a Certified Quora Ninja!

Quora is the hottest thing on the social media circuit today! All the hottest names in networking are advancing their personal brands, and beefing up their subscriber numbers, by asking and answering earth-shattering questions on the most relevant and authentic site going!

With our 15 years of experience navigating Quora, we have the chops to certify you at the Expert, Guru, or Ninja level in no time! For just $995, our 2-hour webinar can transform you into a question-fielding black belt who will be envy of the social media crowd. You’ll be a sought-after speaker at South-by, and your Klout ranking will go through the roof in just days!

Here’s what you’ll learn in this dynamic and ground-breaking course:

  1. Setting up an account in Quora (bonus: using Twitter to log in!)
  2. Creating your profile – 7 hints even the experts don’t know!
  3. How to ask a question that ends with a question mark.
  4. The art of the answer – how to obfuscate and sound intelligent doing so!
  5. Hyperlinks – your best friend on Quora. The ninja-click explained step-by-step
  6. Selling yourself based on superior knowledge you don’t possess – the 5 keys.
  7. BONUS! The ninja method of cut-and-paste research to amp up your expertise!

What will you get from this amazing course? A huge well of in-depth knowledge from the experts. Big props from social media lemmings who will turn to you for expertise and substance-abuse counseling. And, a coveted digital Quora Ninja Certificate (suitable for computer wallpaper or Twitter background graphic) that proudly proclaims your new status among the elite! Click to biggify —->

Just forward $995 by Paypal TODAY – this is a limited-time offer, and only a handful of visionary ninjas will be anointed before this course is closed forever!

(post inspired by this lunatic profile on LinkedIn—-> (click to biggify),                    discovered and shared by my friend Olivier Blanchard, Chief Social Media Ninja-Puncturer).

Disclaimer: this is a spoof. Any hope of turning you into an expert by means of a bogus course on- or off-line is strictly imaginary. The ConnectionAgency does not guarantee that, by taking this or any other course, you will be investing in anything worth more than a virtual sheet of 20-lb. paper. Title, taxes, dealer prep and options not included. Void where prohibited by common sense.

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Steve Recommends: Negotiation Training

Steve Woodruff is the Connection Agent, and he has lined up top-quality recommended providers for a whole range of corporate training, marketing, and communications needs.

One of our Connection Agency partners does an exceptional job with training sales professionals/account managers in Negotiation Skills. Live workshops, custom and off-the-shelf programs, follow-up e-reinforcement – this group has always come through for my clients (they also have a great “Selling Higher” program for moving up the executive chain).

This well-established partner serves not only healthcare, but other industries as well! And since they are being recommended by the Connection Agent, here’s what you can expect: customer focus, quality deliverables, and proven integrity.

Download this introductory info sheet, ConnectionAgent_Negotiation, and let us know how we can be of assistance!

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Steve Woodruff is the Connection Agent, a client-vendor matchmaker often called the walking eHarmony of the industry. The Connection Agency is restoring trust and efficiency to the marketplace through the growth of a top-notch network of recommended clients and providers.

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A Satisfied Elenco Customer

Here is the story, in bullet points:

  1. For Christmas, we got our 9-year old Seth a cool electronic snap circuits toy (made by Elenco Electronics) – various parts and pieces that kids can use to create simple electronic circuits.
  2. Dog decided to try out her teeth on several pieces. The teeth worked. The pieces no longer did.
  3. Wife contacts Elenco (e-mail) about the several DOA pieces. They promptly respond back by e-mail that the specific pieces outlined by my wife will be replaced.
  4. Package comes: new parts. No charge. Not even shipping. Happy wife. Happy Seth.
  5. Happy customer gives public, on-line back pat and recommendation for “blog-worthy” service.

And that, folks, is how customer service works.

(btw, I wrote a similar post about a similar customer experience with Legos 2 years ago. And that post has been one of the most heavily trafficked EVER on my blog.)

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A Better Twitter Chat Client

I saw a tweet that bummed me out today. Here was the exchange that ensued:

I remember Chris attending #LeadershipChat and it made me feel bad that he felt it is too overwhelming. And, the fact is, the full firehose of tweets during a popular chat is daunting. I have used Tweetchat (which has been very slow the last few weeks – unusable) and I try to keep up on TweetDeck, but once you get a good-sized group of people on a chat, it’s a problem.

So, here’s the idea – someone please steal the concept and make it! A chat client that allows the user to create a filtered stream with a subset of attendees, so that more quality conversations can occur. Conceptually, the interface could be roughly like this (click to biggify):

Who wants to make it? A whole bunch of people doing chats on Twitter would send you flowers and kisses!

UPDATE: My friend @JoeCascio came up with a modified concept of panes for People I Follow, People I Don’t Follow, and Mentions. Good idea!

UPDATE: Shannon Whitley and I have designed the solution. Check out ChatTagged!!

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The Biggest Challenge during a Twitter Chat

Having co-hosted #LeadershipChat for several months now (with my partner-in-crime, @LisaPetrilli), and having also participated in other chats as well, I can tell you that the biggest challenge – in my opinion – is not the technology, nor is it the speed and volume of information.

It’s semantics.

Semantics has to do with the meaning, or interpretation, of a word or phrase.

Last night on LeadershipChat, we were discussing “macho-style” leadership in a business setting. Now, one thing Lisa and I do before each Tuesday night chat is we each write a blog post, giving our views on the upcoming topic and, hopefully, framing the discussion. We try to explain/define terms. But, nonetheless, we all come into a conversation with pre-baked notions, images, and experiences that attach to certain terms. Which means that, without fail, when we have a chat about concepts like macho-ness or vulnerability or vision or whatever, we often end up during the chat struggling with semantics.

A challenge made even more difficult by the 140-character limitations of each tweet, and the rapid flow of contributions!

We end up, as a group, sometimes sharing dictionary definitions, bouncing clarifications off one another (is an alpha-male the same as a macho man? Is macho-posturing gender-specific?). In certain ways, these are quite valuable exchanges, but at times I think a chat can get bogged down by spending an inordinate amount of time clarifying terms; or, as regularly happens, talking “past” each other by using the same term in different ways.

Any I don’t have an answer for this. Just putting it out there. Your perspectives? Is there a way to make this better?

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Male or Macho: The Stong Leader

I’ll begin this post with an open confession. My biggest, longest-standing struggle over my decades of life has been…becoming a man.

Being a male is a (roughly) 50-50 genetic toss-up. Being a man is a lifelong pursuit.

I believe masculinity is a very real, very crucial element to the health of families and societies. I believe in strong leadership as a positive good. I actively dislike the notion that is put forth (blatantly or sub-rosa) by many – that feminine traits are the answer to all the world’s problems, and that if only men would act more like women, we’d all get along.

Frankly, that’s crap. Men need to be real men; not women, and not exaggerated caricatures of men. Which is what I think the macho male image is.

In tonight’s #LeadershipChat on Twitter (8 pm ET – join us!), we’ll discuss the place of the macho male persona in business leadership. And, since one of our biggest challenges in every chat is semantics (what does this word mean?), let me try to define how I distinguish between real male strength, and an exaggerated version:

  • A real man is strong  and courageous in the face of opposition. A macho man is reckless.
  • A real man competes honorably to win. A macho man is compelled to aggressively conquer and dominate.
  • A real man treats (all) others with respect. A macho man only respects other macho men – the rest are there to abuse and exploit.
  • A real man exercises self-control. A macho man must control others.

In other words, a real man knows who he is and doesn’t have to prove himself. A macho man is perpetually seeking to do so, and the means is aggressive, win-lose dominance (physically, verbally, sexually, whatever). For a woman’s perspective on this issue, read my LeadershipChat co-moderator Lisa Petrilli’s post from yesterday (No Bull-Riding: Why Macho Men make Terrible Business Leaders).

I think people can be drawn to elevate macho types into positions of leadership because they are results-oriented. They get things done. People are a means to an end, or obstacles to be plowed out of the way. Now, let me make a careful distinction here – there are places where hyper-masculinized leadership is not only tolerable, but necessary (think of the field of battle, or a football middle linebacker). Fighting terrorists, or taking Iwo Jima – give me a Jack Bauer or a Sgt. Stryker (John Wayne) any day of the week! But in the boardroom or the meeting room? – maybe not so much.

Of course, it is true that business is about winning, about results, about team pursuit of goals. But we’re leading multiple types of people into a very different kind of battlefield, not trying to motivate a bunch of fellow warriors to overrun enemy trenches. Strong, masculine leadership is desirable, but hyper-masculinized leadership in business may pose serious problems over the long haul.

It’s enough to prove yourself to be an honorable, controlled, respectful, aggressive, strong man. Men need to tone themselves down or ratchet themselves up to get there. But any insecure fool can trample others to try to fake it.

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Now, I’d like to point out something that irks me, based on a news article spotted this morning. In this piece from the Wall Street Journal (please read it to get the tone), a hyper-aggressive macho-type woman is fawned over as some kind of model leader. Think for a minute – how would this have been portrayed, if it was a male who said, “It’s only (wo)men that I strip and flip. My companies I hold long and close to my heart.” If it was a man‘s office described with, say, stuffed moose heads on the wall and pictures in macho poses? If a man‘s gladiator or Rocky-like wardrobe was described in glowing terms like this gal’s “all-woman” who is “faithful to her inner truth” aggressive and provocative outfits?

Any male leader like this would be ripped to shreds as some kind of bizarro macho misogynist. Do you see the double-standard here?

If we’re going to talk about unhealthy, exaggerated characteristics that are demeaning to others, what do we make of this when it is not applied to both genders? What’s good for the moose is good for the (other) gender, I say! ;>}

(if you haven’t yet taken a seat at the #LeadershipChat table, please join us. One very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat; or by creating a column with the #LeadershipChat hashtag in a Twitter client like TweetDeck. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.).

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Purpose or Tech?

Looking back over the past five years or so, it seems to me that a lot of our social networking has been driven by technology.

LinkedIn is launched, and we jump in and adjust to its structure. Ning. Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Bits and pieces of technology solutions, with people gathered around and meeting each other – well, mostly because of the tech first.

Maybe it’s time to think more seriously about purpose-built networks. Where technology is incidental, and the tie that binds is shared purpose, shared mission, shared direction. This has been happening, of course, to some extent, but it often seems that the technology precedes, even shapes, the purpose.

I don’t merely want to build a Flickr community, a Twitter network, a Facebook gathering. I have personal and business dreams to pursue, and goals to accomplish.

A nice stadium in which to gather and cheer is not the same as a single-minded, purposeful team driving downfield to score 6 points.

At least for me, it’s time to put purpose first. How about you?

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Do You See What I See?

Probably not. Because when it comes to vision, the best ones are homegrown.

This week, on #Leadership Chat (a weekly Twitter discussion group, Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET), we’re going to talk about vision. But maybe let’s not just talk about it, OK?

We all know that great leaders have vision, and if it’s a worthy vision, they rally others around it. That’s a given. But let’s assume that everyone in the growing LeadershipChat community is actually looking ahead at 2011, not just with goals and resolutions in mind, but with bigger picture visions.

What’s yours? Here’s mine: My Declaration of Independence.

Fact is, we’re not going to refine and implement our big dreams without the help of others. So let’s give our missions some thought ahead of time, band together to share, and discuss how we can put feet to vision. And, be sure to read the thought-provoking blog post by co-host Lisa Petrilli on The Secret Engine Behind Empowered Visions. <—We are of one mind in our thinking here.

Because I’m going to follow my vision, but I’d also like to see what you see. Maybe we’re heading in the same direction together!

Please join us tonight, Tuesday January 4 for our first #LeadershipChat of 2011 (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions). You’ll find a warm welcome and a thoughtful community of friends who not only think different, but also seek to “do different”!

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My Declaration of Independence

I’ve been blogging for over 4 years now, and have been increasingly active in many branches of social networking – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, video-blogging, etc., etc. (although, without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect has been meeting people and developing long-standing relationships and collaborations).

However, as with any new venture, especially one where the rules are being written on the fly, it’s very easy to fall into two very common patterns:

  1. Follow the leader(s)
  2. Go big

I’m not making a blanket condemnation of either of these practices – those instincts aren’t all bad. I fully “get” emulating those who are skilled and successful, and as a marketing guy, I appreciate scale. But it can become bondage over time. To the point where you don’t follow your own instincts, your own vision.

That’s why, as we kick off 2011, I’m declaring my independence.

No, I really don’t care about maximizing my RSS subscribers and Twitter followers. No, I really don’t intend to make sure I have a singular blogging/writing focus. No, I actually don’t want a massive audience that will create inordinate demands on time and attention. And, no, I don’t care to align myself with social media “influencer camps” of either popularizers or detractors.

I’m going to do what I’m meant to do – to live out my identity as the Connection Agent.

I’m bending everything to my main goal, my primary mission – to create the highest quality network of honest, competent, pay-it-forward people who want to change the way business gets done. Who are ready to build, together, an organic tribe of folks ready and able to bring back an environment where a handshake and a recommendation are the foundations of business – and, who are fully invested in creating a platform of cooperation/collaboration that will outclass and outperform the legacy structures of corporations.

Where social networking is a means, to a far more important end.

That vision has grown continuously in my mind and heart, and I’ve made a successful test case of it in the pharma/healthcare space over the years since I started my company Impactiviti. But it’s always been my intent to take the model and expand outward, and help provide a format whereby talented entrepreneurs and people with unfulfilled talents can create their own businesses without the inefficiency and compromises that throttle so many who should be succeeding wildly.

Yes, I will remain very active in social media. I might even once in a while write an SEO-friendly headline like The Top Ten Reasons Why Twitter and Facebook Are Like Mashable Beets. But, overboard with all the standard Guidelines to SM Success. There’s something far more important to build.

And I – we – are going to build it.

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Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

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